The healing art of herbal medicine has been practiced for centuries amongst Indigenous communities across the globe. In fact, herbs were the original source of medicine for all humans! Incorporating herbs into your daily routine doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow this guide to learn more about some herbs we adore and simple ways you can integrate them into your life.
Stinging nettles is a plant native to Europe, where it commonly grows on the side of roads. It’s name ‘stinging’ nettles refers to the stinging hairs located on the leaves' surface that cause a burning sensation when touched. This is likely a mechanism it adopted to protect itself from predators. This versatile plant is rich in polysaccharides, silica, tannins, lectins, and sulphur. It’s been used for centuries to help combat chronic digestive problems, arthritis, and chronic skin conditions. Nettle leaf is also a natural antihistamine, making it the perfect remedy for chronic allergies.
Goldenseal has a long standing history for use as a medicinal plant among the native people of the northeastern United States. This beautiful flowering plant produces a fruit that ripens around July and has the superficial appearance of a raspberry with its small, red berries. Goldenseal is bitter, acts as a liver tonic, and has anti-inflammatory properties. The rhizomes of this plant have been used to treat sores and topical inflammation. Goldenseal has the ability to reduce mucus build up and inflammation of the mucus membranes. It also has antibiotic properties against a number of bacteria and has the powerful ability to directly kill tumor cells. In vitro studies showed an average cell kill rate of 91%, over twice that of BCNU (a standard chemo agent for brain tumors). It’s used in the clinic today for many inflammatory conditions, both internal and external.
Burdock is one of the easiest plants to find in the wild! It is found all over the world although it’s native to Europe and Asia. The root, seed, and leaf are all used as medicine. Burdock has bitter components and cooling, sweet energetics. Burdock root contains high amounts of inulin, a prebiotic fiber beneficial for gut health. The seeds contain some essential fatty acids, vitamin A, and B2. It has potent liver detoxifying and high antioxidant levels. It can be used topically for eczema, psoriasis, and for removing styes on eyelids. It’s high nutrient content makes it the perfect food for damaged skin.
We absolutely love this herb. Nothing can quite match the mystical and multifaceted nature of Calendula officinalis. The name calendula refers to the plant’s tendency to bloom in accordance with the calendar - every month in some regions, or during the new moon. It’s also referred to as the Marigold after Virgin Mary. According to South American folklore, the small, red flecks sometimes seen on calendula flower petals symbolize the loss of many Aztec lives by the Conquistadors in their search for gold. Calendula has long been regarded as a magic plant, a “comforter of the heart and spirits”, and a protector against evil influences. It’s highly anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal, and can be employed in a variety of therapeutic settings.
Native to Greece, the genus name for dandelion, Taraxacum, is derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder) and akos (remedy). This magical plant has many healing properties. Its bitter properties are to thank for its ability to enhance digestion. Dandelion also acts as a diuretic, a liver tonic, can help with constipation and upper respiratory infections. Dandelion was used extensively among the Algonquin, Cherokee, & Ojibwa tribes as well as in Ayurvedic medicine in India. It has a sweet yet “rooty” taste and all parts of the plant can be used as medicine or food. There are dozens of active constituents in dandelion including magnesium, iron, iodine, and copper, to name a few. In more contemporary research, dandelion has proven to be effective in modulating glucose, increasing the flow of bile, acting as a tumor suppressant and immune enhancer. The best thing about dandelion -- it’s so widely available! Dandelion is so easy to grow and gather. There are no reasons not to love this beauty. :)
Plantain Leaf was a popular medicine amongst the Greeks & Romans and was mostly used for its anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. It has many medicinal properties and can even be used to treat inflammation of the mouth and throat. Our favorite way to use plantain leaf is on our skin. It can (and should!) be used externally to treat inflammatory conditions of the skin like blisters, sores, insect bites, earaches, and eye ailments. In the clinic today, it’s widely used to treat cough, colds, and upper respiratory congestion.
Echinacea has long been regarded as an immune enhancing plant. The root & aerial parts contain compounds like caffeic acid, polysaccharides, and alkylamides that all contribute to its healing properties. Echinacea can be used for skin infections, eczema, and to enhance immunity. American Indians used echinacea topically to treat snake bites, infections, and other topical wounds.
A very attractive plant native to North America, Black Cohosh was used liberally amongst the Indigenous people of America. It has been researched for its effectiveness in mitigating menopause symptoms and balancing hormones. In particular, the Cherokee tribe used this plant to stimulate menses, as a painkiller, in colds, coughs, hives, and in rheumatic pains. The flowers of the black cohosh plant produce an abundance of nectar which serves as a food source for many insects. Black cohosh can also be used to treat neuralgia and headaches.
Now that you know some of our favorite herbs, read below for easy ways to use them!
There are three main extraction methods: oil, water (tea), and alcohol (tincture).
For a quick way to infuse your herbs into an oil, place them with a carrier oil (olive and coconut oil are best) in a glass jar. Use a 1:4 ratio, for every 1 serving of herb, use 4 servings of oil. Place the covered glass jar in a double boiler or crock pot filled with water over medium heat for up to 24 hours. Strain with a cheesecloth and use your herb-infused oil topically!
Possibly the quickest way to consume herbs is through making an herbal infused tea! Simply place your dried herb of choice into a saucepan with filtered water (again, using the 1:4 ratio) and simmer on low heat for twenty minutes. Strain with a cheesecloth and voila! You have yourself a yummy, herbal tea.
The solvent used for extraction in a tincture must always be alcohol. First, fill an 8 ounce jar halfway with dried herb. Then, fill the rest of the jar with 90 proof, high-quality, no flavor vodka. Seal your jar with a metal cap and allow it to sit in a cool, dark place for 6 - 8 weeks. Make sure to check on it every week, shaking occasionally.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended for medical use. Please consult your healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement, medication, lifestyle, diet, exercise, or other routines.