Managing health the natural way

Herbalist Annette Washington shows a mullein leaf.

Herbalist Annette Washington shows a mullein leaf.

Herbalist Annette Washington swears by the health benefits of natural herbs.

“Mullein is good for a cough,” she told attendees in Keysville on the fourth day of Georgia Cities Week. “For people with COPD, it loosens up the mucus inside of your chest.”

She credits the herb with her mother’s ability to live with COPD that once threatened to kill her. Mullein is an expectorant and a demulcent. Studies show that demulcents create an anti-inflammatory coating over mucous membranes, making for soothing relief. It can be used to treat cough, pneumonia and respiratory problems.

It is recommended that mullein leaves are first dried and then mixed with hot water and then strained to produce a tea. Washington recommends the addition of garlic and honey. Mullein can be purchased online but is often found growing wild, especially in pastures.

Rosemary promotes long, beautiful hair growth, Washington stated. It can also improve memory.

Rosemary increases the rate at which water leaves the body, thus flushing out pathogens, toxins and excess fat. It also boosts blood circulation thereby decreasing blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“For our older folks, Rosemary also darkens grey hair,” Washington said.

Ginger helps lower cholesterol and has been studied as an alternative remedy for several forms of cancer. It can also help relieve chemotherapy-related and pregnancy-related nausea.

Turmeric tea boosts the mood and the immune system. Most often it is finely chopped and added to loose-leaf herbal or caffeinated teas.

“Everyone say peppermint!” Washington exclaimed.

Peppermint relieves digestive symptoms and headaches besides freshening breath. It has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

Dandelions are not just for blowing the seeds while making wishes. They can be added to a salad. They are known to lower blood sugar, and are loaded with antioxidants and are high in beta-carotene.

“Just make sure they haven’t been treated with chemicals,” Washington said. “You can use them in tea to promote weight loss.”

Elderberries can only be consumed after they are cooked. They are packed with Vitamin C, dietary fiber and antioxidants. They also increase insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels.

Aloe vera can be applied to the face for smoother skin, added to a smoothie to boost the digestive system and applied to burns for relief.

Washington got interested in the benefits of herbs after she was diagnosed with high blood pressure. She credits the use of garlic, ginger and turmeric with getting off one of the prescribed medications.

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