It’s that stuffy-head, runny-nose, achy-feeling time of year all right. And the impressive-looking row of medicines at your local drugstore can be alluring, with all the miracle cures they promise. But better by far is a natural cure: Herbs for your common cold.
The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Many different strains of virus can cause cold symptoms, and these are constantly mutating. While the mucous membranes of the nose and throat are inflamed as a result of the infection, they are far more vulnerable to attack by bacteria, and this can give rise to secondary infections (such as sinusitis, ear infections, and bronchitis) that are more serious than the original cold.
Herbal medicine can do more than most therapies in treating and preventing this all too common problem. Herbs can be selected to fit the individual’s unique needs, while at the same time immune support, diet, and lifestyle are addressed.
Traditional herbs favored for the common cold include: Cayenne, echinacea, elder flower, eucalyptus, horseradish, linden, mustard, onion and garlic, peppermint, thyme, yarrow.
Traditional European Cold Tea
A very popular and traditional tea used throughout Europe consists of the following herbs:
Use equal parts of the herbs. Infuse 1-2 teaspoons to a cup and drink hot.
Essential Oils for Colds
A number of essential oils can help to diminish the discomfort of a cold as well as to reduce the risk of secondary infections; these are antimicrobial and also stimulate the immune response.
For the immediate relief of congestion, a steam inhalation with essential oil is often effective. Very hot steam—as hot as can be tolerated without actually burning the nose and throat—is in itself a hostile environment for viruses and the addition of an anti-viral oil increases the effectiveness of the steam. Lavender and chamomile are the best choices.
Other plant oils that may prove beneficial include: Basil, bergamont, eucalyptus, rosemary, myrrh, peppermint, thyme, sandalwood and tea tree.
Adapted from Herbal Prescription after 50,by David Hoffman (Healing Arts Press, 2007).