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Chamomile

The Amazing Health Properties of Chamomile

Chamaemelum nobile, Asteraceae, Roman Camomile...
Roman Camomile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chamomile is one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs. This daisy-like plant is characterized by its yellow disk flowers that are normally 1-3 cm wide each, and surrounded by white rays. It also features some linear feather-like leaves that are finely divided. This wonderful herb grows in populated areas in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

There are several species of chamomile. However, the ones that are mostly recognized for their medicinal value are the Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and the German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). These two have some stark differences in their appearance. The Roman chamomile is a short, creeping plant that does not exceed 30 cm in height. On the other hand, the German chamomile can grow up to 60 cm tall, and has many stems hence more flowers. These flowers are smaller than those of the Roman chamomile. Another difference is that the Roman chamomile is a perennial plant while the German chamomile is an annual plant. However, the two of them have the same therapeutic benefits albeit these physical differences.

Echte Kamille (Matricaria recutita)
German chamomile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The great thing about chamomile is that it blooms continuously from early summer to the start of the winter season. In fact, it blooms throughout the year in areas where there are no cold winters. This means that there is never a shortage of flowers.

Chamomile has very many health properties. First, it acts as a digestive tonic that is not only safe, but also gentle on the stomach. It is highly effective in dealing with bowel problems, vomiting, gas, indigestion and a host of other stomach issues. Chamomile is the only herb that can deal with acute or chronic gastric disorders and bowel diseases that are caused by hyper-excitability and nervousness. Its constituents contain sedative and antispasmodic agents that ease inflammation as well as nervous spasm in the digestive tract. These agents also help to expel gas, and boost the production of bile.

Chamomile is a great laxative with strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can treat all skin inflammations that arise from fungal or bacterial infections, contact allergies and flea bites. These include things like hemorrhoids, plaques, conjunctivitis, skin dryness and psoriasis. An infusion of chamomile flowers makes a nice antimicrobial rinse that not only heals the skin but also soothes it, leaving behind a very nice feeling.

Chamomile has been used for generations as a sleep aid. It is a mild sedative with relaxing and soothing properties. Apart from humans, it can be fed to animals to cure a variety of anxiety-related or spasmodic problems. Being a sweet-tasting herb, which is soluble in water, chamomile is quite easy and safe to administer to animals. It usually recommended by vets before trying other stronger sedatives and antispasmodics.

Studies have shown that the antispasmodic, antiallergenic, anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic effects of chamomile have health benefits for diabetic and cancer patients. They also improve the oral mucous membrane and help wounds to heal faster. The sedative effects of this herb are highly effective in treating insomnia, nervousness, cramps, cold and fever. Additionally, chamomile has been shown to boost the health of patients with bladder problems, bronchitis, skin eruptions, cataplasms, swelling, back pain, jaundice, heatstroke, spleen and kidney problems.

Chamomile is a proven tonic, which strengthens and constricts smooth muscle tissues in the body, including the uterus, the bladder and the heart. It’s relaxing and tonic effects help to ease dental pain. It is also used as an appetite tonic before meals. Another dietary benefit of chamomile is expelling worms. Unlike other herbal wormers such as walnut hulls and wormwood, chamomile is completely non-toxic. However, it is not as effective as the other anthelmintics.

Preparation and administration

To prepare a cup of chamomile tea, you will need 2 tablespoonfuls of  flowers.

  • Boil the water, and then add the flowers.
  • Put it in a cup and cover it with a plate.
  • Leave it to infuse for around 12 minutes, after which it will be ready for consumption.
  • You can add a teaspoon of honey or lemon juice to taste, and for additional health benefits. Lemon juice boosts the cleansing process of the digestive system. It also helps to deal with flu.
chickweed - Stellaria media

Chickweed: The Best All Around Weed

Nature provides us with a lot of the medicines we need to not only survive, but thrive. When you learn to identify some of the vegetation around you, you can use many of them to your advantage in emergencies, or even as daily remedies for common ailments.

English: Chickenwort, Craches, Maruns, Winterw...
Common Chickweed -Stellaria media (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most beneficial, natural herbs is chickweed (Stellaria media). This plant grows uncultivated readily throughout the world, and can provide relief to ailments from coughs to water retention to inflammed and irritated skin. Not only is chickweed a wonderful natural remedy for a variety of ailments, it is also high in vitamins and minerals, and tastes great in salads or a summer veggie side dish.

Chickweed is fairly easy to identify. It thrives during the summer months, and will grow easily in sunny, moist soil. It grows on a stem which can grow to 15-20 cm in height with leaves growing opposite each other on the stems. White flowers will bloom on the ends of the plant, which will reseed easily for more chickweed to grow. The stems are slender and may have what appear to be tiny hairs growing on them.

Chickweed provides a lot of health benefits to users. The U.S. Navy used chickweed in the prevention of scurvy in the early years because it is high in Vitamin C. While sailors didn’t know the cause of scurvy was low Vitamin C, this edible plant naturally kept levels of Vitamin C higher in sailors onboard ships to lower the numbers of sailors suffering from the potentially deadly disease. It is also a natural diuretic, making it excellent for people suffering from certain types of edema, as well as weight loss due to water retention. Because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties, chickweed is a wonderful soother for people suffering from cough due to inflammation of the lungs or mucous membranes. It can also be used to treat minor skin irritations and rashes due to insect bites or other mild skin discomforts.

Chickweed can be prepared a variety of ways, and can be eaten raw, or can be cooked, steamed, boiled, brewed into a tea, or added to clay to make a poultice for the skin. Varieties of chickweed which have hairs on the stems and leaves are best cooked to soften the hairs and make the stems easier to consume.

The leaves are often added to fresh salads and eaten raw, and provide a mild, pleasant flavor similar to corn on the cob. It can also be sauteed with other veggetables as a side dish with some olive oil and seasoned to taste for a delicious and nutritious boost to a meal. The leaves and stems can also be steamed, which retains a lot of the nutritient value, and eaten alone, or they can be added to a cup of warm water to steep for a few minutes to drink as a tea.

If you are consuming chickweed for the added boost of vitamins and minerals, consuming it raw or lightly steamed will be the best preparation method. High in Vitamins C, A, D, and iron, you can get a large boost in these essential vitamins and minerals by consuming the leaves and stems of chickweed mixed in a salad several times per week. To consume as a diuretic or a soothing natural cough remedy, preparing a mildly brewed tea with some leaves and stems will help you achieve the greatest benefit from its use. For minor skin irritations, making a poultice out of clay with chickweed which has been pulverized will work wonders for red, itchy, irritated skin.

Chickweed also contains small amounts of saponins. These are natural thickeners, which can work well in soups and stews. It creates complex, deep flavors while aiding in the thickening of soups, sauces, and stews.

It is amazing what types of natural remedies we can find by looking around us in the great outdoors. One of the most versatile of nature’s remedies is chickweed. It is self-sustaining and uncultivated, and an extremely hardy edible plant which can be found in almost all areas of the world. It provides high levels of certain vitamins and minerals, and can provide soothing relief to certain types of edema, calm coughs, and is a natural anti-inflammatory which can help relieve many minor skin irritations.

Red Clover - Trifolium pratense

The Health Properties of Red Clover

Red clover also referred to as Trifolium pratense is an inhabitant of northwest Africa, Western Asia and Europe, but it has been planted and naturalized in other regions on the globe.

This wild plant belongs to the legume-family which is normally used for grazing livestock among other animals. Traditionally, red clover has been used to cure various illnesses including cancer, skin inflammation like eczema and psoriasis, respiratory problems and whooping cough. This plant was thought to aid with blood purification, liver cleansing, and blood circulation improvement.

Research has shown that this plant has some isoflavones, plant-based chemicals, known for stimulating the production of estrogen within the body. This chemical has demonstrated some potential in treatment of various conditions related to menopause like osteoporosis, cardiovascular health and hot flashes.

Description of Red Clover

Trèfle des prés (Red clover en anglais) (Trifo...

This is a herbaceous, perennial plant which is commonly grown in the meadows around Asia and Europe.

This short-lived plant is variable-in-size and it tends to grow up to 80cm in height.

The leaves of red clover are alternate with 3 leaflet and each leaflet measures 8-15mm broad and 15-30mm long, with a unique pale crescent on the outer half-of-the-leaf. The petiole of the leaflets is about 4cm long with 2 basal stipules.

On the tip of each branch there is a dark pink flower with a unique pale base about 12-15mm long which tends to produce a dense inflorescence.

Health properties of red clover

This perennial plant has been acknowledged for having various properties including:

  • Antispasmodic
  • Alterative
  • Tonic
  • Sedative
  • Expectorant

Because of these properties, red clover is able to tackle various ailments like asthma easily. Some of these health properties include:

Osteoporosis

During menopause the estrogen levels drop in the body, this increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Various studies done suggest that red clover extract can help reduce the rate of bone loss thus boosting the bone density in both peri and pre-menopausal ladies.

Menopause

Various researchers think that red clover’s isoflavones aid in reduction of menopause symptoms like night sweating and hot flashes. This is caused by their estrogen-like effects in the body caused by the water-soluble chemicals, phytoestrogen referred to as isoflavones.

Diuretic properties

The extract from this plant has some diuretic properties and thus can aid raise an individual’s urine output. This is quite helpful in case you are retaining water because of various unknown/known reasons or you body is bloated from menstrual cycle.

Anti-inflammatory property

Red clover has been used as an anti-inflammatory for years now, especially when dealing with various skin inflammations like eczema & psoriasis.

Cleansing property

One of the major red clover properties is cleansing, this extract helps with blood and liver cleansing and it has been featured in various cleansing teas.

Detoxification

Another major property is full body detoxification; red clover helps eliminate the built-up of various toxins and chemicals within the body.

Lower your cholesterol levels

One most beneficial side effect of this extract is that it helps reduce the cholesterol levels. Various scientific studies have been done on the effects the red clover extract has on cholesterol and proved this property of red clover.

Cancer

Various preliminary test-tubes trials show that red clover’s isoflavones can help eradicate and also prevent the growth of various cancerous cells. Although it has shown various anti-tumor activities, this plant has been used in various parts-of-the-Globe to deal with cancer. This herb can help prevent both endometrial and prostate cancer, but the estrogen like effects produced by isoflavones can aid the growth of certain cancer cells.

Red clover infusion preparation

With this method you can create about a pint infusion which can be consumed at ones or in small equal proportions during the day.

1. Add approximately 30g of dried flower into a glass-jar and pour boiled water over it until the jar is filled.

2. Cover the jar with a lid and allow the flowers to rest calmly for about twenty minutes covered. You can leave it for up to 4 hours if you wish to.

3. Then strain the mixture into another mug using a fine-meshed-strainer and discard the flowers.

4. You can add a tea spoon of honey into the infusion and drink it after it has cooled to room temperature. If you want it to soothe cold or coughs you can take it hot.

5. You can then store the remainder in your refrigerator until ready to drink again.

Related Articles

Urtica

Fascinating Facts about the Nettle

Urtica dioica, near Bruges, Belgium
Urtica dioica, near Bruges, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nettle plants (Urtica spp.) have been used for centuries due to their fantastic health benefits, and excellent healing powers, which people have utilized over the years. This fascinating plant is part of the Urticaceae family, which is made up of over 30 different species. Many of these plants and vines have incredible medicinal properties, which can help with a huge array of ailments.

There are specific male and female flowers on these plants, rather than a mix of both, and they are mostly herbaceous plants. Many of the different nettles, which you will find, have stinging hairs on the stem and leaves. These hairs will burn your skin when you touch the plant; however, they do not affect you when eaten.

The most common species of the nettle plant is the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which is found in North America, Africa, Asia and Europe. This is also the oldest form of nettle, and the one that is used the most for medicine and healing properties. Many gardeners do not like to have this form of plant in their garden, however, if correctly handled, it can be a huge asset to grow.

The plant will lay dormant throughout the winter months, and return with a flourish in spring. You will find the nettles where there is an abundance of water, as they love moisture such as spring holes and lakes.

Healthy nettles can reach up to 2m in height, and will take over the area if allowed to grow freely. However, you need to be careful when gathering the plant, as they can irritate your skin. Wearing long trousers and sleeves are advised, alongside gloves to gather the plants before use. You will need to cut the nettles at the stem, and try to keep as much distance as possible.

 

homemade nettle soup
homemade nettle soup (Photo credit: H is for Home)

As food and drink, there are several different methods, which are effective, and can produce healthy alternatives to your daily diet. The flavor of the nettle is incredibly similar to spinach and cucumber; however, the leaves will need to be soaked before use. This will remove the chemicals, which cause the stinging effect.

During the peak season for nettles, the leaves contain over 25% of protein in their dry form, which is incredibly high for a green vegetable. Once the leaves have been soaked, you can handle them like any other herb, placing them in tea, soup or dressings. You will be surprised how many different recipes you can use the nettle leaves within, and how amazing they taste.

Nettles can be consumed in several different forms, including as soups, stews, or drunk as tea. The leaves of the plant are incredibly nutritious and contain high levels of potassium, iron, vitamin K, C and A. The vitamin K, which is found in the plant, will also help to stop wounds bleeding, and some people have used nettles as a laxative.

 

As more people than ever before are searching for alternative medicines, and natural remedies for everyday ailments, the popularity of the nettle has risen. Rising costs of drugs, and the uncertainty of what is included in them has sparked an interest in herbal medicine. People look at the ancient ways of healing, and utilizing what plants they have in the garden.

The humble leaf of the plant is astringent, galactagogue, diuretic, and hemostatic. This is an impressive list that many plants cannot offer, therefore, making the nettles an incredibly useful plant. Some people feel that the incredible tales that have been told are only folklore. However, as more people study nettles, there is now scientific research to back the tales.

Scientists have studied these amazing plants for centuries, to determine what they are useful for, and the best methods to use the plants. There have been studies carried out for hypertension, rheumatic diseases, diarrhea, kidney issues, constipation, cancer, skin disease and asthma. All of which benefit from the use of nettles either applied or consumed, therefore, this plant is considered to be incredibly useful.

The nettles have also been proven to help with dandruff and are often used in shampoos, it can make your hair glossy, and many farmers feed this plant to their cattle to produce an excellent coat.