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Herbal Healing With Helen Mc Cormack

Friday, 7 November 2008

Helen McCormack
Helen McCormack has had a herbal practice in Marino, Dublin since 1994 upon completion of her training with the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.
She is also qualified in the field of Health Promotion and often combines short courses on health and wellbeing with the use of herbs for self-care.
To make an appointment with Helen you can e-mail her at:

Herbal remedies for First-aid
The remedies Helen is dealing with in this section are designed to be safe and effective treatments for non-urgent problems that may result from relatively minor injuries or infections. They are not designed as a substitute for emergency first-aid measures.

Use your common sense when determining whether or not to consult a doctor, professional herbalist, or Casualty Department. If you or someone you look after is very unwell, do not put off seeking this treatment. The types of conditions you should consult for include:

. Possible broken or fractured bones
. A severe blow to the head
. Constant head pain
. Severe pain of any kind
. Significant loss of blood
. Significant difficulty in breathing
. A temperature of 40°C or more
. A marked change in a baby's behaviour, including their feeding pattern.

The following six herbs are really useful for your first-aid home kit. Some of them are so versatile that they are almost complete kits in themselves.

Aloe Vera - Very useful treatment for minor burns, bites or stings, chilblains, sunburn and wounds. Increases the healing rate of burns, skin problems and wounds and has an excellent cooling and soothing effect on skin. The gel is available to buy but having the fresh plant to hand is the best.

Arnica - This ointment can be applied after any type of knock or sprain. It reduces both pain and swelling and is excellent for treating bruises. Also useful for general muscular aches. Do not apply on open skin, so not suitable for wounds.

Echinacea - Every household should have this herb, particularly in winter-time as it helps our immunity to the viral infections that cause colds and also speeds recovery time. It is very versatile as it has anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal actions and can be applied in a number of ways according to the nature of the problem. For example, use as a gargle for sore throats (combined with sage and thyme), combine with elderflower for colds and flu, take internally for cold sores and shingles very regularly for a number of days and apply externally for boils, acne and other skin infections. Also, can be used as a mouthwash and combines well with other antiseptic herbs for mouth ulcers, gum problems and promoting oral hygiene.

A great antibiotic with a range of useful applications. Take raw (crushed) for any type of respiratory infection. A clove infused in olive oil for three days is an excellent treatment for ear infections (as long as there is no perforation of eardrum), so make and have to hand. Good for fungal infections such as thrush and athlete's foot.

For colds and flu:
. Take 1 chopped clove of garlic
. Fresh lemon juice
. ½ teaspoon of ginger root (preferably fresh)
. Add a teaspoon of honey.
. Cover with hot water and drink.

Helpful for lowering cholesterol as a daily food and generally useful for warding off colds when taken this way.

Marigold (Calendula)
This is such a useful herb to have in the home. It is very healing for any inflammation of the skin. Apply as a cream or ointment to inflamed, sore or angry skin. Use the ointment for nappy rash. Also works well to clean any infection from a cut or wound. The tincture works best for this either applied neat or diluted with water. (Always dilute for young children)

Useful for splinters, whitlows or boils by mixing the tincture with some slippery elm powder and apply as a paste. A dilute tincture of marigold can also be used for conjunctivitis and other minor eye infections using an eyebath or bathe the eye with cotton wool soaked in diluted mix. Marigold is also great for fungal infections like athlete's foot and ringworm. The plant grows very well in Ireland and a tea can be easily made from the fresh or dried petals to treat minor digestive problems such as heartburn, acidity. Also can be used as a rinse to clear cradle cap in infants.

Useful for easing breathing conditions and all kinds of infections of the airways. It has a very strong antiseptic effect. Also assists with making a cough more productive and helping to cough up phlegm, (strong expectorant action).

By diluting essential oil of thyme 5 drops to 5 mls of warm almond oil, you can make a chest rub for all chesty conditions. Eases asthma due to its relaxing effect on the bronchi. Burning a few drops of thyme oil in a burner will cleanse a room and speed recovery for someone affected by a chest infection. A traditional ingredient in many of the old cough bottles, (combined with licquorice) It is very pleasant to take as a cough syrup, or simply make a tea and sweeten with honey. The fresh plant is very easy to grow and will keep well even through the winter. Dried thyme is readily available also.