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A Pleasant Way to Feel Better

All through history people have relied on plants to help them overcome  a variety of ills.  While our forbears and Native Americans before them searched the woods and fields for cures, there was never any scientific proof these remedies worked.  Recently, however, scientists have been investigating these once commonplace folk medicines and it turns out there is often more to them than an old wife’s tale

For example,  rosemary has been proven to be full of antioxidants and is also an antiseptic. If you have a sore throat, try using rosemary tea as an antiseptic gargle.  Drinking up to three cups of tea a day (no more) could also provide antioxidant agents to help ease inflammation in the body,  prevent age-related skin damage, and even help improve memory.  There is even some  thought that it may help prevent Alzheimers.  Thyme, too, is antiseptic as well as antibacterial and antifungal.  The tea is a good choice to help relieve the discomfort of coughs, bronchitis, and colds or to use as a gargle for a sore throat.  And ginger, in capsules or in a tea, is recognized to be as effective as Dramamine for motion sickness or simply to relieve an upset gastric system.  Echinacea, an herb used frequently by Native Americans for over 400 years, is still in dispute.  Trials have shown it helps people avoid colds or
shortens their duration but some find fault with the methods used for testing.  Nevertheless, it remains one of the most popular herbal remedies. Here are some other herbs that have been used through the years to provide relief for simple ills.

Anise Seed:  Nerve-soothing; sleep-inducing; digestive.  Babies like it.

Borage:  Exhilerating; cools fevers.

Catnip:  Good nighttime tea.

Chamomile:  Soothing, relaxing.  Aids digestion.

Dill Seed:  Eases colic pains in babies.

Elderflower:  Treats flu, colds, siniunitis, fevers.

Hops:  Calming, sedative for insomnia.  Relieves hangover headaches.

Horsetail:  Its silica content strengthens hair and nails.

Lavender Blossoms:  Relieves extreme fatigue.

Lemon Balm:  Cheering.  Counteracts stress, soothes nerves.

Linden (Lime Blossom): Tranquilizing.  Soothes nerves, palpitations, indigestion.

Marjoram:  Calming.

Mint:  Aids digestion, nausea, flatulence.

Monarda:  Induces sleep; relieves headaches and nausea.

Orange Blossom:  Induces sleep.

Parsley:  A natural diuretic.

Sage:  Aids digestion; improves circulation.  Eases sore throats.

To make any of these teas tastier, add basil, lemon verbena, rose geranium, rose hips (a good source of vitamin C),  or hibiscus… or mix several like-acting herbs together. 

Here, as an example, is the bracing tea I brew when I sense a cold coming on.  Whether the naturally antiseptic thyme, the throat-soothing sage, and the enegizing ginger actuallly help bring about a cure or not, they certainly do make me feel better.


1/3 cup dried thyme

1/3 cup dried sage

1/3 cup dried ginger root or 3 tablespoons powdered ginger

Mix together and store in an air-tight jar.  Makes enought for about 10 cups.  For directions on the best way to brew herbal tea, see the entry on Teatime Herbs.

Herbs can be powerful, so do not self-medicate any serious problem or use any herb to excess without consulting a doctor.  Simple remedies like a gargle or drinking a cup of tea to help you relax or ease an upset stomach are generally harmless but be sure that the herb doesn’t interact with a medication you are taking or that you are not allergic to it.  And if the condition persists, be sure to see your doctor

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© photos Chris Mead; Emelie Tolley;, text Emelie Tolley


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