Here’s another guest article from our resident herbal student. Now that spring has truly sprung, we have started to see our first share of spring colds.
I always think this is interesting because herbs that grow rife in our gardens in spring are excellent for boosting the immune system after a long winter. Of course, these days we rip most of these out as ‘weeds’ but in the days before supermarkets and refrigerators, these would have been essential spring tonics after a long winter of preserved foods and limited fresh veg.
Take nettle for example. It is rich in iron and silica, making it excellent for repair and convalescence. Cleavers, also known as the ‘sticky bud’ plant, was traditionally used as a lymphatic cleanser to flush out all those winter bugs. Rosehip syrup was used in winter as it is rich in vitamin C but as the first edible greens popped up, people were given their first abundance of it and no longer needed to look to such home remedies.
These days of course, things are different. We have an abundance of fresh vegetables all year round, but the lesson I have always remembered from this is that people used herbs at this time of year to ‘restore’. If you have been prone to colds all year and find yourself with another during spring, perhaps it is time to stop killing the bugs and to nourish your immune system so your body can fight them off on its own.
April is the time for stuffy sinuses, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis and head colds. When this becomes a problem, the focus of many remedies is to thin mucus or open airways so you can breathe easier. This is a great idea, but if the problem is ongoing, it may be time to look for something more healing.
The sinuses are inflamed causing continuous mucus production, which causes further inflammation. To break this cycle we use the remedy Plantago, a liquid remedy that is drunk to heal the sinuses from the inside, calming the inflammation. Having spoken to a lady recently I thought this simple herb needed bringing back into the limelight. She had suffered with a cold early in winter and been on three courses of antibiotics. The infection had gone but her head cold still remained, finally being diagnosed as sinusitis. As spring entered her hay fever kicked in, flaring up symptoms that she had hoped would ease with the last of the winter colds.
After two weeks of using Plantago, the inflammation was much reduced and what had been a chronic problem never returned.