Dec 15, 2015 8:40:00 AM | achs Flu Shot or Herbal Teas? | achs.edu

Fall holistic health: flu shot or herbal tea? It’s up to you but my flu shot resides in my herbal teapot!

BY ACHS Founding President Dorene Petersen


Flu shot or herbal tea? It’s up to you, but for me, my flu shot resides in my herbal teapot!

You have probably noticed it yourself, more adverts for flu shots in both the daily newspapers and on TV. They arrive on my media radar screen as soon as the morning air starts get crisper and the days shorten, imparting urgency and almost a fear factor.

I personally have never had a flu shot and choose not to. In my opinion, I prefer to focus on daily doses of holistic wellness and prevention I can brew up in the kitchen. One of the first tools in my holistic wellness toolbox is to start preparing more herbal teas specifically to boost my immunity with tastes and aromas that conjure up cozy Fall evenings curled up by the fire reading a great book.

As I look at my list of botanical choices for tea a myriad of flavors entice me to concoct all sorts of new blends. Instead, I focus my attention on creating blends that can give me a tasty and satisfying immune boost, and I plan to drink at least three cups of the blend a day. I build my herbal tea blends from at least one or two roots, or rhizomes, a bark, and then add some leaf and lastly flowers, berries, or seeds. Flavor and aroma are equally as important as taste so keep that in mind as you blend. Start with small quantities (1 tsp to 1 tbsp), because that way if the result tastes really bad it is not a huge loss. Mind you even a bad-tasting tea can be ground into a fine powder in your blender and encapsulated with the help of a super quick handy capsule machine, so never throw out any blend!

One note: I always seek out certified organic, but some of these herbs you can sustainably wildcraft and dry for later use. Keep your list and as the seasons change, note where these wild plants are, and make a note in your journal or diary to harvest them at that time next year.

Here are some of my favorite immune herbs for Fall teas. Start blending and drinking herbal tea now.


  • Astragalus Astragalus membranaceus
  • Ashwagandha Withania somnifera
  • Dandelion Taraxacum officinale
  • Echinacea Echinacea angustifolia
  • Yellow dock Rumex crispus
  • Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra
  • Ginger Zingiber officinale
  • Marshmallow Althaea officinalis


  • White willow Salix alba
  • Wild Cherry Prunus serotina


  • Chickweed Stellaria media
  • Lemonbalm Melissa officinalis
  • Mullein (flowers and leaves) Verbascum thapsus
  • Peppermint Mentha piperita
  • Plantain Plantago major
  • Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Sage Salvia officinalis
  • Spearmint Mentha spicata
  • Thyme Thymus vulgaris
  • Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Flowers, Berries, and Seeds

  • Calendula Calendula officinalis
  • Chamomile Matricaria recutita
  • Elder (flowers and berries) Sambucus canadensis
  • Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Herbal teas are a great way to start your home herbal apothecary. There are no definite rules for blending herbs in a tea mixture. I think a pleasant taste and aroma are major priorities. Holistic health includes our daily physical, emotional, and spiritual health, and let's face it--when it tastes nasty, you might drink it once but not twice! Aromatic herbs such as peppermint, fennel, mint, ginger, lemon balm, and lemon verbena will all enhance the flavor of a bland tea such as oatstraw or a strong-tasting tea such as thyme.

Remember, quantities matter. So just like cooking a recipe might call for three cups of sugar but only 1 tsp of salt, same with herbs. If you are not familiar with the herb, nibble it, crush it to release the aroma, and smell it. If it smells and tastes great to you add more, but if it is strong and overpowering add much less. You can also add honey or sugar and lemon. You may also want to consider making your tea a pretty color. Try a pinch or turmeric or saffron. Both give a wonderful golden hue and added medicinal support. 

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Editors Note: This blog post was originally published in October 2012 and has been updated for accuracy. (September 2018)

If you are choosing a tea to correct a particular issue rather than everyday wellness, choose an herb for the primary action; then you can add a secondary herb to assist the action of the main herb. For example, say despite all your daily wellness protocols you have come down with a cough, headache, and high temp. An soothing tea would be:

  • Marshmallow: for the cough and irritation (expectorant and demulcent); with
  • Yarrow: for the fever and cough (diaphoretic and expectorant); and
  • Peppermint: to improve the flavor of the mixture. The antispasmodic action would assist the cough.

Of course you can also add organic essential oils to improve your blend, but that is the subject for another blog.

Share with us what immune herbal teas you have brewed up and post a comment!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the Founding President of American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine. 


Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Written By: Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Dorene is the Founding President of the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS). She has over 45 years of clinical teaching and lecturing experience in aromatherapy and other holistic health subjects. She has presented papers on essential oils and clinical aromatherapy at the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades Annual Conference (IFEAT) in California, USA; the Aroma Environment Association of Japan (AEAJ) in Tokyo, Japan; the Asian Aroma Ingredients Congress (AAIC) and Expo in Bali, Indonesia; the International Center of Advanced Aromatherapy (ICAA) at the WonGwang Digital University in Seoul, Korea; as well as the AAIC Expo in Kunming, Yunnan, China. Dorene is a founding member of the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) and served as its chair until 2023. Dorene is also involved in the distance education community and has served as a volunteer, committee member, and standards evaluator for the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Dorene is a travel junkie, and has led ACHS Study Abroad programs to India, Indonesia, Greece, and Hawaii!