Natural healing herbs are used for a wide variety of physical and mental needs. Herbs have a wide variety of actions depending on the constituents that make them up. Some herbs are nutritive. Others are detoxifying or cancer-fighting or helpful for pain or emotional issues. Some medicinal plants have a tonic effect, others are healing. Some affect many organs, glands and systems in your body, either directly or indirectly. Others have a more limited, yet still important range of action.
Whole herbs are natural holistic healing remedies.They are holistic remedies because they have multiple actions throughout your body. Standardized herbs emphasize a particular constituent for a particular, targeted effect.
If you live in a rural area, dozens of medicinal herbs probably grow nearby. Even city yards are home to the magnificent dandelion and other herbs. Get to know your local natural healing herbs. Find them in your yard, parks and fields. Just being in their presence is comforting.
Click on this Herb Body Map to see herbs for healing organs and body systems. Then read below about four common, easy-to-use plants and herbal remedies that have a broad range of healthful actions.
The following medicinal offer a broad range of herbal healing help and are readily available alone or as part of herbal remedies. You may have dandelion, burdock and/or elderberry growing near you. Turmeric is a common cooking spice. Or buy them dried in bulk from a reputable company such as Mountain Rose Herbs.
When using herbs for healing, use as directed for at least a few weeks before deciding if they are helping. You generally take them three times a day for continuous effects. For most people, these herbs can be safely for long periods of time when taken properly. For general health support, once a day or is just fine.
The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment." Author Unknown
One of the greatest natural healing herbs is the dandelion. Even so, people have developed a love-hate relationship with this plant.
Children, intuitively knowing the treasure dandelions are. They are drawn like little magnets to the cheery yellow flowers. They are excited to see them in the spring and love picking the flowers to share with moms and teachers and friends. We would be wise to take a lesson from the children.
Here is a sampling of its benefits.
The bitter tasting roots are boiled to make decoctions (strong tea) or used in tinctures to slowly and gently detoxify the liver over a few months. The roots stimulate digestion and help regulate female hormone production. The taste is mildly bitter. I drink mine straight and don't mind it. It is worth the health benefits.
Dandelion leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. My mom told me that when she was growing up, they would steam the young leaves steamed or saute them with olive oil and garlic.
Add a few raw tender baby leaves to salads. Splash on vinegar to 'cook' your greens. Adding vinegar and/or cooking greens releases the nutrients.
Dandelion leaves are just as effective as a top diuretic drug without the harmful side effect of robbing the body of potassium. They stimulate the kidneys to release toxins and help relieve PMS breast tenderness.
Stem juice helps clear pimples and warts.
Flowers are enjoyed for their beauty and fun blowing into the wind. They are made into dandelion wine and flower essences to soften muscle tension. Flowers are infused in oil for massage.
Dandelion is a great herb to begin exploring natural herbal remedies. Make dandelion vinegar from the leaves and flowers. Dig the roots for food or remedies. Better yet, since good quality dried organic roots are readily available, purchase them ready to go.
Burdock is another of the often under-appreciated natural healing herbs with a long list of health benefits. Burdock is considered a restorative tonic because of its positive effects throughout the body and on metabolic imbalances when used faithfully for several months.
Freshly dug roots of one year old burdock are full of vitamins and minerals. Dig them in spring. Stir fry, pickle or infuse roots into herbal vinegar. Look for fresh or pickled burdock root, or gobo, in Asian markets.
Burdock supports your body's natural detoxification processes, digestion, and organs of elimination. Because it helps you detoxify and 'clean the blood', burdock is often used in herbal remedies for cancer, gout, skin conditions, and inflammatory conditions. Burdock helps eliminate excess fluid and is a mild laxative.
Even though the root is traditionally used by herbalists, leaves have similar medicinal qualities. Bruised or boiled leaves are mildly drying and cooling and can be applied to boils, skin ulcers and sores to help heal them.
With all the worry about cold and flu season it is good to know we have a research supported herbal healing ally in elderberry. Elderberry is a proven anti-viral medicinal plant remedy for colds, flu and coughs.
You do not have to be sick to benefit from elderberry. Enjoy the tasty syrup daily in teas, jam, and on pancakes for a healthy dose of antioxidants, some vitamins, and protection from viruses. This is a spoonful of medicine that goes down easy, even for children.
When you feel the sniffles or tell-tale flu symptoms coming on, have a spoonful every few hours. It can significantly reduce the number of days you are sick.
Buy ready made elderberry syrup or make your own from fresh or dried berries. If you are lucky enough to have this small tree growing near you, harvest the berries when they are very dark (red berries are poisonous).
Note: You can substitute stevia, erythritol or xylitol (never give anything with xylitol to a dog) for some of the honey. Taste test to see how much you need. Add a bit more water to your recipe to make up for lost liquid.
Elder flowers also have a long history as herbs for healing. Flowers are used to ease asthma and allergies. They are useful during fevers because they make you sweat. It is believed they strengthen the immune system by detoxifying the lymph nodes.
Elderberry tea can help soothe your stomach and help digestion. You may even find elder flowers in skin care products.
This popular Indian spice traditionally used in curry and yellow mustard is a natural healing herb superstar. It is called holy powder for good reason.
Research continues to reveal more and more healthful qualities of its yellow-orange colored constituent called curcumin. It appears to help cells work better and makes them more resistant to infections and cancer by regulating DNA.
Turmeric helps improve digestion and supports liver function and body detoxification. It is good for your skin. Because it is an anti-inflammatory herb, turmeric eases arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. It is a powerful anti-oxidant and may even protect against Alzheimer's disease.
Use this spice to season rice, meats and other foods. It is also available in capsules. Commercial curry powders usually contain only small amounts of turmeric.
Did you notice a common theme among these four natural healing herbs? They have a broad range of holistic healing benefits because they detoxify, aid digestion, and are rich in anti-oxidants.
They are just a sampling of the vast array of natural healing herbs available to you. You may find some of them in your neighborhood. If none of these herbal healing allies are local to your area, look for others with similar actions. As you learn and grow to appreciate the healing power of medicinal plants, you will never look at weeds the same way again.