The term ‘herb’ includes any plant whose roots, stems, leaves, flowers or fruit is used to flavourfood, as medicine or for scent.
Herbal medicine is holistic in its approach:it aims to treat tthe underlying causes of illness as well as the actual symptoms. Herbs have always played a role in the physical and emotonal health and wellbeing of people, and many well-known herbs have a direct medicinal action, with antiseptic,antibacterial qualities.
Taken as a regular part of the diet, sprinkled over food or taken as herbal teas and decoctions, herbs can help to ward off illness, promote health and cure mnor ailments. Other herbs have uplifting scents that promote a feeling of renewed energy when used externally in oilments, inhalations, essential oils, compresses and poultices.
You don’t necessarily have to be ill to enjoy the benefits of a herbal brew, since many can be enjoyed as a refreshing drink at any time of the day.
-Herbal teas:they can be drunk as caffeine-free alternatives to ordinary tea and coffee
-Herbal decoctions:Infusing herbs in boiling water is not enough to extract the constituents from roots or bark, such as valerian or licorice. Herder plant material needs to be boiled, and the resulting liquid is called a decoction. Always use a stainless steel, glass or enamel pan, when preparing herbal remedies.
-Herbal tinctures: A tincture is a medicianal extract ina solution of alcohol and water. Take it diluted in a little water or friut juice, but do not exceed 5ml/1 tsp, 3 or 4 times a da. Alternatively, use it externally , by adding it to liniments and compresses.
–Essential oils: These are most commonly associated with aromatherapy, but they have a number of beneficial uses.
Using a burner:Burning essential oils perfumes the air and creates an inner sense of wellbeing.
Inhalation: Fill a bowl with steming water and add a few drops of essential oil. Lean over the bowl with a clean towel covering your head and the bowl and breath in through your nostrils.
In the bath: Relax in a scented bath and enjoy the soothing benefits of an essential oil. Dilute no more than 10 drops in a vegetable oil carrier, then add the mixture to your bath.
-Herbal oils:Use these cold-infused oils in massage,as bath oils or for conditioning the hair and the skin. When a herb is steeped in oil, the aroma of the herb, as well as its essential oils, permeate the liquid.
-Herbal ointments: An oilment contains oils or fats, but not water and is useful to form a protective layer over the skin. For a natural method use a vegetable oil such as sweet almond or sunflower, with beewax. This is easy to make at home.
–Herbal creams: Moisturizing cream preventsdrynessof the skin,keeps wrinkles at bay and protects your skin from the weather. Making an organic cream is very similar to making an oilment, again using beewax. Keep the cream in a cool place away from direct sunlight, and preferably in a dark glass or china pot.
-Herbal poultices: Mashed herbs form the basis of a poultice. Its main purpose is to aid the healing of bruises, sprins and sores. Poultices are applied direct to the skin, either hot or cold. Hot poultices help sprains, while cold help inflammations.
-Herbal compresses: A herbal compress is a length of fabric that is applied to the skin after it has been dipped into a herbal infusion. Compresses are gentle remedies that can be used for many different complaints from headaches to period pains.
-Morning-after tea: Vervain is bitter and lavender aids digestion;both lifts the spirits.Ingredients: 5 ml/1 tsp dried vervain, 2.5ml/1/2tsp lavender flowers, 600ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cups of water.
Bring the water to the boil and add the herbs. Cover the pan of boililentng water to retain the volatile oils, and remove from the heat. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten with a little honey. Sip a cup of this tea slowly.
– Drink plenty of water to flush ling watethrough your body and take extra vitamin C. A cup of boiling water with a slice of lemon in it, or freshly squeezed lemon juice will give the liver a boost.
Herbal insomnia remedies: Make these herbs into tinctures or use the dried herb tucked under your pillow. Chamomile, hyssop, lavender, lime ns. Oblossom, lemon balm, violet, passionflower, valerian.
Burns and sunburn:Aloe vera is an excellent first-aid treatment for burn. Open a couleaf and spread the gel directly onto the burn. You could also try infusions of elderflower, rose, chamomile, lavender and tea tree.Do not use concentrated essential oil on your skin. Dilute it by adding 2 drops of oil to 200ml /4tsp of grapeseed or almond oil.