Alternative Health: The Healing Power of Herbs


The Healing Power of Herbs

In this age of skyrocketing medical costs, more and more people are taking responsibility for their own health. They are turning to herbs, nature’s “super-medicines.” Many people are already including herbs in their diets, not just to season foods, but for maintaining and restoring vibrant health. Research findings reveal that some of the most powerful medicines are found in plants and are mostly available everywhere, without a prescription.

Herbal medicine actually predates the appearance of humans on earth, as animals are known to seek out and eat specific plants when they are sick. Researchers have found that chimpanzees, for example, are attracted to plants that contain natural antibiotics and are known to dose themselves with herbs in times of sickness. Owners of dogs or cats would often see their pets nibbling grass.

Medicinal herbs have been used by man for thousands of years. Through time, they learned the uses of herbs through trial and error. As a matter of fact, there isn’t a culture on earth that doesn’t include the use of herbs as medicines in its historical record, even when that record is part of an oral tradition passed down from generation to generation by tribal elders, historians and medicine men. It is doubtful that mankind could have survived on earth without herbs. These natural remedies have been relied upon and used throughout history, to treat ailments of every description, including arthritis, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive and bowel disorders, sexual problems, obesity, acne, psoriasis, colds, flu, infections – the list goes on and on.

Generally, people are encouraged to use herbs as a supplement to help them stay well, rather than just when they become ill. An herb generally works on the body in one of three ways: it can purge the body of impurities, it can build up the immune system, or it can strengthen the constitution of an organ so it will heal itself. Individual herbs can accomplish one or more of these functions, and specific herbs are used for specific ailments although there is often more than one herb which can aid in the treating of an ailment.

Popular Herbs

Here are some of the most popular, potent and readily available herbs chosen from hundreds of selections being used all over the world:

Agave or century plant, similar in appearance to aloe vera, but more robust. The leafy sap is used as a soothing medicine for upset stomach. It also has a laxative effect. When applied directly to the skin, it treats burns. The root yields a tea that eases the discomfort of arthritis.

Allspice, a tall tree which bears berries that are commercially used as a peppery seasoning. When ground the berries are used as an instant toothache remedy.
Aloe is best known for its use in skin creams for moisturizing and healing. Aloe gel is used as a protection against airborne infections and fungus. It reduces scarring and is used to treat dermatitis, burns, cuts scrapes, itchy skin, insect bites, acne and cold sores.

Anise. Infused as a tea, anise seeds relieve nausea, aid digestion and stops flatulence. It is also a natural antacid. To make this wonder tea, add seven teaspoons of aniseed to a quart of water, simmer down to one and a half pints, strain and sweeten with honey.

Basil is used as a multipurpose herbal tea. It aids in digestion, relieves gas, and reduces nausea, stomach cramps and migraines. Its antibacterial effect works against yeast infections of the mouth and throat. It acts as a tonic for the nerves and soothes tired muscles.

Bay. A tonic prepared from a simple infusion of the dried or fresh leaves, is helpful in aiding digestion and expelling gas. Boiled leaves pounded into a poultice can be applied directly onto the chest to provide relief from hacking coughs or bronchitis.

Chamomile. The fresh or dried flowers prepared as tea is an effective night cap to aid sleep. Its relaxing effect works on headaches and calms a nervous stomach. As a mouthwash, it relieves toothache. Chamomile tea bags dipped in ice water soothe eyes when placed on closed eyelids for several minutes. Chamomile tea is commonly served after meals to aid in digestion.

Chives. In addition to their common use as a garnish, the leaves aid digestion and promote mild laxative effect. Their onion flavor and aroma stimulate the appetite. They have been used successfully in the treatment of anorexia nervosa.

Dong quai. One of the most respected herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai is often used as a “women’s tonic” to ease both PMS and menstrual cramps.

Echinacea is a popular antibiotic in the herb world. Its roots are used to treat fevers, viral infections, insect bites and to relieve allergies. It is found to stimulate the body’s defenses, hence, is used in AIDS research.

Eucalyptus. The oil distilled from leaves and twigs is used to clear mucus from the nose and lungs. The active ingredient in Vick’s Vapo-Rub is the aromatic oil from eucalyptus leaves.

Fennel. The seeds ease indigestion and provide an instant cure for bad breath. The root extract has detoxifying power. Fennel also has the ability to repair liver damage caused by alcohol.

Garlic is considered the greatest of all herbal antibiotics. Tests confirmed its effectiveness in treating yeast infection, staphylococcus, salmonella poisoning, and colds. It purifies the blood and reduces high blood pressure, cholesterol and clotting.
Galangal. The fresh rhizome is used to treat bronchitis, measles, scaly skin diseases and colds. The rhizome also yields an essential oil used in perfumes. Its seed is given for digestive problems.

Ginkgo biloba, a mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine for more than 5,000 years, improves blood and oxygen supply to the brain and central nervous system. The extract from the yellow autumn leaves is said to promote brain efficiency and mental alertness, vitality and peripheral circulation.

Ginseng strengthens the body by increasing the efficiency of the endocrine, circulatory and digestive systems and body metabolism. It reduces physical, mental and emotional stress by increasing oxygen-carrying red blood cells and immune-strengthening white blood cells, thereby eliminating toxins. Tests show ginseng inhibits cancer cells and increases alertness, reflex actions and stamina. This potent herb should not be taken continuously.

Maidenhair fern. The tea made from the leaves provides soothing expectorant relief to congestion and cough.

Mints (Peppermint and spearmint) when taken as tea, act as stimulant, aid digestion and reduce flatulence. Peppermint has additional antiseptic, anti-parasitic, antiviral and sweat-inducing properties. It is included in ointments and cold remedies and is given for headaches and other aches and pains. A strong decoction of spearmint leaves alleviates
chapped hands.

Parsley is best known as a beautiful garnish for your dinner but its medicinal uses are amazingly varied. Herbalists consider parsley as a superior, safe and healthful laxative and diuretic. Include it in your diet as a rich source of vitamins A and C and as a breath freshener. Gas problems? High-blood pressure? Allergies? Fever? Parsley is the herb to take.

Rosemary, a delicious spice and an excellent food preservative, is a gentle but effective digestive aid. Some people swear by rosemary as a nasal decongestant and infection fighter extraordinaire. Prepare dried or fresh leaves as tea.

Some of these herbs are used externally in the form of lotions, ointments and salves. Other herbs are used internally in the form of tinctures, infusions, decoctions or raw. An infusion or tea, is a formula in which the medicinal portion of an herb is steeped in very hot water for two to five minutes or until the desired strength is achieved. A decoction is similar to an infusion, however, the roots, bark and otherwise more fibrous materials are used and boiled for a longer period of time. Tincture is prepared by putting 4 oz. dried or 10 oz. fresh herbs in a jar; add 500 ml. of 60 proof alcohol. Stand for two weeks then strain. Since metal cookware may chemically alter a decoction or tincture, it is recommended that ceramic or glass utensils are used.

The information contained in or made available through This Site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any treatment, drug, food or supplement. You should regularly consult a doctor in all matters relating to physical or mental health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

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