Health & Beauty Recipes > Herbal Medicine Part 1

PLEASE NOTE:

Although all the ingredients in these beauty recipes are natural, remember that it is still possible to be allergic to anything applied to the skin. DO NOT USE ANYTHING NUT BASED ON YOUR SKIN IF YOU HAVE A NUT ALLERGY. To test other ingredients make up a very small amount of the recipe you intend to use. Wash and gently dry a small patch of skin inside your elbow. Apply a little of the mix to the skin and leave for 48 hours. If you experience any redness or swelling DO NOT USE THE BEAUTY RECIPE AT ALL.

We strongly recommend that you do your own research before using any of the ingredients in these recipes since some ingredients should be avoided by certain groups of people. Mountain Rose Herbs' website has a wealth of information on herbs, their uses and possible side effects. Many essential oils and herbs should always be avoided by pregnant/nursing ladies. Always check with a qualified health advisor if in doubt.

Herbal Medicine Part 1:

Mountain Rose Herbs
Mountain Rose Herbs offers a wide range of dried herbs and spices.



The very earliest medicine was based on the use of plants, barks, berries and leaves. Various ingredients were made into poultices, syrups, drops and powders all to be administered for specific ailments. Some herbal remedies have been refined in modern times and are still commonly used in conventional medicines. It is not wise to suppose that herbal medicine has no side effects or dangerous interactions and anyone considering trying herbal remedies should consult a fully qualified herbalist.

In herbal medicine plants are valued for their medicinal constituents the names and properties of some of which are as follows:

Alkaloids

These substances contain nitrogen (originally named vegetable alkaloids). Caffeine is a very well known alkaloid. Alkaloids can have an effect on the respiratory, digestive, nervous and circulatory systems.

Anthraquinones

These are stimulants which act on the upper intestines and can be used (with care) to relieve constipation. Some anthraquinones are highly irritant.

Bitters

As the name suggest these substances taste bitter. They are said to stimulate the taste buds and thus the appetite.

Flavonoids

These occur in many different plants. Their actions are various. It is generally accepted that some support the action of vitamin c and some can help relieve spasm in muscles.

Mucilages

When used in medicine these constituents act in the same way as mucus in the body. Mucilages are a cellulose which when it absorbs water becomes a smooth gel.



Resins

Said to be anti-fungal and antiseptic, resins do not dissolve in water and are prepared as high alcohol tinctures.

Saponins

Saponins produce a sort of natural soap when added to water. They can help to loosen phlegm from the lungs by slightly irritating the stomach.

Sugars

Sugars are the stored energy sources found in plants.

Tannins

These can be used to form an external protective coating over enflamed tissues. They can calm over activity in the gut and are used as a styptic and anti-inflammatory externally.

Volatile Oils

These oils can be extracted from flowers, seeds or leaves and they give each plant its characteristic scent. Most oils have calming and antiseptic properties.

A good example of a plant used in herbal medicine is comfrey. Comfrey is generally recognised as a healing herb containing astringents, tannins and mucilage. It has been used for stomach ulcers (where tannins and mucilage are usual) and for bronchitis where it is said to have a healing and soothing action. Comfrey also contains allantoin which is used in herbal and traditional medicine to speed healing of wounds and even fractures. Comfrey is also called 'knitbone' and a poultice made from its root would dry so hard that it was used to support broken bones long before plaster casts were developed.

Fennel is an ancient and well-known remedy for indigestion. The plant contains high levels of volatile oils and also bitters. It is claimed that it stimulates a poor appetite and soothes the gut so ridding it of flatulence and its associated discomfort.

Witch Hazel is valued for its bark, twigs and leaves from which tannins, volatile oils and bitters are derived. As a clear aromatic liquid it calms and soothes cuts, bruises and acne and even has a styptic effect on cuts.

Thyme contains volatile oils, bitters, tannins and saponins in its leaves and flowers. Its antiseptic qualities are useful in mouthwashes and toothpaste and it can be taken to ease coughs and phlegm. It also has a beneficial effect on an irritated digestive tract.

See Herbal Medicine Part 2