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Herbs and Alternative Natural Medicines

Updated on September 9, 2014

Herb Remedies and Natural Cures Remedies

Alternative Natural Medicines, Natural Cures Remedies, Herb Treatment, Herb Remedies, there is a lot of terminology involved with alternative medicine but what is it all about? We are living longer and enjoying better health than anytime in our history and yet modern medicine doesn't always have all the answers.

Take for example a terminally ill cancer patient, for all our science no more can be done for them and their fate seems sealed. But sometimes miracles do happen and sometimes mother nature has an ace up her sleeve.

I have been fascinated by plants and herbs for many years and have grown and used herbs, plants and vegetables for health whenever I could. Using Natural Healing Remedies, Herb Treatment, Herb Remedies or call it what you will is amazing and perfectly natural.

Squidoo has allowed me the opportunity to reach out to people and tell them that many of our health problems can be improved if not eliminated by simply eating the right kind of food.

Okay, it's not up to me to tell you what you must do with your life. It's your life, your choice but all I wish to do is to provide helpful information and then it is up you whether it's any use to you personally.


The beautiful photo above is an Allium, of the garlic and onion family and was taken by my wonderfully talented eleven year old son so credit goes to him!

What is this lens all about?

Health remedies, to put it simply. Anything and everything I know about becoming or staying healthy naturally I will post here.

Most of the vegetables, herbs or plants I use are easily grown or available, I never go for anything rare or exotic. For some things you wouldn't be inclined to grow you can simply buy from a healthfood store.

Infusions

...and how to make them

There are many ways of using herbs and medicinal plants. They can be made into tinctures, decoctions, wines, syrups, infused oils, balms, etc. They list goes on and as you can see, they are very versatile.

One of the simplest ways to use herbal remedies though is by brewing a tea also known as an infusion or tisane. It is very simple because it is to all intents like brewing an ordinary cup of tea. However to gain the health benefits there are one or two simple guidelines to follow. In this guide I aim to explain what to do.

If you want to go down the easy route you can just buy herbal teabags from a supermarket or healthfood shop. However to me, half the enjoyment is preparing the homemade brew as it is fresher, to my own taste or recipe and it's cheaper!

Equipment.

You can brew a tea by simply putting ingredients in a cup, pouring on heated water then drinking. The downside is you will also get mouthfuls of plant to spit out. By far a better idea is to brew your tea in a teapot. Now don't use metal teapots as they can impart metal into your brew and taint it. Always use a glass, ceramic or pot teapot. Pour the brew from the teapot through a tea-strainer, preferably not a metal one. The best way is to use a teapot with a built in strainer.

Amounts

Tea making isn't an exact science and much really depends on individual taste. As a rough guide expect to put 2 or 3 teaspoonsful or 1 tablespoonful or about 2-3 g of dried herbs to 1 cupful of hot (but not boiling) water, for one person.

For brewing direct in a teapot for more than one person, use similar amounts per each person to a maximum of enough for 3 people or you brew maybe too strong. Experiment a few times and you will soon learn to judge the ideal amounts.

Brewing

The actual art of teamaking is quite straightforward.

1) Warm the pot by pouring in about half a cup of hot water. swill it around or allow to stand for one minute then discard.

2) Place the required amounts of ingredients into your teapot.

3) Pour in required (per person - 1 cupful) amount of hot, but not boiling water.

4) Cover - if using a teapot put on the lid or if brewing direct in a cup cover the cup with a saucer. The reason is that volatile oils, the health giving bit of the plant will evaporate into the atmosphere and the power of the tea lost or reduced.

5) Allow to 'steep' or brew / infuse for approximately 5 minutes. Again this isn't set in stone and is down to individual appeal.

6) Pour, drink, enjoy!

If you brew a potful and only drink a small amount don't discard remains. Consider putting the leftovers in fridge or cool storage place for up to 24 hours. The brews can still taste amazing when cold and be just as healthy.

I hope this little guide will encourage you to try some delicious and healthy herbal teas.

ecinacea plant
ecinacea plant

Natural and Herbal Antibiotics

Let Mother Nature be your doctor

Modern antibiotics are no longer the answer to all our illnesses and diseases. In fact there is evidence that some illnesses such as Tuberculosis are now resistant to many antibiotics. But do not fear, where science fails mother nature steps in.

Once hailed and considered the magic bullet that could cure all our ills, modern antibiotics now seem to have lost their power. The problem appears to be in the innate ability of a virus to mutate and develop means they have grown resistant to our synthesized drugs.

Try as we might to develop more powerful classes of drugs the diseases all too soon seem to outpace efficacy. There are other considerations regarding the lasting effects of taking courses of antibiotics too. While the antibiotic drug may indeed combat its intended victim it is indiscriminate and wages war on our natural bacteria as well. We all carry beneficial bacteria within our digestive systems that make up a significant portion of our immune system. It is the job of this good bacteria to fight infections and protect us, However a one or two week course of antibiotics from your doctor may cure the illness that took you to the surgery but it will also wipe out your allies and leave you more vulnerable to illness.

So what can be done? Well mother nature has been around longer than modern science and she can still help us. Natural and herbal antibiotics are more gentle and certainly less aggressive than modern drugs.

As natural alternatives to prescribed medicines the following are all considered to provide effective antibiotic properties.

Echinacea - purple coneflower

Echinacea contains antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which do not act directly on a virus but stimulates your own immune system. This works by promoting white blood cells and killer T cells to attack and destroy the invader.

Garlic - Allium sativum

This pungent smelling and tasting plant is probably better known in culinary circles but is a powerful herbal treatment. Testament to its antibiotic properties is that is was used to treat tuberculosis and typhoid before recent drugs took over. Used to dress wounds in the First World War garlic's legendary healing benefits combat bronchial infections, intestinal parasites, fights colds and flu and ear infections. Further it can be used to reduce catarrh.

Eucalyptus - Blue Gum Tree

Traditionally an Aboriginal remedy Eucalyptus is known world wide as an extremely powerful antiseptic. Historically it was used to fight diphtheria, tubercular coughs and respiratory illnesses. Its effectiveness is derived from the plant's antiseptic properties and in that it helps dilate bronchioles to aid breathing.

Honey

Obviously not a herb it is never the less derived from plant nectar by bees. What makes it special in the antibiotic armoury is that many bacteria cannot survive against honey. This is because the moisture needed by bacteria to survive is drawn from them by the honey and thus destroys them. Even chronic wounds which previously failed to heal and strains of deadly germs such as MRSA can be effectively treated using honey. An enzyme called glucose-oxidase is added to nectar by bees during the honey making process. The glucose-oxidase breaks glucose down into hydrogen peroxide which is of course a mild acid used in many bleach and cleaning products due to its disinfecting antibacterial ability.

This is a wide ranging subject with very many natural alternatives to modern antibiotic drugs than the few mentioned here. But while manufactured chemicals have their place in fighting diseases centuries old remedies still have a role to play too. In many ways traditional cures and treatments have proved to be not only effective but the only alternative when others fail.

immune boosting vegetables
immune boosting vegetables

Reboot Your Immune System With Foods From Your Kitchen

Head to your kitchen not the doctors!

Feeling under the weather? Coughing spluttering and sneezing yet AGAIN? Your white blood cells are your personal defence army to block and destroy infections and diseases. At certain times they can be overwhelmed and be in need of help. The effectiveness of our immune system falls as we age and we need to do all we can to keep it in shape.

Certain foodstuffs can help maintain and strengthen our immunity to ward of illnesses. But which foods, plants and herbs should you use and are you likely to just a happen to have such items to hand?

Surprisingly yes! There are lots of everyday foods you probably have right in your kitchen that can help you give your flagging immune system some much needed help. Although each of the foods listed warrant an article in their own right such is their healing power, it is for their immune system helping abilities they are mentioned here. See how many of these common foodstuffs and herbs you have and how they can help you fight illness and get well.

Garlic - Other than adding a distinctive flavour to food and odour to breath garlic is often considered the number one cancer fighting superfood. Loaded with over 100 compounds, garlic has considerable antiviral and antibiotic properties. It helps reduces catarrh and fights off bronchial infections. Chewing parsley helps to mask its smell.

Onion - A close relative to garlic, onion also contains the natural antibiotic allicin. Best known for its cardiovascular helping properties, onions are a rich source of bioflavonoids. A couple of onions weekly in your diet will aid your health and they don't have to eaten raw.

Broccoli - Another of the cancer fighting superfoods, it is rich in vitamins, selenium, bioflavonoids and carotenoids all of which aid the system to work properly. Not the most exciting of foods but lightly steam for best benefits and use in conjunction with tomatoes.

Yoghurt - Probiotic yoghurt will maintain a healthy gut by keeping down and replacing some of the billions of nasty bacteria with healthy beneficial bacteria essential to a good constitution.

Carrots - Loaded already with essential vitamins, iron, potassium and phosphorus carrots also pack beta carotene in their arsenal of nutrients. Eaten raw or drunk as a juice for best results.

Beetroot - Known often as a salad component the humble beetroot is power packed with micro nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Usually drunk as a juice for ideal benefit.

Fruit - While oranges obviously come immediately to mind due to their vitamin C content all commonly bought fruit such as apples, bananas, pears and grapes provide beneficial vitamins.

Honey - Delicious tasting it is a healthier sweetener than sugar and honey is a natural antibacterial and antioxidant.

While there are hundreds of food items that can help provide a healthier immune system, the point of this list is to show you that you do not have to buy exotic, expensive or hard to find supplements and specialist preparations. You can instead find them right in your own home

.

stinging nettles
stinging nettles

Nettles for Health and Herb Remedies

Nettles are more than weeds as you will see

The stinging nettle is a pest to many a gardener but the health advantages of this plant are truly amazing. Who would have thought a weed common to roadsides and wasteland could prove such a friend.

You see nettles are of such benefit because they contain high levels of minerals especially calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, silica, iodine and sodium. They are also a great source of vitamins A, C and E, B complex vitamins and beta-carotene. All of which are hugely important to good health and if that's not all it proves to be a great natural antioxident.

The plant's leaves, young shoots and roots are all used in varying preparations. They can be either dried, boiled or put in soups, teas and tinctures. Its uses for health are wide ranging.

Because nettles naturally contain anti-histamine they may be used for hay fever and other allergic reactions such as rashes, while a tincture may be applied to soothe burns and scalds or insect bites. Often it is drunk as a tea to treat respiratory problems like catarrh, nuisance coughs and tuberculosis. It's also said to strengthen the immune system and fight off colds and flu symptoms.

The nettles diuretic properties increase urine flow which is huge benefit to sufferers of an enlarged prostate gland that would otherwise restrict that urine flow. In most men over the age of fifty the prostate naturally enlarges. Nettle tea drunk in conjunction with the taking of Saw palmetto is said to shrink an enlarged prostate. Indeed there is evidence that the humble nettle may inhibit the growth of prostate cells and treat prostate cancer.

Another use for nettle is its ability to aid the production of haemoglobin in red blood cells and assist blood coagulation, ideal if you are prone to heavy nosebleeds or menstrual periods. While finely ground dried root can stem blood loss when applied to minor cuts too. The plant has long been considered an aid to digestion and circulation.

A couple of thousand years ago Roman soldiers are said to have lashed their limbs and muscles with stinging nettle to stimulate circulation when frozen by bitter cold . Nowadays we take that same plant to use in preparations to cure baldness as its ability to stimulate circulation to the scalp may aid restoration of hair follicles. Many modern hair care products actually contain nettle as it can leave the hair shiny, glossy and feeling full bodied after washing.

These are just a fraction of the multitude of beneficial uses this much maligned plant can offer. If not improving your health or curing your ailments the humble nettle comes into

its own in many other ways too.

Harvest nettles and turn them into a powerful free liquid feed for your garden and plants, particularly tomato plants. Drink nettle tea as a refreshing and healthy pick-me-up or use

nettles in your cooking for soups, stews and as greens.

dandelion flower
dandelion flower

Dandelion is a Miracle Herb and Detoxifyer not a Weed

It's not just for rubbing on nettles stings!

Who hasn't plucked a dandelion clock and blown away its seeds with childish glee? Instead of cursing the dandelion as a troublesome weed try looking at it as another of mother natures miracles for that's what it is. The health giving properties of this humble plant far outweigh its undeserved reputation as a garden pest.

Dandelion is a hardy and persistent annual with a distinctive yellow flower. It grows much to the dismay of many almost everywhere and usually regarded as a nuisance weed. However the glorious plant is very much a valuable friend when it comes to health matters as a diuretic and detoxifyer and more.

Taraxacum officiale allegedly gets its more common name dandelion from a corruption of the French, Dent de Lion or lion's tooth due to the jagged appearance of its leaves. But what else is it good for apart from feeding to your pet rabbit? Plenty, as all parts of the plant can be used for a number of purposes such as liver and gall bladder health, stimulating bile flow and sluggish digestive system. It is also said to help optimize cholesterol levels, balance blood sugar levels and encourage growth of natural intestinal flora, the beneficial bacteria in our gut.

Constituents

In various sections of the plant all these properties may be found : vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, manganese, silicon, calcium, carotenoids,

Leaves

Full bladders can lead to inflammation and infections by harbouring harmful toxins. Dandelion leaves are a powerful diuretic helping to empty the bladder and flush bacteria. While many conventional diuretics cause the loss of potassium from the body dandelion leaves actually contain potassium thus providing a net gain on the deal. Dandelion performs similar actions to prescribed drugs to alleviate such ailments as swollen ankles and water retention. Similarly a standard treatment for high blood pressure is to prescribe diuretic drugs to promote urine flow to flush our excess salt, dandelion can do the same.

Fresh new leaves particularly in spring can be washed and used in salads though older leaves are tougher, bitter and best cooked. They can also treated like a green vegetable and steamed or boiled and will have a chicory like flavour though may be slightly bitter.

Flowers

While the flowers are completely edible, the green sepals at the flower's base are quite bitter too. The flowers themselves are used to produce delicious wines. Many recipes also state the flowers can be dipped in batter and fried although frying is not the healthiest of cooking options. A white sap is produced from the plant's stem, again it has a very bitter taste but has a traditional use for eliminating warts.

Roots

It is the root that works strongly on the liver and gall bladder helping remove waste products.

It detoxifies while aiding digestion, improving flatulence and its slightly laxative property may assist constipation troubles. Dandelion has also been variously reported as a benefit in treating eczema, psoriasis, arthritic conditions and gout.

The root is roasted and ground to a fine powder for medicinal preparations but it has another superb use, coffee! Roasted dandelion root makes a particularly delicious coffee substitute, almost identical in taste, it may be considered a healthy alternative to the real thing.

A word of caution, as with all medicinal products care should be taken and professional advice sought. Dandelion although safe may cause stomach acidity and discomfort and should not be used if blocked bile duct or gallstones are known or suspected.

So as you can see, the humble dandelion is definitely more than a weed. It is another useful plant we can put to good use and one we should include in our herb garden.

Cold And Flu

We are told that cold and flu viruses mutate each year and this is why it so difficult to find a cure because we are always attempting to play catch-up with the ever changing virus strains. However as cold and flu symptoms are always the same we can at least treat them.

Remedy 1:

Garlic, ginger, honey and lemon. Crush medium size garlic clove, take same size piece of ginger root and grate, then add juice from one lemon plus one teaspoon of honey. Mix into cup of hotwater and drink this amount three times daily while symptoms last. If you cannot fresh herbs use store bought such as powdered ginger or lemon juice. While not as effective as fresh still a good substitute.

Remedy 2:

Add juice from one lemon, half teaspoon of cinnamon and one spoonful of honey in one cup of warm water.

Remedy 3:

Make tea from half teaspoon of fresh thyme and half teaspoon of boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) and drink three to four times per day. This remedy very useful for clearing nasal congestion and thick green mucus.

Remedy 4:

For flu with muscle aches - add 5g each of thyme, lemon balm and elderflower to 750 ml of hot water, brew for ten minutes and drink up to five cupfulls per day. as required.

Remedy 5:

Echinacea, if you can obtain powdered root make tea with 750 ml hot water and 5g of root. Drink two to four cups daily. Alternativelly use tablets or capsules from health food store. Echinacea is reputed to have an 'interferon' like effect in enhancing the body's resistance to disease.

Remedy 6

Vitamin C. Take extra vitamin C in tablets or capsule form as you would have to consume a sackful of oranges to obtain same amount as a 1000 mg tablet. The recommended daily allowance is about 1000mg, I take usually five times this amount daily and rarely suffer colds and they are short lived when I do get them. Vitamin C is short lived and passes through the body quickly so take amounts throughout day rather than all in one go. One note of caution, is that large amounts of it can cause diarrhoea so a balance might have to be made until you can build a tolerance to higher amounts.

Eczema

Red inflamed skin with flaking, scaling and or blisters. Often result of of allergic reaction from an irritant but also inherited. Usually has to be professionally treated.

Remedy 1:

Peppermint - infuse 1teaspoon of peppermint leaves to 1 cup of hot water, leave for 10 minutes, strain, cool and carefully apply to affected area approx two or three times per day. Peppermint relieves pain and reduces sensitivity.

Remedy 2:

Apply fresh juice squeezed from chickweed (stellaria media) up to five times daily.

Remedy 3:

Mix peppermint and chickweed, make into lotion again up to five times daily.

If Eczema is weeping:

Remedy 1:

Apply witch hazel - easily available in manufactured form from chemists or you can make an infusion using 2 teaspoons of leaves soaked in 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes, drained, cooled, apply five times daily.

Remedy 2:

German chamomile - make infusion of 50g of herb in 1 cup hot water as above, apply cooled liquid carefully to affected area or add liquid to warm bathwater and allow person to soak for minimum twenty minutes.

Remedy 3:

Put Oats (avena sativa) into clean cloth or bag, muslin ideally, dangle oatbag under hot tap while water filling bath, patient to soak in bathwater for approx 5/10 minutes.

marigold flowers
marigold flowers

Skin Rashes, Irritation, Minor Burns Sunburn

Rashes, burns and sunburn can be sore and annoying. Often easy to treat but attention must be paid to causes of sudden rashes. Many irritations may have simple explanations like bites/ stings etc. Care should be taken to keep wounds clean and clear of infection.

Rash/ inflamed skin:

Marigold or comfrey cream or lotion either made or store bought applied 2 - 4 times daily

or make infusion using 1 heaped tablespoon of herb in hot water, strain/cool/ apply as needed.

Weeping Skin: Carefully apply gel direct from leaf of Aloe vera plant to skin or use distilled witch hazel 2 - 4 times daily.

Minor burns/ sunburn: Apply aloe vera gel direct to affected area or try lavender essential oil.

Insect Bites & Stings

Basic insect bites and stings are usually straightforward to treat. They become a problem if they become infected and the major worry of bee stings is if the victim proves allergic and suffers anaphylactic shock which can prove fatal.

These are said to help ease discomfort until injury heals.

Remedy 1 :

Lavender - Rub fresh leaves, essential oil or make decoction and apply direct to wound. Lavendar is also said to repel insects.

Remedy 2:

Sweet basil, Sage, Thyme - squeeze fresh leaves from any of these and apply juice direct to bite.

Remedy 3:

Apply aloe vera gel direct to wound as required.

Remedy 4 :

Drink 3 cups of nettle tea daily, nettle is an natural form of anti-allergenic

rhubarb
rhubarb

Constipation and Diarrhoea

Both constipation and diarrhoea are usually the result of what you eat. In the case of diarrhoea it could be slight food poisoning, infection/inflammation to eating a foodstuff which has natural bowel loosening properties, over doing liquorice or prunes for example.

Constipation, the direct opposite can often be easily overcome by eating plenty of fruit, heard of five portions a day! Good fibre intake from breakfast cereal or wholemeal bread also helps.

Constipation:

Remedy 1:

Yellow dock (Rumex crispus) is a mild laxative used by taking teaspoon of herb to a cup of warm water taken last thing at night.

Remedy 2 :

Psyllium seeds - 1 to 3 teaspoons taken with water or sprinkled on breakfast cereal will bulk out stools and aid passage.

Remedy 3:

Rhubarb, obvious choice though should not be used if pregnant, breastfeeding or if bowel obstruction suspected.

Remedy 4 :

Liquorice, can be used by taking dried root and grinding into powder for infusion, chewing root or eating liquorice products however it should be noted many liquorice sweets may contain lots of sugar. Care should be taken as too much liquorice can result in low potassium levels.

Diarrhoea:

Remedy 1: Dehydration is often caused by this condition and is the worlds biggest cause of child deaths. For quick fluid rehydration provide glass of water containing 1 teaspoon salt + 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Remedy 2:

Strong black coffee without milk, stewed apples, lemon juice in milk, bananas, carrot soup or plain toast have all been stated as useful for treating rather than curing diarrhoea.

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    • Andrej977 LM profile image

      Andrej977 LM 5 years ago

      Very informative lens. Thank you for sharing with us.

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image

      GreenfireWiseWo 6 years ago

      Thank you - great lens.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      My mother is a huge enthusiast of herbal remedies. You are a writer? I seriously can't wait to see more of your writings on Squidoo. May the wind be at your back!

    • profile image

      totalhealth 8 years ago

      very informative, i learned a lot today about natural and herbal medicine, thanks

    • profile image

      gardenlady 8 years ago

      I love your lens. My grandmother used to make infusions and such, but I never really took an interest in it back then. I much prefer natural remedies myself as well.

      Thank you for taking the time to put all of this together in one place. 5*s to you. I am lensrolling with my Colloidal Silver Lens, and have favorited.

      Thanks again.

    • sollertis profile image
      Author

      sollertis 8 years ago

      [in reply to Janusz]

      My pleasure to provide helpful content for the benefit of all. Thank you for your visit.

    • Janusz LM profile image

      Janusz LM 8 years ago

      Well I certainly learned something here! Thank you for an informative & well made Lens. Blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • MikeMoore LM profile image

      MikeMoore LM 8 years ago

      Very, very informative lens. 5 stars.

    • profile image

      Light-in-me 8 years ago

      This is a great lens very interesting and informative.

      Thank's for sharing your knowledge. 5*s

      Take care,

      Robin

    • BisDak profile image

      BisDak 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your health knowledge. 5*

    • sollertis profile image
      Author

      sollertis 8 years ago

      Thank you for taking time to stop by, I have lots more informaion to add to this lens which will I hope benefit others. [in reply to monarch13]

    • monarch13 profile image

      monarch13 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge! 5 stars from The Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Headquarters.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Excellent lens with some smart advice to try.

    • profile image

      Tarra99 8 years ago

      Great info here 5*...I'll be bookmarking it for later as it's cold and flu season now and I may borrow a couple recipes...speaking of recipes, thanks for popping in and visiting my shepherds pie lens...I appreciate it! :o)

    • sollertis profile image
      Author

      sollertis 8 years ago

      thanks a lot mate, your input much appreciated[in reply to flighty02]

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 8 years ago

      Good start with your first lens James, keep up the good work!

    • sollertis profile image
      Author

      sollertis 8 years ago

      hello sprete, thanks for dropping by and your compliment. I will be posting a lot more useful content on good health as time allows. Regarding your lens on xmas gifts, I spent WAYYYYY!! too much on gifts but I don't care, I love seeing people (especially the kids) when they open their presents on christmas morning!

      best wishes, james[in reply to sprete]

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great lens 5*

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great lens 5*