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Herbal Remedies

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

There are many herbal teas that have a good medicinal use and which are beneficial in a host of disorders. We promote familiarity with these teas and their use instead of pharmaceuticals or the irritating beverages and teas such as pekoe (green and black), colas, and coffee. The caffeine and other toxic alkaloids in these teas are mutagenic, causing changes in sex cells that can bring about abnormalities in the offspring. Further, caffeine is irritating to the nerves; it is dehydrating to certain body tissues while promoting swelling of feet and fingers. It causes one to be unsteady on the feet, and it irritates and congests the stomach and bowel. The pancreas, bones, bladder, kidneys, and heart are adversely affected by caffeine, and children are made hyperkinetic.

Make Your Own Tea

Leaves or flowers are used for teas. Unless special instructions come with the tea, use the following directions:

1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.

2. Add 1 teaspoon of the leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon of powder.

3. Cover and set off the fire to steep for 15 to 30 minutes.

4. Strain and drink fresh for most teas. Some can be stored. Most can be made once in the morning for the whole day.

Clear teas may be taken between meals, as can water. It is not wise to drink generously of either water or tea while very hot and thirsty. Take only 3-4 ounces at first until you are cooled, so that the stomach will not cramp. Do not lie down after eating for 1-2 hours, if possible; but one may lie down within a few minutes after drinking clear tea or water.

Make Your Own Decoction

Roots, stems, berries, and bark are used for decoctions.

1. Get the material finely divided such as in a powder or chopped (this can be done with a blender).

2. Use one heaping tablespoonful of the herb for medicinal tea in one quart of water.

3. Simmer gently for 5-25 minutes. Do not overcook. Strain. Cool and drink, or store in the refrigerator.

Make an Extract Using Vinegar or Alcohol

1. Use any commercial vinegar or grain alcohol. For external use only, you may use ordinary rubbing alcohol.

2. Mix one ounce of the herb with one pint of the extracting solution.

3. Swirl once or twice a day for 2 to 3 weeks, at which time the extract will have reached its full potency.

4. Strain and squeeze out all the fluid possible.

5. If using alcohol, mix with sufficient water to make a 30% solution. If you must use a beverage alcohol, remember that 60 proof is 30%, or half the proof.

Flaxseed: Ground into powder: Helpful for treating constipation. Highest known plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory, lower cholesterol, and are beneficial for the heart and blood vessels (usually used as the oil for these indications).

Ginkgo leaves: Blood vessel vasodilator, possible memory stimulant.

Goldenseal: Apply externally for fever blisters, sores (including canker sores) in mouth, inflammatory bowel disease, infections (herbal antibiotic).

Hawthorn berry: Heart stimulant, angina, very mild sedative, high blood pressure.

Hops: Sedative, anxiety, poultices on abdomen for inflamed bowel or skin or soft tissue abscesses; poultice may be combined with charcoal.

Red clover: General tonic/cleanser.

Saw palmetto berry: Prostatic enlargement or inflammation; chronic prostatitis.

Tea tree oil: Externally only: Skin infections, cleanser, anti-fungal.

Wild yam: Anti-inflammatory, internally and externally; PMS; menopause.

Remedies for Certain Conditions

Arthritis: Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium), flaxseed oil, turmeric (Curcuma longa), chaparral, wild yam, Oregon grape root.

Anxiety: Catnip, hops, valerian root, chamomile, skullcap; make tea with varying combinations, depending on severity of symptoms.

Asthma: Acute attack: Hot garlic tea. Tea made from ephedra, lobelia, mullein, and slippery elm; Coleus forskohlii.

Prevention: Above teas; flaxseed oil; Quercetin with C (2 caps 3x daily); Selenium 200 mcgm daily (adults); Vitamin E 800-1200 units daily, Pycnogenol 60 mg 3-6 times daily.

CARDIAC

Heart failure: Hawthorn berry, magnesium/potassium (unless kidney function impaired); Diuretic teas: dandelion leaf, buchu, cornsilk, watermelon seed, juniper berry, burdock root (various combinations); flaxseed oil.

Angina: hawthorn, magnesium/potassium, flaxseed oil, possibly chromium (I prefer chromium polynicotinate [Chromate] 200 mcgm before meals), ginkgo.

Arrhythmias: Hawthorn (if necessary, take 1 cup or 2-4 caps every hour), magnesium/potassium.

Hyperlipidemias: Flaxseed oil, chromium (Chromate), guggalon.

Hypertension: Garlic - try large doses of Kyolic, as 4 caps/tabs of Super Formula 102 four times a day; chromium (used for insulin resistance), magnesium (as the oxide, sulfate, or citrate); Coleus forskohlii, and tea made of ginkgo, hawthorn, and yarrow (Dr. Deatherage adds mistletoe - although some feel it is toxic, we have seen no problems in our limited use.) STRICT SALT RESTRICTION IS ESSENTIAL.

Depression: St. John's Wort (or the derivative called Hypericum).

Female problems: Menopause & PMS: Wild yam orally or as a cream (Pro-Gest cream), black cohosh, red raspberry, squaw vine. Add dong quai and chaste tree for PMS.

G.I.

Peptic ulcer/gastritis: Aloe vera juice/gel: 1-2 oz before meals; finely powdered slippery elm: 1 Tbsp in water after meals and as needed, Rhizinate (Deglycyrrhizinated licorice extract): 2 tabs chewed and swallowed on arising, between meals, at bedtime, and as needed. Anti-H. pylori measures: Bismuth; Pepto Bismol; goldenseal: 2 caps 4 times daily, Grapefruit seed extract (Nutribiotic, etc.): 5-6 drops in glass of water 3 times daily; Liquid Kyolic: 1 tsp 3x daily.

Inflammatory bowel disease: (Ulcerative colitis: Strict dairy-free; Crohn's Disease: Strict gluten-free) Aloe vera; slippery elm powder; goldenseal by mouth and as retention enemas, along with marshmallow and licorice root; Pectin or magnesium or sodium butyrate; charcoal.

Irritable bowel syndrome: aloe, slippery elm, charcoal, Enteropep (enteric coated peppermint oil, 2 caps with meals and as needed for cramps or discomfort).

Diarrhea: Non-specific (viral/food poisoning): Activated charcoal; psyllium seed or husks (ground); wild strawberry leaf tea; blackberry root tea. Parasites: Artemisia annua, goldenseal, garlic, grapefruit seed extract, gentian root extract. Bacterial: Same as for parasites except for Artemisia, plus "friendly bacteria" (Lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidus, etc.).

Constipation: Senna tea; Bulk agents: Wheat bran, psyllium seed/husks, ripe olives, slippery elm powder; ground flaxseed, WATER!

Gas: Charcoal, Beano.

Nausea: Catnip tea, double strength - sip; carob paste, mint tea. If vomited up, repeat immediately after vomiting, and can usually hold it down.

Hay fever/allergies: See Asthma Prevention, plus nettle tea or caps (3 c or 2 caps 3x daily).

HEADACHES

Migraine Prevention: Feverfew, escholzia, flaxseed oil.

Other types of headaches: Try to ascertain cause (chilled extremities, constipation/intestinal toxins, animal products, anxiety/tension, food sensitivities/allergies, insufficient air in bedroom, formaldehyde [as in new buildings/mobile homes], "sick building syndrome," acute/chronic sinusitis, etc.) and ELIMINATE. Use white willow bark 3-4 caps every 4 hours (must take regularly); St. John's Wort, valerian, and Devil's claw may be useful.

Insomnia: Same as for Anxiety, may increase valerian; add wood betony.

Infections, acute: Echinacea, goldenseal, garlic, grapefruit seed extract, gentian root extract, chaparral.

Musculoskeletal pains, strains, inflammations: External tincture of wild yam, comfrey, white willow bark 3 parts each, DMSO 1 part as stock solution. Add tincture of cayenne (hot pepper) 1 part to 3 parts of stock mixture. Paint on affected areas 3-4x daily until better, then may decrease to 1-2x daily as needed. Add more or decrease cayenne tincture as needed, less for excessive burning; more if insufficient response.

URINARY

Cystitis, acute: Uva ursi, buchu, cranberry extract (Cranbecin, Cranadin, etc.); Nutribiotic; WATER! May be necessary to give a cup of uva ursi and buchu tea every 10-15 minutes until pain and spasms subside.

Cystitis, chronic: Try to ascertain cause (urethral stricture or chronic urethritis, contamination from colon, chronic candidiasis, etc.). Same as for acute cystitis, possibly adding garlic, goldenseal. Long-term cranberry extract (2 months or more) may be necessary to prevent recurrence. Prevention, both acute and chronic (women): Wear cotton panties; take showers, not tub baths; after BM, wipe front to back, not back to front; dilute Lysol (1 tsp per quart) pour after BM. For persistent yeast vaginitis/cystitis: Sterilize panties in microwave (about 2 minutes) after washing in hot water. Treat the colon with garlic, nystatin, grapefruit seed extract, lactobacillus, etc.

Dr. Christopher Deatherage, Naturopathic physician, will consult by phone on medical problems, suggesting herbal/simple remedies. He can supply custom tinctures, bulk herbs, etc. Dr. Deatherage makes a charge for phone consults, since this is the only way he has of making a living. Address: Rt. 5, Box 806, Ava, MO 65608, Phone: 417-683-1300.

Eclectic Institute, 36350 SE Industrial Way, Sandy OR 97055. Phone 800-332-4372. Supplies high quality freeze-dried herbal capsules, tinctures, extracts. Generally sell only to health professionals, but will probably sell to you if you assure them there is no local outlet for their products.

Phyto-Pharmica, P.O. Box 1348, Green Bay, WI 54305. Phone 1-800-553-2370. Similar to Eclectic. They supply more standardized herbal extracts; some prefer these to the whole herbs, but their efficacy/value over high-quality whole herbs has not been established. They also sell primarily to health professionals, but if you cry on their shoulder a bit, they will probably sell to you. If necessary, get a friendly chiropractor, naturopath, etc., to order for you.

Frontier Herbs, P.O. Box 299, Norway, IA 52318. Phone 800-669-3275. Frontier is a good-quality supplier of bulk herbs of all kinds. Ask for their catalog.

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