“Earaches and bellyaches, colic we tend
Hoping our kindness and herbs they will mend”
…to another posting of the Herbal Medicine Kit. Today we are looking at deeper wounds requiring a Poultice and Wound-healing Tea. We will look more in-depth at Plantain, Astragulus and Baptisia
Let’s get to it…
Deeper Wounds & Infections
Deep Gashing Wound
Infected cuts and scrapes sometimes call for internal as well as external action, especially if an infection is more than skin deep. Indicators are wounds that take longer to heal than seems reasonable and infections that seem to spread, traveling through the bloodstream and reappearing in new areas. When an infection travels from the location of the original wound and takes hold elsewhere, there is usually an accompanying fever. If this happens to you or your loved one, this means you have a spreading systemic infection and you MUST see a doctor immediately!
A perennial “weed” that can be found almost anywhere in North America and much of Europe. You probably have some in your backyard! Plantain is thought to be indigenous to Eurasia. It will grow in sun to shade, and in almost any soil – plantain is very adaptable. Plantain spreads by seeds.
There are over 200 species in the plantain family, and they are found worldwide. Many have herbal uses. Plantago major is the most common one in North America, but Plantago lanceolata can also be found. Both have the same medicinal uses, and are very similar in appearance. Plantago major has wide rounded leaves, with a flowering spike covered with small nubbly seeds; Plantago lanceolata has longer, slender leaves, and a mostly bare flowering stem, with a conelike cluster of flowers on the top.
(Please note that plantain – the starchy, banana-like fruit, is completely different and not related to the plantain “weed” we are talking about!)
Plantain is edible – harvest the young, tender leaves for use in a salad, or steamed and used as a spinach substitute. The leaves do get tough quickly, so make sure to harvest only the youngest leaves. The immature flower stalks may be eaten raw or cooked. If you’re really adventuresome, you can harvest the seeds. They are said to have a nutty flavor and may be parched and added to a variety of foods or ground into flour. The leaves, seeds and roots can all be made into an herbal tea.
Plantain was brought to the US and also to New Zealand by European settlers who valued it, for it’s culinary and medicinal properties. The settlers seemed to leave the plant wherever they went, thus earning it the name “White Man’s Foot’ or “Englishman’s Foot” by the natives of both countries.
Plantain has been used medicinally by Europeans for centuries. Herbals dating from the 1500′s and 1600′s are full of recipes and uses for plantain. It was considered to be almost a panacea – a cure-all, and a quick search shows that is has historically been recommended as a treatment for just about everything, up to and including dog bites, ulcers, ringworm, jaundice, epilepsy, liver obstructions, and hemorrhoids! Plantain was so commonly known it is even found referenced in works by both Chaucer and Shakespeare.
Plantain is usually plentiful and can be easily harvested anytime from early spring until frost. Please do be careful where you harvest it – roadsides are notoriously dirty and dusty, and ditches are often sprayed with herbicides. Leave a spot in your backyard where you allow it to grow, and you can harvest your own all growing season! If your neighbors think you are crazy, let them know that plantain is a food source for some friendly wildlife such as butterfly caterpillars, and that the seeds are a food source for many varieties of birds.
Plantain is very high in beta carotene (A) and calcium. It also provides ascorbic acid (C), and vitamin K. Among the more notable chemicals found in plantain are allantion, apigenin, aucubin, baicalein, linoleic acid, oleanolic acid, sorbitol, and tannin. Together these constituents are thought to give plantain mild anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihemorrhagic, and expectorant actions. Acubin has been reported in the Journal Of Toxicology as a powerful anti-toxin. Allantoin has been proved to promote wound healing, speed up cell regeneration, and have skin-softening effects.
Modern medical research is proving to uphold many of the historical uses of plantain – especially as a wound healer, and as a treament for lung conditions such as bronchitis or asthma. Medicinally, plantain is astringent, demulcent, emollient, cooling, vulnerary, expectorant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antitoxin, and diuretic. Plantain is approved by the German Commission E (a sort of German “FDA” that studies and regulates herbs and herbal uses) for internal use to ease coughs and mucous membrane irritation associated with upper respiratory tract infections as well as topical use for skin inflammations. Two Bulgarian clinical trials have suggested that plantain may be effective in the treatment of chronic bronchitis.
How much is usually taken? The German Commission E officially recommends using 1/4-1/2 teaspoon (1-3 grams) of the leaf daily in the form of tea made by steeping the herb in 1 cup (250 ml) of hot water for 10-15 minutes (making three cups (750 ml ) per day). The fresh leaves can be applied directly three or four times per day to minor injuries, dermatitis, and insect stings. Syrups or tinctures, approximately 1/2 teaspoon (2-3 ml) three times per day, can also be used, particularly to treat a cough. Finally, 1/2-1 1/4 teaspoons (2-6 grams) of the fresh plant can be juiced and taken in three evenly divided oral administrations throughout the day. Of course as with all herbal medicines, you are your own best doctor – listen to your body and pay attention to it’s interaction with the herb, and you will undoubtedly figure out your own best uses and dosages.
Plantain is not associated with any common side effects and is thought to be safe for children Plantain is classed as “able to be safely consumed when used appropriately” by the American Herbal Retailers Association. Some preliminary research does show, however, that some allergy sufferers may have a reaction to plantain pollen, so if you feel this may be a problem for you, you may want to only use the plantain leaves for your herbal preparations.
One of plantain’s most common uses is as a poultice for stings, bites, scrapes and rashes. The simplest way to harness plantain’s healing powers is to crush a few fresh leaves, and apply to the affected area. Replace fresh leaves as necessary. The fresh plantain “juice” takes the pain away and seems to work wonders at staunching blood flow and closing wound edges. It’s also wonderfully refreshing and soothing to sunburn.
Plantain infusion (tea) can also be used as a soothing wash for sunburn, windburn, rashes, or wounds. To make a plantain infusion, simply add a small handful of fresh plantain leaves to a cup or two of water, and bring to a gentle boil. Turn off heat, and let steep, then strain out the leaves. The infusion is best when fresh, although it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.
*Courtesy of Prairieland Herbs
Astragalus root is commonly used as an herbal remedy in China, Mongolia and other Asian countries. The roots of the astragalus plant are dried and aged for at least three years before they are used to prepare extracts, powdered capsules and medicinal teas. Historically, astragalus was used to promote longevity and speed recovery from illnesses, although it’s now viewed as an immune system booster, antioxidant and mild antimicrobial.
The common name “yellow leader” refers to the yellow interior of the root, and the fact that this is one of the superior tonic roots in traditional Chinese medicine. A typical member of the pea family, astragalus has finely divided leaves, small pealike flowers and seed pods, and a sprawling, vinelike stature. Astragalus membranaceous, the species used medicinally, grows up to 6 feet tall and has an appearance similar to licorice, another member of the large Astragalus genus. Some herbalists believe that the North American milk vetch, A. americus has many of the same properties and may even be a wild, medicinal Astragalus.
Astragalus root may boost the immune system in multiple ways, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The evidence suggests that astragalus extract contains compounds, such as polysaccharides, which stimulate specialized immunity cells called natural killer cells, monocytes and lymphocytes. This root may trigger the release of strong antiviral and anticancer substances named interleukin-2 and interferon, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stresses that more research is needed before any medical claims can be made. Other compounds in astragalus root called saponins display mild antiseptic properties especially against pathogenic bacteria, helping to prevent the immune system from being overworked.
Antioxidants are beneficial to health because they eliminate or neutralize free radicals, which are end products of oxidation that harm a variety of tissues, especially the insides of arteries. The saponins, flavonoids and triterpenes in astragalus root extract are strong antioxidants and may help to slow the deterioration of tissues, which is the primary cause of aging and a significant cause of many degenerative diseases such as arthritis, kidney failure and congestive heart failure.
Astragalus root is also classified as an adaptogen, which means it helps the body resist the harmful effect of stress and fatigue by stimulating the production and secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands and by balancing other endocrine hormones. It may help to keep you from feeling rundown, although you shouldn’t rely on it solely for this purpose. Adaptogens, which also include ginseng root and licorice root, may also enhance libido and give you an extra boost while working out.
Anti-aging potential has been the claim to fame of astragalus for centuries, and there now seems to be some biochemical understanding of how it may contribute to well-being and longevity. Compounds in the roots called astragalosides and cycloastragenols activate telomerase enzymes, which help to prevent the protective ends of chromosomes, called telomeres, from degrading. The degradation of telomeres negatively affects cell division and contributes to tissue aging. Astragalus protects the telomeres from degradation and may also stimulate telomere renewal. Although intriguing, much more human research is needed before astragalus can be touted as a fountain of youth.
Some adaptogens are recommended only for short-term use, but astragalus is commonly recommended for many months at a time by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. Typical dosages of astragalus root extract range from 200 up to 500 milligrams three times a day, but consult with a health professional familiar with herbal remedies before starting supplementation. The dried root in the form of tea, encapsulated or as an extract. Powder is mildly sweet and may be sprinkled on food or whipped into a shake or smoothie. Most authorities on traditional Chinese medicine recommend taking 9-15 grams (3 to 5 tablespoons) of the whole herb per day as a decoction, made by boiling the ground, dried root in water for a few minutes and then brewing the tea. May also be taken in capsule or extract form.
*Some content courtesy of The Nest & Annie’s
Baptisia tinctoria, also known as horsefly weed, is a plant with light-colored flowers and seed pods. It generally grows in warm regions of North America. The plant’s name is a combination of each of the Latin and Greek words for “dye.” The extract from the flowers and seed pods of baptisia tinctoria were historically used as a garment dye because they would change to a dark blue color when exposed to air. The extract’s most common modern use is as an herbal medicine.
The flowers and seed pods of the plant can both be used for medicinal purposes. For use as a tea, the flowers can be dried out and boiled with water. The seed pods can also be steamed to release their natural oils, then combined with alcohol for a mixture known as a tincture. Tinctures can be diluted in water and drunk. The oil from the seed pods can also be added into capsules or mixed with creams for topical application.
One of the possible uses for baptisia tinctoria is as a laxative, a substance that helps the body produce bowel movements. A person may need to use the medicine as a laxative to help treat constipation, a condition in which solid waste becomes backed up in the digestive system and makes regular bowel movements difficult or painful. Taking the herbal capsules orally may help loosen any backed up waste in the intestines so a person can have regular bowel movements. The herb can also work as an emetic, meaning it promotes vomiting. This use can help treat nausea or rid the body of toxins.
Tea made from baptisia tinctoria may be promoted by herbalists as a treatment for respiratory infections. It may be consumed to help soothe sore throats or chest colds. The tea may also be used as treatment for respiratory inflammation pain due to tonsillitis or laryngitis.
Baptisia tinctoria oil may also be implemented as a possible herbal treatment for various aches. It can be mixed with warm water, then used to soak a cloth known as a poultice. The poultice can be pressed against the outside of the jaw for toothaches or applied to other painful areas of the body, such as sprained ankles. The oil mixture can also simply be used as an antiseptic wash for cleaning cuts and scrapes, as herbalists believe it has antibacterial properties.
Some people may experience side effects if they are allergic to the herb. Signs of an allergic reaction generally include itching, vomiting, or diarrhea after applying or consuming. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are typically not advised to use the herb because it is not known how it affects infants or children.
Recap: Today we looked at several herbs; Plantain, Astratulus and learned a little on the controversial herb Baptisia or Wild Indigo. Since this herb is so controversial I highly suggest before using consult your naturopath, doctor or herbalist. We also made a Skin healing Poultice (with Printable) and a Wound Healing Tea!
Looking ahead: Next week we will take a look at Fainting & Dizziness. We will be talking about the lovely herb Lavender and making Lavender smelling salts and a Lavender Compress.
Reminder: Get your Lavender!!
I am participating in the following Blog Hops:
Until next post…
Blessings to you and yours,
I am also a Contributing Author at:
Nothing in this post is to be construed as medical advice, simply a sharing of things that have worked for me & my family. If you have any symptoms of serious illness, taking medication, pregnant or nursing, or have never worked with herbal materials before, please consider consulting a medical professional before use. I am unable to offer advise for your particular medical situation; please ask your doctor, nurse practitioner or naturopath for further guidance.
The statements made here have not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.
This article can be viewed here: www.modernhomesteaders.net