The Healing Power of Herbs
Pharmaceutical remedies are not only expensive, but sometimes have some side-effects ranging from irritating to nearly incapacitating. There is another option to take, however: herbal remedies. Herbal remedies have been in use for all of recorded history, and used as medicine before the advent of drugs and biochemical medicine. There were only two ways to get healing back then, either magic and prayer, or plants with known healing properties. Since the spiritual is far beyond the scope of this article, the following will focus on healing herbs.
A herb is a plant that produces seeds, but does not produce tough woody tissue, as do trees and shrubs. Instead, herbs tend to have thick stems or leaves for holding water. Catnip, chamomile, spearmint, and hyssop are some commonly known herbs. Spices are plants that have a certain powerful smell or taste, like allspice, cumin, paprika, and rosemary. Some herbs are spices, but not all spices are herbs. Herbs that are spices include cinnamon and mace. Herbs and spices are usually prepared through sun-drying or curing in their native environments. Ginger root, for instance, is harvested, then cleaned and dried, before it is exported. The root can be peeled, or it can be boiled in sugar to preserve it for transportation. The buds of the Syzgyium aromaticum tree can be dried before they open to make cloves. The berries of the Piper nigrum plant are dried to make peppercorns. Nutmeg is made from the seed of a certain evergreen tree. That seed is what is dried and ground or grated to make the spice. Herbs can be astringents to slow or stop blood flow. Herbs can be alkalinizers or acidizers to raise or lower the pH of the blood, respectively. Herbs can be tonics to refresh or invigorate, diuretics to promote the flow of urine, or laxatives. Some relax the nerves, while others excite the nerves. Some herbs even serve more than one of these functions. Different parts of an herb can have different effects. Depending on the particular plant, the flowers, leaves, buds, stems, or roots may or may not be used for treatment. The way to prepare the herbs also differs. Some herbs can be steeped and drunk as tea, or used to wash in. Some are prepared as tinctures, using alcohol to active it. Before using any herbs as remedies, always consult a herbal professional. Most herbs are completely harmless, but others can be harmful if taken in large doses. It is important to know about an herb prior to taking it for medicinal purposes. Follow any dosing instructions very carefully, especially if the herb is for children. The Internet is full of information about herbs and other forms of non-conventional medicine. Libraries are always a good source of knowledge for anyone who wants to know more about herbs and their uses. Another good place for discovery is the localhealth store that carries herbs. These often have those who are well-versed in the ways to prepare herbs and may well be the best possible source of information on the healing power of herbs.