As the temperatures plummet across the country, after an unusually warm autumn on the highveld, we may be in for a cold winter…and with it the inevitable colds and flu.

We thought we would give you a heads up on some tried and tested natural herbal methods to boost the immune system and fight off the winter chill. Should the flu bug bite, these herbs brewed as soothing teas will help to take the edge off!

thyme_pic Thyme
Thyme has long been known as an expectorant, that is it makes your cough more productive and help to clear the lungs faster. Keep a supply of thyme essential oil or dried thyme on hand for a soothing steam bath. Add a handfull of dried Thyme or a few drops of essential oil to bowl of hot water, cover your head with a tea towel, inhaling the steam to loosen your chest.

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Licorice Root
containing a compound called glycyrrhizin that has been found to have pretty potent antiviral effects. A number of studies have found that licorice-root extracts can fight off the flu, including strains of the avian flu virus. In Ayurvedic medicine, licorice root is used as an expectorant.

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Garlic
Garlic boosts the health of your immune system, and a number of studies have found that regular doses of garlic are able to ward off viruses like the flu and various strains of the common cold. For the sake of people who have to talk to you, garlic supplements are probably the kindest way to go. But you can also get the same benefits by chewing on a clove of garlic once a day for prevention, or twice a day to get over a cold or flu. Mince a clove of garlic into some honey if the flavour is too overpowering for you.

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Echinacea
According to the Journal of the National Medical Association, there is evidence that echinacea could prevent colds and flus if taken in conjunction with garlic supplements. It is best to take a supplement containing 1000 milligrams three times a day.

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Elderberry Extract

Another botanical that helps you cope with cold and flu symptoms is elder, also known as black elder. The extract of elderberries has been tested repeatedly and found to shorten the duration of symptoms by as much as 4 days, and the extract has been found effective at fighting up to 10 strains of flu virus. Nearly all of the scientific studies conducted on elderberry have used a commercial product called Sambucol, which is available as a liquid supplement.