People everywhere are hungry for clear, practical, scientifically-validated information about how to make safe and simple use of herbs in their day to day lives. I too was once hungry for this kind of information. I discovered that working (and playing) with herbs did not need to be complex and confusing. It could be sheer pleasure. For me it was like walking down a path where a wonderful surprise is revealed at every turn.
For more than a million years our ancestors lived with herbs. They cooked with them, healed with them, scented their bodies and sanctified their prayers with them. On a molecular level, the human body recognizes a herb when we take it. Come to know the nature of a specific plant and it will enhance your life immeasurably. In a very real sense you can come to know a herb the way a woman knows her lover. The spirit of a plant meets the spirit of a human. Expect magic. You won’t be disappointed.
According to both traditional practices and recent scientific experiments, the right plants can work wonders on the human body.
The cool, slippery gel oozed out of a leaf of the aloe cactus has been used for almost 3000 years to treat burns and cuts and to undo the devastating effects of too much exposure to the sun. Recent studies show that phyto substances from the aloe actually penetrate damaged tissue encouraging healing, increasing blood flow and easing inflammation and pain.
Aloe Vera is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic if only extracted from the leaf pulp. It contains carboxypeptidase and bradykininase which relieve pain.
Make a friend with Aloe Vera
If you have a good, healthy aloe plant that is at least three years old (and you go about it sensibly) you can cut the leaves for use without doing lasting damage to the plant. Relief for burns and cuts lies inside the leaf.
Cut a leaf, split it open, and smooth the gel you find inside over the burn, or just lay the leaf, gelside, on the burn and hold it in place with a bandage.
The classic definition of a herb is a non-woody plant which dies down to its roots each winter. This definition is far too limiting. It was probably made up by 19th Century European botanists who had never seen the rainforest in which, of course there is no winter to die back in. Neither had they ever heard of woody trees and shrubs such as hawthorn and ginko and elder which are some of the best selling herbs on the market these days. I define a herb as a medicinal plant. It can come from any climate and be a leaf, a bark, a flower or a root. It can be home-grown or wild, a weed, a spice, a plant which is used for its healing or culinary or beautifying properties.Once you discover the power of herbs it is easy to become so enthusiastic about them you go overboard trying to use them for everything. It is not wise to take lots of different plants all at the same time. Or you might start to think that since a small amount of something is good for you, taking twice or three times that amount will be even better. It isn’t. If you want safe and sane herbal help here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Herbs occasionally interact with conventional drugs. Be sure to tell your doctor that you intend to try a herbal remedy.
- If you want to use herbs to treat a serious medical condition, find yourself a good medical herbalist to work with. Don’t do it yourself.
- Take no more than recommended dosages of a herb or combination. If you notice any adverse reaction, stop right away.
- Use only the very best herbs whether they be fresh, dried, teas, tinctures, extracts, or capsules.
- Give plants enough time to work. Many herbs, such as St John’s Wort and Wild Yam, are slow to build beneficial effects on the body. Look to six weeks for results.