Herbal Tip of the Month – September 2009

I can’t turn my television onto any channel these days without hearing about the H1N1 virus pandemic (the so-called “swine flu”). A lot of people I know are all twitterpated about this and I gotta tell you, it’s getting on my nerves.

First, let’s define what a pandemic is. All that means is that people are getting sick from this particular strain over a wide geographic area, and it’s affecting more of the population than normal. It doesn’t mean that this strain is worse than the seasonal flu. As a matter of fact, it’s actually milder. The mortality rate is considerably lower than it is with the seasonal flu. What has the medical community all up in arms is that this strain is a new one from the regular seasonal flu and their usual vaccines don’t work against it.  (Although they’re working on a vaccine against this particular strain, it won’t be available until the flu season is in full swing.)

The other problem is that it’s coming smack dab in the middle of allergy season. Most people don’t know they have the flu rather than seasonal allergies until they have a fever. By then you’re already contagious. If you’ve never had seasonal allergies and you start sniffling, coughing and feeling a little achy, chances are you’ve contracted some form of the flu.

So, what should you do? To protect yourself, you should do the same things you should always do to protect yourself from the flu – H1N1 or not. Keep your immune system healthy, wash your hands frequently, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or a tissue rather than your hands, don’t touch your hands to your face, and for goodness’ sake, stay home from work or school if you’re sick.

One of the mistakes a lot of people make is using antibacterial cleaners all over their home, thinking it’s going to protect them from the flu. Folks, antibacterials only work on bacteria and the flu is a virus. You need to use antivirals. Some good antiviral herbs are:

Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Myrrh Commiphora molmol
Juniper Juniperus communis
German Chamomile Matricaria recutita
Peppermint Mentha x piperita

You can add these to your cleaning solutions, diffuse the essential oils throughout your home and/or office with an oil diffuser or oil warmer, or drink teas.

If you do start feeling like you’ve got the flu, the normal treatment for otherwise healthy people is to stay in bed until your fever breaks. (A low-grade fever is a good thing. It means your body is fighting the infection.) You can treat the symptoms like runny nose, coughs, fever, etc., as you normally would for a cold or the flu. You should start feeling better in a few days. 

If you are a member of the at-risk population (compromised immune system, young, elderly, chronic respiratory illness, etc.) or your symptoms worsen, then seeing your doctor for one of the anti-viral medications like Tamiflu or Relenza is a good thing to do.

I think the most important advice is not to panic. If you practice the preventive measures, chances are you’re not going to get it or if you do, it’ll be a very mild case. 


Slàinte maith, h-uile latha, na chi ‘snach fhaic!
(Good health, every day, whether I see you or not!)


  • Elizabeth Posted September 3, 2009 11:44 am

    All I can say, and for those that have died with swine flu, is I hope you do not get it as you appear to be suggesting this is not a serious condition.
    Tell that to the pour folks that have died with it.

    So you say you are into herbs, what medical field to do with swine flu is that again pray tell?

    wise up lady.. there is more to life than herbs

    • DJ Posted September 3, 2009 11:52 am

      If you were to do your research, you would find that indeed, the mortality (death) rate from complications from the swine flu is considerably lower than from complications from the seasonal flu. (It is estimated over 200,000 people are hospitalized in the US every year and 36,000 people die every year from the seasonal flu. As of August 27, 2009, only 8,800 have been hospitalized and 556 have died from the swine flu. http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/updates/us/#totalcases)

      I also have in no way suggested that it cannot become a serious condition – any more than the flu can become a serious condition. However, the majority of the cases are mild, just as the majority of the cases of seasonal flu are mild.

      And if you read the blog completely, you will notice that I recommend seeing your physician for a synthetic drug such as Tamiflu or Relenza if conditions warrant it.

  • Samantha Posted September 3, 2009 12:21 pm

    The husband was ranting about the use of antibacterials with regard to this just the other day … it’s the scientist in him, you know. I’m glad to learn that peppermint is once again useful … I’ve started drinking a cup of peppermint tea almost every night, for various reasons.

  • Livia Posted October 29, 2009 10:25 pm

    Keep up the good work.

  • Lauryn Posted November 2, 2009 9:15 am

    I liked your blog a lot.

  • Danica Posted November 17, 2009 7:58 pm

    Thanks alot for the great read.

  • Karlee Posted December 13, 2009 10:19 pm

    I wrote a similar blog about this subject but you did a better job 🙂

Comments are closed.