It's a product roundup by a herbalist!
What a week!
Ivy and I had our first cold in the time of coronavirus. I wasn't concerned about her or I but there is really a whole layer of new things that come with a sniffle - chatting to the doctor, calling the healthline and finding out if we need to get tested, and isolating because even though it was just a cold, the idea of spreading it to other people who then have to take time off work, call the healthline, get a test. Never mind spreading it to those who are immune compromised... it's just a lot.
I am happy to report that we are both well now, and thought I would use this opportunity to do a quick product roundup for you.
I almost never talk about specific brands in my communication, but I have realized that it is sometimes really helpful to give (and get!) suggestions of actual products that people use if you don't just have a bunch of medicinal plants growing in your backyard that you have endless time to pick, dry, process etc.
You know I'm a huge fan of having a Herbal First Aid kit on hand (if you don't, you can click here to get my freebie) - but I think as we shimmy into cold & flu season here in the Northern Hemisphere, it has never been more important. Those people who work in health stores DO NOT want you coming in with your runny nose (even if it is under a mask!).
So here are a few of my favourite bits to have on hand should a cold strike.
As always, if you have a serious health condition or are on serious medication, please talk to a qualified practitioner before taking any herbs!
I have included products from Canada (where I now live), New Zealand (where I lived for many years, where I trained, and where I still have many connections), and have thrown in a couple brands that I know of in the states that I trust.
Buying good brands of herbal medicine is super important. The risk of adulteration of plants is real, and best case scenario you get a product that doesn't work. Worst case- you get something that is dangerous. If you have any questions about this then please get in touch with me!
PS- This post is not affiliated with any of the brands or sponsored in any way. I do still do contract work for Artemis, but I also genuinely love and use their products all the time. They don't know that I'm writing this post. Hi guys!!!!
Fave products/brands in Canada:
A blend of herbs (no Echinacea!) for supporting the immune system. Not an acute remedy but great for prevention and recovery phase.
Guys - I love using throat spray. It helps when you just get that very first sign of a scratchy throat. You can also gargle with salt water (which is basically free) but it is very handy to have a throat spray around for the middle of the night or if you are in the car. I always bring these when I travel (or...when I used to travel). I look for one with antimicrobial herbs like sage, thyme, or myrrh and love one with propolis in it (though that can gum up the sprayer and you may need to rinse it in hot water occasionally.)
A very punchy (and bitter) combo of herbs to take at the VERY FIRST SIGN OF A COLD OR FLU (which is when you have the best chance of stopping it in its tracks)
It says for coughs but with Echinacea and Elderberry you could use a low dose of this as a daily preventative during the season and up the dose at the first sign of infection. It is important to use products that are specifically formulated for children as their bodies metabolize stuff differently and they need specific doses. As well, some herbs are just too strong for littles.
I love Harmonic Arts (who are based on Vancouver Island) for single tinctures (ie: just Echinacea), and they do a great Elderberry Ginger Syrup that you can add to hot water and drink daily throughout the season and up the dose at the first sign of infection.
I also love Botanica products . So if you can't get the ones I've listed above but the shop has Botanica cold and flu tinctures then go for it! I just tend to find that the St Francis ones are basically exactly how I would formulate.
Fave products/brands in New Zealand:
Such a nice blend for upper respiratory tract health (including allergies/sinus-ey issues). Love it with a bit of honey. This is what we drink regularly throughout the winter to keep us well, and it's also our go-to if we start to come down with something. But I always supplement it with a tincture if we are acutely sick.
I stocked up on these when we were in NZ in Feb this year and this is what we've been giving Ivy. They are all in a glycerine base (read: they taste sweet but don't actually affect blood sugars) and she takes them happily. In my ideal world I'd be "prepping" her tastebuds by giving her straight tinctures, but in real-mom life I just want to give her something that she'll take. These did the trick. Plus, awesome, effective ingredients.
Artemis also do the Virogone and Chest Relief for adults, which I sometimes use. I hate the taste of the Chest Relief because it is aniseed-ey, but aniseed is actually really good for breaking up mucus so if you don't mind the taste then it works really well.
If you read above, I love throat spray. I love this one with the NZ native plant Kawakawa, Propolis, and Manuka honey (as well as Thyme and Echinacea). This is the only Kiwiherb product that I'm talking about specifically in this blog (because I can't be here all day guys) but I do love all their products.
My very rad friend/fellow herbalist Skye Macfarlane is the formulator for this very cool Dunedin company and this preventative tonic is beautiful for your daily Vit C and all the nourishing/preventative bits. Another good one for allergy prevention.
Another great tonic-like drink for prevention or for the first sign of a cold/flu.
A beautiful NZ twist on a classic homemade herbalist tonic with Horopito which is sometimes called the NZ pepper tree due to its spicy tasting leaves. Punchy and literally hot, Fire Cider kicks any colds butt.
Fave brands in the US:
These guys do really high quality products and they are quite widely available.
Run by very rad and knowledgeable herbalist Ed Smith (who I have the pleasure of learning from on this online herbal forum that I'm on), these guys are ethical and effective down to the core!
OK guys that is enough from me! The truth is I could go on and on but I have got to go do some other work! I hope this is helpful for you.
Please leave a comment down below of what your favourite natural cold/flu product is - I am always on the lookout for more ideas!
And if buying products isn't your thing - check out my series of highlights on Instagram called Kitchen Medicine where I go through things that you can use for respiratory health that you probably have in your kitchen cupboards already.
Much love and stay healthy!