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Topical Use Only – Do Not Ingest!

Topical Use Only – Do Not Ingest!

Over the years, I have had a chance to use a lot of herbs topically. When raising a family, all kinds of things can happen, from arthritis to sunburns. When our children were young, I had to figure out which herbs should be kept under lock and key to prevent an accidental poisoning. Herbs are quite capable of doing that if not used with care.

Aloe Vera: While many people think that the juice of aloe is a good thing to drink, I disagree. Unless the purgative property has been removed, aloe is likely to cause considerable pain and diarrhea when ingested. It does do a lot of good on the skin, though. It is primarily used to treat minor burns, either from cooking or from the sun.

Arnica: Unless you are very in to herbs, you may not know what arnica is. When a wash of arnica is used on the skin, it can reduce a bruise in a hurry. However, the plant itself should not be placed on the skin, and it should never be ingested. It is an extreme irritant, and should only be handled by someone who knows how to prepare it. Swallowing it can cause severe pain and possibly burn the mouth, throat and stomach.

Comfrey: Until scientists discovered a principle that can cause kidney and liver damage, comfrey was frequently used the same as slippery elm, marshmallow and licorice; to coat the digestive tract and ease discomfort. However, now most herbalists do not recommend ingesting it. I do use it on tissue injuries, as long as there is no open wound. It can help heal bruises, broken bones and muscle strains.

Before using any of these herbs, check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure they won’t interact with anything you are currently taking and that it won’t make any medical condition worse.