This guest post by Carol B and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
Here are several suggestions for NATURAL treatments of cough, cold, respiratory problems, etc. Most of these herbs are available in bulk (you don’t need a 10-year supply just to try them!) from your local whole foods grocery store. They usually will also carry bottles (glass is best) of locally-produced, raw honey – indispensable for sweetener and for boosting your natural immunities in YOUR neck of the woods.
You can also buy ready-made teas for specific purposes at the same whole foods grocery, but they are VERY EXPENSIVE, IMHO.
Elderberry syrup will be available in the “cereals/syrup section”, so you may have to “look around” a bit to find just what you want; they are usually very helpful folks, if you ask, as well. But, this one is tasty! I’ll bet even the kids will like it!
DO NOT use VapoRub on chests; this is a petroleum-based product. I don’t care if Grandma did use it; petroleum has never been intended for human consumption; your skin is an organ. Everything you put ON your skin absorbs INTO your skin, then your blood stream, then gets run through your vital organs. Not good. Look up a natural recipe for such a “rub”, or, just go to the “Frugally Sustainable” website; I know she posted such a recipe; just use the search box for “natural chest rub”, or, something like that.
Got any horehound? Remember old-timey horehound candy? Yuck! Grandma loved it. It’s good for cough, if you can handle the taste. This herb can be added to any tea.
Cough (inflammation of the respiratory tract):
1. Productive coughs bring up mucus; non-productive coughs – do not (that’s simple enough).
2. If you have a persistent cough that will not “go away”, your body is sending a message, “help!”. It could be anything from “Stop Smoking” to “sinus infection alert”.
3. Try home remedies for a few days; if it does not clear up after a few days, consult our doctor.
Tea # 1: Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara). Warning: a study was conducted in a brief period, ONE study, in which lab mice were fed INORDINATE AMOUNTS of coltsfoot, in order to determine any negative side effects. There were several. Because of this poorly conducted, unscientific study, the amounts of coltsfoot fed (and nothing else!) per body weight, there is a tendency to find remarks such as, “coltsfoot is not safe” – most of those comments are based on this skewed study, which, by the way, was funded by the U.S. gubment. Go figure. Unless you are a consuming HUGE amounts of coltsfoot over a very long period of time, it has no known side effects. As in everything, however, different people will respond to every medicine, herb, food, etc., in different ways. You know you’re own body. You be the judge.
Coltsfoot has been used as a cough remedy since ancient times. It’s generic name, “Tussilago”, comes from the Latin word for “cough’. Coltsfoot, like several other herbs, contains chemicals calle dpyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). At high doses, these chemicals can damage the liver, and long-term use can CONCEIVABLY lead to liver cancer. As a result, some herbalists have gone on record as saying that herbs like coltsfoot that contain PAs should never be ingested.
Commission E, the body of experts that advises the German government about herb safety and effectiveness, endorses using up to three (3) teaspoons of coltsfoot a day to make a tea to treat cough. At that dose, you won’t consume more than 10 milligrams of PAs, a level deemed safe for short-term and occasional use as a cough treatment.
Coltsfoot is very soothing to the throat, reducing the urge to cough.
DO NOT use this herb if taking a lot of medications, as you will “overload” your liver in trying to process all these medications/herbs together. DO NOT use coltsfoot if you have a history of liver disease or alcohol abuse.
ELDERBERRY (one of the best!) (Sambucus nigra): Israeli scientists have proven the efficacy of elderberry for treating colds, cough, and fever. A drug made of elderberry has also been proven (also by Israeli scientists) as effective treatment in recovering from flu. Purchase elderberry tincture, apply either by drinking in something or a few drops (2-3) under the tongue, several times a day, or, make a tea – use locally-produced, raw honey for sweetener, to help boost your immunities and healing power. Drink elderberry juice, put it in water or other drinks if too strong for you. You can buy it in most of these forms at any whole foods grocery.
GINGER (Zingiber officinale) – if you never tasted FRESH-sliced ginger from the actual ginger root, then you’ve never really tasted ginger. The powder in a can from the “spice” section just is not the same. Several chemicals in ginger (gingerols and shogaols) have been proven as high effective treatments for cough-suppressing, pain-relieving, and fever-reducing. Add it to tea, suck on it freshly sliced (it’s good like this!), or use ground ginger in herbals, teas, tinctures. The fastest way to use it, though, is the freshly-sliced ginger root, grated and eaten, if possible; or at least suck on it and get the “good” out!
LEMON: (Citrus Limon) Cough Formula: Steep 2 teaspoons organic lemon rinds, 1 teaspoon of sage (dry leaf), and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme (dry leaf) in boiling water 15 minutes. Then add the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 tablespoon locally-produced, raw (unfiltered) honeyi. Drink 2 or 3 times a day. It won’t hurt to consume the entire contents, and will actually be beneficial. If you can’t do that, however, bind your herbs in cheesecloth, double-layered, tie up (rubber bands work just fine!), and remove this packet before adding honey.
Organic lemons (or, any citrus) are best as it is nearly impossible to wash away chemicals from the rinds of fruit.
LICORICE: (Glycyrrhiza glabra). I personally don’t care for the taste of licorice, but, it’s a wonderful medicinal, so, if I have to, I suck it up! Licorice soothes mucus membranes, and has a long history of use for coughs and asthma. Try licorice tea, made with 1 teaspoon (tsp.) dried root per cup of boiling water, or add licorice root to other herbal cough formulas. Do not consume more than 3 cups per day, as long-term use or ingestion of larger amounts can produce headache, lethargy, sodium and water retention, excessive loss of potassium, and high blood pressure.
SLIPPERY ELM (Ulmus rubra): The FDA has declared slippery elm a safe, effective cough soother (as if we really needed them to tell us, but, anyway….) The bark contains large quantities of a mucilage that acts as an effective throat soother and cough suppressant. You can buy commercially prepared throat lozenges containing slippery elm, or you can use the dried herbs to make a tea.
ANISE (Pimpinella anisum): Commission E endorses aniseed as an expectorant for removing plegm in the respiratory tract and as a cough suppressant. You could try a tea made with one to two teaspoons of crushed aniseed per cup of boiling water. Steep 10-15 minutes, then strain. Suggested dose: one cup, morning and evening.
WARNING: if you have any intestinal or digestive disorder, such as diverticulitis (one example) DO NOT CONSUME ANY SEED, especially small seeds. You know why.
BURNET-SAXIFRAGE (Pimpinella major) – 3 to 6 tsps. for ailments of the upper respiratory tract from the plant root; it has properties of an expectorant and cough suppressant; widely used to treat bronchitis, hoarseness, and sore throat.
MARSH MALLOW (Althaea officinalis): Marsh Mallow’s soothing roots and extracts also contain mucilage, useful for relieving cough and sore throat. Used for treating irritation of the mucous membranes of the throat and any associated dry cough. Make a tea with 2 tsps. of dried herbs per cup of boiling water; sweeten with locally-produced, raw (unfiltered) honey, as always.
MULLEIN: I’ve sen you this alreadyS!
PRIMROSE (Primula veris) 1 to 2 tsps. dried primrose flowers to make a cup of tea for relieving coughs. This IS NOT “Evening Primrose” (Oenothera biennis).
STINGING NETTLE (Urtica dioica) – this herb has so many uses, it really should be at the top of the list for your herbal cabinet, anyway! Tea made from this herbal is an old standby for coughs. Has a long history of use for colds, whooping cough (pertussis), and tuberculosis. Make a tea from the leaves, and the usual local raw honey to sweeten. I have encountered only one person who has a reported an “allergic reaction” to stinging nettle, but it is possible with any herb, like any drug, or any food.
Source: (Mostly) “The Green Pharmacy“, by James A. Duke, Ph.D.
Grace and Truth, John 1:14; 1:17; 2 John 1:3
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