Our next journey takes us into the world of herbs. Herbs are so much part of our everyday lives we probably don’t realise how much we use them.
Herbal medicine is ancient wisdom that has been used throughout the world over centuries. Herbal preparations are made directly from the plant, and use different parts from leaves, flowers, seeds and rhizomes through to the roots. Depending on the herb they can come in tinctures, pastes, tablets or teas.
Our everyday use of herbs includes
Particular areas of the world have the right conditions for specific herbs a few examples are given here:
- Closest to home around Europe you will find Dandelion, Eyebright, Milk Thistle and St John’s Wort, Sage, Lemon balm, Valerian and Thyme
- America provides us with Echinacea, Black Cohosh, Saw Palmetto and Slippery Elm
- China offers Ginseng, Gingko and Liquorice
- India gives us Aloe, Caraway, Cardamom and Nutmeg.
Like all medicine some herbs do require specialist knowledge to ensure they are used correctly. Our blog will focus on those available over the counter that you have easy access to.
This plant will be recognised by everyone you probably have it in your garden! It is loved by gardeners and butterflies alike. Typically, it is the upper part of the plant that is used medicinally. The roots contain volatile oils in high concentrations and so are not used in the same way.
We have the Native Americans to thank for the incredible plant. They discovered so many uses for Echinacea as detailed here
- Skin conditions
- Digestive upsets
- Sore throats
As time has progressed further evidence has come to light and the herb is acknowledged as a top immune support
- It actually helps prevent colds
- Reduces the duration of a cold or flu
- Is helpful with sinus problems
- Alleviates asthma
- Tackles urinary tract infections
- Encourages repair of slow healing wounds
- Addresses infections from gum disease to vaginal yeast infections
- Regular use can reduce and possibly eliminate inflammation – the basis of most chronic disease
Properties of Echinacea
This powerhouse herb is
How to use Echinacea
You can drink the teas as a regular immune support or take the supplements either regularly or on an as needed basis dependent on your health.
Externally it can be applied on the skin for healing of wounds and other conditions. It can also be used as a gargle for sore throats.
Most people will take the tincture or tablets because it is so convenient.
Who needs Echinacea?
Anyone who is
- Suffering from a chronic condition
- Those with colds or flu
- People who are regularly moving from one environment to another or mixing with different people. Think how often your children get colds when they join a new school or class; they are being introduced to new bugs they may be susceptible to
- Sinus sufferers
- Who gets infections on a regular basis
- Asthma sufferers
Contraindications – please be aware that anyone with an autoimmune condition or with an allergy to the daisy family of plants should consult a herbalist about this herb.
The herb can produce skin irritations, asthma and even anaphylactic reactions.
Typically, these reactions are rare. The rule of thumb if in doubt, check with a specialist i.e. a qualified herbalist.
If I feel a person’s immunity is particularly in need of support I may partner Echinacea with Beta Glucan to really give the immunity a boost.
Good diet is essential to good health and preventing illness.
A balanced lifestyle that allows for relaxation, fun and creativity as well as work or school makes us less likely to become stressed and therefore susceptible to illness.
The two main types in common medical use are:
Purpurea is the type used by Vogel in their supplements. This is because this type has the most research to support its action.
Without wanting to state the obvious you need to buy a good quality product from a reputable supplier. Like any product there are always varying standards. A.Vogel grow their own plants and take them into production within 24 hours of harvest. This ensures that you get a great product full of active ingredients; research has shown fresh plant material to be three times more active than dried.
Augustifolia (white flowers) has demonstrated beneficial actions for those experiencing ADD/ ADHD symptoms. Echinacea can help with their anxiety, depression and social phobias. This is the type of use that requires specialist help. It appears that giving 20mg of the herb is effective but if you give more the positive effects are negated.
This is the first in our herb series and we hope you will continue to enjoy finding out more about these varied and valuable additions to our health care.