Holistic medicine is all about treating the whole person,
focusing not just on physical symptoms but on emotional and
spiritual aspects contributing to the disorder. This is the approach that
has always been taken by herbalists-be they trained in traditional
Western methods, Chinese medicine, or ayurveda.
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Colds and Flu
In the West common colds and influenza are usually blamed on viruses, and Western herbal treatment focuses on antiviral remedies. Before the discovery of viruses, earlier generations blamed an assortment of "venoms" or magical "evils" for sudden colds and this is similar to the traditional Chinese approach, where the six "external evils" of cold, heat or "summer heat," fire, wind, damp, and dryness are seen as the prime causes of superficial or "external" diseases. These "evils" are more successful when the Wei Qi (defense Qi) is weak. Common colds are generally blamed on "wind-cold" or "wind-heat evils," with chilliness and an absence of sweating suggesting a "cold" problem, while fever and thirst indicate a "heat" problem. Warming or cooling herbs are used as appropriate. In ayurveda the common cold is usually associated with a surfeit of kapha (phlegm), due to seasonal weather or the result of eating too many kapha-forming foods. Treatment is through a kapha lowering diet with plenty of whole grains and steamed vegetables, supported by warm, spicy herbs to encourage sweating. Occasionally excess pitta or vata is blamed (as with the Chinese concept of wind-heat) and then cooling, moistening remedies are chosen.
Herbs that may be helpful:
Safe and natural remedy containing herbal ingredients:
Traditionaly ayurvedic remedies are taken
as fresh juices, pastes, or purees, generally
mixed with ghee or oil; as decoctions; as hot
and cold infusions; or as macerations. The
traditional proportion for decoctions
is one part herb to 16 parts water, which is then simmered
until the volume has reduced to one-quarter of the original
This process takes several hours to complete. Hot infusions use the
proportion of one part herb to eight parts boiling water,
with the infusion being left for up to 12 hours,
rather than the 10-15 minutes that are generally
allowed in the West. Some ayurvedic practitioners In the West
recommend increasing the dosage and cutting the
simmering or infusion time to Western proportions in
order to make the preparation more compatible with
Western lifestyles. Decoctions can be simmered until
three-quarters of the water is left and dosages doubled
or trebled, with a similar increase in dosages for a
minimum hot-infusion time of 30 minutes.
Milk decoctions are made…
A daily glass of tonic wine is a delightful way to take
herbal remedies. A crockery vinegar vat is best,
although a large rum pot or glass jar is also suitable.
Fill the vat with the chosen tonic herb-ideally using a
root remedy such as ginger, licorice, or Dang Gui
rather than leafy parts-then cover with a good-quality
red wine (preferably organic). Leave the mix for at
least two weeks before drawing the liquid off in a daily
sherry-glass dose (2-3f1 oz/60-75ml). Keep the herb
covered with more red wine to prevent it from going
moldy. The wine will continue to extract active
constituents from the roots for several months before
you need to replace the herbs.
Some herbs, such as Valerian and marshmallow root, are best
macerated in cold water. Use the same proportions as for an infusion and
simply leave the mixture in a cool place overnight. In the morning, strain the
mixture and use as an infusion.