Best Natural Alternatives Infusion – Complete Guide Home Remedies
Remember to always consult your doctor before using any alternative or home remedies. These treatments are not intended or recommended for use to treat serious conditions.
After washing, rinse the skin with an infusion of chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) which is purifying, yarrow (Achillea millefolium) which helps eliminate toxins, catnip (Nepeta cataria) which is antiseptic, lavender (Lavandula sp) which is calming and antiseptic or thyme (Thymus vulgaris) which is a strong germ-killer. Dab spots with neat lemon juice to kill germs, cool inflammation, and improve blood circulation. Apply a calendula ointment to reduce inflammation and improve local healing. Consider your diet and cut out sugars, fats, and dairy products.
Caraway (Carum carvi) and ginseng (Panax ginseng) are powerful appetite stimulants, and a standard infusion of either can be drunk half an hour before a meal or whenever desired. Herbalists have had some success with both herbs in treating serious cases of anorexia nervosa. Hore-hound (Marrubium vulgare) tea, 1 cup (225 ml) taken three times a day, will stimulate the appetite after the flu.
To stimulate the flow of milk, a standard infusion of the leaves and seed of borage (Borago officinalis), dill seed, aniseed, and fennel seed three times a day can help. A decoction of fenugreek seed is a strong stimulant. Simmer 1 1/2 tsp (8ml) seed in 1 cup (225 ml) water for 10 minutes and drink three times a day. A tsp (5 ml) aniseed or honey will improve the taste. Another powerful stimulant is found in the flowering top of goat’s rue (Galega officinalis): increases in milk flow of up to 50 percent have been recorded. Infuse 1 tsp (5 ml) dried leaves in 1 cup (225 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes and drink twice a day.
Bruises and Sprains
Apply distilled witch hazel (purchased from a chemist) with sterile cotton wool as soon as possible to small bumps and bruises. This will halt the swelling. Comfrey oil or ointment is good for messy scrapes, bruises, and sprains. A poultice of comfrey leaves (Symphytum officinale) will reduce bruising and speed healing of sprains and fractures. It’s best not used on deep wounds, as comfrey is such a powerful tissue healer that the surface skin may heal before the wound has healed deeper down. Comfrey also encourages the good formation of scar tissue. Both a lotion of St John’s wort (Hypericum perforalum) and arnica (Arnica montana) ointment is excellent for sprains and bruises, especially if there is any pain or inflammation of the skin. Caution: Do not use arnica where the skin is broken. An ointment of calendula petals, agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), or elder leaves (Sombucus nigra) is soothing and healing for bruises, sprains, and other minor wounds.
Immediately apply the cool inside surface of an aloe vera leaf to reduce pain, speed healing, and leave a protective seal against infection. Later, apply calendula as a cool compress or ointment to soothe and heal. Major burns are an emergency: summon professional help at once. Cool the burn with cool (not ice-cold) water while waiting, and give the patient 6 drops Bach Flower Rescue Remedy and reassure him.
Chilblains and cold limbs
To warm hands and feet, massage gently with warmed macerated oil of honeysuckle flowers (Lonicera caprifolium). This will bring an increased flow of blood to the surface skin. For a foot, bath to improve the circulation of cold feet and help chilblains, which are caused by poor circulation, use an infusion of 1 tbsp (15 ml) freshly ground mustard seed to 4 pints (2 liters) water. Cayenne seed powder is also a powerful stimulant to the circulatory system and helps blood flow to the extremities. In an ointment, it can be used in moderation for unbroken chilblains. Elder leaf (Sambucus nigra) ointment is useful for chilblains. Heat 1 part fresh leaves with 2 parts of petroleum jelly until the leaves are crisp. Strain and label for storage. To improve bad circulation, drink rosehip or horsetail (Equisetum arvense) or buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) tea daily to strengthen small capillaries. Some spices and strongly flavored herbs, such as black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, freshly grated root ginger, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme, improve circulation. Include them frequently in your diet, especially in the winter months.
Colds and fevers
To protect against colds, eat or take the juice of a raw clove of garlic three times a day. Essential oils are very efficient at destroying harmful bacteria and viruses. They can also be used in steam inhalants or as a room spray. Rosehip tea, said to be high in vitamin C, can be used to build resistance to colds and other infections. Cayenne powder is also excellent at warding off colds as it strengthens and stimulates the circulatory and digestive system. Infuse 1/2 – 1 tsp (3 —5 ml) cayenne powder in 1 cup (225 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and take 1 tbsp (15 ml) of this mixture topped up with hot water when needed or before each meal. At the first sign of a cold, take a mixture of elderflower (Sambucus nigra), peppermint (Mentha piperita) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Infuse 1/2 tsp (3 ml) of each together in 1 cup (225 ml) boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain, add 1 tsp (5 ml) honey, and 1/4 tsp (2ml) cayenne pepper. This should decrease the intensity and the discomfort of a cold or flu. If the mixture benefits you, the herbs are worth storing as a dried blend for winter use. Another remedy to take at the earliest possible moment is 9 small horehound leaves (Marrubium vulgare) chopped finely and eaten raw with 1 tbsp (15 ml) honey. Repeat as necessary. To fight colds and flu, take hot lemon and honey as often as desired as lemon has antibacterial properties. Take frequent hot drinks of elderflower (Sambucus nigra), peppermint (Mentha piperita), or yarrow (Achillea millefolium) tea to promote perspiration and to reduce the temperature. Elderflower is also useful for reducing any nasal inflammation from catarrh. If this is accompanied by a penetrating chill, add grated root ginger or cayenne. Black pepper sprinkled over food also has a restorative effect, or you could take an infusion of mustard seed, 1/4 tsp (2ml) powder infused for 5 minutes in 1 cup (225 ml) boiling water, three times a day, or add 4 pints (2 liters) of mustard infusion to bathwater. For catarrh and flu, goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) is good because it is antiseptic, expels catarrh, and soothes inflammation. Infuse 2 tsp (10ml) dried flowering stalks in 1 cup (225 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes and drink a cup (225 ml) three times a day. Goldenseal root (Hydrastis Canadensis) is also excellent for its healing and tonic powers on the mucous membranes. Drink an infusion of 1/5 – 1 tsp (3—5ml) of powdered root in 1 cup (225 ml) boiling water three times a day. Do not take this during pregnancy. You can also try a hot infusion of borage (Borago officinalis), coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), comfrey (Symphytum officinale), or ground ivy (Glecoma hederacea) to relieve catarrh. Relieve stuffiness by inhaling the vapors from a steam bath of chamomile flowers (Matricaria recutita) or eucalyptus leaves (Eucalyptus globulus). A pinch of basil taken as snuff can bring back your sense of smell. When your temperature has returned to normal, drink a warm infusion of clivers (Galium aparine) three times a day to continue a mild perspiration action, help prevent gastric disturbance, and promote restful sleep. Begin taking vegetable juices and progress to homemade vegetable soup, fresh fruit, and salads. Reintroduce heavier foods slowly to avoid overloading the digestive system when it is still vulnerable. Horehound tea restores an appetite that may need stimulating after flu. If lethargy or depression follows, take lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) or vervain (Verbena Officinalis) tea. If this persists after a few days, seek professional advice.
The first choice for children is dill water. If you anticipate digestive discomfort, try giving the baby a teaspoonful before she or he feeds. Otherwise, give a teaspoonful as required.
Long-term constipation, or any unusual changes in bowel habits, should be discussed with a medical herbalist or doctor. Roughage in the diet and regular exercise are important for healthy functioning bowels, while tension and emotional worries can contribute to constipation. Herbs can be used for short-term relief but underlying causes should be addressed. Syrup of figs is a valuable remedy, taken as required. An infusion of crushed flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) has a purgative action which brings relief: drink 1 cup (225 ml) morning and evening. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a mild and pleasant laxative. Chew root as desired or make a decoction of 1 tsp (5 ml) root in 1 cup (225 ml) water and take three times a day. Stewed rhubarb in moderate doses is a gentle laxative for children; large doses cause a more powerful reaction. Rosehip tea is also a mild laxative. Use a decoction or infusion with halved hips, but strain through filter paper to remove the seeds and tiny hairs which are an irritant to the body. Drink whenever necessary.
To fight bronchial infections, eat raw garlic cloves for their strong antibiotic content. To help dispel fluid and mucus from the lungs and air passages, horehound (Marrubium vulgare) is the first choice. Drink a hot standard infusion three times a day. Another important herb in the treatment of lung problems, coughs and colds, and asthma is coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara). An infusion of the leaves and flowers will soothe the bronchi, encourage tissue healing, and protect the delicate mucous membranes from further irritations. To ease cough spasms and help expel mucus, make cowslip flower (Primula veris) syrup or decoct cowslip root, simmering for 5 minutes, and drink 1 cup (225 ml) three times a day. It can be combined with coltsfoot and aniseed (Pimpinella anisum). Aniseed has an expectorant action and can also help make cough mixture more palatable. For an irritating bronchial cough with a great deal of catarrh, the expectorant, antiseptic action of elecampane root (Inula helenium) along with the soothing effect of its mucilage makes it an excellent remedy, especially for children. Infuse 1 tsp (5 ml) shredded root in 1 cup (225 ml) cold water for 9 hours. Drink it hot three times a day. An irritating cough can also be soothed by an infusion of powdered marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis). It combines well with horehound (Marrubium vulgare) and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). For dry coughs, combine coltsfoot with horehound and mullein (Verbascum thapsus). To reduce catarrh in the lungs, apply a poultice of freshly ground mustard seed. Mix 4oz (110 g) seeds with warm water to make a thick paste. Apply the paste between two pieces of gauze with the bottom piece dampened so that it does not stick to the skin. Leave for one minute only. If the skin is reddened, massage with an appropriate aromatherapy oil or any vegetable oil. Flaxseed can be used with mustard to help reduce lung catarrh. A tea of plantain leaves (Plantago major) is a gentle expectorant and the herb is widely cultivated by Russian pharmaceutical companies. A standard infusion of star anise (Illicium verum) has expectorant and antibacterial properties. It mixes well with other cough remedies.
Cuts and abrasions
First clean the cut by soaking in witch hazel diluted with 4 parts, water, or an antiseptic herbal infusion; elder leaves (Sombucus nigra) are excellent. A speedy alternative is to add 3 drops thyme or rosemary essential oil or 1 tsp (3 ml) tincture of calendula to 1 cup (225 ml) hand-hot, boiled water. The antiseptic wash can also be gently swabbed on with a series of sterile cotton wool balls. A dose of 4 drops Bach Flower Rescue Remedy has a calming effect, while an infusion of lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) can be applied as a compress to arrest bleeding. For slow-healing wounds, apply a compress or poultice of comfrey (Symphytum offidnale), self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) or yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Add plantain leaves (Plantago major) for their antibiotic properties. If applying a poultice to an open wound, dip leaves briefly in boiling water to sterilize them. To continue treatment, a soft ointment of comfrey, calendula, or agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) is soothing and healing.
Drink a standard infusion of silver birch leaves (Betula pendula) against cystitis and other infections of the urinary tract, and to remove excess water from the system. It can be combined with bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). A decoction of sweet Joe Pye root (Eupatorium purpureum), drunk three times a day, is helpful for urinary infections including cystitis. A standard infusion of yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is antiseptic to the urinary tract and assists recovery from cystitis.
A lavender flower infusion, taken three times a day, can be effective in clearing depression especially combined with rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). Rosemary is useful if your depression results from psychological tension or if you are feeling rundown after an illness. Drink a standard infusion. It also combines well with a skullcap. Take a standard infusion of vervain (Verbena officinalis) to ease depression and melancholy which may follow flu. It also combines well with a skullcap.
Sudden, painful diarrhea and chronic diarrhea needs expert medical attention. Other cases are often the body’s way of attempting to dump toxic material as fast as possible. Most herbal remedies attempt to assist this action while soothing the bowel and reducing inflammation. Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) has a gentle action that soothes inflamed mucous membranes. Drink an infusion three times daily. The same dose can be taken of agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) and coriander seed infusion.
Always seek the advice of a trained medical practitioner for persistent children’s diarrhea. A standard agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) infusion is a specific herbal remedy for childhood diarrhea, as is a decoction of bistort root (Polygonum bistorta). Either can be drunk, 1 cup (225 ml) three times a day. An infusion of coriander also eases diarrhea safely for children. Use 1 tsp (5 ml) bruised seed infused for 5 minutes and drink before meals or three times a day.
Most flavoring and seasoning herbs stimulate the flow of digestive juices in the stomach and intestine, and this increases the efficiency with which fats are broken down into fatty acids and nutrients are absorbed by the body. Classic herb partnerships reflect this benevolent fact: rosemary helps the digestion of fatty lamb, fennel assists the digestion of oily fish and horseradish aids the digestion of beef. Many of the aromatic seeds are useful digestives. Take 1 tbsp (15 ml) ground aniseed boiled in 1 cup (225 ml) milk and drink this twice a day to improve the digestive system. Cardamom increases the flow of saliva and adds a pleasing aroma to digestive mixtures. Take 1 cup (225 ml) of infusion half an hour before each meal. Hot peppermint tea can be taken after a meal. A dish of digestive herbs including aniseed, caraway, dill, and fennel seed is sometimes offered at the end of an Indian meal and greatly assists the body to digest rich foods. If there is persistent or severe pain with digestion, consult a medical herbalist or doctor; if there are regular difficulties with indigestion not caused by disease, then rushed eating, an unbalanced diet, or tension may be the cause, and it is sensible to consider solutions to these while taking herbs to alleviate the problem.
Eardrops made from a weak infusion of golden-seal (Hydrastis canadensis) soothe earache. Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) can be added to the infusion. Where catarrh of the middle ear is causing tinnitus, an infusion of ground ivy (Glecomu hederacea) flowering stems is helpful.
Eczema, rashes, and itchy skin
Make a weak infusion of the golden-seal root (Hydrastis canadensis) and use externally as a wash or compress for eczema and itchy skin. The expressed juice of chickweed (Stellaria media) will soothe sores or itchy patches from eczema or psoriasis and will tone and invigorate the skin, while a poultice of crushed flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) brings relief to shingles and psoriasis. For children’s eczema and nervous eczema, nettle (Urtica dioica) is specifically recommended by herbalists. Drink an infusion three times a day. For weeping eczema, drink an infusion of the flowering tops of the heartsease (Viola tricolor) three times a day. It combines well with nettle and red clover (Trifolium pretense). Comfrey oil often brings relief from patches of itchy rough skin and evening primrose oil can help.
Seeds of aniseed, caraway or fennel are all effective at expelling wind but even more so in combination. Infuse crushed mixed seed and drink a cup (225 ml) slowly 30 minutes before each meal. Many spice seeds help disperse wind; cloves or allspice can be chewed or infused as often as desired. Black pepper sprinkled on food removes wind. Infusions of root ginger, cardamom, and coriander have pleasant aromas and relieve griping pains of wind. Star anise (Illicium verum) dispels wind and is often included with dill and fennel seed in colic preparations for young babies. Take a standard infusion three times a day. Lemon balm (Melissa offidnalis) relieves flatulent spasms, and a dose of 1/4 – 1/2 tsp (1—3 ml) powdered angelica root (Angelica archangelica) will quickly expel gas from the stomach and bowel with a gentle action that is safe for children.
Combine 25 drops of rosemary oil, 25 drops of lavender oil, 13 drops of geranium (Pelargonium) essential oil, and 12 drops of eucalyptus oil in 3 fl oz (75 ml) vegetable oil. Divide the hair into small sections and saturate each section with the mixture down to the roots. Pile long hair on top of the head ensuring that every bit is oiled. Wrap plastic around the head and behind the ears to stop the oils from evaporating. Make sure that small children cannot move the plastic anywhere near the nose or mouth and restrict breathing. Leave it on for 2 hours. Remove the plastic, add shampoo and rub in well, rinse thoroughly and comb through with a fine nit-comb. Repeat three days later.
The first choice for mild hemorrhoids is pilewort or lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria). It shrinks and soothes the swollen veins around the anus. Drink a standard infusion of the root or apply an ointment made with a strong infusion. For bleeding hemorrhoids, apply an ointment of self-heal (Prunella vulgaris). An infusion of horse chestnut fruits (Aesculus hippocastanum) drunk three times a day or applied as a compress will tone and strengthen veins and help heal hemorrhoids.
Lemon in water or in orange juice for extra vitamin C, hot peppermint or wild thyme tea can alleviate the discomfort. A drink of yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and elderflower (Sambucus nigra) tea will help the body to eliminate toxins.
Sufferers of hay fever and other allergies may benefit from an infusion of goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea). Take half a cup (125 ml) four times a day. The irritated mucous membranes are relieved and soothed by drinking a warm infusion of hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), lavender (Lavandula species), marjoram (Origanum marjorana), or thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Apply cold compresses of witch hazel diluted in 4 parts boiled water to soothe the eyes. Hot mullein flower (Verbascum thapsus) tea and eyebright (Euphrasia rostkoviana) tea will help eliminate excess mucus, and eyebright will reduce redness around the eyes. Drink three times a day. Red and sore eyelids may result from other conditions, if symptoms persist, consult a qualified herbalist.
Headaches and migraines
Herbs may bring relief though they will not remove the cause. Feverfew leaf (Tanacetum parthenium) has justifiably become the primary remedy for migraines. A small to medium, fresh or frozen, the leaf is eaten between slices of bread (it can cause mouth ulcers in very sensitive people) three times a day has been found to reduce the intensity or frequency of 70 percent of migraines (usually in sufferers who gain relief from warmth applied to the head). Its action is cumulative and can take up to six months to show results. Do not take during pregnancy as it can stimulate the uterus. Alternatively, take half a cup (125 ml) of leaf tea twice a day to reduce the pain of migraines. Lavender (Lavandula species) is useful for stress-related headaches and combines well with valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Drink an infusion of lavender flowers three times a day. A standard infusion of valerian is useful in tension headaches when it combines well with skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora).
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a serious condition that must be monitored by a qualified medical person. Ripe hawthorn berries (Crataegus monogyna) are a gentle yet powerful tonic for the heart and circulation, bringing both low and high blood pressure back to normal when used over a long period. Infuse 2 tsp (10ml) berries for 20 minutes in 1 cup (225 ml) boiling water and drink three times a day for an extended period. For high blood pressure, hawthorn combines well in an infusion with lime blossom (Tilia cordata) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Yarrow reduces high blood pressure by dilating peripheral blood vessels. Chronic hypertension responds well to 1 cup (225 ml) dandelion leaves (Taraxacum officinale) infusion taken three times a day. Garlic is reliable, but it will take four weeks for any drop in blood pressure. Eat raw cloves up to six times a day.
A cup (225ml) of hop (Humulus lupulus) tea taken before retiring to bed is a useful sedative for insomnia except for anyone suffering from depression. It combines well with valerian (Valeriana officinalis) which reduces tension and anxiety, and passionflower leaves (Passiflora incarnata). Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) tea and catnip (Nepeta cataria) tea are traditional relaxing bedtime drinks that will reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep. Passionflower tea and orange blossom tea can also help insomniacs.
Kidney and Liver Complaints
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is the ideal balanced diuretic as it supplies potassium, a substance lost during diuretic action. Decoct 1 tbsp (15 ml) root in 1 cup (225 ml) water and drink three times a day.
The best remedy for the dull headache, irritability, mild depression, fluid retention or breast discomfort experienced by many women just before their period is evening primrose oil. Tests at a London hospital indicated that 85 percent of those in the trial experienced improvement. The herb (Oenothera biennis) is easy to grow but extracting the oil from the seed is complex, so purchase capsules from a health industry shop. Those that also contains marine oil are particularly recommended. Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), and lime blossom (Tilia cordata) are safe teas to soothe and reduce the discomfort of PMT (premenstrual tension). Take an infusion three times a day to relieve the symptoms. For menstrual cramps drink an infusion of chamomile or valerian (valeriana officinalis) three times a day, or half a cup (125 ml) of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) tea taken twice a day. For cramps with a feeling of heaviness, a hot infusion of raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) tea is recommended. To help reduce period pains and excessive bleeding, try lady’s mantle leaves (Alchemilla vulgaris), taken in a double-strength infusion three times a day. This also eases changes of the menopause. To help relieve menopausal symptoms, try dried berries of the chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), which normalize the activity of sex hormones. They are also of benefit in PMT and help to normalize the body’s natural balance after taking contraceptive pills. Infuse 1 tsp (5 ml) berries for 15 minutes; drink 1 cup (225 ml) three times a day. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) reduces the discomfort of menopause. When symptoms include irritability and anxiety, St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is recommended. Drink a standard infusion of flowering tops three times a day.
Muscles and Joints
The Essential oil of fennel is one of several oils which, used in massage oil, will ease muscular pains. The moist inside surface of fresh silver birch bark (Betula pendula) applied over the area will ease painful muscles, while a poultice of mustard seed stimulates circulation and relieves muscular and skeletal pain. An ointment or poultice of wintergreen leaves (Gaultheria procumbens) has painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties that are excellent for chronic muscular problems. If you suffer from muscular cramps, a standard infusion of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) will bring relief.
If practicable, expose the baby’s bottom to fresh air frequently. A cool compress of calendula or chamomile (Matricaria recutita) can be laid on sore areas for short periods. Use a lotion or ointment made with calendula, comfrey (Symphytum offincinale) or marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) to soothe the skin and promote rapid healing.
Freshly grated ginger or powdered cinnamon bark infused on their own or sprinkled in other teas can be taken whenever necessary to relieve nausea and vomiting. Cloves, as a flavoring in food or drunk as an infusion, will allay nausea and vomiting while stimulating the digestive system. Infuse about 10 cloves in 1 cup (225 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes and take as required.
Unlike tranquilizers, herbs that work to relax nervous tension also counter stress by reviving and toning the central nervous system. The two finest treatments are skullcap flowering top (Scutellaria lateriflora), which is suitable for a wide range of nervous complaints and valerian root (Valeriana officinalis), which is suitable for nervous spasms and tremors, phobias, insomnia, and restlessness. Fortunately, they work well together. Take an infusion individually or in combination. Take 1 cup (225 ml) infusion up to three times a day or half a cup (125 ml) every three hours in times of great stress, but not for long periods of time. A standard infusion of borage leaves (Borago officinalis) is a restorative tonic to the adrenal glands, which are increasingly exposed to stress. Borage flowers and leaves in wine have a traditional reputation for bolstering courage. The combination seems to cause a significant rise in the blood-adrenalin level, and a wine-glassful (150ml) will relieve nervous tension during times of stress. After a hectic day, try drinking a tea of ginseng (Panax ginseng), lime blossom (Tilia cordata) or lavender (Lavandula species) to calm and tone the nervous system. Lime and lavender combine well to combat nervous exhaustion, while lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) relieves tension and stressful states with mild antidepressant action. It combines well with lavender flowers and lime blossom. Take a cup (225 ml) of mixed teas morning, evening, and when required. Wood betony (Stachys officinalis) strengthens the central nervous system and is mildly sedative, being especially good for headaches and neuralgia of a nervous origin. Take 1 cup (225 ml) tea three times a day or combine it with a skullcap. For relaxants, try chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) which can be drunk as desired, and cowslip (Primula veris), which is a relaxing sedative for stress-related tension. Make an infusion of the petals and drink 1 cup (225 ml) three times a day. It can be combined with lime blossom or skullcap. To ease the tension a standard infusion of St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has pain-reducing and sedative properties, making it useful for anxiety-related conditions unless there is also depression. Rosemary, on the other hand, is a stimulant to the nervous system and useful for psychological tension which is causing depression.
Rheumatism and Arthritis
The causes of these ailments are complex, and a qualified herbalist should be consulted to discover which aspects of diet or lifestyle may be contributing to the problem. Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) has been found to be effective in many cases: it appears to detoxify the body and to stimulate the body’s immune system. So far, no harmful side-effects have been discovered but it can be nauseous. Decoct I —1 tsp (3 —5 ml) root in 1 cup (225 ml) water and boil for 15 minutes. Drink three times a day for at least a month to assess its effect. To treat rheumatoid arthritis, try an infusion of celery seed, which helps to counter the acid in the blood. Take 1 cup (225 ml) three times a day. It works well combined with dandelion root (Taraxacum offidnale) or devil’s claw. A standard infusion of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) will relieve the pain of rheumatism, and a double-strength infusion of chickweed (Stellaria media) steeped for 5 minutes has brought relief to some. One of the beneficial side-effects noticed by a significant number of patients using feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) to treat migraine was a reduction in their pain from arthritis. Try a dose of 1 leaf in a sandwich three times a day for up to six months (but not during pregnancy). Essential oils such as rosemary, applied in massage oil, can bring relief to rheumatic and arthritic pains (see p. 231). Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) ointment contains useful painkilling and anti-inflammatory ingredients, arnica (Arnica montana) ointment reduces discomfort, and a compress of cayenne pepper infusion eases pain by increasing circulation.
The fruit of the fig tree has strong antiseptic and disinfectant properties. Apply a poultice of dried figs to chronic leg ulcers. A poultice of comfrey leaves (Symphytum officinale) has given remarkable results in many cases of chronic varicose ulcers and is more beneficial if combined with the soothing properties of marshmallow (Althaea offidnalis). Calendula petals, applied either as a compress of the infusion or as an ointment, reduce inflammation and speed healing.
Sleep Problems (children)
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea is a safe and gentle sedative for children and traditionally recommended for those having nightmares. Give 1 cup (225 ml) of warm infusion half an hour before bedtime and remember to take the child to the toilet again just before bed. For small babies, put 1 tbsp (15 ml) in a sterilized feeding bottle. For older babies, use up to half a cup (125 ml).
Stings and Insect Bites
Wasp stings are alkaline: apply inside surface of a houseleek leaf (Sempervivum tectorum), onion slices, or dab on vinegar (if possible thyme vinegar). Bee stings and ant bites are acid: apply sodium bicarbonate dissolved in ice-cold water. Remember to remove the bee sting. Reduce painful swelling with a drop of neat lavender or eucalyptus oil. To soothe lingering irritation, apply a cold compress of tincture of calendula or calendula ointment. To soothe nettle stings, rub on crushed dock leaves (Rumex obtusifolius).
Sharp or prolonged pain in the stomach needs a professional medical diagnosis. For those who already know what is causing their ailment, herbs can be helpful as long as the condition is monitored. To soothe and heal the delicate mucous membranes in the stomach, drink chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea for its anti-inflammatory effect or marshmallow (Althaea offidnalis) as desired. For digestive disorders, slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) (purchased as a powder) is both a soothing remedy as well as a wholesome food for those unable to face solid food, and it is safe for children over 12 months. Make a paste with 1/2 — 1 tbsp (8-15 ml) powdered bark and a little cold water. Stir in 1 cup (225 ml) of hot milk or water and sweeten with honey if desired. For stomach cramps caused by indigestion, drink an infusion of antiseptic catnip (Nepeta cataria). For stomach ulcers, chew licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) as desired, or take a dose of 1/4 tsp (1 ml) powdered root daily (strong doses are laxative). A calendula petal infusion, drunk three times a day, especially combined with marshmallow root, soothes and aids the healing of stomach ulcers. For gastric and duodenal ulcers, lime blossom (Tilia cordata) tea has useful anti-inflammatory properties and the softening mucilage of comfrey (Symphytum officinale) makes it a soothing and healing treatment. Boil 1 tsp (5 ml) dried root in 1 cup (225 ml) water for 10 minutes. For stomach ulcers and colitis: Half to 1 tsp (3—5ml) powdered goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis) infused in 1 cup (225 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes is a powerful tonic for all parts of the digestive tract.
Aloe vera leaf juice is cooling and healing for sunburn and minor burns. Apply directly to the area of sunburn. A compress of sorrel (Rumex acetosa) also has a cooling effect. Sorrel tea is said to nullify the effects of sunstroke and exhaustion: take one cup (225ml) three times a day. A macerated oil of St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is excellent for minor burns once they have cooled.
Chamomile tea calms some fractious children as do homeopathic granules of chamomile (sold as chamomilla). Babies can be given a clean piece of marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) root to chew on. Make sure that the baby cannot choke on the root.
Purple sage (Salvia offidnalis ‘Purpurea’) is an excellent treatment for sore throats. It is antiseptic and healing for inflammation of the mouth, throat, and tonsils. Drink half a cup (125 ml) infusion four times a day, and gargle with it as often as required. Do not drink it during pregnancy: it may cause abortion. The bacterial qualities of lemon, another popular remedy, are increased if you take it in an infusion with a natural antiseptic such as eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) and honey. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a powerful disinfectant and excellent gargle for sore throats, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. Gargle with a standard tea of fenugreek seed, agrimony (Agrimonia eupatorium) or self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), or a decoction of bistort root (Polygonum bistorta) for relief of sore throats, inflammation of the mouth or tongue and laryngitis, or a cayenne infusion for laryngitis. The anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties of chamomile (Matricaria recutita) make it a useful gargle for sore throats and mouth infections such as gingivitis. Use a double-strength infusion of the flowers. The menthol in peppermint (Mentha piperita) makes it a pleasant antiseptic. Soothe a sore throat by wrapping around a hot compress of sage (Salvia officinalis) or thyme (Thymus vulgaris), kept warm and in place with a scarf. Chew licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) as desired.
Cloves are a powerful local antiseptic and mild pain reliever. Put a drop of oil of cloves (available from chemists and essential-oil suppliers) on the end of a cottonwool bud and dab on or near the tooth; alternatively, place a clove in the mouth near the tooth for as long as it is effective.
Recent research confirms that the best treatment to settle the stomach and help prevent nausea is an infusion of root ginger. Take a bottle of tincture of ginger when traveling, and give 10 drops in half a cup (125ml) of water for adults or 2-3 drops mixed in a little warm water for children. Pick large leaves of fresh angelica (Angelica archangelica) and crush them on the journey; the scent allays nausea and refreshes stale air.
Much can be done to prevent varicose veins. Tackle constipation, improve your diet, adding vitamins B, C, and E, take more exercise, stop smoking, avoid hot baths, and standing for hours. Take spices that stimulate the circulation, such as ginger and cayenne, and an infusion of herbs that contain rutin, such as buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), hawthorn berries (Crataegus monogyna) and horse chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum). Drink no more than three times a day, or use as a compressor lotion. If your veins are inflamed or ache, a compress of calendula tincture or witch hazel will relieve the pain.
As garlic kills intestinal parasites, make a garlic ointment, and apply it around the anus nightly for two weeks. Pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita maxima) are among the most efficient remedies for killing intestinal parasites, including tapeworms, but a routine of fasting, cleansing the bowels and precise dosage must be followed, so it is wise to carry out the treatment under the supervision of a qualified medical herbalist.