Word of the Week

As I have shared with you all before, herbs have dozens of known actions. Herbalists consider these actions when putting a formula together.  One of the most common actions employed from natural healing plants is the demulcent. And that is our word of the week.

DEMULCENT   [di múlssənt]  n.

soothing substance: a substance that soothes irritated or inflamed skin or mucous membranes.
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Throughout our internal environment, we have  mucous membranes.  This thin layer of mucous is vital to organ, tissue, and cell function.  Inflammation caused by poor diet, damage to cells, medication, or system malfunction (allergies is one) affects this mucous layer in a negative way.  Dairy causes mucus (notice the different spelling) in the body.  This kind of mucus is low-vibrating, thick, sticky, and inorganic and leads to localized pain, general pain, and blockages in the body.  Any number of problems can and do arise from this condition.  The most common illness thought of is the common cold, but other illnesses can take hold in this thickened layer of mucus.  All chest and nasal complaints arise to cause us misery when we  have a  dirty inside hampering our immune system.  The intestinal tract has a mucous layer as well.  Inflammation is this area can be debilitating.  Arthritis is inflammation localized to the joint area.  The suffix -itis means inflammation of, so any ailment with this suffix would be helped by demulcents.

Marshmallow - Lægestokrose (Althaea officinalis)

Marshmallow – Lægestokrose (Althaea officinalis) (Photo credit: Isfugl)

Some herbs with demulcent action include:  balm of Gilead, bladderwrack, borage, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, coconut oil, comfrey root, corn silk, elm, fenugreek, figs, flaxseed, ginseng, glycerine, golden seal, grindelia, heartsease, hollyhock, hops, Irish moss, Iceland moss, licorice, lobelia, marshmallow root, mugwort, mullein, oats, plantain, prunes, psyllium, pumpkin, ragwort, rice water, sage, sarsaparilla, sassafras pith, slippery elm, sorrel, sundew,white pine, white pond lily.

My favorites are comfrey, marshmallow root, Irish moss, mullein, slippery elm, heartsease, and lobelia.  Any of these are super to use when you need a demulcent.  Make a tea, compress, capsule, or fomentation.

The powers that be recommend, or rather prohibit the internal use of comfrey.  No product can be sold for internal consumption can contain  comfrey, but external use is ok.  I make a wonderful comfrey mucilage for bronchitis, chest congestion and colds, flu, and tuberculosis, and have never had any problems.   The reason is the alkaloids in comfrey are said to damage the liver and could cause serious problems.  My opinion is that if someone has been taking some major pharma drugs, the liver is already in a weakened state and may not be able to metabolize the alkaloids.  Comfrey is a great herb that has been vilified unnecessarily.  Do your own research and study.

Love life & breathe deep,



2 thoughts on “Word of the Week

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