Tag Archives: upper respiratory infection

Knowing When to Use Goldenseal

Goldenseal is probably one of the best-known herbs, but its fame has contributed to overharvesting, and it is now considered to be an at risk plant. Therefore, it is important to know what conditions goldenseal works best for and when to choose another herb. For instance, one of goldenseal’s active components, berberine, is responsible for much of its immune stimulating and antimicrobial benefits. Oregon grape root is also rich in berberine and can be used as a more ecologically sustainable substitute for many conditions such as colds. Oregon grape root also shares many of goldenseal’s gastrointestinal benefits. Both of these herbs increase the production and flow of bile from the liver and gall bladder, making them useful for improving the digestion of fats. Oregon grape root and goldenseal also can act as a mild laxative. It could be these combined properties that earned goldenseal a reputation for being a great detoxifier, but I consider this to be mostly myth.

Where goldenseal really stands out compared to other herbs is as a mucous membrane toner. Its astringent qualities make it a good choice for chronically irritated sinuses, especially if the tissues are pale. In addition to taking it internally for issues like these, goldenseal can be added to a neti pot for direct nasal irrigation. Goldenseal can also be useful for sore throats and middle ear infections, especially chronic cases. When you do choose to use goldenseal, it is important to always buy organically grown goldenseal. This is one of the few ways to ensure that native populations aren’t being further diminished.

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Pleurisy Root: An Ally for the Lungs

Butterfly milkweed is one of my favorite roadside wildflowers. It has another common name pleurisy root, earned from its traditional use for conditions of the lungs. Pleurisy refers to an inflammation of the lining around the lungs, as sometimes results from coughs and other disorders. Pleurisy root was traditionally used to ease this painful condition, partially because it can help reduce pain and inflammation in the lungs. Pleurisy root is also used for wet coughs that are due to upper respiratory tract infections. Pleurisy root is a stimulating expectorant, which means it helps to encourage a productive cough so mucus is more efficiently expelled from the lungs.

Pleurisy root also supports the body during infections in less direct ways. Pleurisy root is used to induce sweating during a fever. This can help break an uncomfortable fever, but for this effect it is best to take it with a hot beverage like tea. It can also be used to support suboptimal fevers, where the temperature isn’t high enough for the full immune benefit of a fever. Pleurisy root also stimulates the circulation of the lymphatic system, particularly around the lungs. This action can also contribute to a more effective immune response. For all of these pulmonary benefits, pleurisy root has earned a place in many herbal blends used for coughs and bronchitis. It is usually used in fairly low to medium doses because higher doses can cause nausea and vomiting.