Country Traditions

March 15, 2011

Flower power: Herbalist Christopher Robbins gathers together an essential flora medicine chest – Gardening, House & Home – The Independent

Filed under: herbs, home remedies — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 7:29 am
Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica

Image by brewbooks via Flickr

Flower power: Herbalist Christopher Robbins gathers together an essential flora medicine chest – Gardening, House & Home – The Independent.

Dandelion The French name (pis-en-lit) is the best clue to its usefulness in the home-grown medicine chest: the leaves are a strong, safe and very effective diuretic, for anyone suffering from water retention. The bitterness aids digestion and acts also as a liver tonic. In some country areas, the milky sap that oozes out when you pick a leaf is still used to banish warts. The easiest way to use dandelion leaf is raw, in a salad. The common weedy ones are fine to eat, now, while they are young. But if you are in the extraordinary position of having no dandelions pushing up in your flower beds, you can grow the fancy French variety ‘Pissenlit a Coeur plein’ (Suffolk Herbs £1).

Nettle Stinging nettle is packed with vitamin A and vitamin C, and has almost twice as much iron in it as spinach, so it’s not surprising that it makes a brilliant spring tonic. We perhaps are not so keen now on flailing around in nettle beds to ease rheumatism. The sting inflames and warms and that process eases the ache in rheumaticky joints.

The simplest way to prepare nettle is in a soup and now is a great time to make it, before the leaves get dark and tough. The recipe I use is from Cooking Weeds by Vivien Weise. You need 500g potatoes peeled and cubed, 2 chopped onions, some butter, 1 litre good stock, 100g stinging nettle leaves stripped from the stems, 2tsp lemon juice, salt, pepper, 200ml double cream, 50g roasted, flaked almonds, 1 grated carrot. Fry the potatoes and onions until translucent. Add the stock and simmer for 10 mins. Add the nettle leaves and simmer for another 10 mins. Liquidise and add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Reheat and stir in half the cream. Serve with the rest of the cream, the almonds and the carrot ready to garnish the soup.

Chickweed This is a very common annual weed, sprouting now on disturbed ground with pale green leaves. The starry white flowers come later. It’s the best of all plants, says Robbins, for treating itchy or inflamed skin. The simplest way to use it is as a poultice. You can pick a bunch of the stuff, wring it slightly to release the sap, then bind the poultice to whatever part of the skin needs it. If you suffer from mild eczema or dermatitis, try it. It won’t be hard to find, as each plant carries about 15,000 seeds and they germinate in almost every month of the year.



September 17, 2010

medicine chest

Filed under: home remedies, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 2:12 pm
Mortar and pestle

Mortar & Pestle

A few  medicines:   The Cures:
Dr. Rush’s Bilious Pills
A potent combination of chemicals
and herbs that quickly cleaned out
a person’s digestive system. Used
for many ills during the expedition,
Lewis brought 50 dozen.
Turkish opium — Obtained
from a poppy plant, it was used
to relieve pain and calm nervous
excitement. Mixed with alcohol,
it made a concentrated sedative
that had been used in medicine
since 1510.
Balsam copaiba — An oily
sap from a South American tree
that contains a germ-killing acid.
When swallowed, it could calm
the stomach and relieve gas. As
a lotion, it was used to treat swelling
of the skin.
Mercury ointment — A treatment
used to treat lesions. The
patient was often treated until he
showed signs of mercury poisoning
such as excessive saliva or
sore gums.
Peruvian bark —
People took more of this
than any other medicine, 15
pounds in the powdered form.
Obtained from a tree in Peru, it
was used as a pick-me-up drink
and for fever, snake bites, abdominal
pain and just about anything
else. It contained quinine, a malaria
— They used containers
like these to carry medicinal
substances such as
mercury ointment, see
“cures” above.
1,5. Medicine containers.
2. Cupping glass — When
heated and placed on the
skin, it draws blood to the
3. Dr. Rush’s Bilious Pills,
see cures.
4. Turkish opium, see
6-7. Medicine bottles.
8. Bullet tongs — For removing
9. Straightedge knife
10-11. Scalpels — For operating
and blood letting.
12. Cauterizer — When
heated, closes wounds.
13. Tenaculum — Pulls
arteries out of a wound.
14. Retractor — Draws
aside the lip of a wound.
For grinding chemicals and
herbs into a powder which
would dissolve more easily.
16. Bone saw — For amputating
17. Medicine chest — For
storing medical supplies.
The Causes
Challenges the Corps faced:
l Frostbite
l Snow blindness
l Hail storms
l Gastrointestinal disease from
food and water
l Diseases from encounters with
l Grizzly bears
l Rattlesnakes
l Hunger
l Poorly balanced diets
l Fatigue
l Skin and respiratory infections
l Dislocated joints
l Parasites
l Bullet wounds

September 16, 2010

Alternative Medicine

Filed under: gardening, herbs, home remedies, recipes — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 5:37 pm
Street vendor selling herbal remedies in Patzc...

Herbs, alternative medicine

Alternative medicine; or medical and healing practices that fall outside of the realm of Conventional Medicine  (Western) has always been with us.  Legends of Shaman, Medicine Men and Healing Powers have been passed down from generation to generation.  Natural home remedies for a plethora of conditions and diseases, old fashioned and folk medicine remedies, natural cures and alternative treatments have been passed down throughout the generations. Natural herbs, fruits and herbal supplements are rapidly gaining the attention of consumers as they search for natural remedies and cures with no side effects. These treatments are commonly used now for beauty and skin care items such as acne, warts, anti aging and skin tags, as well as health conditions such as arthritis, gout, migraines, diet / weight loss and most other forms of healing.

Old home remedies are based on the premise of using the natural ingredients and constituents found in many spices, fruits, grasses and herbs to naturally treat foreign bodies, dangerous viruses and bacteria that are causing pain, inflammation, disease and damage to the body. Herbal remedies continue to increase in popularity.

In the last decade the interest in Alternative Medicine has increased to the point that 38% of American adults use some form of Complementary or Alternative Medicine .  Worldwide the numbers are much higher.  People worldwide are rejcting the notion that expensive synthetic chemical and prescription medications are the only answer to our medical issues and treatment for our ailments. Instead, they are grapsing and utilizing the notion of natural remedies and home treatments to remedy common problems. For ages, modern medicine has been well aware that antibiotics strip the body of healthy flora and fauna known as probiotics and healthy bacteria, leaving people feeling drowsy, fatigued, weak and prone to allergies and further viruses.

Traditional medicine (Western Medicine) has its roots in Natural Healing methods, from practice to pharmaceuticals, the roots are direct descendents of ancient and folk medicine. The increasing interest in natural health practices, alternative and complementary (alternative medical practices that complement or enhance conventional medicine) have prompted the traditional medical community to look at how the conventional medical field could be enhanced by alternative practices.   The focus in Complementary Medicine is to combine mind, health and body, conventional and alternative medicine into a holistic approach rather than treating only the disease.  Natural home remedies are the culmination of the most natural form of self-treatment.

Medicinal Herbs

Filed under: farming, home remedies — Tags: , , , , , — dmacc502 @ 1:44 pm
Allium sativum, Alliaceae, Garlic, bulbils; Ka...

Allium sativum, Alliaceae, Garlic, bulbils; Karlsruhe,

Plants have been revered through out history for their magical healing powers.  In a dire situation where over the counter medicine is no longer available, many will be forced to turn their backs on modern medicine and reacquaint themselves with more homeopathic and natural forms.

In this type of situation, many will be turning to alternative medicines to alleviate and assist some of the more chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, menopausal symptoms, migraines, anemia and arthritis.

Cayenne Pepper – (Capsicum minimum)

Cayenne pepper is a powerful stimulant, producing a sense of heat in the stomach, and a general glow ove r the body without a narcotic effect.  A few grains in hot tea will aid in sluggish digestion and flatulence.” (Source – Herbal Medicine: The Natural Way To Get Well and Stay Well)

  • This pepper can assist as a digestion aid.  Using sparingly, sprinkle a bit over food or in a hot soup.
  • Cayenne pepper is a good source of Vitamin C.
  • Mixing cayenne pepper to a citrus drink such as grapefruit juice can be a very effective energizing drink.
  • Cayenne pepper can be used to combat a sore throat and can also be used in a sore throat gargle mix.
  • An effective anti flu drink uses 2 tsp. of cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1 cup of boiling water, 1 c. apple cider vinegar.  Most adults can take between 1 tsp.-1 tbls. every half hour.
  • Sprinkling cayenne pepper in shoes will warm the feet when it is cold outside.  Caution: it will stain the area where it is sprinkled, but it is quite effective.
  • Cayenne has a history of being used during malignant sore throats and in scarlet fever where it is used internally and as a gargle.
  • Cayenne tea can be used as a control for internal or external bleeding and should be used for those health emergencies where no medical or nursing help is available.
  • A few grains on the gums of cayenne will smart on the gum, and in a cavity and act as a temporary pain alleviator.

Chamomile – (Anthemis nobilis )

  • This herb is known for it’s uses as a mild sedative.
  • Some homeopathic and natural remedies for children with ADD/ADHD have used chamomiles calming properties.
  • The flowers can be strained out of the tea and placed into a warm compress to use on ear infections.
  • Tea compresses and tea rinses can be used to treat eye problems.
  • It also has the power to assist in healing of  indigestion, morning sickness, nervousness, neuralgia, painful periods and assists as a sleeping agent.

Dandelion – (Taraxacum officinale)

  • The salt in this plant acts to neutralize the acids in the blood and is considered a cleaning tonic.
  • When the flowers and a few leaves are gathered and made into a tea that treats biliousness (gastric disorder caused by liver or gall bladder disorder) and reducing ankle swelling.
  • To jump start a slow functioning liver, drink two to four ounces of freshly sliced dandelion root in two pints of water until the water is reduced to 1 ounce.
  • A coffee can be made from the root to cleanse the liver and also has a tonic effect on the pancreas, the spleen and the female organs.
  • If a person is suffering from gallstones, dandelion can also be used.  Combine an ounce of  each: dandelion root, parsley root, lemon balm with a half ounce each of licorice root and ginger root.  Add two quarts of boiling water, simmer down to one quart, strain the liquid and drink a half glass every two hours.
  • The Chinese “barefoot doctors” use the entire dandelion in their healing practices.  The leaves and the tops are simmered together in a decoction, or they are crushed and used as a poultice for boils and abscesses on the body.
  • Dandelion has also been known to lower elevated cholesterol levels, as well as normalize blood sugar levels in diabetics, and can also help cure symptoms of gout due to its uric acid content.
  • Additionally, young leaves can be gathered in the spring time to make a lovely salad or a steamed side dish.

Echinacea – (Echinacea Paradoxa, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida)

  • There are three types of echinacea plants, and all have the same healing properties.  The chemical constituents are different in some, but the healing is the same.
  • Although the root is most widely used for it’s medicinal purposes, truly the entire plant can be used.
  • This herb strengthens the body’s ability to resist infection and stimulates production of white blood cells.  Echinacea stimulates the body in non chronic illness such as colds, bronchitis, sore throats, abscesses and for recurrences of yeast infections.
  • Echinacea can also be taken as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis.
  • A gargling solution can also be made with the tea to use with a sore throat.  For cases that are not strep throat related: add 10-16 drops to water or to sage or ginger tea and use as a gargling agent.  If a person is fighting strep throat: every two hours, gargle with the above mentioned teas to which add a dropful of echinacea extract.  If only tablet or capsules are available, take then every two hours during the acute stage.
  • It also helps eliminates mucus and phlegm associated with certain respiratory conditions.

Garlic – (Allium sativum)

  • Garlic is an absolute must for a medicinal garden.  Garlic has so many healing properties, they cannot all be listed.
  • Garlic has natural antibiotic properties.
  • In Russia, garlic is used as an anti flu remedy.
  • Garlic draws out the pain from joints, toothaches, and earaches.  Place a crushed raw piece of garlic on some gauze (otherwise some of these strong herbs can cause blisters) and place the gauze over the area of pain.  For the joints, use a garlic paste.  For the ear, use slivers in gauze.  It takes about 5 days to cure the ear infection.
  • Garlic also helps alleviate and draw out infection from abscesses in teeth as well as in the body.

Marigold– (Calendula officinalis)

  • Marigold is an excellent herb to have on hand for skin issues such as eczema, skin inflammations, soothing varicose veins, soothing chapped hands and can be used to reduce body scars.
  • Creating a plaster by combing marigold ointment and peppermint can be used on the chest to ease the heart during inte4nse fevers.
  • Dipping a compress into marigold tea and using equal parts of apple cider vinegar can alleviate inflammation.
  • The author believes that marigold is “the greatest healing agent for all wounds.”
  • Using marigold in the case of open wounds that will not heal is an effective way to promote rapid healing.
  • This flower is also a haemostatid after a tooth extraction.
  • A douche can made from marigold to aid in leukorrhea (vaginal discharges)
  • Due to marigolds cleansing properties, it can also be used as dressing a terrible wound.
  • Marigold was also used as a toothache and headache preventative in the 1500’s in England.
  • This is also a great companion plant to many garden vegetables.

Peppermint – (Mentha piperita)

  • Peppermint is used in a tea in conjunction with chamomile as a digestive aid.
  • It has stimulating and refreshing properties that dispels headaches.
  • Peppermint tea will also assist in overcoming muscle spasms and cramps.
  • Due to the camphorous principles in peppermint, if peppermint is applied to a wet wash cloth it can be used externally to relieve pain.
  • This herb also hep clear sinus infections.  Apply a large, warm peppermint pack to the sinus area.

Sage– (Salvia officinalis)

  • A tea made of common sage can help lift depression.  A pinch of bruised cloves and a pinch of pure ginseng can also be added as these herbs are also used as antidepression herbs.
  • Rubbing the sage leaves across the teeth can be used to clean the teeth and assist in bad breath.  The tea can also be used to gargle with.
  • Sage tea rub downs and sage baths can be used to ring down a fever.  American Indians used this type of fever reducer.  Note: adding apple cider vinegar to the tea for reduction can be quite effective and the patient simply feel better.
  • Sage tea can used as an antiseptic by chewing the sage leaves to cleanse the system of impurities or drank as tea.
  • Sage has also been known to assist with hot flashes associated with menopause.
  • If a person has stomach troubles, cold sage tea can used to alleviate the symptoms.
  • Sage can also be used to treat the flu.  Using the tea before and during any type of epidemics and to hasten healing during a flu attack.
  • Sage leaves can be wrapped around a wound like a band aid to help heal the wound faster.

Tea Tree– (Melaleuca alternifolia)

  • The Aborigines have used this plant for centuries as an antiseptic to heal insect bites, stings, abrasions , cuts and warts.
  • Because of tea tree oils high antibacterial properties it can also be used as an antiseptic to treat acne.
  • Applying tea tree oil directly to fungus on feet (Athlete’s foot), or adding drops into a foot bath this will help treat the fungus.
  • Tea tree oil can also be used to cure cold sores.
  • Diluting the tea tree oil (4 drops of oil and a pint of water)  in water can also be used as a douche to cure yeast infections.
  • Adding a few drops on tea tree oil to a fine tooth comb and combing through hair to catch lice eggs is also effective.

Thyme – (Thymus vulgaris)

  • Although thyme is normally used in culinary recipes, it has a great range of use.
  • Thyme can help alleviate gastric problems such as wind, colic and bad breath.
  • Thyme also has properties to help eliminate phlegm and is helpful in overcoming shortness of breath and help with most lung problems.
  • If it also effective in fighting sore throat and post nasal drip.
  • If a person has the whooping cough, make a syrup of thyme tea and honey to help treat the disease.
  • Thyme can also be used to treat a fever.  It is recommended to mix thyme with other herbs to have a better medicinal quality.  Herbs used in conjunction with thyme to treat a high fever could be: marshmallow root tea, slippery elm powder (or tablets), fenugreek or comfrey root or leaf tea.
  • This herb also helps relax the nervous system and can relive a headache.
  • Thyme can be used as a first aid poultice.  Make up a paste of moist (hot-moistened) thyme leaves and apply it to the skin to relieve the pain of an abscess, boil or swelling.  A hot poultice of thyme can help relieve the pain of a sciatic attack, too.
  • An antiseptic can be make for both internal and external use.  It is also used as a local anaesthetic.  Medicate gauze and worrl for surgical dressings with theyme.
  • his herb is also great for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, parasitic skin infections and burns.
  • A insect spray (combined with lavender) can assist in keeping gnats and mosquitoes away.  In fact, the Greeks used thyme as a fumigator.
  • This herb can also be used to dispel worms and parasites.

As many are gearing up to buy seeds for a survival garden, please do not forget to purchase medicinal herbs.  Keeping a body as strong as possible from viruses, colds and flu’s will only help a person in the long run.  And supplying a home with organic healing medicines can, in an extreme emergency assist in saving their lives.

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