Six healing herbs

For more than two thirds of the world's population, herbs are the only choice for treating everyday illnesses. When a cold, flu or or headache strikes, they reach for time-tested, plant based remedies instead of aspirin or other over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.

You, too, can treat yourself and your family's simple complaints naturally with a cup of herbal tea or a soothing herbal ointment. Common complaints such as indigestion, cramps, insomnia or tension headaches are all conditions that will resolve themselves anyway and can provide an ideal opportunity to experiment with the healing power of herbs.

The following herbs make up a basic natural medicine kit. They are versatile, safe, and readily available.

ECHINACEA-- A trusted medicine of both Native Americans and early settlers. Echinacea, (the purple cone flower) today is widely valued for its natural antibiotic, antiviral and immune enhancing properties. It fights colds and flu and is good for wound healing when minor infection is present.

GINGER-- This herb has a proven track record for relieving motion sickness and morning sickness. If you suffer from sea sickness or air sickness try ginger before reaching for the Dramamine®. My clients have had good luck with it. Added to a bath, this warming herb is wonderful to relieve the minor aches and pains of joints sore from too much work. Got a cold? Add ginger to your echinacea tea to help relieve the stuffiness in your head.

GARLIC-- This food herb is an excellent antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral remedy that can be applied locally or internally. Allicin, the active ingredient in garlic is known to kill many common intestinal bugs that cause food poisoning. It too is excellent in the treatment of minor colds and flu. Garlic is good for the heart as well, lowers cholesterol levels and, has anti tumoral properties.

DANDELION-- The leaves of this common weed are most effective in helping to reduce edema and water retention. The root is particularly helpful as a liver tonic and digestive aid -- especially if you've over indulged in fatty foods.

CALENDULA-- Applied as an ointment, it is one of the most useful herbs for cuts, scrapes, bug bites and puncture wounds. It is excellent for the treatment of athlete's foot as well. In cream form it soothes minor sun burn, eczema, and hemorrhoids.

CHAMOMILE-- A wonderfully relaxing herb, particularly useful for anxiety and tension, stress induced headaches and nausea. It is safe for young children as well. It calms and promotes sleep and eases the pain of teething.

These six world class herbs are inexpensive, easy to use and very ''forgiving.'' If you're looking to break into the natural world of healing with herbal therapy but are unsure where to start, try some of these. I think you'll be pleased!

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online May 16, 2000

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