“My little herb garden along the stonewall
The thyme and rosemary beginning to crawl
Onto the path that lies under my feet
In and out of the crevices, ever so sweet”
~ Linda R. O’Connell
…to another posting of the Herbal Medicine Kit. Today we are learning about and discussing Herbal Preparations for Bruising. We will be discussing Arnica, Witch Hazel,Chamomile & St. Johns Wort. And crafting a Herbal Ice, Tincture of Arnica and a recipe for Bruise Compress.
Let’s get to it…
Medical dictionaries define a bruise as:
“an injury just below the skin where the skin is not broken,”
For simple, uncomplicated bruising, herbs can be quite helpful! The best herbs for treating bruises are those that discourage swelling and promote quick healing, such as Arnica, Chamomile, Lavender, St. Johns Wort and Witch Hazel.
In Germany, pharmacies sell more than 100 different arnica preparations to reduce inflammation caused by bruising. Arnica is also popular in North America, although many turn to our ever popular St. Johns Wort too. Another classic remedy is Witch Hazel tincture.
Whichever herb you choose, the sooner you get it on the bruise, the better! To further diminish swelling, apply a tincture-soaked compress that has icel slipped inside its folds. Or use herbal ice cubes.
Arnica herb, known for its medicinal properties is a genus of 30 species. This plant belongs to the Asteraceae family of sunflowers. It offers many benefits and therefore, finds an important place in the list of medicinal herbal plants. Arnica plant is mainly found in Europe and North America. However, eastern region of Asia also has many Arnica species. In olden days, the North Americans used this medicinal herb for improving blood circulation and in the treatment of sore throat. These people also used the herb as a febrifuge. A febrifuge is a medicine used in the treatment of fever. Following are some of the arnica uses which will help you to get a wider view of this herb.
The use of arnica for medicinal purposes has a long history. This plant was used by the famous German poet, Goethe in the treatment of chest pain. Tea prepared from leaves of arnica was used by Goethe for the treatment of chest pain. It is important to note that one shouldn’t take arnica without the guidance of a medical practitioner. Arnica is most commonly used as a topical medicine i.e. for the treatment of skin disorders. However, there are many other purposes for which this herb can be used.
The herb is effective in the treatment of pain. A component called sesquiterpene lactone present in this herb is helpful in the healing of pain. Applying arnica externally results in proper blood circulation to that specific body part. The increase in blood supply automatically warms that body part and reduces pain to a great extent.
Arnica oil is mainly used for the treatment of injuries, bruises, swellings, sprains and dislocation. The macerated oil especially proves to be helpful in the treatment of strained muscles and bruises. The macerated arnica oil is prepared by infusing the arnica plant in a certain base oil. Muscle relaxation is one of the important benefits of arnica oil. It helps by reducing the soreness of muscles.
The oils obtained from flowers, roots and rhizomes of arnica plant are used in the preparation of perfumes; these are volatile oils present in small amounts. Arnica is used in reducing the recovery time of physical trauma; it is also used to recover from overexertion. Arnica oil is used for stimulation of hair follicles and rejuvenation of scalp. Creams made from arnica are used to provide temporary relief from skin-related problems like sunburn. Similarly, insect bites can also be treated with medications that are prepared from arnica. The sesquiterpene lactone component of arnica also acts as anti-inflammatory agent.
Tincture of Arnica
St. Johns Wort
St. Johns Wort
Hypericum Perforatum, also known as St. John’s Wort, has been used from ancient times and throughout the Middle Ages, when it was considered to be a magical plant which could ward off evil spirits and keep disease away. This plant has the best reputation among medicinal herbs. Thousands of tons of St. John’s Wort plants are turned into medicinal products every year. St. John’s Wort seems to have gained a lot of success as an antidepressant remedy. That is primarily because depression is the most spread-out disease in the world these days.
But the plant use cannot be limited to depression. People suffering from weather sensitivity for instance, and who are confronted with headaches, anxiety, sleep disorders, concentration problems and so on because of the meteorological phenomena, fully benefit from the St. John’s Wort treatment. Patients who suffer because of the gloomy weather respond the best way to this kind of natural remedy. The result of using this plant is a positive mood, filled with joy and optimism.
They say obsessive compulsive disorders could also be treated with St. John’s Wort. One half of a cup for several times a day is said to have a good effect on people suffering from this condition. Although the studies made in this respect are rather few and sometimes contradictory, based on the practical evidence taken by doctors by observing how their patients’ state of mind improved after the constant use of this plant, one could say that with the help of this remedy one can obtain good results in curing such a disease, or at least in reducing the intensity and frequency of the patients’ manifestations.
St. John’s Wort is not as efficient for curing anxiety as it is for depression, numerous patients and especially the ones suffering from anxious depression have obtained encouraging results with the use of this plant. It’s highly recommended to use a mixture of St. John’s Wort with linden, in equal proportions.
It is also excellent for curing obesity and weight problems. It’s a well-known fact that overeating and eating too little are both related to emotional unbalances in the human system. And many doctors in Germany and in the US have obtained remarkable results by treating patients suffering from obesity with this plant. Since it gives a state of positive energy and of vigilance, it reduces the suffering produced by the reduction of food intake. It puts somebody in the mood of leading an active, sportive life and because of that it’s really efficient against obesity. The treatment does not aim only at losing a few pounds. These pounds might in fact be regained when the next emotional crisis comes along. St. John’s Wort is said to resolve the patients’ main issue, i.e. their lifestyle.
Some other problems that can be solved with the help of this miraculous plant are nicotine or alcohol addiction. This has been tested on animals which had been previously induced alcohol or nicotine addiction. When these two have been instantly ceased, they had a lot fewer negative symptoms. In practice, patients who wish to give up on these vices have higher chances to succeed if they follow a St. John’s Wort treatment, which on one hand can help reduce the adjustment period’s negative effects, and on the other hand can help put into motion the psychological resources for getting through difficult times. A cure can last for about 6 weeks and it must generally be followed by another 3-4 weeks of pause.
PMS syndrome can also be efficiently treated with this plant. Of course, every patient’s symptoms may vary. In this respect, the observations made by Bratman and Rosenthal show that the patients’ psychological dispositions are highly improved; thus, there is a reduction in symptoms such as mental irritability, depression, attention and concentration deficiencies, as well as mental hyper excitability. All these are typical of the premenstrual or menstrual period and can be successfully treated with St. John’s Wort. The very same doctors have noticed an improvement in the general mental state of women in their pre-menopausal period. In all of these cases, one can take St. John’s Wort powder four times a day (one teaspoon), during a period of 28 days with 10-14 days of break.
Chamomile (also spelled camomile) plant got its name from the Greek words chamos and milos, which represent ground and apple respectively. This means low-growing (ground level) shrubs with the smell of apples. A variety of these plant species can be found in Europe, North Africa and some parts of Asia. English chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla ) are most commonly used for medicinal purposes, in comparison to their counterparts. Though, both of them have almost similar properties, German chamomile oil is more potent than the English chamomile. Dried flower heads of both varieties are used in manufacturing herbal tea, ointments, potpourri, herb pillows, shampoos, herbal medicines and cosmetics.
Use of chamomile dates back to the time of ancient Egyptians. They believed that the plant is a sacred gift from God, and a cure for many diseases. They used to offer the flowers of this plant, to the Sun God. This herb was an important ingredient of the embalming oil used for mummification. It was also used for cosmetic purposes in ancient Egypt. While the Romans used chamomile to make incense and beverages, Hippocrates, the Greek physician believed that this herb is also useful in treating congestion and dysmenorrhea. In the middle ages, Anglo-Saxons graded this plant as one of the Nine Sacred Herbs. Monks also played an important role in experimenting and propagating knowledge about the medicinal properties of chamomile. During this period, alchemists in Europe started extracting essential oil from these herbs through distillation. It was the predecessor of the present-day distillation process. Over centuries, the popularity of these plants increased and spread to different parts of the world. Today, with the advent of aromatherapy and other types of alternative medicine, these plants are grown commercially.
Chamomile has a long history of medical use. Though there is no scientific research conducted to back the efficacy of its medicinal properties, it has been widely used in the treatment of a variety of diseases and disorders. Some people have reported side effects like allergies, after being treated with this herb.
Chamomile is said to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Experts also believe that this wonderful herb has antifungal properties too. Chamomile tea is no stranger to us, and we all know the various benefits of chamomile essential oil. Similarly, chamomile extract is also said to be very beneficial, medically. The extract is in powder form and ethanol is used to extract various compounds from the chamomile flowers. This extract has been very useful since a long time due to its soothing powers. Let me introduce to you the chamomile benefits for your health.
There are several health benefits of chamomile. Chamomile extract helps to provide relief to a person suffering from cardiovascular diseases. This extract is also helpful in treating fever, common cold, sinus infections, etc. Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile, the extract is used to treat various skin problems like eczema and skin disorders. The anti bacterial properties of this wonderful herb make the extract a wonderful treatment for intestinal problems. Minor health issues like teeth pain, indigestion, sore throat and diaper rash are also treated with the help of this extract. Due to the smooth fragrance of the extract, it can be mixed with water and used as a mouthwash.
Chamomile extract is also used to treat the more serious problems like blood clots and a lowered immune system. People suffering from jaundice are recommended to take this extract in the form of tea to get the chamomile tea benefits. Alternative medicine suggests the use of chamomile in treating water retention and inflammation in the digestive system of the human body. Due to the sedative properties of this herb, people suffering from insomnia and migraine are also suggested to consume this extract as it will enable them to fall asleep. Cramps in the stomach and other muscle cramps can also be treated by consumption of this extract. Pain in the joints due to arthritis, osteoarthritis and swelling of the limbs can also be treated by drinking herbal tea made from this extract.
The cosmetic uses of chamomile include the use of this extract in lotions, face creams and in shampoos. Chamomile oil is popular for aromatherapy. Adding a cupful of this extract into a hot water bath will help the person relax as chamomile extract helps in relieving stress from the body. Gels containing chamomile and chamomile oil also help in reducing various skin disorders like acne and scars. If the skin is irritated or inflamed, applying this extract to the skin will help in providing relief to the person.
1. C Distilled Water
1 tsp Chamomile Flowers
1 tsp Lavender Flowers
Pour boiling water over the herbs and let steep in a covered pan for about 15 minutes. Strain out the herbs and freeze the tea in a medium size ice cube tray. One the cubes are frozen, pop them out and store them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Herbal Ice can then be ready for any bruise emergency. Simply apply directly to the bruise or wrap inside a Bruise compress.
Witch hazel uses are mostly attributed to promoting skin health and hair care. Other than these, it is effective to treat diarrhea, dry mouth, hemorrhoids and infections. For know what else witch hazel is employed for, read on.
Witch hazel is an ornamental shrub or small tree that bears bright yellow blooms in winter season, when other flowers are hardly present in the garden. This plant not only yields breathtaking fragrant blooms, but it is used in herbal medicine for treating several health conditions. The effectiveness of witch hazel for treating skin symptoms has been known since a long time by now. In fact, the oldest skin care product commercially sold in the United States was based on witch hazel. With this brief introduction, let’s delve more on witch hazel uses and benefits.
Uses of Witch Hazel
Witch hazel applications are many and varied, while this plant is specifically known for its therapeutic benefits on skin and hair care. All parts of the shrub or tree are useful, including the leaves, bark, flowers and twigs. The curative effect of this plant is credited to the presence of catechol tannin, a phenolic derivative. Witch hazel extract is a clear solution sold as over the counter liquid in pharmacy stores. Listed below are some of the profound witch hazel uses that you may prefer to know about this wonderful plant:
Witch Hazel for Skin
Witch hazel benefits for skin in many ways. Be it the unsightly acne, itchy poison ivy rash, diaper rash or painful chickenpox blisters, witch hazel is the ultimate remedy. You can use a cotton ball dipped in witch hazel water over the affected skin areas to quicken the healing time. Using it in the same way helps combat the discomfort symptoms of sunburn and windburn.
Witch Hazel for Tired Eyes
Another witch hazel usage is for refreshing tired eyes. This also includes getting rid of bags under eyes. Never indulge in putting witch hazel directly over the eyes. What you can do is soak a clean rag in cold witch hazel water and place it over closed eyes for about 5 minutes. Repeating it twice daily will cure redness, puffiness and swelling of the eyes caused due to eye stress.
Witch Hazel for Hair
There are a plethora of hair care products that contain witch hazel as one of the ingredient components. To mention a few, you may come across hair toner, hair oil and anti dandruff shampoos that contain witch hazel. A common non medicinal usage of this plant extract is to set hair while perming or curling. In short, you can apply witch hazel solution instead of hair holding sprays.
Witch Hazel for Hemorrhoids
Witch hazel usage in terms of alleviating hemorrhoids is worth mentioning. Indeed, it is known as one of the most effectual home remedies for treating annoying hemorrhoid symptoms, including bleeding, swelling and at times, infections. When used with glycerin and other skin formulations, witch hazel has shown positive responses in shrinking external hemorrhoids.
Witch Hazel for Pregnant Women
It is effectual to treat varicose veins during pregnancy. The astringent property of witch hazel helps constrict the blood vessels, thus reducing swelling, pain and discomfort symptoms. Nevertheless, as with any herbal remedy, some women may be oversensitive to witch hazel water. Hence, it is always safer to take advice from the concerned physician before using witch hazel extract or other products.
Besides the above mentioned points, witch hazel is beneficial to reduce muscle aches, swelling and inflammatory responses. Adding few drops of witch hazel in mouth rinsing or gargling soothes soreness in the mouth, gums and throat. Other therapeutic uses of witch hazel include stopping minor bleeding, and treating infections, diarrhea, dry mouth and mucous colitis.
Recap: Today we learned about Herbal Preparations for Bruising. We discussed Arnica, Witch Hazel, Chamomile & St. Johns Wort. And crafted a Herbal Ice, Tincture of Arnica and learned a recipe for Bruise Compress.
Looking ahead: Next post we will be learning about Burns & Sunburns…just in time for the upcoming Summer! We will take a look at Aloe, Lavender & Comfrey more in-depth and craft a homemade Aloe Gel, Aloe Burn Spray and a recipe for a “Bath for Burns”.
Reminder: Have on hand Arnica, Witch Hazel, Chamomile, Comfrey, Plantain leaves, Calendula Flowers. Lavender Essential Oil, Colloidal Oatmeal or regular rolled oats milled, Aloe Vera Juice, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera Leaves, Vitamin C powder.
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