Herbs to strengthen the body’s defenses and alleviate colds

A healthy herbal tea is a marvel
A healthy herbal tea is a marvel

Coneflower, Sage & Co. to strengthen the body’s defenses and alleviate colds: The herbalist knows which medicinal plants have proven to cough and runny nose.

Already North American Natives knew the use of coneflower

Coneflower, Sage & Co. To strengthen the body’s defenses and alleviate colds: The herbalist knows which medicinal plants have proven to cough and runny nose.

It is said to have been used to treat snake bites and other poisoning: The coneflower is an ancient medicinal plant that was used centuries ago by North American Natives for a wide variety of diseases.

Meanwhile, there are new varieties in all imaginable colors. The effective ingredients, however, especially the original purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), which is used today as a home remedy mainly for colds to stimulate the immune system and strengthen the body’s defenses.

Effective in herb and root

The most important components of the plant are the so-called alkamides, polysaccharides and flavonoids, which activate and multiply the “phagocytes (scavenger cell)” of the immune system. These cells are responsible for rendering unwanted foreign bodies and disease germ harmless. The red coneflower contains these substances in the herb (flowers, leaves, stems) and in the root.

The herb provides the highest concentration of active ingredients at the beginning of flowering – depending on the weather and region in July or August. The best time to dig out the fine roots, however, is the fall, when the plant has stored all the vital substances in its subterranean parts. For the production of an echinacea tincture, therefore, a little patience is required.

In summer, the leaves and flowers are harvested and choped. For this you need a very sharp and sturdy knife, because not only the stems, also the prickly, orange flower heads are rather hard. Doused with alcohol, these parts of the plant then remain standing for a few weeks until a root is dug out and added in fall.

Then the elixir must ripen for another two to three weeks. It is important that the ingestion of the tincture, the relatively mild honey or a tea-cure starts immediately at the first sign of a cold. Even preventively, the proven home remedy is often used. However, you should take a longer break after six weeks at the latest – prolonged use can weaken the immune system.

The infectious obstructing ingredients of the coneflower can also be effective in external application. They protect the skin from the further spread of inflammation and stimulate the regeneration of the tissue. Echinacea ointment is therefore just as suitable for the treatment of skin irritation and abrasions as it is for children suffering from colds.

This ointment also helps to speed up the healing of cold sores (oral herpes). That’s why you can use them well in winter skiing in the intense mountain sun.

A family treasure of experience

In addition to coneflower, there are a number of ther plants that have been proven to be natural home remedies for colds for centuries. Well suited is fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), which is appreciated by gardeners also because of its pretty yellow umbels in the garden bed.

The use of its fruits to catarrhs of the upper respiratory tract is today even scientifically recognized. Its seeds contain an expectorant essential oil, which simultaneously stimulates the movement of the cilia in the respiratory tract and thus ensures the better removal of the secretion. Even a germicidal effect of the oil has now been detected.

The fennel is most often prepared as tea (pour 1 teaspoon with 1 cup of boiling water, leave to draw for 10 minutes, strain and sweeten with honey or syrup). Even pickled in honey, the fruits can unfold their beneficial effects. In order for the ingredients to dissolve well, the seeds should always be pounded in the mortar before preparation.

Also, a nice eye-catcher in the garden and a center of attraction for bees and bumblebees is the mullein (Verbascum densif orum), which has been protecting people for centuries from lightning stroke and other mischief and serves them as a reliable home remedy for coughing and hoarseness.

Its most important ingredients are mucilages that have a soothing effect on the inflamed mucous membranes. In order not to destroy them, you prepare a cold infusion with the flowers, which is slightly warmed up before taking. A mixture of mullein with marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), coltsfoot, ribwort or mallow calms the irritated airways.

Tried and tested home remedy

For the classic cold the thyme must not be missing. Its mucus-dissolving and antispasmodic essential oil is considered an excellent “disinfectant” that can successfully inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is applied most often as a tea to gargle. Its gray-green leaves can be harvested into the winter,

Cough candies can also be made with the herb – however, due to its fresher taste it is advised the use of lemon or citrus thyme, which has a slightly lower proportion of active ingredient. A proven home remedy that is often used to relieve cough and runny nose is inhalation.

In addition to thyme, fennel, antiseptic oregano, calming chamomile, antispasmodic peppermint and anti-inflammatory sage for the facial steam bath, which facilitates breathing, are recommended. The herbs are dashed with hot water in a bowl. Once the temperature is tolerable, breathe in under a towel for ten minutes.

Then dab the face dry and rest. The pain-relieving and disinfectant ingredients of sage in the tea also have an effect on sore throat – for drinking or gargling. The cough sweets can be prepared with sage instead of thyme. And last but not least, a tasty liqueur can be prepared with sage, which also performs well for sore throat and hoarseness.

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