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11 Most Common Herbs and Their Applications

The whole story of herbal medicinal power is one of the most fascinating in the entire world. 

Not only has it been the backbone of European medicine, but every ethnic tribe uses it as the basis of their own medical systems and have done so for thousands, if not millions, of years. 

Everyone seemingly has a different approach but they have many common applications such as externals and internals, mental, reproductive, fevers etc

Many herbs have overlapping abilities in that they can perform either totally or in part in more than one category.

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The classical development of Western herbalism has developed over different categories. 

At this level, it is for the student as well as the "just interested" party. Many excellent books abound in libraries and specialty bookshops that the reader will find well worth working through for more detailed study. 

However, I have included a short description of the more common herbs to give you an opportunity to understand their “health application” together with the vitamins and minerals found in each.

Some of the more common herbs and species we sprinkle into or onto our food are taken for granted. But in fact, many contribute to long-term health.

 Just make sure that the ones you buy have not been irradiated or chemicalized in storage, and choose those that have been organically grown initially.

Throughout the history of man, beneficial uses of plants have played an all-important part in health and well-being. 

The medicinal effects of plants were originally discovered by trial and inspiration amongst cultures ranging from the East (Ginseng) and India (Kotu kola) to South America (Guarana) and latterly throughout Europe from where a whole wealth of herbal remedies have developed over the past 300 to 400 years.

The Herbs and Health section relates the historical medicinal uses of some of the more widely known herbs available today.

Herbs and Health

Herbs have medicinal benefits and this fact has been known and utilized for centuries. 

Records of the Roman Empire; Egyptian, Persian, and Hebrew, nations confirm their historical use. 

When the Romans invaded England their armies took no doctors with them, but instead some 200 herbs which they planted and used extensively.

Herbs contain powerful chemicals that are natural and balanced. Whilst modern medicine isolates the so-called powerful main ingredient(s), traditional herbalists have always shown that nature provided lesser powerful ingredients in each herb to act as a buffer, a synergist, a counterbalance to work in harmony and lesser potential side effects.

As far as the parts of a herb are concerned usually roots and barks are fungicidal and bacterial and when dried will retain their medicinal value for many, many years. Alternatively, some parts are poisonous and deadly. Bitter tasting herbs are usually medicinal and are more potent when freshly picked.

Using herbs in a practical way

1.     A compress is a cloth soaked in a herb solution.

2.     A Decoction is a tea made from bark, roots and seeds.

3.     Essential Oils are extracted by either distillation or cold pressed.

4.     Extracts are the result of herbs being soaked in a solvent and allowing the solvent to evaporate.

5.     Herb vinegars result from herbs put into raw apple cider vinegar, rice or malt and left to stand for two or more weeks.

6.     Infusions are obtained by keeping the leaf or flower in hot water for 5 minutes (not boiled) Ointments are adding powdered herbs to a salve.

7.     Poltices are moistened ground (sometimes in salve form) herbs spread on muslin, or cloth and applied for up to eight hours to relieve pain or inflammation.

8.     Powder is ground herbal plants ready to be made into capsules or tablets.

9.     Herbal Salves, creams, oils lotions are used on bruises, sores, aches and inflammation.

10. Tinctures are powdered herbs added to a 50-50 solution of alcohol and water and used on more severely ill cases.

11. Teas are prepared using one to two teaspoons of herbs per cup of off-the-boil hot water. Put herbs in first and let them seep for minutes. If left over ten minutes they tend to get very bitter.

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