From enchanting snow and scented evergreens to sparkling lights and pumpkin-flavored everything, there's plenty to love about the holiday season. As you prepare to spread some Christmas joy, keep in mind that others around you may be doing a little spreading of their own.
Though full of yuletide cheer, December is also the month in which the influenza virus strikes many homes. Sure, you could stock up on over-the-counter cold and flu “treatments,” but wouldn't you rather avoid the virus all together? Prevention is certainly the best medicine, so here are a few easy-to-find herbs to help you support your immune system when it matters most.
1. Organic Astragalus Root (Astragalus membranaceus)
Organic astragalus root is an antiviral herb that boosts the immune system. It can be taken by capsule, tincture or as an additive to soup. Safe and effective, it can be taken daily during flu season or whenever you plan to being around large crowds of people.
2. Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
Cat's Claw is an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral herb that's recognized around the world for its ability to increase the body's natural protection against illness. Cat's Claw is often taken in tea form, but it's important to note that it should not be consumed by pregnant or nursing mothers.
3. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Elderberry can be used to combat many viral infections, but it seems especially effective against the influenza virus. Elderberry stimulates the circulatory system, provoking the body to sweat and thus cleansing the body. Elderberry is most often taken as a syrup or in tincture form.
As an added bonus, elderberry syrup is pleasantly sweet, so it may be the one immune booster your child will actually take. Though potent against the flu, it's mild enough to be taken daily while fighting a virus. Keep in mind that elderberries must be cooked prior to consumption. No matter which form you take it in, it is not safe to consume elderberries raw.
4. Dried Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a famous herb that's known for its antiviral and antibacterial abilities. While it is often used as a preventive aid, it also decreases the duration of a virus once contracted. Ginger is most often enjoyed as a warm tea but can also be taken via a capsule, tincture or as an addition to your next meal.
5. Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice is naturally antiviral and antibacterial and is commonly used to treat digestive issues, sore throats, cough, bronchitis, infections and viruses. This multipurpose herb may be taken by capsule or as a tea but should be avoided by pregnant women.
6. Cowslip (Primula veris)
While its name is a little funny, this herb does some serious damage to any mucus that tries to build up in your system. As one of nature's most potent expectorants, Cowslip houses triterpenoid saponins in its roots. Immensely effective, these saponins help loosen phlegm in the sinuses and congestion in the chest. Cowslip should not be taken by pregnant women or those taking aspirin or blood thinners such as warfarin.
In the fight against influenza, many individuals fail to take full advantage of what is already theirs – a built-in defense system that's more effective at killing viruses than anything you'll find on a shelf. When adequately supported, your immune system has the ability to both decrease the severity of symptoms and even prevent you from ever experiencing them in the first place.