REAL, FRUGAL, HEALTHY, and FUN!!!
My 4 year-old gets so frustrated when he sees trash on the ground. He cares about the planet and wants to keep it nice. Why shouldn’t he? After all there are so many amazing things that grow here. As I considered this, I began thinking of some of the different natural herbs that grow all around us. Wonderful herbs that can heal. When I think of these medicinal plants, I typically think of plants that grow very far away. For example, I think of plants that grow in Asia, Africa, or Australia. I don’t think about plants that grow right here, in America. Yet, here in north America, there are some truly amazing, medicinal herbs that grow.. Let’s check out some of these locally grown herbs:
American ginseng is native to the eastern United States, and even grows as far north as Quebec, Canada. In the U.S., it grows as far west as Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska. American Ginseng has been used for stress, immunity, as a stimulant, and as a tonic to strengthen a person’s mentality. It has been used to treat and to prevent colds and the flu, as well as in the treatment of many types of infections and viruses, including HIV. It’s been used to ease digestive symptoms, treat diabetes, anemia, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, headaches, bleeding disorders, and even complications with pregnancy. It has a cooling/calming effect. It is very popular in Asia (whichis where most goes), as their home-grown ginseng is a little different. Scientific research suggests that it is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to stress. Research also supports it’s ability to lower blood sugar. There is also research supporting it’s ability to prevent and treat upper respiratory infections. Too much is not a good thing, though. It can disrupt sleep and can cause problems in those with schizophrenia. It can also cause problems with blood sugar levels during and after surgery. There can be adverse reactions when taken alongside certain medications and/or herbs. Still, because of it’s many positive uses, it’s in high demand, and because of that, it’s actually become an endangered species.
Goldenseal is native to the moist woodlands of Connecticut through Minnesota, and a little further south. Originally used by native Americans to treat skin, digestive, liver and eye problems, goldenseal is still popular today. It is available in oral supplement form, as well as in ointments and lotions to treat and heal the skin. It is used to treat infections in the mucous membranes, small wounds, bladder infections, colds and flu, fungal infections, sinus and chest congestion. Some people actually consider it a natural antibiotic. It is popular as an eye wash for sore eyes, and as a mouthwash to treat canker sores, sore throats, and other oral ailments. Some research has shown its constituents to have antimicrobial, antifungal, and antispasmodic action. Surprisingly, though, there hasn’t been much research to support goldenseal in its whole form to determine its usefulness, otherwise. Still, goldenseal is a top-seller in the supplement industry. Like American ginseng, though, it has been listed as an endangered species. For a while, it was thought that goldenseal could cover a positive drug test, but this particular aspect was researched and has been found to be false. Goldenseal is not recommended for those with high blood pressure or heart problems. Side effects can include irritation of the mouth, throat, stomach, and digestive tract.
Black cohosh is native to wetlands in the eastern United States. It reaches as far north as Ontario, Canada, to Maine. It grows from Wisconsin to Missouri, and down to Georgia. Black cohosh is a member of the buttercup family and is popular among women for treating symptoms related to menopause, as well as menstrual problems. It may also alleviate high blood pressure, asthma, and tinnitis. Research is ongoing. Some studies have shown that black cohosh is effective, while more recent studies are inconclusive. Still, more studies are underway. As it is , the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) scrutinize many of these studies, saying it’s safety has not been investigated beyond 6 months of use. The ACOG and Germany’s Commission E, approve it’s use in relieving menopausal symptoms for 6 months or less.
Wild yam is native to pretty much the entire eastern United States. It’s actually a source for steroids, both for sex hormones, and cortisone. Wild yam contains chemicals that can be converted into estrogen and DHEA. However, the body does not convert wild yam into estrogen and DHEA, it takes a lab to do that. It’s been used as an alternative to traditional pharmaceutical estrogen therapy. It’s also been used to treat intestinal distress and arthritis. It’s been used in various oral contraceptives. Wild yam should not be taken by women who are currently undergoing estrogen therapy.
Echinacea is native to the mid-eastern United States. Echinacea is often used as a stimulant for the immune system. Many people use it to help fight off colds and the flu. It has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral, and detoxifying effects. Laboratory and animal studies suggest it can fight off free radicals. German physicians still write over 3 million prescriptions for it each year.
Witch Hazel is native to the eastern United States. It’s been used for centuries as an astringent with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s used to treat skin and mouth irritations, sprains, bruises, muscle aches, sore throats, and varicose veins. Witch hazel is also used internal bleeding, diarrhea, dysentery, and hemorrhoids. It has astringent, antiseptic, hemostatic, and antioxidant effects.
Saw Palmetto is primarily native to Florida, though it can be found in South Carolina, Georgia, and as far west as Eastern Texas. Saw palmetto berries are used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, a non-malignant enlargement of the prostate. After thorough research, the United States Pharmacopoeia determined, “These studies provide evidence… that commercial extracts of saw palmetto at a dose of 160 mg twice a day are more effective than a placebo in relieving lower urinary tract symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.”
It’s so humbling to stop and think about all of the wonderful things that grow naturally all around us. With busy schedules, commercialism overload, and all of the factors that come with modern life, we forget. It’s nice to take a step back and embrace the world’s natural wonders.
S. Foster and R. L. Johnson, Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine, National Geographic, 2006