The Humorous Herbalist | PostIndependent.com

The Humorous Herbalist

Can something be classified as an “urban legend” if there’s a fraction of truth to it? I ask this because after recently telling someone that boiled peach-pit tea was a great remedy for killing infections, I was greeted with a wide-eyed reaction and informed that peach pits have cyanide in them. “Cyanide!” this person exclaimed. “Didn’t you KNOW that? You’re lucky you’re not dead!” Well, actually I did know about the “cyanide” connection. Peach pits contain a cyanogenic glycoside called amygdalin. Essentially, we’re talking the basis of cyanide, NOT the manufactured chemical. This natural compound is also found in the seeds of cherries, apples, apricots and pears. Bitter almonds can also contain high percentages of the compound – up to 8.5 percent. Studies show that 8 percent amygdalin is sufficient to prove fatal after eating a “moderate amount.” However, according to the Botanical Safety Handbook, peach pits can contain anywhere from 2-6 percent. While that percentage is not considered high, there have been notations in various medical and health books that relate poisonings from eating the seeds, which are encased in the hard shell that forms the pit. This poisoning usually relates to children because of their smaller stature. The bottom line is that peach pits have a bad rap when it comes to being poisonous. As a rule, the fresh pit is far more potent than the dried pit. In either case, if you moderate your use, dry the pits thoroughly and take small doses, you will be fine. As a medicinal, peach-pit tea is an effective “folk remedy” for drawing out poisons and killing infections. To make the tea, boil four to six dried peach pits (not the inner seeds, mind you, the whole pit that is left after eating the peach) in two cups of water. Continue simmering the brew until you boil it down to one cup of liquid. The water should take on a lovely red color. You can use the same peach pits a second time, following the two cups boiled down to one cup directions. Hot peach-pit tea is one of the oldest treatments for colds and flu. The idea is that the naturally-occurring cyanogenic glycoside is strong enough to kill the invading germs without killing the user. One or two cups per day is sufficient, preferably taken morning and evening. DO NOT drink more than two cups per day of peach pit tea since it could cause nausea. Oh, and by the way, the tea tastes good! Warm peach pit tea is excellent for pulling infection out of mouth sores and speeding the healing process. You will need to use the tea as a mouthwash three to five times a day. Infected sores can also be remedied with this powerful pit when the tea is applied as a compress. Besides the pits, peach leaves (made into a tea) are an excellent remedy for a variety of ailments. The leaf tea works as a mild sedative for both children and adults. It is not as sedating as chamomile, but it does the job. Peach leaf tea is also soothing for bladder and urinary troubles, especially where there is burning urine, inflammation, tenderness or an aching feeling in the pelvic area. The leaf tea tends to move trapped or congested energy in the pelvis while providing cooling relief. Peach-leaf tea is a “specific herb” for irritation and congestion of the gastric tract. Its calming action can provide temporary relief. Obviously, if you have chronic problems with your gastrointestinal tract due to inflammation, consider stress or dietary combinations or both as a source for the problem. Morning sickness can also be eased if the leaf tea is taken hot in small doses – a large swallow or two every hour. Vomiting may be stopped by using the same hot tea dose. Hard, dry coughs have responded well to peach-leaf tea. Even whooping cough has been relieved by the tea. An additional advantage is that peach leaves are slightly expectorant. Peach-leaf tea can be slightly laxative. If this interests you, drink two to three very hot cups of tea several hours before going to bed. For children, one-half cup of the leaf tea is sufficient. It’s best to pick peach leaves during the summer and early fall since they quickly lose their strength after that. Obviously, only pick leaves from trees that you know have not been sprayed with chemicals. The leaf tea is made by infusing one ounce of the leaves in one pint of boiling distilled water for 15 minutes. The dose is one to three cups per day as needed. The common peach has proven itself to be effective for centuries and come to the rescue of many in need of its healthful benefits. When used in moderation, the plentiful pit and leaf may soon help you. E-mail your questions to The Humorous Herbalist at writer8@sopris.net. The information in this column is not meant to take the place of your physician, nor is it intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. Pregnant or nursing women should consult their doctor before using herbal therapy.The information in this column is not meant to take the place of your physician, nor is it intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. Pregnant or nursing women should consult their doctor before using herbal therapy.


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