Winter is coming and Naturopaths and Medical Herbalists are preparing for the onset of cooler temperatures and subsequent increase in clients who are suffering from ills and chills.

Whether viral or bacterial, those whose immune systems become overpowered during this time can be left with unfavorable symptoms of nasal congestion, sneezing, sore throat, cough, headache, fever, aching joints, and fatigue. Most often, these symptoms are a result of upper respiratory tract infection, affecting the nose, sinus, pharynx and/or larynx. Lower respiratory tract infections are more developed and move deeper into the chest to affect the lungs and bronchi. 

In order to assist an individual's recovery back to health, a naturopath or medical herbalist will consider several factors before formulating a plan. Firstly, what are the symptoms? What can the symptoms tell us about the underlying cause? Is the individual generally in good health or is this another event following a string of illnesses? The answer to these questions will lead to a strategy for treatment and in an acute case may look towards treating any immediate symptoms, strengthening immunity, speeding recovery time and reducing or eliminating the presence of pathogenic microbes. In chronic or recurrent infections, supporting adrenal function and gut microflora are also important treatment considerations. 

Below is an insight into some commonly prescribed herbal medicines used by Naturopaths to help combat the common cold and support recovery from upper respiratory tract infection. The medicinal herbs here are categorized by their therapeutic action (listed in bold), as a Naturopath or Herbalist will often compile a list of health actions required or objectives based on what an individual specifically needs (hence all the questions!).

Immune enhancing - A substance that enhances immune function.

Herbs with immune-enhancing properties include andrographis, astragalus, cats claw, echinacea root, neem leaf, pau d’arco, pelargonium and poke root. 

Lymphatic – a substance that assists detoxification by its effect on lymphatic tissue, often also improving immune function. 

Herbs with lymphatic properties include calendula, echinacea and poke root. 

Antimicrobial (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic) - A substance that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms. 

Herbs with antimicrobial properties include manuka, calendula, goldenseal, barberry, myrrh, neem leaf, rosemary, sage, elderberry, thyme, turmeric, and yarrow. 

Demulcent/Emollient - A substance that has a soothing and protective effect on irritated mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tracts.

Herbs with demulcent properties include licorice, marshmallow, and mullein.

Anticatarrhal – A substance that reduces the formation of pathogenic phlegm or mucous. 

Herbs with anticatarrhal properties include elderflower, eyebright, goldenrod, goldenseal, and mullein. 

Expectorant - A substance that promotes the clearance of excess mucous from the lungs and air passages.

Herbs with expectorant properties include kumerahou, pelargonium, elecampane, licorice, mullein, pleurisy root, thyme, and white horehound. 

Anti-tussive - A substance that reduces the amount or severity of coughing.

Herbs with anti-tussive properties include bupleurum, licorice, and wild cherry. 

Diaphoretic - A substance that increases perspiration through the skin, often used to reduce temperature in fevers. 

Herbs with diaphoretic properties include bupleurum, elderflower, elecampane, ginger, pleurisy root, and yarrow. 

Our qualified and knowledgeable Huckleberry Naturopaths are available to help support the health of you and your family this winter and all year round. Call-in for a free 15 min consultation. 


-Article by Naturopath Kate Dalliessi


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Fisher, C. (2018). Materia Medica of Western herbs. London: Aeon Books.

Sarris, J., & Wardle, J. (2014). Clinical naturopathy: an evidence-based guide to practice. Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier Australia.