Rest is your secret weapon when it comes to beating cough, cold and flu, says Dr. Jeremy Hayman, a naturopathic doctor in London, Ont., and medical advisor for St. Francis Herb Farm. “At the first sign of a cold, I rest. You just have to take time away from your busy life so your immune system can function properly. Then the virus only lasts a few days or you can head it off completely.” He recommends a full day of rest but if that’s not possible, even a quiet hour or so can make a difference.
And while he’s taking some down time, he also takes some herbal medicines. Some tinctures to consider:
Andrographis “This herb is extremely stimulating to the immune system,” says Dr. Jeremy. “It’s a very strong antiviral and is also a very strong bitter, meaning that it works in the digestive system to fight off microbes.”
Echinacea Take echinacea at the first signs of a cold, when you’ve got that run-down feeling, he says. It’s important to use a product that contains both echinacea purpurea and echinacea angustifolia as they work in tandem.
Licorice Licorice is a very strong antimicrobial, which can also help with a cough if the infection has progressed.
Ginger “Ginger is a good systemic herb; it stimulates the immune system and the digestive system defense mechanism,” he says.
If the infection has settled in, you can also effectively treat cold, cold and flu symptoms with herbal medicines—whew! Here’s what Dr. Jeremy says:
Sore throat Marshmallow and sage will soothe a sore throat.
Cough Horehound is an expectorant that will help drain mucus from the respiratory tract, while usnea is a good choice for an active lung infection.
Sinuses Eyebright is very sinus-focused, with strong anti-viral properties.
All-around treatment Osha is used in traditional herbal medicine to treat viral illnesses including cold and cough symptoms. When you take goldenseal and goldenrod, they naturally concentrate in the throat and sinuses.
Rest up and get well soon, with a little assist from herbal medicines and some R&R.
Oil of oregano is an essential oil that’s an antimicrobial that can help kill off the bad microbes that have entered your body, says Dr. Jeremy. However, it can also affect the good microbes in your gut, so it’s important to replenish that healthy bacteria by eating prebiotic foods (look for foods with high fibre like jicama, garlic, leeks and asparagus) and probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.