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

  • 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.

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