Do you have the flu? If your symptoms include chills, high fever, sore throat, dry cough, sneezing, runny nose, weakness, body aches, muscle pain, nausea, and headache . . . the answer is yes.

A bad case of flu can knock you flat out for a week or more, and you may feel run down even longer.

Flu’s not new, and that’s why a number of botanical remedies have stood the test of time. From traditional folk remedies to Ayurveda, herbalism, and aromatherapy, botanicals can offer relief.

Botanical         How it can help


Fresh warmed juice can ease fever.


Strengthens immune system.


Anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects. Chamomile tea is especially soothing for children.


Useful at onset of flu. An immune stimulant, it’s also antiviral and anti-inflammatory.


Contains antiviral proteins; useful for treating flu and other viral respiratory disorders. In clinical human trials on treating flu, elderberry extract stimulated antibody production, reduced severity of symptoms, and shortened duration of flu.


A strong decongestant with antiviral and immune-stimulating properties. Don’t use with homeopathic remedies, however, or on babies and young children.


Used with lemon and honey to help reduce fever and soothe body aches.


Can reduce nasal congestion and ease upper respiratory symptoms. Studies have investigated its antiviral effects.


Important in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine; promotes sweating; ginger preparations are useful for chills, fever, and headaches that accompany flu.


Strengthens the immune system and helps reduce fever.


Effective for treating respiratory flu symptoms. In a cup of hot water with lemon, honey eases cough and fever. Don’t use honey with babies and young children.


Antiviral properties; rich in vitamins B and C; lemon juice can kill germs and keep viruses from spreading.


Used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and by American Indians to soothe sore throats and coughs; also stimulates the immune system.

Olive leaf

Extract exhibits antiviral activity against flu.

Oregano oil

Useful for coughs and other upper respiratory symptoms.


A woody mushroom; strong antiviral that stimulates immune response against influenza A viruses.

Tea tree oil

Used in aromatherapy, tea tree oil may reduce flu symptoms, fight infection, and reduce fever; also stimulates immune system.




“The Anti-influenza Virus Activity of Hydroalcoholic Extract of Olive Leaves” by Afagh Moatari et al., Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Science, Summer 2006

The Healing Remedies Sourcebook by C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD ($25.99, Da Capo, 2012)

Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Harrod Buhner ($24.95, Storey Publishing, 2012)

Herbal Therapeutics by David Winston, RH (AHG) ($12.95, Herbal Therapeutics Research Library, 2009)

National Geographic Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine by Steven Foster and Rebecca L. Johnson ($40, National Geographic, 2006)