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Herbs & Their Many Uses: "C"

Continuing with what we started, let's continue exploring the different uses of herbs, which should be used in conjunction with the advice and prescriptions of your medical doctor. Many doctors now have had a semester of schooling on herbs and natural healing. Some are very dismissive, others are willing to accept that mankind existed for millennia with only herbs and natural medicine to help them along.

This, in no way, negates the value of modern medicine. But I believe in a careful balance between the two. Therefore, here we go:

Herbs and Their Multiple Uses

The main resources for this section are Herbnet, and Prescription for Nutritional Healing.


Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Throughout the ages, tinctures made from calendula blossoms have been used to treat headaches, toothaches and even tuberculosis. It is a popular treatment for sore or inflamed eyes by bathing them in marigold water. Calendula is a popular salve and cream ingredient because it decreases the inflammation of sprains, stings, varicose veins and other swellings and soothes burns, sunburn, rashes and skin irritations. Laboratory studies show it kills bacteria and fungus such as ringworm, athlete's foot. It is gentle enough to be applied as a tea to thrush in children's mouths.

Taken internally, it has been used traditionally to promote the draining of swollen lymph glands, such as in tonsillitis and as part of the therapy for uterine or breast cancer, both as a poultice and as a tea. Herbalists report success in using a swab of calendula preparation or calendula boluses to treat abnormal cervical cells. Some antitumor activities have been observed in scientific studies. The infusion or tincture helps inflammatory problems of the digestive system such as gastritis, peptic ulcers, regional ileitis and colitis. Calendula has long been considered a detoxifying herb, and helps to treat the toxicity that underlies many fevers and infections and systemic skin disorders such as eczema and acne. The herb is also considered cleansing for the liver (promotes bile production) and gallbladder and can be used to treat problems affecting these organs. Makes a healing mouthwash for gums after tooth extraction. Source: Herbnet

California Laurel (Umbellularia californica)

The plant is still used a pain reliever for headaches and rheumatism. A tea from the leaves is one method of administration. For rheumatism, early settlers used a hot bath in which they had steeped laurel leaves. Others blended the oil from the leaves with lard and rubbed the mixture on the body. The crushed leaves are an excellent herbal “smelling salt,” held briefly under the nose of a person who is faint or has fainted. Prolonged breathing of the crushed leaves can cause a short-term frontal headache which can be cured, oddly enough, by a tea of the leaves. The crushed leaves make an excellent tea for all headaches and neuralgia, possessing substantial anodyne effects and they further have value as a treatment for the tenesmus or cramps from diarrhea, food poisoning, and gastroenteritis in general—two to four leaves crushed and steeped for tea, repeated as needed. California laurel was employed medicinally by some native North American Indian tribes who used it particularly as an analgesic to treat a variety of complaints. It has a beneficial effect upon the digestive system. An infusion has been used by women to ease the pains of afterbirth. Externally, an infusion has been used as a bath in the treatment of rheumatism. A decoction of the leaves has been used as a wash on sores and to remove vermin from the head. They are harvested as required and can be used fresh or dried. A poultice of the ground seeds has been used to treat sores. The seeds have been eaten as a stimulant.

Calendula has a mild estrogenic action and is often used to help reduce menstrual pain and regulate menstrual bleeding. The infusion makes an effective douche for yeast infections. Source: Herbnet

Curry Leaf (Murraya koenigii) Said to be tonic and stomachic.

A liberal intake of curry leaves impedes premature graying of the hair. The leaves, boiled in coconut oil, are massaged into the scalp to promote hair growth and retain color. In a study published in Annals of Plastic Surgery, gotu kola accelerates healing of burns and minimizes scarring. Other studies show the herb accelerates the healing of skin grafts and episiotomy.

Going across the world to India, where curry is a main spice in their dishes, young Curry leaves are used for dysentery and diarrhea.A paste of the bark and roots is applied to bruises and poisonous bites. Fresh juice of the leaves mixed with lemon juice and sugar is prescribed for digestive disorders, and eating 10 curry leaves every morning for 3 months is thought to cure hereditary diabetes. The leaves may also be used as a poultice to help heal burns and wounds. Juice from the berries may be mixed with lime juice and applied to soothe insect bites and stings. Source: Herbnet

Canadian Sweetgale (Comptonia peregrina)

The leaves were boiled by Indians to make a poultice that was tied to the cheek to relieve toothache. A decoction of the plant was used to treat diarrhea, rheumatism, colic, and weakness following fever. A tea made from the leaves and flowering tops is used as a remedy for diarrhea, headache, fevers, catarrh, vomiting of blood, rheumatism etc. The infusion has also been used to treat ringworm. The leaves have also been used as a poultice for toothaches, sprains etc. A cold water infusion of the leaves has been used externally to counter the effect of poison ivy and to bathe stings, minor hemorrhages etc. The leaves are harvested in early summer and dried for later use. Source: Herbnet

Candytuft (Iberis amara)

All parts of the plant, especially seeds, are used. Considered effective against gout, rheumatism and often relieves deep water retention or dropsy. Rarely used in herbal medicine today until recently, it is a bitter-tasting tonic, aiding digestion and relieving gas and bloating. Now the source of Iberogast® used in digestive formulas.

Caraway (Carum carvi)

Caraway water is well known for its carminative effect, particularly for babies. This property of the seeds has been known and used from ancient times until today. Caraway is also used as a flavoring for children’s medicines. It is a good digestive and stomachic. Other properties it is believed to have are: antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, appetitive, emmenagogic, expectorant and galactagogic (stimulates the secretion of bile). It was used in cases of dyspepsia, diarrhoea and even hysteria. Dioscorides is quoted as recommending pallid girls to take a tonic of caraway oil. Modern researchers have discovered that two chemicals (carvol and carvene) in caraway seeds soothe the smooth muscle tissue of the digestive tract and help expel gas. Antispasmodic, which appear to be present in caraway, soothe not only the digestive tract but other smooth muscles, such as the uterus, as well. Thus, caraway might relax the uterus, not stimulate it. Women may try it for relief of menstrual cramps. For a pleasant-tasting infusion that might help aid digestion, relieve gas or menstrual cramping, use 2-3 teaspoons of bruised or crushed seeds per cup of boiling water. Steep 10-20 minutes. Drink up to 3 cups a day. If you prefer a tincture, take ½-1 teaspoon up to three times a day. Low-strength caraway infusions may be given to infants for colic and gas. Source: Crimson Sage

Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)

Carob pods are nutritious and, due to their high sugar content, sweet-tasting and mildly laxative. However, a decoction of the pulp is also antidiarrheal, gently helping to cleanse and relieve irritation within the gut. It arrests vomiting in infants. These appear to be contradictory effects, but carob is an example of how the body responds to herbal medicines in different ways, according to how the herb is prepared and according to the specific medical problem. The bark is strongly astringent and a decoction of it is taken to treat diarrhea. Source: Herbnet

Carrot, Wild (Daucus carota)

This vegetable is a wonderful cleansing medicine. It supports the liver, and stimulates urine flow and the removal of waste by the kidneys. The juice of organically grown carrots is a delicious drink and a valuable detoxifier. Carrots are rich in carotene, which is converted to vitamin A by the liver. This nutrient acts to improve night blindness as well as vision in general. The raw root, grated or mashed, is a safe treatment for threadworms, especially in children. Wild carrot leaves are a good diuretic. They have been used to counter cystitis and kidney stone formation, and to diminish stones that have already formed. The seeds are also diuretic and carminative. They stimulate menstruation and have been used in folk medicine as a treatment for hangovers. Both leaves and seeds relieve flatulence and gassy colic and are a useful remedy for settling the digestion and upsets of the stomach. Many Pennsylvania Dutch have used wild carrot seed as both an emmenagogue and a morning-after contraceptive. Indian researchers have confirmed that carrot seed has anti-implantation activity in laboratory animals. One teaspoonful of the seeds is taken daily starting at the time of ovulation or immediately after unprotected intercourse during the fertile time and continued for up to one week to prevent pregnancy. Carrots contain 8 compounds that lower blood pressure. Scottish studies showed that over a period of three weeks, a daily snack of two carrots lowered cholesterol levels by 10-20% in study participants. Because the fiber pectin is the source of most of these benefits, don’t use a juicer which extracts most of the fiber.

Scientists in India have discovered that carrots afford significant protection for the liver in laboratory animals. When liver cell injury was induced experimentally with chemicals, paralleling the liver damage inflicted by chemical pollutants, experiments showed that lab animals could recover with the help of carrot extracts which increase the activity of several enzymes that speed up detoxification of the liver and other organs. Source: Herbnet

Cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana

Cascarais a very effective laxative, containing hydroxymethyl anthraquinones that cause peristalsis of the large intestine, emodin and other rhamnoid glycosides. It has been used as such by many First Nations groups. For example, Cascara bark tea was drunk as a laxative by Nuxalk, Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-hulth, and Kwakwaka’wakw, and a decoction of the inner bark and water was used as a remedy for dysentery. The bark is often aged before use so it will be less likely to cause nausea. First introduced to Europe in 1877, about 3 million pounds of the bark is harvested annually for use in commercial laxatives.

Squaxin used a Cascara infusion to wash sores--sometimes people chewed the bark and then spit it on sores. The bark has also been used to treat heart strain, internal strains, and biliousness. Skagit people burn the bark and mix the charcoal with grease to rub on swellings, and also have employed the bark in a green dye for mountain goat wool. Makah eat the fresh berries in July and August. Internally used for chronic constipation, colitis, digestive complaints, hemorrhoids, liver problems, and jaundice.

It is a medium-strength laxative and somewhat weaker than Rhubarb root and Senna leaf. Externally used to deter nail biting. Source: Crimson Sage

Cinnamon: (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

It was one of the ingredients in ivory jelly, which was made from powdered ivory and given at one time to consumptives. It raises vitality, warms and stimulates all the vital functions of the body, counteracts congestion, is antirheumatic, stops diarrhea, improves digestion, relieves abdominal spasms, aids the peripheral circulation of the blood. Cinnamon is the second most widely used warming stimulant in Chinese medicine, used by Chinese herbalists much as Western herbalists have used cayenne. In India, it is taken after childbirth as a contraceptive. It has a slight emmenagogic action—stimulating the uterus and encouraging menstrual bleeding. Japanese research in the 1980s showed that cinnamaldehyde was sedative and analgesic. It is also thought to reduce blood pressure and fevers. One German study showed cinnamon suppresses completely the cause of most urinary tract infections and the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections.. It helps break down fats in your digestive system, possibly by boosting the activity of some digestive enzymes. You can dust a bit of cinnamon on cuts and scrapes (it contains eugenol) which helps relieve the pain of household mishaps. Source: Herbnet It is also helpful in controlling blood sugar levels and the production of insulin.

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Herbs & Their Many Uses: "C" Herbs & Their Many Uses: "C" Reviewed by Candace Salima on Monday, November 10, 2008 Rating: 5