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Herbal Healing

Stephen Lau
Herbal Healing

For thousands of years, herbal healing has been practiced in many different parts of the world by different cultures for different healing purposes.

Why herbal remedies?

The answer is simple: herbs have therapeutic values. Some herbs are just as effective as or more effective than most conventional Western medicines.

The growing popularity of herbal medicines the Western world is probably due to the following reasons:
Many people have become increasingly aware of the importance of maintaining health, rather than just managing disease. Herbs, not pharmaceutical drugs, promote holistic health.
Herbs are often safer to use. Of course, some herbs, too, are as toxic as conventional drugs, but they are relatively few.
With the monopoly of the pharmaceutical industry, many people have turned to the relatively less expensive treatment of herbs, and they can save a lot on prescription drugs.
Herbs are natural. Although "natural" does not necessarily mean "harmless," many people can easily relate themselves to the use of different parts of plants for healing and treatment.
The bottom line: if you are comfortable treating yourself with a conventional over-the-counter drug, you would normally be comfortable to self-heal yourself with herbs. What you really need is knowledge. Empower yourself with everything you need to know about the healing power of herbs.

Herbal Healing in Different Forms

There are lots of herbs, and lots of traditions of herbal healing to go with many different herbs. The options of herbal cure are plentiful.
Foods: The easiest and the most direct way of using herbs for healing purposes is to put them in your food, such as the prevalent use of cinnamon, garlic, and ginger n cooking. There is a Chinese saying: "you can never draw a line between foods and herbs." In other words, herbal health is a way of life. To illustrate, the Chinese eat Asian dandelions and Chinese yams as foods.
Herbal tea: Another common way of herbal healing is the use of tea. Drinking herbal tea is the easiest and the most pleasant way of self-cure. Of course, herbal tea remedy takes time to cure. According to naturopathy, when you are sick, you should slow down, and you should learn to understand that any holistic cure takes time and that nature cannot be rushed. In addition, tasting the herb in tea can activate your internal system to recuperate.
Herbal tinctures: A tincture is an alcohol-based liquid extract from an herb by soaking the herb in alcohol for several weeks. Alcohol acts as an extractor as well as a preservative to make herbal tinctures last longer. Herbal tinctures are more potent than herbal teas with respect to self-healing. Because herbal tinctures get directly into the body system, they produce healing effects faster than taking pills.

Tinctures often come in bottles with droppers, allowing you to measure the exact amount of the tincture required.
Herbal capsules and tablets: In modern technology, herbs are turned into their powder form in capsules and tablets for easier consumption. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, freeze-dired extracts are better than air-dried whole herbs.

The down side of taking herbal capsules and tablets is that some of the therapeutic value of an herb is compromised in the oxidation process, and the loss of sensory connection with the herb itself.
Herbal oils: Herbal oils are essential oils distilled from a healing herb. Sensual herbal remedies can be used in aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, or breathing in the healing herbs through steam inhalation.
Herbal compresses: An herbal compress is a simple herbal remedy in which the healing herb, soaked in a tea or a water-diluted tincture, is pressed against the surface of the skin.
Herbal juice: Herbs, such as aloe, can be juiced and consumed as a healthy drink.
Herbal poutices: Healing herbs, ground with some liquid, can be applied directly over sores or wounds and held in place with abandage or cloth.
Herbal salves: Herbs mixed with a little olive oil can be put on the body in the form of balms, creams, and ointments.
Herbal solid extracts: Herbal solid extracts can be made directly from herbs, such as hawthorn berries and licorice root.
Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine, an integral part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has utilized Chinese herbs for thousands of years.  Over the centuries, there were as many as 5,000 Chinese herbs used in herbal cures, but only a fraction of them have become celebrated herbs in Chinese herbal medicine for herbal healing.

According to The Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine (Nei Ching), the fundamentals in herbal healing embraced the food-cure principles in Chinese herbal medicine, and they are based on the concept of balance and harmony between "yin" and "yang" expressed in the Five Elements, which represent the internal body organs (for more information, visit
Stephen Lau's website: Chinese Natural Healing):

Eating cereal grains, meats, fruits and vegetables to stay healthy

The five cereal grains are the principle nourishments:

   ˇ  Rice
   ˇ  Red beans
   ˇ  Wheat and barley
   ˇ  Soybeans
   ˇ  Bloom corns

The five fruits are secondary nourishments:

   ˇ  Apricots
   ˇ  Chestnuts
   ˇ  Peaches
   ˇ  Pears
   ˇ  Red dates

The five animals reinforce the energy (known as "qi"):

   ˇ  Beef
   ˇ  Chicken
   ˇ  Lamb
   ˇ  Pork
   ˇ  Dog meat (in ancient China)

The five vegetables supplant any deficiency:

   ˇ  Chives
   ˇ  Green onions
   ˇ  Leaves of pulse plants
   ˇ  Scallions
   ˇ  Vegetable marrow

Treating any disease with herbal remedies

The Book of Rites in the Chou Dynasty (1122 - 255 B.C.) stated five kinds of Chinese herbs for herbal cures:

   ˇ  Cereal
   ˇ  Grass
   ˇ  Stone
   ˇ  Tree
   ˇ  Worm

The Classics of the Agriculture Emperor's Materia Medica in the Han Dynasty (25 - 220 A.D.) was the first Chinese classic exclusively on herbal cures. It listed a total of 365 Chinese herbs: 252 plants, 67 animals, and 46 minerals.

Chinese herbal medicine is based on the principle of balance and harmony between "yin" and "yang," expressed in the Five Elements, which represent the internal body organs. (For more information, visit
Stephen Lau's website: Chinese Natural Healing.)

Chinese herbs to induce perspiration:

Herbs, such as mahuang (ask-for-trouble or Chinese ephedra) and hare's ear (chaihu), for the common cold or the influ are herbal remedies that induce perspiration in the body for internal cleansing leading to herbal healing.

Such herbs, however, do not provide herbal healing for night sweats or chronic diarrhea.

Chinese herbs to cure inflammation and infection:

Herbs, such as Asian dandelion, and reed rhizome (lugen), are used to reduce excessive heat causing inflammation and infection. For example, bronchitis and pneumonia are inflammations of the lungs, and encephalitis is inflammation of the brain.

These Chinese herbs, however, do not provide herbal healing for any stomach ailment because they may led to poor digestion, and they are not ideal for the common cold or fever due to their tendency to dehydrate the body.

Chinese herbs to relieve pain:

According to Chinese medicine, rheumatism is caused by three factors:

   ˇ  Cold
   ˇ  Dampness
   ˇ  Wind

For rheumatism caused by wind ("wandering pain"), Chinese clematis (temple's holy root), and mistletoe are used.

For rheumatism caused by dampness ("fixed pain"), slender acanthopanax root is used.

Chinese herbs to reduce cold in the body:

Evodia is used to reduce cold in the body, causing cold abdominal and stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Due to its warming characteristics, this herb may also lead to herbal healing of an impaired cardiovascular system by improving blood circulation. Because of its warming effect, this herb does not provide herbal healing for a "hot" disease.

Chinese herbs to reduce dampness in the body:

Dampness in the body may result in puffy limbs and a swelling stomach. Asiatic plantain (plant-before-cart), Asiatic plantain seed (seed-before-cart), and coin grass (longtube ground ivy) are used to reduce dampness in the body. These herbal remedies, stimulating the spleen to accelerate excretion of water from the body, may result in herbal healing for a "damp" body.

Chinese herbs to cure dry diseases:

Dry diseases can be internal or external. The characteristics of dry diseases are: constipation with dry stools, cracked lips, dry and itchy throat, dry skin, insomnia, and scanty urine.

Wild sesame, black false hellebore (insanity grass), and antipyretic dichroa (changshan or mount eternity) are used to lubricate the lungs and the stomach to cure dry diseases of the body.

These herbs, however, do not provide herbal healing for individuals with weak energy, poor blood circulation, or chronic indigestion.

Chinese herbs to induce bowel movements:

Rhubarb (greater yellow root) is used to induce bowel movements, as well as inflammation of the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and skin.

Chinese herbs to cure poor digestion:

Chinese hawthorn is used as herbal healing of poor digestion, resulting in abdominal pain, belching, nausea, and swelling of the stomach.

Chinese herbs to promote energy circulation:

Energy in the body circulates just as the blood does. Too slow, too quick, or irregular circulation may lead to problems of excess or deficiency.

If the energy movement is upwards most of the time, it may cause hiccups and vomiting. If the energy movement is downwards most of the time, it may cause prolapse of the anus, the stomach, and the uterus.
If the energy movement is too slow, it may cause chest pain and depression.

Qingpi (green orange-peel), dingxiang (cloves), and muxiang (costusroot) are used to promote enrgy circulation.
The Essential Herbal Remedies

There are thousands of natural herbs for herbal healing, but the essential herbal remedies for most herbal cures are as follows:
Aloe: It is a great healer for bite, burn, and cut. Aloe is also an herbal remedy for upset stomach.
Chamomile: It is a relaxing herb for indigestion, insomnia, and the common cold.
Echinacea: It is an herbal remedy for colds, flu, and respiratory problems. Echinacea is also good for the immune system.
Eucalyptus: It is the herb for the sinus.
Garlic: It is an all-purpose herb for cholesterol, high blood pressure, immunity boost.
Ginger: It is a warming herb with anti-inflammatory benefits for pain, congestion, nausea.
Ginkgo: It is good for the memory, in addition to enhancing blood circulation.
Hawthorn: It is the herb for cardiovascular health.
Oregon grape root: It cures respiratory and intestinal problems.
Valerian: It is the herb to cure insomnia and anxiety attacks.
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