My favorite herbal tea for the cold and flu season is a combination of dried elderberries and rose hips.
I gather the hips from the wild dog rose that line the pasture fences or collect them high in the mountains while hiking in the fall. Rose hips can also be purchased in Health Food Stores. The fully ripe elderberries are collected in late summer. I have a long row of bushes at the farm, but I have to be quick to harvest them before the birds eat them all. They are dried and put away until winter.
As soon as the symptoms of the cold and flu are felt a large cup of tea with honey will usually stop it in it's tracks. Works for us anyway.
ROSE HIP AND ELDERBERRY TEA
1/2 cup rose hips
1/2 cup elderberries
2 cups water
Bring the water to a boil. Add hips and berries. This tea needs to simmer at a low boil for 15 to 20 mins. to extract the healing proprieties from the berries. Strain and add a large teaspoon of honey.
I reuse the hips and berries to make another cup or two of tea. Drink 2 cups a day.
We also make a tea of HOREHOUND for a cold with congestion. It grows as a weed here on the farm, but I have a large bush in the greenhouse in case we need it for a cold during the winter. STEEP 2 tsp dried or 3 TBS fresh in 1 cup of boiled water for 10 minutes. Add honey, this tea is quite bitter. Sip sparlingly throughout the day. Large quanities of the herb act as a laxative.
Cough drops can also be made from the horehound.
Here is a recipe for horehound cough drops. I haven't tried it, I buy my winters supply of drops from my local feed store.
OLD FASHIONED HOREHOUND CANDY
2-3 cups fresh horehound--use the leaves, stems and flowers----- or use 1 cup dried herb
1 quart water
3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice
In a large sauce pan bring the herbs and water to a boil. Steep for 15 minutes. Strain through a cheese cloth and put 2 cups of the tea back into the sauce pan. Add the sugar, corn syrup and cream of tartar. Cook on a slow boil until 240 degrees and add the butter. Continue cooking until the hard crack stage 300 degrees. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Pour into an 8x8 greased pan and score when slightly cooled.
MULLEIN is valued here on the farm. It is one of my favorite herbs. Use the tiny yellow flowers, picked fresh and steeped in olive oil for ear aches. The leaves are made into a tea for coughs and congestion. The large soft leaves are good to place in baby diapers to help prevent diaper rash. A sister of mine jokingly said to me, " I bet you even grow something at your farm to use as toilet paper." I smiled and replied " YEP!"
MULLEN is a biannual and will self seed easily. The large stalk is sent up in it's second year. In the upper right of this photo you can see just the leaves of the mullein. This plant is in it's first year. Look closely and you can see the tiny yellow flowers on the tall staff of the mullein in the fore ground. We just let mullein grow where ever it wants. It doesn't need much water, but they tend to gravitate to the edges of the outside of the greenhouses. I also let one or two grow in the greenhouse to allow for longer harvest of the plant.