Everyone loves a sunny Sunday. It was unusually warm and windy on this winter day in Texas, and people were outside playing in droves, celebrating sunshine and 75 degrees, especially since the next week’s forecast called for rainy February 50 degree days. I enjoyed a long walk with the fresh air and wearing a short sleeved shirt outside. The next day was like waking up with a hang over; a mountain cedar hangover! I had inhaled way too much of it, and had a heavy head full of congestion. Appropriately, the next Herb Class assignment (ACHS.edu) was to make their recipe for cough syrup. Wow, was I ready for that, my body was coughing up all kinds of unpleasant mucous. The concoction called for mucilaginous herbs, resulting in a thick gelatinous and sticky substance that looked a lot like was coming out of my nose.
Nobody wants mucus. But it actually serves an important purpose. Mucus is a sticky gooey substance our body produces to trap allergens, dust, and other foreign invaders before they get deeper into the body and really start reeking havoc. Further, it contains antibodies to fight microbes that lead to infection.
My initial thought would have been to treat these symptoms with an antihistamine or decongestant, both of which cause the body to produce less mucous. How could fighting goo with goo be a good idea? This reminded me of the concept of homeopathy: a type of alternative medicine based on the premise that “like cures like,” with the idea that the human body has the ability to heal itself. The method was founded in Germany in the 18th century by Samuel Christian Hahnemann in which small doses of substances producing symptoms of the very illness being treated are given to activate the body’s self healing abilities. In a very large study of nearly 4,000 patients, homeopathy reduced disease severity and improved quality of life in a variety of chronic diseases, including allergic rhinitis, headaches, and atopic dermatitis in men, women, and children respectively (1). In India, 550 patients showed some reduction in chronic sinusitis with homeopathic treatment (2).
So I decided to give the gooey cough syrup a try, and chased it down with a spicy hot tea infusion to help thin the mucous. Wait about a half hour to drink the tea so the syrup can soothe and absorb into the respiratory epithelial cells. Here are both recipes:
(slightly modified from ACHS.edu recipe)