Thursday, April 23, 2009

Homestead Herbal Medicine Cabinet

Is Big Pharma controlling your health? Is your government regulating your access to traditional herbal medicines -- prohibiting the sale of supplements or placing undue onus of proof on their manufacture. Do you know what natural herbs can benefit your particular health challenges?

(Usual disclaimer: I'm not suggesting you stop taking your prescription medicines or stop seeing your GP or specialist. Herbs are not a substitute for prescriptions in serious health issues. However, before you grab the antibiotics or analgesics do your research.)

You can take back your control by making your own herbal medicines. First take some basic books out of your local library or get them through interlibrary loan:

Some that I use are:
"The complete illustrated Holistic Herbal" by David Hoffman

"The complete family guide to Natural Home Remedies" Edited by Karen Sullivan

"The complete Herbal Handbook for farm and Stable" by Juliette de Bairacli Levy

These books will describe the herbs, and have good colour pictures to allow you to correctly identify the herbs -- very important -- don't harvest any wild herbs without making a very definite identification. These books also give directions for time of harvest and preparation of herb for medicinal use.

Some herbal preparations are more effective than chemical medicine.

Some herbs that should be in every homesteaders herbal medicine cabinet:

Fresh garlic in clove form -- garlic reduces blood pressure, is antitumour, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial -- it should be eaten fresh for full affect. Expels worms and repels flies and mosquitos by making the host unhospitable to parasites.

If you are growing your own garlic, store it at room temperature in a garlic braid and it will last a year -- if you break it off from the braid it will last about 3 months.

St. John's Wort -- flowers are picked when just open and soaked in vodka or vinegar for 1 week. Vodka will turn deep red. To use take 1 tsp. of tincture in a 1/4 cup H2O. Used daily for mild to moderate depression, pain reliever, sleep aid. Effective for nerve pain or pain caused by bone breaks. Nervine. A massage oil can be made by soaking the flowers in olive oil, instead of vodka.

Yarrow -- dried flowers and leaves can be used as tea. Yarrow is a tonic and immune enhancer and is useful for colds or the flu. Stimulant without caffeine.

Willow bark -- can be used as a pain reliever and anti inflammatory. Make a tea from the bark. Make a basket from the striped stalks.

Balm of Gilead -- cotton wood buds steeped in olive oil. Strongly scented analgesic for muscle or arthritic pain. Healing of wounds. Works well on deep bone pain.

Oregano -- antiviral, antibacterial herb. Use generously in cooking or use oil of oregano as a supplement, to be taken at the first sign of a cold.

Lavendar -- antiviral, anti inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, make a tea from dried flower buds or use the essential oil.

Tea Tree Oil -- use the essential oil -- antiviral, anti inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial -- we used this straight on wounds to prevent infection, and on mouth absesses. Effective for mastitis when rubbed on the udder -- penetrates through the skin surface to the mammary tissue.

Peppermint -- use the dried leaves as a tea -- antispasmodic, aids digestion, antibacterial, antifungal, aids the removal of gas, stimulates without caffeine.

Activated Charcoal -- use for fast antidote to poisoning or for bloat in ruminant animals. Dose with charcoal mixed in water and force feed -- being careful not to get it in the lungs.

This list is only a few of the standard herbs that we use at Joybilee Farm -- for our animals and for ourselves.

More coming next time.

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