Hyssop is my oldest and foremost ally for helping people heal from bronchitis. I've found that it will safely help adults and children to expectorate even the most entrenched phlegm stuck in the bronchia and cilia of the lungs from acute or chronic bronchitis. It is one of the first herbs that taught me that when you need something, it will taste good to you. I couldn't stand the taste of hyssop until I had acute bronchitis - then I couldn't get enough of it! I have seen this response in other people, too (to many different herbs), although some like the bitter mint hyssop any time and find it refreshing. It is always an herb worth considering.
Mullein is also a reliable friend to lungs and bronchia. It will moisten, soften and melt away congested matter, and ease the dry cough that goes with it. Mullein will not stimulate coughing mucus up and out the way hyssop will. It is, instead, a good, soothing anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic, so it's helpful for relieving the chest pain and inflammation that can come with bronchitis and a bronchial cough.
I don't use pine just when I'm sick. I also use it as a regular tonic for maintaining good health and good spirits year-round. I use it most frequently in winter and early spring, when it's one of the only sources of fresh green plant matter around.
Pine blends well with many other herbs. I particularly like to mix fresh pine with dried sassafras leaves and either hibiscus, rose hips, elderberries, or hawthorn berries. I almost always use fresh pine for my oils, tinctures, vinegars, decoctions, syrups, elixirs, or infusions. It is, after all, an evergreen medicine, so why dry it? It's sweeter and stronger in spring, summer and fall than in winter, but it's perfectly good medicine in the winter months, too. Additionally, there are usually plenty of freshly broken branches to harvest from the ground in the winter, so I can often get my medicine without any additional stress to the tree at all.
White pine is the "tree of peace" to the Native peoples of northeastern America for a number of reasons including how it encourages full, easy breathing. When you are at peace, your breathing is deep, relaxed and rhythmic. Conversely, when you are stressed, your breathing can quickly become shallow and ragged. If you are agitated, you can bring yourself to a more peaceful state of being by drinking white pine needle tea as a medicine and, if you like, as a simple ritual.
Pine softens and stimulates secretions from the bronchia too, making it a good choice for bronchitis. Sometimes I mix it with hyssop and mullein leaves or flowers. It is useful in both acute and chronic bronchial or lung infections. It is anti-inflammatory, somewhat cooling, and pain-relieving.
Bye-Bye Bronchitis Infusion
- 1 cup fresh pine needles (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 cup dried mullein leaves (and flowers, optional)
- 1/2 cup dried hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) leaves and flowers
Cut up the fresh pine needles very well and put them in a half-gallon jar. Add the mullein and hyssop. Cover with boiling water, cap, and let stand overnight, or for 8-12 hours. Then pour off the infusion, squeeze out the herbs and reheat for use. It should be refrigerated and reheated as needed, or put into a stainless-steel thermos to keep it hot throughout the day. Drink 2-4 cups a day. If you like, it can be sweetened with honey to taste.
Each herb in this blend is helpful in its own way, and could also be effective used on its own. Pine is calming and uplifting, whether or not there's an infection present. It helps clear the air passages of the respiratory system with its unique blend of astringency, antiseptic oils, and expectorant-encouraging oils and resins.
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