Next on our list of herbs is Echinacea also known as Black Sampson it is referred to by the native Americans of the plains as snake root, because it was traditionally used to treat snake bites. Natives have also used the plant to treat tooth aches. The Omaha-Ponca and Cheyenne Indians were probably the most notable groups to use the plant. They would rub the juices of the roots on their bodies to heal burns, or like mentioned above would use it to treat toothaches. Today echinacea is used to boost the immune system and speed up recovery of the common cold. There are three common types of Echinacea; Echinacea purpurea is the most common it can be found from Georgia to Oklahoma, north to Michigan and east to Ohio. Echinacea pallida is most commonly found in open woods and prairies, people in states like Michigan, Arkansas, Texas and here in Nebraska can find this species of Echinacea. Echinacea angustifolia tends to grow on roadsides, prairies, and outcrops; people living in Texas all the way north through the Dakotas and southern Saskatchewan you can also expect to find it growing in Montana and Colorado.
This is one place that thyme really shines. Make your cough syrup with Thymus Vulgaris, leaving the other varieties for the stockpot. Famed for its medicinal qualities, this variety of thyme contains thymol which acts against certain harmful bacteria. It is also known to improve liver function, increase appetite, help with bronchial infections, and help to treat laryngitis. Used on the skin, it can also reduce pain related to bug bites and stings.
Laetrile, also called vitamin B17, is a synthesized version of the naturally occurring amygdalin. There were a number of doctors in the US who successfully treated cancer with Laetrile, but they were required to discontinue the practice, because they were using cancer treatments that were not approved by the US FDA. Some of these doctors moved to Mexico so that they could continue treating patients.
The next herb on our list is chamomile, this is another great herb with a wide array of uses. The Spanish name for this herb is manzanilla which simply means "little apple" it's no surprise that the Spanish people gave it this name. When the leaves and petals are bruised they give off a very distinct apple aroma. There are two main species chamomile German chamomile and Roman or English chamomile, they're all similar in there medicinal effects but the Roman or English species have a more pronounced aroma than the German variety. Both varieties are relatively easy to grow from seed, in fact if they are left to seed on there own you'll find that they have grown back the next spring.
Yet another culinary herb makes our list of medicinal herbs. Oregano is way up on my list for sure as far as culinary herbs go I love this stuff. Oregano is actually part of the mint family and originated in warm climates in Eurasia and the Mediterranean. First used by the Greeks in ancient times they believed that oregano was created by the Goddess Aphrodite, oregano comes stems from two Greek words the first oros, which means "mountains" and the second ganos, meaning "joy" put it together and you get "joy of the mountains". It wasn't until the middle ages that oregano really took off as a medicinal herb where people would use the herb to treat toothaches, rheumatism, indigestion and coughing.
When using Aloe you want to be sure not to apply it to any open wounds. Also be careful when processing the leaves. As I mentioned above you want to make use of the clear gel part, and steer clear of the yellow sap that oozes out. While not a big deal when applying to the skin one should be aware of this yellow sap when taking aloe gel orally. This yellow sap is called aloin and if ingested will act as a laxative, if aloin is used for prolonged periods it can lead to depletion of electrolytes and dependence for normal bowl function.
Generally garlic is safe when taken in a regular diet. There is a small risk that can occur however when eating large doses of garlic daily, taking more than 4 cloves per day can affect the bodies platelets hindering them from forming clots. You should reduce use of garlic around 2 weeks before having any type of surgery and if you're taking anticoagulant medications.
Another well know spice in the kitchen cinnamon is also known for it's medicinal properties. While not really an herb I still think it's important to list it in our list of herbs and their uses. Cinnamon actually comes from the inner bark of a tree in the laurel family. It's been used for centuries and was a hot commodity for trade in ancient times. In fact during the first century A.D. in Rome cinnamon was 15 times more expensive than silver. The Chinese were probably the first to use cinnamon as a medicinal herb and used it to treat fevers, and diarrhea. In more modern times cinnamon has been found to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics, as it has an insulin kind of effect.