So many folk are suffering from coughs and chest infections right now! I’d like to share with you some of my favourite products, herbs and tips for how to feel better.
Elderberry syrup: Syrups soothe the throat, ease a cough, and coats mucous membranes that are sore and inflamed. Elderberry can help clear catarrh lining the ears, nose, throat and chest. It is also an immune-stimulant. It gently stimulates sweating to reduce a fever, regulating the body temperature and resolving infection more quickly. Elderberry syrup tastes great and is easy to give to children, especially fussy ones! Many of our customers have a bottle handy throughout the winter and find it a reliable ‘tonic’ for all types of winter sniffles and coughs.
Garlic: Anti-microbial, and has historically been used against many types of bacteria and virus. In particular, garlic is often used against influenza, which is often the cause of a cough or chest infection. Garlic is best eaten crushed and raw, but for those who don’t want to do that (I understand!) tablets and capsules are available. Try to go for a strong dose, as the active ingredient is present in a large quantity. The active ingredient is a sulphur compound called allicin, this is only produced when the garlic is crushed or chewed –so always crush fresh garlic before you chop it!
Echinacea: Historically, Echinacea has been used by the American Indians for more illnesses than any other plant. It has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It stimulates the immune system to promote T-cell activation, which increases your immune capability. Echinacea comes mostly in tincture form (drops) although tablets are available. Drops diluted in water absorb easily and can also be gargled to help fight off any infection in the throat. At the onset of illness, if you have Echinacea at hand, try to take a dose every 2 hours. This really revs the immune system, hopefully lessening the extent of your cough in the first place.
Ivy and Thyme complex: This is essentially a cough bottle in tincture form. I’ve had a few friends who found this really effective for a cough they couldn’t shake. Both the ivy and the thyme are traditional herbal remedies used for coughs and bronchial tract infections. They are expectorant, (they bring up phlegm) and demulcent, (they soothe the delicate membranes in your chest, throat and sinus).
Vitamin C: Numerous studies have proven the effectiveness for vitamin C for prevention and relief of cold and flu symptoms. One 500mg vitamin C tablet a day may not be enough to combat an infection, the key is to take 500mg maybe three times spaced out through the day. The best way to get enough vitamin C for relief from coughs, is to take food source capsules and to eat lots of vitamin C rich foods. TerraNova is a brand of vitamins which offers amazing food sourced vitamins at good prices and vitamin C rich foods include, kiwi fruit, broccoli, red peppers and kale.
Zinc: Zinc is involved in virtually every aspect of immunity. If the throat is hoarse, zinc lozenges are the way to go, (you can often get zinc and vitamin C lozenges together). When the zinc makes contact with the soft tissue in the throat and sinus, it has a healing action. We have zinc lozenges here in Evergreen that are super tasty.
Teas for coughs: I love herbal teas, and they are a great way to hydrate yourself day to day. They are also a really easy way to use herbal remedies. Here is a list of some of my favourites for the chest:
Liquorice - Loosens and thins mucous, eases congestion.
Thyme - Relaxes muscles of the trachea and bronchi and opens up airways.
Lemon and ginger tea - Warming and soothing on the chest.
All these teas are great as they keep your fluid levels up as well as having healing properties. If you have any honey at home, maybe add a teaspoon, manuka honey or raw honey is best as it has immune benefits.If you’re feeling brave and want to make a real immune boosting tea, you could add a slug of apple cider vinegar to teas and maybe a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper. It’s not for the faint hearted, but it sure clears out the airways!
Gargles and inhalations: Why not try to gargle salt water. When you gargle salt water, it helps dislodge phlegm from the chest and throat, it also brings down inflammation. If you have a sore throat or a cough, I really think you should be gargling twice a day at least.
Get Steamed: Never underestimate the effectiveness of steam inhalations. A few drops of an anti-bacterial essential oil such as tea tree, lemon or lemon- myrtle in steaming water will reach into the bronchial tract, sterilize and loosen out phlegm. Thyme oil also works well to open up airways as does eucalyptus or mint.