Top 7 Herbal Plants to Combat Flu and Colds


Colds and flu affect everyone, especially at certain times of the year. Treat symptoms safely with herbs. There is less risk of side effects because they’re all-natural.

The best herbal plants for colds and flu have been in use for hundreds of years. Scientific studies have found that these herbs contain different compounds that help in the fight against infections, including flu and colds. Some of these compounds attack the organisms that cause the sickness.

Some of the compounds help ease the body’s inflammatory responses to exposure to threats such as dust and pollen. And some strengthen the immune cells to better respond to the threats.

Astragalus membranaceus

Simply called Astragalus, this perennial plant contains compounds in its roots that can help in boosting the function of the immune system. The yellow root is sliced and added to stews and soup during the cooking process. Remove the root right before serving. The compounds from the roots can help boost antibody production, white blood cells, and T cells. All these help combat microorganisms that cause flu and cold symptoms.

This herb is very helpful but should never be taken by a pregnant woman for safety reasons.

Black Pepper

Traditional Chinese medicine has been using this herb to reduce phlegm from colds. There are so many ways to use this herb. Add a dash to soups, bone-broths, salads, or even in a cup of herbal tea.

Also known as Cinnamomum verum, cinnamon is not just a sweet-smelling spice for great dishes. It can help heal the gut and strengthen your body against sickness. It helps to warm the body during flu season. It also helps in clearing mucus congestion resulting from flu and colds.

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These plants are commonly found in the country meadows. The roots have the compound called triterpenoid saponins. These are effective as expectorant agents. To help relieve chest congestion and loosen phlegm from colds and flu, make a decoction using the roots. Put 1 ounce of root into 1 cup of water. Boil then simmer the mixture for 20 minutes. Strain and cool slightly. Drink several times a day until chest congestion is relieved.

For safety purposes, avoid taking this herbal plant when taking aspirin or anti-coagulants (e.g. warfarin). Pregnant women are also not advised to take cowslip.

Echinacea purpurea
Commonly called Echinacea, this is another herbal plant that can help with faster recovery from flu and colds. This is actually the main herb that comes to mind when talking about natural ways to treat colds and flu. The root is made into tea by simmering it in water for about 10 minutes. Echinacea can speed up recovery time from flu and colds if taken during the earliest stage of infection. Once signs and symptoms of colds and flu are experienced, take Echinacea immediately. This can reduce sick days from 5-7 days to merely 2-3 days.

People with allergies to ragweed and other members of the aster plant family are advised not to take Echinacea. Symptoms may worsen and allergic reactions may even be triggered.

Who can leave out eucalyptus when talking about colds? This is the active ingredient in most over-the-counter chest rubs that promise to relieve chest and nasal congestion. Use eucalyptus essential oil for relief. Add a few drops of the essential oil in a pot of boiling water to release the vapors. Inhaling the vapors can help in clearing the sinuses and in treating bronchial infections.

This pungent spice commonly used in so many dishes is also an effective herbal remedy for flu and colds. Garlic or Allium sativum has been an important herbal treatment for various conditions for the last 5,000 years. It is rich in compounds with antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties work together to fight flu-causing microorganisms and soothe cold symptoms.

There are more herbal plants that can help treat flu and colds. These are generally safe when taken in their natural form. However, some conditions such as allergies and pregnancy require more caution when taking these herbs. Check with a physician before taking any herbal plant or herbal product for safety.


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Liu Jiao
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