As we discussed previously, being able to resist hay fever, bronchitis, colds, and the like depends upon having a healthy body, not just a strong respiratory or immune system.
Common kitchen, wild, and medicinal herbs can help strengthen the body and relieve symptoms. These herbs can be consumed in many ways. Some can be included in the diet. Others may be ingested as teas, tinctures or capsules.
Some of the best herbs to use are nettles, burdock, dandelion, and dock, all which benefit the health of the liver. The liver deactivates substances that harm the body; it is the great detoxifier. The liver produces histaminase which deactivates histamines. Histaminase is a natural antihistamine. Antihistamines reduce irritability and swelling of the mucus membranes. Keeping the liver healthy aids detoxification of harmful substances and aids elimination. If hepatic liver function is impaired, the body’s ability to protect itself from allergens, viruses, and bacteria is compromised.
The adrenal glands are little glands which sit on top of the kidneys. They are the source of natural cortisone. Cortisone reduces inflammation, swelling, and discomfort. The adrenals also produce a hormone called aldosterone. Aldosterone prevents fatigue and helps the body to resist the harmful effects of stress. Aldosterone improves the ability of the body to resist illness. Herbal allies for the adrenals include any of the ginseng family: licorice root, wild yam and seaweed. Chamomile stimulates natural cortisone production.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best herbs to incorporate into your routine.
Chinese star anise is a tasty herb that is used in teas and oriental cooking. It is essential to use Chinese star anise, not Japanese star anise, as Japanese star anise can cause health problems. Chinese star anise has antispasmodic actions which relieve coughs. It thins mucus so that it can be eliminated. You may have heard of the drug Tamiflu. Tamiflu is used to relieve symptoms of the flu and shorten the duration of the illness. Chinese star anise is the source of the raw material used to make the drug Tamiflu.
Most people think of horseradish as an ingredient in cocktail sauce. Horseradish is much more than that. Horseradish is a great source of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin which aids the body in resisting infection and boosting the immune system. Horseradish contains powerful decongestant and expectorant properties. It’s antibacterial.
Sage prevents tissues from becoming congested and inflamed. Sage is an excellent choice to relieve sore throats or laryngitis. It relieves spasmodic coughs.
My favorite herb to use to relieve stuffy noses is goldenrod. Contrary to its reputation, goldenrod does not cause hay fever. The culprit is usually ragweed, which blooms at the same time as goldenrod. I have frequently obtained relief of sinus congestion within twenty minutes simply by drinking a cup of goldenrod tea.
If respiratory infections develop, usnea, barberry root, and Oregon grape root are beneficial. Barberry and Oregon grape contain berberine. Berberine is the active ingredient in the endangered, expensive herb golden seal. Oregon grape and barberry are excellent alternatives.
Echinacea is useful for short term prevention of illness or if illness occurs. I don’t recommend that it be used continuously for illness prevention, however, as many are wont to do. Always purchase farm raised organic echinacea or grow your own. Do not gather wild echinacea as wild populations have been severely depleted by overuse.
I use large amounts of mullein leaf and root to ensure respiratory health. It is an excellent herb to use to relieve bronchitis. I use mullein whenever a hard raspy cough is present. Mullein tones mucus membranes, reduces inflammation, and thins secretions. Mullein is a powerful plant. In the test tube, extracts of mullein stop the growth of the bacteria which causes tuberculosis.
Elecampane root has demulcent (soothing), antibacterial principals. Marshmallow root is soothing as well.
In addition to ingesting herbs and including them in the diet, herbs may be made into herbal steams. Herbal steams are among the quickest ways to obtain relief of respiratory symptoms. Simply pour a handful of aromatic herbs in a bowl. Add boiling water. Sit with your face a comfortable distance above the bowl. Cover your head with a towel. Breathe naturally. The healing benefits of the herbs will help to decongest sinuses. Antibacterial compounds and other aromatic benefits will be inhaled deeply into the lungs.
Catnip and boneset reduce fever. Boneset also relieves generalized body aches when flu or colds are present.
In addition to its demulcent activities, elecampane root helps to open up the airways. Herbalists consider elecampane as an anti-asthmatic herb. It is astringent and helps prevent excess secretions from forming in the mucus membranes.
If you want to reduce your likelihood of contacting respiratory illnesses or being plagued with allergy symptoms, incorporate the tips and herbs that have been suggested. Plan ahead to be healthy. If you do get ill, incorporate healing herbs and strategies promptly. Remember to consume plenty of fluids and get lots of rest. Be well!