Herbal medicine, straight from Mother Earth

“And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” – Ezekiel 47:12

In an awakening world, there’s a surge of desire – a longing to return to Mother Nature for healing and medicine. Herbal medicine is widely accepted as we grasp its worth for preventing and treating disease, and to create whole health. What’s old is new again as Americans reconnect with Mother Earth seeking to renew, revitalize and restore their body, mind and soul rather than pharmaceutical drugs which warn of dire side effects.

Often dismissed as quackery, herbal remedies are deeply rooted in medical history. As early as 3000 BC ancient Chinese and Egyptian writings describe medicinal uses for plants. Ancient doctors methodically collected information about herbs and developed distinct pharmacopoeias to treat a variety of ailments.

Nearly 80 percent of the world today uses botanicals for some aspect of primary health care. America, not so much, but that’s changing. From mint to marijuana, there are hundreds of botanicals that serve many vital medicinal and health purposes. Potent medical plants you’re likely to find in the wildernesses of your back yard can be anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, insect repellent, antiseptic, expectorant, antibacterial, detoxifying, fever reduction, or antihistamine.

In the U.S., more than 1,500 botanicals are sold as dietary supplements; top-selling plants include echinacea, lavender, frankincense, turmeric, peppermint, garlic, goldenseal, ginseng, Reishi and Maitake mushrooms, ginkgo, saw palmetto, aloe, valerian, green tea, ephedra, Siberian ginseng, marigolds and cranberry. Herbal remedies in the form of extracts, tinctures, capsules, tablets and teas address a constellation of maladies such as allergies, cancer, inflammation, asthma, eczema, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, menopausal symptoms, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome and cancer.

Herbal tinctures, elixirs, and essential oils use plant seeds, berries, roots, bark or flowers. While herbal medicine is not a licensed profession in the U.S., herbal remedies in the form of extracts, tinctures, capsules, teas and tablets may be recommended by healthcare practitioners of various disciplines as a gentler, more natural way to address a wide variety of largely preventable medical conditions. Even scientists now recognize the power agents that exist within some essential oils which stops cancer spreading, and which induces cancerous cells to close themselves down. Their disease-preventing ability is no longer doubted, especially regarding cancer.

For example, marigold or calendula has been employed medicinally for centuries to treat conjunctivitis, blepharitis, eczema, gastritis, minor burns including sunburns, warts, and minor injuries such as sprains and wounds, cramps, coughs and snake bites. Calendula’s high content of flavonoids act as antioxidants known to protect cells from damage caused by oxidation. Calming chamomile tea treats anxiety, cramping and muscle pain. Echinacea, from the cone flower, was used centuries ago by the Native Americans; today many take echinacea to help fight off colds as echinacea can boost immune response. Ginkgo, or ginkgo biloba, improves circulation and brain activity. Ginseng has been used for thousands of years as natural energy-boost. St. John’s wort as an herbal alternative to prescription medications for relieving anxiety and depression

Elixirs, crafted with a bit more presence, differ from smoothies. Herbal elixirs involve multiple steps with the intention of supporting the immune system, building stronger bones, speed-bumping aging, encouraging hair and nail growth, or keeping hair from losing its color.

Most tinctures are percolated or macerated. Generated thousands of years ago by ancestors, liquid extracts are still a favorite naturopathic medicine today. Tinctures are made by steeping the fresh or dried herb in a solution of food grade alcohol before straining. The alcohol extracts both the oil and water-based medicinal properties. The benefits of tinctures are that they are concentrated, easy to dispense, easy to take, rapidly absorbed, easy on the tummy and have a very long shelf life. Tinctures can be added to juices, elixirs, water, smoothies, and teas and can vary in doses depending on the herb and health concern.

Most mainstream whole foods markets with juice bars offer wheat grass shooters with a juice chaser or a lemon-ginger-turmeric elixir for when you feel a cold coming on. Some offer potent shooters of turmeric and ginger juice as well as menu of herbal elixir beverages. Just ask.

Can’t sleep? Make a sleep elixir using 8 ounces hot water, dried chamomile flowers to fill one sachet and 1/2-inch knob of crushed fresh ginger. Detox your quivering liver: 8 ounces hot water, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric and juice of one half lemon.

Incorporating herbal tinctures into your lifestyle is easy, natural as breathing, safe, fast-acting and gentle on your delicate ecosystem. The heavenly bounty from Mother Nature’s celestial apothecary was created to sustain humanity. Now is the perfect time to return; reconnect to the verdant garden we ought to have never forsaken.

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