HERBS AND PLANTS
Traditional and Modern Use of Fresh Herbs
1. Herbs and Plants: Theory
Physicians and Master Herbalists have long known that fresh plants provide
the best medicinal action.
A recent advance in herb technology and research (fresh freeze-drying)
allows maintenance of the natural potency of most herbs by preserving all
the biologically active constituents of the fresh plant. In many instances,
improved or unique therapeutic action has resulted. Critical components of
fresh plants are often lost in alcohol extraction and common drying methods.
Fresh herbs should retain their smell, taste, and color.
2. HERBS AND BODY SYSTEMS
The strategies that herbal practitioners adopt to prevent illness or restore
health in their patients are different in the many and varied herbal
traditions across the planet, but the effects that herbal medicines have
within the body to improve health do not vary. There are many thousand of
medicinal plants in use throughout the world, with a tremendous range of
actions and degrees of potency. Most have a specific action on particular
body systems and are known to be suitable for treating certain types of
DIGESTION, RESPIRATION & CIRCULATION
Improving the quality of the diet is often an essential starting point in
sustaining or regaining good health. The saying "You are what you eat" is by
and large true, though herbalists prefer to qualify it, saying "You are what
you absorb from what you eat." Herbal medicines not only provide nutrients
but when needed they also strengthen and support the action of the digestive
system, speeding up the rate of processing food and improving the absorption
The body requires another kind of "nutrient" to function - oxygen. The lungs
and respiratory system can be helped with herbs that relax the bronchial
muscles and stimulate respiration.
Once taken in by the body, nutrients and medicines are carried to the body's
estimated three trillion cells. The circulatory system has a remarkable
ability to adapt to an endlessly shifting pattern of demand. At rest, the
flow of blood is mainly toward the center of the body; when active, the
muscles in the limbs make huge demands. Herbal medicines work to encourage
the circulation in particular ways. Some, for example, encourage blood to
flow to the surface of the body; others stimulate the heart to pump more
efficiently, and others relax the muscles of the arteries, lowering blood
CLEARING TOXICITY & SOOTHING SKIN
After the circulation has carried nutrients to the cells, waste matter must
be removed. All too often in our polluted world, high levels of toxicity in
the body are an underlying cause of ill health, and herbalists use a wide
range of cleansing herbs that improve the body's ability to remove toxins.
Perhaps the finest example of a detoxifying herb is burdock (Arctium lappa)
which is used extensively in both Western and Chinese medicine. Once herbs
such as this reduce the toxic "load," the body is able to invest greater
resources in repairing and strengthening damaged tissue and weakened organs.
The skin also plays an important role in good health. Antiseptic plants
fight infection, and vulnerary (wound healing) herbs such as comfrey
(Symphytum offianale) encourage blood clotting and help speed the healing of
NERVOUS, ENDOCRINE & IMMUNE SYSTEM
Good health depends on having a healthy balanced nervous system. In order to
ensure long-term good health of the nervous system, it is important to adapt
well to daily demands, to avoid excessive anxiety, worry, or depression, and
to get sufficient rest and exercise.
The latest research suggests that the nervous system does not work in
isolation. It is complemented by the endocrine system, which controls the
release of a whole symphony of hormones, including the sex hormones, which
control fertility and often affect vitality and mood.
The nervous system is also intimately linked with the immune system, which
controls the ability to resist infection and to recover from illness and
injury. This incredible complex of systems - part electrical - part
chemical, part mechanical - must function harmoniously if good health is to
be maintained. In health, the body has a seemingly infinite capacity, via
its controlling systems, to adjust and change to external pressures. The
ability to adapt to the external world while the body's internal workings
remain constant is known as homeostasis.
Many herbs work with the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems to help the
body adapt more effectively to stresses and strains of all kinds - physical,
mental, emotional, and even spiritual. They are effective because they work
in tune with the body's processes.
Some herbs are adaptogenic, meaning that they have the ability to help
people to adapt, either by supporting the nervous system and easing nervous
and emotional tension or by working directly with the body's own physiologic
processes to maintain health. The prime example of an adaptogenic herb is
ginseng (Panax ginseng) which is an effective remedy at times of great
mental or physical stress, but in certain cases can also be taken when a
relaxing effect is required, for example, to relieve headache or to ensure a
good night's sleep.
COMPLEX NATURAL MEDICINES
As can be seen, an herb is not a "magic bullet" with a single action, but a
complex natural medicine composed of many active constituents that work on
different body systems. By combining scientific research into active
constituents with clinical observation and traditional knowledge of the
whole plant, we can develop a rounded picture of each herb's range of
(EXCERPTS FROM THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MEDICINAL PLANTS)
3. Herbs and Plants: Practical
The following information on fresh and freeze-dried herb use is compiled
from traditional modern herb books and various articles and research. This
information is summarized for its educational value and should not be used
for the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease. It should not be
used to promote the sale of any product nor replace the services of a
Blood Cleanser, good for skin eruptions, mild immune
stimulant. 1-2 capsules, 1-3 times per day.
Stimulant, improves circulation, aid utilization of other herbs,
stimulates digestion and appetite, has been used in asthma.
Liver cleansing, skin problems, arthritis, tumors, (freeze-drying
retains oils, saponins, resins) 1-3 capsules, 1-3 times per day.
For gastrointestinal (and other mucous membrane) disorders
including ulcers and irritable bowels, aids digestion and relieves gas,
soothes respiratory passages, good topically on wounds. (Freeze-drying
uniquely maintains mucilaginous properties for good coating action).
Excellent diuretic (leaf) and liver tonic (root), aids in weight
loss, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, (freeze-drying retains the
milky sap giving stronger diuretic action). 1-2 capsules, 1-3 times per day.
Stimulates the immune system in colds, flu, sore throat, allergy,
chronic viruses and immune deficiency, (freeze-drying maintains anti-microbial and immune stimulating properties best by preserving the important
volatile oil and mucopolysaccharide). 1-2 capsules, 1-4 times per day as needed.
1 capsule per day to prevent migraine headaches, 2 capsules for
headaches or rheumatic inflammation (only works freeze-dried or fresh).
Immune stimulation, for colds, flu, infection, appetite
stimulant; can be used topically or as an eyewash when diluted.
(Freeze-dried is very potent). 1-2 capsules, 1-3 times per day.
Strong heart tonic, strengthens heart muscle and improves
coronary blood pressure. 1-2 capsules, 1-3 times per day.
Good diuretic, lowers blood pressure and edema, flushes kidneys.
1-2 capsules, 1-3 times per day.
For relief of allergies to pollen (hayfever) molds, dust and animal
hair; for food allergies or sensitivities, take 2 with each meal; also helps
allergic headaches, asthma, and candidiadis.
(This dramatic new allergy relief action occurs only with freeze-dried
nettles because the critical biochemical components of the stinging hairs
have been preserved). 2 capsules, 1-4 times per day.
Nutritive herb that soothes the nervous system, rebuilds energy in a
weakened system - good aid for breaking addictive habits. (Fresh
freeze-drying preserves the nutritive qualities).
2 capsules: 1-4 times per day.
Antispasmodic and strong nerve sedative; good for worry,
anxiety, menstrual depression/anxiety, induces restful sleep. (Very potent
in freeze-dried form). 2-4 capsules as needed.
Strong blood purifier and cleanser, nutritive to nervous system;
aids spasmodic cough, ulcerations and tumors. (Fresh freee-drying is very
Relieves nausea, improves uterine tone and blood supply; may
prevent premature labor and improve milk production - good overall pregnancy
herb in small daily does. 1-2 capsules, 1-3 times per day.
Strong sedative for anxiety, insomnia due to excessive worry or
depression, mild pain relief. (Freeze-drying preserves the critical volatile
oils). 2-4 capsules as needed.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND RECOMMANDED STUDY:
- Hutchens, Alma R., INDIAN HERBOLOGY OF NORTH AMERICA, Shambhala
Publications, Inc., 1991
- Willard, Terry, EDIBLE AND MEDICINAL PLANTS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS AND
NEIGHBOURING TERRITORIES, Wild Rose College of Natural Healing, Ltd. 1992
- Chevallier, Andrew, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MEDICINAL PLANTS, D.K. Publishing
- Dence, Calvin, YOUR HEART'S DESIRE, Dixie Printing Co., 1979
- View Video on Herbs and Plants