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Plants Are Our Allies

This column is named, “Plants are our Allies.” This is true. But there are the questions of how and why. We will explore the how and why herbs can help.

Herbs assist the body back to hemostasis or balance. They stimulate the body’s own innate healing processes. Osha, Lingusticum porteri stimulates the macrophages that live in the lungs. That makes them do their work of protecting the body from invaders more zealously.

Herbs generally cost less than pharmaceuticals, especially if you grow your own. That gives you more money to pursue your interests and activities.

Herbs have fewer side effects and fewer adverse reactions. The secondary substances in a plant minimizes interactions, side effects and adverse reactions. Dr. Andrew Weil says, “ In general, isolated and refined drugs are much more toxic than their botanical sources. The possibility that secondary compounds of medicine plants may be valuable in their own right or may modify the effects of dominant compounds in good ways seems unremarkable to me. Yet I have to explain it to physicians and pharmacologists with great patience.” It is a fact that biological organization in plants cannot be duplicated in a lab.

Plants supply nutrients to help the body in it’s everyday work and during times of stress or illness. Rose hips are an example of this. They are a local and inexpensive source of Vitamin C. Rose hips have 60 times the Vitamin C as citrus fruit. Their bioflavonoids aid the body in the absorption of C and iron. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects us from free radicals that can cause premature aging and cancers. Rose hips are a source of Vitamin E ( another antioxidant), sulfur and unsaturated fats. Take a nice trip to the mountains after the first frost and gather some. Breathe in the cool fresh pure air and give thanks. On a cold winter day, make some tea, add some cinnamon and enjoy while you are strengthening your body.

Herbs move fluids. They can be diuretic (make you pee) diaphoretic (make you sweat) or emetic ( make you vomit). So, when do you want to pee a lot? If feet and legs are swollen and your blood pressure is elevated, drink a cup of parsley tea. This causes urination, taking the load off the heart, reducing blood pressure and edema ( swelling). Cayenne increases the force and strength of each heart beat and increases circulation to the hands and feet, once again the heart doesn’t have to work as hard. Adding a little cayenne or chili to each meal keeps one fit and healthy.

Fever is a sign of illness. A too high temperature can damage the brain. Drinking a strong fresh ginger tea will cause sweating and bring down the fever. Adding a strong infusion to a bath of tepid water will also help bring down the fever.
Why would anyone want to throw up? To rid the body of injected poisons or narcotics. This is not recommended if someone has swallowed caustic substances. A well know emetic is Ipecac, Cephaelis ipicacuanha. It used to be in every household for use in accidental poisoning. Some authorities still recommend its use.

When one wants to calm anxiety and rest, Chamomile comes to mind. It is effective for anxiety, palpitations and all manifestations of stress, including insomnia. If a stronger sedative needed, Valarian fills the bill. However, it is for short term use only and can be a stimulant to some people. “Mother’s Little Helper” valium comes from Valarian.
You were out too late last night and the alarm is too early. Do what many people do, have a strong cup of java or black tea. They stimulate the body to produce adrenalin which stimulates the body to produce its own sugar and Wella, up up and away you go. You made it to work on time.

Use your own judgement when taking herbal medicine or when trying a new tea or herb. Test for sensitivity by taking a small quantity first. If it makes you nauseated or sick, take less or throw it away. Always take as directed. Call a certified clinical herbalist if you have any questions or concerns. Above all, trust your own judgement and have a Happy New Year.

Jessie Emerson, RN, certified clinical herbalist, author of Medicine From the Kitchen can be contacted:

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