The Medicine Chest
The goal of the medicine chest is to introduce you to the wonderful world of herbs and their many uses. Herbs have traditionally been used as foods, supplements and to cure ailments. Their use can help support your health from a very basic level, just as foods do. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, you could walk into a drug store in the United States and find hundreds of herbal extracts for sale. Upwards of 90 percent of the population at that time knew how to use the medicinal plants growing in their backyards to treat common illnesses and injuries.
They had too, as this was virtually the only “medicine” available. With the rise of what is now known as conventional allopathic medicine shortly before World War I, herbalism slowly fell out of favor and became to be thought of as folk medicine. Rather than viewing nature as the source of healing, as had been done for centuries, people began to view drugs and other “modern” healing methods as superior.
Ayurvedic herbal medicine also has a long history of using herbs to support and rejuvenate the body and mind. Herbs are natures superfoods. When we consume seasonal herbs, we support the natural building, mineralization, and detoxification processes of the bodily systems.
Fresh, dried, or powdered herbs are close to their natural source. The body knows how to use and process these foods. The supplements we buy on line or at the store are a processed form of these natural substances. It’s not always possible to get plants in their natural form, but we do have a lot of options.
Consider growing your own herbs. It’s easy to grow culinary spices like basil, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary. These herbs are superb anti-oxidants and can be used in your salads, stir fry's or as teas.
Since we are using the herbs as medicine, you want the best quality, grown using natural sustainable farming practices. The herbs sold in the supermarket will do if you are in a tight spot. For medicinal teas, favor cut and sifted and then powdered.
In the United States, I use:
www.mountainroseherbs.com western and ayurvedic herbs + lots of other goodies
www.banyanbotanical.com primarily ayurvedic herbs + ready-made herbal formulas
www.starwestbotanicals.com western and ayurvedic herbs + culinary spices
In Australia, I use www.ayurorganic.com.au
One of the simplest and most effective ways I have found to introduce herbs into your life is through herbal teas. Raw herbs are usually prepared as a decoction, infusion, or cold infusion.
A decoction involves boiling the herbs over a low flame, while a hot infusion involves adding the herbs to boiling water and allowing them to set for a period of 12 hours. I usually leave my herbs overnight.
Decoctions is used for hard parts of herbs like roots and barks and
Infusions for soft parts like flowers, leaves, petals, and powders.
Cold infusion is used for herbs that have refrigerant properties and best for summer beverages.
In Ayurveda, the general rule for decoctions (when making medicine) is one part herb to 16 parts water. Using measurements, we use 1oz of herb for every 16oz of water. This makes a strong tea and it may be best to make a milder tea by using 1oz of herbs to 32oz of water.
Or you could simply use 1 teaspoon of herbs to one cup water.
I love to make strong infusions. I use 1oz of herbs to 32oz of boiling water and allow my tea to infuse overnight. The next day, I strain the tea, place it in canning jars, refrigerate it and either drink it room temperature or reheat and drink warm. The tea has a shelf life of 24-48 hours.
It’s a great way to drink nourishing, mineral rich beverages. I really do consider herbs and teas as natures superfoods.
In the medicine chest, I have included a few of the teas that I have personal usage and experience with. I have picked herbs that are food like substances, easily tolerated by large groups of people and with a long history of safety and usage. If you have a sensitive tummy, I suggest consulting a qualified Ayurvedist or Herbalist for an individualized formula.
Or start with lower dose herbs to make a weak tea.
The teas I have included are:
· Vitamin C tea
· Yogi tea
· Mineralizing Bone tea
· Turmeric Root and tea
· Winter wellness tonic/Kashaya
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- The Medicine Chest