Six healing herbs

For more than two thirds of the world's population, herbs are the first and only choice for treating illness. Their medicine chest consists of plant-based remedies instead of aspirin or other over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and in many ways they are healthier for it.

You too can treat yourself and your family's simple complaints with a cup of herbal tea, or a soothing herbal ointment. You simply have to change the contents of your medicine chest. Common complaints such as indigestion, cramps, insomnia, or tension headaches - conditions that will resolve on their own anyway -- 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 coneflower) today is widely valued for its natural antibiotic, antiviral and an immune enhancing properties. It fights colds and flu, and is good for wound healing when minor infection is present.

Ginger- One of this herbalist's personal favorites is good for relieving the symptoms of indigestion, nausea, morning sickness or motion sickness. 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; it lowers cholesterol levels and has anitumoral properties.

Dandelion- the leaves of this common weed are most effective in reducing edema and water retention. The root is particularly helpful as a liver tonic and digestive aid, especially if you have over indulged in rich fatty foods.

Calendula- Applied as an ointment this herb is useful for cuts, scrapes, bug bites and puncture wounds. It is excellent for the treatment of athlete's foot as well as a soothing application to minor sunburn, 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 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 website June 5, 2002

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