Sixteenth-century author and historian Thomas Fuller said of disease, “He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest, but he that prevents it is the safest physician.”

How often do you visit your primary medical doctor to prevent a cold, flu or disease? That’s a rare day.

Fortunately, Mother Nature has covered our beautiful blue orb with medicinal plants of untold varieties that might be used as preventatives to stave off any number of ills.

More specifically, the encroaching cold and flu season is almost here; therefore it’s a good time to stock your cupboards with medicinals that can actually help prevent catching a bug this year. Several potent herbs take the lead in winning the race against contracting colds or flu.

Elderberry, Sambucus Nigra, is a centuries-old folk remedy used in North America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

In 1995, the juice of the elderberry was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama.

Not only is elderberry a powerful immune booster, it can also improve vision, heart hearth, contribute toward healthy cholesterol levels as well as help prevent and treat bacterial and viral infections.

Potent bioflavonoids and antioxidants have been shown to halt infections from entering cells. Too, those who’ve already contracted a cold or flu were shown to experience much less severe symptoms as well as recuperating faster.

Astragalus root is another highly potent immune system builder to add to your natural medicine chest. With a very long, thousands-of-years-old history in traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus benefits inflammation (the most common cause of diseases), boosts the immune system, prevents or slows tumor growth, treats diabetes and protects and strengthens the cardiovascular system.

Echinacea angustifolia, also known as purple coneflower, ranks high in keeping colds and flu at bay. There is disagreement among herbalists as to which species of echinacea is the best for warding off the common cold and other viruses.

The jury is still out. They all have phyto-chemical properties and combat colds, sinus, ear and other infections including yeast infections. Echinacea works best when taken at the very first sign of any infection.

Benjamin Franklin spoke these wise words, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

To keep a natural, preventative medicine cabinet stocked with several key herbs can potentially ease the sickly effects of contracting a cold or flu this season.

Head on down to your local natural supplement store and enlist the friendly help of its staff to help you choose those preventative herbs that are right for you.

Regina K. Cannella writes about various health issues from her home in Charleston. This article is provided in collaboration with Health Smart in Bluffton. gina@health