During flu season, are you afraid to leave the house for fear that you'll get sick? When reports of flu are rampant, I can certainly understand that temptation.
Obviously, not leaving the house is not the answer! Instead of avoiding human contact, arm yourself with immune system support that will give you the best chance of not getting the flu at all, or if you do subcombe, to help it be a milder case and get you back on your feet in no time.
What are the best herbal remedies for the flu? Read on to find out.
How Do Herbs Help with the Flu?
Herbal medicine supports health and healing through a variety of methods.
Some herbs stimulate your immune system function at top capacity. When your immune system is working at its best, your body will be better equipped to fight an illness. Using these herbs preventatively is always your best answer. Not getting the flu is better than fighting it once it gets a foothold.
Total prevention is not always possible, so if you feel the first symptoms of getting sick, hit the herbs hard and often you can back it down in 24 - 48 hours. A combination of immune stimulating herbs and infection fighting herbs can help your body resist the infection that is trying to take hold.
A quick response on your part, getting the herbs into your system and then staying consistent with your doses, is your best bet on keeping symptoms mild and lessening the duration of the infection.
Other herbs are anti-inflammatory. During an illness, various tissues in your body can become inflamed, which contributes to your discomfort. For example, during a bout of influenza, your throat may become inflamed. Anti-inflammatory herbs can help reduce the swollen and inflamed mucous membrane tissues that cause pain and make a great breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.
Yet other herbs are effective because they have antimicrobial properties. These help disable the germs and inhibit the growth of viruses and bacteria.
For effective flu prevention and treatment, it is wise to use a combination of herbs that will play different health-supporting roles.
Which Herbs Are Particularly Effective?
When you are dealing with influenza, some of the best herbs to use for treatment are astragalus, eleutherococcus (siberian ginseng), echinacea, goldenseal, wild indigo, osha, oregon grape, lomatium, poke, myrrh, Pau d’ arco, and usnea.
Astragalus is maybe the single best herb for prevention of infection. As an immune system remodulator, astragalus will not only keep a good immune system functioning at its best, but it can help restore a weak or damaged immune system. Cadavid in his 2006 research noted that “little if any tissue injury occurs in immunocompetent animals”, meaning, if you keep your immune system strong and healthy, the invaders can do very little harm.
Also an excellent immune system remodulator for boosting and maintaining a healthy immune system to prevent flu or bacterial infection, and lessen the duration and intensity if the flu does strike.
One of the most well known herbs for treating respiratory and other infections is echinacea.
Naysayers may tell you that echinacea won't help your illness. It's true that studies on this supplement have produced mixed results.
However, when reviewing study reports, keep in mind that research methodologies, including the concentration of the herb, tend to vary among studies, which can make it hard to compare one report to another.
Perhaps more importantly, anecdotal reports certainly boast the powerful effects of taking echinacea. Here's what we do know about echinacea, which may help to explain why users find this herb so effective.
Some research has also indicated that this herb may reduce the severity of respiratory symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness. Learn more about the role that echinacea can play in fighting respiratory infections by watching the video below:
Hundreds of years of use and decades of clinical reports show the efficacy of this herb, and like most herbs it is low in side effects.
Goldenseal is another herb that is frequently recommended as having excellent results for bacterial and viral infections like the flu. The active components in goldenseal include the alkaloids hydrastine, berberine, and canadine. Berberine activates macrophages, the white blood cells that fight bacteria, fungi, viruses and tumor cells.
Goldenseal is soothing for sore throats because it helps tame inflammation. It is valuable as a treatment for disorders affecting mucous membranes such as sinus and lung congestion, swollen lymph glands and fever.
Herbal experts often recommend taking goldenseal in conjunction with echinacea and with other herbs effective for treating infections and especially when treating respiratory ailments. For best results, take these natural flu remedies as soon as you notice symptoms of illness.
When used in conjunction with other herbs, such as goldenseal and echinacea, it has been shown that wild indigo is highly effective at shortening the duration of an illness and limiting the intensity of symptoms. This herb has antimicrobial properties, and it helps stimulate the immune system function well.
Although research is not fully conclusive, there is reason to believe that this herbal treatment, which comes from the roots of the wild indigo plant, may also provide relief for stuffed-up noses and swollen tonsils.
This herb is obtained from the roots of the osha plant, which is related to parsley. It supports flu recovery because it has antimicrobial properties. Osha also has anti-inflammatory properties. This can provide relief for sore throats and swollen noses. Osha is an excellent herbs to strengthen lungs so is particularly useful for respiratory type infections.
All herbs are most effective at shortening the duration and lessening the intensity of the symptoms when taken at the first onset of the infection as soon as the first symptoms appear.
Like Goldenseal, Oregon grape is another herb with the active ingredient berberine that activates the white blood cells of the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses.
The Lomatium has a viro-static effect, meaning that it stops the growth of all viruses, bacteria and fungus in the body and eliminates the lethal micro-organisms without harming the good microorganisms necessary to good health.
Poke root is a favorite for sore throats, strep throat, severe colds, flu and respiratory infections. Poke must be taken in small doses so it is usually combined with other herbs for the safest use.
Myrrh has antimicrobial properties and stimulates the macrophage action of the white blood cells of the immune system. Myrrh is an expectorant and also relaxes smooth muscle cells which is beneficial in respiratory infections.
Pau d arco
Pau d’arco is considered to be analgesic, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antimicrobial, antiviral, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal.
Usnea is used to promote excretion within the kidneys and the urinary tract, which supports a healthy immune response in the respiratory tract and mucous membranes, and maintains a healthy microbial balance.
Because different herbs work with different pathways to eliminate infections, best results occur when several herbs are combined to attack the flu from many different angles.
What's the Best Way to Take These Herbs?
You could take each of these herbs separately, but for the easiest dosage--and when you're sick, the easier the better--use a pre-mixed formula that includes many of these herbs.
Immune Enhancement Formula is a blend of astragalus, eleutherococcus, schizandra, usnea, and myrrh. It is available in both capsule and liquid forms. To prevent colds and flu, take daily during the change of seasons and during flu outbreak times as an immune strengthening tonic.
To fight infection:
Often you know the day before you get sick that you are not feeling right, that you are about to be sick. This is the best time to start herbal medicine and you can often knock the infection out quickly.
GoldenBiotic Formula is a blend of echinacea, goldenseal, wild indigo, and osha, oregon grape, garlic and ginger. It is available in both liquid and capsule forms. For bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Use immediately at the very first onset of symptoms.
GoldenBiotic is mixed with organic alcohol. For those who prefer a glycerine mixture, GoldenBiotic Glycerite is the formula of choice. This liquid tincture contains the same herbs as GoldenBiotic but uses organic glycerin instead of alcohol.
Children’s Glycerite is the best formula for fighting infection in children. A blend of echinacea, goldenseal, osha, oregon grape, hyssop, elecampane, annise and myrrh, in a base of glycerine that is easy for children to take and is well tolerated.
Anti-Viral Formula is a blend of echinacea, osha, lomatium, Pau d’ arco, and poke. Specifically for known viral infections when the infection has become full-blown.
Before a flu virus hits, prepare your home by keeping an herbal remedy on hand. That way, you can start taking it at the first sign of symptoms.