-- it's the Flu Season!
by Susun S. Weed
Here Comes the Flu Season
Protect Yourself the Wise Woman Way
© 2004 Susun S Weed
Along with the beauty of fall days comes the need to
get ready for winter. Time to get out my long underwear
and my warm wooly socks. Time to nourish my immune systems
so cold days won't be days of colds -- and flu.
I don't rely on modern medicine to keep
me healthy, but if you usually rely on a flu shot to
protect you, you may feel frightened by your inability
to get one this year. You may be wondering what you
can do instead. Or you may have discovered that flu
shots don't give protection from all types of flu, just
the ones the makers guess will be active this winter.
And you may wonder if there isn't some other way to
prevent the flu. Or maybe, like me, you prefer not to
use shots or drugs unless absolutely necessary. You
may wonder what herbs and remedies are the best to have
on hand to help your family deal with the flu.
No matter what your situation, now is a good time to
give yourself the benefit of Wise Woman Ways to prevent
-- and deal with -- the flu. These flu presenters and
flu remedies are simple. They are quite safe. And you
don't have to be rich to use them. Wise Woman herbal
medicine is people's medicine. Mama Medicine. You can
buy most of the things I discuss in this article --
and you can find them growing freely, too. You can buy
the herbal preparations I mention already made -- and
you can easily make you own for pennies, too.
These Wise Woman Ways are supported by both tradition
and science. Wise women through the centuries have kept
themselves and their families safe from contagious diseases.
And science has found good reasons for their effectiveness.
I hope these tips will help you face winter's ills with
confidence, and good health.
The best way to prevent the flu is to
build a powerful immune system. While this can't guarantee
that you won't get the flu, neither can the flu shot.
Here are my favorite ways to keep my immune system strong:
Drink nourishing herbal infusions daily.
Make immune-strengthening soups; or add immune-strengthening
herbs to canned soup.
Use anti-viral herbs as needed.
Eat More Garlic
One of the best immune-system helpers is garlic. Dr.
James Duke says it contains at least 17 different factors
that nourish and support powerful immune system functioning.
Herbalists in the middle ages relied on it to prevent
infection from the plague, so it might keep us safe
from the flu. Garlic is anti-bacterial, too. If you
don't like fresh raw garlic, powdered garlic is just
as good. The dose is 1 or more cloves of raw garlic
per day, or up to a teaspoon of garlic powder.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat raw garlic:
Top scrambled eggs with minced raw garlic.
Put chopped raw garlic on pasta and cover with tomato
Try minced raw garlic on a piece of hot buttered toast.
Add minced raw garlic to your baked potato.
Mix chopped raw garlic and olive oil with hot cooked
greens like kale or spinach.
Drink Nourishing Herbal Infusions
Nourishing herbal infusions are the basis of great nourishment
for the immune system and the entire body. They are
full of antioxidant vitamins, minerals, proteins, phytoestrogens,
and hundreds of protective phytochemicals that work
to help you ward off the flu and colds too.
Here's how I make a nourishing herbal infusion:
Choose one herb: nettle, oatstraw, red clover, comfrey
leaf, linden flowers, or violet leaf.
Place one full ounce, by weight, of any one herb in
a quart jar. A canning jar is best.
Fill the jar to the top with boiling water.
Screw on a tight lid
Let it steep for four hours, or overnight.
Strain the liquid out, squeezing the herb.
Refrigerate the infusion, where it will be good for
I drink two to four cups nourishing herbal infusions
daily -- over ice, heated up with honey and milk, or
mixed with other beverages.
Make Immune Strengthening Soups
Cooking herbs and vegetables together for a long time
extracts minerals, actives immune-strengthening phytochemicals,
and increases the levels of available antioxidants.
Raw foods weaken and stress the immune system.
To make an immune strengthening soup:
Chop at least half an onion per person and saute in
olive oil until translucent..
Add at least two cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped,
per person and saute for a minute.
Add two or more cups of water or vegetable broth per
Add one cup per person of chopped seasonal vegetables
such as: carrots, cabbage, celery, corn, burdock, turnips,
potatoes, tomatoes, parsnips.
(If using canned soup, begin here.)
Add one small handful of seaweed per person.
Add one ounce fresh, or one-half ounce dried mushrooms
-- any kind -- per person.
Add one-quarter ounce dried tonic roots per person.
Add generous amounts of antioxidant seasoning herbs
and some sea salt.
Bring to a boil; simmer for an hour.
Turn off fire and let your soup mellow in a cool place
Serve it the next day, heated up, with freshly-baked
bread and organic raw milk cheese.
Seaweeds build powerful immunity. Kombu and wakame
are excellent in soups. Cut them small; they swell to
5-7 times their dried size when cooked.
All mushrooms strengthen the immune system.
Dried shitake are available and inexpensive at Chinese
grocery stores. Reishii, maitake, and other medicinal
mushrooms are delicious, as are the more common button
mushrooms, portobellos, and dried porcinni.
Tonic roots help our livers, lymph, and kidneys
work well, protecting us from infection. I often put
these tough roots into a jelly bag and drop that into
the soup so I can fish it out before serving. I use
one or more of these, fresh or dried, depending on what
I have available:
Seasoning herbs from the mint family -- rosemary,
thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and sage -- are loaded
with antioxidants. I don't just season the soup with
them, I add them by the handful for the greatest impact
on my immune strength.
Anti-infective herbs can help us prevent the flu --
and assist us if we do get sick. Colds and the flu are
caused by viruses, making them more difficult to treat
than bacterial infections. Viruses are more vital than
bacteria and harder to kill. There are many anti-bacterial
herbs -- including yarrow, echinacea, elecampane, and
poke -- but few that are anti-viral. Of these, my favorite
is St. Joan's/John's wort. If any herb can prevent the
flu, St.J's can.
Of course, even flu shots don't prevent all types of
flu, and they don't prevent colds, so even if you do
get a shot, it's a good idea to have some anti-viral
and anti-bacterial herbs on hand. The distinction between
them is not so important once you are sick. Both types
of herbs will alert the immune system to the infection
and help it gather the resources needed to counter it.
Did you know that the achy muscles and headachy feeling
we get with the flu is not caused by the flu itself
but results from the immune system gobbling up all available
resources so it can clobber the flu virus.
St. Joan's/John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
This beautiful yellow flower yields a blood-red tincture
that I take by the dropperful to prevent viral infections
such as the flu. A dropperful in the morning throughout
the cold months is adequate for prevention. I increase
that to 2-3 dropperfuls a day if I have been exposed
at home or at work to the flu. If I do get sick, I will
use other herbs to counter the infection. Capsules of
St. J's are ineffective; I only use the tincture.
Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia)
The tincture of echinacea root is a well-known anti-infective.
When I feel an infection brewing, I use large doses
of echinacea to build white blood cells and encourage
T-helper cells. The dose of echinacea root tincture
is 1 drop for every 2 pounds of body weight, as frequently
as every hour or two in the acute phase of an infection,
2-4 times a day otherwise. I have seen echinacea relieve
terrible flu infections.
Important: I do not use echinacea as
a preventative; it doesn't seem to work that way. I
do not use any part of this plant except the root. I
do not combine it with goldenseal, which I believe hinders
the immune system. I do not take echinacea in capsules.
I make a quart of echinacea tincture each fall as my
winter insurance. Here's how I do it: Put 4 ounces of
dried Echinacea augustifolia root in a quart jar. Fill
to the top with 100 proof vodka. Cap tightly and label.
Shake daily for the first week. Then weekly for at least
Poke (Phytolacca americana)
The tincture of this root is so powerful some authors
consider it poisonous. You may have a hard time finding
it for sale. But poke is an important helper when flu
"bugs" have taken over. I would not take poke
as a preventative; it is far too strong. I use poke
root tincture to kick my immune system into high gear.
The dose is one drop -- yes, only one drop -- once or
twice a day for no more than a month, although in serious
cases I may use up to 8 doses a day. Poke root tincture
can harm the kidneys if it is taken continuously. I
never take capsules of poke root.
The tincture of this root is a favorite for clearing
lung infections and countering the flu. The usual dose
is 10-15 drops 2-3 times a day, but I would increase
the dose to 6 times a day in an acute situation. I expect
to see results within a day or less. I would only take
elecampane if I had an active infection; it has little
protective value. I never use elecampane capsules.
Elder (Sambucus canadensis)
Elder flowers are a nice remedy for those with a feverish
cold, but for those with the flu, I prefer elder berries.
The most common way to take them is in the form of a
syrup. The immune enhancing properties of elder berries
are renowned in Europe and slowly gaining popularity
in the United States. Elder berry syrup also eases coughs
and lung congestion.
Winter is Coming
Herbs may not seem strong enough to prevent or counter
the flu, but they are. When we use herbs to maintain
and regain health, we not only take a big step toward
health independence but a small step toward peace on
our planet. Instead of making war on weeds, I use them.
Instead of making war on nature, I let Her guide me.
Instead of making war on myself when I'm sick, I nourish
myself toward greater health, greater peace.
Green blessings surround us. Herbs not only protect
us from the flu, they can uplift our hearts and bring
us joy in trying and uncertain times.
Tips to Avoid the Flu
1. Wash your hands, this is the single best way to avoid
2. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand. Viral
particles are easily passed from hands to eyes and nose
even if you use a tissue.
3. If the flu is active in your area, avoid public places.
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