Oregon is still burning and the smoke was so thick this morning when I was outside watering that I frantically ran around gathering what I could from the yard to take back in the house for this morning’s tea. Given the dense smoke I was experiencing I gathered as many respiratory herbs I could find and then focused on urinary and soothing herbs from there. It may seem like I was organized, but I assure you, as light-headed as I was becoming, frantic really was my state of mind at that point.
Although some herbs are great for acute situations, I always like to include herbs that keep things moving throughout the body. When our liver and urinary systems become sluggish, we’re unable to keep fluid and waste moving properly and we can become toxic and since respiratory allergies seem to respond well to those types of herbs I gathered the following:
- liver/urinary herbs to cleanse and keep things moving – dandelion, chickweed, nettle, red clover, plantain, and marshmallow leaf
- respiratory herbs to help me breathe – horehound, anise hyssop, marshmallow leaf, mullein leaf, and sage
- soothing herbs to soothe the respiratory system – chickweed, marshmallow leaf, and horehound
As you can see, several herbs fall into a variety of categories which reinforces the medicinal effect of the tea. My goal here is to cleanse my system of the smoke as well as to soothe and open my airway enough to breathe without difficulty. And I like using herbs that can perform double, if not triple, duty. All in all, with what I already had dried, I gathered enough to fill my French Press half full to make a nice respiratory infusion.
The only dried herbs I used were dandelion, chickweed, and nettle. The remainder I gathered fresh from the front yard.
Nettle – hands down the best liver and urinary herb around and I typically use it daily in tincture form along with cannabis and other herbal tinctures to keep my rheumatoid arthritis in clinical remission. Nettle is helpful with asthma and allergies both respiratory and dermatological.
Dandelion – another urinary and liver herb, both the leaf and root are used. Infuse the leaf and decoct the root, in other words, pour boiling water over the leaf and simmer the root for a tea that is nutritious and cleansing. Dandelion removes toxins and stimulates bile production. For today’s infusion, I used some dandelion leaf I gathered the evening before.
Chickweed – not only a great little urinary herb for fluid retention, chickweed soothes sore throats, fever, and inflammation. It also acts as an expectorant, making it a good option for what I’m experiencing today. It’s sweet, mild, and cooling and helps keep toxins moving through the body.
Red Clover – a liver herb, red clover also acts as an expectorant and is useful in treating skin conditions. So, it cleanses the body and gets rid of crap in the lungs. Besides, I add it to everything.
Plantain – this amazing herb grows everywhere on my property in both broadleaf form and the long skinny leaf form. It’s my go-to herb for instant poultice material when a mosquito comes my way. Smoosh it up and put it directly on abrasions or insect bites. But it’s also useful in teas and infusions to treat urinary issues along with coughs and bronchitis.
Marshmallow – yes, this is the plant from which old-fashioned marshmallows were made, but that used the root I believe. The leaf is cooling and mucilaginous making it useful for respiratory conditions. It’s soothing properties calm inflamed and irritated lungs.
Horehound – this herb grows everywhere and my bees love it! It’s mucilaginous and soothing for respiratory issues also acting as an expectorant for coughs. A bitter herb, horehound also stimulates digestion.
Anise hyssop – I add both the flower and leaf to my respiratory teas and infusions. It clears my breathing almost instantly from my experience and my bees love it! This variety is different from my other hyssop plants and its anise flavor is delightful.
Mullein leaf – mullein grows all over my property. My husband and I negotiate how much he’ll put up with every spring and occasionally, I’ll have some come up that is simply beautiful. I harvested a mullein plant this morning that was coming up in a new greenhouse we put in this year and it’s next to the French Press in the above picture. Mullein has a variety of uses and the leaf is great for respiratory problems and it combines well with horehound. It’s both a demulcent and an expectorant so it soothes as it brings up whatever needs to come out of the lungs. I tincture the root for pain relief and the flowers can be used in a pain salve or oil.
Sage – I grabbed a couple of sage leaves as well for its astringent and expectorant properties. Sage is fairly pungent and I didn’t want to overwhelm the other flavors in the tea.
Whenever I make an infusion I try to fill whatever container I’m using at least half full with herb. Think of infusions as a blend of herbs that is much stronger than regular tea so it takes a greater amount of herb(s) to create one. I typically wing it on how much of each herb to use. I probably used more nettle than anything else, with sage being the least of what I included. But when I craft a tea on the fly I typically think about what herbs will target my primary concern and then add any supportive herbs from there. In this case, my only concern was being able to breathe after spending time outside in smoke that’s everywhere.
Most of my teas also support my clinical remission from rheumatoid arthritis so I’m always dealing with more than one issue. But this tea worked well for both of us today. We can each breathe better and my headache from all the smoke is gone.