Food & Health

A Beginner’s Guide to Herbal Medicinals & Why It’s Crucial to Your Eco Healthcare Routine

A Beginner's Guide to Herbal Medicinals & Eco Healthcare
Written by Ash Stevens

Even before Trump miraculously took office, healthcare policies and insurance coverages were ever-changing. Now that Trump is sitting on his golden throne in the White House, the healthcare systems seems much faster, in whackier, pull-out-your-hair ways.

Just what our health insurance will cover and how optimal our healthcare routines remains to be seen. So, rather than wait for Trump and his crew to finally get some (or any) legislation passed — why not take your health into your own hands?

If you’re eco-minded and have a preference for anything holistic (which there’s a 99% chance you are if you’re reading this site), then it’s only a small extra step to make ‘eco healthcare’ a part of your sustainable lifestyle.

A Beginner's Guide to Herbal Medicinals & Eco Healthcare

There are just some basic things you need to know…

Antivirals  

When you get sick, standard protocol is to stop in and see the doctor. It’s never a bad idea to get an expert’s opinion, but when it comes to the standard cold and flu, a doctor won’t be able to do much more than advise you to get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water and rest it out.

If you want to give yourself a health boost the next time a virus comes to visit, there are some natural virucidals you can put to the test.  

  • Black Elderberry: You wouldn’t think much of this shrub if you saw it in person, but the humble black elderberry is oozing awesomeness from each and every plant pore. The berry of the black elder shrub has a long history as a cold remedy, and now science is only now discovering what those “crazy old wives tales” were getting at. Various studies show that elderberry extract can inhibit the growth of pathogens like streptococcus, influenza, and E. coli. If you can find a reputable and potent bottle of Sambucus Nigra L. (black elderberry), it will be worth the buy. Of course, you could always pick up some elderberries in the bulk section of your favorite Co-op and make your own elderberry syrup.

Herbal Medicinal Plants - Elderberry

  • Olive Leaf Extract: We’re already preaching the health benefits of olive oil, but compared to olive leaf extract, olive oil is like the couch-surfing, part-time pizza delivering sibling of the olive family. Thanks to being rich in the fabulous compound elenolic acid, olive leaf extract has been used in lab studies against nasties like Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella. But it’s potential is only being discovered as a study from March 2017 reveals that wild Olive Leaf Extract may have a place in cancer chemoprevention (as in it may be able to inhibit, delay, or even reverse cancerous growths). All things considered, it’s probably a good thing to keep on hand.

Antimicrobials

Late-night binges of carne asada from that divy-looking taco truck are sure to provoke an emergency run to both the doctors office and to the bathroom. Again, it’s always a good idea to get an expert’s opinion on things, but bacterial infections generally get you a prescription for antibiotics. Considering that drug-resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA and gonorrhea have the CDC running to mommy, it’s generally a good idea to avoid antibiotics unless your doctor feels they’re truly warranted.

So, the next time you’re upchucking a beef burrito or going on a Candida cleanse, make sure you have these antimicrobial bad boys around.   

  • Grapefruit Seed Extract: I’ve never been a fan of the common grapefruit, but I am a raving lunatic fan of its seeds. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a powerful antimicrobial. So powerful, GSE can fight yeast, viruses, parasites, and fungus actually being studied for use in antibacterial food packaging. It’s available in both pill or liquid form, but use the liquid with caution. GSE may be the nastiest thing you will ever taste, so you’re best bet may be to put it in a gelatin capsule or dilute it in an obscenely strong-tasting juice.    
    Herbal Medicinals - Grapefruit extract
  • Tea Tree/Melaleuca: The aborigines of Australia have been using the leaves and oil of melaleuca for generations. Story has it that this information was passed on to British voyager Captain James Cook, who shared the plants incredible uses with the modern world. People found that Tea Tree Oil was so effective in treating certain infections, it was actually a first aid staple for Australian soldiers fighting in World War II. Today, this rockstar oil has been tested on foodborne pathogens, oral bacteria, fungus, and bacterial biofilms. It’s even shown promise in treating West Nile Virus and killing breast cancer cells. Tea Tree Oil isn’t something you want to take internally, but you can reap the same benefits by applying it to the soles of the feet. As with all essential oils, please do a skin patch test beforehand and consult with a professional to determine the dosage and application that’s best for you.    

Tea tree or Melaleuca - Herbal Medicinal plants for eco healthcare

  • Thyme: I can’t think of thyme without thinking of oregano. Which is really perfect because these two herbs are hardcore antimicrobials. Essential oil of thyme is packed with the antiseptic compound thymol among notable others. They’re so effective against microbes, one study showed that thyme essential oil was effective against one hundred and twenty strains of bacteria. It even puts up a fight against creepy microscopic parasites.   

Herbal medicine, oregano thyme

  • Oregano: This potent herb is one heck of an antifungal, and it doubles as an anti- almost- everything-else. Since it’s brimming with the powerful phenol known as carvacrol, it has the ability to kill everything from yeast and fungus to viruses and parasites.  For external infections like toenail fungus, you can dilute a quality oregano essential oil in a carrier oil and then apply the blend to the skin (do a skin patch test beforehand, and make sure you dilute it properly or else it will burn like the dickens). For a microbe-fighting dose of oregano that can be taken for internal infections (ie. food poisoning, candida, or colds) you can use a quality Oil of Oregano product. If you happen to have fresh oregano and olive oil on hand, you can make your own oregano oil. Before you start using it, be sure to do your research. Oregano is strong stuff. It has some serious health benefits, but it’s not something you want to use on a daily basis for an extended period of time.

A Beginner's Guide to Herbal Medicinals

Anti-inflammatories

Aches and pains. Yet another common reason for visiting the doctor. Without a doubt, seeing the old doc is a great way to figure out what the heck is going on with your body. But fixing the problem? You’ll generally get a prescription for some pharmaceutical drug that comes with a list of unpleasant potential side effects. Later, you may find yourself taking yet another pill to address these unpleasant effects. Inflammation deserves special attention because it’s a major underlying cause in virtually every disease there is.

A Beginner's Guide to Herbal Medicinals - Question Pharmaceuticals

So, if you’re looking to treat minor aches and inflammation on your own (and you consult with an expert on usage), there are some great natural options that may be worth your while.

  • Frankincense: This powerful anti-inflammatory has shown in studies that it’s essential oil can reduce inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers, giving them a much-needed reduction in pain and an improvement in physical function. Various other studies show that frankincense extract can inhibit cancer growth, and without damaging the non-cancer cells that make up our body. Boswellic acid (the primary compound in frankincense resin) has also shown major potential in enhancing brain function and treating autoimmune diseases. Its ability to reduce inflammation and promote healing is accompanied by an amazing ability to boost cellular health and regeneration. I can’t find a study to back up this claim, but I can tell you that after using a good frankincense essential oil on my skin for a week, it seemed as though I had shed an old skin for a brand new glowing skin beneath.       Herbal medicines - frankincense
  • Willow Bark: So, this tree bark actually offers some serious pain relief. It sounds like extreme tree-hugging health care, but it’s totally legit. Willow bark contains salicin, which is a compound that our bodies convert into salicylic acid (the active compound in pain-relieving aspirin). In studies, it’s shown that it can be just as effective against headaches as aspirin. Willow bark has also shown it’s potential in people suffering from back pain and arthritis. As with aspirin, it shouldn’t be taken by anyone who has blood issues. For adults without health issues, willow bark is safely taken at 1,000-3,000 mg a day as needed.

Herbal medicines - willow bark

Mental/Emotional Aids

All you Eco Warrior Princesses out there know that being a woman takes work. Those of us princesses who are juggling a combination of work, housework, caregiving, and relationship maintenance, know how these “tried and true” lady labors test our sanity. With all the duties we’re juggling and all the people we’re taking responsibility for, women’s health is imperative for a woman’s family, friends, and job as much as it is for the woman herself.

So, please ladies! Let’s get ourselves some herbal allies that can help us relax, destress, and re-energize. We need just as much care as everyone and everything else does. 

  • Ashwagandha: Maybe you haven’t heard of this herb yet, but it’s been a staple of Indian Ayurveda medicine for thousands of years. As an adaptogen, ashwagandha helps stress by balancing cortisol and hormones. Perhaps because of this, ashwagandha has a reputation for improving mood, anxiety, immunity, plus energy and stamina. As great as all of that sounds, this adaptogen also shows incredible benefits with brain health. I don’t know about you, but I would never turn down a brain boost or some stress relief. Especially when it can be thrown into a chocolate smoothie.           

  • Tulsi: If ashwagandha is the shining star of Ayurveda, then tulsi is the sun. The “holy basil” of India has hardcore antioxidant benefits that have it being studied for treating the toxic effects of cancer treatment as well as treating cancer itself. Studies show it has some outstanding potential with detoxification, balancing blood sugar, hormones, stress and more. If that doesn’t have you sold on tulsi, then get this. Apparently when this herb is grown in India, it’s hand-watered by women while they pray over it. Tended to by women and it’s prayed for? Can herb can get better than that? My shopping impulse doesn’t think so.

What are your favorite eco health care items? Did we forget to cover any? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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About the author

Ash Stevens

A writing and pondering Libra. Intrigued by values, philosophy, health, culture, and simplicity.

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