DIY Respiratory Support (ALLERGY) Tincture: Mullein & Marshmallow
For years, every single Spring and Fall (and sometimes Summer, with the Cliffrose blooming), my nose goes CRAZY. My sinuses are either plugged or draining like a river. My eyes itch, and frankly, I am pretty much hating life. Seasonal. Allergies. These symptoms also happen with any old bad cold too! I'm sure, unless you have a very special immune system, you have experienced what this feels like.
But then....I found HERBS! I discovered how to make my own herbal medicines that work WAY better than the chemical garbage in the stores. This tincture I'll share with you today is one of the first ones I ever made for myself and family.
My husband and I rely on this combination any time we get that itch in our noses, the sinus headache in our brain, and the river running down our face. (EWWW....I know---Just keeping it real, my friends!)
You may also be interested in these related articles in my cold and flu care series:
Also, here is an article for children specifically: How to Boost Your Child's Immune System.
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
How to Make an Herbal Tincture That Supports Allergy Symptoms and Sinus Issues
Making a tincture is really very easy. Just click through the link to find out more about how to make a tincture. And feel free to ask questions in the comments if you have any! I try to reply within a day or so.
Meet Team Mullein & Marshmallow!
This is Mullein (Verbascum thapsis):
And this is Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis):
What is Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) and Why Does it Work?:
Mullein grows very tall (or short, if the conditions are not ideal). This lovely plant has very large leaves with a fuzzy outer. I love Mullein, and I now have it growing profusely in my yard! It is an expectorant, demulcent, antispasmodic, antitussive, astringent, anodyne, and vulnerary. It is mainly used for lung and bronchial congestion, coughs that are spasmodic in nature, irritated sore throats, and lymphatic build up.
The whole plant is useful! In the case of this tincture, I only use the leaves. However, the flowers are useful for making mullein flower oil (you can even find this ready made in very good health stores), and the roots can be used in tea form for diarrhea and cramps, as well! More on those uses later. I'm focusing on an allergy, stuffy nose, breathing remedy here.
It was first introduced to me by my stepmother many years ago. She was experiencing a very bad bronchial attack, and her allopathic medications had not been working. She insisted my Dad drive around in the country of southern Utah until they found some Mullein plants. She made some tea, and shortly thereafter, her symptoms were finally relieved!
I like to wild harvest my Mullein from sustainable places in our local area. Mullein is one of those incredible weeds with some amazing medicinal qualities that grows practically everywhere. If you don't feel comfortable wild-harvesting (or just don't want to), I suggest purchasing your Mullein through Starwest Botanicals, which is where I purchase the majority of my herbs.
If you go through Amazon, then the Frontier brand is really great too! Mountain Rose Herbs is another great bulk herb online shop.
What is Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), and Why Does it Work?:
Like Mullein, the whole Marshmallow plant is useful. In fact, the flowers are edible, just as hollyhock flowers are (they are related plants and have nearly the same chemical make up). I like to put them on salads and surprise my friends!
The Marshmallow leaves are what I use for this tincture, so I will focus on those. The leaves of the Marshmallow plant are demulcent, expectorant, diuretic, and emollient.
This is a very soothing plant, filled with mucilage. In fact, it was the original ingredient candy makers used to make marshmallows back in the old days before big business turned to synthetic chemicals and adulterated what was once a lovely natural candy. It's what made the candy fluffy and soft!
What this means for your sinuses, is that in combination with Mullein, you've now got an incredibly soothing, anti-inflammatory preparation for your crazy sinuses!
Like Mullein, if you just don't want to grow your own or forage for your Marshmallow, check out Starwest Botanicals. They have an incredible selection of medicinal and culinary herbs, as well as tea blends all ready to go.
Meet Team M&M (Mullein & Marshmallow!
Together, Mullein and Marshmallow are a great team! I use this pair of herbs 1:1 (one part to one part) to make a tincture that is just AMAZING for allergic reactions (runny eyes, runny itchy nose, and sinus congestion. It's also helpful for lung congestion.
The ratio above is only for the herbs—equal parts marshmallow and mullein. I’m just clarifying because I generally use the folk method of tincturing my herbal preparations, so the ratio above has nothing to do with the ratio of total herb to alcohol.
The very first book I ever read, many years ago, about creating herbal preparations was Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Guide for Beginners. This book changed my life! I think it should be in everyone's home who is interested in taking a natural approach to healing. Rosemary's book is where this tincture originated!
How to Make Allergy & Breathe Tincture
For more information on tinctures, see my article, "What is a Tincture, which explains more about how to make your own tinctures.
Grain Alcohol, at least 80 proof. Personally, I like to use organic Vodka, but some herbalists use other alcohols. It needs to be drinkable---NO rubbing alcohol, in case that needs to be said.
A Mason Jar or other jar you can seal tightly.
Fill a jar halfway with 1 part Mullein and 1 part Marshmallow, even amounts in other words.
Then simply pour enough alcohol in the jar to completely cover the herbs and all the way to within an inch of the top of the jar.
Seal the jar.
Place it in a sunny window. (Some herbalists will say to place in a dark cupboard. I have always used the sun to help infuse the herbs' constituents into the alcohol completely. Never had a problem that way.
Shake it daily and send it some love!
Do this for at least four weeks. It can stand longer---I have left processing tinctures for up to a year, with no negative side effects (although I do remove the tincture from the sunny window after four to six weeks, as the plant matter will be spent.)
The way this kind of herbal extract works is the alcohol (solvent) extracts the helpful plant chemicals, which all work together in synchrony to heal.
When you feel your tincture is ready (four to six weeks), just strain out the herbs (at this point the spent herbs are known as the marc). Then just bottle it into amber glass dropper bottles.
What I don't put into the smaller dropper bottles, I just store in a glass mason jar (labeled with the contents, the date it was bottled, the length of time it was infused, and the ratio of herb to alcohol (by volume, as I don’t use the weights method). Store the bottled tinctures in a dark, cool place.
**At the very least, remember to write the name of your tincture on the label. Trust me. It doesn’t matter that you are SURE you will remember what is in that jar a few months from now. You won’t. AHEM. Ask me how I know. :-)
The shelf life of tinctures is about 2-3 years, however, people have found old tinctures from the past that were decades old and still good! I commonly use my own tinctures I made over five years ago, and I find them to be as potent as ever. Alcohol is a terrific preservative!
How to Use this Tincture
I guess I should mention how to use it. If you are using a standard dropper bottle, the amounts are all the same, no matter what size bottle (1/2 oz all the way to 4 oz bottles) you use. Both Mullein and Marshmallow have no known contraindications and are considered generally safe to use (GRAS).
A standard amount is three FULL droppers (this amount will go all to way to partway up the dropper, depending on the size of the bottle) of the tincture. This is about 1/2 teaspoon. During full fledged allergy season, I may take this three to five times a day.
You can use this tincture as needed, since the herbs are good for you and are safe.
Give it a try! You'll be amazed! And won't it be great to be off those horrible OTC expensive chemicals from the store too?
LOVE HERBS! Do you love herbs too? Leave a comment in the comments section if you'd like to share additional information, have a question, or a great experience! It's boring without you!
And..if you’ve been giving any thought to becoming an herbalist, take a look at The Herbal Academy of New England. They’re an online school with course offerings for people of all experience levels and interests in herbs.
Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance--
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P.P.S. If you are interested in learning more about using herbs for health, you may also like these articles: Natural Remedies for Cold & Flu Symptoms,
What is a Tincture and How to Make a Tincture, and lots more on the blog!
The Beginners Guide to Herbal Medicine by Rosemary Gladstar
The Way of Herbs, by Michael Tierra
Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech
The Complete Herbs Sourcebook by David Hoffmann
Study Materials from the Science and Art of Herbalism (Sage Mountain)
Disclaimer: The information in this article, elsewhere on my blog, in my shop sites, in conversations, and on labels is for informational purposes only and not meant to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any medical condition. I am not a medical doctor, so please see a medical professional for concerns. I simply provide my own personal advice based on experience and study for ways to live a healthy and natural way of life. I disclaim any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any of the information contained in this article or elsewhere on this website. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
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