Appalachian Alternatives

Home Remedies Both Old & New*

Story by Jillian Randel


Cold and flu givin’ you the blues? According to Natural Medicines Database, Americans contract close to a billion colds per year and around 50 million people in the U.S. get the flu annually.

Natural remedies are resurfacing in pharmacies and health stores across the country. They often have less side effects and can be a more wholesome form of medicine.

“Many people who seek alternative medicine have not received the relief they desire from conventional medicine or have experienced negative effects from it,” said Janelle Humphrey-Rowan, ND, of Alternatives Holistic Health Consulting in Fairmont, W.Va. “A principle of naturopathic medicine is to ‘identify and treat the cause.’”

We have listed some of the most common herbal and natural remedies below to help you get started. Check with your local health professionals or do your own research to create the perfect cold and flu care package that suits your body and lifestyle.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) has traditionally been used for its immune and antiviral stimulant properties and is effective for prevention and treatment of upper respiratory tract infections such as cold and influenza. Most often taken in pill form or tea.

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) is a popular treatment for the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections. It was also a natural antibiotic used by Cherokees and is often combined with echinacea, as it is said to enhance the effectiveness of the former. Neither goldenseal nor echinacea should be used long-term. Most often taken in pill form or tea.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) are small, dark berries used to help reduce flu-like symptoms. They come in liquid capsules and a syrup form.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is native to the Mediterranean and is an alternative medicine used to treat sore throat, inflammation, colds, headaches and flu. It is said to be effective for the throat when used as a mouthwash or gargle.

Zinc is an essential mineral claimed to have immune-enhancing and antiviral effects, and can be beneficial in treating the common cold. Most often taken as lozenge or in pill form.

Ginseng (American) (Panax quinquefolius L.) is known as the green gold of the forests. It is a slow-growing plant, valued for it’s roots and is most commonly used for immune system enhancement. Most often taken as a tonic or in pill form.

Eucalyptus (E. tereticornis) steam inhalation is said to relieve nasal and sinus congestion and clear coughs and throat infections. It can be done with the dried leaves boiled in water two to four times a day to relieve symptoms. Eucalyptus cough drops are also said to help with coughing caused from cold.

*Please remember that most natural remedies are not FDA approved, and are not a substitute to regularly prescribed drugs or doctor recommendations. Conduct thorough research and check all labels for any side effects before taking any and all herbal and natural substances included on this page.


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