My sister recently stopped by in a panic because my 5-year-old niece was coughing non-stop all day, and she has asthma. She has been working on changing their diet and determining her triggers, but for today she wanted me to mix up something quick and effective to help my niece stop coughing.
My sister told me that my niece was doing breathing treatments with Albuterol and Pulmicort and her asthmatic coughing was as persistent as ever. These meds have a place in our world when necessary and in an emergency, but they are not a cure-all. Albuterol is a bronchodilator, while Pulmicort is an inhaled steroid. Both Albuterol and Pulmicort are medications used to treat asthma. However, Albuterol is short-acting and reserved for acute symptoms management. Pulmicort is a medication taken daily to suppress the symptoms of asthma and therefore reduce the need to use Albuterol. Both have side effects worth reading about, so research them if you use this medication.
When my first son was a toddler, he took many doses of both of these meds to no avail, in addition to several other prescriptions. He got worse and ended up in the hospital or doctor’s office weekly. It was not until I started studying everything in detail and determining his triggers, and treating his stomach and food allergies that his condition started getting better.
But in my sister’s case, she had done everything her pediatrician advised, and my little niece was still coughing away. After a quick chat with the Pediatric After Hours Office, I explained what I wanted to prepare for my niece, and the doctor gave me the green light and said that my niece should go in the next day if her symptoms persisted.
With her pediatrician’s permission, I whipped up a quick herbal goodie bag from my herbal shop—some Cough Control Tea, which has fennel. ginger, fenugreek, and mullein and a red onion for a chest poultice. I also gave her drops of organic cayenne extract, drops of my lemon balm extract, and drops of my ginger mullein glycerite. The trick was getting this screaming coughing child to down less than an ounce of this spicy stuff with juice. She kicked and screamed, we bribed her with organic candy, and she gave in. The funny thing is that everyone has done some form of Cayenne shots in our home, and there is rarely a scream or kick from them, although we sometimes jump up and down and make faces. But we have gotten used to it, and I started them early, so now it is as common as drinking a glass of water; although my oldest sometimes freaks out, we usually handle the heat quite well.
The cool thing is that my niece’s cough stopped almost immediately, and I sent my sister home with enough herbs to make a few cups of tea and some herbal cough drops. I also advised her to add some raw crushed garlic to her tea. The next day the doctor checked her out, and she was doing much better. He said for my sister to continue giving her whatever she was using because it seemed to be helping.
I must say that not all coughs are the same so it is important that you pay attention and always seek medical advice to determine the cause of the cough as a serious cough can be a sign of bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, postnasal drainage, allergies and more.
If you are wondering why I chose some of the herbs mentioned for my niece’s cough; here is some helpful information about their medicinal properties:
Fenugreek – The seed part of fenugreek is a mucilaginous herb with an affinity for the lymphatic and respiratory systems. It is an excellent herb to use for conditions involving excess mucus or phlegm, such as asthma. It has bitter principles, saponins, which have dissolving and loosening properties, which may explain why it has been used to dissolve thick or hardened mucus and aid in its expulsion from the body. It may help expel toxic waste from the lymphatic system as mucus secretions come from the lymphatic system. Mucilage is also helpful in the digestive process.
Garlic has been used for centuries for its antibiotic and its ability to help with dry coughs. One significant advantage of garlic is that the bacteria do not seem to build up a resistance to it as they do to many modern antibiotics; “garlic does not seem to produce such resistant strains.” This also makes it potentially effective against hospital superbugs. To make an effective garlic syrup, mince a clove of garlic and place in a small bowl; cover with honey and cover the bowl with plastic wrap; marinate overnight, then strain off the garlic and place honey in a jar. Take one tablespoonful upon awakening, then throughout the day, as needed. This can also be done by using red onion and garlic for colds, flu, and coughs.
Fennel is an aromatic herb, beneficial for stimulating the digestive process. It has a long history of use in helping to overcome colic, gas, and other digestive disturbances. These oils appear to stimulate the lungs to eliminate phlegm. This is known as an expectorant action. Fennel also has diuretic properties. Historically, it has been used in cases of persistent coughs and bronchitis. It is also reported to have anti-convulsive properties.
Mullein is one of the primary herbs used for lung problems. It appears to have the ability to loosen mucus and move it out of the body. It also nourishes and strengthens the lung tissue, making it useful for all respiratory problems and pulmonary diseases. Mullein has been used to help reduce swelling in the lymph nodes as well.
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