This week I attended my second monthly meeting of the South Carolina Herbal Society. Can you guess the topic? Yep – ten herbs to have in your home “farmacy.” It was so informative, I thought I’d share some of what I learned with you. I’ll share the first five herbs today. (See the other five herbs in Part 2.)
Before I share what I learned this week, let me give everyone a big DISCLAIMER. I am NOT a physician or doctor, nor am I a trained herbalist. So, I am NOT suggesting cures for any ailments. I am only passing on the information I obtained from my monthly herbal class. Please do your own research on what is best for you and your family, and consult your medical practitioner if you have any questions or are taking any medications or other herbs.
Turmeric is a rhizome that is often used in curries. Yet, it has great medicinal qualities that western medicine is just discovering. The active ingredient is curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
- A poultice of turmeric will treat pain from sore muscles or arthritis. Dip a cloth in turmeric tea or apply a paste of turmeric to a cloth and place over the painful area.
- In class, I learned that a poultice of 2 parts turmeric, 1 part epsom salt, and a bit of fresh ginger will decrease the inflammation (and thus reduce the pain) of carpal tunnel.
- Preliminary studies show that it decreases blood vessel formation in tumors and kills cancer cells.
- Turmeric reduces inflammation throughout the body.
- It’s good for digestion.
- Turmeric thins the blood.
- There are indications that turmeric helps the body use insulin better.
- NOTE: Do not take medicinal amounts of turmeric without a doctor’s supervision if you are pregnant or have gall bladder problems.
It seems like garlic is good for everything (besides scaring vampires away 😉 )! It is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic. Who knew that something that tastes so good is so amazingly good for you? We Italians got it right on this one, didn’t we? One note on garlic: to get the medicinal benefit from it, you must smash the clove and let it sit a little while before using.
- Garlic is a stimulating herb that will increase sweating, strengthen your immune system, and decrease tension.
- Because garlic thins mucus in the body, it is good for digestion. (The digestive system is full of mucous membranes.)
- Because of its anti-bacterial qualities, garlic-infused olive oil has been used to treat ear infections by putting a drop or two in each ear.
- Garlic balances cholesterol in the body.
- NOTE: Large doses of garlic can cause flatulence, burping, a feeling of fever, or diarrhea.
3. MILKY OATS:
Milky oats are not a special kind of oats but the stage of oats before they are fully ripened into what we use as oatmeal. At this stage, when the seeds are full of a milky fluid, they have the highest concentration of nutrients and medicinal value. In its ripened state, oatmeal is very nutritional; but in its unripened state, milky oats are used as a nerve tonic, which soothes and coats the nerves and decreases systemic stress in the body.
- Milky oats are good for people who have been under prolonged stress.
- They’re great for people with insomnia due to nervous exhaustion.
- People with ADHD or ADD will find milky oats soothing.
- Milky oats help relieve headaches that start in the occipital area (where the head meets the back of the neck) and run down the spine.
- Because there are almost as many neurotransmitters in the gut as in the brain, milky oats will help stressed digestion.
- Milky oats are helpful for PMS with headache.
- Use as a tea or tincture for a nerve tonic, or put into the bath for a relaxing soak.
4. LEMON BALM:
Lemon balm is a nerve sedative which sedates the “chaos” in emotions. It is a bitter-tasting member of the mint family (you may want to plant it in a pot so it won’t overtake your garden). Lemon balm is a cooling, calming herb that is also antiviral and an antihistamine. It’s good for the nervous system and for a “nervous heart.” It is said to “gladden the heart” in the sad, broken-hearted, or grief-stricken.
- Lemon balm can relieve gas and bloating.
- It is a mild analgesic and is good for painful menstruation.
- Lightly chew a leaf of lemon balm and apply it to an insect bite to relieve the sting.
- Use lemon balm in a tea bag or poultice for cold sores.
- It is good for heart palpitations.
- Lemon balm helps balance blood pressure.
- It is best to use fresh leaves of lemon balm.
5. SOLOMON’S SEAL:
Solomon’s seal is a rhizome and is a close relative of lily-of-the-valley. Its roots have been used as a medicinal herb for centuries for muscular and skeletal problems, especially healing injuries of the connective tissues like ligaments and tendons. Solomon’s seal is a demulcent, which helps soothe inflamed internal body tissues. In Chinese medicine, it is a “yin tonic,” decreasing dryness and bringing back the “juiciness” to the body.
- Solomon’s seal is a lubricating and strengthening herb said to help bones knit back together.
- It balances tendons and muscles, loosening or strengthening them, as needed.
- Used internally and externally (as a poultice) for two weeks, Solomon’s Seal is said to help people avoid knee and hip replacement surgeries.
- It’s good for sprains and ligament injuries.
- Solomon’s seal cools aggression.
- Tincture of Solomon’s seal is helpful for those with bone spurs or repetitive use injuries.
Be sure to read Part 2 for the other five herbs to have in your home farmacy.