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The Afternoon Show
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Herbs for colds and sore throats

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Who is the guest?

Ciara O'Meara is a practicing Medical Herbalist. Ciara completed an honors Science degree in University College Dublin in 1997 followed by an MSc in Medical Genetics at Aberdeen University. She spent a number of years working in the field of academic research in areas such as The Human Genome Project at Oxford University, UK, and on Cancer research at Cancer Research UK.

It was during this time that she took up a yoga practice and further cultivated an interest in natural medicine. She also completed a four year honours degree at Westminster University in London.

This University has a long established centre for excellence in the training of medical herbalists. Its facilities encompass a central London clinic for herbal medicine where members of the public can avail of treatment. At Westminster, Ciara completed 500 hours of clinical training as part of her degree, treating members of the public from young to old with a range of illnesses.


Elderberries & Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries are rich in the immune boosting Vitamin C and has anti viral properties effective against colds, sore throats and flu.

It works by inhibiting viruses from entering the cells in the body. Trials have shown that it can help speed up recovery from cold and flu.

It is suitable for children and an invaluable store cupboard remedy for the winter months, best of all its practically free!

The hedgerows are currently awash with elderberries so get out there and start picking!

What do we need for this remedy?

. Fresh Elderberries , Cloves , Fresh Ginger stem, Sugar

1. Place clean washed and destalked Elderberries in a pan bring to the boil and simmer on very low heat for 25 mins, until the juice comes out of the elderberries

2. Strain through a fine sieve or muslin cloth, measure the resulting liquid.

3. Measure the resulting liquid and return to the pan with 4oog/1lb sugar for each 1/2litre/1pint of juice. If you cannot have sugar equal parts glycerine can also be used.

4. Add 12 cloves and an inch sliced fresh ginger root for each ½ liter/pint juice.

5. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

6. Bring to the boil for 5 minutes.

7. Strain and bottle and store in the fridge.

And what dosage should one take?

. Take a tablespoon in a mug of boiling water every 2 hours for 8 doses then 3 x days until better.

. Preventative take 5 ml daily for a child 10ml daily for an adult
What if you don't have any elderberries growing near you?

If you don't have any elderberries growing near you there is a very good shop product called Sambucol, which comes in children's, adult and also a sugar free versions

Soothing cold and flu teas

Elderflower, Yarrow and Peppermint tea

There's nothing like a warm drink when you are down with the flu and miserable


Yarrow is a pleasant tasting one which will actually help reduce the cold and flu symptoms.

Yarrow is a hot infusion of Yarrow flowers will also help to promote perspiration. It is also a mild digestive stimulant which can be useful in convalescence.

The benefits of Elderflower

Elderflower is useful for reducing catarrh (a mucus discharge) in the upper respiratory tract simultaneously helping to decongest.

In a tea it will help to increase circulation promoting sweating which facilitates the body in naturally breaking a fever.

It also helps eliminate toxins from the body. Useful with children as it also has a soothing quality on the nervous system.

This herb has a decongestant action as well as tasting very pleasant.

It contains menthol which is a volatile oil that also has antiseptic and anti-viral properties.

General immune boosting


Astragalus, also called Astragalus membranecous, Huang qi.
This is a Chinese herb with immune boosting and anti-viral properties.

Particular affinity for the lungs and upper respiratory tract, it can be used as a prophylactic for same. Not used to treat acute infection more for long term immune support.

The dosage for this is capsules, tincture or dried cut root, as directed

Sore throats

Propolis spray
This can be bought in a well stocked health store.
It has a very broad spectrum of actions. Equally effective especially for younger children are the Propolis lozenges.
Research had demonstrated the antibiotic, anti inflammatory, anti viral, anti fungal and antiseptic as well as other properties of propoils.

It works by stimulating the bodies own mechanism to fight off such invasions.

Home-made remedies for a sore throat.

Sage and Clove drink

Sage has valuable essential oils in its leaf which are antiseptic and soothing to a sore throat.

Cloves are also antiseptic but they also have anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions on the throat.

And how doe we make this?

1. Buy some fresh sage leaves and chop up very finely infuse in 100ml of boiling water for 15-20 mins keep covered while doing so .

2. Add either one drop of clove essential oil or approximately 5 -10 dried cloves to the mixture depending on tolerance. You can also add a teaspoon of honey at this stage if you like.

3. After 20 mins strain out the herb and gargle straight away. If using a drop of essential oil the mixture needs to be shaken vigorously before using.

VARIATION: If you are feeling brave you can add a pinch of mustard powder to this mix for extra heating and soothing of the throat.

Note: All the off the herbs mentioned by Ciara are scientifically proven. All three herbs together for the tea demonstration is a more traditional way to make tea for colds etc, but each of the herbs for tea have been proven individually, they have not been scientifically proven all three together