Flu Remedies: 8 Herbs for Treatment and Prevention

Updated on October 19, 2016
Cynthia Hoover profile image

Cynthia is a homesteader who grows, harvests, and stores many foods, and prefers natural, homemade remedies for her family.

Influenza is highly contagious—and every year, despite the flu vaccine, record numbers contract the illness. There are many herbal remedies that can be used for treatment. Some herbs are effective preventatives as well. The medicinal properties of many alternative medicine options are very effective not only for treating flu symptoms, but also for prevention.

Learning which herbal remedies are effective treatments will have you feeling better in no time. I personally have not had the flu since I was a teenager. Many herbal remedies boost the immune system and allow our bodies to fight off viruses and infections. If you end up with influenza this season, you will no doubt find these 8 herbs to be useful for a swift recovery.

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Sambucus Nigra: Elderberry

Elderberry is not only a powerful medicinal herb, it also makes a delicious jelly!
Elderberry is not only a powerful medicinal herb, it also makes a delicious jelly!

Elderberry

Elderberry has earned a place among my favorite herbs and home remedies. Taking a dose of the syrup during flu season outbreaks has made it possible for me to avoid the virus altogether. There are varying types of Elderberry, but Sambucus nigra is the most effective for treatment and prevention. Also known as Black Elderberry, it has a wealth of medicinal properties that make it an effective treatment. The effective medicinal properties of Elderberry are:

  • Antiviral
  • Immune support
  • Antifungal
  • Respiratory aid

I could go on and on about the wonderful benefits of this home remedy. It offers an effective immune system support and boost that even HIV patients have had luck using. Proven antiviral properties make it an effective treatment. It also treats these symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Muscle/body aches

Elderberry is also a powerful anti-inflammatory that treats the body ache many of us have when we are sick. It is often used as an allergy treatment that reduces swelling of the mucus membranes, and thereby helps alleviate a runny nose and sneezing. Taking the syrup coats the throat and help relieves the soreness.

If you want to use this alternative herbal treatment, make sure you look for "Black Elderberry" as opposed to other types. Some alternative breeds can be poisonous. The syrup can be purchased over the counter in most big-box retailer pharmacies, near the vitamins and supplements.

As with all alternative treatments, seeking advice from a health care professional is a smart choice.

Echinacea Purpurea: Echinacea

Echinacea is a coneflower widely used for its medicinal properties.
Echinacea is a coneflower widely used for its medicinal properties.

Echinacea

If you are one of the unlucky people that becomes ill this season and are having trouble treating your symptoms, Echinacea can help. This herb is a coneflower from North America that has long been used in herbal medicine and home remedies. It proves very useful at treating respiratory infections and its accompanying symptoms. It is an excellent source of the following:

  • Vitamin C
  • Flavonoids
  • Polysaccharides
  • Inulin

These medicinal properties are all powerful and well-known immune system stimulators. It is effective for treating headaches, sore throat, and pain from body aches. You can find it available in tea form at most retailers, making it an easy-to-find treatment. Though it will not rid you of the sickness as fast as some other herbs, it will effectively treat the symptoms—and you will heal a few days' faster than you would have otherwise.

Artemisia Absinthium: Wormwood

Wormwood is not only useful at treating cold and flu symptoms, but, as the name suggests, it can be used to rid humans of parasitic worms.
Wormwood is not only useful at treating cold and flu symptoms, but, as the name suggests, it can be used to rid humans of parasitic worms.

Wormwood

Wormwood is an herbal remedy that even many alternative medicine enthusiasts are not all that familiar with. This was once an ingredient in the once widely popular and addictive drink, Absinthe. Using this herb will effectively relieve and treat:

  • Fevers
  • Low immune system functioning
  • Muscle aches

While wormwood may effectively treat your symptoms, you must proceed with caution. It can cause seizures in those who have a predisposition for seizure activity. A common ingredient in alcoholic beverages such as vermouth, Wormwood contains the chemical thujone, which is known to have a influence on the nervous system.

Lachnanthes Caroliniana: Redroot Herb

Redroot leaves have a wintergreen-like flavor. An optimal choice for a stimulating tea that does not contain caffeine.
Redroot leaves have a wintergreen-like flavor. An optimal choice for a stimulating tea that does not contain caffeine. | Source

Redroot Herb

Perhaps you may not be familiar with the herb Redroot. You may, however, recognize it as "New Jersey Tea." This was a very common herbal remedy used during the American Revolution and the Civil War. This herb's amazing medicinal qualities provide relief for some of the flu symptoms we hate the most. Those symptoms are:

  • Coughing
  • Congestion
  • Mucus build-up
  • Sore throat

Redroot is a powerful antispasmodic that can control severe coughing and clear mucus build-up in the respiratory system. The flavor is similar to tea but contains no caffeine, unlike its flavor twin. It can also treat stomach upset by soothing the stomach. It also relieves sore throat and provides much-needed comfort as you heal. This treatment is easily obtainable at apothecary and holistic medicine shops, or online.

Eupatorium Perfoliatum: Boneset Herb

The name boneset derives from this herb's effectiveness at treating dengue fever. Dengue fever was also referred to as "breakbone fever."
The name boneset derives from this herb's effectiveness at treating dengue fever. Dengue fever was also referred to as "breakbone fever." | Source
Boneset Alcohol-FREE Liquid Extract, Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) Dried Above-Ground Parts Glycerite Hawaii Pharm Natural Herbal Supplement 2 oz
Boneset Alcohol-FREE Liquid Extract, Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) Dried Above-Ground Parts Glycerite Hawaii Pharm Natural Herbal Supplement 2 oz

I was able to find this Boneset extract and have used it to help treat chronic breathing issues, coughing, and congestion related to sinus infections. In addition to being an effective treatment for influenza, it is effective at treating many other illnesses as well.

 

Boneset Herb

Another less commonly known herb, Boneset, is effective at treating the flu. Caution is warranted, however, as it can also be used to induce vomiting. Boneset, as the name suggests, can be used to help heal broken bones. It also offers a wealth of properties that make it a wonderful home remedy. It should not be used by anyone who is pregnant,or nursing. This herb will effectively treat these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Aches
  • Chills
  • Coughing
  • Congestion

Using this treatment increases the amount of productive sweating we associate with the body's natural fever response. It also helps clear the congestion that creates coughing fits, in addition to eliminating pains and aches.

This herb is also very effective outside of flu season for those who have chronic breathing issues or allergy-related breathing issues. Just remember that if you are pregnant or nursing, this alternative remedy should be avoided. You can find it online at retailers that sell alternative medicines and herbs.

Balsamorhiza Sagittata: Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Arrowleaf Balsamroot is a flowering plant in the sunflower tribe. It grows commonly all over Canada and the Western United States.
Arrowleaf Balsamroot is a flowering plant in the sunflower tribe. It grows commonly all over Canada and the Western United States.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Arrowleaf Balsamroot, or Balsamroot, as it is commonly called, is another great herbal remedy. This is an effective treatment due to its abundant medicinal properties. Here are a few examples of those properties:

  • Stimulating expectorant
  • Respiratory aid
  • Fever reducer
  • Soothes sore throat

This herb is commonly used in commercial medicines designed to treat coughs and diarrhea, which makes it a great choice for a natural treatment. It proves very beneficial for treating other respiratory issues like those associated with pneumonia and asthma. You can easily find it in essential oil or root form, available for purchase online.

Glycyrrhiza Glabra: Licorice Root

Licorice root is commonly used to flavor candies and tobacco.
Licorice root is commonly used to flavor candies and tobacco.

Licorice Root

Licorice Root should be used with caution for anyone who has diabetes, as it may interact with some medications. A cup of Licorice Root tea a day will boost the immune system and stimulate the body's natural production of chemicals that fight infection, as well as stimulate T-cells in the body. As a powerful anti-inflammatory and immune booster, drinking a cup of tea a day can help keep you from catching the flu.

At the first sign of an influenza outbreak in your area, you could begin drinking this tea to help boost your body's immunity and help you to avoid the flu altogether. If you do become sick, drinking the tea can help you get over the infection in a very short amount of time.

Salvia Officinalis: Sage

Sage is often a staple spice in many kitchens, which makes it an easily accessible herb for treating the flu.
Sage is often a staple spice in many kitchens, which makes it an easily accessible herb for treating the flu.

Sage

Sage: it isn't just for cooking and making tasty sausages! Drinking sage tea is another effective treatment, although consulting your physician is a must for anyone taking sedatives, anticonvulsant, or diabetes medications. There are possible negative interactions that you need to be aware of.

Sage has one of the longest histories of any herb being used medicinally. It was once used as a fertility treatment by the ancient Egyptians—and it is now predominantly a culinary spice. There are two ways to use sage to effectively treat the flu:

  • Gargle with it
  • Drink it as a tea

Gargling with it can ease a sore throat very quickly. Drinking tea with this herb boosts the immune system and effectively reduces body aches and pains. If tea is not your thing, you can drink infusions in juice or water as an alternative.

Will you use one of these herbal remedies for flu prevention?

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Herbal Treatments and Home Remedies

It is always a good idea to discuss any alternative or herbal treatments with a healthcare professional prior to starting treatment. Though many herbs are effective treatments for the flu, some may interact with medications. Always approach medicinal herbs and home remedies with a bit of caution and common sense. If you are unfamiliar with an herb and its possible drug interactions, talk with your doctor or herbalist prior to starting treatment.

All of these herbs are effective for treating the flu, and a few are also effective for preventing influenza. The key is to continually use the preventatives prior to getting sick. Start using the herbs and remedies as soon as possible after you become ill to shorten the amount of time you suffer symptoms. I have successfully been able to avoid influenza for 15 years now using herbs as a preventative measure against the virus. To date, my son has never gotten it either, and I only give him children's succus (Elderberry Syrup) as a preventative. Whatever herb or natural remedy you decide to usie, you can successfully treat the common symptoms and speed up your recovery time.

Nature's Way Sambucus, Organic Standardized Elderberry Syrup, 4 Fl. Oz, 4 Fluid Ounce (Packaging May Vary)
Nature's Way Sambucus, Organic Standardized Elderberry Syrup, 4 Fl. Oz, 4 Fluid Ounce (Packaging May Vary)

I use this organic "Sambucus" (elderberry syrup) during cold and flu season to keep my family and me from getting sick. It has proved to be extremely effective over the years, as we never get the flu. Even when others around us have influenza we never end up with it ourselves.

 

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Cynthia Hoover

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    • Cynthia Hoover profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia Hoover 

      18 months ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Linda Byren so glad you found it useful! I cannot remember the last time the flu effected any of us. I use elderberry syrup as a preventative to ward of bugs during cold and flu season and it works like a charm! Best of luck to you and your family, hope you all feel better soon!

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 

      18 months ago from United Kingdom

      This is what I need. I wish I come across your hub earlier because I just had the worst flu ever which lasted 4 weeks. I even manage to give the flu to my husband. I love herbal medicines and your article is just what I need. I will definitely use them in my defence for flu in the future. I have voted and thank you for the tips.

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