Monday, September 2, 2013

Sore throat

Faced with a sore throat I'm on a mission for relief....
Rose Petals (Rosa spp.)
Cooling and astringent, rose can reduce inflammation and relieve pain. All parts of the rose are astringent and can be used in a variety of ways. Using the petals in medicine adds a sense of luxuriousness.
Sage leaves (Salvia officinalis)
Most of us use culinary sage once or twice a year when making stuffing to accompany the turkey, but sage offers us many healing attributes. It is antimicrobial and astringent, meaning that it can disable pathogens on contact and also tightens and tones tissues. It has a long history of use for mouth ulcerations and sore throats. 
Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)
This demulcent herb can boost our immune system, relieve a dry cough and soothe and coat a sore irritated throat. Common mallow (Malva neglecta) can be used similarly and it probably grows somewhere near you. Marshmallow alone is one of the best sore throat remedies.
Honey is wonderfully soothing for sore throats and it is also antimicrobial. I like to use raw local honey. Bee keepers are springing up all over the US making this a fairly easy product to find.

recipe from herbalist Kiva Rose.
Sore throat pastilles
For this recipe you’ll need...
  • 1 tablespoon powdered rose petals
  • 1/2 tablespoon powdered sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of marshmallow root
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of warmed honey
  • optional: additional cinnamon and rose powders
Mix the powdered herbs together.
Warm some honey over really low heat. We want this honey to be warm enough to have a syrup consistency, but never hot.
Add the honey slowly to the powdered herbs. I like to add a little honey, stir and then reevaluate for the consistency.  The end result should be a soft doughy mixture that is not too sticky. You can adjust the honey and powder as necessary.
Once you have mixed the herbs and honey together you can roll them into balls.
I like to finish the pastilles by rolling them in some additional rose petal and cinnamon powder.
These can be used immediately or stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Echinacea spp. 
Echinacea is great for swollen lymph glands. It supports the movement of lymph so the immune system can better do its job. I use echinacea as a tincture, 30 - 60 drops every one to two hours. 

Red Root (Ceonothus spp.) 
One of our most incredible lymphatic herbs, I often combine the tincture of red root with Echinacea for swollen lymph glands

Mullein leaves (Verbascum thapsus) 
Mullein works wonders on the entire respiratory symptom. I especially consider its use when there is painful coughing and swollen lymph glands. To make a tea of mullein leaves fill a mason jar half full of the leaves and then cover with just boiled water. Let this sit for four hours, then strain it really well. Mullein leaves are covered in little tiny hairs that can be irritating to the respiratory system, because of this I strain it through a cheesecloth and I imagine a paper towel would also be useful. 

Garlic Honey
Garlic honey is anti-microbial and soothing to your throat. To make this sweet and spicy treat, fill a jar with freshly minced garlic, add honey to fill the jar and stir well. To ensure the honey and garlic are mixed well you can turn the jar upside down a couple times a day. You can consume garlic and honey immediately and after a couple of days the mixture will transform into a more syrupy consistency. Honey also helps to relieve some of the hot and drying tendencies of garlic. A similar honey can be made with white onions and is especially nice for wet coughs. 

Too much garlic can make you nauseous, so be sure to listen to your stomach and don’t over do it.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a fabulous warming herb that is regularly used for people with colds and the flu. It is a stimulating diaphoretic that warms the core and drives heat out of the body. 

It is also highly effective against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus spp., and Salmonella spp. If that’s not impressive enough it also aids upper respiratory infections and abates nausea. The list of medicinal benefits goes on and on, including it being a circulatory stimulant and an anti-inflammatory – whole books can be written about ginger. 

Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)  
Horehound remedies used to stock the shelves of medicine cabinets years ago. Used for sore throats and coughs, this intense tasting herb is very effective. 

You can make a tea from horehound by placing a tablespoon in a cup, covering it with 8 oz of boiling water, and letting it steep for 20 minutes; then strain. You will most likely want to add honey to this mixture as this is a very bitter brew. 

Horehound syrup is a much sweeter blend and may prove to have more patient compliance than the tea.  

Horehound Syrup
½ cup horehound (flowering tops) 
2 cups water
2 cups local raw honey (this amount can be adjusted to your liking) 

Boil the water and pour over the herbs. Let sit for two to four hours, strain, gently re-warm, and dissolve the honey into the tea. Store in the fridge and use within a month. For a faster syrup you can also gently simmer (not boil!) the herb in water and cover it with a lid for ten minutes, strain, and then add the honey. 

Horehound is a stimulating expectorant that is also used for coughs, specifically for moist and unproductive coughs. It can further irritate dry coughs. Coughs will be discussed in more detail in the next section. 

Sage (Salvia officinalis)
A cup of sage tea can soothe a sore throat immensely. This common kitchen spice has been used for centuries in a variety of ways, including for sore throats. To make a cup of sage leaf tea place 1 tablespoon of crumbled leaf in a cup and pour 8 oz of boiling water over the top. Cover and infuse for about 30 minutes. When ready, strain and drink. Honey and lemon can be added to taste. 

Marshmallow tea (Althea officinalis)
To make marshmallow tea simply put ¼ cup of marshmallow root in a pint size jar. Fill this jar with cold to lukewarm water and let sit for a minimum of four hours. You will notice that this brew will get more mucilaginous (thick) and slippery with time. Strain when ready and drink as desired. 

If you need the marshmallow tea NOW, you can also decoct the root by simmering it for twenty minutes. The cold infusion is slightly superior than a decoction, but the decoction will certainly work in a pinch. 

Marshmallow is also anti-microbial and can stimulate phagocytosis, an important immune system function

Licorice tea
Licorice is a wonderfully soothing and demulcent root that can help with a variety of cold and flu symptoms, including sore throats, coughing, and even bronchitis. Licorice is readily found in tea bags at grocery stores. Or you can buy the root in bulk and simmer for twenty minutes, strain, and enjoy. Licorice is not for use during pregnancy or nursing and should be approached with caution for those with hypertension or diabetes. Licorice root has also been shown to be anti-viral and is commonly used for cold sores

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