Home Fitness Nutrition Herbs Common Ailments/Remedies

Common Ailments and Herbal Remedies


Benefits of herbs

The use of medicinal herbs to treat common ailments is certainly nothing new. Beginning as far back as the first century CE, Chinese herbalists collected texts detailing more than 100,000 recipes using 517 different drugs.

By far, the most common drugs were created from various plant sources, with only 45 using animal parts and 30 using minerals. The cultural aspects of a society further expand herbal medicinal treatments and practices. For example, many Chinese herbal medicines make use of the penis of animals as a therapeutic treatment.

But many of these cultural herbal treatments are not backed by extensive medical research, sometimes to ridicule. In the 1800s and early 1900s in the United States, snake oil was heavily marketed as a remedy for joint pain even though there was no scientific evidence to support such a use.

This led to widespread ridicule of the substance, and association of a "snake oil salesman" as a businessperson with little ethics or care for the well-being of their customers.

As such, it's important to treat herbal medicine as a medical alternative which has little support from the modern medical community, despite numerous individual claims of effectiveness. These remedies represent only a small subset of the herbal medicines available, and can never replace the advice of a qualified medical professional, especially when treating a chronic condition.

Acne

Acne is caused by an overproduction of sebum (an oily agent that is meant to keep skin moist and healthy). The actual pimples are caused when pores are blocked by this overproduction and they begin to swell.

  • Herbal Remedies: Aloe Gel, Lavender, Rosewater, Walnut Leaf, Calendula, Goldenseal, Echinacea, Witch Hazel, Milk Thistle, Burdock Root, Dandelion
  • Ingested: To treat acne through ingestion, try 30 drops of milk thistle and dandelion mixed with water about 3 times a day.
  • Topical: Any of the above herbs can be combined and rubbed on the face to reduce acne.

Allergies

This common ailment is normally caused by exposure to an element that irritates various processes of the human body. Symptoms are various but may include runny nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, hives, rash or headaches.

  • Herbal Remedies: Chamomile, Ephedra, Eucalyptus, Eyebright, Ginger, Licorice Root, Nettle, Rooibos, St. John's Wort, Homeopathy
  • Ingested: Try making a tea using chamomile or rooibos as much as 5 times per day.
  • Topical: Ginger and licorice root can be very effective at reducing inflammation. Licorice root is also known as an antibacterial herb to prevent infection.

Anxiety

Anxiety comes in a couple of different forms. In one form, anxiety is a consistently occurring feeling that something bad is about to happen. A more serious form comes in what are referred to as panic attacks. These can be very serious and are often mistaken for heart attacks.

  • Herbal Remedies: Catnip, Fennel, Kava, Hops, Motherwort, Passionflower, Skullcap, St. John's Wort, Valerian
  • Ingested: Catnip, Fennel and Passionflower can be used to make tea that can be ingested as symptoms arise.
  • Aromatherapy: Some people find aromatherapy to be soothing. Lavender, Cedar and Lemon are all effective herbs to use for aromatherapy.

Burns

Herbal remedies are sometimes effective in treating 1st degree and isolated sections of 2nd degree burns. If you have suffered a 3rd degree burn, do not try an herbal remedy as nerve damage is present and requires immediate medical attention.

  • Herbal Remedies: Aloe Gel, Calendula, Comfrey Ointment
  • Topical: Aloe Gel and Comfrey Ointment are valuable as topical agents to reduce the amount of healing time and prevent scars from forming.
  • Other Topical: Blackberry and Witch Hazel can be used to treat sun burns and stop the oozing often associated with burns.

Canker Sores

These shallow, ulcer like areas present in afflicted mouths are often quick to show up and slow to leave. Their size can vary but the discomfort that they cause can be just as strong with sores large and small. Luckily, their pain can be diminished using some simple herbal remedies.

  • Herbal Remedies: Alfalfa, Calendula, Capsicum, Garlic, Peppermint, Comfrey, Goldenseal, Licorice Root, Myrrh
  • Mouthwash: You may combine any of the following herbs (or just a single one) into a mouthwash to use in the morning.
  • Toothpaste: A couple of drops of Goldenseal added to toothpaste can be helpful in fighting canker sore pain while you brush your teeth.

Common Cold

A cold is really an infection. The cold virus attacks your upper respiratory tract and can result in sore throat, cough, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes and congestion. While the typical cold last from 1 week to 10 days, the symptoms can be readily treated by some helpful herbs.

  • Herbal Remedies: Astragalus. Cat's Claw, Echinacea, Elderberry, Ephedra, Ginger, Horehound, Hyssop, Shitake, Slippery Elm Bark, Thyme, Tilden Flower
  • Congestion: Thyme and Horehound can be ingested to help with congestion in the nasal cavity and mucus in the nasal passages.
  • Recovery: Cat's Claw and Echinacea are both valuable in reducing the amount of time necessary for recovery and preventing colds from recurring.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is not a condition in and of itself but it is usually an indicator of a disease or illness that should be addressed if it occurs often. Some conditions that may cause diarrhea are stress, changes in diet, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and Crohn's disease.

  • Herbal Remedies: Agrimony, Bilberry, Cayenne, Fenugreek, Marshmallow Root, Psyllium Sees, Pau D'Arco
  • For Children: Agrimony has been shown to be very effective as a treatment for children if used early as a tea.
  • Bulking: Psyllium Seed is useful as a hardening agent by absorbing water in the stool to make bowel movements less watery yet still soft.

Ear Infection

Often occurring in young children, ear infections are the usual result of colds or other infections of the upper respiratory tract. Other complications that tend to accompany ear infections are fevers, runny noses, coughs and skin irritation.

  • Herbal Remedies: Echinacea, Garlic Oil, Goldenseal, Green Tea, Mullein Oil, Olive Leaf and St. John's Wort Oil
  • Ingested: Pills containing Goldenseal can be ingested as symptoms occur to reduce recovery time and prevent infections from occurring again.
  • Topical: Mullein Oil and Garlic Oil can both be applied to cotton balls or Q-Tips and Used as a topical agent within the ear.

Insect Bites

These types of ailments are typically not of a serious nature but can still be uncomfortable and itchy. Always monitor bites from spiders and mosquitoes in case the spider is poisonous or becomes infected. There are no herbal remedies for poisonous spider fights and infections can become serious quite rapidly.

  • Herbal Remedies: Aloe Gel, Calendula, Citronella Oil, Comfrey, Tea Tree Oil
  • Topical: Aloe Gel and Comfrey are both powerful topical agents that can be used to reduce inflammation and promote the faster healing of tissue.
  • Preventative: Citronella Oil is a helpful oil that can be rubbed on light bulbs (never while they are already turned on!) or candles to emit an aroma repellent to insects.

Migraine

Migraines are very severe headaches that are usually debilitating to the person experiencing them. This pain is thought to be caused by spasms of arteries that are the main suppliers of blood to the brain. They typically are passed down through families and are 3 times more common in females.

  • Herbal Remedies: Cayenne, Dong Quai, Feverfew, Passionflower, Ginkgo, Tilden Flower
  • Food Additive: Cayenne can be used as a seasoning for food or drinks like juice to relieve the pain associated with migraines.
  • Preventative: Dong Quai can be taken daily or when symptoms of a migraine begin to occur to prevent migraines from occurring in the first place.
Benefits of herbs

Despite the presence of herbal medicine as an ancient form of treatment, there remains a great deal of confusion and doubt as to its effectiveness. Still more confusing to new herbalists are the herbs used in multiple practices. Cannabis, for example, is regularly used for culinary, medical, and psychoactive (spiritual and recreational) purposes.

Just like other modern medicines, there are also herbs that have a toxicity threshold in humans. St. Johns-wort, for example, is toxic in high doses, although no cases of fatal overdose have ever been reported. But exceeding the recommended 300mg to 1,800mg daily dose has been shown to cause harmful side effects, such as dizziness, confusion, and photosensitivity.

As such, it is important to always check for the correct dose of every herbal remedy before use and see a medical professional if the condition persists for more than a week or grows worse.