^ Prior, Ronald L.; Cao, Guohua; Martin, Antonio; Sofic, Emin; McEwen, John; O'Brien, Christine; Lischner, Neal; Ehlenfeldt, Mark; et al. (1998). "Antioxidant Capacity As Influenced by Total Phenolic and Anthocyanin Content, Maturity, and Variety ofVacciniumSpecies". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 46 (7): 2686–93. doi:10.1021/jf980145d.
Licorice root is both an expectorant and demulcent, simultaneously soothing your airways while loosening and thinning mucous, easing congestion. It can also ease any inflammation that may be irritating your throat. Its main constituent, glycyrrhizin, is responsible for most of its effects. 30-50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), it inhibits an enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (how would like you to write that on a name tag?) This enzyme regulates access of glucocorticoid (a steroid hormone) to steroid receptors, ultimately slowing the conversion of cortisol to cortisone. This increases the effect of cortisol and reducing inflammation. If you are on steroids, or have any problems with your kidneys, it is best to steer clear of licorice root.
Stinging nettles are an interesting herb that we have growing rampant here in Nebraska. Stinging nettles are probably best known for... you guessed it their sting. The nettle plant has sharp spines that are revealed upon contact and once they penetrate the skin of the victim they release a concoction of chemicals into the body. This is where you get that burning/itchy feeling from, the nettle plant releases a mix of histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, and formic acid. Surprisingly the treatment for this burning sensation can be found via the plant itself; the juice from the nettle's leaves can be applied to the affected area. Aside from the painful sting of the nettle plant it is actually a very beneficial herb and undoubtedly deserves to be in our list of herbs here.
The most common uses for Aloe would have to be for treating burns, wounds and skin conditions. This along with the ease of growing an Aloe plant make it an excellent choice to have in your herbal first aid kit. The real magic of the Aloe Vera plant comes from the gel inside the leaves, to extract this all you need to do is take a knife and take off the thick skin on the outside of the leaf. The part you're after is the clear inner gel, sometimes referred to as the inner fillet, because you're sort of filleting the leaf. When used on minor burns you should run the affected area under cool water for about ten minutes before applying the Aloe gel. Continue to apply the gel several times per day for both burns and skin conditions. If you're using the Aloe gel for lowering blood sugar levels take about one tablespoon daily (be sure to use an aloe gel that's free of aloin if taking orally).