Five Herbs to Keep Cold Symptoms at Bay

24 January, 2014

Are you feeling a little run down, sore throat, runny nose, aching all over?  Chances are you have a cold brewing! 

Five Herbs to Keep Cold Symptoms at Bay


Are you feeling a little run down, sore throat, runny nose, aching all over?  Chances are you have a cold brewing!  There are 5 familiar herbs that may already be in your kitchen cupboards or growing outside in a window box that are filled with vitamins and minerals to help you cope with these symptoms.


Before using dried herbs check that they are in date to make sure they are still potent.  If you find that the herbs are colourless and grey discard them onto the compost heap and buy some new ones.


As the water content of fresh herbs is much greater than dried herbs, double the amount when using fresh herbs for tea.


Herbs for the Cold Season

If you would like to save a little time, instead of making each cup of tea individually, prepare a whole batch each morning, and then drink as needed throughout the day. All amounts below refer to adult servings.




Sage is rich in essential oils, and is antioxidant, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-catarrhal which helps the body remove excess mucus.  Herbalists use sage’s drying and warming properties to bring comfort to irritated and sore mouths and throats, especially in conditions where fluid and mucus are excessive. An infusion of sage can be gargled and used as a mouth wash to soothe inflammation.


A double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled clinical trial using Sage demonstrated significantly better outcomes in cognitive function when compared with placebo in studies on Alzheimer’s patients.


(Use sparingly if breast feeding)


Preparation: Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried sage (3 teaspoons fresh) per cup of hot water.


Alternatively you can buy OTC preparations at Shipley Health Store:




Rosemary is a member of the mint family and has many actions including antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, hepatoprotective, nervine, antioxidant, bitter, and circulatory stimulant! Herbalists use its’ uplifting, warming, antimicrobial, and dispersive actions for flus, colds, respiratory infections, and sore throats.


Rosemary has also shown an ability to dilate blood vessels enabling a greater supply of blood to the peripheries.  This action improves the supply of blood to the hands and feet which may help with conditions like Raynaud’s syndrome. Research at Northumbria University showed that just sniffing the scent of rosemary improved memory as well as performance in mental arithmetic.


Use sparingly during pregnancy.


Preparation: Use 1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary (2-4 teaspoons fresh) per cup hot water.





The culinary and medical qualities of garlic are undisputed with actions that include stimulating the immune system, acting as a diaphoretic (promoting sweating which helps lower fever), expectorant, and antimicrobial.  The anti-inflammatory action of Garlic can ease some of the discomforts of a cold, as well as shorten its duration by stimulating the immune system, thinning mucous, and throwing off a fever.


If you suffer from gastrointestinal sensitivity, have ulcers or are pregnant, it is advisable to only take small amounts as garlic. 


Garlic can be taken as a tablet or capsule, in gel form or simply by eating it raw.





Medical Herbalists use the anti-microbial activity of ginger to thin mucous as well as employing its diaphoretic action, to help the body progress through a cold or flu.


Preparation: 2-3 slices of ginger root in one cup of hot water or 1 teaspoon of ginger powder in one cup hot water.





Thyme’s volatile oil constituents, especially thymol, are antimicrobial against many different kinds of bacteria including those involved in upper respiratory infections. Choose thyme to alleviate a chesty cough to thin mucous and encourage clearance. Thyme’s antimicrobial, antiviral, expectorant, anti-catarrhal and lung protective qualities are used to support resolution of cold and flu, as well as other lower and upper respiratory tract infections.


Avoid large amounts in pregnancy.


Preparation: Use 1 1/2 teaspoons (3 teaspoons fresh) per cup of hot water, 1-4 cups a day.






Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M, Ohadinia S, Jamshidi AH, Khani M. (2003). “Salvia officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial”. J Clin Pharm Ther 28 (1): 53–9.


History, myths, and legends of aromatherapy part 2. Retrieved from


British Psychological Society (BPS) (2013, April 9). Rosemary aroma may help you remember to do things. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2013, from­ /releases/2013/04/130409091104.htm




Bagamboula CF, Uyttendaeleand M, Debevere J. Inhibitory effect of thyme and basil essential oils, carvacrol, thymol, estragol, linalool and p-cymene towards Shigella sonnei and S. flexneri. Food Microbio 2004 Feb;21 (1):33-42. 2004.


The History of Ginger: From India to the New World. Retrieved from

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