Cold & Flu Season Supportive Herbs

Taylor, her husband Ross, and son Judah are the founders of Avodah Farms. A farm offering housing + community, growing herbs and medicinal mushrooms, and selling herbal goods to help fund the whole thing.

Their farm is also home to a flock of icelandic sheep, chickens, and two donkeys.


Taylor may receive commissions for purchases made through links on this post. Thank you for all your support! 

We are heading into the time of year where it seems like everyone has a pot of elderberry syrup simmering on their stove. And while I am a big fan of elderberry, There are so many more options out there for cold and flu support. My son isn’t a fan of elderberry syrup, so I have gotten creative with how I can sneak herbs into his diet for preventative health or for when a sickness inevitably makes it way into our home. 
On a day to day basis, I focus on immune modulators to help strengthen and support our immune systems. My family drinks plenty of mushroom-based tea blends. And in every batch of soup or stock, I add a handful of medicinal mushrooms. But when someone starts coughing or blowing their nose, I switch gears and focus on immune stimulating and antiviral herbs, as well as herbs that can help alleviate any symptoms. 
I have compiled a list of my favorites below. Keep in mind, there is no single magic herb(in most cases) for a particular situation. There are many options out there, much more than I have listed below. If all you can do is get your little one to sip on some lemon balm tea with a few drops of honey, thats great! Both can be very helpful for cold and flu symptoms. And most importantly; rest, hydration, and nourishing food should be the foundation of anyones recovery.
I also want to state that I am not a healthcare professional. This article should be used for educational purposes only. Please do your own research, and speak to your healthcare provider before supplementing you our your families diet in any way. I hope I can provide a jumping-off point for you to find herbs that can work for your family!
If you would like to learn more about herbalism, my friends over at Herbal Academy provided a 15% discount on all of there courses just for you! It expired tomorrow, so act fast! There is more info at the bottom of the article.
Immunomodulators: These herbs are best taken daily, or worked into your families lifestyle routinely.
Immunomodulators are typically very gentle herbs that work slowly over a longer period of time. They support your immune system, helping to fine tune and balance it.

Medicinal Mushrooms (reishi, turkey tail, lions mane, shiitake, mistake)
(Both of these options can be made into a strong decoction and sipped as tea, cooked into our food, or added into your homemade broth recipe)
Immune stimulants: These herbs are best used at the early stages of an illness or if someone in your household was exposed to an illness. They help stimulate the immune system into action. They are typically believed to be fast acting and are not traditionally taken over very long periods of time. 

Echinacea. typically taken as a tea.

Garlic. Can also help to expel phlegm from lungs. Can be eaten fresh or added to food. My favorite way to consume it medicinally is via honey fermented garlic. 
Elderberry. Especially powerful when taken at the very early signs of the flu. Although it is typically made into a syrup, our family prefers a tincture. Elderflower is commonly used as a fever reducer for children.

Lemon Balm. Calming with a delicious flavor, especially for kids or picky husbands. 

Licorice Root. Very soothing for a sore throat or dry cough. It can be added to a syrup or steeped into tea. Many people love the flavor by itself)

Thyme: The volatile oils are where most of the antiviral actions are. We like to make an herbal steam with thyme, which is simply breathing in the steam from a pot of steamy-hot water and fresh or dried thyme.
Some of my other favorite herbs for cold and flu:
Ginger: Warming, antiviral when fresh, anti-inflammatory. 
Chamomile: Most children enjoy the flavor. It is a calming anti-inflammatory and a good base flavor for tea blends.  
Hibiscus: High in vitamin C, this is typically the base of any herbal tea I make for my family. It is a wonderful base herb if your family doesn’t love herbal tea. When there is a bug in our home, I will make a half gallon of hibiscus tea, adding in whatever other herbs I think are necessary for the situation, for us drink all day. It is especially good with a bit of honey and/or lemon. 
Ground Ivy: can help to relieve inflammation and congestion of mucus membranes. Typically used in tincture form.  
Wild Cherry Bark: Ideal for a wet cough. Also may be a helpful decongestant. Great as a syrup. 
Mullen: Respiratory support, especially helpful with a dry cough and sore throat. Mullen helps to loosen mucus in the lungs. Can be taken in tea or tincture form, but you may find the warm tea more helpful.
Marshmallow root: Soothes inflamed tissues, easing congestion, sore throats, and dry coughs.
Now that you have an idea of which herbs can do what, I thought I would give an example of how I choose and prepare herbs for a specific situation:
example:) Lets say my toddler has a dry cough, raspy voice, and congested.
I would first make a very strong batch of tea(or decoction) of:
2 parts hibiscus (mainly for flavor, but also vitamin c)
1 part marshmallow root (for his dry cough)
1 part lemon balm ( flavor and antiviral) 
1 part licorice root (dry cough and antiviral)
A bit of raw honey (soothing to the sore throat)
Then I would chill it, because I know he typically wont drink warm teas. He LOVES hibiscus tea, so I am planning on giving him some of this all day long. Every 4 hours I will add one drop of ground ivy tincture for his congestion.
If I had the same symptoms on the other hand, I would most likely drink warm lemon balm, marshmallow root, and ginger tea all day.(I personally loathe the flavor of licorice root, and try to avoid it.) I would also take a dropper full of ground ivy and elderberry tincture every 4 hours. 
In both situations, I would also make a point to cook with extra garlic and bone broth. 
I hope this helps you understand how herbs can easily be mixed and matched, as wells their preparations, to suit each person individually. 
Like I mentioned above, there are so many other herbs out there that can support your family when they aren’t feeling well. So pick up some herbalism books from your local library, play around with some herbs on your own, and see what works for you and your family. That way when an illness hits your home you will be fully prepared!
AND IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE about herbalism, The Herbal Academy kindly provided all the followers of Homesteamamas with 15% off any of there online courses from today(9/30) until tomorrow(10/1) at midnight. Use the promo code “avodah.farms” at checkout and click the link below to see all of the herbalism courses they have to offer! 


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