Sunday, September 1, 2013

Natural Remedies for Bronchitis

Sometimes it takes me a while...a very long while. In this particular case, a long while to wise up to natural remedies. I think it took so long because I just didn't want to invest the time into learning more data and running to the drug store was quicker and what I knew. Both the insurance man and I grew up in the '50s and '60's, when the age of 'over-the-counter' medications was just blooming. These so-called miracle cures were handy, and sometimes worked quite well when I was raising my kids.
A couple of weeks ago I succumbed to a cold virus. I know of no one that is sick with a cold, or of anyone I had been around with one. I am suspecting that there was a dormant virus bug lingering from a cold last spring, and while my body was fighting to heal my broken arm and shoulder and resistance was low as well as my immune system, it snuck out to attack. I took my homeopathic remedy, which didn't do much good, and settled down to wait out the virus. But, it wasn't going to be that easy. It went into a case of severe bronchitis, which scared me on several levels. I was fearful of pneumonia in my weakened condition, and fearful of dislocating my shoulder again by the violent coughing attacks. I was also severely disappointed to put off again the start of my physical therapy. After a couple of days of the insurance man treating me with our standard cough medicine to no effect, he found an old prescription one on the medicine shelf. I was pretty sick and didn't check it out. Well, it had a pain med in it that contained codeine, and I am allergic to codeine (got that from my Mom). I won't go into detail about the next couple of days other than to say I was once again very sick and delirious from the pain med in the cough syrup.
Afterwards I determined to research bronchitis on the internet and what I could do to help myself. This was the best decision! It took the fear away, and I felt stronger and more determined. First, I remembered that I had suffered from croup and/or bronchitis often as a child. My mother called me a 'barking seal' and I remember my head over a boiling pot on the stove covered with a towel to keep the steam inside so I could breathe it in. I also remember how it made me cough up my insides. Not a very pleasant memory. I also remember many nasty, smelly things being rubbed on my chest and being forced to smell them all the night long as I coughed like a seal. I looked up croup on the internet and found it is also a viral infection, but usually in the upper respiratory areas, most often affecting children. Bronchitis is also a viral infection, usually caused by the same virus that starts out as a cold, and is found in the bronchials or lower respiratory area. Anti-biotics will do no good, as these are all viral. The bad news is that you just have to rest and wear it out, no immediacy here.

My next research led me to find some natural remedies. Out went the nasal congestion pills, the cough syrup (which I found was probably the worst thing possible) and all my other arsenal of meds. I was pleased to find a nice concise list of easy remedies, all including things I already had on hand specifically for bronchitis. Here's the list I found:
1) Onions   Eat lots! I also made up an easy cough syrup, by slicing 1 whole onion and coating it with honey. You let that sit on the counter for 24 hours, then take the onions out, and use the syrup by taking 1 teaspoon 4 times a day. I was amazed at how the honey quickly rendered the onions into soft moist pieces. I took out the onions last night and fried them up in a little butter and put them on our hamburgers like grilled ones. They were a little sweet, but I got double medicine.
2) Lemons  Good in all forms. I have been making honey lemon tea every day. I have tried making the tea by zesting 1/2 a small lemon and steeping the hot water with it for 5 minutes before adding a bit of honey to soothe, and also by steeping a lemon wedge for the same amount of time. The zesting works by far the best.
3) Almonds  They are good in all forms, except candied! I had some smoked on hand, and have been using them to munch on as snacks along with my lemon tea.
4) Bay Leaves, fresh or dried.  I have taken these and broken them up, and steeped them for 5 minutes in boiling water, making a little bay leaf tea, as shown in the photo. 
5) Fenugreek capsules and Thyme water. This one I got from my daughter Joy, not the internet. I had never heard of Fenugreek, but after looking it up found it was a Mediterranean herb, highly recommended for fighting the cold virus. This I didn't have on hand, but the insurance man was able to find it easily at our local natural food store, dried in capsule form. My daughter had been able to find it in capsules, mixed with dried thyme. Our store didn't have that, so he bought some thyme extract. I add 1/2  dropper full to a little cold water and use it to take my Fenugreek capsules.
6) Mustard Plaster This one I wrote down, but am kind of glad that I starting recovering so quickly that I didn't need to use it. But I'm keeping it for future use. You mix: 1 Tablespoon Dry Mustard with 4 Tablespoons of Flour and a little warm water to make a runny paste. After spreading some oil (olive or vegetable) on your chest, you put the paste between two cloths and apply to your oiled chest and let it remain there all night, or for a few hours.
7) Gargling with Salt Water  This one I remembered from my childhood. The solution was recommended to be 1 teaspoon per glass of warm water. I have never thought about it, but suppose this is cleaning and sterilizing the mouth and throat somewhat.
8) Humidifying  This would encompass the head over the pot of boiling water etc., but I think there are better ways of doing it as well today. Yesterday I stood in a shower just as hot as I could bear it, and breathed in all the steamy air for 10-15 minutes (until I was a lobster). It did soothe my airways a lot. We also got rid of our old humidifier that never worked well, and purchased a new one. Last night was my first night to breathe in the moist cool air, and did it ever help. I had my first good sleep in weeks.
I am amazed at how much natural wisdom our mothers had about how to treat various minor illnesses. Somehow, that didn't really pass on to me, as I don't think she ever actually 'taught' me about what she was doing. But as I remember things now, and read the same things on the internet, I realize they did know so many things that have been lost in recent generations, and are being rediscovered by our youth. I have spent a deal of time researching, reading, and attending lectures on nutrition. But that is not the same as the healing with natural substances that I have found now. But the good news for me was that I don't have to spend the time in researching it, but it's all been done and the information is all available on the internet. One very good use of the internet.
I am on my third day of treating myself in this way. My head congestion cleared up in the first few hours of dosing myself with the Fenugreek and Thyme, at least enough to breathe freely. My fever is gone, and my coughing GREATLY improved. The feeling of having something huge sitting on my chest is gone as well. However, my strength is still on the shaky side and I still need to rest and recover. That of course is good for reading!
One drawback to all this is the time and strength it takes to make and dose yourself. When I was really sick, I couldn't have done it. That's where having your Mom at home to care for you comes in. So sad that today most Moms aren't there. So sad, that I didn't know some of this to care for my kids better when they needed it. I have one daughter, JoAnn that has also inherited this tendency to have chronic bronchitis and croup. I have informed her that the next bout she has, she will have a mother waiting to dose her up and take care of her while she heals more quickly. It does take someone willing to take care of you, nurse and help you out until you can do it yourself.

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