Herbs for healing
Below is a series of articles written by medical herbalist and HKD member Sarah Furey.
For details of Sarah’s workshops and regular walks in the area visit her website at Sussex Medical Herbalist.
Herbs in January
January is the month I spend browsing through the seed catalogues and start dreaming about my herb garden! Some of my herbs have survived the freezing weather- namely the thyme, mints and lemon balm.
Mint is such an excellent remedy for the digestion- as a tea or in food. There are hundreds of different mints and at least two dozen wild species.
Hot mint tea will settle the stomach and is used for colic, nausea and vomiting. Put a couple of sprigs in a teapot with boiling water; cover and infuse for a few minutes before straining and drinking. A hot mint foot bath is good for tired achy feet and for sweaty feet too!
Lemon balm also makes an excellent tea, and if you are lucky you will find a few tiny leaves on the crown just ready to sprout. It is a herb that you can use for at least 8 months of the year. It makes a calming tea and will reduce anxiety and help sleep. I add both of these herbs to my morning smoothies.. a great way to start the day.
Boosting your immunity
When we spend more time indoors we need to look to boost our immune system . Although we may still get some of the viruses that are around, we can do a lot to make sure they do not become too serious.
We all know that eating fruit and veg is good for us but I wonder if people know why. All the purple orange and red fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids which improve the absorption of vitamin C. In fact, the best source is a good Chianti wine! Vitamin C as well as vitamin D E and A are all important for our immune system.
Garden thyme is a powerful anti bacterial herb and makes an excellent tea at the first sign of a sore throat. I combine this with licorice to soothe the throat and Echinacea. Another very simple cure is garlic in honey- put a sliced clove of garlic into half a jar of honey. Take a teaspoonful when starting a cold every couple of hours. You can add hot water if you want.
Garden herbs such as Calendula flowers and Lemon Balm will make a good immune boost tea. Add some elderberry syrup if you made some or rose hips which are still there for the picking.
Fight winter bugs with Ginger and Sage
Ginger is now a popular culinary herb but few people in this country are aware of its anti bacterial properties. Fresh ginger is an excellent winter remedy for tummy bugs, diarrhoea nausea and vomiting. (Also used to treat early morning sickness) It will also kill off parasites in the gut. It contains substances called phenols and volatile oils which have antibiotic properties
Make a tea with a few thin slices and chew the ginger afterwards if you can. Ginger will also increase blood circulation and is an excellent herb for cold hands and feet and hypothermia. An added bonus is that it increases brain activity and is an excellent’ wake up’ alternative to that first coffee.
Sage is another powerful antibacterial herb which, like ginger, has volatile oils that are antiseptics. Sage is an excellent herb for sore throats, laryngitis and tonsillitis. It is best made into a tea with one teaspoon of the herb to a cup of boiling water. Leave for 15 minutes to infuse, strain and use as a gargle or mouthwash before swallowing. Do note however, that unlike ginger it is cooling rather than heating which makes it invaluable for treating night sweats.
Plants to treat drug resistant bacteria GARLIC GINGER and SAGE
We are becoming increasingly aware that the over-use of antibiotics – once seen as the magic cure that made science declare war on bacteria- is leading to highly resistant strains of ‘super bugs’.
Unlike humans, who produce a new generation every twenty years or so, bacteria produce a new generation every 20 minutes- and multiply 500,000x faster than we do. As they do so they mutate and survive anti-biotics and many become even stronger, so the diseases they cause are more severe.
What can we do:
* Only take antibiotics if you really need to
* Maintain a healthy immune system so you will not get sick so easily
* Eat organic foods that have not been exposed to antibiotics
- * And most importantly, use herbs as antibiotic alternatives because they do not cause resistance to bacteria.
- Many herbs have strong antibiotic properties which equal and even surpass the power of antibiotics. The complex make up of plant constituents makes it nigh impossible for invading bacteria to develop a resistance.
An excellent example is garlic. It has at least 33 known sulphur compounds, 17 amino acids, and 10 others. This makes it practically impossible for bacteria to mimic. Raw garlic kills bacterial infections in the gut and lungs and research shows that it activates our immune system.
Most pharmaceuticals in contrast only have one constituent – eg penicillin has penicillin and tetracycline has tetracycline, making it very easy for the bacteria to learn how it works and mutate accordingly.One clove a day for prevention – honey will make it more palatable. Try three cloves a day in honey at the first signs of a sore throat or tummy upset. So risk being unpopular with family and friends or persuade them to take it too!