Monday, January 11, 2010

Herbalism Part One

I think I'll dedicate this week's blogging to using herbs for medicinal purposes (that sounds so much more dignified than the backwoods sounding "herbal remedies"). I will give you my own background in herbal uses, then talk about what I'm currently learning about conventional medicine (aka pharmaceuticals), and finally I'll outline the herbs I'm using right now to treat my family of a respiratory virus. If you're not into all this, just check back next week and maybe I'll be on a different topic by then!

How I became an herbalist
Okay, so I'm not an herbalist, not by a long shot...but I've dabbled in it for a while. I've been interested in health in general and vitamins and nutrition specifically since high school. I borrowed a vitamin book from my grandma and annoyed everyone with condemning health facts the rest of my senior year. I hope I've become less abrasive about health issues since then!

About ten years ago, I started learning about whole foods. I guess the natural next step is to use food and herbs as medicine. I've experimented with my own illnesses and mild health issues my family has faced.

Specifically, I've treated my chronic urinary tract infections with cranberry capsules and later, pure cranberry juice (we're not talking sweetened Ocean Spray, here folks!). I've successfully treated UTIs with loads of nettle tea and real cranberry juice.

During pregnancy and postpartum times, I've taken Evening Primrose Oil (used for a variety of reasons) and Raspberry Leaf Tea to tone the uterus.

When I needed my milk supply increased, Fenugreek capsules or tea have been my favorite tools.

As I've learned more about herbs, I've stepped further and further away from running to the doctor for antibiotics. When I've had a sinus infection, I waited it out. I've waited until I knew my kids really needed it to get them antibiotics. As a matter of fact, two of my children have never needed any (but Ashlyn's made up for it with lots of ear infections as a baby!).

Although it's not herbal, Doctor Mercola suggests using breastmilk to treat ear infections. And why not give it a try? Even mainstream medical professionals are now telling us antibiotics may not help against most ear infections. Actually, we're now being told that most of the time, the ears will heal up on their own if left alone. This explains how our grandmothers "cured" ear infections with warm mineral oil. 

I'll end this post here and pick up on this topic Wednesday. We'll look at the eye opening facts on the current state of antibiotic usage.

Before I go, two caveats:
One, we have, and will continue to use mainstream medicine. We all have real, live doctors we see somewhat regularly. We've had a child have her tonsils removed, we're treating another child with eczema with both prescription drugs and herbs. I've had all my children in a hospital, although if circumstances allowed, I would have used a birthing center. Our doctors all work with us to find good solutions, usually seeking natural cures first. You may be surprised to hear that all our doctors are traditional, mainstream doctors.

Two-the FDA doesn't regulate herbal medicine. I am not a doctor and have no medical training. You need to research herbal remedies yourself before you utilize them.

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