While attending the 2011-2012 Banaatun Noor Ladies Winter Retreat, we (the wellness staff) monitored the physical condition of the participants, and many were acquiring cold and flu symptoms near the end of the retreat, and the children were coughing and congested.  The sick were treated with natural methods, for the most part.  In some cases, we used mixtures of garlic and onions in a honey base.  After researching the situation, we found that there is a wide spread bronchitis and pneumonia epidemic throughout the country.  Influenza is on the rise also and causes discomfort to millions of people.  Many doctors prescribe tetracylclines, clarithromycin, erythromycin and endless amounts of anti biotics.  Sometimes people buy over-the-counter drugs and wage war on themselves, killing invading and also good bacteria.  In most cases, bronchitis and pneumonia do not require antibiotics.  At other times, certain viruses are responsible for bronchitis and pneumonia.  The flu is a virus and has to run its course; so again, anti-biotics are not necessarily a must do.  You do have to be quick in handling all of the illnesses.  At the first sign of a cough or cold, immediately arm yourself with herbal help.  It is important to have a kitchen cabinet that is stocked with all of the necessary herbs and spices to combat problems with haste.  If possible, it is always a good idea to be diagnosed by a medical doctor, however, for the lay person without medical insurance, or the naturalist who wants an alternative, here are a few tips and remedies for you.

High doses of vitamin C are very helpful, and are good as a first line of defense.  If you are using pills, at least 500mg should be sufficient.  Vitamin C helps detoxify the body, and it cleans the blood.  Natural forms (large amounts) of vitamin C are burdock, horsetail, aloe vera, hawthorn berries, catnip, parsley, ginseng, hot red peppers, and green peppers.

Using an herbal expectorant, a mixture that loosens phlegm, is very helpful.  Herbs like horehound, wild cherry bark, lobelia, and colts foot are excellent.  Other herbs that are very helpful to the  system are tonics and aid healing quickly.  They are the following:

1.   Mullein leaf- anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, fungicidal,      antibacterial

2.   Basil leaf- antibacterial, anti-viral

3.   Fenugreek- removes mucus from air passages

4.   Yarrow- soothes and heals congestion from mucus membranes

5.   Ginger- brings down fevers

6.   Eucalyptus- loosens phlegm, treats coughs and relieves congestion

Horseradish Cough Syrup is another tried and true remedy for all three illnesses.  Grate a small amount of horse radish and pour enough honey over it to cover.  Allow this mixture to set overnight.  In the morning, it will be ready for use.  It is very strong, so test a small amount and adjust to your liking; hot water can also be added.

Last but not least, is Mustard plaster or mustard poultice; this is a very effective home therapy for treating common cold with runny nose, wet cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, flu symptoms and chest congestion.

Mustard plasters stimulate the immune system, relieve pain and also have an anti-inflammatory effect. A mustard plaster brings warmth and circulation to the chest. This helps to battle persistent coughs or bronchitis, offer immediate relief to discomfort in the chest and treat infectious conditions in the respiratory system.

How to make a mustard plaster

1. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard seed powder and 1 tablespoon of flour with warm water, stir well and make it into a paste.

2. Prepare two thick cotton towels (cotton cloth, used T-shirt), put a paper towel on one thick cotton towel, and spread the mixture on it, cover it with another cotton towel as making a sandwich.

3. Let the person receiving the treatment sit or lie down. Apply the sandwich of mustard plaster to the chest, leave on for 15 to 30 minutes till the skin becomes red and warm. Then remove it.

Precautions for using a mustard plaster:

  • If the person experiences any discomfort, the plaster should be removed.

  • The mustard plaster should never be directly applied to the skin.

  • Avoid using the plaster on broken and sensitive skin.

  • Do not use this therapy to a young child under the age of 6, also be careful to use it to an elderly person.

  • A mustard plaster should not be left on for longer than 30 minutes.

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