Whooping Cough

Notes for the Webinar given by Rosalee de la Foret and Michael Tierra

What is Pertussis?

Commonly called whooping cough or pertussis, this is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract which can be caused by Bordetella pertussis or B.  parapertussis.

 Three Stages of Whooping Cough and Appropriate treatment for Each:

 1. The cold or mucus stage -- about 2 weeks

Treat with Marshmallow root, thyme, ginger and lobelia decoction described below. Garlic oil made by macerating garlic in olve oil and giving a teaspoonful every hour or two. If food is taken give the Garlic thyme chicken soup below. The idea is to keep hydrated so mucus does not congeal and is expectorated more easily. If one is breast feeding an infant, continue, as this provides the best nourishment for the infant, of course the mother’s diet should be exemplary.

2. The whooping stage -- about 2 weeks

This is the most frightening stage as infants can turn blue and even vomit as they struggle to catch a breath between fits of coughing. If possible have a humidifier in the room. Rub camphorated oil and Vick’s Vaporub on the chest and back and/or apply a hot ginger fomentation. For infants try sucking the excess mucus with a bulb designed for this purpose to reduce post nasal drip and assist breathing.

 3. The post-whooping stage -- about 2 weeks

Continue previous treatment protocol as appropriate according to the severity of the symptoms.  Here it is important to provide more nourishing foods to rebuild the body’s reserves.

 What You Will Need:

1. Fresh Ginger (or dried)

2.  Two whole garlic bulbs

3. Two ounces each of dried thyme and marshmallow root

4. Honey and/or brown sugar,

5. Camphorated oil

6.  Vick’s VapoRub

7. Humidifier

8. Suction bulb.

The question of Pertussis Vaccines:

Pertussiss vaccine is among the more problematic vaccines given usually in three stages to infants. It often causes some adverse reaction, and the evidence regarding its effectiveness is controversial with proponents arguing the case from both perspectives.


Following are some sites that might help you make a more informed decision as to whether to vaccinate your child or not:




 A More balanced Opinion of the Pros and cons for or against Pertussis vaccine


 Anti whooping cough vaccine


 Vaccinated children do get whooping cough. The question as to whether it is more prevalent or not among vaccinated children is certainly debatable. In my opinion some vaccines have been extremely important in preventing certain conditions, others less so, and still others such as the flu vaccine, there is no statistical proof that it offers a benefit. In other words many vaccines are given on the theoretical possibility that they may be effective irrespective of any possible short or long term adverse reactions. When making such an important decision frame it in terms of trying to evaluate the likelihood of risk versus benefit. Consider how real the threat is and an honest evaluation.

 A very good book on the subject is Vaccinations: A thoughtful Parent’s Guide by Aviva Jill Romm (pub by Healing arts Press). In it she outlines 8 questions that parents might ask themselves before vaccinating each of their children:

  • How dangerous is the disease?
  • What is the likelihood of my child contracting the disease?
  • What are the risks and how likely are they to occur?
  • Is my child at high risk for an adverse reaction?
  • Can I minimize my child’s risks of a vaccine reaction?
  • What legal concerns does my decision involve?
  • Can I live comfortably with my decision if I choose not to vaccinate?


Homeopathic Medicine for Relieving Adverse Reactions from Vaccination:

The book also describes homeopathic remedies that can be administered prior and after a vaccination to mitigate adverse reactions. I have treated one infant who was having an adverse reaction to a DPT shot by simply giving one dose of homeopathic Thuja 30C.  It seemed to be dramatically effective within one day.

 One can alternate between Ledum 30C taken in the morning and Thuja 30C taken in the afternoon beginning one day before and three days after vaccination

 For polio vaccine both Ledum and and Hypericum 30 C and Thuja 30 C is given one dose daily spaced 3 or 4 hours apart two weeks before and two weeks after vaccination.

 Western Medical Protocols

Vaccination, DTAP for prevention.

Diptheria, tetanus and pertussis

Antibiotics for those in contact with pertussis and for the person diagnosed with pertussis.

Antibiotics help reduce the contagious nature of the bacteria


Contact with pathogens and dirt, along with some non-life threatening childhood diseases is by children is important to build lifelong immunity. However, certain herbs and tonics such as Astragalus and Astragalus Jade Screen Formula manufactured by Planetary Herbals are specific to protect the body from contracting infectious diseases.  These are only given preventively before acute sickness or during the recovery stage. One wants to strengthen the body’s reserves not the disease process itself.

 “The assumption that healthy children don’t get sick is erroneous -- and some illness is desirable because the immune system is stimulated and builds immunity against infectious diseases.”  -- Healthy children do get sick. Aviva Jill Romm “Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide” (pub by Healing Arts Press)

 Over consumption of sugar, including fruit juice depresses the immune system.

 Sugar and honey, however, can be useful when formulating herbal syrups and preparations to help loosen dry, sticky mucus and assist expectoration.

 Vitamin D3 along with Vitamin C are both extremely important for a healthy immune system.

 Adequate first class protein is important for growing children and for a health immune system. Try to avoid food fetishes and fads. Eat according to your own and your families needs not according to some extraneous belief system. We all have individual genetic predisposition and we need to recognize that we must choose foods based on our evolutionary development and ancestral predisposition.

 Determining the type of cough

Expectorant coughs - with mucus

Non-productive coughs - no mucus

Dry-spasmodic coughing

Thick, yellow phlegm indicates heat and infection

White phlegm signifies coldness

 What is mucus?

Mucus is a slick, naturally occurring fluid secreted by the mucus membranes that line the lungs and nasal passages

It consists of proteins, antimicrobial enzymes, antibodies and salt.

In excess, it is an indication of incomplete digestion of food.

Normally it is thin and clear.

It’s three main functions are:

1. to moisten tissues

2. to prevent infection

3. to attack pathogens causing infections


There is both good and bad mucus

Herbal expectorants are used to help dissolve and eliminate excess infective mucus. Many herbs possess expectorant properties including those described here.

Herbal stimulants and carminatives are used to regulate and dry excess production of mucus in the digestive tract which is the seat where mucus is first generated

Herbal Demulcents lubricate and help supply good quality (non-infective) mucus to assuage irritation.

 Herbs for cough including whooping cough

 Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Very ancient remedy mentioned by Pliny and Virgil.

It is antimicrobial, stimulant, antiseptic, stimulant, digestive

Use as a tea or powdered and combined with crushed garlic in honey or olive oil.

 Bee Balm (Monarda spp.)

Native and endemic to the Americas, taste is similar to oregano and thyme, spicy, used for a variety of infections. Can be given as a tea or mixed with honey or applied externally as a poultice.


A specific for all lung affections and should be included in all protocols for upper respiratory tract infections, coughs and whooping cough. Macerate crushed fresh garlic cloves in honey and give a dose hourly or every two hours. Powdered thyme, and lemon juice can be mixed with this.

Garlic oil can be similarly used by mashing a clove in olive oil. This can be administered by dipping a bit or bread into the garlic oil.

 Honey is extremely important for all mucus conditions. Honey dries and breaks up mucus while sugar generates more and as stated in a syrup or medicine it can help liquify thick mucus for better expectoration.

 Honey should not be given to infants so the oil version would be better.

 If a child is nursing, the mother can take any herbs internally with the assurance that the healing properties of the herbs will be quickly delivered via her breast milk to her suckling child.


Ginger is one of the most useful herbs for many diseases both acute and chronic and it is a near specific for colds, flus and coughs. At the first sign of a build up of mucus, give warm ginger tea with honey. Children will usually readily accept this and it works wonders. You can go another step by adding lemon juice to the tea.

 Ginger compress

A warm compress applied to the chest can bring comfort to the child and help to stop the coughing.

 2 tablespoons dried ginger root

1 tsp crampbark

pint of water

 Simmer this for twenty minutes with the lid on.

Strain and allow to cool somewhat.

Place a wash cloth in the tea blend and then wring it out enough so that it is no long dripping wet.

 Place the washcloth over the chest and then a dry towel. A hot water bottle can be placed over this, along with another towel to keep the compress warm. It’s called at “hot” water bottle, but obviously this should be an appropriate temperature for the child. Check the skin frequently to ensure it is not too hot.

 I recommend making this up during the daytime and then placing it in the fridge. When it is needed at night, reheat and apply.

 Herbal Demulcents: Marshmallow Root

It was mentioned in the Book of Job, and the leaves were used as a vegetable by the Romans. All mallows can be used. They contain an abundance of mucilage and is an excellent remedy for all inflamed surfaces and organs, including the lungs, coughs, laryngitis and sore throat. It is a yin-nourishing herb for weak rundown children.

 Linden, Marshmallow and Lemon Balm Tea

 1/4 cup Linden leaves (Tilia cordata)

1/8 cup marshmallow root(Althaea officinalis)

2 teaspoons lemon balm leaves (Melissa officinalis)

 Place these in a pint jar and then fill with just boiled water.

 Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain and flavor with honey if desired. These are very safe, nourishing herbs so you needn’t worry about getting too much. Emphasis should be on getting enough!

 Thyme, Ginger, Marshmallow and Lobelia Syrup for Whooping Cough

2 ounces marshmallow root

2 ounces garden thyme

2 ounces of fresh, sliced ginger

1 quart of distilled water.

 Slowly boil the marshmallow and thyme  in the distilled water until reduced to 1 pint. Strain, press, return liquor to saucepan and add 2 lbs brown sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Skim as the scum arises. Add two ounces of minced ginger, allow steeping until cool. Strain and bottle and keep in a cold place.

 Dose For young children give 1 teaspoon as often as needed.

Older children give 2 to 3 teaspoonfuls according to age.

Adults. 1 tablespoon every 2 or 3 hours.

 Specific for paroxysmal whooping cough. It gives almost instant relief. Keep the child on a diet of mostly warm fruit juices, especially pineapple, no eggs, heavy protein or greasy foods. For spasmodic asthma add 1/2 ounce lobelia herb to the above formula and a little more water but ending with the same amount when boiled down (1pint).

If the individual is constitutionally weak or deficient add 2 ounces of elecampane root and cook in 1 ½ quarts of water. Cook down to the same amount (1 pint).

 If there is constipation or sluggish bowels be sure to take triphala throughout the treatment.

 Garlic-Thyme-Ginger Chicken Soup


2 tablespoons butter

1 onion

2 celery stalks

2 carrots

at least one whole head of garlic

1 1/2 quart chicken stock

At least 1 or 2 tablespoons of thyme

At least 4 or 5 slices of fresh ginger

Chopped leafy greens or other vegetables as desired

a splash of apple cider vinegar and or lemon juice

Sea salt & pepper to taste



Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add diced onion, celery, carrots and a pinch of sea salt. Saute for about 5 minutes or until onions are transparent. Chop all of the garlic setting aside 3 cloves that are finely minced. Add garlic to vegetables, saute one more minute and add stock, thyme and chopped leafy greens and other vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes on a low flame, covered.

Add precooked chicken along with a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and taste the broth for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. At thi stage add more minced garlic and extra thyme. Serve as hot as possible.

 Two Antispasmodic Herbs

California poppy and lobelia

 Either can be taken to allay the spasms during the second stage of whooping cough or they can be combined together.

These are taken as an alcoholic or vinegar extract. Begin with one drop as often as needed and increase until you find the dose that works best.

 Rosalee’s Experience with Stopping the Cough

 Two part approach:

 Demulcent teas during the day and antispamodic tinctures at night.

 Michael recommends the old fashioned but effective treatment of rubbing warm camphorated oil over the chest and back and then applying Vick’s VapoRub made with Eucalyptus with a Vaseline base. The Vaseline is important because it protects the skin from irritation and keeps the effect of the eucalyptus on the surface of the body.

 Two useful Planetary Herbal Syrups are:

Old Indian Wild Cherry Bark Syrup and Loquat Respiratory Syrup.


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