Treating Coughs with Elder
Few things make me more sad than watching one of my little ones cough uncontrollably and feeling like I can’t do anything to help. This was a familiar feeling several years ago, but now, I’m grateful to say that I’ve found a great natural remedy that helps get the coughing under control.
Meet Elder, a powerful healing plant, with a variety of uses.
Before I tell you about its usefulness as a cough suppressant (and share my natural cough syrup recipe), I want to tell you just a little bit more about the elder plant, so you know how to use it in other situations as well.
Elder is known for cleansing the body, so it is commonly used as a natural detoxifier. For this use, elder flowers are brewed into a tea to be taken a few times a day for a limited period of time. (Learn more about preparing herbs.)
These brewed flowers aid kidney function by relieving fluid retention and cleansing toxins. Elder stimulates the circulation, causing sweating, effectively cleansing the body. It quickly increases the activity of body systems and increases overall energy. One side-effect of this property is weight loss.
In addition to providing relief to the respiratory system, elder also promotes a feeling of well-being. Taken before bed, elder flower tea promotes peaceful sleep and relaxes and soothes the nerves. Elder has also been known to relieve anxiety and lift depression.
If you’ve ever taken a natural cough syrup, it has no doubt contained elderberry as a main ingredient. Elder flowers relax bronchial spasms, making them very useful for treating upper respiratory infections. Fresh elderberries, combined with plantain, make an effective cough syrup. (Recipe below.)
Cautions: Flowers are the mildest part of the plant and the safest for children. Leaves, roots, seeds, and berries of the raw plant contain cyanide-producing compounds and should not be consumed without cooking properly.
Elder & Plantain for treating a cough
In addition to using some of my favorite essential oils when someone in our house has a cough, I like to bring out this plantain elder syrup.
As mentioned above, elder is great for relaxing bronchial spasms, and I like to use the flowers and berries to get the benefits of the different parts of the plant. I like to add plantain leaf, because it’s also well-known for treating coughs. It soothes the throat and prevents excess coughing. The first time I used this for a cough, I noticed that the tickle in my throat was gone almost immediately.
DIY Plantain Elder Cough Syrup
- 4 cups water
- 1⁄4 cup dried elderberries (find organic dried elderberries here)
- 2 tbsp dried elder flowers – optional (find organic dried elder flowers here)
- 2 tbsp dried plantain leaf (find organic plantain leaf here)
- 1⁄2 cup honey (find raw honey here)
- Place water, plantain, elder flowers and elderberries in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and let simmer for fifteen minutes.
- Place in the oven or cover and let steep for an additional two hours. Strain the infused water from the herbs and put your infusion back into the pan (go ahead and compost those herbs).
- Turn the stove on low and let it simmer uncovered, reducing by half.
- Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool for a bit. Add the honey while it is still warm so that it dissolves nicely.
Tips for storage
You can store your concoction in a labeled glass jar in your refrigerator. It keeps for about 3 months (the honey acts as a natural preservative).
Instructions for use
This simple cough syrup can be taken at the first sign of a cough. Adults, use 1 tablespoon every 2-3 hours. Children under six, use 1 teaspoon every 2-3 hours.
Have you used elder before? How do you treat coughs naturally?