Monday, March 21, 2011

Native Plant Allergy Tea and Menthol Inhaler

March is a windy month. Tree pollen counts are high and most people are going about their lives sniffling and as one lady put it, “Feeling yucky.” The juniper season in South Texas has been worse than most years. In Deep South Texas the offending trees are the palo blanco (sugar hackberry), anacua, cedar elm and Rio Grande ash. Oak always presents a problem and we’ve got plenty of post oak in the area as well. I wonder how those who lived here before the Europeans arrived dealt with tree pollen season. 

There are a few native plants that people use to make teas for bronchitis and one plant can also be used as a menthol-type inhaler by crushing the leaves and then breathing the menthol smell. It works surprisingly well. I’m thinking of a plant called salvia. There are two examples of this plant and both are in the croton family. One is Croton incanus and the other is Croton dioicus. Both plants belong to the family Euphorbiaceae or Spurge family. Of the two the one more commonly used as a tea for bronchitis and a menthol-type applicant is Croton inanus.

Here’s a link to a picture of Croton incanus:

I have used this plant as a tea for years. It also makes a fair mosquito repellent by crushing the leaves and rubbing them on exposed skin. Be careful because some people will get a rash just like some people get a rash with store-bought repellents.

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