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Herbs and Foods for the Respiratory System

Covid-19 is wreaking havoc all over the world and the current scientific results are showing a massive viral load of the virus occurs in the respiratory system (Mouth, throat, nasal passages). As the virus builds in an infected individual it often moves down into the lungs, kidneys and or heart, where the receptors are located. This is why we see so many succumbing to pneumonia. So how do we build up our respiratory system, strengthen it, fortify it and be able to handle this huge viral load Covid-19 hits people with? I will discuss some known and well studied herbs that you can use in teas, salves and in your foods. First, I want to be clear I am by no means telling you that these will cure or prevent Covid-19, it is too new to know that. These are tried and true herbs that have been well studied on their strengthening effect on the lungs so useful for any cold, flu or virus and helpful for those treating asthma or other lung disorders.


ANGELICA root is a large parsley family plant that grows waist high. It tastes good, kind of licorice like, and is often found in remedies for treating coughs. Angelica is an expectorant (moves mucus). It warms the chest, thins the mucus and allows the mucus to come out. So it promotes a more productive cough to get the lung full of mucus cleared, then we can settle down and stop coughing. You can put the root into your soup or make a tea blend with it.




PEPPERMINT also helps to thin mucus and allow it to be expectorated. It is also a diaphoretic, known to sweat out the cold and flu. Based on your bodies needs, peppermint can be either cooling or warming, and when fighting the flu, it has warming actions. This is best used when the viral infection has symptoms of fever. Using the mint in a hot tea is ideal because that tends to drive it higher up in the body and its tasty.


WATERCRESS is a vegetable I have never tried but is popular in other parts of the world. Watercress has a specific affinity for the sinuses and is a general builder of respiratory type tissue. It is a slow acting herb, so continue taking for 3-6 months to gain benefits. If use as a juice or tea can get more immediate effects, but its a herb that you want to consume over time to support the respiratory tissue. Try raw in a salad or steamed or stir fry. Watercress soup is popular in other parts of the world. Give it a whorl.




SCHIZANDRA berry is a popular chinese remedy that has stamina-building energizing effects, immune-regulating balancing effects and is an adaptogen. Schizandra is an astringent so it is drying out and preventing whatever is leaking from the body (runny nose, watery eyes, etc.). It doesn't solve the problem leading to a drippy nose but its a great remedy.

Dr. Khalsa recommends drying the berry, grinding it to powder and encapsulating it with one capsule the first night at bedtime, then two capsules the second night and three capsules the following night. When get up to 4 or 5 capsules taken at bedtime, its amazing, the post nasal drip just stops.

Schizandra is also asthma specific and a bronchodilator. This is the number one remedy for asthma in China.




CALENDULA flowers in soup or a tea will soothe a sore throat and supports the mucous membrane systems. Try the flowers in a tea or add to your salad.



PEPPERCORNS have a particular affinity for the respiratory tract. Black pepper is used to release mucous from the respiratory tract acting as a detoxifier. It's a very deep acting detoxifier to get waste material out of the respiratory system. If high enough doses, it is mucous- releasing. Use it in your food, in tea, in a capsule

Another type of peppercorn is CUBEB berry. It has an affinity for the respiratory tract and is a wonderful remedy to decongest. When you are all stuffed up in the head, cubeb berry will help release that sinus mucous and allow that to come out. It is also anti-viral and supports the adrenals so great treatment for the flu. A typical dose of cubeb berry is 15 grams/day. It is not as pungent as black pepper so very tolerable. Grind the berries like pepper onto your food and can use in a capsule form.


MARSHMALLOW root is a commonly found plant in the US and this region. It loves to grow in wet, marshy areas and easy to grow in the garden in this region. Marshmallow is a demulcent so is very soothing on the throat when drink in a tea and will soothe the repiratory tract allowing mucous to be released. This is great for a dry cough. (vs. the above herbs for a wet mucous cough). Marshmallow is also a thickening agent so can put in soup as a thickener or in tea.



THYME is a powerful anti-microbial. It kills bugs on contact, bacteria, and it's a bronchodilator that opens up breathing. I often use thyme essential oil, diluted, to massage onto my lymph nodes whenever I feel a cold moving into my throat and respiratory system. It really helps stop the cold in its tracts. Adding thyme to your food helps as well. I love thyme chicken, thyme pasta, thyme in my stew and put it in my tea as well. This is an easy perennial to grow in your garden. I put it between my stepping stones in my garden so I can smell it as I walk across it.


LEMON GRASS is a sinus remedy and really supports those tissues. It tastes and smells wonderful too. We can grow lemon grass in this region as an annual. I purchase plant starts since our growing season is too short to get large stalks otherwise. Place it in your tea, cook with it in your sauces and soups. I cook with it alot in my Thai dishes and it really adds a nice flavor. Can add it to a chutney, add it to tofu rolls or sushi. Be creative.


SAGE is very astringent and causes liquids to be held inside the body (like the schizandra berry). It is characteristically used for nasal mucus or lung mucus. It is a broad specturm anti-microbial so used for bacterial sinus infections and viral respiratory infections.

Sage has a potent flavor so can't really add it in high doses to food or won't be able to stand to eat it. Probably most consumed in a tea.


MULLEIN is a mucilaginous herb, so very moistening. It is also anti-inflammatory so used in tea for a sore throat or to soothe traumatized, irritated lung tissue by increasing mucous production in the lung. For respiratory use, try mullein as a tea. You can pick the stem and leaves and steam them to eat, but I prefer the tea.


There are other herbs, of course, that we could recommend but these are grown in our area and inexpensive to obtain. When I am struggling with a viral load, I will often have Rainbow therapy done on my back and it really stops it in its tracks for most cases. This is how I was able to stop the Shingles virus from continuing to spread on my neck and head. It was a God send.


Eat well rounded diets, incorporate more herbs, sleep well and move that body. Stay well and Find Joy!



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