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herbal medicine – Potpourri of Health

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  • Herbs and their Healing Power

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    Herbs and their Healing Power

    By Laura D. Field of Potpourri of Health ~ March 5, 2018

    Herbal use has certainly been on the rise in recent years, more so with the upswing with those trying to improve their health through nutrition and exercise. It is multi-generational, in that the various age groups are at least curious if not actively utilizing the amazing benefits that herbs provide.

    During the creation of our earth, herbs have been part of the edible, natural landscape. The health benefits were used greatly in years past, then they lost their appeal when prepared foods and medications became available and took their place.

    With the enlarging grocery stores with a vast availability of packaged foods for our convenience, and an abundance of pharmaceuticals, we have lost track of the many benefits that nature has to offer in nutritional wellbeing. Mass production, preservatives and fillers, all in which to provide either flavor and/or ease, we have become a society of consumers who gravitate to the chemical addiction of of what looks, tastes and seems the most satisfying with comfort.

    We have even become easily swayed by the ease of supplementing our diets with multiple vitamins and minerals in pill form, vs. from the healthy nutrition provided naturally through our foods. Yet, if our packaged foods are so healthy for us, then why need supplements?

    Health conscious consumers are awakening to the reality that food, inclusive of herbs, are still essential for our natural well-being. The mindset of reducing our dependency on pharmaceuticals is about awareness. If we put aside the overly processed foods, and started to consume vegetables in their natural state, it would reduce the need for supplements that have become more of a mindset of nutritional balance, as well as reduce our needs for pharmaceuticals.

    Herbs play a huge part of meeting not only our nutritional needs as in spices and seasonings for our food, but they also provide many medicinal uses that many are unaware of. One that is currently popular is turmeric, combined with black pepper, can provide pain relief.

    Herbalists and apothecaries have been expanding their knowledge through education and use, utilizing century old knowledge of what God has provided through nature. As consumers, we can easily have access to many of these resources by nurturing ones own herbal garden. In addition, for those unable to personally grow their own herbs, there are many options to obtain them, through naturopathic providers, health food stores, and many on-line resources. Even our local grocery stores have fresh herbs in our produce aisles. Although rare, some allopathic physicians are also providing some suggestions in using herbs to improve our health, yet if they do not suggest them, many will support your use of this natural option as a first option through discussion.

    Please note: Allopathic physicians, even if knowledgable in herbs, are not specialists in herbal medicine, and will often remind you of that when you discuss herbal options as an alternate to pharmaceuticals. And just because you desire herbal remedies, it does not negate the fact that physicians and specialists are quite valuable in our overall health. We need them as much as we need to be responsible in our choices, so being respectful of their position, allows them to work more effectively with you.

    ALSO note: Always be aware of what herbs can interfere with necessary medications, or which ones to stop prior to any surgical procedure. Herbs are very powerful plants that provide amazing medicinal benefits, but like pharmaceuticals, can have negative side effects. Although they are quite beneficial, herbs can also be quite harmful.

    It is a known fact that eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and various protein sources, that we will consume a healthy range of necessary vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting properties. Yet, many are unaware of the many nutrients that are available in the herbs that can so easily be added to their foods, made into teas, tinctures, etc.

    Our local supermarkets today do carry a large variety of spices and herbs, with many that are fresh and can be found in their produce aisle. Sometimes one can find a few varieties as starter plants. It is much easier to have a larger variety of herbs at your disposal when you decide to grow your own. A nice benefit to herbal gardening, is that many are also flowers that benefit our visual senses. There is a psychological benefit in nurturing the growth of our own food and medicine.

    Digestion: Herbs that are helpful for digestion which can easily be acquired at most supermarkets are thyme, rosemary, oregano, and mint. When they are heating, their aroma is released, causing our salivary glands to work in preparation for our stomach to digest our food. This process actually helps the body break down the fats and starches in our healthy foods.

    Anti-Cancer: Due to the availability of flavonoids within fruits and vegetables, which also reduce the risk for heart attacks and stroke, herbs can supplement this particular activity. Onions, rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile, dandelion, ginkgo, green tea, and milk thistle are some of the herbs that provide flavonoids, all of which help the vitamin C in our diets, to work more efficiently as an antioxidant, cleaning up the free radicals that can cause cancer.

    Be aware that some herbs could cause an allergic response. For myself, sometimes an herb can cause an external response, yet not internally if heated at a certain temperature and/or length of time. If I find that I am getting a skin irritation and it is bothersome, I will take that fresh herb to my allergist and have her do a skin test on me, to see if it is mild or severe. If it is severe, I stay clear of itPersonally, I have found that if I wear long sleeves and gloves when pruning my garden, I have less of a reaction to the herbs that only provide a mild skin irritation.

    Tumor Prevention: Herbs contain phytochemicals (phyto = plant, naturally occurring vs. chemically prepared). These are also called terpenoids, which are potent antioxidants that protect our system, which help to inhibit the growth of tumors. Herbs that carry these naturally occurring chemicals are caraway, spearmint, dill, coriander, lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemongrass, chamomile, basil, rosemary, mint, cardamom, celery seed, fennel and peppermint.

    Inflammation: Inflammation is a protective response to injury, damage and illness, which helps our bodies to naturally heal and repair. Factors that can lead to inflammation are a result of stressors such as food and chemical sensitivities, pollution, extra physical weight and disease. Inflammation can lead to common diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and various other diseases. Herbs that help fight inflammation include: turmeric, green tea, white willow bark (natural form of aspirin), maritime pine bark, chili peppers (capsaicin), Frankincense (Boswella), black pepper, resveratrol, Cat’s claw, rosemary, cloves, ginger and cinnamon. As a patient who understands the effects of inflammation, with Lyme disease, I use many of these herbs, rotating their use, to help with the pain caused by the inflammation.

    Natural Antiseptics: Antiseptic herbs kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms on the external surfaces of the body. Please note that the same antiseptic purposes are not the same as antibiotics that destroy the microorganisms from within, yet many herbs do provide both benefits, dependent upon how they are applied. When applied to wounds and infection, they help to prevent infection. Some of the herbs to consider are: thyme, aloe vera, burdock, clove, goldenseal, spikenard, sage, and garlic. They can be applied as a paste or as an oil made using a natural carrier oil.

    Immune system: Herbs that stimulate the immune system, promote the activity of lymphocytes, which are the type of cells circulating in the body. These invaders (herbs) help to eliminate viruses in our body. Herbs to consider in using are: garlic, onions, Echinacea, rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile, dandelion, ginkgo, green tea and milk thistle.

    Heart Health: Substances referred to as catechins, are herbs that help to lower the bad cholesterol, helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Herbs to consider: onions, garlic, and green tea. Rosehip tea may also help to reduce the formation of harmful cholesterol.

    Health and Healing: Various health inconveniences can cause one to drive to the nearest pharmacy for the newest product for relief, when often; we can easily incorporate them into our daily lives. An Aloe Vera plant on your windowsill can quickly help with a burn, by preventing blisters. For indigestion, you might already have peppermint or dill in your cabinet of spices. Elderberry tea or syrup from berries (whether fresh or dried), will help with colds. Rosemary is a wonderful herb for seasoning food, but it is also great smelling that will also enhances your air quality. And as a plant, Rosemary can also improve ones quality of sleep and concentration.

    Taking care of oneself while using herbs: When taking herbs, it is equally important to keep your health care providers/specialists in the loop. They need to know what herbs you consume medicinally in order to properly treat you.  Herbs can interact with pharmaceutical medications, resulting in health issues or side effects your provider is trying to prevent with their treatment. In addition, some herbs, when used in excess, can be harmful to ones health. When using herbs, I tend to take 2-5 day breaks from time to time, often rotating with others to provide the same benefit.

    If pregnant, trying to conceive, or nursing, some herbs should not be consumed. Please consult your physician. Also, please do not give your herbal medicines to your children without the guidance of his/her pediatrician. Their little bodies are developing, so if possible, give them the best option of immune support by nursing them. Later, after introducing them to foods, and in working with your pediatrician, you can begin to utilize some herbs when necessary.

    In summary: Although the list of herbal suggestions in each category is limited, they are examples of herbs that are more widely known by most people. In addition, there are various other health concerns where various herbs can provide relief. This is why it is important to obtain solid information, preferably a specialist, before consuming. Also, health food stores are great resources for herbal options, but not all health food stores have knowledgeable staff members. Remember, you and your physician are the experts in your health and special needs. A retailer, who wants to help, could potentially recommend something that would actually cause more harm than good.

    Be healthy while you enjoy this precious gift called life!!

    ~ Laura

    Laura D. Field – Blogger and paid Freelance writer

    Potpourri of Health: www.potpourriofhealth.com
    Freelance writer: www.reflectivetapestryoflife.com
    Heirloom Seamstress & consultant: www.davinadawnsewing.com
    Seamstress Blogger: www.seamstobeme.davinadawnsewing.com





  • How One Can Use Herbs

    How One Can Use Herbs

    By Laura D. Field of Potpourri of Health ~ Jan 08, 2018

    As I continue my journey in life, I find myself grateful for how the earth can provide for our overall health. Not only through the foods that we can grow, but also the herbs in which can be grown in our gardens and  found through foraging. In addition to what is close at hand in our own communities, we have the availability of sources globally to add balance.

    We can certainly acquire many herbs and spices in the baking aisle of our local supermarket, but what many sometimes forget is that the produce aisle have some of the same herbs, yet fresh and ready to be used.

    But the question still remains by the novice, is “How does one use herbs other than for seasoning our food?”

    There is a vast number of herbs available for consumption and medicinal use. If you are seeking to use herbs beyond flavoring your evening meal, please honor your time, and start slow. There is so much to learn, yet exciting when you realize what a positive impact it will have on your overall health and wellbeing. Since everyone’s body chemistry is different, understanding that what one person might need to improve their health, might not be required for another.

    Herbalism is based on the use of plants and plant extracts, known as traditional medicine or folk medicine. It is not witch craft, but rather an understanding of how our earth is able to feed and heal our bodies.

    Other names one might hear when discussing or researching herbal medicine are: H. In essence, they all mean the same, in that they are the study of how herbal plants and their extracts can be used to help heal disease and maintain ones health, while providing a therapeutic benefit. In addition to plants, herbalism is sometimes extended to the use of fungi (mushrooms), bee products, minerals and shells.

    Methods in which one can use herbs


    Seasoning is a common use of herbs that are added to our foods to provide a more intense flavor. Of course there are seasoning blends on the market, but utilizing fresh herbs in our cooking, actually provides more flavor while needing less. One can add sprigs, leaves and powders into our cooking. One can also create some very flavorful oils to be used as a dressing or in other forms of cooking.


    Herbal teas can be found beyond the local natural food store and into our local supermarkets. In addition, there are many brands. Knowing the brand is important, because not every manufacturer practices safe processing of their herbs and packaging while some add fillers.

    My preference is to make my own. All one needs beyond steeping the fresh herbs, are dried herbs using either paper or muslin tea bags or tea strainers which come in a variety of styles. The muslin bags and strainers are reusable, where as the paper tea bags are able to be composted along with the spent herb. Some people will steep their herbs without a bag or strainer. This is dependent upon one’s personal preference and perfectly acceptable.

    The fun part of making your own tea, is that you can go in your back yard and pick fresh, or select from the dried herbs you have already harvested, and create your own blend for your specific requirements. My morning tea consists of thyme, oregano, lemon balm and rosemary. A very light flavor, providing anti-viral and anti-bacterial benefits for my particular needs, and when I am in the mood for a little sweetness, I will add a fresh or dried stevia leaf.

    To make tea involves steeping or cooking the herbs. The most common is steeping for 5 – 20 minutes, depending on your desire or what many packages of tea might recommend. I tend to steep my herbs for 20 minutes. Another method is to put the herbs in a pot with water and cook for 5 – 20 minutes then strain to consume the liquid. I also make a herbal blend that benefits bladder health, where I infuse the herbs in water, bring to a boil, then let sit for 6 hours, to which I later strain, bottle, and refrigerate to consume over a couple of days.

    The advantage of consuming herbs as teas, is that their benefits are quickly absorbed by the body, with the potential of immediate or quick results. For long-term benefits, consuming tea for medicinal purposes and/or health benefits, one may need to consume the tea several times a day, over a period of time.

    The disadvantage is that some teas can have a very strong taste and sometimes a strong odor, which for those needing to acquire some needed medicinal benefits from they herbs, they can add stevia or local honey to make it more palatable.


    Tinctures are the result of when the active components of the herb are extracted when mixed with alcohol, water and sometimes with food grade glycerin. Since tinctures are concentrated, only a small amount is necessary, which makes it much easier to store and travel with, while only needing a small amount. Because of their concentration, be mindful of how much is safe to use, and always start out conservatively. Such as, if the recommendation is 10 drops per dose, start with 2 drops. This will give you an idea of how your body responds, and if positive or no noticeable change, increase slowly until you reach the recommended dose.

    Tinctures are easily accessible at local health food stores, some drug stores and via online retailers. Tinctures can also be available through your local holistic provider and also in home apothecary settings where one understands how to make them.


    Raw powders can be made by grounding dried herbs. There is no additional process beyond grinding it into a powder. This provides the benefit of obtaining the complete herb. It is best to use as fresh as possible, and approximately used within six months. Since I harvest in the fall, it is about 6-8 months before I begin consuming the fresh herbs that are beginning to grow in my garden.

    I love that powders are cost-effective and can be easily used in smoothies, stews, homemade salad dressings, and for some, making their own supplements.

    In addition to harvesting and drying your own herbs, one can find powder herbs at local health food stores, vitamin stores as well as online retailers.


    Some find it unpalatable to consume herbs through teas, tinctures, etc., and prefer to take their herbal supplements either as a capsule or in a pill form. In addition, due to the availability of vegan capsules, consumers are able to make their own herbal capsules when concerned about additional additives that one might discover from those who mass produce.

    Some herbal remedies in this formulation, are sometimes recommended by your physician. Due to the opioid epidemic, more physicians are now understanding how valuable using turmeric, cumin, and black pepper for pain can be. In addition, when a physician finds he/she has a patient who deals with chronic UTI’s, they will often recommend that they take D-Mannose vs. the constant need for repeat antibiotic usage.

    In addition to herbal capsules being used for many illnesses, they can also be taken safely over a long period of time for chronic conditions.

    It is important to understand, that with pills you will not see the noticeable results immediately as one would with the fresh or dried herb. The cost, depending on manufacturer and availability, can vary. They do store well.
    Please be aware that not all formula’s are of equal value, as there are great imitators that might not have the medicinal value you are seeking, since they could contain additional ingredients that might prove ineffective for your personal needs. .


    Skin lotions, creams, and salves are topical formulas used externally. These are excellent for calming down inflammation and easing music pain. Some examples are that of: Calendula is often used to help heal wounds, and comfrey or arnica applied as a cream are used for bruises.

    Herbal creams and salves are readily available. Please choose a good quality brand with the appropriate amounts of active herbs to do their job. Although the process of making them oneself might prove to be a bit challenging, it is something that can be done.

    If unable to make yourself, you might discover purchasing directly from a reputable health shop, herbalist or naturopathic physician which might give you the confidence in knowing what is in your product purchase.


    Infusion of herbs, made into a decoction can be applied to the skin as a wash. These are not taken internally, but rather applied directly to a specific area, or added to a hot bath for a whole-body benefit.

    In addition to an infusion made into a decoction, these infusions can be made into a useful compress. This is achieved by soaking a cloth into the herbal infusion then placing the compress on the affected part of the body. These are used to help heal wounds or skin rashes.

    Poultices use the whole herb versus the liquid infusion to help ease irritated or inflamed skin. The herbs are mixed with a moistening agent such as honey or an egg, which is mixed with the herbs and spread on the cloth, then applied to the affected area for several hours. If needing to move about, or use overnight, wrap with a self-adhesive ace bandage to keep in place.


    • Be aware, that herbs are nature’s gift for our health. They should be respected and not consumed in excess.
    • Similar to that of pharmaceutical prescriptions, supplements and herbal preparations. can have a negative effect on one’s health if consumed in excess.
    • Herbal remedies can interfere with any pharmaceutical medications one might be taking. Be sure to discuss this concern with your physician if you decide you will be supplementing with herbs. In some cases herbs can increase the effects your prescribed medications. If you take both an herb and pharmaceutical to reduce your blood pressure, you risk the potential that your blood pressure could go dangerously low. Often, your physician will want to monitor your progress as you move forward.
    • There are some herbs in which one should not take for more than a short period of time.
    • Even when your physician supports your use of herbs to benefit your medicinal needs, it is vitality important to consider trying one herb at a time. This allows one to discover how each herb affects you. If you have an allergy, it can show up immediately or within a few days or within a few weeks.

    Wishing you health, happiness and life balance,

    ~ Laura

    Laura D. Field – Blogger and paid Freelance writer

    Potpourri of Health www.potpourriofhealth.com
    Freelance writer at www.reflectivetapestryoflife.com
    Seamstress consultant at www.davinadawnsewing.com & www.seamstobeme.davinadawnsewing.com