If you’ve ever had a cold or a virus (and who hasn’t?) you know that they aren’t fun. Aside from the loss of work or having to deal with feeling miserable, chances are you resign yourself t taking medicines that may or may not work as well as you would like them to. This is especially the case with respiratory illnesses. They can fill your lungs and nose with mucus and leave you with a runny nose, the sniffles, and a cough for weeks. In order to deal with such misery, you will likely be tempted to turn to medication.
Aside from over the counter medications that treat the symptoms, if you end up going to a doctor to treat your maladies, you may be prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotics are used for a large variety of conditions, and oftentimes they are effective at eliminating whatever microbial threat ails us. However, antibiotic-resistant pathogens are on the rise. Furthermore, not all illnesses come from bacteria. Viruses can also make us sick, and unfortunately, antibiotics do nothing against viral enemies. Things may seem bleak, but you don’t have to just ride it out. Consider these herbal remedies, which can help boost your health.
Believe it or not, thyme is more than just a seasoning to be used while cooking. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that it is useful in fighting coughs and even bronchitis. It certainly helps to remedy the symptoms, and it works well when taken with various other herbs or oils. The truth is, the potential of thyme has not yet been explored entirely- however, the research thus far is showing that it has strong antimicrobial properties, especially when you consider the steam-distilled essential oil form. This could soon make it a goto treatment for a number of ailments.
If you’ve ever used a vapor rub on your chest to deal with cold symptoms and promote easy breathing, then you already know how effective eucalyptus is- even if you don’t realize it. Yes, this powerful essential oil is a key component in salves, helping sick people to breathe better. It handles a number of respiratory problems, including bronchitis, asthma, and COPD. If that weren’t enough eucalyptus oil, orally ingested or breathed in, contains antimicrobial properties. As an added bonus, eucalyptus oil can also be topically applied to insect bites, which prevents the pain, swelling, or itching associated with them.
While you might think of licorice root as a candy, its history is a little more involved than that. In fact, licorice was first used as a part of traditional Chinese medicine, and for good reason. Licorice contains almost 300 flavonoids, which makes it beneficial for the body in a number of ways- though too much can be harmful. However, it does have both antibacterial and antiviral properties, which make licorice a great herb of choice when it comes time to fight off illnesses. Not only does it combat viruses, but it also directly relieves numerous cold and virus symptoms.
Much like thyme, oregano can do more than simply sit in your spice cabinet. Believe it or not, it possesses carvacrol and thymol, two very powerful ingredients that turn this humble herb into an antimicrobial powerhouse. Research has found that these properties make oregano (In the form of essential oil) an effective deterrent for norovirus, among other illnesses. It also protects the body from damage caused by free radicals, which reduces the likelihood of developing cancer. Oregano has also been proven to improve symptoms of upper respiratory infections, provided it is taken (in spray form) shortly after the infection occurs.
While recreational use of cannabis is still widely illegal in the U.S., there has been more and more medical research devoted to it. Because of these investigations, it is undeniable that marijuana has positive effects on the body and the mind. Typically, it is prescribed for pain relief, and it is also commonly used to relieve muscle spasms. The former certainly is helpful in cases of illness brought on by colds or viruses. However, cannabis can also increase lung capacity, helping one to breathe easier, and therefore find further relief from symptoms. A cannabis vaporizer is best for such effects.
Mullein is another herbal remedy from the days of old. While it is less popular than other traditional remedies like peppermint and sage, it definitely should have its place in your medicine box. This is due not only to its relaxant properties but also because of its effectiveness against certain parasites. Known as a wormicide, it has been proven effective against both tapeworms and roundworms. Furthermore, it can be considered an anti-tubercular agent. As a relaxant, it can help relax the smooth muscle associated with the respiratory tract, preventing coughs and muscle spasm, thereby making breathing easier and less painful.
Even beyond the kitchen, the herb sage has an incredible number of uses, as evidenced throughout history in its use in medicine and religion. Research indicates that as an antibacterial, it can cure a number of symptoms associated with the common cold, such as inflammation, pain, and bacterial and viral infections. Furthermore, sage has some antioxidant properties, giving it some effect against oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. However, the benefits do not stop there. It is also believed that sage may impart benefits for a number of more serious diseases, including things like diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Peppermint, like a number of other items on this list, has a myriad of uses aside from the culinary. It is not just a flavor of gum or ice cream. Studies show that it is a powerful analgesic (pain reliever) and that it also fights inflammation, as well as muscle spasms- all three of which can be associated with colds and viral infections. However, peppermint does more than that; it can also provide some benefit to exercise performance. Specifically, it can improve the respiratory effectiveness to some degree, though there is definitely some room for more research in this regard.
Plantains, related to bananas, also have some medicinal use- or at least their leaves do. This is another age-old herbal remedy. Plantain leaves have been used in the treatment of upper respiratory infections. What makes the plantain so effective is its immunostimulatory ability, which it allows to rally the body’s immune system. Additionally, plantain leaves provide anti-inflammatory properties, and they help to prevent muscle spasms; these things make them great for dealing with colds and viruses, as well as chronic issues, such as a chronic cough. While it’s true that there’s limited data, what we know is very promising.
While antibiotics present a powerful line of defense against various illnesses, they are not the only answer, and they are not necessarily always the best answer. At the very least, these herbal remedies can help boost the body’s natural defenses to quell infections. Furthermore, many of these herbs have other medicinal properties that make them invaluable for our health. There is still more research to be done, but the future is bright- and chances are, a number of these herbs are already in your pantry. Now that cold season has arrived, herbal teas can help soothe those colds and viruses.Related: 10 Powerful Cancer-Fighting Herbs
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