Easter herbs might be a strange name for my post but I think it’s the best way to identify these first bloomers. Cowslip, lungwort, and coltsfoot are the 3 sure signs in the herbal plant world that Easter is with in reach. These are the 3 lovely Easter-time and Easter colored herbs that emerge from the long winter’s rest. Lilac, soft yellow and golden yellow paint the little meadow areas where these blooms first emerge. It’s truly the perfect display of Easter colors. Let’s dissect these herbs one by one to get our inspiration brewing by revealing the magnificent healing properties these herbs contain.
Schluesselblumen: from the primrose family (Primula veris. Primrose. Cowslip. Heaven’s Keys and in DE, Schlüsselblumen). I’ve written about this herb in my “tea” section. It’s a low growing flower stemming from northern Europe where it has a reputation as a medicine herb. Primula, found in the flowers is a nervine and has a reputation of calming the nervous system. Therefor, it’s commonly used to calm spasmodic coughing where you might experience pain in the chest during the cough attack. It’s a general soother for spasm throughout the body-be it the GI tract, nerves, hyperactivity, restlessness, irritability, headache, migraine, panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, and convulsions. Used in addition for the skin. Aids in removing spots, blemishes, wrinkles, sun burn, freckles. For the bladder, it’s a great aid in treating pain in the back due to UTI, or spasm/pain during urination.
Where to find: This lovely, delicate yellow flower loves to live along soft water ways. Small creeks, or babbling brooks, growing as close to the water as it can with out living in the water. It’s not unusual to see me down on my stomach, picking this flower. Usually needed though in order to avoid falling in a cold spring stream!
Over 500 years of history
Historically speaking, this flower has been mentioned in herb books dating back to the sixteenth century. Where according to the texts found, the roots were added to bronchial teas. The roots are known to have mucolytic properties. However, today, cowslip is more used in teas with the flowers. Cowslip has been proven to be effective for the treatment of bronchitis and coughs but especially in the elderly. It’s because the saponins that naturally occur in the plant, increase and liquefy bronchial mucus to help extract from a more frail body.
Maybe a great herb for today’s spread of Corona? I’d never go as far as to endorse this treatment, but I will go as far to say that if the virus were to hit my family or myself, I would certainly reach for my dried, preserved stocks of cowslip and use them feverishly in tea therapy.
2. Lungwort Pulmonaria (Lungenkraut)
Lungwort, from the borage family and native to shady spots/grounds throughout Europe. This herb has been named as the original wildflower native to European forest. Much as it’s Latin name (pulmonaria) states, this herb contains mucilage, tannins, saponins, mineral salts and allontoin.
Where to find: Pulmonaria is always found growing near or next to cowslip. Which means, damp forest ways, shaded patches, and along water ways. In short, a forest or meadow setting.
What does this mean to you? It simply means lungwort is perfect in treating nasal congestion, laryngitis, coughs, bronchitis, influenza and tuberculosis! Additionally, the herb is also said to be very effective in treating advanced cases of such illnesses. In addition to respiratory illness, lungwort is effective in treating GI issues such as diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and bleeding. Naturally all benefits from its mucilage properties by soothing and coating the effected tissue.
An interesting addition to this herb. Throughout France, lungwort is known as the cardiac herb and is used in treating palpitations and different heart-related issues. And finally, lungwort is often used in conjunction with coltsfoot in treating chronic respiratory conditions.
Lungrwort Pulmonaria is another go to herb you reach for when dealing with seasonal illness that pertain to bronchial illness. A stuffy nose, a cough, congestion and so on. Yes, another herb I will reach for if the common spring cold hits my family, but also if the Corona virus arrives. I just read 1/4 of the country of Italy is in lock-down due to Corona.
3. Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
How can I begin this section with out screaming out that the Latin translation for this word is “repel cough”. I don’t think it can get any louder than that. This beautiful flower starts to emerge from the winter grounds in mid-February. The flowers tend to bend straight and present themselves to the world in early March. I find my batch usually spot-on in the first few days of March. Tussilago is a member of the Asteraceae family or daisy family.
Where to find: Tussilago is native to Europe and can be found in the moist meadow’s in the forest. Typically if you find Tussilage, you’ll find cowslip and lungwort very close by. As it seems, these three herbs are spring’s first bandit of healers growing along side one another.
Tussilago is another herb (like the other’s I mentioned above) that is rich in mucins. Mucins (according to my understanding) are great at forming a gel like matter, thus aiding in any and all mucus related illness. Sebastian Kneipp (1800’s, naturopath and father of water-healing therapy) believed deeply in tussilago and valued it immensely in treating illness pertaining to the thorax (located in humans and animals between the neck and abdomen). This would include coughs, colds, and bronchitis.
Some herbs come with a warning
This herb is not advised to be used on pregnant or nursing women, and should not be used longer than a 4 week succession as it has specific alkaloids which can be harmful when used long term. In addition to thorax issues tussilago is great to reduce swelling from bites, burns and general inflammation on the skin.
Conclusion: Again, another great partner in treating lung, bronchial symptoms in humans! Yes, another great herb to pull out during the onset of the spring cold that has embodied coughing or sniffles. Personal Note: If the COVID-19 infects myself or my family, the herbs would be my first step.
I do not suggest nor recommend you do the same. What I do suggest is that you do your own research, and form your own conclusions. When you walk hand and hand with nature, you see what emerges during the certain time of year to aid in healing. Early spring herbs are usually very capable of aiding and treating spring related illness. This is typically the common cold, or a strong cough, mucus related sickness, and bronchial issues.
Stock your arsenal
Get your tea cabinet stocked and loaded with the beginnings of spring. Start to take nature walks, and pick gentle amounts (stems only), of such herbs. Be sure you know and investigate carefully what you are picking and where you are picking. You want to pick in quiet, less disturbed locations, and avoid high traffic, farmed and chemically treated fields. Luckily, all three of these herbs grow in such locations. Logic plays a great roll in collection here. If you’re not sure or confident of what you’re looking at or trying to identify, pick a sample and do further research at home and use your research tools well.