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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fight a Cold with Herbs

Warning: Excessive whining ahead.

                                     


This last week, I was really sick. The congestion led to sinusitis. Needless to say, I was miserable. Boohoo! Finally after arming myself with herbs, after a week my energy is returning and I'm starting to feel better.

Indeed, I fought through the illness using some herbal treatments. Tea tree essential oil steam inhalations proved to help tremendously, but herbs that I consumed in the form of syrups, teas, and in soups helped me the most. Fascinated, I researched certain herbs that are known or believed to fight the Common Cold -- there's quite a few of them -- and I'm sharing the knowledge of some of the herbs I researched.

Garlic: This tasty herb -- Allium sativum -- believed to ward off vampires in folkloric tales (and make your breath stinky), is known to have powerful antimicrobial (bacterial, viral, fungal) properties for a variety of illnesses. In controlled placebo studies, Garlic proved to prevent the Common Cold, as well as reducing recovery time and symptom duration for the famed group of rhino viruses. In studies, Garlic tablets also enhanced Natural Killer cells -- a type of Lymphocyte --  in battles against pathogens.

Onion: Although its medicinal uses are unproven, Onion -- Allium cepa -- is used in folk medicine, Chinese medicine, and Indian medicine. It is used to treat the Common Cold, as well as many other illnesses due to believed antimicrobial properties.

Echinacea: Used by Native Americans, Echinacea is a popular herb used in the prevention and treatment of colds and flus, however, Echinacea has also been exploited in commercial use. Three species of Echinacea are used medicinally: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. It is important to note that there are differences in the three species, and Echinacea purpurea is considered to be the most potent. However, the plant is not a cure-all, nor does it work miracles. That said, I can personally attest that in my experience, I've found Echinacea to be a reliable herb. I've taken it in bottled extracts and teas. The good Echinacea extracts, taken in droplets, produces a tingling sensation on the tongue. Some people experience side effects to Echinacea (allergic and gastrointestinal).

Elderberry: I have a personal interest and passion for Elderberry, and I'm currently studying it. Oregon has its own wonderful native variety of Elder (Sambucus Cerulea) but Sambucus Nigra (the European Elder) is used in many commercial syrups. Actually, the syrup I used while ill -- Quantum Health Elderberry Syrup -- contains Sambucus Nigra. Elderberry is known to aid sore throats, coughs, and sinus infections. There's some caution to be advised here. Never, ever eat Red elderberries as they are considered toxic. Don't eat unripe berries of the blue Elderberries, either, and don't consume the leaves and stems, as they are also considered toxic. Please be careful when messing with this plant. If you want to use it medicinally, go to the store to buy the syrup or, better yet, see a doctor or nautropath beforehand. Don't try to treat yourself by berry picking.

Anise: The dried fruit parts of Pimpinella anisum is used to treat the Common Cold, Fevers, and inflamations of the mouth. It was used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, and the Romans would use Anise in cakes called Mustacae, eaten after meals to prevent indigestion. Anise can be taken in teas. It is not to be used during pregnancy. According to naturalist William Turner in 1551, "Anyse maketh the breth sweter and swageth payne" (Source). Great teas can be purchased online.

                             

                                   



This post was written for educational purposes only.

Some sources:

Ct. PDR for Herbal Medicines. June 2006 pNA.
Botanical.com
"Top 5 herbs to battle cold and flu viruses" from Examiner.com

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