Essential Oils & Bulk Herbs
   Home My Account  |  Cart Contents  |  Checkout   

Bath & Body->
Bulk Herbs->
Coffee Flavorings->
Essential Oils->
Herbal Remedies->
Herbal Supplies->
Specialty Foods->

Recipe Center
Printable Catalog

Herbal Cold & Flu Preparations

Do not copy or distribute any portion of this page without the authors written permission. 1996

The use of herbs that stimulate the immune system at the first sign of a cold or flu can be very effective in minimizing symptoms, shortening the duration of the illness, and reducing complications such as bronchitis.

I first began to experiment with herbs to prevent secondary infections in my children who were prone to otitis media, especially following a cold. I was determined to find an alternative to the all too common cycle of recurrent ear infections that were forcing my children to use antibiotics frequently. What I didn't realize then was that our herbal helpers could do much more than reduce complications resulting from colds. With the right herbs used at the right time you can reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms and sometimes halt the progression of the illness before it becomes established.

If you want good results treating yourself with herbs, first select which herbs you want to use the next time your catching a cold or the flu. Take the time to acquire those herbs, prepare them if necessary, and keep them nearby so you can take them within the first hour that you recognize the onset of an illness. It is helpful to keep frequently used remedies like echinacea with you in your car or purse so that you can begin therapy quickly when you are away from home.


The Properties of Herbs


Anti-microbial Herbs

Anti-microbial herbs help the body to resist and kill unwanted organisms such as bacteria, virus, fungus and parasites. The properties are often referred to in a more specific way using the terms anti-bacterial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic. An individual anti-microbial herb may have one or more of these properties. Common anti-microbials; BONESET, ECHINACEA, GARLIC, GINGER, GOLDENSEAL, OSHA, USNEA.

Anti-spasmodic Herbs

Anti-spasmodic herbs help to relieve muscle cramps and spasms in the body. Common anti-spasmodics; BONESET, CRAMP BARK, LOBELIA, PASSION FLOWER, SKULLCAP, VALERIAN.

Astringent Herbs

Astringents contract tissues and reduce secretions and discharges.


Demulcent Herbs

Demulcent herbs soothe and protect irritated and inflamed tissues, especially in the respiratory and digestive systems. Demulcents contain a lot of mucilage (slippery when wet) which also make them useful for binding herbs together when making pills and lozenges. Common demulcents; COMFREY ROOT, MARSHMALLOW, SLIPPERY ELM, MULLEIN LEAF.

Diaphoretic Herbs

Diaphoretic herbs promote perspiration and the elimination of toxins through the skin. In the treatment of colds and flu, diaphoretic herbs are used as a general aid in ridding the body of infections and to help regulate fever.


Expectorant Herbs

Expectorants herbs help the body to expel mucus from the respiratory tract. Common expectorants; COLTSFOOT, COMFREY, ELECAMPANE, GRINDELIA, LICORICE, MARSHMALLOW, MULLEIN.

Tonic Herbs

Tonic herbs help build and tone and are useful in the maintenance of good health. Some tonics are specific for an organ or organ system. Others have a general tonifying action on all the internal organs. Tonic herbs are usually used in large quantities over a long period of time. Some of the herbs listed below also have other properties (detoxifying, relaxant etc.) that can be an aid in selecting which tonics are right for you. Common tonics; BONESET, BURDOCK, CAYENNE, ECHINACEA, DANDELION, GARLIC, GINSENG, LICORICE, NETTLES, OATS, RASPBERRY, RED CLOVER, SKULLCAP, YELLOW DOCK.


Herbal Protocol for the
Common Colds & Flu

The first priority in effective control of illness is being alert to changes in your body that may indicate an infection is beginning so that you can begin using your herbal remedies immediately. It is more difficult to control an illness once it is well established. Those first symptoms can manifest themselves in many ways and your body may have specific tendencies that you recognize. Begin treatment if you feel soreness in your lymph glands or throat, irritation or congestion in the respiratory tract and sinuses, sneezing, aching muscles, nausea, or unusual fatigue.

Again, stopping or reducing the severity of an illness using herbs is more effective if you begin taking them immediately once you recognize that you may be getting sick. Don't wait to be sure that you are getting sick before beginning treatment because the illness is well established by that time and more difficult to eradicate.

For fighting the basic cold, I immediately begin using Echinacea. I prepare my remedies as alcohol tinctures so that I can carry these remedies with me and simply reach for the bottle and take the required dosage when needed.

If your interested in trying herbs the next time you are coming down with a cold or flu you will want to stock the following herbs that have proven useful and effective in many cases.

Echinacea ( Echinacea purpurea or E. angustifolia) is a very effective herb to use whenever you feel your body needs a boost to resist or fight infection. Often a few days of echinacea therapy is all that is needed to help you regain your healthy feeling.

Begin to use echinacea whenever you feel you may be getting sick. If the illness then progresses add additional herbs to your therapy according to the symptoms you are experiencing. You may also take into consideration viruses that are currently common in the community. Find out what the symptoms are so that you can be prepared to fight them offensively.

During those times when an illness seems to be infecting many people in the community you may begin to use echinacea to help protect yourself from contracting the illness. The wonderful thing about echinacea is that it can be used in this way without risking unhealthy side effects. The only caution is the probability that the effectiveness of echinacea may decline if used continually for long periods of time. Take a four day break from echinacea every ten days if you must use it for any length of time to maintain its effectiveness. (See Echinacea: The Immune Herb by C. Hobbs for information on long term use.)

Echinacea is an anti-microbial herb. The properties of Echinacea include: anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. It directly stimulates the immune system by activating the macrophages (immune cells that "eat" invading virus and bacterial cells). Echinacea is non-toxic and effective against a large number of illnesses including acute viral and bacterial infections, colds, flu, skin eruptions, oozing sores and boils.

Dosage in acute cases, up to one teaspoon of tincture every hour, tapering off to 30 drops 3 times per day, as needed. For capsules use up to 2 capsules per hour in acute cases decreasing to 2-3 capsules 3 times a day.

For preventative use the lower dosages are used. If the tincture is not diluted in water before use, it will cause a tingling sensation on the tongue.


Usnea (Usnea barbata) is another valuable herb that deserves a place in your medicine chest so that it can be available for immediate use. You can begin to use Usnea when you are sure your body is fighting an illness, especially those viral or bacterial infections effecting the respiratory system and throat. Usnea is a very effective anti-microbial with anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. Usnea inhibits the growth of Pneumono -coccus, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus bacteria. Some of the proven clinical uses of Usnea are colds and flu, sinus infection, bronchitis, pneumonia, acute bacterial infections, strep throat, urinary infections, tuberculosis, and some fungal infections.

Use 30 drops of Usnea tincture in an ounce of water, 3 times a day. Usnea capsules are not available at this time and Usnea tea would not be very effective because the usnic acid does not dissolve well in water.


Garlic has antiseptic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-spasmodic properties to name a few. Garlic is highly regarded around the world for its healing properties. Many people use garlic every day as a tonic to maintain health. It is very effective in treating infections in the respiratory tract and when used at the first sign of a cold it can help prevent compli -cations from developing. Garlic is also known for its beneficial effects on the circulatory system where it is known to help lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels.

A clove of fresh garlic can be eaten up to 3 times a day when a therapeutic dose is needed. One clove of garlic per day is sufficient for tonic use. Odor-free garlic capsules can be purchased which are helpful in reducing the odor that can permeate your body. Use 2 capsules 3-4 times per day during illnesses. I have found that Kwai garlic tablets are very small and easy to swallow for children.


Aches & Pains

For general aches and pains associated with the onset of an infection, drink a cup of hot Cold & Flu Tea, take a hot bath, then get into bed under the blankets. Cold & Flu Tea contains boneset and meadowsweet which are effective in relieving aches and pains. Meadowsweet contains salicylic acid which is an aspirin - like chemical. Boneset is antispasmodic and has been used for hundreds of years for relief of aches and pains due to colds and flu.

Cold & Flu tea also stimulates the sweat glands encouraging the release of toxins through the skin. The hot bath and warm bed will enhance this effect and the rest will aid healing.

You can drink up to four cups of Cold & Flu Tea per day using one tablespoon of the herbal formula per cup of water. Brew it all at once and store in a thermos for convenience.

Cold & Flu Tea Millie Fodor
2 part Elder Flowers
2 part Peppermint
2 part Yarrow
2 part Boneset
1 part Meadowsweet
1 part Catnip
1/2 part Ginger

To calculate proportions in the recipe, choose a part such as 1 tablespoon, or 1/8 cup then simply combine the required parts and blend well.

Preparation: Using one tablespoon of the herbal formula per cup of water, pour boiling water over the herbs, cover, steep for ten minutes then strain. Drink the tea while it is hot for maximum effect.

I really like to add fresh grated ginger root to this when it is available. You can add about a tablespoon of fresh ginger in addition to the dried ginger in the recipe.


Coughs & Congestion

Choose from among the expectorant and demulcent herbs to find herbs that are soothing to the respiratory system. Add anti-microbial herbs to aid in quick recovery and to help prevent secondary infections like bronchitis. The Bronchial Formula contains herbs that have expectorant, demulcent and anti-microbial qualities. These herbs will help the body to expel mucus and heal inflamed tissues.

Bronchial Formula Millie Fodor
1 part Elecampane
1/2 part Coltsfoot
1 part Mullein leaf
1/2 part Usnea
1 part Marshmallow
1/4 part Osha
1/2 part Echinacea

Preparation: Choose a part and combine the required proportions of the herbs together and mix well. This formula is best prepared as a tincture (see Herbal Preparation Methods) but can be prepared as a tea as well. You may want to increase your dosage of Usnea in addition to the amount provided in this formula, especially if you are preparing the Bronchial Formula as a tea because the usnic acid does not dissolve well in water.

Dosage is 30 drops 3 times per day, or up to 4 cups of tea per day using 1 tablespoon of herb per cup.

The expectorant cough syrup is a pleasant way to take your herbs or administer them to children. You can alter this recipe to include herbs to treat other symptoms if you like.


Quick Cough Syrup

Combine equal parts of the Bronchial Formula tincture and honey. Warm the mixture enough to blend them together well, then refrigerate.

Expectorant Cough Syrup Millie Fodor
1 part Elecampane
1 part Coltsfoot
1 part mullein leaf
1 part Marshmallow root
1/2 part Osha root
1/2 part Echinacea root
1/2 part cut slippery elm
1 cup honey

Preparation: Add 6 tablespoons of the herb mixture to 2 cups of water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, strain, then return to stove and simmer until one cup of liquid remains. Remove from heat and stir in honey while it is hot. Store in a pint glass jar in the refrigerator. You may add tinctures, like Usnea, to the formula at the same time that you add the honey. A little alcohol added, from your tinctures or brandy, does help to preserve the syrup.

Dosage is 1 tablespoons 3-4 times per day.


It is important to allow the coughing reflex to work towards expelling phlegm from the respiratory tract. The risk of secondary infection increases if the congestion remains stagnant. For this reason, avoid cough suppressant herbs and drugs in your home formulas. Use the Vapor Salve to rub on the chest or inhale the Vapor Steam to relieve congestion of the chest and sinuses and ease coughing.

Vapor Rub Millie Fodor
40 drops essential oil of Camphor
30 drops essential oil of Eucalyptus
15 drops essential oil of Wintergreen
1 ounce Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Beeswax

Preparation: Add the beeswax to the olive oil and heat until the beeswax is melted. Use very low heat or a double boiler to prevent burning the oil. When the wax is melted, remove the oil from the heat then add the essential oils and stir to blend. When the mixture is cool it is ready to use. You can make this using only the eucalyptus oil if necessary.

To use rub a small amount on the chest as needed to relieve congestion.

Steam Vapor Millie Fodor
10 drops essential oil of Eucalyptus
or a handfull of thyme
1 quart water

Preparation: Bring the water to a boil then pour into a 2 quart bowl. Add 10 drops of essential oil or pour the water over the thyme leaves.

To use lean over close to the bowl and cover your head with a towel. Breath in the steams vapors. Be careful not to burn your face with the steam or hot water. Both thyme and eucalyptus oils have anti-microbial properties that will help to destroy micro-organisms as well as open up the bronchial passages and sinuses



Choose astringent herbs to help check diarrhea. Remember to drink lots of fluids and avoid foods, especially those that are difficult to digest until the bowels are functioning normally.


Slippery Elm Gruel Millie Fodor

Slippery Elm Gruel is a soothing and healing herbal food for the digestive system. Slippery Elm is as nutritious as oatmeal and can be eaten as a food frequently. It is especially good for children or elderly if they are having difficulty digesting foods while recuperating from an illness.

To prepare Slippery Elm Gruel put 1 tablespoon of slippery elm powder in a small bowl then slowly stir in 3/4 cup boiling water. The mixture will thicken similar to cream of wheat. You can add honey, maple syrup, or cinnamon for flavor.

Blackberry Tea

Blackberry root tea is also an herb of choice for treating diarrhea. Simmer 1 tablespoon of root per cup of water for 10 minutes then strain. Sip about 1/4 cup of blackberry root tea per hour until symptoms subside.



Often a cold precedes ear problems and it is much easier to treat the cold towards preventing complications such as earaches. If you or your child have a tendency to develop otitus media, follow the protocol for using Echinacea, garlic and Usnea at the first sign of a cold. If there is a lot of congestion, drink lots of fluids, try the Steam Vapors and expectorant herbs to loosen the mucus and aid in expelling it from the body. A hot water bottle placed over the ear can help to relieve pain.

Mullein Garlic Ear Oil can be used to relieve pain and inflammation in the external ear canal. Garlic is an anti-microbial herb that will help to kill bacteria that may be causing infection and mullein flowers help to relieve pain.

Mullein Garlic Ear Oil Millie Fodor
1/4 cup Mullein Flowers
3 cloves Garlic
Olive oil

Preparation: Chop the garlic into small pieces. Place the garlic and mullein flowers in a small glass jar with a lid. Cover the mullein flowers with olive oil and allow to set in the sun for several days, or heat over very low heat for 4 hours. If you are using fresh mullein flowers, cover your jar with cheesecloth rather than a lid to allow moisture to escape. Strain the oil through cheesecloth and store your oil in a small dropper bottle in the refrigerator.

To use warm the oil to body temperature by placing the bottle of oil in a glass of hot water for a few minutes. Insert 2-3 drops in the affected ear 2-3 times per day.

If there is fluid oozing from the ear or any chance that the ear drum is perforated do not use the ear oil and consult your doctor. If antibiotic therapy is required be sure to replace the "good bacteria" in the body to prevent reinfection. Acidophilus capsules, powder, or yogurt containing live bacteria cultures will help to rebuild the intestinal flora



A fever is a natural defense mechanism that our bodies use to destroy bacteria and viruses. The herbs that are suggested here are used to support your body during this process to aid in quick recovery rather than eliminate the fever.

Use Usnea, Echinacea and garlic throughout an illness that includes fever. In addition, choose herbs that have diaphoretic properties which help to eliminate toxins through perspiration. Cold and Flu Tea combines several diaphoretic herbs and is perfect for this use. Individual herbs that are useful are boneset, elder flowers, catnip, ginger or peppermint.

Drink lots of herbal teas, distilled water, or fresh juices to aid in the elimination of toxins from the body.

To bring down a fever, sponge the body with a cool cloth or bathe in a tepid bath. A catnip enema is effective in bringing down a fever, especially for a child who needs the extra fluids. The water can be absorbed through the lower bowel to help prevent dehydration.

Catnip Enema Millie Fodor
4 tablespoons Catnip Herb
1 quart water

Preparation: Pour boiling water over the catnip in a one quart jar. Cover and allow to steep for ten minutes. Strain and cool until lukewarm. Administer using a enema bag with rectal tip.


Ginger tea is specific for treating nausea. If available, use fresh grated ginger root, 1 tablespoon per cup. Several of the other diaphoretic herbs are useful for treating nausea as well (Boneset, elder flower, and peppermint). Try any of these herbs individually or the Cold and Flu Tea.

A liquid diet will usually aid recovery. Drink plenty of distilled water, herbal teas and juices. If you want to eat, choose foods that are easily digested such as fruit or rice. Avoid dairy products, sugars, and fats.

Sore Throat

Choose the anti-microbial herbs, Usnea and echinacea, for treating sore throat. Usnea is specific for strep throat and very effective if enough is used. Use demulcent herbs for soothing relief of inflamed tissues, such as slippery elm or comfrey root.

Soft Herbal Lozenges Millie Fodor
1 tablespoon Osha Root powder
1 tablespoon Echinacea Root powder
2 tablespoons raw Honey
2 drops essential oil of Peppermint
Slippery Elm Bark powder or comfrey root powder

Preparation: Put the honey and essential oil in a small bowl. Add the echinacea and osha root powders to the honey and stir it well. Stir in slippery elm powder to the mixture a little at a time until it reaches a consistency that can be worked with your fingers. Do not make the mixture too dry as the herbs will continue to absorb moisture. Pinch off small pieces and roll into balls. The honey helps preserve the herb lozenges and they will last several weeks if stored in the refrigerator, about two days if not refrigerated.

To use dissolve the herb lozenges in your mouth so that the healing properties of the herbs are able to coat the throat. You can eat these as often as needed. Alter the recipe to include herbs specific to other conditions as well. You can also use tinctures. The herb lozenges are a good way to get children to take their herbs. Try rolling the them in minced dried fruit or nuts. Peppermint oil is strong and helps to masked the flavor of strong or bitter herbs but feel free to experiment with other flavors or omit.



Dosages for herbal tinctures are best determined individually based upon the power of the herb & the reason for its use. A couple of good reference books is the most reliable way of choosing the correct dose. The dosage is dependent upon the illness you are treating and the power of the herbs you are using. For most purposes, herbalist use gentle herbs that can be safely used in large dosages. Commercial tinctures are labeled with the recommended dosage, usually 10-30 drops three times per day. Sometimes ten to thirty drops of tincture is sufficient for a therapeutic dose, other times you may need a teaspoon every hour.

60 drops = 1 teaspoon
4 ml. = 1 teaspoon
1 ounce = 28.4 grams (solid)
1 fluid ounce = 29.57 ml.
1 teaspoon tincture = 2 "OO" capsules

Dosages for children are not provided in most herbals. To determine the correct dose you need to consider the size of the child, the ailment, the power of the herb you intend to use, and the adult dosage.

Young's Rule for determining dosage uses the child's age divided by twelve plus the age. The dosage for a 4 year old:

4/12+4 = 4/16 = 1/4 of the adult dose.

Clark's Rule for determining dosages divides the weight of the child by 150 to give the approximate fraction of the adult dose. Dosage for a 40 lb. child: . 40 /150 = .26 or approx. 1/4 the adult dose.



Herbs can also be used to help the body maintain health and vitality. For this purpose you can choose from among the tonic and detoxifying herbs. My own favorite tonic formula is Detox Tea. It is designed to help rid the liver, blood, and organs of toxins and to provide vitamins and minerals.

Detox Tea Millie Fodor
2 parts Dandelion root
2 parts Burdock root
2 parts Red Clover blossoms
1 part Chamomile
1 part Alfalfa
1/2 part Licorice
1 part Hibiscus
1 part Rose Hips

Preparation: Simmer 1 tablespoon of the herb blend per cup of water for 20 minutes. Strain. Excellent hot or iced. You can drink up to 3-4 cups per day.


You can also use some herbs like echinacea as a preventative. Echinacea is a tonic herb but remember that its immune stimulating properties may decline if used continuously. Begin treating yourself with echinacea when you have been exposed to other sick people and would like to reduce your chances of catching their illness. Tonic herbs in general do not cause undesirable side effects or toxicity so your not causing any harm by using them in a preventative manner.

During times of high stress the adrenal glands are heavily taxed and you are more likely to become sick. Learn to recognize stressful situations and use tonic therapies to help the adrenal glands and immune system to remain strong. Ginseng, licorice and nettles are excellent adrenal gland tonics. I have only suggested a handful of the many tonifying herbs available. Most of the books written by Rosemary Gladstar, David Hoffmann, or Michael Tierra are good sources for more information on tonic therapies.

During times of stress vitamin C is needed in large quantities by the adrenal glands. Supplementation will help to prevent adrenal depletion as well as boost the immune system. The late, Linus Pauling, invested a great portion of his life in researching vitamin C. He recommended using vitamin C to bowel tolerance ( maximum dose that does not cause diarrhea) whenever the body is fighting an illness. Many nutritionist recommend at least 3000mg per day and 10,000mg up to bowel tolerance during illness.



In almost every herbal you will read that goldenseal is good for many symptoms of colds and flu. Goldenseal is a very effective herb, but it is also true that goldenseal grows no where else in the world except these northeastern United States and that the populations of wild goldenseal are severely threatened from over-harvesting. There is almost always herbs that can be used in place of threatened species that are equally effective.

Other commonly used herbs can easily be threatened by overuse by the herbal community. Echinacea angustifolia is severely threatened in the wild as it has become one of the most popular herbs in the world. To avoid this negative impact upon the plant world, I encourage you to adopt a policy of using only cultivated herbs of threatened species. Because Echinacea angustifolia and goldenseal are not easy to cultivate in abundance, I encourage you to grow your own supplies if you wish to use these herbs.

Echinacea purpurea is easily cultivated and available in abundance.


The information contained here is a sharing of the authors experiences and those of other herbalist. It is not intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. This information is not a substitute for professional health care and guidance. If you suspect you may have a health problem contact a natural health care professional.


ECHINACEA: NATURE'S IMMUNE ENHANCER. Steven Foster. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, Vermont. 1991.

ECHINACEA: THE IMMUNE HERB. Christopher Hobbs. California. Botanica Press. 1990.

ECO-HERBALISM: ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS FACING HERBALIST TODAY. Rosemary Gladstar. Written for the North East Herb Association Newsletter.

AN ELDERS' HERBAL. David Hoffmann. Vermont. Healing Arts Press.1993

HERB BOOK. John Lust. New York. Bantam Books. 1974.

THE HERBAL HANDBOOK. David Hoffmann. Healing Arts Press. Rochester, Vermont. 1988.

HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN, Rosemary Gladstar. New York. Simon & Schuster.1993

HERBAL MEDICINAL PREPARATIONS. Rosemary Gladstar Slick. Vermont. Sage

HERBAL PREPARATIONS AND NATURAL THERAPIES. Debra Nuzzi. Morningstar Publications. Boulder, CO. 1989.

HERBS FOR WINTER HEALTH. Rosemary Gladstar Slick. Vermont. Sage

THE MALE HERBAL: HEALTH CARE FOR MEN & BOYS. James Green. California. Crossing Press. 1991.

NEW HOLISTIC HERBAL. David Hoffmann. Element. Rockport, Mass. 1990.

POCKET HERBAL REFERENCE GUIDE. Debra Nuzzi. California. The Crossing Press. 1992

PRESCRIPTION FOR NUTRITIONAL HEALING. James F. Balch M.D.& Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. New York. Avery Publishing Group. 1990.

SMART MEDICINE FOR A HEALTHIER CHILD. Zand, Walton, Roundtree. Avery. New York. 1994.

USNEA: THE HERBAL ANTIBIOTIC. Christopher Hobbs. California. Botanica Press. 1990.

THE WAY OF HERBS, Michael Tierra C.A.,N.D. New York, Washington Square Press.1983.

Use keywords to find the product you are looking for.
Advanced Search
Contact Information
Stony Mountain Botanicals
PO Box 106
Loudonville, OH 44842

Contact Us
Shipping Policies
Privacy Notice
About Us
Contact Us

In business since 1993

1-419-938-6353 | Recipe Center | Articles | Flora | Privacy Policy | Links | About Us | Shipping

Web Site Developed by Mohican Solutions
Copyright 2000 - 2006 Stony Mountain Botanicals, Ltd. all rights reserved.