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Homemade Herbal Medicines for Common Ailments
by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Somewhat glumly, I celebrated my 61st birthday this past July. In the back of my mind, I’ve been sure for 45 years that God would make an exception to my normal and natural biodegrading process, thus allowing me to remain 35 years old well into my 90s. Somehow, it escaped the Universe’s notice that some fine print in my birth contract negates, in my case, the aging process. A failing I am trying to get across, without success (so far).
In general, however, I am very healthy and I do have one very special thing going for me: I don’t use any pharmaceuticals, unlike nearly everyone I know in my age group.
The reason I don’t take even one prescription pharmaceutical every day is mostly due to my lifestyle — primarily because of my reliance on herbal medicines. I have been using homemade herbal remedies as my primary health care for about 30 years. I’ve successfully treated everything from minor colds, flus, cuts and scrapes, which we all encounter on our journey through life, to irritable bowel syndrome and staph — with visits to many interesting conditions in between.
The best treatments I’ve found for common ailments all use herbs you can grow in your garden or likely have in your kitchen cupboards, disguised as condiments and spices. And, of course, these remedies are not the final answer on what works; nearly every plant you see around you can heal something.
Burns. I usually just pace around while verbally — and loudly — exploring the world of expletives. But sometimes I also use the following remedies.
1. Honey: This is especially good for severe burns. It will stop infection, stimulate skin regeneration and keep the burned area moist. Honey is better for burns than nearly all medical interventions, even for third-degree burns.
2. Prickly pear cactus pads, filleted: Wear gloves to hold the pads while using a sharp knife to gently fillet the exterior skin off the pads. You will be left with slimy, oval pads of plant matter. Place the pads directly on the burn and bandage the wound. For a sunburn, rub the pads on the affected area.
Cuts and scrapes. Every one of us encounters life’s sharp edges, often over and over again. Here’s how I handle the aftereffects.
1. Wound powder: A good wound powder recipe contains any berberine plant (such as barberry, goldenseal or Oregon grape root); comfrey root or leaf; juniper needles; and maybe oregano, rosemary or thyme. The berberine plant and juniper needles will disinfect, and the juniper needles will also stop the bleeding. Comfrey will stimulate healing, and oregano, rosemary and thyme are also antibacterials. I usually make the following recipe and keep it in the freezer to retain freshness:
Measure out 1 ounce of the berberine plant root or bark, a half-ounce of the comfrey root, 1 ounce of the juniper needles, and a quarter-ounce of the oregano, rosemary or thyme leaves (optional). Combine the ingredients, mix them in a blender or food processor until well-ground, and then powder the mixture until fine in a clean coffee grinder. I often sieve it afterward to get as flour-like a powder as possible. Sprinkle it liberally on the wound.
2. Honey: Stop using the wound powder after a few days and switch to honey. It’s effective against all known drug-resistant bacteria and really speeds healing. Just cover the wound with honey, bandage, and change the dressing daily.
3. Wound salve: Use a combination of berberine plants, black walnut hulls, comfrey root, oregano leaves, rosemary leaves, Siberian elm bark (Ulmus pumila) and dried thyme. Add a quarter-cup each of the roughly ground herbs to a baking dish and mix. Coat the blend with olive oil, cover the dish, and bake overnight in an oven on its lowest heat setting. In the morning, let the mixture cool. Press out and then reheat the oil. Stir in finely chopped or grated beeswax — 2 ounces per cup of infused oil — and let melt. To check hardness, put a drop of salve on a plate and wait until the salve cools. It should remain solid but melt after a second of pressing on it with your finger.
Diarrhea. Any strongly astringent plant will work for ordinary diarrhea. Blackberry root, the main standby used for millenia, is extremely effective. Krameria root, older pine needles just pulled off the tree, and wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) are all very helpful for regulation. To use, roughly chop or grind the dried herb of your choice. Add 1 ounce to a quart jar that can take heat, and fill with hot water. Cover the concoction and let it steep overnight (or for two hours if you really can’t wait). Drink it throughout the next day. Repeat as needed.
Irritable bowel syndrome. Juice 1 beet, 1 piece of green cabbage (about the size of a medium carrot), 3 carrots, 4 stalks of celery and 4 leaves of fresh plantain . Plantain is a common plant you can usually find growing in yards, and is unrelated to the banana of the same name. Cabbage and plantain are the most important ingredients, but they don’t taste very good by themselves. The other ingredients will improve the taste while assisting your adrenal glands, liver and immune system. Drink this juice every morning for breakfast, eat oatmeal for lunch, and have whatever you want for dinner.
Colds and flu. Many plants have antiviral properties — plants get colds just like we do, but because they can’t go to the doctor, they make their own medicines. One of the best antiviral remedies is ginger, but use the fresh juice or it won’t work. When cold and flu season approaches, I buy about a pound of fresh ginger and juice it. Make sure you squeeze out the pulp — a lot more juice will be in there. Put the ginger juice in any handy bottle and keep it the refrigerator. If everyone around me is getting sick or I feel that first onset of illness, I stir together 3 fluid ounces of the juice, 1 tablespoon of honey, a sprinkle of cayenne, the juice of a quarter of a lime, and 6 fluid ounces of hot water. Drink this blend as a hot tea three to six times per day.
Excerpted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, the Original Guide to Living Wisely. To read more articles from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, please visit www.MotherEarthNews.com or call (800) 234-3368 to subscribe. (C) 2014 by Ogden Publications Inc.
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Yours in freedom,
Bruce ‘the Poor Man’
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