How to Prevent a Cold or Flu...Naturally (Best Herbs to Use + Natural Strategies)
Have you ever HAD to go to work or somewhere...but you could just FEEL that feeling that you're about to get sick? You know...Those aches and pains. Maybe a little sore throat getting started or a bit of a stuffy nose. You're not yet into a fully blown cold or flu...BUT you just know and feel that it's coming? Taking a day off for rest would be great, but you're not able to? We've all been there, and I'm about to share some ideas for preventing illness (colds & flus) naturally, even when you can't take a day off.
The best way to deal with a cold or flu is to not get sick in the first place! Am I right? Amen!
That's easier said than done, though. Sometimes, our immune systems just don't hang in there for us. Or maybe we have to work around someone who is sick themselves. We all know that cleanliness, rest, and staying away from other sickies in your life can help keep you from getting sick.
But did you know there are natural things you can do every day to help your body stay strong to fight off these annoying and unpleasant colds/flus? And, there are some amazing herbs that can help support your body's immune response and are in fact very powerful preventive agents?
Find out which herbs are best and how to use herbs in your efforts to stay healthy and well this Fall & Winter season (or all year long)! This is the first in a series I'm planning about general cold and flu care, naturally, so stay tuned for new articles!
This article is for the person who is still healthy! If you feel like a cold or flu is just barely getting started in your body, then you need to read Natural Ways to Stop a Cold or Flu in Its Tracks!
You might also be interested in these articles: DIY Natural Decongestant That Really Works! Easy., Seven Natural Ways to Clear Up a Stuffy Nose & Congestion, The Super Healing Powers of Kitchen Spices...and the cold care series: What Herbs & Remedies to Take if You Feel a Cold or Flu Coming On, How to Deal With Symptoms of Cold & Flu if You Do Happen to Get Sick (Fever, Congestion, Cough, Sore Throat, etc.), and How to Recover Quickly and STAY Recovered. Also, here is an article for children specifically: How to Boost Your Child's Immune System.
Note: There may be affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I'll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support of Healing Harvest Homestead--Heidi
How to Prevent a Cold or Flu From Starting....Naturally
1) Use Adaptogens & Immune Supporting Herbs Daily
When your body is under stress from lack of nutrition, lack of sleep, too much fight-or-flight response in daily life, or just generally being run down, your immune system is probably not in tip-top shape to fight off illness from bacteria and viruses you may encounter in daily living. There are herbs you can take daily that will help your body's immune system stay strong and help with how your body processes stressors that can take a toll on fighting off those bad germs.
Herbs that are adaptogens are those that help support the body and create balance where your body is weak. They help with stress response and therefore immune system support, and overall health. They also increase the body's resilience in fighting off germs that cause disease.
Immune-supporting compounds in some herbs actually work directly on your immune system to strengthen it, sometimes even increasing certain cells and antibodies to help your body stay healthy. Adaptogens are known to have anti-oxidant properties and are generally very nutritious besides being good for the immune system.
To be considered a true adaptogen, an herb must 1) be safe; 2) support the body's response to stress; and 3) help bring the body's systems into states of balance.
Here are my two favorite adaptogenic herbs to use every day for increased energy, balance, and enhanced immune support. You can mix and match or not...but try to use these daily in teas, tinctures, cooking, etc. I've also included a list of additional herbs that are great for immune support and stress.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous):
Astragalus is one of my main go-to herbs for immune support. It's also one of the main herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for overall health and immune support, too. Astragalus is a wonder herb for supporting, nurturing, and healing the body....and preventing illness from getting started.
The root is the part of the plant used. You can purchase the root at any good herb store and even some health food stores. This is an herb that you can use a lot of (and should) every day. A good amount for daily use for an adult is about 1/2 to 3/4 ounce of herb. This doesn't sound like much, but it's actually more than you'd think!
To Use Astragalus:
Astragalus has a sweet taste, and it's a great addition to teas, which is one good way to take enough of it. If you are a tea drinker, you can add some to your favorite tea blend and sip away at it all day long! A great tea to add Astragalus to is one of my Chai Tea Recipes. Just blend the chai as directed, but add in some Astragalus too!
You can also tincture Astragalus. If you plan to take Astragalus as a tincture, then you'll want to either purchase powdered root or powder it yourself using a spice grinder. Here is an article about how to make a tincture---making tinctures is super easy and is a fast way to take your herbs daily if you don't like tea. A good amount to take is 1/2 to 1 tsp. tincture two or three times a day.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)---(Ocimum sanctum):
This is one of my favorite herbs to take every day. Holy Basil is great for supporting the entire body and even helps moderate the emotions. It definitely helps the body cope with stressors. In India, where it is a native plant, it is used for speeding recovery from colds, coughs, and respiratory problems. It is very high in anti-oxidant powers and nutrition.
When your body is under stress, it ages faster. Because of Tulsi's excellent benefits with helping your body deal with stress and emotional negativity, it is thought to have anti-aging properties! So, besides boosting your immune system and balancing your body's systems, how about a little youth juice as well?
To Use Tulsi (Holy Basil):
Like Astragalus, you can use Holy Basil in tea or make a tincture and take it that way. My favorite way to use Tulsi is in tincture form, as I think the tea tastes a bit strong (for my taste).
You can cook with it too! I think it has a more pungent aroma that the traditional basil we commonly use for cooking in America, so try it out and see what you think! You can use it as a substitute or an addition to dishes that require an aromatic herb.
To make a Tulsi Tea: Use 2 tsp of fresh herb or 1 tsp of dried herb per cup. You can make a larger amount and sip it throughout the day. You can also add it to other tea blends that have similar tastes.
For tincturing, you would take the same amount as the Astragalus above. Tulsi is safe to use.
Other Helpful Herbs for Stress & Immune Support:
** Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) also known as Arctic Root--- Rhodiola helps fight fatigue and improves energy levels.
** Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Ashwagandha is another herb that helps improve energy levels and resilience.
** Reishi (Ganoderma lucid) Reishi is great for supporting the immune system!
NOTE: If you are pregnant or nursing, you should absolutely speak with your doctor about using herbs, even herbs considered safe.
2) Get Rest
This is a no-brainer, because we all know the importance of a good night's sleep. Good sleep is crucial for the body to be able to heal itself and fight off pathogens. Rest also helps with stress!
If you have trouble sleeping, try taking the adaptogens mentioned above! If your body's ability to deal with cortisol from being under a great deal of stress is compromised, then your sleep will suffer too.
Another herbal remedy to try is a sleep or relaxation tea or a stronger sleep tincture. My favorite herbs to use to help relax and get a good night's sleep include Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Skullcap, and Valerian. These are listed in order from least to most powerful. Be aware that some people have averse reactions to Valerian and may experience an opposite reaction than desired relaxation.
3) Take Your Vitamins
Personally, I've found that when I take a good supplement that's proven to be balanced correctly, my immune system and my whole body just functions better. I use Source Naturals Multi-Vitamin---and I'm not an affiliate for the company, these are just what I use. The link goes to Amazon, but you should be able to find these in good health stores.
And I'll just say to those who go the cheap route when it comes to vitamins---just don't bother. I actually used to be in Vitamin sales, and there is absolutely a difference in quality between brands. Do your research, and spend a little more to get a good multi-vitamin.
Here are specific nutrients you'll want to be sure you are getting enough of to support your body's immune system to the greatest extent: Vitamin D3, Zinc, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.
Yep. All those normal old vitamins can do great things to help your body function at peak performance.
And if you'd like to know what herbs to take to get the best nutritional value, please use Dandelion Leaf, Nettle Leaf, and/or deep greens such as kale, beet greens, etc.
Have you ever given any thought to learning more about herbs from a quality educational institution? Take a look at The Herbal Academy of New England!
Final Thoughts About Preventing Colds & Flu
You might be wondering why I didn't mention using capsules. Yes, you can get many commonly used herbs in capsules in your drug store. However, I don't recommend it. It's true you will get some benefit from these, but if you want to use herbs in their most powerful state, it's best to either get them fresh (which is difficult sometimes) or dried from a quality source.
I like to buy my dried herbs from Starwest Botanicals. I've found their shipping is fast, the quality of the herbs is excellent, and they have many options when it comes to organic, wildcrafted, not-rated, and also in quantities.
So, stay well! Take your herbs! The best thing is to not get sick in the first place, and you can definitely help your body stay healthy by doing some very simple things every day. Take your herbs, get rest, and use a good multi-vitamin. Doesn't that just sound too simple?
Sometimes the simplest actions are the best ones, right?
What are some ways you help yourself and your family stay well during cold and flu season? I'd love for you to leave comments! Here's the next two articles in this series, in case the cold bug has actually bitten you: What to Do Right When a Cold or Flu is Beginning and Natural Ways to Help Relieve Symptoms of Cold and Flu (Cough, Fever, Congestion, and Sore Throat.
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
P.S. If you haven't done so yet, sign up for the newsletter! You'll never miss a thing, you'll get extra information not found on the blog, and I'll be sending you free eBooks! One is about using essential oils and the other is about using herbs to relax. Enjoy!
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I am NOT a medical doctor, and the statements presented in this article are simply my personal opinion and for informational purposes only. In no manner, stated or implied, is any statement made here meant to cure, diagnose, treat, or prevent any illness or disease. Please seek medical attention from your medical professional or doctor for health concerns. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide, by Rosemary Gladstar