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Medicinal Plants

The first pharmaceutical companies were not established until the late 19th century. Prior to that, there were no effective medications available for treating everyday ailments. People were unhealthy, and lived very short, sickly lives.

Sounds ridiculous right? The truth is, herbal treatments have been around as long as mankind. 4000 year old Yarrow along with a host of other medicinal herbs have been excavated in a Neanderthal cave. Those first pharmaceutical companies chemically synthesized the compounds found in traditional herbal cures. They then set about a deceptive media campaign whereby they demonized these same herbal cures as being ineffective and dangerous. This campaign was so effective that over the years, it relegated herbal medicine to the fringes of society. As a matter of fact, according to my Internist, Insurance companies, and Attorneys have made it virtually illegal for them to prescribe herbal remedies. He is originally from the Philippine Islands, and believes medicinal herbs should our first line of defense in treating everyday maladies, but because of new legislation, is not allowed to prescribe them. The rest of the world knows that herbal medicine and modern medicine should be used hand in hand, but the United States is way behind the curve.

I know a number of physicians and nurses; they are caring people who, for the most part, just want to help; unfortunately they have been taught that modern medicine has all of the answers. I also know numerous herbalists. I have found the majority of them to be vehemently anti medicine. I believe this is due to the fact that they feel marginalized, as their life's work is trivialized by the medical community. We have what amounts to two warring camps; each thinking they are right, that the other has nothing to offer. I am an avid outdoorsman and naturalist. I have made use of wild edibles, and medicinal plants for almost 40 years. Over the past couple of years I have taken numerous classes in herbal medicine, and have acquired an extensive library of both medical, and herbal books. They have only served to cement my belief that herbal remedies should be our first line of defense against common everyday maladies.

Lets separate the wheat from the chaff; it seems to me the best indication of a country's healthcare is to look at their life expectancy. The United States has an average life expectancy of 78.2 years. We place 38th when compared to other industrialized countries around the world. Even impoverished Cuba is ranked above us at 78.3 years. Japan is number one at 82.6, with Hong Kong right behind them at 82.2. All three of those countries use herbal medicines in concert with modern medical practices and treatments. It appears to me that counter to what we have been led to believe, western medicine does not have all the answers.

I know a Critical Care RN who has a bachelors degree in nursing, training in advanced life saving, as well as CCRN training. In her words, they call it "practicing" medicine for a reason; medicine is an art not a science. When she is sick, or has a cut, scrape, or bite, she first reaches for one of my herbal preparations. After beginning a new exercise regime, she ended up with a large, open, bleeding, blister on each foot. She applied an ointment made from plantain and yarrow to one foot, while using a commercial antibiotic cream to the other. The following day when she removed the bandages, she found that the foot treated with our herbal ointment was no longer raw, and had begun to heal. The other foot was still raw and open.

We must not look away from either modern medicine or traditional herbal medicine. Each has something to offer. We must find a way that both can work in concert to bring each of us a lifetime of good health.


I once had an herbalist tell me of the importance of decanting tinctures based upon the lunar cycle. Perhaps when the medical community stops trivializing the efficacy of herbal medicine, and herbalists lose that hippie mentality, they can come together and our healthcare can become what it should be, and what each of us deserves.

The Critical Care RN I mentioned had a terminally ill patient who was transferred from a long term care facility to her hospital ICU ward. The patient presented with extreme bed sores. Nothing they gave her seemed to work. She wanted nothing more than to apply my herbal healing ointment, but was not allowed to do so because of hospital policy. I find it ridiculous that policy will not allow a patient to be treated with something that actually works; pharmaceutical companies have everything monopolized.

I believe mankind is inextricably linked with all other living organisms. We share a symbiotic relationship with the world around us. I further believe that as we evolved, so did the remedy to counteract any malady we may face. We have but to look to the flora around us for the answers. We evolved eating wild foods. Ancient man did not just eat the mastodon; our forbearers had an excellent knowledge of plant lore from which to derive sustenance and excellent health.

I have compiled a list of what I feel are some of the most important, and widespread medicinal plants. I chose my list based upon remedies for most common ailments. By keeping preparations of the herbs listed on the medicinal herbs page, you will have a medicine chest that will help you deal with a wide range of maladies. It is important to note that many of the plants listed here, are also listed on the wild foods page. That is because eating these plants is meant to help us ward off some of the maladies they are used to treat. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I would highly recommend taking a course in the identification and use of medicinal plants. I would also recommend building a library of books on the subject. There are many good ones on the market, and some which are not so good. The first I would recommend is a Peterson Field Guide. Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants And Herbs. The design of the guide makes it easy for a novice to zero in on a plant based upon its physical characteristics. If you click on the Field Guide picture it will open a window which will take you to Amazon.com where you can purchase this field guide. The first medicinal plant book I ever purchased was The Natural Doctor  by Dr. H.C. A. Vogel. It contains a wealth of information, and it wetted my appetite for further research on natural medicine.

Plants can act upon the body in many different ways. For example, some are Demulcent, or soothing, and others may be Carminative, or gas expelling. Here for a list of possible Medicinal Actions and the corresponding medicinal herbs.

You can also follow this link for a list I put together of common afflictions and the herbal treatments I have personally seen work to treat them. Note: The linked page is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. You should always consult a physician or other qualified medical care provider.

Medicinal Plants

Below is a sample of the Medicinal Plants widely found in the Great Lakes Region. I have chosen plants which if used will provide you with safe effective remedies to many of the most common ailments.

 

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult a physician or other qualified medical care provider.

 

List Of Common Medicinal Plants

American Ginseng - (Panax quinquefolius)

Astragalus - (Astragalus propinquus, Astragalus membranaceus)

Astragalus is not native to the Unites States, let alone the Great Lakes Region. It has been included because it is a highly effective immune system builder.

Blackberry - Black Raspberry (Rubus L.)

Black Cherry - (Prunus serotina)

Black Cohosh - (Actaea racemosa)

Bloodroot - (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Bunchberry - Canadian Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Burdock - (Arctium lappa)

Calendula - Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Chickweed - (Tussilago farfara)

Chokecherry - (Prunus virginiana)

Cleaver - (Galium aparine)

Coltsfoot - (Cichorium)

Comfrey - (Symphytum officinale)

Curly Dock - Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)

Dandelion - (Taraxacum officinale)

DayLily - (Hemerocallis fulva)

Eastern White Pine - (Pinus strobus)

Echinacea - Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea)

Fleabane - Philadelphia Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)

Ghost Pipe - (Monotropa uniflora) This plant is one of the best pain relievers I have ever experienced.

Goldenseal - (Hydrastis canadensis)

Goldenrod - (Solidago canadensis)

Houndstongue - (Cynoglossum officinale)

Jerusalem Artichoke - (Helianthus tuberosus)

Jewelweed - Spotted Touch-Me-Not (Impatiens capensis)

Knotweed - (Polygonum aviculare)

Lemon Balm - (Melissa officinalis)

Mallow - Common Mallow, Cheeses (Malva neglecta)

Mayapple - American Mandrake (Podophyllum peltatum)

Meadowsweet - (Spiraea spp.)

Motherwort - (Leonurus cardiaca)

Mullein - (Verbascum thapsus)

Nettle - Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Oxeye Daisy - Moon Daisy, Dog Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)

Pineapple Weed - (Matricaria discoidea)

Pipsissewa - (Chimaphila umbellata)

Plantain - (Plantago spp.)

Ramps - Wild Leeks (Allium tricoccum)

Selfheal - (Prunella vulgaris)

Sheep Sorrel - (Rumex acetosella)

Shepherd's Purse - (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Skullcap - Blue Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Solomon's Seal - (Polygonatum biflorum)

Spiderwort - (Tradescantia spp.)

Spring Beauty - (Claytonia virginica)

Staghorn Sumac - (Rhus typhina)

Stinging Nettles - (Urtica dioica)

St John's Wort -(Hypericum perforatum)

Turmeric -(Curcuma longa)

Uva-Ursi - Barberry (Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi)

Valerian - (Valeriana officinalis)

White Cedar - (Thuja occidentalis)

Wild Bergamot - (Monarda fistulosa)

Wild Strawberry - (Fragaria vesca)

Willow - (Salix spp.)

Wintergreen - Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens)

Witch Hazel - American Witch Hazel, Winterbloom (Hamamelis virginiana)

Yarrow - Soldier's Woundwort (Achillea millefolium)

 
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