The natural world never ceases to amaze me in its ability to restore health and keep us fighting fit and free from illness. Too often these days the first thing we reach for when colds or flu strike is paracetamol, conveniently packaged up as ‘Lem sip’ or ‘Codral cold and flu’. ‘Soldier on’ is the catch cry as we struggle to carry on with our work whilst only serving to infect others in the office. With winter looming in the northern hemisphere, it’s time that we be prepared and take a different approach.

Step forward the common kitchen herbal cabinet. In there may lie all that one needs for self-care when a cold or flu strikes, or even better still, to prevent illness and infection from creeping their way in under our immune system radar screen. Let’s take a look at a few of these hidden herbal gems.

1. Oregano.

The extract of Oregano essential oil is a potent anti-bacterial, anti viral and anti-fungal agent. It’s also wonderful for digestion, especially for clearing yeast and other parasites from the intestines. When I’m feeling a cold coming on, I’m also the first to reach for this remedy. I recommend ADP by Biotics Research, or even taking it in a tonic form. Oregano oil is extremely strong, so short, sharp doses are recommended, and never on an empty stomach, as I recently experienced to my discomfort! Its Latin name, “Origanum Vulgaris” says it all.

2. Rosemary.

Move over lamb roast, the essential oil of rosemary is also a potent anti bacterial, and viral agent. Pick a common twig growing in the garden and gently squeeze the leaves, perhaps even nibbling it a bit as you soon taste and smell the familiar rosemary coming through. Perhaps even make a nice tea by dropping a few twigs into a cup of boiling water. Studies have shown rosemary essential oils used in aromatherapy helped reduce cortisol levels (hence great for stress) as well as increasing anti-oxidant activity. All good stuff. ?


3. Thyme.

The use of thyme oil has a long list of medicinal benefits, including bringing diuretic, cardiac and hormonal benefits. However thyme essential oil has well-known antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties, too. Similar to oregano oil, its Latin name, “Thymus Vulgaris” tells much about its strong bitter taste, but also its amazing therapeutic properties.

4. Olive leaf.

Olive leaf extract in my view is the king of  all herbal remedies. Who would’ve thought that the common olive tree with its delightful, salty fruits would also produce in its leaves  a powerful anti-viral, anti bacterial agent owing to its high levels of oleuropein. Olive leaf extract is definitely one remedy we should have in the medicinal cabinet, or even in the fridge. I recommend Comvita for their range of olive leaf extract products, including ones that are peppermint flavoured to help soften the bitter taste.

5. Sage.

Out of all the essential oils, I was most surprised to learn that sage oil had powerful therapeutic properties. It is regarded as a strong anti microbial agent, so much so that it has been shown to be effective (together with other essential oils mentioned here) against antibiotic resistant strains of E. Coli. So, that butter and sage ravioli will never look and taste the same again. ?

The use of herbal remedies is well-known for their healing properties, but some are much closer to our ordinary lives than we would realise. Better still, because of the multiple, complex properties of these essential oils, they don’t have the same problems with resistance that today’s single property antibiotics are now facing. It just goes to show that much of the solutions to current health issues are staring us in the face, we just need to open our eyes to see them.

Thanks to the team at Living Medicine at Fulham Palace education for your very informative and interesting recent workshop ‘Self Care for coughs, colds and allergies’ workshop, and inspiration for this post!

For specific nutritional advice relating to the use of herbal remedies for common health complaints, I can recommend Lisa Blair at the Food Doctor, who introduced me especially to Oregano oil and its powerful healing effects.



To learn more about how yoga & meditation can transform your busy personal and professional life, please get in touch with me or email me at Scott@yogibanker.com