Dec 24, 2012


    Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis).

     A native of North America, goldenseal is one of the world's best-selling medicinal herbs. Most often used to combat bacterial or viral infections or to improve digestion, goldenseal is a specific for sinus congestion and upper respiratory mucus conditions. One of its many plant constituents is berberine, which has been the subject of several scientific investigations. Berberine has antibiotic, antispasmodic and sedative properties, and it stimulates the immune system.

     Goldenseal is usually added to other herbs, though it can be taken alone. To brew goldenseal tea, make an infusion using 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the dried root per cup of water and take 3 times daily. A little of the tincture goes a long way; the suggested dose is up to 1/4 teaspoon 3 times daily. Always buy goldenseal from a reputable source. In the past, goldenseal has been adulterated with turmeric, the bright yellow ingredient in curry powders, and other plants. High-quality goldenseal is expensive because the plant is rare in the wild (it was nearly harvested to extinction in the early 1900s) and difficult to grow.

Solidago vigaurea

   Goldenrod (Solidago vigaurea).

  This is Europe's only member of the Solidago species, unlike North America, which has several. The European goldenrod, which is far less showy than its American cousins, has a long history of medicinal use. For many herbalists, goldenrod is the herb of choice in treating the chronic inflammation of upper respiratory mucous membranes. It can also be added to other herbs in the treatment of influenza. Brew the tea as an infusion.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale).

     Ginger is a stimulant, though not so dramatic as cayenne pepper, horseradish, caffeine or Ma huang. Because of its gentle warming influence and its compatibility with all herbs, ginger is an ingredient in many teas blended for respiratory conditions, and its catalyst effect enhances their properties.

    Ginger is considered safe for people of all ages, from children to the elderly. The dried root should be simmered as a decoction, but fresh ginger root can be shredded or chopped and added to any tea, whether infusion or decoction. Powdered ginger can be used either way as well.

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis).

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)

      This may sound like an herb for the eyes, but it's really a specific for the mucous membranes. An anti-inflammatory astringent herb that fights congestion, eyebright helps clear the sinuses. It can be used alone or added to any herbal preparation for the upper respiratory tract.

       Brew the tea as an infusion; the recommended tincture dose is 1/2 teaspoon 3 times daily.

Elecampane (Inula belenium)

    The root or rhizome of this tall medicinal plant is a specific for bronchial coughs, especially in children. This expectorant, antimicrobial plant contains a relaxing mucilage, so that the productive coughing it stimulates is accompanied by a soothing action. Useful in the treatment of asthma and bronchial asthma, elecampane has a history of use in tuberculosis and other respiratory problems.

    Elecampane can be blended with other respiratory herbs or used alone. Its bitter principle stimulates digestion and appetite. Do not boil the herb, but brew an infusion by pouring 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon shredded root.