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Written for, and sometimes published in, the local media, by Luzia Barclay DBTh MIRCH (registered medical herbalist)

Lyme's Disease: Is it affecting YOU?
Hay Fever?: How you could enjoy your Summer
Fatigue: Get that Spring back in your step
Fertility: Are you One in Eight couples?
Propolis used in conjunction with medicinal herbs
Treating children naturally for common illnesses
Introduction: Introduction to Western herbal medicine
Herbs and People
The Intelligence of Nature
Dying to Look Beautiful

Herbs and People
In the search for answers to many illnesses people are once again turning to nature. Plants that offer true healing, without the side effects of man-made pharmaceuticals, are being reconsidered.

The beauty of plant medicine is the fact that plants are available to all of us. The 19th Century priest Sebastian Kneipp stated, 'Many people die whilst the herbs that could have cured them grow on their graves.'

The plants we need for healing are nearer to us than we think. Here in Dorset we find medicinal plants in abundance. As soon as you step away from exhaust polluted roadsides, you find Yarrow, Comfrey, Meadowsweet, Nettle, Dandelion, Burdock, Hawthorn, Cleavers, Lungwort and Willow; to name but a few.

In many gardens you will find Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Thyme, Garlic, Golden Rod, Mullein, Parsley and Fennel.

With these plants we have already a collection for preventing and curing colds and flu, skin problems, stomach upsets and indigestion. Among them are also plants to strengthen liver and kidneys, lungs and bronchi, and the heart.

Lemon balm is a pleasant remedy for curing insomnia. Drinking Thyme tea helps to relieve a ticklish cough. The basic way to use these remedies is as an infusion.

Chop one or two teaspoonfuls of Lemon Balm,Thyme or Yarrow into a cup, pour boiling water over it and leave to infuse for about ten minutes. Drink when required.

The hawthorn bush provides us with flowers in spring, with leaves during summer and with berries during autumn.

It is a beautiful tasting tea that strengthens the heart, helps to reduce blood pressure and improves circulation in coronary arteries with no harmful side effects!

A tea made with meadowsweet will reduce and balance stomach acid, reduce inflammation and thin the blood. It must not be used when taking Warfarin or other blood-thinning medication. Meadowsweet contains salicylic acid. The blueprint of this chemical has been copied, produced synthetically and is sold as Aspirin.

The most common side effect of this synthetic aspirin is intestinal bleeding. However, if you drink a cup of meadowsweet tea you would enjoy the benefits of natural salicylic acid but without the adverse reactions.

The secret lies in the fact that a plant contains not just one chemical but a group of compounds.

Meadowsweet also contains tannins and mucilage, which protect the lining of the intestine. The future of many medicinal herbs is threatened by European legislation, which intends to impose quality and safety guidelines.

Quality and safety are of paramount importance but the reality of these guidelines will lead to the loss of many medicinal herbs whose efficacy has not been established by Double Blind Studies.

The value of many of these herbs is based on anecdotal evidence gathered over not hundreds but thousands of years.

For the sake of human health, the range of plant medicine should be extended and researched, not restricted.

The more plants a herbalist can use safely, the better the chances of curing illness, without creating new conditions in the form of side effects.

The knowledge about plant medicine must be kept alive, handed on and applied. If this knowledge disappears, we will become more and more dependent on pharmaceutical drugs.

To have a choice means to have alternatives.

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