Over the years, I have come to love and respect these wonderful plants we call herbs. Today, I would like to share with you the many ways that herbs work in the body. Herbs are among nature’s most beneficial plants. They can be used as natural medicines or for seasoning foods; yet they also bring much more than just taste and smell to the table. Let’s look at the basic properties that all herbs have.
1) Herbs supply nutrients – All herbs contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutritional substances that can be used by the body to heal and repair or balance itself. Because these are naturally occurring nutrients they are easy to absorb, naturally balanced, and free of chemicals (if bought from a reputable company).
2) They have an affinity to an organ or system. This means that the herbs energy and nutrients have an attraction for a particular part of the body. The herb contains vitamins and minerals that will balance and support a particular organ or system. An example of this is the herb hawthorn, which has a special attraction to the heart and circulatory system. Hawthorn contains nutrients that support a healthy circulatory system.
3) They have a balancing energy- herbs carry a frequency that helps to balance the body’s electromagnetic field and unblock energy channels much like acupuncture does.
4) Medicinal property - many herbs have medical properties such as being an anti-inflammatory, or having pain relieving properties. Even though they have a medicinal property, herbs are not drugs and should not be used as such. They are not used to treat or cover up a symptom, but rather, we use herbs to restore balance and natural functions to the body, so that the body can in turn, heal itself. When we understand what nutrients are contained in a particular herb, what that herb does in the body, and what action the herbs have on the body we can get really good results using them to help build, repair, and energize the body.
There are three basic actions of herbs:
1) Post digestive effect - the effect the herb has on the body after it has been digested, this action is largely nutritional. But a medicinal property like an herb being anti-spasmodic with also be included here.
2) Pre-Digestive effect - The effect the herb has on the body due to its taste or smell. This is largely from the effect of the essential oils in the plant. The relaxing scent of lavender or how onions make your eyes water are good examples.
3) The Homeopathic effect – this has to do with the plant’s vibrational energy and the action of the herb on the body’s electromagnetic field. It is the plant’s vibrational energy that can release blocked energy in the body.
Herbs are divided into 5 basic Classifications:
1) Astringents – they tone and tighten tissues. Red raspberry is an astringent herb which is used to tone the uterus in women.
2) Demulcents and mucilaginous – these herbs soothe, moisten, and protect the mucus membranes of the body. They have an affinity for the lungs, digestive system and bladder. Slippery elm, Aloe vera, Marshmallow, and Pysllium are all good examples. Many of the herbs in this category are sources of fiber.
3) Bitters – these herbs dissolve, loosen, or cleanse things in the body. Cascara, Yucca, and Dandelion are good examples. These herbs tend to work on the liver and colon. Many of these herbs have laxative properties.
4) Aromatics – are herbs which stimulate, promote, or relax the body’s energy. These herbs are associated with your sense of smell because of the volatile oils they contain. They are often used in perfumes due to their essential oils or for flavoring foods. Some aromatics stimulate the body into action, like the way ginger stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes before a meal. Some aromatics have relaxant properties such as chamomile and lavender.
5) Nutritive herbs - are used mainly for nutritional value. They tend to build and strengthen the body and have very little if any medicinal properties. Alfalfa, Bee pollen, barley grass, and kelp are good examples.
Over 2500 years of recorded history is available on the use of herbs for healing. Much of this information was originally obtained by observing different aspects of the plant, such as where the herb grew and flourished. It was observed that many of the properties of herbs seem to come from the habitat the plant grows in. Every plant has certain negative environmental factors that it must face (excess heat, cold, rain etc.) and overcome in order to survive. The plants create substances from the nutrients in the soil that helps them to adapt to their surroundings. Likewise these substances in the plants can be used in humans to help overcome similar situations. Think of the aloe vera plant that grows in the hot dry desert, it is able to retain moisture to counteract the hot dry environment that it lives in. As a medicinal plant, aloe vera can be applied topically to heal burns and internally for hot conditions in the digestive tract.
Along with observing the plants origin, other aspects of the plants such as color, texture or smell were taken into consideration. Red colored plants such as capsicum and beets often have an affinity for the circulatory system. Blue or purple flowering plants tend to nourish and relax the nervous system. Plants with whitish colored roots such as garlic, horseradish or marshmallow tend to work in the lungs. Fragrant or aromatic plants such as Ginger, Thyme, Garlic, and Peppermint have stimulating properties that disperse stagnant energy. Aromatic herbs stimulate and move things, they might move tension, mucus, energy, or whatever needs moving. These herbs penetrate quickly; they owe their properties mainly to the volatile oils they contain.
I hope I have enlightened you to the world of herbs and healing. I hope I have peaked your interest to learn more about these wonderful plants, and the healing properties that they contain.