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.