Comfrey and garlic are regarded as miracle plants of herbal lists; comfrey is thought to possess excellent healing qualities and indeed science has proved it contains two important substances which are beneficial to health. It is possible to make a tea from comfrey but more often the leaves are eaten in a salad. It is useful as a remedy against bronchitis and as a general tonic when recuperating.
The leaves of comfrey are also believed to speed up the healing process of burns. The comfrey root is rich in fiber and is a strong laxative; however, if the ground root is added to alcohol, the resulting tincture is effective against diarrhea.
Garlic has been in use for centuries and keen herbalists regard it as ‘natures antibiotic’ hence its most popular use is to provide extra immunity to colds and flu. It is also highly regarded as a blood purifier. Garlic capsules are available for those who find the taste objectionable.
Lavender infusion used in a cold compress is recommended for headache. A handful of lavender in a bowl of hot water may be used to steam the face in order to clear pimples and blackheads.
Elderberry The root and flowers of elderberry plant can be used. For example, an infusion of the flowers is good for relieving asthma or for soothing sore eyes. A tincture of the root, taken in small weak doses, is an effective diuretic and laxative.
Dandelion The common dandelion contains vitamins A and C. it also has an alkaline effect on the body and is sometimes recommended for treating arthritis. Dandelion coffee is helpful in treating high cholesterol levels. This is based on one of the dandelion’s important components, choline, a fat-emulsifying vitamin.
Oil of cloves is an ancient and tested form of relief for severe toothache.
Rosemary has a long story, both in cosmetics and medicine. Oil of rosemary rubbed onto the skin often relieves tension headaches and muscular soreness, and may also be applied externally for the relief of rheumatic pains.
Borage leaves are made into a tea which is helpful in many ways. It acts to keep the bladder and kidneys healthy, calms jangled nerves, helps relieve insomnia and can also be taken as a mild diuretic.
Kitchen herbs Some of the everyday kitchen herbs have beneficial qualities. A compress of thyme can be used to sooth boils, fennel is useful against constipation, and the two commonest culinary mints, spearmint and peppermint, either chewed or drunk in infusion, are believed to stop vomiting.
These are only a few of the hundreds of herbal remedies that exist and are being used.
Complications Anyone who is unfamiliar with herbs or plants should be extremely careful not to use large amounts for long periods in treating a condition. Certain plants have negative or dangerous side-effects when used incorrectly. For example, an overdose of the potent drug digitalis, which is used in patent medicines, can produce convulsions and death. Sage in heavy doses can cause a miscarriage. Massive amounts of parsley can cause hemorrhage and perpetual drinking of camomile tea can induce nausea and pronounced vertigo. It is wise to seek advice from a qualified herbalist before embarking on any curative program.