Herbs for Wildfire Smoke

Torey Posts: 5,520 admin
edited May 16 in Shelter-in-Place

We have clear skies here now after a horrible summer but I know fires are still burning in parts of Canada and the US creating smoke for a much larger area. Populations nowhere near the fires are being affected by smoke.

LearningHerbs just posted a list of herbs that are beneficial after coping with the stress and breathing the smoke from wildfires.


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,378 admin

    We are experiencing smoke from the unusually many out of control Saskatchewan & Alberta wildfires. It's unfortunate that so many were human caused, and it is sounding like most were started on purpose. 😞 Many towns have been or are being evacuated, and as in cases like this, many have lost their homes... and some, most likely their livelihoods.

    I have recently read of a farmer with a large water tanker helping out his neighbors to save their buildings. I don't remember where this was, but they said emergency services in their area are non-existent. He is hailed as being a hero to those who needed his assistance.

    It is not good for us to breathe, but must be hard on wildlife & birds. I have over 20 newly hatched chicks in the house right now. We do have less smoke in the house, but it is still noticeable.

    I went looking for advice from Torey on herbs & wildfire smoke, and here it is. I am leaving a comment so that this information is more readily found & accessible through this season of intense wildfires.

    I will also pin it as an announcement in the emergencies category, as well as pin other relevant threads in the Emergency category.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,520 admin

    The wildfire smoke has just started to drift in on us this morning. The community an hour north of us is at 10+ at the moment, so I'm sure its just going to get worse for us.

    The whole city of Fort St. John (population in the city limits is over 20,000) in northern BC has just been put on evacuation alert.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,378 admin

    That so sad to hear @Torey.

    Our smoke level is definitely more than yesterday. It is the same as when it killed ducklings outside in the past.

    This is part of the warning issued, followed by a screenshot of additional precautions that I thought could be useful to others in this sort of situation.

    Rapidly deteriorating air quality today.

    *The smoke we are seeing here is supposed to enter the northern & Midwest US states by Thursday.*

    A cold front sweeping through much of the province this morning will bring extensive smoke from wildfires in the west. Conditions will swiftly deteriorate behind the front bringing very poor air quality and reduced visibility. AQHI values of very high risk are expected due to highly elevated PM2.5 concentrations.

    I checked a smoke/fire map. Here are two if others want to view these things and watch the track of the smoke.

    These could possibly be useful in the US as well.

    We just had a thunderstorm which brought much needed rain and a touch of hail. It seems as though this pushed the smoke down toward the ground more. It still appears heavy, but it is brighter above.

    I plan to make the dandelion tea & hope to make the syrup mentioned if I have enough chamomile.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,520 admin

    Our air quality rating is through the roof this morning at 10+. I won't be doing much outside today. Just a bit of watering.

    I have us all drinking mullein tea at the moment, with a bit of lemon and a spoon of honey. I might add a bit of thyme into the next batch. Hubby has a sore throat this morning. Daughter had a cold and cough before the smoke rolled in so she's been on the tea for a few days and it has certainly helped. If my marshmallow plants were bigger, I'd add leaves to the tea, but they have just started to come up.

    I will probably make up a batch of the chamomile syrup today and use that to sweeten the mullein and thyme tea. Lots of stress in both our households right now so we could all use a bit of chamomile.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,520 admin

    The Herbal Academy just re-posted this recipe in an email.

    Cough-B-Gone Tea

    Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar (Gladstar, 2012).

    Mullein has long been used to help with coughs and other respiratory issues because of its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and expectorant properties. The addition of antispasmodic chamomile, demulcent marshmallow, and honey to this tea makes it very helpful for soothing irritated throats and dry coughs.


    3 g (0.1 oz) chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flower

    1 g (0.05 oz) marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) leaf and/or flower

    1 g (0.05 oz) mullein (Verbascum thapsus) leaf


    Use approximately 5 g (0.2 oz) herb blend per 355 mL (12 fl oz) hot water. Steep in a covered container for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth or a tea strainer to remove hairs from the mullein leaf. Add plenty of soothing honey and sip while hot.

    And this tea for wildfire smoke from HA on Instagram. I couldn't get it to embed here, so you will have to copy and paste this link.


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,520 admin

    Mountain Rose Herbs has posted an article on "Herbs for Fire Season Support". They have suggestions for stress and our skin as well as herbs to help us breathe easier and detoxify our lungs.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,378 admin

    I saw some of those. Thanks @Torey. The smoke has been very heavy here too (we get AB's & SK's too), but not like yours.

    I didn't know that marshmallow leaf can be used. I thought it was just the root.

    Do you have any tips for proper use? My plant is growing very well! 😀

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,520 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning The leaves can be harvested anytime but they are best after flowering has started. Late summer to early fall before there is any die back. They have to be thoroughly dried because of the thickness of the leaf. My plants have been flowering for a couple of weeks.

    Another one I have just learned about is Dwarf Mallow (Malva neglecta) which has become an invasive weed in my garden. I was thrilled when I found out what it was and that it can be used similarly to marshmallow.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,378 admin

    I've eyed the common mallow for a while, wondering if it was a safe type to use. I have an abundance of it near my bird pens. I'll have to take some pictures of it later.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,520 admin

    And yet another formula for a wildfire smoke tea. This one looks pretty tasty. I think I might substitute marshmallow leaves for the roots, though.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is an excerpt from an email from joybiliefarm.com

    If you or your loved ones are experiencing throat or lung discomfort because of the smoke, there are some herbs that can offer relief. Keep these 5 herbs on hand so that they are available when you need them.

    1. Marshmallow root or leaves, hollyhock root, or common mallow root or leaves.

    These herbs are all from the mallow family are all demulcent and soothing. You can use them interchangeably. Use cold water to extract the mucilage for best results. Marshmallow can be used alone for relief of dry, sore throat, or combine it with any of the herbs below.

    2. Chamomile or lavender flowers are soothing, anti-inflammatory, calming. They are also antifungal and antiviral to support the immune system. Inexpensive chamomile tea bags are fine to use. They also can be used as an eye compress to relieve dry, itchy eyes. For a therapeutic cup of tea use 3 teabags per cup. Pregnant mothers should avoid medicinal doses of chamomile, though occasional use is considered safe. Lavender flowers can also be used, and you might have them in the garden now.

    3. Basil or Holy Basil/Tulsi reduces inflammation and offers bronchial support. Tulsi is also an adaptogen that helps the body deal with stress in a healthy way. Sweet basil and tulsi basil can be used interchangeably and have similar health benefits. (Maybe you're already growing one of them.) Add a few leaves to chamomile tea.

    4. Lemon balm or peppermint are anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, and rich in antioxidants which protect the body from oxidative stress. Both offer some respiratory relief. (Avoid large amounts of peppermint if you suffer from GERD. It can relax the sphincter in the esophagus and increase the problem.) Both of these herbs are common garden herbs. If you aren't already growing them you'll find seeds in most garden catalogs.

    5. Mullein or purple aster (the wildflower) offer respiratory relief. In mullein the first year leaf is used, whereas the flower is used in the aster. They are both antispasmodic for the lungs. The usual dose for the aster is 1 ml of the tincture or a few flower heads in tea for respiratory relief. Both of these herbs can be wild harvested in many places in North America. You'll find mullein leaf at most well supplied health food stores.

    Pro Tip: I tend to add rose petals or hawthorn berries or strawberry tops (the discarded hull of strawberries) to most tea blends. Rose family plants are astringent and tonifying and can help when there is damp mucus-y cough. They can lift the spirits and bring a synergy to most tea blends.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,378 admin

    Thanks, @shllnzl. That's awesome information!

    I like that most of these are common, easy to access herbs.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,520 admin

    Wild Rose College has a new blog article with solutions for the wildfire smoke that is affecting most of Canada and drifting into the US.

    Our skies are temporarily clear at the moment. More smoke is to drift in later today. Not as bad as the southern part of the province, though. Its just more and more bad news out of that area. Structures have been lost.

    I feel very bad for those in Maui. I hope they are able to recover more quickly than Lytton, BC, which has yet to have rebuilding start, 2 years after the fire swept through.