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Focuses on ten of the most versatile and effective herbs available today, guiding the reader in how to apply them immediately for hundreds of common ailments, including indigestion, headache, motion sickness, burns, infections, colds and flu.
"The 10 Essential Herbs"
an interview with Lalitha Thomas
by Jerry Snider
From Magical Blend Magazine Issue #51 July 1996
With the high cost of medical care and rising concerns about the hidden effects of allopathic drugs, herbal healing is an ancient art undergoing a modern renaissance. But while herbal remedies provide a reliable, often low-cost alternative to allopathic drugs, learning about them generally requires a huge investment in time. Just ask Lalitha Thomas, who has spent thirty years studying the tricks of the trade.
After teaching hundreds of students and professionals about herbs and their uses, Lalitha realized that many people are overwhelmed by the scope of the topic. Her response was to create a user-friendly herbology, in which a ten-herb arsenal could provide the remedy for just about anything that ails you. Her criteria for the herbs in 10 Essential Herbs (Hohm Press, Prescott, AZ, 1996) were they had to be easy to get, affordable, quick acting and potent. And because there were only ten, they had to have a broad range of applications.
Limiting the choices of herbs to the Ten Essentials makes for a user-friendly approach to the topic. Almost immediately, one begins to grasp the general characteristics, moods, actions, and "personality" of the herbs. And Lalitha's "everyman's take-care-of-your health, save-your-money, feel-good" system includes a quick reference chart to look up general categories of illnesses and the herbs effective in their treatment, as well as instructions on how to prepare herbal teas, salves, poultices, concoctions and even nose rinses. Seven appendixes include a resource list, herb buyer's guide, and information on Echinaceaan important herb in Lalitha's consideration, but too exotic to make the Ten Essential list.
Lalitha Thomas is a strong advocate of people taking responsibility for their own health, and encourages readers to contact their Congressional representatives to express outrage at the government's continuing incursion into that right.
Can we go down the list of 10 Essential Herbs and talk about some of the broader applications, to get some idea of why these herbs are so important? I know each one has many different properties. Let's start with cayenne.
Lalitha Thomas: Circulation and digestion are two of the main categories this herb would be used for. Many people are afraid of cayenne. They think it's hot and will give them ulcers. But if a person uses only a small amount in the beginning, their bodies will get used to it, and they will be able to tolerate more as time goes by.
Using it for digestive purposes, a person can take a few grainsup to a quarter or a half teaspoon mixed in a little juice or in water before one eats, and it really stimulates the digestive fluids and gets them going.
For beginners, sprinkle a little bit on your food. Cayenne should never be used cooked. Cooking causes it to be very caustic in the system.
I had some gum problems, and your book suggested vigorously brushing cayenne on the teeth, gums and over the whole interior surface of the mouth. It sounded a little too intense, but not only did I find it effective, I actually found the cayenne tingle pleasant afterwards.
Lalitha Thomas: Isn't it? Once in a while, when I come across a person who has such severe gum sensitivity and/or gum disease that they find cayenne to be just too hot, I suggest putting a little cayenne on their toothpaste. I've never heard anybody say that was too hot.
So with cayenne, we've got digestion, gum disease... What else?
Lalitha Thomas: Circulatory problems. A major thing for cayenne is heart problems. I have used it with great effect for all kinds of heart problems. For instance, chronic angina, or heart attacks. I've used cayenne in a situation where a person actually dropped to the floor having a heart attack in front of me.One of the things it does is to prevent shock for setting in. It gets circulation going, the heart attack stops and often there is no emergency visit or huge hospital bill.
You mean you've actually had a person fall in front of you with a heart attack and avoided going to the hospital because you gave them cayenne?
Lalitha Thomas: Once a complete stranger in a restaurant had a heart attack at the table next to me and fell off their chair and landed on the restaurant floor. A person who worked in the restaurant and who knew me, thought I might know some "tricks." I got my cayenne out of my purse, which I always carry because you never know when an emergency is going to happen, and I gave cayenne to the person who was having the heart attack. It was an incredible quick relief. The pain quickly subsided. The shortness of breath quickly subsided. Cayenne is effective as long as the person is conscious. If they're unconscious, what I do is I use plain, powdered cayenne and put it inside their lips. Even putting a little cayenne on their tongue or inside their lips is just amazing.
Let's move down the list to chaparral.
Lalitha Thomas: Chaparral is a very potent immune system enhancer. I have had dramatic results with this herb for any kind of illness where the immune system has broken down in such a way that you have rampant growth of either tissue, for instance in cancer cases, or out of control viral or bacterial growth. Chaparral is one of the most potent herbs for antibiotic action and as a blood and lymphatic purifier that I've ever seen.
What about cloves?
Lalitha Thomas: A clove is a nervine, meaning it soothes, relaxes and nourishes the nerves. It's also a pain reliever, especially when applied topically as a clove oil or poultice. One way I have used it is for teething in children. You just rub some clove oil on a painful gum and the teething difficulty is temporarily relieved. When the oil wears off after a good while, you can rub some more on. I've also used it with adults who have teeth problems and gum disease. Clove oil is a great alternative to pain relieving drugs, especially in cases where you're having very localized type of pain. Cloves are also good for acid indigestion. I found this out by giving some to different people for headaches or calming, not knowing they even had acid indigestion. Afterwards they would tell me how the clove relieved their stomach ache or chronic acid indigestion.
The next two herbs on the list, even I've heard of comfrey and garlic.
Lalitha Thomas: Comfrey is one of the herbs in my book that I get some complaints about. People tell me they've heard it's dangerous and has an alkaloid that can kill you. In spite of the naysayers, I have found it be potent and effective. Anyone who is concerned about possible alkaloid content should know there are preparations of comfrey that are alkaloid free. This particular alkaloid is called pyrrolizidine alkaloid, and anyone who has a liver sensitivity should get pyrrolizidine alkaloid-free tinctures of comfrey. It's a confusing area. I hear the same concern about chaparral, because chaparral got a lot of bad press a year or two ago. Even though famous researchers all over the world have said there is no reason to be afraid of chaparral, people are. You can't even buy it in many states. That's why I include a mail order source in my book. People want access to these herbs. They want to make their own health decisions. They don't want to be cut out of their health opportunities.
What are some of the other applications or uses of comfrey?
Lalitha Thomas: In general, comfrey is good for anything that has to do with inflammation. Most of us don't realize how often inflammation comes into play in health problems. Any condition that has a fever or pain and swelling associated with it, has inflammation going on, perhaps internally. Comfrey can also be very good for osteoporosis, where we don't assimilate calcium that well. One of comfrey's common names is "knitbone," because it actually helps to speed up the growth of bone tissue and strengthens it. I have found drinking a cup of comfrey tea a day enhances the assimilation of calcium, because of its mineral content and its enzyme content. Comfrey is great for all types of congestion head congestion, lung congestion, intestinal congestion anything that has to do with mucous buildup, because comfrey helps to break down the mucous and helps to flush it out of the body.
Let's move on to garlic.
Lalitha Thomas: Garlic is a fantastic antibiotic herb. Even the Cancer Research Institute has researched garlic extensively for its anti-cancer properties, its blood building properties and its antibiotic properties. If I was going to have to live somewhere where I could only grow one thing, I'd probably choose garlic. It can be applied internally and externally. Garlic is one of those things you can get any time of the day or night. You can go to any all-night market and get some garlic, and you're set to go for colds and flu. It's fantastic for people who have blood sugar problems. I've used it for all kinds of diabetes to help balance blood sugars. There's many reasons why it works for those types of things, and one of them is it has sulphur in it. Sulphur is well known for its effect on high blood pressure.
You mentioned cooking cayenne ruins its health giving properties. Does cooking change the garlic?
Lalitha Thomas: Yes. Cooking garlic is another no no. Cooking damages a lot of the delicate enzymes and some of the nutrients. If a person is using garlic for a medicinal result or for a rejuvenating result for one's health, then you want to have the very best, which is fresh, raw, crisp, good garlic.
A lot of people experience stomach problems from eating garlic, even capsules. Is there some way around that?
Lalitha Thomas: I often get around that by using slippery elm, which is one of my ten essential herbs. Slippery elm is an herb that has soothing qualities. Whenever I'm using a formula that might be caustic for someone, like a garlic formula or a chaparral formula, I often mix slippery elm with it as a buffer, a carrier and as an additional healing agent to the formula. Slippery elm is an herb we call mucilaginous, which means it is soothing and healing to mucous membranes. We have mucous membranes in our sinuses, and they line our entire digestive tract. So this soothing property is quite a potent activity of slippery elm. Slippery elm is something I use extensively for any kind of intestinal tract dysfunction. It's very good for bleeding. Internally, if you have an ulcer situation, for example, or bleeding intestines, along with the soothing quality of the slippery elm, you also get some good anti-bleeding properties, not as potent as comfrey, but still significant. Slippery elm is also a top notch antacid. It soaks up acid and stops the burning within minutes of using the powdered slippery elm.
The next essential herb on the list is Ginger.
Lalitha Thomas: Ginger is an excellent circulation herb. Circulation comes in handy for things one might not expect. For instance, say you danced all night at a disco and the next morning you feel tired, achy and worn out. A ginger bath will fix you right up. Taken internally, ginger enhances circulation on a broader basis. It actually goes through your bloodstream, enhances the digestive stimulation that you might need if you have sluggish circulation in your stomach or in your intestines.
Another category besides circulation that ginger is good for is nausea. It's terrific for nausea from any kind of situation, including morning sickness during pregnancy, car sickness during travel or nausea from something you ate. Whenever ginger doesn't work, it's usually a peppermint situation, so you've pretty much got it covered.
Okay, let's take a look at peppermint.
Lalitha Thomas: Peppermint is a nervine. It's soothing and strengthening to the nerves, while stimulating to the circulation. One of the most potent, active parts of the peppermint is, of course, the peppermint oil. So, in addition to using peppermint as a tea, you can use it as an oil. I carry in my purse a tiny little vial of peppermint oil that has a built in dropper. I put one little drop in a glass of water and I get immediate relief from acid indigestion. Peppermint is also something just about everyone likes the flavor of, so it's easy to give to children as well as adults. And keeping in mind its nerve action, you can think of many applications, for instance, at the end of a hectic day, or if you're having a particularly difficult period of emotional stress or upheaval. It also has antiseptic, antiviral activity, which many people don't associate with peppermint. During a stomach flu, for instance, one might use garlic to kill the viruses, but one might also be drinking peppermint tea for some added viral activity, for soothing of the stomach, and for easing one's way through the symptoms.
I use peppermint for any kind of external congestion in the tissues, for instance mastitis in women who might have congested lymph or milk in their breasts during pregnancy, or during an illness. An athlete might have congested lymph somewhere in an injury.
Peppermint, along with ginger, makes a good poultice for stimulating circulation. Those two, singly or together, are great for moving congestion out of tissue.
The next healing herb may be a little surprising to some onion.
Lalitha Thomas: Onion has many similar antiviral activities to garlic, but it has, in addition, other chemical properties that come in handy for a whole different set of uses. Garlic and onion have several things in common. They have good sulphur activity, which in both cases is good for high blood pressure, but onion has an attribute that is blood building, blood cleansing and blood moving. Many people find onion water much easier to use than eating raw onions. You can also buffer it with honey. My book includes a lot of ideas for using onion internally as a tonic. Any kind of injury you know is going to result in pain and black-and blue-marks and swelling, the quicker you put an onion poultice on it, the better your chances are of avoiding a bruising situation altogether.
Onion is also quite good also for hemorrhoids. You can take it internally as an onion tonic, because it actually cleanses the blood vessels internally. Hemorrhoids are clogged, inflamed and often infected blood vessels.The onion breaks up the congestion of blood and lymph, and the salt helps to draw it out or move it through the system. An onion/salt poultice on a strained area, such as the knee, has dramatic effects overnight. It also aids in recovery from surgery. I had a friend who had ankle surgery and experienced reoccurring swelling. Every month he'd get this swelling thing, and the doctor would give him more anti-inflammatories. Nothing worked until he started using onion juice and an onion poultice. That did it no more bills, no more mess and the surgery healed up.
I think we're ready for the last herb on the list, yarrow.
Lalitha Thomas: Yarrow grows just about anywhere in the world. Yarrow is an antiseptic. It's also a blood purifier. Together, those two properties equal the attribute of a tonic. On a daily basis, drinking a cup of yarrow tea goes a long way toward preventing colds and flu. Yarrow is the number one herb you want to think of when you have a fever. It's also an instant antidote to most insect bites. Any problem that has a symptom on the skin, such as a rash, will benefit from drinking yarrow tea, because purifying the blood and liver will take care of the skin externally. Yarrow, like chaparral, is an herb I use for a lot of female difficulties. I use yarrow for hypoglycemia. Yarrow is fantastic for people who wake up in the morning and just can't get going because of low blood sugar. If you drink a cup of yarrow tea before you go to bed, you will wake up much more clearheaded, without the sluggish feeling brought on by low blood sugar.
I also use yarrow for a gargle for tonsillitis. It does have a strong flavor, so you may want to have very young children gargle with something that tastes good like peppermint, which is not quite as strong as yarrow but which works well over time.
Yarrow is good for digestion difficulties, especially for the kind of digestion difficulties where no matter what you eat, you end up with gas afterwards. This is usually an indication you're low on enzymes and have sluggish liver activity. Drinking a cup of yarrow tea before you eat often prevents that from happening.
You mentioned liver function. Would that be helpful for someone who had damaged themselves from overdrinking?
Lalitha Thomas: I use yarrow for liver repair. Depending on the situation, you wouldn't start going for a quart of yarrow tea every day. You might start off with a cup a day for a week or two, because it is a gentle blood cleanser and blood purifier, while it builds up your liver. Although it doesn't have a property that actually makes new liver tissue directly, it does cleanse and renew the blood supply, as well as the cellular tissue in the body, including the liver tissue. This means the tissue gets relieved of its poisons and your immune system can begin its repair.
You mention in your book these ten essential herbs are effective not just for humans, but also for pets.
Lalitha Thomas: I do have applications for pets and animals. That's how I began. I started fixing up animals, and I have a lot of experience working with all types of animalswild animals, domestic animals, farm animals, house pets, you name it. In every chapter of my book I include general ideas and some very specific ideas on how to use the ten essentials for pets or farm animals.
10 Essential Herbs
February 9, 1997
Host: Steve Lankford
STEVE: “Welcome to Health Quest. Our guest this morning is Lalitha Thomas, author of 10 Essential Herbs. Good morning and welcome to Health Quest.”
LALITHA: “Well, Steve, it’s good to be here!”
STEVE: “Okay, very good. I have your book here in front of me and I really enjoyed looking through it. Before we get to your book, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your history. How did you become interested in herbs and natural health and what lead you to write this book?”
LALITHA: “Well, Steve, as a child I always had what I call a knack for using plants for healing. I started off healing neighborhood pets, animals, wildlife and my own pets. Using plants in my back yard, I would make poultices or concoctions and I quickly learned that certain plants had quick healing relief on animals, where another one didn’t work. I proceeded on with my childhood experimentation in this way until I got older and studied more about it and I moved on to helping people. When I got into college, I practiced on my college friends. I always had this intuitive knack with plants and it has really served me my whole life.”
STEVE: “So you have an affinity for plants. It seems as though being an herbalist was your calling perhaps?”
LALITHA: “Yes, I think so. I use to think it meant I should be a veterinarian. When I was a child I thought probably this is what veterinarians did, they probably used plants like I did as a child thinking this. When I got old enough to realize that it meant that you had to go to school a lot to be a veterinarian, I said, “forget that, I already know how to do this” so I gave up the veterinarian idea and just continued on with my own style.
STEVE: “Let’s talk about herbs then. Herbs apparently are the foundation of the work that you’ve done. Herbs are certainly enjoying quite a renaissance of interest over the last few years. The title of your book, 10 Essential Herbs, what do you mean by 10 essential herbs? Does this mean that everyone should take these herbs? Are these the most important herbs as part of your medicine cabinet? What do you hope that we will get out of the title of your book?
LALITHA: “Well, the 10 essential herbs were put together by trial and error and experience with many hundreds of students that I have had over the years. Most people get overwhelmed with so many herbal choices and most of the herb books on the market today give so many herbal choices, especially if you’re a beginner, that you get overwhelmed and you just feel like you can’t start because there is too many decisions and you might hurt yourself. I honed it down to these to ten. It doesn’t mean that you have to take these 10 every day, but knowing how to use these simple ten herbs that you can get just about anywhere in the world, a person would be able to take care of their daily health needs and those of their children. There are even ideas in my book for pets and animals. Learning these 10 herbs can actually be all you ever need to know about herbistry if you just wanted to concentrate on a set few and really become skilled at them.”
STEVE: “So these herbs then are going to cover a very broad application in people’s lives. Are these herbs part of a natural medicine chest, so to speak? Are these things that people might want to keep on hand to use at different times?
LALITHA: “Right, absolutely Steve. That’s why I recommend that someone who really wants to start using this system just simply keep these ten herbs on hand. Some of them are common herbs that you would find in your kitchen. Onion is one of my herbs; garlic is one; fresh ginger root; powder ginger root; cayenne powder, etc. Some of these herbs you would have on hand anyway. Keeping these 10 herbs handy, you would be able to handle just about any health crisis. For example, they cover major activity categories such as antibiotic, demulcent, anti-nausea, antiseptic, blood cleansing, liver tonic, digestive enhancement, helping to break up gas in the digestive tract or maybe helping enhance digestion in someone who’s digestion is simply poor due to impaired liver action or something. There is a wide range of herbal activity that is encompassed within these ten and as one goes along learning about these ten, you even begin to get quite clever at ways to mix them all together so you get combinations and formulas. There are very specific instructions in my book for how to make your own formulas, your own liquid cough drops, cough syrups, herbal formulas with powders that you might put in capsules. These ten can become quite comprehensive when you begin to use them in their complete variety.”
STEVE: “What I’m going to do is just list the ten herbs so than people won’t be in the dark as to what herbs we are talking about.”
LALITHA: “Or even about what is this mystery!”
STEVE: “The nice thing is there are ten and it is a short list and we can get through it quickly. Then we can talk in more specifics. The ten are: cayenne, chaparral, cloves, comfrey, garlic, ginger, onion, peppermint, slippery elm, yarrow, and I notice that you have also added a special section on an herb that we’ve talked about on Health Quest before, echinacea. Actually, we have ten essential herbs and one very special herb in your book. What I find interesting, particularly about this book, is how you go into a lot of the different ways to use herbs. Why don’t we talk about that a little bit. You mentioned the word demulcent when you were listing some of the things that herbs can do. Some of our listeners might not be familiar with that word, so I am going to ask you to explain that. Let’s talk first about some of the ways that people can use herbs medicinally. A lot of us know about garlic powder in our kitchen or onions or things like that, but there are a lot of other ways to use herbs beyond just for seasoning, having an herb tea or an herb capsule. Is that correct?”
LALITHA: “Oh yes. When people think about herbs, if your not used to using them for medicine, of course the first thing we think of is spices for cooking and that type of thing. As we go along, we learn these medicinal actions you are describing. For instance, garlic, in addition to being a wonderful taste for cooking, when we do not cook it is a very powerful and potent antibiotic. It also has very powerful anti-fungal actions. These kinds of activities are described very thoroughly in the garlic chapter. For example, I even give what I call my “enhanced garlic formula for infection fighting.” That formula can be easily made by anyone, at home, in their kitchen.”
STEVE: “What would that be? Can you describe that?”
LALITHA: “The enhanced garlic formula, you take powdered garlic that you would cook with. It’s always good to get the freshest ingredients to start with. I always suggest getting it at a health food store because the turnover of herbs might be quick and the herbs might be more potent and fresh in many cases. You start with powdered garlic and also you get powdered cayenne and you mix them together. Depending on how hot the cayenne you have, cayenne can come in different hotness, but in general you use one part of powdered garlic and one quarter part of powdered cayenne. Then buy some good powdered vitamin C. I always recommend the form calcium ascorbate as the form of vitamin C to use. You use one part calcium ascorbate vitamin C. Now you have the formula: one part garlic powder, one part powdered vitamin C, and one quarter part cayenne powder. You mix these powders together and use them. I am pretty hard-core. I take about a quarter teaspoon of the powders and mix them in a little water and drink them down quick. You can put these powders in capsules or you can put them into rice papers that health food stores often sell and there is even a way to make them into little herbal tablets right at home. These instructions are in the instruction chapter in my herb book.”
STEVE: “This would be for a cold infection or a sinus infection and that type of thing?”
LALITHA: “Right. It’s actually anti-viral and it’s antibiotic, anti-fungal and anti-parasite. I use whenever there is any kind of symptom of illness, even if I don’t know what it is because I know that the enhanced garlic formula is such a broad spectrum help that it’s worth a try. It’s usually the first thing that I suggest to people because it can work so quickly. I’ve had people, during this winter flu season, call me up and ask what to do. I would say, “Have you tried that formula first?” Usually it works better than many of the antibiotics that people have been trying. It’s very quick.”
STEVE: “We have the proportions. How much would a person take as a dose and how often?”
LALITHA: “If you were just beginning to feel the symptoms of illness and hadn’t really gotten into the main core of the illness (i.e. a little itch in your throat or that little bit of an ache feeling) you might take a quarter of a teaspoon of the formula a couple of times a day. If you were right in the middle of the illness (i.e. fever, aching all over, hard symptoms that had been going on for a while) you could take as much as a quarter of a teaspoon every couple of hours. This is for adults. For children, of course, you would cut it way down.”
STEVE: “Are herbs generally safe for children also?”
LALITHA: “Herbs generally are. In my 10 essential herbs, there is only one herb that I would never use with small children, and that is chaparral. There is a warning in the chapter that you would never use chaparral if you were pregnant or on children. The rest of my 10 essential herbs, in general, are quite safe and I do give any hints or warnings if there are any to be given at the beginning of each chapter. I give very specific dosages and instructions for children, and then I go up in age groups to adults. I have a section for animal ideas if I have used it for pets or animals.”
STEVE: “Generally, children can take the same formulas, just a reduced dosage.”
LALITHA: “Right, yes.”
STEVE: “Let’s go on then. Shall we talk about some of the other ways of applying herbs. As I am looking through here, you have page after page of ideas on using herbs. Some terms that I am not familiar with. We have capsules that people are familiar with. You have something called a decoction. You have eye washes and ear drops, gargle infusions, how to make your own herbal lozenges, etc. What do you think are the best ways for people to use herbs or does it really depend on why they are using it and which herb they are using?”
LALITHA: “Well it can. When you get more sophisticated about learning how to use herbs, it does of course get into the category of learning which form of an herb might be better for a particular use of that herb. In general to start with, I always recommend using herbs as a tea. Often people get this idea, especially for use of medicine, we think that more is better or that it has to be stronger for our special illness because it’s particularly horrible so we have to take more and stronger. We are use to the drug idea that a very strong tablet or pill has to be extra potent and a special formulation that only a source like a doctor could give us. When we are talking about herbs, often times, simply using herbs in the form of a tea is quite potent and plenty enough for the job. I always suggest, in most of the chapters in my book, starting off using the herb as a tea and then I do give instructions as you were describing. I have a chapter in here for how to prepare herbs in more potent forms. Those are where those other words come in. A decoction is a more potent liquid form of an herb. An infusion is a more potent liquid form. You can make a tincture, which is soaking herbs in alcohol or vinegar or different holding materials until it becomes very concentrated. In general, I recommend starting with the herbal tea or perhaps using the powdered formula that I might suggest like the garlic formula. You might put that into capsules, for example, if you don’t like the flavor or if it’s too strong for you.”
STEVE: “Are herbal capsules generally as effective as drinking a tea?”
LALITHA: “It does depend on the formula. I always recommend anything that you can have come in direct contact with the saliva in your mouth greatly enhances the action. For instance, if you take a powdered herbal formula in some juice or water and your drinking it, I always find that has a more potent action because it directly comes in contact with a lot of signaling mechanisms on the tongue, in the roof of the mouth, etc. and the healing action can start giving more potent signals immediately. Often times, if you are mixing several herbs together you end up with a flavor that is pretty hard to take and you might then, in those cases, use an herbal capsule to carry it to your stomach and then, of course the capsule would digest very quickly. There are cautions about that. One of my herbs is cayenne, for example, and I always suggest using the cayenne in juice or water. Many people say, “I can’t do that because the cayenne is too hot for my tongue. I have to take it in capsules.” When you do take cayenne in capsules and it lands in your stomach and gets dissolved, the cayenne pops out by surprise in your stomach and you might get the “hot stomach syndrome” where as if you took it orally with juice, you would probably avoid that symptom.”
STEVE: “I was intrigued by the statement that you made about the triggering or signaling of the healing process. I have never heard it put quite like that. I’ve heard of people taking things sublingually and getting them into their system but it certainly makes sense to me that there may be some triggering that can begin in the mouth and certainly the different parts of the mouth. Even the nose, with the aromas, can have an effect on how the body responds. Your feeling is that some of that healing process may actually be triggered by some of that oral response. That’s intriguing.”
LALITHA: “It’s very potent. In the roof of our mouth we have lots of things that we don’t know are even there. One of the items that we may not be aware of are these things called buccal canals. These are tiny little openings or sensory pores in the roof of our mouth. Anything that we eat sends signals through these buccal canals directly to our brain and then out through our entire body. Any item we put in our mouth, we are actually signaling through these buccal canals, to our whole body to get ready, here comes mash potatoes or an herbal formula or whatever. Our body is immediately signaled in a response to whatever we put in our mouth.”
STEVE: “Interesting. We are going to take our next break and when we come back we will open up the phone lines to all of our listeners.”
LALITHA: “I will be giving some important 800 numbers too, Steve, so the listeners may want to get ready for that.”
STEVE: “That’s a good idea. Let’s look at your book now in a little more detail. You have the 10 Essential Herbs and a special section on echinacea. Pick the most important herb in that list and let’s talk about it.”
LALITHA: “Well, I’ve honed it down to my ten most important herbs. People often ask me which one is my favorite one or which one would I not want to be without. That varies for everyone, depending on your body type and your personality and what type of tonic your body might regularly need. For myself, I would say that the herb yarrow is the one for me that I wouldn’t want to be without. It’s what we call a “bitter herb.” It does have somewhat a mild bitter flavor. It is a very good tonic. It tones the liver and is a mild blood cleanser. It’s a nice one for balancing blood sugar. I have in my book a formula that I call “Wake-up Tea.” It’s simply drinking a cup of yarrow tea in the evening before you go to sleep. It helps to keep your liver action and blood sugar balance happening during the night. With many people, it helps them wake up bright and clear-headed and energetic in the morning instead of having that sugar low and that blah feeling when you wake up. It is a powerful gall bladder tonic, liver tonic and its a number one herb for fever. In addition to being the tonic that I use it for, meaning on a daily basis to help tone your body and prevent illness, it’s also used in illness for fever, antiseptic, and antiviral action, especially for lymphatic cleansing. I also use it as one of my number one herbs for helping the female complaints of all sorts.”
STEVE: “When you talk about a tonic herb, it’s interesting that you should mention that because last week we had Daniel Mowrey on our show. We talked about his book Herbal Tonic Therapies and his approaches with tonic. Is tonic something that you can take everyday, all year and if you really like it? You would use it on an on-going basis or do you use it like a “spring tonic”?”
LALITHA: “There are several. Many of the herbs in my book can be used as a tonic. For myself, I might change them seasonally just depending on my mood. In the fall/winter I might be feeling more like using yarrow as my tonic and in the spring I might go for the onion tonic that I have in my book or I might use a combination. I might switch my tonic but, on a daily basis for myself anyway, I am using some kind of an herbal tea or preparation just as a tonic because I have such an affinity for herbs and it really seems to keep me quite strong.”
“There are many herbs that you can use to keep your system strong, to have a gentle blood cleansing action continually happening and to help prevent illness from taking hold. It’s real important to know what it is, of course, that you are taking as a tonic. I might specifically say in my book with regard to an herb, “This herb you would not take every day and definitely you might use it just for illness but you save it for that purpose. You don’t use it all the time as a tonic.” You begin to learn which ones are mild enough to use daily as a tonic and which ones you might just use when you need a potent medicinal action. An important concept in this tonic idea is the maintenance and continual strengthening of our immune system.”
“There is a lot of talk about the immune system these days, with our greater understanding of how illness works and some of the real tough illnesses that we hear about on the news a lot (i.e., aids, cancer, etc.). We hear them referred to as “immune system illnesses” but in general, our immune system is in charge of preventing our bodies from becoming ill from anything. That is an area, the immune system strengthening, where tonics come into play quite strongly.”
“Even in the news this year, for example, this idea of immune system balancing and strengthening or help with immune system diseases, recovering from potent immune system diseases, Many of the herbs in my book as well, garlic for example, has been profoundly and extensively researched by the Cancer Association, by medical colleges all over the country. Herbistry is really taking off. It’s being well researched now more than ever. There is no doubt about it…Herbs are really in the making now because of their less side-effects than drugs and also their fast, potent action. When we are talking about this immune system idea especially, that’s the bottom line.”
“In my book, when we are talking back to this tonic idea, tonics can be an on-going, profound, gentle daily help with your immune system. For me, I use yarrow quite a bit but somebody might have an affinity for garlic and that’s a good immune system enhancer. There is a formula in my book for making a mild concoction that I call onion water. You take a couple spoonfuls of that a day and it is a great help for your immune system, good prevention from illnesses. It is simple to make right in your kitchen. The bottom line behind 10 Essential Herbs is fast, potent, simple to do and fun. People start having fun when they realize that it’s doable.”
STEVE: “Okay, we’ve talked about yarrow. Let’s talk about some of the other herbs that you have in here.”
LALITHA: “Let’s talk about one of my other favorites. It’s an herb called chaparral. I like to talk about that because in many states in the United States, chaparral has gotten a bad rap. I believe because it has such a potent and readily available healing action for our health, that when herbs are starting to get a lot of attention, sometimes I think it is threatening to the Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Association and to some political organizations. I think that chaparral got tangled up in some of these politics and in some states chaparral was taken off the shelf when it was mixed with herbal formulas.”
LALITHA: “In some cases, I have heard that on the news and on some television programs it was touted as perhaps causing dangerous side-effects or something to the liver and to our health. In my book, I cite research after research with the same organizations all over the world about how come chaparral is safe and potent and I give, in my book, a good buying guide so that anyone who wants to buy chaparral straight in the mail or any of my herbs straight through the mail, they can certainly make their own health decisions and get their herbs themselves. I have something in my chaparral chapter called “The 21 Day Chaparral Cleanse”. There are instructions on how to carefully prepare one cup of the chaparral tea. If you do it every day for three weeks, it will slowly and gently start to act as a tonic, as a cleanser, as a rejuvenating force in the body and is a good strengthening tonic for anyone who has niggling but not real distracting health symptoms or for someone who has a profound and ongoing health difficulty that they just haven’t been able to overcome.”
“A lot of times this 21 day chaparral cleanse gives a big start, if not profound and permanent help with any kind of anti-inflammatory illnesses that end in “itis” arthritis, bursitis, ileitis, ligament inflammations, etc. Chaparral also gives help with low-grade infections that we just can’t seem to get rid of. It’s a good hormone enhancer and balancer. I’ve used it with all types of venereal disease. It’s very good for yeast infections. People who have constant and chronic allergies. Yarrow is one, as are herbs in general, that have a good raw spectrum effect because an herb has many chemical actions in the body; it’s a whole plant. It has a carrier system, it has complementary chemical components in it and in each chapter of my book I do describe some of these chemical components, how they work (to give you a little background on what it is you are taking) and if you don’t care about learning the chemistry of these things you simply can go by some of my ideas. Take the “21 Day Chaparral Cleanse”, as an example, and make some of your own health decisions and just go for it.”
STEVE: “We have a listener who would like to talk with you. Good morning, you’re on with Lalite Thomas. Go ahead.”
CALLER #1: “Good morning. I have a couple of questions. My mother has been suffering from tinnitus for some time and just recently was diagnosed with severe narrowing of the arteries that feed the blood supply to her brain and head. I wonder if there is any herbal approach to fighting arterial sclerosis or narrowing of the arteries that way?”
LALITHA: “Yes, in my book 10 Essential Herbs, there are several herbs that address this. In my own experience with helping friends, family and students, etc., I have found two things that might really be of great help to your mother. They would be perfectly fine and safe if she is taking other drugs. One of the herbs I would suggest is garlic. Another herb is cayenne. I would suggest these herbs on a daily basis. I would suggest two ideas. One of them is with the garlic, I’m sure at Steve’s store and in the town where you live there are some good health food stores where you can get potent garlic preparations. Taking garlic on a daily basis, perhaps starting really small with maybe one or two capsules of a garlic preparation from the health food store or simply using a garlic preparation straight from my book and make your own, do it yourself with an easy to prepare garlic formula. Even the enhanced garlic formula I mentioned earlier could be taken on a daily basis. Garlic does have good anti-arterial sclerosis properties. It helps to gently cleanse and heal the arteries from many of the substances that clog them, including some of the cholesterol-clogging effects.”
LALITHA: “Cayenne on a daily basis is a profound help for the circulatory system and it helps to carry other herbs it’s mixed with and it helps to gently strengthen artery integrity. You can either mix, for example, some garlic powder and cayenne together as I have described in my garlic chapter, or simply maybe you might want to take a garlic preparation as a tablet or capsule that you buy at the health food store and then on a daily basis take a little cayenne in juice two or three times a day. The instructions for how to use the cayenne and how much and how often for different types of people is described clearly in the cayenne chapter of my book 10 Essential Herbs. I would suggest cayenne and garlic as two very good helps because it sounds, in this situation, like there are many contributing factors in the health situation. It’s not just a simple situation. It sounds like there are many things going on.”
CALLER #1: “One other thing….Is your book readily available at health food stores or book stores?”
LALITHA: “Yes, it’s available to health food stores”
CALLER #1: “Great. Thank you very much!”
LALITHA: “Sure. Your welcome.”
STEVE: “We don’t have much time left. Let’s go back to the phone lines. Good morning, you’re on Health Quest. Go ahead.”
CALLER #2: “Yes. You mentioned about chaparral. What about comfrey herb?”
LALITHA: “Yes, comfrey is one of my 10 Essential Herbs. At the beginning of each chapter I give a quick list of all the kinds of things you could use each herb for. Comfrey is one that, if you have any history of liver difficulty or liver weakness, you would only want to use it internally if you bought a preparation of comfrey that was prepared so that it did not contain a particular alkaloid that comfrey usually has when you use it internally. There is a company called Herb Farm which makes a comfrey tincture that can be used internally which has the harmful alkaloid of comfrey removed. For most people, in my opinion, comfrey can be used with great results externally and internally for all types of situations having to do with needing to rejuvenate and heal skin tissue and helping to enhance digestion. Comfrey is a demulcent herb, meaning that it helps to soothe and heal mucus membranes. We would be surprised to hear maybe that mucus membranes coat our entire digestive tract, they are in our intestines, our stomach, or nasal membranes, etc. Mucus membranes are an important component of our health and comfrey is a great enhancement to that.”
LALITHA: “Comfrey is good for bleeding, internally and externally. It is the number one thing to think of if you have congestion, cough. I use it as a tea for diaper rash, for eczema and externally as an eye wash. If you have comfrey growing in your yard, you have a nice healing situation close at hand.
STEVE: “Lalitha, we are out of time. It went by fast and the information that you have covered…we have touched upon about three of the herbs that you mentioned in your book. We will just have to refer people to the book 10 Essential Herbs if they want to learn more about it. It is all here folks. Lalitha, thank you so much for joining us on Health Quest and thanks for sharing your knowledge about herbs with us both on our show and in your book.”
LALITHA: “It was a fun show Steve. You have a good audience.”
STEVE: “Thank you very much. I think so too. I think we have one of the best! Take care.”