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Herbs For Health
Herbs For Health

Magazine DescriptionHerbs for Health brims over with time-honored, scientifically tested advice regarding herbal remedies. Its editorial advisory board ensures reliability by including university professors, research foundation directors, and herb professionals. The most widely read consumer magazine in the field, the bimonthly offers friendly, helpful features for improving your lifestyle.

 

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THE REVIVAL OF AN OLD HERB

 ONE STEP BACK TO OUR FUTURE
RENEWED INTEREST IN HERBAL MEDICINE

 by

 ANNA MAY KINNEY

 

For a long time, if you choose to treat an illness with an all natural medication you had to shop in a health food store. Often, the health food stores here in Quebec only carried a limited number of herbal remedies. Sometimes the only way you could obtain a particular herb was to grow it yourself.

Thankfully, because of our increased interest in herbal medicine, you can now find a good assortment of natural products in most pharmacies. Many of them are ready to take in either pill or liquid form.

The history of using herbal medicine goes back more than 4,000 years. In 2,000 BC the Cretes first introduced sage, henna and saffron as medicinal plants to the early Egyptians. Around 1550 BC the ancient Egyptians wrote on the famous Ebers papyrus how they used plants to maintain good health, they listed about one-third the plants in the modern pharmacopeia.

Garlic, lily, fennel, linseed, juniper, thyme and poppy as well as many other plants we know and use today were favored by the Egyptians.

Around 1500 BC Egyptian travelers brought back medicines like myrrh gum, berries, sandelwood, olibanium and black alder bark from Africa. As well as ginger, sweet flag, cinnamon and calamus from China and India.

Like ancient Egypt, Greece, India and China, America has a rich legacy of herbal medicine. In Native American tradition living at harmony with nature is called Good Medicine. Robust health and healing were achieved by being one with the world.

When plants were gathered the healer looked at the plants for more than their chemical ability to eliminate an illness, he saw them as part of the whole of Creation.

Early Native American herbalists had an extensive knowledge of indigenous medical plants such as wild ginger, onion, oak, echinacea, corn, blackberry, poplar, ginseng. They also quickly learned to incorporate the hundreds of plants brought over by early settlers. Some of these were comfrey, alfalfa, dock, burdock, plantain and mullein.

Over 25 percent of the common medicines we use today contain constituents derived from plants, but for the last seventy-five years science has worked hard to manufacture chemical medicines that can cure, often ignoring the more natural approach.

The reason for this is simple, there are millions of dollars to be made finding and patenting new synthetic drugs. Few laboratories want to spend research dollars on cures that use plants we can grow in our back yards.

With the increased popularity of herbal medicine, many herbal companies have brought new products onto the market. On CBC’s Health Show we were warned that many natural herbal medications are not required to pass government testing or inspection. When random testing was done, some products were found to be contaminated with herbs other than the ones listed on the label and they often found the dosage in some bottles to be far less than what the consumer was paying for.

The report also stated there are potential dangers in taking some herbs if you are pregnant, suffer from another health condition or if you mix herbal formulas with other medication. They stressed the importance of using caution and informing your doctor when taking any medication whether it is from a natural source or a synthetic drug.

Whenever using herbal medicine, I prefer either herbs I have grown myself or purchased from a reputable supplier.

There are four ways that dried or fresh herbs can be prepared. They can be powdered and taken in gelatin capsules or made into infusions, decoctions and tinctures.

Infusions or tisanes are made from the more delicate parts of plants, leaves and flowers. Start by warming a glass or stainless steel teapot, place herbs in and add a little boiling water. Let set a few minutes, add more boiling water and continue until teapot is full. I prefer slowly coaxing the herbs to give up their healing properties by keeping the teapot hot on my wood stove for an hour or longer.

Then I strain out the tea and keep the extra refrigerated until needed. Some herbalists discourage reheating herbal tea in the micro wave because they believe it will destroy some of its healing properties.

Decoctions, are usually made from the heavier parts of plants roots, berries, bark and branches. Decoctions are more like a soup than a tea. Start by placing water in a glass or stainless steel saucepan, bring to boil, reduce heat and add herbs. Keeping the pot just below the boiling point, simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain and refrigerate the unused portion.

Tinctures, are made by placing 4 ounces of herb in a glass container, cover with 500 ml. of 60% vodka and close the container tightly. Keep in a warm place for about six months, shaking it daily. Strain through clean cheesecloth. Place liquid into a dark bottle with a tight fitting top. Tinctures are taken in small amounts, like a teaspoon at a time and being the strongest of these home remedies, should not be prepared without the advise of a qualified herbalist.

You have probably noticed I have not stated any amounts to be used for the infusions and decoctions. It is best to read up on the herb you want to use before making it yourself. There are two books I highly recommend for anyone interested in herbal remedies.

Growing and Using Herbs, by Gaea and Shandor Weiss. Published by Rodale Press.

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Chinese Medicine by Tom Williams Ph. D. Published by Element Books.

Check out ;  The Revival of an old herb

Mother Earth News
Mother Earth News
Magazine DescriptionMother Earth News serves as a country lifestyle service magazine about do-it-yourself living, personal achievement, outdoor recreation, and the blending of old fashioned values with modern ingenuity. Published bimonthly, it covers a wide range of subjects — from gardening to natural health to small business ideas.
E - The Environmental Magazine
Magazine Description
E is an environmental magazine that strives to educate, inspire and empower Americans to make a difference for the environment. Published bimonthly, E is chockfull of everything the budding environmentalist needs to know, from "rainforests to recycling" to "personal to the political." Each edition contains thorough reporting on key environmental issues and trends, news, industry and consumer product updates, food and health issues, lifestyle tips, commentary from leading thinkers and doers, reviews of new books and films, and announcements of campaigns, events, and conferences.