For fire-related ills, it’s herbs to the rescue |

For fire-related ills, it’s herbs to the rescue

Due to the numbers of letters Laurel Dewey has been receiving requesting information about how to naturally treat the symptoms caused by the Coal Seam Fire, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent is publishing this special Wednesday edition of her “Humorous Herbalist” column.

Dear Humorous Herbalist,

Like so many others living in Glenwood, I am experiencing dramatic respiratory reactions because of the surrounding smoke. Is there anything I can do to alleviate the dry cough and tightness in my chest?


Dear Jenny,

Specific natural remedies can reduce the symptoms of smoke inhalation as well as support the respiratory tract during this critical time.

The first thing I would do and continue for several weeks (and even months) is drink chlorophyll water. Liquid chlorophyll cleanses the bloodstream, soothes the respiratory tract, oxygenates the blood and gradually heals delicate tissue in the lungs. If your throat is irritated, gargle with the chlorophyll water before swallowing. (I’ve been doing this for two days and the results have been very good). To make the chlorophyll water, add two tablespoons of liquid chlorophyll to 8 ounces of cold water. (Liquid chlorophyll comes in plain and mint-flavored. While the mint-flavored variety sounds good, it can be far too strong on the stomach – especially if you are anxious or have anxiety, two obvious emotional reactions to what is going on right now.) Gargle and drink this emerald green water up to six times a day as long as the air is smoky.

Once the air has settled and the smoke has cleared, I would suggest drinking two glasses a day of chlorophyll water, morning and night.

Fresh carrot juice is ideal for cleansing the lungs of toxic fumes. The natural vitamin A and beta carotene also strengthens and supports the immune system.

Eight ounces of hot water with the juice of one lemon and two tablespoons of honey is an age-old remedy for sore throat and dry coughs. If you wish, adding a tablespoon of brandy to the brew will warm the throat and help you sleep if the cough is keeping you up at night.

Avoid eating dairy products since they create more mucus in the system. This defeats the purpose of clearing the lungs.

On the herbal front, there are plenty of choices. A very good herbalist friend of mine reminded me of a “classic” respiratory formula that is ideal for dry, hacking coughs caused by smoke or airborne irritants. The three herbs in the formula are fenugreek seed, mullein leaves and coltsfoot herb. Fenugreek seed loosens trapped mucus and congestion while soothing the throat, mullein relieves a dry cough and coltsfoot acts as a gentle expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anti-irritant. This formula works VERY well.

The results can be felt after only a couple cups of the tea. Here’s how to make the remedy: place a heaping tablespoon of EACH herb into six cups of boiling water. Stir thoroughly and remove from the heat immediately. Cover and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes. Strain and drink the six cups throughout the day.

Slippery elm powder is incredibly calming to the throat and respiratory tract.

It is also an expectorant and prevents the cough reflex. I think the best way to take slippery elm is by adding it to porridge. I place one heaping teaspoon of the fine powder over oatmeal and stir it into the cereal. Adding honey will increase the soothing action.

If you have access to a humidifier or vaporizer, I highly suggest using it and adding one-half teaspoon of either tea tree oil or eucalyptus essential oil to the water. Both of these essential oils are antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic and antibacterial. If you do not have a vaporizer or humidifier, add 8 to 10 drops of either oil to a bowl of very hot water, cover your head with a towel and deeply inhale the aromatic vapors. You can do a steam inhalation every hour if you feel the need. Since essential oils are NOT water soluble, the aroma and respiratory effectiveness will evaporate within about half an hour.

I have been using many of these natural remedies over the past few days and I can tell you that they have made a huge difference in my health. Give one or more of them a try and see what they can do for you.

Dear Humorous Herbalist,

My cats and dogs have been freaking out during the fire. They are not sleeping and it’s making our living situation even more upsetting. A friend said that her vet in Denver suggested a small dose of Valium but I don’t feel good about that. Can you recommend something that will calm them down without turning them into a zombie? Thank you.


Dear Janice,

No pet owner should be without a bottle of Rescue Remedy. Rescue Remedy can be purchased at any health food store. This Bach Flower Remedy is amazing and has proven time and time again to calm, relax and bring back emotional balance during and after any traumatic event. (You AND your pet can benefit from Rescue Remedy). The suggested dose is four drops every 15 minutes during heightened periods of stress. If you cannot get the drops into your pet’s mouth, place one drop on his/her nose or four to eight drops in their water dish.

Another excellent calming balm for pets is to place one drop of lavender essential oil on their bedding. The aroma is instinctively relaxing and induces sleep. It wouldn’t hurt to put a drop of lavender essential oil on your pillow, too. That way, the whole house can get some needed rest.

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