Herbal Remedies


Aloe

Family: Liliaceae
Genus and species: Aloe vera
Also known as: Barbados aloe, Curacao aloe
Medicinal Parts: The gel from the leaves, and the yellow juice extracted from the leaves' inner skin.

Properties and Uses: Excellent first aid treatment of burns, especially if the area had been flushed with cold water immediately after the burn occurred. Also used for wounds, scalds, scrapes, and sunburn. May help prevent infection in injured skin.

Preparation: Split a lower leaf from the plant and apply directly to the injury. Aloe gel is also available in bottles at many drug stores (chemist's).

Cautions: Do not take internally. Consult a physician if wounds/burns do not heal significantly within two weeks.


Balm

Family: Labiatae
Genus and species: Melissa officinalis
Also known as: Lemon balm, melissa, sweet balm, cure-all
Medicinal Parts: Leaves

Properties and Uses: Most often used as a mild, natural tranquilizer. Also known to be useful in treating colic and fighting infection-causing bacteria in wounds. Lemon balm (one of my personal favorites) is a good herb for beginners because it is not only safe and tasty, it works noticeably! Have a cup of lemon balm tea when you're feeling "down" or "stressed out." Just in case you question whether its effects on you are imaginary, offer a cup to a friend or family member who's been showing signs of slight depression without discussing its "possible" medicinal effects. (A cup of lemon balm tea is harmless and tastes good.)

Preparation: Infusion for tranquilizer. To help treat wounds, make a hot compress using 2 teaspoons of leaves per cup of hot water. Boil 10 minutes, strain, and apply with a clean cloth.

Cautions: Anyone with a thryroid condition should first consult a physician concerning balm's thyrotropin-inhibiting effect.


Barberry and Oregon Grape

Family: Berberidaceae
Genus and species: Berberis vulgaris (barberry) and Berberis aquifolium or Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape)
Also known as: Berberry, jaundice berry, pepperidge bush, sowberry
Medicinal Parts: Root bark

Properties and Uses: The berberine in barberry has remarkable infection-fighting properties. Studies show it kills microorganisms that cause wound infections, diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, giardiasis, urinary tract and vaginal yeast infections. Barberry has a traditional (and effective) use in treating conjunctivitis (pinkeye).

Preparation: Decoction, compress

Cautions: Do not administer to children under two.


Buchu

Family: Rutaceae
Genus and species: Barosma betulina, B. crenulata, B. serratifolia
Also known as: Bookoo, buku, bucky, bucco
Medicinal Parts: Leaves

Properties and Uses: Most often used as a diuretic

Preparation: Infusion. Capsules are available in many health food stores and pharmacies.

Cautions: Increase potassium intake (bananas and fresh vegetables) when using any diuretic, including buchu.


Caraway

Family: Umbelliferae
Genus and species: Carum carvi
Also known as: Carum
Medicinal Parts: Seeds ("fruits")

Properties and Uses: Digestive aid; also relieves menstrual cramps.

Preparation: Fresh seeds may be mixed into food or chewed a teaspoonful at a time. A pleasant infusion may be made after bruising or crushing the seeds.

Cautions: None known.

Cascara Sagrada

Family: Rhamnaceae
Genus and species: Rhamnus purshiana
Also known as: Cascara, sacred bark, chittern bark
Medicinal Parts: Dried, aged bark

Properties and Uses: Constipation

Preparation: Decoction

Cautions: Never use for more than two weeks. The bark must be stored for a year before use. The fresh bark contains chemicals that can cause severe intestinal cramps.


Coltsfoot

Family: Compositae
Genus and species: Tussilago farfara
Also known as: Cough plant, coughwort, horse foot
Medicinal Parts: Leaves, flowers

Properties and Uses: Coltsfoot has been a cough suppressant mainstay of Asian, and European herbalists for over 2,000 years. A German study showed that the herb increases the activity of microscopic hairs in the breathing tubes that move mucus out of the respiratory tract.

Preparation: Infusion. (Note: coltsfoot used to be smoked in order to obtain positive results until recently.)

Cautions: In very large quantities, may cause liver damage. Anyone with a history of alcoholism or liver disease should not use coltsfoot.


Comfrey

Family: Boraginaceae
Genus and species: Symphytum officinale
Also known as: Bruisewort, boneset, knitbone
Medicinal Parts: Leaves and roots

Properties and Uses: Wound healing and casts for minor broken bones

Preparation: Ointment, Poultice

Cautions: Do not use the ointment on dirty wounds; comfrey will heal the wound so quickly that dirt and pus could be trapped. Do not use internally without having researched further.


Cranberry

Family: Ericacea
Genus and species: Vaccinium macrocarpon or Oxycoccus quadripetalus
Also known as: No other common names.
Medicinal Parts: Juice from the berries

Properties and Uses: Urinary tract infection prevention.

Preparation: Cranberry juice is available in most supermarkets. Pure cranberry juice is too acidic and sour to drink.

Cautions: If urinary tract infection develops, consult your physician. Antibiotics are usually necessary.


Echinacea

Family: Compositae
Genus and species: Echinacea angustfolio, E. purpura
Also known as: Purple coneflower
Medicinal Parts: The root

Properties and Uses: Infectious diseases (colds, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis, tuberculosis, meningitis, wounds, abscesses, pertussis, and ear infections); may help preserve white blood cells and protect radiation patients from infection; rheumatoid arthritis.

Preparation: Decoction or tincture.

Cautions: For children over 2 and adults over 65, start with a small dosage and adjust if necessary.


Elecampane

Family: Compositae
Genus and species: Inula helenium
Also known as: Wild sunflower, velvet dock, horseheal
Medicinal Parts: Root

Properties and Uses: Intestinal parasites, lowering blood pressure

Preparation: Decoction or tincture

Cautions: Begin with low-strength dosages in children over 2 and adults over 65.


Ephedra

Family: Ephedraceae
Genus and species: Ephedra sinica, E. vulgaris, E. nevadensis, E. antisyphilitica
Also known as: Ma huang, Mormon tea
Medicinal Parts: Stems, branches

Properties and Uses: Decongestant. E. sinica has the most potential as a decongestant; the other species have milder effects.

Preparation: Decoction, tincture

Cautions: Do not use if suffering from heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, or an overactive thyroid gland. May cause insomnia.


Feverfew

Family: Compositae
Genus and species: Matricaria parthenium, Chrysanthemum parthenium, Tanacetum parthenium
Also known as: Febrifuge plant, wild quinine, bachelor's button
Medicinal Parts: Leaves

Properties and Uses: Migraine headaches

Preparation: Chew two fresh leaves a day or take a capsule containing 85 milligrams of leaf material. Use as an infusion to help lower blood pressure.

Cautions: May inhibit blood clotting; do not use if taking anticoagulant medication. May cause mouth sores. Feverfew suppresses migraines but does not prevent them. Migraines typially return once usage is stopped.


Garlic

Family: Amaryllidacae
Genus and species: Allium sativum
Also known as: Stinking rose, heal-all
Medicinal Parts: Bulb

Properties and Uses: Antibiotic; reduces blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels; eliminates lead and other toxic heavy metals from the body.

Preparation: Cook with garlic; may also be used as an infusion.

Cautions: Do not use if you have a blood clotting disorder; do not use garlic if it causes a rash.


Ginger

Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus and species: Zingiber officinale
Also known as: Jamaican ginger, African ginger, Cochin ginger
Medicinal Parts: Root

Properties and Uses: Motion or morning sickness

Preparation: Infusion. Drink about 30 minutes before traveling.

Cautions: Do not use while pregnant if you have a history of miscarriages.


Goldenseal

Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus and species: Hydrastis canadensis
Also known as: Yellow root, Indian turmeric, jaundice root, eye balm, golden root
Medicinal Parts: Root and rhizome

Properties and Uses: Antibiotic; may also boost the immune system

Preparation: Infusion or tincture

Cautions: Should not be used by those with histories of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, or stroke. Goldenseal is difficult to grow, and it is expensive when available. Try the less expensive barberry first.


Horehound

Family: Labiatae
Genus and species: Marrubium vulgare
Also known as: Hoarhound, white horehound, marrubium
Medicinal Parts: Leaves and flower tops

Properties and Uses: Colds, flu, cough. Horehound is an excellect expectorant.

Preparation: Infusion

Cautions: Should be avoided by those with heart conditions.


Hyssop

Family: Labiatae
Genus and species: Hyssopus officinalis
Also known as: No other common names.
Medicinal Parts: Leaves and flowers

Properties and Uses: Herpes treatment; cough remedy.

Preparation: Compress (for herpes), infusion or tincture (for cough)

Cautions: No reports of harm due to hyssop use; however, make sure that what you are using is H. officinalis, not Gratiola officinalis or species of the genus Agastache, as these should not be ingested.


Mints

Family: Labiatae
Genus and species: Mentha piperita (peppermint) M. spicata (spearmint)
Also known as: Many other types of mint.
Medicinal Parts: Leaves and flowers

Properties and Uses: Digestive aid, possible decongestant (peppermint)

Preparation: Infusion

Cautions: Peppermint should not be given to children under the age of 2; use diluted spearmint instead.


Travel to Herbs -- Motherwort to Yarrow

Return to Pluto for Herbs and Preparation Techniques.


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