Well it’s that time of the year for the crud…coughing, sneezing, fever, sore throat, etc. Unfortunately, we can’t lock ourselves in a hermetically sealed room all the time and therefore we are exposed to millions of germs each day. Germs include bacteria, fungi, protazoa, and viruses. However, just because we are exposed to these germs doesn’t necessarily mean we will get sick. Fortunately, we have a built in defense which helps to protect us from foreign invaders….our immune system. Think of the immune system as a huge fortress with soldiers standing guard. On the outside of the fortress is the germ army preparing an attack. The germ army is looking for all kinds of ways to penetrate the fortress and attack the inhabitants. So in order to keep our immune system strong and prevent illness we can do a few simple things all the time:
* Get plenty of sleep. When the body is deprived of sleep it is more vulnerable to attack.
* Eat healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
* Avoid sugar. Germs feed off of sugar.
* Reduce stress
* Practice good hygiene.
* Laugh a lot. You’ve heard the proverbial saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”, and well it’s true. Laughter helps to increase the number of immune cells that attack foreign invaders in the body.
My mother woke up with a very dry cough which brought her lurching forward to hold her rip cage. She described it as a tickle in her throat that wouldn’t go away. Compelled to relieve her from what I knew to be extreme discomfort I made her some slippery elm lozenges. The recipe is rather simple:
Add slippery elm powder to honey until you get the consistency of play dough. Roll it between you hands to make a snake about the diameter of your pinky finger. Pinch off about a quarter of an inch and roll into a ball. These can be rolled in licorice root or more slippery elm powder and dried in a low temp oven.
Because my mother needed help immediately I gave her the lozenge without drying it. It stuck to the roof of her mouth like peanut butter, but within less than 15 minutes she was no longer coughing. She sucked on the lozenges for the rest of the day and the coughing completely disappeared and has not returned.
After the crud had run it’s coarse with the rest of the family it settled in with me despite my attempts to keep my immune system strong. (There was that fit that my 7 year old threw which stressed me to the max) Sometimes these little germ guys just find there way in regardless of what you do. I’m probably the worst patient I have and continue to run and do and skip my herbs. However, the nasal congestion had gotten to critical mass with pressure which seemed like my head would literally explode. I remembered an article that herbalist Jim Mcdonald had written about Yerba Mansa nasal spray. At this point I would basically try anything. I made up a batch of Jim’s nasal spray and within minutes felt some relief. I also took a few drops of the tincture internally for good measure.
I guess the moral to this story for me is to take time out and take care of myself before things go full blown.