3 Essential Herbs For Cold & Flu Season

I’ve been hearing lots lately that you’ve (or your Little One has) already come down with a back-to-school cold or flu. Last week at our free kids’ health class, “Healthy All Year”, Dr. Antoinette and I shared our tips for keeping your kiddos (and you!) as healthy as possible and we loved to excited those mamas were to get this prevention rolling in September. From a naturopathic perspective, we think prevention first, so that you can avoid illness and reduce the severity and duration of suffering if and when you do get sick.

Herbal medicines are complexes of plant compounds that your body recognizes (because both plants and your body are parts of nature) and picks up what it needs to do its amazing healing work. Since herbal medicines help your body heal, you won’t need to take them “forever”. Some of them even taste good!

So here are my 3 personal favourite herbal “healthsavers” right now and why I’m loving them:
The Immunity All-Star: Echinacea purpurea.
From Labour Day to the end of May, I take a tablet of Echinacea Premium (MediHerb) almost every day. This gorgeous native plant boosts your ability to both prevent and fight off infections. Contrary to popular belief, Echinacea is safe and effective when taken year round and does not to be given “breaks”. If I’ve been exposed to a virus, or I’m feeling stressed or too run down and vulnerable or like I might be “coming down with something”, I’ll take 3-4 of them for a day or two and it has consistently nipped things in the bud. Since I started doing this I went from 5-6 sick days per year to just 1 last year. I love it.
The Stamina Saver: Glycyrrhiza glabra.
Let’s face it, life is busy and busy is stressful! I value my stamina, my stable mood and my healthy hormones because these reflections of my good health also keep me able to serve my patients, take care of my business, be creative AND feel well while I’m doing it. For busy go-getters, the sleep-deprived, the moms, and anyone who’s been under stress (OK, so that’s pretty much everyone in the world right now)…there will come times in life when you need to support your adrenals. The adrenal glands produce hormones that maintain our stamina, help prevent illness and inflammation, and contribute to normal fertility, libido and mental clarity. The stress response is designed to be immediate – literally life-and-death situations – but most of our stress is chronic and non-life-threatening. You don’t want to let these two little powerhouses get “wired but tired” -before too long, they crash, which spells burnout: a health disaster. There are a good handful of herbs that help to prevent and treat adrenal fatigue. Licorice is one of them. I’ve taken AdrenoCo (contains licorice + rehmannia, “nature’s prednisone” i.e. naturally anti-inflammatory) for over a year quite consistently. I notice I’m more tired and more easily “wired” when I stop taking it, so I know I’m still good to pick this one back up. Licorice is also amazing for cold and flu season because it supports the function of the mucus membranes that line the throat, digestive tract and lungs. You can also take licorice root as a tea for that black licorice flavour that soothes a sore throat – when it comes to the flavour and fragrance, some love, some hate this one!
The Sleepmaker: Valeriana officinalis. 
Oh, valerian, where would I be without you these past few months? I normally enjoy great sleep, but this past season I’ve been working through one of the deepest personal and professional challenges I’ve ever faced to date. [Of course, I knew that opening a new clinic would create challenges, but the likes of them I did not anticipate. Surprise!]  Over the past 4 months I’ve been triggered to the core of some deep past personal issues and while I will confidently share today that I’m coming out of it smarter and more wholehearted, and even able to thank this season of stress for being my Teacher, I’ve had to spend many midsummer nights not dreaming…Rather, having heart palpitations, night sweats and bad dreams…And so I befriended a herb I’d used years ago – probably the first herbal medicine I’d ever taken other than herbal teas – and got to experience the sweet relief of waking up in the actual morning (after sunrise) realizing I’d made it through the night.
Valerian doesn’t work for everyone. In about 5% of people it has a paradoxical “hyper” effect – you’ll know right away and you’ll want to move on to the next of many possible safe and effective sedative and hypnotic herbs to help you restore your sweet slumbers.
Sleep is so essential to your healthy immunity so if you’re not getting your zzz’s, let’s have a chat about “why” and help you get sorted. You’ve got important things to do!

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