Easy Plants for Flu and other Respiratory Illness

Thorough hand washing and staying away from crowds is a given but for those unable to avoid people to this extent what are our options? For many I know I’m going to repeat myself but….our ‘Onion and Horseradish Concentrate’ is really amazing and I’m quoting here from hundreds of recipients who say so and from many examples over the decades I’ve seen for myself. Equally, my friend and Herbal colleague Dr Schulze also has many customers who ‘swear by it’ in the U.S where it is called ‘Supertonic’, a very apt name. It is, in fact, a simple kitchen food formula using plants that are anti-microbial and specific for the lungs. The formula helps protect those already prone to long-term lung weakness and shorten acute lung infections. It will certainly be a great ally once (and if) the flu starts going around. I generally suggest starting this formula in October and stopping in March. (You can also make your own in summer ready for Autumn/Winter by soaking your plants in apple cider vinegar for a month, then straining off for use).

Old ‘Cottage’ Remedy, Our Onion and Horseradish Concentrate

Horseradish is one of the main ingredients in this formula, and one of its key roles is to ’drive’ all the plants in the formula to your head, sinuses, throat and lungs where you need it most. Horseradish is of course powerfully anti-microbial. It’s not just antibacterial it’s also antiviral and it’s the antiviral activity that is very useful. It attacks and dupes the virus to believe it is duplicating and spreading when it is not. Practitioners will go as far as to say that horseradish is as effective as antibiotics and I would agree but the knowledge is especially useful where antibiotics are not an option or are no longer working or for limited use only as can be the case with frequent bouts of say bronchitis over the years. I can recite many stories to this effect. The plant’s success is due partly to some specific biochemistry e.g. its allyl is isothiocyanate and singrin. Study after study can back all this up and one such study conducted in 2006 focused on sinusitis, bronchitis and urinary tract infections. The study included horseradish as against standard antibiotic therapy [with Nasturtium leaves, also an antimicrobial and an old cottage remedy for colds and flu]. Those on the horseradish and nasturtium blend did better than those just on antibiotics and also recovered 40% faster according to a further study. Equally, the symptoms were also less likely to reoccur. Antibiotics aren’t of course prescribed for flu unless there are complications so this is all useful news indeed. The garlic and onion in the formula will kill and flush out microbes and the cayenne pepper will stimulate blood and lymphatic flow, increasing the speed at which your immune cells move around.

Thyme (also in the Onion and Horseradish)

Thyme is such an old remedy for chest infections and goes well with the horseradish and other herbs within this ‘lung-busting’ formula and its apple cider vinegar base. Not only will thyme quell and soothe a spasmodic cough but it will fiercely fight respiratory infection in general. Put it into hot or cold foods and enjoy its aroma and flavour, or simply make a tea. Add an anti-bacterial rich wild honey if you wish to the tea but I prefer it just as it is.

Taking Care to Reduce Long-Term Infection

Chest infections that won’t go away are the most common post flu complications. This is where herbs like horseradish and thyme come into their own again. Stagnant mucus is a breeding ground for more serious infections, so thinning and moving the mucous makes it easier to cough it all up and out, ensuring lingering microbials are ‘seen off’.

What Else? Echinacea of course

Echinacea is, of course, a stalwart and suffice to say the ‘alkylamides’ (present mainly in its roots with other biochemistry) works on the immune system in a variety of direct and indirect antiviral strategies and can be used both preventatively, during and for post infection to great effect. I blend two Echinacea species, Echinacea angustifolia root and Echinacea purpurea root, for good reason. The first species angustifolia is the most potent in terms of strength of biochemistry but the purpurea although weaker, extends its activity over a longer period of time giving a kind of useful ‘slow release cover’.

[Warning/caution for those on immune suppressant drugs and allergic to Asteraceae (daisy) family-avoid]

Echinacea empowers and enhances the overall system, and can literally increase the number of immune cells and immune chemicals in the body. It’s the best herbal offensive and protection available. In fact its useful for anyone who is just trying to survive in this modern world of pollution, stress and questionable food on occasions. Weakened immunity is unwise at any time, but especially during the cold and flu season. There are literally hundreds of other known and researched health benefits from taking Echinacea:-
• A “statistically significant decrease in infections” has been observed in double-blind placebo-controlled studies.
• Significantly reduces symptoms and acts as a ‘safe and effective symptom relief” for colds, flu and infections.
• Relieves the severity of symptoms demonstrating a “significant reduction” in all seven symptoms of cold and influenza compared to placebo groups.
Stops colds and flu fast with a “significant rapid recovery” which was proven in double-blind placebo-controlled studies of Echinacea, cutting the duration of colds, flu and infection by 50%.

Disinfecting and Purifying the Air Around you

The famous U.S Herbal Practitioner Dr Schulze (previously mentioned) developed a disinfectant air spritzer in his clinic 40 years ago. With many very sick patients, his clinic sometimes smelled really unpleasant and the air was thick with germs. He knew that undiluted, 100% essential oils are strong enough to disinfect (and fragrance) the air and kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, so he set to work with a blend which he has also sold commercially since then. So with this in mind, why don’t you make an essential oil air spritzers for yourself to keep your home and car (and other areas) as clean of pathogens as possible? The aim is to disinfect the air and kill or slow down the bacteria that cause the common cold and the virus that causes flu. Of course, essential oils have the potential to keep more than colds at bay as they can destroy all manner of airborne bacteria, viruses, fungi infections, pathogens, antigens and harmful microorganisms on contact. The ‘aromatherapy’ effect will also lift the spirits and clear the mind

Try blending any of the following essential oils Lemon, Eucalyptus, Lime, Orange and a tiny amount of Pine (the camphorus smell can take off and spoil the eucalyptus and citrus smell so be careful). The oils have been widely studied and tested and are proven to be full-spectrum antimicrobials.

In fact, any blend you care to create will be so incredibly useful for high-risk households with children, pregnant women and senior citizens.


You can either make a 50mls blend of undiluted essential oils and put in a spritzer. Or you can use 10-20mls (or more) of essential oils diluted in say 200-250mls of water (shake each time as the blend won’t mix) and also put in a spritzer. Although the pure undiluted one will be stronger it can be more appropriate for children and the more elderly to use the diluted version. Always spray when pets and children are out of the room and be sure they are not allergic by doing a considered trial version first.

Take Care

Take care and have a healthy and enjoyable winter.

With Best Wishes

Herbalist Jill Davies

Co-Director & Herbal Practitioner at Herbs Hands Healing

Advice Line: (+44) 01379 608201 Mon – Fri 9.00-1.00pm except Thursday 11.30-1.00pm