Herbal Tradition

Since the beginning of time people have enhanced their lives with plants.  We continue that tradition but recognize that some explanation may be needed for others.  The following is intended to provide basic information and hopefully pique your interest to conduct your own research.   This data has been extracted (with permission) from HERBALPEDIA™, a digital encyclopedia of herbs compiled and updated annually by the Herb Growing and Marketing Network. Contact them at:

The Herb Growing & Marketing Network
PO Box 245
Silver Spring, PA
17575-0245
Phone: 717-393-3295
Fax: 717-393-9261
Email: herbworld@aol.com
URL: www.herbalpedia.com
Editor: Maureen Rogers

Note that in the following extracts the word “cream” is synonymous with “ointment

Arnica Arnica montana

Actions : Anti-inflammatory, vulnerary.

Characteristics: a bit sweet & bitter & pungent; warmth: neutral with a secondary cooling effect.

History: Used extensively in European folk medicine. The German philosopher and poet  Goethe drank arnica tea to ease his angina in old age. Peasants would set arnica plants around their fields to protect them from the grainwolf, a demon in the form of a horned devil with goat feet that stalked the farms. The word arnica comes from the Greek arnakis ,meaning lamb’s coat, and refers to the felt-like sepals covered in soft hairs that surround the flower. Leaves and roots are smoked in herbal tobaccos.

Medicinal Uses: Used externally, Arnica promotes the healing of wounds contracted through blows, punctures, falls and cuts. It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, relieves pain from injuries and promotes tissue regeneration. . Arnica has been shown to be an immunostimulant, as both the sesquiterpene lactone helenalin and the polysaccharide fraction stimulate phagocytosis. Sesquiterpene lactones are known to have anti-inflammatory activity and their biological effects appear to be mediated through immunological processes. As helenalin is one of the most active, this might help account for the use of Arnica for pain and inflammation. For sprains and strains, arnica promotes healing and has an antibacterial action; causes reabsorption of internal bleeding in bruises and sprains. Apply as a cream to the affected area.  Arnica cream is useful for chapped lips and inflamed nostrils, bruises, joint pain, skin rash and acne.

Do not use on broken skin; use only homeopathic Arnica internally. Taken internally, non-homeopathis arnica is toxic. Dermatitis may result from external use

References:
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, 1993; ISBN: 1-56458-087-x
Cosmetics from the Earth, Roy Genders, Alfred Van der Marck, 1985; ISBN: 0-912383-20-8
Discovering Wild Plants, Janice J. Schofield, Alaska Northwest Books, 1989; ISBN: 0- 88240-369-9
The Energetics of Western Herbs, Peter Holmes, Artemis, 1989; ISBN: 0-9623477-6-0
Flower Essence Repertory, Patricia Kaminski & Richard Katz, Flower Essence Society, 1994; ISBN: 0-9631306-1-7
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, Element Books, 1995; ISBN: 1-56619-990-5
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field & Marketplace, Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley, San Juan Naturals; 1998; ISBN: 0-9621635-7-0
Medicine of the Earth, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Rudra Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-915801-59-0
The Roots of Healing, Deb Soule, Citadel Press, 1995; ISBN: 0-8065-1578-3

 

BayLauris nobilis

(See also 2nd Bay entry below; this information has been included to show the differences when only the common names of herbs are used – always reference the Latin names of plant to be sure you are getting appropriate information)

Properties: astringent, carminative, digestive, stomachic, stimulant, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogic.

Nutritional profile: One oz of bay leaves has 54 calories. It provides 1.2 g protein, a trace of fat, 13 g carbohydrates, 53 mg calcium, 1.5 mg iron, 3,000 IU vitamin A and 15mg vitamin C. However, since bay leaves are usually removed from a cooked dish before it is served they do not contribute any appreciable amount of nutrients to your diet.

History: Ancient Greeks crowned Olympic winners, scholars and poets with bay (the Latin meaning to praise the famous). Bay wreaths are even now placed on Boston Marathon winners. Baccalaureate and “bachelor’s” degrees come from the French baccae lauri or “noble berry tree. The emperor Tiberius (42BC- D37) had a phobia that made him always wear a bay wreath during thunderstorms because it was said that lightning never struck bay trees. The bay was sacred to Apollo, the Greek god of prophecy, poetry and healing. So the fumes that the priestesses at Delphi breathed to inspire prophetic visions were probably burning bay leaves. The roof of the temple was made entirely of bay leaves for protection against disease, witchcraft and lightning. Bay was also dedicated to Apollo’s son Aesculpius, the Greek god of medicine. In Greek the word for laurel is dhafni from the myth of the nymph, Daphne, who changed by Gaea into a laurel tree to escape Apollo’s advances.

Culinary Uses: The main contribution of bay to foods is its fragrance, sweet but not cloying, pervasive but not overpowering. Its blend is one of balsam and honey, with faint tones of rose, clove, orange, mint and other echoes. Its aroma peaks between three days and a week after it has been picked. The taste of bay is sharp, slightly peppery and of medium bitterness. Use fresh by a few days after it’s been picked. If you use commercial dried bay, you will need to add more leaves than recipes require. Be sure to remove whole bay leaves before a dish is served. They are large enough to stick in the throat especially of young children. But traditionally the guest who finds the leaf in his portion was due to receive some minor or major fortune. NOTE: Never use leaves from the mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) or the cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) as substitutes for bay leaves. California bay (Umbelluluaria californica) is often sold as bay but the aroma has eucalyptus overtones and the flavor is very bitter.

Medicinal Uses: The Romans used bay leaves and berries for the treatment of liver disorders. The French at one time used bay as an antiseptic. Now the Lebanese steep the berries and leaves in brandy in the sun for a few days and drink it to calm queasy stomachs. Bay oil from the berries and leaves can be used in salves and liniments for rheumatism, bruises and skin problems. Both fruit and leaves also stimulate the digestion. A decoction of fruit or leaves made into a paste with honey or syrup can be applied to the chest for colds and other chest problems. The oil contains a powerful bacteria killing chemical that is used in some dentifrices.  Bay leaves have demonstrated to help the body use insulin more efficiently at levels as low as a half teaspoon. An experimental convalescent home in Russia encourages patients to smell bay leaves to sharpen the memory. Ancient Romans and Greeks placed a rolled bay leaf in the nose or stuck a leaf on the forehead when troubled by headaches.

Other Uses: Bay leaves appear to repel roaches, moths and fleas. The active chemical in the leaf is eucalyptol. Put a whole leaf in a canister of flour to keep the insects out or put whole leaves in your closet, in drawers with woolens or around the drain under the sink. Distilled oil is utilized in the perfume and liquor industries. Use a whole leaf as a fragrant book mark.

References:
The Complete Book of Herbs, Lesley Bremness, Viking Studio, 1988 ISBN 0-670-81894-1
The Complete Book of Herbs, Spices and Condiments, Carol Ann Rinzler, Facts on File, 1990 ISBN 0-8160-2008-6
Favorite Recipes with Herbs, Dawn J. Ranch & Phyllis Pellman Good, Good Books, 1998  ISBN 0-87596-316-1
The Healing Herbs, Michael Castleman, Rodale, 1991 ISBN 0-87857-934-6
The Herb & Spice Cookbook, Sheryl & Mel London, Rodale, 1986 ISBN 0-87857- 41-X
The Herb Book, John Lust, Bantam Books, 1974
Herbs in the Kitchen, Carolyn Dille & Susan Belsinger, Interweave Press, 1992 ISBN 0-934026- 73-4
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard, 1991 ISBN 0-7924- 5307-7
Jude’s Herbal Home Remedies, Jude C. Williams, Llewellyn, 1992 ISBN 0-87542-869-X
Kitchen Herbs, Sal Gilbertie, Bantam, 1988 ISBN 0-553-05265-9
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Herbs and Spices, Stanley Schuler, Fireside, 1990 ISBN 0-671-73489- X
What Herb Is That, John & Rosemary Hemphill, Stackpole Books, 1997 ISBN 0-8117-1634-1

 

Bay – Pimenta racemosa

(also called Bay Rum and see note on above Bay entry)

Properties: Analgesic, anticonvulsant, antineuralgic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, astringent, expectorant, stimulant, hair tonic.

Constituents: Eugenol (up to 56%), methyl eugenol, chavicol, estragole, myrcene, phellandrene, linalol, and limonene.

Extraction: Oil of pimento leaves is obtained by distillation from the leaves. Oil of pimento leaves occurs as a yellow liquid, soon becoming brown on exposure to the air, having a pleasant, characteristic odor, and a sharp, spicy taste.

Characteristics: A dark yellow, mobile liquid with a fresh spicy top note and a sweet balsamic undertone.

Scent: Fresh, penetrating, slightly camphoraceous, spicy-medicinal

Qualities: (mind) Reviving, warming, clearing, refreshing

Circulation, Muscles & Joints: Rheumatism, arthritis, aches and pains, strains, neuralgia, poor circulation

Immune System: Colds, flu, infectious diseases

Skin Care: When diluted in a carrier oil, Bay has been used as a hair and scalp treatment, especially oily or greasy, lifeless hair, hair rinse for dandruff, and it may promote hair growth. Bay has also been used to relieve muscular and particular aches and pains, neuralgia, poor circulation, rheumatism, and sprains and strains. It can be applied to the chest to relieve symptoms of colds, coughs, and infectious diseases like the flu. Vaporized Bay may also relieve colds, coughs, and infectious diseases.

Other Uses: Bay is often used as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents, perfumes, aftershaves, and hair lotions including bay rum.

Culinary Uses: Its leaves are used for cooking.

References:
Cosmetics from the Earth, Roy Genders, Alfred van der Marck Editions, 1985; ISBN: 0-912383-20-8
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, Element Books, 1997; ISBN: 1-56619-990-5

 

Calendula Calendula officinalis

Key Actions: anti-inflammatory; relieves muscle spasms; astringent; prevents hemorrhaging; heals wounds; antiseptic; detoxifying; mildly estrogenic

Medicinal Uses:  The ancient Romans used calendula to treat scorpion bites and soldiers in the American Civil War found it helped stop wounds from bleeding.  Calendula is a popular salve and cream ingredient because it decreases the inflammation of sprains, stings, varicose veins and other swellings and soothes burns, sunburn, rashes and skin irritations. Laboratory studies show it kills bacteria and fungus such as ringworm, athlete’s foot.

Cream: Apply for any problem involving inflammation or dry skin; wounds; dry eczema; sore nipples in breastfeeding, scalds, and sunburn.  Infused oil is use on chilblains, hemorrhoids, and broken capillaries. (Some) have had great success using calendula salve for wounds, injuries and inflammation.

References:
The Complete Book of Herbs, Lesley Bremness, Dorling Kindersley, 1988; 0-670- 81894-1
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, 1993; 1-56458-187-X
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1996; 0-894-1067-2
Herbs for Health and Healing, Kathi Keville, Rodale, 1997; 0-87596-293-9
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field & Marketplace, Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley, San Juan Naturals; 1998; ISBN: 0-9621635-7-0
Medicine of the Earth, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Rudra Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-915801-59-0

 

Cayenne  – Capsicum frutescens

Chemical Composition: Cayenne has a similar chemical structure to other capsicums. It has a high vitamin C content, and also contains vitamins A, B and E. The pungency is due to the active ingredient, capsaicin, and the red pigment is capsanthin. Also present are other pigments, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, moisture and a fixed oil.

Medicinal Uses:   Cayenne is the preferred species of Capsicum for medicinal use. Those in climates that eat more hot peppers have less chronic obstructive lung disease than those on blander diets. Externally, cayenne makes an excellent liniment for poor circulation, unbroken chilblains, sprains and painful joints. Internally, small doses of cayenne stimulate the appetite and act as an internal cleanser. Cayenne brings blood and body heat to the surface, stimulating sweating and cooling the body. It regulates the blood flow, equalizing and strengthening the heart, arteries, capillaries and nerves. It is a good tonic and is specific for the circulatory and digestive system. It may be used in flatulent dyspepsia and colic. It is used for treating debility and for warding off colds.

Eating hot peppers temporarily boosts the body’s metabolic rate by about 25%. Cayenne acts as an energy stimulant, slightly encouraging the adrenals to produce cortisone. Used externally, it is a strong rubefacient stimulating the circulation, aiding the removal of waste products and increasing the flow of nutrients to the tissues. It is applied as a cataplasm or liniment.  Capsicin has been found to reduce “substance P,” a chemical that carries pain messages from nerve endings to the skin to the central nervous system. Clinical trials showed that 75% of the people who applied a capsicin cream on their shingles disease experienced substantial pain relief with only an occasional burning sensation. It is being investigated for use on other painful skin problems, such as diabetic nerve damage, psoriasis, and post surgical pain.

References:
Herbal Gold, Madonna Sophia Compton, Llewellyn, 2000; ISBN: 1-56718-172-4
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, Lotus Press, 1978; ISBN: 0-941-52427-2

 

ChamomileMatricaria recutita

Constituents: Volatile oil (proazulenes, chamazulene(upon distillation), farnesine, alpha-bisabolol, spiroether); flavonids (anthemidin, luteolin, rutin, quercimertrin); bitter glycosides (anthemic acid); coumarins, tannins, plant acids (valerianic); polysaccharides, salicylate, tryptophan, amino acids

Properties: anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, relaxant, carminative, mild bitter, antiallergenic

Medicinal uses: Externally, it can be applied to sore, itchy skin and eczema. It also relieves eyestrain. A cream made from German chamomile was tested in 1987 for its ability to heal wounds and produced very good results. Apply it externally for disinfecting and anti inflammatory treatments in the form of packs, baths, and compresses using a strong tea, diluted chamomile tincture or a liquid chamomile extract.

Applications: Cream: rub onto sore or itchy skin Infusion with flower heads: for a good night’s sleep, drink a cup last thing at night. To relax fractious and overtired children, infuse 4 tsp dried herb in 500 ml water and strain into a bath.

Toxicity; A study found the likelihood of acute allergy to chamomile quite low. Two out of 25 people already allergic to other plants in the Asteraceae family were found to be allergic to chamomile as well.

References:
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN: 0- 7894-1067-2
The Healing Herbs, Michael Castleman, Rodale, 1991; ISB: 0-87857-934-6
Medicine of the Earth., Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Rudra Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-915801-59-0

 

Chickweed  – Stellaria media

Constituents: mucilage, triterpenoid saponins, coumarins, carboxylic acids, silica, minerals, vitamins A, B, C, fatty acids

Properties: astringent, antirheumatic, heals wounds, demulcent

Medicinal Uses: Historically used to treat both internal and external inflammations. Poultice of stems and leaves used to ease arthritis and pains of the joints, cuts, and skin irritations. It may soothe severe itchiness and is often used to relieve eczema, varicose veins and nettle rash. An infusion of the fresh or dried plant may be added to a bath, where the herb’s emollient properties will help reduce inflammation, in rheumatic joints for example, and encourage tissue repair. It may be taken internally to treat chest ailments and in small quantities, it also aids digestion.

References:
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, 1993; ISBN: 1- 56458-187-X
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2

 

Cinnamon  – Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Properties: anaesthetic, antidontalgic, antiseptic, antiputrefactive, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, astringent, cardiac, carminiative, emmenagogue, escharotic, haemostatic, insecticide, parasiticide, sialogogue, stimulant, stomachic, vermifuge

Essential Oil: Both oil of cassia (called “oil of cinnamon”) and the oil of true cinnamon bark (known as “oil of cinnamon, Ceylon”) get their flavor and aroma from cinnamaldehyde, a yellow, oily liquid with a pungent cinnamon scent. Oil of cassia may be as much as 80% cinnamaldehyde, oil of cinnamon, Ceylon, is approximately 55%-70% cinnamaldehyde. The oil of true cinnamon bark also contains eugenol, the chemical that gives oil of cloves its flavor and scent, and several other aromatic oils, including phellandrene.

Aromatherapy:  Extraction method–Distillation; plant part–tree, bud, bark, leaf. Cinnamon leaf essential oil is often preferred over cinnamon bark or bud as the latter two may in some cases cause a severe skin reaction, having a large proportion of cinnamic aldehyde, often the cause of skin sensitization.

Characteristics: a yellow to brownish liquid with a warm-spicy, somewhat harsh odor from the leaves and twigs. A pale to dark yellow liquid with a sweet, warm-spicy, dry, tenacious odor from the dried inner bark. Best avoided in pregnancy.

Uses:
Mind: excellent for exhausted states and feelings of weakness and depression

Skin: mildly astringent effect on the skin tightening loose tissues and effective in clearing warts; lice, scabies, tooth and gum care, wasp stings

Body: Strong antiseptic with a tonic effect on the respiratory tract, eases colds by its warming action, indicated for influenza. Restores heat to the body. Reputation for resisting viral infections and contagious diseases. Stimulates tears, saliva and mucous. Calms spasm of the digestive tract, dyspepsia, colitis, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Stimulates secretion of gastric juices. A strong stimulant of the glandular system. Tonic effect on whole body and particularly on the circulatory system. Genito-urinary system: stimulates childbirth contractions, leucorrhea, scanty periods.

Medicinal Uses: It was one of the ingredients in ivory jelly, which was made from powdered ivory and given at one time to consumptives. It raises vitality, warms and stimulates all the vital functions of the body, counteracts congestion, is antirheumatic, stops diarrhea, improves digestion, relieves abdominal spasms, aids the peripheral circulation of the blood. Cinnamon is the second most widely used warming stimulant in Chinese medicine, used by Chinese herbalists much as Western herbalists have used cayenne. In India, it is taken after childbirth as a contraceptive. It has a slight emmenagogic action—stimulating the uterus and encouraging menstrual bleeding. The bark is also administered by Ayurvedic doctors for anorexia, bladder disorders, and as tonic for the heart. Japanese research in the 1980s showed that cinnamaldehyde was sedative and analgesic. It is also thought to reduce blood pressure and fevers. One German study showed cinnamon suppresses completely the cause of most urinary tract infections and the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections. It helps break down fats in your digestive system, possibly by boosting the activity of some digestive enzymes. You can dust a bit of cinnamon on cuts and scrapes (it contains eugenol) which helps relieve the pain of household mishaps. Studies have shown that consuming ¼ teaspoon a day of cinnamon lowers diabetes risk by up to 29%

Toxicity: Cinnamaldehyde, eugenol and phellandrene are all allergens and irritants that may cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. People who are sensitive to cinnamon may develop dermatitis after using perfume, soap, mouthwash or toothpaste scented or flavored with cinnamon.

References:
500 Formulas for Aromatherapy, Carol & David Schiller, Sterling, 1995; ISBN: 0-8069-0584-0
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2
Herbs for Health and Healing, Kathi Keville, Rodale, 1997, ISBN: 0-87596-293-9
The Science of Herbal Medicine, John Heinerman, Bi-World Publishers, 1979
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Herbs and Spices, edited by Stanley Schuler, Fireside, 1990
The Master Book of Herbalism. Paul Beyerl, Phoenix Publishing, 1984
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, Element, 1995; ISBN: 1-85230- 721-8

 

Clove  Syzygium aromaticum

Medicinal Use: Traditional Chinese physicians have long used the herb to treat indigestion, diarrhea, hernia, and ringworm, as well as athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. India’s traditional Ayurvedic healers have used clove since ancient times to treat respiratory and digestive ailments. America’s 19th century Eclectic physicians used clove to treat digestive complaints and added it to bitter herb-medicine preparations to make them more palatable. The Eclectics were also the first to extract clove oil from the herbal buds. It has antiseptic, stimulant, stomachic and digestive properties. As an anti-infectant, cloves are effective against coli bacilli, streptococci, staphylococci,  neumococci and as an antimycotic. The oil, too, is used in dentistry for its antiseptic and analgesic properties, and, like the whole cloves and powdered cloves, for local pain-relieving purposes. Eugenol is a local anesthetic used in dental fillings and cements; a rubifacient and a carminative. It is also an irritant and an allergic sensitizer. Besides all their other uses, cloves can be used to treat acne, skin ulcers, sores, and styes. They also make a potent mosquito and moth repellent which is where the clove studded orange pomander comes from.

Adverse effects: contact with cloves may cause contact dermatitis. Because eugenol can be irritating to the intestinal tract, cloves are usually excluded from a bland diet.

Aromatherapy: Oil of cloves contains caryophyllene, an oily liquid that smells like a cross between cloves and turpentine; almond-scented furfural; vanillin, and fruity scented, peppery methlamylketone.. They are used for flavoring desserts, fruit salads, mulled wine, and liquors. Sometimes they are stuck in oranges hung in cupboards as a freshener. Whole or in powdered form they also help to relieve toothache.

Extraction: The essential oil by water distillation from the buds and the leaves and by steam distillation from the stalks or stems. A concrete, absolute and oleoresin are also produced from the buds in small quantities. More than 22 lb of essence can be obtained each year from a single plant; this is the basis for the synthesis of vanilla.

Characteristics: Clove bud oil is a pale yellow liquid with a sweet-spicy odor and a fruity-fresh top note. The bud oil is favored in perfumery work. Clove leaf is dark brown oil with a crude,  burnt-woody odor. Clove stem oil is a pale yellow liquid with a strong spicy woody odor.

Uses:
Skin care: acne, athlete’ foot, bruises, burns, cuts, toothache, ulcers

Circulation:  Muscles, Joints: arthritis, rheumatism, sprains Respiratory system: asthma, bronchitis

Digestive System: colic, dyspepsia, nausea Immune system: colds, flu, minor infections.

References:
500 Formulas for Aromatherapy, Carol & David Schiller, Sterling, 1995; ISBN: 0-8069-0584-0
Adriana’s Spice Caravan, Adriana and Rochelle Zabarkes, Storey, 1997; ISBN: 0- 88266-987-7
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2
Herbs for Health and Healing, Kathi Keville, Rodale, 1997, ISBN: 0-87596-293-9
The Science of Herbal Medicine, John Heinerman, Bi-World Publishers, 1979
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Herbs and Spices, edited by Stanley Schuler,  Fireside, 1990
The Master Book of Herbalism. Paul Beyerl, Phoenix Publishing, 1984
The Complete Book of Herbs, Spices and Condiments, Carol Ann Rinzler, Facts on File, 1990
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, Element, 1995; ISBN: 1-85230- 721-8

 

Comfrey  – Symphytum officinale

Constituents: allantoin, tannins, mucilage, starch, inulin, protein (to 35%), alkaloids (including pyrrolizidine), sterols, zinc, asparagines, vitamin B12, gum, sugar, quercid acid, calcium, iodine, sodium chloride, silica, Properties: expectorant, antitussive, demulcent, alterative, astringent, vulnerary

Medicinal Uses: Comfrey leaves and especially the root contain allantoin, a cell proliferant that increases the healing of wounds. It also stops bleeding, is soothing, and is certainly the most popular ingredient in herbal skin sales for wounds, inflammation, rashes, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and just about any skin problem. Taken internally, comfrey repairs the digestive tract lining, helping to heal peptic and duodenal ulcers and colitis. Studies show it inhibits prostaglandins, which cause inflammation of the stomach lining. Comfrey has been used to treat a variety of respiratory diseases and is a specific when these involve coughing of blood. In cases of bleeding of the lungs, stomach or bowels the leaves or root should be made into a strong decoction, or a strong infusion of the leaves and regular hourly or two hourly drinks taken until the bleeding ceases. The root is stronger and more effective than the leaves. In the case of bleeding piles the addition of distilled extract of Witch Hazel to the infusion or decoction will increase the effectiveness.  Concurrent internal and external application has the most favorable effect on the healing process. In some parts of Ireland, comfrey was eaten as a cure for defective circulation and for poverty of the blood.

Toxicity: Investigations on pyrrolizidine alkaloids have found over 200 types occurring in about 3% of the world’s plants, including comfrey. In one study, rats fed a comfrey diet (up to 33%) developed liver cancer. So far, only two cases of possible comfrey poisoning have been reported in people. One was a 13-year-old British boy who ate comfrey regularly for about 3 years but the researchers admitted that he might have been more susceptible because of an underlying inflammatory bowel disease. The fresh root contains approximately 10 times more PA than fresh leaves. Fresh, young, spring leaves average .22% PA, young fall leaves have .05% PA, mature leaves have only .003$ PA and two investigations did not detect PA at all in dried leaves. It is interesting that water extracts of the whole leaves actually decreased tumor growth and increased survival time in cancer patients.

Take care with very deep wounds as the external application of comfrey can lead to tissue forming over the wound before it is healed deeper down, possibly leading to abscesses.

References:
A Book of Herbs & Spices, Gail Duff, Salem House, 1987; ISBN: 0-88162-281-8
All Good Things Around Us, Pamela Michael, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1980, ISBN: 0-03- 057296-7
Along the Garden Path, Bill & Sylvia Varney, Fredericksburg Herb Farm, 1995; ISBN: 0- 9649691-0-6
Culinary Herbs & Condiments, M. Grieve, Dover, 1971, ISBN: 0-486-21513-X
The Green Pharmacy, James A Duke, Rodale Press, 1997; ISBN: 0-87596-316-1
The Herb Quarterly No. 35 Herbs and Spices, Transedition, 1996; ISBN: 1- 898250-70-7
Herbs for all Seasons, Rosemary Hemphill, Viking, 1992; ISBN: 0-670-85041-1
The Illustrated Book of Herbs, Gilda Daisley, American Nature Society Press, 1982; ISBN: 0- 517-400278
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991; ISBN: 0-7924-5307-7
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, Lotus Press, 1988; ISBN: 0-941-524272

 

Geranium  – Pelargonium spp.

Aromatherapy: The essential oil accumulates in small glands found in the foliage and flowers.  Harvesting, usually done by hand two or three times annually, begins as the plant starts flowering. The herb is cut in the morning in sunny, dry weather. Distillation begins after a few hours of field drying. There are several types of compounds. Reunion oil is very rich in citronellol and has a heavy rose and minty odor. Algerian oil has a delicate odor. Moroccan oil is similar to Algerian oil. French oil is thought to possess the finest rose-like odor. The concrete and absolute of geranium are also available commercially. P. graveolens is normally used.

Extraction: essential oil by steam distillation from the leaves stalks and flowers of rose geranium. An absolute and concrete are also produced in Morocco.

Characteristics: The Bourbon oil is a greenish olive liquid with a rosy-sweet, minty scent, preferred in perfumery work;

Actions: antidepressant, anti-hemorrhagic, antiinflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, cicatrisant, deodorant, diuretic, fungicidal, hemostatic, stimulant (adrenal cortex), styptic, tonic, vermifuge, vulnerary

Constituents: citronellol, gernaiol, linalol, isomenthone, menthone, phellandrene, sabinene, limonene

Uses:
Skin Care: acne, bruises, broken capillaries, burns, congested skin, cuts, dermatitis, eczema, hemorrhoids, lice, mature skin, mosquito repellent, oily complexion, ringworm, ulcers, wounds

Circulation: cellulitis, engorgement of breasts, edema, poor circulation

Respiratory System: sore throat, tonsillitis

Genito-urinary and endocrine systems: andrenocortical glands and menopausal problems, PMS, tonic effect on the kidneys and a mild diuretic; balances the secretion of hormones and stimulates the lymphatic system and the pancreas

Nervous System: nervous tension, neuralgia and stress-related conditions

Other Uses: fragrance component in cosmetic products including soaps, creams, perfumes. Used as a flavoring agent in most food categories, alcoholic and soft drinks

Safety: non-toxic, non-irritant, generally nonsensitizing. Possibly contact dermatitis in hypersensitive individuals.

Medicinal Uses: As a medicinal plant, geranium has traditionally been considered an astringent and used as a folk remedy in the treatment of ulcers. A terpine hydrate synthesized from geraniol is known to be, an effective expectorant. Leaves are reported to have antifungal activity.

References:
Aromatherapy Blends and Remedies, Franzesca Watson, Thorsons, 1995
The Complete Geranium, Susan Conder, Clarkson, Potter, 1992; ISBN: 0-517-58883-8
Growing & Using Scented Geraniums, Mary Peddie & Judy & John Lewis, Storey Publishing, 1991
My Favorite Herb, Laurel Keser, Callawind, 1999; ISB: 1-896511-12-0
Scented Geraniums, Linda Fry Kenzle, Eastlake Unlimited, 1991

 

GingerZingiber officinale

Constituents: Contains proteins, cellulose, starch, minerals, a fixed oil with gingerol, a bitter resin and 1-3 per cent volatile oil. Nineteen substances have been isolated from the essential oil including zingiberene, bisabolene, zingiberol, zingiberenol, curcumene, borneol, methlheptenone, phellandrene, camphene, norneol, cineol, linalool, citral, cumene, pinene and cymene. Fresh ginger contains 80% water, while dry ginger has up to 10% moisture. The pungent principles of ginger are ginerols, shogoals and zingerone, in that order of pungency.

Properties: warming, apertif, carminative, stimulant, stomachic, diaphoretic, antidepressant, expectorant, antiematic, analgesic, rubefacient, counter-irritant, analgesic, anti-oxidant,  antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, and tonic.  Has a warming action on the stomach and slows digestion; powerfully expectorant, clearing the lungs of accumulated catarrh and mucus. Also good for congested sinuses or colds, flu and bronchitis; beneficial to bronchial asthma; helpful for travel sickness and morning sickness in pregnancy, reducing nausea and vomiting; massaged into the limbs, ginger increases the flow of blood to the extremities for cold, rheumatic pains in the hands and feet; very helpful for warming swollen joints aggravated by external dampness; warms the emotions, sharpens the senses, aids the memory and is grounding. Non-toxic, non-irritant may cause sensitization in some individuals.

Medicinal Uses: The root is warming to the body, is slightly antiseptic and promotes internal secretions. Ginger contains zingibain, a special kind of proteolytic enzyme that has the ability to chemically break down protein. Clinical studies have shown that proteolytic enzymes have anti-inflammatory properties. They also play an additional role in controlling autoimmune disease.  They help reduce blood levels of compounds known as immune complexes. Ginger is also well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Indian and Scandinavian studies have consistently shown that ginger is useful for treating most kinds of arthritis. It also contains more than 12 antioxidants. It can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule Ginger actually gives other herbs a boost by improving the body’s ability to assimilate them. Ginger actually protects herbal compounds from being destroyed by the liver and continues circulating in the blood for a longer time. It also improves the intestines’ absorption of other herbs. Helps reduce serum cholesterol levels, reduces tendency towards blood clots. Aids circulation (including peripheral circulation). Stimulates vasomotor (producing contraction and dilation in walls of vessels) and respiratory center of the central nervous system.

References:
Aromatherapy Blends & Remedies, FranzescaWatson, Thorsons, 1995; ISBN: 0-7225-3222-9
Aromatherapy Workbook, Marcel Lavabre, Healing Arts, 1990; ISBN: 0-89281-346-6
Ayurveda & Aromatherapy, Dr. Light Miller & Dr. Bryan Miller, Lotus Press, 1995; ISBN: 0-914955-20-9
Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Dan Bensky & Andrew Gamble, Eastland Press, 1993; ISBN: 0-939616-15-7
The Complete Book of Herbs & Spices, Sarah Garland, Viking, 1979; ISBN: 0- 671-05575-5
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, 1993; ISBN: 1- 6458-187-X
Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke, Rodale, 1997; ISBN: 0-87596-316-1
Ginger East to West, Bruce Cost, Aris, 1984; ISBN: 0-943186-06-4
The Healing Kitchen, Patricia Stapley, Macmillan, 1996; ISBN: 0-02-860394-X
Herbs for Health and Healing, Kathi Keville, Rodale, 1997; ISBN: 0-87596-293-9
The Master Book of Herbalism, Paul Beyerl,Phoenix, 1984; ISBN: 0-919345-53-0
Mastering Herbalism, Paul Huson, Stein and Day, 1975; ISBN: 0-8128-1847-4
Mother Nature’s Herbal, Judy Griffin, Llewellyn Press, 1997, ISBN: 1-56718-340-9
Nutritional Herbology, Mark Pedersen, Wendell W. Whitman Co., 1995; ISBN: 1-885653-03-4
Thorne’s Guide to Herbal Extracts, Terry Thorne, Wisteria Press, 1993

 

Lavender Lavandula officinalis; Lavandula angustifolia;

Properties: analgesic, anticonvulsive, antidepressant, antimicrobial, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, carminative, cholagogue, choleretic, cicatrizant, cordial, cytophylactic, deodorant, diuretic, emmenagogue, hypotensive, insecticide, nervine, parasiticide, rubefacient, sedative, stimulant, sudorific, tonic, vermifuge, vulnery Constituents: Over 100. Lavender has 0.5- 1/5% volatile oil, tannins, coumarins (including coumarin, umbelliferone and herniarin), flavonoids (such as luteolin), and (in the leaves) about 0.7% ursolic acid. The essential oil has linalyl acetate (8-18% in English lavender, 30-60% in French lavender), linalool, 1,8-cineole, camphor, _pinene, geraniol and its esters, lavandulol, nerol, cineole, caryophyllene, limonene, furfural, ethyl amyl ketone, thujone, and pinocamphone. Linalool has the distinct smell of lavender. The sweetly floral English lavender has little camphor compared to other lavenders, which accordingly have a medicinal or detergent-like smell. High altitudes generally produce more esters.

Medicinal Uses: In the past, lavender has been used as a folk remedy for numerous conditions, including acne, cancer, colic, faintness, flatulence, giddiness, migraine, nausea, neuralgia, nervous headache, nervous palpitations, poor appetite, pimples, rheumatism, sores, spasms, sprains, toothache, vomiting and worms. Lavender salts have been employed for centuries as a stimulant to prevent fainting; lavender oil vapor is traditionally inhaled to prevent vertigo and fainting. A compound tincture of lavender (also known as Palsy Drops) was officially recognized by the British Pharmacopoeia for over 200 years, until the 1940s. Used to relieve muscle spasms, nervousness, and headaches, it originally contained over 30 ingredients. Tests show that lavender’s essential oil is a potent ally in destroying a wide range of bacterial infections, including staph, strep, pneumonia, and most flu viruses. It is also strongly antifungal. Lavender ointments are rubbed into burns, bruises, varicose veins, and other skin injuries. The straight oil is dabbed on stops the itching of insect bites..

References:
500 Formulas for Aromatherapy, Carol & David Schiller, Sterling; 1994; ISBN: 0-8069-0584-0
Adriana’s Spice Caravan, Adriana and Rochelle Zabarkes, Storey, 1997
The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Salvatore Battaglia, Perfect Potion, 1995; ISBN: 0-646-20670-2
The Healing Kitchen, Patricia Stapley, Macmillan, 1996; ISBN: 0-02-860394-X
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, Element, 1995; ISBN: 1-85230-721-8
Los Remedios, Michael Moore, Red Crane Books, 1990; ISBN: 1-878610-06-6
Lovely Lavender, Tina James, Barbara Steele,Marlene Lufrui, Alloway Gardens (456 MudCollege Rd., Littlestown, Pa 17340), 1990
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallad Press, 1991

 

Mint Mentha sylvestris; Mentha viridis; (Mentha aquatica v. crispa: curly mint); Mentha rotundifolia (Pineapple mint), Mentha piperita (peppermint)

History: Spearmint was the original medicinal mint. Peppermint appeared later, a natural hybrid of spearmint species. All the mints were considered one plant, mint, until 1696, when British botanist John Ray differentiated them. Although there are only about 25 true species of mint, natural and artificial hybridization has yielded several thousand variations, with much confusion as to the correct naming of all of them. Generally, mint leaves may be rounded, oval, or slightly pointed; smooth or wrinkly; and have slightly toothed or serrated edges. The most distinguishable characteristic is that the stems are always square.

Spearmint Constituents:  .8-2.5% essential oil containing ca. 50% carvone, as well as  dihydrocarveol acetate and other monoterpenes; menthol is absent. The composition of the essential oil varies considerably according to its origin. In  some others there is volatile oil (mainly menthol), tannins, flavonoids, tocopherols, choline, bitter principle.

Constituents of peppermint: menthol, menthone, menthyl acetate, menthofuran, limonene, pulegone, cineol, among others

Properties of spearmints: Actions: antispasmodic, digestive tonic, prevents vomiting, carminative, relaxes peripheral blood vessels, promotes sweating but also cooling internally, promotes bile flow, analgesic.

Properties of peppermint:  analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiphlogistic, antipruritic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, carminative, cephalic, cholaglgue, cordial, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hepatic, nervine, stomachic, sudorific, vasoconstrictor, vermifuge.

Uses:
Skin Care: acne, dermatitis, ringworm, scabies, and toothache

Circulation: Muscles and Joints: neuralgia, muscular pain, palpitations

Respiratory System: asthma, bronchitis, halitosis, sinusitis, spasmodic cough

Digestive System: colic, cramp, dyspepsia, flatulence, nausea

Immune System: colds, flu, fever

Nervous System: fainting, headache, mental fatigue, migraine, nervous stress, vertigo

Medicinal Uses of spearmints: Ayurvedic physicians have used mint for centuries as a tonic and digestive aid and as a treatment for colds, cough, and fever. Medieval German abbess/herbalist Hildegard of Bingen recommended mint for digestion and gout. Shortly after Culpeper wrote about the benefits of mint, peppermint and spearmint were differentiated, and herbalists decided the former was the better digestive aid, cough remedy, and treatment for colds and fever.  Spearmint cannot replace peppermint in combined bile and liver or nerve herbal teas even though it is used as a stomachic and carminative. A few drops of the oil in water, applied with a cloth, helps burning and itching, heat prostration, and sunburn. Apply it directly to an itchy skin condition or sunburn. For heat prostration place the cool fomentation on the forehead and wrists. Menthol is an allergic sensitizer that may cause hives. The menthol in oil of peppermint is an effective local anesthetic. It increases the sensitivity of the receptors in the skin that perceive the sensation of coolness and reduces the sensitivity of the receptors that perceive pain and itching. Menthol is also a counterirritant, an agent that causes the small blood vessels under the skin to dilate, increasing the flow of blood to the area and making the skin feel warm. When you apply a skin lotion made with menthol, your skin feels cool for a few minutes, then warm. Menthol’s anesthetic properties also make it useful in sprays and lozenges for sore throats.

Medicinal Uses of peppermint: like many other members of this genus, is often used as a domestic herbal remedy, being valued especially for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestion. Like other members of the genus, it is best not used by pregnant women because large doses can cause an abortion. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The medicinal uses of this herb are more akin to lavender (Lavandula spp) than the mints. It is used to treat infertility, rapid heartbeat, nervous exhaustion etc. The oil of peppermint has been shown to be antimicrobial and antiviral against Newcastle disease, herpes simplex, vaccinia, Semliki Forest and West Nile viruses.

Safety: Avoid prolonged use of the essential oil as an inhalant. Mint can irritate the mucous membranes and should not be given to children for more than a week without a break. Do not give any form of mint directly to young babies.

References:
At Home with Herbs, Jane Newdick, Storey, 1994; ISBN: 0-88266-886-2
Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, Eastland Press, 1986; ISBN: 0-939616-15-7
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Kinderseley, 1993; ISBN: 1- 56458-187-X
Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices, Linda Fraser (editor); Anness Publishing, 1997; ISBN: 1-901289-06-0
The Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke, Rodale, 1997; ISBN: 0-87596-316-1
The Healing Herbs, Michael Castleman, Rodale, 1991, ISBN: 0-87857-934-6
Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals, Norman Grainer Bisset editor, CRC Press, 1984; ISBN: 3-88763-025-4
Nutritional Herbology, Mark Pedersen, Wendell W. Whitman Co, 1987; ISBN: 1-885653-03-4
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Herbs and Spices, editor Stanley Schuler, Fireside Books, 1990; ISBN: 0-671-73489-X

 

MulleinVerbascum thapsus

Constituents: Saponins, essential oil, flavonoids (hesperidin and verbascoside), glycosides (acubin), mucilage

Properties: anodyne, antispasmodic, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, vulnerary, sedative, anti-catarrhal, emollient, pectoral

Medicinal Uses: One of the primary herbs for any lung problem, including whooping cough, asthma, bronchitis and chest colds. It was traditionally smoked for lung conditions. It is also a diuretic used to relieve urinary tract inflammation, diarrhea, and inflammation, colitis, or other bleeding in the bowel. The flowers extracted into olive oil make a preparation (ointment) that is known to reduce the pain and inflammation of earache, insect bites, bruises, hemorrhoids, and sore joints.  Distilled flower water or a poultice has been placed on burns, ringworm, boils and sores. The leaves are used in homeopathic products for migraine and earache.

Toxicity: The fine hairs irritate some people’s skin, producing rashes…..in case one wishes to use the leaves as “natural toilet paper”. Mullein seeds are toxic and may cause poisoning.

References:
A City Herbal, Maida Silverman, Alfred A Knopf, 1977
The Complete Book of Herbs, Lesley Bremness, Viking, 1988
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, 1993
The Healing Herbs, Michael Castleman, Rodale Press, 1991
The Herb Book, John Lust, Bantam Books, 1974
Herbs for Health and Healing, Kathi Keville, Rodale, 1997
The Illustrated herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991
Master Book of Herbalism, Paul Beyerl, Phoenix Publishing, 1984
Medicine of the Earth, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi,Rudra Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-915801-59-0
A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971 (1931)

 

Patchouli Pogostemom cablin

Properties: antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, antimicrobial, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, antitoxic, antiviral, aphrodisiac, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, cicatrizant, deodorant, digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, fungicidal, nervine, prophylactic, stimulant (nervous), stomachic, tonic.

Constituents: Patchoulol (Alcohol�����������40%), Benzoic, Cinnamic (Aldehydes), Eugenol (Phenol), Cadinene (Sesquiterpene); pogostol, bulnesol, nor patchoulenol, bulnese, patchoulene, methylchavicol, anethole, anisaldehyde, limonene, pinene, pmethoxycinnamaldehyde, a-pinene, among others.

Aromatherapy Uses:

Extraction Method: by steam distillation of the dried leaves (usually subjected to fermentation previously.) A resinoid is also produced, mainly as a fixative. The leaves, cut every few months, attain their highest oil content in the three pairs of newest leaves. Cutting is therefore aimed at a growth of 5 pairs, as the essential oil content of larger leaves is negligible.

Characteristics: an amber or dark orange viscous liquid with a sweet, rich, herbaceous earthy odor—it improves with age.

Uses:
Skin care: acne, athlete’s foot cracked and chapped skin, dandruff, dermatitis, eczema (weeping), fungal infections, hair care, impetigo, insect repellent, oily hair and skin, open pores, sores, wounds, wrinkles.

Effect on skin: said to be a tissue regenerator helping regrowth of skin cells and forming scar tissue. Apparently cools inflamed conditions and heals rough, cracked skin, sores and wounds. Perhaps the most outstanding feature is its binding action due to strong astringent and cicatrisant properties. This could be helpful for loose skin especially after dieting. Since it also seems to curb appetite it’s probably useful for overall weight reduction. It seems to have marked diuretic properties which could prove valuable in cases of water retention and cellulite. Also said to offset heavy sweating, though certainly has a marked deodorizing action, helpful when feeling hot and bothered.

Effect on Mind: Its rather earthy aura promotes a grounding and balancing effect. Seems to banish lethargy and sharpen the wits, thereby clarifying problems and making the mind more objective.

Nervous system: frigidity, nervous exhaustion and stress-related complaints.

Other: extensively used in cosmetic preparations, and as a fixative in soaps and perfumes.

Toxicity: non-toxic, non-irritant, nonsensitizing.

References:
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, Element Books, 1995
Complete Aromatherapy Handbook, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Sterling Publishing, 1990
The Directory of Essential Oils, Wanda Sellar, C.W. Daniel, 1992
Shirley Price’s Aromatherapy Workbook, Shirley Price, Thorsons, 1993

 

PlantainPlantago major

Properties: leaves are relaxing expectorant, tonify mucous membranes, reduce phlegm, antispasmodic, topically healing, diuretic, alterative, astringent, refrigerant, vulnerary staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue. It may be used instead of comfrey in treating bruises and broken bones. An ointment or lotion may be used to treat hemorrhoids, fistulae and ulcers. The Chippewa used plantain leaves to draw out splinters from inflamed skin, and as vulnerary poultices. They favored the fresh leaves, spreading the surface of these with bear grease before applying them and renewing the poultices when the leaves became dry or too heated. The Iroquois used the fresh leaves to treat wounds, as well as coughs, colds, and bronchitis. The Shoshone applied poultices made from the entire plant to battle bruises, while the Meskawaki treated fevers with a tea made from the root. Traditional Chinese medicine uses plantain to treat urinary problems, dysentery, hepatitis and lung problems, especially asthma and bronchitis.

Ointment: apply to wounds, burns and hemorrhoids

References:
A City Herbal, Maida Silverman, 1977, Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN: 0-394-49852-6
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Dindersley, 1993; ISBN: 1- 56458-187-X
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1996; ISBN: 0- 7894-0672
The Herbal Connection Collection, Maureen Rogers & Patricia Sulick, 1994
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991, ISBN: 0-7924- 5307-7
Just Weeds, Pamela Jones, Prentice Hall, 1991; ISBN: 0-13-514118-4
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field & Marketplace, Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley, San Juan Naturals, 1999, ISBN: 0-9621635-7-0
Medicine of the Earth, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Rudra Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-915801-59-0
Nanise’: A Navajo Herbal, Vernon O Mayes and Barbara Bayless Lacy, Navajo Community College Press, 1989; ISBN: 0-912586-62-1
Wild Medicinal Plants, Anny Schneider, Stackpole Books, 2002; ISBN: 0-8117-2987-7

 

Rose For essential oil: Rosa damascena, R centifolia, R. gallica; For eating/medicine: R. rugosa

Constituents: The flower contains essential oil which includes citronellol, geraniol nerol, eugenol, linalool, L-p-menthene, cyanin, gallic acid, beta-carotene Fruit: vitamins C, B, E, K; nicotinamide, organic acids, pectin.

Properties: Rosehips: antiscorbutic, diuretic; Petals: carminative, stimulant, emmenagogue, antibacterial; Astringent; Tonic.

Medicinal Use: Honey of Red Rose (Apothecary) was once an official pharmaceutical preparation in the US for sore mouths and throats. Rose vinegar was used for headaches, especially those brought on by heat. The leaves are a mild, but seldom used, laxative. In Greece, Hippocrates recommended rose flowers mixed with oil for diseases of the uterus. Ayurvedic physicians use the petals in poultices to treat skin wounds and inflammations. Distilled cabbage rose water is used as a vehicle for eye lotions and eyewashes. Its rose hips are dried and made into tisanes for children with stomach disorders, and are also considered a cardiotonic for adults. Its petals are used by Ayurvedic medicine to make a syrup which acts as a gentle laxative. At various times, European herbalists recommended dried rose petal tea for headache, dizziness, mouth sores, and menstrual cramps. Rose hips are a significant source of vitamin C. But the drying process destroys from 45-90% of it, and infusions extract only about 40% of what’s left.

Aromatherapy Uses:
Oil Constituent: over 300 constituents some in minute traces. citronellol, rhodinal, phenylethlyalcohol, stearopton, nerol, linalool, geranium, eugenol, farnesol, different forms of acid, aldehydes

Aroma: rosa damascena is warm, deep-floral, slightly spicy and immensely rich, truly reminiscent of red roses, with nuances in spicy and honey-like notes; rose centrifolia is deep sweet, rich and tenacious floral rose-odor.

Actions: alterative, emmenagogue, refrigerant, nervine, carminative, laxative, astringent, cell regenerator, aphrodisiac, stimulant, antidepressant, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-tubercular agent, antiviral, bactericidal, choleretic, cicitrisant, depurative, haemostatic, hepatic, laxative, regulator of appetite, sedative (nervous), stomachic, tonic (heart, liver, stomach, uterus)

Usage: perfumes, lotion, compress, bath, inhalations, massage, diffusers, all uses

Characteristics: A pale yellow or olive yellow liquid with a very rich, deep, sweet-floral, slightly spicy scent. The absolute is a reddish orange or olive viscous liquid with a rich, sweet, spicy-floral, tenacious odor. The oil congeals at about 17F.

Effects:
Physical: antiseptic, tonic, cooling, relieving cramps, menstruation stimulant, wound healing. For nervous heart, irregular menstruation, vaginitis, conjunctivitis, fever, migraine, wound healing, gingivitis, shingles, herpes simplex

Skin: astringent, tonic, cleanser. For all skin types especially dry, inflamed skin, skin allergies, baby skin care, pregnancy; broken capillaries, conjunctivitis, eczema, herpes, mature and sensitive complexions, wrinkles.  A beneficial anti-aging lotion is a few drops each of rose, neroli, frankincense, and sandalwood added to a light vegetable oil.

References:
The Complete Book of Flowers, DeniseDiamond, North Atlantic Books, 1990; ISBN: 1-55643-079-5
The Complete Book of Herbs, Andi Clevely and Katehrine Richmond, Smithmark, 1994; ISBN: 0-8317-1164-7
The Garden of Life, Naveen Patnaik, Doubleday, 1993; ISBN: 0-385-42469-8
Geraldene Holt’s Complete Book of Herbs, Geraldene Holt, Henry Holt, 1991 (ISBN 0- 8050-1988-X)
The Healing Herbs, Michael Castleman, Rodale Press, 1991 (ISBN 0-87857-934-6)
The Herbal Connection Collection, Maureen Rogers & Patricia Sulick, HGMN, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575; 1994
Herbal Treasures, Phyllis V. Shaudys, Storey, 1990 (ISBN 0-88266-619-3)
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991 (ISBN 0-7924- 5307-7)
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Herbs and Spices, Edited by Stanley Schuler, Fireside Books, 1990 (ISBN 0-671-73489-X)
Ayurveda & Aromatherapy (Dr. Light Miller & Dr. Bryan Miller, Lotus, 1995 (0-914955-20-9)
Complete Aromatherapy Handbook, Susanne Rischer-Rizzi, Sterling, 1990 (ISBN 0-8069- 8222-5)
The Directory of Essential Oils, Wanda Sellar, C.W. Daniel, 1992 (ISBN 0-85207-239-2)
The Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, Element, 1992 (1-85230-311-5)
Herbs for all Seasons, Rosemary Hemphill, Viking, 1992; ISBN: 0-670-85041-1
Portraits in Oils, Philippe Mailhebiau, C.W. Daniel, 1995 (ISBN 0-85207-237-6)

 

Rosemary  – Rosemarinus officinalis

Constitutents: essential oils include cineole, borneol, camphene, camphor, linalool, verbenol; flavonoids (diosmin, apigenin, diosmetin, luteolin), rosemarinic acids, tannins, diterpenes (picrosalvin), rosmaricine, bornylacetat, dipenten, eucalyptol, D-a-pinen, camphor, L-a-thujon

Properties: astringent, tonic, antiinflammatory, digestive remedy, nervine, carminative, antiseptic, diuretic, promote sweating, promote bile flow, antidepressant, circulatory stimulant,  antispasmodic, restorative tonic for nervous system, cardiac tonic

 Medicinal Uses Studies show rosemary leaves increase circulation, reduce headaches and fight bacterial and fungal infections. It is considered one of the strongest natural antioxidants. The flavonoid diosmin strengthens fragile blood vessels, possibly even more effectively than rutin. German pharmacies sell rosemary ointment to rub on nerve and rheumatic pains and for heart problems. Rosemary contains many compounds that are reported to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain, usually a symptom of Alzheimer�����s disease. Several if not all can be absorbed through the skin, and some probably cross the blood-brain barrier so using a using a final rinse of vinegar with rosemary essential oil added may be beneficial in prevention. Of these antioxidants, at least four are known cataract fighters and Japanese researchers find it promising for removing wrinkles. Rosemary is recommended for flatulence, heartburn and as a digestive. It improves food absorption by stimulating digestion and the liver, intestinal tract and gallbladder. It is also used to inhibit kidney and bladder-stone formation. Studies on rosemary conducted in Paraguay show that it almost completely inhibits the enzyme urease which contributes to kidney stone formation. It makes an antiseptic gargle for sore throats, gum problems and canker sores. Researchers speculate that rosemarinic acid might even be a good treatment for septic shock. In addition, it inhibited, although didn’t destroy, 87% of the cancer cells tested in a laboratory study.

Asthma sufferers used to smoke it with coltsfoot and eat bread that had been baked over rosemary wood. Research has shown that rosmaricine is a stimulant and mild analgesic. The oil content varies within the plant. It is analgesic and stimulant, especially when applied to the skin.

Rosemary’s anti-inflammatory effect is due mainly to rosmarinic acid and flavonoids. As a warming herb, it stimulates circulation of blood to the head, improving concentration and memory. It also eases headaches and migraine, and encourages hair growth by improving blood flow to the scalp. It has been used to treat epilepsy and vertigo. It aids recovery from long-term stress and chronic illness. It is thought to stimulate the adrenal glands and is used specifically for debility, especially when accompanied by poor circulation and digestion.

Toxicity: Prolonged handling of fresh rosemary plants or using cosmetics scented with rosemary oil may cause contact dermatitis in sensitive people. Use sparingly if pregnant and not at all during first trimester because it could trigger a miscarriage (in therapeutic doses). (Mixed info on the possibility of rosemary as an abortifacient…..Review of Natural Products says no valid role)

Aromatherapy Uses:
Extraction: Extracted by steam distillation of the flowering plant. Liquid is clear to light yellow. Fragrance is camphor-like, strong, and woody.

Effective for: liver ailments; gallbladder inflammation; gallstones; flu; colds; asthma; rheumatism; sore muscles; relieving cramps; stimulating menstruation; raising blood pressure; lowering blood sugar; heart tonic; antiseptic; poor memory; weak ego; apathy; blemished or oily skin. Helpful for sagging skin and may ease congestion, puffiness and swellings

Toxicity of the oil: The borneol, camphor, eucalyptol and pinene in oil of rosemary can be skin irritants. Should be avoided during pregnancy (though there is no real research to substantiate this) as well as in cases of epilepsy.

References:
The Complete Book of Herbs, Lesley Bremness, Viking, 1988; 0-670-81894-1
The Complete Book of Herbs, Spices and Condiments, Carol Ann Rinzler, Facts on File, 1990; 0-8160-2008-6
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, 1993; 1-56458-187- X
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1996; 0-7894- 1067-2
The Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke, Rodale, 1997; ISBN: 0-87596-316-1
The Herbal Connection Collection Vol 1, Maureen Rogers & Patricia Sulick; HGMN, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575; 1994
Herbs for Health and Healing, Kathi Keville, Rodale, 1997; ISBN: 0-87596-293-9
The Illustrated Book of Herbs, Gilda Daisley, American Nature Society Press; 1982; 0-517- 400278
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Michael Friedman, 1994; 0-7924- 5307-7
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field & Marketplace, Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley, San Juan  Naturals, 1998; ISBN: 0-9621635-7-0
Herb, Laurel Keser, Callawind, 1999; ISB: 1-896511-12-0
Ayurveda & Aromatherapy, Dr. Light Miller & Dr. Bryan Miller, Lotus, 1995; 0-914955-20-9
Complete Aromatherapy Handbook, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Sterling, 1991, 0-8069-8222-5
The Directory of Essential Oils, Wanda Sellar, C.W. Daniel, 1992; 0-85207-239-2
Subtle Aromatherapy, Patricia Davis, C.W., Daniel; 1991; 0-85207-227-9

 

St. John’s WortHypericum perforatum

Constituents: glycosides (hyperin), napthodianthrones, especially the active constituents hypericin and pseudohypericin; flavonols (inerutin, quercetin, isoquercetin, quercetrine, isoquercetrine, rutin and kaempferol); volatile oils; tannins (up to 16% in the flowers, 10% in the herb); resins; also small amounts of an essential oil, choline, pectine, alkaloids, vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-sitosterol. The hypericin is so strongly antiviral that it is being researched for use in treating HIV and AIDS

Actions: astringent, analgesic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, stimulates bile flow, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, sedative, restorative tonic for the nervous system.

Medicinal Uses: It’s been used for centuries for depression, melancholy and hysteria. Paracelsus was one that prescribed it for these afflictions. One study by Dittmann, Hermann and Palleske showed that Hyperforat, a preparation based on a total extract, gave a well-reproducible specific inhibition of anaerobic glycolysis in secretions of brain tumors. An infusion of leaves and flowers in olive oil  (ointment) is excellent for skin burns. The oil and fomentation are applied externally to injuries, especially when nerve endings are involved and to soften tumors and caked breasts. The research on St. John’s Wort has been substantiated on its effects on mild to moderate depression. In a series of studies that were presented in 1992 at the Fourth International Congress on Phytotherapy in Munich, Germany it helped well over half of those in the study. In less than a month of taking this herb, the depression and accompanying disturbed sleep and fatigue experienced by participants in these studies generally improved. In another study in Germany in 1984, depressed women were given a tincture of St John’s Wort. These women���s symptoms, including anxiety, anorexia, lack of interest in life and psychomotor problems, all changed for the better. Research was also conducted in Russia where it was combined with psychotherapy to treat alcoholics suffering from depression.

A cream made of the flowering tops is used for localized nerve pains, such as sciatica, sprains and cramps, or to help relieve breast engorgement during lactation. It can also be used as an antiseptic and styptic on scrapes, sores and ulcers. The infused oil is used in several European varicose vein ointments and in suppositories for hemorrhoids, to reduce inflammation, pain and broken veins

The infused oil is excellent for massages, as it affects the spine directly. Also use the oil (ointment) to treat bruises.

In regards to Parkinson’s, it may have a potential to help based on the following. Smokers have an unusually low risk of the disease because nicotine increases the release of dopamine in the brain. The enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) depresses dopamine, so it would make sense that medications that inhibit MAO would boost dopamine and decrease Parkinson’s risk, as nicotine does. Ethnobotanist Jim Duke’s suggestion is to try a tincture standardized to 0.1 percent hypericin and take 20-30 drops three times a day if you have Parkinson’s.

References:
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1996; ISBN: 0- 7894-1067-2
The Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke, Rodale, 1997; ISBN: 0-87596-316-1
Herbal Medicine, Rudolf Fritz Weiss, 1988, distributor: Medicina Biologica; ISBN: 0- 906584-19-1
Herbal Renaissance, Steven Foster, Gibbs Smith, ISBN: 0-87905-523-5 “HerbalGram”, Issue No 40 (Fall 1997). Extensive monograph
Herbs for Health and Healing, Kathi Keville, Rodale, 1997, ISBN: 0-87596-293-9
Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991; ISBN: 0-7924-5307-7
Medicine of the Earth, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Rudra Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-915801-59-0

 

TurmericCurcuma longa

Properties: cholagogue, choleretic emmenagogue, aromatic stimulant, alterative, analgesic, astringent, antiseptic

Medicinal Uses: Turmeric is a choleretic, an agent that stimulates the liver to increase its production of bile. This yellow brown or green fluid helps emulsify fats in your duodenum and increases peristalsis, the rhythmic contractions that move food through your gastrointestinal tract. Turmeric is also a cholagogue, an agent that stimulates the gallbladder and biliary duct to discharge bile and increases your body’s excretion of cholesterol. Turmeric is useful for preventing and treating gallstones, according to Commission E. In one study, mice with experimentally induced gallstones were placed on special feed containing a modest amount of curcumin, and within five weeks their gallstone volume had dropped 45%. After ten weeks they had 80% fewer gallstones than untreated mice. Choleretics and cholagogues are ordinarily beneficial for healthy people but may pose some problems for people with gallbladder or liver disease. Some other choleretic herbs are ginger, oregano and peppermint. The fleshy tuber-like rhizome is used. It contains a volatile oil and a water-soluble yellow pigment. Its usefulness as a gallbladder remedy in the narrower sense has been demonstrated. The cholagogue and choleretic action is quite powerful, and recent investigations have shown it to be primarily due to the yellow pigment.

The people of Java call this plant temoe lavak. In India and other Asian countries it has a long tradition as a popular remedy for jaundice and liver disease. There is no doubt that it can be effective, particularly where bile flow needs to be thoroughly stimulated, but it is doubtful if it achieves more than our native drugs, and indeed unlikely, as it is not always indicated. Above all it lacks spasmolytic and carminative properties. The yellow pigment has a marked irritant effect on the gastric mucosa, so that caution in indicated where there is a tendency to hyperacidity or where there is simple irritable stomach. Turmeric regulates the menses, relieves menstrual pains and helps reduce uterine tumors. Used externally or internally, turmeric promotes healing in cases of trauma or injury. In India, it’s a traditional ulcer treatment and in animal studies it’s been shown to stimulate the stomach lining to produce more protective mucus.

Research shows: Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It has an even stronger action than hydrocortisone, according to research studies conducted between 1971 and 1991. When applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight, turmeric is strongly antibacterial. Curcumin is the constituent responsible for this action. Curcumin is also more strongly antioxidant than vitamin E. In lab and animal studies, it’s been shown to protect LDL cholesterol from being �������oxidized. In India, in 1992, researchers gave ten healthy volunteers a half a gram of turmeric a day for seven days. That’s an amount you might get in your diet if it includes curry. They measured the level of oxidative by-products of blood cholesterol. After a week, it fell 33%. Blood cholesterol fell, too, by 12%. Turmeric can also dilate blood vessels, so it may lower blood pressure as it’s done in animal studies. Research is also being done with HIV. Turmeric may be a valuable preventive remedy for those at risk of developing cancer.

Aromatherapy:
Extraction method:: by steam distillation from the ���cured’ rhizome – boiled, cleaned and sun-dried. An oleoresin, absolute and concrete are also produced by solvent extraction.

Characteristics:  a yellowy-orange liquid with a faint blue fluorescence and a fresh spicy woody odor.

Actions: analgesic, anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, bactericidal, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, hypotensive, insecticidal, laxative, rubefacient, stimulant

Uses:
Circulation, Muscles and Joints: arthritis, muscular aches and pains, rheumatism

Digestive system: anorexia, sluggish digestion, liver congestion

Toxicity: Turmeric’s potential anti-clotting effect might cause problems for those with clotting disorders. If you have a blood-clotting problem, discuss this herb’s effect with your physician before using medicinal preparations. Unusually large amounts of turmeric may cause stomach upset.

 

Violet –  Viola odorata 

Constituents: essential oil of both leaves and petals contain: nonadienal, parmone, hexyl alcohol, bezyl alcohol, ionine, viola quercitin, saponins, glycoside (violarutin); methyl salicylate; mucilage; vitamins A and C; alkaloid (odoratine)

Medicinal Use: Violets were known for their medicinal and antiseptic properties and were commonly used in antiseptics. Violet tea is a sedative. The leaves are useful for poultices to soothe and heal wounds. The liquid extracts from the flowers and roots have expectorant and emollient properties. It serves as an emetic in quantity, and has been used to treat respiratory disorders, as a gargle, in cough mixtures, and as a diuretic. The root has an effect similar to ipecac because of its saponines and can be used as a substitute drug of equal value. Violet flowers contain generous amounts of rutin, which helps maintain the strength and integrity of capillary walls. A few tablespoons would get you the 100 milligram daily dosage that research recommends is the most beneficial. Traditional Chinese medicine places violet leaf and root poultices on hot swelling, inflammation, and mumps, while in the west, they traditionally have been used on swollen or tumorous breasts.

Aromatherapy Use:
Extraction: a concrete and absolute from fresh leaves and flowers.

Characteristics: The leaf absolute is an intense dark green viscous liquid with a strong green leaf odor and a delicate floral undertone. The flower absolute is a yellowish-green viscous liquid with a sweet, rich, floral fragrance, characteristic of the fresh flowers.

Actions: analgestic (mild), anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antiseptic, decongestant (liver), diuretic, expectorant, laxative, soporific, stimulant (circulation).

Uses:
Skin care: acne, eczema, refines the pores, thread veins, wounds

Circulation, Muscles and Joints: fibrosis, poor circulation, rheumatism

Respiratory system: bronchitis, catarrh, mouth and throat infections

Nervous System: dizziness, headaches, insomnia, nervous exhaustion

Toxicity: Do not take large amounts of the leaves–they cause vomiting and diarrhea. Eating the seeds may cause vomiting.

References:
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1996; ISBN: 0- 7894-0672
The Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke, Rodale, 1997; ISBN: 0-87596-316-1
The Herb Book, John Lust, Bantam, 1974
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Julia Lawless, Element, 1995; ISBN: 1-56619- 990-5
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard, 1991; ISBN: 0-7924-5307-7
Mastering Herbalism, Paul Huson, Stein and Day, 1975; ISBN: 0-8128-1847-4
The Roots of Healing, Deb Soule, Citadel Press, 1995; ISBN: 0-8065-1578-3
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Herbs and Spices, edited by Stanley Schuler, Fireside, 1990; ISBN: 0-671-73489-X
Wild Medicinal Plants, Anny Schneider, Stackpole Books, 2002; ISBN: 0-8117-2987-7