Here is a list of the herbs we use, that work well for respiratory infections, both as anti-virals and anti-biotics, and to soothe the airways and expel mucous.
Pau d’arco Bark. I only use it for serious or tough to heal infections, but it is a very effective anti-biotic and anti-viral herb. It is also anti-fungal so it helps prevent intestinal flora imbalance that usually results from taking anti-biotics. It is a bark so should be prepared as a decoction, which is simply putting a couple tsps in a cup of water in a pot, bringing it to a boil and then simmering it on a lower temperature for about 15 minutes. I once had strep throat and the infection was not going away. After about a weak I decided to try the pau d’arco. After the first cup the white spots and pain diminished and within a couple days I was completely better.
Astragalus Root strengthens the immune system. Use as a decoction.
Wild Cherry Bark will stop a persistent cough while at the same time act as an expectorant, so it is a good combination. This would best be prepared as a decoction.
Garlic is specific for lung infections as the volitile oil is largely excreted via the lungs. Large amounts can cause nausea and raw is especially hard on the digestive system. But if you cut it up and leave it exposed to the air, you can cook it, say on some garlic toast, and it will retain its beneficial properties but be easier to digest.
Elder flower and Elder Berries are great for upper respiratory infections of both viral and bacterial types. The flowers can be made into a tea but the berries work best as a decoction.
Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, relaxing and anti-microbial and hydrating. It is really great for allergies too as it can calm symptoms of anaphylactic shock. Use as a tea. Teas are made by steeping about 2 tsp of the dried herb in 8 oz of water and steeping for 10-15 minutes.
Mullein Flower is an expectorant, demulcent (soothing), anti-inflammatory and excellent for a hard cough with soreness. Use as a tea. The leaves can also be used.
Plantain Leaf is expectorant, demulcent, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory. I like to mix mullein and plantain together. This combination is so wonderful for all the aches and pains associated with flues, coughs, infections, etc. I sometimes add supportive herbs but these two always take center stage in the mix. Use as a tea.
Nettle Leaf is a nutritive herb and it is very effective at strengthening the lungs, which can be weakened by infections. Restrengthening the lungs is very important because not doing so can make you more susceptible to infections in the future.
There are many other herbs that are anti-viral and antibiotic. Some of these include lemongrass and lemon balm. They taste wonderful too. Nutritive herbs are useful as well and I like to use rosehips, hibiscus, lemon peel, orange peel, roses, and chickweed in my tea mixes. Amla berry is loaded with vitamin C and can be added to your decoctions. Some people really enjoy peppermint.
My current tea mix includes plantain, mullein, roses, chamomile, chickweed, lemongrass, rosehips, hibiscus, nettles, lemon balm, elderflower and lemon peel. It tastes nice with some honey and helps keep everything draining well, which encourages healing, and is soothing, pain relieving, and anti-viral and antibacterial.
My current decoction mix I am making for my son has pau d-arco bark, amla berries, rosehips, elder berries and astragalus root.
Teas or tinctures made from these herbs can be drunk 3 x a day or diluted and drunk more often.
Lymphatic drainage massage is wonderful to use along with these herbs, plenty of fluids and lots of rest. Here is the link for some good lymphatic massage videos http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDEF532905455E4CD&feature=plcp
Avoid sugar and processed foods during sickness and when there are many illnesses going around. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and include some healthy fats in the diet such as organic butter, olive oil, coconut oil and cod liver oil. As you said, high vitamin A foods are very important. Organic grass fed beef is useful as well as yellow fruits and vegetables that you eat with some fat like butter. The fat converts beta-carotene into vitamin A.
When sick it is a good idea to eat only easy to digest foods. Avoid dairy if you can, as this can make the lymph system sluggish. Keep warm. Do footsoaks or baths with epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes, or you can dissolve some in water (equal grams of flakes to equal ml of water) and massage into the body. This helps the body fight off the infection, stimulates the lymph system, and eases aches and pains. It helps rebuild the body’s mineral stores which usually becomes depleted during sickness.
It is a good idea to take strong probiotics during illness, or eat probiotic foods like saurkraut.
A good way to clear the lungs is to take a deep breath in through the nose and hold this air in your lungs for a few seconds and then cough. This should be done several times a day.
The key with all of these things is consistency.
I am thankful that God made all these plants for our blessing. And ultimately it is God who heals us.