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 Cold/Flu  Holistic-online.com

Herbal Medicine for Flu/Colds

"I've gone two or three years without a cold or flu by taking echinacea."

Steven Foster, Herbalist, and co-author of 'Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients.'

"Some years I don't get any . . . I eat raw garlic. I take echinacea."

Andrew Weil, M.D., Professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, AZ and author of 'Natural Health, Natural Medicine.'

Herbal remedies cannot cure a cold or flu. But they can bring relief of symptoms, stimulate the immune system and speed recovery. We will describe several herbal remedies useful for colds and flu. Later we will describe important herbs for treating flu.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal Fever Remedy

1 ounce dried Elder Flowers
1 ounce dried Peppermint Leaves
˝ pint distilled water

Mix the herbs. Place in a quart saucepan. Pour 1/2 pints of distilled boiling water over it. Cover and allow to steep in a hot place for 10 to 15 minutes (do not boil). When ready, strain into another saucepan. Sweeten with honey if desired.

This remedy drops high temperature associated with flu quite effectively. In some cases, the temperature has been reduced from 104 to 99 degrees within two hours!! According to Dr. Dr. Edward E. Shook, well known herbalist, "there is no remedy for colds and fevers of any description equal to this simple life-saving formula." More Information.

Other Remedies

Psyllium - Boneset Flu Remedy: This remedy is useful for flu as well as for backaches and headaches.

Peppermint-Rosemary-Elder Flu Remedy: This remedy is good for colds with flu Symptoms.

Echinacea and goldenseal stimulate the immune sys tem. Goldenseal also helps to soothe mucous membranes. Add 10-15 drops of a combination of echinacea and goldenseal to herbal teas at the first sign of a sniffle to boost the immune system. Take one dose of an echinacea and goldenseal combination remedy supplying 250 to 500 milligrams of echinacea and 150 to 300 milligrams of goldenseal three times daily for five days.

An infusion of boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) may relieve aches and fever and clear congestion: Simmer 1 cup boiling water with 2 tsp of the herb for 10 to 15 minutes; drink a cupful every hour, as hot as you can stand it.

A comforting herbal tea may be made from an infusion of equal measures of elderflowers, peppermint and hyssop. Caution: Take only small doses of hyssop (no more than 1-2g three times daily).

To combat chills, try taking 30 drops of yarrow (Achillea millefolium) or elder (Sambucus nigra) flower tincture every four hours until your chills are gone.

Use a warming tea made of Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Cayenne (Capsicum minimum) and ground Ginger (Zingiber officinalis).

To help yourself rest and relax, take a cup of chamomile tea twice a day.

Use inhalations of chamomile, eucalyptus or thyme. These help loosen mucus and heal the throat, nasal passages and bronchial tubes. 

Horsetail inhalations reduce swelling of mucous membranes.

At the first sign of the flu, begin taking the Chinese botanical formula Yin Qiao. (This remedy usually is not helpful after the third day of symptoms.) Take two or three tablets three times a day, up to twelve tablets in a twenty- four-hour period, during the acute phase of the flu. After the symptoms start to ease, reduce the dosage to one tablet three times daily for one week.

In a 1995 Israeli study, elderberry extract was found to reduce both the severity of symptoms and the duration of flu (two to three days in the treated group versus six days in the placebo group). Choose an extract standardized to contain 5 percent total flavonoids and take 500 milligrams twice daily.

Garlic helps to detoxify the body. Take 500 milligrams (or one clove) three times a day for up to five days.

Take ginger tea. Ginger tea is antiviral and helps break up the mucus and congestion. Ginger tea is excellent if the stomach is affected. To make the tea, boil 2 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and steep for 10 minutes. Take a cup as needed.

Onion or nasturtium inhalations disinfect. 

Ginkgo biloba leaf inhalations kill bacteria and heal the cells of the damaged mucous membranes almost immediately.

Inhale steam for fifteen minutes three times daily in acute stage. When the condition is improving, inhale steam in the evening before retiring for a week or so to help heat the bronchial passages.

When feeling more feverish, induce sweating by taking infusions of Catmint (Nepeta cataria) and/or Elderflower (Sambucus nigra). 

To help alleviate and disinfect dry air passages, add 10 drops of tea tree oil to a bowl of hot water or vaporizer and leave in bedroom overnight. A small handkerchief sprinkled with a few drops of the oil and left under the pillow may help as well.

At the onset of a flu, drink lindenflower tea with 2 drops of lemon balm oil, thyme tea with honey, rose hip tea or acerola juice. When you start to sweat, quickly go to bed and continue sweating for one hour. Change clothes, rub body dry and try to steep. This therapy often stops the flu before it becomes full blown.

Gargle regularly with sage tea to disinfect mouth, and use sage inhalations to reduce inflammation.

Wash body with an infusion of thyme or juniper needles. 

If you are suffering from muscular aching, use an infusion of Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) alone, or in combination with Catmint (Nepeta cataria) and/or Elderflower (Sambucus nigra).

Chinese Herbal Formula for Flu

Gan Mao Dan (Common Cold and Flu Pills)

This remedy expels Wind-Heat, reduces fever, relieves chest congestion, and stops cough.


.Fever with slight chills 
.Red eyes 
.Runny nose 
.Skin rash 
.Sore throat


Lonicera Flower (Flos Lonicerae), Forsythia Fruit (Fructus Forsythiae), Gardenia Fruit (Fructus Gardeniae), Phragmites Rhizome (Rhi- zoma Phragmites), Red Peony Root (Radix Paeonia Rubra), Wooly Grass Rhizome (Rhizoma Imperatae Cylindricae), Soja Seed (Semen Sojae Praeparatum), Mentha Herb (Herba Menthae), Morus Leaf (Herba Mori), Schizonepeta Herb (Herba Schizonepetae), Aster Root (Radix Asteris Tatarici), Platycodon Root (Radix Platycodi), Citrus Peel (pericarpium Citri Reticulatae)


20 pills twice a day.

Important Herbs for Flu


Echinacea has been a traditional favorite for colds and flu. Double blind studies in Germany have shown that infections with flu-like symptoms clear more rapidly when taking echinacea.1 Echinacea appears to work by stimulating the immune system. Taking 3–5 ml of tincture or 300 mg of dried root powder three times per day is usually recommended.

See Herbal Remedies for Cold for more information.


Elderberry is another herb that has been used in treating flu. This herb contains two compounds that are active against flu viruses. It also prevents the virus from invading respiratory tract cells.

A patented Israeli drug (Sambucol) that contains elderberry is active against various
strains of viruses. In a clinical trial testing Sambucol, twenty percent of flu sufferers who used it showed significant relief of fever, muscle aches and other symptoms within 24 hours, and another 73 percent felt better after the second day. In three days, 90 percent were reported completely cured. In a similar group that received an inactive treatment (a placebo), only 26 percent were improved in two days, and it took most of them six days to feel well again.

Sambucol also stimulates the immune system and has shown some activity in preliminary trials against other viruses, such as Epstein-Barr, herpes and even HIV. 

In a small double blind trial,  patients with influenza2 were found to recover three times faster when they took one capsule of elderberry extract four times daily compared to patients taking placebo.

You can take the medication or take the herb by making a tea from the herb. 

Make elderberry-flower tea by steeping 3 to 5 g of dried flowers in one cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Take 1 cup of this tea 3 times daily.

Elderberry flower is generally regarded as safe. Side effects are rare and consist primarily of occasional mild gastrointestinal distress or allergic reactions. Its safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not established.


Astragalus root has been used to enhance immunity for thousands of years in China. This herb is considered by herbal practitioners to be a tonic that strengthens the body’s resistance to disease. Astragalus can stimulate practically all of the processes of your immune system. It increases the number of stem cells in bone marrow and speeds their growth into active immune cells.

Astragalus also may help boost levels of interferon, one of your body’s potent fighters against viruses. This, in turn, can help prevent or shorten the duration of colds and flu. Astragalus alson boosts the production of white blood cells called macrophages, whose function is to destroy invading viruses and bacteria.

As soon as you discover the flu, take one 500- milligram capsule of astragalus four times a day until symptoms disappear. Then take one capsule twice a day for seven days to prevent a relapse. 


Garlic is known to kill influenza virus in test tubes.3 It also stimulates the immune system and wards off complications such as bronchitis. 

Garlic contains several helpful compounds, including allicin, one of the plant kingdom's most potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics. This herb's aromatic compounds are readily released from the lungs and respiratory tract, putting garlic's active ingredients right where they can be most effective against cold viruses.

  Holistic practitioners often recommend taking several cloves of raw garlic per day during an infection. You can also take aged garlic extract, or consume products such as hot garlic bread or toast.

Asian ginseng (eleuthero)

Asian ginseng have immune-enhancing properties, which play a potential role in preventing infection with influenza. Boneset has been shown in test tube and other studies to stimulate immune cell function.4 This may explain boneset’s traditional use to help fight off minor viral infections, such as the flu.

See Herbal Remedies for Cold for more information.

Wild Indigo:  

Wild indigo contains polysaccharides and proteins that are believed to stimulate the immune system. It is used traditionally to fight the flu5 in combination with herbs such as echinacea, goldenseal, or thuja.

Forsythia and honeysuckle

These herbs are used by Oriental Medicine practitioners to treat colds, flu and other viruses. They have real antiviral benefits.

At the inception of cold or flu, mix honeysuckle and forsythia with lemon balm tea (lemon balm also has antiviral properties.) Take this tea before going to bed.


A tea made with mullein flowers provides throat-soothing mucilage and also has an expectorant effect. Herbalists think that this plant contains compounds that inhibit flu viruses. You can also make a tea with mullein leaf.

Other Herbs 
Lemon balm
Oregon grape

More Information:

Herbal Medicine Infocenter in Holisticonline.com for more information about individual herbs or combination teas and for their safety information.

Herbal Remedies for Cold

Natural Antibiotic Herbs for Immunity


1. Braunig B, Dorn M, Limburg E, et al. Echinacea purpurea radix for strengthening the immune response in flu-like infections. Z Phytother 1992;13:7–13 [in German].

2. Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L) during an outbreak of influenza B in Panama. J Alt Comp Med 1995;1:361–69.

3. Tsai Y, Cole LL, et al. Antiviral properties of garlic: In vitro effects of influenza B, herpes simplex and Coxsackie viruses. Planta Med 1985;(5):460–61.

4. Woerdenbag HJ, Bos R, Hendriks H. Eupatorium perfoliatum L—the boneset. Z Phytother 1992;13:134–39.

5. Beuscher N, Kopanski L. Stimulation of immunity by the contents of Baptisia tinctoria. Planta Med 1985;5:381–84.


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