Comes the Flu Season
yourself the Wise Woman Way!
an article by Susun S. Weed
with the beauty of fall days comes the need to get
ready for winter. Time to get out my long underwear
and my warm wooly socks. Time to nourish my immune
system so cold days won't be days of colds -- and
I don't rely on modern medicine to keep me healthy,
but if you usually rely on a flu shot to protect
you, you may feel frightened by your inability to
get one this year. You may be wondering what you
can do instead. Or you may have discovered that
flu shots don't give protection from all types of
flu, just the ones the makers guess will be active
this winter. And you may wonder if there isn't some
other way to prevent the flu. Or maybe, like me,
you prefer not to use shots or drugs unless absolutely
necessary. You may wonder what herbs and remedies
are the best to have on hand to help your family
deal with the flu.
No matter what your situation, now is a good time
to give yourself the benefit of Wise Woman Ways
to prevent - and deal with - the flu. These flu
presenters and flu remedies are simple. They are
quite safe. And you don't have to be rich to use
them. Wise Woman herbal medicine is people's medicine.
Mama Medicine. You can buy most of the things I
discuss in this article - and you can find them
growing freely, too. You can buy the herbal preparations
I mention already made - and you can easily make
you own for pennies, too.
These Wise Woman Ways are supported by both tradition
and science. Wise women through the centuries have
kept themselves and their families safe from contagious
diseases. And science has found good reasons for
their effectiveness. I hope these tips will help
you face winter's ills with confidence, and good
BEAT THE FLU
The best way to prevent the flu is to build a powerful
immune system. While this can't guarantee that you
won't get the flu, neither can the flu shot. Here
are my favorite ways to keep my immune system strong:
* Eat more garlic.
* Drink nourishing herbal infusions daily.
* Make immune-strengthening soups; or add immune-strengthening
herbs to canned soup.
* Use anti-viral herbs as needed.
EAT MORE GARLIC
One of the best immune-system helpers is garlic.
Dr. James Duke says it contains at least 17 different
factors that nourish and support powerful immune
system functioning. Herbalists in the middle ages
relied on it to prevent infection from the plague,
so it might keep us safe from the flu. Garlic is
anti-bacterial, too. If you don't like fresh raw
garlic, powdered garlic is just as good. The dose
is 1 or more cloves of raw garlic per day, or up
to a teaspoon of garlic powder. Here are a few of
my favorite ways to eat raw garlic:
* Top scrambled eggs with minced raw garlic.
* Put chopped raw garlic on pasta and cover with
* Try minced raw garlic on a piece of hot buttered
* Add minced raw garlic to your baked potato.
* Mix chopped raw garlic and olive oil with hot
cooked greens like kale or spinach.
DRINK NOURISHING HERBAL INFUSIONS
Nourishing herbal infusions are the basis of great
nourishment for the immune system and the entire
body. They are full of antioxidant vitamins, minerals,
proteins, phytoestrogens, and hundreds of protective
phytochemicals that work to help you ward off the
flu and colds too. Here's how I make a nourishing
* Choose one herb: nettle, oatstraw, red clover,
comfrey leaf, linden flowers, or violet leaf.
* Place one full ounce, by weight, of any one herb
in a quart jar. A canning jar is best.
* Fill the jar to the top with boiling water.
* Screw on a tight lid
* Let it steep for four hours, or overnight.
* Strain the liquid out, squeezing the herb.
* Refrigerate the infusion, where it will be good
for 24-36 hours.
I drink two to four cups nourishing herbal infusions
daily - over ice, heated up with honey and milk,
or mixed with other beverages.
MAKE IMMUNE STRENGTHENING SOUPS
Cooking herbs and vegetables together for a long
time extracts minerals, activates immune-strengthening
phytochemicals, and increases the levels of available
antioxidants. Raw foods weaken and stress the immune
system. To make an immune strengthening soup:
* Chop at least half an onion per person and saute
in olive oil until translucent.
* Add at least two cloves of garlic, sliced or chopped,
per person and saute for a minute.
* Add two or more cups of water or vegetable broth
* Add one cup per person of chopped seasonal vegetables
carrots, cabbage, celery, corn, burdock, turnips,
potatoes, tomatoes, parsnips
(If using canned soup, begin here.)
* Add one small handful of seaweed per person. *
Add one ounce fresh, or one-half ounce dried mushrooms
- any kind - per person. * Add one-quarter ounce
dried tonic roots per person.
* Add generous amounts of antioxidant seasoning
herbs and some sea salt.
* Bring to a boil; simmer for an hour.
* Turn off fire and let your soup mellow in a cool
* Serve it the next day, heated up, with freshly-baked
bread and organic raw milk cheese.
Seaweeds build powerful immunity. Kombu and wakame
are excellent in soups. Cut them small; they swell
to 5-7 times their dried size when cooked.
All mushrooms strengthen the immune system. Dried
shitake are available and inexpensive at Chinese
grocery stores. Reishii, maitake, and other medicinal
mushrooms are delicious, as are the more common
button mushrooms, portobellos, and dried porcinni.
Tonic roots help our livers, lymph, and kidneys
work well, protecting us from infection. I often
put these tough roots into a jelly bag and drop
that into the soup so I can fish it out before serving.
I use one or more of these, fresh or dried, depending
on what I have available:
* Siberian ginseng
* Yellow dock
* American ginseng.
Seasoning herbs from the mint family - rosemary,
thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and sage - are
loaded with antioxidants. I don't just season the
soup with them; I add them by the handful for the
greatest impact on my immune strength.
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.
Of course, even flu shots don't prevent all types
of flu, and they don't prevent colds, so even if
you do get a shot, it's a good idea to have some
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)
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
Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia)
tincture of echinacea root is a well-known anti-infective.
When I feel an infection brewing, I use large doses
of echinacea to build white blood cells and encourage
T-helper cells. The 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 relieve terrible flu infections.
Important: I do not use echinacea as a preventative;
it doesn't seem to work that way. I do not use any
part of this plant except the root. I do not combine
it with goldenseal, which I believe hinders the
immune system. I do not take echinacea in capsules.
I make a quart of echinacea tincture each fall as
my winter insurance. Here's how I do it: 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.
Poke (Phytolacca americana)
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 harm the
kidneys if it is taken continuously. I never take
capsules of poke root.
Elecampane (Inula helenium)
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
Elder (Sambucus canadensis)
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 properties
of elder berries are renowned in Europe and slowly
gaining popularity in the United States. Elder berry
syrup also eases coughs and lung congestion.
WINTER IS COMING
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,
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.
TIPS TO AVOID THE FLU
1. Wash your hands; this is the single best way
to avoid the flu.
2. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.
Viral particles are
easily passed from hands to eyes and nose even if
you use a tissue.
3. If the flu is active in your area, avoid public
PO Box 64
Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
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and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international
reputation for her groundbreaking lectures, teachings,
and writings on health and nutrition. She challenges
conventional medical approaches with humor, insight,
and her vast encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine.
Unabashedly pro-woman, her animated and enthusiastic
lectures are engaging and often profoundly provocative.
Susun is one
of America's best-known authorities on herbal medicine
and natural approaches to women's health. Her four
best-selling books are recommended by expert herbalists
and well-known physicians and are used and cherished
by millions of women around the world. Learn more
article is © copyright Susun
S. Weed 2004 - Republished here with kind permission.
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