July 26th, 2017
by Miranda Murray
Herbs aren’t just for making your food taste good. Before they were tasty additions to our meals, they were used medicinally. Because they hold the Earth’s energy within them, they have strong healing properties. So summon your inner green thumb because these herbal remedies will have you wanting a garden of your own.
Before we get in to how to use them, I’m going to cover 14 of my favorite herbs and their medicinal capabilities.
- Ginger – the supreme, in my eyes. On top of its body cleansing abilities, ginger can also be used for a number of ailments. It aids in digestion, fights pain and inflammation, lowers risk of diabetes, boosts memory and can even be used to help fight cancer. Ginger is a rock star.
- Basil – not just for spaghetti. Basil is great for fighting depression and anxiety. It’s packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and contains antibacterial properties. It also produces detoxifying enzymes, which help with liver function.
- Chamomile – another useful herb for treating anxiety and/or sleeplessness. Chamomile also works great in a salve for healing wounds.
- Echinacea – have a cold? Get yourself some Echinacea tea to soothe and treat cold and flu symptoms. It can also be used to treat infections, alleviate inflammation, and can be used as a mild laxative.
- Feverfew – used for it’s abilities to soothe headaches and relieve migraines.
- Lavender – a total essential, in my book. It’s most commonly used for relaxation, but lavender has amazing capabilities. Use it as an antiseptic for cuts, pain relief and sore muscles, bug repellent, and to improve circulation.
- Lemon Balm – perfect for healing; use it on wounds, insect bites, and cold sores. It can also be used to ease an upset stomach.
- Marigold – good for the skin. Use it to treat sunburn, acne and blemishes.
- Parsley – it’s loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. You’ve probably gotten a sprig of parsley on the side of your dinner plate before. Why? Chew the leaves to help with bad breath.
- Peppermint – your ultimate go-to for an upset stomach or digestion problems.
- Rosemary – improves memory and even helps fight cancer. It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
- Sage – from the word Salvia, which means “to heal.” Drink as a tea for soothing a sore throat or other throat inflammations. It can be used to enhance mental clarity and memory.
- Thyme – the active ingredient in thyme is “thymol,” a strong antiseptic. Use for cough, congestion, indigestion and flatulence.
- St. John’s Wort – used for its amazing ability to treat depression, improve mood swings and relieve anxiety.
How To Use Herbs Medicinally
There are 7 primary methods of using herbs and plants for healing.
Herbal tea is probably the most common. Tea can be brewed using either fresh leaves or dried leaves of the herb of your choice. To brew with fresh leaves: after rinsing them with cool water, place them in the bottom of a cup or mug and pour hot water over them; allow it to steep for up to 7 minutes. For tea with dried leaves: place dried leaves into an infuser (like a tea ball or tea bag) and place it in your cup or mug. Pour hot water into the mug and steep. Different teas have different brewing times – use your judgement when determining this. Steep to your liking.
Preparing an herbal poultice is another method of using herbs for healing. Think of a movie or TV show where a character may be lost in the jungle or the woods and they use some sort of bark or plant over a wound to help them heal. For this method, you’ll need to finely grate, grind or blend the herbs with a small amount of water to form a sort of paste. Next, you’ll need gauze or muslin to bind the herbal mixture to the desired area. Some poultices are meant to be applied for a brief period of time, but some can be left on for up to 24 hours, depending on the herb or plant.
Another approach to using botanical healing is by brewing an infusion or decoction. Very similar to how you’d brew an herbal tea, instead of allowing it to steep for only a few minutes, you’d let it steep or boil for up to an hour, allowing it to become fully matured. Thus, an infusion or decoction is made. Allow to cool before drinking and use within 48 hours.
In addition to brewing a decoction, take it one step further is make an herbal syrup. When your decoction is boiled down to a very concentrated level, you add sweetener, preferably honey, in equal amounts (i.e. 8 oz decoction + 8 oz of honey.) Preparing an herbal syrup is ideal because of it’s longer shelf life (up to 6 months in the fridge) and the fact that it can be readily available should you need it. Take it by the spoonful or add it to your tea or hot cocktail.
You can also make a tincture. A tincture is a homemade extract, similar to an essential oil. Made by combing your herb leaves, stem or roots with alcohol. By combining your herbs with alcohol, usually vodka, and allowing to sit in a glass jar for 14 days or up to 4 weeks, you create a potent mixture that can be taken by droplets right into your mouth or put into a syrup, salve or lotion.
Creating our own salve, balm or lotion can be a fantastic way to apply herbs topically to sore muscles, cuts or wounds. Use this method by either placing a mixture (like the methods explained above) into an already existing lotion or cream, or you can make your own! To prepare your own salve, you’ll need your herb(s,) olive or coconut oil, and beeswax. The simple method can be followed here.
And last, but not least, you can prepare an herbal steam. Not only is it absolutely wonderful for making your home smell fantastic, an herbal steam can be great for relieving cough and cold symptoms and congestion, along with giving yourself a “steam facial.” Very simple to do, simply boil your herbs with water to release their scent and vapor.
Are you ready to give botanical healing a try?! Start by shopping Group Med Shop to acquire some tools to begin practicing these ancient techniques.
Use our mortar and pestle to grind your herbs for extraction, especially great for preparing a poultice or tincture. A must-have for any at-home apothecary.
We also have glass droppers – perfect for taking those herbal extractions you’ve prepared orally or dropping them into your tea, cocktail or lotion.
Thank you for reading! Please remember to <3 this article.
*I am not a doctor, nutritionist or scientist but I have spent years soaking up information I’ve gathered through various websites, by attending numerous informational meetings and working with nutritionists and fitness trainers.