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Hypericum perforatum -  St. John's Wort

Discover the Healthful Properties of St. John’s Wort

More and more people started to discover the benefits of herbal medicines. Along with the famous ginseng, echinacea and ginkgo biloba, St. John’s Wort started to become increasingly preferred by modern consumers. The truth is that the demand for natural alternatives to conventional medicine grew day by day, allowing this natural herbs to become extremely important. Companies started to use them to create unique products and supplements in order to satisfy the need of today’s savvy consumers.

What is St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum (bostryx)
Hypericum perforatum (bostryx) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also known as Hypericum perforatum, Klamath Weed or Tipton’s Weed, St. John’s Wort is a yellow flowering herb that contains several potent ingredients, such as hypericin andhyperforin. This unique herb features powerful antidepressant, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its success in treating depression has increased tremendously over the years, especially since a study that was conducted proved that about 80% of all people suffering from mild to moderate depression were cured. However, this herb is not that effective against moderate to severe depression cases.

Health Benefits of St. John’s Wort

This herb has been used for thousands of years as a sedative or painkiller. Moreover, its properties made it the perfect natural herb in treating minor to severe health conditions, from mood swings, sleep disorders and bruises to severe burns, malaria, lung and kidney problems, uterine cramping, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, breathing problems, hangovers, gastrointestinal problems, alcoholism and even more serious cases of tuberculosis. There is no doubt St. John’s Wort is one of the most important ingredient found in many tablets, capsules or tea.

According to a recent study performed by a combined group of scientists and herbalists in the United States, this natural herb can help you deal with a sore throat, psoriasis, sinus infections, Parkinson’s disease, chronic cough, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, anxiety and other mental disorders.

Uses and Preparation Methods

St. John’s Wort has been found to possess significant amounts of hypericin and hyperforin. These two ingredients are known to raise the release of major neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine), which will improve the brain signals between your body’s cells, enhancing your nervous system and increasing its functionality. Moreover, hypericin is capable of inhibiting a bodily chemical (also known as monoamine oxidase), that is associated with depression and anxiety. The result of this herb over your body is an increased state of well-being that will help you deal with depression, wintertime blues, low energy levels, mood swings and chronic fatigue cases.

If you deal with anxiety, mood swings or depression, it is recommended to take one capsule of 300 mg at least three times each day with meals. However, it is wiser to consult your doctor before taking these pills. St. John’s Wort can also be administered in the form of tea, tincture, pills, tablets and decoction. Since there are hundreds of products on the market which contain this herb, you have a wide range of choices.

If you deal with alcoholism and hangovers, it is recommended to drink a tea that contains flowers of St John’s Wort. Add 1 cup of flowers to 1 cup and a half of boiling water. Simmer for about 5 minutes, strain and then drink while it’s hot. You can also add honey or any other natural sweetener for an improved taste. The recommended dosage for tea is just like in the case of pills or capsules, which is three times a day. If you prefer tincture, you should take it only twice a day. The preferred dosage is 1/4 teaspoon for one teaspoon of water.

Tips on How to Identify it in The Wild

English: Plantlets of St. John's wart (Hyperic...
English: Plantlets of St. John’s wart (Hypericum perforatum) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nowadays, there are over 300 species of Hypericum. This herb grows all over the Europe and United States, mostly in hayfields, waste places and roadsides. It usually blooms in June and continues to grow until fall. If you want to identify this natural herb in the wild easier, Google it and study some pictures. Always look for that specimen with black dots on its petals and several clear dots on its leaves. These can be easily noticed when its leaves are held up to light. The good news is that you can grow St John’s Wort all by yourself, even if it might be hard to germinate. However, the best choice can be to buy it or simply go in the wild and reap them.

Lavender-flower

The Healing Properties and Preparation of Lavender

Lavender  (Lavandula spp.) is a flowering plant genus found in the Mint family (Lamiaceae). There are 39 species of lavender. It is native to southern Europe, North Africa, and the south-western regions of the Asian continent.

The lavender plant is cultivated for a number of reasons. The plant is commonplace in gardens because of its durability and beautiful appearance. Moreover, lavender has a beautiful and distinct scent. Most importantly however, the plant is versatile and has a number of different uses, ranging from culinary to medicinal.

Appearance

When looking for lavender, there are a few characteristics which are easily identifiable. Firstly, lavender grows as a small shrub.

It has leaves which are a medium grey color and appear to be quite linear. They also appear to be covered with ‘puff’.

The easiest characteristic to identify in lavender is the violet and sometimes blue flowers associated with the plant. They are found growing compactly in spikes.

A lavender plant can be anywhere from 30cm to 70cm tall.

If you are interested in harvesting lavender, the best time to do this is in the morning because that is the period when the flowers have an abundance of active substances.

 

Benefits

Lavender has a number of benefits for the human body, both internal and external. Lavender flowers have antiseptic, calming, and cicatrizing properties. These characteristics emerge because of mineral substances, tannin, and essential oils. In terms of internal relief, lavender has been known to cure digestive problems, headaches, asthma, dizziness, and heart problems. Finally, it is used as a relief for depression.

For headaches or anxiety, lavender tea and infusions are the best method for relieving your ailment. For colds or fever, lavender vinegar is effective. If you are afflicted with acne or have weak, damaged hair, lavender oil is useful. In addition, the oil can be used to cure insomnia, clear nostrils, and disinfect wounds.

Preparation

Here are some preparation methods for various mixtures containing lavender:

  • Lavender vinegar: Can be used for colds or simply as an insecticide. To make lavender vinegar, combine lavender flowers with juniper petals, sage leaves, mint, rose, and savory in one liter of vinegar. Allow the mixture to macerate for seven days. After this, filter out the plants and top the remaining mixture off with some vinegar until it once again levels at one liter.
  • Lavender tincture: Can be used for throat afflictions or as a mouthwash. Combine 200g of lavender flowers with one liter of alcohol. Add 500ml of distilled water to the compound. Leave this mixture to soak for four days, occasionally stirring. Finally, filter out the lavender and use as necessary.
  • Lavender tea: Used for stress and headaches. Also has applications for light wounds and minor burns. Combine two teaspoons of lavender flowers with one cup of hot water. It must be drunk while it is hot. If you would like to sweeten your tea, honey is recommended. Additionally, if the tea is being used for cuts or burns, utilize five or six teaspoons of lavender flowers for a stronger mixture.
  • Lavender oil: Arguably the most useful of all lavender mixtures. Combine 20g of lavender flowers which have been dried with approximately 20ml of alcohol. Put this mixture in a medium sized jar and add 200ml of olive oil. Stir the ingredients well. Place the mixture in a steam bath and let it boil for two hours. Stir every fifteen minutes. Once you have completed the steam bath, cover the mixture for two days, after which you can filter it through gauze. Finally, the mixture must be left in a cool, dark place. If you are using lavender oil for skin afflictions, it is recommended that it is applied once a weak, preferably in the evening, to freshly cleaned skin. After being left on the skin for 20 minutes, it should be washed off with warm water.

These are just a few of the mixtures which can be made from the lavender plant.

Apart from the medicinal uses of lavender, the plant can also be used in cooking and baking, as well as in various cosmetic applications. However, if you keep in mind the few mixtures provided as well as the method in which you can identify the lavender plant, you will always be capable of utilizing the healing benefits of lavender to help you in your everyday life.

See also

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sunshine health benefits

Eight Benefits of Sunshine

All things in nature thrive when given proper amounts of sunshine. It is estimated that we spend 90% of our time indoors out of the heat and sunshine during the summer months. Just like plants wither up and die without sunshine, we do too. We need sunshine to regulate our moods, lower stress levels, help us sleep, and over all just help us to be healthier people.

  1. Boosts the immune system, aides in weight loss, and speeds up the metabolism.
  2. Lowers stress levels. Chances are that you know already that stress is hard on you, both physically and mentally. Sunshine is one way to lower your stress levels and provide a multitude of other health benefits. If you are feeling stressed about life, try going outside and just laying down in the sunshine, going for a walk or working outside.
  3. Increases your levels of deep sleep at night. Spending time outside during the day in the sunshine can help your brain figure out when it needs to sleep and when it should wake up. Getting your schedule figured out can help you sleep better at night. Also if you are doing active things outside during the day you are much more likely to sleep well at night.
  4. Increases bone, muscle and heart strength. If you struggle with a heart condition or poor bone health you should spend a lot of time outdoors soaking up the sunshine and fresh air. It can transform your life.
  5. Reduces your chances of developing cancer. Now this one can go both ways, if you get sunburned badly you almost double your chances of getting skin cancer, but if you can manage to spend time outside and not get burned you lower your risks.
  6. Lowers your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes. Not only are you more likely to be doing some kind of physical exercise when you are outside enjoying the sunshine, but you also lower your risks by increasing your levels of vitamin D.
  7. It help alleviate depression. Sunshine is natural mood booster and can help eliminate symptoms of depression such as sleepiness, sadness, and irritability.
  8. Can help with acne or other skin problems. Sunshine helps the skin to heal naturally and is recommended for any type of skin outbreaks or rashes.

Now that you have read that list, doesn’t it make you want to run outside and soak up some rays? Go ahead, take a break from your busy life for 15 minutes and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.