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HERBAL THERAPIES
YOU CAN USE

FOR TREATING BURNS:

Try fresh aloe vera for burns. Studies show that aloe vera helps new cells form and hastens healing. It is suggested you keep a plant on a sunny windowsill for treating minor (first degree) burns. To use, cut open one of the plant's fleshy leaves and squeeze out the clear gel, applying it directly to the affected area three or four times a day. Aloe vera heals best in the open air, so leave the burn uncovered.

FOR TREATING COLDS:

Garlic can help prevent colds and help reduce symptoms because it contains a potent antibiotic called allicin, which is released when cloves of garlic are chopped, crushed, or chewed. You can add raw garlic to foods as a preventive measure or you can buy garlic supplements (which are available in most health food & drugstores). The best supplemental form is enteric-coated capsules, which are easier for the body to absorb. It is recommended that you follow label directions for dosage; a typical dosage is 300 milligrams daily for as long as symptoms persist.

FOR TREATING CUTS, SCRAPES, AND SCRATCHES:

Keep an aloe vera plant on your windowsill (this is your living first aid kit). When you get a cut, scratch, or scrape, break off one of the plant's fleshy leaves, squeeze out a little of the cool, colorless gel from the center of the leaf, and apply it directly to the affected area. Reapply three or four times a day for maximum healing. Aloe vera seals off the injury, relieves pain, and helps cuts and scrapes heal more quickly.

FOR FIGHTING THE FLU:

To ward off the flu at the first hint of symptoms, take echinacea, an herb with powerful antiviral and immunity-boosting effects. Echinacea is available in most health food stores in supplement form, as a tincture, and as a tea. Follow the dosage recommendations on the label of the product you choose. Echinacea works best over a short period of time. It isn't an effective immune strengthener when taken long term. It is suggested to limit usage of the herb for no more than a week.

FOR TREATING A HEADACHE:

For a headache caused by stress, try a soothing cup of this tea: Blend one part each of dried herbs wintergreen, willowbark, and meadowsweet (available in most health food stores). Pour boiling water over a teaspoon of this blend, steep for ten minutes, strain, let cool to a drinkable temperature, and drink.

FOR TREATING HEARTBURN:

For immediate relief of heartburn, make yourself a cup of ginger tea. Put 1/2 teaspoon of shredded fresh ginger in a cup of boiling water. Then let the ginger steep for about 10 minutes, strain the tea so that no ginger remains, cool to a drinkable temperature, and drink.

You can also try this tea: Add two teaspoons of anise seeds, fennel seeds, or dill seeds to one cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then strain, allow the tea to cool, and drink a few teaspoons every few minutes.

FOR TREATING HIGH CHOLESTEROL:

Scientific studies indicate that one clove of garlic or its equivalent, taken every day, is effective in reducing cholesterol levels. One way to get the equivalent is with garlic supplements. There are two advantages to these supplements: 1) The active ingredient in garlice, is best absorbed in supplemental form. 2) Taking supplements allows you to bypass the bad breath that can be an unfortunate side effect of eating fresh garlic.

The most effect form for a garlic supplement is enteric-coated capsules, which pass through the stomach and dissolve in the small instestine. But no matter which form you choose, follow the dosage recommendations on the label.

FOR TREATING INSOMNIA:

Herbal sleep formulas--in teas, tinctures, and capsules--are available in most health food stores. For best results, choose one that combines hops, valerian, chamomile, oats, passionflower, and balm. Follow the directions on the product label for proper dosage.

Valerian, which reduces activity in the central nervous system, is the best-known herbal treatment for insomnia, and you could take that alone if the herbal formulas don't work. Most health food stores carry valerian products; follow the dosage recommendations on the label.

Hops, a digestive tonic and sedative, may also help you relax. Purchasing dried hops flowers, putting them in a small muslin bag, and placing the bag under your pillow is recommended.

FOR TREATING MUSCLE CRAMPS AND PAIN:

For massaging out muscle tension, this herbal massage oil is recommended: Start with one cup of extra-virgin olive oil or almond oil (available in most health food stores). Pour the oil into a bottle or jar and add the following herbs in tincture form: 1 ounce of cramp bark, 1/2 ounce of lobelia, and 1/4 ounce of willowbark or wintergreen. (If you don't have wintergreen tincture, substitute 30 drops of wintergreen oil). These ingredients are also available in most health food stores and through mail order.

FOR TREATING NAUSEA AND VOMITING:

For mild nausea, drink ginger tea. To make the tea, slice a piece of fresh ginger and put a few shavings or slivers of it in a tea ball. Pour a cup of boiling water over it, steep for ten minutes, then allow it to cool before drinking.

When nausea is more intense, try a stronger dose of ginger, available in gelatin capsules of 500 milligrams in most health food stores. Take one or two capsules every four hours, or follow label instructions for dosage.

FOR TREATING RASHES:

Try dried chamomile to make a soothing wash for poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac rashes. Steep two tablespoons of dried chamomile in two cups of boiling water for about ten minutes. Let it cool, dip a washcloth in the wash, and spread it on the rash. You can use this remeby as often as you like.

FOR TREATING A SORE THROAT:

Try gargling with goldenseal tea. To make the tea, pour boiling water over one to two teaspoons of the dried herb, which you can buy in most health food stores. Steep for 10 minutes, strain to remove the herb, and cool before using as a mouthwash.

Sage is another good choice for a sore throat. Chop two teaspoons of fresh leaves, then pour boiling water over them and steep for 10 minutes. Strain the tea to remove the leaves and cool before using as a gargle.

It is suggested that you repeat the gargles as necessary for a maximum of two to three days.

FOR TREATING STOMACHACHE:

Peppermint and chamomile are two traditional herbal remedies for stomachache. Both work gently to soothe an upset stomach, stop stomach spasms, and reduce gas. Recommendation: You drink three to four cups of peppermint or chamomile tea daily to treat minor digestive problems. You can also sip a cup of either of these teas after meals to aid digestion. Peppermint and chamomile teas are available in tea bag form in most health food stores.

FOR TREATING STRESS:

Siberian ginseng tones the nervous system and increases your resistance to stress. It is suggested taking this herb in either capsule or tincture form, following the dosage recommendations on the label. Siberian ginseng supplements are available in most health food stores.

FOR TREATING TOOTHACHE:

Try oil of clove to soothe the pain until you can get to the dentist. But don't use it full strenght, it's so strong that it can damage your tooth's nerve. Ask your pharmacist to recommend an over-the-counter preparation containing oil of clove (sometimes called eugenol), such as Orajel and follow the label directions for use.

FOR TREATING VAGINITIS:

Try a Saint-John's-wort or calendula salve to soothe the itching and irritation caused by vaginitis. These products are sold in most health food stores. Follow the application directions on the label.

SOURCE: DRUG-FREE HEALING: Breakthrough Remedies for Healing Yourself Naturally, by the editors of PREVENTION Magazine Health Books