Here is a small compilation from my note book of some common herbs and their uses as remedies*…Once again I remind you that herbs are medicine and should be treated with the same respect that one gives to prescription drugs. Yes I know, nag, nag, nag… but its only because I have seen people make themselves very ill by forgetting that.
The following herbs are fairly innocuous and shouldn’t cause any trouble for most people. If in doubt or if you have a pre-existing condition,
by all means check with your physician before experimenting with any herb. Sorry, I’m nagging again aren’t I ?
If you intend to seriously work with herbs, It may be a good idea to get hold of a mortar and pestle if you don’t already have one hanging about
in your kitchen. These are very helpful when grinding up woody herbs like rosemary and such. I also have a friend who uses a small electric coffee grinder successfully to do this, so I suppose its a matter of what method appeals to you most.
A few of the herbs listed are quite easy to grow , even in pots and they come in handy all year round if you should decide to hang and dry them.
I will make a small notation by them as to their requirements. One more note in this line, if you are going to keep the herbs stored for winter use, you will want to place the dried leaves in a dark, air tight glass container. I know the bunches look pretty hanging and that they smell nice, but sunlight tends to leech the potency of dried herbs and they are best stored in a cabinet or closet once the drying process is complete. Naturally you will make sure that the leaves are completely dry before storing them or you will end up with a jar full of mold….yes, this is the voice of experience…lol
The dosages are listed for each herb to give you a general idea of the amount that I know can be safely taken by an adult within a 24 hour
period..I do not recommend that you exceed this dosage unless you are directed to do so by an herbologist or homeopathic practitioner. Each case can vary and each person has a different medical history.
More is not necessarily better. Any symptom or illness that does not go away within a reasonable amount of time, or becomes chronic should be
looked into. I’m nagging again right? 😉
At the end of the page, I have also provided a listing of the terms used in the preparation.
Uses: Aside from tasting delicious in recipes, Basil also aids the digestion and helps with gastronomical distresses. Not only does it increase the appetite, it can be made into a tea to ease flatulence and indigestion. Since it is an antispasmodic, Basil can also be used in the treatment of headaches and coughs.
Dosage: Steep 1 tsp. dried leaves in 1/2 cup of water. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups a day . Can be sweetened with honey if taken for a cough to aid in
soothing the throat.
Plant note Also known as St Josephwort. Annual, hardy and very easily grown in a simple kitchen planter box. Full sun, do not allow the plant to wilt between waterings. Should be harvested before the little purple flowers appear. Hang in bunches in a warm dark place to dry. This is a very congenial herb and thrives on attention. Once the plantlet is established, you are free to use cuttings. You want to keep it pruned a bit if its indoors as it can grow quite tall. In my area, the final harvesting occurs around September.
Uses: Aside from being a great treat for you cat, Catnip can be used as a tea to calm an upset stomach. Catnip has a gentle sedative effect on
humans, so this herb is helpful in soothing the nerves, calming mild hysterics, and a cup can be taken at night to assist in restful sleep.
*note, do not use the leaves and stems that are sold in pet stores for Kitty…they are treated differently. If you wish to work with this herb, grow
it yourself or buy it from a health food distributor.
Dosage: Make an infusion using 1tsp of the leaves and 1 cup of boiling water. Steep, but do not boil. Take 1 to 2 cups daily. As a Tincture,
you may use up to 1/2 to 1 tsp at a time.
Plant note A hardy Perennial, this herb can be easily grown in planters and pots. Because of its invasive nature (Catnip is a spreader and a wanderer) , and the fact that it does attract cats to your yard, …lots and lots of cats… I suggest that you grow it in some sort of planter that can be moved if you need to relocate it. This is also handy for wintering purposes, this way you can keep the plant for a number of years if you wish.
This plant is poisonous!! Leave it alone….
Foxglove is used in the preparation of the heart drug Digitalis. Even touching the plants without gloves has been known to cause rashes, headaches and nausea. The reason it is included is because I ran across a very disturbing document that suggested Foxglove be used in an ingestible preparation. DON’T!
Uses: This particular plant has been hailed as a panacea for almost all ills. It has a mildly stimulating effect to the nervous system and to various glands, this possibly attributes to its reputation as a rejuvinator. Ginseng has been used to regulate menstruation, purify the system, prompt
appetite, vigor and mental clarity. Its reputation as an aphrodisiac is still under debate, but one can only assume that when one is feeling well, they are more inclined towards romantic overtures.
Dosage: The root is used and made into tea. Mixed with bee pollen, Ginseng has a marvelous effect on the immune system. Pregnant women
should avoid high doses or prolonged usage of Ginseng.
There are many forms of this herb and it is quite popular. It can be obtained in capsules, tablets, as a pre- packaged tea, and in small ready to
drink vials. Some of these liquid forms of Ginseng also contain a good amount of alcohol, so it is best to double check the base ingredients before consuming them if this bothers you.
Be aware that there are two types of Ginseng available…Panax achin-seng, and Panax quinquefolius…the latter is grown in America and is less expensive. Though quinquefolius has essentially the same properties as the Asiatic variety, is not considered to be quite as strong.
Uses: Generally used in the form of an oil derived from the flowers, an infusion can be made from the leaves as well. It is helpful in the treatment of fainting, headaches and dizziness. Lavender also has a diuretic property, so it isn’t advisable to ingest too much of it, as doing so can contribute to potassium loss within the system. The leaves have an astringent quality that makes them beneficial in a wash for treating troubled complexions.
Lavender is considered to be both calming and uplifting to the spirit when used in aroma sessions. Tied in bundles, it is a sweet addition to the household. As a decoction, Lavender can be used to treat nausea and stomach upsets. When used for treatment, the leaves should be gathered before the plant flowers.
Dosage: Steep 1 tsp. of the leaves in 1/2 cup of water. May be taken in 1/2 – 1 cup doses per day.
Plant note While these plants can be grown in outdoor planters, they are extremely pleasant to have in the garden. Lavender is an aromatic that can be trained into lovely hedgings and borders.
Uses: Before I go on, I need to add a couple of warnings…Rosemary stimulates the liver and the circulation, in doing so, it can raise the blood pressure..do not take this herb if you have any history of hypertension or any other ailments in this category.
It is also possible to over use Rosemary to a level of toxicity. For this reason, most often, it is used externally. Small amounts, such as used in general cooking, offer an aid to the digestion, however. Such a level will not do damage. Made into a poultice, Rosemary can be used to treat bruises. An infusion of hot Rosemary oil can be used topically to sooths the pain of arthritis.
The leaves of herb are extremely beneficial to the skin, they can be made into a tonic for the treatment of acne, this tonic is useful in the
treatment of razor bumps as well. Added to bath water, the oils from the leaves tone and soften the skin.
Hardy perennial, Rosemary, like Basil is a fairly common spice and is wonderful to have around the kitchen. It likes lots of sun, and will do well in any pot or planter that is set in a bright location.
Uses: Also known as Summer Savory
This herb is useful in the treatment of colds and most stomach or intestinal disorders including cramps and nausea. It has an astringent quality
that makes it useful as a treatment for diarrhea as well. As a gargle, it soothes sore throats and is an expectorant that will help produce productive
coughing when treating chest congestion. This herb is also held to have aphrodisiac properties, possibly because of its quality of being a mild
Dosage: Prepare an infusion of 2 to 4 tsp. dried herb in 1 cup water. May be taken daily in 1 cup doses..
Technically like many herbs, Yellow dock is considered a weed…we are fortunate that it is so hardy as the leaves are extremely beneficial in the
treatment of hives, rashes, itches, bites and swellings. The roots are also useful in treating stomach ailments. The ground root, or leaves can be obtained in many health food stores.
Dosage: The leaves can be made into an ointment or poultice and applied liberally to the distressed areas, depending on the needed treatment.
The root is made into a decotion of 1 tsp. of root in 1 cup water. May be taken in doses of 1 to 2 cups per day.
There are many other herbs that are helpful to us and if you are interested in this area, it would be worth the trouble to obtain as many books and listings on the subject as possible..preferably at least one or two that contains pictures. ..learn to recognize these herbs. They are here to help us.
If you intend to go hunting for your own plants, be very sure of what you are looking at, and be aware of the area in which they are growing. I
strongly suggest that you purchase a Botanical Field Guide if you intend to embark on this endeavor. There are several indigenous and beneficial herbs and plants (like Dandelion) that are simply written off as being troublesome weeds, because of this, you must watch out for areas where weed killers have possibly been used. Keep careful notes and cross reference often I have come across a few contradictions as to treatment and property as well as to new findings on the levels of toxicity for certain herbs. When in doubt, don’t use it.
A Compress is a bit different from a poultice as it uses the liquid rather than the actual plant material. These are useful when treating headaches, painful joints and skin rashes.
Soak a small clean towel in a hot infusion of the desired herbs. then after wringing the cloth out, place against the affected area.The Compress may be replaced with a fresh one when it cools off or dries out.
most often used with barks, woody roots and stems.
Place the measure amount of herb in non metal sauce pan. Starting with Cold water, pour the measure amount of water over the mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for around 20-40 minutes. the liquid should be reduced to about 1/3 of its previous amount..Strain the mixture and store in the refrigerator.
In a small non metallic teapot or cup, place the measurement of herbs into a stainer or tie them up in cheese cloth. pour the measure amount of freshly boiled water over the herbs and cover. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
Boil the herb in fresh water, just enough to cover the herbal material.and squeeze out any remaining liquid. Before applying to the skin, smooth a little oil on the area to prevent the herb from sticking. Then secure the poultice in place using gauze strips. This type of treatment is generally done every 2-4 hours.
Pour the herbs into a large jar and cover with the alcohol and water mixture (there ratio is usually 25% alcohol to 75% water). Store in a cool place for about two weeks and shake the contents occasionally. After the time is up, press the mixture though a cheese cloth or muslin bag. Its a bit of work, but not terribly difficult. It is probably easiest to use a wine press for this, but I use a flat stone I sterilized for this purpose…primitive, but effective… Pour the liquid into a dark, sterilized jar or bottle.
note: Tinctures as a rule contain alcohol…a good brand of Vodka is suitable for this use. The Alcohol acts as a preservative, and tinctures when properly prepared can last up to two years. If there is a problem or a situation in which the alcohol content is inappropriate..for instance as with the treatment of children, or pregnant women, before usage, a small amount of almost boiling water can be added to the dosage (about 25-50ml),
and then allowed to cool before serving. This will effectively evaporate most of the alcohol content.
All right, because you have been so patient and put up with my incessant nagging, I’ll offer a lovely herbal tea blend that I have come across and found to be very refreshing and clarifying:
25g dried Chamomile flowers
50g dried Vervain
50g dried Peppermint leaves
50g dried crushed Linden Flowers
25g dried lavender flowers
25g dried Lemon Balm leaves
Mix the herbs together and use about 1-2 teaspoons for every cup of freshly boiled water. Steep for 5-10 minutes before drinking. If you enjoy this blend, it can be prepared ahead of time, the dried, mixed herbs can be stored in an airtight canister or dark jar for about a year without losing potency.
* This material is for referential purposes and should not be substituted for sound medial advice. from your physician or licensed holistic practitioner.