Three consultants giving their two cents on what to do about viral infections like colds and flu…
When all the usual preventative measures fail and you feel you are coming down with a viral infection, there are a few treatments you can do to help your immune system rid yourself of the infection.
- Use a propolis with herbs throat spray 1-3 times daily.
- Add elderberry juice concentrate to water (1/4 cup to 1 quart water) and drink three times daily. It is easy to add echinacea and goldenseal to this drink.
- Breathe steam with added eucalyptus, chamomile, and/or rosemary.
- Drink hot miso broth seasoned with fresh garlic, ginger, and cayenne.
- Drink teas made with fresh ginger, lemon juice, raw honey, and/or cayenne.
- Sleep warmly and sweat if possible. Rest.
When viral infections come ’round, grapefruit seed extract (GSE) eradicates many bacteria and viruses. Even better, particularly for the
dread Methicyllin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA), use extracts of oregano. Oreganol P73, from North American Herb & Spice Co, has been shown in lab tests to stop MRSA growth. I have seen impressive results with use of capsules and the topical spray on a bad MRSA infection. Olive leaf extracts, especially Barlean’s Olive Leaf Complex, has many benefits as described in their booklet, which we carry at Corners. It refers to an old herbal, which suggests reducing in water a couple handfuls of fresh olive leaves, if you are lucky to have access to them, to make a concentrated tea. I’ve tried this with a little honey and found it to be a great immunity “syrup.”
One of my all-time favorite anti-microbial herbs is the common thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Thyme and thyme again this small, low-growing herb (of which there are many varieties) has been shown to pack a powerful punch in dissuading or eliminating viruses and obstinate bacteria. Before the use of antibiotics, thyme was the most extensively used surgical wash and dressing. It is most potent as an essential oil because of its concentrated thymol content. Thymol is also found in oregano, cedar and horsemint and can be toxic in high doses, However, used correctly, I have seen it eliminate MSRA when nothing else did. Thyme leaves make a lovely tea that is excellent for colds and flu, indigestion and coughs, and is safe for children. The fresh leaves or oil can also be used as a facial steam to open and protect the lungs and sinuses. To prevent illness spreading to other family members, use the oil of thyme in a room spray and counter-top wash and apply oil of thyme mixed in a little carrier oil or lotion to the bottoms of feet before going to bed.
Another favorite, less often used but treasured by Native Americans, is Lomatium or Desert Parsley (Lomatium dissectum). It is a strong, resinous root that is taken as a decoction (boiled tea) or tincture when in risk of, or during, illness. It is strongly antimicrobial with regards to flu, pneumonia and other upper respiratory diseases and was the primary herb that helped many Native Americans survive the Spanish flu. It alkalizes blood and reduces inflammation and tends to throw microbes and waste products out towards the skin, so it is best used together with burdock root, hot baths and saunas. For some people, the resins of the plant may irritate the skin,
causing a rash, which will go away when you stop using the herb. As a tincture it is best combined with sweat-producing herbs like ginger or yarrow that assist natural detox. It is commonly found in formulas mixed with osha root, which often grows near it. Several of the Eagle Peak and Gaia formulas contain lomatium. Please note that this plant is threatened in some of its natural habitat, so buying cultivated versions is preferred.
More recently, andrographis (Andrographis paniculata), whose leaves and roots have been used for colds, flu and other feverish conditions in India (its native habitat) and Asia (where it has naturalized) has become popular. It is an extremely bitter anti-inflammatory herb and has been effectively used for malaria, typhoid fever, lyme and cancerous tumors. It can block viral entry into cells and slows viral replication. Andrographis can be taken seasonally, but is not usually recommended for long-term use as it
increases white blood cell activity and can become too cooling for the spleen. It is a component of many Ayurvedic and Chinese formulas for treating acute (short-term) illness. Andrographis is incompatible with anti-coagulant drugs and contraindicated for women trying to become pregnant or those who are. Andrographis is found in serveral immune formulas at Corners, as well as a bulk tea in the herb room.