Diaphoretic Herbs

Diaphoresis is a word that refers to sweating, great to use when sick for controlling a fever. These herbs fall into two categories, those that warm the body and those that cool it. For children who have uncontrolled fevers, cooling diaphoretics may be the best choice. Adults, who have a much harder time building a fever, generally should be focusing on warming diaphoretics.

Generally, both of these branches of diaphoretics alter the pores to release more sweat. Warming diaphoretics increase the circulation so more fluid is available to be transferred into the pores. Cooling diaphoretics relax the pores, opening them for more fluid release. Internally, diaphoretics also support movement of toxins out of the body. These toxins may come from injured joints, fluid retention, lung irritants, or other parts of the body. These are secondary actions of diaphoretics.


Peppermint is probably an herb you have used before, just as a nice tea. This herb is in the mint family which are best recognized by the square shaped stems. Peppermint is a cooling diaphoretic herb which also stimulates digestion and helps calm the body. In addition to use for colds and flues, peppermint is also often used to relieve gas and bloating.

1200px-picked_elderflowerElder Flower

I often talk about elderberries and their use for the immune system (and super tasty) but elder flowers can also be used for colds and flues. The flowers are a cooling diaphoretic and are used a bit differently than berries. The delicate flowers are best used in an infusion. In higher doses, they may increase bowel movements. To reduce this, combine them with peppermint.

Closeup of fresh sage leavesSage

Sage is also in the mint family but it is a warming diaphoretic herb. In addition to being a warming diaphoretic herb, it is also a digestive herb, relaxing herb, and astringent. One of the best actions of sage is that it is an antimicrobial herb. This is great for when you are sick with a cold or flu or for a variety of infections including worms.


Ginger is probably most thought of for digestion. With its circulatory stimulating properties it is also a warming diaphoretic. It can be helpful to use with nausea and a variety of bodily pains. Ginger’s diaphoretic properties are useful for colds and flues but the movement of toxins is more noticeable with ginger and its pain relieving actions.

If you are interested in using these and other herbs on a daily basis or for your cold and flu symptoms, please consult with a professional herbalist.

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