What about …. #21

We all fall sick once in a while, we have to take what is necessary to get on our feet again, and for that we’ve got two types of medicine, the Chemical and the Herbal. Once someone told me that “every Chemical medicine is natural, because what we call Chemical, comes from nature itself”.

Actually I think that’s true, let’s say for instance that you have a headache, you might take an aspirin (or a paracetamol / ibruprofene, they’re all non inflammatory drugs, in which the major ingredient is the Salicylate found in the brark of the willow tree) which consist of about 90% acetylsalicylic acid, along with a minor amount of inert fillers and binders, or you might drink a decoction of a willow tree’s bark. Both will give you the same result, in approximately the same amount of time. But we must chose between the passion of herbalism and its preparation or the practicity of the drug already in a tablet. Herbal medicine vs Chemical medicine is what we’re going to focus today.

Let’s start with a bit of History: Since the beginning of times people cured themselves with plants; wounds, colds, pains, etc…were taken care of quite easily, obviously not every disease had its cure but most of them had. Greeks and Egyptians were the most renowned for their healing theories. Lots of stories are known from the middle age, the preparations were made by a herbalist which were mostly men at the time. Women who possessed the knowledge were treated as witches in most places till the 19th century when women began to stand up for themselves. Very few women were renowned for their knowledge in the 12th century; there was Dorotea Bucca head of the university of Bologna in Italy and Abbess Hildegarde of Bingen in  Germany.

Still, women couldn’t practice herbalism without apprehension, “The superior learning of witches was recognised in the widely extended belief of their ability to work miracles. The witch was in reality the profoundest thinker, the most advanced scientist of those ages… As knowledge has ever been power, the church feared its use in women’s hands, and levelled its deadliest blows at her”. Matilda Joslyn Gage, 1893,

During the 16th and 17th century, all across Europe, in every town and village, women were killed, en masse, as witches. The killings went on for two centuries and touched everyone’s lives. They spread fear, destroyed networks and resistance and did not stop until the population was sufficiently subordinated and the emerging state, capitalist social relations and church had got its claws into the lives and psyches of the people. The beginning of the western medicine started in Iran. The best university of medicine was in Isfahan, at the time of Avicenna in the 11th century. Muslims and Jews students learned together, they spread their knowledge wherever they went. Medieval European medicine became more developed during the Renaissance of the 12th century, when many medical texts both on Ancient Greek medicine and on Islamic medicine were translated from Arabic during the 13th century. The most influential among these texts was Avicenna’s The Canon of Medicine, a medical encyclopedia written in circa 1030 which summarized the medicine of Greek, Indian and Muslim physicians until that time.

Herbalism is a way of curing diseases in a natural way, as all the plants are not harmless, a herbalist is necessary to find the right plants and to prepare them in the right way. The plants are gathered, dried for a few days and then, either they are stored as they are or they are used to prepare the medicine and then stored for further necessities because sometimes it takes up to a month depending on the medicine and taken many times a day. Knowledge, patience and passion are required for the job. But as I said, all plants are not harmless such as these Marijuana, Cannabis and Hashish.

I would say that the chemical medicine (also called drugs) started with Pasteur in the 19th century, this kind of medicine is obtained through extraction from medicinal plants, but more recently also by organic synthesis. Much more diseases are cured, and in a easier way to take. Lots of expenses are needed and it takes years of learning and research to find a cure.

For instance, Sometimes a part of the body can’t make enough of a certain substance, and this can make a person sick. When someone has type 1 diabetes the pancreas can’t make enough of an important chemical called insulin, which the body needs to stay healthy. If the body makes too much of a certain chemical, that can make us sick, too. Luckily, medicines can replace what’s missing (like insulin) or they can block production of a chemical when the body is making too much of it. Many people also take chemical medicines to control illnesses that don’t completely go away, such as diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure. With help from these medicines, people can enjoy life and avoid some of the worst symptoms associated with their illnesses which can’t be found in the Herbal medicine. Finally, there are important medicines called immunizations, and they are usually given as a shot. They prevent people from catching serious illnesses.

So the pros and cons of these two kinds of medicine are:
I think that for the love of Nature and what has been given to us through those little harmless leaves and roots, it’s better to use Herbal medicine as long as the disease isn’t life threatening, but for much more serious diseases, the chemical medicine is mandatory.  Now the choice is  yours, do you prefer to heal Naturally or Chemically?

​Healing plants for cold and flu

Elder is an Anti inflammatory, Styptic, Anti viral, and the flowers are laxative 

Willow is an Anti inflammatory, Styptic, Anti Viral and of course a source of Aspirin

Garlic is a Styptic, Antiseptic, Anti Viral, Anti fungus, circulation stimulant

Marsh Mallow is a Soothing, emolient, nutritive , calms the cough, it’s good for throat and mouth infections

Elcampane is an Antiseptic, Anti spasmodic, Expectorant 

Sage is a Stimulant, Astringent, Antiseptic, is is good for the wind and throat

Thyme’s oil is Antiviral & Anti fungus and good for the muscles, bronchitis dilator, good for cough, throat and wind

Colt’s foot is Anti inflamatory, Demulcent, good for cough and its leaves are full of Vitamine C

Cinnamon is a  warming, Anti spasm, Astringent, Antiseptic for cold, fevers, indigestion & irritable bowels

Eucalyptus it’s essantiel oil is anti bacterial,  good for respiratory problems, warming soothing in massages

Hyssop is for respiratory problems, digestive disordre 

Ginger is a warming, reduce travel nausea, calms the digestion & for wind

Turmeric is an anti inflammatory, antiseptic, for cough, cold, flu, digestion and anti-allergic

Relaxing plants

These are relaxing plants that you may grow in your backyard or in your house:

Chamomile is a relaxant, sedative, anti inflammatory and a digestive 

Hawthorn is good for the heart, it relaxes the arteries, it helps the heart’s circulation and it’s against palpitations
Eleuthroccocus Senticocus (similar to the syberian ginseng) helps the body deal with stress, tonic for immune system, nerve tonic and against exhaustion
Rosmarin is a nerve tonic, it stimulate the blood’s circulation, antiseptic, light anti depressive and digestive 
Skullcap is a nervine, sedative, anti stress, insomnia and depression 
Valerian is a sedative and relaxant 
Verbana is a relaxant, nervine, anti spasmodic, diuretic, bitter tonic 
Pasque flower  is an anti inflamatory, sedative, for pains BUT don’t use the fresh plant
Californian poppy is a sedative, it treats insomnia, anxiety and tension
Lactuca virosa (kind of lettuce) is a sedative for anxiety and nervine
Lavender is used for migraine and its oil sooths after a sunburn, and it helps the  digestion

You may check out the Healing plants as well.

Healing plants #1

These are a few healing plants which you can grow at home without too much fuss and which could  be used anytime.

Yarrow is a styptic (wounds), antiseptic, anti inflammatory, nervine and good to treat fevers

Calendula  Officinallis is a styptic, antiseptic, anti inflammatory, nervine, healing, anti fungal

Echinacea is an antiseptic, anti inflammatory, immune system stimulant and for infections such as cold/flu and herpes

St John Wort is an Anti inflammatory, Healing, Analgesic and anti depressant

Aloe Vera is a famous antiseptic, anti inflammatory, Anti Fungal, Healing and for burns of type 1

Agrimony Eupatoria is an astring, anti-diarrhoea and for wounds

Arnica montana is to enhance the blood circulation and  healing properties but NOT on open wounds

Plantain  is an expectorant, can be used for gastric problems, externaly for insect bites, for slow healing wounds & as a poultice

Feverfew  is an anti inflammatory and good for migraine

I hope that this might be useful for those who wish to plant useful plants at home.