Well, it’s finally cold & flu season, so I thought I would mention some herbs that help boost the immune system, fight off infections and overall improve general health. It should be noted that, just like other medications, you shouldn’t use the same herbs regularly, every day. It’s always best to use many herbs in moderation. There are a few exceptions, of course, like bee pollen or peppermint which you can use daily with no side effects. Then there are some that you should only use 3-4 days in a row and then stop using it for a week.
Today, I’m going to list several herbs that help boost the immune system. They can be made into tinctures, teas, capsules and even poultices. Many of the herbs listed below have properties that have shown to be effective against bacteria like E. Coli and Staphylococcus and viruses like the flu and colds.
Well the most popular and obvious one to start with is Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Even people who don’t use herbs have heard of this plant. It has been used for thousands of years for many illnesses like flu, colds and diabetes.
This is a wonderful herb that has antibiotic properties stronger than many prescription medicines. Unfortunately, it costs about as much as some prescriptions, costing up to $140 a pound wholesale for the wild-crafted loose herb. It has the ability to target “unwanted” bacteria, protozoa and yeasts. Goldenseal does not harm beneficial bacteria already in the system. It has even been used as a substitute for quinine.
You can make this into a tea when you have a cold or flu, before you get one (usually the best time), or afterwards to help your immune system to snap back more quickly.
Barberry bark (Berberis vulgaris) is another antibiotic herb that can be very beneficial for the immune system. On top of helping with the immune system, it boosts appetite, helps with diarrhea and aids the digestive system. Do not use this herb if pregnant!
Echinacea – (echinacea purpurea) (Europe) echinacea angustifolia (USA)
This is another great herb to help boost the immune system. It aids the body in resisting infections, stimulates the immune response and increases production of white blood cells. It also has high amounts of Vtiamins A, E and C. You can take it as capsules or tea.
Ginger Root – (Zingiber officinale) – Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of the taste of this herb, except in my pumpkin pie. But as far as a cold/flu fighter, this herb is right at the top of the list. The major benefits of Ginger is it’s ability to remove congestion, clear sore throats, upset stomach relief, indigestion relief and also relieves headaches and other body aches and pains. High in Vitamins A, B-complex and C, Protein, Calcium, Iron. You can make tea, take capsules, crystallized ginger root. Highly recommended when you are sick.
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
This herb is extremely bitter. Nearly as bitter as Wormwood. However, you can drink it as a tea if you add honey….alot of honey. It is one of the few herbs recommended for children. It has enormous expectorant properties and aids in loosening phlegm from the chest. Horehound aids also in healing wounds and stimulates the digestive tract. Contains Vitamins A, C, E . Note: don’t use this herb more than 4 days in a row.
Recipe: Immune booster tincture (Alcohol Free)
2 Tablespoons each of echinacea, horehound, ground ginger root
1 Tablespoon cayenne powder
10 capsules golden-seal (It is much cheaper this way just open the capsules and put in the mix.)
1 Quart Apple Cider Vinegar
Add the herbs to the vinegar and place in a saucepan
Add the vinegar to the herbs and mix well
Put on stove and simmer on low for 3-4 hours
Strain the mixture (best to use a coffee filter on the top of a large jar)
Lightly squeeze the coffee filter to get out as much of the juice as possible. This is one of the trickiest parts, because the coffee filter is very delicate.
Put a lid on the liquid that’s left over. Take 1 teaspoon 3-4 times daily when symptoms start. Mixture should stay good for up to a year.