Although the most recent flu scare has passed, we realize there will always be newly-worrisome diseases to be aware of and prepared for. During this last scare, we did a great deal of research into herbal anti-virals and flu treatments, looking in particular at herbs used by the Eclectic and other natural physicians in the epidemic of 1918.
One very useful resource we found was the book: Herbs & Influenza: How Herbs Used in the 1918 Flu Pandemic Can Be Effective Today by Kathy Abascal. Like all great healers, the Eclectic physicians treated each patient as an individual, customizing the protocol to each person’s constitution, symptoms, and overall health. However, a few herbs stand out as basic to all their protocols. We’ve just finished working with one of these cornerstone herbs, and created our new Boneset Spagyric Essence.
This herb’s name sounds like it would be used for broken bones, but it is actually thought to be derived from its use for “break-bone fever”- a fever so bad that the bones and joints ache with intense pain. The Natives of America introduced this herb to the early settlers, recommending it to break fevers by causing heavy sweat.
Boneset is amazingly effective at both reducing fever this way, and also treating the other miseries that go along with the flu: aching joints and muscles, chest congestion, coughing, and the soreness that comes from it. Some research has also suggested that boneset may be directly antiviral and immune-boosting, but it is usually used in conjunction with stronger herbal anti-virals to get at the cause of the illness.
Our Elder Spagyric Essence combines well with boneset, and their effects compliment each other well. Elder flowers reduce fever in similar ways to boneset, and are also calming and relaxing to the mind and muscles, especially when coughing spasm is present. Elder berries have been proven to act directly against the influenza virus, inhibiting the enzyme that the virus uses to spread through the infected person’s cells. The duration of flu was cut by as much as 2/3 in some studies using Elderberry. Our Spagyric Essence of Elder is made from both flowers and berries, and we just completed a new batch.
Another herb used by the Eclectics in conjunction with Boneset was Black Cohosh, which is available as a Spagyric Essence. In modern times, this herb is known mainly as a hormonal tonic, but it was more widely used by Native Americans as a respiratory tonic and winter illness treatment. In flu, Black Cohosh acts much like aspirin, lowering fever and reducing pain and inflammation. It also has calming effects on the nerves and muscle spasms of coughing, helping the patient rest.
The final herb that formed the base for the 1918 flu treatment was Pleurisy Root. Like the other herbs, it reduces fever by promoting sweating, as well as reducing inflammation and easing cough. Pleurisy Root acts on the fluids of the body, especially when they have built up too much or become stagnant, as with lung congestion. This herb strengthen but calms the heart, increasing fluid circulation and lymph drainage and easing expectoration.