It’s almost winter and though you may be enjoying the cold breeze after a scorching hot summer, it is also the time when people catch the flu, also known as Influenza. Did you know December to February are the peak flu seasons in the U.S.? 5% to 20% of the U.S. population get the flu annually.  Once you catch the virus, it can take 1 to 4 days for these flu symptoms to show up. Adults can be contagious from even a day before the actual flu symptoms begin, till 5 to 10 days after the flu starts. It spreads like a viral infection and is often confused with the common cold, since both are respiratory illnesses and have similar symptoms, however are caused by different viruses. Flu spreads relatively easily and triggers the throat, nose and lungs.

You can protect yourself and your family from this ailment by using simple kitchen herbs and spices. Below is a short list of some of the most potent flu busters that are tried and tested herbal remedies passed down from generations due to their unbeatable efficacy.

  • Licorice

Licorice originates from the root of a plant called Glycyrrhiza glabra. It’s native to Asia and Europe. Early Egyptians and Chinese used this herb in tea to cure illnesses. For centuries people have used licorice root for its medicinal benefits, alternatively, it has also been added to candies and beverages as a natural sweetener. This powerful herb is ideal for treating the flu, since it triggers respiratory problems efficiently. It boosts the production of clean healthy mucus which in turn leads to improved breathing.

  • Thyme

Rich with antiviral, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antitussive and anti-inflammatory properties Thyme is one of the most popular herbs for eliminating the flu. Native to the Mediterranean region, the early Greek and Roman empires used it. This herb for cough is enriched with antifungal, antibacterial and spasmolytic attributes which enables it to eliminate chronic bronchitis, acute cough and quells spasmodic cough. Studies show Thyme’s efficacy to fight viral, bacterial and even fungal infections in the body. Furthermore, this unique herb can also trigger antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The combination of Thyme’s antioxidant properties and ability to relax spasms in the lungs enables it to treat asthma and sinus infections. The antimicrobial activity found in this herb can also be used to treat sore throat.

  • Ginger

Ginger makes for an effective herbal remedy for the common cold and flu.  High in antioxidants that fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body, ginger boosts your immune system which helps eliminate the flu. It is also good for sore throat owing to its anti-inflammatory properties. This spice also contains active ingredients, such as gingerol and shagelol, with strong antimicrobial properties which helps your body ward off cold causing viruses. Additionally, ginger is also used as an anti-nausea agent, it promotes blood circulation and has a carminative effect on the body.

  • Elderberry

Traditionally used in folk medicine, black Elderberries also known as Sambucus Nigra are often used in supplements. They are potent for treating symptoms of both cold and flu. These berries are high in anti-inflammatory anthocyanin and antioxidant flavonoids both of which aid in fighting ailments. Elderberries contain hemagglutinin protein which can stop a virus from replicating by inhibiting its ability to penetrate the cell wall, therefore preventing the virus from causing infection if taken in the initial stages of falling ill. On the other hand, if these berries are consumed after the infection has begun then it stops it from further spreading which reduces the duration of flu.  

  • English Ivy

Also known as Hedera helix, this plant has a myriad of medicinal properties. In ancient Greece, English Ivy was used to prevent intoxication, for the reduction of swelling and as an anesthetic. Nowadays it is used to cure asthma, bronchitis, inflammation, arthritis and even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Furthermore, English Ivy contains antiarthritic, antiviral, antimicrobial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antioxidant attributes. The flavonoids found in English Ivy remove toxins from the body, reduce allergies, modulate enzymes and strengthen blood vessels. The saponin components in this plant can improve breathing, loosen mucus, boost the production and secretion of liquid film from oxygen for comfortable breathing.