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Alleviating those achoooos! Last month, you learned to support your liver to stay healthy during winter. This month, Terry Cochran shares natural remedies for when that cold just won't go away.

Tired of turning to prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) remedies that contain all kinds of chemicals to help get rid of your cold or flu? Don't worry: there are non-chemical herbal alternatives that can ease your miseries, and they won't leave you with the unwanted side effects of OTCs.

Using familiar zinc and Echinacea when symptoms first appear can help prevent colds and the flu. Those fizzy powders or discs that include vitamin C, potassium, zinc and other herbs that you add to water can also be quite effective in shortening the duration of symptoms or decreasing their severity. But, what if the sniffles have progressed into bronchitis or a full-fledged cold or flu with all the aches, pains and misery? At this point, it's a good idea to start with an herbal tea of one herb or a combination of the following based on your symptoms:

Congestion in the chest: coltsfoot, elder flowers, a small dose of boneset, hyssop

Stuffy nose: oils of eucalyptus, camphor, cajeput, rosemary or litsea cubeba. A saline water nasal irrigation can also safely reduce nasal congestion.

Fever: wild cherry bark, white willow bark, echinacea root, yellow root, goldenseal

Sore throat: wild cherry bark, slippery elm, marshmallow root

Nausea: goldenseal, ginger

Cough: cocoa, angelica, fenugreek, licorice, yerba mate

As a rule of thumb, use one teaspoon of herb or tea blend per one cup of water. More isn't better in this case. Once steeped, sip your tea, never gulp it, and give it time to work. If your symptoms are still strong within a few hours, have another cup. But, in general, don't take more than three cups of remedy teas per day. Also, always be sure to read about the herb and understand how it works in the body, as there may be precautions or contraindications for those with certain medical conditions. For example, boneset, while great to clear congestion of the chest, should never be taken in large amounts or for a lengthy period of time. Potentially liver-damaging chemicals are found in similar plants, and although the levels in boneset are minimal, the precaution of restricting amounts is still advised.

Can't find any of the herbs mentioned here? Turn to your spice cabinet! Oregano is an amazing herb with antibiotic properties that can help the immune system. You can use it as a tea and combine it with rosemary to open your sinuses. A good peppermint tea soothes the sinuses, throat and tummy. Ginger is wonderful for nausea. Cocoa (dark especially) and coffee can help open up your breathing. And, anise, fenugreek, thyme and savory can help with the coughing.

So, go herbal and say goodbye to your sniffles this winter!

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Tried-end-True Tees

If you're worried about making your own herbal mixtures from the options given in this article, try these tried-and-true combinations:

Fever Tea

Blend equal parts hyssop, vervain, raspberry leaf and centaury. Add a dash of cayenne. Take one teaspoon of the blend per one cup of water every hour.

Decongestant Tea

Try elder flowers and a cough syrup of elder berries, or try an equal parts blend of mullein flower, coltsfoot, comfrey leaf and horehound. Again, take one teaspoon of the blend per one cup of water.

Herbal Bath Salts

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You can also ease your aches and pains by utilizing herbs in a bath! To create your own bath salts, make a combination of 80 percent Epsom salts, 15 percent sea salt and five percent baking soda in a baggie. Mix well. Add an essential oil of your choice, like eucalyptus, camphor, rosemary, juniper or cajeput. But, only add about 10 drops per one pound of bath salts. Then, seal the bag well and mix again by squeezing and kneading until the salts don't clump. Put in a jar and keep handy in the bathroom. Use one tablespoon of bath salts per bath.

Terry V. Cochran is a certified herbalist and the owner of Raven's Nest Herbals, LLC in Duluth, GA. Terry and Raven's Nest Herbals can be reached at 678-642-6691 or through www.ravensnestherbals.com.
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Title Annotation:herbal healing
Author:Cochran, Terry V.
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Dec 1, 2008
Words:679
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