Herbal Remedies for Coughs and Colds
Even though we are coming to the end of winter, coughs and colds seem to persist until the end of September. Instead of bracing yourself for the next round of antibiotics resort to herbs instead – and grow your own.
There are many herbs that can be used to help relieve ailments like coughs, colds, bronchitis and flu. Unlike most over the counter home treatments, herbs are affordable, they don’t just treat a single symptom, and most can double up in the kitchen.
“The philosophy behind using herbal preparations is to prevent illness by using herbs to build up the immune system and other functions of the body that strengthen resistance to disease, “ says Bouquet Garni herb’s Di-Di Hoffman, who has trained in herbal medicine.
“If you regularly suffer from flu during winter drink infusions of thyme and yarrow or parsley on a regular basis before and during winter to prevent the flu, rather than resorting to herbs when the flu strikes," says Di-Di
Common medicinal herbs
The five herbs he recommends are Thyme, Sage, Yarrow, Parsley and Viola heartsease.
Thyme is an outstanding lung strengthener, excellent anti-oxidant and tonic.
Sage has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties making it a good gargle for sore throats.
Yarrow lowers fever, and helps relieve infections, influenza, and sinusitis.
Parsley is an outstanding immune system booster and is full of vitamins A, C, E, and Iron.
Viola leaves relieve headaches and act as an anti-inflammatory. Chew the leaves to relieve a headache. A tea can be drunk to lower fever, cleanse toxins or act as an anti-inflammatory expectorant for whooping cough and acute bronchitis.
The herbs also combine well together, so that an infusion made from a bouquet garni of lemon thyme, yarrow and sage will collectively treat the symptoms of a cold or cough.
These herbs are also recommended because they are winter hardy and frost resistant, except for Sage. However it will winter well if it is kept in a sheltered sunny position.
Herbal infusions or teas are the easiest and quickest way to treat minor ailments and build up your general level of health. Use one of two sprigs of fresh herbs per cup, fill the cup with boiling water, leave 10/15 minutes, strain and drink.
You can also make a tincture, which is more concentrated. Place 300 g of fresh herbs in a jar; add 250-ml (1-cup) vodka, or grape vinegar depending on preference. Steep the herbs in the liquid for a month, preferably on a sunny windowsill. Gently shake the jar daily. Strain and store the tincture in a dark glass bottle. Use in small amounts as a tonic.
Herbs need a sheltered, draught-free area that catches the sun for at least four hours a day. It’s best to grow herbs in pots, so that they can be easily moved around. Fertilise every six to eight weeks especially if you are harvesting continuously.
Herbs in pots need good drainage and should only be watered one or twice a week in winter, preferably in the morning. Check the soil moisture levels daily because the soil should not dry out completely. Herbs don’t like wet feet so don’t put saucers underneath the pots.
When harvesting collect small quantities at a time and always leave two growth points on the twig for re-shooting.
For more information contact Bouquet Garni at (012) 8081044, or visit www.herb.co.za or subscribe to the free email herb newsletter by emailing
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