THE weather is bracing and with it comes colds, sniffles and sore throats, some of which can become more serious.

When you feel ill your instinct might be to rush to the pharmacist and stock up on medication but there are many natural cures.

Here we look at how herbs can put you on the road to recovery:


The first shiver is a sign viruses are multiplying and it is at this stage the battle against a cold is won or lost.

Garlic is famed for its immune-boosting and protective powers. Eat fresh cloves in heroic quantities and a cold doesn’t stand a chance. Studies have shown the power of echinacea on an oncoming cold. Take it at the first signs and in high doses.

Elderflower is excellent especially when combined with peppermint. Put a teaspoon or teabag of each in a mug, fill with hot water and drink at bedtime.

A great remedy is a teaspoon each of dried sage, rosemary and thyme. Put them into a teapot, add a pint of boiling water, infuse for 10 minutes, strain and drink throughout the day.


Blackberry leaves help soothe sore throats. Put a handful in a pan and cover with a litre of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for two minutes.

Steep for 10 minutes and strain through coffee filter paper. Drink hot three times a day and gargle frequently with this infusion.

Sage is another good cure. Put two tablespoons of fresh leaves (or dried if they have a strong smell) into a pint of cold water, bring to the boil and steep covered for 10 minutes. Strain and gargle with it two or three times a day.


Studies carried out in California discovered that horseradish triggers a flood of fluid in air passages which thins congested mucus so it that it is easily expelled. American herbal authority James Duke suggests making “sinus soup”.

Make a vegetable minestrone and add heaped helpings of garlic, onions, horseradish, hot pepper and ginger.


Respiratory infections can lead to bronchitis which is an inflammation of the main air passages to the lungs. Lemons are packed with compounds to boost resistance so make lemonade.

Slice scrubbed lemons into a jug.Add boiling water, a little brown sugar or honey and leave to stand for a few hours or overnight.

Eucalyptus leaves contain antiseptic oil which sees off infections and expels mucus.

Put three or four in a pan and add a cupful of cold water.

Bring to the boil and simmer for one minute. Take off the heat, cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, add a little honey and drink hot two or three times a day.

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