Tag Archives: edema

Strengthening Horsetail: For more than just fingernails

d08_3035_equisetum-hyemaleHorsetail is a silica rich herb used to support connective tissues in the body. It is probably most popular for strengthening hair and nails, but it can be used for other connective tissues in the body including skin, cartilage, and bones. Silica is found in trace amounts in the skeletal system and may help stabilize the collagen framework of bones that helps to make them strong. Recent studies have found a correlation between dietary silica intake and increased bone mineral density. Also, many herbalists recommend horsetail when people are healing from broken bones. Likewise, a folk use of horsetail is for people who lack confidence and need more backbone metaphorically.

Horsetail has lesser-known uses for the urinary tract. It is a mild diuretic that increases urinary output. As a diuretic, it is used for both urinary tract issues and edema, particularly when there is swelling due to trauma. Horsetail also helps reduce inflammation and contains antimicrobial essential oils. Therefore, it is used for conditions where there is irritation of the bladder, especially if there is increased urge to urinate. Horsetail is occasionally used for incontinence that is due to irritation. Also, it is thought that its ability to support connective tissues is most pronounced in the pelvis area. Therefore, it is sometimes considered as part of a protocol for urinary prolapse. Because of its high silica content and possible resulting tissue irritation, horsetail isn’t used for more than a month at a time. People wishing to use horsetail longer term need to take frequent breaks from using it. Finally, because of horsetail’s high silica content, people with impaired heart or kidney function should avoid using horsetail.

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Dandelion: Don’t overlook this friend in your yard

Fall is the time to start harvesting roots. Just like we will soon be digging our sweet potatoes out of the ground, it is also time to harvest the medicinal roots. As plants go dormant for the year, they store nutrients in their roots, making medicinal roots more potent in the fall. As far as the medicinal constituents are concerned, roots are often more potent than leaves, but depending on the plant, roots can have some different medicinal uses than the leaves. Dandelion is an example of this that is likely growing in your own yard. Many people use the leaves and roots interchangeably, but there are qualities that are unique to both forms.

Dandelion has earned a reputation for being a liver and gall bladder supporting herb. The leaves increase the production of bile by the liver. The roots help to move the bile out of the gall bladder, and then along with the bile, toxins that can be eliminated from the body through the feces. Therefore, the use of the roots and leaves together is important for the best liver benefits. Because it supports the liver, dandelion is traditionally used to help high cholesterol, abnormal blood sugar, menstrual and skin disorders, especially when there is a history of toxic exposures or sluggish liver.

Dandelion leaves have a much stronger diuretic action than the roots. Because of dandelion leaves’ diuretic action, they are used for conditions like edema, rheumatic complaints, and sometimes high blood pressure. Because the leaves are high in potassium, they replace any potassium that might be lost with increased urine flow. They also contain many other trace minerals and can be used as a food or tea by people who need to boost their mineral intake.

Dandelion also helps support digestion. The increased production and movement of bile can help improve digestion of fats. In the fall, the roots are high in inulin, a preferred food of the beneficial bacterial in the gut. Dandelion leaves also have a bitter taste, which can stimulate the digestive process. Thus, dandelion is also used for headaches associated with disordered digestion. The leaves are the most bitter in the spring, but I personally prefer to eat them straight out of my yard in the wintertime when they often stand out bright green even if most of the rest of the yard has faded.