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Herbs for Colds, Flu and Other Viruses

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Herbs for Colds, Flu and Other Viruses

From Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People:

Viruses are basically the opposite of the friendly gut flora we discussed under allergies.  While certain fungi and bacteria evolved strategies to keep their hosts (us) healthy for their own good, viruses evolve strategies to be as difficult to avoid and to be as contagious and hard to treat as possible.  In order for viruses to replicate, they have to invade specific cells in the body.  They have to get through our natural defenses, sneak through our immune systems, invade those cells and destroy those cells.  Viruses may use the specific qualities of mosquitoes or ticks that enable such parasitic insects to delay our inflammatory immune response to their bites, so that we don't feel them right away and they are able to feed on our blood, to sneak into our blood stream, go to the pancreas and then onto the specific brain cells that they must invade in order to replicate... hiding from our immune systems during a period of incubation, then causing those cells to swell and rupture in cases of encephalitis.  Other viruses require human to human transmission, quietly incubating in lung cells until the perfect time to replicate, rupturing those cells, spiking the fever, causing congestion and coughing that allows them to spread from one host to another in saliva droplets - this is how most flus spread and why pneumonia is the main cause of death in flu (or COVID-19).  Other flus, such as the Swine Flu, attack blood cells and cause hemorrhagic bleeding as their means of transmission.  The common cold attacks the sinuses primarily, causing us to sneeze and our noses to run.

Viruses develop in one species and then develop strategies to jump from one species to another, picking up bits of DNA from their hosts, allowing them to mutate and adapt with amazing speed.  In fact, viruses come in two forms, DNA viruses and RNA viruses.  DNA viruses are slower to mutate.  DNA viruses such as Polio may be dramatically slowed and prevented with a vaccine.  RNA viruses can mutate so quickly that we cannot keep up - that is why there are annual flu shots.  The vaccines themselves can cause the virus to mutate.  

Simply put, viruses may have the most advanced survival strategies and ability to adapt of anything on earth... technically, they are not even alive.  Viruses can survive in the ice of the Artic and in the lava of volcanoes.  They can use plants, animals and fungi as hosts.  And, there are trillions of unique viruses.  What are we to do?  We cannot avoid every virus that can infect us.  We will never have effective vaccines to prevent all viral infections.

That is the bad news.  The good news is that, as the vacation Bible school t-shirts for little kids say, "God didn't make no junk!"  When we are infected with a virus, if we survive it, our immune system learns to recognize both that specific virus and similar viruses.  From then on, we have natural antibodies and an experienced immune system that the virus cannot fool or hide from.  In other words, we develop immunity.  Our immune system can learn just like our brains can learn new information and our muscles can be trained.  For that reason, I am thankful that I caught both the Swine Flu and COVID 19 when I was young, healthy and strong enough to survive both.  I can personally attest that COVID is a bummer.... it was a bad flu that lasted about two months.  It was exhausting.  It definitely targeted my lungs.   I treated it with herbs and OTC, generic guaifenesin (Mucinex) and aspirin.  It caused pneumonia and pleurisy.  There were a few days and nights during which I thought I might die.... but, Swine Flu was far more severe!

Maybe you have not heard a lot about Swine Flu, but the epidemic of this virus, known as the Spanish Flu was far worse than COVID.  At the close of World War 1, this RNA virus jumped species from pigs to humans, in the perfect conditions for the virus to spread in the trenches of Europe, in close quarters with poor sanitation and among weakened, exhausted young men.  This virus particularly targeted the young.  Older people had already experienced a similar, but less deadly virus and had immunity.  Those young men then came home, stopping ports along the way.  The virus killed more than 50 million people, far more than the war!  The virus causes no symptoms as it incubates.  But then, it comes on like nothing else.  Healthy young men and women would get up in the morning and start their day as usual... by noon they would be sick and by 5 pm they would be dead.  Many would be dead by noon, hemorrhaging blood that infected others.

I have done a lot of dumb things, so I won't say it was the closest to death I have ever come, but my experience with Swine Flu was as close as I have ever come to dying from a virus.  One morning, I got in my vehicle to run a few errands.  As I came to a stop sign, I noticed my brakes were spongey.  My brake line had been cut.... no idea how or by whom.  Thank God, I was able to coast into a local garage without losing control.  I spoke with the man who owned the garage, an older, local mountain man who (of course) had to give me a hard time, asking whose wife I'd been "running around with" since someone had cut my brake line.  If you aren't from the south or a rural area, all I can tell you is that old men will insult you and pick on you only if they accept you... they won't say much at all to an outsider.  So, I always appreciate that and give it right back.  This time though, I was aware that I was responding slowly.  My mind was not sharp.  Within 30 minutes, I didn't feel good at all.  After he fixed my brakes, I finished my errands and was home before noon.  By the time I got home, I had the highest fever I have ever experienced.  I was vomiting violently, until the blood vessels burst around my eyes, giving me black eyes.  Then came the diarrhea, which was also explosive.  My bones, muscles and joints hurt beyond belief.  I was chilled and so muddle headed that all I could do was get in bed and say a few prayers, fully expecting not to wake up.  I did awaken though, when the fever spiked.  Suddenly, blood was spraying from my nose... not just dripping or flowing but spurting.  I passed out.  When I came to, the fever had broken.  I was drenched in sweat. The bed was soaked in sweat.  I was exhausted and shaking all over.  I got on my knees and thanked God I had survived.  It was over.

I had heard on the news of a Swine Flu outbreak, but I had no idea it had come to my region.  Had I known, there are several herbs I would have used for immune support and as antivirals.  When the Spanish Flu hit, there were no effective pharmaceutical treatments.  There was an herb though, that saved many lives.  It was a fairly rare member of the Artemisia or Wormwood family, called Sweet Annie (Artemisia annua), and herb that is also useful for Malaria.  This herb is powerfully antiviral and should be grown by anyone concerned about the next "pandemic"... as well as the incompetence (and dishonesty) of our "leaders".

First though, let's start with the basics of keeping the immune system strong - sleep, good diet and reduce inflammation.  All of the herbs and probiotic ferments mentioned in the last two chapters are essential, but so is sunlight.  Vitamin D is essential for a strong immune system, and the best way to get it is to spend some time out in the sunshine each day - get some sun on your face, at least, and bare arms.  A natural diet rich in animal fats and plenty of vitamin C, E, A, etc., and minerals such as zinc give our bodies what we need.  The fermented foods will help us absorb all those good vitamins, including the Bs and will strengthen the immune system.  By the way, vitamins from food are far better for the body than vitamin supplements.

Certain medicinal mushrooms are also immune supportive.  The now fairly common Shitake mushroom is immuno-protective.  Agaricus blazei is immunomodulatory.  Lion's Mane (hericium) helps regulate the immune system and protect the brain in cases of encephalitis.  Cordyceps stimulates the NK (natural killer) immune cells.  Maitake stimulates the immune system.  Several other mushrooms are anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune supportive, such as Chaga, Oyster, Reishi and Turkey Tail.  These mushrooms may be used in several forms.  Oyster, Lion's Mane, Agaricus and Shitake are often eaten cooked.  The tougher, woodier ones may be dried and made into tea.  I think the very best way to use the dried mushrooms is to add them it to herbal wines, beers and especially water kefir - that way, the alcohol soluble compounds will be extracted, the water soluble compounds will be extracted and the yeast or kefir (which is a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi) can help pre-digest and make available the full potency of the mushrooms for us.  After that, one can make a double extract by making a tincture of the mushrooms in stronger alcohol, then straining them out again and making a strong decoction with water.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranicus) is an immune stimulating herb that also has some of the qualities of an adaptogen in that it helps the body deal with stress.  Likewise, Ginseng helps support immunity through its tonic effect on the body.

Rhodiola is an adaptogen-type herb that helps support the immune system.

Elderberry syrup or wine taken regularly helps prevent viruses from attaching to the to the cells that it needs to infect.  Mulberry may be used as a substitute.

All seaweeds, eaten, taken as a powder similarly prevent the virus from being able to adhere and infect cells; a nasal spray of seaweed is said to be particularly effective.  Seaweed is also anti-viral and immunomodulating.

Usnea is a lichen, also called Old Man's Beard.  Usnea has anti-viral and immune supportive properties.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) contains rosemarinic acid that is antiviral.  Likewise, Monarda/Bee Balm, and obviously, Rosemary may be used as anti-viral teas.

Echinacea has anti-viral properties that work best at the first little tickle in the throat or other sign of viral infection and help short the duration of the virus.  Taken prior to contracting the virus, Echinacea may help prevent infection.  Opinions over Echinacea are mixed as to its efficacy and how to best take it.  My class notes from the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine read, "Angustifolia and Pallida are the two primary root Echinaceas. The aromatic parts stimulate white blood cells and are good to shorten the duration of a cold dramatically, when one is coming on - can be taken for a few days in large quantiles for this reason. Also helps with tissue damage, in limiting inflammation. Helps with trauma after injury or surgery. Good for chronic tendonitis/sports re-injuries. Tonic for people excess environmental stress resulting in frequent illness. The flowers are good for immune, but the roots must be used for tissue protection. The garden variety, Purpurea works fine for using the flowers. Most potent if grown in limestone soil (natural or added). Wild grown in arid places have bigger, more powerful roots. Flowers in bloom plucked and dried are great for salves and does have a good tonifying effect on injured tissues and calms membranes - good for hemorrhoids."  Susan Weed says Echinacea builds immunity but that purpurea is useless if dried. She says that a dropper full of Echinacea tincture a day has been proven to help prevent colds and flu.    Buhner disagrees, he says that Purpurea is useless for preventing colds and flus, and that only Angustifolia works.  He further says that the juice from the crushed stalk is most effective, not the root.

Forsythia is a common bush that has bright yellow flowers in early spring.  The fruits of Forsythia are strongly antiviral and have traditionally been used for colds and flu.  Forsythia is usually combined with Honeysuckle (Lonicera) flowers, which are also antiviral.

Fresh juice of Ginger is one of Buhner's primary anti-viral treatments.  Only fresh root is effective, not dried root or the powered spice.  Juice is taken as a hot tea every 2-3 hours during the course of a cold or flu.

Licorice (the herb, not the candy which is usually artificially flavored or made with anise) is an antiviral herb that is very good for the lungs and kidneys.  Tea, tincture or capsule of the root is used.  Buhner cautions that Licorice is generally safe for short term use, but that large doses should not be used.  It is also best combined with other herbs.  Michael Moore found that Licorice has a tendency to elevate blood pressure in people whose metabolism and build would be considered "anabolic" - large framed people who are strong and usually aggressive, who carry extra body fat and tend to have a reddish complexion (if they are white); think retired football players and post-menopausal women with strong, loud personalities (those were two of the examples he gave).  You will want to read about this herb before deciding how or if to use it.

Chinese Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) is one of Buhner's favorites, and it is an excellent antiviral herb.  Traditionally, several varieties of Skullcap have been used as anti-virals (recall our discussion on the folk use of Skullcap for rabies, hence the name "Mad Dog Skullcap"), but Chinese Skullcap may be particularly good.  The root is used as a tincture.  Chinese Skullcap is a broad spectrum anti-viral.

Buhner's 7 favorite anti-viral herbs are Chinese Skullcap, Elder, Ginger, Houttuynia, Isatis, Licorice and Lomatium, so we may as well cover the last three now.  His book discusses many other herbs that are either antiviral or help prevent the damage done by several viruses - I highly recommend it.

Houttuynia cordata is a plant that is often called Chameleon Plant because the leaves become variegated and colored when grown in the sun.  It grows in a wide range of climates and soil types and has been used as a ground cover.  Unfortunately, it grows thickly and spreads quickly, so is considered invasive in many areas.  Medicinally, it is strongly anti-viral and supportive of the lungs, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal... and it is also a good culinary herb that is popular in Asian cuisine.

Isatis is a member of the brassica family, along with cabbage, broccoli, etc.  The roots and leaves are a broad spectrum anti-viral that inhibit viral replications.  You will probably have to grow this one in your garden, as it is hard to find.

Lomatium is an herb in the same family as Osha.  Both have anti-viral properties, but Lomatium is stronger in this regard.  Osha helps stops over reaction of immune system, even anaphylactic shock.

Turmeric (Curcumin) Like its cousin Ginger, Turmeric is antiviral and anti-inflammatory. However, it is rarely used in America in its most optimal forms.  A Standardized Extract of Curcumin or Cumin oil is much more effective the capsules of Turmeric powder that most folks take.  A Turmeric tincture is also effective.  However, all forms of Turmeric should be combined with black pepper and some form of natural fat for absorption and effective use.  Taking it without that combination does little, if any good.  Most cultures take their cumin cooked into foods, as a spice, which is also effective.  When I catch a cold or flu, I make sure to eat hot, spicy beef and chicken (etc) curries with tons of garlic and onions.  I have become friends with the owner of a local, family run Chinese restaurant.  I call him and tell him I need an extra hot curry because I am coming down with a cold.  He makes me a special order that no sane person would attempt to eat - it does the trick!

Saint John's Wort is not only an herb that helps with mood, soothes muscle pain and helps heal nerves, but it is also a very effective anti-viral.  Good, fresh Saint John's Wort will give a dark red tincture and this is what we want.  To have the best, you will probably need to grow and make it yourself.  

Garlic and the other alliums are anti-viral, anti-septic and anti-biotic, as well as being supportive to the immune system.  For medicinal purposes, they can be lacto-fermented (see the discussion on fermented pickles), preserved in honey or garlic can be fermented unpeeled and whole into what is known as "black garlic".  Moreover, Garlic is included in what is known as the "Four Thieves Tonic".  See the end of this chapter for information on this powerful and easy to make folk medicine formula that has been used to prevent viral infection for centuries.

Ampelopsis Brevipedunculata, known as Porcelain Berry, is an invasive weed in the American South (along with Honeysuckle, which is also antiviral, and Kuzu that can help protect the brain in encephalitis).  It is also antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

Sophora Flavencens and Strobilanthes Cusia are herbs that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as antivirals.

Boneset (Eupatorium) is a common plant in North America, with a long history of herbal use.  Dengue fever, a mosquito borne virus, was a major problem in early America, as was malaria and several flus.  Several viral infections may have been known as "break bone fever", but Dengue is the leading candidate.  The virus caused muscle and joint pain so intense that the bones felt as if they were breaking.  Native Americans recommended this family of herbs to help break the fever and as a cure for the virus.  For most of the last century or so, Boneset was dismissed as a useless folk remedy.  Recent research has shown Boneset to be, in fact, antiviral, antiseptic, analgesic, febrifuge, diaphoretic and immunostimulant.

Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a relatively new herb to western herbalism.  It originates in South America.  Research shows that it is powerfully anti-viral.  We all need to be growing this one, even if it means building a greenhouse or bringing potted plants inside for the winter.

Andrographis is another foreign herb - this one comes from India.  It is often called Green Chiretta.  It is considered to be the most bitter herb of all. That makes it good for the liver.  But, it is also anti-viral and immune supportive.

Poke Root (Phytolacca americana) likewise, is an old folk remedy.  Poke is anti-viral, but its main action is in purging the lymph system.  Poke (as discussed previously) is toxic in large amounts and may cause nausea even in moderate amounts.  I include it here because when I had COVID 19, the illness lingered after the severe symptoms had passed, making me feel weak and moderately sick for several weeks.  Finally, I took poke root until just before I could feel nausea setting in (such dosing takes experience with the plant).  Soon, I began to sweat profusely, and my urine turned dark.  The odor of my sweat was very strong.  The lingering, low grade fever finally broke and I felt much better afterward.  Poke seemed to hasten the conclusion or resolution of the virus and I now use it much earlier in any cold or flu.

Red Root (Ceanothus) Red Root is much like Poke in its action on lymph, but probably a little safer to use.  I am used to Poke, because it is native to my region, and I grew up with it.  Red Root is not native to North America, but is widely grown as an ornamental.  It is an easy one to add to the herb garden.

Hot Peppers have long been used to help with colds and flu.  They thin mucus and help break up congestion, promote sweating and help break fevers.  It turns out though that folk wisdom was right, they are immune boosting.

Viruses were not yet discovered by science in the era in which much German Folk Medicine was recorded.  However, those herbalists certainly knew of colds and flus, if not their cause.  They found herbs to help with viral infections, just as have all peoples everywhere on earth.

Father Kneipp included a chapter on Influenza in his classic work, My Water Cure.  By the way, it seems counter-intuitive that cold water baths could promote sweating.  But, my experimentation with the Kneipp Cure has shown that after emerging from cold water and drying off, if I either dress warmly and go for a hike or brisk walk, or cover up under blankets in bead, perspiration does come more easily and is very relaxing to the muscles.


This disease is by no means a new one; it is the same kind of catarrh which has long been known under the name of "Grippe". With regard to this illness, people used to say that the patient must take great care of himself during the time of convalescence, lest another disease might follow the first. People in the country who were afflicted with it generally kept their bed, took 2 to 4 cups of hot tea, covered themselves well so as to produce profuse perspiration, and in 2 or 3 days they were well again and no fatal consequences had to be feared. Water has often proved the best remedy also in this illness. If influenza appears, the patient should take a whole-ablution (cold water mixed with a little vinegar) every hour. After the second or third application, he will begin to sweat, and through this the morbid matters will be removed. I know of a peasant who began to take the ablutions at 7 in the evening and continued them till the following morning when he was perfectly cured. If tea from St. John's wort and milfoil or sage and wormwood is taken in addition to the exterior application, the cure will be even more speedily accomplished. Instead of ablutions half-baths (of 2 seconds' duration) might be taken as often as the fever increases. Anastasia relates: "1 1/2 years ago I had influenza and have not been well ever since. I have used much medicine, but without any result. I was formerly pretty strong but I have now lost 1/3 of my weight, I seldom feel appetite and never sleep, I am almost unable to attend to my duties. What is there to be done?"


1) Every night take a whole-ablution from bed to promote the vital heat; this will open the pores and produce perspiration.

2) Every day take a (cold) shower for the back and an upper shower. These applications effected the dissolution of the unhealthy matters and their evacuation by means of sweating; every third day a short bandage was applied which tended to produce the same effect in the lower body.

12 days after these applications the patient was considerably better. Several smaller and larger ulcers formed through which the morbid matter was led off. Further applications were made use of to brace the system, and after 4 weeks the patient was completely restored.

Why had she not been entirely cured before? Answer: Although many remedies were used, there was none which dissolved and evacuated the morbid matter in the whole body. The medicaments which were taken went through the whole body, but what had collected between flesh and skin was left untouched by them. This had to be removed by perspiration. Thus our ancestors were right when they sought to cure influenza (under its old name) chiefly by profuse sweating.

Camomile. (Matricaria chamomilla.)  Camomile tea is used for colds, especially if they are attended by fever, for gripes, cramps, strong congestions, etc. The little bags with camomiles, which are so useful for warming in various cases, are so well known and liked in every house, that it seems quite unnecessary to say anything further about them.

Father Künzle wrote:

The lady's mantle, well boiled and drunk warm, relieves headache, heals cold in the head, eye infections, and often headaches, toothaches (gargle your mouth!)

Masterwort, chewed in the mouth, cures the cold in the head very quickly.

The juniper or Reckolder (Juniperus) is a medicinal plant of the first rank; everything about it is medicinal: wood, needles, berries, bark.  It has the power to warm up, relieve internal colds, cleans everything whatever it can reach, stomach, intestines, lungs, blood, and is therefore used in almost all herbal mixtures, except for hot diseases (such as fever etc.).

If you have a cold and catarrh, in the evening before you go to bed drink a good portion of well-boiled tea made from plantain, cowslip, Lady’s Mantle and peppermint. If you do this at the very beginning when you start feeling the symptoms, you will be healthy the following morning; if, on the other hand, you have missed the moment, drink this tea more often throughout the day (always warm), then usually you should be free of catarrh by the evening.

The wine maker from Winital had his own extensive vineyard and served only his own wine. The last wine in the barrel, however, was of a lower quality, as everywhere, and for the sake of his reputation he did not want to serve it. He made it into vinegar and knew how to use it even better than the wine; for he used it as a remedy.

The head teacher from the same area was often suffering from severe cold. The wine maker advised him to boil a liter of vinegar and a liter of water in the pot; as soon as it was hot, the teacher had to hold his head over it and put a thick cloth over his head and over the pot so that all the steam could rise to his head for about a quarter of an hour; then the cold was gone. In case of bronchial catarrh, the same procedure had to be repeated twice a day, the only difference being that the chest also had to be uncovered; in three days the catarrh was gone.

People with weak lungs, predispositions to pulmonary consumption and tuberculosis were advised by our wine maker to put 3-5 flat plates with vinegar in the bedroom every evening. The smell of the vinegar that was inhaled all night refreshed and strengthened the lungs to such an extent that after a year people became very healthy again. With advanced tuberculosis, however, this remedy could no longer cure. The wine maker found out this method through a relative of his, who ran a vinegar factory with 200-300 workers, none of whom had any lung problems. He also employed people with tuberculosis, and they all recovered.


This disease takes hold of everything: the nerves of the head, kidneys, bladder, lungs, and often the heart and the stomach. Our flu tea brings relief. The patient is given a sip every hour. The main thing is that a lot of urine is excreted; if this is not the case, despite drinking the flu tea, then watch out. It means that the kidneys stopped working; a simple remedy can help here. Take two onions or two garlic, crush them and place them raw on both kidneys and leave them there for 3-7 hours; the kidneys start working again and a lot of urine comes out. Then the flu cannot develop into pneumonia.

Tea for flu

A sip of a mixture of a handful of wormwood, a handful of sage, a handful of Alpine speedwell, a handful of liquorice every morning and evening, protects against flu. Those who are already ill with flu take a spoonful every half an hour and recover in two days.

Aftereffects of the flu.

Many people have not felt well since they had flu. Some excrete too little urine when compared to before and they need onions and garlic as described above. Others have a weak heart; for those I advise my mixture with Creeping avens (Geum). Others have lost their appetite; for those I advise my stomach powder, also available in tablet form. Others feel weak and have no life energy; for them I advise my basic herbal mixture (Lapidar).

Maria Treben tells us:

The common cold, also known simply as a cold, is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract that primarily affects the nose. The throat, sinuses, and larynx may also be affected. Signs and symptoms may appear less than two days after exposure to the virus.

Camomile (Matricaria chamomilla) Camomile helps the movement of the bowels without purging and is therefore indirectly beneficial for haemorrhoids to which Camomile ointment can be applied externally. This ointment may also be used to promote the healing of wounds. Colds and maxillary sinusitis are soon better if Camomile steam is inhaled. After such a treatment one must understandably remain warm.

Thyme, Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) An old herbal remedy for illnesses of the respiratory passages is Thyme used with Plantain. A tea, made of equal proportions of Thyme and Plantain with lemon and raw sugar added, is effective for whooping cough, phlegm in the lungs and bronchial asthma. This tea is prepared fresh 4 to 5 times a day. lf there is danger of pneumonia, a big sip, taken every hour, is effective. Luckily, many mothers have not forgotten Thyme, but seldom do they realize that drinks directly from the refrigerator can lead in children to chronic bronchitis which in later years can develop into emphysema.

Yarrow (Achittea miltefolium) For colds, back or rheumatic pain Yarrow tea is drunk as hot as possible and in large amounts. The tea activates sluggish kidneys, rectifies lack of appetite, dispels flatulence and stomach cramps, is beneficial for liver disorders, inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract and regulates the movement of the bowels.

Viral diseases

Viruses are very small infectious agents. They’re made up of a piece of genetic material, such as DNA or RNA, that’s enclosed in a coat of protein.

Viruses invade cells in your body and use components of those cells to help them multiply. This process often damages or destroys infected cells.

A viral disease is any illness or health condition caused by a virus.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) Since I know how valuable the Nettle is, I have made it a habit to drink a tea prepared from the young shoots during a 4 week period each spring and autumn. I drink 1 cup on an empty stomach half an hour before breakfast and sip 1 to 2 cups throughout the day. The effect is heightened if the tea is only sipped, even before breakfast. After 4 weeks, I feel like a new person and I am able to work 3 times as hard. My family and I have not taken any medication for years and I feel young and supple. The Stinging Nettle tea is drunk without sugar and does not taste too badly. Delicate natures can add a bit of Camomile or Mint to better the taste. In herbal medicine Stinging Nettle tea drunk during a 4 week period, is used for liver, gallbladder and spleen disorders, even for a tumour in the spleen, for stomach cramps and ulcers, ulcers in the intestines, congestion of the lungs or stomach and lung disorders. Do not boil the tea, it would destroy valuable substances. Drink 1 cup a day all year round as a prophylactic. It is also beneficial for viral diseases and bacterial excretions.

Infection caused by the presence of a virus in the body. Depending on the virus and the person's state of health, various viruses can infect almost any type of body tissue, from the brain to the skin.

Calendula, Marigold (Calendula officinalis)  lnternally, Calendula as a tea, is used for gastro-intestinal disorders, stomach cramps and stomach ulcer, as well as inflammation of the large intestine, dropsy and blood in the urine. lt is excellent for virus infections and bacteria in the urine.  What wonderful results the use of the tea of fresh Calendula has is noted in a letter a physician sent to me: "A small 2 ½ year old girl became very sick after repeated polio inoculations. She had chronic diarrhorea, loss of weight, visual weakness and difficulties with food. ln a clinical checkup, paratyphoid fever was diagnosed and the child was therefore under clinical supervision. One week after drinking tea, made of fresh Calendula flowers and some homoeopathic medicines, the child was substantially better. The examination for typhoid bacillus, carried out three times shortly afterwards, was negative for the first time."

Since Calendula is also beneficial for infectious hepatitis, it is an excellent remedy in disorders of the liver. Flowers, leaves and stems are brewed with boiling water. The tea should not be sweetened. For the above mentioned disorders drink 3 to 4 cups a day, about a tablespoonful every quarter of an hour. A tea made from 1 tablespoon of flowers to ¼ litre of water will expel worms. The juice of the fresh stem gets rid of warts and scabies, the boiled infusion heals herpes and glandular swellings, if the affected parts are bathed in it. The tea, drunk regularly purifies the blood. The eyes, bathed with an eye bath of the lukewarm tea, are strengthened.

Other herbs that have been found useful intreating viral infections or easing the symptoms of influenza by European and early American herbalists include:

Peppermint has anti-viral properties.

White Cedar (Thuja) is anti-viral, good for colds and flus, but needle oil especially against herpes.

Water Calla (Calla palustris) root bark tea used for flu.

Angelica is a traditional Appalachian remedy for colds and flu.  It works well with Licorice.

Yarrow is good for fevers, helpful for colds and like Angelica has been traditionally used for flu.

Rabbit Tobacco (Pseudognaphlium obtusifolium) is a good lung herb that has traditionally been used for colds and flu.  Sweet Everlasting (Gnaphalium obtusifolium) is said to be similar.

Burdock seeds have been used for flu.

Maidenhair Fern has also been used as a tea for flu. It is a particularly good lung herb, helping with pneumonia and congestion.  Mullein and Pleurisy Root would fall into the same category.

Four Thieves Tonic

Four Thieves Tonic is a traditional herbal formula to prevent or shorted the duration of colds, flus, etc.  According to legend, during the time of the Black Plague in Europe, four thieves would rob the houses of those who had recently died from the disease.  Once apprehended, an inquiry was made into why the thieves never contracted the virus that was highly contagious and killing huge swaths of the population.  The answer lay in a family remedy that has come to be known as Four Thieves Tonic.   Some controversy exists as to the original formula, but the oldest known documentation fomes from French chemist and scholar René-Maurice Gattefossé published the “original” recipe that hung in the museum of Old Marseille, France in his 1937 book, Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy:

"Take three pints of strong white wine vinegar, add a handful of each of wormwood, meadowsweet, wild marjoram and sage, fifty cloves, two ounces of campanula roots, two ounces of angelic, rosemary and horehound and three large measures of champhor. Place the mixture in a container for fifteen days, strain and express then bottle. Use by rubbing it on the hands, ears and temples from time to time when approaching a plague victim."

The modern version is generally taken internally, about a tablespoonful diluted in water. Herbs that are used include Garlic, Rosemary, Clove, Sage, Juniper Berries, Thyme, Cinnamon,

Fire Cider

Fire Cider is another folk remedy that is commonly used among herbalists.  Everyone has their own favorite herbal addition or substitution, but the basics are (based on Rosemary Gladstar's formula):

1 onion, several cloves of garlic (both peeled, chopped and/or crushed, of course), a few of the hottest fresh peppers you can stand (chopped), the juice of a lemon, grated ginger root, grated horseradish root, Turmeric, Cayenne pepper (dried and powdered), apple cider vinegar. Raw honey is added to taste after the cider ages.

Both of these tonics should be prepared in advance and aged for a month or longer before using.  

The above article is an excerpt from my new book Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People

You can read about and purchase Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People here: southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/10/herbal-medicine-for-preppers.html

Also available on Amazon: Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People: Carroll, Judson: 9798491252923: Amazon.com: Books


The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
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