As with all health imbalances, the best place to “nip the problem in the bud” is by attempting to determine the cause. In the case of acute respiratory problems, infections are often involved. These conditions may be decreased in occurrence or severity by simple activities such as proper and regular hand washing, and assisting the immune system with a good diet and regular sleep.
More chronic conditions may be linked to genetic weakness, but can often be avoided or controlled by dietary monitoring. The most universal “dietary devils” are dairy and wheat products. Most people who suffer from chronic respiratory conditions would be helped by totally eliminating these two food groups from the diet. In addition, individualized food allergy testing can be greatly beneficial to determine other foods that may be influencing an individual, such as eggs, citrus and soy.
Many people run to their physicians to get anti-biotics when they have a minor respiratory ailment such as a cold. Actually, all doctors should do a test called a ‘culture and sensitivity’ before prescribing any anti-biotic. This is for several reasons. First of all, different micro-organisms can be eradicated by different anti-biotics, so just using a one size fits all, is the incorrect approach. In addition, many respiratory infections are due to VIRUSES and NOT bacteria. In this situation, the use of anti-biotics is ineffective, and, in addition, the over-use of antibiotics is the main cause in the rapid evolvement of resistant strains of micro-organisms. This dangerous trend is causing an increase in hospital deaths, as well as many other serious health issues.
At the first sign of a cold, or even before one gets started, consider gargling with hot salt water 2 to 3 times per day. Also, make lemon tea, by squeezing ½ lemon into a cup of hot water, add a teaspoon of honey, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.Herbs can be a beneficial adjunct to an overall health program to help support respiratory wellness. There are several herbs that have been used traditionally to strengthen the lungs. These include Elecampane, Coltsfoot, Hyssop, Goldenseal, Bayberry and Cayenne. These are available as single herb formulas , and also in a useful combination called Broncitone™ (from Nature’s Answer®), which synergistically combines all of these potent herbs in an “all-in-one”, proprietary blend kosher formula (alcohol-free liquid or vegetarian capsule), and is an ideal supplement to include as part of an overall respiratory health program.
Key herbs include:
Elecampane (Inula helenium): Elecampane is high in inulin, and has been historically used as a medicine in traditional herbalism. It acts as an expectorant, and is chiefly used for coughs, bronchitis and other pulmonary complaints, including chronic illnesses such as asthma.
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara): The latin name for Coltsfoot, Tussilago, translates to “cough dispeller”. Ancient use of this herb has led to it being referred to as the “best herb” for lungs. The British Pharmacopeia recommended the use of Syrup of Coltsfoot for chronic bronchitis. It has expectorant, demulcent and tonic properties.
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis): Hyssop is an aromatic herb that contains aromatic oils, which act as a mild stimulant and expectorant. It is especially useful to help loosen thickened mucous secretions that cause congestion in the respiratory system.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis): Goldenseal has been used by traditional herbalists for upper respiratory infections, and soothes the mucous membranes due to its astringent properties. Goldenseal has two primary alkaloids, berberine and hydrastine.
Bayberry (Myrica cerifera): Bayberry has been used as a gargle, especially for inflammation of the throat. It has astringent and stimulant properties.
Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens): Cayenne is a hot pepper that contains a substance known as capsaicin. It is used for many conditions in herbal medicine, including pain reduction and improved circulation. Cayenne is often added to combination formulas to help circulate the other herbs in the formula so they reach their target area.
By Ellen J. Kamhi, Ph.D., R.N., The Natural Nurse®
Ellen Kamhi PhD RN, The Natural Nurse®, can be heard on radio daily. She is the author of several books, including THE NATURAL MEDICINE CHEST. Dr. Kamhi has been involved in natural health care for over 4 decades. She is available for group presentations, answers consumer questions at www.naturesanswer.com, and has a private practice.