Mother Earth Living

Primer: Herbal Home Remedies for Simple Problems

Choosing and using medicinal herbs at home for summer scrapes.
By the Herbs for Health Staff
July/August 1997
Add to My MSN

Aloe vera


Content Tools

Related Content

A Weapon for the War on Colds

Our colds have died down to a dull roar over here, but we're still struggling with some nagging symp...

Natural Mosquito Repellents

Go ahead, play outside. These tips will keep you from being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Mom and Son in a 650-Square-Foot Homesteader's Cabin: The Perfect Amount of Space

Victoria Gazeley considers her revitalized 650-square-foot homesteader’s cabin, located on 7 acres o...

Take the Confusion Out of Infusion: How to Make an Elderflower Infusion

Make your own sweet, soothing elderflower infusion to help naturally alleviate cold symptoms.

Summer healing

Summer is a great season to learn about using herbal remedies. Time spent outdoors in the sun is bound to be accompanied by minor mishaps, but with just a little know-how you can use plants to mend a scraped knee, soothe a sunburned shoulder, or comfort a mosquito-bitten thigh.

Simple scratches

Before antiseptics were bottled, people turned to plants to prevent infection. Native Americans made poultices from the bark and leaves of witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), a small North American tree that bears golden yellow flowers every autumn.

Extracts from the leaves and bark of witch hazel are still used to take the sting out of minor cuts and insect bites and to stop bleeding. Some scientists attribute these actions to the tannins found in the herb’s leaves and bark. The bottled witch hazel water available in pharmacies and drugstores is made from twigs, dried leaves, and partially dried dormant branches of witch hazel. It generally contains about 20 percent alcohol.

To use, soak a cotton swab in witch hazel water and apply gently to sunburn or scratches. Penelope Ody, author of Home Herbal: A Practical Family Guide to Making Herbal Remedies for Common Ailments (Dorling Kindersley, 1995), suggests making witch hazel ice cubes (label them clearly in the freezer to avoid ingesting witch hazel, which is not recommended). Use an ice cube as a soothing, cooling treatment for insect bites, varicose veins, and bruises.

Painful burns

When you forget to apply sunscreen and linger too long in the back yard, it’s time to slice off a leaf from your Aloe vera plant and use the gel inside. Although it isn’t known exactly how aloe gel works to heal, hundreds of years of use attest to its therapeutic effectiveness. Some researchers believe that aloe gel penetrates injured tissue to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

To use, slice a leaf from your aloe (aloe plants are easy to grow on a windowsill), then cut down the center of the leaf and peel back the edges. Using a spoon, scrape the gel from the leaf and apply carefully to injured skin. Additionally, a poultice made with echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, E. purpurea) can soothe a burn, bite, sting, or scrape. Echinacea is one of the most popular herbal remedies in the United States and is commonly used to fight colds and flu. It also is commonly used as a topical treatment for hard-to-heal wounds and burns in Germany.

You can make your own echinacea wound treatment. To make an echinacea poultice, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried roots, broken into pieces or powdered, or 3 teaspoons of the fresh herb, broken into small pieces, for each cup of water. (Dried echinacea roots are available in natural food stores.) Place in a noncorrodible saucepan. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for 20 to 40 minutes. Strain and let cool to a comfortably warm temperature. Soak a piece of cotton towel in the liquid. Squeeze off any excess water, then apply the poultice to the wound or burn.


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.