Friday, July 22, 2011


Alternative healing is more than just herbs - the phamaceutical companies would have us believe that they have a cure for everything, but I don't buy that.  There are some things that people just have to work out on their own.

Stress is one of these.  While chemicals can help, they also create a dependence that keeps the body from healing on its own and in some cases even stop the body from creating the natural chemicals that the pharmaceuticals are meant to replace.

I consider my stress a pressure cooker, and I learned a long time ago that if I didn't let off steam it was going to blow eventually.  I have a number of techniques that help, and when I feel the pressure building up I make sure I do something about it.

Exercise is one of the best.  It releases endorphins and at the same time uses the muscles that our constrained lifestyle doesn't use.  Basically puts everything back into working order.  It has been proven that those who exercise have less chance of developing a number of diseases, and those who do not die earlier.

My other "technique" is my hobbies.  I write, I weed in my garden, I play with electricity or dance.  Whatever it takes.  Everyone should have some kind of release - if you don't, get one!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Everyone has salt in the kitchen.  Salt is necessary for life, and being an element could not be called herbal, but I include it anyway.  You'll notice that I do that a lot.

Our bodies don't work right without a certain amount of sodium, but too much can be a problem. 

Salt is one of nature's most perfect any-bacterial and anti-viral agents.  Nothing will live where there is too much of it.  Used as a wound wash, it sterilizes and cauterizes.  It can be used as mouth-wash, to help heal a damaged throat when you have a cough, as laundry detergent, etc.  It was once used to cure hides and meat. 

Salt and Vinegar potato chips...yum.

Interactions:  Overdose is a worse problem.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

catnip (which you probably won't find in your kitchen)

So right now I have catnip - LOTS of catnip.  In the other location I never had it grow more than about a foot high, but now I have a jungle.  About 3 feet high and wide, and it's blocking the sprinklers. 

I started drying it, and I decided to try the car.  In the summer it gets really hot in there, so I put the herbs on plastic trays in the back seat.  Not sure - it might get too hot - but at least its dry.

I'll probably end up giving most of it away.  It's supposed to be a mild sedative, but I don't usually have any problem calming down or sleeping so I don't have much use for it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pepper (the sprinkling kind)

Black, green and white pepper are actually from the same plant.  The difference is when they are harvested.  An alkaloid in pepper called piperene stimulates digestion, treats flatulence, and might be useful in lowering blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis.  That last is because of some compounds which are still being researched.  But it can't hurt.

Interactions:  I don't know of any, but I'll be sure to update the post when I get my drug interactions book back from the neighbor who borrowed it.  :)

Friday, July 1, 2011


Tarragon is apparently a must in French cooking, but it might lower high blood pressure.  It stimulates the appetite and aids in digestion.

I have noticed a tingling or numbing sensation when I eat the raw leaf, which suggests to me that there might be possibilities of using it as a topical anesthetic.  One book did suggest that the root can ease toothache (placed against the tooth).  This is one of those herbs that's not mentioned in most books.

Interactions:  I don't know of any, but I'll be sure to update the post when I get my drug interactions book back from the neighbor who borrowed it.  :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot Peppers

Hot peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin (or more commonly, capsicum).  This is the chemical that makes the peppers hot, and the more capsiacin in the pepper the hotter it will be.  Research has been done which indicates that capsicum helps wounds heal more quickly and also deadens the nerves.  Capsicum is a topical anesthetic, the effects of which can last weeks.

Note that the researches were done with pure, concentrated capsicum, not whole peppers.

Other possible uses:  Numerous.  The only one I've used it for is above.

Interactions:  Be careful when using this with blood thinners or anti-coagulants, also blood pressure medications.  It might increase the effectiveness of the medications (which really suggests to me that it could be used for this, but science would not agree with me).

Nature Walks

The third part is nature.

Most likely, within a few miles of your home there will be public gardens or wild lands that contain the native plants of your area.  Become familiar with these, make them your friends.  If all else fails, these will likely remain.  Consider a weed Well Met.

Be aware that many herbals (as in books that deal with herbs) will not include these plants because the "herbal" history of our world was written mostly in India, China and Europe.  If it is not in one of these three traditions, many people ignore it.

Still, could not wild lavender have the same properties as the cultivated version?  Wild Horehound, wild garlic, wild sage?

In the Yard

The second piece of the puzzle sits outside your door.

Whether you live in a condominium or a cardboard box, you probably have something growing within a few feet of your door.  If it's growing and immobile, consider it a possible adjunct to your herbal.

Lillies, hostas, grapes, iceplant and so many more.  Explore the living plants available immediately around (or in) your home.

The Kitchen Connecton

I split my herbal study into three pieces.

I began my own exploration with my kitchen - if you have spices of any kind in your kitchen, you have something that could have other uses.  Black pepper, salt, cardamom, cilantro, dill, and many others, are the base.  If it has a unique smell or flavor, it's probably good for something.  If it doesn't have a unique smell or flavor, why is it in your kitchen?

The Color Correlation

My favorite color has always been green.  The color of life, the color of growing things.  Some of my earliest memories are in the garden (weeding, entirely against my will :)  ) or sitting in the strawberry patch hoping my mother didn't catch me eating the strawberries.

A little at a time it dawned on me that the plants I love are more than just oxygen and food producers. 

So started my quest. 

Come with me, join me in my exploration of the other alternative medicines.