The flu season lasts from October to May in the United States but the vaccine is available a month in advance from September and it is offered till mid-November. This is useful for children and adults trying to build their immunity. Children up to the age of four, senior citizens, people with chronic health conditions and pregnant women all need to take the vaccine prior to the flu season.
This is not to say that you cannot take the vaccine later since people can still get vaccinated as late as January. However, not everyone needs to take the vaccination route and can rely on some home remedies to protect themselves against the flu, particularly the fever.
A recent article, published by DrAxe.com, highlights the benefits of consuming an herb during the flu season. It is called skullcap, which was popularly known as ‘mad dog’ in the nineteenth century because it was used to treat rabies in America. Today, there are more uses, particularly its ability to cure the flu among other health benefits.
Skullcap belongs to the mint family of plants. The medicinal plant produces two herbs: American skullcap and Chineese skullcap. Studies have shown that when skullcap is added to a mixture with other herbs, it could reduce fevers, one of the main symptoms of contracting the flu.
The Chinese medicinal herb is referred to as baikal skullcap and has a long history of more than 2,000 years in treating various ailments including fevers. For this reason, baikal skullcap was used as an ingredient in pharmaceutical combinations, going as far back as the second century AD in northwestern China.
The dried roots of the plant in China is called Huang Qin that treats a variety of conditions such as insomnia, blood pressure, hemorrhaging, respiratory infections and inflammation. In Asia, herbal medicines like Xiao Chai Hu Tang or Sho-saiko-to (SST) have Huang Qin as an ingredient. These medications are used to address fevers, gastrointestinal issues and liver disease.
Today, Huang Qin is commonly used to treat dysentery and diarrhea. Clinical trials have backed this medicinal benefit of baikal skullcap.
One study conducted by Korean Food Research Institute on food allergies also included monitoring of body temperature. The result said that the group taking the medication with the herbal ingredient had shown a reduction in temperature.
It can be consumed in the form of tea, crude root extract, tonics and capsules. The most convenient way is to place one teaspoon of dried American skullcap in a cup of boiling water to make the tea. It can also be bought off the shelves in stores as a tonic since it is sold with a combination of herbal ingredients to treat insomnia.