Herbal Helps for Coughs and Colds

Drying HerbsRubbing my hands together with glee…this is such a fascinating subject! I’ve mentioned here before what an education I’ve received from the book, 10 Essential Herbs by Lalitha Thomas. Farmer John gave me this book–FYI, to those of you who might not know, he’s my knowledgeable CSA farmer-neighbor who has, along with his sweetheart of a wife, taken me under his wing and taught me much in the past two or three months!

I devoured this book in two or three sittings, and immediately ordered myself a supply of six of the harder-to-find herbs showcased in the books. I was that impressed.

If you have even a passing interest in taking control of your family’s health via natural methods, you must have this book! It’s a fascinating read, an educational smorgasbord about herbs and their many uses in maintaining or regaining optimum health within a limited budget.

For instance, my mom has bronchitis–undiagnosed, but she’s had it so many times in life, she should know, right? So I looked up bronchitis in this book, and it led me to the chapter on Slippery Elm Powder.  Evidently, Slippery Elm is excellent for any “itis”, including bronchitis, but also arthritis, colitis, prostatitus, tendonitis, conjunctivitis, etc.

You stir a teaspoon of Slippery Elm Powder into juice or tea, preferably room temperature–so it will dissolve better, 3-5 times a day while bronchitis persists. It’s a demulcent and a mucilaginous herb…which means:

“…it has soothing, softening, buffering and poison-drawing qualities as well as contains significant amounts of mucilage, a slippery, sticky and soothing substance of high nutritional value that coats, protects, and rejuvenates an area from infection, inflammation and other irritants.” (emphasis mine)

Now, I couldn’t force these herbs upon my poor mom without trying them myself first. Imagine my relief to find that Slippery Elm Powder is  tasty, with almost a nutty flavor! Lalitha recommends mixing it with 1/4-1/2 parts powdered ginger (a good carrier herb that complements SEP) to ramp up the action of Slippery Elm in your system. I put these two herbs in the recommended portions (1 tsp SEP to 1/2 tsp ginger) in a cup of apple cider and it was delicious.

Now here is a home-made recipe for cough syrup, also utilizing Slippery Elm Powder.

Cough Syrup

~Slippery Elm helps “collect and expel mucus, acts against inflammations, and serves to soothe and nourish…it really shines as a cough syrup”

  • 4 TB Slippery Elm Powder
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 raw onion, chopped (optional)

Simmer and stir gently on stove top for twenty minutes. Store in refrigerator. Feel free to add a little water to bring it to a more runny consistency. You can add ginger to this, a few drops of an essential oil such as clove oil for its antiseptic and pain-numbing qualities.  For maximum potency, store in refrigerator for only a few weeks before starting with a fresh batch.Sweet and Low

This book simplifies herbistry…it’s down-to-earth information even children can absorb and utilize. I’m hoping my family will stay reasonably healthy, but if not, I’m looking forward to putting this great knowledge to the test by making herbal honeyballs, medicinal teas, decoctions, tinctures and even “people paste”–an incredible alternative to stitches!

And it’s one more step towards being more self-sufficient in a world going crazy.

Anyway, Slippery Elm in its dried inner bark form is worth pursuing! It’s a great defense against many conditions including constipation, gall bladder, vaginitis, urinary tract infections, athlete’s foot, hemorrhoids, etc. I’ve shared only a trace amount of the info on this one herb available in Lalitha’s book. Another great reason to buy this book? The author breaks down dosage information for each herb for the different age groups: Infants to 3 years; Children 4 years to 10 years; and Children 11 years to Adults.

Remember, I’m no certified health guru…I’m just a mom, passing along some info for you to have if you want it. Of course you need to use good judgment and common sense when following any home-remedy directives. So buy the book, or do your own research before taking my word for it!

Get proactive about your family’s health!