Thursday, April 9, 2015

H: Herbal Medicines

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and

TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. Also visit the IWSG blog and enjoy some inspiration for A to Z writers.

Even though I recently lost both my fantasy publishers due to their closing, I consider myself a writer of epic fantasy. Epic fantasy nearly always takes place in medieval settings. Think Game of Thrones like living conditions. During those times, many medical treatments involved the use of herbal medicines. To infuse my novels with elements of realism, I often use The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines by Charles Fetrow and Juan R. Avila. I've had this book on my desk for years and refer to it often. During medieval times, many health remedies involved the use of herbal medicines, often served as teas. Some herbal teas were imbibed daily for good health and the same is true today. This comprehensive book lists over 300 herbal remedies.
Under each listing is a short history of where it was first used, a list of what people use it for, how they use it the the dosage, possible side effects, other names for the listing and what actual scientific research says about it. Many of the listings give warnings of the danger of using that herb or plant. So if your novel includes a poisoning, Herbal Medicines would give you some ideas. And one of my favorite parts of this book is the index. I can look up an ailment such as fever or rash and it will give me a list of herbs to check out to treat that illness. Quick and easy reference. I highly recommend this book if you're writing anything that involves herbal cures and potions.

Lesson: Use reference books to add realism to your writing. Don't make things up. Lots of people use herbal teas and treatments. Someone will spot your mistakes.

If you have questions or just want to shout out what a great time you're having on A to Z, you can stop by Twitter today from 1-2 pm or 8-9 pm and join the conversation at #azchat or #atozchallenge.

I hope it's finally safe to mention the weather.

"Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough." Earl Wilson (not sure I agree with ignoring adolescence but it is a little funny)

Do you use any herbal remedies or drink any herbal tea? Do you have remedies passed down from your grandparents? Ever spot a mistake a writer made that could have been avoided by using a little research? Think Wilson's quote is good parenting advice?

47 comments:

  1. Never been much of a tea drinker. I bet that book really comes in handy though.

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    1. My mom always gave us hot tea when we were sick. I started drinking it as an adult when I was pregnant and didn't want to drink coffee. Though you have to careful what is in the tea too.

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  2. Me either, not a tea drinker... though I am very interested in a good book to cure other issues. I want one here is the symptom, here is the solution.

    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

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    1. Not just a solution but one that will actually work.

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  3. Super advice as usual, Sue! I'm not a tea drinker in any shape or form. But its amazing what things were accomplished way back then with herbs.

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    1. I often wonder how they decided to try things. Like, oh, let's put these flowers in hot water and see if it cures me.

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  4. I use Rescue Night which is based on flower extracts - it has been so useful in helping me sleep. Good advice about references. I find it's films that get it wrong the most - half the time it's as if they were written without even access to Google! :)
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. I'm not familiar with Rescue Night. I should give some to my husband.

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    2. Hi Natasha and Susan .. we've been using Rescue Remedy for decades .. my mother swore by it .. I still use it today .. I haven't needed to try the Night remedy though .. Cheers Hilary

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  5. You'd think that I'd use herbal remedies considering how much I garden, but I don't--other than using honey for coughs. I do like to read about it though. I used my research to great effect on my first book, Touch of Fire.

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    1. I thought you might grow and make your own tea.

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  6. That is very true, have to look stuff up when needed. Bet the book comes in handy indeed

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    1. I keep on my special shelf that sits beside my desk with nothing but reference books on.

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  7. We have an herb book on our shelves - because it's one of my oldest daughters interests. She's been interested in Marine Biology, Herbs, Plants, etc since she was probably 5, so we have an interesting array of child to adult type reads on those subjects. Then, my mom is the plant-lady and a retired nurse, so I try to warn friends of mine about certain plants in their gardens that are toxic to kids . . . one of the few things I remember from the 10,000 things my mom has told me about plants.
    And now, I have family members and friends who love essential oils . . . so, I use oregano for head colds, and eucalyptus in a diffuser, and did you know that honey takes swelling down, even when you have an ear infection? (only recommended if your ear really hurts, though)
    So, yes, I look up this kind of thing . . . or I ask those who are near me who know these subjects well.

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    1. I have heard about the honey thing.. You mom sounds like an interesting lady.

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  8. I fully believe in herbal medicine and use it all the time. I don't like taking over-the-counter drugs. Not even for colds or headaches. I'd rather have a tea. :) I like that you use herbal medicine in your stories. It definitely adds to your story and the time you're writing about.

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    1. I seldom take any over the counter medicine either. My daughter is always introducing me to new teas.

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  9. We're taking herbs more serious these days. Sipping more tea and such. There are Teavana shops close by and we pick up various blends of this and that.

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    1. I wish we had Teavana. The nearest tea shop to us is about half an hour away.

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  10. I am sorry to hear about your publishers--that's like having parents divorce! x(

    I use turmeric, coconut oil, cinnamon, pepper and honey in hot milk--that is a great and relaxing detoxifier. I've also picked up on bentonite clay and pysilium husk! (pardon my misspellings--spell check doesn't recognize some of these words and I'm running out of blogging time to correct them as babykins has awakened for the day!)

    Wilson's quote is NOT good parenting advice--that's like sweeping the dirt and mud under the carpet or hiding the litter box. Neglect never is the answer.


    Elizabeth Mueller
    AtoZ 2015
    My Little Pony

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  11. btw, I glanced over your book covers and I find the entire concept fascinating! I need to read your books! xD

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  12. I've never been a tea drinker of any sort, but you're spot on with the use of a reference guide... it's always a nice feeling to slide something into the writing that adds that extra zing of realism :)

    Let's just all shout out, "NO More Snow!!"

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  13. An extremely useful book, have always wanted to have the knowledge of a medieval monk and find healthful cures :0)

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  14. That is a very useful tip, Susan. Reference books do add credibility and realism. Thanks for sharing. :)

    Also, I guess it is safe to mention the weather. But I don't want to get too optimistic. :P
    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

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  15. Good point. If you go for real herbal meds you've got to do your research.

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  16. Hi Susan .. I'm not sure I'd know exactly if something was wrong - my knowledge isn't that great .. but I do try and get my facts right in the blog - and don't like leaving things out ... so I guess if I needed to research I'd do it ..

    I bet your daughter picked up some great ideas from Morocco? Cheers Hilary

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    1. I should say I drink Rosehip and Hibiscus tea .. which I find delicious .. at the moment I'm wintering over with good old ordinary builders tea .. but come the warmer weather .. it'll be the R and H tea again. Cheers H

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  17. I'd like that book for myself. There are so many herbal medicines that work better than pills.

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  18. I'm a tea drinker but I like black tea, not the herbal kind. My dad's wife the last few years of his life was very into herbs and natural remedies and I have to admit he was healthier under her care than he had been in years. Unfortunately, she also vetoed a lot of his (and my) favorite foods so I couldn't follow in his footsteps.

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    1. Those favorite foods will get you every time.

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  19. I don't use herbal medicines but in my work, I'll type reports from doctors who prescribe herbal things; it is interesting that herbs actually can "cure" things and make people feel better.

    betty

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    1. That's interesting that doctors prescribe herbal remedies. Science and traditional coming together.

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  20. I love tea, not so much herbal. This seems like one of the milder forms of treatment that was prescribed back then, give or take the odd poisoning.

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    1. Probably more than one poisoning but not always on purpose.

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  21. That sounds like a really useful book for writers. I'll have to remember it. And there's whole pages on TV Tropes about writers who failed to do their research.

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    1. And there's always someone who will point it out if a mistake is made.

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  22. It's always better when you take the time to research before putting things in your work. Especially when, like you said, there are good reference guides out there on herbal medicines.

    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

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  23. I've wanted to try my hand at a story set in medieval times-I have a partial outline and character backgrounds, even. Thanks for the mention of this book, I think it's so going to come in handy when I get to it! :)

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  24. I started using Marshmallow pills for an inner ear infection. My doctor told me it was sinus allergies and didn't give me anything. I had vertigo when I laid down-bed spins are no fun-especially when you didn't drink anything to deserve them. So, I found this and it works. I love herbal stuff...my favorite tea is a Zen blend with spearmint and Lemongrass. I like your H post~ That quote by Earl Wilson is something~

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  25. J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge 2015!
    Great post. It's very true that reference guides are your friend when writing about a topic this important. There's a fine line between what your reader knows, what the reader expects the character to know, and what you need to make sure the character seems to know. Only research can help with that delicate dance.

    I do drink herbal tea now and then. I'm a fan of the Yogi brand. Just tried the lemon ginger one - really tasty!
    @JLenniDorner

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  26. reference books for adding a touch of realism, thanks for the advice, will try to follow

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  27. I love using herbs! I drink ginger tea daily. I eat dandelions and nettles in the spring, I have a homemade comfrey salve, I use essential oils of lavender to calm me...on and on.

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  28. Herbal healing, now you're talking my language. Just took some raw garlic, maybe not a herb but it's all part of the same package.

    Love using herbs. LOVE IT!

    Happy Weekend and boogie boogie.

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  29. I love my rooibos tea.
    South African people have been drinking this tea for centuries, which is prepared from the leaves of Rooibos that belong to the legume family of plants. Research has shown that this heritage drink from South Africa also has 50% more antioxidants than green tea.
    It has been traditionally used to treat asthma, allergies and other dermatological problems.

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  30. I only drink tea when I'm not feeling well.
    It's weird.
    Coffee, drink that all the time!
    Readers do pick out all our mistakes.
    Heather

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