Medicinal Plants and Properties
The vegetable world comprises three main groups of plants: Superior, Intermediary and Inferior. These encompass bacteria,
microscopic algae, mushrooms, ferns, brushes and trees, among others. Their identification is a task of specialists and the
limit between the vegetal and animal world is not clear. To simplify matters, we consider plants those recognized as such
by ordinary people. Books about medicinal properties of vegetables normally seem to treat differently herbs and medicinal
plants. However, herbs are seed producing annual, biennial or perennial plants that do not develop a persistent woody tissue.
Perhaps because herbs have such an important historical and tradition in healing, sometimes they are treated as a special
category of plants i.e., those particularly valued for their medicinal, savory or aromatic qualities. In the following list,
herbs are considered as medicinal plants and taken only for their medicinal or aromatic properties.
Since the traditional or popular name of medicinal plants varies so much according to regional and cultural aspects,
the have been grouped alphabetically according to their most common English name. The scientific designation follows in each
List of some commonly used medicinal plants
Medicinal plants and herbs contain substances known to modern
and ancient civilizations for their healing properties. Until the development of Chemistry and, particularly, of the synthesis
of organic compounds in the 19 Century, medicinal plants and herbs where the sole source of active principles capable of curing
man's ailments. They continue to be important to people that do not have access to modern medicines and, moreover, modern
pharmaceuticals rely heavily on the same active principles, be they natural or synthetic. The active principles differ from
plant to plant due to their biodiversity, i.e. to the plant's genetic coding ability to produce them.
With thousands of active principles yet to be discovered or fully
evaluated, it is no wonder that biodiversity is a fundamental topic on any nature preservation agenda. The genetic material
of old and new herbs and plants are coveted for their potential in discovering, combining, manipulating and synthesizing new
medicine. Thus, even if people are not aware of or the pharmaceutical industry does not stress the point, medicinal plants
and herbs continue to be the source of proven medicaments and of new and revolutionary drugs. If the active principles of
synthetic drugs are so important and can be found in many plants and herbs, cheaply and easily bought at your home market
or Herbalist, why not use them? If taken in the appropriate dose and form, they can be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs.
Usual forms of medicinal remedies
Infusions are a simple way of extracting the active principles
of herbs through the action of hot water. The preparation of infusions is similar to way we prepare tea. This method is used
to extract the volatile components of the dried or green aerial parts of herbs and plants like flowers and leaves. Infusions
may use single herbs or a blend and are drunk hot or cold. Certainly this is the most common and cheap method of extracting
the medicinal compounds of herbs.
Roots, barks and fruits being thicker and less permeable than
the aerial parts of medicinal plants, do not liberate their active principles by simple infusion. It is necessary to simmer
these parts in boiling water in order to extract their medicinal constituents. The material should be cut or broken into small
pieces. In order to avoid loosing volatile constituents, use a lid over the simmering pan. After cooling down and separating
the solid from the liquid, decoctions can be taken hot or cold.
Most of the volatile components of medicinal plants and herbs
are soluble in alcohol. By immersing dried or fresh parts of plants in alcohol, the active principles are easily extracted
at concentrations that exceed those that can be achieved by infusion or decoction. Highly concentrate solutions that will
last for one to two years are a convenient way to store and use medicinal plants constituents. Ideally tinctures should be
made using pure ethyl alcohol distilled from cereals. However, since this product is not available to the public, good Vodka
with 45-35% alcohol can be used. The extraction is fairly quick. A 50% mixture of herbs and alcohol kept in a tightly closed
jar will held a tincture ready for use at the prescribed dosage. Never
use methyl alcohol, methylated spirits, isopropyl alcohol or any other kind of unknown spirit to make tinctures.
With some rare exceptions, like peppermint that is a familiar
flavoring agent in toot paste and chewing gum, infused or decocted herbs are not palatable, specially for children. In order
to disguise their taste, infusion and decoctions can be mixed with honey or unrefined sugar from cane. These syrups combine
the soothing action of these solvents to the medicinal properties of the infusions and decoctions resulting in additional
benefits specially for treating cough and sore throats.
5) Infused Oils
Pure vegetable oils like sunflower, almond and olive oil are easily
found at grocer stores. They have the property of dissolving the active, fat-soluble active principles of medicinal plants
and herbs. This process is called infusion and can be carried out at room temperature or higher. Infusion is a slower process
than alcohol extraction but has the advantage of resulting in an oil based solution of medicinal constituents that can easily
be used to make creams and ointments. Hot infusion is recommended for the harder parts of the plants while cold infusion is
more suitable for flowers and leaves.
6) Essential Oils
Essential oils are the volatile oily components of aromatic plants,
trees and grasses. They are found in tiny glands located in the flowers (neroli), leaves (eucalyptus), roots (calamus), wood
(sandal) and resins (frankincense). Essential oils are extracted by four main methods: steam distillation, expression, solvent
extraction and efleurage. In the first method the oil is extracted by the action of hot steam and then
selectively condensed with water from which it is separated. In the second method the oil is extracted by pressure or centrifugation.
In the third method the oil is dissolved in a volatile solvent that when evaporated leaves a heavily natural wax substance
called concrete. When separated from the wax, the resulting liquid is called an absolute, the most concentrated from of aroma
available. Efleurage is a longer process involving
the dissolution of the oils in animal fat and its separation using alcohol. Although essential oils main usage is in cosmetics
and perfumery, many of them do have proved therapeutic properties.
Ointments are prepared like hot infused oils, the difference being
that herbs are simmered in waxes or fats containing no water. After separating the simmered herbs by squeezing and cooling,
the result is a solid mixture of the wax or fat with the medicinal constituents of the plant. Petroleum jelly, soft paraffin
wax and bees wax are some common bases used. Ointments form a oily barrier on the surface of injuries and carry the active
principles to the affected area.
Creams are mixtures of oils or fats with water. Since water and
oils are not miscible, it is necessary to add an emulsifying agent that avoids their separation. Creams are therefore stable
emulsions of oils or fats. Medicinal properties are added to creams when they use or are made with tinctures, infusions, oil
infusions, essential oils or decoctions. Creams are permeable allowing the skin to breathe and sweat. Their water content
and some additional hydrophobic agent like Glycerin promotes the hydration and cooling of the skin.
Colloidal silver has been reported to kill 650 micro-organisms,
many of which are associated with human diseases. This does not automatically
mean that taking colloidal silver will "cure" diseases "caused" by these germs. Colloidal silver only kills micro-organisms
when they are in contact with it for a sufficient period of time. The human body is a complex system which may prevent high
enough concentrations of colloidal silver from reaching the "affected area".
The following is a partial list of the more than 650 diseases
that colloidal silver has been reputed to be successful against: acne, AIDS, allergies, appendicitis, arthritis, athlete's
foot, bladder inflammation, blood parasites, blood poisoning, boils, burns, cancer , candida, cholera, colitis, conjunctivitis,
cystitis, dermatitis, diabetes , dysentery, eczema, fibrositis, gastritis, gonorrhea, hay fever, herpes, impetigo, indigestion,
keratitis, leprosy, leukemia, lupus, lymphangitis, Lyme disease, malaria, meningitis, neurasthenia, parasitic infections:
viral, fungal and bacterial pneumonia, pleurisy, prostate, pruritus ani, psoriasis, purulent opthalmia, rhinitis, rheumatism,
ringworm, scarlet fever, septic conditions of the eyes, ears, mouth, and throat, seborrhea, septicemia, shingles, skin cancer,
staphylococcus and streptococcus infections, stomach flu, syphilis, thyroid, tuberculosis, tonsillitis, toxemia, trachoma,
all forms of virus, warts, whooping cough, yeast infection, stomach ulcer,
CANINE parovirus and other veterinary
PLANTS fungal and viral attacks.
Simply spray diluted silver on the leaves and add to the soil.
NATIVE CHINESE MEDICINE
Conditions Treatable With Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)