Building A Cold + Flu First Aid Kit

It all starts with the dreaded scratchy throat. You know the signs… and soon you are in bed with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a box of tissues. We are in the thick of cold and flu season. Our systems are run down from being cooped up inside and we are all a bit sick of winter. Why does winter make such a prime time for cold and flu season? Are you prepared for the next wave to hit your household? Let’s explore these thoughts as I share with you my Go-To supplies in my Cold + Flu First Aid Kit. 

When it comes to any type of illness, catching it soon and recognizing it is key.

If you can first recognize that you are run down, and then provide adequate rest and support for your body, you are well on your way to recovery. Unfortunately, what happens too often is we either recognize we are ill and do not provide the support and rest our body needs, or we recognize it too late. 

Creating a robust and vital force through the winter time will assist in a faster recovery; as well as prevention from illness. Here are some daily preventative practices. Adding just one of these practices into your daily life you can experience an increased sense of health, spirit, and wellness. 

List of Vitalist Practices

Breathing: 

Practice deep breathing exercises for 3-5 minutes. 1-3 times daily.

Stretching:

Go through a series of stretching; in the morning, after coming home from your day, and before bed.

Positive Affirmation:

Select a positive affirmation that works well with your goals. Repeat it in your mind, out loud, or both.

Select 1-2 different affirmations and repeat them at different times throughout the day. 

Water: 

Drink 12-16 oz first thing in the morning.

Run a cool watered shower for yourself for 30-50 seconds. 

Unfortunately, even with consistent vitalist practices, we all get sick. So why is it that we are more prone to getting sick in the winter? First, we are indoors; we are more likely to transmit viruses and bacteria while inside, in closed areas. Viruses can spread more easily in extremely dry conditions, which is typical of our winter conditions. 

Physically, our immune systems are weaker; we have not been eating as many fresh foods and our Vitamin D stores are now gone (if we are not receiving it nutritionally or through supplementation). In the winter, the sun’s latitude does not allow us to produce vitamin D, even if we spend time outside. Because Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is typically stored in our body for 2-3 months. In the midwest we stop receiving Vitamin D from the sun in October; which means by the end of December our stores are depleted. Why is this important? Vitamin D is one of the building blocks for supporting our musculoskeletal, immune, nervous, and digestive systems. Vitamin D supplementation is a tool in my toolbox for supporting not only my immunity through the winter but also my mental health. 

When it comes to colds and influenza, one of the most beneficial approaches for your body is allowing it to heal through rest. How do you identify you are in need of more than rest? Let’s go through some symptoms and pair them with some of the herbs I keep in my Cold + Flu First Aid Kit.

Sinus Congestion:

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

  Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

  Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)

Mild Fever:

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Dry Cough : 

Licorice: (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Mullein: (Verbascum thapsus)

Wet Cough:

Elecampane: (Inula helenium)

Thyme: (Thymus vulgaris)

Immune Support

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, E. purpurea)

Elder Berry (Sambucus nigra)

Now that you know the herbs to have on hand, how do you use them? Let’s create a few example formulas, starting with a blend for someone with a weakened immune system, sinus congestion, and a dry cough. 

Example Blend:

1 Part Sinus Congestion Herb

1 Part Dry Cough Herb                  

1 Part Immune Support Herb 

May look like this: 

1 T Chamomile

1 T Mullein

1 T Elder Berry 

Use 1T, per 8 oz. Steep 10-15 Minutes. 

Generally speaking, most medicine blends are steeped for 10-20 minutes. If your tea blend has more roots or denser materials, allow for a longer steeping time. 

Let’s try another! 

Let’s create a blend for someone dealing with a wet cough, a mild fever, and a lowered immune system. 

Example Blend:

1 Part Wet Cough Herbs

1 Part Mild Fever Herbs                 

1 Part Immune Support Herbs 

May look like this: 

1 Cup Elecampane

1 Cup Lemon Balm

1 Cup Echinacea 

Use 1 T, per 8 oz water. Steep 15-20 minutes.

Before utilizing any herb, please do your own personal research to make sure this plant will work well with your body.  It may be natural, but it is also a very potent herbal medicine. Safety is always number one and many herbs interact with specific pharmaceuticals and diseases. When in doubt, reach out to your local herbalist.  

This information is not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure and has not been approved by the FDA.

By Megan Fuhrman-Wheeler, Owner, MEGAN & CO. Herbal Apothecary + Teahouse
Her goal is to spread herbal knowledge to rural America in a safe, constructive, and accessible manner.

www.meganandco.com
Trained at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism
Certified Clinical Herbalist
Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Certified Flower Essence Practitioner

Resources:

1.Wolkoff P, Azuma K, Carrer P. Health, work performance, and risk of infection in office-like environments: The role of indoor temperature, air humidity, and ventilation. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2021 Apr;233:113709. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2021.113709. Epub 2021 Feb 15. PMID: 33601136.

2.Sizar O, Khare S, Goyal A, Givler A. Vitamin D Deficiency. 2023 Jul 17. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 30335299

3.  Chevallie, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. DK Pub., New York, c2000.

4. Skenderi, Gazmend. Herbal Bade Mecum. Herbacy Press. Rutherford, NJ, c2003.

5. Tierra , Michael. Planetary Herbology. Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, WI. c2018

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