Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Parts used: Leaves
Benefits and uses: The warming, aromatic constituents of basil help to calm the nervous system; settle the stomach; clear the mind; and fight off coughs, colds, flu and allergies. The magnitude of basil’s healing endeavors are reflected in the hundreds of therapeutic applications of this leafy green companion. Basil is known as the destroyer of phlegm - when you consider the number of ailments that are provoked by excess phlegm (from allergies to asthma to colds), you begin to understand the breadth of basil’s virtue.
Basil is most commonly thought of as part of the tomato sauce or pasta dish, but a cup of basil tea works works wonders on almost any digestive complaint. Basil tea relieves stomach cramps and spasm, nausea, gas and constipation. That must be why it’s a primary ingredient in pasta dishes: so you can eat more pasta! Basil doesn’t qualify as the world’s best tasting tea, but it isn’t so bad, especially when you find out what it can do for your stomach. Just add a little honey!
Eating more basil in the late summer and early fall helps fend off sinus and bronchial congestion during the winter. It is also antibacterial and antiviral, making it a helpful remedy for the common cold and flu as well. If you are prone to such sickness, keep some dried basil and drink the tea several times a week as a preventative remedy. It warms the body, clears out the lungs, and sharpens the mind. In the middle of winter when you are feeling cold, dark, damp and depressed, break out your stash of dried basil and let it infuse your day with a little warmth and summer sunshine.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Parts used: Roots
Benefits: Sweet-tasting licorice root is one of my favorite plants and is an outstanding tonic for the endocrine system and reproductive system. It is particularly effective for relieving adrenal exhaustion, which is prevalent in those who suffer from depression. Licorice root supports the adrenals and will revitalize them if used over a period of weeks or months. It has constituents that are similar in function to the natural steriods in the human body.
Licorice is also highly regarded as a remedy for the respiratory system, and it is used as a soothing demulcent and anti-inflammitory remedy for a multitude of ailments including bronchial congestion, sore throat, coughs and inflammation of the digestive tract.
Suggested uses: Because of its extremely sweet flavor, licorice root is best used with other herbs. It is an excellent harmonzier - when used in multi-herb formulas, it alleviates unpleasant symptoms caused by the actions of harsher herbs without interfering with their beneficial qualities. It also ads a soothing quality to any syrup or tea its made with. For adrenal exhaustion/fatigue, drink 2-3 cups of tea made with licorice, astragalus, sasparilla, burdock root, and dandelion root. It can also be made into cough syrups for sore throats, mixed with pleurisy root and elecampane for deep-seated bronchial inflammation, and combined with marsh mallow root for digestive inflammation and ulcers.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Parts used: Flowers
Benefits: Red clover is another wonderfully healing plant that grows commonly as a weed. Its vibrant soft fluffy flowers are a delight to harvest, each one delicately popping off the stem. Drying red clover can be a little tricky, so pick your red clover when they’re vibrant, and immediately lay them out to dry on screens or drying racks. Spread them out thinly so they do not touch. When buying dried clover look for clover that is vibrantly colored reddish or purplish, never brown.
Red clover is safe for children to use and has been employed frequently for dry spasmodic coughs like whooping cough. It can also be used or childhood or adult eczema. Drink red clover as an infusion and use externally as a poultice in the case of skin disorders. Red clover also has a long tradition of being used for tumors, swollen glands (especially saliva glands), and other growths. When using it for this purpose, Dr. Sharol Tilgner recommends using it externally and internally in large frequent doses.
Red clover is generally thought of as an alterative, restoring health and vibrancy by cleaning up metabolic wastes. Some women also use red clover tincture or infusion to help cool hot flashes associated with menopause. Although safe to use for many people, red clover’s ability to thin the blood makes it a bad choice for pregnancy and for those already on blood thinners. Regular use of this plant should also be stopped before surgery. Besides being a medicinal plant, red clover can be an addition to your dinner table - at the whole flowers on salads or fry them up as fritters.