Herbal Remedies are often maligned in the press and in the doctor’s office. However, they have been in use since before recorded history. A lot of medical professionals have conveniently forgotten that prior to industrialization medicines had to be made from available resources… plants.
It is true that herbal remedies should be taken with some degree of caution. They can interact with each other and with orthodox medications. They can also make some health conditions worse if used improperly. However, there are ways to find out which can be used safely.
When most of us think about anti-inflammatory medicines, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) come to mind. We reach for the aspirin, Tylenol or other over the counter analgesics. We also tend only to think of injuries and arthritis. However, inflammation can be at the root of a lot of medical problems, particularly internal inflammation.
While the brain isn’t the only organ that will benefit from the use of turmeric, it is one of the most visible. Cognitive decline is a serious problem older people face, and turmeric has been studied as a possible aid in preventing, slowing and even reversing this decline. The studies show great promise in this area, particularly for stroke patients.
Cautions: Turmeric may stimulate uterine contractions, especially in medicinal amounts. It may also thin the blood, which can cause bleeding issues. Taken by itself it may upset the stomach. Stop taking turmeric two weeks prior to any planned surgery. Tell the surgeon if there is a need for emergency surgery.
There are two types of cinnamon on the market. They are related and have similar properties. Cassia cinnamon is the curled bark found in most grocery stores. True cinnamon is usually flat pieces of bark and has a stronger flavor. Both have the same benefits.
Like turmeric, cinnamon is one of the popular herbal remedies and has anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a few other actions. It can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Both of these actions are valuable for diabetics, although care has to be taken in amounts. It may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in diabetics.
Cautions: Discuss the use of this herb with both your doctor and pharmacist if you are diabetic. Stop using it at least two weeks prior to surgery.
The scent of cloves, for most people, means Thanksgiving, Christmas and pumpkin pie. Some may associate it with a type of cigarette. A few people are aware of the folk remedy for a toothache; a drop of clove oil in the affected tooth.
All of this is true, but only one of them points the way to the true value of cloves. That would be the eugenol found in them. Eugenol is classified as a dental analgesic. Many dentists will numb the gums with eugenol before administering the painful shot that allows them to fix cavities and other dental problems without severe pain.
If you look up the topical application of cloves and clove oil online, reputable sites will warn that it could cause “desensitization of the skin.” That would be because the USFDA doesn’t allow people to say it can cause numbing. However, we can use this to our advantage.
One of the best ways to do that is to make a decoction of whole cloves. Mostly this is for sore throats and oral problems. To make it a stronger brew, add a stick of true cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon will also help, but the true cinnamon is better.
Put a tablespoon of cloves and the stick of cinnamon in a pan, add two cups of cold water and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and simmer it until the liquid is reduced to one cup. Drink one to two ounces as needed.
Cautions: The reason for the warning is that when something can’t feel pain it can be injured a lot more easily. Also, the problems with cinnamon remain the same; watch the blood sugar whether you are diabetic or not.
There is polite disagreement amongst herbalists about this succulent. All of us agree that it is great for the skin. Some of us don’t agree that it should be ingested. The reason for that is that some preparations and the raw sap from the plant have a lot of chemicals in them that can do things that you might not like.
Here is the best advice when it comes to using aloe internally. Make sure the brand you buy has had the cardiac glycosides removed. Aloe is distantly related to garlic and other things in the lily family and the glycosides can cause some problems. Do not take any aloe juice when pregnant. Topical use is all right, but internally the juice can cause contractions leading to a possible miscarriage or premature delivery.
Keep in mind that all herbal remedies need to be checked out by both your doctor and your pharmacist. Interactions and side effects can be checked that way. The USFDA doesn’t approve of any herbal remedies as being effective. Please use caution if you decide to use them.