You may already know a few remedies that include some of the more well-known herbs with health benefits, such as using Garlic for the immune system or that Turmeric is terrific for cutting down on inflammation, but here are a few of Mother Nature’s best kept secrets you may not know as much about.
Dandelion – One of Nature’s “Cure-alls”
Most people equate spring dandelions as the bane of their lush green yard – the herbalist rejoices when these “weeds” finally begin to pop through the spring soil. The dandelion has such a wide spectrum in aides for the human body, it has earned its place among nature’s “cure-alls.”
The dandelion can quite literally be considered one of nature’s perfect foods, some even classify it as a super food. It is nature’s richest green vegetable source of beta carotene (from which vitamin A is derived), rich in fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, the B vitamins riboflavin and thiamine, and it’s also a good source of protein. Since the dandelion is non-poisonous, it can be taken in large doses internally if need be in fresh form, tinctures, or dried preserved leaves, even by tiny children.
All parts of the dandelion are useful to our body. The flowers, leaves and roots can be utilized. It is considered a bitter herb so many prefer a bit of honey to sweeten it up when made into a tea.
Being bitter, historically the dandelion is used as an ideal aide for the liver with its ability to promote bile production and help remove excess water from the body in edematous conditions resulting from liver congestion. It is especially helpful in cases of jaundice and liver enlargement.
The dandelion can also be used to aid a variety of conditions including: scurvy, eczema, acne, hepatitis, weight reduction, both constipation and diarrhea, kidney stones, anemia, high blood pressure, and a general system cleanser as it promotes healthy digestion. The next time you see a spring yard covered in dandelions, imagine the vast health benefits those tiny “weeds” could bring to your family, should you choose to include them in your daily routine!
Elder Flower – A Powerful Healer; Cleanse and Revitalize
The elder flower is among the world’s strongest healing herbs. In his book, “Advanced Treatise in Herbology,” from 1978, Dr. Edward E. Shook quoted the great herbalist Henry Box of Plymouth, England as saying: “I have never known it to fail, even when given up to and at the point of death. It will not only save at the eleventh hour, but at the last minute of that hour. It is so harmless that you cannot use it amiss, and so effectual that you cannot give it in vain.”
Elder is a stimulant and as such it acts quickly. It can be used with efficiency in treating colds, influenza, fevers, inflammation of the brain, pneumonia, stomach, bowels and most any part of the body.
The flowers are the safest part of the plant. They are mild enough even for small children. The flowers made into an infusion can be used externally as an astringent for the skin, as a mouthwash or gargle for sore throats, mouth ulcers and inflamed gums, an eyewash for conjunctivitis (pink eye), twitching eyelids and tired/sore eyes. Taken internally, the same infusion can reduce inflammation of rheumatism, gout and arthritis and is especially helpful with conditions where pain is made worse by damp or cold weather.
Elder flowers have also been used for upper respiratory infections, sinusitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, flu, and aches and pains. The herb induces perspiration so it is helpful with healing fevers.
It has a relaxing quality that helps relieve bronchial spasms and catarrh which in turn is useful for asthmatics. It also soothes the nerves and will promote a good night’s sleep, diminish anxiety, lift depression, and its fresh leaves laid upon the forehead can be helpful in relieving nervous headaches.
Red Raspberry Leaves – Overall Health, Especially Women
Red Raspberry Leaves are considered the perfect “food” for women, especially pregnant women as it contains vitamin C, calcium, iron, vitamin A and other nutrients their bodies will need. A hot infusion made of the leaves will balance hormones and strengthens the uterus. It is an anti-emetic, and as such is helpful with morning sickness and nausea. Midwife studies have shown red raspberry leaves to shorten labor, make deliveries faster, and helps prevent tearing of the cervix. It’s use during pregnancy will lessen chances of having to have a c-section.
It’s hormone balancing effect will apply to men as well. Red raspberry leaves have been used in a variety of ailments including: constipation, diarrhea, uterine hemorrhage, uterine cramping, labor pains, hemorrhoids, vomiting, colds and fever, intestinal flu, thrush, sore mouth and throat, ulcers, wounds and gonorrhea. It is known as an antibacterial and an antiviral.
Studies have shown that the red raspberry may even be helpful fighting certain types of cancer. The red raspberry contains ellagitannins, which when taken at a dose of 40mg (about 1 cup of red raspberries), has been shown to prevent the growth of abnormal cells.
Low doses of ellagitannins have been shown to slow the growth but in higher doses, it has actually shown reduction of cells. These results have been witnessed in studies with cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, esophagus, pancreas, and skin.
Plantain Leaf – Powerful Blood Cleanser and Antivenom
Plantain can be found worldwide and is a popular addition to most lawns, playgrounds, parks, and most every yard. Most people do not know however, the plantain leaf is one of nature’s most potent blood purifiers and will stop the spread of blood-poisoning in its tracks.
Blood poisoning from a wound is typically marked with a classic red line running down the limb of the infected individual stemming from the wound.
A handful of plantain leaves, bruised (pounded or crushed), with a bit of water and wrapped around the wound with a bandage over to keep it in place, will stop the spread of blood-poisoning.
Making sure to reapply newly bruised leaves as the old batch dries out, keeping the leaves moist at all times, the red line will be seen to begin receding most times within a few hours.
Made into an ointment, plantain is a potent cure for bee or wasp stings, bringing down swelling within mere minutes.
If an ointment is not available, using the bruised leaves as above will also do the trick.
This same procedure is an excellent choice when dealing with bug bites and stings of all types, and even a scorpion’s sting.
Rubbing bruised leaves over exposed skin has proven to be a natural bug repellent.
Plantain leaves made into an infusion, or tea, is known to kill worms internally or treat ringworm externally. It has antiseptic properties and is a nice choice for cleansing wounds and has been known to aid with lung infections and asthma by soothing the cough reflex.
It will also depress the secretion of mucous, especially in the respiratory system. The tea, cooled, can be used on sunburn and other burns for a cooling and healing effect, much the same way Aloe Vera treats burns.
The powered roots can be used to treat toothaches. When powder is not on hand, simply dig up a plant and chew on the roots and stems for the same effect.
Nature’s Abundant Gifts
Whether you’re walking through a playground, a park, a forest, or a field – every inch man leaves untouched, nature will again claim and she will populate each area with an abundance of gifts.
Even the aggressive plants we commonly consider weeds have their place somewhere on the medicine shelf or have simple nutritive value.
For each ailment and for each individual body, there is a plant or combination of plants that hold the cure, and in direct proportion to our body’s health needs.
If you have experienced the power of plants in healing, I invite you to share your stories below in the comment section. I will most certainly get back to you with any questions as well.