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Prevent Colds and the Flu with Herbal Remedies

Prevent Colds and the Flu with Herbal Remedies

By Peter Laker

Herbal RemediesWith the change of seasons colds and flu become a fact of life. Viral infections take their toll each winter with new and more virulent strains incapacitating sufferers for weeks at a time.

We know that anti-biotics are useful for bacterial infections but have no effect on viruses, which are responsible for most of our cold and flu infections. Doctors normally give anti-biotics for precautionary reasons in the event of secondary bacterial infections. Unfortunately even anti-biotics are fast becoming ineffective, giving little relief if any at all.

In this overly stressful life we live with constant stimulation from environmental pollution, processed foods, sugar and caffeinated products, noise pollution and so on, we have little time to relax and allow the body and mind to repair and recuperate. This constant stress can deplete our nervous and glandular system weakening our immune systems and leaving us open to infection.

Thankfully there are plants that can help us, especially the anti-microbial, immune boosting and adaptogenic herbs. The anti-microbials form two groups, the first are surface immune stimulants used to quickly curtail a cold or flu if used at the early warning signs such as a sore throat. The second group of herbs, which are deep immune tonics, work slowly but surely to bring about a positive change and are best suited for chronic conditions connected to immune deficiency.

Taken over several months, deep immune tonics boost and improve the immune system, which becomes stronger and more able to resist disease. Many of the deep immune tonic herbs are also adaptogenic, which means they help the body via the nervous and glandular systems to build resistance to physical, emotional and mental stresses, which is extremely important in maintaining a good immune system and overall good health.

Echinacea

The most often used immune stimulate is Echinacea, an anti-microbial herb that quickly activates the body’s immune cells into action. Echinacea is already a household word known by most for its ability to stop a viral or bacterial infection in its tracks especially if taken at the onset of an infection. Clinical trials have supported Echinacea’s traditional claims for treating all types of infections from respiratory to urogenital. It is often taken alone but works very well in combination with other anti-microbials and immune stimulating herbs.

Goldenseal, Barberry, and Oregon Grape

These herbs are very similar in their actions but each with its own unique qualities. Research has shown that berberine, which is common to all these herbs stimulates the immune system and increases white blood cells, necessary in combating infections. The berberine herbs can be used interchangeably and when taken together, will work synergistically to enhance each other creating a powerful anti-microbial effect useful for all types of infections as well as helping to build resistance to them.

Licorice root

This tasty root has been traditionally used for viral and bacterial infections, ulcers, respiratory infections and asthma. Recent research has discovered isoflavonoids in licorice have an anti-microbial effect useful against, strep, staph and Candida albicans. Licorice also supports adrenal glands, which become exhausted from constant stress, eventually having an impact on the immune system.

Astragalus

This adaptogenic herb is used to build resistance to all diseases including colds, flu and cancer inhibiting tumors from spreading. It has a positive effect on the nervous and glandular systems building resistance to stress. It has deep immune tonic properties and when taken over an extended period of time will boost the immune system and protect against infections.

These herbs are an integral part of my personal medicine chest to prepare for the coming cold and flu season. They are especially useful for prevention but also help to reduce the symptoms and length of an infection.

 

Peter Laker, C.H., R.H., C.C.Ir., is a Clinical Herbalist and Iridologist and teaches Herbal Studies. He is a graduate of the Dominion Herbal College and studied with the General Council and Register of Consultant Herbalists (GreatBritain). He was president of the Central Canadian Herbal Practitioners Association. Peter is a professional member of the Ontario Herbalists Association and the Iridologists’ Association of Canada and has been in private practice since 1981.