I have echinacea extract brewing. One batch usually lasts me about 2 years but it is time to make a new batch. At the first sign of something coming on, we turn to echinacea. It is also a main supply in my herbal first aid kit. It is great for washing cuts and scrapes (it will sting, though).
I also have my a second batch of elderberry extract brewing. When you add half the volume of honey to make elderberry cordial, it goes down so well, that it doesn't last long. We take about a teaspoon three times a day for prevention and sip it more frequently if something sets in. Her is my recipe:
Make an extract of dried elderberries by filling a jar 1/3 with dried berries and fill the rest of the way with 40-50% alcohol (vodka, scotch, etc.) Heather Nic An Fhleisdeir says to use scotch, the cheaper the better. Let the jar sit for 4-6 weeks, shaking periodically. After 4-6 weeks, strain, add ½ the volume of honey.
If you are in a hurry (or concerned with the alcohol) here is a quick recipe for elderberry syrup:
Bring 1/2 cup of dried berries to boil in 3 cups water and simmer for 30 minutes. Mash the berries and strain. Add 1 cup of honey. Bottle, label and store in the refrigerator.
We also prepare for cold and flu season by adjusting what we eat and drink. This time of year, I cut back on dairy for my little ones. We still occasionally have fermented dairy such as kefir and yogurt but if there is any congestion, we stay away from it all. I really try to limit added sugar as well (I know holiday season makes this tough). One major change we made in the last year is to get rid of fruit juices or drink them very sparingly. We drink herbal teas instead. I did this gradually by cutting fruit juice with herbal tea and over time, I added more tea, less juice. Lately, with the busyness of life, I've been using herbal/fruit tea blends from the grocery store, but I plan to get out my recipe for Hi-C (vitamin C) Tea and start the kiddos on that again.
If you have any questions or topic suggestions, please leave me a comment.