Mother Earth Living

Incorporate Basic Herbs Into Your Life

Herbal salves are an excellent remedy for cuts, scrapes, and minor burns. They’re also very easy to make at home. This recipe makes about 3 ounces of salve. You can find 1-ounce glass salve jars with lids at herb and health-food stores.

Salve Recipe: Use oils and beeswax to create a unique salve recipe.

Grow the Easiest Culinary Herbs:

A great place for the neophyte gardener to begin is with a culinary herb garden, and this is the perfect time of year to start one. These herbs can be grown in pots indoors or out, in window boxes, or mixed in your garden with your vegetables and flowers. For some delicious new tastes, try adding fresh basil and oregano to spaghetti sauce, or fresh mint to fruit salad–you won’t believe the taste difference between fresh and dried herbs.

Herbs for full-sun areas


Herbs for part-sun areas


Herbs for shady areas

Try Mixing Herbs into your Flower or Vegetable Garden:

In Europe and China, bitter tonic formulas (often called “bitters”) have been used for thousands of years to tonify and strengthen the digestive and nervous systems. The formulas usually contain extremely bitter herbs such as gentian (Gentiana lutea) or angelica (Angelica archangelica) combined with aromatic, spicy herbs such as ginger (Zingiber officinale) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).

Taken before a meal, bitters help to activate the gastric secretion of hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes. This action enables the body to absorb nutrients and eliminate wastes more effectively. In his book Natural Health, Natural Medicine, Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends bitters for those with sluggish digestion, poor appetite, or flatulence.

For the best effect, bitters should be taken in liquid form, 1 teaspoon before meals. Several formulas are available at health-food stores, and one bitters formula, Angostura Bitters, is a popular cocktail ingredient and can be found at liquor stores and supermarkets.

Bitter herbs have long been used to strengthen the digestive system. 

All About Chamomile:

Common names: German chamomile, true chamomile
Latin name: Matricaria recutita
Family: Asteraceae
Part used: Flower
Medicinal uses: Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, sedative, and carminative. Most commonly used as a tea to help ease intestinal cramps and indigestion. Externally, chamomile can help treat skin irritation.
Forms commonly used: Tea
Dosage: 1 cup of tea, 3 or 4 times daily, or as needed. To make a cup of tea, put 1 tablespoon of flowers in a cup, fill the cup with boiling water, let steep 10 minutes, then strain and drink.
Side effects: Rare allergic reactions can occur in people allergic to the pollen of ragweed and other members of the aster family. Chamomile is considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration, and the Botanical Safety Handbook (CRC, 1997) lists it as a Class 1 herb–one that is safe when used appropriately.
Notes: Buy bulk chamomile flowers that are white and yellow in color and smell fresh and slightly fruity, not musty.

Homeopathic Dos and Don’ts:

Homeopathy is based on the idea that small amounts of a substance can help cure symptoms that large amounts of the substance cause. While some see this concept as unusual, homeopathy is gaining worldwide popularity.

Homeopathic products come in the form of pellets or tablets –generally small, sugar-based pills. Several factors can adversely affect their potency. Here are some tips that apply to most, but not all, homeopathic remedies.

•Do not have anything in your mouth for a half hour before and after taking the product–no food, drink, cigarettes, or dental products.
•The pills should not be touched, except by the patient while taking them. Dispense the pill from the bottle onto your clean hand or into the bottle’s cap, then put the pill under your tongue and let it dissolve.
•Strong antidotes to homeopathic remedies are products that contain camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol. Even smelling these oils can negate the remedies’ effectiveness, so be sure to avoid even external use of products such as vapor rubs.
•Coffee can also be an antidote, so avoid drinking it.
Check with your health-care provider or homeopath about any other possible antidotes.

  • Published on May 1, 2000
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