Problem: COMMON COLD
Solution: ECHINACEA (Echinacea angustifolia)
Dose: One teaspoon of echinacea root glycerite liquid every two hours beginning at onset of symptoms; decrease the dose to once every three to four hours after symptoms ease.
Proof: Studies about the effectiveness of echinacea for treating the common cold have been mixed. Ignore them all, advises Kingsbury, and look to traditional usage. “Native Americans used Echinacea angustifolia—not Echinacea purpurea—and they used only the root,” she explains. “Clinically speaking, accessing the root is the best place to start. It can shorten the length of a cold significantly.”
Problem: SORE THROAT
Solution: MARSHMALLOW (Althaea officinalis)
Dose: Make a tea of one teaspoon of the dried herb infused in one cup of cold water, then simmer for at least 15 minutes. Sweeten to taste with honey and drink warm.
Proof: “Marshmallow is mucilaginous, which means it’s a bit slimy, so it will coat and soothe a scratchy throat,” says Flint. “It’s also an anti-inflammatory, so it will relieve any irritation.” If you want a ready-made tea, look for one that combines marshmallow with licorice and slippery elm, two other demulcent herbs.
Solution: UMCKALAOBO (Pelargonium sidoides)
Dose: Take as drops, syrup, chewable tablets, or spray. Follow package instructions.
Proof: A South African herb meaning “heavy cough” in Zulu, umckalaobo is a powerhouse herb with antiviral and antibacterial properties, says Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council. “There are good clinical studies on the use of umckalaobo for treating bronchitis as well as tonsillitis,” he says, adding that taking umckalaobo at the onset of symptoms will bring relief within a day or two.
Problem: NASAL CONGESTION
Solution: GOLDENROD (Solidago spp.)
Dose: Place three drops of the extract under the tongue; repeat as necessary until nasal passages are clear.
Proof: Goldenrod is particularly effective for treating congestion caused by allergies. Surprised? That’s because goldenrod gets a bad rap. “People blame goldenrod for their allergies because they look across the field and see the beautiful yellow flowers,” says Flint. “But it’s the blooming ragweed they can’t see that causes all the trouble. In nature, the remedy often grows right next to the cause.”