The Triumphant Elder: How to Stop a Cold or Flu Virus, Cold!

by Tim Keim, EYT500, Yoga Therapist

Viruses are stealthy, constantly mutating little devils that resist the best modern medical science to stop them. Just as soon as science thinks it has a way to stop a virus, the darn thing mutates to defeat its new opponent. Millions of dollars are spent on the quest to stop viruses without much to show for it. This is where plant antimicrobial science from our ancient ancestors comes in handy. 

I recently returned from travels to California. Immunity often flags when we travel. We’re out of our routines; self-care is a bit more challenging, and sleep patterns are interrupted by different time zones etc. All of the above beset me and I started to come down with a sore throat, precursor to many a terrible debilitating viral infection.  What to do?

In my Ayurvedic studies I’ve learned about antimicrobial plants like ginger, turmeric and oregano. So, I made a quick trip to the local health food store in San Diego and picked up these three potent antimicrobial remedies. Twice a day I took a teaspoon of dried turmeric, half teaspoon of dried ginger mixed into some juice and chugged it down with 3 small capsules of oregano oil. This dose of oregano oil contained a standardized dosage of 21 mg of carvacrol.

Within two days, the incipient sore throat faded, and I was left with only a slight cough and a bit of congestion. My energy remained high, and I lost no time enjoying myself with family and friends. 

So, how do plant antimicrobials out-perform the latest prescription and over-the-counter medications? These potent plants are mutating at the same rate as the microbes to protect themselves in nature. Plants, like us, are constantly under attack by these opportunistic bugs. They must quickly respond to manufacture the chemical weaponry to defeat this assault. 

Turmeric is trendy just now, and for good reason. It is a potent anti-inflammatory, increases bile production in a stagnant liver, and is indicated for pain relief, arthritis and as a complimentary way to attack cancer while undergoing conventional treatments.

Here’s a quote about ginger and its friend garlic that demonstrates what our ancestors knew a long time ago, “Natural spices of garlic and ginger possess effective anti-bacterial activity against multi-drug clinical pathogens and can be used for prevention of drug resistant microbial diseases and further evaluation is necessary.”  

Likewise, oregano is getting proper respect from researchers, “Essential oils of oregano are widely recognized for their antimicrobial activity, as well as their antiviral and antifungal properties. Nevertheless, recent investigations have demonstrated that these compounds are also potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and cancer suppressor agents.” 

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Using these and other herbs on a daily basis creates healthy terrain in the body that is hostile to microbial infection. Used regularly, culinary doses of these herbs keep the body clean and healthy.

These powerful plant allies are at your service!

Tim Keim is an IAYT certified yoga therapist, and has been teaching yoga for 15 years. Keim can be heard Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 91.5-FM, WUNC. He can be reached at