Medicinal herbs at Kurmi Market Kano (Wikimedia Commons)

Herbal medicine is a complementary therapy that uses plants or plant extracts to treat illness.

A Brief history[edit | edit source]

The healing properties of many herbs has been known since earliest times, there being archaeological evidence of their usage over 7000 years ago, but the first comprehensive record of plants of herbal value was compiled in the fourth century BC by Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the 'Father Of Medicine'. By the Middle Ages many monasteries contained 'Physick Gardens', where a variety of herbs grown for their health giving properties could be cultivated. The first of these was at Oxford, established in 1621. The Chelsea Physic Garden, set up by the Society of Apothecaries, followed in 1673. The development of printing in the fifteenth century saw the production of many 'Herbals', these were magnificent books featuring descriptions and illustrations of plants along with their healing properties and details of their preparation. One of these was produced by John Gerard (1545-1612), who although dedicated, tended to be rather fanciful in many of the properties he attributed to herbs, and many of his more far fetched remedies are still quoted by those who oppose the use of herbs in healing sickness. He was succeeded by Nicholas Culpepper (1616-54), one of the best known British herbal healers. Despite his tremendous knowledge, and the fact that his 'Complete Herbal' produced in 1649 is still today a respected work, he died penniless, accused of 'witchcraft' by his more orthodox contemporary doctors due to the amazing numbers of cures he effected. Indeed, much indigenous knowledge of native herb lore was lost or suppressed by both the Protestant and Catholic churches during the 300 year period that we now know as the era of the witch hunts.

Paracelsus, a German physician, propounded his 'Doctrine Of Signatures' around this time, his belief being that the appearance and general characteristics of a plant gave clues as to it's healing and useful properties, having been placed there as a 'signature' of God. For example lungwort (Sticta pulmonaria) was held to be a cure for complaints of the chest due to it's spotted leaves that give the plant a resemblance to the human lung. Indeed, lungwort is mucilaginous, and is widely recognised as a treatment for pulmonary complaints.

The 21st century[edit | edit source]

Indeed, in the 21st century, much herb-lore that had once been held as superstition or 'old wives tales' is now being acknowledged as being based very much upon scientifically provable fact, and many reliable published modern herbals are now available. The modern grower can easily incorporate elements of the 'physic garden' into their own garden or allotment by growing a selection of medicinal plants in order to create their own outdoor 'first aid kit' which can be administered in forms such as tisanes, infusions, decoctions, poltices or compresses, although of course it is advisable that no medicinal treatment for serious complaints using herbal cures should be undertaken without qualified supervision.

How to use[edit | edit source]

Very fine chopped or Granulated herbs: the best method is to seep them in boiling water for twenty minutes and strain the excess herbs from the water and ingested twice a day for most beneficial outcomes

Roots and Barks: Simmered for at least thirty minutes to extract medicinal value. You may also find ways to grind these into a more loose form and turn them into a powder.

Leaves and Flowers: Most common form to make herbal medicines, usually seeped in boiling water like common teas. These can also be used to make syrups and herbal salves for exterior use

A list of herbal treatments[edit | edit source]

Acid Indigestion[edit | edit source]

  • Meadow sweet - drink an infusion of flowers and leaves
  • Mint - drink an infusion of leaves

Acne[edit | edit source]

Arthritis[edit | edit source]

Asthma[edit | edit source]

Backache[edit | edit source]

Bad Breath[edit | edit source]

Boils[edit | edit source]

Broken Bones[edit | edit source]

  • Comfrey- crushed roots applied as plaster

Bruises[edit | edit source]

Bronchitis[edit | edit source]

Chestiness[edit | edit source]

Colds[edit | edit source]

Confinement (following)[edit | edit source]

Conjuntivitis[edit | edit source]

Constipation[edit | edit source]

  • Plantain - seeds made into jelly with water

Coughs[edit | edit source]

Covid-19[edit | edit source]

Dandruff[edit | edit source]

Diabetes[edit | edit source]

Diarrhoea[edit | edit source]

Disinfectant[edit | edit source]

Eyestrain[edit | edit source]

Flatulence[edit | edit source]

Headaches[edit | edit source]

Hiccoughs[edit | edit source]

  • Mint- drink infusion or chew leaves

Indigestion[edit | edit source]

Insect repellant[edit | edit source]

  • Rue- hang bunches of herbs in room or store clothes with moth bags
  • Yarrow- use in bunches or moth bags
  • Southernwood- use in bunches or moth bags

Insomnia[edit | edit source]

Intestinal tonic[edit | edit source]

Lumbago[edit | edit source]

Nausea[edit | edit source]

Nosebleed[edit | edit source]

Rheumatism[edit | edit source]

Spots[edit | edit source]

  • Cleavers- crushed as a poultice
  • Burdock- drink infusion of the leaves
  • Elder- wash face frequently in an infusion
  • Periwinkle- ask herbalist for ointment

Stitch[edit | edit source]

Teething of children[edit | edit source]

Warts[edit | edit source]

Wound dressing[edit | edit source]

Page data
Keywords health and safety, herbs
Published 2015
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Ported from [see first revision]
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