properties that can be just as effective as over-the-counter pills and
potions, and costs you a fraction of the price. The best thing about
using herbs as part of your healing process is that you don't get the
side-effects that you get with modern medicine. I have been using herbs
for more than 3 decades to treat myself when I am ill and this is
always my first choice when ill.
Although I am a firm believer
in herbal medicine, I am also aware that there are times when you need
to seek the advice of an allopathic physician, and so I am not beating
a drum here, but showing you that there is definitely help at hand,
often in herbs that others might concern weeds, such as the common
dandelion, that in fact is one of the most useful little herbs around.
have been used to lower blood pressure, helps prevent some types of
breast cancer, can help with acne, arthritis, constipation, eczema, and
lowering high cholesterol.
So next time you are pulling those
dandelions out of your garden cursing their existence, be grateful that
they are there and think twice about their use and how your health will
benefit from using them, rather than just throwing them away.
How to Prepare Herbal Teas
Making herbal teas can either be made using fresh flowers and leaves or
fried flowers and leaves of the various herbs. Herbs are cut during the
summer, tied in bunches and then hung upside down to dry so as to
encourage the concentration of the healing properties in the flowers
Drying is best in the shade where air circulation is good, either laid
on racks or hung up in bunches.
Once the herbs are dry these can be stripped from the stalks, placed in
brown paper bags and used when needed.
How to Prepare Herbal Tinctures
Medical tinctures are made by packing glass jars with the fresh or
dried herbs, then covering the plant material with either brandy or
vodka, leaving the herbs in a dark cupboard for 6 weeks, shaking the
bottle occasionally, straining the herbs through a muslin cloth, and
then storing the mixture in a dark cupboard until needed. Doses are
given using an eye dropper, mixed with a little water.
How to Prepare Herbal Decoctions
Decoctions involve boiling plants - usually the woody or harder parts
of plants (berries and seeds, roots, barks) in a covered saucepan for
about 20 minutes or longer, until half the amount of water as was
originally used, is left behind.
Herbal Creams and Lotions
external use include ointments (oil based), creams (water based),
linaments (oily liquid preparations) and poultices (powdered dried
herbs or crushed fresh herbs applied to the skin for medicinal or
cosmetic uses such as facial
Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them
Agnus Castus (Vitex Agnus Castus)
The berries were known as
"Monk's Pepper" as it was used in the food in
monasteries to reduce the libido in monks, although it is said to have
the opposite effect on women.
to the Mediterranean Area
Grows: In well-drained soil in full sun.
Grows to 15
feet, and spreads from 6-25 feet with pale, lilac flowers in early
Parts to Use: Harvest the berries when
ripe in late autumn.
Uses: Mainly for gynaecological problems;
irregular periods, acne and migraines related to the menstrual cycle.
Also used for PMS and to regulate the hormones.
As a Tincture: Use 5 drops
in a little water 3 times a day. This is a powerful
herb and should be used with caution .
Start with a small dose to start off with. Don't use if you are
Europe and Introduced into North America
Parts to Use: Above
parts, after flowering in the summer. Harvest
the leaves and flowers and dry for making tea.
Uses: Excellent wound herb. Used to stop
bleeding and to relieve pain. Tightens
and tones body tissues.
As a Tincture: Effective against vaginal
cystitis, asthma, anxiety and stress, tapeworm, chronic diarrhea,
Strip off the fresh flowers and leaves of the plants on a sunny day,
pack into a glass jar, cover with brandy or vodka. Tighten lid and
dark cupboard for 6 weeks, shaking every few days. After 6 weeks strain
and label. Use 3-5 drops in a little water 3 times a
day. For chronic situations, use 1/2
teaspoon in water, 3 times a day.
As a Tea : It can be used to bathe the eyes for
conjunctivitis or as a gargle for sore throats or bad gums. Take
1-2 teaspoons dried leaves and flowers and pour over 1
cup of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes
and then drink up to 3 cups a day.
Aloe Vera (Aloe Vera)
sandy, well drained soil in a sunny place. As an aloe it needs little
water or care.
Parts to Use: The fleshy leaves and the gel inside. It
can be harvested any time during the year.
Uses: Excellent for burns, insect bites,
skin ulcers, wounds, nappy rash, eczema, ringworm, shingles and
Topical: Most of the time aloe vera gel is used
directly on the skin. It needs little preparation to get the results.
Just break off a little of the leaf, spilt it open and scrap out the
soft inside, and place on the skin like a poultice.
As a Tincture: Pulp the leaves in a food processor.
Place in jar and cover with brandy or vodka and process in the usual
way. Take 1 teaspoon in some water, 3 times a day to
treat a sluggish digestion and constipation.
Vera also makes an excellent chicken food.
courtesy of Teun Spaans
Native Northern Europe
Grows: This is a perennial that grows in
moist soil in
shady areas. Grows up to 8 feet in height
and spreads to 4 feet. Harvest the leaves and stems in early summer,
year old roots in autumn, seeds as they ripen.
Parts to Use: Leaves, roots, seeds for the essential
Uses: For arthritis, rheumatism,
flatulance, poor circulation, bronchitis, coughs, sluggish digestion
As a Tincture: Use
1/4-1/2 teaspoon in a little water 3 times
As a Tea : Take 1 teaspoons
dried leaves and pour over 1 cup of boiling water. Steep
for 15 minutes and then drink up to 3 cups a day.
Use for indigestion.
As a Massage Oil: Extract the oil from the
seeds and spread on chest for coughs and bronchial troubles.
As a Decoction: Simmer 1/2 oz of root in
1 pint of water. Use for arthritis and rheumatism, poor
circulation, sluggish digestion and to warm up the body.
Caution: Don't use as a tea or a tincture
if you are pregnant or if you are a diabetic.
Astragalus (Astragalus Membranaceus)
Native to Asia
in well-drained soil in full sun. Grows in
a bush 3 feet high, 1 foot wide. To harvest, dig up the
roots of 4 year old plants in autumn.
Parts to Use: Roots
Uses: For excess sweating, chronic
fatigue, boosting the immune system and used with other herbs such as
As a Tincture: Use 1/2 teaspoon in some
water as a general tonic, to boost the immune system and for chronic
Caution: Don't take if you are on
Bilberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus) "Whortleberry", "Huckleberry"
Seen as a superfood as it has antioxidant
Europe and Asia
very acidic soils that are moist. Likes partial shade, although will
tolerate some sun. A small bush that grows 2 feet high and 2 feet wide. Harvest
the leaves in spring and the berries in late summer.
Parts to Use: Berries
and Leaves. Berries can be made into jams, pies, syrups, wine and
Uses: Excellent for improving eyesight
especially if used in combination with ginkgo, including macular
degeneration and glaucoma. It strengthens veins and capillaries, so
good for those suffering from varicose veins. Regulates
high blood sugar and urinary infections. Dried
berries can be used for diarrhea. Fresh
berries can be used for constipation.
As a Tea: For mouth ulcers, urinary infections, bed
wetting, reducing high sugar levels, treating late-onset of
diabetes.Use 1 teaspoon of dried leaves to 1 cup of boiling water.
Steep for 10 minutes.
Caution: Do not use the leaves in tea for more than 3
weeks at a time.
Eurasia and the Sweet Birch native to eastern North America.
moist, damp, forested areas. Harvest the sap in the spring, before the
buds and leaves appear.
Parts to Use: Bark,
leaves and sap
1) As a Sap: Birch sap is used for kidney stones, skin
conditions and rheumatism. Drink in spring as a tonic and for a good
detox. Tap the tree by drilling a small hole into the trunk with a tube
leading into a bottle tied to the tree. Collect the sap for no longer
than a week and plug the hole afterwards.
2) As a Tea: Using
the spring buds and leaves for gout, urinary infections, cystitis,
water retention. When cold it can be used directly on skin disorders
and eczema. Leaves can be used fresh or dry. Use 5 leaves per cup of
3) As an Oil: Steep
birch leaves in olive oil and use as a massage oil for cellulite. Birch
oil is used in commercial cellulite products.
Blackberry (Rubus Fruticosus)
but also found in Australia, New Zealand and North America
Grows: Wild in hedges in the countryside.
Harvest the leaves in summer and the berries when ripe.
Parts to Use: Berries
berries are used extensively in country wines, jams, jellies, pies
2) As a Poultice: Crushed blackberry
leaves can be used for boils
and small cuts and scratches on the skin. Ideal when you go blackberry
3) As a Tea: The
leaves are picked when they are young shoots in spring
and used fresh in tea as a tonic.
Dried leaves and unripe fruit can also be
used for treating diarrhea when made into
a tea, and can also be used
to treat mouth ulcers and gum disorders .
Use blackberry leaves for sore throats, colds and treating anemia.
Use 1 teaspoon dried leaves to
1 cup boiling water.
When cool, you can use blackberry tea as a skin lotion.
Blackcurrant (Ribes Nigrum)
A fruit that is high in
Native to Europe and Asia
plant that does well in full sun, in rich, well-drained soil. Grows to
5 feet and spreads just as wide. Harvest currants in the summer, and
leaves throughout the growing season.
Parts to Use:
Berries and Leaves
flu and sore throats. Also used for diarrhea and upset stomachs. Can be
made into jams, wine and cordial.
1) As Juice: Take small sips throughout
the day to treat upset stomachs and diarrhea.
2) As a Syrup: Make into a syrup for colds
As a Tea: 1-2 teaspoons
dried leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for colds, flu and
fever. Gargle for mouth ulcers and sore throats.
As a Tincture: Take
1 teaspoon leaf tincture in a little water, 3 times daily to bring down
high blood pressure.
in Mediterranea Areas and Asia
very easy herb to grow that self-seeds happily. Will grow in most soil
types. Harvest the leaves and flowers in the summer.
Parts to Use: Flowers,
Stress, skin rashes, eczema, arthritis, IBS, menstrual disorders.
1) As a Tincture:
Use 1 teaspoon, 3 times a day for combating stress. Discontinue after 3
2) As Seed Oil: Used
for IBS, menstrual disorders, arthritis and eczema.
Lappa) "Greater Burdock"
Burdock is a powerful blood purifier, and detoxing
herb, especially when used together with dandelion.
Native to Europe and Asia. Found in North America.
Grows: In moist, alkaline soil
in full sun, or partial shade. A biennial with purple thistle-like
flowers growing to 5 feet in height and spreading to 3 feet. Harvest
roots in spring and the leaves when the plant is just about to flower
Parts to Use:
Roots and Leaves
Uses : As a blood
purifier, diuretic, mild laxative, antibiotic, antiseptic, psoriaisis,
acne, boils, eczema, arthritis, prostate problems.
1) As a Poultice:
Crush the leaves and apply directly to the skin for problems, cuts and
burns. The leaves can also be heated and applied hot to boils and other
ailments where drawing out is required.
2) As a Decoction: Chop
1 oz fresh burdock root and dandelion root and simmer in 3 cups of
water for 20 minutes. Strain and drink throughout the day to treat
acne, psoriasis, eczema, and as a detox.
Use cold directly on the skin for acne, ringworm and athlete's foot.
As a Tincture:
Take 2 teaspoons of root tincture 3 times daily for arthritis
and kidney stones.
Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)
A self-seeding flower that likes full sun and a
well drained soil. Grows to height of nearly 2 feet.
Parts to Use:
Flowers and Leaves
Making soothing ointments
for insect bites, sunburn, scratches and burns.
Also use for ringworm, eczema, nappy rash, and sore nipples when breast
2) As a Tea:
1 teaspoon dried petals per 1 cup boiling water and allow to steep for
10 minutes to treat digestive disorders, including colitis. When cool
can be used as a douche for vaginal thrush. As a mouth wash for gum
3) As a Tincture: 1 teaspoon, 3 times a
day for painful periods and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Catnip is not just a good medicinal herb, but also loved by cats.
feet high and 2 feet wide. Grows in moist, well drained soil in full
sun. Harvest the aerial parts in the summer, just as the plant comes
Parts to Use:
Flowers, Leaves and Stems
1)As A Tea: 2 teaspoons dried leaves to 1 cup
of boiling water. Take 3 times a day for colds, flu and stomach upsets.
Safe to give to children if they are coming down with a sore throat.
Half does and safe to give to babies with colic.
2) As A Tincture:
Use a couple of teaspoons neat and rub onto areas affected with
Chickweed is not just good for feeding chickens. It is a herb that is
good for weightloss a well as cleansing the system, treating wounds and
Origin: Europe and Asia
moist soil in full sun and if allowed to grow unhindered can grow up to
2 feet in height. It has small smooth leaves, small star-like flowers
and small hairs on the stem.
Flowers, leaves and stems
Uses: As a spring tonic as it is full of
good vitamins and trace elements. Can be used in salads as well as a
tea or tincture.
1) As a Poultice:
Crush the leaves, stem and flowers and place directly onto the skin and
use as a poultice for bruises, cuts, boils, gout, insect bites, eczema,
sunburn or burns.
2) As a Tea: For
weightloss, body cleansing, rheumatism and urinary infections. Use 2
teaspoons chopped chickweed in 1 cup of water and use 3 times a week.
A plant that is often used as a coffee
substitute. The leaves can be
harvested anytime of year, however, the later after spring, the more
you have to boil the leaves and change the water several times to
render the plant bland as it can be quite bitter, otherwise.
Native to the Mediterranean. Introduced to North America, Europe and
Pretty cornflower blue flowers on tall stems that can grow up to 5 feet
high. Likes an alkaline soil that is moist and can grow in full sun.
Lift the roots in the second year in early spring. A plant that will
easily self-seed once established.
Parts Used: Roots,
1) As a Coffee
Substitute: You can make chicory coffee by digging the
plants and cutting off the
leaves. Peel the roots, slice them in thin strips and roast in a 250°
oven for about four hours. Grind the roasted roots and use one
teaspoon of ground root for each cup of water. Boil for about three
2) As a Tea:
2 teaspoons leaves to 1 cup boiling water, 3 times a day to aid
digestion. If you use fresh leaves after spring they can be bitter.
However, you can still use them by boiling them in water and changing
the water as many times as you like until you find them palatable.
3) As a Decoction: Take 2 teaspoons root
to 1 cup boiling water, 3 times a day as a liver tonic and to balance
good gastrointestinal flora.
* Chicory extract has been known to be a good for treating parasitic
worms in sheep and cattle.