...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

Stuff I Learned at my Herbal Medicine Workshop

(Yes, I am a nerd and take notes at these things)

*Note--Of course you do not want to take these notes as the be-all and end-all on the topic of herbal medicine (seeing as I may have jotted something down incorrectly, for example). So please, if you decide to use any of this info, be sure to research it a bit more first so you know what you're ingesting, how to ingest it, and why.

Herbs can be ingested in various ways. Pills/capsule forms are not the best way to do so seeing as pills/capsules don't occur naturally in the environment. Your best bets are ingesting herbs by drinking them, which allows your body to absorb them more naturally. You can do this in several ways:

1. By making teas from them

  • Loose leafy herbs--these just need to be steeped like you would normal tea--about 1-2 tsps. of herbs per 8 oz. of water. Place them in hot water, let them sit for a while, dredge out the herbs, and drink. Dried herbs also have stronger medicinal use than fresh, as a general rule. Store dried herbs in a dark place/freezer, preferably in glass rather than plastic (or stainless steel). Shelf-life is typically 1-1.5 years.

  • Roots, barks, berries, large chunky herbs--place these herbs into a pan/pot and simmer; 20 minutes to an hour should suit you well; as a general rule, you should toss in a small handful of these chunkier herbs per qt. of water. You can also add these to soups and stews and reap the benefits from a nice tasty dinner. Roots/barks have a shelf-life of 2-2.5 years.

  • 2. By using extracts/tinctures

    Liquid tinctures are great because they allow your body to immediately absorb their medicines. You can buy extracts/tinctures which come in little bottles like these

    at health-food stores or herbal places, and all you do is add some drops to tea, water, juice, etc. and you have a healthier drink for yourself. Tinctures have a shelf-life of YEARS (4 years on average).

    You can also use herbal remedies in the form of essential oils (must be mixed to use) and infused oils (which are soaked in olive oil and can be used as is--you can make these by pouring just enough olive oil over tightly packer herbs and setting them in the sun; however, you must use sterilized jars or the mixture will mold. Allow to sit about 6 weeks and then strain out into another sterilized jar and you're good to go).

    Herbs and Uses

    Alfalfa--Good for digestion, cramps, reproductive issues, bone building. Loaded with beta-carotene, Vitamins C, D, E, etc.

    Astragalus--Fantastic for asthma. For those who suffer from asthma that gets worse when it gets cold out, check out astragalus (which is beneficial for the lungs--warming and moistening) and ginkgo (which is an anti-inflammatory); drink as a tea or tincture, 2-3 x a day. In the winter, asthmatics can also just toss some astragalus into soups--it won't change the flavor.

    Basil--a good anti-viral.

    Burdock root--Cooling and moistening, remedy for the lymphatic system (like swollen glands when you start getting sick, for example). Bitter. Good for skin problems and generally recurring infections. Burdock seed is good for dry itchy skin (tincture).

    Chamomile--Good for tummy, an anti-spasmodic so good for cramps, good in bath for crankiness (for kids and adults).

    Comfry root--Cooling and moistening, you can soak in a tea bath which is good for sunburn. Drinking is good for a dry raspy throat and cough.

    Dandelion root--Cooling, bitter taste, dried root gives it its highest medicinal properties. Good as a digestive remedy and long-term-keeping-healthy digestive remedy. Good for anemia. Restores the liver to a good state (rebalances the system). Increases ability to absorb nutrients from food. Good for eliminating the shakiness/crabbiness of hunger (which is why I really need to track some down). Dandelion leaf has a high level of potassium, is also a diuretic, and helps to lower blood pressure.

    Eyebright--Good for sinuses. Cooling and drying. Good for itchy eyes (though not DRY itchy eyes, since it is also drying), hay fever, allergies. It IS nasty-tasting though, so best used as an extract.

    Fennel--Good for tummy aches, gas, and as a digestive remedy (which is why you often see big bowls of them on your way out at Indian food restaurants).

    Hibiscus--Cooling summer herb. Good source of Vitamin C and bioflavonoids. "Nature's Kool-aid." Add honey to it while hot and it makes a fantastic iced tea ONCE sweetened (sour without sweetener)--can add chamomile and also good with rose hips, or you can just add it to seltzer. Good for colds, to reduce varicose veins.

    Lavender--Calming and mildly stimulating at the same time. Good for memory. Can give some insomnia, however. Good for A.D.D.--calming and focusing.

    Lemon balm--Cooling and moistening. Mild nice taste. Antiviral. Good for tummy aches, cramps (mild ones), fevers, colds in the winter, as an anti-depressant (an "herb that gladdens the heart"). Long-term use CAN be bad for folks with low thyrroid.

    **Nettles/Stinging Nettles**--Dried herb, non-toxic, loaded with vitamins and minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, etc.). Good in teas when mixed with peppermint. Cooling. Good for fatigue (due to the boost of vitamins and minerals). Can be a mild diuretic. Comes in extract form as well. Often helps with allergies. Considered the "herbal oj." Good for hair and skin. A sister to spinach, so can also be prepared and used in recipes similarly. **A long-term tonic to keep the body healthy, kind of the wonder-herb.**

    Oil mullein--good for earaches/infections (dried version good for chest colds).

    Peppermint tea--Good for tummy aches and anti-nauseau.

    Red clover--Lymphatic remedy. Good for women in particular. Anti-cancer. Cooling and moistening. Lots of minerals. Great as an herbal iced tea. Helps with congestion and swollen glands as well as liver function and varicose veins.

    St. John's Wort--Anti-depressant, anti-viral, antiseptic, drying. Good for first-aid with cuts and scrapes (in form of infused oil). Many pain-relieving properties (rub on twisted ankle, for example). Good for hemorrhoids (use an extract for the internal and an infused oil on the external). Good for colds and flu.


  • Red raspberry leaf (dried leaves from bushes)--Fantastic as a tea. Has calcium and magnesium. Astringent to the uterus. Good for heavy bleeders. Can make periods shorter, less bloody, and less cramp-filled.

  • Cramp bark.


  • Fresh extract of oats--made in tincture form, food for the nervous system (stress/anxiety).

  • Motherwort--good for stress and anxiety and heat palpitations, especially when related to menstruation; drink on a regular basis throughout the month (tincture of motherwort 2-3 times a day); continue to take a bit further beyond the time the symptoms disappear. Take a maintenance dose if symptoms return--this just means starting the routine of ingesting the herb again until symptoms clear up. Try for 2-3 months to see if effective.


    If you are using herbs to clear up long-term illnesses, you will need to work with herbs for long periods of time. As a general rule, think of it this way--for every year of illness, you will need to spend a month taking the herbal remedies.

    In order to get the full effect of bitter herbs, you must TASTE the bitterness.

    Anything bitter is good for the liver and digestive juices. Also helps balance blood sugar and sugar cravings.

    The skin absorbs herbs in baths as well--for 1/2 gallon of water=tea steeped from 2 big handfuls of roots/herbs in the tub.



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