Mother Earth Living

4 Herbal Remedies Everyone Should Know

Herbal remedies, from herb-infused food and drinks to tinctures, ointments and poultices, can help treat a variety of ailments naturally. Find out which vitamins and minerals are found in common herbs.
By Anne McIntyre
November 2012
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With “Homegrown Remedies,” you can learn how to grow herbs in pots and use your plants to create natural remedies to treat a variety of health complaints and common ailments.
Cover Courtesy Gaia


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With Homegrown Remedies (Gaia, 2011), you can learn how to grow herbs in pots and use your harvests to create natural herbal remedies. Discover the range of herbal remedies you can make and the different nutrients found in common herbs in this excerpt taken from the section "Your Pharmacy.”

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Homegrown Remedies.

How to Harvest Healing Herbs

Making herbal remedies from the herbs you have grown in pots can be fun, easy and economical. It is best to pick your herbs first thing in the morning so that they’re as fresh as possible. Choose the healthiest-looking parts of the plant, wash them under cold water, remove soil and old leaves and pat them dry.

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How to Use Herbs: Healing at Your Fingertips

There are many ways you can take herbs, to benefit from their healing actions. The easiest way is in food and drink, which many people do by taking culinary herbs and herbal teas, often without realizing their medicinal action.

Salads with basil, coriander leaves, rocket and parsley, vinaigrette with garlic, fish with dill or sorrel, new potatoes with fresh mint, casseroles with bay leaves and pizza with oregano are all very familiar. Once your food is absorbed, the nutrients and therapeutic constituents of the herbs enter the bloodstream and then circulate around the body. Your favourite culinary herbs all contain volatile oils that lend their wonderful flavours and scents. These oils have anti-microbial properties, helping to fight off a wide variety of infections. You can also prepare a choice of different herbal preparations including tinctures, syrups, capsules and honeys. Another way is to make preparations to apply to the skin, which is very absorbent and covers a large surface area. Tiny capillaries take the medicinal compounds in the herbs into the bloodstream and to the body. You can use infusions as hand and foot baths, massage oils into the skin, apply tincture-based rubbing lotions and ointments, creams, compresses and poultices. In addition, fresh herbs can be applied directly, such as aloe vera gel to soothe a sting or lavender flowers to staunch bleeding from minor cuts and abrasions and to relieve minor burns.

The conjunctiva of the eye will also absorb herbal extracts. A plantain or chamomile eyebath will relieve sore and inflamed eyes. The nose and the nerve endings in the eye can provide another therapeutic pathway utilized by aromatherapists. When we use a hot tea or herbal oil as an inhalation, the messages from the herbs are carried directly to the brain and are also taken into the lungs where they are absorbed with oxygen into the bloodstream and circulated throughout the body. 

Nutrients Found in our Favorite Herbs

VITAMINS

Vitamin A: Dandelion, gotu kola, fenugreek, rocket, plantain, cayenne, basil, dill, peppermint, rosemary, parsley, sage, coriander

Vitamin B: Fenugreek, parsley, peppermint, sage, coriander, garlic, dandelion

Vitamin C: Echinacea, garlic, peppermint, rosehips, sorrel, dandelion, fenugreek, rocket, dill, rosemary, basil, parsley, sage, coriander, caraway, oregano

Vitamin D: Dandelion, rosehips

Vitamin E: Dandelion, skullcap, parsley, sage

Vitamin K: Gotu kola, basil, parsley, sage, coriander, dandelion

Niacin: Feverfew, fenugreek, parsley, peppermint

Vitamin P: Cayenne

MINERALS

Calcium: Aloe vera, cayenne pepper, chamomile, fennel, marshmallow, sage, dill, peppermint, rosemary, parsley, caraway, garlic, oregano, coriander, dandelion

Cobalt: Dandelion, parsley, cayenne pepper, echinacea root

Iron: Nettles, peppermint, rosemary, skullcap, dill, parsley, sage, coriander, caraway, garlic, oregano, dandelion

Magnesium: Gotu kola, rosemary, wood betony, basil, dill, peppermint, parsley, sage, caraway, oregano, coriander, dandelion

Manganese: Basil, dill, rosemary, peppermint, sage, coriander, caraway, garlic, oregano, dandelion

Potassium: Aloe vera, dandelion, cayenne, fennel, parsley, rosehips, wild celery, dill, rosemary, peppermint, oregano

Zinc: Chamomile, skullcap, dandelion, marshmallow, rosemary, peppermint, sage, caraway, garlic, coriander

Chromium: Nettles

Copper: Skullcap, sage, dill, rosemary, peppermint, garlic, coriander

Selenium: Garlic, coriander

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Homegrown Remedies, by Anne McIntyre, published by Gaia, an imprint of Octopus Publishing Group, 2011. Buy this book from our store: Homegrown Remedies.


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