Tag Archives: Herbalism

A Short History of Herbs

The world of today is a world of progress, no one doubts about that. We have managed to do in 200 years of continuous industrial revolution, what we couldn’t do in thousands and thousands of our up and down history. And yet, with all these technological breakdowns and synthetic substances, artificial food, not to mention the reign of King “Plastic”, some people still find the power and the wisdom to ask themselves how people in the past remained healthy and fit without nutritional supplements, drugs, even antibiotics.

Their secret was that that they used what Mother Nature gave them: the plants to cure themselves. Fortunately, this knowledge hasn’t been forgotten; even if they’re not so widely used, plants have found their place in our civilization.

The story begins thousands of years ago, before the recorded history, when man didn’t know how to write or read, but knew how to follow their instincts. They discovered that certain herbs could alleviate their pains, others could make a wound disappear and others could even kill them. In the course of time, societies developed and with them appeared the means to transmit their knowledge other than orally.


rhubarb A Short History of Herbs


5000 years ago, in Ancient China, people used rhubarb (Rheune palmatum) as a purgative without knowing anything about the actual active substances they contained. Also, they used Ephedra to treat asthma, even though the substance called ephedrine was discovered much later, in 1887 AD. All oriental ancient civilizations had their insights into the fascinating world of botany, as plants were one of the few elements to which they could resort to heal themselves.

The famous king Hammurabi of Babylon (18th century BC) recommended mint to cure constipation and other digestive disorders. Mesopotamian doctors considered that the best time to take a herbal medicine was at night or early in the morning, a principle which is confirmed nowadays by modern studies.

The Indians had an entire system of rules, prescriptions, remedies and practices, calledAyurveda, many of which involved the use of plants. They also had strict rules about when, by whom and from where the plants should be collected.


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Caster Oil Plant Seeds

People in Ancient Egypt knew and used the castor-oil plant, wormwood, saffron and oregano to heal and disinfect wounds; they also put coriander in their tombs so that the spirit will remain healthy in his afterlife. There are written records of their use of garlic (especially for the workmen who built the pyramids), indigo, mint and opium. The Greek and Roman civilizations have made a major contribution to the medical science. Although much of their studies stemmed from other cultures (Mesopotamian, Egyptian), they added precious information and, in time, they became more and more concerned about the diseases and cures as natural and realistic processes, rather than spiritual or magical. Physicians like Hippocrates, Dioscoride and others have recorded their discoveries; their works would enlighten the pre-medieval civilizations for many centuries after their death. Dioscorides wrote De Materia Medica (1st century AD), which contained a list of hundreds of medicinal plants, along with their description and curative qualities.

The Dark Ages met with a lack of any further recorded herbal studies; the knowledge was probably transmitted from generation to generation – parents taught children, monks, even herbalist taught apprentices. However, there lived a great Persian physician by the name of Avicenna (Abu Ali al-Husayn ibn Abd Allah Ibn Sina) who wrote one of the most famous books in the history of medical science: The Canon, which also contained information about how plants should be used and their properties.

In 1527, the Swiss thinker Paracelsus demonstrates that only a small part of the plant has an effect upon the human body (1g per 20 kg of plant), which is what we now call active substance. Later on, scientists have developed methods to isolate these substances.


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Theatrum Botanicum by John Parkinson in 1640


However, the first complete categorization of all known medicinal plants was printed in a book called Theatrum Botanicum by John Parkinson in 1640 AD. In 1649 Nicholas Culpeper pulished A Physical Directory, which is considered one of the best herbal pharmacopoeia manuals still quoted today.


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A Physical Directory by Nicholas Culpeper


As chemistry as a science developed, physicians started to use more and more widely synthetic medicines, such as aspirin, which proved to have side effects. Yet all pharmacists and drug producers confirm the fact that, unlike artificially synthesized substances, medicines extracted from plants are more accessible to the metabolism and friendlier with the human body.

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This article was written by Kat Yorba at Simply-Living-Simply and can be viewed here.  While you are there like them on Facebook!

A Natural Herbal Remedy Could Be Your Answer

Natural herbal remedies are drawing the attention of many traditional medical practitioners.  They are rapidly recognizing the ability of the hundreds of thousands of known herbs that have the ability to treat and prevent various human and animal illnesses, as well as properties that can enhance mental attitude, appearance, and performance.

herbal pills A Natural Herbal Remedy Could Be Your Answer

Herbal Capsules

Many centuries of experimentation by many cultures, for example Indian herbal medicine (Ayurvedic), Chinese herbal medicine, and western herbal medicine have created many uses for plants either singularly or in compounds, and sometimes animal by products to prevent and treat various conditions and illnesses.
A natural remedy can be anything from tea, to complex preparations of herbal compounds used in hospitals and clinics. These formulas come in many forms such as capsules, pills, ointments, and gels.

You may be using some of the common herbs as a food in your home such as:  

* Garlic–natural antibiotic and helps reduce cholesterol
* Cinnamon–lowers blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides
* Ginger–prevents motion sickness and lowers risk of blood clots
* Chamomile Tea–calms nerves and help relieve digestive problems
* Peppermint–Treats many digestion and gastrointestinal problems
These common herbs may be mixed with other proven natural products to achieve a particular result.

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Herbal Mortar and Pestle

Traditional medicine is very useful for diagnosis, emergencies, trauma and surgery, but often does not cut it for preventing disease from occurring. The time and wait needed to visit a doctor to get a prescription, and the ever growing cost of medicine is allowing an opportunity for many people to try to get help from natural products.
Many traditional medicines are showing many adverse side effects. Natural, is not necessarily safe, and may have unwanted side effects just as with conventional medicines, however a large ever growing number of the population has been using herbals, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids for many years with very favorable results and no adverse effects.

herbal go to first aid kit A Natural Herbal Remedy Could Be Your Answer

Your fully stocked Herbal Medicine Kit

Natural herbal products are now available for use by adults, children, and pets to remedy countless conditions from Angina and Arthritis, to skin care remedies, thyroid treatment, urinary tract infection and an unlimited number of other disorders.
Many new products have been compounded to remedy conditions other then disease, such as smoking cessation, removing unwanted hair, eliminating wrinkles and many other conditions.

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One of the many natural herbal remedies could be your answer.

This article was written by Kat at Simply-Living-Simply and can be viewed here.  Like them on Facebook while you are there!


An Herbal Tea For What Ails You!

For as long as we can remember, herbs have been used to treat everything from respiratory infections to inhibiting some forms of cancer growth. Increasingly however, herbal teas formemory and mental clarity are quickly coming to the foreground- and these are the herbs we’ll explore.  You’ve undoubtedly been hearing a lot of buzz about these mood elevating and spirit-lifting medicinal herbs but you may not be so sure what they are exactly or how they can help you maintain a clear state of mind and alertness.


Who couldn’t use an all natural pick-me-up to provide that desperately needed afternoon boost we ALL crave at times?

These herbal teas for memory and mental clarity can be combined with one another for optimal results. Some are good for calming anxiety whilst others lend their essence to supplying blood to your brain which can help boost memory.  A few natural options for overall brain health are more popular than others for use in cognitive remedies and here a few of the more widely used.



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Lovely Lavender Tea

Long lauded as a beverage well known for its calming and soothing properties, lavender is also used to relieve anxiety, stress, relieve muscle tension, and provide a better night’s sleep. Lavender is a very mellow tea and is even safe for children. It is usually consumed before bed or whenever a well deserved nap is in order. Lavender also soothes exhaustion, headaches and even nausea. Combined with chamomile, a rested mind and great rest is only a cup away!

Ginkgo Biloba


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Ginko Biloba Tea

Gingko most readily comes to mind when one thinks of herbal teas for memory and mental clarity. Its use can be traced back thousands of years and it is most widely known for its ability to promote brain circulation for increased brain function.

Ginkgo also increases the oxygen content of your blood, which has been shown to be vital for memory-enhancement. Due to its antioxidant properties, Ginkgo also reduces the damage caused by free radicals that build up in our bodies over time and speeds up the aging process. Studies have shown Ginkgo to significantly boost your mind, stabilize emotions and improve loss of memory.

Gotu kola


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Gotu Kola Tea

Gotu kola may not be a household name here in the West, but this herb has long been used by practitioners of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines. Gotu kola’s reputation as a nerve tonic and herb for treating anxiety or depression is a well deserved one. One of the many names for this medicinal herb is “Brahmi” which means wisdom or consciousness in Sanskrit. It is known as a stress relieving herb, and like Ginkgo, improves memory and increases circulation to the brain. These two herbs can often be found used in conjunction with one another in many herbal teas for memory and mental clarity.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is what many people call ‘nature’s happy brew’ due to its reputation for gently and safely lifting spirits or elevating moods. Studies show that St. John’s Wort stabilizes mood and emotions while calming and soothing frazzled nerves. These calming effects help to alleviate irritability and is also used to treat symptoms associated with PMS or menopause. Used widely to treat depression, this natural alternative to synthetic medicine can boost your spirits without the unpleasant side effects.


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Herbal Tea – Good for What Ails you!

These are but a few of the herbal teas for memory and mental clarity that one can try. Also, these can be combined with one another until you find the perfect brew for what you need. Ginkgo will help increase blood flow to your brain and help enhance your memory. St. John’s Wort can help when you have the ‘blahs’ and need a little pick-me-up. Lavender will soothe and calm your nerves and help you sleep restfully. Lastly, Gotu kola will help alleviate any anxiety or stress you may be feeling.

**As with anything, if you’re currently taking medication, it is advisable to contact your primary health care provider prior to embarking on a natural path to mental clarity.

This article was written by Kat from Simply-Living-Simply and can be viewed here.  Please like them on Facebook while you are there!

The Apothecary Garden


 The Apothecary Garden (Rosemary increases focus and memory)  An Apothecary Garden is an important addition to any farm whether your plot is an apartment balcony or large acreage.  Herbs easily grow in pots on the porch or a south window in the house or in their own space in the garden.

Apothecary gardens have been a staple in every culture around the world for many, many centuries.  The religious leaders were generally the herbalists, medicine men, and healers of the village.  Herbs have amazing healing powers and are every bit as effective and much more safe than pharmaceuticals.  Herbalists have been known as healers since the beginning of mankind.  Sometimes these things are met with cynicism.  I know how to make a broken bone heal in two weeks.


Folks that aren’t aware of herbs are confused about this.  My own family stems back to the Salem witch hunts where many of my herbalist ancestors were burned at the stake.  Herbs are wondrous and miraculous, but met with confusion all the same.  My goal is to take the woohoo out of herbs.  They heal.  End of story. Now let’s get your Apothecary garden going!

 The Apothecary Garden (Peppermint)

Peppermint is a staple everyone should have.  It is a mild pain reliever but its real job is in the digestive area.  It will calm an upset tummy, help stop heartburn, even heal stomach lining due to ulcers or colitis.  It is carminative, meaning it is anti-gas!  A cup of tea is delicious and with a little chamomile and ginger (which contain the same digestive properties) you will have a fine medicinal tea ready for the taking.

 The Apothecary Garden (St. John’s Wort)

St. John’s Wort is becoming harder to find to grow, but if you can get it, grab it!  The pharmaceutical companies use a derivative of St. John’s Wort that is then lab created to make chronic pain medications and anti-depressants.  If you can change the structure of the constituent then you can patent it.  Can’t patent something God made up.  He was there first.  Therefore, you cannot make very much money peddling a plant.  Big pharma is after a bit more money than that.  Making a tea of St. John’s Wort flowers, leaves, and rose petals is every bit as strong as an anti-depressant/anxiety medication.  There are corporations out there that don’t want you to know that!

 The Apothecary Garden (Roses)

Valerian is a beautiful plant that will get your sleep cycle back into a peaceful rhythm.  It is also an excellent pain reliever.  Add catnip and chamomile to go to sleep.  Add California Poppy and St. John’s Wort for an excellent sleep remedy.

 The Apothecary Garden (Valerian)

 The Apothecary Garden (California Poppy and Calendula)

Stinging Nettles will stop allergies in three minutes flat.  Take care when harvesting them (they aren’t called Stinging for nothing!) and dry them in a paper sack.  Crumble them up and make tea with them.

Dandelions can be made into tea or salad to help heal the liver and gallbladder.

Red Clovers help with women’s health, uterine health, and breast and uterine cancer.

So the weeds that pop up in the garden are there for a reason too!

There are Apothecary gardens that are designed in a circle with paths leading north and south, west and east.  There are Apothecary gardens that have winding paths.  I turned the front three feet of my long front yard into our garden.  The left side is medicinal plants and the right side are culinary (which also have medicinal qualities) herbs.  One large section of the garden holds the Poppies and Calendula (great for skin when infused into oil) to inspire beneficial insects to the garden.  Pots of herbs line the porch and in the winter are brought in to line the window sills.

Head to the nursery and see what you can add to your garden.  Want to learn more and completely take charge of your family’s health?  Look up my correspondence classes for Certified and Master Herbalists and take control of your medicine!http://gardenfairyapothecary.com

I am also leading an herb walk and medicinal tea talk Sunday, June 30th from 10-12 at Castlewood Canyon.  Meet at the visitor’s center.  Their cost is $7.

The Original article may be found here: The Farmgirl School

 The Apothecary Garden

Modern Homesteaders is about getting back to basics and becoming self-sufficient and self-reliant in today’s uncertain world. Quite simply Modern Homesteaders is about revitalizing the mindset and skill set that the pioneers and our forefathers utilized on a day to day basis, with a modern day twist.

Kidney Stones – Oh MY!

Kidney Stones

Joe Pye Weed


About the best that can be said of kidney stones is that once you go through the experience, you may find yourself willing to go out of your way to make sure they do not come back again! One bout is enough to make most people re-think their diets and make some changes!

About half the people who get kidney stones will suffer them again, along with the symptoms of sudden, sharp waves of pain, nausea, and profuse sweating that accompany this problem. Severe cases are also accompanied by bleeding and, if there is an infection, even fever. As with any kidney condition, please see your physician or naturopath to determine the exact cause of your symptoms and the severity of your condition.

Kidney stones are mineral deposits made up of calcium, uric acid or the amino acid cysteine. There are numerous theories as to how these stones form, but no ones knows for absolute sure. Contributing factors may include:



Lack of exercise

Repeated kidney infections

History of kidney issues in your family

In some herbal books it is said that lemon juice reduces the size of kidney stones, but most herbal remedies including those based on lemon juice and hydrangea do not actually dissolve stones. Instead they help eliminate the stones and reduce or relieve the pain that occurs as they are eliminated. The larger the stone, the more uncomfortable this can be. Good herbs that help reduce infection, pain and spasms are cramp bark, goldenrod and joe pye weed, aptly nicknamed “gravel root” for its ability to get rid of stones.

At least 75% of kidney stones are composed of calcium combined with phosphate or oxalic acid. Medical experts believe that these stones result from an accumulation of unused calcium and lack of general exercise.

Since calcium phosphate stones are most common in alkaline urine, cranberries and other herbs that acidify urine also help prevent stones. Levels of the enzyme urease, which contributes to kidney stones, are increased by bacteria and the alkaline urine they produce. If you are prone to kidney stones, play it safe and avoid the following oxalic acid rich foods:



Beet Greens


Green Tea


Uric acid stones are found in urine that is too acidic. If you get this type of stone eat the following foods:



Apple Juice



These foods will help make your urine more alkaline. Also consider changing or modifying your diet. One thing that can cause your urine to be overly acidic is an overabundance of PROTEIN. The herbs Meadowsweet, Sarsaparilla, Joe Pye Weed and Plantain help rid the kidneys of excess uric acid.

Kidney Stone Tea

2 tsp Hydrangea Root

1 tsp Wild Yam Root

1 tsp Cramp Bark

1 ½ Qt Water

1 tsp Joe Pye Weed

½ tsp EACH Corn Silk, Plantain Leaf, Yarrow Leaf

*Add hydrangea, wild yam and cramp bark to water in a saucepan.

*Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

*Remove from heat, add rest of herbs, cover pan and steep for at least 20 minutes.

*Strain and keep refrigerated.

*Drink 3-4 Cups daily.

*If bleeding occurs with your Kidney Stones, add 30 drops of Shepherd’s Purse tincture to each cup of tea.

A tea is most especially appropriate when treating a kidney infection because you should be drinking plenty of water to keep the kidneys flushed and help kidney stones from forming. You can also take this formula as a tincture; 2-3 droppers-full per day.

Blessings to you and yours,





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