EchinaceaResults of archeological digs indicate that Native Americans may have used echinacea (echinacea purpurea) for more than 400 years to treat infections, snake bites and wounds, as well as a general "cure-all."
Scientific research has shown that the herb can keep immune systems healthy and strong, protecting it from common pathogens like the influenza virus. Research shows that echinacea extract works against an enzyme called hyaluronidase that destroys the body's defenses against diseases. Studies also suggest that echinacea may be helpful in not only destroying viruses like certain strains of influenza but slowing tumor growth.
ElderberryElderberry (sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis) has been used for centuries as a tonic for colds, flu and sinus infections . The seventeenth century herbalist, John Evelyn, referred to it as a remedy "against all infirmities what-so-ever."
While elderberry has been used for many generations as a medicinal tea, it has also recently been discovered that the botanical contains viburnic acid, a compound that encourages perspiration and aids in detoxifying body tissues. This means that elderberry can help reduce fever, purify the blood and cleanse the body's cells of pathogens.
Most of the elements that make up the elder flower have been used medicinally throughout history including the stems, leaves, berries and flowers. Israeli virologists have found that elderberry extract has proved to be specifically active against the influenza virus by blocking replication very effectively . Elder has many other health attributes as well and is safe for consumption by children.
At the first sign of flu symptoms, take a hot infused homemade tea of elderberry tincture, yarrow and peppermint right before bed to induce sweating and promote a good night's rest.
GingerFresh ginger root (zingiber officinale) is a warming botanical that has been used as a medicine in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions since ancient times .
Used for the treatment of digestive problems, stomach upset and nausea for more than 2,000 years, ginger has long been a popular natural remedy for a variety of ailments. A powerful anti-inflammatory, ginger has also been widely used for generations to help treat the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches and painful menstrual periods.
The warming nature of the root helps to produce sweating and thus helps to release pathogens. Ginger also helps to strengthen the immunity of weaker individuals who sweat without the relief of symptoms.
A great herbal tea can be made for those trying to recover from a cold or flu by simmering a couple of cinnamon sticks and sliced fresh ginger in water for at least 20 minutes. It can also be taken in high-dose supplement form to aid the immune system in warding off and killing the flu virus.
AndrographisAndrographis (andrographis paniculata) is used in Ayurvedic medicine and is considered part of Hindu folk medicine that originated in India. Traditionally used to treat upper respiratory infections and sinusitis, andrographis was shown in a recent study to reduce the symptoms of coughs, sore throats, headache and fever.
Andrographis may help to prevent upper respiratory tract infections if taken during the winter months on a daily basis, according to clinical evidence.
Andrographis may also help reduce the severity and duration of the flu, according to a 2003 study. When compared to 469 patients using the conventional antiviral medication amantadine, 71 study members using andrographis experienced about three fewer days of flu symptoms and were less likely to progress to complicated influenza.
In another research review published in 2004, scientists sized up seven clinical trials and found that andrographis was superior to the placebo in alleviating symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.
BonesetThe herb boneset (eupatorium perfoliatum) is an immune stimulant that has a long history of being used effectively in cases of influenza and fever .
The herb's common name of 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 .
Native Americans also used boneset to treat body aches and pains and for healing broken bones.
A great antiviral whose strong bitter taste helps dry out mucous and stimulate digestion of toxins, boneset has been said by many herbalists to be one of the best choices for herbal treatment of flu. Boneset was traditionally used to treat not only fever and flu but also respiratory allergies, chills , rheumatism, bruises, broken bones, urinary tract infection and jaundice. The powerful herb contains at least 23 nutrients including calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, niacin, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc.
The recommended way to take boneset internally for fevers is as a warm infusion or tea. Drink 4 to 5 cups of the tea while in bed to induce sweating.