It’s official: cold & flu season is here and it’s time to make sure your herbal toolbox is stocked up on all of the immune-boosting goodies you might need! Although herbs can surely come in handy when you’re already in the throes of sickness, many herbs can be taken preventatively to help protect you from getting sick in the first place. Remember: herbs can help support the immune system from many different angles! So the more you get to know them, the easier it will be to pull from your herbal toolbox in times of need.
All of us here at Alpine Botanicals have our own favorite immune-boosting herbs and suggestions for how to use them, so we gathered a couple of different perspectives from our staff to share with you here! Read on to learn some of our go-to herbs and formulas to use during immune season.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is Gabe’s number one go-to herb when he starts to feel like he is getting sick. Although echinacea tea works well too, Gabe prefers using an echinacea tincture instead. Echinacea tincture is a super convenient way to get immune support on-the-go and when needed in acute moments. Gabe’s current favorite extraction is Herb Pharm’s Super Echinacea tincture which combines four different plant parts of echinacea, including the root, into one tincture “formula.” It’s all about the plant synergy!
When it comes to long-term immune building support, Gabe loves using reishi (Ganoderma lucidum). As a medicinal mushroom, reishi offers premier support when helping manage chronic viral conditions and keeping your immune defenses strong. At Alpine Botanicals, we carry reishi pieces in bulk, blended into different Host Defense capsule mushroom formulas, and incorporated into yummy Four Sigmatic mushroom elixir packets and coffee.
One of Bryan’s all-time favorite pairings for immune system support is elderflower and elderberries (Sambucus nigra). While many of us know elderberry syrup for preventing against the development of a cold or flu (and we now sell elderberry syrup DIY kits at the shop for those who want to make their own!), elderflowers can also help alleviate cold and flu symptoms while helping push heat to the surface (which is helpful when you first start to feel the “chill” of a cold coming on!). Bryan loves to prepare these two herbs together in a daily nourishing herbal tea.
Bryan is a big supporter of working with herbs that grow locally and regionally around Colorado. One abundant locally grown herb Bryan draws from for alleviating chest congestion is mullein (Verbascum thapsus) leaf. For those times when you have an unproductive cough but feel there is mucus “stuck” in the upper respiratory system, consider preparing a mullein leaf tea or taking mullein tincture. Mullein can help calm down the cough spasms while pushing out the stuck phlegm at the same time.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is hands-down one of my favorite herbs to incorporate during cold and flu season. Amazing for supporting viral conditions both acutely and preventatively. Since ginger can be quite spicy on its own (especially if you are using dried ginger), I always suggest balancing out the flavor in a formula with other herbs. My current favorite tea blend with ginger is the Alpine Botanical’s Cold and Flu Brew. Paired with cinnamon, slippery elm, echinacea, and other immune-boosting herbs, this blend is my go-to for both preventive and acute symptom support.
When it comes to daily immune building and managing chronic viral conditions, astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is my favorite. For any folks who have chronic viral or autoimmune conditions, cold and flu season can present an extra challenge since chronic condition symptoms tend to flare if our immune system takes a dip. It is extra important to make sure that you have a healthy immune “defense” system built up all year long but especially throughout the colder months of the year when more bugs are going around. I typically take astragalus tincture daily either on its own or in a formula with other immune-boosting herbs (the Daily Immune Builder formula from Herb Pharm is one of my all-time favorites).
Be sure to come by the apothecary soon to stock up on all of your herbal needs for the cold & flu season ahead!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Heather Saba is a Certified Clinical Herbalist and Nutritionist, Medical Anthropologist, Writer, Whole-Body Wellness Coach, and Holistic Educator. She sees clients both in-person and through Skype in the Alpine Botanicals clinic room and at her office in Boulder for one-on-one herbal + nutritional wellness sessions, including custom herbal formulations. Connect with her on her personal website (www.heathersaba.com) and Instagram (@heathersaba).