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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.
Salix_Alba_Weeping_Willow

The Original Aspirin: White Willow

What is white willow?

White Willow (Salix alba), Location: Riparian ...
White Willow (Salix alba), Location: Riparian forest near Bingen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Salix alba is the botanical name of white willow. The other common names for white willow are willow, common willow and European willow. The genus name of the willows, Salix, derives from the Celtic sal, which means “near,” and lis, “water.” The specific name, alba, is a Latin word which means “white”, and it refers to the color of the leaves’ undersides.

It comprises of about 300 species. Some species grow very tall up to 25m or more. Some of them grow up to 1.5-2m only.

It is a deciduous tree. Its native is Europe and Western and Central Asia. They are found from Arctic area to South Africa.

How to identify white willow?

As seen earlier, the tree may be medium sized or very tall. They have rounded crown of branches. They have a weak stem that get easily broken during storms.

If you are looking for the tree in the wild, you should first look in places that are far from ponds, stream, river and other sources of water.

de: Blatt der Silber-Weide (Salix alba), Ort: ...

The upper surface of the shiny leaves is grayish green in color. The color changes to yellow when they are ready to whither.The leaves are paler than other species of willow because of the silky white hairy appearance under them.

The bark of white willow is slightly yellow in color. The limbs of the branches extend up to the ground. There is sure to be a lot of litter beneath the tree that includes broken twigs, branches and withered leaves.

Does white willow have medical benefits?

White willow has a lot of medicinal benefits. It has been used thousands of years before to cure many health conditions. It was in the early eighteenth century that it was first found that the bark of white willow contained salicin that treated pain and fever effectively. The extracts were used to make the first aspirin in the later part of eighteenth century.

What are the health properties of white willow?

The bark and leaves of white willow are useful in treating the following.

1. It is used for getting relief from pains. It is effective in treating lower back pain, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
2. Its anti-inflammatory properties are useful in reducing the inflammation.
3. It reduces the symptoms of flu and other types of fever.
4. It is helpful in lowering the symptoms of menopause like night sweats and hot flashes.
5. They have been successfully used to remove warts, corns and unnecessary flesh from the body.
6. Although it is not very effective for weight loss when it is used alone, it boosts the metabolism of the body and helps in weight loss when combined with other herbs.
7. It gives relief from headaches and toothaches.
8. It is useful to people who are at the risk of getting strokes because of its blood thinning properties.
9. It is also used to treat bursitis and tendonitis.

Why is it preferred over aspirin?

It starts to act later than aspirin, but the effects remains for a longer duration of time. Moreover, it does not cause stomach bleeding.

Medicine Uses

Digestion

  • helps to protect the gut lining from inflammation and irritation
  • reduces dysentery and diarrhea
  • great for weak digestion, dyspepsia, heartburn acidity and worms

Respiratory system

  • decongestant for head colds, flu and fevers
  • reestablishes strength after disease

Musculoskeletal system

  • alleviates pain
  • acts as an anti-inflammatory for rheumatism, arthritis, gout, muscular aches, backache, tendonitis, bursitis and sprains

Immune system

  • useful for fevers and headaches
  • cures malaria

Urinary system

  • decreases fluid retention
  • aids to remove toxins via urine

Externally

  • make use lotion for cuts and wounds
  • make gargles for irritated throats
  • mouthwash for mouth ulcers and bleeding gum
  • put poultices on inflamed joints

How to use white willow?

It can be used as tea, tincture and tablets or liquid form. The dosage depends upon the form in which you are taking it.

  • You can drink four or more cups of white willow tea a day.
  • If you are going for the tincture form, you can take 3-5 ml three times a day.
  • If you are going for tablets or liquid form you can take 60-240 mg a day.

How to prepare white willow decoction and tea?

Decoction for white willow herbal tea can be prepared by boiling root, bark, leaves and seeds. They should be boiled in water and simmered to make sure that all medicinal properties are fully extracted. It can be either drunk or used topically for sores or gargled to heal toothaches and throat aches.

If you cannot get the parts of white willow, it is not a matter of concern. It is available in powder form in almost all stores that sell herbal supplements. Take 2 tablespoons of the powder and boil it in 8 ounces of water. When it starts to boil, simmer it for 10-15 minutes. Then let it steep for half an hour. Filter the tea and add lemon, honey or sugar to suit your taste.

How to prepare white willow tincture?

The ratio of white willow powder and the solvent is 1:5. The solvent used here is grain alcohol. Dissolve it thoroughly and store it in a airtight container for 2 weeks. Then strain it. You can mix it with water, milk, juice or tea.

What are the side effects of white willow?

  • The side effects include renal damage, tinnitus and gastrointestinal problems.
  • It may cause other side effects like vomiting, nausea and stomach ulcers etc.
  • It is not advisable for pregnant and lactating women.
  • don’t use if allergic to salicylates and in bleeding problems
  • children and teenagers with chickenpox, flu or any undiagnosed illness should avoid it due to chance of Reye’s syndrome

What are the interactions of white willow?

  • It should not be taken while taking medications like beta blockers, diuretics, anticoagulants and NSAID etc.
  • employ with caution with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen

White willow is a wonderful herb with many medicinal properties, but it is better to take it after consulting your doctor.

achillea-millefolium

The Health Properties of Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Yarrow also referred to as Achillea millefolium is a unique flowering plant which belongs to the Asteraceae family which is commonly found in the Northern-Hemisphere. In other regions like southern Colorado and Mexico, this plant is referred to as little feather or plumajillo because of the shape of its leaves. During the ancient times, this plant was referred to as herbal militaris because of its use in stopping blood flow from wounds. Other names include oil man’s pepper, milfoil, thousand seal, thousand leaf, devil’s nestles and Gordaldo among other names.

This herb grows everywhere in the meadows, grass or by the road-side and since its roots creep greatly and it multiplies by seeds, it has become one of the most trouble-some weed in any garden.

Description

Français : Achillea millefolium - Achillée mil...
Français : Achillea millefolium – Achillée millefeuille – Vallée de grâce à Amiens (Somme) le 22/06/2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This plant is an erect herbaceous-perennial plant which produces one or more stems that can grow up to a maximum height of one meter, plus it has rhizomatous growth-form.

Achillea millefolium - leaves (scan)
Achillea millefolium – leaves (scan) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its leaves are distributed evenly along the stem with bottom and middle leaves being bigger. The leaves of yarrow are about 20cm long and either tripinnate or bipinnate, plus they are feathery and arranged in a spiral manner on the plants stem. The leaves of this plant are cauline and clasping.

Achillea millefolium - Duizendblad
Achillea millefolium – Duizendblad (Photo credit: AnneTanne)

Yarrow contains 3-8 ray round or ovate flowers which have white-to-pink flowers. These plants have small achenes fruits and they grow in high or low altitudes of up to 3500m above-sea-level.

Health properties of Yarrow

This herb has been used for years to deal with various illnesses because of its various properties including:

  • Diuretic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antibiotic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Sedative
  • Astringent
  • Antiseptic

Recent research has shown that these properties can help dealt with various illnesses including:

Fever

Yarrow can help lower fever especially in the early stages of flu and cold. To lower your fever all you have to do is drink a mug of hot yarrow after each 2-3 hours. To create the tea, all you need is a spoon of dried leaves and boiling water. You can let it boil for ten to fifteen minutes before straining.

Lowering of blood pressure

To help reduce your blood pressure, yarrow can help dilate your peripheral vessels. This will help improve the tone and circulation of various varicose veins.

Anti inflammatory properties

Yarrow infusion can help relieve inflammation and pain caused by arthritis or various injuries. This herb can help lower skin inflammation like psoriasis & eczema. This also helps cleanse all wounds while speeding up healing.

Hemostatic properties

This is the best herb for dealing with acute surface bleeding and abrasion. You can apply yarrow directly onto the wound to halt bleeding, while reducing inflammation and swelling. This herb can be used to deal with persistent wounds or sores that are not healing easily like rashes, burns and skin ulcers.

Pain

Yarrow can help relieve the pain caused by bladder infection. This herb can also help reduce the frequent need to urinate when you have an infection in your bladder. If you are suffering from hemorrhoids, then the best solution for the pain is soaking in a bath tab mixed with yarrow extract.

Other properties

1. This herb can help deal with the stomach cramps which have been caused by stomach indigestion.

2. This herb can help normalize your menstrual cycle, by reducing the heavy menstrual bleeding.

3. Fresh yarrow leaves can be chewed to relieve any toothache

4. Various studies done have shown that this herb can help reduce smooth-muscle spasms, which can be used to explain its gastro-intestinal benefits further.

Preparation of yarrow tincture

Preparation of yarrow tincture is quite simple, the hard part is storing it until it becomes potent.

1. Get approximately 200g of dried roots and add them into a 1 liter Mason jar or mug.

2. You can then add about 1 liter of rum, vodka or grain alcohol into the jar containing the dried roots to help saturate them and then close the jar tightly

3. Store this mixture in a dry and dark place for about 4 weeks. If you need a stronger tincture, make sure you store it for approximately 8 weeks.

4. Make sure you shake the jar each day until the tincture is ready for use.

Various individuals are allergic to this herb and some have developed dermatitis from just touching it. So make sure you are not allergic before trying this herb. This herb tends to interact with other drugs like blood pressure and thinning drugs.

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