It is hard core cold and flu season again this year with so much inclement weather all over the country. Heck, down here in the “sunshine” state we were hit with 3 straight days of hard freeze, which may well be a record or, at least, close to it. I don’t think I recall such a streak in my own lifetime; I was freezing my tush off, if you know what I mean. And being bundled up in crowded rooms with the heater blowing dry air and dust all over the place, many of us come away with coughs, sneezes and sore throats. But the very worst thing that happens, especially to smokers and people with lung problems or asthma, is that the cough advances to bronchitis. And nothing makes life more miserable than bronchial inflammations. The painful truth is that, unless you have a bacterial infection that causes this condition, there is very little modern medicine can do for you. Cough syrups, mucus relief, expectorants, inhalers, all help to some degree but they can also have drug like effects and unpleasant chemicals. How many of you have spent most of the winter with “medicine head”? How fun is that? And how often have you taken some chemical laden cough syrup only to find that you are still coughing?
I will not claim that herbs will fix all of that or even make it go away completely but I can assert that they are just as effective as any over the counter thing you’re consuming and they are far less harmful. No “medicine head” or side effects. No nausea or diarrhea from dyes, syrups or additives. And even if the chosen herb only works for a short while, you can use it over and over again without fear of overdosing or falling asleep at the wheel. The herb recipes I have to help with bronchitis will not cure it, nothing will, but they will help just as much as any OTC combination and I guarantee they are safe. In fact, many of the herbs have other good effects, such as lowering blood pressure, settling the stomach or acting as a gentle diuretic, all of which can be welcome when we’re sick. And then there’s always the bonus of making it yourself, controlling the dosage and the type of ingredients. If you’re a forager, or have skills at growing or identifying weeds, then you’re really gonna save some money, too! How green can you get? So are you ready to try a homemade mix? I’ve got some easy recipes you can work up today.
PLEASE NOTE: NEVER USE ALUMINUM POTS, PANS, BOWLS OR UTENSILS WHEN PREPARING MEDICINES
1 tsp fresh or dried Coltsfoot
1 cup Water
Bring water to a boil in a teapot or saucepan over medium heat. Add in Coltsfoot. Allow to boil for 1 minute and remove from heat. Cover and allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain through a sieve or coffee filter, being sure to remove all of the Coltsfoot hairs from the water. Strain several times if necessary to be sure. Drink warm or cold up to 3 times a day. An average dose is a small cupful (4-6 oz) at a time.
1 tsp shredded Elecampane Root
1 cup Water
Place Root in a cup or bowl. Pour cold water over the Root and cover. Allow the Root to infuse in the cold water for 9 hours. After 9 hours, strain out the shredded Root. When ready to drink, pour tea into a mug or cup and microwave until hot. Drink quickly. Standard dose: 4 oz, 3 times a day. Drink HOT.
1 tsp dried Coltsfoot Leaves
1 tsp dried, ground Ivy Leaves
1 tbsp dried Marshmallow Root
2 cups Water
Bruise the Marshmallow Root and soak in the water for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight. Heat and bring to a boil. Put the remaining leaves in another pot and pour the boiling water and Root over them. Cover the mixture and allow to infuse for at least 15 minutes. Strain carefully through a fine sieve or cloth and be sure to catch the fine hairs from the Coltsfoot leaves. Strain again if necessary. Drink one “wineglass” full at a time. You may drink this dose up to 3 times daily.
SUNFLOWER AND HONEY DECOCTION
1 oz Sunflower Seeds
2-1/2 cups of Water
Boil water in a saucepan or teapot over medium/high heat. Add in seeds. Allow to boil for 5 minutes and then remove from heat and cover. Allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain out seeds. Add enough Honey to thicken the drink a little and make it go down the throat more slowly. (Suggested amount: 2 tbsp.) Drink all of it immediately and do not store. Make fresh as needed.
NOTE: This recipe makes one standard dose.
THYME AND ROSEMARY STEAMER
Commercial Steamer, Steam Room or an old-fashioned pot of Boiling Water
Fresh Thyme Leaves
Fresh Peppermint Leaves
Fresh or dried Eucalyptus
Use 1/4 cup of fresh herbs for every 4 cups of water you add to the steamer or the hot boiling pot. If you want a stronger herb infusion, you may add essential oils of the same herbs to enhance their effect. Do not get closer than 12 inches to the actual steam. Allow skin and lungs to absorb the steam for as long as you like. You may add herbs or oils as you need them, if you want. Always start with 1/4 cup.
EUCALYPTUS STEAM BATH
1 tbsp fresh or dried, chopped, Eucalyptus Leaves
2 1/2 cups Water
Bring water to a boil over high heat. Add in Eucalyptus leaves and allow to boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from heat. Allow to infuse for an additional 5 minutes. Pour water and leaves into a bowl and place on a sturdy table. Lean over. Place a towel behind your head to catch steam but do not stand closer than 12 inches or you may burn your eyes or skin. As this cools, you may microwave it to return to steaming. Use until the scent fades.
You may also strain out the Eucalyptus and add the tea to a hot bath and climb in. Inhale steam while enjoying the invigorating sensation of Eucalyptus as it enters your pores and sinuses. Invigorating.
HOREHOUND COUGH SYRUP
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Honey
1-2 teaspoons dried Mullein leaves
1-2 teaspoons dried Horehound Herb
1-2 teaspoons dried Rosemary
1-2 teaspoons powdered or chopped Cinnamon bark
1-2 teaspoons dried chopped Ginger
1 pinch of Cayenne
THIS SYRUP WILL DECONGEST YOUR LUNGS!!
Combine all the ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Simmer, uncovered, until the mix has reduced by about 1/2. Remove from heat and strain. Cool to room temperature. Take 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful as often as every 2 hours. Store in the refrigerator and use as needed.
HYSSOP AND LICORICE COUGH SYRUP
A large handful of bruised Hyssop
1 lb Honey
1 tsp powdered Licorice or 1crushed Licorice Stick
1 tsp crushed Aniseed
1/2 tsp powdered Ginger or 1 crushed Ginger Root
Put the honey in a large saucepan and bring it slowly to a boil. As it boils, lift off any scum with a spoon. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer very slowly over low heat for 30 minutes or until the Honey has pronounced Hyssop flavor. Strain through a sieve until all the herbs are removed and the Honey is clear. Pour into pots, bottles, jars or cans. Cover or stop tightly and store. Take a spoonful at a time when coughing or have sore throat. You can add this honey to other hot tisanes or to elderberry or other cough syrups.
ROSEMARY COUGH SYRUP
1 lb Honey
1 large handful of fresh Rosemary leaves
1 tsp dried Lemon Balm
1 tsp Aniseed
Put the honey in a large saucepan and bring it slowly to a boil. As it boils, lift off any scum with a spoon. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer very slowly over low heat for 30 minutes or until the Honey has pronounced Rosemary flavor. Strain through a sieve until all the herbs and seeds are removed and the Honey is clear. Pour into pots, bottles, jars or cans that can be sealed with a stopper or a rubber ring against moisture. Take a spoonful at a time when coughing or have sore throat. You can add this honey to other hot tisanes or to elderberry or other cough syrups.