It’s cold and flu season. They both are viral and occur in the respiratory system, but they are different.
Difference between cold and flu
Colds tend to affect the upper respiratory area – sinus, blocked or runny nose, feeling tired and sluggish and sometimes a sore throat.
Flu tends to go deeper – often a cough, bronchitis and most distinctly, a fever.
Fever is your friend.
One of the most misunderstood aspects of your body’s innate self healing is fever.
According to Vitalists, who view your body as having innate intelligence, fever is your body’s natural response to an invading pathogen. It is your body’a attempt to fight off the invader by ‘cooking’ it.
So when you take over the counter medicines that reduce fever, you stop your body from fighting the virus.
Yes, you feel better in that the fever is gone, but the virus continues to multiply in your body.
Herbal medicine for flu
Herbal medicine has plants available that support your body in going about its natural fever response, so that you emerge stronger.
Remember that there is a vital intelligence (Vital Force) in your body. We should honour the flow of Vital Force and trust in the innate intelligence of our body.
After all, we current humans evolved and survived by fighting off many invading pathogens.
Our ancestors used plants, rest and water to heal. There were no factory-processed pills when we roamed the savannah.
So, what herbs are supportive for flu and fever?
There are two categories of herbs you can use with fever.
First there are the stimulant diaphoretic herbs. They’re pungent, hot and warming and help raise your body’s temperature. They taste spicy and make you sweat. Examples are peppers, cayenne, ginger, garlic, black pepper.
They bring blood to the surface. You use them in the earlier stages of a fever, when you feel chilly and cold because your hypothalamus has reset your internal thermostat to a higher level. It says ‘Woah there Tiger! Time to get warmer!’
The second category of herbs are are the relaxant diaphoretic herbs – these are cool and moist in energy.
They are for the second stage of fever when your skin feels hot and dry. Your head’s probably pounding , sleep is tricky, your muscles ache and your back feels like a herd of wildebeest ran over it. The herbs that relax constriction in the capillary beds under the skin and allow excess heat out the pores are cooling and include peppermint, elderflower, yarrow.
How do you take the herbs?
They are best drunk as hot teas. Add the herbs to a teapot or mug, pour on boiling water and allow to infuse. If all you have available are tinctures, then add then to a mug of warm or hot water.
More herbal suggestions:
Boneset herb helps reduce those horrible deep aches and pains in the bones.
If you have a cough, drink teas made with liquorice, hyssop, thyme, oregano, poplar bud resin.
Remember if your body feels hot and dry then add moist and cooling herbs to balance out the energetics. Peppermint is also delightful in taste.
If sleep is an issue, you need nervine herbs in your tea mix like valerian, hops or passionflower that help relax tense muscles.
Oatstraw, chamomile and lavender are relaxing and taste good.
Herbalists have a saying: Feed a cold, fast a fever.
This means plenty of warm broths and nourishing soups when you have a cold, and fasting when you have the flu. This fast gives your digestive system a rest.
Support your body with herbs, water, nutrition and natural remedies. Allow your body to do its job. When you are unwell, rest and self isolate. This common-sense advice is ignored until things reach pandemic status.
Old fashioned advice for flu
Other common-sense advice is to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Drink lots of water, get enough sleep and moderate exercise.
Wash your hands with soap and water before eating.
During cold and flu season, increase your hand washing and don’t touch your face with your hands!
During times of pandemic, follow the safety guidelines given by the authorities. Hand washing remains the most effective way to clean your hands of virus. (See article about soap)
Those with stronger immune systems are more likely to survive the flu pandemic.
In summary, prevention is better than cure.