Peppermint

Home Remedies for Heartburn (Acid Reflux)

Peppermint

Peppermint is very helpful for digestive disorders, including heartburn

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is a very common and often very unpleasant ailment which is triggered when the lower oesophageal sphincter above the stomach opens up and stomach acid backs up into the oesophagus. The sensation resulting from this can feel as though someone has lit a small bonfire in your chest, and it’s burning its way up to your neck.

Heartburn is a minor ailment, however unpleasant, but if it continues for a long period it can lead to conditions that are much more worrying, including Barrett’s oesophagus. Thankfully, there are several home remedies for heartburn that are instantly effective in getting relief from this nasty and uncomfortable ailment.

Baking Soda:

The element that is most effective in relieving heartburn is calcium, which is also the main ingredient in some of the over the counter heartburn meds. Instead of spending several pounds buying over the counter meds you can get the same relief from an item you can probably find in your kitchen, baking soda. Take ½ to 1 teaspoonful of baking soda and dissolve it in 250ml/8 fluid ounces of tepid water. Give the mixture a good stir and drink all of it down in one go. You can take this as frequently as needed but don’t exceed 3½ teaspoons in a 24 hour period.

Peppermint:

Be it in the shape of a naturally flavoured peppermint gum or peppermint tea, peppermint has been shown to have a cooling effect on our upper gastric parts to relieve heartburn. Please do not use peppermint essential oil for your heartburn; it can actually worsen the symptoms. Chewing peppermint gum creates extra saliva that can dilute the acid in your oesophagus and wash it away; it also helps constrict the lower oesophageal sphincter to keep stomach acid from backing up into the oesophagus.

As with all essential oils, peppermint essential oil should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

Chamomile or Fenugreek Tea:

Both chamomile tea and fenugreek are effective for soothing stomachs and getting rid of stomach aches and cramps as well as curing heartburn. Fenugreek in particular is very effective for various digestive ailments, anything from heartburn to other digestive issues such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation, inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). Also, fenugreek seeds include a substance called mucilage, which soothes an inflamed gastrointestinal tract when it comes into contact with the stomach and intestinal lining.

Slippery Elm:

Like fenugreek, slippery elm also has mucilage, which turns into a thick gel when mixed with water and as a result helps thicken the layer of mucous lining your oesophagus and stomach forming a protective layer to create a strong barrier against acid, ulcers and oesophageal cancer. The way this works is that slippery elm stimulates the nerve endings throughout the gastrointestinal tract, and especially in the oesophagus, causing increased mucus secretion. The raised mucus production may protect the oesophageal surface from backed up stomach acid and symptomatic heartburn.

Fennel Seeds:

Fennel seeds are heavily used as an after meal remedy to ensure digestion and prevent acid reflux or heartburn from occurring. Fennel seeds contain a substance called anethole with a unique ability to suppress stomach spasms which are sometimes the cause of acid reflex. After a meal try chewing on toasted fennel seeds to ensure good digestion and to avoid heartburn.

If you suffer from acid reflux/heartburn for a long period, it’s important to consult your medical practitioner.


Apples come in many varieties

Apple health benefits: they really do keep the doctor at bay

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Apples come in many varieties

Apples come in many varieties

I’ve decided to start a series of fruits that are useful medicinally.

Today’s fruit is the apple, Malus domestica, which is a cultivated hybrid. If you find a true apple growing wild, it’s almost certainly an escape.

There are many other Malus species, but the star of them all from a medicinal (and edibility) viewpoint is the apple.

Apples grow on trees, as everybody knows, but these don’t have to be enormous. There are a large number of rootstocks on which apples are grafted to control their eventual size, so if you want to grow a small standard tree, choose one of the dwarfing rootstocks, such as M27 or M26. This will restrict the height to 1-2m or 2-3m respectively. A larger tree can be grown on MM106 or M25. The latter will produce a large vigorous tree which may be difficult to crop.

If you only have a small area available, you can also buy trees prepared for growing in containers or alternatively use a cordon, which is a single stem with no lateral branches (small branches grow each year, produce a crop and are then removed). The yield from a cordon or a containerized plant is less than you would expect from a larger tree, but most people have difficulty coping with a large crop of apples in any case. Using cordons is a great way to grow a large variety of top fruit in a small garden. You can even grow them as a “stepover” or to provide a fence-like division between one part of the garden and another.

Make sure you talk to your supplier to ensure that you have a pollinator nearby – most apples are not self-fertile, so if there isn’t another suitable tree nearby to act as “dad”, you won’t get any apples at all. A crabapple will generally do for this, but it has to be in flower around the same time as the variety you are growing, or it will be no use at all. Some trees are so picky they need two pollinators! You may wish to grow 2 or 3 different compatible apples to ensure a good crop.

Crabapples are not useful medicinally

Crabapples are not useful medicinally

Crabapples or crab apples (left), which come in many types, are a different species. Malus pumila nervosa is the true crabapple, but there are various others including Malus angustifolia, M. baccata, M. coronaria, M. floribunda, M. fusca and M. sylvestris. Unfortunately, the crabapple has no documented medicinal purposes, though I’m sure some of your grandparents will testify to its efficacy as a laxative! It is one of the nine sacred herbs of Wicca.

Apple trees are deciduous and are not fussy as to soil, so long as it is moist. They will grow happily in the open or in light woodland. If growing in open ground, keep a circle at least 1 meter in diameter around the trunk clear of grass and weeds for best results.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a well known proverb which carries a lot of truth. A medium sized apple eaten with the skin gives 17% of required fiber, 14% vitamin C, 2% vitamin A and 1% each of calcium and iron (based on the US RDA for an adult on a 2,000 calorie diet).

Apple juice is a popular drink, but should not be taken to excess, as even unsweetened types are high in sugar (most apple juice also contains added sugar), which may lead to weight gain. A whole apple contains useful fiber, which is mostly removed in the juicing process.

Apple wine which is at least 2 years old was recommended as a cure-all by Galen in the second century. I’m not sure what the difference between apple wine and cider is, if any, but either way I advise not drinking it in large quantities. Apple vinegar has a similar reputation in modern times, especially for weight loss.

Bark infusion: Put 30g (1 ounce) of chopped bark or root bark into a warmed pot, pour over 500ml (2 US cups, 16 fl oz) boiling water, allow to infuse for 20 minutes, then strain off bark and discard. Dosage is one third of a cup up to 3 times a day.

Apple peel infusion: Use 1-2 tsp dried apple peel to each 250ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) boiling water and prepare in the same way as a bark infusion. Drink a cup as required.

An infusion of bark (especially root bark) can be used as a vermifuge for intestinal parasites, to cool abnormal body heat, induce sleep and to treat nauseous fevers.

The leaves contain phloretin, an antibacterial substance which inhibits the growth of some gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, even at very low concentrations.

The seeds contain hydrogen cyanide which in small quantities stimulates respiration and improves digestion, and may be useful in the treatment of cancer. Large quantities of hydrogen cyanide can cause respiratory failure and death.

The fruit is both astringent (reduces any bodily secretion) and laxative. Ripe raw apples are very easy to digest and combat stomach acidity. Eating an apple raw cleans both the teeth and the gums. Grated unripe apple on a fasting stomach is a good treatment for diarrhea.

Dried apple peel can be used in a standard infusion to treat rheumatic conditions.

The recommended dose of cider vinegar for weight loss and as a general tonic is 2 teaspoons cider vinegar to 500ml (2 US cups, 16 fl oz) cold water, sipped slowly throughout the day. Earth Clinic also recommend it for treating acid reflux, cough, bronchitis and sore throat using 2 teaspoons to 250ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) 3 times a day. Both of these taste pretty sour, so unless you’re using it for weight loss, I recommend stirring in a teaspoon or 2 of honey to take the edge off.

I offer organic apple cider vinegar and apple cider vinegar 150mg Tablets in my online shop.

This varied list of applications puts apple among the most useful home remedies. If you can spare a small space for a couple of containerized plants or cordons, it’s definitely worth it.

Apple is not used in aromatherapy, though the fruit and the blossom are both often used in perfumery.

As I always say, try to avoid using chemicals on any plant intended for medicinal use, so as to avoid them ending up in your remedy. Some chemicals may also interfere with the remedy’s properties. For more information on growing organic apples visit the Gardenzone.


Lemon verbena is a pretty, but tender shrub

Lemon Verbena health benefits: for gas/wind, acid reflux and depression

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Lemon verbena is a pretty, but tender shrub

Lemon verbena is a pretty, but tender shrub

Lemon verbena, Aloysia citrodora, is also known as lemon beebrush. Unfortunately, it seems to have been a favorite target for taxonomists, because over the years it has been renamed several times, so it’s possible that you may find it labeled with any of the following latin names instead: Aloysia triphylla, Lippia citrodora, Lippia triphylla, Verbena triphylla and Zappania citrodora.

Also confusing is the fact that, although the common name is “lemon verbena” it is not a verbena from the scientific point of view. So it is not related to two plants which are: vervain (aka common verbena) and blue vervain (aka swamp verbena).

Lemon verbena is a tender shrub, reaching a height of 9 feet (3m) when full grown. In countries like the UK, where winters include a strong possibility of frost and snow, it is best grown in a large container, so that it can be put in a cool greenhouse or conservatory before frost occurs. The plant repels midges and other insects, and the essential oil can be used in dilute form (no more than 2% lemon verbena oil to the mixture) as an insecticide.

Lemon verbena is not fussy as to soil type or acidity, is happy with either dry or moist soil, so long as it is well drained, and will grow in full sun or partial shade. As already stated, it should be brought indoors or otherwise protected from frost, though there are surviving plants as far north as Northumberland in the UK, in a coastal garden. If you wish to try it outdoors, a position at the foot of a South facing wall will help a great deal, and a good mulch in the Fall will provide extra protection for the roots.

Lemon verbena leaves can be used in the salad bowl and for tea (it’s a common ingredient in commercially produced herbal tea blends). Dried leaves will keep their aroma for many years, and are therefore often used for pot pourri.

Medicinally, it’s surprising that lemon verbena is not used as often as might be expected. However, please note that prolonged use or large doses should be avoided, as this can cause gastric irritation.

Make a standard infusion from leaves or leaves and flowering tops, using 3 handfuls of fresh or 30g (1 ounce) of dried to 500 ml (2 US cups, 16 fl oz) boiling water. Allow to stand for 3-4 hours, then strain before use.

Use a standard infusion internally for heavy colds, as a mild natural sedative, and to treat digestive disorders such as flatulence (“gas” or “wind“), indigestion and acid reflux, to lift the spirits and fight depression.

As with all herbs grown for medicinal use, lemon verbena should be grown organically so that its active constituents are not adulterated or eliminated entirely by the presence of foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic lemon verbena visit the Gardenzone.

Aromatherapy

The essential oil is both a bactericide and an insecticide: used for acne, boils and cysts, and for nerve problems. Also used in dilute form (no more than 2% lemon verbena oil) as an insecticide.

I offer lemon verbena essential oil in my online shop.

As with all essential oils, lemon verbena essential oil should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

Angelica is easily mixed up with Hemlock

Angelica health benefits: mainly for digestive disorders

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Angelica is easily mixed up with Hemlock

Angelica is easily mixed up with Hemlock

Angelica, Angelica archangelica (but may be labeled Archangelica officinalis), is also known as European angelica, garden angelica, angelique and archangel. There is another herb also sometimes called archangel, the white deadnettle.

It’s important to grow angelica using seed from a reputable source, and never collect from the wild, as it is easily mixed up with hemlock, which is deadly.

When I was a child, angelica stems were often candied and used to decorate cakes and confectionery. It’s much less commonly seen today, but you may still be able to buy candied angelica from supermarkets or suppliers of cake decorations. The raw uncandied stems are sometimes chopped and mixed with cream cheese to make an unusual tasting spread.

As a remedy, angelica is mainly used for disorders of the digestive system, such as flatulence (“wind” or “gas”), heartburn (acid reflux), indigestion, colic and intestinal cramps associated with diarrhea. It should not be taken in large doses, as it can have unwanted side effects on respiration and blood pressure. Given these effects, it may be better to use some other remedy internally, unless you don’t have another remedy to hand.

A standard infusion is made from 30g (1 ounce) of chopped leaves and stems to 250ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) of boiling water, left to stand for at least 10 minutes before straining for use. For internal use, the maximum dose is 75ml (one third of a US cup) up to 3 times a day.

The same infusion can be used after cooling as a gargle to help relieve the pain of sore throats and tonsillitis.

As with all herbs used for medicinal purposes, angelica should be grown organically to ensure that its active constituents are not diluted by foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic angelica visit the Gardenzone.

Aromatherapy

Angelica essential oil is not suitable for pregnant women or anyone with sensitive skin. There are 2 different essential oils: angelica seed essential oil and angelica root essential oil. Angelica root oil is phototoxic; do not use if you suffer from skin cancer/melanoma.

As with all essential oils, angelica essential oil should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.