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 Integrative Dentistry: Herbal Therapy in Dentistry 
 

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Do not use comfrey for longer than three months at a time as it may cause liver damage.
  • Soak a washcloth in warm comfrey tea and use as a compress (see Using Herbs, Application Preparation, in Part Three) to ease jaw tension and relieve the pain of jaw and tooth fractures or adjustments to braces.

Dandelion
Commonly thought of as a weed, the dandelion flowers from April to November. It has long been used to make tea and wine and is a popular seasoning in old English recipes. The leaves, roots, and tops are used to treat a variety of infernal organs and to purify blood. It also increases the production of bile and urine. Dandelion contains biotin, calcium, choline, fats, iron, magnesium, niacin, PABA, phosphorus, proteins, sulfur, zinc, and a variety of vitamins.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Dandelion is useful for treating abscesses in the mouth.
  • Use as a blood purifier.

Echinacea
Historically used against syphilis and gonorrhea, echinacea is a good blood cleanser. Its roots and leaves contain many enzymes, fatty acids, and polysaccharides, which are recognized as immune system stimulators. The plants also contain copper, glucose, iron, potassium, protein, sucrose, sulfur, and vitamins A, C, and E. Echinacea has antibiotic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • The alcohol used to prepare tinctures may destroy echinacea's polysaccharides. The freeze-dried form is preferred.
  • Combined with myrrh and licorice root, echinacea is excellent for the treatment of abscesses in the mouth.

Elderberry
The small edible fruit of the elder-a plant that can reach twelve feet and grows in damp ground-elderberries are a rich source of vitamin C. The dark purple berries are often used to make wine or preserves and have traditionally been used to treat colic, diarrhea, rheumatism, coughs, and colds.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Prepare elderberry mouthwash (see Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three) after gum surgery or after sutures have been placed. The rinse will help tissues to heal properly, thereby preventing scars.

Eucalyptus
A tall tree native to Australia, the eucalyptus yields a powerfully antiseptic essential oil that has long been used medicinally. As its leaves have commonly been used to lower fevers, the eucalyptus is sometimes known as the "fever tree."

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Rub eucalyptus oil on sore, inflamed gums for temporary relief.

Evening Primrose
The evening primrose, a native of North America, has four-petaled yellow flowers that open in the evening. The seeds yield an oil that contains gamma-linolenic acid, linoleic acid, and vitamin F. Evening primrose oil is used to treat skin disorders, arthritis, alcoholism, and other disorders. It also aids in weight loss and in reducing high blood pressure.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Rub evening primrose oil on sore, inflamed gums for temporary relief.

Fennel
See Anise.

Garlic
A plant related to the onion, garlic has a bulb that is divided into cloves. Garlic has been used for centuries to prevent and treat a variety of illnesses and to ensure longevity. Today, it is used as a natural antibiotic that is good for fighting infections caused by fungi or bacteria. It helps strengthen the immune system and is used to lower blood pressure. Garlic is also used to treat arteriosclerosis, asthma, arthritis, and digestive and circulatory problems. Garlic contains calcium, copper, germanium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, and a variety of other chemicals.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Fresh oil of garlic or raw cloves are considered the most effective forms.
  • Odorless garlic extract, sold in health-food stores under the name Kyolic, is available.

Gentian
Gentian root (Gentiana lutea) is a powerful stimulant that is effective for such conditions as poor appetite and slow digestive system. Taken as a powerful tonic, gentian helps purify the blood and enhance circulation. It is also effective in fever reduction.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Those with high blood pressure and pregnant women should not take gentian.
  • The usual dose of gentian is 1 to 30 grams before meals. Overdose can cause nausea and vomiting.

Ginseng
There are two varieties of ginseng, one native to eastern Asia and the other native to North America. Both have small greenish flowers and a forked root. It is the root that has medicinal properties. Like the famous mandrake root, the ginseng root is shaped like a man. In China at one time, the ginseng root was believed to have almost magical qualities and was used in such quantity that it became nearly extinct. At that time, the Chinese began to import American ginseng, which is now grown commercially.

The ginseng root is used as a whole-body tonic. It promotes appetite and is used for digestive disturbances and in cases of impotence. It contains calcium, camphor, iron, starch, and vitamins A, B12, and E, along with other chemicals.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Large amounts of ginseng should not be used by elderly or weak people who have high fevers.
  • Use in a tonic to promote circulation and to help repair irritated gum tissue.

Glucomannan

Derived from the tuber amorphophallis plant, glucomannan helps regulate blood glucose levels and aids in the removal of toxins from the colon.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Take glucomannan to eliminate toxic substances produced during digestion.
  • Do not take glucomannan along with any medications or supplements. This may interfere with the effectiveness of glucomannan's fiber substances.

Goldenseal
Once, this herb grew wild in the woods of eastern North America. Now, the wild form is almost extinct, but goldenseal is cultivated in shady areas with rich soil.

The yellow root-stalk has large rounded leaves. The roots and rhizomes have been popular as both internal and external remedies. Internally, they are used for all problems involving mucous membranes. Externally, they are used to help relieve open sores, inflammations, and itchy skin conditions. Goldenseal has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It contains biotin, calcium, chlorine, choline, fats, iron, manganese, PABA, phosphorus, potassium, starch, the B-complex vitamins, and vitamins A, C, and E.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Long-term use of goldenseal may reduce the bacterial flora in the colon.
  • When used as a toothpaste or mouthwash, goldenseal is excellent for soothing inflamed gums. (See Using Herbs, Toothpaste Preparation and Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)

Hops
Native to northern temperate zones, hops are grown commercially for use in beer, bitters, and ales. Hops vines grow to eighteen feet and have conelike flowers and seedlike fruits. The leaves have three to five lobes and are deep green and very rough. The fruits and leaves are used to treat nervousness, stress, and pain. Among the chemicals and nutrients contained in hops are choline, manganese, PABA, and vitamin B6.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Prepare hops tea (see Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three) and drink as a remedy for toothache.
  • Drink hops tea to promote sleep and relaxation.

Horsetail
The prehistoric horsetail plant is rich in healing silica and is commonly used to reduce fever. It also has antiinflammatory properties, stops bleeding, and repairs damaged tissue.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Use a horsetail mouthwash to relieve mouth and gum infections. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)

Kelp
A large brown seaweed, kelp contains biotin, bromine, calcium, choline, copper, iodine, PABA, potassium, a variety of B vitamins, vitamins C and E, and other chemicals and nutrients. It is used to treat the sensory nerves, goiter, ulcers, and obesity, and to protect people against the effects of radiation. Kelp is available in tablet or powder form.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • One of the richest sources of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, kelp taken daily will help ensure healthy gums and bone.

Licorice Root
Often called "the grandfather of herbs," licorice root has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Beneficial as an anti-inflammatory for arthritic or allergic conditions, licorice root is also used as a digestive stimulant and a soothing expectorant for lung disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis. Its antibiotic properties are effective in the treatment of ulcers. There is further evidence that glycyrrhizin, the active ingredient in licorice, inhibits plaque growth and is effective against Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria associated with tooth cavity development. Sweet and flavorful, licorice is often added to toothpaste and mouthwash.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Drink licorice tea to promote a healthy immune system. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three.)
  • Do not take licorice if you have high blood pressure, heart problems, or if you are taking digoxin-based drugs.

Lobelia
In the wild, lobelia is a small weed that grows abundantly in the eastern United States. The plant and its seeds have traditionally been used to treat the lungs, stomach, muscles, and circulatory system. Recently, an alkaloid in the plant (lobeline) has been used as an aid in breaking the smoking habit. In addition to the alkaloids, lobelia contains chelidonic acid, selenium, and sulfur. Lobelia aids in hormone production; it is also used as a cough suppressant and powerful relaxant.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Mix lobelia with black cohosh, skullcap, cayenne, and myrrh, and prepare as a tea. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three.) Drink to ease jaw pain.

Marigold
An annual herb that grows to two feet in height, the marigold has a "hairy" stem and leaves. The flowers are yellow or orange-yellow, and the fruit is semicircular with a strong, unpleasant odor. Commonly used as a homeopathic remedy (Calendula, called "the homeopathic antiseptic"), marigold flowers have been used internally as a diuretic, a stimulant, and an antispasmodic. Externally, they are used in the treatment of burns, wounds, and impetigo of the scalp.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Use marigold as a mouthwash (see Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three) to help relieve ulcers, wounds, or inflamed areas, and to relax muscles associated with tension in the jaw joint and pressure from braces.

Marjoram
Marjoram, either sweet or wild, grows in dry pastures and at the edges of woodlands. The plants of either variety grow to approximately twenty feet, and have a pyramidal shape, faded and aromatic rose-colored flowers, and leaves with downy undersides. The flowering tips are used to flavor foods and prepare home remedies. In ancient times, marjoram was used to combat acidity and flatulence. Today, it is considered an antispasmodic, expectorant, antiseptic, and stomachic.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Prepare marjoram as tea (see Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three). Drink hot to ease headaches and relieve toothache pain.

Myrrh
A gum obtained from the trees and shrubs of the genus Commiphora, myrrh may be best known as one of the gifts the Wise Men brought to the Infant Jesus. Myrrh is a powerful antiseptic that has long been used to treat stomach and lung disorders.

(Excerpted from The Complete Book of Dental Remedies)
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 About The Author
Flora Stay DDSFlora Stay, DDS holds a doctor of dental surgery degree from University of California, San Francisco. She is the founder of ...more
 
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