Everyone is freaking out. According to the media, the flu is rampant and the only option is Tamiflu – and don’t forget to get your (pretty much ineffective) flu shot!
I sold out of my elderberry glycerite 24 hours after posting it for sale. Here I was thinking I made so much and that I will have plenty left over…boy was I wrong. However, I am glad that so many are aware that there are other options when dealing with viruses!
I follow a lot of herbal education pages and communities. There are always people asking where they can get elderberry. It is flying off the shelves. It seems to be sold out on Amazon…that’s how you know that more people than ever are aware of the antiviral properties of elderberry!
With all that being said, any herbalist will tell you that elderberry is NOT the only science-backed antiviral herb. There are other herbs, homeopathic remedies, and mushrooms that help boost the immune system and can be very beneficial during cold and flu season!
I put together a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to preventing and treating the flu with herbal and homeopathic remedies:
Daily prayer – I like Psalm 91 : )
Take a daily Vitamin C supplement from a reputable company if you choose.
If you start a Vitamin C regimen this winter, consider taking Vitamin D3 with it to help your body absorb it better.
Eat as healthy as possible. Fresh greens, etc.
Exercise to keep your body healthy.
Wash your hands with soap and teach your children to wash their hands and stop putting their hands in their mouth and nose (I am admittedly still working on this with my kids!)
Cayenne pepper is a good preventative because it acts as a stimulant that brings heat to the body, thus getting rid of coldness. It can also be taken at the onset of flu symptoms to shorten a cold or the flu.
Taking elderberry daily because you are scared to catch influenza is a bad idea. Our bodies are cool in that they adjust to certain things and get used to them. In the case of daily elderberry, you are risking making your body immune to its antiviral effects, thus rendering it INEFFECTIVE when you REALLY need it. I also read a study about elderberry’s effect on cytokine activity and why it may not be a good idea to take it all the time because it may induce a cytokine storm. (Take at onset of symptoms only!) The only other time I am halfway okay with taking elderberry when you are not sick is when you know for a fact that you have been exposed to someone when they had influenza.
I also advise against giving children Echinacea. Echinacea is a great way to boost the immune system in adults, but many herbalists that err on the side of caution will tell you that it can trigger allergies in children under 12. To each their own though!
Already have Influenza? Here are some homeopathic and herbal strategies to combat it:
Astragalus: this root is a well-documented immunostimulant. I have noticed several companies that market this for kids and adults alike.
Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy for the flu that is said to be safe for all ages. It works best when taken at the onset of symptoms.
Elderberry: I prefer a glycerite, tincture, or concentrate over syrup because they are a bit stronger. My kids like the taste of a glycerite or syrup better, but to each their own. Depending on what you are using, I recommend 5 ml for kids 2-3 times a day and 10-15 ml for adults at the onset of flu symptoms.
Echinacea: Great for immune boosting in adults. I prefer to make my own extracts with what I grow. Please be wary of brands if you go out and buy it. There is a lot of adulteration in the herbal supplement business.
Elder Flower: Everybody is freaking out about elderberry, but did you know that elder flower has the same properties? I recommend this in a tea with lemon and raw honey. Delicious!
Garlic: But be careful, this can cause stomach upset if you take too much!
Ginger: It is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Oh…and it’s anti-nausea effects make it even better for combating influenza!
Onion: This is great for treating a nasty cough. Sage and Thyme are also good for this.
Raw honey: as beekeepers, we know that raw honey is much more than a tasty treat! It is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic!
Fire Cider: Want to mix many of the things listed above into a concoction that treats colds and influenza? That is basically what fire cider is. There are many variations, but I like to chop up turmeric, ginger, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, onions, horseradish, sage, thyme, and rosemary and put them in a jar. I squeeze the juice of one or two lemons, as well as some raw honey, in there too. Then I pour in organic apple cider vinegar and let it sit (shake daily) for 4 weeks or so. Strain and viola! You have fire cider. If you don’t have cayenne peppers, you can use cayenne powder. This stuff will be strong, so drink with caution. I take a shot to open up my sinuses. It helps a lot!
Essential Oils: My favorite is Wild Bergamot. It is by far the strongest antiviral essential oil I have used. It may be hard to find. I have to distill this myself. Other essential oils that may help are frankincense, oregano (Not kid safe and please God don’t use this neat or ingest it!!!), eucalyptus (not kid safe), tea tree(not pet safe so if you have indoor pets, do not diffuse), lemon (photosensitive), peppermint (not kid safe), lavender, cinnamon leaf, clove bud, grapefruit (photosensitive), Sandalwood, Basil, Ginger, rosemary (not kid safe), and pine. I recommend putting in a diffuser and enjoying the benefits.
*Please note that “oregano essential oil” and “oil of oregano” are not the same thing and the latter is much safer.
Mushrooms: Look for double extractions of Turkey Tail, Reishi, and Chaga. These all have proven benefits!
I’m sure there are many other remedies, but these are what came to mind. Be well!