Plant Remedies and Herbal Cures

Herbs

Herbs are a type of plant – or flora as natural scientists like to say.

Some people imagine that remedies bought from a herbalist or health food shop are not as strong as artificial drugs from a chemist. This is incorrect as they can be very powerful indeed.

Herbs as drugs

I remember a police man, a narcotics officer coming to visit us when I was training to be a teacher. He was to do a presentation about drugs. He stood up in front of us all and asked us, “Has anyone here taken drugs?” There was a silence and folk looked at each other, hardly daring to speak. I raised my hand.

“What drugs have you taken?” he asked of me.

“Paracetamol, aspirin and co-codamol”, I replied.

“Excellent!” he replied. The point he was trying to make was that there are many types of drugs, most of them safe and therapeutic. They are only a problem when used in the wrong context. Just like powerful herbs.

Aspirin aka Willow Bark

Herbs that Heal

I will discuss some very common herbs which have secondary uses as healing agents.

Herbs can vary from the ones we all know about like parsley – so pleasant to serve with fish – to unusual ones like pokeweed.

One has to sometimes speculate what possessed someone to decide to boil up some willow bark (Salix alba) to make a headache remedy (salicylic acid, more commonly known as aspirin).

There are many popular herbs that have simple but useful effects.

Parsley can come in flat-leaved or curly varieties. Apart from the obvious use as a garnish, it is also an excellent breath-freshener. Just chew on some fresh parsley after eating pungent food.

Cooking with Herbs

Herbal Cures

Valerian sounds like a Roman emperor. The tablets also smell very strongly herby and manly. Their effect is strangely quite the opposite though – it makes a gentle sedative for people suffering from insomnia.

Garden mint – spearmint – is an essential part of a roast lamb dinner. It is also a brilliant addition to pork pie and mushy peas. To the herbalist, however, it is a digestif, of much use for alleviating indigestion or relieving some of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Garlic is a pungent herb. We eat its bulbs for flavouring many dishes, particularly of Mediterranean origin. It is also known as a natural antibiotic and is believed to help to prevent some heart diseases.

Liquorice root is boiled up to make sweets or can be chewed directly. It is valued as an expectorant and is an ingredient of many proprietary cough medicines.

Growing Spearmint

Using Mint

What is your favourite use for mint leaves?

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