top of page
Winter Allies ~ Protect Yourself the Wise Woman Way part two
Winter Allies ~ Protect Yourself the Wise Woman Way part two

© 2023 Susun S Weed

Beat the Flu
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.

4. Anti-infective Herbs

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.

It's a good idea to have both 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. But most echinacea you can buy isn't very effective. It's not the right species. It's not the right part. It's burdened by additions of other herbs. When I feel an infection brewing, I use large doses of Echinacea augustifolia (not purpurea) root (not seeds or leaves) tincture (not tea or capsules) alone to build white blood cells and encourage T-helper cells. My 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 augustifolia root relieve terrible flu infections including Covid and RSV.

Important: Use only the root. Do not combine it with goldenseal, which I believe hinders the immune system. Avoid buying prepared echinacea. Consumer Reports says: "Of 16 echinacea products, more than a third were contaminated with bacteria or lead and roughly half had low levels of active components."

I make a quart of echinacea tincture every year as my winter insurance. 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 eight weeks. I prefer to let it sit for a year before using it.

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 and anti-viral effects of elder berries are renowned in Europe and gaining popularity in the United States. Elder berry syrup also eases coughs and lung congestion. Important: Avoid buying prepared elder berry remedies. Like echinacea remedies, they are unlikely to be safe or effective. Make your own tincture from dried elder berries following instructions above for making dried echinacea root tincture.

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 stress the kidneys and cause other reversible side effects if overdosed. Important: Only tincture made from fresh poke root is safe. Never use dried poke root.

Elecampane (Inula helenium)

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. I prefer tincture if fresh root, but make tincture of the dried root too.

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.


Missed Part One? Read it Here

bottom of page