The Barefoot Doctor is a collective media project of the Ann Arbor Free People's Clinic. The name comes from the People's Republic of China, where medical knowledge is being demystified and deprofessionalized in order to promote good health in the vast rural áreas which have never had medical-school-trained doctors. Barefoot doctors are ordinary peasants, elected by their village, work group or commune, to particípate in six months of intensive paramedical training, 1 hey return to their villages skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of everyday medical problems, and have made health care available to müiions of people who never had any bef ore. We want to answer YOUR questions! Send them to: Barefoot Doctor, co Free People's Clinic; 225 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor MI 48108. In a recent Barefoot Doctor concerning ways to relieve menstrual cramps, a reader wrote in and suggested some herbal remedies. One enterprising Barefoot Doctor has compiled the following introduction to herbal healing: People have used herbs since the beginning of time to heal their ailments. Herbal healing was the first system of healing the world knew, and only very recently has it been replaced by pharmaceuticals. Herbs are milder and less toxic than many prescription drugs, not to mention much cheaper. Herbs help the body heal itself and do not disturb the biochemical balance of the body to the extent that drugs do. Medically untrained people can often use herbal cures successfully, and save the alienation and expense of resorting to professional medical "care." Rather than running to the medicine cabinet and popping pills, why not try some of the herbal remedies the Earth has provided us? How to Prepare Herbal Teas: Leaves and flowers of an herb should be steeped. Bring the water to a boil. Place one spoonful of herbs for each cup in the water and let the brew sit for ten to twenty minutes. Roots should be put into water right away. Then bring the water to a boil and simmer for. twenty to thirty minutes. Powdered herbs can be mixed in hot or cold water. Place half a teaspoon in one-quarter glass of water. Follow this with a glass of pure water. Herbs have a quicker effect if taken with hot water. A poultice is a dressing made from herbs. There are various ways to make poultices. One way is to make a strong tea from the herb, then soak a clean cloth in it. Apply the cloth to the sore, and change it every five minutes, applying fresh hot tea to the poultice. Some prefer to brew the tea, and then wrap the herbs in a cloth. If you employ this method, the cloth should be saturated, yet not drip excess liquid. Herbs and Their Medicinal Qualities Alfalfa: Very rich in trace minerals, and a blood builder. Aloe Vera: "True aloe," a mixture of antibiotic, astringent, and coagulating agent; pain inhibitor and growth stimulant. Aloe Vera accelerates the healing of injured surfaces and relieves skin irritations, infections and burns. For burns: slice the leaf in half and bind the whole leaf over the wound with gauze. Blue Cohosh: Good for cramps, menstrual troubles, and rheumatic afflictions. Burdock Root: A general skin conditioner, for rashes, pimples, boils and eczema. Camomile: An excellent general tonic, and aid for stomach and digestive problems. Camomile is a source of calcium and potassium, and is a relaxant which will calm jangled nerves and relax tensions. Camomile is good during menstruation for relief of cramps. Camomile is also a pleasant and mild sedative, good to drink before bed. And, it's free! Yes, camomile grows wild all over Ann Arbor as a weed. Learn to recognize and piek it yourself. The People's Food Co-op will even buy it from you! Catnip: Quiets the nerves, and its crushed leaves and juices are beneficial for skin rashes. Share some with your favorite cat. Catnip, too, grows wild all over Ann Arbor. Cayenne: Tastes very hot, but is not as irritating to the stomach as black pepper. A stimulant when taken internally which also tones the circulation. A littlë cayenne sprinkled in shoes will assist cold feet. Comfrey: When fresh, comfrey is rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorous and vitamins A and C. It aids healing and contains a substance called allatain, which aids cell formation. Helps heal wounds, cuts, sores, swelling, and internal bruises when taken as tea. A fomentation (that is, local application of alternating hot and cold poultices) of comfrey will reduce swelling and ease the pain of sprains. Good also for coughs, asthsma, headache, and arthritis. Ginseng: A general tonic which stimulates physical and mental functioning. Golden Seal: One of the greatest herbs for healing. Externally, it is used for sores, such as ulcers and bedsores. It can be used to cleanse wouhds - sprinkle powder on open sores. Internally, golden seal is good for colds, flu, sinus problems, stomach or liver troubles. Golden seal can be taken in capsules of V teaspoon per day. Hops: A sedative which quiets the body and relaxes muscles. Good for insomnia. Also helpful for toothache, earache and cramps. Horehound: Good for hoarseness and coughs. Excellent for asthsma and any respiratory difficulties. It loosens phJegm. To make a cough syrup, steep a teaspoonful in a pint of boiling water for twenty minutes, strain, and add honey. Licorice root: Another remedy for coughs, sore throats and hoarseness. Mint: Soothes upset stomachs. Good against nausea. Pennyroyal: A mint that breaks up colds and feverish conditions. Can be used to relieve suppressed menstruation. Peppermint: A natural stimulant, good against diarrhea and flu. Raspberry leaves: Helpful during pregnancy. It is an old Native American remedy used to ease the pain of childbirth. Rosehips: Known for high vitamin C content. Sassafras: Purifies the blood, soothes nerves. Scullcap: Soothes nerves, aids'quiet sleep. Good for delirium of fevers, headaches. Slippery Elm: A tree which grows extensively in the Western Hemisphere. Good for ulcerated stomach andor intestines. A good gruel for a stomach which rejects food can be made by mixing 1 V4 teaspoons of powdered bark and a teaspoon of honey with cold water to form a paste. Add this mixture and cinnamon to li pint boiling milk. Spearmint: Used for nausea. Yarrow: Good against colds and fevers. References: Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss Mother F.arth News Prevention Magazine Ten Talents Cookbook by Frank and Rosalie Hurd These herbs are available at local health food stores, and the People's Food Co-op.