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- Studies show that this herb has antibiotic action. how to: For tea, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon powdered root per cup, steeped 10 minutes. Up to 2 cups per day.
- Rose Hips
- The “hip” is the part that remains when the petals fall off the flower. Rose hips contain vitamin C. how to: For tea, 2 to 3 teaspoons per cup, steeped 10 minutes. Drink as needed.
- This popular beverage herb can calm jangled nerves, relieve stomach distress, prevent ulcers, speed their healing, and help fight infection. how to: For tea, 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons per cup, steeped 10 to 20 minutes. Up to 3 cups per day.
- When chewed or chopped, garlic is a potent natural antibiotic; it also has anti-viral properties. It reduces cholesterol and helps prevent the formation of internal blood clots that trigger heart attacks. how to: In food, season to taste. For tea, steep 6 cloves in a cup of cool water for 6 hours.
- Slippery Elm Bark
- Historically used to soothe sore throats, coughs, and upset stomachs, this beneficial bark is still available in bulk and in herbal cough drops and throat lozenges. how to: For tea, 1 to 3 teaspoons of powdered bark per cup, boiled and simmered 15 minutes. Up to 3 cups per day.
- Ginseng stimulates the immune system, helps protect the liver from toxics, and increases stamina. In one animal experiment, it also increased sexual activity. how to: Follow package directions for teas, capsules, tablets, and tinctures.
- Despised as a weed, dandelion can help relieve premenstrual bloating. Preliminary studies suggest possible anti-inflammatory effects. how to: For tea, 1/2 ounce dried leaf per cup, steeped 10 minutes. Up to 3 cups per day.
- Several studies confirm feverfew’s value in preventing migraines. how to: Chew two leaves a day, or take a pill or capsule containing 85milligrams of leaf material (feverfew is quite bitter). For tea, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per cup, steeped 5 to 10 minutes. Up to 2 cups per day.
- Raspberry Leaf
- This premier pregnancy herb is widely used to treat morning sickness and uterine irritability, and to help prevent threatened miscarriage. how to: For tea, 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup, steeped 10 minutes. Up to 3 cups per day.
- Spearmint and Peppermint
- For indigestion, try a cup of mint tea after eating. how to: For tea, 1 teaspoon fresh or 2 teaspoons dried per cup, steeped 10 minutes. Reheat if desired. Up to 3 cups per day. For a relaxing bath, fill a cloth bag with a few handfuls of dried or fresh leaves, and run water over it.
- This plant contains allantoin, which promotes the growth of new cells and gives it value as a wound treatment. how to: Place a bruised leaf on clean cuts or scrapes. Cover with a bandage. WARNING: Do not use internally.
- This herb is a powerful laxative. Senna tastes terrible, so most herbalists recommend a tincture or a commercial product. To avoid abdominal distress, do not take more than the package directions specify.
- Uva Ursi
- Research has shown that this bitter herb has diuretic and urinary antiseptic effects. Use it in addition to mainstream medical treatment. how to: One teaspoon per cup, boiled 10 minutes. Up to 3 cups per day.
- Ginger prevents motion sickness and may help prevent the internal blood clots that trigger heart attacks. how to: For motion sickness, take 2 to 3 capsules of 500 milligrams 30 minutes before departure. For tea, 2 teaspoons powdered or grated root per cup, steeped 10 minutes. Up to 3 cups per day.
- Chinese ephedra
- Commonly used to treat colds and asthma, Chinese ephedra (Ma Huang) can also raise blood pressure and cause insomnia and other problems. warning: Prior to using Chinese ephedra, seek advice from a health care practitioner, especially if you are pregnant or nursing. It should not be given to children under 13.
- Licorice can soothe sore throats and treat ulcers. how to: For sore throat, add a pinch of root to tea. For ulcers, 1/2 teaspoon of powder per cup, boiled 10 minutes. Up to 2 cups per day. warning: Large doses can be dangerous.
Potentially Hazardous Herbs
A basic tenet of pharmacology is: “The dose makes the poison.” Most drugs that are beneficial in therapeutic doses cause problems–and sometimes death–in overdose. This is as true for medicinal herbs as it is for pharmaceuticals.
But in general, herbs have been the victims of unjustified safety scares. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, pharmaceuticals caused a total of 809 fatalities and 6,407 major non-fatal poisonings in 1988 and 1989 combined. During the same period, plants caused two fatalities and 53 major poisonings. The most hazardous plants were not herbal medicines, but houseplants.
Although most commonly used medicinal herbs are safe for ingestion in recommended amounts, pregnant and nursing women should consult a health professional before taking any medicinal herbs (or pharmaceuticals), and everyone else should use the following herbs cautiously, if at all: Chinese ephedra; herbal laxatives such as buckthorn, cascara sagrada, and senna; and all herbal oils.