These lesser known herbs that will have you back on your feet, or better yet, will shield you from the viruses in the first place.
We are all familiar with common cold and flu preventives and remedies, such as adequate sleep, low stress, and sufficient amounts of vitamins C and D. However, these herbs might offer some extra protection.
Common cold combatants
Found worldwide, usnea is the generic and scientific name for several species of grey or greenish hairlike lichen that grow on tree branches. Sometimes referred to as old man’s beard, beard lichen, or treemoss, it has been used medicinally for at least 1,000 years. Usnea is used to treat lung, upper respiratory tract, and urinary tract infections.
Osha (Ligusticum porteri)
This First Nations favourite is considered a warming herb, primarily for the respiratory system. Because of its strong antiviral properties, it should be taken at the first sign of flu or cold. It is very effective for sore throats and bronchial inflammation and will soothe and anaesthetize almost immediately. With its diaphoretic properties, osha causes sweating and helps to eliminate toxins.
Note: do not use osha during pregnancy or if breastfeeding.
Lomatium root (Lomatium dissectum)
Native to western North America, this is now a threatened species and should not be wildcrafted. It was used by the First Nations people as their most powerful antibiotic and antiviral herb. Lomatium is also known for boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation.
Marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis)
Useful whenever a soothing effect is needed, the herb’s demulcent (soothing) qualities bring relief to dry coughs, bronchial asthma and congestion, and pleurisy.
Virus fighters and herbs for prevention
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata)
This herbal medicine is derived from a shrub grown in moist, shady areas of India, China, and throughout Southeast Asia, and is commonly referred to as Indian echinacea. This popular Ayurvedic and Chinese preventive is also a remedy for the common cold, upper respiratory tract infections, flu, and other ailments characterized by fever.
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
Also known as Siberian ginseng, this herb stimulates cellular immunity and provokes T-cell production.
Codonopsis (Codonopsis pilosula)
The roots are used in Chinese medicine to lower blood pressure, increase red and white blood cell counts, cure appetite loss, strengthen the immune system, and replenish chi. It is also used as a gentler and more economical substitute for ginseng.
Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
This woody vine with clusters of red berries is found in northern China and adjacent regions in Russia and Korea. As an antioxidant it enhances the immune system and promotes longevity. As an astringent it improves lung function. Schisandra also helps with hay fever, common cold, sore throat, and coughs.
Note: schisandra should not be used by pregnant women.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Its juice is a powerful antiviral, especially effective as a flu preventive. It can also be used to treat fever, upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, and coughs.
We need to guard against viruses and flu bugs as surely as we need protection from reckless drivers and identity thieves. This winter, check with your local herbalist or natural health store to get these gallant combatants on your side.