There is too much to love from September to March, from the first day of fall to the final thaw of spring. Unfortunately, there is a grim side to the same stretch of months that celebrate Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve, and Valentine's Day: cold and flu season.
Don't let this year knock you out with a horrible bug! And don't waste a lot on medications that may have some significant side effects. Use such herbs instead to decongest, soothe a sore throat, and make yourself feel better.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a diaphoretic or a compound that causes sweating. This makes it effective in breaking a fever and relieving signs of other colds or flu.
Here's a simple ginger tea recipe: pour half a teaspoon of powdered ginger over a cup of boiling water and steep it for 10 minutes. Pour the liquid off and then discard the powder. For sore throats, you may even use it as a gargle.
While harmless as a cooking ingredient, if you are pregnant or have gallstones, do not use ginger medicinally.
Granted, it's summer basil season, but that doesn't mean you can't keep it around all year round. Chop the leaves of newly picked basil and place them in an ice cube tray to enjoy the herbs over the season. Fill water in the tray and freeze. Basil tends to suppress fevers and ease cold, cough, and flu symptoms.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Pick up a eucalyptus and back away from the vapor rub. In fact, in those over-the-counter chest rubs, this plant is always the active ingredient, so let's bypass the other filler ingredients and get right to the quick breathing process. Clear sinus and bronchial diseases can be helped by inhaling the vapor of a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil dropped in boiling water.
Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
This spice is probably lying right on your kitchen table. The herb is common in China, where black pepper is referred to as hu jiao, to alleviate the phlegm from a cold, so add it to your cold-weather bone broth and enjoy the benefits.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
When you have a cough, don't simply bundle your outsides together. Warm up with this gut-healing food on the inside, too. For colds and fever, cinnamon is used to warm the body and clear mucous congestion.
Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Because of the plant's multiple medicinal applications, Elderberry is often dubbed 'the people's medicine chest'. Studies have shown that, as opposed to a placebo, elderberry syrup and extracts can improve flu symptoms and duration. You should try making some tea from the flowers, too.