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Essential Oils
Essential oils, some of which (Cloves, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, etc.) are commercially available, should be used with care. They are highly concentrated substances which can be irritating and even toxic in large amounts. Used externally as analgesics or rubefacients, they should be kept clear of eyes, nose, mouth and all mucous membranes. Normally only a few drops are used for rubbing into the skin, as applied in large amounts they can cause severe irritation and burning. Essential oils supply the active ingredients for salves and liniments such as Tiger Balm.
With a few exceptions, such as the use of Clove Oil for toothache, essential oils are not normally used internally. There have been several reports in America of toxic reactions and even fatal poisonings resulting from their misuse. Very small amounts are used extensively in liqueurs, perfumes, cosmetics, pharmaceutical preparations, incense and cooking, but essential oils should not be considered a form of medicine for internal use.

Many herbs contain tannins, substances which bind up proteins and in so doing have an astringent effect. A correlation appears to exist between extensive drinking of tannin-rich teas and the occurrence of oesophageal and stomach cancer. In countries where black tea is consumed in large quantities the rate of such cancers tends to be high, but where black tea is commonly taken with milk this increased rate is not found. The tannins, it appears, become bound to proteins in the milk and are thus rendered insoluble.
Astringent herb teas should be used as needed, but excessive use is best avoided. When an astringent herb is used for properties other than astringency, a little milk can be added to neutralize the tannins. There is no reason, however, to avoid the occasional use of astringents, and their use from time to time as required is certainly no cause for alarm — it is rather the continued high intake of tannin-rich substances, as in black tea, which should be warned against.
Herbs particularly high in tannins are the roots and barks, such as Blackberry, Yellow Dock and Comfrey, and a few leaf herbs such as Peppermint and Cleavers.

High Blood Pressure
Those with a history of high blood pressure should avoid herbs that stimulate heart action or constrict blood vessels. Liquorice in particular should be avoided, but the cautionary notes for individual herbs should be consulted for relevant information. Such persons should generally use only small amounts of stimulants, instead using more of the nervine, antispasmodic and sedative herbs. However, three stimulants, Cayenne Pepper, Garlic and Yarrow, also seem to be useful in reducing blood pressure.



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