Summer Herbal Medicine Chest
by Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac.
Summer. The high season of greatest Yang and activity is complemented by the hot fun-filled days at the beach and warm, delightful nights enjoyed outdoors. As we tend to overdue in summer..too much sun, working out and physical activities; below you can find some of the best herbs for headaches, burns, and skin problems. Also herbs for strengthening the respiratory tract, maintain sinus passages, support for healthy circulation and herbs to sooth the discomfort of sore joints and muscles.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) – The Leaves; frequently, the entire herb (all aerial parts) are harvested. Best arvesting season is before flowering. Basil leaves should always be used fresh, as they lose most of their flavor within a few weeks after drying or as an essential oil. The essential oil (less than 1%) is of complex and variable composition. Within the species, several different chemical races exist, and furthermore climate, soil and time of harvest influence not only the amount but also the composition of the essential oil. The most important aroma components are 1,8 cineol, linalool, citral, methyl chavicol (estragole), eugenol and methyl cinnamate, although not necessarily in this order; in fact, hardly any basil contains all of these compounds in significant amounts.
Chamomile – German (Matricaria recutita), Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) – an herb of the sun, Chamomile’s bright yellow flowers bring power and light to your space and rituals. Chamomile’s medicinal properties range from skin inflammations to lightening hair to treating digestive problems. As a mild sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial, it improves digestion by relaxing the muscles throughout the gastrointestinal system and it can induce an overall sense of calm and well-being.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – The common dandelion is an unusually nutritious food. Its leaves contain substantial levels of vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon. Worldwide, the root of the dandelion has been used for the treatment of a variety of liver and gallbladder problems. Other historical uses of the root and leaves include the treatment of breast diseases, water retention, digestive problems, joint pain, fever, and skin diseases. The most active constituents in dandelion appear to be eudesmanolide and germacranolide, substances unique to this herb. Other ingredients include taraxol, taraxerol, and taraxasterol, along with stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acid, and p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid.
Dill (Peucedanum graveolens) – The summer herb of the season, Dill like the other umbelliferous fruits and volatile oils, both Dill fruit and oil of Dill possess stimulant, aromatic, carminative and stomachic properties, making them of considerable medicinal value. Oil of Dill is used in mixtures, or administered in doses of 5 drops on sugar, but its most common use is in the preparation of Dill Water, which is a common domestic remedy for the flatulence of infants, and is a useful vehicle for children’s medicine generally.