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  • Liz

Nature's Apothecary, Pt. 2

Before the cold winter months take hold, I always take stock of my herbal stash inventory and place an order to replenish. It is no secret to those who know me, Herbal teas are my choice of remedy. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I popped a painkiller but it’s been at least 15 years.

I keep hearing in the news of mostly empty shelves in the fever and pain medications’ aisles at stores all across the country. This shouldn’t be the case, but here we are and what are the alternatives? I’m a big proponent of Herbal medicine, however balance is the key to using herbs for healing and although herbal combinations are not addictive, they are powerful nutritional agents that should be used with care. Diet and lifestyle changes also play a huge role for natural healing which is why seeking a professional for guidance and support is always recommended.

I wonder if long gone are the days when there was that one “herbalist” that every neighbour knew of and recommended to one another…? The problem nowadays, if you don’t have a piece of paper “certifying” you as "something", you better keep your preparations to yourself.

When I first started experimenting with herbs, I looked into the education programs available at that time to become a certified Herbalist. It was a full 7-year course costing thousands of dollars. Not only was the timing not right, there was also a lot of scrutiny and proposed legislation against natural health care products, so why bother? Today however, one can jam-pack a “3-year course” in 2 years for under $3,000 and become a “Clinical Herbalist”. I’m not sure what that even means, nor do I think this is a good idea. Why? I read a news blurb recently (to be further investigated) that New Zealand is introducing a Bill to restrict (or was it ban?) all natural health products. My prediction is the same will happen here and a $3,000 education vs a $25,000 education would be much easier to scrap. I hope I’m wrong.

Regardless, after 15+ years working with herbs personally I will continue to do so while I can. Here’s a sneak peak of just a few of the amazing Herbs one will ALWAYS find in my “healing cabinet” along with a short description of why I keep them…

White Willow (bark)

A bitters tonic herb generally used to treat headache pain and nervous disorders without the stomach irritation of a$pirin. (a$pirin, acetylsalicylic acid, is a synthetic extraction of white willow.) Used as an anti-inflammatory specific in headache combinations; as an analgesic for the pain of arthritis, neuralgia, bursitis and gout; for sore muscles and tendons; to lower fever through increased blood flow and sweating. Additionally White Willow is a natural, safe treatment for earache and toothache. The tea can also be used as a snuff to stop nose bleeds and other surface bleeding. Used as a decoction, white willow is an excellent gargle for tonsil and throat infections.

Goldenseal (leaf, root)

I debated restocking this herb because of its costly price tag, so I had to remind myself again why I needed it. Goldenseal is used in many combinations and for good reason. It is a natural antibiotic & immune system booster; improves digestive issues; a source of natural insulin; a hemostatic to control both external and internal bleeding; and aids eye and mouth problems, just to name a few. Goldenseal is an apparent excellent aid during childbirth however should NOT be taken during pregnancy because of uterine muscle stimulation.

Slippery Elm (bark)

Another costly herb but one I know to always have on hand since it is also safe for many uses on pets. Slippery elm contains mucilage which is a substance that becomes a thick gel when mixed with water. It is a key part in combinations for stomach, bowel, and colon ulcers and inflammation. Slippery elm is used for dry sore throats and coughs, it is a soothing astringent for colitis and diarrhea, it is used as part of an arthritis and gout formula, and for external skin conditions such as burns, boils and psoriasis.

Rose Hips (fruit)

A “spring cleaning” tonic and disease defense herb; an excellent source of non-acidic vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Used in all formulas where vitamin C is needed, especially colds, flu and respiratory infections; an effective cough syrup ingredient.

Gingko Biloba (leaf)

One of my favourite herbs because I swear, I always feel a wee bit smarter every single time gingko is added to one of my herbal tea combinations… Gingko Biloba is a longevity herb, it increases blood flow to the brain, resulting in an increase of oxygen and glucose utilization, with great success in overcoming many unpleasant symptoms of aging, such as memory loss, lack of awareness, depression, and rigging in the ears (tinnitus). Gingko is used as a specific in anti-aging and regenerative compounds for loss of memory and senility; in cardiac protection formulas; for hearing disorders and vertigo where blood flow is poor in the ears.

Astragalus (root)

Is another herb used in many herbal combinations being an organ toning and gland balancing herb, particularly for the spleen, kidneys, adrenals and lungs; stimulating to the immune system through induction of interferon (killer cells). Used as an antiviral specific in immune/resistance building formulas; to increase overall energy and build resistance to weakness and disease.

Burdock (root)

Used in many herbal combinations for various ailments, the root is a strong liver-purifying, hormone-balancing herb, with particular value for skin, arthritic, and glandular problems. The root is used as a specific in all blood cleansing and detoxification combinations; as an important anti-inflammatory and anti-infective for serious female conditions such as endometriosis inflammation, and excess fluid retention; as a specific for antihistamine activity in cases of histamine reactions, and eruptive skin problems, such as acne and eczema.

Click here to find a local supplier in Ontario for all your herbal needs


REFERENCE: Most of the information courtesy of: How to be Your Own Herbal Pharmacist, Herbal Traditions, Expert Formulations by Linda Page, N.D., Ph.D., and The Herb Book by John Lust


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