Before we get into the meat of this most wonderful subject of herbal remedies let me just say that this information in not intended to diagnose and treat you. It is an introduction to herbs, their properties, uses and tips on how they are used.
I am in no way, shape or form an herbalist or medical professional so I cannot prescribe anything for you. I can give ideas and knowledge but it is best to check with your doctor about your health and what he believes is safe for you.
If you choose to use herbs for any reason then know that taking anything into your body can make you sick, especially if you take it incorrectly, as in too much, too often or the wrong herb. Some herbs you cannot take with prescriptions or alcohol, or if you have a certain disease, pregnant, an infant. Just because they are natural does not mean they are all good for you.
When I decided to start this site, and I have been planning it for years, I wanted to give you good and solid information. I wanted to teach you what herbs are and how to use them to better your life. This will be an ongoing process that I promise to work hard on and to give you the best content possible.
Herbs are not just something that you go to the store and buy and use. They are so much more than that! Herbs are known to have a variety of uses that are generally categorized as: medicinal (makes and keeps you healthy), culinary (used for taste in cooking) and spiritual (used to enhance your spiritual connection.)
Herb is defined by the free dictionary as “A plant whose stem does not produce woody, persistent tissue and generally dies back at the end of each growing season.” In medicinal and spiritual use any or all the parts of the plant are used as the herb; the leaf, root, flower, seed, resin, root bark, inner bark, berries.
Herb plants grow three ways
- perennial - you plant these once and they return each spring. Some herbs: sage, oregano, chives
- annual - plant at the beginning of each season of growth. A lot of the time depending on where you are, you will want to plant in small containers inside then move them outdoors when the time is ready for them. Some herbs: basil, mint, savory and cilantro
- biannual - needs two seasons to complete its life cycle. Plant in the late spring, the first year will give you leaves and the second flowers and seeds, stagger the planting so you always have mature plants.Some herbs: parsley, angelica and caraway
- General Herbs-Western and European
- Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine (TAM)
- Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Herb Delivery System
There are many different ways that an herb can be taken and the most common are: crude herbs, powders, dried decoctions, tinctures, capsules, gel-caps, salves, oils and teas.
- Crude herbs are just like they sound. The herbs are harvested or collected, dried, cut and sifted. Generally they are brewed up into teas.
- Powdered herbs are nothing more than ground up crude herbs. They do not last as long in this form and are used for teas or drinks.
- Teas are made with water. if you do the infusion method, you bring water to a light boil, turn off the heat, toss in the herbs and steep for a few minutes or longer. Sun tea is made this way by putting tea into a container with a good seal and setting it out into the sunlight til done. Decoction is when you steep herbs in water for ten minutes up to one hour.
- Tinctures are made by using a solution that draws out the best of the herb while soaking. Alcohol is common for this task. Tinctures are easy to digest and absorb. There are some herbs that only can be taken in this form. When looking at a bottle of tincture you will see a ratio normally given. The first number is the amount of herb to the amount of liquid used, so 1/2 is stronger than 1/10
- Extracts-come in liquid or solid and are generally 2-100 times stronger than crude herbs.
- Capsules- herbs in powder form or dried decoctions and extracts are put in a gelatin capsule for ease of taking.
- Tablets- same ingredients as the capsule but a binding substance is added and they are made into a tablet form by a machine.
- Gel-caps- Completely sealed capsules that have tinctures or extracts inside.
Actions Herbs can have on your body.
- Diuretic- They will help your kidneys excrete urine and waste products to leave your body
- Adaptogens-Bring balance to your body
- Amphoterics-They function on different organs in your body and will bring a normalcy if you are hyper or hypo.
- Expectorants – Help you cough up the bad things in your lungs and upper respiratory tract
- Emollients – Apply to your skin to soften and soothe
- Antimicrobials – These reduce bacteria, fungus and viruses
- Demulcents – Taken orally to soothe and protect inflamed or damaged tissues
- Aphrodisiacs- Stimulate sexual good feeling, desire and need
- Antiseptic – You use these on your skin to inhibit the growth of bacteria
- Alteratives - These herbs will help you eliminate waste via the kidneys, skin, lymphatics, lungs, large intestines and liver.
- Emmenagogues- Helps to promote menstruation
- Hemostatic - Help you stop bleeding
- Stimulants – Increase your mental activity and your metabolism
- Nervines – Calm and soothe emotions and your nervous system
- Laxative - Encourage your system to have a bowel movement. There are two kinds on stimulates you to go and the other adds water and bulk to make it easier to go.
- Tonics – Strengthen your immune system making it easier to fight off infection and they tone up and give energy in a general over all feeling.
People who study herbs identify the flavors and tag them as acting certain ways in the body. The following is a list of herbs with their tastes.
Sweet herbs nourish, moisten and heal the tissues and strengthen physical energy. They would be used if you are weak or sickly.
Bitter herbs stimulate you to eat more and help increase the motion of digestion. They also are used for drying tissues in that they reduce secretions, inflammation
Sour herbs heat and warm the body and give strength to the digestive process.
Pungent herbs warm the body, increase your appetite and stimulate the senses
Salty herbs will give you a better appetite, help with digestion and dissolve blockages. They also help to moisten the bodies tissues
Astringent herbs give strength and healing to tissues, decrease your digestion, slow bodily functions like urine output and bowel movements. They also help bleeding stop.
This is an ongoing process that will take years to get out all the information I want to, so please check back often