I found myself under the weather about a month ago intially dealing with a sore throat and then having it move into my chest presenting with an irritable dry cough. Depsite the fact that I try to keep my immune system strong there are occassions when even herbalists become their own patients.
When I encounter a dry and irritable cough I know that its time to reach for a demulcent. A demulcent helps to soothe irritated tissue and moisten the mucus membranes. A demulcent is indicated when there is a dry irritable cough with little expectoration. I was also looking for an herbal expectorant. Expectorants increase the flow of mucus and help expel thick excess mucus from the lungs. The last thing I want to do is suppress a cough and have it move into a more severe condition.
I love using remedies that are inexpensive and readily available. A wonderful demulcent that quite a few people might already have at the house are flaxseeds. Flaxseeds not only fit the bill as a wonderful demulcent, but they are also an expectorant. So for my cough I prepared myself a tea using 2 tbsp of flaxseed to one cup of water. I boiled the water and poured it over the flax and let it sit for about 10-15 mins or until it got real slimy and thick. I then strained off the seeds and for an extra boost I added some elderberry syrup. The elderberry syrup added a nice flavor as well as an immune boost. If you don’t have elderberry syrup around you can add some fresh lemon juice and honey. I took a tablespoon of the mixture as often as I felt like I needed. It really helped with both the sore throat and the irritable cough. By helping to relax and soothe the underlying reflex without completely suppressing the cough it allowed my body to get some rest from the irritation of the cough.
Demulcents help to lubricate or moisten all mucus membranes to include those of the bowels. Because of their moistening effect Flaxseeds can also be a wonderful aid for constipation and Irritable bowel conditions. Some other benefits of Flaxseeds is that they are high in the good Omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber and manganese. Flaxseeds are also a good source of magnesium as well as antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals.
Besides making them into a tea Flaxseeds can be ground up and sprinkled on food or used when cooking muffins or breads. Flax seeds can be found at most grocery stores or health foods stores and are an inexpensive and a beneficial addition to any medicine/kitchen cabinet.