Author Topic: Ten Medicinal Herbs You Should Know  (Read 1125 times)


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Ten Medicinal Herbs You Should Know
« on: February 13, 2017, 01:43:37 am »
               Ten Medicinal Herbs You Should Know

     (Debra  Nuzzi holds Master Herbalist degrees  from  Dominion
Herbal College and the School of Natural Healing. She has been  a
student of herbal medicine for 22 years and has taught  herbology
since 1984. She is the author of the herbal video series,  Herbal
Preparations  and  Natural Therapies-Creating and  Using  a  Home
Herbal  Medicine  Chest She is president of  Nature's  Apothecary
Inc, a fresh plant herbal extract company, and Essential Aromatherapy, 
which  manufactures aromatherapy inhalers.  Both  are  in
Boulder, Colorado - The editors.)

                       By Debra Nuzzi, MH

 ONE hundred years ago, the kitchen garden was also the  medicine
garden, and plants which produced medicinal benefit were part  of
the  working knowledge of the common people. Those  plants  which
were difficult to cultivate were sought in the surrounding fields
and  meadows, then preserved and added to the harvest  storehouse
to soothe and heal the illnesses of winter.

      With  the advent of the chemically synthesized  drugs,  the
home pharmacy has all but disappeared, and with it the  knowledge
of simple herbal remedies for common ailments. This knowledge  is
now resurfacing: researched and regenerated by people who want to
take an active and independent role in their own health care.

     A very necessary part of this renaissance is self-education.
Starting  is  easy.   Just familiarize yourself with  a  few  key
herbs  and begin to use them in your daily life. As you  see  how
effective  they are it will spark your desire to learn more,  and
you're on your way!

 Following  is a list of 10 commonly available herbs  and  simple
ways to use them in personal health maintenance.  These herbs are
easily  available  and fulfill a wide range of  benefits  with  a
minimum amount of effort.

 ALOE  LEAF  (Aloe Vera) - This plant has hundreds of  uses,  the
most popular being its ability to alleviate the pain of burns and
to  speed their healing. It is very easily cultivated as a  house
plant, and should be in every kitchen. It is the best remedy  for
sunburn, often preventing later peeling.  Immediately immerse the
burn  in  cold water or apply ice until the heat  subsides,  then
generously apply the aloe.  It is best to trim the prickly  sides
off  the succulent leaf, then split the leaf in half  and  gently
rub the exposed gel onto the affected area. Aloe may also be  applied
 to any cut or skin abrasion, and onto skin eruptions,  remarkably 
speeding  healing. To relieve the pain and  itching  of
hemorrhoids,  carve  out a suppository sized chunk of  the  inner
leaf gel and insert into the rectum.

 BURDOCK ROOT (Arcticum lappa) - Well know as a blood detoxification
 agent  and eaten as a vegetable known as Gobo  in  oriental
cuisine, Burdock root is available throughout the U.S. It is used
for skin eruptions and dry scaly skin conditions. Burdock is also
used as a digestive stimulant and to lower blood sugar. Its  seed
is used as a diuretic and kidney tonic.  The root is now found in
supermarkets  and  can be cooked as a vegetable or  made  into  a
decoction.  Fresh plant fluid extracts of the root and  seed  are
also available in health food stores.

 COMFREY  LEAF/ROOT (Symphytum officinalis) - Comfrey  should  be
grown as a house plant in every home. Like Aloe, it is a  natural
herbal  bandaid, useful for cuts, scrapes and burns. It is  styptic, 
which means that it will stop bleeding. Commonly  known  as
"knit-bone,"  it stimulates tissue regeneration. Used  externally
as  a  poultice, it helps heal bone fractures  and  deep  wounds.
Recovery  rate is accelerated with use of this fresh plant  poultice 
on  muscle,  tendon and  ligamentous  injuries.  Thoroughly
cleanse the wound with an antiseptic first,because Comfrey is  so
quick  to regenerate the tissue that it will seal over the  wound
with the bacteria still inside.

 DANDELION ROOT (Taraxacum officinalis) - Dandelion is  naturally
high  in  potassium, making it a safe  diuretic,  increasing  the
ability to eliminate waste products through the urinary channels.
It  helps restore kidney function and relieves liver  and  spleen
congestion.  It is extremely beneficial as a spring  tonic  which
stimulates sluggish liver function. The root should be made  into
a strong decoction, which means that it should be cut into  small
pieces  and simmered in a glass or enamel vessel for at least  10
minutes  before  straining and drinking. The  fresh  plant  fluid
extract can also be used. set 20-30 drops into a cup of hot water
and drink as a tea.

 ECHINACEA  ROOT  (Echinacea angustifolia) -  A  powerful  immune
stimulant,  Echinacea has become increasingly popular  in  recent
years. Its antiseptic and anti-viral properties are used for sore
throats, flu, colds, infections and allergies. It also has  tumor
inhibiting  properties.  The most potent form is  a  fresh  plant
fluid extract,however, medicinal benefit can also] be derived  by
mixing a decoction, as explained under Dandelion.

 GARLIC  BULB  (Allium sativum) - Best known for  its  antibiotic
effect, garlic bulbs or the milder garlic greens can be eaten raw
at  the  onset of a cold or flu. A small piece of  bread  may  be
necessary  to  make the spicyness more palatable.  You  can  grow
garlic  greens  by planting the bulbs in a 4-inch-deep  pot,  and
trimming them to use in salads or stir fry dishes. Garlic oil  is
effectively used for ear infections. It is easily made by  finely
chopping  enough fresh organic garlic bulbs to fill a jelly  jar,
and  covering  them with organic olive oil. Cover  the  jar  with
cheesecloth held on with a rubber band. Let the mixture sit in  a
warm room for a week or a sunny window for several hours (if  you
need  it  right away). Strain the oil and store it  in  an  amber
glass  jar. The warmed oil is then placed in the ear and  plugged
with  a cotton ball. Leave in overnight and treat  nightly  until
the infection is gone. This therapy is not to be used in cases of
eardrum  perforation. A wonderful garlic cough syrup can be  made
by simmering freshly chopped garlic in apple cider vinegar for 10 
minutes.  Strain the resulting liquid, add honey and simmer  down
until  the mixture is thick and syrupy. The  vinegar  neutralizes
the  garlic taste, making it much more tolerable, yet  preserving
the antibiotic effect.

 GINGER ROOT (Zinziber officiale) - Ginger has a carminative  effect, 
which means that it will help relieve  digestive  problems
which  result  in gas formation. It is also a  diaphoretic,  used
both  as a tea and added to a soaking bath to stimulate  sweating
and  reduce fevers. In cases of abdominal menstrual  cramping,  a
ginger  fomentation  can be made. A fomentation  is  prepared  by
slicing 1-3 large roots into a half gallon of water and simmering
in a covered pan for at least 30 minutes. A cotton cloth is  then
dipped in the mixture, wrung out (wear rubber gloves, it's  hot!)
and applied to the abdomen as hot as can be withstood. Two folded
bath  towels are placed on top to help maintain the heat  of  the
fomentation  as the therapy progresses. Internally, 1/4  teaspoon
of ginger or one dropperful of the fluid extract can be added  to
1  cup of warm water to alleviate nausea/morning  sickness/motion
sickness and to aid digestion.

 KELP  (Nereocystis  leutkeana) The kelp family,  which  includes
kombu,  wakame,  arame and hijiki, is known for  its  ability  to
combat the effects of radiation in the body.  Radioactive  strontium-90, 
one  of  the more prevalent sources  of  radiation,  is
stored  in our bones, and contributes to long term diseases  such
as leukemia, bone cancer, Hodgkins disease, anemia, and decreased
production  of  red and white blood cells.  The  sodium  alginate
found  in the kelp family binds with the radioactive  isotope  in
the  gastrointestinal tract and forms an insoluble gel like  salt
called strontium alginate, which is safely excreted in the feces. 
(For  more information on radiation detoxification, see  Fighting
Radiation  with Foods, Herbs and Vitamins, by  Steven  Schechter,
ND. Kelp is recommended as a daily addition to the diet)

 ST. JOHN'S WORT (Hypericum perforatum) - The extract and oil are
used  externally  for bruises, strains, sprains,  contusions  and
wounds. The extract is used internally as an immune system stimulant,
for retro-viral infections, as an expectorant and  antibacterial.
 It speeds the healing of wounds and burns and  aids  the
regeneration  of damaged nerve tissue. It is used as an  anti-depressant
 and to treat bed wetting and children's nightmares.   It
is  also  known as Klamath weed, a common pasture plant,  and  is
found throughout the U.S.

 VALERIAN ROOT (Valeriana officinalis) - Valerian is classed as a
nervine  and sedative with mild pain relieving properties,  which
makes it a good candidate for stress, anxiety and restless insomnia.
 It  has  also been used  for  intestinal  colic,  menstrual
cramps, migraine headache, and rheumatic pain. Although it smells
like well used socks, the extract and tea are both recommended.

  It is vitally important to properly identify the plant you  are
harvesting  before  you use it. Forest  Service  visitor  centers
carry  plant  identification  books for  their  region,  and  the 
Petersen Field Guide series plus a range of medicinal plant hand
books  are  also sources of botanical  identification.   Most  of
these books can be found in local bookstores. It is wise to  take
classes or go with an experienced guide when you are in the early
learning stages. Herbs are precious natural resources, and should
be ecologically harvested. The following guidelines for  harvesting 
help  insure herb potency and purity and help  preserve  the
species for further enjoyment.

 Medicinal herbs should be:

  1) Gathered in the proper season.  General rules are: Barks  in
the spring; leaves before the plant flowers; flowers on the first
day  of  opening; roots are best in the fall (although  they  are
sometimes harvested in spring, previous to aerial plant  development).

  2) Gathered in wild habitats where the plants naturally grow or
should be organically grown according to certification  standards
established by the state in which they were harvested.

  3)  Harvested in an area free of chemical/industrial  pollution
of air, water and soil.

  4)  Gathered at least 1/4 mile from any traveled roads, and  at
least 10 miles from any waste disposal or toxic dumping areas.

  5)  Protected from over-harvesting by leaving at least  3/4  of
the stand intact for reproduction and continuance of the species.
If  roots  are dug, root crowns and seeds must  be  replanted  to
perpetuate the growth and proliferation of the plant.

Reprinted with permission AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE. JULY 1991