Important Herbs


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

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.”

Resources: http://www.herbwisdom.com

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Plantain

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.

Plantain is an Alterative meaning that it is one of about 100 plants that clean and correct impure conditions of the blood and the eliminative tissues and organs. Dr. John R. Christopher explains that although many herbs might work fast on a given organ to relieve engorgement  to really be an Alterative herb it must do the job slowly but surely, toning the organs as well as cleaning the blood. This herb does that and can be used completely. The roots, leaves, flowers and seeds can be used internally or externally.
Plantain is #1 in the field of blood poisoning treatment. You can see the healing at work. Swelling goes down and the “red” line recedes.  Limbs poisoned can be saved using this herb. It is used as a poultice on the outside and taken as a tea on the inside. Michael Tierra, L.Ac., O.M.D. states that plantain is an herb that will “dry excess moisture and remove excess fat where toxins are retained.” (Tierra, p. 13)
Plantain is also a diuretic so is useful for kidney and bladder problems. It is taken throughout the day as a tea to help the kidneys and bladder. It is used in bed-wetting challenges. It also helps dropsy and water retention. Sometimes diuretics should be teamed with a demulcent herb to buffer the effects on the kidneys.  There is no research or recommendations that taking plantain tea requires ones. Actually, plantain itself is a demulcent also.
As a styptic it can be chewed or pounded into a paste and applied to a wound to stop minor bleeding. It is very soothing and cooling as it heals. Taken as a tea or in soup it soothes irritated mucous membranes.
It will stop the bleeding of minor cuts and when taken internally, ulcers. Although Mrs. M. Grieve, author of A Modern Herbal, disagrees with that stating that they are not useful in internal bleeding although historically it had been used for such. It will slow the flow in excessive menstrual cycles. It also is used for bloody urine.
This herb is used as a vulnerary to heal wounds, cuts and scratches. Because it is found in high traffic areas around playgrounds, baseball fields and parks it is easy to grab, crush and use. Since it contains epidermal growth factor, it can be used in place of comfrey to repair damaged tissue, treat bruises and broken bones.
Plantain is also used as an antivenomous herb in its role as a blood cleanser.  Terry Willard, author of Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rocky Mountains and Neighbouring Territories, states that it is good to draw out the poison of snake bites. It is an excellent choice for poisonous bites and stings of scorpions and insects. It does a good job in easing the pain of poison ivy.  “I don’t know of any itch that can stand up to plantain,” states Susan Weed, director of the Wise Woman Center in Woodstock, New York. (Mandile, p. 27)
Plantain is used to treat many skin disorders. Christopher Hobbs educates us on skin problems. “It is often said that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but what about the human ‘cover’, your skin? Doctors recognize many varieties of problems and diseases of the skin.
Although we can visualize the skin (in contrast to, say the liver), it is often difficult to determine whether a problem is due to attack from various fungi and bacteria or to an internal process such as psoriasis or eczema, or from factors within and without such as an allergic reaction to an ingredient in your soap.
“I have come to the conclusion that even when the skin is seemingly attacked by an external pathogenic (disease-causing) agent such as a fungus, this is usually preceded by an internal process of imbalance. For example, ‘liver heat,’ or inflammation due to chronic doses of sapirin, chronic stress, overuse of alcohol, and immune weakness because of improper nutrition can all contribute to a major outbreak of athlete’s foot.” (Hobbs, p. 28)
Christopher Hobbs goes on to say that you have to treat the whole patient and locate the root of the problem. He lists topical herbs for skin problems in the following order: plantain, aloe, calendula, Gotu kola, Oregon grape root, St. Johns wort, chamomile and lavender.
Plantain made the top 25 list of 175 herbs checked for most frequently mentioned as an herbal remedy for Toxicodendron dermatitis. This study checked over 300 print and Internet resources. They then took the top 25 and checked for scientific verification. Nine of those were unproved (no scientific studies at all) and one was disproved. Plantain made the proved list with the qualification that further studies are needed. (Senchina, p. 40)
Plantain tea or juice will heal sunburn, burns, mild ulcers and scalds.  James Duke in his book explains that plantain has been one of the most popular folk remedies for burns in the United States of America. It doesn’t have the research backing that Aloe vera has for this task but appears to be a good substitute when Aloe is not available.
Plantain does an excellent job as a deobstruent. Removing foreign objects and particles from the body. Teamed up with cayenne the unwanted items work their way out even faster. Plantain’s refrigerant qualities soothe and cool sores and ulcers. It is excellent to ease and heal hemorrhoids as a tea injected after each bowel movement and applied externally.
Although many people consider this herb a weed it is truly a miracle medicinal herb. Even web sites on how to poison weeds toll the virtues of Plantain while telling you how to kill it.
Plantain is used in tuberculosis and syphilis, again both internally and externally. Rosemary Gladstar states that “This herb is also very effective for treating liver sluggishness and inflammation of the digestive tract.” (Gladstar  p.357)  It is also used for scrofula and specific or non-specific glandular diseases as well as mercurial poisoning.
Plantain roots are powdered to use on toothaches. No powder? Just dig and chew a root for relief.  Plantain is an anthelminitic or vermicide and taken as a tea it will kill worms internally in the stomach and the intestines. Plantain is an antiseptic used to clean cuts and wounds. It heals boils and other sores
Plantain decoction is used as an antifungal on ringworm. Apply the decoction then cover with bruised leaves. Wrap with cotton gauze to keep the decoction in place. It has also been used to help with loss of voice.
It is also a safe and effective astringent, antibacterial soother for the throat and for laryngitis. It is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.  This herb is approved by Commission E for its role in coughs and bronchitis as well as the fore mentioned problems. For colds and flu taking the tea throughout the day assists the body in its fight.
Plantain soothes the cough reflex. It is used for asthma, lung infections, and hay fever relief. It is effective for hoarseness, and bronchial infections. It is also used for respiratory problems that involve mucous congestion.  This herb depresses the secretion of mucous, especially in the respiratory system.
Russian scientists have discovered that Plantain and its cousin psyllium are both useful for weight loss. Those taking 3 grams of plantain with water 30 minutes before eating lost more weight than women not using this herb. Plantain contains mucilage which acts as an appetite suppressant while reducing the intestinal absorption of fat and bile.  It also lowers LDL cholesterol and the triglyceride levels in blood. Plantain usually lowers blood sugar.
A douche is used to treat infections of the vagina or for cleansing. They should not be used often because it will upset the balance of the natural bacteria that are in the vagina. Repeated infections mean that you need to look at diet and lowered resistance in the body, repair that and the infections will clear up. But for use until that clicks in a strong plantain tea can be used. It can be mixed with goldenseal, uva ursi, comfrey, white oak bark or yellow dock.
When plantain tea is taken internally it is effective for gastritis, diarrhea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome and other intestinal problems. Plantain tea is also used for an eye wash for red, irritated or light sensitive eyes. One or two teaspoons of the seeds soaked in two cups of distilled water will offer a milk laxative effect like it’s cousin, psyllium.

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Peppermint

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

  • Bronchitis
  • Chills, poor circulation
  • Colds and flu
  • Colic
  • Colitis, Diverticulitis
  • Dizziness, vertigo
  • Fever
  • Gas, flatulence
  • Heartburn
  • Herpes
  • Hiccups
  • Menstrual cramps, dysmenorrhea
  • Migraine, headache
  • Morning sickness, nausea
  • Sore throat, laryngitis

Indicated Usages – External:

  • Fatigue
  • Halitosis
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Muscle pain, cramps
  • Sinus congestion
  • Toothache

Special Considerations:

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.

Notes:

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.

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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:

  • Bronchitis
  • Chills
  • Colds
  • Colic
  • Colitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestion
  • Dysentery
  • Fainting
  • Fever
  • Flatulence-gas
  • Flu-influenza
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Heart
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Nerves
  • Stimulant
  • Stomach
  • Vomiting

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:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Niacin
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Protein
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamine
  • Vitamin A

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Dandelion

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

  • Acne, Skin Eruptions
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Gall Stones
  • Blood Purifier
  • Boils, Cysts
  • Constipation
  • Edema, Swelling, Water Retention
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure (due to Dropsy)
  • Anemia
  • Indigestion
  • Jaundice, Hepatitis
  • Skin Diseases, Psoriasis, Eczema
  • Kidney Stones
  • Obstructions; Liver, Spleen, Pancreas

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.

Nutrient composition

Calcium Beta carotene Choline
Iron Phosphorus Potassium
Sodium UFA Vitamin A
Vitamin B-3 Vitamin B Complex Vitamin C
Vitamin D

3 thoughts on “Important Herbs

    • Thanks Sabrina!
      I have lots of info here for everyone, glad you could visit. I hope you are blessed, inspired and informed by the words on this site.

      Please be sure to check out our sister site Bare to be Beautiful. There is a link on the right side of the page, towards the bottom.

      Blessings
      La Chica Organica

  1. whoah this blog is wonderful i really like reading your articles.

    Keep up the good work! You know, many individuals are searching round
    for this info, you could aid them greatly.

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