Herbs are the oldest form of remedy and treatments for everything from anxiety to colds. Now herbal remedies seem to have rapidly come back into vogue because it is natural and environmentally sound and all of those other faddish, sort of wholesome things.
There are two methods in preparing the solutions for the treatments described below:
Infusion or Tea
To make an infusion or tea, boil water (225ml), wait for 30 seconds and then sprinkle the herb onto the water to steep, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until cool or leave overnight. Remember to keep the container covered – use a china, glass or enamel teapot or lidded pan and use the purest water, or bottled mineral water you can obtain. Strain the infusion into a cup and drink it lukewarm or cool as tea, though take it hot to break up a cold or cough. Drinks can be sweetened with honey or raw brown sugar to make them more palatable.
To make a decoction, place the dried herbs in an enamel or glass lidded pan with cold water and slowly bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer down to a quarter of its original volume (10 minutes or until cool). Strain and take with honey or raw brown sugar if preferred. Make fresh daily when possible and keep any unused portion refrigerated. A decoction should keep for up to 3 days in this way.
The usual dose is 200ml of infusion or a ⅓ of the reduced amount for a decoction. On average, one teaspoon of dried herb equals three teaspoons of fresh (1 tbsp). Fresh herbs are likely to have higher medicinal value.
To make a single dose use 1 tsp of herb to 225ml water (a cup).
- Cold Remedy. To protect against colds drink Rose Hip Tea which is high in Vitamin C and can be used to resist colds and other infections. Cayenne powder is also excellent at warding off colds as it strengthens and stimulates the circulatory and digestive system. Infuse ½ – 1 tsp into a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. At the first sign of cold infuse ½ tsp of each elderflower, peppermint and yarrow in 1 cup of boiling water for 20 minutes. Strain and add 1 tsp honey and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper. To fight colds, take hot honey and lemon as often as possible. Lemon has antibacterial properties.
- Acne Remedy. After washing, rinse the skin with an infusion of chamomile which is purifying, yarrow which helps eliminate toxins, catnip which is antiseptic, lavender which is calming and antiseptic or thyme, which is a strong germ killer. Dab spots with neat lemon juice to kill germs, cool inflammation and improve blood circulation. Consider your diet and cut out sugars, fats and dairy products.
- Constipation Remedy. Syrup of figs taken as desired. Fiber in the diet and exercise will also help the problem.
- Depression Remedy. A lavender flower infusion, taken 3 times a day, especially combined with rosemary. Rosemary is useful if your depression results from psychological tension or if you are feeling run-down after illness. Drink a standard infusion.
- Flatulence Remedy. Seeds of aniseed, caraway or fennel, more effective in combination. Infuse crushed mixed seed and drink a cup slowly 30 minutes before each meal.
- Hangover Remedy. Lemon in water or in orange juice for extra Vitamin C, hot peppermint or wild thyme tea can alleviate the discomfort. A drink of yarrow and elderflower tea will help the body to eliminate toxins.
- Remedy for Headaches. Lavender is useful for stress related headaches and combines well with valerian. Drink an infusion of lavender flowers three times a day.
- Insomnia Remedy. A cup of hop tea, taken before retiring to bed is a useful sedative for insomnia except for anyone suffering depression. Combines well with valerian which reduces tension and anxiety, and passion-flower leaves. Chamomile tea and catnip tea are traditional relaxing bedtime drinks that will reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep. Passion flower tea and orange blossom tea can also help insomniacs.
- Menstrual Cycle Remedy. Evening primrose oil is the best remedy for the dull headache, irritability, fluid retention or breast discomfort experienced just before their period. Skullcap, chamomile and lime blossom are safe teas to soothe and reduce discomfort of Pre-Menstrual Tension. Take an infusion three times a day to relieve the symptoms. Lady’s mantle leaves can be taken to reduce period pains and excessive bleeding. Takes in double strength infusion.
- Remedy for Muscles and Joints. If you suffer from muscular cramps, a standard infusion of valerian will bring relief. An ointment or poultice of wintergreen leaves has pain killing and anti-inflammatory properties, that are excellent for chronic muscular problems. A poultice of mustard seed stimulates circulation and relieves muscular and skeletal pain (1 tbsp powdered in warm water). It can be added to a foot-bath.
- Nausea Remedy. Cloves, drunk as an infusion or as a flavoring in food will allay nausea and vomiting while stimulating the digestive system. Infuse about 10 cloves in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes and take as required.
- Nervous Tendon Remedy. A standard infusion of borage leaves is a restorative tonic to the adrenal glands, which are increasingly exposed to stress. After a hectic day, drink a tea of ginseng, lime blossom or lavender to calm and tone the nervous system. Lemon balm relieves tension and stressful states with a mild anti-depressant action. Wood betony strengthens the nervous system and is mildly sedative. For relaxants try chamomile and cowslip, a relaxing sedative for stress related tensions.
- Remedy for Skin Ulcers. The fruit of the fig tree has strong antiseptic and disinfectant properties. Apply a poultice of dried figs to chronic leg ulcers.
- Stomachache Remedy. To soothe and heal the delicate mucous membranes in the stomach, drink chamomile tea for its anti-inflammatory effect or marsh mallow as desired. For stomach cramps caused by indigestion drink an infusion of antiseptic catnip.
- Sore Throat Remedy. The bacteria qualities of lemon, another popular remedy, are increased if you take it in an infusion with a natural antiseptic such as eucalyptus and honey. Thyme is a powerful disinfectant and excellent gargle for sore throats, laryngitis and tonsillitis.