Herbals …

Plants have been around for centuries. For generations our ancient ancestors used plants to heal what ailed them. Why wouldn’t we use them now for our health?

 

According to the book Herbal Apothecary …

The first medicinal drugs were in the form of herbs, plants, roots, flowers and fungi. Evidence has been uncovered that suggest medicinal herbs were used some 60,000 years ago. Drug preparations referring to more than 250 plants that was carved into tablets have been found. The Chinese Emperor Shen Nung focused on grasses and roots documenting 365 herbs. The papyrus Ebers written around 1550 BC includes 700 plants, mineral and animal species and more than 800 prescription entries.

 

The list goes on and on …

So how do you take them? How are they used? There are many forms in which to get the medicinal healings from herbals. Some you can eat fresh in the fields, on a salad or sandwich. Take them in pill form, tinctures, Vinegar extracts, Herbal Glycerites, syrups, oils, topical salves and creams, teas (infusions or decoctions), baths, poultices, and compresses.

I will step through a few of these with you so you can understand what they are and how they work…

 

Tinctures –  The process of making an herbal extract by steeping ground herb in a liquid menstruum, infusing the liquid with active constituents of the herb. These active constituents are sometimes known as “extractives”. After the herb is done steeping it is strained out. The Tincture itself is the finished product, a relatively stable solution of extractives that is preserved (usually in an alcohol like everclear, vodka, rum or brandy) against deterioration.

  • Menstruum – also known as a solvent is the liquid portion of the tincture, usually consisting of alcohol and water. Alcohol is preferred both because it is an excellent solvent for a wide range of constituents and its ability to preserve the extract.

Oils – Wilted or Dried Herbs are steeped in an oil (olive, almond, sunflower, etc.) of choice for a period of time. I solar infuse mine, however some people will use the stove top and low heat to extract the herbal goodness faster. Infused oils ARE NOT essential oils. Herbal oils are externally used for massage directly on the skin or sometimes dropped sparingly into the ears. These oils are primarily used for making, creams or lip balm

 

Salves and creams – These are made with the herbal infused oils. Beeswax is usually added as it is a natural product which is a lot more desired then paraffin, which is derived from petroleum. These are the least messiest method while moisturizing and nourishing the skin.


Teas
– are a water extract of herbs, also known as an infusion. Pouring water, hot or cold depending on the herb, letting it steep for a little while (usually 5 to 10 min.), strain out the herb and drink. Can also add sweeteners such as honey, stevia or sugars


Decoction
– is simply a simmered tea used to prepare hard roots, barks, and seeds. A decoction can either be taken internally, used in a bath or an external wash.

 

Syrups – traditionally made by combining 2 parts sugar to 1 part water extract (strong tea or concoction). Can also use honey, maple syrup, vegetable glycerin, or brown sugar to make this.

 

Poultices – Vegetable or plant material left whole or mashed that is layered or spread on the skin. Its primary function is to pull poisonous or infected matter from swollen tissues, wounds or cysts. Hot poultices increase circulation while cold poultices reduce inflammation. A poultice permeates the injured area with healing substances from the plant.

 

Compress – a cotton cloth is soaked in a diluted tincture, full-strength infused herbal oil, herbal tea or decoction that is applied to the skin and held in place by hand or long strips of cloth. This is effective for treating localized afflictions of the skin, muscles, tendon, joints, and throat.

 

Here is another good reason for the herbals …

Bacteria has been becoming more and more drug-resistant over the years.

How smart are bacteria anyway?

“After placing a single bacterial species in a nutrient solution containing sublethal doses of a newly developed and rare antibiotic, researchers found that within a short period of time the bacteria developed resistance to that antibiotic and 12 other antibiotics that they had never before encountered – some of which were structurally dissimilar to the first. Stuart Lewis observes, “Its almost as if bacteria strategically anticipate the confrontation of other drugs when they resist one”

Herbal Antibiotics, Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Penicillin was first discovered in 1929 and first used in 1942 as an experimental drug for pneumonia. At that time the entire world supply was just 64 pounds a year. By 1999 – this figure grows to an astonishing 40 million pounds a year of antibiotics for people and livestock, research and agricultural plants just in the United States. Fast forward 10 more years and you’ll find some 60 million pounds per year of antibiotics were being used in the US and millions of pounds were being used in other countries around the world. Nearly 30 million pounds of which are being solely used on animals raised for human consumption. THAT’S PER YEAR!!! You might think this is a good thing. Cure the illnesses … Problem is bacteria are mutating constantly and have become antibiotic resistant.  By 1953, as the use of penicillin became more widespread, 64% to 80% of the bacteria had become resistant to penicillin. By 1995 95% of staff was resistant to penicillin.

 

As soon as bacterium encounters an antibiotic, it begins to generate possible responses. Although it takes time for bacteria to become resistant, bacterium live a lot more quickly than we do. A new generation can occur every 20 minutes. Once a bacterium develops a method for encountering an antibiotic, it systematically begins to pass the knowledge on to other bacteria at an extremely rapid rate.

 

There are large numbers of pathogenic bacteria and antibiotics in hospitals and they come into frequent contact, giving the bacteria the most opportunity to develop resistance and virulence. And it gets worse … the use of antibiotics by farms and wide antibiotics use by veterinarians for our pets has created a similar bacterial evolution in fast forward. This has also generated a tremendously potent and quick resistance in a large range of bacteria. As a result, bacteria are able to become more resistant to drugs as we see with superbugs, especially multidrug resistant MRSA which kills more Americans a year than AIDS.

 

“There are alternatives, however, to the pharmaceuticals that once seemed our saviors and now our bane, for bacteria do not develop resistance to plant medicines. They can’t. For plants have been dealing with bacteria a great deal longer than the human species has even existed, some 700 million years”

Herbal Antibiotics, Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria

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