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.
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According to the toxicity and disease model, cancer forms when toxicity builds up to the point that it spills over from the blood to the space between the blood and the cells called the extracellular matrix and then finally spills over into the cell itself and enters the nucleus of the cell where the DNA and genetic material are made. When toxins enter into the nucleus the cell has one final attempt to survive, it dedifferentiates into stem cells to try to adapt to a toxic, hostile environment. The stem cell can change into any cell type and also grow very rapidly.
^ Vogl S, Picker P, Mihaly-Bison J, Fakhrudin N, Atanasov AG, Heiss EH, Wawrosch C, Reznicek G, Dirsch VM, Saukel J, Kopp B (Oct 2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine--an unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053.
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).
One of the best and well known ways to get the benefits of turmeric is to just simply eat it. Maybe not plain but adding it to dishes is a great way. Don't be fooled into thinking that eating turmeric in food is the only way to reap the benefits of this amazing herb. You can use it in teas too, or as a toothpaste you can on occasions dip your tooth brush into some turmeric powder brush it onto your teeth and allow it to sit for about 3 minutes. It won't stain your teeth but the same can't be said for your toothbrush or sink. You can also make a turmeric paste by mixing some of powdered turmeric with a little water and use it topically.
The next herb on our list is chamomile, this is another great herb with a wide array of uses. The Spanish name for this herb is manzanilla which simply means "little apple" it's no surprise that the Spanish people gave it this name. When the leaves and petals are bruised they give off a very distinct apple aroma. There are two main species chamomile German chamomile and Roman or English chamomile, they're all similar in there medicinal effects but the Roman or English species have a more pronounced aroma than the German variety. Both varieties are relatively easy to grow from seed, in fact if they are left to seed on there own you'll find that they have grown back the next spring.
Modern medicine now tends to use the active ingredients of plants rather than the whole plants. The phytochemicals may be synthesized, compounded or otherwise transformed to make pharmaceuticals. Examples of such derivatives include digoxin, from digitalis; capsaicine, from chili; and aspirin, which is chemically related to the salicylic acid found in white willow. The opium poppy continues to be a major industrial source of opiates, including morphine. Few traditional remedies, however, have translated into modern drugs, although there is continuing research into the efficacy and possible adaptation of traditional herbal treatments.
CAUTION: Pregnant and nursing women should not eat alfalfa seeds due to their content of stachydrine and homostachydrine (may promote menstruation or cause miscarriage). People in general should never eat alfalfa seeds. They contain high levels of the toxic amino acid canavanine. Alfalfa is high in vitamin K and may work as an anti-coagulant so it shouldn’t be taken by people taking blood thinning medication.
Another well know spice in the kitchen cinnamon is also known for it's medicinal properties. While not really an herb I still think it's important to list it in our list of herbs and their uses. Cinnamon actually comes from the inner bark of a tree in the laurel family. It's been used for centuries and was a hot commodity for trade in ancient times. In fact during the first century A.D. in Rome cinnamon was 15 times more expensive than silver. The Chinese were probably the first to use cinnamon as a medicinal herb and used it to treat fevers, and diarrhea. In more modern times cinnamon has been found to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics, as it has an insulin kind of effect.