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Archive for the ‘Herb Info Sheets’ Category

Sambucus Nigra (American Elderflower)

While most people are familiar with the berries of the American Elder plant, I was taught about flowers in school.  I can’t remember why my teacher opted to use the flower of the plant, although I’ve heard many tales from my Oma about birds dive-bombing her and my Opa when they tried to pick them.  Perhaps that’s why.  I do remember him saying that the properties of the flowers were surprisingly similar to the berries.

Elder flower

Just like its berry counterpart, the flower of the Sambucus nigra plant has potent immune stimulating and antiviral properties.  It’s these two main properties that give elderberry syrup/juice its famed reputation in the herbal world.  Although I wouldn’t be surprised if more people know about it after Hershel from the television show Walking Dead used it in an attempt to combat a super virus!!

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

Other properties that make it a fantastic herb to use during cold and flu season are the following:

  •          Antiallergenic – aids in the symptoms of seasonal allergies
  •          Anticatarrhal – helps with runny noses
  •          Expectorant – aids in the expulsion of mucus from the lungs
  •          Febrifuge – helps to regulate/lower fever

 

The combination of all of these properties results in it being a powerful ally against colds, allergies, sinus infections, flu, bronchitis and measles just to name a few.

 

American elderflowers also have nervine (nervous system), relaxant and tranquilizing properties making it a great herb for stress-related conditions.

 

Sambucus is also a great herb for detoxifying, in particular, for rheumatic conditions.  Because it is a diuretic, it’s main cleansing action is through the kidneys.

 

Like many herbs, American elder also has topical healing properties (vulnerary) and would be a great herb to use for cuts, bites, stings and other wounds.

 

Because of its detoxifying properties it would be wise to only use elderberries, elderflowers or elderberry syrup in acute doses if pregnant or lactating.  Due to its effect on the nervous system you should consult your doctor, herbalist or other practitioner if you are on anti-depression, anxiety or other nervous system related medications.

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HERBAL INFORMATION – Echinacea

Family: Asteraceae

Latin names: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida

Common names: Common purple coneflower, Black Sampson

Parts Used:  Root

Constituents: Caffeic acid esters including echinacoside and cichoric acid; alkylamides, mostly unsaturated isobutyl amides (including dodeca-2,4,8,10-tetraenoic acid); polysaccharides (including echinacin B); polyacetylenes; essential oil 1

 

Description

Echinacea is one of the few medicinal plants that is commonly known by its Latin name.  The name Echinacea comes from the Greek word echinos, which means “hedgehog”, referring to the prickly scales of the flowers’ centre cone.  Thanks to archaeological evidence, we know that Native Americans may have been using purple coneflower for more than 400 years thinking of it as a “cure-all” herb.

While popular during the 18th and 19th centuries, Echinacea’s use declined in North America after the introduction of antibiotics.  Its current availability as a herbal medicine can be attributed is a German herbal company called Madaus which began importing the seeds for cultivation in 1939.  Madaus was also one of the first companies to fund research into the species purpurea.

A perennial flowering plant, Purple coneflower can grow up to 1.2 metres tall at maturity.  It’s flowering period is largely determined by the climate the plant is found in, ranging from late May to early July.  Echinacea is hermaphroditic, meaning it has both male and female organs on each flower.  As shown in many photos of this herb, it is pollinated by butterflies and bees.

Although Echinacea does not grow in the wild in Ontario, it can be grown in this climate and is often found as a showy flower in gardens.  It’s native habitats consist of dry open woods, prairies and barren areas, making it common to the temperate regions of the eastern United States.

 

Therapeutic Properties

Anesthetic (local), antiallergenic, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory (local, systemic), antimicrobial (bacterial, viral), antineoplastic, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antitoxic, antiulcerogenic, appetite stimulant, depurative, diaphoretic, febrifuge, immune stimulant, lymphatic, sialagogue, PVD (peripheral vasodilator), vulnerary

Medicinal Uses

Detoxification

  • Strong focus on the lymphatic system
    • Effects will be felt in the skin, muscles and joints
    • Helpful in cleansing the upper respiratory tract

Lymphatic system

  • Poor drainage, swollen lymph nodes, edema
  • Inflammatory conditions of the lymphatic system (incl. chronic conditions)
  • Congestion in the lymphatic system (incl. lymph nodes)

Immune system/Infections

  • Effective against both bacterial and viral infections
    • Will help shorten the duration of a cold/flu
    • Can be used for topical infections (ie. boils, cuts, bites, scrapes, wounds)
      • Use as a mouthwash/gargle to treat gingivitis and sore throats
      • Apply direct to tooth/gum area for toothaches
      • Traditionally used to treat poisonings
        • Snake bites, septicaemia, insect bites and other types of poisonings

Upper Respiratory Tract

  • Especially useful for infections of the upper respiratory tract
    • Laryngitis, tonsillitis, the common cold and nasal/sinus conditions

Blood and Circulation

  • Improves circulation to peripheral areas of the body (hands, feet, etc.)
  • Use in treating impurities of the blood
    • Boils, carbuncles, gangrene, septicaemia

Cancer treatment

  • Supportive antineoplastic

Contraindications

  • There is no known toxicity associated with this plant
  • It should not be used during pregnancy and lactation due to it depurative properties.
  • Due to its immune stimulating properties, it should not be used in combination with immunosuppressant medications.
  • There are no dosage restrictions with Echinacea.

Magical Properties

Powers: Strengthening spells

Magical Uses:

Echinacea was used by Native Americans as an offering to spirits to ensure and strengthen spells.

References:

Class Notes – Living Earth School

Culpeper’s Complete Herbal – Nicholas Culpeper

Dominion Herbal College – Chartered Herbalist Course Book 2

Earthwise Herbal – Matthew Wood

Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs – Scott Cunningham

Herb Bible – Earl Mindell

Holistic Herbal – David Hoffman

Medical Herbalism – Davicd Hoffman1

New Encylopedia of Herbs & Their Uses – Deni Bown

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For the last two years I haven’t had any success in the Wild Bergamot (Mondara fistulosa) department.  I  have found in the wild in the past but it was either in quantities too low to harvest ethically or covered in mildew (which isn’t uncommon for Monarda).  This year I hit the jackpot!  Not only did I find large quantities of Monarda, it was healthy and mildew free!

Mondara Therapeutic Properties

Antimicrobial (bacterial, fungal, viral), anticatarrhal, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic (digestive, general, respiratory, uterine), anxiolytic, appetite stimulant, astringent, carminative (warming), cholagogue, circulatory stimulant, decongestant, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue (stimulating), expectorant, febrifuge, nervine, rubefacient, relaxant, stomachic, tranquilizer, uterine relaxant, neurovasodilator, peripheral vasodilator, vulnerary

Monarda has fantastic effects on the digestive system, helping with functional conditions such as gas, bloating, poor appetite/digestion and indigestion.  Due to its pungency, it serves as an excellent catalyst and circulatory stimulant.  Topically it’s heat can be felt in salves and poultices, therefore helping with deeper tissue injuries such as bruises, sprains and strains.  Wild Bergamot beneficial for all manner of respiratory conditions ranging from colds and flu to feverish conditions such as chicken pox.  Due to its antidepressant, anxiolytic, tranquilizer and relaxant properties, Monarda can be used for a variety of nervous system conditions.

Monarda Harvesting Photos

Here are some pictures from my Monarda harvesting adventure.

The hubs and I overjoyed with our Monarda find!

Wild Bergamot – Monarda fistulosa

Harvesting Monarda – taking the top 20-25% of the plant

Beautiful bergamot – almost ready to be processed

Chopping so fast that I’m blurry!

87 grams of chopped Monarda (for a 500ml jar)

Pouring the menstruum into the jar.

The finished product! Remember it’s always important to label your medicines.

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HERBAL INFORMATION – Purple Loosestrife

Family: Lythraceae (Loosestrife)

Latin names: Lythrum salicaria

Common names: Spiked loosestrife, Purple lythrum, Flowering Sally

Parts Used:  Herb (top 30-40% of the plant)

Constituents: Tannins; mucilage; pectin; essential oil; provitamin A; calcium oxylate; a glycoside, vitexin 1

 

Description

Thought of as an invasive nuisance to many people, especially duck hunters, Purple loosestrife is an adaptable and long-lived species.  It is this adaptability that caused it to spread at an alarming rate when it was introduced in North America.  When found in an area with water sources, it can disrupt water flow, and therefore cause a sharp decline in the biodiversity of the area.  A single plant can produce up to 3 million seeds, making it a very difficult plant to eradicate.

It should be noted that not all people find Lythrum a problem.  Beekeepers rely on this plant as source of late season pollen and nectar for their hives.

Purple loosestrife is a tall, upright herbaceous perennial plant. Forming colonies, this plant can grow 1-1.5 metres tall.  A single root mass can have numerous erect stems growing from it.  The flowers, reddish purple in colour, are produced in whorled spikes from mid-summer to mid-autumn.  There are three different flower types which have stamens and styles of different lengths.  Each flower can only be pollinated by one of the other types.  This ensures cross-pollination between different plants.

Although finding information on the medicinal uses of this herb can be difficult, Lythrum has a long history of use in European folk medicine.  It was most notably used during the cholera outbreaks in that region during the 19th century.

 

Therapeutic Properties

Antiallergenic, anticatarrhal, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiulcerogenic, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, hemostatic, lymphatic, nervine, pancreatic, styptic, tranquilizer, vascular tonic, vulnerary

Medicinal Uses

Epithelial

  • Topical à bites, cuts, stings, bleeding or wheeping wounds
  • Local à ulcers in the mouth when used as a rinse
  • Internal à GI inflammation (including sore throats)

Urinary system

  • Inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract (incl. chronic conditions)

Lymphatic system

  • Inflammatory conditions of the lymphatic system (incl. chronic conditions)
  • Congestion in the lymphatic system (incl. lymph nodes)

Pancreas

  • Hypoglycaemia, diabetes

 

Contraindications

  • Due to its astringency it is not recommended to combine Lythrum with other moderate to strong astringents.
  • It has a mild effect on the female reproductive system and should therefore be used with caution during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Use with caution while on antidiabetic, anticonvulsant, sedative or mood-altering medications.
  • Use to a maximum of 50% in a formulation.  Do not exceed 4-6 months at chronic doses.

Magical Properties

Gender: Feminine

Planet: Moon

Element: Earth

Powers: Peace, protection

Magical Uses:

Brings about protection and peaceful energies when placed in the home.

Give to a friend to help settle an argument.

References:

Chartered Herbalist Course Book 2 – Dominion Herbal College1

Class Notes – Living Earth School

Culpeper’s Complete Herbal – Nicholas Culpeper

Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs – Scott Cunningham

New Encylopedia of Herbs & Their Uses – Deni Bown

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HERBAL INFORMATION – Coltsfoot

Family: Asteraceae

Latin name: Tussilago farfara

Common names: Coltsfoot, Tash Plant, Bull’s Foot, Butterbur, Coughwort, Foal’s foot, Foalswort

Parts Used: Flowers & leaves

Constituents: Flavonoids (rutin, hyperoside, isoquercetin); mucilage, consisting of polysaccharides based on glucose, galactose, fructose, arabinose, xyolse; inulin; pyrrolizidine alkaloids, including senkirkine and tussilagine; tannins1

Description

Coltsfoot is a perennial herbaceous plant that spreads by seeds and rhizomes.  Because it spreads by rhizomes, it is often found in colonies containing dozens of plants.  The flowers first start to appear in early spring, and although they look similar to dandelion, they appear before dandelions.

 

The leaves appear only after the seeds are set and the flowers have died back.  They are large, heart-shaped with a slightly toothed edge.  The leaves have shown marked amounts of zinc, which explains their excellent anti-inflammatory actions.

 

Traditionally Coltsfoot was used to treat lung conditions, including coughs and asthma.  In fact, the name tussilago means “cough suppressant”.  The crushed flowers were used topically to cure skin conditions.

Therapeutic Properties


Anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antitussive, antiulcerogenic, astringent, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant (relaxing, stimulating), febrifuge, nervine, relaxant, tranquilizer, peripheral vasodilator, vulnerary

 

Contraindications

The plant contains hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can have negative effects on the liver.  Caution must be observed when using the plant medicinally.  Coltsfoot should only be used by persons with in depth knowledge of herbs.

 

Not Recommended:

  • Pregnancy, lactation, liver disease, infants, seniors, those who are chronically ill
    • Avoid external use in pregnancy if the skin is broken
    • Use to a maximum of 20% in formulation

 

With Caution:

  • Sedative and mood-altering medications

Medicinal Uses

Epithelial

  • Topical use for boils, abscesses, eczema, insect bites, skin inflammation
  • Topical and inflammatory digestive conditions
    • Ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, Crohn’s disease, etc.

Respiratory System

  • Sinus congestion, sinusitis, colds, flu, pleurisy, asthma, allergies, whooping cough, irritating coughs (including smokers cough)
  • Chronic or acute bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, emphysema, laryngitis
  • Fevers (do not use on very young children)

Urinary System

  • Inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract
  • Cystitis

Nervous System

  • Stress related conditions, muscle tension, tension headaches etc.

 

Magical Properties

Gender: Feminine

Planet: Venus

Element: Water

Powers: Love, Visions

Magical Uses:

Add to sachets and use in a spells of peace and tranquility.

The leaves when smoked were traditionally said to cause visions.

 

References:

Class Notes – Living Earth School

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs – Scott Cunningham

Earthwise Herbal, The – Matthew Wood

Holistic Herbal – David Hoffman

Medical Herbalism – David Hoffman 1

New Encylopedia of Herbs & Their Uses – Deni Bown

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HERBAL INFORMATION – American Elder Flower

 

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Latin names: Sambucus nigra spp. canadensis

Common names: Elder, Bour Tree, Eldrum, Ellhorn, Old Gal, Old Lady, Pipe Tree, Lady Ellhorn  

Parts Used:  Bark, flowers, berries, leaves

Constituents: Flowers: Triterpenes (ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, α- and β-amyrin, sterols); fixed oils (free fatty acids, mainly linoleic, linolenic, and palmitic acids); miscellaneous: phenolic acids; pectin; sugars.  Leaf: Triterpenes (similar to those founds in flowers); cyanogenic glycosides, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and many quercetin glycosides); miscellaneous: fatty acids, alkanes, tannins 1

 

Description

Native to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, Elders presence is more widespread to the north.  The elder tree can grow up to 6 metres tall with sparsely branched, pithy stems, compound leaves and small white elderflowers in flat-topped clusters.

 

Called the ‘medicine chest of the common people’, Elder has been used in folk medicine for centuries in Europe.  The word Elder comes from the Anglo-saxon word ‘aeld’ meaning ‘fire’. 

In Britain during the 17th century, Elder was often used in the making of homemade wines and cordials.  These beverages were thought to prolong life and cure the common cold.  Traditionally the stem of the Elder was used in Europe to make magical wands for ritual purposes.  Other magical properties of Elder can be found below.

 

Uses of Elder, for a variety of purposes, can be found throughout history, literature and folklore.  The Egyptians discovered that applying the leaves topically was good for a person’s complexion.  Shakespeare referred to Elder as the ‘symbol for grief’.  Traditionally the Russians and English believed that Elder trees planted in the front of a home can help to ward off evil spirits.  During the Middle Ages people believed that the trees themselves were homes to witches and cutting down the tree would bring the wrath of those residing in its branches. 

 

Therapeutic Properties

Antiallergenic, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory (local, systemic), antirheumatic, antiviral, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, immune stimulant, neurovasodilator, nervine, relaxant, tranquilizer, vulnerary

 

Medicinal Uses

Respiratory

  • Colds, influenza, bronchitis, fevers (including childhood fevers), sinus infections, coughs, allergies, congestion of the respiratory tract (both lower and upper), postnasal drip
  • Helps to stimulate the immune system

Depurative

  • Rheumatic conditions
  • Skin conditions (eczema, acne, psoriasis)

Nervous System

  • Stress-related conditions, tension, tension headaches

Urinary

  • Inflammation, UTI, edema (dropsy)

Epithelial

  • Topical conditions (cuts, bite, scrapes, stings, burns, wounds etc.)

 

Magical Properties

Gender: Feminine

Planet: Venus

Element: Water

Properties:

  • Protection, healing, prosperity, sleep, exorcism

Some Magical/Folk Uses:

  • Hung over doorways and entrances to homes to protect and ward off evil
  • Grown near the home to give prosperity to the household
  • Used at weddings to bless and bring good luck to the couple
  • Pregnant women can kiss the Elder tree for good fortune for the coming baby

 

References:

Class Notes – Living Earth School

Cunningham’s Enclyclopedia of Magical Herbs – Scott Cunningham

Earthwise Herbal, The – Matthew Wood

Holistic Herbal – David Hoffman

Medical Herbalism – David Hoffman 1

New Encylopedia of Herbs & Their Uses – Deni Bown

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MAD FOR GARLIC

 

I love garlic!  I believe it is an herb that no herbalist – professional or layperson – should be without.  Unfortunately most people’s initial reaction to this fabulous plant is a result of its extremely pungent odour.  Most dismiss its use without a second thought because of its infamous smell.  It certainly doesn’t help matters that society as a whole has determined ‘garlic breath’ to be a bad thing.  Perhaps if more people knew how superb and powerful this herb is, its use as medicine would become more common.  My goal in this blog is to educate and spread the word – GARLIC IS AMAZING!

The Antimicrobial Powerhouse

Whenever I feel a sniffle coming on or everyone around me seems as sick as a dog, the first thing I reach for is my garlic tablets (I take it in pill form because straight garlic tincture is extremely pungent).  Why do I do this?  Because garlic (Allium sativum) is:

  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Antiprotozoal
  • Antiviral
  • Anthelmintic

That means garlic can help your body fight bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses and worms! 

Concerning Your Heart

If the remarkable list of antimicrobial properties hasn’t impressed you, perhaps Allium’s use in cardiovascular health will.  Its cardiac properties help to strengthen and improve the functioning of the heart by improving blood flow.  Being hypocholesterolemic and hypolipidemic, garlic will help to reduce both cholesterol and overall blood fat levels in the body.  Many people who suffer from cardiovascular difficulties have damaged, irritated and inflamed blood vessels.  Garlic’s vascular tonic properties can help to heal and return to tone to these blood vessels.  In addition to everything mentioned previously, garlic is also helps to normalize blood pressure, improve general circulation throughout the body and help combat the effects of cardiac specific toxins.  Will all of its amazing cardiovascular properties, Allium sativum help can be enlisted for a variety of conditions.  The following list is an example of some of the conditions that garlic has been used to treat. 

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol and blood fats
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Heart conditions (heart palpitations, heart weakness or failure, arrhythmia, angina)
  • Prevent heart attacks and strokes
  • Poor circulation (cold hands and feet)         

 

Note:

If you suffer from heart disease, heart failure, other serious cardiovascular conditions or are on any heart medications, please enlist the help of a qualified herbalist before using any herbs to treat your condition.  Self treating using cardiac herbs could result in adverse side effects and/or other complications.    

Breathe Easy – Garlic for Respiratory Conditions

Allium`s respiratory properties work well in combination with its broad spectrum antimicrobial actions.  Not only is garlic an immune stimulant, it also helps to loosen and expel mucus in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts (decongestant and expectorant).  This herb is also very helpful for conditions characterized by bronchial spasms and spasmodic coughing (asthma, whooping cough, bronchitis etc.)    

Digestive Woes

Even the healthiest of people have the occasional bout of digestive upset.  Although I never take garlic for digestive reasons alone, when I am taking it I definitely notice improvements in this area.  Its local and systemic anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce all sorts of inflammation in the body – including irritated and inflamed mucus membranes.  Garlic is also a digestive antispasmodic, making it great for digestive conditions associated with cramping (diarrhea, gas, IBS etc.)  Thanks to its carminative properties, Allium helps to increase the digestive secretions of the mouth, stomach, small intestines and pancreas.    

Concerning Cancer

Allium sativum has some amazing benefits with regards to cancer. 

  • Anticardiotoxic: helps to prevent the development of cancer cells
  • Antimitotic: prevents or interferes with mitosis
  • Antimutagenic: prevent the mutation of cells
  • Antineoplastic: discourages the growth and/or directly kills cancer cells
    • At times they can also increase the immune system`s ability to fight cancer cells

 

Does this mean that garlic is a cure for cancer?  Unfortunately nothing in life is that simple.  I do believe, however, that garlic can be beneficial in both the treatment and prevention of cancer.

Note:

For serious conditions such as cancer please seek the aid of a qualified herbal practitioner. 

Stinky is Good

I know you can buy many garlic products that say they are odourless.  Although this aspect of the products may seem appealing to our mind, we need to stop and think about this.  In order to remove garlic`s smell, certain constituents must either be removed or rendered chemically inert.  Once this process occurs, those particular constituents are no longer of value to us.  This doesn`t mean that odourless garlic isn`t effective, but it could mean it may not be as effective as the stinky kind.  In my own personal experience I have had the greatest success when I used raw garlic cloves or pure garlic tablets.        

Long Story Short

I will end this blog just as I started it – screaming from the hilltops about how fabulous garlic is!  In the words of Earl Mindell “garlic may be the wonder drug of the herbal world.”  With all of its amazing and healthful properties, it should be ignored no longer!  Add it to your food, make a tincture from it, prepare homemade herbal remedies using garlic (such as cough syrups) or take garlic tablets.  The options are endless!

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HERBAL INFORMATION – Queen Anne’s Lace Seeds

 

Family: Apiaceae

Latin names: Daucus Carota

Common names: Queen Anne’s lace, Wild carrot, Bird’s nest, Bishop’s lace

Parts Used:  Herb (flower head), Root, Seed

Constituents: Flavonoids; daucine (an alkaloid); volatile oil; petroselinic acid; tannins1

 

Description

A native of Europe, this biennial plant has naturalized in North America and can now be found in abundance.  Daucus can reach an average height of one metre and tends to go into flower in mid June to early July.  It is most easily recognized by its umbrella-like flower configuration known as an umbel.  The flowers are a pale pink before changing to a bright white once they are fully opened.  Often times a single dark red flower can be found in the centre of the umbel, which helps to attract insects.  Once it turns to seed, the umbel contracts and becomes concave like a bird’s nest, giving rise to the common name ‘bird’s nest’. 

Considered an invasive weed by many, this plant has amazing healing properties.  The herb (flower head), root and seeds are all used medically.  The young root is often harvested as wild carrot in Europe, due to its similar taste to the garden carrot.  The seeds contraceptive abilities were first noted by Hippocrates over 2000 years ago.    

 

As the flower begins the contract the seeds will start changing colour, beginning with green, changing to yellow, then red and finally brown.  The seeds are at their most potent when they change to red, which usually occurs from mid to late August (depending on where you live). 

Daucus carota has a similar appearance to Poison Hemlock, so please exercise caution when wild harvesting.  It is recommended that you have at least one field guide with you and/or someone knowledgeable in wild harvesting.  If you are uncertain of the species/identification please DO NOT harvest or ingest.  

 

Therapeutic Properties

Anthelmintic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antilithic, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, tonic emmenagogue, hypocholesterolemic, nervine, prostatic, relaxant, tranquilizer, uterine relaxant, neurovasodilator

Medicinal Uses

Female Reproductive System

  • Amenorrhea (absent or extremely irregular menstrual period), PMS symptoms, dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), menopausal symptoms
  • Infertility and low sex drive

Digestive system

  • Functional conditions (flatulence, bloating, indigestion, cramping, heart burn etc.)
  • Poor appetite, anorexia
  • Inflammatory and spasmodic conditions (IBS, colic, diverticulosis, spasms etc.)

Liver (Cholagogue)

  • Congestion and inflammation of the liver/gall bladder
  • Spasms of the liver/gall bladder

Nervous System

  • Headaches (including tension headaches & migraines), insomnia, nervous exhaustion, fatigue, muscle tension, inflammatory conditions of the nerves, poor memory/concentration

Urinary System + Prostate Conditions

  • Cystitis, prostatitis
  • Edema, puffiness under skin, swollen feet, water retention (also during menstruation)
  • Gout, urinary stones, gravel in urine

Musculoskeletal System

  • Gout, rheumatism, rheumatic arthritis

Cardiovascular

  • Poor peripheral circulation (cold hands/feet) and heart palpitations

 

Contraindications

  • The seeds are mildly photosensitizing and therefore may increase photosensitivity
  • It may also increase the photosensitivity of some medications (if they are known to increase light sensitivity)
  • Daucus carota seeds are not recommended in pregnancy
  • Use with caution when taking oral contraceptives, anticonvulsant, sedative or mood-altering medications

 

References:

Aromatherapy – Christine Westwood

Class Notes – Living Earth School

Earthwise Herbal, The – Matthew Wood

Holistic Herbal – David Hoffman

Medical Herbalism – David Hoffman 1

New Encylopedia of Herbs & Their Uses – Deni Bown

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HERBAL INFORMATION – Ginger

 

Family: Zingiberaceae

Latin names: Zingiber officinale

Common names: Ginger, Root ginger

Parts Used:  Rhizome; essential oil

Constituents: Volatile oil (1% to 3% – occasionally more), primarily containing the sequiterpenes zingiberene and β-bisabolene; oleoresin (4% to 10%), containing gingerols, gingerdiols, gingerdiones, dihydrogingerdiones, shogaols; lipids (6% to 8%) 1

 

Description

Ginger is a tuber of a perennial plant.  It produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that bloom into yellow flowers.  This reed-like plant can grow to approximately one metre (3-4 feet) in height.   

Most everyone is familiar with ginger, either by its scent, its taste or its medicinal uses.  The cultivation of ginger is believed to have begun in Asia, but has since spread to parts of Western Africa and the Caribbean.

As a medicine, ginger was used in Indian, Chinese and Japanese herbal medicine traditions since the 1500s.  Sometimes called Jamaica ginger, its use has spread worldwide, with many countries utilizing it in their traditional or folk remedies.  In Africa it has long been used to kill intestinal parasites.  The Burmese combine ginger with a natural sweetener, boil it and take it as a flu preventative.  In China slices of cooked ginger are combined with brown sugar as a remedy for the common cold.  In India, ginger can be used in tea form as a remedy for the flu and colds.  In North American ginger is commonly taken in capsule form for nausea and motion sickness.             

In cooking, ginger is used in anything from Indian, Chinese and Japanese cuisines to the making of candies, cookies and ginger ale.      

 

Therapeutic Properties

Antihepatotoxic, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, antioxidant, antiprotozoal, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, antithrombotic, antiulcerogenic, aperient, cardiac, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, hypocholesterolemic, hypolipidemic, nervine, rubefacient, sialagogue, stomachic, vulnerary

 

Contraindications

Use with caution in pregnancy or if taking heart medication, nervous system medications and sedatives.  Due to its pungency ginger should always be used in formulation in tincture form (maximum 5-10%).  Topical use can cause reactions on sensitive tissues. 

 

Medicinal Uses 

Catalyst

  • Excellent for adding heat to liver/gall, cardiovascular and digestive formulas

Epithelial

  • Deeper tissues injuries (bruises, sprains, strains), cold extremities  
  • Other musculoskeletal conditions (arthritis, rheumatism)

Digestive System

  • Poor appetite, indigestion, cramps, spasms, anorexia, gas, bloating, ulcers, nausea, motion sickness, dysentery,
    • Good for morning sickness – not to be taken on an ongoing basis
    • Consult an herbal practitioner before using ginger tincture during pregnancy
  • Inflammatory conditions (colitis, diverticulitis, mouth ulcers, sore throats etc.)

Respiratory System

  • Sore throats, colds, flu, lung conditions (bronchitis, pneumonia), feverish conditions, coughs

Cardiovascular System

  • Heart conditions, poor circulation, serious vascular conditions, high blood fats/cholesterol, blood clots

  

Essential Oil

Physical conditions

  • Aching muscles, arthritis, cold symptoms, flu, nausea

Psychological conditions

  • Self-acceptance, self-awareness

 

References:

AromaWeb – http://www.aromaweb.com

Class Notes – Living Earth School

Earthwise Herbal, The – Matthew Wood

Holistic Herbal – David Hoffman

Medical Herbalism – David Hoffman 1

New Encylopedia of Herbs & Their Uses – Deni Bown

Read Full Post »

HERBAL INFORMATION – Yarrow

Family: Asteraceae

Latin names: Achillea millefolium

Common names: Yarrow, Milfoil, Thousand leaf, Soldier’s Wound-Wort, Nosebleed plant

Parts Used:  Flowers and leaves; essential oil

Constituents: Volatile oil (α- and β-pinene, borneol, bornyl acetate, camphor, α-caryophyllene, 1,8, cineole); sesquiterpene lactones (achillicin, achillin, achillifolin, millifin, millifolide); tannins, flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, isorhamnetin, rutin); alkaloids (betonicine, stachydrine, achiceine, moschatine, trigonelline and others); phenolic acids (caffeic, salicylic); coumarins 1

 

Description

Yarrow is a hardy flowering plant from the Aster family native to the Northern Hemisphere.  Producing one to several stems, yarrow’s alternate leaves are largest near the bottom and middle of the stem.  The flowers are arranged in flat top clusters with colours that range from light pink to white.  There are approximately 31 species of yarrow.  The information in this post pertains to Achillea millefolium specifically.

Yarrow has been used throughout history, mostly due to its astringent properties.  Yarrow’s name (Achillea) is attributed to Greek legend about Achilles who was said to have used the plant to heal soldier’s wounds during the Trojan Wars.  The use of yarrow in wartimes in is reflected in one of its common names – Soldier’s Wound-Wort.

Yarrow stalks have traditionally been used in many forms of divination.  In the Chinese I Ching, an oracle would toss and then read yarrow sticks of varying lengths.  It was said that Druids used yarrow stems as a method of weather prediction.

Today yarrow is used by herbalists all around the world from varying traditions and backgrounds.  Many of its uses in Western herbalism stem from its long-established applications in the Native traditions of both Canada and the United States.

 

Therapeutic Properties

Antiallergenic, antibacterial, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiulcerogenic, antiviral, aperient, appetite stimulant, astringent, bitter, carminiative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, hemostatic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, stomachic, vascular tonic, vulnerary

Contraindications

Due to its emmenagogue properties it is not recommended in pregnancy and lactation.  Use with caution if you are taking oral contraceptives or any heart or blood pressure medications.  Some cases of hypersensitivity to yarrow have been reported.1

 

Medicinal Uses 

Epithelial

  • Topical conditions (cuts, bite, scrapes, stings, burns, infected wounds)
  • Deeper tissues injuries (bruises, sprains, strains)

Vascular Conditions

  • Spider veins, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, arteriosclerosis, nose bleeds, hypertension

Digestive System

  • Poor appetite, indigestion, cramps, spasms, anorexia, gas, bloating, ulcers
  • Inflammatory conditions (colitis, diverticulitis etc.)

Respiratory System

  • Upper respiratory conditions (sinus infections, cold, hay fever, flu, fevers)
  • Useful in childhood fevers however its taste is a deterrent to its use

Liver and Gall Bladder

  • Congestion, inflammation, acute hepatitis

Female Reproductive System

  • Amenorrhea and menorrhagia

Urinary System

  • Cystitis, nephritis

Essential Oil

Topical Uses

  • Hair care, hemorrhoids, scars, stretch marks, varicose veins

Physical conditions

  • Indigestion, insomnia, menstrual cramps, migraines

References:

AromaWeb – http://www.aromaweb.com

Class Notes – Living Earth School

Earthwise Herbal, The – Matthew Wood

Holistic Herbal – David Hoffman

Medical Herbalism – David Hoffman 1

New Encylopedia of Herbs & Their Uses – Deni Bown

Read Full Post »

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