Mankind has always been searching for ways to relieve pain, heal the body, and prevent disease. Ancient healers and shamans alike practiced the art of natural cures and mixed belief in superstition and folklore, practices that are today scoffed at by modern medicine. Indeed some these first healers were guided more by observation and feelings than scientific fact. But how far off the mark were they when it came to healing the body with botanicals? Research suggests they were very close if not spot on. The first apothecaries (pharmacies) were stocked with botanical ingredients, all of which were produced locally or obtained through trade. Herbs have been used for centuries to help with a variety of ailments. ‘Old fashioned remedies’ are for the most part herb based and have been used for generations to help with conditions from upset stomachs to anxiety and even strengthening the immune system. Modern medicine has long abandoned herbal and botanical cures because regardless of their effectiveness, you can’t patent nature. We now take a look at 15 popular natural cures and their most common uses.
1. ANISE – Long prized for its licorice flavor and aroma Anise is a carminative, a herb that relieves intestinal distress. Is other principle uses are to relieve colic, rheumatism, and the familiar licorice-flavor in cough drops. Anise is an effective antibacterial and expectorant making Anise ideal for sore throat and nasal congestion. The seeds and the oil they produce contain thymol, terpineol and anethole, which can be used to treat pectoral affections and coughs. When used as a lozenge, aniseed is an effective expectorant. Bronchial irritation can be soothed by drinking a tea made from the seeds, and people that suffer from spasmodic asthma may also find relief from the seeds. Drops of aniseed oil may be used in a vaporizer to clear congestion and soothe coughing. Gargling with a tea made of the seeds can also provide relief for sore throat, laryngitis or pharyngitis.
2.BASIL – Thought of mostly as a culinary herb, Basil has powerful antifungal properties,contains antioxidants, and aides in digestion. Basil can help sooth insect bites and stings. There is some evidence that Basil can help level out blood sugar if consumed regularly and drank as a juice or tea.
3.CALENDULA – Calendula has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal, antiviral, and immunostimulant properties making it useful for disinfecting and treating minor wounds, conjunctivitis, cuts, scrapes, chapped or chafed skin, bruises, burns, athlete’s foot, acne, yeast infections, bee stings, diaper rashes, and other minor irritations and infections of the skin. Plus, it stimulates the production of collagen at wound sites to help minimize scarring and assist with stretch marks. This versatile botanical can be incorporated into baths, creams, compresses, washes, salves, ointments, massage oils, baths, facial steams, tinctures, and teas. It is also gentle enough to use for babies, children, or animals. Internally, gargling with Calendula infused water may ease a sore throat, sores in the mouth, and inflammations in the mouth and throat.4.CARAWAY – Seeds from the Caraway plant are mainly used to adorn rye breads and flavor. However the benefits of Caraway certainly don’t stop there.
5.CAYENNE – Cayenne is one of the more commonly known pepper plants. What isn’t commonly know is the health benefits of this little spicy health booster. Many herbalists believe that Cayenne is the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom, not only for the entire digestive system, but also for the heart and circulatory system. It acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other herbs when used with them. Capsicum (cayenne pepper) is said to be unequal for its ability to boost circulation and increase heart action. Capsicum exerts a variety of desirable actions on the entire cardiovascular system. It has the extraordinary ability to enhance cardiovascular performance while actually lowering blood pressure. Capsicum has an energizing effect on the entire system. It has traditionally been used for overcoming fatigue and restoring stamina and vigor. It is a natural stimulant without the threatening side effects (palpitations, hyper-activity or rise in blood pressure) of most other stimulating agents.
6.CHAMOMILE – German Chamomile is widely regarded for its use in teas. Why is Chamomile so effective? Dried chamomile flower is an age-old medicinal drug known in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Chamomile’s popularity grew throughout the Middle Ages, when people turned to it as a remedy for numerous medical complaints including asthma, colic, fevers, inflammations, nausea, nervous complaints, children’s ailments, skin diseases and cancer. As a popular remedy, it may be thought of as the European counterpart of ginseng.
7.CORRIANDER – Another herb thought of mainly in cooking, Corriander has a multitude of health benefits. When the coriander fruit is boiled in hot water, the infusion can be used to treat colic, flatulence, constipation, reduce digestive spasms, relieve abdominal pains, treat bacteria and fungal infections and kill intestinal parasites. Coriander seeds have been used in some parts of the world like Iran to treat insomnia and anxiety because of its sedative effects. Its powder form is now used as a natural medicine to treat panic attacks, depression and other psychological and emotional disorders. Coriander is also known to promote good memory.
8.ECHINACEA – This immune boosting powerhouse can stop a cold dead in it tracks. Echinacea is not terribly tasty in a tea. For this reason, echinacea is most often taken as tincture or as pills. Teas and tinctures, however, appear to be more effective than the powdered herb in capsules. Most herbalists recommend large and frequent doses at the onset of a cold, flu, sinus infection, bladder infection, or other illness.
9.FENUGREEK – Indian and Asian cultures have enjoyed the magic of Fenugreek for centuries, now you can too! Fenugreek has been found to help increase libido and lessen the effect of hot flashes and mood fluctuations that are common symptoms of menopause and PMS. In India and China it has also been used to treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, improve digestion, maintain a healthy metabolism, increase libido and male potency, cure skin, treat sore throat, and cure acid reflux. Fenugreek also has a long history of use for the treatment of reproductive disorders, to induce labor, to treat hormonal disorders, to help with breast enlargement, and to reduce menstrual pain. Recent studies have shown that Fenugreek helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and may be an effective treatment for both type 1 and 2 diabetes.
10.HYSSOP – Mentioned in ancient texts including the Bible, the hyssop plant can help with 81 different medical conditions, including asthma, cancer, insomnia, and colds. There are various preparations, but the most common is in extracts and teas. These are very effective in treating respiratory infections and congestion. One of the reasons for this is because of the anti-spasmodic action of the oil. It works well combating mucus, which makes it a good choice for those who suffer from bronchitis.
11.LEMONBALM – Lemon Balm is the ultimate medicinal plant for emotional detox and helps to combat insomnia, stress and overwork. It is a plant that actively promotes calm, relaxation, release and it is particularly effective when combined with other plants that promote relaxation and calm and fight stress. However, the benefits of Lemon Balm are not limited to its hypotensive effects; it is also reputed to be effective in combating certain viruses and bacteria.
12.PARSLEY – Parsley is good for heart heath and is a good source of folic acid, one of the most important B vitamins. While it plays numerous roles in the body, one of its most critical roles in relation to cardiovascular health is its necessary participation in the process through which the body converts homocysteine into benign molecules.
13. PEPPERMINT – Peppermint can be used for the treatment of chills and fevers, and symptoms of cold and flu, the febrifuge ability of peppermint can be put to very good and effective use. Peppermint possesses strong astringent and decongestant actions, which can help in relieving stuffiness and catarrh in many people who tend to suffer from these illnesses
14.SAGE – When used as a condiment, sage can stimulate the appetite in those with indigestion. It can relieve liver disorders, typhoid fever, excess bile secretions, and bleeding ulcers in the digestive tract that may cause vomiting. It has many other medicinal properties—among them, use as an astringent, stimulant, nervine agent, diuretic, expectorant, memory booster, anxiety reliever, anti-microbial, and as an antioxidant. It will also ease joint pain, menopausal symptoms, abdominal troubles, sore throat, mouth ulcers, cuts, sprains, swelling, and impaired digestion.
15.YARROW – Yarrow is can be used to control bleeding, lower blood pressure, for fever, common cold, hay fever, absence of menstruation, dysentery, diarrhea, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal (GI) tract discomfort, and to induce sweating. Some people chew the fresh leaves to relieve toothache.
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INCLUDES: ANISE, BASIL, CHAMOMILE, CALENDULA, CARAWAY, CAYENNE, CORRIANDER, ECHINACEA, FENUGREEK, HYSSOP, PARSLEY, LEMON BALM, PEPPERMINT, SAGE, YARROW