One of the most popular herbs for preventing colds and flu is echinacea. You can find echinacea in herbal teas, some energy supplements, or in standalone supplements. While echinacea is purported to have benefits for several aspects of health, including pain reduction, laxative support, and even mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, it is most commonly known for its effect in supporting immunity and reducing inflammation. This is why you will often see it listed as an ingredient in immune-boosting teas and supplements.
While you can certainly buy these, you may also wish to try making your own. This way you can be sure of exactly what is in your tea, and you can add other additional immune-enhancing ingredients as well if desired.
Here are some tips and guidelines for making your own immune-boosting echinacea tea:*
2. Include fruits in your tea. If you have a dehydrator, you may want to dry some sliced citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons, and store these for adding to your tea. These can help infuse your tea with added immune-boosting vitamins and antioxidants - plus they will add a pleasant flavor.
3. If you are using a liquid form of echinacea, you will want to add it to your tea at the end of the brewing cycle. This will help keep the antioxidant properties from being damaged by heat before you drink it. Once your water comes to a boil, add any additional ingredients (fruit, etc.), allow to rest for several minutes, and then add your echinacea.
4. If you are using dried echinacea roots, boil the roots for at least three minutes to release the nutrients into the tea. (You can also add any dried fruits during this time.) Once the water has boiled for at least 3 minutes, turn off the heat, and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes before drinking.
5. Enhance the immune-boosting benefits of your tea with honey. Adding honey to your tea not only helps make it a bit more tasty, but it can also help fight bacterial illnesses with its naturally antibacterial and antifungal properties. Honey can also help soothe a sore throat or a cough. Choose organic honey that is locally made if it all possible.
Other notes: Echinacea has a strong, bitter taste, so if you find the taste of the tea too harsh for you, there are a few options you can try. You could add some milk and honey to see if that helps. You could also try fruit juice instead - just heat the juice gently, and add liquid echinacea drops. Then stir and drink while warm. If you still cannot stand the taste of echinacea, you may wish to switch to a supplement form that comes in capsules.
Adding echinacea into your cold-fighting arsenal can help boost your immune system and keep you healthy this winter. Give homemade echinacea tea a try the next time you're feeling a little under the weather! *
To your health,
* Note: These statements have not been approved by the FDA. This information is provided for informational/educational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice. If you are pregnant, nursing, or on medication, you should consult with a healthcare provider who is familiar with herbs before using echinacea.