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Medicinal Plants helping Colds
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Hello,

I am currently completing my Year 12 Research project. My question is “To what extent can medicinal plants be used to alleviate or cure symptoms of the common cold?”.
I was wondering what your opinions are on medicinal plants are and also what medicinal plants or remedies you would recommend to treat symptoms of the common cold. Some common symptoms of the common cold include runny nose or nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, fever, mild head aches and body aches, watery eyes and fatigue.
The information collected will be used only in my research project and with total anonymity if requested.
Any time you give will be greatly appreciated.

Thankyou
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I would start with immune building plants: garlic, echinacea, red root.
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Search the forums, there is a lot out there already:
http://www.permies.com/t/19864/medicinal-herbs/guess-cold-home-remedies

Thyme is an expectorant, so it gets all the gunk out of your lungs. Good for syrups.
Mints & eucalyptus, depending where you live, excellent for inhalations and clearing the noise.
Tumeric and lemon in hot tea is immune boosting and clarifying
Fire cider is pretty medicinal and making a fasionable comeback

A lot of it is folk wisdom but it's called wisdom for a reason...

In general, 'cure' is a rough word because you can allevaite the symptoms and maybe make it go faster but 'cure' depends on the root cause, and the 'common cold' is a really broad umbrella term.

Good luck with the research project!
I merged your stuff with the following thread. I hope that is okay by you.
Hello,

I am currently completing my Year 12 Research project. My question is “To what extent can medicinal plants be used to alleviate or cure symptoms of the common cold?”.
I was wondering what your opinions are on medicinal plants are and also whet medicinal plants or remedies you would recommend to treat symptoms of the common cold. Some common symptoms of the common cold include runny nose or nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, fever, mild head aches and body aches, watery eyes and fatigue.
The information collected will be used only in my research project and with total anonymity if requested.
Any time you give will be greatly appreciated.

Thankyou
I use garlic at the onset of any suspected viral illness.
Not an herb but I think the best cure-all is often overlooked: Water! Staying properly hydrated helps the body function the way it's supposed to. It aids in removing toxins from the body, mucus production, temperature regulation, and just about any other activity the body does to get better. When you're not hydrated the body prioritizes these functions and one or more parts of the system gets slowed down, or in extreme cases shuts down, and allows viruses and bacteria to get the upper hand...

Other things that I don't believe that have been mentioned;
Elderberry- supposed to be a great immune booster
Honey- Soothes throat and an overall super food
Marshmallow root- Aids in mucus production/expectoration/lubrication

I usually make a tea with whatever I have on hand at the time; mint, ginger, lemon, lemon balm, honey etc. Pretty much any kind of non-caffeinated tea is beneficial because it helps with hydration and the warmth itself is pretty soothing.
When colds hit the family, my wife becomes an echynacea nazi. Yuck! I would almost, but not quite, rather have the cold. It does seem to reduce the length of the cold pretty dramatically.

Other than that, we drink a lot of hot lemonade, made really strong and sweetened with honey. It will take care of the sore throat associated with a cold really well. The lemon strips the Junk off of the throat, the honey coats it, the hot fluid helps your sinuses loosen up and drain. Once things start draining properly and you stay really well hydrated, the cold (or at least the symptoms) doesn't seem to be as severe or last as long.

I love plain old savory foods for treating colds: Garlic, onions, curry, turmeric, ginger, hot peppers, black pepper, poultry seasoning. Warming foods and spices, preferably in hot broths to get stuffiness moving on out.

Mints and Mormon tea are wonderful.
Water: up to 2 gallons a day vs the recommended 1/2 per day.
Sleep: To bed before 10pm followed by 8hrs sleeping.
Ginger Tea, Extra Spicy Seasoning/Food.
Black radish good for throuts
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Echinacea, lemongrass, hibiscus, joe-pye weed, elderberry tea. Make sure to steep it covered, to avoid losing lovely hydrosols. Steep (and drink) the same batch of herbs 3 times, and on the fourth steep, allow it to become cool, then apply the tea to your neck with a clean dye-free cotton rag and your hand, taking special care to massage it into the upper throat where the tonsils are (or used to be.) Take a spoonful of proper goldenseal every morning on an empty stomach, and wait 20-30 minutes before imbibing anything but water. If you can catch it before it starts, goldenseal may be all you need. Otherwise, I've found that a two-or three day turnaround can be expected from this regimen. Oh, and drink a lot of water. Lots.

And read every book by this guy, he's a modern visionary:
for congestion in the lungs, coltsfoot, in the head, yerba santa, Mullein is a great plant for the respiratory tract. Astragalus is a good immune boosting herb.

A cautionary note about goldenseal: it's being over harvested, at least in the USA. The valuable component in goldenseal is called berberine. Berberine is present in many plants, oregon grape (Mahonia comes to mind first for me, costing less than a quarter what goldenseal costs, and ubiquitous in western USA). Berberine is anti viral, as is elderberry.

I've just done a web search, looking for other rich plant sources of berberine, and had a hard time finding plants among all the berberine pills and berberine research, which to me is evidence that it is effective enough to have come to the attention of the AMA and the pill industry, and they've decided to pay attention to the efficacy of berberine.

Cayenne or other hot chile pepper stimulates the circulation in the throat, horseradish or wasabi, any spicy food from the mustard family stimulates the circulation in the sinuses.

Before taking something to stimulate circulation in the sinuses, be sure they are not congested. The congestion may be a sign that the mucosal tissue in the sinuses is swollen, and there might not be room for the increased blood flow, nor for the mucus and such that will drain out with the increased circulation. To clear the congestion, steam, eucalyptus vapors or lavender probably camphor or menthol are good if you can't get yerba santa (Eriodiction californicum), or to use with it, or anything else you know works for you.

Gargle with warm salt water.

Chicken broth is a good way to combine a lot of what has been listed: apple cider vinegar, salt, garlic, thyme (antibacterial, the active ingredient in listerine), onions, water, lemons, ginger, chile.

Go to bed, keep your germs at home so they can't find another host, and continue their way from one to the next until they make their way back to you in a year. This reduces incidence of colds, AND the body needs to focus its resources on healing.
I don't think any of them work.

I edited this to add that elderberry may work. I know for a fact that for many people, myself included, Sambucol works extremely well. I don't know if just eating elderberries would work as well, but nothing else I have tried helped with anything viral.
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I grew up on homeopathy, so my go to remedy was usually echinaceaforce from Dr Vogel. Always worked for our family. Last few years I was taking occillococcinum from Boiron. I live with someone who has farmer's lung suffered from silo gas poisoning. His lungs are perforated like Swiss cheese. So he cannot get a cold. It could be the end of him. I made now for the second year in a row elderberry cough syrup, that helps for preventative and for when you have a cold. Used to sell out at the farmers markets of my syrups. Elderflower syrups also very good for the lungs preparing them for hay fever season and colds of course. Also make tinctures from elderberries. Mallow tea is also very good for mucous and colds. There are so many of our wild plants that grow around us that can heal. That's why my girlfriend and I give wild edible workshops.
Another good one is oil of oregano. At the first hint of a scratchy or itchy throat a few drops under the tongue and gulp it down with a huge glass of water.
I haven't gotten sick in years, I used to get pneumonia every year, now I eat a bulb of garlic a day. (Not a clove). Has to be raw. Lots of raw onions. All summer I harvest stinging nettle. Dry pounds of it. I use a tablespoon dried a day. Just sprinkle it on all your food, it is delicious. Good blood purifier. Can't wait for those fresh nettle tips, should be coming up in a month or so. I harvest fresh tips and eat them raw! Yummy!
Great advice here! So, I cook broths with lots of garlic, ginger and onions, fresh is best but if you can't handle it, do it anyway, there is benefit! Turmeric helpful too, use curry powder and black pepper liberally in broths. Use a little cayenne too - some people can take lots but I have to go easy, it's strong.

Herbal tea a few times a day, many good choices, but I find for Western herbs, a combo of 3/4 peppermint and 1/4 elder flowers or elder berries is truly amazing!

Chinese herbs: Astragalus favorite, some find good luck with Ashwagandha or with the combo Yin Chao.

I am thin and sensitive to cold, so I dress warmly, no matter how silly it looks to everyone else

Hydrotherapy - bathe or shower in hottest water you can stand with epsom salts, baking soda, essential oils and/or raw apple cider vinegar in water, drink fennel or yarrow tea beforehand or during - idea is to sweat! Then dress warmly, go to bed and sleep. You can enhance this by placing cold wet cotton pajamas on if you have waterproof liners under your sheets and bedding (best if cotton or natural fiber of course), which simulates what Dr. Christopher called a "cold sheet treatment."

I know some people have great luck with homeopathy with a cold, but the trick is finding the right remedy if not a combo.

Best to all of you!
 
Mary-Ellen Zands wrote: I made now for the second year in a row elderberry cough syrup, that helps for preventative and for when you have a cold. Used to sell out at the farmers markets of my syrups. Elderflower syrups also very good for the lungs preparing them for hay fever season and colds of course. Also make tinctures from elderberries.


Would you mind sharing how you make the cough syrup? I don't have any experience in this, so the more details, the better.
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Isobel Brodie wrote:“To what extent can medicinal plants be used to alleviate or cure symptoms of the common cold?”.

My answer is "to a great extent"...perhaps to the point where you don't feel sick at all. But the bigger question for me has been to what extent medicinal plants used as a daily part of the diet can help ensure you don't get sick in the first place - this is where the real magic comes in Utilizing the big "kitchen medicine" herbs and spices like garlic, onion, turmeric, thyme, basil, oregano, black pepper and red pepper, among many many others, in your normal diet, goes a long way. All those antimicrobial and immune boosting phytochemicals thwart the onset of infection and/or provide your body the tools it needs to combat an oncoming infection before it's gained a foothold. This is where herbal medicine has really excelled in my life and I take that function as seriously, if not more so, than the alleviating/curing symptoms function. The human body has a goal of health, and there are seemingly countless mechanisms at work trying to accomplish this 24/7, but often it needs help. Giving it the help it needs before it's in the danger zone is just plain smart An ounce of prevention > a pound of the cure, right?

Isobel Brodie wrote:what medicinal plants or remedies you would recommend to treat symptoms of the common cold.

Garlic, onion, turmeric, oregano, black pepper, red pepper - these are what come to mind as the general go-to herbs and spices (aka "kitchen medicine") when I feel even the slightest hint of "under the weather" coming on.

Isobel Brodie wrote:runny nose or nasal congestion

Runny nose and/or congestion usually means there's an infection occurring in the sinus - first and foremost, the infection is the enemy while the runny nose and/or congestion is the body's way of trying to stop that infection in its tracts. Depending on severity, it might be best to allow that to happen the way it does and use your general antimicrobial and immune-boosting herbs and spices, a little heavier now, to help the body stomp the life out of that bad guy At times, of course, it becomes "too much" - a snowball effect where the body is losing the battle to an especially nasty bad guy and the mucus production far exceeds what would normally be helpful, becoming even detrimental (can't breath well, can't sleep, issues with gunk going down the wrong way, etc). At that point, you have, still in your herb and spice rack, some excellent tools for getting that stuff out of there to make things a bit more comfortable and accommodating to the "you" in this battle.

My go-to here is wintergreen and spicy food - red pepper and black pepper will help to break up that mucus and get it to clear a little easier. In the occurrence of a very runny nose, sometimes sage is good - it will help dry out those mucus membranes, reducing the amount of "runniness" being produced.

Isobel Brodie wrote:sneezing

Sneezing is that infection trying to set in and your body trying to kick it out. To me, sneezing is a non-symptom...though I rarely have been sick in the last don't know how many years, so can't remember what it's like to have a serious problem with it. I'd generally go to the same ones above, for runny nose and nasal congestion, as that's the next phase of a sneezing issue.

Isobel Brodie wrote:coughing

Coughing - now that's something I do have to deal with often. It couldn't be because I smoke ciggies though - that's just modern folklore Coughing is similar to the sneezing in that the body is trying to clear something out - kick it to the curb. There are a few different type of coughing: dry hacking cough, wet hacking cough and that annoying impulsive cough that's not hacking but persistent.

When you have the dry hacking cough, you need more mucus, so eat some mucilaginous plants and herbs - mallows, okra, plantain, mullein, etc. Anything slimy will do it. This increases your mucus production, soothes the inflamed tissue that's triggering the cough reflex, and helps kick the critter doing damage out. Your goal is to turn the dry hacking to a wet, productive hacking

When the the cough is wet hacking, it's either going to be productive (crap coming up) or non-productive (you can hear the crap gurgling about in there while coughing, but nothing comes up). If it's productive, it's working. Don't do anything special for that cough - just use your antimicrobial and immune-boosting toolkit. If it's ridiculous levels of mucus coming up, some sage will help keep that mucus production in check, similar to when there's too much runny nose going on

If it's a non-productive, wet and hacking cough, though, what you have is a snowball effect of too much mucus. Break that up with the same you'd use to break up mucus in the sinuses - wintergreen, red and black pepper. Oregano is also good here (as it is everywhere, really).

Those annoying, impulsive coughs where there's no tickle and no hacking - just a sort of every few seconds "cough-cough-cough" - your experiencing a problem with your nervous system. There's something triggering the impulse, the cough reflex, and it shouldn't be. If it continues, you'll likely get a separate infection due to the irritation/inflammation from that cough, so it's a rare case where it's usually best to stop it quick Use your regular antimicrobial/immune-boosting herbs and spices plus something to put a damper on the cough reflex. Coltsfoot is good, as is mullein, both smoked like a ciggy. I had an experience with this many years ago (over 10 years now) where I turned to datura stromonium - smoking small amounts (a puff or two) will stop that cough in its tracks.

Isobel Brodie wrote:sore throat

Sore anything = inflammation. Turmeric is probably the best anti-inflammatory in your spice rack (it is in your spice rack, right?)

Isobel Brodie wrote:fever

Fever = immune system kicking ass, or trying to. Fevers are good. Normal fevers, that is. High fevers are pushing it. If you're burning up, time to break out the hot mint and oregano tea. Wrap in blankets, drink a couple of cups of hot, hot tea made with mint and oregano, maybe some basil, and you'll start sweating. Sweat that demon out and you'll be alright.

Isobel Brodie wrote:mild head aches and body aches

Aches = inflammation, though I do treat them a little differently. Perhaps some willow bark and/or wintergreen for the natural "aspirin" effect. Turmeric can't hurt. More often than not, head aches are due to the dehydration you're suffering in conjunction with the other symptoms and are mostly unrelated. Hydrate well and you'll suffer less of this.

Isobel Brodie wrote:watery eyes

Watery eyes tend to be a symptom of a symptom...headaches and the like. Take care of the others and this is usually taken care of as well. If all else fails, sage can help here as well - it just sort of dries you out.

Isobel Brodie wrote:fatigue

Fatigue, again, is a symptom of all else mostly and secondarily is a symptom of all your energy going in to fighting this infection. By taking the herbs and spices that will help your body do its job, you'll be less likely to experience severe fatigue, and if you do, it'll last a lot less time than otherwise since your body will be able to kick the infection faster with the help you've given it. Fatigue is also often a sign of dehydration. Hydrate well. Especially if you've found yourself sweating out a fever - you'd be amazed how much sweat a body can produce when its in trouble! Hydrate hydrate hydrate.

One additional thing that's not an herb but has proven so effective that it'd be a shame to not mention it is colloidal silver. Look it up, do the research and decide for yourself. I've taken it off and on for well over a decade. I've helped cure weird and nasty things in others using it. No one I've encouraged to try it has turned blue and I have not turned blue. I make my own, and I don't look like a smurf.

Disclaimer - I'm a moron with no formal medical training or even formal alternative health training. I read books and study life, like any good permaculturist, and am sharing what has worked, and continues to work, for me and mine. If you take my words as gospel, you, too, are a moron and need to be locked up in the padded room next to mine. I am not a licensed physician and cannot give medical advice, etc etc.
For sore throat, chewing fresh ginger.
Echinacea tincture spray several times a day.
Hot poultice, preferably linseed if not wholemeal flour mixed with very hot water into a thick paste, wrapped in a tea towel (like a fat sausage), apply to the throat as hot as possible without burning yourself, keep until cooled down, put a scarf on afterwards to keep your throat warm. Repeat as needed.
Gargle with sage and marigold tea.

Chop an inch of fresh ginger into a small saucepan of water, bring to the boil and let it simmer gently for 2 or 3 minutes, add a heaped tablespoon full of elder flowers and peppermint, bring back to the boil, and turn heat off. Let it steep for 5 minutes or so, strain and add some honey. Elderflower will make you sweat and bring down a fever.
Ginger, lemon and honey tea.
Rose hips tea contains vitamin C.
Sage and thyme infusion, alone or together

Inhalations with tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus essential oils separately or together at the beginning of a cold, Pine or Benzoin later on if chest is affected.
If chest is hurting, mustard poultice made with crushing BLACK mustard seeds in a pestle and mortar, sprinkle the powder onto a tea towel, spread a hot paste made of whole wheat flour and hot water on top of it, fold the towel making a square shape, wait for the paste to cool a bit and apply to your chest. It will start smarting and burning after a short while. Do not keep for too long or you could blister, use your common sense. Keep your chest warm afterwards. Repeat if necessary.

Pleurisy root (Asclepias tuberosa) A teacupful of the warm infusion taken every hour will promote free perspiration and suppressed expectoration.
Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) As above.
Borage infusion for coughs
Syrup made 1 part lemon juice, one part honey, 2 parts glycerine, shake well , good for coughs
Chop a couple of cloves of garlic, put in a saucer, add a large dollop of honey on top and cover with an upside down glass or cup, let the garlic juice infuse the honey for 2 or 3 hours or more, heat the garlicky honey a teaspoon at the time. Best made fresh regularly. Works with onion also.

Propolis tincture
Golden seal is better once the mucous membranes are affected not at the very beginning of a cold or sore throat.

Cut out dairy, sugar, wheat and oats. Oats and dairy induce mucus.
Drink a lot of water with a bit of lemon juice in it.

That's what first comes to mind, but I haven't had a cold for a long time. Each cold and each person is different therefore one would use different, appropriate remedies at different times. Although herbal, any remedy should not be taken for long periods of time, for instance, the harmless garden sage, can become toxic if drunk as an infusion for more than 3 weeks.

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There are likely as many recipes for elderberry syrup as there are herbalists where elderberry is available.

Here is one:
2 oz dried organic elderberries
1/2 oz EACH of dried echinacea root, dried astragalus root, cinnamon chips, 1/3 oz dried elder flowers.

Simmer in a quart of water for ~ 1/2 hour. strain, sweeten to taste with honey or the sweetener of your choice. store in the frige, dose: 1t to 1T 1 or 2 x per day for prevention, increase the frequency of the dose if you are exposed to contagious people, or if you are over tired or get a chill or other environmental stressor. The presence of stressors should be the signal to increase the frequency of the dosing, because in the presence of stress, the immune system "weakens" and then you become vulnerable to colonization by those nice germies just looking for a great place to settle and raise a family.

When you strain the herbs, you can retain them and rebrew them as you would for tea, there is enough flavor to enjoy it hot or cold as tea.

Re sambucol: effective yes, but probably not as effective as in combination with the other compounds in the elderberry.
 
Thekla McDaniels wrote:There are likely as many recipes for elderberry syrup as there are herbalists where elderberry is available.

Here is one:
2 oz dried organic elderberries
1/2 oz EACH of dried echinacea root, dried astragalus root, cinnamon chips, 1/3 oz dried elder flowers.

Simmer in a quart of water for ~ 1/2 hour. strain, sweeten to taste with honey or the sweetener of your choice. store in the frige, dose: 1t to 1T 1 or 2 x per day for prevention, increase the frequency of the dose if you are exposed to contagious people, or if you are over tired or get a chill or other environmental stressor. The presence of stressors should be the signal to increase the frequency of the dosing, because in the presence of stress, the immune system "weakens" and then you become vulnerable to colonization by those nice germies just looking for a great place to settle and raise a family.

When you strain the herbs, you can retain them and rebrew them as you would for tea, there is enough flavor to enjoy it hot or cold as tea.

Re sambucol: effective yes, but probably not as effective as in combination with the other compounds in the elderberry.


Thank you, I appreciate it.
 
Todd Parr wrote:
Mary-Ellen Zands wrote: I made now for the second year in a row elderberry cough syrup, that helps for preventative and for when you have a cold. Used to sell out at the farmers markets of my syrups. Elderflower syrups also very good for the lungs preparing them for hay fever season and colds of course. Also make tinctures from elderberries.


Would you mind sharing how you make the cough syrup? I don't have any experience in this, so the more details, the better.


Homemade Elderberry Syrup
6 cups fresh picked de stemmed elderberries
10 star anise (leave them whole)
As much fresh ginger as you like, just slice into rounds.
4 whole cinnamon sticks
20 whole cloves
4 litres of water
Simmer the whole concoction on the stove overnight. When cool , but still warm enough to dissolve the honey add
4 cups of raw honey
Bottle and keep in fridge.


That looks like a great syrup, Mary-Ellen!
Thanks Thekla, it is really delicious, a big hit for getting kids to like cough syrup. I sold this syrup at the market to a couple from Thailand. They came back 3 weeks in a row to buy more syrup. I asked if someone at home was really sick? The husband replied no I love this drink. It makes me feel good! He was drinking it as a health tonic.
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I keep a pot of fresh papaya leaf tea on the counter in the kitchen. When neighbors drop by & are sick with a bit of "gripe" they ask for the tea.....it doesn't taste very good but is worth it.Papaya leaf tea raises the blood platelets so it is efficient for combating a variety of illnesses....Here in Costa Rica we also deal with mosquito transmitted desises. The papaya leaf has been scientifically proven to fight off dengue fever or cure it...and are currently trying to make a vaccine from it. I personally feel that the medicines are best in their natural form. If one does not have access to fresh papaya a dried tea works as well.
I am lucky to live in a natural pharmacy and learn from the people living here about all the different remedies we have here.
I grow Bee Balm (Monarda) and Calendula in my garden.  I dry the Calendula petals and Bee Balm leaves and soak them in a sterile jar with half raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar and half raw local honey.  I believe this is called and Oxymel. When I feel like I may be coming down with something, I take a tablespoon along with a few drops of bee popolis tincture that I get from a local beekeeper.  I haven't been sick in a few years.  Knock wood!
And now I present magical permaculture hypno cards. The idea is to give them to people that think all your permaculture babble is crazy talk. And be amazed as they apologize for the past derision, and beg you for your permaculture wisdom. If only there were some sort of consumer based event coming where you could have an excuse to slip them a deck ... richsoil.com/cards


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