Cold symptoms can make you miserable for a week or more, starting with a sore throat followed by a cough, runny nose and congestion. The flu can make you feel even worse for longer, beginning with a sore throat followed by a fever, muscle aches, soreness, headache, cough and congestion. Fortunately, the following herbal formulas can relieve your symptoms and help you get through cold and flu season in a natural way.
A sore throat is not only painful, but it can also cause difficulty eating, swallowing and breathing. Lemon has traditionally been used as a sore throat soother, and peppermint oil can additionally relieve pain. For a quick remedy that can be taken anywhere in a spray bottle, mix 15 drops of lemon essential oil with five drops of peppermint oil. Add one quarter-cup of water and an equal amount of lemon juice. Mix well and spray toward the back of the throat for instant relief.
Sage can also be used to soothe a sore throat. To make an effective throat gargling solution, boil one cup of water and pour it over one tablespoon of sage. Let the herbs steep for 20 minutes, then strain the tea and add one pinch of salt. Gargle with the solution whenever you need relief, and store the excess in the refrigerator for up to three days.
An herbal tea can relieve many of the symptoms associated with both a cold and the flu. Drinking two or three cups of this tea can reduce fever, relieve congestion and sore throat and make you feel more comfortable as you battle a cold or the flu. Steep one half-teaspoon each of yarrow flowers, peppermint leaves, Echinacea root, Echisandra berries and elder flowers in three cups of boiling water. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Ginger tea is loaded with a dozen antiviral compounds that have been used to treat colds and the flu for centuries. Make it at home by mixing one heaping teaspoon of fresh grated ginger with one cup of boiling water. Let the ginger steep for ten to fifteen minutes, then drink.
Congestion can be relieved with steam from a hot shower or bath, but adding herbs can help relieve sinus pressure and congestion even more. Run some very hot water into a sink, then add some thyme, eucalyptus or chamomile in a tea ball. Lean over the sink with a towel wrapped over your head and inhale the herbal mixture for several minutes for immediate relief.
Applying a vapor rub to your neck and chest can also reduce congestion. For a natural version, combine ten drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils with three drops of thyme essential oil and one-eighth of a cup of olive oil. Combine well, then rub the mixture over your chest and throat. Use the vapor rub at night to sleep easier through your cold or flu.