Posted on: December 16, 2019

On average, an adult takes between 17,280 and 28,800 breaths every single day. That’s between 12 and 20 breaths per minute. Chances are, most of those breaths go unnoticed, because our respiratory system works hard behind the scenes to keep us breathing normally 24/7.

Certain herbs have long been used to support the respiratory system.* This blog will look at five of the most common of these herbs — the parts used in herbalism, how they taste when you take them, their botanical names and other interesting facts and tidbits. From Goldenrod to Thyme, brush up on your knowledge of herbs that offer traditional support to the respiratory system.*

Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) holds a special place in our hearts here at Herb Pharm, as it was one of the first plants that our co-founders, Ed Smith and Sara Katz, learned to identify in the hills around our Certified Organic farms in southern Oregon. (It also became one of our signature colors.)

A member of the Asteraceae or Aster family, Goldenrod’s bright yellow blooms are easy to spot during late summer and autumn all across North America. This plant has a rich history of use among Native Americans, too.

You’ll find it in products like Herbs on the Go: Ready for Pollen™, Urinary System Support and Calm Bladder™ (Goldenrod also offers traditional support for the urinary system.*)

Botanical name: Solidago spp.
Plant family: Asteraceae
Native habitat: North America
Parts used: flowering tops
Use(s): Used by folk herbalists to support the respiratory tract*
Flavor profile: Aromatic, balsamic, nearly pungent turning sweet

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is a woodland plant with a yellow root that is native to the eastern and central regions of North America from Ontario to Alabama. It also has a long history of use by Native Americans and is a member of the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup family.

Goldenseal is on the list of United Plant Savers At-Risk herbs, so we grow it in our Botanical Sanctuary here on the farm. To preserve wild-growing populations of this threatened plant, we only use cultivated, Certified Organic Goldenseal. Our Goldenseal is dug by hand in the late summer or autumn, then carefully cleaned and dried in the shade before it is thoroughly extracted.

We use Goldenseal in products like Golden Echinacea™, Neutralizing Cordial, Rapid Immune Boost™ and Pollen Defense™.

Botanical name: Hydrastis canadensis
Plant family: Ranunculaceae
Native habitat: Eastern United States and southeastern Canada
Parts used: rhizome with rootlets
Use(s): Traditional support for the respiratory system*
Flavor profile: profoundly and quintessentially bitter taste

The same Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) you might eat on a sandwich has been traditionally used to support the respiratory system.* (You might have suspected as much if you’ve ever eaten too large of a bite!)

The plant’s common name doesn’t refer to an animal. It means “coarse,” to distinguish it from the edible Radishes you might find in a salad, and both types are members of the Brassicaceae or Mustard family. Also known as crucifers, the Brassicaceae also includes Broccoli, Wasabi, Cabbage and Kale.

You’ll find Horseradish in Pollen Defense™, Rapid Immune Boost™ and Kids Immune Avenger™.

Botanical name: Armoracia rusticana
Plant family: Brassicaceae
Native habitat: southeastern Europe and western Asia
Parts used: root
Use(s): Traditional support for the respiratory system*
Flavor profile: sharp, pungent

A field of Mullein in full bloom is quite the sight to behold, as the plant can grow as high as cornstalks — and taller than most adults! A member of the Scrophulariaceae or Figwort family, Mullein waits until its second year to send up its towering stalks with flowers.

The woolly, mucilaginous leaves and yellow flowers of Mullein (Verbascum spp.) are both used in herbalism. Its first recorded use was in ancient Greece, and it was also widely used among Native Americans.

The plant’s other common name is Aaron’s Rod but it is known to some as flannel leaf or bunny ears; names that come from the downy softness of the leaves. You can’t help but want to reach out and touch them.

We use Mullein in our Kids Cough Crusader™ and Mullein Blend.

Botanical name: Verbascum spp.
Plant family: Scrophulariaceae
Native habitat: Europe and Asia
Parts used: leaf and flower
Use(s): Traditional support for the respiratory system*
Flavor profile: mild and slightly sweet

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a member of the Lamiaceae or Mint family. Commonly used in the kitchen, Thyme’s original Greek name has a colorful history. One story is that it was a derivative of a word meaning “to fumigate.” However, it’s unclear whether that’s because it was used as incense or because of its trademark sweet, balsamic fragrance. The other story is that Thyme comes from a word meaning “courage,” a trait it symbolized in ancient and medieval history, when it was considered to be an invigorating herb.

Thyme is found in several of our products, including Herbal Respiratory Relief™, Lung Expectorant™, Calm Breathing™, Kids Cough Crusader™ and Kids Immune Avenger™.

Botanical name: Thymus vulgaris
Plant family: Lamiaceae
Native habitat: Mediterranean region
Parts used: flowering herb
Use(s): Traditional support for the respiratory system*
Flavor profile: intensely spicy, sharply aromatic, typical