Herbs can be very rewarding to grow for a wide range of reasons. Of course, herbs can benefit us in a range of ways. In addition to being useful for a range of culinary uses, herbs can also heal us, and help us feel well in body and mind. Herbs are key ingredients in natural medicine, and so in this article, we will explore herbs to grow for coughs and colds season.
Why Grow Herbs for Coughs and Colds Season?
Herbs are always good plants to grow. They are great for attracting wildlife to the garden, can look fantastic, and fill your garden with an amazing scent. Herbs can find a place in any polytunnel garden, as well as elsewhere outside and inside your home. In your polytunnel, you might grow herbs in dedicated herb spirals or perennial beds, in containers, or as companion plants around your annual crops.
While coughs and colds are often unavoidable, and the common cold knows no actual cure, there are certain measures that you can take to reduce the chances of catching one, and reduce the duration of illnesses when they arrive. Growing and using appropriate healing herbs is one of those measures. When you grow herbs for coughs and colds season, you can sleep better, boost your immune system, and strengthen your physical health and improve your mental wellbeing. In addition, the herbs you grow can help you manage symptoms once they arrive.
Which Herbs To Grow For Coughs and Colds Season
There are, of course, a huge variety of herbs that could potentially help during the coughs and colds season. But certain herbs stand out from the crowd for their capacity to soothe or fight against bacteria or infection. Some of the best herbs to grow for coughs and colds season are:
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
This herb, with its daisy-like flowers, is often used to make a relaxing herbal tea. This tea has a mild apple flavour, and can help with congestion. Since it can help you to relax, it can also help to make sure you are well rested and get a good night’s sleep, even when you are feeling a little under the weather. Sleeping well is essential to good health, and reducing stress and being rested can help to reduce the duration of any symptoms.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Not only does valerian have attractive and fragrant white flowers, it also provides a herbal remedy with a range of uses in natural medicine. The roots are the part of the plant commonly used in herbalism. They have a strong (but non-addictive) sedative action – so are another ingredient that you can grow in your garden to help make sure that you get a good night’s sleep.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender is another calming herb that can also help you stay calm and well rested. But lavender can also be useful in other ways during coughs and colds season. In addition to being calming, the flowers also have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Lavender can be ingested, by infusing the flowers in water to make a herbal tea. They can also be distilled into essential oils, or used in infused oils, to aspirate and for balms and unguents.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme is a common culinary herb, but it also has a wide range of culinary uses. The leaves can not only be added to a range of recipes, but can also be used to make a herbal tea, or a cough syrup. Thyme is a strong antiseptic. It is also an effective expectorant, and can boost your immunity.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Sometimes considered to be a weed, yarrow is actually an extremely useful plant. Yarrow can be useful in coughs and colds season for its antiseptic, astringent, carminative and anti-inflammatory properties. It is often used (in moderation, and for short periods) along with Sambucus nigra (elderflowers) and peppermint for treating colds and flus. It is best harvested when in flower, in summer, but can be dried for later use. Interestingly, yarrow is also said to enhance the sedative effects of other herbs like chamomile and valerian.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Calming and zesty, with a lemon fragrance and flavour, lemon balm blends well with a range of other helpful herbs. A herbal tea made with this herb can be used to help you relax, and may also help to cut through phlegm and help you to breathe easier. The leaves of this member of the mint family can also be dried and infused into oil to make lip balm. The antiviral polyphenols it contains can help heal cold sores.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Catnip is best known for attracting cats (and is also loved by pollinators). However, catnip leaves can also be beneficial if you have a fever. A tea made with the leaves of this plant can help to bring down a fever by inducing sweating.
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
This herb, a perennial native to North America, can also be grown here in the UK. Amongst its other beneficial properties, this plant, which was well known to Native Americans, is used to reduce fever, loosen phlegm and relieve the symptoms of a cold.
Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
This native European plant is a member of the mint family and can grow well in many gardens. The leaves of the plant can be combined with honey to make a soothing cough medicine. The leaves and the young flowers are antiseptic and strongly expectorant. The herb is said to cause the secretion of a more fluid mucus, which is more easily cleared by coughing. This means that it is popular in herbal medicine and often used as a domestic remedy for coughs, colds and wheeziness.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Mullein is another herb that can be a useful expectorant. It too can help to bring up mucus from the lungs. However, it not only stimulates the coughing up of phlegm, but also reduces the formation of mucus. It can be used as a treatment not only for simple colds, but also for bacterial infections like bronchitis. As well as being expectorant, the flowers and leaves are also anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent.
Using Herbal Remedies
While the plants mentioned above can usually be used safely in small quantities, and occasionally, it is important to take care when selecting and preparing herbal remedies at home. Though natural, some herbs can have a powerful effect, and as with many things, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. If you are considering using your own herbs to make herbal remedies, make sure that you are certain about identification of the plants that you plan to use, and have read information with regard to dosages, and any potential safety concerns. If you are in any doubt at all, it is generally best to seek the advice of a qualified herbal medicine practitioner.
Remember, it is important to pick herbs for any herbal remedies that you do decide the make at the appropriate time. Many are picked at their best, long before the coughs and colds season begins. Choosing which herbs to grow is just the beginning of the process. You should also make sure that you know how to preserve fresh herbs, dry them for later use, and store them correctly.
Which herbs do you grow in your garden? Which remedies do you find effective to prevent or manage coughs and colds? Share your plant suggestions and herbal medicine recipes in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.