Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Herbs, Teas, & More Herbs

I absolutely had to do this post. In a world that is ever so changing, people are turning more and more to an alternative way of looking at our surroundings. We've heard it all, seen it all. We are pro-organic, against MSG, hate preservatives, pro-low sodium, we take supplements, avoid products with hormones, no food dyes, and the list goes on and on. Many of us have actually attempted to avoid doctor visits, unless necessary, in order to build up our immune systems. Remember mrsa? Yup, it's still there. And we stock our bodies up on unnecessary antibiotics, because, "doc.....I really need to get over this cold...fast," a little bit of bug can linger, get stronger, and become resistant to antibiotics when we may really need them.... Hence, 'mrsa'. Anyway, this post is not about that bad bug, or any other kind, for the matter. It is actually about an alternative way to treat our minor illnesses or  minor infections. (Pay attention to the word 'minor'.) Like the list above, there are so many things we have to take into consideration now-a-days, that our parents, 20-30 years ago, did not have to. The world is changing, people are changing and some days, I like to think it's for the best. Whether it is due to my Eastern European roots, I love herbs and collecting them. Overall, I'm just a suburban girl who's trying to pass along good news. So.....the point of this? It is to give you a sneak peak into my cupboard of herbs that I feel are worth harvesting year after year.

I am going to tell you all a little bit of important information on these six amazing and garden worthy herbs. Starting in the upper left corner, these saucers will be 1-6 clock wise.
1. Stinging Nettle - This guy is avoided by so many and even considered bad to those who are unaware of its medicinal properties. Because it 'stings' and causes a short period of rash, many people regard it as unuseful. But......it is so good for soo many reasons. It kills the reproduction of bacteria and viruses, it promotes ulcer healing, and helps eliminate allergies. For these reasons, colds and respiratory infections can be helped. But too much can be a bad thing. It can cause your stool to darken with overuse and may increase blood pressure with some. Another interesting thing is that in the old country, it is believed by elderly, that if you pick this 'stinging' plant with your hands, it can help rheumatoid arthritis. Now, try to sit on that thought:) There have been no medical links to the next statement, but through 'word', people are saying he helps with fighting cancer. I really, really, really want to believe this. Wouldn't that be wonderful?
Number 2. Chamomile - This beautiful and fragrant plant is pretty common. It is so much more pleasurable to pick these flowers and dry them yourself rather than purchase them in a cardboard box. Chamomile is known in the herb world as having healing properties for heartburn, stomach aches, and topically, for skin issues. A chamomile rinse helps with psoriasis and eczema. Mix this mighty flower with mint to make a sedative tea or great sleep aid.  Interesting thing, the white petals are useless. It's the yellow, pollen filled center that counts. Anyone ever try chamomile honey? I bet it's great!
3. Mint - Wow, wow, and more wows! Is there anything it's not good for is the question? Here it goes: IBS, cramps, motion sickness, sleep aid, anxiety, respiratory infections with wheezing, coughing, fungal infections, and can even be mixed with oil for an amazing chest rub. (And it spreads like wild in the garden!)
 4. Common Yarrow - (Don't forget this is clockwise so we're under the mint.) This beautiful flower will grow in any soil and may even take over your flower garden. Use this as a topical for wounds, cuts, and minor abrasions. It promotes healing and fights infections. It also promotes sweating by creating increased blood circulation. For this reason, we say it is good for colds. For the flu or common cold, it is recommended to be mix with mint as a tea.
5.  Linden Tree - Not only is this tree beautiful, but it has such great qualities. The linden tree buds are great for headaches, migraines, increasing bile production, and reduces blood pressure. Create an essential oil and you can treat blemishes!
6.  St. John's Wort - Yup....I know you got this one. It is known as the OTC herb that treats depression and anxiety. But....it's also good for helping diminish signs and symptoms of Parkinson's, treating gram negative bacteria, and promotes healthy elimination of toxins by cleaning our kidneys and liver. If you already take prescription anti-depressants, you should NOT be drinking this tea. My family has used it as an essential oil in treating minor skin infection and burns. Simply take the flower buds into a clear jar and pour in olive oil. Let it sit on a window sill IN direct sunlight for about 3 weeks. Your oil should turn a beautiful clear pinkish rose color. I love it!
Now, no herbs should be taken in place of medications or without a doctors approval. And.....your doctor should ALWAYS be aware of what herbs you do take. Herbs are medications in natural form. I posted this not to stop someone from going to the MD, but to remind them to use all that's available prior to getting really sick. So...next time your having a hard time falling asleep and your really stressed....you may not need Ambien. Start off first with cup of chamomile tea. And.....most importantly these herbs are used in this home, as teas or essential oils. That means 1 teaspoon or less of herb per 1 large cup of boiled water. We do not use them daily as that would result in ineffectiveness of the product at hand. We use it as needed. I feel a cold coming on and am starting to cough.....time to make some tea. Last but not least I want to send my mom & dad a big thanks in this post. It is because of them that I have the love I do for gardening and herbs. For all that they have taught me and for all that they continue to inspire. I truly love them.
Now.....time for me to work on going organic with shampoo......or should I say, baking soda and water. This one might be hard:) Hope you enjoyed!

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