How to Get Better & Stay Better from Cold or Flu: Herbs to Keep Your Recovery Going Strong
You know that feeling? You've been sick with a cold, or maybe the flu, and you've been feeling better! So, you decide you're all the way well, and you stop taking your herbs (or medicines, if that's been your choice). Then, a couple two or three days go by and....WHAM!!! You're right back to feeling like crud again. That's happened to just about everyone I know. I even have a friend who's been fighting the same illness for about three months now! Yikes!
I've already written about the other stages of cold and flu:
and remedies that are great for cold and flu symptoms (cough, fever, sore throat, congestion),
so I thought I'd wrap up this group of articles with this post on how to get better and stay better if you do happen to catch a cold or flu. If you are on your way to wellness, you'll want to know how to keep getting better and heal completely from that cold.
Note: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article, and if you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
What to Do to Stay Well After a Cold or Flu...Naturally
There are absolutely some things you should be doing to help you recover well from a bad cold or a flu. Some of these are common sense, but others are things you probably haven't thought much about! Here is how to stay well, once that cold/flu is on its way out!
1) Continue to Take Herbs (or Start, if You Haven't Been)
In How to Prevent a Cold or Flu, I discussed some really great herbs to take on a daily basis that will boost your immune system. My suggestion is to start taking these right now, if you're not already doing so. These herbs include Astragalus, Elderberry, and Echinacea. Check out the article in the link above for some specific ways to use them.
These are great to use all the time, but there are a couple more you should add to your regimen during your time of recovery that will not only boost your immune system, but continue to gently heal and restore your body.
Mullein is an incredibly healing and soothing herb. It has anti-spasmodic, demulcent, and expectorant properties, and it especially is healing to your respiratory system. Your sinuses, bronchial tubes, and lungs all are supported by Mullein. In fact, Mullein is just an incredible herb for your lungs, and if you end up with a chronic cough, Mullein is a great choice.
If, after your illness, you discover you have a lingering cough that just won't go away, using Mullein is a safe and effective herb to use to help your body continue the healing process more quickly than it could without it.
Foraging for mullein is really easy to do, since it grows practically everywhere, but if you don't want to do that, you can purchase it. My recommendation is Starwest Botanicals, or even an online herbalist through etsy who wildcrafts their herbs from safe places. Mountain Rose Herbs is another option, but their shipping is not quite as expedient as Starwest Botanicals., and Starwest is where I purchase my herbs exclusively these days. You can also find more common herbs, like Mullein, on Amazon, too.
Dandelion is a nutritive herb, very high in anti-oxidants and extremely nutrient and mineral dense. Although it is a well-known weed, Dandelion's medicinal properties are often overlooked. It is a powerful liver detoxifier, and builds strength, making it a perfect herb to use in helping recover from an illness. You can use all parts of the Dandelion plant, with the leaves containing large amounts of vitamins that nourish your body, and the roots having the most powerful benefit for the liver and kidneys.
Another powerfully nutritious herb, stinging nettle used to be cultivated in Ancient Greece for its medicinal benefits and also as food for the people. Nettle contains a broad spectrum of minerals and vitamins our bodies need. The high levels of calcium and iron found in Nettle make it a wonderful remedy for creaky joints and growing pains in children. Because of it's nutritious value, Nettle is a fabulous nutritive herb and can be used as a daily tonic.
Like Dandelion, Nettle can be used as both food and medicine! I love to sprinkle dried nettle leaves into my cooking. It's a great "secret" way to get kids to eat more greens and obtain more natural nutrition too.
Using Mullein, Dandelion, and Nettle for Recovery of Illness:
You can easily make a tincture of all three or singles. Click through to find out more about what a tincture is and how to make a tincture, and it's really very easy. These are three herbal tinctures I like to have ready to go at all times.
For recovering from a cold or nasty flu, just combine equal parts of each herb in a tincture. Or, if you have the herbs tinctured as singles (by themselves), just combine equal parts of each tincture in an amber glass bottle with a dropper. A standard amount for an adult is three droppers full two or three times a day.
If you have a cough hanging on, you can increase the part of Mullein so you have a 2:1:1 ratio of the herbs if you like. (Two parts Mullein, 1 part Dandelion, 1 part Nettle)
All these herbs can be made into a lovely green tea, perfect for drinking throughout the day. You can also combine these in equal parts, or like the tincture, more heavily on the Mullein if you have that crummy cough hanging on.
You can find out more about how to make a perfect herbal tea in this article about herbal tea infusions. If you would like to deepen your knowledge about using herbs to make teas and even how to blend your very own combinations, please take a look at my eBook, Making Herbal Teas: Creating Your Own Tea Blends for Health & Pleasure.
At any rate, continuing to use nutritive herbs, as well as the herbs mentioned in the first article in the series meant to keep your immune system healthy, is a great strategy to continue your recovery from a nasty cold or flu.
Oh! One other book I think should be in everyone's home who is interested in natural health and using herbs for healing is Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide. This is the first herbal book I ever read, many years ago, and I still use it today. I think it's the best beginning herbal out there.
You can also find all of these herbs in capsule form. Frankly, I don't prefer taking capsules because the rate of oxidation is higher, as well as the fact that they are most likely not fresh. Since there have also been cases of testing store products on shelves and finding what is listed on the label is actually not what is inside the bottle---well, I just find these suspect. I prefer using fresh or freshly dried herbs.
2) Get Rest
Yep. I know that sounds pretty lame, and you've heard it a million times. But seriously, getting enough rest at this time of recovery is, besides using the herbs mentioned above, the BEST thing you can do to continue helping your body heal itself.
During sleep, the body is rejuvenating itself, growing cells, and healing areas that are imbalanced or ill. It's imperative that you continue getting enough sleep and watch for over-exertion while you are healing from cold and flu--or any kind of infection for that matter.
3) Take Probiotics or Best: Eat Raw Fermented Foods
You can purchase some great probiotics at good health food stores and on Amazon, like this brand; but did you know you can get your probiotics completely naturally?
That's right. By learning how to make fermented foods, you can easily, inexpensively, and effectively supplement your own gut health and eat delicious foods at the same time! Fermented foods boost the immune system by aiding in the health of your micro-biome, or gut health. By keeping your bacteria population balanced, your body is able to fight off illnesses much better and heal more quickly.
Sally Fallon, in Nourishing Traditions, makes a great case for fermented foods, as well as other traditional food preparations from all over the world. You can find out about What is Fermentation and Why You Should Eat Fermented Foods Every Day in this article too! If you do a search for "fermentation" on my blog, you'll find many great recipes and lots of information about fermentation so you can start your journey---or continue it!
Here are a few other articles you might be interested in: Fermentation Myths: More Reasons You Should Ferment, Golden Beet & Turmeric Kvass, and How to Make Your Own Fermented Hot Sauce!
4) Supplement with Vitamin D
Get out in the sunshine! Natural sunlight boosts your body's natural vitamin D. If you can't do this, then eating foods containing high levels of Vitamin D (eggs, meat, pork, fish, mushrooms) or taking a high quality Vitamin D supplement will help.
Especially if you live in an area where Winter days are extra short, Vitamin D supplementation is extra important. A good amount to take is between 2,000-4,000 IU daily, but talk with your doctor to be sure this is appropriate amount for you.
Final Thoughts on Recovering and Staying Well After a Cold or Flu
Colds and flus are no fun. And every one gets them from time to time! It's just the way of the world. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can prevent them, get them gone quickly, use herbs for the symptoms, and recover faster and more completely from cold and flu viruses.
And what about antibiotics? Well, antibiotics fight off and kill bacteria. Since colds and flus are generally viral in nature, that anti-biotic your doctor just gave you is probably just a placebo, sorry to say, as well as being detrimental to your overall body health.
The best thing is to stay healthy. Next best is to use natural methods to get better and deal with ugly symptoms. And finally, if you experience the cold or flu of horrors, with a very high temperature or you are just not getting any better after around seven days, you should absolutely go seek medical attention. And...once you start feeling better, don't just stop what you're doing. Follow the advice in this article, and it's more likely you won't backslide again!
What do you do when you get sick? Do you have any great remedies you like to use? I'd love for you to share or ask any questions by leaving a comment!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or practitioner. The statements made in this article are not meant or implied to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any health issue or disease. If you have medical concerns, and especially if you are pregnant, nursing or on medications, you should seek medical advice from your doctor. My statements are simply personal opinion based on years of study and experience. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.