herbs for colds and flus to have on hand this winter season
Cold and flu season is upon us, as well as the lingering pandemic, and I want to take a moment to discuss some of my favorite herbal remedies as an Acupuncturist and herbalist to have on hand should a tickle in the throat or a chill pop-up.
In traditional medicine we differentiate colds and flus into the initial stage (which is the first sign of not feeling well, such as fatigue, tired eyes, a tickle in the throat, or a flushed sensation, up to the first 24 hours of feeling under the weather) and the more progressed stage when the ailment moves deeper into the body (after that initial 24 hours).
In traditional Asian medicine different herbs and formulas are used to hone-in and treat these two differentiated stages in order to effectively move an illness out of the body. For the initial stages, “lighter” herbs are used to direct illness up and out of the body, while in the later stages strong antiviral and antibacterial herbs are used to expel an external invasion.
The key to a really swift recovery is action at the initial stage. I’ve been giving my patients a tincture (liquid herbal medicine) by Kan Herbs called Initial Defense and Monolaurin and instruct them to begin treatment the moment they notice a tickle in the throat or the thought, “uh-oh I don’t think I feel well.”
Initial Defense is a combination formula that treats both the initial stage and the deeper stage. This is a strong and highly effective formula. Monolaurin is an effective antiviral supplement that is derived from lauric acid. This supplement interferes with viral reproduction by breaking down the hydrophobic envelope that surrounds many transmissible viruses, inhibiting viral attachment to new host cells.
If you’ve missed that initial first day window I suggest having a formula called Gan Mao Ling on hand. This is a great formula to treat flus that come with headaches, body aches, chills and fever. With the addition of Monolaurin, should you know if it is a viral infection vs a bacterial infection. Bacterial infections are a different beast all together and would require more specific herbs and supplements.
Then for more severe sore throats and potential sinus infections I keep two Evergreen Herbs bottles on hand. Herbal ENT (Herbal Ear Nose and Throat) and Herbal ABX (Herbal Antibiotics). These are very effective at clearing heat from the respiratory system and contain all of the strong antiviral and antibacterial herbs. These formulas have saved me more than once when I feared strep throat may be on the horizon.
Lastly, I’ll touch on coughs because I see (and hear) many patients come in with lingering coughs that continue post illness. Our materia medica (herbal medicine body of work) have colds, flus and coughs dialed-in and there is a formula I love called Stop Coughing Powder that will do just what its name suggests…stop cough. In TCM herbal medicine we differentiate coughs between post-illness cough, productive cough, non productive cough, dry cough, etc, so I always suggest patients check in with their practitioners for the most fitting formula that will help effectively and efficiently remedy a cough. However Stop Coughing Powder is really great to have on hand in a pinch for general coughs. Taken at a therapeutic dose one should start to see results within a couple days.
In Asian herbal medicine each ailment has specific presentations and it is important to get the proper formula to match each presentation. These formulas mentioned in this article aren’t readily available over the counter, at least from these reputable brands like Kan and Evergreen, however, should your practitioner supply you with these herbs I highly recommend having them on hand at home to get the proper care in that first 24 hours of illness.
I’ll also add these herbal remedies and supplements go hand in hand with the usual vitamin C and zinc that we have been hearing about over the years for a highly effective home remedy treatment plan.
If you would like to set-up an appointment in office at Dresden Holden Wellness in Santa Barbara, Ca to further discuss how to outfit your medicine cabinet for the winter you can book here. Or we can set-up an herbal consultation to discuss options virtually.