Winter is well underway, and temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere continue to dip. As cold weather increases, so does the rate of viral infections from the common cold and the flu.
It’s important to keep your immune system strong and well-supported to protect yourself from potentially debilitating winter ailments. But even the healthiest person occasionally gets the sniffles or a sore throat.
Today we’ll look at seven herbal teas that provide relief from cold and flu symptoms, many of which can also fortify your system against invading viruses. Best of all, unlike acidifying and toxic over-the-counter drugs, these teas are alkalizing and hydrating.
1. Elderberry Tea To The Rescue
Catching the flu is miserable, and when you have it, all you want is relief. It can be tempting to fill a prescription for an influenza-fighting drug like Tamiflu. But this acidifying drug has a host of negative side-effects ranging from nausea to dizziness to insomnia.1
Studies have shown that elderberry extract offers the same level of relief as prescription flu drugs but side-effect free. Researchers in Florida found that elderberry flavonoids bind directly to the part of the H1N1 virus that attaches to your cells. It blocks the viruses’ ability to infect host cells, effectively preventing infection.2
German researchers contributed evidence that elderberry extract boosts immune function, providing defense against various strains of the flu.3
Researchers conducting another study gave 60 participants suffering from flu symptoms either elderberry syrup or a placebo. The group receiving the elderberry syrup experienced relief from their symptoms on average four days earlier than the placebo group.4
One of the many ways you can take advantage of the medicinal properties of the elderberry is in a delicious tea, brewed at home, and enjoyed with the knowledge that it will help you prevent and fight the flu without harming your bones.
Elderberry has the same anti-flu effects as prescription flu drugs like Tamiflu, but unlike prescription drugs, it has no side-effects and is not acidifying. Use elderberry tea to reduce the length of a cold or flu, and to strengthen your immune defenses.
2. Hibiscus Soothes Flu Symptoms And Lowers Blood Pressure
Hibiscus is a favorite of both gardeners and tea drinkers. The brightly colored flowers are beautiful, and when dried, they make for a delicious red tea with a tangy tartness.
Studies have shown that all hot teas reduce cold and flu symptoms, but unlike black, green, and white teas, hibiscus and other herbal teas are alkalizing and do not contain fluoride. They offer bone-healthy, comforting relief from sore throat, drippy nose, cough, fatigue, and chills.5
Hibiscus tea has the additional benefit of lowering blood pressure, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutrition.6 That’s a result of its rich antioxidant content. Those antioxidants– flavonoids and anthocyanins– are crucial elements for building bone and protecting the bone-building process.7
Hibiscus tea is rich in antioxidants, and it’s a natural and alkalizing way of reducing cold and flu symptoms and protecting your bones. Additionally, studies have shown that it lowers blood pressure.
3. Fight Colds, Inflammation, And Anxiety With Echinacea
Echinacea has been used for medicinal purposes in North America for hundreds of years. It’s a popular and effective natural alternative to pharmaceutical treatments for cold and flu symptoms.
Studies conducted on mice have shown that echinacea shortens the duration and severity of influenza.8 Research conducted with nearly 300 human participants found that echinacea reduces the severity of cold symptoms when taken at the first sign of infection.9
This may have to do with echinacea’s proven anti-inflammatory properties.10,11 Paired with its free-radical fighting antioxidant action, echinacea builds bone density while it mitigating cold and flu symptoms.
Echinacea has also been shown to reduce anxiety, another bone-positive trait that helps you endure a winter illness.12 The stress of anxiety, if left unchecked can overexpose your body to the hormone cortisol, resulting in bone-damaging and immune-depressing inflammation.13
Echinacea tea can help you preserve bone mass and endure the winter months in good health and composure.
Echinacea is known to reduce anxiety, free-radicals, and inflammation. It has also been shown to reduce cold and flu symptoms when taken at the first signs of infection.
4. Make Time For Thyme Tea
You probably think of thyme as a seasoning spice, but it also makes a delicious herbal tea that’s packed with antioxidants.
In a study with participants suffering from acute bronchitis, extract of thyme and ivy leaves taken three times daily shortened the duration of symptoms. Furthermore, this herbal treatment was well tolerated, with no higher frequency or severity of side effects than a placebo.14
If you don’t see pure thyme tea in your grocery store, check the descriptions of herbal teas. It’s often included with mixed-herb blends.
Thyme tea provides bone-protective antioxidants and relief from cold symptoms.
5. Get Hip To Rosehip
Rosehip is the mound just below the petals of a rose. Some people think of it as the fruit of the rose flower, and much like other fruits, rosehip is a good source of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is an essential component for the construction of collagen, which comprises the flexible portion of the bone matrix.
Studies have shown that rosehip has significant antioxidant and antibacterial properties.15 A cup of rosehip tea confers the protective powers of this floral fruit, as well a calming aromatic experience.
Rosehips provide Vitamin C and antioxidants, bolstering your immune system and bone health.
6. The Wisdom Of Sage Tea
People have long used the sage plant for medicinal purposes, and modern science is now uncovering its potent effects. Perhaps due to its concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols, studies have found sage to have a positive impact on:
- Memory and cognitive health16
- Oxidative stress17
- Lipid profile18
- Cancer risk19
- Harmful bacteria (a natural alternative to antibiotics)20
- Hot flashes from menopause21
- Sore throat23
This impressive list of scientifically supported positive effects of sage makes it a must-have in your cold-fighting toolkit. Keep some sage tea in your cabinet in case of cold or flu, or if you’d just like a nice warm cup of health-supporting tea.
Sage is flush with medicinal properties ranging from anticancer and antibacterial traits to suppressing the symptoms of cold and flu.
7. Slippery Elm
Slippery Elm is a species of tree native to the United States and Canada. For hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, people in North America have used the bark of the slippery elm as a remedy for a variety of common ailments.
Contemporary science has confirmed many of its traditional uses, including the power to soothe a cough and sore throat. When you brew slippery elm in water, it releases a compound known as mucilage, a sticky mix of sugars that resists decomposition in the digestive tract. As this soothing compound coats your throat, it suppresses coughs and irritation.24
Studies have also examined slippery elm’s benefits to the digestive system, finding that it can reduce inflammation in the intestines, providing symptom relief for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).25
Slippery elm is a traditional herbal remedy that soothes sore throats, suppresses coughs, and offers relief to those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Tea Time Anytime
With so many types to choose from, you’re sure to find a few favorite teas to turn to when your throat gets scratchy, or your nose starts to run. Or you can make a calming cup of tea part of your daily routine to help fortify your system against viral invasion.
In sharp contrast to prescription and many over-the-counter drugs natural food-based remedies like these teas can be enjoyed anytime, knowing that their healing powers aren’t coupled with nasty side-effects.
So warm up this winter with a hydrating, bone-replenishing cup of herbal tea.
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2 Roschek Jr. Bill. “Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro”. Phytochemistry: August 2009. 70; 1255 – 1261.
3 Krawitz C et al. “Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses”. BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2011. 11:16;11-16.
4 Zakay-Rones Z1, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. “Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.” J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016
5 Sanu A, Eccles R. “The effects of a hot drink on nasal airflow and symptoms of common cold and flu.” Rhinology. 2008 Dec;46(4):271-5. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19145994?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
6 McKay DL, Chen CY, Saltzman E, Blumberg JB. “Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea (tisane) lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults.” J Nutr. 2010 Feb;140(2):298-303. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20018807
7 Welch, A., et al. “Habitual flavonoid intakes are positively associated with bone mineral density in women.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2012 Sep;27(9): 1872-8 doi: 10.1002/jbmr. 1649. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22549983
8 Fusco D, et al. “Echinacea purpurea aerial extract alters course of influenza infection in mice.” Vaccine. 2010 May 21;28(23):3956-62. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20382242
9 Goel V, et al. “Efficacy of a standardized echinacea preparation (Echinilin) for the treatment of the common cold: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” J Clin Pharm Ther. 2004 Feb;29(1):75-83. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14748902
10 Sharma M, et al. “The efficacy of Echinacea in a 3-D tissue model of human airway epithelium.” Phytother Res. 2010 Jun;24(6):900-4. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19998417
11 Raso GM, et al. “In-vivo and in-vitro anti-inflammatory effect of Echinacea purpurea and Hypericum perforatum.” J Pharm Pharmacol. 2002 Oct;54(10):1379-83. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12396300/
12 Haller J, et al. “The anxiolytic potential and psychotropic side effects of an echinacea preparation in laboratory animals and healthy volunteers.” Phytother Res. 2013 Jan;27(1):54-61. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22451347
13 Dennison E, Hindmarsh P, Fall C, Kellingray S, Barker D, Phillips D, Cooper C. “Profiles of endogenous circulating cortisol and bone mineral density in healthy elderly men.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Sep;84(9):3058-63. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10487665
14 Kemmerich B, et al. “Efficacy and tolerability of a fluid extract combination of thyme herb and ivy leaves and matched placebo in adults suffering from acute bronchitis with productive cough. A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Arzneimittelforschung. 2006;56(9):652-60. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17063641
15 G. özkan, O. Sagdiç, N. G. Baydar. “Note: Antioxidant and Antibacterial Activities of Rosa Damascena Flower Extracts.” Food Science and Technology International, 2004. 10(4), 277–281. Web. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1082013204045882#articleCitationDownloadContainer
16 Antiprotease and antimetastatic activity of ursolic acid isolated from Salvia officinalis.
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22 International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science Invention
ISSN (Online): 2319 – 6718, ISSN (Print): 2319 – 670X
www.ijpsi.org Volume 5 Issue 5 ‖ August 2016 ‖ PP. 15-28. Web. http://www.ijpsi.org/Papers/Vol5(5)/D0505015028.pdf
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25 Das S, Shillington L, Hammett T. Fact sheet no. 17: Slippery elm. January 2001. Web. http://www2.ca.uky.edu/forestryextension/PDF/slipperyelmbark.pdf.