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 Integrative Dentistry: Herbal Therapy in Dentistry 
 

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Taken in large quantities or over a long period of time, myrrh can be toxic.
  • Myrrh helps promote healing in cases of pyorrhea. Rinse the mouth with myrrh tea and brush with the powder when gum disease exists. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three.)
  • Gargle with myrrh to help eliminate bad breath. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)

Parsley
An aromatic herb commonly used as a garnish or seasoning for food, parsley contains potassium and vitamins A and C. It is also a natural diuretic.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Chewing on a sprig of sweet, aromatic parsley will help eliminate bad breath.
  • Excessive amounts of parsley may stop milk production in nursing mothers.

Peppermint
This mint grows in moist, open areas to a height of three feet and has dark green, lance-shaped leaves and purple flowers. One of the oldest of household remedies, it has been used to treat the stomach, intestines, and muscles, and to improve circulation. The leaves and flowering tops are now used to treat colic, fever, convulsions, and especially nausea and diarrhea. Peppermint contains menthol, methyl acetate, tannic acid, and vitamin C.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Peppermint may interfere with iron absorption.
  • Use peppermint oil for toothache. Soak a cotton ball in the oil and place it in the cavity or rub it on the tooth.
  • Use peppermint mouthwash to relieve gum inflammation. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)

Prickly Ash
An aromatic shrub or small tree native to eastern North America, the prickly ash has prickly stems and feathery leaves. The bark has traditionally been used to treat the circulatory and digestive systems. Powdered bark is used as a poultice for wounds.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • If taken when the stomach is irritable, prickly ash may cause vomiting.
  • Use to increase the flow of saliva.

Red Clover
Used mainly as a blood purifier, the blossoms of the red clover are also helpful in treating acne, boils, and skin infections. It is also effective as a mild sedative.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • For a general calming effect, drink warm red clover tea. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three.)
  • Red clover mouthwash is healing for irritated, diseased gums. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)
  • After making red clover tea, prepare an ointment from the strained blossoms and leaves. (See Using Herbs, Application Preparation, in Part Three.) Rub the ointment, which has antibiotic properties, on gums that are abscessed from disease, or sore and inflamed from root canal therapy or other dental procedures.

Rockrose
Sometimes referred to as sun rose, this low-growing evergreen of the genus Helianthemum loves the sun. It is helpful in reducing anxiety.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Use rockrose mouthwash to soothe and heal canker sores and mouth ulcers. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)
  • Drink rockrose tea to promote relaxation. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three.)

Rosemary
Native to the Mediterranean region, this evergreen shrub is widely grown for its aromatic leaves, which are used as a seasoning, in perfume, and for medicinal purposes. Long used to treat the stomach, intestines, liver, nerves, and lungs, rosemary increases the pro- auction of bile and raises blood pressure.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Drink rosemary tea as a stimulant (see Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three); do not drink more than three cups a day.
  • Use rosemary mouthwash for the treatment of gum disease and bad breath. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)

Sage
A member of the mint family, sage grows wild in fields and along roadsides. The plants have square stems that grow to eighteen inches in height. From May to June, the grayish-green evergreen leaves are accompanied by purple flowers. Revered by the Romans as a giver of life, sage was an obligatory ingredient in medicinal preparations during the Middle Ages. Today, the leaves are used to treat laryngitis, tonsillitis, and sore throats. The herb also has antiflatulent and mildly laxative properties.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Lactating women should not drink sage tea; it can interfere with production of breast milk.
  • As a mild antiseptic, this herb will help heal bleeding gums and mouth ulcers (cold sores).
  • Drink a cup of hot sage and chamomile tea to ease apprehension before dental treatment. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three.)

Sanicle
A perennial that grows to two feet in height, sanicle has finely toothed leaves and pale flowers. The seeds are contained in round burst This herb was used long ago to dissipate "evil humours," and was considered a panacea. Today, the flowering tips and leaves-rich in tannin, resin, and essential oil-are used for their antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, stomachic, and astringent properties.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Use sanicle when a powerful antioxidant is desired.
  • Use as a salve or ointment to heal septic wounds. (See Using Herbs, Application Preparation, in Part Three.)

Sarsaparilla
A perennial climber with prickly stems, sarsaparilla has large leaves, red or black berries, and yellowish flowers that bloom from late spring to late summer. It was once considered an antidote against all venemous things. The roots-which contain hormones, iron, manganese, sodium, sulfur, vitamins A and D, and zinc-are now used to treat skin eruptions and arthritic conditions. Sarsaparilla tea increases the flow of urine, breaks up gas, and is a good eyewash.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Drink sarsaparilla tea to promote relaxation and to protect against harmful radiation. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three).

Shepherd's Purse
Also known as St. John's wort, shepherd's purse is a very common "weed" that grows to about eighteen inches in height and has tiny white flowers. The tops are used for their astringent, diuretic, and stimulant properties. As a homeopathic remedy, it is known as Hypencum.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Use the fresh tops of shepherd's purse to help stop bleeding after tooth extraction.

Skullcap
An herb with clusters of two-lipped flowers, skullcap is used to treat nervous disorders, migraine headaches, rheumatism, and convulsions. It contains glycoside, iron, sugar, tannins, and vitamin E. Skullcap's aerial parts (leaves) help relieve pain, stress, cramps, and spasms, as well as improve circulation.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Drink skullcap tea to relieve anxiety before a dental appointment. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three.)

Summer Savory
A hardy annual, summer savory grows to eight or nine inches in height and has small stringy roots, "hairy"

branches, and white flowers tinged with pink or lilac. Commonly used as an aromatic herb in cooking, summer savory has therapeutic properties, particularly for the stomach and bowels. The dried tops are used to treat colic, flatulence, diarrhea, poor digestion, and frayed nerves.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Soak a cotton ball with summer savvy oil and place it on a sore tooth or rub it on inflamed gums for temporary relief.
  • Drink summer savvy tea to promote relaxation. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three.)

Tea Tree Oil
Derived from the Australian malaluca tree, tea tree oil is used in several commercial products including mouthwash and toothpaste. It is highly antiseptic and antifungal for cuts and abrasions, as well as warts and cold sores.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Rub tea tree oil directly on cold sores to promote healing. (Apply to the area as soon as a developing cold sore starts to tingle.)
  • Rub tea tree oil directly on sore, inflamed gums for temporary relief.
  • Use tea tree oil mouthwash to soothe mouth inflammation. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)

Thyme
A member of the mint family, thyme grows wild in moist fields and along roadsides. It has a square, slim, woody stem that reaches about a foot in height, small leaves, and a pungent aroma. Thyme has been used since ancient times to, among other things, embalm the dead and enhance beauty. It is a powerful antiseptic (bacilli exposed to thyme essence do not survive for more than forty minutes), and the leaves and flowers are used to treat chronic respiratory problems, colds, sore throats, and the flu. Thyme contains fluorine, trace minerals, thiamine, thymol, the B-complex vitamins, and vitamins C and D.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Use a salve made of thyme, myrrh, and goldenseal to treat oral herpes. (See Using Herbs, Application Preparation, in Part Three.)
  • As thyme is a uterine stimulant, therapeutic doses in any form should be avoided by pregnant women.

Violet
Violets (Clematis virginica) have been used medicinally since ancient times. Known for their sedative properties, violets are also used for a wide range of skin disorders.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Mouthwash made from violets helps relieve the pain and tenderness from sores caused by oral cancer. It is also helpful in soothing canker sores and cold sores. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)

Wintergreen
A perennial that grows in fertile forest areas with other evergreens, wintergreen has a creeping root, grows to about ten inches in height, and produces a spike of white flowers. The leaves have long been used to treat wounds and stop hemorrhages. Today, wintergreen is considered a good remedy for cystitis because it flushes the urinary tract and contains a natural antiseptic.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Wintergreen mouthwash is an excellent astringent and antiseptic. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)
  • Soak a cotton ball in wintergreen oil and place it on a sore tooth or rub it on inflamed gums for temporary relief.

Witch Hazel
A shrub native to eastern North America, witch hazel has yellow flowers that bloom in late autumn. The bark and leaves have astringent, sedative, and hemostatic (acting to stop the flow of blood) properties. Witch hazel is used internally to treat excessive blood flow during menstruation and hemorrhages. Externally, is good for healing sores and wounds.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Use witch hazel mouthwash to cleanse the mouth and help fight infections. (See Using Herbs, Mouthwash Preparation, in Part Three.)

Wood Betony
Also known as lousewort, wood betony grows in shady places and reaches heights of twelve to twenty-three inches. The stem is slightly hairy with aromatic leaves and purplish flowers arranged in terminal spikes. In ancient times, wood betony was considered the "infallible remedy" for almost fifty serious diseases, including rabies. Today, the leaves are used to treat diseases that stem from impurities of the blood, to kill intestinal worms, and to heal open wounds. Wood betony contains magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and tannins.

Precautions and Recommendations

  • Drink wood betony tea to promote relaxation before a dental appointment. (See Using Herbs, Tea Preparation, in Part Three.)
(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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