There are well over three hundred thousand herbs–many of them have been life-savers over the years. Can we, then, find the “Ten Most Important”, which should be kept on hand at all times for health or survival emergencies? This is a hard one–choosing the names of ten of my top friends, our herbs. Perhaps the best way to proceed is to choose one herb from each of ten major herb categories of which there are many more.
Hippocrates used twenty-nine herbs and their combinations to help keep the people of the Isle of Cos in a healthy condition. In our practice we use approximately one hundred common herbs to take care of any malfunction that has been brought to our attention. We will, therefore offer you a tithe of our herbs. One herb cannot be said to be superior to another, as each has its own specific use, so we will list the categories from which each herb was selected alphabetically.
1) ALTERATIVE HERB:
Plantain (Plantago major; lanceolata, Plantaginaceae)
Parts used: root, leaves, flower spikes, seeds.
Medicinal uses: poisonous bites and stings, boils, carbuncles, tumors, inflammation, scrofula, eczema, frog or thrush, blood poisoning, malignant and bleeding ulcers, bleeding and minor wounds, diarrhea, piles, cuts and scratches, erysipelas, burns, scalds, leucorrhea, lumbago, bedwetting, syphilis, dropsy, toothache, worms, running sores, itch, ringworm, mastitis, poison ivy, bruises.
Preparation: fluid extract, infusion, powder, tincture.
2 ) ASTRINGENT HERB
Oak, White Tanners, Scrub, etc. (Fagaceae).
Parts used: mainly the inner bark, also leaves, acorn, acorn cups.
Medicinal uses: internal and external hemorrhage, leucal diarrhea, dysentery, prolapsed uterine, prolapsed anus, relaxed vagina, sore mouth, spongy and bleeding gums, ulcerated and inflamed throat, frog or thrush, diphtheria, seminal emissions, ulcerated bladder, bloody urine, pin worms, inflammations, burning fevers, infection, uterine troubles, piles, varicose veins, kidney and liver problems, goiter, ringworm, scaly eruptions, catarrh, colon troubles, gonorrhea, gleet, stomach troubles, relaxed tissue, cholera infant, hemoptysis, intermittents, phthisis, prolapsed uvula, gangrene, tooth powder, washes, poisoning.
Preparation: decoction, fluid extract, infusion, powder, tincture.
3) CATHARTIC HERB
Mountain Flax (Linum catharticum, Linaceae).
Part used: whole herb.
Medicinal uses: torpid liver, jaundice, obstinate constipation, digestive problems, gravel, dropsy, muscular rheumatism, catarrhal affection.
4) DIAPHORETIC HERB
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium, Compositae).
Part used: whole herb.
Medicinal uses: fevers, eruptive diseases (measles, chicken pox, smallpox, etc.), hemorrhage of the lungs and bowels, dyspepsia, jaundice, piles, mucoid bladder discharges, incontinence of urine, chronic dysentery, typhoid fever, diarrhea (including infants), uterine problems (amenorrhea, menorrhagia, leucorrhea), suppressed urine, scanty urine, wounds, ulcers, colic, diabetes, Bright’s disease, stomach gas, piles, relaxed throat, sore nipples, rheumatism, flatulency, fistulas, influenza (flu), congestive headaches, ague, loss of hair.
Preparation: decoction, fluid extract, infusion, oil, powder, tincture.
5) DIURETIC HERB
Parsley (Apium petroselinum, Petroselinum sativum, Umbelliferae)
Parts used: whole herb, root, leaves, seeds.
Medicinal uses: Dropsy, gall bladder problems, gall stones, gravel, aches in the lumbar region, menstrual obstructions, jaundice, enuresis, kidneys (congestion, irritation, inflammation), amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, nephritis, cystitis, intermittent fevers (Fresh juice, seeds), hepatitis, obstruction of liver and spleen, female problems, insect bites and stings, swollen glands, swollen breasts, cancer preventative, difficult urination, strangury (painful urination), syphilis, gonorrhea, dry up nursing mother’s milk, catarrh of bladder, anemia, tuberculosis, rheumatism, arthritis, acidosis, obesity, high blood pressure, catarrh, dyspepsia, halitosis.
Preparation: decoction, infusion, fluid extract, oil
6) EMMENAGOGUE HERB
Squaw Vine or Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens, Rubiaceae, Ericaceae).
Parts used: herb or vine.
Medicinal uses: childbirth, uterine troubles (menorrhagia, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, leucorrhea, etc.), dropsy, diarrhea, suppression of urine, sore eyes, urinary complaints, dysentery, gonorrhea, sore nipples, gravel, rheumatism, etc.
Preparation: decoction, fluid extract, infusion, powder, tincture.
7) EXPECTORANT AND DEMULCENT HERBS
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale; Boraginaceae)
Parts used: root (more powerful) and leaves.
Medicinal uses: cough, ulcerated and inflamed lung conditions, bronchitis, hemorrhage, asthma, (excessive expectoration), tuberculosis, pleurisy, pneumonia, inflamed stomach or bowels, ulcerated kidneys, sooth gravel, bloody urine, diarrhea, dysentery, bruises, sprains, swellings, fractures, cancers, torn ligaments, ruptures, broken bone, cuts, gout, gangrene, heart problems, ulcerous wounds, hemoptysis, catarrh, scrofula, anemia, leukorrhea, female debility, boils, gum boils, sinusitis, burns and insect bites.
Preparation: decoction, fluid extract, infusion, powder and tincture. The comfrey root contains a large amount of mucilage that is best extracted by water.
8) ANTISPASMODIC HERB
Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)
Parts used: herb and seeds (the latter are much stronger)
Medicinal uses: abscesses, adynamic (weakness), angina pectoris (heart excitability), asthma, blood poisoning, blood circulation problems, boils, bronchial problems, bruises, catarrh, chicken pox, cold sweats, colds, colic, congestion, constipation, convulsions, cough, cramps, croup, digestive disturbances (nervous dyspepsia, acute indigestion, etc.), drowning, dyspnea, diphtheria, earache, eczema, epilepsy, fainting, febrile trouble (fevers). Felons, female problems, heart weakness, hepatitis, hydrophobia (mad dog bites), hysteria, inflammations, insect stings and bites, laryngitis, measles, meningitis, nephritis, nervousness, palpitation, peritonitis, periostitis, phrenitis, pleurisy, pneumonia, poison ivy, poison oak, rheumatism, ringworm, scarlet fever, smallpox, spasms (spine, muscles, chest or genital organs), sprains, stomach irritation (small doses), tetanus (lock jaw), vomiting (small doses), whooping cough and zymotic diseases.
Preparation: Decoction, fluid extract, infusion, pills, poultice, powder, syrup, and/or tincture. Do not use lobelia tincture from drug stores, as it is extracted with an etheric menstruum.
9) STIMULANT HERB
Cayenne (Capsicum Minimum, C. Fastigiatum).
Parts used: fruit (oil is in the seeds)
Medicinal uses: Apoplexy, arrest gangrene or mortification, arthritis, asthma, asthmatic asphyxia, atonic gout, bleeding, bleeding of the lungs, chilblains, chills, colds, cold extremities, congestion, constipation, cough, cramps, debility, delirium tremens, diphtheria, dyspepsia, emesis (strong dose), functional sluggishness, fatigue, heart trouble and heart attacks, hemorrhage, hemorrhoids, high and low blood pressure, indigestion, inflammation, kidney and related problems, lethargy, low fevers, lumbago, menorrhagia, neuralgia, offensive breath, pains in the stomach and bowels, palpitation, pleurisy, profound shock, quinsy, rheumatism, scarlet fever, strokes, tonsillitis, toothache (oil), typhoid fever, ulcers, vomiting, wounds, yellow fever, cayenne (as a stimulant) is an activator, carrier and accentuator.
Preparation: Cayenne is prepared into decoctions, infusions, ointments, powder and tinctures.
10) TONIC HERB
White Poplar (Populus tremuloides)
Parts used: inner bark, leaves and buds.
Medicinal uses: articular swelling, burns, cancer, cholera, infantum, cuts, cystic catarrh, debility, diabetes, diarrhea (sub-acute, chronic), eczema, faintness, flu, gangrene, gleet, gonorrhea, hay fever, hysteria, indigestion, inflammation, intermittent fever, jaundice, kidney complaints, liver problems, neuralgia, purulent ophthalmia, acute rheumatism, strong perspiration, sciatica, syphilitic sores, bad ulcers, urinary complaints and-weakness, infected wounds.
Preparations: various forms
These ten herbs may be stored in any number of forms, bulk, capsules, tablet, tincture, concentrate, etc. Tinctures, syrups, concentrates and ointments if properly sealed can last twenty or more years and not lose potency. The bulk dry herbs should be put into cans such as the type in which bulk honey is often sold. The lid should be pressed in tightly and sealed carefully with a paraffin wax. All stored herbs should be sealed in this way with paraffin.
The diaphoretic herbs are the ones to be collected in the largest amounts. A pound per person of these herbs in their dry form is not out of line.
If the dry herbs, capsules or tablets can be sealed hermetically so much the better. It would be wise to store the seeds from as many of these herbs as possible. Label them well and seal them up for use in times of natural disaster.