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Herbal Remedies

 

Herbal remedies are made from the flowers, leaves, roots, berries, seeds, gel, bark & aerial parts of various plants. Each herb contains vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, trace elements & numerous medicinal chemicals, such as tannins, phenolic compounds, bitters, coumarins & alkaloids.

Herbs are used to restore & maintain health by keeping the body in balance. Herbal medicines are often prescribed as tinctures, teas or pills, which you take three times a day. Herbalists believe that we all possess a self-healing mechanism, called the vital force, to maintain our health. But this mechanism can become weakened by stress, poor diet & pollution, so we become ill. The symptoms of disease are a sign that the vital force is trying to maintain harmony under the threat of illness & should not be suppressed. Herbal remedies are not prescribed to relieve symptoms, but to help the affected body system fight the disease, prevent it recurring, clear the system of toxins, support the immune system & maintain a healthy balance.


Using herbs safely

Do not take unnecessarily in greater doses or for longer than you need.

Avoid picking or using fresh herbs that you cannot identify.

Always consult a qualified medical herbalist if you don't feel confident about home prescribing.

Never self-prescribe if you have chronic health problems or are on medication.

If you want to take herbal medicines in conjunction with conventional medicine, consult your GP & a herbalist.

See the Drug - Herb Interactions page.


Lupus patients please note

As I said above, always consult your medical practitioner for chemical interaction with current medications before taking herbal supplements.

The herb Echinacea is widely used because of its ability to support the immune system in fighting off colds & flu. But it enhances the immune system by increasing white blood cell production, so it is best avoided by lupus patients.

Some herbal preparations have been found to contain sulfa, steroids or other pharmaceutical drugs, so always consult your doctor regarding the safety of any over the counter products.


Ways to use herbs

Fresh herbs
Incorporate fresh herbs into your diet. Many culinary herbs such as sage, parsley & thyme are also valuable medicines.

Tinctures
Tinctures are made by soaking the herb in alcohol to extract its properties. They are concentrated herbal medicines, taken internally neat, or in water.

Tea
Herbal teas or infusions are less concentrated than tinctures. You can make an infusion from commercially prepared tea bags, or from fresh or dried flowers, leaves or green stems of the herbs.Use one teaspoon(5ml) of dried herbs (two-three teaspoons of fresh herb) to one cup of boiling water, leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes, strain, sweeten with a little honey & drink hot. Heat destroys the properties of some herbs such as valerian root so they should be infused in cold water for 12 hours.

Decoction
The properties of roots, bark, nuts & seeds are not as soluble as those in leaves & flowers, so it takes more heat to extract their properties. Using the same proportions as before, place the herb & water in a saucepan & bring to the boil, simmer for ten minutes, strain & drink hot. Both decoctions & infusions can be added to a bath or foot bath, used cold as a skin wash or gargle.

Bath
Tie a handful of herbs in a muslin bag & hang from the bath tap so that the water runs through it. The heat activates the properties of the herbs so that they are absorbed through the skin's pores.

Tablets/capsules
Take in the same way as you would any other pill.

Cream
Use on irritated, inflamed or bruised skin. The active ingredients of the herb pass through the pores of the skin into the blood stream to encourage healing.

Compress
For aches, pains & swollen joints. Fold a clean piece of cotton & soak in an infusion of the chosen herb, & apply to point of pain. Apply cold compresses to hot or inflamed areas, & hot compresses to pain that responds to heat.

Poultice
A poultice is made from bruised fresh or dried herbs, mixed into a paste with hot water. It can be applied to painful joints, spots & infected wounds. Place the herb on a clean piece of cotton & bandage on to the affected area & leave for a couple of hours, or until the pain eases.


Which herbs to use

Arthritis
Cat's claw, Aloe juice, Heartsease, Sweet violet, Cowslip, Thyme, Borage, Rosemary, Meadowsweet, Evening primrose, Willow, Yucca.

Muscle aches & pains
Black cohosh, Willow, Thyme, Meadowsweet, Cramp bark.

Headache
White willow, Passiflora, Valerian, Feverfew, Wild lettuce, Lavender, Black cohosh, Peppermint, Vervain.

Circulation problems
Hawthorn, Garlic, Ginkgo Biloba, Cayenne, Yarrow, Angelica, Mustard, Walnut.

Mouth ulcers
Myrrh, Liquorice.

Depression
Ginseng, Avena Sativa, Kava Kava, Cayenne, Cowslip, Rose, Thyme, Vervain.
Consider also - Flower essences.

Insomnia
Valerian, Passiflora, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Kava kava, Hops, Catnip, Linden, Vervain, Cowslip. Lavender, Marjoram.
Consider also - Flower essences.

Migraine
Feverfew, Valerian, Vervain, Cayenne, Rosemary, Lavender.

Bruising
Yarrow, Arnica(ointment), Witch hazel, Calendula(ointment), Lavender(ointment).

Hypertension (High blood pressure)
Hawthorn berry, Garlic, Dandelion, Lime blossom.

Fatigue
Liquorice, Ginseng, Gotu Kola, Borage, Vervain.
Consider also - Flower essences.

 
 

 

 
 

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