Herbal medicine is an ancient healing art with profound effects on the human body. Plants contain unique constituents that help boost and balance your immune system.
They can either stimulate the immune system by directly fighting against viruses, bacteria and fungi or they can modulate and nourish the immune system to enhance the body’s own natural defences.
These are the top 5 common plants that can help you through this year's cold & flu season:
1. Elder berry & flower (Sambucus nigra)
The Elder flower and berry can increase circulation and improve oxygenation of tissues through its diaphoretic effects on the body. Elder is also considered a relaxant and helps relieve spasmodic coughs, making it an excellent remedy for croup and spasmodic coughing in children. The berries and flowers are high in flavonoids, which have an antimicrobial action within the body and helps strengthen cell membranes to prevent virus penetration.
2. Peppermint leaf (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint leaf contains Vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins and potassium to help give your immune system an extra boost. Peppermint is traditionally used as a remedy for fever and chills, which may be partially explained by its paradoxical cool taste and stimulating and warming after-effects within the body. It also fights against microbes and helps sooth the digestive system, making this tea ideal for the flu.
3. Thyme leaf (Thymus vulgaris)
Although thyme is native to the mediterranean, it grows very well here and has become a common addition to any local herb garden. Thyme leaf tea is an excellent cough remedy. It helps the lungs expel excess mucus and helps to sooth inflamed lung tissue. Thyme has a powerful detoxifying and penetrative effect due to its volatile oils, which helps to open pores and thin mucus.
It is also considered an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory for the lungs, and has proved to be an effective traditional remedy against powerful infective organisms like typhoid and diphtheria. Today, thyme is used for postnasal drip, whooping cough in children, sore throats, common colds and bronchitis.
4. Sage leaf (Salvia officinalis)
Sage is also native to the Mediterranean region, but grows well in BC herb gardens. Sage leaf tea is the ultimate sore throat remedy. It has a specific action towards soothing inflammation of the throat, and helps to break up mucus formation. It also contains thujone, a potent antiseptic and antibiotic, which fights against common viruses, bacteria and fungi to assist your body’s immune system and help you recover faster.
5. Osha root (Ligusticum spp)
Osha typically grows in high altitudes along the rocky mountains and cascades, but a less potent relative, the Ligusticum scoticum species, can be found in the forests of BC. The resins within the root relieve congestion by expelling mucus from the lungs and sinuses, and reduce inflammation by naturally increasing your own cortisol production. Osha is best used for cold, flu, sinusitis, influenza, sore throat, and bronchitis. Osha should be avoided during pregnancy.
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