How Sex, Politics, Money and Religion are Killing Planet Earth

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Backyard Medicine Chest – Easy to Grow, Healing Herbs to Beat the Corporate Medical Monopoly*

Like the food we eat and the air we breathe, medical care is critical to human well-being and survival, but increasingly, this necessity for life is becoming inaccessible to the average American.
Proponents of the status quo will argue that the corporate predator that now passes itself off as healer is the price we must pay for innovation. On more than one occasion, I have been asked by said advocates to “name one medical innovation coming out of Cuba, Canada or the Soviet Union [or any other system not motivated by profit].” This argument belongs in the world of manipulative propaganda spewed by the same establishment that brings you hospital bills that cost more than a new house. For the record, the United States has neither the ‘best medical system in the world,’ nor the most innovative. The current system has become a mockery of the noble art of healing, sacrificed to the god of profit.

In fact, as we all instinctively know, profit is not the only motivating factor behind innovation, particularly when it comes to healthcare. Those among us who are motivated by true concern for our fellow organisms, understand that healing is an act of compassion, not greed.

Needless to say, the list of medical innovations developed without a profit motive is too staggering to even begin to attempt to list in its entirety. Jonas Salk, the inventor of the Polio vaccine, which, by the way, was the last epidemic disease to actually be ‘cured,’ did not seek a patent or other financial benefit for his life-saving work. Soviet Russia developed medical hypothermia techniques that cool the brain and body to prevent damage during prolonged surgical procedures. Recent innovations in head trauma, involving the removal of a piece of the skull to relieve pressure on the brain, were developed by medics on the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. And Communist Cuba, in addition to having better statistics than the U.S. for infant mortality and preventable death, is now on the leading edge of a new generation of vaccine-style cancer treatment drugs.

In fact, it would appear that the profit motive actually interferes with meaningful medical innovation. Why would you cure a person’s illness, when it is far more profitable to maintain them in a permanent state of chronic, pharmaceutical-requiring disease? On the other hand, when healing is the primary objective of medical professionals, not profit, real innovation takes place.

The inability to pay medical bills is obscenely, the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, accounting for 60% of all filings. More shocking is the fact that in half of those bankruptcies, the victim had health insurance. In the United States, those who cannot afford the extortion, die at alarming rates of preventable illness. The World Health Organization recently ranked the United States Healthcare system as 37th in the world. Yet for that meager ranking, we pay more for healthcare than any other nation on Earth.

As Congress deliberates the fate of Medicare and healthcare costs continue to explode exponentially, the average person feels powerless against the psychopathic institutions that now hold the power of life and death in their hands. But we aren’t powerless. For most of human history, individuals had a remedial, working knowledge of the natural pharmacopeia in the surrounding ecosystem. Every indigenous culture developed, without profit motive, medical treatments from the plant and natural materials available to them. Our Western ancestors always included favorite medicinal herbs in backyard gardens. Moms had a good grasp of how to use the herbs to treat their families, and village healers and midwives were veritable encyclopedias of healing lore.

A few plants were so important, early settlers to the New World carried them on the arduous journey across the ocean. Today, many of these plants, like the dandelion, have naturalized ubiquitously and are as American as apple pie. The apple is also an import from the Old World. Other imported plants remained constrained within cultivation but persist as important garden plants because of their utility and beauty.

Below are a few magical healing plants that are safe to use, easy to grow and have so many wonderful medicinal and culinary uses, no household should be without them:

Aloe (Aloe vera)

A native of the tropics and sub-tropics, aloe requires little care and can be grown in a container and brought indoors during the colder months in temperate climes. Aloe is a skincare essential. Aloe is anesthetic, antibacterial and also has tissue-restorative properties. Aloe is not just for sunburns. It can be applied to the skin to treat burns, poison ivy, insect bites and other skin irritations and is even a folk remedy for skin cancer. A solution of aloe in water can be used as an eye wash. Aloe has also been used by many cultures as an anti-aging tonic. A small, pill-sized piece of the gel is swallowed daily for this purpose, but beware; aloe can be a powerful purgative.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

While we have allowed jurisdiction and use of this versatile herb to gravitate almost exclusively to the felines, catnip can be an indispensible part of the human medicine chest. A tea made from the leaves and flowers can relieve pain, lower fever, soothe the stomach, relax tension and induce sleep. Because it is practically harmless, catnip is particularly useful in treating the discomforts of babies and small children.

In folklore, catnip is said to strengthen the psychic bond between humans and other members of the animal kingdom and increase psychic abilities. I like to make a bit of nighttime tea for myself and share a bit of the dried leaves at the same time with my feline friends. It makes for a pleasant evening ritual.

Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus)

Are you pestered by evil spirits? Then trim the flower stalks of this tall, biennial, rosette-shaped herb and dip them in tallow or wax. When lit, these homemade torches are said to dispel curses and ward off malignant energies. People afflicted by simple, garden-variety ailments can also benefit from the medicinally-versatile mullein.

Mullein is the king of herbal medicines when it comes to afflictions of the respiratory tract and ear, nose and throat issues. A tea made from the large, velvety leaves relieves chronic coughs and asthma and has even been used effectively to treat the symptoms of tuberculosis. The leaves can also be dried and smoked for all ailments of the chest. For ears, a few drops of flower oil made by steeping the tiny yellow flowers in olive oil in the sunshine for 21 days, will relieve ear ache, dry ears and infections. A poultice of smashed flowers is also said to cure warts. As an anti-inflammatory, a poultice made from the seed heads soothes aching and swollen joints, while the flower oil can be used to cure hemorrhoids. This species has so many curative properties, recent research suggests that it may even be an effective treatment for Hepatitis B.

As the Summer Solstice approaches on June 21st, now a good time to collect and prepare mullein torches. Lighting them and placing the torches around one’s home on the Summer Solstice is said to bring abundance and good luck.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

I am not usually a superstitious person, but when we moved into our current home, previously occupied by a couple who decorated the garden with statues of little black people all over the lawn, I enlisted the powers of sage. Native Americans have always used sage ceremonially to cleanse body and place of negative energies. In a practice known as smudging, bundles of sage are burned in the four corners of a room and house for purification purposes. Using sage, I thoroughly smudged my house before moving in and am happy to report that I have not been troubled by negative energies since.

The Latin translation of the Genus name for sage means “salvation,” and in antiquity, the herb was believed to grant longevity or even immortality. Perhaps this folklore arose because of the panacea curative properties attributed to sage.

For fever, take a lukewarm sage bath while simultaneously drinking a tea made from the dried leaves. The tea will also lift depressive moods and soothe upset stomachs. It improves kidney function and acts as a mild diuretic. Sage tea is also relaxing and induces sleep. For women of a certain age, it inhibits hot flashes and night sweats. Sage lowers blood sugar levels.

Externally, compresses and poultices of sage can be applied to the skin to relieve varicose veins, ulcers, cuts, bruises, sore muscles and joints and open wounds.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

This understated, almost weedy, little plant is truly a miracle worker. In an age where the abuse of antibiotics has infiltrated everything from medical care to agriculture, thyme reminds us that other, effective remedies against infection do exist. The active ingredient in thyme is thymol. Thymol is an extraordinary antiseptic, antispasmodic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Prepared as a tea, thyme aids in infections of the respiratory tract, soothes the stomach, eases depression, relieves headache, diminishes the symptoms of gout, lessens rheumatism and dispels hookworms. For infections of the skin, a hot thyme compress will draw out the infection and heal. Where antibiotics fail due to bacterial resistance, as with MRSA infections, simple thyme can be an invaluable healing tool.

In Old World tradition, a bed of thyme was prepared as habitat for faeries. Faeries are the caretakers to the natural world, and it is telling that thyme is believed to be their habitat of choice. Plant a bed of thyme in your garden, and the faeries it attracts will be healing to your family and the wider natural world.

References for Medical Statistics Cited:

*The above information is intended for use only by an intelligent audience. As with all medical matters, readers are encouraged to do their own independent research before trying any of the above remedies. In other words, when it comes to personal health, take matters into your own mind and hands.


  1. This is one of my very favorite subjects in the whole world---learning about, growing, medicinal use of, harvesting, and storing herbs. They're fascinating! I love their look, their smell, their taste. I don't know what it is exactly but I just love everything about them.

    Thank you, killingMother. Wonderful post. I'm saving this one under my gardening bookmark.

  2. RSS feed request to Before It's News
    I'm the health and wellness/Health Policy editor at Before It's News. Our site is a People Powered news platform with over 2,500,000 visits a month and growing fast.
    We would be honored if we could republish your Blog's RSS feed in our Health and wellness category. Our readers need to read what your blog has to say.
    Syndicating to Before It's News is a terrific way spread the word and grow your audience. Many other organizations are using Before It's News to do just that. We can have your feed up and running in 24 hours. I just need you to reply with your permission to do so. Please include the full name and email of the person who will be attached to the account, and let me know the name you want on the account (most people have their name or their blog name).
    You can also have any text and/or links you wish appended to the end or prepended to the beginning of each of your posts on Before It's News.
    Just email me the text and links that you want at the beginning and/or ending of each post. If you know html you can send me that. If not, just send me the text and a link to your site. It should be around 200 characters or less (not including links).
    You can, if you like, create a custom feed for Before It's News that includes multiple links back to your blog or web site. We only require that RSS feeds include full stories, not partial stories. We don't censor or edit work.
    If you have any other blogs or websites you would like featured on before it's news, you can send the details for those feeds as well.
    Thank you,
    Gidon Belmaker
    Editor, Before It's News

  3. What a great post... Your facts about this country's medical status was right on... Thanks for keeping this in the spotlight...I am going to write one on my blog and link up to this post for others to read...Keep up the great work!!

  4. Thanks Linda. I love your blog. The graphics are impressive.

  5. Thanks for the info -- this is definitely the approach for forward-thinking people and communities. If you don't already, be sure to check out The Herbal Highway radio show Thursdays at 1pm Pacific time on The host and her guests give tons of good information along the lines you present here.

  6. I'd like to add that I don't even think that herbs, or any other plant or animal for that matter, are special because of their usefulness to humankind. They're special simply in their own right and their own existence.

    Does this make sense? Maybe I should think about it some more.

  7. That's a great list. I grow all of those except Mullein, which I have never heard of. Thanks. I am a great fan of sage, cleans all sorts of unwanted stuff.

  8. Barbara, try the mullein, you will be impressed. If you have an recommendations to add, I would love to know about them.

  9. Art, Thank you for the tip, I will check it out next Thursday.

  10. tsisageya, I agree. I also think we are all here to be useful to each other. So far, humans have not been living up to their end of the bargain.

  11. killing Mother, I agree. We are all here to help each other. But, as you say, humans do not live up to that charge.

    Also, you do help me to be optimistic, so this is not to make you or anyone else depressed.

    HOWEVER, this is the most depressing site in the solar system, as far as I'm concerned. It's not even sensationalist, which may be why it's the so depressing. He doesn't get many comments. He just keeps posting and posting and posting.

    Anyway, if you don't know already:

    It's depressing to me because these things are happening but humans deny it and do nothing except continue the greedy status quo.

    We are the only organism that CAN do anything about it (since we created it) and we're playing politics on the same, earth-wide scale.

    What in the world is happening?