Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis)
Parts used: Primarily the roots, but the leaves and flowers are also useful
Benefits: A soothing mucilaginous herb, marsh mallow can be used much like slippery elm bark for soothing any and all inflammations. It is also particularly valuable for burns, sore throats, and digestive problems like diarrhea and constipation. However, marsh mallow is much more readily available and easy to grow in most garden settings. It makes a good substitute for slippery elm, which is an “at risk” plant.
Suggested uses: Serve marsh mallow tea for treating sore throats, diarrhea, constipation, and bronchial inflammation. Mix it into a paste with water and apply topically to soothe irritated skin. Marsh mallow can also be used in the bath as a soothing wash; combine it with oatmeal for maximum effect.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Parts used: Leaves
Benefits and uses: Yes, I am talking about sage, that herb you stuff a turkey with. Go ahead and take it out of the back of your cupboard and you’ll be using it in your meals more than a few times a year! People use sage to accompany heavy meat meals because it is an antidote to many of the problems that are associated with eating too much meat. The carminative properties help us to digest the meat, the antibacterial properties help to deter bacterial pathogens that may be growing in meat, and its decongestant properties help to dispel congestion that many people develop from eating large portions.
Sage is the ultimate kitchen medicine, and much more versatile than we give it credit for. It is excellent made as a tea for cold and flu remedies, helping rid the body of coughs and sneezes. Gargling with sage vinegar is helpful for laryngitis, sore throats, and receding gums, too. Don’t overlook the nervine qualities of sage. Life’s pace just seems to be moving faster and faster, with more images to process, more information to assimilate, and too many technological devices with which to send and receive messages. Nervine herbs bolster the nervous system so that relaxation is within easier reach. While fending off colds, sage tea can also help bring on a pleasant night’s sleep.
Sage blossoms are also beautiful and make a nice cut flower. Harvest some bunches and place them around your house - it energetically clears the space, almost like an acupuncture treatment for the room. Its antibacterial, aromatic oils skill airborne bacteria, and the fresh smells brings a sense of clarity.
Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva)
Parts used: Bark
Benefits and uses: The inner bark of the slippery elm tree is incredibly mucilaginous, offering many healing abilities due to its demulcent and emollient qualities. It can be used internally to soothe a sore throat, help expel stuck mucous in the lungs, and soothe inflammation of mucous membranes such as ulcers and colitis. Typically it is taken in tablets or as gruel. To make gruel, place a tablespoon of powdered slipper elm into a pint of water and stir well. Occasionally stir this mixture until it has reached a thick slippery consistency. This nutritive gruel is an easily digestible food for those too weak to eat normal foods. Slippery elm can also be added to cooked oatmeal. Whenever you take slippery elm internally also drink a large glass of water - slippery elm can become too drying if not taken with enough water because it will soak up water and expand. Because of its high mucilage content, any medications taken with slippery elm may have a delayed absorption rate.
Slippery elm can also be made into a poultice to protect wounds and rashes and to help to draw out infections. To use it as a poultice, mix slippery elm with water until it forms a thick paste. Herbalist Jim McDonald gives us another use for slippery elm. He recommends adding a pinch to nourishing herbal infusions to prevent spoilage!
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.