Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Interesting Facts- Can't get to the medicine cabinet? That's okay, go to your garden!

random picture of beach
Sorry everyone that I didn't post yesterday! I happen to be at a hotel by the beach and everyone is using the same internet connection. So my connection happened to be very, very slow.

Anyways, as most fantasy authors realize, if you're writing a novel where it's based in a century before the 20th century, they probably didn't have the kind of medical equipment or medicine as we do now. So what is one to do if your characters don't have our medicine today or they don't have their own special plants? Well one simple answer is herbs. Yep, its been known for centuries that all different kinds of plants have some kind of medical use.

Aloe vera (ignore the random flower in the back ground)
The aloe vera plant is one common plant that can be used to help burns and grown in your own house. If you've never used this plant but you get one, simply break off one of the leaves and put the sap on the burn area. Of course it isn't as nice as running cold water on it, but if you can't get to any kind of burn cream, this plant is nice.

So today I will share some uses for commonly found plants that your characters may use. Note: Do NOT try to use these yourself without consulting a doctor. I have no evidence if these plants and it's uses will actually work so don't use them yourself.

  • Lavender- This pretty purple plant is commonly used in aromatherapy. While in ealierr times it was used for mental health issues, it now can be found to be used for conditions such as restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. NCCAM- Lavender Lavender 
  • Garlic- This commonly used herb is used as a flavoring for many things such as garlic bread. It has been shown that it can help with issues such as blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart problems. NCCAM- GarlicGarlic
  • Ginger- Can commonly be found with cooking and in cold and flu and anti-nausea medicene as an extract. Some studies have shown that it is useful for motion sickness.
  • Flaxseed (oil)- This is commonly used as a laxative and can be used to for hot flashes or breast pain. NCCAM- FlaxseedFlaxseed
  • Saw Palmetto- Probably not a commonly known herb. Anyways, this can be used to help prevent prostate cancer. NCCAM- Saw PalmettoSaw Palmetto
  • Rosemary- This plant which, like Lavender, can be found in some aromatherapy products, and has been used in shampoos to help fight dandruff. Rosemary
  • Dandelion- Although pretty, this plant that takes over every yard in my town during the spring and early summer, is actually a weed. Although used in salads, some people are allergic to this plant. In earlier times it was used to help kidney and liver problems although there is no scientific evidence of this plant having any kind of medical use. NCCAM- DandelionDandelion
  • Red clover- This pretty flowering plant, can be seen growing in my grandma's yard. In earlier times, red clover was used for whooping cough and asthma, although there is not enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not red clover is health beneficial. Currently, some use it to help with cramps that come with women's periods. NCCAM- Red CloverRed Clover
  • Cinnamon- This spice is commonly used in food and other ediable things. While it is certainly tasteful, it could help with digestive problems. It is also said to help get fight the flu, common cold, and headaches. Cinnamon
There are just a few examples. But once again, don't try any herbs as medicene unless you have talked to your doctor first or you actually know they work. 

Resources/More information

So, do you know of any uses for herbs and spices? Do you have a book where your characters need/could use herbs and spices for something other to make a meal tasty? Do you use real herbs or do you make up your own? 


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