Friday, July 20, 2007

Herbal Healer Q & A (Part IV)

Q: I have an annoying wart on my hand that resurrects itself each time after using over-the-counter wart dissolvers. Is there an herbal application that's more effective?

A: Like many skin problems, warts are best treated both outside and inside. I suggest trying the essential oil of thuja the leaf of the arbor vitae tree. Like other essential oils, it is highly concentrated. This makes it potent medicine but also means you need to use it carefully. First mix the essential oil in an equal part of castor oil (available at drug stores and some natural food stores). Twice a day, apply the solution to the wart only. Since this treatment is most effective when kept moist, cover the area with a bandage after each application.

It may take a few weeks of diligent practive, but chances are your wart will eventually disappear.

Q: Is there a remedy I can take on a regular basis to help prevent chronic bladder infections?

A:You're in luck! Several herbal allies fend off bladder infections. Most of them can even be served for dinner. First let's consider the food/herb cranberry. Yes, the same cranberries that we dine on during winter holiday meals offers a powerful punch when it comes to fighting bladder infection.

So far, we know that cranberry works at least two different ways. For one thing, it acidifies the urine, making the bladder inhospitable to the alkaline-loving microbes that cause the infection.

This means that even if bacteria invade, they won't be happy campers. In addition, only a few years ago researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science and Tel Aviv University in Israel discovered that cranberry not only makes bacteria unhappy, but destroys them at the same time.

Eating cranberry as a food will work, but avoid sugar-sweetened desserts and juice since sugar depresses the immune system. Your best bet is the capsules or extract sold in the natural food store. Or, invent your own cranberry concoction sweetened them with fruit juice. The same researcher who studied cranberries found similar anti-infection compounds in blueberries. Rosehips, a traditional bladder remedy, are also effective. Add these food/herbs to your regular diet, along with healthy doses of garlic, parsley, and fennel seed to increase bladder health and avoid infection. You can also turn to barley tea with lemon, an "Old World" remedy. If barley isn't your "cup of tea," why not try barley soup seasoned with plenty of garlic and parsley instead?

In addition, you can take a tea, tincture, or capsules of immune herbs such as echinacea and marshmallow root to boost your immune system. For the same reason, eat plenty of foods rich in vitamins A and C, the anti-infection vitamins. You probably won't need to follow this campaign forever. Once your bladder is strengthened by this healthy regimen, it will be much less prone to infection.

Q: Are there any herbs or remedies available that will protect the kidneys from getting stones and reduce the passing of kidney stones?

A: Most herbal remedies for kidney stones are designed to eliminate them, but either way, dealing with stones can be tricky business and require professional guidance. Instead, lets discuss avoiding those troublesome stones in the first place.

First of all, if you're vegetarian you're chances of developing kidney stones is cut in half. As in the bladder infection addressed earlier, you'll also want to acidify your urine, at least of you are among the three-fourths of people whose kidney stones are formed by calcium that has combined with phosphate or oxalic acid.

A study conducted in 1973 showed that cranberries reduce the excessive amounts of calcium commonly found in the urinary tract by making it more acidic. Rosehips and blueberries are other good choices.

Rosemary has been shown to inhibit an enzyme, called ureases, that contributes to kidney stones so you can add liberal amounts of it as a seasoning and also add it to any herb tea. Meanwhile, shun foods containing oxalic acid such as spinach, sorrel, and chocolate.

On the other hand, if you are talking about stones composed of uric acid, the urine is probably already too acid, a condition less common in vegetarians because a main cause is eating too much protein. If you do get this type of stone, however, fine tune your diet to reduce protein. Herbs traditionally used to treat kidney stones include: nettles, meadowsweet, Joe-pye weed, and plantain.

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