Plants, be they the whole plant, the bark, the root, the flower or leaf, or even an extract of a plant constituent, are a type of intervention that is used to promote health, as well as prevent and address illness. Part of the beauty and magic of plants is that they are easily accessible and have been used by people from around the world as an important healing modality. Much of the world’s population still relies today on the use of plants as medicine.
Herbs are effective for not only prevention, but for acute health issues, as well as chronic health problems. For acute and minor health issues, like colds, flu, allergies, sinus issues, and physical injury, herbs and herbal formulas can be used both externally and internally in these situations both to resolve the underlying cause and to speed recovery. Herbs are also very effective for chronic diseases and health issues such as chronic fatigue, PMS and concerns associated with menopause, insomnia, headaches, allergies, anemia, and arthritis to mention a few. Because of the holistic context for practicing herbal medicine, herbs often simultaneously and effectively help seemingly unconnected symptoms or issues. Once chronic illnesses or life stresses have (or are in the process) of depleting the body, herbs offer an extremely effective and gentle way of building and maintaining energy, strength, and stamina.
Chinese herbals are used to address conditions in Chinese medicine as pharmaceuticals are used in western medicine. Thus, a large range of illness can be treated with Chinese herbs. These include acute conditions such as colds, sinus infections, skin diseases, and injuries, to chronic diseases of all types. Conditions that often respond well to herbal therapy are menstrual and gynecological disorders, digestive disorders, metabolic dysfunction, and immune system challenges.
Acute challenges respond quickly and might only require a few days of remedies. Chronic issues may require months, or even years of herbs. Also, herbs may be used on an ongoing basis to promote health and prevention.
There is no such thing as a side effect. This is a convenient term created to label the undesirable effects of a medicinal, whether it is an herb, a drug, a vitamin or a food. All medicinals have effects, and we call the ones we do not like side effects. In Chinese medicine this is discussed as indication and contra-indication. Herbs need to be properly and fully indicated in order to be prescribed. Negative effects are not allowed in Chinese medicine, and imply improper prescription. The science of Chinese herbal medicine concerns itself with proper prescription, and the use of decoctions allows individual modification for this purpose.
Having said that, Chinese herbs do have the ability to created imbalances if used improperly. This is why Chinese herbal medicine is professionally prescribed by trained herbalists. Some pre-made formulations are available over-the-counter, and most of the commonly used Chinese herbs are safe under most conditions. Patients generally seek out treatment for chronic conditions that are not responsive to more general, home care. Thus, the issue of properly prescribed, complex formulations becomes more important.
Modern clinical research in China, Japan and the United States has provided significant information regarding the biochemistry of herbal medicine. Combined with the traditional knowledge of medicinal action, and contraindications and prohibitions, Chinese herbal medicine can be safely prescribed along with western medications.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula can be used in first-aid to heal wounds, prevent infection and treat pink eye. Calendula can be prepared a few different ways, including infusions, tinctures, and ointments. No known precautions. This is a wonderful herb to use for healing creams and lotions.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Cinnamon warms the body, aids in digestion and is used for its antibacterial properties. Cinnamon can be taken as a tea, added to food or the essential oil can be used. Cinnamon is a hot oil and can cause skin irritation, so be sure to use a carrier oil.
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
Though clove is typically used as a topical analgesic, clove-infused oil or clove essential oil can also be used to combat bad intestinal bacteria. May use internally, or cooking, but always dilute as it is a hot oil.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
As an antibacterial herb, garlic is more effective against several types of bacteria than penicillin. Garlic is also friendlier to the body than antibiotics because it attacks the offending bacteria without wiping out the body’s normal flora. Garlic can be used as a tincture, capsule, infused in oil or simply added to your diet. (If cooking with garlic, avoid heating past 130 degrees as that will decrease its potency.)
Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia)
Taken at the onset of an infection, echinacea can speed the healing process. Echinacea is most effective when taken as a tincture over a long period of time. Do not use echinacea if you have an auto-immune disease.
Oregon Grape Root (Mahonia aquifolium)
Oregon grape root is a potent antibacterial herb, especially when combined with echinacea. Do not take if pregnant, breastfeeding or if you have a history of diabetes, stroke, hypertension or glaucoma. Take as a tincture, but not for long-term treatment as it can decrease Vitamin B absorption.
Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis L.)
In addition to pain-easing properties, marshmallow root soothes, lubricates, softens and heals. Marshmallow root also contains tannins found effective against bacteria found in urinary tract infections. Marshmallow root can be taken internally as a tea.
Usnea (Usnea barbata)
This common lichen is antibacterial and antifungal. A powerful antibiotic, usnea is used to treat urinary tract infections, strep and staph infections, respiratory and sinus infections as well as fungal infections like yeast and vaginosis. Usnea is best used as a tincture. No known precautions, but consult an herbalist before using in pregnancy.
Uva Ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Uva Ursi is often used as a tincture or capsule for treating urinary tract infections as it contains compounds effective at killing pathogens typically associated with UTIs. Because of its strength, it should not be used continually for longer than 2 weeks. Not for use by children, pregnant or nursing women or those with kidney disease.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Tiny yarrow flowers have a number of different uses. As a powder, they stop bleeding quickly. Infused in water, it speeds the healing of canker sores. As a tea, yarrow is used to fight urinary tract infections. Because it can cause uterine contractions, avoid during pregnancy.
Astragalus Root (Astragalus membranaceus)
Astragalus is one of the antiviral herbs that works by boosting the immune system. Taken internally, either as a capsule, tincture or buy adding it to soup, astragalus root is known to increase your body’s defense against viruses. Astragalus root is best used as prevention, so take it during flu season or before going places with large crowds of people. Avoid if you already have a fever.
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
In addition to being an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral herb, cat’s claw is also known for boosting the immune system, increasing your body’s protection against illness. Cat’s claw can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule. Do not take during pregnancy.
Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Cranberry is a potent defense against urinary tract infections due to its ability to make the bladder lining too “slippery” to adhere to. Full of antioxidants, cranberry also has antiviral properties and prevents plaque formation on teeth. Cranberry can be taken in a capsule or as juice (make sure it is unsweetened).
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Elderberry is used as a remedy for viral infections like the flu and common cold. Elder stimulates the circulation, causing sweating, effectively cleansing the body. Elderberry syrup is the common delivery method and 1-3 tablespoons can be taken per day during infection. Leaves, roots, seeds, and berries of the raw plant contain cyanide-producing compounds and should not be consumed without cooking properly.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is another herb known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is used to prevent and decrease duration of the common cold. Ginger can be taken as a tea, in capsule form or added to meals.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
An important volatile oil found in lemon balm contains antiviral properties. Lemon balm leaf makes a tasty tea that can also relieve upset stomach and promote calm. May be unsafe to consume during pregnancy.
Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice is antiviral and antibacterial. It is commonly used for gastric ulcers as it kills H. pylori that causes ulcers without upsetting the stomach. Steep these antiviral herbs as a tea and drink by itself or blended with other herbal teas. Avoid during pregnancy.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Mullein-infused oil is a great remedy for ear problems, including ear infection, especially when combined with garlic. Use the mullein flowers to create an infused oil.
Olive Leaf (Olea europaea)
As antiviral herbs, olive leaf is used to treat the flu, common cold and herpes. Olive leaf can be taken as a tincture, capsule or tea mixed with mint. Avoid during pregnancy.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
In addition to adding great flavor to food, oregano also fights viruses and bacteria as one of the best antiviral herbs available. During an infection, oregano essential oil (high quality only) can be taken in a capsule to speed healing. If using oregano essential oil topically, use a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.
Herbal teas are simple to make and require only a cup, hot water and a way to steep your tea. To make an herbal tea, steep 1 tbsp of antibacterial or antiviral herbs in 1 cup hot water for 5-10 minutes. For children, use 1 tsp herbs in the same amount of water.
Herbal infusions are simply antibacterial or antiviral herbs prepared in water. They differ from teas in that they use larger quantities of herbs, making a more concentrated preparation. They are steeped in water for several hours in a tightly sealed jar. Using a quart-size canning jar is best because they can hold up well to boiling water.
Once prepared you can drink them iced or heated, add them to baths for soaking wounds or sore muscles or used to make compresses or poultices.
Put a handful of dried herbs in your canning jar. Fill the jar to the fill line with boiling water. Secure the lid tightly and let it steep until the water has completely cooled. Strain out the antibacterial or antiviral herbs and enjoy.
It is easy to create some wonderful homemade infused oil remedies:
An oven-proof dish
Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup herbs high in antiviral or antibacterial content
Clean glass jar to store that has a tight lid
Heat your oven to 200 degrees, then turn it off. Add the oil and herbs to the dish and combine together. (If the coconut oil is solid, let it melt first in the oven, add the herbs and stir). Put the dish in the oven. After 3 hours take out the herbs and strain the oil into your clean jar(s). Store in a cool, dark place.
Please always remember to use only the highest quality herbs and essential oils.
The information on this email/blog/post/correspondence is for educational purposes only and it is my life story. It is not intended to prescribe, diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please educate yourself and address any health or medical needs you may have with your physician.
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