Virginia Ahearn, B.S. CPM PCDCertified Professional Midwife • Practitioner of Herbal Medicine • Certified Postpartum Doula
Three Commonly Overlooked Herbal Remedies
Don’t overlook these 3 herbal remedies!
It is easy in our culture to want the ‘best’ the ‘strongest’ medicine for your ills. Western medicine has a ‘kill-what-is-invading-your-body’ approach to healing, rather than a ‘use-nourishing-medicines-to-strengthen-and-support-your-body’.
We celebrate bravado and heroism; football rather than libraries. Naturally we gravitate towards wanting the super strong herbs, thinking they will be the most helpful ones. Yet sometimes our bodies need just a ‘nudge’ from a tried and true common remedy.
I want to take a step back and celebrate three herbs that are easily overlooked because they seem so common and perhaps even ‘hum drum’. Each of these has many uses and I encourage you to add them all to your home apothecary.
Note that the dosages are all suggestions only! I also like to make larger quantities of tea, you can store them in the fridge and gently reheat them on the stove when you want to drink them. Yes, you must reheat on the stove – no microwaves allowed! Remember that four ounces is half a cup, and eight ounces is one cup.
Yes, we often think of chamomile as this sweet little flower with gentle healing properties, but think we need something more. Yet it offers us medicine for stomach upset, menstrual cramps, headaches, stress and anxiety, nightmares, teething pain, mild fevers, and even ADD/ADHD.
WOW! Yes, it does a lot!
Chamomile also works well with other herbs for more severe digestive issues such as Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome and severe diarrhea. For severe diarrhea and ADD/ADHD, you will probably need to mix it with other herbs for best results.
Here are some suggested doses, everyone is different and some might find immediate relief, others may need a higher dose or more regular use:
- For kids who are occasionally wound up, hyperactive, or have a hard time settling down at night, start with a 4-6 oz cup in the evening. Add honey or maple syrup, or a little apple juice. Increase to 8 oz if needed.
- For kids with ongoing stress, nightmares, and more severe hyperactivity, try 4-8 ounces twice a day.
- Chamomile baths are great for kids (and adults!) for relieving stress and headaches. Pour 4 cups boiling water over 1 loose cup of dried herb. Steep 45 minutes. Strain into bath water, sit in tub for at least 30-40 minutes.
- For adults with PMS, headaches, stomach upset, or any other symptoms above, start with one 8 oz cup twice a day, and increase as needed.
- I know an herbalist who has a cup of chamomile tea every afternoon to start winding down her day.
It is worthy of a spot on your herb shelf.
Don’t’ overlook Fennel seed!
Fennel has a licorice-y taste and is great for gas (including bad-smelling or painful varieties), bloating, nausea, and other digestive disturbances. It is great after a meal where you just ate too much.
It also is used with other herbs for mild respiratory illnesses and has been shown in one study to help brain function!
It is also great for families with new babies! Fennel seed tea will help soothe colic: if the mom is breastfeeding, she can drink the tea and it will pass through her milk and soothe the baby. Fennel also enhances breastmilk supply. I have had many breastfeeding clients drink fennel for help with milk supply, and about 85% got good results. This is very handy if the baby also has colic.
What’s my most compelling positive result using fennel seed for colic? It was with a new mom going out of her mind with the baby’s non-stop crying her first night at home. The mom and dad did not sleep a wink. She called me, sounding frantic and frazzled. She used fennel seed tea and the following night the baby was calm. Sometimes colic requires more remedies or a doctor’s visit, but this time it resolved beautifully.
For gas, bloating and nausea, drink the tea after meals or throughout the day.
The basic dose for tea is 1 teaspoon seeds for 8 ounces water, I like to crush the seeds a little with the back of knife or spoon, or mortar and pestle. Pour boiling water over the seeds and steep 20 minutes.
You would need to combine them with other herbs to treat severe digestive issues and respiratory illnesses, but it can help soothe a cough or sore throat, so if it is all you have on your shelf, certainly use it! It deserves a spot in your home apothecary.
Don’t be complacent about keeping peppermint on your shelf! Peppermint is most known as a tummy ache remedy, and it does the job well, but peppermint is also good for fevers, some headaches, and also can be used for certain types of coughs. It can be a quick pick-me-up, and makes a great iced tea on a hot summer day.
Peppermint is a cooling herb, so it will cool the heat of a fever (mix with boneset and/or yarrow for best results), and can cool a hacking cough.I once had a horrible respiratory infection while traveling, and after overdoing the garlic and ginger, an acupuncturist advised me to drink only peppermint tea. Her reasoning was that I had created too much heat in my system with the garlic and ginger, and I needed to approach this illness by cooling it down. I followed her advice and by the next day was much better. Will peppermint help a cough every time? No, but in some cases it might.
Peppermint can help with headaches, and general fatigue. Those suffering from chronic fatigue caused by long term illness might not find relief, but for those fatigued from a long day, too many hours in the car, or not enough fresh air, peppermint just may do the trick.
You can use the essential oil on a moistened cloth and breathe it in for a refreshing boost, you can drink the tea or use it as a steam for coughs, headaches and fatigue.
So remember, anytime you have a stomach ache or ate too much, reach for the peppermint, but that’s not all it’s good for.
Use 1 teaspoon per cup of tea.
For larger amounts: you can put 4 teaspoons in a mason jar or tea pot, make a quart and store it in your fridge. (This is what I do for iced tea, and I usually make 2 quarts for those hot summer days.)
Are these herbs part of your apothecary? Please leave a comment below to let me know, or email me for any questions.
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