Herbal medicine

Echinacea (purple coneflower) The Native Americans used purple coneflower to treat snakebite, fevers, and old stubborn wounds. The early settlers soon adopted the plant as a home remedy for colds and influenza, and it became popular with the 19th century eclectics.

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) A traditional healing herb of Native Americans that has entered the European herbal repertoire, goldenseal was used by the Cherokee for indigestion, local inflammations, and to improve the appetite, while the Iroquois used it for whooping cough, liver disorders, fevers, and heart problems.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) In China, the flowers, leaves, root, and seed heads of the common dandelion are used as a diuretic and liver stimulant. They are also considered to clear heat and toxins from the blood, so it is used for boils and abscesses.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) According to history, Caesar’s troops introduced the Roman nettle into Britain because they thought that they would need to flail themselves with nettles to keep warm. Nettles clear uric acid from the system to relieve gout and arthritis, and their astringency stops bleeding. Nettles sting because of histamine and formic acid in the hairs that trigger an allergic response.

Ginseng (Panax) Used in China for over 5,000 years, ginseng was known to 9th-century Arab physicians. Marco Polo even wrote of this prized, wonder drug. It is used as a stimulant which regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels and stimulates the immune system. The North Vietnamese used ginseng during the Vietnam War to increase recovery rates from gunshot wounds.

Hawthorn (Crataegus) Traditionally valued for its astringency, hawthorn was used for diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding, and in first aid to draw splinters. Over the past century, the plant’s considerable tonic action on the heart has been identified. Today, it is one of the most popular cardiac herbs.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Prized for at least 5,000 years, garlic has long been known to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Even orthodox medicine acknowledges that the plant reduces the risk of further heart attacks in cardiac patients; it is also a stimulant for the immune system and an antibiotic.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) Nature’s tranquilizer, valerian calms the nerves without the side effects of comparable orthodox drugs. It has a distinctive, rather unpleasant smell, and was called phu by the Greek physician Galen. The root can be used as an expectorant and can help tickling, nervous coughs.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza) Licorice has been used medicinally since at least 500 B.C. and still is shown in official pharmacopoeia as a “drug” for stomach ulcers. In China, one form is termed the “great detoxifier” and is thought to drive poisons from the system.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) Recently, feverfew has been hailed as a “cure” for migraines. In the past, the herb was used for headaches, but it was largely applied externally. It was taken by women to get rid of the placenta after birth and for various uterine disorders.

Information obtained from The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody.

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