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!

20 thoughts on “Herbal Helps for Coughs and Colds”

  1. That’s awesome stuff. Did you happen to read anything herbal about sinus yuk and things related? I always have issues with sinus drainage and know there has to be something I can do aside from taking my OTC stuff all the time. Let me know!!

  2. Well, Colleen. At first look through in my herb book, I kept coming up with recipes for nasal rinses…and I figured that wouldn’t interest you too much! However, since it seems to be the most tried and true method for dealing with sinus problems…let me know if you want to know more. They mostly involve mixing a few grains (NO more than a few!!) of cayenne pepper in 1 TB lukewarm water and sniffing it up your nose, and then spitting what drains into your mouth out. The author says a mild Ginger tea works well as a nasal rinse for sinus problems as well.

    The less invasive suggestions include rubbing peppermint oil straight, or dripping a few drops of it in a teaspoon of olive oil to be rubbed over the sinus area. Even just under your nostrils so the oil fumes can be inhaled. You could put it on a cloth and sleep on it

    For sinus infections, here is a recipe for an oral antibiotic showcasing garlic. FYI, 1 part= 1 pinch/1 oz/1 TB, etc, depending on how much you want to make at one time.

    Take 1 part Garlic powder (for potency, buy organic at the health food store, just my own recommendation), 1 part powdered calcium ascorbate (a form of vit. C) and 1/4 part Cayenne powder (again, from a reputable source)…store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for best keeping. Take this at first signs of illness for best results. Sometimes a stronger recipe is needed to kick infections, and several recipes are given in my book for adding Chaparral, Cayenne and Ginger. The author tells how to fill your own capsules for supplemental use…and how to make honeyballs…by mixing up your powdered antibiotic well, and adding just enough raw organic honey to it to make a stiff consistency that you can roll into a rope and cut into appropriate dosage sizes. They need stored in the refrigerator. The dosage for this Garlic antibiotic formula for children 11 years to adults is 1/2-1 tsp of the powdered antibiotic as often as every two hours up to eight times a day, depending on how serious your infection is.

    Hope this gives you an idea of your herbal options! 😉

  3. That’s great, Mary. I’m going to bookmark this stuff. I asked hubs if we had cayenne pepper, he said he wanted to get some. So really it’ll have a two=fold purpose! Before my last sinus infection I drank vinegar and water and that seemed to work, so I’m always willing to try new stuff!

  4. Dr. John Christopher’s books on herbal remedies contain many testimonials in his own life experience and those of his patients who used slippery elm successfully for a variety of health problems. His books provide good general and specific information on the use of herbs for health. Dr. John has been gone many years, but I did spend some time with his son, David, about twenty years ago, who has since his father’s death taken over the family herb business.

    I once spent a day with a drawknife removing slippery elm bark from a downed tree to dry and store for use. It’s the inner cambium layer that is used – the white inner bark of the tree. We have seen its value throughout many years of use.

    Peppermint oil – a drop on the finger tip – rubbed on the temples, across the forehead sinus area and even on the check bones can reduce the pain of sinus infection and take the edge off a headache nicely, as was mentioned previously. If the fumes get in your eyes, just lay down with your eyes closed for 20 minutes and nap. You’ll awake and rise feeling much better.

    I really love the photo, Mary, of your youngest with Elijah the lamb. He was a bit of a handful for her to hold, but she held up her responsibility quite well.

  5. Hi Mary, My congestion is breaking up and I feel better just having that happen. I appreciate your help with the slippery elm powder and powdered ginger root. Farmer John, I was wondering if a person could strip that inner bark himself. Did you dry it and then powder it? We don’t have any elm trees around our place but there’s so much a person needs to know ‘just in case’!

  6. The inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree can be stripped, dried, and powdered. You can remove it with a drawknife or knife in strips or sheets, dry it in the sun or a dehydrator, and grind it into powder. It is fibrous, so takes a bit of work to accomplish.

    Here’s a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_elm
    In this part of the country it is called “Red Elm,” so it isn’t just from any elm tree. Red Elms are getting harder to find here. The wood is used mostly for firewood since it burns well and splits easily. The trees are worth much more for their medicinal value. I suppose the powdered bark off of one tree would be worth several hundred dollars in retail cost. Bulk slippery elm powder sells for around $25/lb.

    The “Slippery” in the title refers to its mucilaginous properties – sort of “snotty” like mucus, and it coats and sooths irritated or inflamed membranes – good for IBS and digestive problems. There are no known contraindictions for slippery elm and it is considered a very safe herb to use, especially for children or infants. It’s something that should be in every family’s home herbal remedy shelf. Lots and lots of ways to use it . . .

  7. I’m glad it helps, Colleen, be sure to remember us when you try it and update your results! I’d love to know if it helped.

    Stripping the inner bark and powdering it does sound like a lot of work, John, but worth it if you can’t afford it or get access to it. As my mom said, good info to know, just in case! I think I read in my herb book that these herbs lose a lot of their potency after being stored a year…is that correct? And I agree, it’s turning into a “must have” for us…first my mom, now my youngest who is fighting off a cold pretty well with the help of Slippery Elm and Ginger in juice! She even likes the taste, which helps!

    I love that picture of Elijah and my 4 year old too, she’s SO happy, and he really does look like he’s whispering in her ear. That was a great treat to hold your lambs, and the good memories all come back whenever I load my blog up and see that pic! I can’t figure out how to add my “rejoicing in hope” to the header…I’ll get it up there soon, hopefully.

    Mom, I’m so glad to hear you are pulling out of it. That’s pretty good only 3 days into a cold!

  8. l Helps for Coughs and Colds at Home-Steeped Hope made some good points. I did a search on constipation newborns and found most people agree with your blog.

  9. HI, THANKS FOR SHARING THIS INFORMATION HERE. I LOVE USING NATURAL STUFF INSTEAD OF CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE BECAUSE OF THE MANY SIDE EFFECTS. MY GRANDSON WAS DIAGNOSED A FEW DAYS AGO WITH RSV. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO HELP HIM GET BETTER SOON. HIS BABY SISTER IS COMING SOON AND HE WON’T BE ABLE TO COME ANY CLOSE IF HE IS SICK. I’D REALLY APPRECIATE ANY SUGGESTIONS.

  10. Thanks, Brad! This ginger/slippery elm remedy has helped my mom, my four year old, and now my 8 and 11 year old are on day 4 of their head colds and feeling much better than they should be this early on! Glad to know what you mentioned about newborns, though I’d be super careful in what I gave one that little! Breastmilk is the best cure for constipation in newborns that I know of!

  11. Hi there Online Payday Loans, I’m so sorry about your grandson getting RSV, what bad timing, huh. I am sorry to say I have no personal experience treating RSV with herbs, I’m just getting started here myself. Do you have any chiropractors in your area that practice Applied Kinesiology or Muscle testing? We have a really good one that does Nutrition testing, and she has replaced our medical doctor for many issues. Even colds and flus. You can’t go wrong giving your grandson the slippery elm inner bark powder with ginger, as I described in this post. Just stir it briskly into apple juice…it will burn his throat a little bit going down, but that’s the only complaint my girls give me…they like the taste. Garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic as well. If you could mince some and serve it up to him in a teaspoon of honey? Or add it to his soup…or as my pastor’s wife raves, slice a clove of garlic and set it inside his outer ear (don’t push it into the ear, just let it rest with the cut edge facing inward) and put a piece of tape over it to keep it in place. She had me do this for an ear infection one time and it not only helps take the pain away, it helps hurry up the healing process. My pastor’s wife uses this garlic in the ear for all cold symptoms, even when earaches aren’t present. So it’s worth trying for the healing effect. Hope and pray he gets well soon, and that your newest grand-daughter won’t catch it. Poor little guy!

    God bless!

  12. HI MARY–I LIVE IN CANADA–SO POSTAGE FROM THE STATES IS OUT OF THIS WORLD–ANYWAY I GOT “10 ESSENTIAL HERBS” FROM INDIGO/CHAPTERS/COLES CO ANDIT IS A NEW BOOK–SECOND EDITION. IT ALSO HAS A SPECIAL CHAPTER ON ECHINACEA. IT IS 370 PAGES LONG. LOOKS VERY GOOD–AND I JUST THOUGHT YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED —OR OTHER FRIENDS. LOVE IT !!

  13. Ooh!!! I am SO interested, Eva! Thank you for passing that along. I was under the assumption that it was out of print! I will be looking into this, especially interested to see what she says about Echinacea! Thanks for passing this info along, Eva!

    Blessings,
    Mary

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