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MORAN: Wild cough medicine

Mullein is a large fuzzy-leafed plant that grows all over southern B.C.
May 17, 2017 - 11:37 AM

 


OPINION


In and around the Okanagan Valley there are hundreds of wild herbaceous plants, many of which have uses to us humans.

I make my living in the spring collecting some for restaurants and the farmers market and focus on the ones that are good for cooking as alternatives to the usual greens and vegetables from farms. There are many that I don't sell but still have a particular interest in because of their usefulness to me or my friends and family.

Wild catnip smells just like mint but is more pungent.
Wild catnip smells just like mint but is more pungent.

Mullein is a large fuzzy-leafed plant that grows all over southern B.C. When it produces a flowering stalk and leaves it can grow up to eight feet tall. Mullein can be seen along the roadsides and highways but is also scattered around most fields and parks, possible even the backyard. This plant is not usually consumed directly, but its tea is a traditional and proven treatment for different forms of lung problems. It is an expectorant, which means it will stimulate your respiratory system to produce and expel more mucus or phlegm.

To make a daytime cough medicine mix mullein with tea leaves, and for a nighttime cough medicine mullein is great to mix with catnip, but not the stuff from the pet shop. Wild catnip is one of our most plentiful herbs and smells just like mint but is more pungent, almost like sage. Unlike the effect it has on cats, it has a calming and relaxing effect on humans and will most likely induce a nap. Also the flavour is minty and goes well with honey or sugar.

Another option is to dry your spring herbs and wait until the elderberries ripen in early September to combine everything in syrup. This syrup will keep in the fridge for two to three weeks so it is best to freeze in small batches and thaw as needed to combat the winter sniffles.

There are many other herbal remedies waiting for experimentation. Indigestion, allergies, parasites, skin problems, anemia, all have potential solutions in the form of weeds and berries surrounding the local area.

Check out my Facebook page Everything Wild to stay up to date on our local foraging scene.

— Scott Moran is a local forager discovering his own path to food freedom.


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