Colds & Flu’s: Whats The Difference?

Yes, they are two completely different things! Both are caused by viruses and have similar symptoms which is why many people mistake them for the same thing, but once you see the differences side-by-side it’s easy to never see them the same again.

In general, flu can be much worse than the common cold, and symptoms come across more intense whereas colds are usually milder and don’t result in serious health problems if left untreated like pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalisations.

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As Far As Treatment is Concerned…

In all honesty, chances are high that you’ll receive a prescription for antibiotics from your GP. However, antibiotics don’t do anything when it comes to viruses. They’re only effective for treating infections caused by bacteria. With that said though – if you leave a flu untreated, you can develop a co-infection that could be bacterial and thereby, need antibiotics (but you won’t need antibiotics immediately). 

I must say, many GP’s I know and have worked with delay prescribing antibiotics and don’t go to it immediately which is a BIG step in the right direction. 

Phytotherapeutic Approach To Treatment

Treating any kind of problems affecting the respiratory system is  my absolute favourite. Patients can see a difference in their symptoms so quickly which is really satisfying from a “customer satisfaction” point of view. The lungs are such a life-force to the human body. Think about taking a breath of fresh air – how rejuvenating it can feel & how restrictive it feels when you’re in the full swing of a flu and can barely breath through the mucous build-up & constant coughing. 

A phytotherapeutic approach will always be individualised & based on fighting the virus first (the cause) and at the same time, helping to alleviate the symptoms which can make the patient a lot happier. So these would include herbs that support the immune system; have antiviral properties; decongestant properties or demulcent, soothing properties if there is a dry cough involved. 

I don’t think I have ever used the exact same prescription for two different patients. I certainly have my go-to herbs like echinacea or olive leave, but I’ll use them in different strengths or ratio’s to fit the individual. 

My Top 5 Go-To Herbs For Colds & Flu

Treating any kind of problems affecting the respiratory system is  my absolute favourite thing to do. Patients can see a difference in their symptoms so quickly which is really satisfying from a “customer satisfaction” point of view. The lungs are such a life-force to the human body. Think about taking a breath of fresh air – how rejuvenating it can feel & how restrictive it feels when you’re in the full swing of a flu and can barely breath through the mucous build-up & constant coughing.

While my treatments are always individualised, I do have my go-to ‘top performers’ when it comes to the respiratory system. You can read more on the differences between colds & flu here

Olive Leaf

For some unknown reason, I never used this herb at university, but seem to be including it in every prescription in practice. 

It contains oleuropein which is readily absorbed by the body & is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and especially it’s anti-viral properties. This makes it exceptionally good at fighting off the flu. There have even been theoretical investigations into using olive leaf extract in fighting HIV


Echinacea has got to be one of the biggest celebrities in immunity world. Numerous studies showcase it’s effectiveness in specifically modulating the immune system and fighting off colds & flu’s. In the US, echinacea extract sales total more than $100 million annually. Now, I’m not one for touting big pharma, but people don’t carry on buying something that doesn’t work. 

Ethanolic extracts (tinctures) contain multiple constituents that can suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and upregulate phagocytic activity.

Simply put, Echinacea supports the immune system by stopping inflammation and actively killing off harmful pathogens. 


A South African BEAUTY! I love this plant so much – it tastes great in remedies and is super effective, especially in children. Have been thinking of experimenting with making medicinal lozenges with pelargonium as the base. Would you be keen on getting a recipe?

Studies have shown it’s specific effective use in bronchitis and sinusitis


Congested nose? Just sniffing this potent plant is a god-send. This herb is almost always the base of my medicinal tea preparations. The essential oils that are given off when brewed, not only break down mucous but have amazing antimicrobial properties. 


Sage can sometimes be a tricky herb when it comes to colds and flu’s. It can be incredibly ‘drying’ so I wouldn’t use it for a harsh cough – only for productive, mucous-filled coughs that need drying up. 

Medications can also interact with Sage. Especially diabetic medications, which I see all-too-often in practice. Which is why I won’t often use Sage in a prescription, but when I do, I’m very happy with the results. 

Do you have any herbs that you run to when you feel a cold/flu coming on? Drop a comment below & I’ll let you know the science behind why it can be so effective.

6 Adaptogens That You Should Know

This is an article I wrote for Wellness Warehouse a while back & ended up being one of my favourite that I had written for them. You can find the original article here.

Trends in the health & wellness industry come and go – new buzzwords pop up on a daily basis, so are adaptogens the real deal or is it all just a bunch of hogwash?

What are Adaptogens & how do they work?

Adaptogens have been part of ancient herbal practices in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. However, the term ‘adaptogens’ was coined in 1947 by a Russian scientist, Lazarev, who was interested in substances that helped the body adapt to physical and emotional stress. Adaptogens are a class of herbs that offer up some serious benefits for the body. They have a ‘normalising’ effect, improving body function. In the end, there is a total body response that increases resistance against harm from physical and emotional stress (disease, anxiety etc.).

Not only do adaptogens have a normalising effect, they support the adrenal glands which are responsible for that ‘fight or flight’ response we experience when we are stressed. When our adrenal glands are constantly being activated by our stressful and busy lives without a break, they get a bit exhausted. Ideally we would want to create an environment that would maintain a less stressful life, but let’s be honest, that’s next to impossible in this day and age. Adaptogens can help to bounce back from the constant strain for better sleep, memory, focus, digestion and so much more.

6 Top Herbal Supplements

  1. Panax Ginseng

    Also known as Korean ginseng, it’s probably the most popular herbal supplement on the market – you can’t go into any health shop without seeing the words “ginseng” and “energy” paired together. Referred to as the ‘True Ginseng’, panax ginseng has been studied extensively, appearing to be effective for improving mood, immunity, energy levels & brain function. Panax ginseng is also used to regulate blood sugar in diabetes. Some studies have shown that panax ginseng increases the well-being & happiness in people who are diseased but in healthy individuals, it is actually unlikely to have any benefits.

    Available from Faithful To Nature, Wellness Warehouse & Dischem

  2. Ashwagandha

    One of the most esteemed herbs in Ayurveda, ashwagandha has been used for over 3000 years to relieve stress, increase energy levels and improve concentration. “Ashwagandha” is Sanskrit for “smell of the horse,” which refers to both its unique smell and ability to increase strength. Ashwagandha has had many studies done on it to prove its benefits. It’s been shown to help in treating diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and has also been studied for its ability to boost testosterone and increase libido!
    Available from Faithful To Nature, Wellness Warehouse & Dischem.

  3. Maca

    Another buzzword, maca’s popularity has sky-rocketed in recent years, but it has actually been around for centuries! Traditionally used to enhance fertility and sex drive, maca has also been claimed to improve energy and stamina. It’s an incredibly nutritious herb & is a great source of several vitamins, like vitamin C. In Peru, maca has been used by natives to improve learning & memory in children and recent studies are confirming how it works. While research on maca is still in its early stages, it is showing great results. Several studies have shown that maca can improve your mental well-being & mood by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
    Available from Faithful To Nature, Wellness Warehouse & Dischem

  4. Reishi Mushrooms

    One of nature’s greatest tonics, reishi strengthens the immune system to help build resistance to stress & it’s being hailed as the “mushroom of immortality”. That may sound too good to be true, but with the overwhelming studies being completed showing the astounding proof of its benefits, this seemingly insignificant fungus has a solid case. Because of its ability to boost the immune system, reishi has been found hugely beneficial to chronic diseases like bronchitis, leaky-gut syndrome, HIV, Epstein-Barr and even Cancer. It also has the ability to lower cholesterol & triglycerides in the blood, earning it the right as a soldier to fight against heart disease & stroke.
    Available from Faithful To Nature & Wellness Warehouse.

  5. Rhodiola

    Arguably the most studied adaptogen – Rhodiola is a pretty convincing powerhouse of prosperity. Rhodiola is well known for its ability to supress cortisol while enhancing stress-resistance. It contains a phytochemical called salisdroside which is proven to help the body regulate cortisol after periods of intense stress. Rhodiola also helps with reducing fatigue & exhaustion while promoting longevity – a great competitor to panax ginseng! Studies are showing that rhodiola supports cognitive function & is a fantastic nervine tonic in that it uplifts when we are down (fatigued) & calms down when we are too heightened (stressed).
    Available from Faithful To Nature & Wellness Warehouse.

  6. Astragalus

    A fundamental herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus is used for a medley of purposes & supposedly increases lifespan. Astragalus has been studied for its cardio—protective, anti-inflammatory and immune activating effects. Boosting the immune system is astragalus’ claim to fame. For thousands of years – this has been its main use & studies have shown that astragalus does stimulate immune cells to be released & that used as an additional therapy, it’s incredibly effective.
    Available from Faithful To Nature & Wellness Warehouse.

Disclaimmer: Herbs are not always safe to be taken without the supervision and guidance from a qualified (and registered) herbal practitioner. If you’d like to enjoy a holistic, patient-centred approach to your health needs, don’t hesitate to contact me to book your appointment.