Natural remedies have a long and effective history of curing ailments throughout human history. While many cures originate from folklore and border on pseudoscience, responsibly incorporating the use of the correct plants and plant based medicine in your self care regimen can aid overall health when used in tandem with modern medicine and lab tested pharmaceuticals.
Beautiful But Deadly
In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic that continues to kill and virulently infect thousands, the idea that there might be some miracle treatment that medical science has overlooked blowing in the leaves or hiding right beneath our feet is an attractive thought. While expert enthnobotanists and chemists scour existing therapies and plant species for any resource that can help patients in need, practitioners who are much less scrupulous and cautious are pushing one highly poisonous plant extract named oleandrin as the miracle so many are desperate for.
Oleandrin sourced from Nerium oleander, a subtropical flowering shrub grown all over the world is being erroneously and dangerously touted as a viable treatment for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Oleander is easy to grow in temperate environments and is frequently used in home landscaping applications because of its colorful flowers. The same pretty flowers that offer such curb appeal, also contain the deadly toxin oleandrin, a chemical that is lethal to humans, pets, and other animals because of the intense, negative effects it has on the heart and cardiac tissue.
Unlike this year's pandemic, the toxicity of this plant is nothing new and oleander ingestion is responsible for accidental poisoning and hospitalizations across the globe every single year. Every part of the plant is toxic even in specimens that haven't flowered. It falls firmly in the look but don't eat category of plants.
Safe Home Remedies in Oils and Teas
At current, there is no approved cure for COVID-19 but between the flu season that typically runs rampant each fall and winter, allergies, and the common cold it's helpful to have on hand teas, tonics and essential oils that support and shorten the flu response and support a healthy immune system.
The following plant species can be processed and safely used to offer symptom relief and improve how severely sick you may feel as you recover from more common ailments.
Relax and Reduce Inflammation
Clary Sage Oil
Derived from Saliva sclarea, clary sage oils can reduce feelings of anxiousness and stimulates a calm demeanor. This calming oil can be fused in an atomizer in your bedroom to promote relaxation. A couple drops added to a tea applied topically to sore muscles can also help reduce inflammation without the potential side effects of an over the counter pill.
This oil is known for its ability to reduce stress, calm nerves, and promote sleep. Place this in an atomizer in your bedroom for a more restful sleep. Some migraine sufferers use lavender to manage painful headaches as well.
When applied topically, it can also reduce incidents of skin infections and toenail fungus. If you're fortunate enough to have neither migraines or toe fungus in your life, you may still want to keep some lavender around. Linalool, found in lavender as well as many other flower species, is used in many bug repellents.
Applying a few drops to your arms and legs before spending any long hours in the garden will keep mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks from venturing too close and chewing you up.
Boosting Immunity and Easing Symptoms
Incorporating these oils into your daily care can keep your immune system functioning properly to fight off everyday bugs like colds. They can supplement and support the body's immune response to germs and viruses which have an existing immunity.
Compared to the rhinovirus which has evolved alongside human beings and their immune systems for generations, the common cold novel coronavirus is a new disease as far as the human body is concerned, so natural remedies like this will likely do next to nothing. Mask wearing, self isolation, and social distancing remain the best defense there.
Tea Tree Oil
This oil supports a healthy immune function while strengthening your hair, skin, and nails. It comes from the Australian tea tree or Melaleuca and like options mentioned above is an effective antifungal treatment when used topically on nails and skin. Apply one drop to 5 drops of carrier oil or place in a diffuser.
Similar to the marjoram is used in home remedies this common garden herb and its oil is used to relieve coughs and lessen the duration and intensity of coughs and colds when added to teas.
Avoid contact with eyes, ears, face and other sensitive areas as it is a very potent oil. Due to its high phenol content, caution should be exercised when diffusing or inhaling and when used topically or ingested only a handful of drops are needed per dosage. If ingested one possible side effect is stomach discomfort, but this varies from person to person.
This favorite spice supports respiratory health and clearing of nasal passages. It also is a relaxant and known for treating intestinal stress.
This delightfully aromatic oil is a tonic for a healthy respiratory system as well as promoting reduced tension. Place the oil in a diffuser and enjoy the relief. This easy to grow plant has been shown to inhibit oral pathogens, reducing the spread of disease. Menthol in the leaves have an anesthetic affect on your throat which reduces and suppresses coughs.
Teas are comforting when you are down and out with the flu. Pouring a cup of hot tea, and wrapping up in your favorite blanket, relaxes the body and offers support for quicker relief.
For the Flu
David Hoffman in The New Holistic Herbal offers a recipe for a flu tea and suggests these herbs when the flu strikes. Have boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) on hand as it reduces any malaise which the flu brings on. His tea recipe is a quick mix of two parts Boneset, one part Elder flower (Sambucus nigra), and one part Peppermint. Steep these together and enjoy a cup every two hours.
Additional common teas, available on-line or in grocery stores, which offer relief include:
Research shows that echinacea can increase white blood cell count and has marginal benefits for preventing colds. Several other studies found Echinacea to reverse inflammation caused the flu and reduces sore throats and stuffy noses.
An easy to grow herb on the back deck, this plant has marginal antiviral properties. Another member of the mint family, both lemonbalm and white peppermint sooth throat soreness and help with relaxation.
This common garden flower promotes deep rest which is essential to the healing process. Flavinoids in chamomile promote good, deep sleep. In addition to this, some sources show chamomile to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent.
Elderberry is a shrub which offers healing qualities from every part: bark, flowers, berries, and leaves. Elderberries have a higher antioxidant content than cranberries and blueberries. Elderberry teas and extracts have been shown to reduce the length and severity of flu symptoms. Pour a cup of boiling water over two teaspoons of dried or fresh blossoms. Infuse this for 10 minutes and enjoy.
Note that this advice should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advise or diagnosis, but miracle cure or not these multipurpose plants all deserve a place in the garden.