Back to School Herbs

The start of a new school year generally means the start of colds and flus.  Why not go into this year with some new tools to help guard against this? 


There are some over the counter remedies that can mask the symptoms of a cold but why not get rid of it before it starts.  There are a number of herbs that can help with this. 


Peppermint – by itself can help. Drink several cups of peppermint tea when you first feel a cold coming on. 

Peppermint and Elderflowers – Mix equal parts peppermint leaves and dried elderflowers.  Use 1 teaspoon of each per cup.  Steep covered for 3 minutes and drink.  Drink this at least 3 times a day when you first feel a cold coming on.  

The purpose of these teas is to help sweat the cold out of your system.  Stay covered up and allow yourself to sweat it out.  This is a good remedy for children as well.  They will love it sweetened with honey.  Just do not overstep the tea.  3 minutes is plenty.  


Ginger – Many of my Indian friends tell stories about how when they were coming down with a cold their mother made them ginger tea.  Dried ginger in a filter will work in a pinch.  Better yet, grate some fresh ginger (about a teaspoon) into a cup add boiling water and steep covered for 3 minutes.  If you want you can add honey to sweeten it.  Ginger tea works the same as peppermint.  It helps sweat the cold out of your system. 

The reason that ginger and peppermint tea needs to be covered when it steeps is that the volatile oil in these herbs is released in the steam.  You get the fragrance but loose the health benefits.  If you cover the cup the oils will remain in the tea.


Oil of Oregano – I would not recommend this for children.  I do however use it at the first sign of a sore throat or cold.  This stuff is powerful so caution must be used when taking it.  The general dose for adults is 5 drops 3 times a day.  I have friends that simply put the drops on their tongue.  I am a wimp.  Directly on the tongue burns way too much for me.  I put my drops into about 2 tablespoons of water and drink it that way.  There are many actual medical reasons why this helps fend off colds, but I have a secret belief that it scares the cold germs right out of your body!

 Immune System Boosters 

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Vitamin C – This can be taken in capsules or tablets.  You can eat plenty of citrus fruits or drink juice, it is up to you.  Not only does vitamin C help keep your immune system functioning, it also helps your cells stay healthy, gives you energy and strengthens your connective tissue.


Calendula – I always include calendula tea in my herbal aid kits.  Calendula is also known as pot marigold.  Calendula is an effective agent in fevers and flu.  It acts as an immune stimulant increasing the body’s ability to resist infection.  It is an effective tea to be taken once or twice a day during the height of cold and flu outbreaks. 


Back to school is a stressful time for everyone.  Parents have more to do, kids have new experiences and exams.  There is an herb for that!


Lemon Balm – Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and it is excellent for treating stress.  It calms you without impacting your ability to function.  It is safe for most people, does not interact with drugs and is non-addictive.  It is even safe for children.  Add to that the fact that it tastes delicious and lemony and you have an easy go to stress reducer.  There is a small percentage of people that will have an allergic reaction to lemon balm which usually results in a plugged nose or mild allergy symptoms.  If this occurs stop using it. 

I like to caution people that children need to be taken to the doctor.  General cold symptoms are one thing but if they persist, see the doctor.  This goes for adults as well.  Persistent symptoms can be a sign that there is more wrong than you think.