Herb Basics 101

Preparations of hops are used to relieve anxiety, nervous tension, and sleep disturbances.

| July/August 2001


Comfrey is used externally to help heal bruises and sprains.

Steven Foster


Maybe you ate rich food for dinner, or maybe you just don’t feel “regular.” Try one of these digestion-improving herbs, and help may be right around the corner.

Constipation. Herbalist Kathi Keville recommends a simple remedy of prunes soaked in licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) tea to relieve constipation. Make licorice tea by simmering 1/2 teaspoon of chopped licorice root in 1/2 cup water for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and soak 3 stewed prunes in the tea for a few hours, then eat.

Diarrhea. Keville recommends blackberries for halting diarrhea. Try making a blackberry cordial by combining 1 tablespoon of chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tincture with 1/4 cup of blackberry brandy, 3 drops of ginger (Zingiber officinale) essential oil, and 2 drops of peppermint (Mentha ¥piperita) essential oil. Take 1 teaspoon every 30 minutes.

Flatulence and indigestion. Peppermint is a great remedy for easing both of these conditions. Try a simple cup of peppermint tea, or a tincture of peppermint—1 to 2 teaspoons of tincture per cup of hot water. Several other herbs, such as fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), sage (Salvia officinalis), and chamomile can also help relieve flatulence and indigestion.

Source: Keville, Kathi. Herbs for Health and Healing. Emmaus,
Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1996.


The following herbs are those that are safe only for external use, unless you’re under the close supervision of a qualified health-care provider. Don’t use these herbs while pregnant or nursing, and be sure to never apply them to broken skin.

elderberry, echinacea, bee hive


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