Our hearts are heavy for all of the people, animals and plants affected by the ongoing Australian bushfires.
Over 100 fires are currently sweeping eastern Australia, and have since destroyed over 970,000 hectares of land. As of early Thursday morning, there were nearly 70 fires burning across NSW and over 70 fires in Queensland.
With the widespread fires comes a lot of smoke and debris in the air which is a big health concern. Inhaling particulate matter from smoke can exacerbate asthma and heart disease, as well as cause respiratory irritation and shortness of breath. Children, the elderly and animals are especially at risk here. High exposure can also lead to more serious problems down the road, such as lung cancer.
Additionally, stress levels are rising as homes and lives are threatened. Here are some key herbs you can integrate into your life to help protect you and your family from bushfire smoke and also help reduce stress during this scary time.
The name of this herb means ‘cough stopper’ and has been used for that very reason for millennia. Coltsfoot clears mucous from the lungs, soothes lung tissue and stops wheezing. It is excellent for whooping cough, chronic or acute bronchitis, irritating dry cough and asthma. NOTE: In Australia, Coltsfoot is restricted for internal use (tea or tincture), despite a long history of safe use. Amazingly, it is still beneficial for the lungs when smoked of vaped!
Our favourite happy herb (for good reason), damiana is an excellent plant for healing from traumatic experiences and grief, as well as working through everyday stress and anxiety. It can also help alleviate depression and the side effects associated with it, such as uplifting mood and boosting libido.
Elecampane is a plant that has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. A gently warming and tonic herb, it is especially effective in treating coughs, bronchitis and many other complaints of the chest as well as disorders of the digestive system. It also restores the lungs by healing damaged lung linings.
Great mullein is a commonly used domestic herbal remedy, valued for its efficacy in the treatment of pectoral complaints. It acts by reducing the formation of mucus and stimulating the coughing up of phlegm, and is a specific treatment for tracheitis and bronchitis. The leaves and the flowers are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant and vulnerary. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of a wide range of chest complaints and also to treat diarrhoea.
The Native American Indians smoked mullein for sore throats and lung congestion. On top of all this, it has been proven to be beneficial for smokers’ lungs and can assist in weaning one off tobacco addiction. It has a calming effect on all inflamed and irritated nerves and this is why it works so well relieving coughs, cramps, and spasms.
A primary remedy for infection, echinacea is effective against bacterial and viral attacks. It is particularly useful against colds, flus, infections of the upper respiratory tract, strep throat, tonsillitis, as well as septicemia, boils, skin eruptions, wounds and arthritis. Echinacea also raises levels of white blood cells and activates macrophages and is thus tumour-inhibiting. NOTE: Not suitable for people who are allergic to the Asteraceae family of plants (daisies) or who are undergoing immuno-suppresant therapy.
Also known as Holy Basil, this traditional Ayurvedic herb has been revered in India for thousands of years. Tulsi is an excellent choice for assisting coughs, colds and fevers, as well as improving digestion, relaxing the soul and sharpening the mind. It is considered an adaptogen – a herb which improves resistance to stress – and has been used as a preventative against epidemics such as cholera, influenza as well as malaria. With all this going for it, Tulsi is definitely a must to have on hand during the winter months!
Because of the abundance of mucilage it contains, marshmallow is an excellent demulcent meaning that it is soothing to the respiratory system and protects the sensitive mucous membranes of your respiratory tract. Marshmallow is useful to cool and soothe the irritation of sore throats and coughs. Licorice Root: Another demulcent, licorice root is excellent for protecting the mucous membranes from excessive particulate matter. NOTE: this herb has been known to increase blood pressure when taken in large amounts.
In addition to reducing anxiety and stress, rubbing some lavender essential oil on your chest can expand breathing capacity. Lobelia: As a bronchodilator and anti-spasmodic, lobelia helps with bronchitis, pneumonia or general coughs. We include it in our Breathe Easy spagyric blend, along with other lung healing plants. NOTE: As Lobelia can be toxic in high doses, it is restricted for internal use in Australia, unless under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Reishi mushroom, most commonly used for immune system support, also aids in lung conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Even with short-term use, Reishi can do a lot to help reduce chances and signs of asthma.
As a bronchodilator and anti-spasmodic, lobelia helps with bronchitis, pneumonia or general coughs. NOTE: As Lobelia can be toxic in high doses, it is restricted for internal use in Australia, unless under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Schizandra chinensis enjoys millennia of traditional use for prolonging life and increasing energy. Considered one of the most highly protective of all medicinal plants, schizandra possesses significant protective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity–it helps to maintain healthy cells throughout the body. Schizandra increases production of the enzyme glutathione, which aids in detoxifying the body and increasing alertness, memory and concentration. Today Schizandra is being used in the treatment of heart, liver and central nervous system disorders. Schizandra is also potent adaptogen making it helpful for stress which is also very high during this difficult and scary time. As an adaptogen, Schizandra is a potent general tonic, decreasing fatigue, enhancing physical performance, and promoting endurance. The berry counters stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the blood.
Individually or all blended together as one tea or smoking blend, these healing plants can help protect the physical and mental health of you and your family.
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