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Heal Thy Self

Tips for kicking the common cold.

I was sick last week. And if I'm being honest, I'm still sick. It's especially annoying because it feels like I'm doing everything right. Taking herbs, resting, drinking fluids.

There's a little known secret to all this herbal stuff: the plants don't heal you. The plants support the body to function better, more efficiently and support the body's work towards homeostasis. But at the end of the day, the body heals itself.

So how do we help the body to heal? In case you're in the same boat as me, here's the short list of what I've been up to.


  • I was at work when the cold started to settle in. On my lunch break I made my way over to the corporate health foods store that wont be named here, and bought some elderberry zinc lozenges. This are great because I speak a lot at work, so it can help soothe the throat when I over-use it.

  • Not knowing what I had (if it was bacteria or virus) I usually do the double-whammy of elderberry (antiviral) and echinacea (traditional immune stimulator). Later that night, I made a warm beverage from some elderberry syrup I had in my fridge.


  • As soon as I could, I took frequent doses (3-4 x day) of 2-3 dropper-fulls of echinacea. I'll do this for the first 2-3 days. Under a microscope, echinacea is known to boost the white-blood cell in our bodies and so we are supporting our bodies to be prepared to remove whatever is not meant to be there.


  • Keep it simple stupid, and stick to the basics! Cancel plans, stay home and cozy. Watch a movie, read a book, do a puzzle.

  • Lots of hydration and rest are critical to support the body to do it's thing. You can make a quick hydrating tonic with lemon juice, salt and honey. Flavor to taste.

  • Nourishing foods can't be overlooked. Its great to have broth ready in the fridge or freezer for a moment like this. Or frozen meals/soups to defrost and heat with little effort.


  • I prepare a steam to bring phytochemicals (plant-chemicals, like antibacterial properties) to my sinuses and lungs. To prepare you will need a large heat-resistant bowl, 1-2 quarts of recently boiled water, 1-2 hand-fulls aromatic plants like eucalyptus, cedar, pine, thyme, rosemary or anything else with a strong scent. Look in your spice drawer. You could also opt for a couple drops of essential oil.

  1. Place the heat-resistant bowl on a table, and pour in the boiling water.

  2. Get a medium-large towel.

  3. Place the herbs or essential oil in the bowl. You may want to wait a minute if the EO is really strong.

  4. Position your head above the bowl, and place the towel over your head to create a "tent" effect.

  5. Breathe in through your mouth for 20 counts, then switch and do your nose. You can do the steam for 5-20 mins. If you are congested, by the end of it you may have more ability to breathe!

Other Herbs

  • Teas, of course. I made Mullein, nettles, goji berry, thyme tea. I'll likely be sipping something of this variety for a few weeks to really support the body fully heal.

  • Using expectorants like elecampane, which I enjoyed as a medicinal honey (a special treat I like to make in the winter when it's a good time to harvest the fresh roots).

  • I've also been nursing Oregon grape root tincture and balsam root tincture. I don't necessarily recommend this combo of herbs, it's just what I had on hand to support the lungs (where my cold has settled) and support my immune system. There are many other herbs that can do similar things (as mentioned above), and I always recommend people use what they have on hand, or what grows local to them.

  • Fresh garlic is often a powerful medicine that we already have in the fridge. No one wants to make an extra trip to the store when they are already feeling crappy. Just chop up a clove, let it sit for a few minutes and then hide it in nutbutter or honey. Eat it up with a spoon! Garlic is known to have an affinity with the lungs.

I feel so lucky that I haven't gotten sick as much these past few years since 2020. This really speaks to the effectiveness of washing hands and wearing a mask; something I do every day. I also like to sanitize my phone 1 - 2 x day. That thing goes everywhere with me!

I hope these words are helpful for you and your loved ones stay happy and healthy as the winter turns to spring. Keep taking good care of your selves; may the herbs help you find your balance.


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