Donna Easto Traditional Herbalist
and Certified Herbal Educator
It’s time to review some of the herbs and supplements that help get us through the warmer months. I’ve included several remedies for the common cold. You may think it’s a purely winter misery…unfortunately not, and it’s often more miserable than a winter cold. Let’s take a look at two heavy hitters: Rhinovirus and Enterovirus. Despite their common features, these two groups of viruses have different characteristics. Rhinoviruses are restricted to the respiratory tract, whereas Enteroviruses primarily infect the gastrointestinal tract and can spread to other sites such as the central nervous system.
Rhinoviruses, among the most abundant viral infectious agents in humans, cause about 30 to 50% of common colds and are rampant during the spring. Enteroviruses (Rhino’s kissing cousins) pack an extra punch in the warmest weather; they’re responsible for what is known as the “summer flu.” Along with the usual coughing, congestion and fever that these viruses can cause, Enteroviruses are also associated with a host of other nasty symptoms, including diarrhea, sore throat, rashes and body aches, to name a few. Hardy Enteroviruses can last longer than other viruses – meaning it might take you a little longer than expected to feel 100% again if you’re infected. We’re all too familiar with instructions on avoiding contact with viruses, so I won’t repeat them, but would add that controlling stress is essential*. Emotional stress weakens your immune system making it more likely that you’ll catch a cold. Here are a few helpful herbs for your medicine chest.
Black Cohosh Extract
An excellent treatment for general aches and pains, headaches and the miseries of the flu. Not for use in pregnancy/lactation.
Chamomile flower tea
A cup or two a day (1/4-1/2 for kids) will help soothe tummy aches, gas and bloating and ease your way to sleep.
Cramp Bark extract
Good for menstrual cramps and general body aches.
My all-time go-to, it’s easy to make at home, but finding the berries can be a challenge, especially this year. At the first sign of a cough, cold or the flu, adults take 1 tbsp 3x/day; kids >2 years 1 tsp 3x/day.
Fresh Ginger & Lemon tea
One to two cups a day for grown-ups, ¼ – ½ cup a day for kids; helps with colds and nausea. Cover 1 tbsp of minced fresh ginger with a cup of boiling water, add a dash of organic lemon juice, cover and steep for 15 minutes, strain and sweeten if desired.
Lavender Essential Oil
Apply to the temples for headache; for sleeplessness, 5-7 drops mixed with sweet almond oil in your bath, a few drops on a cloth under your pillow or in a diffuser. Very rare, but some folks might have skin irritation from direct application.
Eucalyptus chest rub2
Apply to the chest for summer coughs. E-mail me at for the recipe.
Slippery Elm lozenges
For sore throats.
For minor burns, helps dry pimples, calm coughs. 1-2 tsp every couple of hours for cough, apply a thin layer topically for skin conditions. Not for children under the age of one, use with caution if you have diabetes.
150-800 mg before bed will help ease constipation. Discuss with your healthcare provider if you are taking blood pressure or heart medication. Foods rich in Magnesium include almonds, millet, walnuts and coconut. Magnesium deficiency is rare in North America; it is often added to Calcium carbonate supplements largely because carbonates are constipating.
1Simple Elderberry Syrup
- 1 cup dried organic Elderberries
- 4 cups pure water
- ¾-2 cups Sweetener such as brown rice syrup, maple syrup or glycerin (for kids) or honey to taste.
Combine berries and water in a non-reactive pan. Place over medium-high heat and gradually bring to a boil. Once boil has been reached, reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 30 minutes, or until a syrupy thickness. Smash berries to release remaining juice. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain through cheesecloth, squeezing out any remaining juice. Taste and add sweetener if desired. Pour into prepared bottles. Stored in the refrigerator it will last 2-3 months. If honey is used, do not give it to children under the age of one.
2Nature has blessed us with numerous herbs to help the nervous system, including Adaptogens and Nervines, if you’d like to dive deeper into this topic, email me at:
Next Week Part 5 Of “Alternatives A-Z”