For Your Health: High Nutrient Herbs

| July/August 2000

  • Garlic is a good source of selenium.
  • Garlic is a good source of selenium.

High-Nutrient Herbs

In addition to all their other benefits, certain herbs have high levels of vitamins and minerals. Here are a few examples of high-nu­trient herbs.

• Dong quai (Angelica sinensis), an herb used to treat menstrual problems, contains vitamin B12. Avoid using the herb during pregnancy.
• Garlic (Allium sativum), useful for lowering cholesterol and for its antibiotic properties, is a good source of the antioxidant mineral ­selenium.
• Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), a mild diuretic, and nettle (Urtica dioica), a helpful herb for hayfever, are both excellent sources of the mineral silica. Don’t use horsetail during pregnancy.
• Yellow dock (Rumex crispus), a gentle laxative and cleansing herb, is a good source of both iron and vitamin A. The herb should be used on a short-term basis and avoided during pregnancy.

Compress or Poultice?

Both compresses and poultices are effective methods for using herbs externally, and both can be great for summertime woes such as bee stings and headaches. But how and when should you use them?

A compress is an external application of a hot or cold herbal infusion (a strong herbal tea). For a headache, a lavender compress can work wonders. To make a lavender compress, add one to two ounces of lavender flowers (Lavandula angustifolia) to a pint of boiling water and let sit for ten minutes, then strain into a bowl. After the tea has cooled slightly, dip a cloth into it, then wring out the cloth, fold it, and place it over your eyes and forehead. Let the compress sit for fifteen minutes.

A poultice, which works well for stings or to draw toxins out of the skin, is different from a compress in that it involves applying a whole herb directly to the affected area rather than using a liquid infusion. When using a fresh or dried herb, an easy poultice method is to “sweat” the herb in a saucepan with a very small amount of water until the herb is soft and moist. Then, strain the water and spread the herb onto a cotton or gauze pad. Put a little vegetable oil on your skin to prevent the mixture from sticking, and then apply the pad directly to the affected area.

Give Your Child the Proper Herbal Dose

When your child takes a prescription drug, the dose he or she needs is right there on the bottle. With herbs, however, it’s a little more difficult—especially if you choose a product that’s not designed specifically for children. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

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