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Some Popular Herbs and Their Traditional Uses

Herbal remedies to use at home

Chamomile (Chamomilla officinalis, Matricaria recutita)
Probably one of the best known herbs, chamomile is relaxing and helps to reduce nervous tension. It is excellent for the digestive system, as it can help to heal gut membranes, prevent gut spasms that cause cramping pain and reduce inflammation. Top tip: once you have drunk your chamomile tea, the cooled tea bag can be used as an eye compress on inflamed and/or sore eyes.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
A common sight in many gardens and by roadsides, both the leaves and roots of dandelion are used. Both parts are good at encouraging elimination: the leaves are more widely used as a diuretic (to increase urine production), while the roots support the liver and increase bile production. Both are rich in vitamins and minerals. The young leaves can be eaten in salads (if you are picking your own leaves, don’t pick those next to the road as they may be contaminated with chemicals from car fumes) and the roots can be roasted and ground up to make dandelion ‘coffee’.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum, Carduus marianus)
Another good liver herb, milk thistle seeds have been found to protect liver cells from damage by toxins, boost the liver’s ability to metabolise toxins and increase bile production. Milk thistle was traditionally used to increase milk production in breast-feeding mothers – hence the name.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis)
Lavender is great for calming the nerves. A few drops of lavender essential oil in your bath or on your pillow or just a fragrant cup of lavander tea are great for promoting relaxation and sleep. Lavender essential oil is also very healing to the skin and can be used to prevent infection in wounds or to promote the healing of burns once the heat has been taken out of the skin.

Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula is an excellent skin-healing herb when used externally or internally (healing the skin of the digestive tract), making it an essential in any herbal first aid kit. It is anti-microbial, so can be used as a base for a herbal antiseptic cream, is anti-inflammatory and helps to stop wounds bleeding and promote the formation of new skin.

The advice provided here is for general information and to help you treat minor illnesses and to promote health generally, if you have any doubt about the seriousness of your symptoms please consult a qualified medical herbalist or your GP.