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erbal Medicine
Colds and Flu

© Daniel Gagnon
 (Excerpted from Herbs for Health Magazine)

Pleurisy root
Asclepias tuberosa
Pleurisy root, or butterfly weed, is best used when a cold has settled in the lungs and pain accompanies deep breathing. With a deep lung infection, the tissues surrounding the lungs and lining the rib cage become inflamed, drying up the fluids that normally help the lungs glide on the rib cage and making deep breathing painful. If you have this symptom, it is advisable to see your physician, who may prescribe an antibiotic.

However, adding pleurisy root to your healing regimen can help the lungs return to normal faster. Its alkaloids and glycosides are believed to stimulate the lungs to expel phlegm, thereby relieving wheezing and coughing, and induce sweating.

Dosage: Use during infection. The daily adult dose is 1 cup of the extract taken every two to three hours, preferably between meals. Extracts, capsules, and tablets are available in health-food stores; 20 drops or one capsule taken five times a day is a recommended dose for adults. Overdosage causes diarrhea and vomiting. Do not use during pregnancy.

Easing back to health
Now that you've kicked your cold, focus on preventing the next one. Begin by taking astragalus or schisandra to get your immune system in order before the next virus comes along, and listen to your body's demands for rest, food, and exercise. This way, you and your body can enjoy the change of seasons.

Daniel Gagnon is executive director of the Botanical Research and Education Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is a the owner of Herbs, Etc., an herbal manufacturing company and retail store in Santa Fe.

Additional reading

Bensky, Dan, and Andrew Gamble. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1986.
Foster, Steven, and Yue Chongxi. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1992.
Gagnon, Daniel, and Amadea Morningstar. Breathe Free. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Lotus Press, 1990.
Huang, Kee Chang.
The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC, 1993.
Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1979.
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Red Crane Books, 1993.

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