Herbal healing and prevention for the flu

Drink lots of whole-plant herbal infusions or teas to keep your body well nourished and well hydrated.

by Kathleen Gould — 

Did you know that flu shots do not offer protection from all types of flu but only the ones the manufacturers predict will be active this winter?


Building a powerful immune system may be the best way to prevent the flu. Of course, this does not guarantee that you will not get the flu, but it certainly cannot hurt and may help, in most cases.

We all must understand that we are not just physical beings but, first and foremost, we are spiritual, emotional beings. As such, staying healthy means decreasing stress and thinking loving, positive thoughts as often as possible. Meditation and prayer are wonderful ways to bring us to a loving space in our hearts and minds. Just five to 10 minutes a day in meditation can make a big difference in our overall health.

Herbal infusions 

Drink lots of whole-plant herbal infusions or teas to keep your body well nourished and well hydrated. These herbs are brimming with vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants, free-radical scavengers and so much more that work to help you avoid the flu and colds, too.

Make your infusions strong, using up to one ounce of herb or herb blend per quart of water and let steep for at least four hours or overnight. Strain, refrigerate and drink two to four cups daily.

Anti-viral herbs — Flu and colds are caused by viruses, which are harder to treat than bacterial infections. One of my favorite anti-viral herbs for prevention is St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), although echinacea and some others work well, too. Take one dropper full each day for prevention. Note: If you already have the flu, take one dropper full two to three times per day.

Immune-boosting soups — Soups are an easy and delicious way to infuse the healing properties of herbs right into your food. Include herbs like astragalus root, dandelion, eleuthero and burdock root. I put these tough roots in a small muslin bag and infuse them in my pot of soup so I can just pull the bag out when the soup is done. Make sure to add lots of onion and garlic for their amazing immune-enhancing qualities. Do not forget the medicinal mushrooms and sea vegetables. You can use some or all of these immune-boosting herbs in almost every soup you make.

If you get the flu 

The main herb to use is boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), mixed with a bit of red root (Ceanothus fendleri) in tincture form. Boneset is an immune stimulant that has a long history of being used effectively in cases of influenza and fever. The herb’s common name, boneset, was derived from its ability to break the terrible fevers associated with the flu. These fevers were so severe that they were described as bone fever. Red root is a wonderful lymph-system stimulant, tonic, anti-inflammatory and more.

Oil of oregano — According to Cass Ingram, M.D., in her book, The Cure Is in the Cupboard, “Oil of oregano is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it might destroy free radicals that cause cancer, strokes and heart disease. Oregano oil works as an antioxidant because of several potent compounds, including rosmarinic acid, hydroxycinnamic acid, p-hydroxyhydrocaffeic acid and labiatic acid.” The American Cancer Society states that oregano contains about 30 times more antioxidant capacity than oranges and 42 times the antioxidant power of apples.

Personal note: In researching oil of oregano products, I found that dosages vary quite a bit. Many companies dilute it with olive oil, which can decrease the strength of the product, so make sure you purchase a quality product.

If you experience emotional exhaustion, which usually occurs when sick, use motherwort herb (Leonurus cardiaca) in tincture form to help calm the emotional heart. It is also a good idea to make up some beautiful herbal teas using chamomile, lemon balm, passion flower, etc. to help nourish the nervous system. Add some slippery elm to help protect the stomach and provide the body with some much-needed nutrients.

The following is an herbal protocol that gets great results. But please take note, every physiology is unique, so heed your inner wisdom. For the most part herbs are safe, but do take the time to learn about them as a few should be used with caution. You can also check with a qualified herbalist if you are unsure how to begin. This protocol is contraindicated in pregnancy.

  • Boneset with red root tincture: One dropper full, two to four times per day in a little water.
  • Oil of oregano: For the first few days, take about five to 10 drops (depending on the product preparation) in water, three or four times per day, then decrease to two to four drops, two times a day as symptoms lessen. Note: Dosages can vary from one product to another, so make sure you purchase a quality product and follow package directions.
  • Motherwort tincture: One dropper full, two to four times per day, as needed.
  • Herbal infusions or tea: Drink freely throughout the day but at least one cup, two to four times per day.

Every day, more of us are coming back to the realization that herbs are potent allies for both prevention and healing. Open yourself to the earth and all her healing medicines. She is waiting for you, and she will answer. All you need to do is ask.

Note: Always consult your medical practitioner before beginning any herbal remedies.


Kathleen Gould is a registered herbalist and a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild. Proprietor of SW Herb Co. in Gilbert, Ariz., she conducts private consultations and herbal healing classes. kathyswherbco@yahoo.com, 480-694-9931 or www.swherbco.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 1, February/March 2013.

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