Believe in Medicinals
2000 BC ‘Here, eat this root.’
1000 AD ‘That root is heathen, here say this prayer.’
1850 AD ‘That prayer is superstition, here drink this potion.’
1940 AD ‘That potion is snake oil, here swallow this pill.’
1980 AD ‘That pill is ineffective, here, take this antibiotic.’
2000 AD ‘That antibiotic is artificial, here, eat this root.’ Anon.
What are medicinal herbs?
Before the introduction of processed medicines, man relied on the healing properties of roots, trees and plants to heal their ailments. The famous quote, attributed to Hippocrates, 'Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food’ further enforces their importance as food for our health and well-being. Today, in many developing countries, a large proportion of the population still rely on traditional practitioners and their armamentarium of medicinal plants in order to meet their health care needs. With the increasing popularism around health and well-being as well as vegan diets people are becoming more aware and increasingly curious about the medicinal value of herbs. However, their classification, use and acceptance in developed countries varies from being sold as dietary supplements in the USA or ‘phytomedicines’ in Germany subject to the same laws as other drug products.
Regardless of their classification, the various health benefits and healing qualities of herbs has been known for generations. Herbal medicines may help to soothe and calm aches, pains and irritations. Whilst we do not advocate the use of herbs in lieu of a doctor's visit, we do recommend the use of herbs to treat minor day-to-day ailments, including headaches, sunburn, bruises and hay fever.
What is a Herbalist?
Jekka's is not a herbalist and therefore, cannot advise or prescribe herbs. However, as herb growers for over 30 years we are aware of the potential healing properties of herbs. A Qualified Medical Herbalist, who we would recommend you consult prior to taking any herbs as a medicine, has a BSc or equivalent in Herbal Medicine, has studied orthodox medicine as well as plant medicine and is trained in the same diagnostic skills as a GP. They make use of plants whose traditional uses are backed up by modern scientific research and clinical trials. (Please see the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ("The Institute") to find a Herbalist near you).
What is herbal medicine?
As described by the Institute, herbal medicines are plant-based medicines made from differing combinations of plant parts e.g. leaves, flowers, seeds, bark, or roots. Each part can have different medicinal uses and the many types of chemical constituents require different extraction methods. Both fresh and dried plant matter are used, depending on the herb.
Herbal medicines can be prepared in numerous ways including water, alcohol, oil, powders, gargles, creams and juices. Predominately, water-based preparations are used that are infusions, lotions, compresses and syrups (See Jekka’s Guide to Herbal Infusions for our favourites). Alcohol-based preparations are usually called Tinctures. There are non-alcoholic alternatives to this such as glycerites or vinegars which are taken in the same way. The preparation is dependent on the use of the herbal medicine.
Completing the circle
Watch Jekka’s video below that was produced for the National Institute of Medical Herbalists conference. Jekka discusses how herbs complete the circle, linking horticulturists, chefs and herbalists. She highlights the importance of the Lamiaceae family, covering the health benefits as well as how to harvest and maintain the herbs. Some of the herbs mentioned include Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus), Mint (Mentha) and the Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus). Herbs, the plants of tomorrow.
As with all alternative medicines and plants with purported medicinal benefits it is important to inform your doctor or health care provider that you are using them; this helps to ensure safe and coordinated care. We can accept no liability for any side effect or adverse reaction from any allergy or any other cause of harm that may arise. It is important that you consult a licensed medical expert before making any changes to your diet