by William Wells
Herbal remedies have a long and rich history of treating disease and injuries, and is today a popular alternative medical treatment.
Herbalist, the people trained to prepare and prescribe herbal medicines, use plant extracts found in leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, flowers, minerals and animal extracts. By combining tradition and modern practices, Herbalists formulate pills, ointments, inhalers and powders to treat ailments and injuries.
The aim of the Herbalist is to treat the causes of the disease, not mask the symptoms as so many of our modern pharmaceuticals do today. Each herbal medicine is uniquely prepared to fit each individual’s needs.
Herbal medicines are just one component of natural and alternative treatments. Dietary therapy, body massage therapy, exercise, acupuncture, and chiropractic therapy are other natural approaches, and they work best when combined with herbal medicines.
For example, herbal medicines are used along with acupuncture to bring the systems of the body in balance during treatment. Also, herbal medicines are used to treat psychological disorders like depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Herbal remedies are as old as history itself. Many of the plants we grow and food in the kitchen produce helpful effects on our bodies. Your homes is like a small clinic. These remedies are often cheap, almost always available and most of all, effective.
To treat sunburn, use lavender oil or Aloe Vera leaves. Never use lanolin because it will only make matters worse.
To treat heartburn or indigestion, mix together 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 cup of water, and you will soon feel better after you drink it.
If you are stung by a bee, don’t panic! Apply ice or something wrapped and frozen from the freezer. Also, the inside of a banana peel is effective in reliving itching from insect bites and stings. Just rub it on the injury for a couple of minutes.
Muscle strain? Again, ice from the freezer works wonders. Apply it for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off until the pain goes away.
When you have trouble sleeping, a good home remedy is to drink chamomile or lemongrass tea.
Here is another cool banana trick and it save you a lot of money too. Whiten your teeth by messaging your teeth with the inside of a banana peel in a circular motion for 2 minutes a couple of times a week. Pearly white teeth with no expensive treatments!
Got a hangover? Eat a handful of tart cherries! Why? Because the anthocyanins in cherries counter act alcohol’s congeners that causes the headache.
When you choose to use Complementary and Alternative Medicines and Medical Treatments, you can rest assured that your body and health are well taken care of.
Echinacea is a native herb of North America and was one of the most important herbs in the traditional medicine of the North American Indians. In the 19th century its use spread to the Western World, and is now one of the most popular herbal remedies used in Europe.
There are two main types of Echinacea, Echinacea angustifolia (coneflower) and Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower), they are members of the aster/daisy family. It is a very popular garden plant due to its beautiful flower, but it is mainly the roots that are used in herbal medicine although the whole plant is used in some preparations.
The most important active principle is echinacoside, in addition the plant contains phenolics, volatile oil and a range of other principles. It’s the combination of all of these active principles that make Echinacea such a wonderful herb to use. This herb is thought to promote healing through its antiviral, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying effects.
The traditional use of Echinacea was as a blood purifier and therefore it was classed as a cleansing herb. It was commonly used for skin complaints such as boils, eczema, acne, psoriasis and any eruptions of the skin, thereby utilizing it’s cleansing properties.
Recent research indicates that the herb has much greater effects than just as a cleanser, and that through maintaining the body’s natural barriers it helps prevent the spread of infection. When taking Echinacea the white cells (leukocytes)in the body are stimulated into action, these white cells are a vital part of the body’s defence mechanism, and when stimulated help to destroy any infections. When taken internally it has proved to be a useful herb for improving the body’s own resistance to infectious conditions, especially the common cold and influenza. Unfortunately this use has been misunderstood by the vast majority of people and it has been found that some will take this herb for months, sometimes years, to try to stop catching colds or flu. What should be remembered is that Echinacea stimulates the white blood cells and prolonged use can lead to over stimulation, and then when infection does strike the white cells can be ineffective. If Echinacea is to be used in the fight against colds and flu then it should be taken only after exposure to the the virus, and then taken for two to three weeks until the danger of contamination has gone. If a cold or flu develops unexpectedly then a small amount of Echinacea taken every couple of hours until it has gone, can be quite effective.
It must be noted that the use of Echinacea is far greater than just a ‘cure’ for the common cold, scientists working with a variety of viral diseases found a protein in the body that had marked anti-viral properties (interferon). Interferon is non-specific in it’s action and is produced to overcome viral, bacterial or protozoa infections of the body. Plants like Echinacea can be used to stimulate the body into producing more interferon, which in turn, will help the body fight these infections. Most low-grade, minor infections are caused by viruses and this means that antibiotics are of no value in such cases, it should also be remembered that antibiotics should always be used sparingly, and for severe bacterial infections only.
This very useful remedy can be used in conjunction with other herbs for infections anywhere in the body.
If combined with Bearberyy (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) it can be effective in stopping cystitis.
For upper respiratory tract infections it works well if combined with the Chinese herb Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) which also increases the production of white blood cells.
Even though Echinacea is one of the most widely studied plants in herbal medicine a lot more research is required to get the complete picture of the healing properties of this wonderful herb.
Please note this report is for information only and should not be used in place of seeing a healthcare practitioner.
The Neem tree is native to Burma and India, where it’s many benefits have been recognized for centuries. It’s considered sacred, and referred to in ancient texts as “the curer of all ailments”. It’s wide-range of healing properties as well as many other benefits have led to the United Nations calling it the Tree of the 21st Century.
In India, every part of the Neem tree has been used in some form on a daily basis for at least 4000 years. It’s medicinal properties include antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties as well as many more. It is one of the most important and widely used of the Ayurvedic medicinal herbs. It’s no wonder then, that in it’s native India, more research has been done on Neem than on any other herbal remedy.
What is Neem?
Neem (Azadirachta indica) is a fast-growing tropical evergreen tree related to Mahogany. It can grow up to 50 feet high, live up to 200 years and withstand drought, poor soils and most pests. At 3-5 years of age it can start bearing fruit, and it’s the seed kernels of this fruit from which Neem oil is pressed.
While all parts of the Neem tree are used in India, it’s the Neem oil that is most commonly used in the West. The applications of Neem oil range from skin care and medicinal uses to an environmentally friendly pesticide for animals and organic gardening.
Therapeutic Uses of Neem Oil
Neem oil (also known as margosa oil) has powerful antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal, analgesic and moisturizing properties which make it useful in treating a range of skin conditions as well as joint and muscle pain. The oil is not used in cooking or taken internally, but is applied topically and used as an ingredient in soaps, shampoos, creams and lotions. In addition to its moisturizing properties the oil also contains vitamin E, essential amino acids and some fatty acids.
The therapeutic uses of Neem oil include:
* treating scalp conditions, including dandruff, itchiness and head lice – add a few drops of Neem oil to shampoos or massage it directly into the hair and scalp; alternatively add several drops to Olive oil, massage into scalp and leave for an hour before shampooing out
* treating acne – add a few drops of Neem oil to facial clay and apply directly to spots
* providing relief for skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis – add a few drops of the oil to bath water or apply topically to the affected area
* healing of wounds – add a few drops to healing salves
* treating and healing fungal infections, ringworm, infected sores and burns – add a few drops to healing salves and lotions
* treating Athlete’s foot – soak feet in warm water to which a few drops of Neem oil have been added, or add a few drops to anti-fungal salve
* treating nail fungus and restoring brittle nails – massage a drop of Neem oil directly into the nail and cuticle, leave for a few minutes before wiping off the excess oil
Neem Oil As A Natural Pesticide
A concoction of 1 teaspoon of Neem oil, plus a few drops of mild dish detergent or liquid Castille soap per quart of water, is commonly used as a bio-pesticide in organic gardening because of it’s low toxicity and ability to repel a large number of garden pests including white fly, mites and aphids. It also prevents their larvae from developing into adults, and is used as a fungicide to control powdery mildew and rust. It has no known adverse effect on birds, mammals and beneficial insects such as butterflies, honeybees, ladybugs and earthworms. Take care not to spray the leaves in the sun, just as spraying with water the leaves will burn.
Neem oil can also be used as a household insecticide to repel ants, cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, sand flies and termites and their larvae. Soaking a cotton ball in Neem oil and placing it in your closet or drawers will repel wool moths. It can also be used as a personal insect repellent to keep away mosquitoes, fleas, gnats, biting flies, sand fleas (sand flies) and ticks. Just rub a few drops onto your exposed skin for an insect repellent that’s also a great skin conditioner and moisturizer.
A few drops of Neem oil added to pet shampoos will also repel fleas, lice and ticks, in addition to keeping your pet’s coat looking shiny and healthy. It will also help manage skin disorders and fungal infections.
Neem oil also has anti-fungal properties which helps to eliminate many kinds of household mildew and fungus.
Choosing A Neem Oil
The best Neem oil is cold-pressed and manufactured without heat or chemicals to preserve the natural active ingredients that give Neem oil its powerful healing, moisturizing and insecticidal properties. Good Neem oil should have a strong, bitter scent reminiscent of garlic and sulfur. If you are familiar with the Indian spice asafoetida, the smell of Neem oil is quite similar.
Finally, like Coconut oil, Neem oil solidifies in cooler room temperatures. You can return it to it’s liquid form by placing the bottle in warm (not hot) water for a several minutes, or placing the bottle in the sun for a few minutes. Be careful not to heat the oil as this destroys the active ingredients. Alternatively, you can about 10 percent of pure cold-pressed Olive oil with the Neem oil to help keep it in a liquid state.