Easy Herbal Remedies for When You’re Sick
Gardeners eat healthier. It just goes hand-in-hand that anyone who gardens will be consuming some of the freshest and healthiest food on the planet on a regular basis. Many of us grow herbs in addition to vegetables, for flavor-enhancement to cooking. The added nutritional value is a huge bonus as well.
Beyond nutrients, all herbs also have some medicinal quality, so if you’ve got herbs, whether fresh or dried, you can make some of your own herbal teas for colds and flu as well as other home remedies. We’ve written another article on the best herbs for fighting colds and flu1)https://gardensall.com/best-herbs-for-colds-and-flu/, so here we focus on making your super simple herbal tea remedies.
- Save you money
- Are healthier for you
- Empower you to improve your own health
So let’s talk about some easy, do-it-yourself herbal home remedies for when you’re dealing with a cold or a flu. Fancy ingredients are not necessary. In fact, let’s focus on plants that you likely already have growing in your garden, or are easy to source at your local organic market.
Now let’s get into some soothing, bug fighting herbal tea recipes using plants you’re probably already growing and spices that are likely already in your cabinet.
Herbal Tea Recipes for Colds and Flu
Get your infusers ready! When you’re feeling stuffed up and muddle-headed from a bug, nothing is more soothing than a hot cup of herbal tea. Wrap your hands around the warm cup, and breath in that healing, herby aroma.
- 1 heaping tsp dried peppermint leaf
- ¼ tsp dried elderberries
- ¼ tsp rose hips
Add all ingredients to an infuser, and pour about 8oz (1 cup) of boiling water over them. Steep for 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey if you like, preferably raw honey, since it has its own soothing and healing properties. This tea is safe for children, keeping in mind any allergies that your child may have.
- 4 thin slices of fresh ginger root, peeled
- ⅓ of a cinnamon stick (broken up)
- 2 whole cloves
*This is enough for a single serving, so just double or triple or quadruple to share it or to have extra throughout the day.
I typically do not use an infuser with this blend, as the ingredients tend to sink to the bottom anyway. Just add the ingredients to a cup, and pour about 8oz of boiling water over them. This one needs a long steep. Wait 10 minutes before drinking. If your tea is quite clear in color, that’s okay. None of these ingredients lend much color to the water.
Add a little black tea (1 teabag) to the cup if the gingery taste doesn’t agree with you. Then it will taste a bit like chai. Sweeten with a little honey. This tea is also safe for children, but recommend adding a decaffeinated or herbal teabag if adding that for a child.
Herbal teas aren’t the only home remedies that you can turn to for relief. Let’s look at herbal honeys.
If you thought tea was easy, wait until you learn how to use honey as a cold remedy. Herbal honeys combine the soothing, healing properties of honey with beneficial herbs and plants. Here’s how you can do this.
Regular garden sage is a powerhouse herb for sore throats, coughs, and colds. Infuse fresh sage into honey, and you’ve got a comforting, tasty remedy. Susun Weed shows us how to do this.
Mom’s Natural Cough Remedy
This quick cough remedy comes from my mother, who used to mix up batches of it when my young son’s post nasal drip would bring on a nasty cough.
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 4-5 whole cloves
Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl. Mix, cover and let steep for a couple of hours to give the cloves a chance to extract into the mixture. Take a teaspoonful every 4 hours until you’re feeling better. For small children, lower the dosage amount by about half. This remedy shouldn’t be given to children under 2 years of age, as they may become sensitized to the honey.
Editor’s Note: the best medicinal honey is Manuka honey. It’s expensive but we use it like medicine, so only when we need it.
You can get it on Amazon or at your local Whole Foods or Earth Fare type stores.
Many elderberry syrup recipes combine fresh or dried elderberries with honey in order to bring out the healing components of both into one handy remedy.
Studies show that taking elderberry syrup at the onset of flu symptoms can lessen the severity of symptoms and shorten the amount of time that you feel them.2)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016
A 2004 study of patients in Norway received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup 4 times a day for 5 days. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier than those not receiving the elderberry syrup.3)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016
Keeping a bottle of elderberry syrup on hand is always a good idea. John Gallagher with Mountain Rose Herbs shows us how. Or you can buy ready made elderberry syrup. We just Norm’s Farms Elderberry Syrup.
For more on elderberries, you may enjoy these articles:
- Elderberries and Elderflower.4)https://www.gardensall.com/elderberries-and-elderflower-for-food-medicine-tea-and-wine/
- Growing Elderberries with Norm’s Farms.5)https://www.plantingforretirement.com/growing-elderberry/
Beyond coughs and congestion, the aches and pains that come with the flu can make it hard to find a comfortable position. You know how if you have any sore spot or old injury, that spot becomes amplified with fever and flu? Well the good news is there are even natural remedies to help alleviate aches and pains from colds and flu.
Herbal Remedies for Flu Aches and Pains
Flu and severe colds often leave us feeling achy and out of sorts. An herbal bath soak or an infused massage oil can really help. Continuing with our “keep it simple” mantra, here are a couple of easy recipes.
Herbal Bath Soak
Chances are that you’ve got rosemary in your garden. It’s an evergreen plant in the more temperate states, and readily available fresh in markets. But if you’re not yet growing your own, all dried herbs are readily available these days on Amazon.
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 handful of dried chamomile flowers (about a cup)
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, cut into 3-4 smaller pieces
- large infuser w/ screw top or a large muslin bag
Add all of the ingredients into your infuser or muslin bag. Tie shut or screw on top, and add to hot bathwater. Soak to your heart’s content.
Infused Massage Oil
This recipe makes a great massage oil even when you’re not ailing.
- ¼ cup dried lavender flowers
- ¼ cup dried chamomile flowers
- enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the herbs, usually about a cup
The fastest way to infuse this oil is to use heat.
- Turn your oven on to its lowest temperature.
- Add all ingredients into an oven safe bowl.
- Once the oven reaches temperature, place the bowl into the center of the oven.
- Turn off the heat, but don’t open the oven door!
- Leave your oil in the oven for 2 hours.
- Remove, strain off the herbs, and there’s your massage oil.
Rub generously into achy limbs to help bring relief.
Alternatively you can cover your bowl, and set it somewhere to infuse at room temperature. This method will take 6 weeks to finish infusing. Be sure to shake it once in a while to keep the herbs incorporated into the oil.
I recommend using organic or homegrown ingredients wherever possible. Leaves, flowers, and roots are often sprayed with chemical pesticides or root growth inhibitors. They can be difficult to completely rinse off. Since these are the very parts of the plants that are chiefly used in herbal remedies, it’s best to avoid them if you can.
You don’t have to be a trained herbalist to start learning how to use herbs to better your health and your family’s health. A little know-how can bring big results!
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat illness. Always do your research before using an herbal remedy to ensure there are no allergy risks or cross-indications with any prescription medications that you are taking. Neither Gardens All, or any of its authors will be responsible for injury.
Jennifer is a clinical herbalist and health coach, specializing in autoimmune diseases like rheumatiod arthritis. Her interest in plant medicine led Jennifer to spend years studying herbology, physiology, and nutrition. She works one-on-one with her clients via her herbalist and health coaching business, Prairie Hawk Botanica. Jennifer lives on a homestead in rural Texas with her husband, 2 children, and various animals. In her spare time she loves to be in her large herb and vegetable garden. Sharing herb knowledge and her love of natural healing with others is her calling.
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