Trail Cures for the Flu

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Flu sea­son is rag­ing through the U.S. like Mon­go­lian beef through a senior cit­i­zen. What many youth­ful adven­tur­ers don’t real­ize is that the flu can be extreme­ly dead­ly when not treat­ed cor­rect­ly. If you’re out on the trail, con­tract­ing the flu is extreme­ly dan­ger­ous. While the best thing you can do is drink plen­ty of water and rest, you might want to con­sid­er pick­ing up a few pre­scrip­tions from nature’s phar­ma­cy to treat the most press­ing of your sys­tems. For each of the below herbal reme­dies, tea is prob­a­bly the most effec­tive medi­um of appli­ca­tion, except when oth­er­wise noted.

1Fever – Yarrow
The most dan­ger­ous and most clas­sic flu symp­tom is a fever, usu­al­ly of more than 100 F. Yarrow is a diaphoret­ic, which is a fan­cy way of say­ing it makes you sweat a lot. Use the entire plant to help fight your fever in two ways: it cools your body down with increased per­spi­ra­tion and it encour­ages the virus to pass through your body faster. With con­sump­tion of any­thing that makes you sweat more, make sure you are drink­ing lots and lots of water.

Cough — Angelica
Angel­i­ca is an expec­to­rant, which means it helps clear mucus out of your lungs and air­ways, one of the prin­ci­ple caus­es of that nag­ging cough that accom­pa­nies the flu. For Angel­i­ca, use the roots of the plant, rather than the stalks or the leaves, when mak­ing tea.

Sore Throat – Ore­gon Grape root (also, black­ber­ry and rasp­ber­ry leaves)
Ore­gon Grape root is com­mon­ly used to treat sore throats because it acts to reduce both inflam­ma­tion and irri­ta­tion. For West coast­ers, Ore­gon Grape root is easy to find. For every­one else, black­ber­ry and rasp­ber­ry leaves are an excel­lent sub­sti­tu­tion and pro­vide sim­i­lar heal­ing effects.

Run­ny Nose – Nettles
There are dozens of vari­eties of net­tles in the Unit­ed States, but most back­pack­ers are most famil­iar with the sting­ing vari­ety. Luck­i­ly all vari­eties are use­ful for treat­ing a run­ny nose because they act as an anti­his­t­a­mine. Avoid using the leaves of sting­ing net­tles, because the indi­vid­ual stingers can eas­i­ly get lost in your tea and con­sumed, which can have very neg­a­tive effects on the sta­tus of your sore throat.

2Headache – Laven­der and Rose­mary (aro­mather­a­py and tea)
Laven­der and rose­mary grow like weeds in much of the U.S., which is good news for headache-weary back­pack­ers. These two herbs can be used in one of two ways: as a deli­cious herbal tea or as aro­mather­a­py. Grind­ing the herbs up with a lit­tle water or sun­block will cre­ate a poul­tice you can apply to your skin. The smell will help relieve headache symp­toms more aggres­sive­ly than you would think. Con­se­quent­ly, it will prob­a­bly be the best you’ll smell on the entire trip.