Herbal medicine can be viewed as the precursor of modern pharmacology - indeed, many of today's powerful drugs are derived from plants. The medicinal value of herbs has been recognised for centuries by ancient civilisations, and is being rediscovered (and in some cases confirmed) by modern scientific tests. Like drugs, herbs are not always as safe as some herbalists suggest, so make sure any information you receive on possible ailments comes from a reliable source such as a registered herbal practitioner. The information below comes from the Fragrant Garden at Erina, NSW, where resident herbalists are qualified in the study of herbal medicine.
When using fresh herbs, flowers, bark or roots to make infusions or teas, you should wash them carefully first in order to remove dirt or pesticide residues.
• Aloe, native to Africa, is also known as "lily of the desert", the "plant of immortality", and the "medicine plant". The name was derived from the Arabic alloeh meaning "bitter" because of the bitter liquid found in the leaves. In 1500 B.C., Egyptians recorded use of the herbal plant in treating burns, infections and parasites.
• When the leaf is broken, its gel can be placed on burns to relieve pain and prevent blisters. Aloe may reduce inflammation, decrease swelling and redness, and accelerate wound healing. It can aid in keeping the skin supple, and has been used in the control of acne and eczema. It can relieve itching from insect bites and allergies. Aloe's healing power comes from increasing the availability of oxygen to the skin, and by increasing the synthesis and strength of tissue. Aloe supplements can be used for peptic ulcers and for gastro-intestinal health.
• To make a salve: remove the thin outer skin and process the leaves in a blender, add 500 units of vitamin C powder to each cup and store in refrigerator.
• Keep in sandy soil that is well drained. Potted plants need filtered sun or full shade.
Cabbage Leaf Poultice
• Cabbage is rich in Vitamin C, some unusual vitamins (G,P & U) and contains selenium - a rare anti-ageing substance. Cabbage is a great old folk-remedy for joint pain, hangovers and migraine. An effective old remedy, it rarely appears in modern books. Perhaps it just sounds too ordinary and simple. Take a large leaf of cabbage, crush it with a rolling pin or better still iron a leaf with a hot iron. (This helps release the healing substances). Bind this to the painful joint or forehead (for migraine). Renew the poultice when the leaves dry out.
• For hangovers drink some cabbage juice.
Feverfew (Chrysanthemum Parthenium)
• Medicinal tea herb with hundreds of daisy flowers throughout summer. Good border plant self seeding. Good for migraine. Also used to reduce fever.
• Make a tea using a few large Feverfew leaves or eat two to three leaves per day. If you don't like the bitter taste, you can make a medicinal tipple with a large bunch of leaves and a bottle of brandy. Feverfew has been shown to reduce significantly the frequency of some migraine headaches. It is best taken as a prophylactic for migraine. (i.e. daily use of Feverfew stops migraine from happening. It's not necessarily as effective if taken when you have the pain.)
• Ginkgo Biloba, a living relic of the dinosaur age, is the oldest surviving species of tree on earth. Poetically, it helps the oldest surviving people. An extract of ginkgo is said to help prevent and treat many conditions associated with aging: stroke, heart disease, impotence, deafness, blindness and memory loss. Recent studies show it may also help treat or prevent Alzheimer's disease.
• Its purported benefits for memory have made it one the best-selling herbs in Germany.
• Ginkgo Biloba can be made into a tincture by picking the leaves and placing them in alcohol. Leave for a month or so, and then strain to get a strong extract.
• It's very economical to grow your own as most jars of pills from your local health food shop have approx one leaf's worth - 2 grams, and cost around $30. If you grow your own plant you'll get far more for your money
• Also known as Symphytum officinale, knit bone, blackwart, or healing herb. Comfrey assists with mouth and throat irritations. It can also be used as an aid for certain intestinal disorders. Helps heal wounds, bruises, and insect bites. As some medical practitioners say that comfrey can be toxic in overdose, it's best to consult with a qualified herbalist before ingesting the herb.
• Externally, small patches of comfrey can be taped onto wounds, stings, bites or bruises. The herb is also often used in face creams for the treatment of wrinkles. This is quite simply done - get hold of a lot of the plant , boil it up, boil it down, get an extract and then put it in your favourite face cream, such as sorbolene.
• Comfrey is a bog plant which likes lots of water.
The Fragrant Garden
Ph: (02) 4367 7322