Botanical Education Foundation provides premium Holistic education and Certification programs for those desiring to work in the surging field of Holistic Nutrition, Herbs, Essential Oils and Emotional Wellness. Our goal is to provide knowledge and power to people who are interested in helping themselves and their families or who want to make a difference in the world! Botanical Education provides the highest quality teachers, classes and certification programs available.
Homemade Herbal Cough Drops
Powdered herbs 1 cup sugar, or honey 1/3 cup light corn syrup, or honey 1 1/2 cups water Powdered sugar, for easy handling
1. Steep your preferred soothing herbs in 1 1/2 cups of water to make a tea.
2. Mix sugar and corn syrup with tea. Cook over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils.
3. Continue boiling without stirring until the mixture begins to crystallize; reduce heat. Wash away crystals from the side of your pan with a damp cloth.
4. Remove from the heat after a few minutes. Drop some of the mixture from the tip of a spoon onto a greased surface. Allow to harden and cool completely before removing. Roll the candies in powdered sugar and wrap in waxed paper for storage.
One of the most common medical conditions treated by primary care physicians is SINUSITIS, an infection of the sinus cavities. SINUSITIS affects more than 14 percent of the population and accounts for more than $2 billion in annual health-care costs. If we add up all the other respiratory diagnoses, such as BRONCHITIS, ATHSMA and LUNG CANCER, it is obvious that conditions of the lungs and sinuses make up a pretty large chunk of the health problems people face.
Learning About the Lungs
Our lungs are the site of gas exchange: They are how we extract oxygen, required by every cell every minute, from the air we inhale and infuse it into the bloodstream. In the course of a single day, we inhale an amazing 8,000 to 9,000 liters of air. The air then meets the 8,000 to 10,000 liters of blood pumped through the pulmonary artery.
Although the lungs are located deep inside the chest, they are actually a continuation of the skin membrane that has folded into the lining of the respiratory cavity. As such, they share a common characteristic with external organs: They are constantly exposed to the world outside. With each breath, myriad alien substances enter the lungs — pollen, dust, microbes, animal dander, tobacco smoke and air pollution.
Natural medicines for the lungs are plentiful, but prevention (i.e. avoiding smoking) is the key. If you have a history of lung weakness, add a daily dose of a general lung tonic herbs and notice just how many fewer lung-related health issues you face. Remember the old Chinese saying: “Treating a disease that is underway is like trying to make weapons while a war is already occurring.”
More Serious Lung Problems
Lung disease can be a temporary nuisance, but most lung disease is persistent. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disease characterized by a gradual loss of lung function. Emphysema is one type of COPD. The highest risk factor for COPD is cigarette smoking.
Common Lung Problems
The skin, digestive tract and urinary tract share similarities with the lungs, so remedies for these organ systems often overlap with lung remedies. The skin, digestive tract and urinary tract are lined with mucous membranes. These membranes tend to get inflamed and to have problems with fluid flow — too much or too little — across the membrane. So it is with the lungs. Common respiratory problems include bronchitis or asthma, caused by inflammation; congestion or pneumonia, caused by too much fluid (mucus or sputum); and irritated tissue or unproductive cough, caused by too little fluid.
WET, PRODUCTIVE COUGHS produce lots of phlegm. If the phlegm is clear, chances are you’ve got a common cold. But darker yellow or green phlegm may signal a bacterial infection. A dry, or unproductive, barking cough brings up little mucus.
BRONCHITIS is an inflammation of the bronchial passages. As the irritated membrane swells, it narrows and shuts off the airways, bringing coughing spells, thick phlegm and breathlessness. In most cases the infection is viral, but sometimes it is caused by bacteria.
COUGHING, SNEEZING and POSTNASAL DRIP are reflex actions the body carries out to rid itself of irritants. As aggravating as these symptoms can be, they aren’t diseases in and of themselves, although they might be symptoms of more serious conditions. A note of caution: See your doctor if your sore throat or fever lasts longer than 48 hours, or if you experience swelling or pain around the eyes, a headache, a dry cough and/or discharge from the nose. You might need antibiotics.
Natural medicine does very well with many respiratory ailments. THE LUNGS HAVE THE ABILLITY TO HEAL QUICKLY. After 10 to 15 years, an ex-smoker’s risk of premature death comes close to that of a person who has never smoked. The lungs have the richest blood and oxygen supply. If the tissues get what they need, they respond marvelously.
Tonic Lung Herbs
Lung herbs are mild and well suited to making into teas.
The average dose for these teas is : 2-3 ounces of dry herb, brewed, daily, for acute symptoms 1ounce for maintenance.
ELECAMPANE ROOT (Inula helenium) is warming for a cold, wet cough; it doesn’t suppress the cough but increases expectoration. It is specific for treating irritating bronchial coughs, especially in children. Revered in Ayurveda as a rejuvenative tonic for the lungs, elecampane reduces excess chronic mucus in the respiratory tract and nourishes lung tissue. Elecampane also may be used for asthma and bronchitis. British herbalists use it for bronchial catarrh, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis,pneumoconiosis, silicosis,pertussis, emphysema and chronic cough in the elderly. Recent scientific studies have confirmed the antimicrobial properties of elecampane.
COLTSFOOT FLOWER (Tussilago farfara) is an ancient European herb Roman soldiers used when they were posted to foreign lands. An excellent lung tonic, it supports lung and bronchial tissue, and is useful for colds, flu, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. It’s a cooling expectorant that liquefies mucus, suppresses cough and also is a long-term respiratory builder. Excellent for cool, wet, endless springtime climates such as Oregon.
Herbal Options for Coughs
• Expectorant herbs help wet coughs become even more productive. They thin phlegm, making it less sticky, or cause the lungs to produce more watery secretions, increasing the ability to expel phlegm. Examples of effective expectorants: ELECAMPANE, MULLEIN and COLTSFOOT
• Antitussive herbs reduce coughing. These help when a cough is so persistent that the coughing person can’t rest. Antitussives can be counterproductive by suppressing coughing, thus preventing ejection of mucus. Some of the best antitussives include HOREHOUND and WILD CHERRY BARK
• Demulcent herbs coat and soothe cough and sore throat. These herbs include MARSHMALLOW, SLIPPERY ELM and PLANTAIN.
MULLEIN (Verbascum spp.) is a common wildflower that grows almost anywhere. You likely have seen it growing along the roadside. Mullein is an expectorant and demulcent herb, and also might have antiviral properties. Mullein has a high mucilage content. Its effects also may be from the mucus-loosening saponins it contains. Use hot mullein tea for coughs, sore throats and other respiratory irritations. Mullein rarely produces striking effects, but it can soothe a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Mullein can be more effective when combined with herbs with similar properties, such as yerba santa leaf (Eriodictyon californicum) and elecampane root.
LICORICE ROOT(Glycyrrhiza glabra) is another good choice as a long-term lung builder. A lung tonic with adrenal effects (it contains compounds similar to the adrenal cortical hormones), in the short term licorice root is an expectorant. Use it for a sore or dry throat, 5 to 7 grams daily as a tea, for as long as needed (usually about four weeks). Avoid the herb if you’re pregnant or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or a condition of the liver, heart or kidneys.
Stop the Coughing with These Herbs
OSHA ROOT (Ligusticum porteri) grows in the high altitudes in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain states. It’s a traditional American Indian remedy for use at the first sign of a respiratory infection. The herb has antimicrobial and expectorant properties. (Because osha is at risk of becoming endangered, be sure to check labels and purchase from cultivated, rather than wildcrafted, sources.)
LIGUSTICUM, Szechuan lovage root (Ligusticum wallichii), is a useful remedy in Chinese medicine. Most scientific studies of Ligusticum have focused on the Chinese species, but the plants are so similar that we probably can assume their effects are comparable. It’s clear that the herb contains anti-inflammatory ingredients. A 1994 Chinese study showed that this herb helps reduce respiratory inflammation, also reducing bronchial spasm and improving lung function. Chinese research also indicates that Szechuan lovage root can relax smooth muscle tissue and inhibit the growth of various bacteria. Take 15 grams daily, as a tea.
WILD CHERRY BARK (Prunus serotina) If you have ever wondered why cough syrup is so often cherry flavored, you learned that the bark of the native North American herb wild cherry was the absolute standby for coughs in times past. The bark has a pleasant cherry taste when prepared as a tea. The plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, especially prunasin; once metabolized in the body, these glycosides suppress spasms in the smooth muscles lining the bronchioles, providing cough relief.
Other Cough Remedies to Consider
HONEY thins mucus. For lung disorders with mucus, mix honey with an equal amount of GINGER juice. For asthma, try equal parts BLACK PEPPER, GINGER JUICE and HONEY
• CARDAMON (Elettaria cardamomum) has a warming, anti-mucus action, so it is particularly appropriate as a component in lung formulas.
GINGER (Zingiber officinale) is a “hot” herb that increases circulation and reduces phlegm in the lungs. In Ayurveda, ginger is used to treat, among other diseases, colds and bronchitis.
FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare) contains creosol and alpha-pinene, substances that loosen lung mucus and help clear the chest, benefiting asthma.
BASIL (Ocimum spp.) help shortness of breath and bronchospasms. In Ayurvedic herbalism, holy basil (also known as tulsi) is used as an expectorant and anti-mucus herb for respiratory diseases like colds and flu. It is quite warming to the body, so it will make you sweat (a diaphoretic), a characteristic that also lends itself to fever and flu treatment. Holy basil kills microbes, including bacteria and fungi.
GARLIC (Allium sativum) is a great lung herb because it kills bacteria and dries mucus.
SLIPPERY ELM (Ulmus rubra) is native to North America. Slippery elm bark is another mucilage-containing, throat-soothing medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed the herb a safe, effective cough soother. Take 2 ounces (dry weight) of slippery elm as a tea daily. Commercial slippery elm lozenges also are available and can be used throughout the day.
MARSHMALLOW ROOT (Althaea officinalis) has been used medicinally since ancient Greece, and Roman physicians suggested it for irritated tissues. The root contains very high levels of mucilage and quells irritation and associated dry cough, according to European authorities. Take 2 ounces (dry weight) of marshmallow as a tea daily. Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, a frequent contributor to Herbs for Health, is an adjunct faculty member in the botanical medicine department of Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington.