Commercials Sell An Herb To The Masses With Effects She Doesn’t Have

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So yeah, we are planning to incorporate new features in the near future, so we can make your life easier and healthier with herbalism.

Until then we’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s your favorite part of The Smart Herbalist, and what more would you like to see by simply replying to this email.

And with that, let’s get into herbalism.

One Of The Most Misused Herbs

Echinacea flowers

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is a very mainstream herb. And also she is used for all the wrong reasons.

I’ve read a whole article about Echinacea this week and they wrote what every commercial promotes, that Echinacea is a great immune system builder and that you should use her as a “daily immune support”.

Given that they are a well-read blog I was surprised that they only mentioned off-hand what Echinacea is really good at.

How Echinacea really helps you?

Her actions:

  • Antimicrobial
  • immunomodulator,
  • antiinflammatory,
  • anticatarrhal,
  • vulnerary,
  • alterative

Echinacea root is one of the primary remedies to help your body get rid of microbial infections, especially in the upper respiratory tract. She also repairs tissue damage and slows pathogens so she is also a great topical remedy.

It’s true that Echinacea has some immune cell boosting properties, but it’s only really helpful through active infections.

How can you grow Echinacea?

She grows easily from seed and reseeds herself every year. This means once you have it grow in your garden, she will remain. With partial shade, poor soil and small amounts of water she will thrive.

How should you use echinacea?

Echinacea is one of the best remedies of starting/ongoing viral and bacterial infections. Used as a tincture or decoction, both internally or topically she will aid you in any acute cases.

Echinacea is one of the best remedies of starting/ongoing viral and bacterial infections. Used as a tincture or decoction, both internally or topically she will aid you in any acute cases.

Don’t fall for the companies that promote products with Echinacea as “general immune boosters”. If you want to boost your immune system generally  there are some really great herbs out there for that, but Echinacea is not one of them.

Snippets Of Herbalism

Traditional Chinese Medicine. Indigo isn’t just one of the most famous of dyes. It is also used for treating typhus, hemoptysis, swollen sores, erysipelas, snake and insect bites, and it’s clinically used in the treatment of epistaxis (nosebleed). And there’s more

Poaching. A few weeks ago I wrote about how white-sage became poached near to extinciton in California. Now indigenous groups of Mexico fear the same. It seems the Covid pandemic brought on too much demand for white sage that could result in the herb disappearing from the wilds.

Herb history. Ancient Greeks used herbs in really peculiar ways. They would plant oregano around their houses to ward off evil spirits, and they wore a wreath of oregano in their sleep to induce interesting dreams (not of pizza I bet).

Maori. Rongoā, the traditional Maori healing system is getting more and more popular. And rightly so. Just like Ayurveda, TCM, or Western-European herbalism, Rongoā has its own set of herbs and practices, that’s been working for centuries.

With The Cold Season Coming You Should Call Some Herbal Allies In Advance

Horehound is September’s herb of the month at The Herb Society Of America. Which made me revisit this fuzzy herb just in time before cold season.

Leaves of a horehound plant

How horehound aids you?

She relaxes the smooth muscles in your bronchus and promotes mucus production which makes it a great expectorant. That means if you suffer from bronchitis and especially if you have a phlegmy cough horehound helps you expel that phlegm.

Being also a bitter herb, she stimulates the flow of your digestive fluids especially in your gall bladder.

How can you grow horehound?

Growing horehound is easy. Plant small established plants in the spring in dry, sandy soil with lots of sunshine.

Being a member of the mint family she has a prolific growth habit, just like other mints, so with time you might have to watch out for her not to overgrow certain areas of your garden.

Also her small flowers are a real treat for bees.

Best ways to use horehound

This formula is one of the best you can make if you have a wet cough.

Homemade cough syrup ingredients:

2 tablespoons elecampane (Inula helenium) root, dried or fresh
1 tablespoon ginger (Zingiber officinale) rhizome, dried or fresh
2 tablespoons horehound (Marrubium vulgare) leaf, dried or fresh
2 tablespoons thyme (Thymus vulgaris) leaf, dried or fresh
1 quart of water
1 cup raw, local honey

Here you can find the detailed recipe a big thanks for Paula Saalfeld.

How Different Cultures Make Medicine Differently

Intention is the foundation of medicine making. That is the conclusion of Sajah Popham’s thought provoking article from last week.

It really made me think. While I use herbs from a more scientific and less spiritual point of view, many does exactly the opposite and it works for them too.

Ways of herbalism

Folk practice: This is how we all started using plants throughout history. We mainly ate herbs raw, or prepared them in a water solution (decoctions, infusions)

Alchemical work: They used precise laboratory-like ways to extract constituents from herbs called spagyric medicine. The whole herb was used respecting the body, spirit and soul of the herb.

Eclectic movement: In the 1800s some mastered the art of isolating and extracting certain constituents from plants. These were referred to as “specific medications”

Standardizing herbal medicine: Later as technology and high-proof alcohol came around, many got better at extracting, knowing the exact amounts of compounds extracted. These we call “standardized extracts”. today

Indigenous traditions: Some are looked at herbalism through more spiritual lens. Only foraging herbs from the right place, only at the time of need. They don’t “trap the spirit of the plant in a bottle” by storing it for future use.

Takeaways for you

We are different and that makes the way herbs can aid us different too. There is no best practice. It really is about you, which way resonates the best with you. And no matter what anyone says you should stay on that path.

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