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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.

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GarlicToday there is a bit of a chill in the air and I’m thinking about soups and stews.  One thing I love to put into my soups and stews is Garlic.  What a phenominal herb it is.  Not only does Garlic add a wonderful flavor to hundreds of dishes, but it also has a list of health benefits and uses that is almost endless.  Garlic is best eaten raw, but still contains some beneficial properties when lightly cooked.

Sometimes refered to as Poor Man’s Penicillin, Garlic is a premiere substitute for antibotics without the harsh side effects.  When my son was really young and it was apparent he was coming down with something I would mash up several cloves of garlic and pour enough olive oil over the cloves to cover them.  I would then let the mixture sit for as long as I could, at least 30 mins or more, and then I would strain it.  I would then take the olive oil and apply it to the bottom of his feet and put him on a pair of socks.  Off to bed he would go and in the morning you would never know he had been sick.  The fever would be gone and he would be feeling fine.

Garlic is a mild blood thinner, can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and increase circulation.  Some research indicates that Garlic may help to lower blood sugar levels in some people making it beneficial for diabetics.  Because of Garlics antimicrobial,  and anti-bacterial properties it may be beneficial with any number of infections and may help to rid the body of parasites.  Garlic is also a wonder antifungal and may be used both internally or applied externally for conditions such as nail fungus and athletes foot.

So when dinner rolls around tonight don’t forget the Garlic.  Bon appetit!

P.S…another bonus to eating a lot of garlic is that it will not only keep people away such as salesmen, but you won’t have to worry about those pesky vampires this Halloween.

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Seems like everybody I talk to is frantic about this whole H1N1 Flu.  A common stomach virus has everyone rushing off to the doctors office to determine whether it’s the flu or not.  Instead of reiterating all the information that is already out there on the web I thought I would direct readers to the most credible information I have found.

Swine Flu Vaccinations and Antiviral Drugs: A Matter of Faith – This is a post by Michael Tierra which discusses the myths associated with the H1N1 Flu and antivirals.

See also the videos I posted earlier from herbalist Paul Bergner.

Here is a list of herbs used for cold and flu compiled by herbalist Paul Bergner.

This article is written by herbalist Kiva Rose and discusses natural remedies for prevention and also how to avoid the cytokine storm which may come from over stimulation of the immune system.

Here is a fabulous article in the Journal of Medical Herbalism which addresses the issues associated with the 1918 pandemic and herbs and supplements to help prevent H1N1.

I hope that by reading some of these articles it will help people to help themselves by practicing prevention.  If for some reason you do get the flu or know someone with the flu…don’t panic.  There are a plethora of herbs which can aid the body even if the flu does set in.

 

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Although I don’t claim to be a poet, I have really been enjoying writing my herbal rhymes. I have written quite a number of them and may eventually compile them for who knows why….Perhaps someone out there may find them fun, interesting, irrelevant, helpful, goofy….something. So, today I’m going to share with you one for Oatstraw.

Ode to Avena sativa (Oats)

Your sleepless and your restless
Your mind is not at ease
You do for others all the time
Trying hard to please

Your hair has lost it’s luster
and feels like horses straw
Your nails they break,
for goodness sakes,
and your one last nerve is raw

Feeling quite lethargic
your energy it did wane
Your head it hurts on down your spine
And is causing you such pain

Sweet and moist,
the milky seed,
a tonic for the nerves
Kick on back,
and just relax,
its just what you deserve.

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Ode to Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)

Lacerations and bruises, bleeding and chills, a fever and fibroids yarrow it heals.

Though bitter and pungent, cold and dry this herb will cool and tonify.

The tongue it is red and cracked down the middle, the veins they are blue and fast like a fiddle.

When you are irritated and tissue depressed, the veins it will cool along with the chest.

Dyspepsia, colitis, arthritis and gout Yarrow’s not an herb you want to rule out.

When the maidens flow comes to her late, yarrow’s an herb which will promote and stimulate.

Her loins they will cramp, her flow in excess, yarrow will slow the bleed and make it less.

When the pressure is high and the head it aches, a tea of the flowers for goodness sakes.

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