What is Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicine has been part of our ancient and more modern history for thousands of years. Unfortunately there is no money to be made by the pharmaceutical companies when only a plant is processed. Therefore in the last twenty years particularly there has been a focused effort, at a very high level, to downgrade all alternative therapies including herbal remedies to quackery. We can only now suggest that an alternative therapy MAY help you.
A commonsense warning about herbal medicines.
Herbal medicines should be treated with respect and should only be used if you have read all the contraindications, possible side effects and never with any prescribed medication unless you have cleared with your doctor first.
This is particularly important if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant as taking specific herbal medicines can cause harm.
Go to a qualified herbalist or if you buy over the counter on online read all the instructions beforehand or enclosed in the packet. I always buy the more expensive and professionally prepared tinctures and have stayed with that brand for the last twenty years.
Having established that; I want to introduce you to herbs that can be taken as a prepared tincture but also those that you can include in your diet which may improve and maintain your health. This week a herb that is used by millions because of its versatility.
I doubt that there are many of you reading this post who have not come across Lavender in your lifetime. It is a beautiful plant in the garden and its perfume has been used for centuries as part of many cultures bathing rituals.
Its botanical name is Lavandula Officinalis and you will usually find it called English Lavender or garden Lavender. In fact its name belies the fact that originally it was found in Mediterranean region as well in Africa and some parts of Russia.
The Romans used daily in their bathwater and also as we do today, in small sachets placed between layers of clothing to keep them fresh smelling and to act as a natural deodorant. A few centuries later, as hygiene took a back seat in the Middle Ages, it would be used in oil form to kill bed bugs and lice.
Certainly few warriors went into battle without a bottle of lavender oil, as it was considered to be a powerful antiseptic and this has been backed up by modern scientists in a laboratory setting where the oil has been found to kill bacteria.
It can be taken as an infusion with a teaspoon of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water and allowed to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Over the centuries it has been used to treat indigestion, insomnia, stress, pain, rheumatism, toothache and low blood pressure.
Not every culture would have used for the same conditions but generally as an antispasmodic it would have been used to relieve menstrual cramps as well as intestinal cramps. In Spain for example it has been used in the treatment of diabetes and in South America it is used as an infusion to treat PMS. Elsewhere you will find it is used as a headache or migraine cure.
Externally as an oil it is soothing for skin rashes and insect bites. If you are out hiking or in areas where there are mosquitos and other biting insects, oil of lavender may prevent you being stung in the first place.
You can add five or six drops to your bath, add three of four drops to 15ml of a carrier oil for massage and of course infuse the fresh herb for tea. I use prepared teabags at the moment as we do not have lavender in the garden but do make sure that you buy organic. You can get some very soothing combinations such as chamomile and lavender. To help you sleep you can put some lavender herbs into a small porous bag and put under your pillow.
A summary of the ways to use Lavender Oil
It is an all round family friendly essential oil but it is still not recommended to use essential oils for children under five, unless under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist.
- It is very useful to smooth a drop of lavender essential oil over bruises once or twice a day.
- Diluted lavender oil smoothed around the neck and temples, overlaid with two drop of the pure oil may alleviate headaches.
- Some diluted lavender oil combined with 1 drop of chamomile essential oil at bath time for children can calm them after a stressful day.
- For adults you can blend 2.5ml of lavender oil with a drip each of pure mandarin and geranium essential oil for a soothing and relaxing bath.
- If you are lucky enough to have an extended period of sunshine, then you can mix 5ml of soothing Aloe Vera Gel with 5 drops of Lavender pure oil and spread over any pink areas of skin.
- You can also cool down after a day in the sun by keeping 250ml of still mineral water combined with 20 drops of pure lavender oil in an atomiser in the refrigerator.
- Any mild burns in the kitchen can be cooled first under the cold water tap and then apply neat lavender oil. Cover with a gauze, and change the dressing regularly. When it begins to heal use the aloe vera gel and oil mix that I detailed above.
- The oils antiseptic properties also come in use for skin conditions such as eczema, insomnia, bacterial infections, teenage acne, and when rubbed into joints relieve the pain of rheumatism and arthritis.
- In a blended massage oil, lavender is calming and relaxing.
- Add 2 drops of lavender oil and 2 drops of eucalyptus oil to a small bowl of very hot water and place by your bed to help you sleep.
- Use the dried lavender, infused with lavender oil in small organza sachets for use in your linen cupboard or clothes drawers.
- Lavender can be combined with other oils in a diffuser to naturally scent your home.
When not to use lavender.
As with any herb you do have to remember that it is a medicine and its effects will either increase the potency of a specific drug or weaken it. In the case of lavender this applies to anti-depressants and blood thinners.. Check with a pharmacist if you are on any prescribed medication before using.
You should not take internally when you are pregnant however lavender can be used in as a bath oil or if you are seeing a qualified massage therapist in the second trimester onwards.
- However it should not be used as an oil in the first three months or if you have a history of miscarriage.
- Stop using immediately if you develop a skin rash to the oil products or you feel nauseous when drinking the tea.
Thank you for dropping by and hope you found interesting.. Lavender is another herb to add to your medicine cabinet. Sally
©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020
Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.