HERBAL + AROMATHERAPY REMEDIES
Giving your body extra support against illness through the use of gentle yet effective herbs is one of the ways to prepare yourself for winter and the cold and flu season.
With this in mind I’ve been busy prepping at home.
There are a number of helpful herbal remedies and aromatherapy practices we can use to give ourselves extra support. Most herbal traditions and wisdom date back centuries. These remedies and practices are not to replace the medical advice from health professionals but instead be a supportive aid in boosting our immune system and helping our body recover quicker.
A few of these recipes use herbs and plants that you may have growing in your garden or can easily purchase from your local food store. At times we can forget we may have herbs growing in our garden that are medicinal and contain valuable nutrients and therapeutic properties that are beneficial to us.
It’s fun harvesting the herbs from my garden and creating batches of herbal infusions and syrups that will support us as a family.
If you are interested in having a couple of herbal remedies on hand then the following recipes and tips are easy to make and do.
HERBAL + AROMATHERAPY REMEDIES FOR COLD + FLU SEASON
The following are remedies that can support your immune system as well as helping your body recover when you are feeling unwell and miserable with a cold or flu virus.
HERBAL STEAM SUPPORT FOR RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Steam inhalations work wonders for:
- Clearing congestion in upper respiratory tract (cold or flu)
- Relieving sinus infection or sinusitis
- Enhancing respiratory function
You can do steam inhalations any time of the day but they’re best in the evening just before going to bed.
Using dried or fresh herbs in a hot water steam instead of essential oils is less irritating on the delicate nasal membranes, eyes and facial skin.
If you feel you do need an extra intensive boost I’d recommend adding 1 drop of essential oil only along with the herbs.
- ¼ cup dried or ½ cup fresh using a combination of (or just 1 or 2 … whichever you have on hand)
bee balm, mint, thyme, rosemary, sage, clove buds, dried citrus peel
- Place herbs and clove buds in a large heat-proof bowl.
- Bring a jug of water to the boil.
- Pour the hot water over the herbs + cloves. Stir briefly with a spoon and cover immediately (so the therapeutic aromatics don’t escape)..
- Let seep covered, for 10 minutes until the water is cool enough to be comfortable for steaming.
- When ready, sit in front of the bowl and lean forward, place a towel over your head to capture the aromatic steam.
- Make sure to close your eyes so they don’t become irritated and breathe slowly and deeply.
- Steam for 5 minutes. Take a break and steam for another 5 mins. Continue until the water is no longer steaming.
*Suggestions of an essential oil are lemon, thyme, eucalyptus or tea tree (for adults only use).
BLACKCURRANT, THYME + GINGER IMMUNE SUPPORT SYRUP
I adapted this recipe from a Herbal Academy e-book. I couldn’t source any elderberries so I replaced them with blackcurrants as they are very nutritious and high in vitamin C and antioxidants.
This syrup has a very delicious taste especially with the addition of cloves and citrus. Reminds me of mulled wine … but without the red wine ?.
- 1 cup *blackcurrants (high in vit C and antioxidants)
- 1 tbsp ginger rhizome, freshly grated
- 1 tbsp dried cloves
- 1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1 orange peel (organic if possible, otherwise scrub the skin a little before using)
- 6 cups water
- 1 ½ cups of honey – raw preferably. *Replace honey with maple syrup for children under 1 year of age*.
- Place all the above ingredients in a large pot except for the honey/maple syrup.
- With the lid removed, bring to a boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer for 45 – 6o mins. This should leave you with approximately 2 – 3 cups of liquid.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- While the liquid and herbs are cooling, clean and sanitise the glass bottle/s you’ll be using to store your syrup.
- When it is at room temperature, decant the liquid and herb material through a strainer into a large wide mouth bowl, Using the back of a spoon, press the blackcurrants and plant material against the strainer to squeeze out as much of the goodness as possible. The leftover herb material can then be composted.
- Stir the honey (or maple syrup) into the liquid until dissolved.
- Decant the syrup into the sterilised bottle/s. Label, date and store in the fridge. Use within 4-6 weeks.
Take 2 tsps every 3 hours at the first sign of cold + flu illness.
Can also be mixed into a glass of sparkling water to drink.
* you can replace the blackcurrants with dried elderberries if you can source them.
AROMATHERAPY BLEND – DECONGESTANT + IMMUNE SUPPORT
There is a powerful group of essential oils that can play a role in supporting you through seasonal cold and flu viruses. This is because their chemical make up consists of decongestant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immune support properties.
Using essential oils intermittently in an essential oil burner or diffuser helps to clear respiratory airways and head while also cleansing and refreshing the air.
A few examples of essential oils that have these helpful properties are:
eucalyptus, lemon, thyme, ravensara, tea tree, peppermint, clove, lavandin, manuka, kanuka
I have specially formulated a blend called BREATHE that contains carefully selected essential oils to help aid your body in clearing nasty cold + flu germs + symptoms.
Breathe contains four powerful oils that support your immune system, help ease congestion, and enhance respiratory function with their effective decongestant, antiseptic, antiviral + immune support properties.
- Oil Burner / Diffuser – add 4-8 drops to water in a burner or diffuser, and place in the room beside you. Always diffuse intermittently (see how here).
- Tissue – put 1-2 drops on a tissue to carry around with you. Inhale at frequent intervals throughout the day.
Essential oil safety note
– Not for internal use.
– Do not use essential oils around young children under 3 years old.
– Do not diffuse continuously. It is best to diffuse essential oils intermittently (see here for more info).
– Do not apply undiluted essential oils directly to the skin or to bathwater.
– Not recommended for use during pregnancy
HERBAL TEA / INFUSION
Depending on the herbs chosen, a herbal tea may provide a lot of relief for many cold and flu symptoms and some herbs may even help boost your immune system to help you recover faster.
Slowly drinking a hot steamy herbal tea while feeling unwell with a cold or the flu, has also been proven to help clear the nasal passages and clear a severely congested head.
Drinking herbal infused tea is also another method of getting the fluids you need to stay hydrated during any illness.
- 1 cup = 1 tbsp fresh herbs or 1 tsp dried herbs
You can substitute or add many of the herbs that you might have on hand to make your own cold and flu blend. A few suggestions are –
bee balm, mint, tulsi basil, thyme, lemon balm, rosemary, sage, clove buds, dried citrus peel, ginger, chamomile
After placing boiling water in a cup with the herbs in a strainer, steep covered for 10-20 mins. This allows the properties from the plant to infuse into the water for us to drink.
If you have an itchy sore throat adding 1 tsp honey and a squeeze of lemon to your herbal infusion is very soothing and cleansing.
Ginger is a wonderful addition to add to an infusion to drink when feeling unwell with a cold or flu. It can warm you up when feeling cold and helps clear respiratory congestion, improves digestion and aids the circulatory system.
TULSI BASIL + GINGER SYRUP
This quick and very simple syrup is based on a recipe from Rosalee De La Forêt’s book Alchemy of Herbs. USA.
I love the taste of Tulsi Basil (aka Holy Basil) and it makes this syrup extra delicious. Really delish when added to sparkling water for a refreshing drink that also delivers immune support nutrients.
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh tulsi basil leaves (or 1 tbsp dried tulsi basil)
- 1 ½ tsp freshly grated ginger
- ½ cup honey
- Put chopped tulsi basil leaves and grated ginger in a stainless steel pot or heat-proof ceramic or glass bowl.
- Pour ½ cup of just boiled water over the basil and ginger. Cover and steep for 15 – 20 minutes.
- While the liquid and herbs are steeping, clean and sanitise the glass bottle you’ll be using to store your syrup.
- Decant the liquid and herb material through a strainer. Using the back of a spoon, press the herb material against the strainer to squeeze out as much of the goodness as possible. The leftover herb material can then be composted.
- Stir the honey through the liquid while still warm until dissolved.
- Label, date and store in the fridge for up to 2-weeks, but it is best to use within 1 week for best flavour.
Mix 1 tbsp into a glass of water to drink.
Herbs and aromatherapy can be a useful tool in our wellbeing plan including giving welcome symptom support during cold and flu season.
Some of the aromatic herbs I mentioned above you may already have growing in your garden and knowing the ways you can use them to improve your well-being can feel very empowering.
Even the act of going out in your garden and connecting with nature and the plants has a way of soothing the spirit and easing anxiety.
Which we all need at times.
Wishing you health and happy days
- If pregnant or have a medical condition please check the safety of any herb or discuss with your health professional before using.
- The information here is not in any way intended to substitute the advice provided by your healthcare professional or physician.
Herbal Academy. (2020). Herbal Support for Cold and Flu Season. E-Book
De La Foret, R. (2017). Alchemy of Herbs. USA, Hay House.