Tips for treating colds and cold symptoms with medicinal herbs, diet, aromatherapy, and home remedies

If a cold or flu stikes, there are many herbal remedies to soothe irritated membranes and hasten recovery. Take a hot bath -- add wintergreen or eucalyptus for congestion, mint or chamomile for headache, and tea tree essential oil for cough. For a soothing massage, mix three drops eucalyptus essential oil, three drops tea tree essential oil, two drops thyme essential oil, two drops sandalwood essential oil, and two drops of chamomile essential oil with a quarter cup of almond oil as carrier. Rub on chest and back with gentle pressure. The touch of loving hands can do wonders, especially when applying medicinal oils.

Person washes their hands
Washing hands photo -- courtesy of

Wash hands often during cold and flu season to keep germs at bay.

Build up your immunity with good diet and medicinal herbs.

The best defense against infection is a healthy immune system. Avoid all processed foods, fried foods, and sugars. Don't take antibiotics or steroids unless absolutely necessary. Avoid pesticides and herbicides. Don't smoke tobacco or abuse alcoholic beverages. Exercise frequently. Eat a diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Drink lots of pure water.

Stress lowers immunity. Reduce stress by using rosemary essential oil and lavender essential oils with massage therapy. Get eight hours of sleep. Take Vitamin A, C, and E supplements. Drink echinacea, ginseng, astragalus, milk thistle seed, yellowroot, licorice root, or catnip tea often. Add garlic and parsley to foods. Remember that laughter is the best medicine -- it actually builds up the immune system by decreasing cortisol production -- so keep a sense of humor.

Cold and flu germs are contagious.

Colds and the flu are very contagious conditions so If possible, stay at home if you are sick. Symptoms include fever, headache, weakness, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Bacterial pneumonia, ear infection, sinus infection, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions are some of the known complications.

Wash your hands!

Prevent infection! There are many effective ways to prevent the spread of germs.

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  3. Dispose of the tissue immediately and then wash your hands.
  4. Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  5. Dry your hands with a disposable towel. Use the towel to turn off the faucet and then discard the towel into a trash can.
  6. Don't share drinks, food, or eating utensils.
  7. Stay home if you are sick.
  8. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  9. Build immunity with medicinal herbs.

Elderberry helps fight viral infections.

For the sniffles, try sipping a cup of elderberry, yarrow, and peppermint tea. Add ginger root for congestion. Echinacea, yellowroot, and myrrh are powerful natural antibiotics that can help but be sure to use in moderation.

Elderberries are known for protecting the respiratory tract, relieving fever, and soothing muscle aches. They grow abundantly in forested areas of the North Georgia Mountains and have been used for centuries as a tonic.

Clear congestion with horseradish.

Horseradish can relieve nasal congestion. Take a freshly grated piece of horseradish with a spoon full of lemon juice by mouth. Hot ginger or eucalyptus compresses can also help. Apply compress to chest area and cover with a light blanket for best results. If patient complains of burning, remove compress. Some people with sensitive skin might develop a rash or other inflammation.If so, apply aloe vera to area.

Relieve sore throat with white willow bark tea.

Sore throat is often a painful symptom of a cold. Echinacea, white willow bark, white oak bark, or yellowroot can be made into tea, cooled, and used as a soothing gargle or spray. Mix in a few drops of tea tree essential oil or clove essential oil for added strength.

A liquid diet is beneficial during the first day of a cold or flu. Include green drinks, vegetable and fruit juices, and lots of pure water in the diet. Only light meals throughout the day should be given until condition is improved.

* Echinacea, cloves, and other herbs can make the throat feel numb. This is not dangerous unless patient complains of difficulty breathing or smothering. If so, call 911. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines.

Also see using herbs to treat the flu for more information.

Payne Mountain Farms

Buy yellowroot and other wild-harvested herbs at Payne Mountain Farms.

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Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... , herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer

"Ointment and Perfume Rejoice the Heart." Proverbs 27:9

Every Green Herb is a place to learn about medicinal herbs and essential oils. Visit my online store to buy wild harvested yellowroot, mullein, bee balm, and other herbal products at Payne Mountain Farms.

* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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