Monday, January 26, 2009
Nip illness in the bud.
I'm starting off today with a caution: If you have pneumonia, may be on the verge of pneumonia, or suspect any other serious illness, get medical attention! And consider these contraindications before taking this remedy. [This link opens a new page.]
That said, on with the show! OK, today I want to tell you about a handy remedy described in Jethro Kloss's classic health book, Back To Eden. He calls it antispasmodic tincture. In our family, we are so friendly with this remedy we call it antispas. I keep all my family and close friends supplied with this remedy; I make a batch of it and divvy it up or send to them as needed.
Jethro Kloss gives two slightly different recipes in the book. I use a slight adaptation of one of them, omitting a couple of hard to get and relatively unimportant ingredients.
So, what is this remedy, and what's in it for you? First of all, what's in it (my adaptation): lobelia, skullcap, myrrh, black cohosh, cayenne, alcohol such as Everclear, vodka or rum. Black cohosh is antispasmodic and expectorant. So is Lobelia, which opens the airways, making breathing easier. Cayenne is warming, anti-inflammatory and helps mucous membranes do their job. Skullcap keeps nerves from being irritated and small vessels from rupturing. Myrrh helps prevent canker and bolsters the system. Alcohol is the extracting agent and carrier.
What we take it for: Originally, I used this remedy for my daughter who occasionally got croup as a child. She tended to get congested after consuming dairy products, which we avoided at home. When she reached school age, class holiday parties would often result in illness. I read in Back to Eden that this remedy was excellent for whooping cough and thought it might help her, too. And it did. Amazingly so. Coughs and congestion that usually took two weeks to clear took two or three days, especially if the remedy was given as soon as the first symptoms appeared.
I started taking it myself whenever I felt something might be coming on. Usually, I would get sick a couple times a year with a cold or the flu. After I started taking this remedy at the first hint of illness, I didn't get sick for several years! And when I did, it was because I didn't take the antispas at the first sign, or perhaps I did, but a few days later started feeling iffy again and didn't take it right away.
A neighbor's son whose colds generally led to pneumonia was very happy to try this remedy; it worked well for him, too. His colds didn't progress to pneumonia when he took the antispas.
I couple other people I'm close to were at or near the pneumonia stage before I was informed about their illness. One didn't have any antispas, and an overnight shipment arrived it time to help prevent it. The other was already quite ill, and a gentle reminder to take the antispas probably helped with recovery; however, at this stage of illness, it pretty much has to run its course. It was viral, so antibiotics, though administered to prevent secondary infections, couldn't touch the pneumonia itself.
Once you've had pneumonia, you become more susceptible to it in the future, so I make sure these two people stay supplied with antispas so they can take it as soon as they notice they may be coming down with something. An ounce of prevention and all that...it's so true!
Although I can't recommend its use in place of an inhaler for asthma, I did have occasion to give a dose of this remedy to someone who was having a mild asthma attack and couldn't find her inhaler. It did the trick for that one episode. But remember, asthma attacks can be fatal, so do not use this remedy in place of an inhaler or proper medical attention!
You may have noticed I keep saying to take this at the first sign of coming down with something. It isn't just for respiratory ailments, it can help with other illness, too. Jethro Kloss lists many we don't see much these days - typhus, typhoid, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, whooping cough - but I believe it is useful in cases of modern flu-type illnesses. When something's going around and I think I'm getting it, too, I take the antispas right away.
Speaking of right away, I really mean that. Often when I coming down with a cold, my first sign is a slightly sore throat in the middle of the night. If I wait until morning to take antispas, I'm more likely to get sick. If I take it right away, I usually avoid it.
So now that I've got you all excited about this remedy, I know you want to make it. Here's my recipe.
Recipe for Antispasmodic Tincture
3 oz lobelia leaf powder (or 1 oz powdered lobelia seed)
1 oz black cohosh
1 oz skullcap
1 oz myrrh powder
1/2 oz cayenne (regular cayenne powder from supermarket is fine)
1 qt alcohol (pure drinking alcohol such as Everclear is best, or you can use vodka or rum although they have a much lower proof and may not be as effective at extracting the useful properties from the herbs.)
Note: powdered herbs are best, but other forms will work, too. But if you get black cohosh in chopped up root form, rather than ground don't grind it in your coffee grinder, it's too hard and can break it. Just use the chopped roots as-is.
Place all herbs in a wide mouth jar. Add some alcohol and shake or stir to get the herbs wetted. Add as much more alcohol as will fit in the jar, with some space at the top to allow shaking. (You'll have a bit of the alcohol left over.) Keep in a dark place and shake well once daily for a week. Then strain out the liquid, and press out what you can from the herbs. Discard the herbs. Give the liquid a final straining through a cloth tea bag, then put into bottles and store in a dark place such as a cabinet.
If you're just using it for yourself (one household), put most into a larger jar, and fill a smaller dropper bottle for immediate use when needed. If sending some by mail, get one bottle that closes tightly for the remedy, and an empty dropper bottle they can fill themselves (or ask if they have one already or can get one.) Otherwise, it may leak out in shipping. Put it in a zip-lock bag to help contain any leakage.
Oh yes, how to use it! Open bottle. Squeeze out any remedy in the dropper back into the bottle. Close bottle and shake well. Older children and adults: Place 20 drops (about a half dropperful) in a couple ounces of water or juice. (If you place the dropper back in the bottle empty, you probably can just shake and use the next time.) Take 1 to 4 times a day, depending on severity of illness. If you need 4, consider medical attention! For younger children and babies, take less, down to a drop on a finger for a baby. Always use caution, and seek medical attention if indicated!
When you take it, you'll notice the cayenne and the icky taste, which is more noticeable in water than in juice. Chase it with some more water or juice if you like. If you have a sore throat and want maximum benefit, take it in water and don't drink or eat anything for a few minutes.
I hope you have as much success with this remedy as we have experienced. Here's to your health!
Order Antispasmodic tincture supplies:
Mountain Rose Herbs has everything you need. This is where I order my herbs for antispas. Good prices, bulk herbs in ounces, many organic herbs. Has all the herbs needed - most online shops are missing one or two. These are specific items I get: lobelia, black cohosh, skullcap, myrrh, and cayenne. They also have glass bottles in a variety of styles and sizes.
Dr. Christopher's Antispasmodic Tincure (available at Amazon.com) is an already-made tincture that includes skunk cabbage, and some tinctures of skunk cabbage, for those who want to include it. (It was in Kloss' original formula.) Apparently Skunk Cabbage is impossible to find as a powder or herb. It is available by itself as a tincture, but I have no idea what quantity to use in relation to Kloss' formula. I think Dr. Christopher's formula has the same ingredients as Kloss' original formula, but I don't know if the proportions are the same. His ingredients are: scullcap herb, lobelia herb, valerian root, skunk cabbage root, myrrh gum, black cohosh root, and cayenne.