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Health Blog

Herbs from A to Z - The letter C


     This is the third blog in the series of helpful herbs, and today we will be looking at Western, Chinese, and Ayurvedic herbs that begin with the letter C. Herbs can be easily incorporated into your day to day life to improve your health and wellness. Generally these herbs are safe to use. There may be some contraindications in regard to prescription medications, health conditions, and in pregnant or nursing mothers. Please always check with a qualified physician before taking any herbal supplements.
 
Western Herb - Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)
Parts used: whole flower or just the petals.

Components: essential oil that has an antibiotic effect, calenden triterpenoids, glycosides, beta carotene, saponins, lutein, B- carotene, anthocyanins, plant fiber mucilage, organic acids and various enzymes.

Topical uses: Antiseptic and antibiotic components helps to heal minor wounds. Reduces inflammation and pus formation while promoting blood circulation that promotes healing and prevents scarring. I make a skin salve with calendula as one of the ingredients that we use for every major and minor wound in our household. It has even proven effective on my cats wounds when he has gotten into a fight with the neighbors kitty!

Internal uses: Helps to stimulate digestion when taken as a tea; drink 2-3 cups per day. Can also be used as a gargle to soothe a sore throat. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 tsp of dried calendula petals. Steep this for 10 minutes then strain and drink or gargle.

 
Chinese Herb - Corydalis Yanhusuo (member of the papaveraceae family) Disclaimer: Not to be used when pregnant or nursing or if you have an irregular heartbeat.

Parts used: root

Components: DHCB (dehydrocorybulbine) alkaloid
A blood moving herb that has proven effective for pain relief. Blocks inflammation and nerve pain and has been useful in rheumatism, sciatic pain, back injuries, liver and gallbladder pain, tremors and spasms.

Topical uses: In a balm or salve applied where there is pain.

Internal uses: 3 to 9 grams in 2 to 3 doses taken daily or in granules dissolved in hot water sipped throughout the day. May have some interactions with prescription medications like sedatives, or anti arrhythmic drugs. Check with your doctor before taking. This is a promising herb in natural pain relief without the risks of addiction that many pain medications carry.
 
Ayurvedic Herb - Castor oil (Ricinuscommunis)

Parts used: expressed oil from the seed

Components: hydroxylate-fatty acid, triglycerides, omega 9, 90% ricinoleic acid

Topical uses:  An anti-inflammatory and analgesic herb when applied in a salve, or a moist pack, to muscles, sprains, strains, wounds, warts, sciatic, cuts, and dry skin. I use this oil, with other pain relieving herbs and essential oils, in my herbal muscle rub and it works wonderfully for sore muscles!

Internal uses: Has been used for constipation relief when taken in small doses. That would be the only way to take because it tastes terrible! This oil has also been used to induce labor. The ricinoleic acid binds to cellular receptors that are prostaglandin receptors. These receptors have various roles in the body, from changing structure in neurons to controlling how blood clots. In the case of ingesting castor oil the ricinoleic acid binds to smooth muscle cells on the walls of the small intestine and causes contractions. The science explains why it’s effective but again it’s a tough oil to choke down!


That's it for herbs beginning with the letter C. Check back next week for herbs beginning with the letter D.
 
Resources:
The Complete Guide to Natural Healing, International Masters Publishers AB
The way of Chinese Herbs, Michael Tierra, L.A.c., O.M.D.
Current Biology, January 20, 2014

The way of Ayurvedic Herbs, Marta Purkh Singh Khalsa & Michael Tierra

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