Uh oh! You’ve started to notice a tenderness in the back of your throat, a dull ache in your head and you’re feeling pretty lethargic…the dreaded upper respiratory infection has made an unwelcome appearance!
Despite your best efforts to stay hydrated, wash your hands and taking elderberry syrup everyday you are worried that you are in for up to 10 days of yuck. You can’t sleep because of your congested runny nose, tickling cough and headache, and you want to try something natural that won’t give you that stuffed-head feeling.
There are several plants that can help alleviate the symptoms of the common cold and upper respiratory infection, as well as those that can help your body fight off the infection to shorten the duration and severity. Come to the class at Tmuffin on March 28th at 10 AM to learn about preparing these herbs and the best way to enjoy them!
Acute Immune System Support
When dealing with an acute infection it is important to remember the following general immune system support measures:
In addition the following plants can help with symptoms and to boost the immune system:
Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia, purpurea and pallida) – Echinacea is recognized by both traditional herbalists and the scientific community as an excellent immune system stimulant. It is safe for pregnancy, breastfeeding mothers, and children. The whole plant has immune supportive properties. It can be taken as a tea, tincture or decoction.
Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva) This mucilaginous herb is excellent for soothing any irritated mucus membranes including respiratory, digestive and urinary. Excellent for sore throats, dry, tickly cough and nausea. Can be added by the teaspoon to herbal teas, or made into lozenges. Can be consumed freely. Should be avoided in pregnancy because of laxative effects, but safe during nursing and excellent for babies with colic or constipation. Learn more about sore throats and antibiotic overuse here.
Combine several tablespoons of slippery elm powder with enough honey to form a dough. Roll the dough into a long snake and cut into thumbnail sized pieces. Can add ginger powder, cinnamon, or licorice powder for flavor. Dust with more slippery elm powder and set aside to dry. Can be frozen to soothe hot throats and eaten freely. Excellent for soothing dry, irritated cough. (Recipe from Naturally Healthy Babies and Children by Aviva Romm).
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Licorice is a good herbal expectorant, and helps to thin and clear mucus. The anti-inflammatory and anticatarrhal properties help with sinus pressure and congestion. It also has antiviral properties. It is soothing and healing to irritated mucus membranes and supports adrenal function.
Contraindications: Licorice is not safe to take during pregnancy. It can cause high blood pressure. Limit use while breastfeeding to smallest dose needed and discontinue use after symptoms subside. Can make the root into tea, decoction or chew the root pieces. It is often added to herbal blends because of its activating effect on other plants.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) –Yarrow is an amazing antibacterial herb that can be used topically or internally. It is excellent especially for sore throats. Too much can cause a heavy period, night sweats and potentially lower milk supply. It has a very bitter taste that can be sweetened with honey and lemon
General Support for Healthy Immune System – nourishing plants that are safe to take all the time.
Red Clover – (Trifolium pratense) – Red clover is an excellent alterative and blood purifier. It helps create healthy changes in the body. It is also generally cooling in nature which helps with the hot inflammation associated with colds.
Steep 1 ounce of herb in 1 quart of water for 4-6 hours. Can add a tablespoon of licorice during illness. Drink ½ - 1 cup daily.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) – Stinging Nettle is a great daily nourishing tonic. It is full of vitamins and minerals including calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and iron. It supports the adrenals, liver, circulatory system and healthy milk production. It is effective as an allergy remedy and supports the sinuses. Safe for pregnancy, lactation and babies.
Steep 1 ounce in 1 quart of water for 4-6 hours. Can add one tablespoon of licorice during illness. Drink ½ - 2 cups daily. It is also a diuretic, so start with a small dose and gradually increase. Will not cause dehydration or potassium imbalance like allopathic diuretics.