Herbs for health & WELLBEING
Celebrate the nutritional and therapeutic benefits of herbs in everyday life. Find out how simple it is to use homegrown herbs for medicinal purposes.
From lovage to lavender and flax seeds to frankincense, herbs have been used for thousands of years to promote health and wellbeing. But like all medicines, care should be taken when using or consuming them. Different people have different reactions to substances, whether pharmaceuticals, foods or herbs. What might work well for one person may do nothing – or even have the opposite effect – for someone else.
There are two reasons for this: each individual’s condition is different – and each individual is different. One person may respond better to one particular herb over another, or they may respond better with a combination of herbs. It’s much like when you visit the doctor. He or she will prescribe a drug that’s suitable for you.
Everyday ailments such as indigestion, stomach upsets, cuts and abrasions, and sore throats – even coughs and colds – respond well to herbal treatments, but for more serious illnesses, check with a qualified health professional first. Some herbs can interfere with pharmaceutical drugs, and many should not be taken when pregnant or breastfeeding.
Often, raw plant parts can simply be eaten. Make sure you know exactly what the plant is, that it hasn’t been sprayed and that it’s safe to take internally.
To make the plant more medicinally active, make an infusion, which is much like a tea. Infuse stinging nettle as a quick pick-me-up (it’s rich in antioxidants). Try lemon balm or lavender for relaxation, and fennel seeds for indigestion. Use dandelion leaves in salads or as an infusion to help rid the body of toxins.
Crushed or bruised juicy plant material can be used as is to form a simple poultice. Or crush a handful of the plant material in a mortar and pestle, put it in a blender for a few seconds or sit it in a container floating in a pot of boiled water before applying as a poultice. A poultice of plantain leaves is ideal for small wounds and itchy welts, and comfrey is perfect for bruises, sprains, broken bones (comfrey is also known as knit-bone), small sores and skin inflammation. A poultice of shepherd’s purse can be applied for small wounds, bleeding, bruising and swelling. Always try a test patch first to make sure there are no adverse reactions.
Dried herbs can be used too. Add water to the herbs to wet them and mix to create a thick paste. Spread the paste onto your skin and wrap with muslin or gauze.