75 minutes | Oct 12th 2020

Accessible Herbalism for Respiratory Ailments

When thinking about how to start working with herbalism for respiratory ailments, you might get really focused on WHICH ailment it is, and which herbs are “good for” that ailment. As herbalists, though, we don’t work with diagnoses; we work with what we see. So whether it’s a cold, bronchitis, or asthma, we’ll respond to what we see, hear, and feel by choosing herbs to match the current state of the body. It’s not difficult once you start working with the plants!

Some conditions are dry: think of a racking, rattling cough, or just dry red sinuses. Those need moistening herbs, like the mallows and seaweeds. Some troubles are more wet in nature – like a really phlegmy cough – and they need drying herbs like sumac, thyme, and garlic. Can you see how just looking at “herbs for cough” wouldn’t sort those differences out for us? That’s the key!

In this episode we’ll discuss various presentations of respiratory ailments & herbs to address them. We’ll share a couple key formulae (one’s for a tea with garlic in it!) and a brief discussion of breathing exercises, too.

Herbs discussed in this episode include: sage, thyme, sumac, goldenrod, oregano, peppermint, pine, cedar, common mallow, marshmallow, hollyhock, lavender, chamomile, mullein, ginger, garlic, onion, cayenne, black pepper, horseradish, lemon, rosemary, seaweeds (e.g. Irish moss), & purple loosestrife.

This is part 10 in our Accessible Herbalism series! We’re sharing strategies for safely improving some of the most common health concerns, especially for marginalized communities. We want to empower people to take action in support of their own health and the health of their neighbors. The safe, accessible tools of holistic herbalism can fill in the gaps left by uneven access and affordability of conventional care. Working with easy-to-find, inexpensive herbs, with low risk of adverse effects and drug interactions, is something anyone can do.

We’re building a community health collective organizing tool out of this material as we go through the series. You can learn more about the project and find all the collected resources here:

Mutual Aid Resources


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