Explore the power of these 7 herbs that can effectively combat cold and flu.


In our quest to find natural remedies for common colds and flu, thousands of alternative health practitioners and herbalists have turned to the power of plants. With their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, these plants have shown promise in helping to reduce symptoms such as coughs, congestion, and nasal irritation.

One of the most commonly used herbs in this regard is eucalyptus. Known for its strong aroma and medicinal properties, eucalyptus oil can be used in preparations such as vapor rubs or inhalations to help clear blocked sinuses and soothe irritated airways.

Marshmallow root, a wildflower common in American marshes, is another herbal remedy that can help alleviate cold symptoms. Its gel-like preparation can coat the throat, providing relief from sore throats and coughs.

Garlic, a well-known herb used in cooking, also has impressive health benefits. It has been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it a great addition to syrups or teas meant to help fight off cold and flu viruses.

Echinacea, commonly known as purple coneflower, is perhaps one of the best known and widely used herbs for colds and flu. Research has shown that it may help boost the immune system and fight off infections.

Liquorice root, with its sweet flavor and soothing properties, is often used to ease congestion. Its expectorant qualities can help break up mucus and promote easier breathing.

Thyme, a culinary herb popularly used in Mediterranean cuisine, can also be used medicinally to help alleviate cold symptoms. Its leaves can be steeped in just-boiled water to create a soothing herbal infusion.

Lastly, sage, a herb revered for its medicinal properties, can help soothe sore throats and relieve coughs. Its antibacterial qualities make it a great addition to homemade cough syrups or throat sprays.

The Best Herbal Teas for Cold & Flu Season

When it comes to fighting off cold and flu symptoms, a hot cup of herbal tea can provide much-needed relief. Here are seven herbs that have been traditionally used to help alleviate the symptoms of coughs, congestion, and sore throats.

  • Thyme: Thyme is a common herb that acts as a natural remedy for coughs and congestion. It can be taken in the form of teas or tinctures.
  • Liquorice: Liquorice root is beneficial for treating sore throats and reducing inflammation. A soothing tea can be made by steeping dried liquorice root in hot water.
  • Echinacea: Echinacea is often used to boost the immune system and fight off cold and flu symptoms. It is commonly consumed as a tea or taken in tincture form.
  • Neti: Neti is an alternative medicine technique used to relieve nasal congestion. It involves using a small pot to pour a lukewarm saline solution into one nostril and letting it flow out through the other.
  • Elderberries: Elderberries have been used for thousands of years to treat colds and flu. They are commonly consumed as a tea or made into a syrup.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint tea can help relieve symptoms of congestion and soothe irritated throats. It is also known to reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Lemon: Lemon tea is a popular choice for relieving coughs and sore throats. It can be made by adding fresh lemon juice and honey to hot water.

Before trying any herbal remedies, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you are taking any medications or have underlying health conditions. Herbal teas can be a delicious and natural way to find relief from cold and flu symptoms, but they should not be used as a substitute for proper medical care.

Click here for a printable guide to the best herbal teas for cold and flu season.

1 Ginger

Ginger is one of the most recommended herbs for fighting colds and flu. It has natural antibiotic properties that can help to shorten the duration of your illness. Ginger can also soothe coughs and sore throats, especially when used in the form of ginger tea. To prepare ginger tea, simply steep about 5 to 6 medium-sized slices of ginger in a cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. You can also add lemon juice and honey for added flavor and health benefits.

Ginger is also great for supporting your respiratory health. Its warming properties can help to clear up nasal congestion and promote healthy breathing. If you’re experiencing nasal congestion, you can try inhaling steam with ginger slices or using ginger essential oil in a diffuser. Just make sure to consult with a healthcare professional before using ginger in any form if you’re pregnant or have any specific health conditions.

In addition to its cold-fighting properties, ginger is also known for its digestive benefits. It can help to relieve nausea and vomiting, making it a great herb to have on hand if you’re feeling sick. You can consume ginger in various forms, including fresh ginger, ginger tea, ginger syrup, or even ginger capsules.

Ginger can be easily found in most grocery stores and is usually sold in the produce section. Look for firm ginger roots with smooth skin and a strong aroma. You can store ginger in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or freeze it for longer-term storage. When using ginger in your cooking or drinks, remember to peel the skin before using it.

Overall, ginger is a versatile herb that can help to fight colds and flu, support respiratory health, and aid digestion. Whether you’re using it in teas, soups, stir-fries, or other dishes, ginger is an excellent addition to your health and wellness routine.

2 Liquorice

Liquorice is a popular herb that has been used for centuries to treat various conditions. It is known for its sweet taste and is often used as a natural sweetener. Liquorice is derived from the roots of the liquorice plant, which is native to Western Asia and Southern Europe.

When it comes to fighting cold and flu symptoms, liquorice has been found to be a supportive herb. It helps soothe coughs and relieve congestion by breaking up thick mucus in the respiratory system. The herb also has antiviral properties, making it an effective choice for treating flu and other viral illnesses.

There are several ways to consume liquorice for its medicinal benefits. You can drink liquorice tea or infusion, which can be made by steeping liquorice roots in boiling water. Liquorice infusion can also be combined with other herbs, such as sage or marshmallow, to enhance its healing properties.

Another popular method is to use liquorice in the form of lozenges or cough syrups. These products often contain liquorice extract along with other ingredients like honey or lemon to provide relief from sore throat and cough. Liquorice can also be used as an ingredient in herbal remedies for respiratory illnesses, including bronchitis and asthma.

It’s important to note that while liquorice can be beneficial in small amounts, excessive consumption can have negative effects on the body. Some individuals may have a sensitivity to liquorice, and it can also interact with certain medications. If you’re considering using liquorice as an alternative remedy, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional.

In conclusion, liquorice is a herb with potential health benefits for fighting cold and flu symptoms. Its properties of soothing coughs, relieving congestion, and supporting the immune system make it a valuable choice during the winter months. Whether you choose to drink liquorice teas or use it in other forms, it can offer a natural way to shorten the duration of illnesses and provide relief.

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3 Thyme

Thyme is an herb that acts as a natural remedy for cold and flu symptoms. It fights against infections and helps boost the immune system. Thyme has been used for centuries in herbal medicine to soothe sore throats and coughs. It contains compounds such as thymol, which has antimicrobial properties, meaning it can help annihilate bacteria and viruses.

You can use thyme in various forms to get the benefits. Thyme tea is a popular choice, where you steep dried thyme flowers or leaves in boiling water and drink it. Thyme syrup is another option, where you combine thyme with honey and lemon to create a thick and soothing syrup. Thyme tincture can also be used by diluting it with water and taking it orally. Inhalation is another method where you add thyme oil to hot water and inhale the steam.

Thyme is often recommended as an alternative to over-the-counter medicines when you first start feeling the symptoms of a cold or flu. It is believed to help reduce the duration and severity of the illness.

Before using thyme as a remedy, it is always a good idea to consult with a herbalist or healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

The benefits of thyme include: Thyme can help soothe sore throats and coughs.
Thyme acts as a natural antioxidant. Thyme can help boost the immune system.
Thyme has antimicrobial properties. Thyme can help fight against infections.

Thyme can be a healthy addition to your meals as well. You can use fresh thyme leaves to add flavor to soups, stews, and roasted vegetables. It pairs well with vegetables like onions and garlic, which also have their own immune-boosting properties.

So, next time a cold or flu is making you feel under the weather, pick up some thyme and give it a try. It may just help you feel better quicker and get back to your healthy self.

4 Mullein

Mullein is a herbal remedy that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat respiratory conditions. It is especially beneficial during the winter season when colds and flu are commonly experienced.

Mullein leaves and flowers can be steeped to make teas, infusions, or a soothing mullein lemonade. The flowers of this herbal plant can also be dried and used as an alternative to tobacco for smoking purposes.

What makes mullein a favourite among herbalists is its ability to soothe and relieve irritated throats. It acts as a natural expectorant, helping to expel excess mucus and phlegm from the respiratory tract. This makes it an effective remedy for coughs, especially those that are associated with a cold or flu.

Mullein has antibacterial properties and can act as a mild antibiotic. It can help fight off infections in the respiratory system, making it a great herb to use during cold and flu season. Mullein can also be used as a gargle to relieve sore throats.

One popular preparation of mullein is a tincture made from the roots and leaves. This extract can be taken orally to help relieve coughs and congestion. Another method is to make a mullein tea by steeping dried leaves and flowers in hot water.

Mullein is considered safe for most people to use, but pregnant women should avoid taking it as a precaution. It is always best to consult with a herbalist or healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.

In conclusion, mullein is a versatile herb that can provide relief from cold and flu symptoms. Whether using it as a tea, tincture, or gargle, mullein can naturally soothe irritated throats and help clear congestion. So next time you’re feeling under the weather, consider trying mullein as an alternative remedy.

✿ Read More About Herbs.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.