My favorite herbs for flu care are diaphoretics, to stimulate sweating.*
I like diaphoretics because they support the body’s natural response rather than “fighting” the illness. (I’m not a big fan of the body-as-battleground theory of disease, but that’s a topic for another post.)
Some of my favorite diaphoretic herbs: lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), bee balm (Monarda didyma or M. fistulosa), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), elder flowers & berries (Sambucus nigra) and ginger (Zingiber officinale).
Elderberry and ginger make a delicious tea that you might want to drink all winter, whether you’re sick or not!
To make pink ginger tea:
Slice up 2-3 inches of fresh ginger.
Put the ginger in a pot and cover it with about a quart of water.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of elderberry (frozen, canned, juice, syrup or dried).
Simmer the mixture until it tastes strongly of gingerâ€”usually at least 15 minutes. (The tea turns a muddy purple-brown as it simmers. Don’t worry, we’ll fix it.)
When it’s ready, remove the tea from the heat, let it sit a minute to cool, and add good quality raw honey** to taste. (Don’t boil raw honey. You’ll kill the enzymes.)
Now for the magic. Squeeze the juice from one small or half a large lemon. Add it to the tea. Watch the color change from muddy to clear pink!
Drink hot, preferably while wrapped in a blanket.
*The simple definition of diaphoretic: an agent that stimulates sweating. But as Samuel Potter points out in his 1902 Materia Medica, diaphoretic is derived from the Greek meaning “I carry through.” Diaphoretic herbs help carry heat and energy through the body, promoting excretion through the skin.
**You have to be careful with honey. Most US beekeepers use toxic miticides to keep their bees alive. Talk to your beekeeper, buy organic honey (expensive, if you can get it), or use a reliable supplier like Honey Gardens in Vermont.