St. Patrick’s Day Health Care: Medicinal Tricks of the Irish

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Traditional Irish Medicine for St. Patrick’s DayI hope you have a happy St. Patrick’s Day planned and are touched with a little bit of Irish luck today. And if you plan on celebrating with some Irish stew, a Guinness, or a whiskey, I’m sure you’ll be in high spirits! But while the Irish sure know how to celebrate and eat well, they’re also pretty skilled in traditional medicine.

A Traditional Irish Medicine Lesson for St. Patrick’s Day

When it comes to natural healing and herbal medicine, Ireland is steeped in deep Celtic tradition. The natural remedies come from the fields, bogs, and meadows that define the Irish landscape. In fact, Irish herbalists were highly regarded, highly educated figureheads of the community until the political upheaval that occurred in the 1700s.

Over time, Irish herbal healing methods have lost some of their appeal, as ancient Chinese and Indian health practices have received more focus. However, ancient Irish health techniques are making a comeback in Ireland and abroad. Here are some natural Irish healing traditions that might help you this St. Patrick’s Day and throughout the year.

Four Top Traditional Irish Medicine Techniques

1. Whiskey

It might seem stereotypical, but whiskey has been used in Irish medicine for quite some time. Whiskey aged in oak barrels creates fragrant chemicals that help release GABA neurotransmitters when inhaled. Whiskey has been used to help treat angina, heart problems, and anxiety, and it is also used as a sedative and anesthetic. GABA helps calm nerves, which is why oak-aged whiskey has been used to help treat mild heart problems. But don’t go hard; one shot’s worth per week should be all you need!

2. Bilberry

Bilberry is woven throughout Celtic history and has been used for its medicinal qualities for a very long time. It features antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help keep cells healthy. It’s also been used as an astringent to help heal minor cuts and abrasions, while possessing antiseptic qualities that have been used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids, and gastrointestinal inflammation. Bilberry has also been used for capillary health and eye disorders, while the leaves from the plant have hypoglycemic properties that can have benefits for people with high blood sugar or diabetes.

3. Nettle

Nettle is an unsightly plant that looks more like a weed than a remedy, but it’s widely used in Irish traditional healing. Nettle has been used for centuries to treat joint and arthritic pain in Ireland by whipping affected joints with nettle branches. It is believed that hitting the joint with nettle stimulates anti-inflammatory properties that lead to reduced swelling and pain. In addition to this widely used practice, nettle leaves are also used to combat allergies and other respiratory reactions due to their antihistamine properties.

4. Cobwebs

This one may sound really strange, but it may come in handy if you find yourself in a real pinch. According to traditional Irish medicine, cobwebs can be used as gauze to wrap and treat cuts. In fact, they’ve been used for this purpose for centuries in Ireland and other parts of the world. Cobwebs feature vitamin K, which can help with blood clotting.

Sources for Today’s Article:
“Bilberry,” University of Maryland Medical Center web site, May 7, 2013; http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/bilberry, last accessed March 16, 2015.
“It’s for medicinal purposes, honest,” BBC News web site, December 14, 1998; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/234957.stm, last accessed March 16, 2015.

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