In times of fierce wildfires and other natural disasters, we often feel helpless and hopeless. It is important in these times to remember that there are always things that can be done to be helpful, ready and prepared. And don’t forget to pray, pray as if Creator herself is listening. Send out healing energy, and remember—there are likely thousands of other people just like us, praying, sending forth light, and calling in the rain.
On the practical side, be sure to have all of your first aid items in order, and a good supply of food and water on hand, as well as your flashlight and any other emergency items you might need. Keep those photo albums and other family treasures loaded up and ready to go.
Wildfires create special health issues for those who live close to them. Long-term exposure to smoke and poor air quality as well as the fear, stress and anxiety caused by fires can be extremely taxing. But we are not helpless. While we may not be able to put the fire out, there is a lot we can do to improve air quality in our homes, and protect our health and the health of our families and neighbors.
Respiratory tonics help keep lungs healthy and happy during long-term exposure to smoke. Helpful tonifying respiratory herbs include Mullein, Coltsfoot, Nettle, Raspberry leaf, Calendula, Marshmallow root and leaf, and, for those who feel safe using it, Comfrey. (Please note: there is controversy surrounding the safety of using Comfrey long-term. Be sure to educate yourself before deciding to use it.)
Simple Respiratory Tonic Tea
- 2 parts Mullein leaf
- 1 part Nettle (and/or Comfrey leaf)
- 1 part Calendula
- 1 part Marshmallow root (and/or leaf)
- 2 parts Peppermint or Spearmint
- Infuse the herbs and drink 3-4 cups daily.
Expectorant herbs help to clear the lungs of excess mucus. This herbal blend helps to clear congestion and reduce inflammation in the lungs.
- 2 parts Elecampane
- 1 part Pleurisy root
- 1 part Licorice root very moisturizing and hydrating
- 1 part Marshmallow root very moisturizing and hydrating
- Decoct the herbs. Drink 1/4 to 1/2 cup several times throughout the day to equal 3-4 cups in total.
Soothing Throat Balls
Cough syrups and lozenges can be very soothing to the respiratory system and are an especially tasty way to get herbs into children and elderly folks. Not only tasting sweet and good, herbal cough drops and lozenges you make yourself from healing herbs can be soothing, hydrating and healing to irritated tissue.
These throat balls are among my favorite remedies to take at the onset of a sore throat or cold. Take two medium size balls every two hours or as often as needed. The following proportions are approximations; adjust flavor for your personal taste.
Soothing Throat Balls
- 2 parts Licorice root powder
- 1 part Marshmallow root powder
- 1 part Echinacea root powder
- 1 part Goldenseal root powder
- Peppermint oil A few drops
- Carob To thicken
- Mix Licorice, Marshmallow, Echinacea, and Goldenseal together.
- Mix enough honey in to form into a thick paste. Add a drop or two of pure Peppermint oil.
- Add Carob and more Licorice root powder to thicken, if necessary. Knead “pill dough” until it has the consistency of bread dough (smooth and elastic, not sticky).
- Keep adding Carob (or Cocoa) until desired consistency is reached. Roll into pill size balls.
- 2 parts Fennel seeds
- 1 part Licorice root
- 1 part Marshmallow root
- 1 part Thyme
- 1 part Sage
- 1 part Cinnamon bark Not powdered Cinnamon powder as it will clump and be hard to mix in
- Combine herbs with water in a saucepan, using 2 ounces of herbs per quart of water. Over low heat, simmer the liquid down to 1 pint. While simmering keep lid slightly ajar so steam can escape. This will give you a very concentrated, thick tea.
- Strain the herbs from the liquid. Compost the herbs and pour the liquid back in the pot.
- Add 1 cup of honey (or other sweetener) to each pint of liquid.
- Warm the honey and liquid together only enough to mix well.
- Optional: When the syrup is finished heating, you may add a fruit concentrate or a touch of brandy to help preserve and to aid as a relaxant in cough formulas.
Air Purifiers, Humidifiers, Herbal Steams and Herbal Spritzers
Try to improve the quality of air inside your home by adding moisture. Keeping the lungs (and body) hydrated is essential during exposure to heat and smoke.
- A humidifier with a few drops of essential oils such as Lavender or Eucalyptus can be helpful.
- Aromatic cleansing herbal spritzers or air fresheners can also be so soothing and refreshing to parched lungs Making your own keeps them affordable and they are extremely easy to make
- Herbal baths can be relaxing and calming as well as hydrating and soothing.
Herbal Spritzers and Sprays
- 4 ounces 4 ounces of distilled water
- 5-10 drops 5-10 drops essential oil of your choosing
- Combine the water and essential oils in the spritzer bottle, shake and use!
- Shake before each use for maximum benefit.
Herbal steams are soothing, healing, and refreshing to the entire respiratory system. Add a few handfuls of selected herbs (fresh or dried) to a large bowl or pan (large enough to hold approximately 3 quarts of water). Boil water and pour over the herbs. Optional: add 2-3 drops of Eucalyptus or Lavender essential oil to the mix. Have a large towel handy.
Make a ‘steam room’ by completely covering your head and bowl with the towel. Lift a corner of the towel to cool down if it gets too hot. Breathe deeply. Steam for 10-15 minutes. Cool down with a rinse of cold water or a hydrosol spray on the face when finished.
Herbs to use for steam include: Calendula, Comfrey, Mullein, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Nettle and more.
Herbal baths are not only relaxing and calming, but also add much needed moisture to the air. Select calming, relaxing herbs like Milky Oats, Roses, Lavender and herbs like Marshmallow leaf for soothing. A drop or two of Lavender oil adds an extra bit of calming energy to the waters.
Don’t have time for a long soak, or don’t have a bathtub? Herbal foot, hand baths and herbal steams will do! The water is so calming and lubricating while the powerful healing properties are absorbed through our skin and respiratory passages.
An old-fashioned way of ‘purifying’ the air in enclosed smoky buildings was to strew fresh herbs on the floor of the entrance way so that when people walked in they would crush and release the scent. Not so popular these days as it makes for a rather messy floor, but it certainly releases a wonderful refreshing scent as you enter your dwelling.
Strewing herbs include Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, Marjoram, Oregano, Peppermint, Spearmint and other abundant and fragrant herbs. These herbs are best if strewn fresh, but also work well when dried.
Neti Pots for Clearing and Cleansing
A neti pot is a great way for clearing your sinuses and congestion from the nasal passages and keeping the nasal passage clear and moist. You may use a saline solution or a diluted tea to rinse, clear and heal the nasal tissue. Chamomile is a great herb to infuse and rinse with.
- 1 cup Distilled water
- 1/2 tsp. Pure sea salt
- Mix your solution and add at room temperature to a clean neti pot. While tilting your head/nostril over a sink, start pouring the solution into the top nostril (it will clear through the bottom nostril.).
- Use half of the solution and switch nostrils. Once you have completed both sides, you may blow your nose. Be sure to clean the neti pot with soapy water and store for the next use.
Stress and Anxiety
I get stressed and anxious thinking about those raging wildfires and the harm they are causing the environment, the people, animals and landscape in flames way. While fire is normally a ‘friend’ and a force we depend on for comfort, heat, to cook food, and to relax in front of, fire when ‘out of control’ can be terrifying.
How do we keep calm and centered in the face of fire? How do we remain prepared for the worst, yet stay strong in our centers? Here are some suggestions on how to lighten your spirit during times of uncertainty.
Other recommendations include:
- Rescue Remedy and other flower essences are subtle, but powerful ‘medicine.’ Flower essences can come to the rescue and keep us calm and centered even in the worst of situations. Add daily to your water bottles.
- Relaxing fortifying herbs for the nervous system include Tulsi, Ashwagandha, Milky Oats, Lemon Balm, Kava Kava, Catnip, Skullcap, Wood Betony, Valerian, California Poppy are all great herbs to support us. And Cannabis.
- I also suggest taking Rhodiola; it has such an excellent way of supporting our body’s and minds in times of stress, perhaps, because this little tender succulent has learned to survive in the harshest of climates. Even in the most trying of circumstances, Rhodiola continues to grow and flower beautifully.