Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Today, I want to talk a little about some of the specific herbs I mentioned yesterday.
I want to start with Chamomile, also sometimes spelled as Camomile. There are several types, Roman Chamomile and German Chamomile are the most common. The two types are actually unrelated, but have very similar properties, so I won't say much more about their differences. The flower is the part used to prepare herbal remedies and teas.

Chamomile is one of the most widely used herbs, and has a long history of traditional uses.
It is commonly used for all manner of problems related to digestion, such as upset stomach and indigestion, and was reputed to help treat ulcers (recent research seems to bear this out, it seemed to prevent formation of stress induced ulcers, and inhibit formation of ulcers caused by drugs and alcohol). If you suspect you have ulcers, you should be under a doctors care, and use herbal remedies only after discussing them with your doctor.

Chamomile has also been used as a nerve tonic, said to both relax and tonify the nervous system. It definitely has a calming effect and a mild sedative action, and has been widely used as a sleep aid, and as a remedy for anxiety.

Chamomile also has some antispasmodic effect, and has been used for menstrual cramps, back pain and intestinal griping.

Chamomile added to bath water is said to help calm irritable or hyperactive children. Chamomile tea is also applied to the gums to help with teething pain.

A compress made from chamomile is applied to wounds and burns, and is said to speed healing.

Chamomile has also shown a mild antimicrobial action.

Chamomile has also been used as a rinse for blonde hair, and brings out highlights.

Chamomile is a very safe herb, even for children. One major caution is for people who have allergies to ragweed, asters, or chrysanthemums; you may experience similar reactions to Chamomile, as these are related plants.

The second herbal remedy I'd like to talk about is also very common, but generally dismissed as a useless weed, even though it has been used as a medicinal plant for more than 1000 years.

This plant is the common Dandelion.

Both the roots and the leaves of the Dandelion are used as herbal remedies. If you wish to gather your own plants, be sure you know whether the area has been treated with pesticides, herbicides or any other potentially toxic substances, before using any herbs gathered locally.

Dandelion leaves have traditionally been used as a spring tonic, and are a very effective diuretic. (A diuretic is something that increases urine output, in simpler terms, it makes you pee.) Dandelion leaves are rich in potassium, which is often depleted by diuretics.

Dandelion root also has some diuretic effect, and is also highly regarded as a liver tonic, and has been traditionally used to treat hepatitis, current research seems to support this use. (If you suspect you have hepatitis, you should be under a doctor's care). Dandelion strongly stimulates the flow of bile (a liver secretion, stored in the gall bladder, which helps digest fats), increasing the flow by up to 50%. Dandelion both stimulates the liver to produce more bile, and stimulates the flow of bile from the gall bladder.

Dandelion has also been used traditionally to promote good digestion, and may help lower cholesterol; it is also widely considered a blood purifier.

Both herbs I talked about today are quite safe for most people, with long histories of use as traditional remedies and very few problems with side effects. They are a good starting place to
begin using herbs.

More coming...

The material presented in this blog is for informational use only and should in no way be used as a substitute for needed medical treatment. I am not a doctor, I do not diagnose or treat disease. If you need medical care, please consult the appropriate medical professional. And please discuss with your doctor if you are taking or planning to take any herbal preparations.

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