Everyone has their favorite way to prevent and treat colds and the flu; today, I’ll share mine with you!
It’s a simple little cold and flu tincture that I grab whenever someone says they are feeling icky. I also dose it out when we’ve been around crowds or people that are coughing or showing other signs of illness. (So, basically most holiday gatherings.)
If you take it quickly enough, more often than not, you’ll wipe out the illness and won’t have to follow up with other home remedies to treat the symptoms.
I love this stuff so much, that if I were thrown in the midst of a flu epidemic and could only take two things with me – one would be my Spilanthes Cold & Flu Tincture. (The other would be Sambucol – an elderberry extract.) It’s that effective in keeping us healthy for the majority of flu season.
I grow all of these plants in my garden, but you can find echinacea and lemon balm (melissa) at Mountain Rose Herbs. The only herb difficult to obtain dried or fresh may be Spilanthes (also known as “toothache plant”), but you can buy the ready made Herb Pharm tincture at Amazon.com and either combine with the others you make/buy OR use it on its own. It really is the star of this mixture, after all!
Spilanthes is also super easy to grow from seed – I planted it one year and it keeps coming back and spreading with absolutely no effort needed on my part.
You can buy the seeds from Strictly Medicinal. I really encourage homesteaders and prepper-types to try to grow this plant, if at all possible. You never know when it might be critical to grow your own medicine!
I first grew interested in Spilanthes when I was researching natural ways to combat the high levels of bad bacteria my son had (including chronic strep.) He was on antibiotics, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, special immuno-things that cost a fortune, you name it!
In vitro testing has shown Spilanthes effective against E.coli, pseudomonas, salmonella, klebsiella pneumonae, staphylococcus albus, and candida albicans. It is also used traditionally as a malaria treatment & for gum infections. It seemed to me, that it would be great to add to our arsenal in the fight for his health.
The only caveat to note is that it is indiscriminate about which bacteria it wipes out. It’s fine to use as a mouth rinse more frequently for gum infections, but you won’t want to ingest it daily for too many days in a row, so that you don’t inadvertently deplete your good bacteria too. Probiotics and yogurt consumption can help offset this trait.
I often find that just one or two doses is enough, if taken soon enough after symptoms start, so this has never been an issue for us.
Spilanthes Cold & Flu Tincture
- handful of lemon balm/melissa leaves (anti-viral)
- handful of echinacea leaves and/or flower petals (immune-boosting)
- handful of spilanthes flowers and leaves (the buds have the most active constituents, so try to use as many of those as possible)
- vodka (80 proof or higher)
To make a tincture from fresh plant matter, place the leaves, flowers, and/or stems that you wish to use into a small mini-food processor. I got this one fourteen years ago, as a baby shower gift and have used it a ton for so many different things – and it’s still going strong! A favorite household appliance for sure!
Add just enough vodka (80 proof or higher) to moisten and process until a coarse texture is obtained. Spoon the macerated herbs into a sterilized glass jar, pour in more vodka until covered, cap and store in a cool, dark place for 4 to 6 weeks before straining and storing. (Try to remember to shake periodically while the herbs are still in the alcohol- I sometimes forget, but it’s a good thing to do!)
Above, I posted a picture of freshly made tincture, on the left, next to last year’s tincture (which is still good and perfectly fine to use.) It’s normal for it to turn brown after some time has passed.
For my husband and myself, I mix one-half dropperful with a spoonful of honey and/or mix a half to whole dropperful into a glass of ginger ale if we feel queasy.
Use half as much for kids – usually I use around three to five drops for them, unless they have upset stomach symptoms, then I use more. We often don’t need a second dose, but if needed, you can dose again an hour or so later, then every couple hours thereafter until you’re feeling better.
Remember not to use continuously for too many days in a row, so that you don’t deplete the good bacteria in your gut while killing the bad guy germs.
As a mouthwash, for sore or inflamed gums, put a dropperful in a glass of water and swish and spit with it a few times a day until the problem is cleared up. Remember, serious signs of infection warrants a visit to a qualified physician, naturopath, or dentist.
So, there’s my favorite way to stay healthy in the winter! I hope this post encourages a few more people to grow spilanthes – it’s an amazing herb that I hope is utilized more in the future!
This is a home remedy for symptoms of the common cold and flu. For serious illness, questions or concerns, or if you start feeling worse, please consult your family health care provider for advice and/or treatment.