Plants to Help With Seasonal Sickness
Written By: Suzy González and Alejandra Tolley
As we enter our third calendar year living with COVID, we’ve noticed multiple shared resources regarding how to prevent contracting the virus, but not as many on how to treat it. Immune boosters, warming remedies, and throat and lung supporting plants can be great for tackling physical discomfort and soothing aches or pain. Especially with the new merge of the flu and covid, we’re hoping to help provide some guidance.
Plants that can help strengthen our immune systems can be taken as preventatives but can also help to boost our bodies when we do get sick. While masks and hand sanitizers are helpful preventative measures, plants are always there to add even more protection to our routines. Our bodies need Vitamin C, A & E to maintain a solid immune system, and pulling out some simple kitchen staples (or visiting a local botanica) can help!
Lemons provide a vital source of fiber and Vitamin C; this citric acid can help aid digestive health and hydration and boost immunity. Drinking a warm glass of water with lemon juice or steeped peels every morning can help soothe any soreness in your throat while also preventing dehydration. If you have any citrus trees in your area, washing some leaves and tearing them into a tea can also be a delicious and soothing treat. These are a few simple actions that you can incorporate every morning to help you eat and rest more comfortably!
One of the most versatile healing remedies, this plant can offer many medicinal uses that aid in treating inflammation, reducing stress, improving heart health, and alleviating discomfort from headaches and the common cold. Steeped Elderberries are great to make tea or even decocted to create medicinal syrups to ward off colds.
A flower in the daisy family native to North America, echinacea is an antioxidant remedy used to fight off common cold symptoms, helps treat upper respiratory infections, and stimulates our immune system. Consider planting some in your garden!
As we continue navigating through the Winter season, we know that warmth is like medicine for our bodies. Studies show that COVID thrives in the cold, and many of us already have traditions of not having bare feet in the house or leaving the house with wet hair–as these are survival instincts! In addition to this, certain herbs contain a natural warmth or spice that can help to keep our body systems heated during harsh weather.
Inflammation is a response to any detected bacteria or virus in our bodies, causing pain or swelling in the infected area. Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory that can aid with the recovery process of the flu or COVID and pairs well with black pepper, which the absorption of curcumin, the key is anti-inflammatory properties. As well as being an incredible source of antioxidants, it’s also known for boosting other antioxidants in the body. For nighttime, a warm cup of haldi dooh, also known as “turmeric milk” in India, can encourage more restful sleep and is a great immunity booster.
A close relative of turmeric, this Southeast Asian plant treats nausea, helps with digestion, and is another significant anti-inflammatory recovery aid. Adding a bit of fresh ginger to your smoothies in the morning can be a simple way to implement this great antioxidant into your routine.
A plant bark with a heavenly aroma, cinnamon is warming physically and spiritually. Rich in antioxidants, cinnamon can lower inflammation, prevent bacterial growth, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce menstrual cramps. Tea is made by adding ground cinnamon to hot water or steeping cinnamon sticks. You can even warm up your home by lighting a cinnamon stick like an incense.
Chinese star anise is a licorice-tasting herb with antiviral properties and is one of the main active ingredients in medications used to treat the flu. It also contains antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is used for making teas for respiratory and d
Throat and Lung Soothers
Jasmine is an antiviral tea that comes from the combination of green tea leaves and jasmine blossoms. Loaded with plant-based compounds, these perform as antioxidants to help fight off any free radical damage in our bodies. A warm cup of jasmine tea can alleviate throat soreness and discomfort.
This tea extract provides lung support and can help with skin conditions like eczema when used topically as an oil.
Mullein is a powerful herb for lung support; its leaves, flowers, and roots have medicinal value. It’s an expectorant that can remove mucus from the lungs. Gargling the cooled tea can relieve coughs and throat soreness. Steaming with mullein leaves can help congestion, and the leaves can even be smoked to relax the lungs.
Known as cooking sage, garden sage, or common sage, the herb we may often find ourselves cooking with can make a delicious and nutritious tea infusion. With anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, sage can help to strengthen the body to protect from harmful free radicals linked to chronic disease. Gargle with a cooled sage tea for throat infections, gum infections, mouth ulcers, and other dental and throat needs.
Likely a staple on your spice rack, oregano is also a histamine-reducing herb, meaning it can assist with seasonal allergies and bodily reactions associated with allergies such as congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. It can also be a natural cleanser for the lungs from outside irritants and relieve coughing.
Other helpful plants to consider for sinus and respiratory needs include: eucalyptus, hibiscus, nettle, burdock, pine, rosemary, wormwood, mugwort, wild cherry bark, olive leaf, rose hips, thyme, bee balm, and yarrow.
Herbal Tea Blends
Have fun with your tea! Get yourself a reusable infuser and play with different blends. A proportion of 1 tsp of herbs to 1 cup of tea is standard. Ask yourself what your body needs each day and spend time with plants in your garden or from the store to see what works best for you and your needs. Here are a few quick tea blend suggestions:
- Lemon and Ginger for immune boosting, stomach-soothing, and anti-inflammatory assistance
- Sage and Echinacea for throat soothing and immune system boost
- Elderberry and Cinnamon for immune-boosting and warming anti-inflammatory aid
- Spinach and kale juices - leafy greens have higher vitamin C content than most vegetables, juice with apples or pineapple to sweeten things up
- Antioxidant beet juice - beets, carrots, celery, pineapple
- Spicy immune booster - ginger, lemon, agave/maple, a dash of cayenne