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HK Health news
*source: www.news.gov.hk
Some herbs and their uses
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Some herbs and their uses

Throughout history, herbs have been used for treating acute and chronic medical conditions. Many herbs have unique qualities ranging from strengthening the immune system to disinfection and accelerating the body's healing process.

Some of the more popular herbs and their uses are listed below;

Aloe Vera

Acne, bites and stings, burns, chilblains, cuts, itchiness, sunburn, wounds.

Known as the 'First Aid Plant', Aloe Vera has the effect of drying and protecting the skin, increasing the rate of healing of burns, wounds and skin problems. Aloe Vera cream and lotion is available from pharmacies and health food stores. Aloe Vera toothpaste is an excellent remedy for bleeding gums.

Arnica ointment or cream

Back pain, bruises, joint pain, muscle aches, sprains, surgical pain.

Caution: not to be used on open wounds or broken skin.
Arnica ointment, if applied immediately after a blow or sprain, quickly reduces both pain and swelling, making it particularly useful for bruises. Arnica in tablet form is a valuable adjunct to the lotion and may be used at the same time, (or instead of), following injury or surgery.

Comfrey ointment, cream, poultice
Acne & boils, back pain, bruises, cuts & wounds, sprains, itchiness, joint pain, scars.

Rub comfrey ointment into the damaged area (where the skin is broken use Marigold) as quickly as you can, the sooner applied the more swelling and pain will be avoided. Comfrey also helps to heal scars - old and new. This remedy has also been found to be beneficial for sufferers of neuralgia when applied externally. Dried leaves of the plant may be used as a tea substitute and has weak sedative properties.

Echinacea tincture, tablets, decoction

Acne & boils, asthma, bites & stings, bronchitis, catarrh & sinuses, children's infections, colds & flu, cold sores, cuts and grazes, urinary infection, digestive infections, earache, mouth ulcers, shingles, sore throats, thrush, warts.

Good for all infections Echinacea is a highly useful plant. Take a good quality supplement to raise the body's resistance to infection or to speed recovery. Use with other herbs according to the nature of the problem e.g. Sage and Thyme for sore throat, Elderflower for colds and flu. For cold sores, shingles and skin infections take Echinacea internally and try applying the tincture neat externally as a strong natural antiseptic. Echinacea can be taken with antibiotics and helps to reduce their side effects, especially thrush. Maximum dosage of the tincture is 5ml 2 times a day. Do not overuse Echinacea - take it only when you really need it.

Garlic fresh, capsules, tablets
A natural antibiotic. Useful for Acne, athlete's foot, asthma, bites & stings, bronchitis, catarrh & sinus problems, colds & flu, cold sores, coughs, digestive infections, earache, gum problems, mouth ulcers, shingles, sore throat, thrush, warts and flatulence. Garlic capsules are also taken for their beneficial effect on the heart and circulatory system.

Garlic is one of nature's wonders. In its natural state, it can be chopped or crushed in with food, 2-3 times a day for infections - or simply for the flavour it imparts.

Tablets and capsules are also effective. Mouth ulcers, infected gums and sore throats will all respond to a clove of Garlic sucked and held in the cheek. Garlic is a strongly anti-fungal and can help with thrush and athlete's foot. Like Echinacea it can be taken with antibiotics to reduce their side-effects.
For long-term use as a food supplement take 1 clove (or the equivalent in capsule form), daily.

Lavender essential oil, tea
Allergies, anxiety & tension, burns, bites & stings, cold sores, cuts and grazes, earache, headaches, hiccup, itchiness, joint pains, muscle aches, period pains, poor sleep, shingles, sunburn, teething.

Lavender is a gentle pain reliever and should be part of every medicine kit. Lavender oil (unlike most essential oils) can be applied neat - rub a few drops into the temples for headache or migraine, or put it directly onto insect bites and stings. It will also act as a mild insect repellent. For larger areas dilute the oil - 5 drops to 1 teaspoon of Almond or Sunflower oil - and rub firmly into painful areas, e.g. over the lower abdomen for period pains. Lavender oil helps to heal burns - gently spread neat oil onto sunburned skin. 5 drops in a bath will help relieve tension and encourage a good night's sleep.
Lavender tea has much the same properties as the oil but is much less concentrated and so can be taken internally - for anxiety, tension and low spirits, and for difficulty in sleeping. Take 1 cup up to 2 times a day.

Marigold (Calendula) tea, tincture, ointment, cream, compress
Acne, allergies, athlete's foot, bites & stings, burns, chilblains, children's ailments - cradle cap, nappy rash; cold sores, cuts grazes & wounds, digestive infections, eye problems, infected gums, itchiness, nosebleeds, rashes, sore nipples, splinters, styes, sunburn, thrush, warts, flatulence, wounds.

Marigold is the antiseptic and healing herb for red, sore and angry skin problems. Apply the ointment or cream and Marigold's healing and anti-inflammatory effect will quickly start to work. To cleanse an infected cut or graze rinse well with water then dab on neat or diluted tincture soaked in cotton wool or lint this will sting but is powerfully antiseptic. For young children dilute 1 part tincture to 4 parts water. Washing a cut in carefully strained Marigold tea is also effective.
Dab neat tincture or ointment on acne spots. For infected or deep splinters, boils, whitlows and similar problems mix Marigold tincture with Slippery Elm. Marigold is a very useful remedy for fungal problems - put ointment or powder on athlete's foot, ringworm etc. Taken internally Marigold tea eases heartburn, acidity and upset digestion. Marigold is very safe for children - use the ointment for nappy rash and inflamed and itchy skin, and the tea as a rinse for cradle cap in infants.

Slippery Elm powder, tablets
Boils, bronchitis, children's ailments - colic, constipation, teething; constipation, coughs, diarrhoea, indigestion & acidity, rashes, splinters, toothache.

A wonderful soothing herb, Slippery Elm can produce dramatic results in acid indigestion, gastritis, gastro-enteritis, diarrhoea, constipation, bronchitis, and coughs. For all of these conditions use Slippery Elm 'food' - see below. A lost filling can be temporarily plugged with Slippery Elm. To make a very effective drawing poultice for boils, splinters and whitlows, mix 1 tsp of Slippery Elm with sufficient Marigold tincture to make a thick paste. Put the paste carefully on to the infected area and bandage into place (put olive oil on first if the area is hairy). In most cases the splinter or pus will have been drawn within a few hours. Repeat if necessary.
Slippery Elm 'food' - mix 1 heaped tsp of powder to a paste with cold water, then pour on half litre (1 pint) of boiling water and stir. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon rind or honey to flavour and drink whilst warm. Take 1-4 times a day. It will help in all the internal ailments listed above.

 Thyme tea, tincture, essential oil
Asthma, athlete's foot, back pain, bronchitis, catarrh & sinus infections, children's, infections, colds & flu, coughs, hay fever, joint pain, muscle aches, sore throats, warts.

Use Thyme tea for all kinds of infections of the air passages - from the ear to the lungs. It has a strong antiseptic and calming effect making it valuable in earache, sinusitis, chest infections and the like. In these ailments Thyme combines well with Garlic and Echinacea. Use this combination also for thrush, and other fungal problems.
Thyme syrup is a pleasant remedy for children's coughs or simply sweeten Thyme tea with honey. Burn Thyme oil over an essential oil burner to cleanse a room and speed the recovery of the patient - especially one with chesty conditions. Inhale from a few drops of Thyme oil in a basin of hot water) for relief of catarrh and sinusitis. Thyme can also be diluted 5 drops to 1 tsp of warm Almond oil and rub firmly into the chest and back for the relief of all chesty conditions.

Tea-tree essential oil
Acne & boils, athlete's foot, colds and flu, cold sores, infected bites & stings, rashes, cuts and wounds; shingles, thrush, warts.

Caution - do not apply tea-tree oil neat to young children.
Tea-tree oil is a potent, yet gentle antiseptic. Apply it neat to small areas such as an acne spot, or around a nail, but if the area is larger than the size of a 50p piece it is advisable to it dilute it first - use about 10 drops to 1 tsp of Almond oil. Even diluted Tea-tree oil can sting so be careful applying it to sensitive areas - and keep it well away from the eyes.



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