Cough syrup, anyone?

Apologies for harping on about winter coughs, but nearly everyone around here has either had one, or they will succumb very soon. You wouldn’t think there would be much growing just now that you could use, but you’d be wrong. Sweet violets, cowslips, primroses, coltsfoot; they all flower very early, and they’ve all been used for centuries to soothe sore throats.
A cough syrup helps because its thick consistency makes it slip down slowly, coating the inflamed membranes on the way, but all these flowers are rich in mucus, and that slows them down even more; a strong tincture of sweet violet will hardly pour at all. It would be tempting to ascribe this to divine providence, but it isn’t simply there for our benefit. Mucus also acts as antifreeze, saving the delicate flowers from frost damage. A lot of the plant constituents that we use have no obvious function for the plant itself, but not this one; it’s a lifesaver, for them as well as for us.

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