Maybe you are new to herbs and not sure what they are for and how you should use them.
To help you with useful information on essential herbs I believe all households should have; I am going to highlight a new herb every month. In each article I will tell you all there is to know about the herb and any known risks and health benefits.
Ginger has been a household favorite since before I came into the world. My dad loved making ginger tea for me and the kids when we we were sick or had an upset stomach.
Ginger has been well researched and many of its traditional uses confirmed. It is well known as a remedy for travel sickness, nausea and indigestion. It is a warming remedy, ideal for boosting the circulation, lowering high blood pressure and keeping the blood thin in higher doses. Ginger is anti-viral and makes a warming cold and flu remedy. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb and there has been much recent interest in its use for joint problems.
Ginger root is a medicinal herb used primarily for the treatment of Dyspepsia (discomfort after eating), this includes the symptoms of bloating, heartburn, flatulence, and nausea. It is also considered helpful as a preventative for motion sickness and as a digestive. Due to it’s antispasmodic characteristic some people have used it to help ease menstrual cramps. In some traditional systems it is credited with the ability to treat arthritis, fevers, headaches, and toothaches.
Ginger may also be taken orally as a herbal remedy to prevent or relieve nausea resulting from chemotherapy, motion sickness, pregnancy, and surgery.
Results of laboratory studies as well as from small studies conducted among seasick sailors or ship passengers, found that ginger generally has more effectiveness for relieving motion sickness than placebo (or sugar pills). Several comparisons between ginger and prescription or non-prescription drugs have been conducted for relieving the nausea of pregnancy, but results are inconclusive.
In some of the studies, similar effectiveness was seen between ginger and the comparator drug, while other studies found less or no effectiveness for ginger as compared to the drugs. In general, no adverse effects were noted from using ginger, for either the mother or the developing baby. Ginger has also been used in folk medicine to treat minor gastrointestinal problems such as gas or stomach cramps. Recent studies may confirm that ginger directly affects the gastrointestinal tract, helping to improve muscle tone and to prevent abnormally rapid and strong intestinal contractions.
Results of limited studies in animals with diabetes show that ginger may reduce blood levels of sugar and cholesterol, while also lowering blood pressure. However, no human studies with similar results have been reported. A few small studies that have been conducted in humans have shown some promise for supplemental ginger in the treatment of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
If a person has exercised too much or suffers from arthritis or rheumatism, ginger has been known to ease inflammation of the joints and muscle tissue. Due to its tremendous circulation-increasing qualities, ginger is thought to improve the complexion. It has reduced nervousness, eased tendonitis, and helped sore throats return to normal. Studies demonstrate that ginger can lower cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol absorption in the blood and liver. It may also aid in preventing internal blood clots.
Ginger root was recently the subject of a startling new research report presented at The American Association for Cancer research conference in Phoenix. In the study, ginger actually suppressed cancer cells suggesting that the herb was able to fuel apoptosis or the death of the cancer cells. Ginger has been shown to work against skin, ovarian, colon and breast cancer. But it had not been shown to halt the progression of cancer until now. However, more research is required to confirm this._
This stimulating herb is warming to the system. In her book ’10 Essential Herbs’ author Lalitha Thomas describes the properties: “The major active ingredients in ginger are terpenes (quite similar to the chemical action of turpentine) and an oleo-resin called ginger oil. These two, and other active ingredients in ginger, provide antiseptic, lymph-cleansing, circulation-stimulating, and mild constipation relief qualities along with a potent perspiration-inducing action that is quite effective in cleansing the system of toxins.”
This months herb is another family favorite, Its called Plantain. This is one of several herbs that I will never go without. Again because this herb grows wild in some places you cannot and should not use just any Plantain. Make sure you purchase Organic Plantain free of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. Email me at LaChicaOrganica@gmail.com if your interested in ordering Organic Plantain.
I use Plantain in several of my Organic Herbal Products because it has so many benefits. It’s because of Plantain and several other herbs that our baby has never suffered a diaper rash. We use Moms Miraculous Salve by La Chica Organica on him every time his diaper is changed. Read about Moms Miraculous Salve here to find out all the uses you may have for it.
Here is a great write up on Plaintain courtesy of Margaret L. Ahlborn.
September’s herb of the month is one of my favorite remedies for upset tummies. Peppermint is one of the ingredients in the Help my Tummy Tea™ that I have available in Mama’s back to School Health Kit. Its a favorite in our home. We use Peppermint for tea and baths.
I grew up drinking peppermint tea and just love the smell. But For best results, when making tea avoid boiling peppermint, and instead add simmering water to a cup of herbs.
Here are a few excerpts from some of my herbal books.
The mints are amongst the oldest and most reliable of herbal remedies, especially for issues relating to digestion. Culpeper quotes an even more ancient herbal authority, Simeon Sethi, and says, “It helps a cold liver, strengthens the belly, causes digestion, stays vomit, and hiccough. It is good against the gnawing of the heart, provokes the appetite, takes away obstructions of the liver, and stirs up bodily lust.” Apart from that last commendation, most modern herbals recite virtually the same litany. Ellingwood considered it specific for flatulent colic, gastrodynia, nausea, vomiting, spasmodic pain in the bowels, hiccups, palpitation from indigestion, griping, irritability of the stomach, diarrhea with abdominal pain, and nervous headache. In addition, he recommends it for the following pathologies: fevers associated with nausea and vomiting, local pain relief in rheumatism (as the oil), symptomatic relief of asthma and chronic bronchitis, toothache, acute indigestion, painful gonorrhea, and pruritis ani. Contemporary research shows this and several other members of the Labiatae family as having significant antiseptic and anti-viral properties, as well. The essential oil, distilled from the fresh cut plant, has enjoyed a wide range of medicinal and culinary uses since the 18th century, and is one of the few that are safe to take internally or apply to the skin undiluted.
Indicated Usages – Internal
Indicated Usages – External:
Like Ginger and Capsicum, peppermint is a helpful herb “catalyst” or activator; drinking a cup of Peppermint tea before taking other herbs opens the circulation, and potentiates their action. It also helps make the disagreeable taste of many herbal formulas a little more palatable.
A few sprigs of peppermint placed in picnic baskets or food cabinets makes an effective deterrent to ants. As the list above indicates, a small bottle of peppermint oil can be thought of as a “medicine cabinet in your pocket,” and can be used as an emergency remedy for a myriad of conditions. Never leave home without it.
Peppermint is a delicious mild tea. It is wonderful to use as a beverage – hot in the winter and cold in the summer. Dieters, it contains no calories.
- One of the oldest and most popular remedies for simple colic and minor bloat in children and adults.
- Good for all digestive problems, helps stomach pain caused by indigestion and is soothing to the stomach.
- Expels stomach and colon gas.
- Excellent for fevers, flu, diarrhea, ulcers, and colitis.
- Strengthens nerves and heart muscles.
- Cleanses and tones the body.
- Can be used instead of aspirin for headaches.
- Can take the place of coffee for a stimulant.
- Promotes relaxation.
Has been used in the following:
The popularity of peppermint is based on its volatile oil, which contains an abundance of menthol, a time-honored and clinically proven aid to digestion. Menthol is also a mild antispasmodic which makes it useful for relieving menstrual cramps and nausea. It is also a mild vasodilator, creating a warm or flushed feeling by stimulating circulation.
Peppermint oil is used in the food industry for flavoring. The herb and oil is used in the culinary arts because of its stimulating, stomachic and carminative properties. In medicine, peppermint has been useful as an antispasmodic, expectorant and irritant. It is used in alleviating the symptoms of colds, flu, and general fevers, nervous disorders, flatulent colic, rheumatism, as a local anesthetic and to cover the taste or quality of the nauseating or griping effects of other medicines.
The oil of peppermint has been shown to be antimicrobial and antiviral against Newcastle disease, herpes simplex, vaccinia, Semliki Forest and West Nile viruses.
Contains aromatic compounds that increase the production of digestive fluids, relieve muscle spasms, increase blood circulation, reduce pains, promote sweating and are antiseptic. It also contains astringent compounds which shrink inflamed tissues. Peppermint has been used to treat indigestion, flatulence, mouth sores, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, nausea, morning sickness and dysmenorrhea.
Peppermint is high or very high on the following nutrients:
Augusts’ herb of the month is my beloved Dandelion Leaf. I like to call this herb the ‘Poor Man’s Detox”. Why? Well because out of all the herbs Dandelion leaf is one of the few that acts as a safe detoxer and blood purifier and it’s often killed off by people because it grows like a weed. If people across America knew just how wonderful Dandelion leaf is they would be harvesting it and making teas and salads instead of spraying their lawn with weed be gone!
I don’t know one person that has purchased organic Dandelion leaf tea from me that has not come back to tell me how wonderfully it has worked for them. I have used this fabulous herb with friends and family for: rosacea, chronic anemia, water retention and swelling, frequent bladder infections, eczema, psoriasis, toxic liver, hepatitis, arthritis, asthma, age spots, weight-loss and the list goes on and on.
Those that have gallstones should be careful using this herb. Another important thing to point out is that although dandelion is readily available it is very important that you consume only organic dandelion free of pesticides, herbicides and toxic chemicals.
Here are some excerpts from a few of my herbology, botany and natural medicine books:
Dandelion is commonly thought to be one of the “bitter herbs” recommended in the Bible. Its young leaves have been gathered and eaten as a pot herb or as an addition to salads for centuries.
It has been used to aid digestion, relieve liver distress, and to treat all manner of ills from dropsy, jaundice, and kidney stones to warts and psoriasis. Culpeper states, “It is of an opening and cleansing quality, and therefore, very effectual for the obstructions of the liver, glass, and spleen. It opens the passages of the urine, both in young and old, powerfully cleanses, and doth afterwards heal them.”
Dandelion is an extremely effective diuretic, but without the common side effect of mineral depletion prevalent with diuretic drugs.
Dandelion is rich in many nutrients, particularly in bio-available minerals.
It enriches breast milk in nursing mothers, benefiting both mother and child.
The plant helps control blood pressure by reducing excess fluids in the body as well as by the presence of mannitol, a substance commonly prescribed in Europe for hypertension.
Indicated Usages – Internal
Contains bitter compounds that enhance the efficiency of the body’s eliminative and detoxifying functions. These compounds help restore normal liver function, increase the production of digestive fluids and enzymes, particularly bile, increase the flow of urine and have a laxative effect. Dandelion is an excellent herbal source of sodium, iron and vitamin A. It has been used to treat jaundice, gallstones, dyspepsia, constipation, inflammatory skin conditions, frequent urination, hepatitis, gout and rheumatism.
The essential mineral potassium is found in very high amounts in the leaves of the dandelion herb, this mineral balances important biochemical functions in the body and the leaves themselves contain other chemicals that function as powerful diuretic agents – the potassium acts as a balancing agent of these diuretics. When compared to conventional diuretics, which always require a supplement of the potassium mineral to balance the total requirements of the body for minerals – the difference between dandelion and these conventional medications becomes apparent. The dandelion plant is used as an herbal remedy for alleviating painful urinary ailments in the Chinese system of medicine. Dandelion roots are used for other forms of herbal remedies and their essential function in the body is different, mostly they are used in the treatment of the liver and are used to bring about improvements in its overall functioning, and also they also find use as a mild laxative. Heat disorders are treated in the Chinese system using the herbal remedies sourced from the dandelion, heat disorders especially those affecting the liver, the symptoms of which can include redness, swelling, and the development of painful eyes are all treated using dandelion, the remedies made from the dandelion are also used in the treatment of damp or heat jaundice in different patients. The gallbladder is treated using a tonic made from both the leaves and the roots of the dandelion – this herb is very useful for such conditions. The dandelion is used to holistically cleanse the body and is an herbal detoxification agent, it is believed that the herb produces beneficial effects by removing the chemical pollutants in the body – thus cleansing it of harmful and toxic substances accumulated over time. Firm and hard abscesses are also treated using the dandelion remedies in the Chinese system, this is especially so, if such abscesses involve tissues in the breast and in the digestive system of the person. Topical as well as internal herbal remedies can be derived from the dandelion to treat a variety of internal and external disorders. Lactation is promoted in nursing women, through the use of specific herbal dandelion remedies during the period of breastfeeding. In the Chinese system, the dandelion is credited with having bitter, sweet and cold properties.
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