Winter 2011 has definitely been a brutal one for us thus far. It’s still hard to believe the official groundhog from Punxsatawny didn’t see his shadow and predicts spring is near. “We don’t believe you!“
With the weather being cold and brutal, a lot of people have fallen victim to the cold and flu. If you’re trying to avoid the sickness, here’s five herbs you may want to add into your daily menu:
Keep a supply of thyme essential oil or dried thyme on hand in the event that you fall ill with either the flu or with a common cold. Thyme has long been known as an expectorant, which makes coughs more productive (that is, it helps clear out your lungs faster so you feel better sooner). You can brew a thyme herbal tea by steeping two teaspoons of fresh thyme in a cup of boiling-hot water for 10 minutes. Or, make a thyme steam bath: Toss either a handful of dried thyme a few drops of thyme essential oil into a bowl of hot water, and lean over the bowl, covering both your head and the bowl with a towel. Inhaling the steam will help loosen mucus in your chest.
Licorice root contains a compound called glycyrrhizin that has been found to have pretty potent antiviral effects against serious diseases, such as HIV and SARS, and a number of studies have found that licorice root extracts can fight off the flu, including strains of the avian flu virus. In Ayurvedic medicine, licorice root is also used as an expectorant. A number of companies make licorice root supplements and teas, but if using those, be sure they contain actual licorice; some products, licorice candy, for instance, often don’t contain any of the herb but instead contain anise seed, which tastes like licorice. Also talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any prescriptions, as licorice has been found to interfere with some medications.
Garlic boosts the health of your immune system, and a number of studies have found that animals given regular doses of garlic supplements are better able to ward off viruses like the flu and various strains of rhinovirus, the kind responsible for the common cold. In one study from 2001, volunteers who took a daily garlic supplement were less likely to get colds from volunteers taking a placebo, and even when the garlic takers did get sick, they recovered more quickly. For the sake of people who have to talk to you, garlic supplements are probably the kindest way to go. But you can also get the same benefits by chewing on a clove of garlic once a day for prevention or twice a day to get over a cold or flu. Mince a clove of garlic into some honey if the flavor is too overpowering. It’s not clear whether adding more garlic to your cooking affords the same protection, but if you love the flavor, you can add more to your recipes while possibly getting an immune boost.