Basic Cough Herbal Syrup Recipe
Mix together these dried herbs: 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon each of lobelia, elecampane, coltsfoot, bone set, slippery elm, wild cherry bark, yarrow; 2 teaspoons Irish moss, 1 tablespoon each of balm of Gilead, mullein, and peppermint.
Add the dried herbal mixture to 4 cups of water and boil until the mixture is reduced by half. Strain well and add 2 cups of honey. Simmer an additional 30 minutes. Cool and add flavoring if desired.
Now, let's look at the ingredients more closely and see why we are using these particular herbs in this cough syrup.
Thyme has antispasmodic properties. This makes it effective to use for coughs and colds. The tendency of the herb to branch out as it grows is the signature of the plant. In this way; it relates to the "branches" found in the bronchial, alimentary, and urinary systems.
Lobelia is an expectorant, so it is good to use in cough syrups. It is also called asthma weed. It is prominent in remedies for treating asthma and bronchial disorders. The signature is the swollen seed capsules. They swell when it is time to collect them. The swollen seeds are indicators for all swellings and sprains, or for swollen conditions related to wet colds or chest ailments. Use the herb externally in a hot compress for swelling injuries or for sprains.
Elecampane is used because of its soothing properties. It was one of the main ingredients in a cough syrup recipe that comes to us from the Native American tradition. Here is the recipe: make a cough syrup by combining 2 cups each of elecampane root, spikenard root, and comfrey root. Mash the roots well and add them to a gallon of water. Boil the liquid until it is reduced by half and add 1 cup each of brandy and honey. Simmer an additional 30 minutes. The dose is 1 teaspoon every hour (or as needed).
Elecampane's yellow flowers are one of the plant's signatures. They signify that the herb is useful to the urinary system. In this case, elecampane helps induce urination, which is very useful when you have a cold. It helps you flush the toxins out of your body's system.
Coltsfoot is also called coughwort. The ancient romans called it tussilago, which means "cough plant." The principal active ingredient in coltsfoot is a throat-soothing mucilage. At one time coltsfoot was used as a smoking treatment for asthmatics. But studies have shown that the mucilage is destroyed by burning and so coltsfoot really has no therapeutic value when smoked. The herb's signature is that when its leaves are pressed together, they stay together. This led early herbalists to believe that the herb's active substance would stick to the toxins in the body. After that substance attaches itself to the toxins, the toxins can then be removed through the urinary tract. This is also true of horehound and sage. Both can be substituted for coltsfoot. The flowers of coltsfoot are yellow; this signifies that the herb is also diuretic in nature.
Boneset has been used to improve the condition of the mucous membranes of the alimentary and bronchial systems, the bowels, and the liver. It was also used by Native Americans as a diaphoretic, based on the belief that sweating out the toxins will help you heal. It grows in swamps or along the banks of rivers and streams, so it could be used for colds, influenza, or other "wet" diseases. The flowers are white, so I would consider it a good tonic to take as a blood purifier during times of illness.
Slippery elm is an emollient and a demulcent. The dried inner bark of the tree is the part used to prepare medicinal remedies. It is a great expectorant and helps to dispel phlegm. The signature is the bland mucilaginous substance that can be found by chewing the bark.
Wild cherry bark is astringent in nature. The gum, dissolved in a suitable base, is used as a pectoral sedative in cough syrup preparations. The bark can be used externally for cuts and sores as a decoction, as well as for bronchial disorders.
Yarrow can be added to the cough syrup because of its aspirinlike substances as well as its antibiotic properties. It will soothe the pain while the antibiotic properties fight the infection.
Irish moss is an emollient that stops coughs due to colds. Not only is it good to use for bronchial disorders, but it is also used for kidney or bowel complaints. The signature is its resemblance to the human bronchial system and the fact that when placed in hot water, the dried plant will yield a thick mucilaginous jelly.
Balm of Gilead is actually poplar tree buds, gathered in very late winter or early spring. The buds are considered to be a stimulating expectorant for bronchial disorders. Balm of Gilead has a soothing effect upon the throat so it is great to add to cough syrups, as it has a numbing substance that stops pain. When preparing an ointment, the buds are sometimes simmered in lard. When preparing a tincture to heal skin eruptions, bruises, cuts, or scrapes, they are placed in alcohol.
Mullein is also called lungwort. It is a demulcent and an emollient. It has pain-relieving properties. It also serves as an antibiotic because it can inhibit certain types of bacteria. The signature of mullein is the yellow flowers, signifying that it can be used as a diuretic. The woolly hairs on the leaves indicate a tickling sensation to the throat, therefore it is good to use in treating the bronchial system. Horehound can be substituted for mullein, although I prefer mullein.
Peppermint has the distinct ability to eliminate hardening mucus from the alimentary .and bronchial systems and to prevent further discomforts caused by mucus. Used with boneset and sage, it is considered a diaphoretic and can be used in a tea to treat colds. Its signature is that it grows in wet or mucky soils, thus it can be used for wet diseases of the bronchial system.
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