Natural Health Blog

20 Herbs for Colds, Flu, Better Nutrition & Stress

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Anything *starred is excellent for children!

*Peppermint: Mentha Piperita

  • This herb is in a class of it’s own, it’s tasty! Add it to herbs that you don’t like the taste of.
  • Amazing flavor, digestive, cooling, good for gas or upset stomach.  
  • Can be used to flavor herbs that don’t taste good.  
  • It’s a wonderful herb to infuse in oil as the aroma is calming and at the same time invigorating.
  • Infuse in oil for at least 4 to six weeks for best results.
  • Can be used fresh or dried.
  • Pick leaves just before they flower.
  • When harvesting avoid brown and bug-eaten leaves.
  • Dry hanging upside down secured with rubber bands until crispy.  
  • Leaves should be green and still contain there aromatic quality.  
  • Store in glass.
  • Where to buy the herbal tea?  
  • Like to buy in bulk? Here’s the link.
  • Store in glass.
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Nutritive Herbs

Red Raspberry: Rubus idaeus

  • The leaves are used and can be collected throughout the summer. Dry slowly in a ventilated area.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf is astringent, tonic, and cooling.
  • It’s a tea that I drink regularly and I really like the taste. Very nutritious plant!
  • It’s been used during pregnancy traditionally as it tones the uterus, strengthens the tissues of the womb which will help if hemorrhages occur during delivery. It should be drunk before, during and after the pregnancy.
  • It is a very nutritious herb, very high in iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, selenium, vitamin A and Vitamin C!
  • Often administered to children for diarrhea, flu and vomiting.
  • It is the richest source of manganese in the herbal world making it excellent for women that lack love for their children.
  • Where to buy the herbal tea? Here’s the link.
  • Like to buy in bulk? 
  • Store in glass.
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*Stinging Nettle: Urtica dioica:  

  • Nutritive herb that helps to build the body in any condition.
  • It’s so tasty, I have yet to meet a person that doesn‘t love the flavor!  
  • High in Chlorophyll it is excellent for digestion and oxygenation of the blood.  
  • Also high in vitamin C.
  • It is a very inexpensive herb also so you can buy a pound organic for under $10!
  • Nettle can be used fresh or dried.
  • When harvesting avoid brown and bug-eaten leaves.
  • Collect Nettle (wearing gloves) in early summer before or during flowering.
  • Dry hanging upside down secured with rubber bands until crispy.  
  • Leaves should be green after drying.  
  • Leaves will still have there “sting” until they are blanched in hot water.
  • I find that this herb is easier to buy organic from Mountain Rose Herbs as harvesting is difficult. Here’s the link to buy there.
  • If you’d rather have it in tea bags, check out this link at vitacost.com.
  • Store in glass.
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Dandelion Leaves & Root: Taraxacum officinale

  • It’s medicinal and nutritive from top to root.  
  • Potassium rich diuretic
  • Excellent for problems of the liver and gallbladder.
  • Leaves should be eaten as fresh as possible.  
  • They can be eaten in early spring with ease, they are tender and delicious.
  • Later they will become bitter but are still very good for you.  
  • Mix it in with your romaine in your chicken Caesar salad & you won’t even know it’s there!   
  • Root are unearthed in the early spring (March through May) or in the fall after the flowers have died away. This will yield the most potent roots.  Pull the taproot out carefully (they are usually very deep)  
  • Chop up dandelion fresh before they dry and lay out flat on a plate for 2 weeks.  
  • They must be completely dry before storing or they could mold.  
  • This Root is also very bitter, making a tincture out of it is a great way to administer.
  • Where to buy? Here’s the link for tea bags:
  • The capsules are here.
  • Like to buy herbs in bulk? Here’s the link.
  • Store in glass.

**Dandelion Roots are a good source of Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus & Copper, The leaves are a good source of Fiber, Vit A, Vit C, Vit E, Vit K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vit B6, Calcium, Iron, Potassium & Manganese.

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*Chickweed: Stellaria media

  • One of the most common “weeds” you’ll find in the yard.
  • Highly Nutritious food; it’s high in Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Silicon, Sodium and Zinc!
  • Delicious in salads and easy to grow. I grow it in a pot on the back porch for salads in the summer.
  • This is best used fresh, either in salads, smoothies or used to make ointments.
  • Topically it’s very soothing for scrapes, bites, and itching.
  • This herb is a wonderful first aid plant as it is used to draw out heat of infection & poisons.
  • See my page on Ointment Making and Poultice making to learn how.
  • I growing growing this and using it fresh rather than buying it.

Calm Children & Stress Management

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Passionflower Passiflora incarnata

  • With passion flower only the leaves are used; best picked just before the plant flowers.
  • Passionflower is hypnotic, sedative and anti-spasmodic.
  • This herb is valuable to those with insomnia; helping to transition into restful sleep without a narcotic hangover.
  • Used with success in spasmodic conditions such as parkinson’s disease, seizures and hysteria.
  • Effective for nerve pain; and the viral infection of nerves called shingles.
  • Can be used with spasmodic cough.
  • Where to buy? Here’s the link for the tincture.
  • Like to buy in bulk?
  • Store in glass.

*Catnip: Nepeta Cateria

  • Calming, digestive and antipyretic (anti-fever) it is a useful tool for small children especially.  
  • Catnip is NOT tasty so mask it with other flavors like peppermint and honey.
  • Make Catnip Ice-cubes from the brew to use in children’s juice cups.   
  • Use a hot infusion combined with ALOT of peppermint at night to ensure calm and easy bedtime.  
  • When harvesting avoid brown and bug-eaten leaves and collect between June and September.
  • Dry hanging upside down secured with rubber bands until crispy.  
  • Leaves should be green and still contain there aromatic quality.  
  • This herb doesn’t taste good so I find that it goes over better to make a tincture of this.
  • Where to buy? Here’s the link for tea bags.
  • Like to buy herbs in bulk? Here’s the link.
  • Store in glass.
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*Chamomile: Matricaria chamomilla

  • Calming, anti-spasmodic, astringent, digestive, anti-inflammatory and healing.
  • Children love the taste of chamomile flower and they can consume it often to promote calm.
  • There are endless uses but to name a few, digestive complaints, upset stomach, colic, diarrhea, sore throats (gargle), gas, nasal congestion (inhale steam), anxiety, tension, insomnia, speeds wound healing & more.
  • Chamomile can be used topically for any skin irritation, scrape or cut.
  • Delicious iced or hot. If your child doesn’t care for it at first, add a dab of raw honey and that is sure to win them over!
  • I like chamomile in tea but it does make a nice tincture which is perfect for dosing the kids when they won’t simmer down for bed and you don’t have time for tea. See my Tincture Making page for information on how to make them and dosages.
  • Where to buy? Here’s the link for tea bags.
  • Like to buy herbs in bulk? Here’s the link.
  • Store in glass.
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Valerian Root: Valeriana officinalis

  • Valerian Root is a fantastic Nervous System Herb.  
  • It is wonderful for insomnia, anxiety, nervous tension, over-excitability, back spasms or menstrual cramps.  
  • It has a unique pungent aroma that I have come to describe as the “ stink of sleep”  
  • Yes, it smells bad but I get such great results that I have come to really like it.
  • This root is very high in Selenium & Calcium therefore it’s great for women and those with thyroid imbalance.
  • You can take it in capsule, tincture or tea.
  • If you do drink the tea it will be very pungent, so combine it with nettle and peppermint to mask the flavor.  
  • Valerian Root should be unearthed in the fall or early spring after the flowers die away.  
  • Clean the roots, dry with a paper towel and chop them up before they dry.
  • Dry flat on a plate for at least 2 weeks. Use dry or fresh for tea.
  • This herb makes a wonderful tincture (again, it will be stinky), see my tincture making page to learn how.
  • Where to buy? Here’s the link for the tea bags.
  • Here’s the capsules link (recommended for first timers!)
  • Like to buy herbs in bulk? Here’s the link for that.
  • Store in glass.
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St. John’s Wort: hypericum perforatum

  • This herb is a little harder to find wild, sometimes even hard to cultivate.
  • The aerial parts should be used .
  • St. Johns Wort is widely know as an anti-depressant, but this herb does SO much more.
  • It’s found commercially in ointments for healing wounds, scrapes and scratches.
  • It’s anti-inflammatory, astringent, healing and sedative.
  • It is used for pain, anxiety, tension, and menopausal changes where irritability and anxiety is problematic.
  • It is used with success for any nerve pain whatsoever (for example sciatic pain).
  • St. Johns Wort can be made into a very nice tincture, drunk as an herbal tea and used in ointment making for topical use.
  • I have much personal experience with this herb, having known at least 3 great friends that take it daily for mild depression. When deep depression persists, please reach out to a health practitioner for guidance.
  • Where to buy? Here’s the link for tea bags.
  • Here’s where you buy the capsules.
  • Like to buy herbs in bulk? Here’s the link for that.
  • Store in glass.

Healing

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*Plantain: Plantago major

  • This plant is everywhere in Michigan. It’s a great plant to have in a pinch as topically it’s wonderful for bites, stings, scratches and wounds.
  • The leaves and the aerial parts are used.
  • Plantain is expectorant, soothing, astringent, and diuretic.
  • It’s ideal for coughing and milk bronchitis.
  • It’s astringency makes it good for diarrhea hemorrhoids and cystitis where there is bleeding.
  • This herb makes a fabulous addition to any healing ointment. See my page on ointment making for more information.
  • Plantain should be harvested at home because it’s so easy to grow.
  • Makes a wonderful addition to green drinks too as it’s a very nutritious plant.
  • It’s high in Calcium, fiber, fat, protein, silicon, sodium, and zinc.
  • Buy Plantain seeds here.
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Comfrey: Symphytum officinale

  • This is a rainy day herb; excellent for wound healing and broken bone healing..
  • Comfrey is a beautiful plant that is prolific as can be. Cut it down to size one day and in a few days it will be right back where it started from. It’s in part to the existence of Allantoin.
  • Allantoin is a chemical that stimulates cell proliferation. 
  • This makes it one of the most important herbs on the planet for wound healing both externally.
  • Comfrey root and leaves should be applied topically.
  • Roots should be dug up in fall or spring and split down the middle and chopped to dry.
  • Leaves may be picked just prior to flowering or during flowering and used fresh or dry.
  • It can be used for broken bones, wounds, bronchitis, ulcerative colitis, duodenal ulcers, and wounds.
  • Care should be taken with very deep wounds, however, as the external application of Comfrey can lead to tissue forming over the wound before it has healed deeper down, possibly leading to abscesses.
  • Where to buy? The root should be applied topically in a poultice or ointment. SO, Here’s the link for the bulk root: Which could be used to make a poultice or ointment.
  • Buy comfrey seed at horizonherbs.com
  • Store in glass.
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Yarrow: Achillea millefolium

  • Aerial Parts should be used and this herb is EVERYWHERE in the summer- I’ve found yarrow from coast to coast.
  • Leaves or the flowering tops should be used before they brown.
  • Dry yarrow by tying it in bunches and hanging it for two weeks.
  • This is a useful herb as it is diaphoretic (meaning that it lowers fevers naturally), it lowers blood pressure, it is a wonderful astringent, diuretic and antiseptic.
  • Since this herb is so useful for fevers it can be used for cold and flu with success.
  • It dilates and tones the blood vessels making it great to reduce blood pressure.
  • It’s a wonderful urinary antiseptic and is indicated for cystitis (inflammation or thinning of the bladder), for those with recurrent bladder infections, I would start with this herb.
  • Where to buy capsules? Here’s the link: Herbal tea bags are usually unavailable with this plant.
  • Like to buy in bulk? Here’s the link for that.
  • Store in glass.

COLD AND FLU

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*Mullein: Verbascum Thapsus

  • A fantastic respiratory herb with soothing and healing properties for all issues of the lungs.  
  • Both the flowers and the leaves are used.
  • Asthma, Wet and Dry Coughs, Pneumonia.  
  • Leaves must be picked before they turn brown.
  • They make an excellent cough remedy infused in honey with White Horehound.
  • Fresh Flowers should be plucked as they bloom and added to olive oil for an earache oil.
  • Infuse Mullein Flowers in olive oil for 4 to 6 weeks for best results
  • When harvesting avoid brown and bug-eaten leaves.
  • Dry hanging upside down secured with rubber bands until crispy.
  • If preserved properly the leaves should be green. Store in glass.
  • Where to buy the tea bags? Here’s the link.
  • Like to buy in bulk? Here’s the link.
  • Store in glass.
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*Echinacea: Echinacea augustifolia

  • This is a plant that is probably known to you as Cone Flower.
  • Echinacea has a long history of being used for both viruses, colds and infections.
  • It doesn’t taste great so adding it to Nettle with Peppermint is usually how I do it.   
  • It is best when taken in a “Pulse” pattern. Taking it every other day for two weeks then stopping for 1 week.  
  • Use this “Pulse” pattern during cold and flu season or if you feel like your immune system is compromised.
  • The roots of this plant are medicinal and they should be unearthed in the fall after the flower dies away.
  • You will want to clean the roots and chop them up.  
  • Pat them dry with unbleached paper towel and allow to dry flat on a plate.  
  • This herb makes a wonderful, easy, inexpensive tincture. See my Tincture Making page to find out how.
  • Let them dry for at least 3 weeks.
  • Want to buy the tea? Here’s the link. 
  • Want to buy the capsules? Here’s the link for that: 
  • Like to buy in bulk? Here’s the link for that.
  • Store in glass.  
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Click to Enlarge*Elderberry: Sambucus nigra

  • This entire plant is medicinal & you can cultivate it at home but it’s more involved & requires quite a bit of yard space. Harvest is in August or September.
  • The dried berries can be purchased and used to make elderberry syrup: Here’s the recipe for that. See below for the links to buy dried elderberry.
  • Buy a high quality Elderberry Extract and your good to go!  Feel free to reach out to me for info on a good brand.
  • Take liquid extracts (15 to 30 drops every 3 hours at first sign of flu)
  • Take 3 to 6 capsules ever 3 hours at the first sign of flu.
  • Helps you to recover from flu in half the time!
  • This is THE preventative measure for flu.  
  • It doesn’t matter if it’s H1N1, this should be taken from September to March during flu season for children.
  • Taken every week it keeps flu out of your house!  
  • To prevent flu take 15 drops every other day or so.
  • It can also be used for avoiding Colds & for Hayfever.
  • Where to buy the tea?  
  • Here’s where to buy capsules.
  • Here’s the link for a liquid elderberry tincture.
  • Like to buy in bulk? Here’s the link for that: http://goo.gl/5expa
  • Store in glass.
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Click to Enlarge*White Horehound: Marrubium vulgare

  • VERY Bitter tasting herb
  • Effective herb with bronchitis, unproductive cough and it is especially good for whooping cough.  
  • The leaves and flowers are the medicinal part of this plant.
  • This herb should be collected while the flowers are in blossom (anytime between June and September).  
  • It’s a bitter herb so it stimulates the flow of bile and assist in digestion.
  • Topically it can be used to promote healing of wounds. Use this herb to make a fabulous cough syrup with Mullein and Raw Honey.
  • It’s effective, inexpensive and 100% natural.
  • I recommend making a tincture out of this too.
  • Where to buy? Here’s the link for the liquid tincture- but be warned it’s the worst tasting herb ever!
  • Like to buy in bulk?  
  • Store in glass.
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*Coltsfoot: Tussilago farfara

  • This is an amazing respiratory herb. Ideally it should be used fresh.
  • The flowers are picked in very early spring (between February and April)
  • It’s an expectorant and at the same time reduces the severity of coughs as it has an anti-spasmodic action
  • Coltsfoot is soothing, reduces mucus, and diuretic.
  • It is used successfully with bronchitis, irritating coughs, whooping cough, asthma, emphysema and even cystitis.
  • This is a wonderful herb for making cough syrups. Combine with raw honey, white horehound and mullein.
  • See my Tincture Making page for notes on making cough syrups with coltsfoot.
  • This herbs should be grown and used fresh. Buy the seeds at horizonherbs.com
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*Raw Garlic: allium sativum:

  • I had to add this to the list as I wholeheartedly believe in it’s protective benefits.
  • One of the most effective anti-microbial plants available; it acts on bacteria, viruses & parasites.  
  • The daily consumption of raw garlic supports the body like no other plant.   
  • Used for lung infections, chronic bronchitis, recurrent colds & flu, whooping cough, bronchitic asthma.  
  • It’s an excellent preventative measure.  
  • It even supports the development of healthy bacteria while killing disease causing bacteria in the intestines.  Odor free garlic can be taken in capsule but there is nothing like pure raw garlic!  
  • Raw Garlic by definition has not been cooked at more than 110º for 5 minutes. If I’m adding it to soup, sauces or other dishes, it will be the LAST thing I put in before serving to make it very strong and medicinal.
  • If the breath becomes a problem just make sure that everyone is eating it and the problem is solved;)
  • Where to buy? Buying garlic in capsules is an option, BUT raw garlic is best:) Here’s the link to buy a good brand.
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*Sage Leaf: Salvia officinalis

  • Sage is known throughout the world as a culinary herb, but it has many medicinal values which makes it helpful if you have nothing else in the house.
  • Sage is astringent, digestive, great for upset stomachs or indigestion, sore throats, tonsilitis, gingivitis, headaches and night sweats.
  • Chinese herbalist use it for treating weakness of the stomach, nerves and to support digestion.
  • Sage is antimicrobial, antispasmodic, stimulates the production of gastric juices and relaxes smooth muscles.
  • If you damage your gums, swish with sage herbal tea 3 times daily to speed healing and reduce pain.
  • I recommend growing sage, it comes back each year and it’s so easy and fun to grow.
  • Should be avoided in quantity during pregnancy.
  • Where to buy the herbal tea?
  • Like to buy in bulk? Here’s the link. 
  • Store in glass.

Honorable mention herbs:

  • Black walnut: High in iodine and a great parasite cleanser.
  • Marshmallow: A great soothing herb from mouth to anus, this one is excellent for digestive complaints and urinary tract irritations.
  • Slippery Elm: This is a wonderful soothing herb for the esophagus and intestines. Use for colds, coughs and sore throats and digestive complaints.
  • Eucalyptus: A wonderful respiratory herb used in many cold formulas. Used for colds, flu and coughs.
  • Pau D’Arco: Strongly anti-fungal, used to combat candida or yeast.
  • Calendula Flower: Anti-fungal, healing. Best used topically made into an herbal infusion.

*Starred Herbs are Excellent for children.

I tried to link you to the easiest available, best quality product for the best prices. Sometimes there is a capsule, herbal tea bag and bulk recommended. There are some that only have the bulk herb as they are not readily available in capsules. Each herb varies.