Sunday, May 7, 2017


IRISH MOSS –Chondrous Crispus

Also known as: Sea Moss, Carrageen

Parts used: the whole plant

Systems/organs affected: stomach, lungs, gastrointestinal

Properties: yin tonic, alterative, demulcent, emollient, mild laxative, antiviral, antibacterial, nutritive, anti-tussive, anticoagulant

          IRISH MOSS is a member of the Gigartinales family. It is a red algae that lives on intertidal or subtidal rocks.  The fronds are fan shaped, cartilaginous and vary in color from green, red, yellow and dark purple or brownish.  The branches are around half and inch broad and the fronds can get up to a foot long.  It grows mostly along the Atlantic Coast although it can also be found along the Pacific.  It grows off the coast of European countries as well as the United States.  The most prized is that which grows near Ireland-hence the name.  Irish moss is actually a nutritious seaweed with an amazing history.

Irish moss is perhaps most well known because of the potato famine in Ireland during the early 19th century.  It was gathered by them and sustained them through the great famine and became a staple in the culture.  It was also used as mattress stuffing, to cure leather, in paper marbling, soap making, as a thickening agent for inks used in printing, to help in the manufacture of paper and linens and to give a softer feel to material.  Occasionally it was also used to brew beer.  It was used in cattle feed and cosmetics as well as medicinals.  Irish folklore tells us that it was often carried by those traveling as they believed it would offer protection and safety.  It was also put under rugs to bring prosperity and wealth to the home.

The first mention of irish moss was in 1810 in regards to it being used for respiratory issues such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.  It is also referred to as carrageen, which is an irish word meaning ‘little rock’, no doubt given to the fact that it grows atop rocks.  It is harvested in the spring when the tides are furthest from shore.  The harvesters would go out into the shallow water and rake the seaweed off the rocks.  It was then laid out in the sun and dried for about two weeks time.

It should be mentioned that carrageen is something that has been added to a great many products over the years and come under heavy fire for being toxic.  This is because the carrageen being used by companies is a synthetic copy of the original.  Irish moss does NOT have the same toxic effects in its natural form.  Chemically processed carrageen has little nutrition and is an isolated compound extracted using harsh alkalis that can degrade in the stomach.  When that takes place the composition changes to a substance called poligeenan which is a potential carcinogen.  This chemical is known to cause inflammation and other diseases and yet it has FDA backing as ‘safe for consumption’.  GRRRR.  Natural carrageen found in irish moss has been used for centuries with little to no ill effects.

Irish moss is used by many countries.  In Jamaica, Tobago and Trinidad it is used as an aphrodisiac beverage made with milk and cinnamon believed to increase sperm count.  The Scots and Venezuelans boil it with milk and honey for sore throats and chest congestion.  It has been used for diarrhea, dysentery, scrofula, bronchitis, gastritis, rickets, tumors, goiter, kidney and bladder irritation, ulcers, joint complaints, enlarged mesenteric glands (folds of tissue that attach organs to the body wall-usually referring to the small bowel in the intestines), urinary system issues and as a nourishing food for invalids and those recovering from serious illnesses.

Irish moss is rich in nutrients.  It contains 15 of the 18 elements that are necessary for human survival.  Some of these are sulfur, iodine, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, zinc, manganese and the vitamins A, C, B, K, D and E.  WOWZA!  It also contains beta-carotene, pectin and bromine.  Perhaps its high nutritive content is what makes it so effective against things like radiation poisoning.  It has been found to help prevent cholesterol buildup, help anemic conditions, improve cognitive functions, enhance one’s immune defenses, boost energy levels, increase recovery time from illnesses, surgeries and injuries, promote beautiful skin, helps with weight loss, increases the elimination of toxins from the system, found to be very useful against the mumps virus and influenza B strains. (Just to name a few..)  It is an important edible that can be used as a thickening agent for soups, desserts, dressings, dips, jellies, ice creams and more.  It is also used as an emulsifier and moisturizing agent in lotions, creams, toothpastes and a host of other cosmetics.

Irish moss comes in many forms-flakes, powders and as a whole plant.  Each have a number of different applications.  For instance, the flakes have a bit of a fishy flavor to them so aren’t typically used for food recipes even though they are higher in nutrition than the other forms.  There are two companies that supply the flakes that are dried properly without excess heat so as to maintain nutritional value.  (Main Coast Sea Vegetables and Mountain Rose Herbs).  The whole seaweed is best used to make gels and can be used for cooking or cosmetics.  It is mildly scented and more neutral in flavor.  There are only a few companies that sell it in its naturally dried state instead of being heat treated.  (Some of those are Traditional Nutritional Divine Organics and Natural Zing).  The powdered form is also commonly used to thicken foods but use much less of it as it does absorb more moisture than other varieties.  It should be a fine grey color (U.S. versions are often bleached so make sure it is from Ireland).  It also has a strong fish flavor so don’t use it for sweets or beverages. 

Some precautions to make note of-it has been known to irritate the eyes if you happen to get any in them.  As it does have blood thinning ability it is best not taken by those on blood thinning medications.  Those on thyroid medication should avoid it as well as it contains a high amount of iodine. (Interestingly enough, this plant is the only known source of the naturally occurring thyroid substances making it effective for thyroid conditions but if you are already on medication….perhaps best avoided).  Pregnant and/or nursing women are encouraged to consult a physician before using as is anyone starting a new herb or dietary regimen.

As is customary with my posts I am including some links here for your perusal.  Stay strong and healthy!


MISTLETOE –Viscum Album, Viscum Articulatum, Viscum Coloratum, Taxillus Parasiticus, Loranthus Amplexifolius, Viscum Capense, Phoradendron Leucarpum, etc.

Also known as:  Bian Zhi Hu Ji Sheng, Mulberry Mistletoe, Birdlime Mistletoe, Golden Bough, All Heal, Devil’s Fugue, American Mistletoe, European Mistletoe, etc.

Parts used: bark, leaves, twigs

Systems/organs affected: immune, female reproductive, nervous, cardiac

Properties:  antiviral, anticarcingogenic, nervine, antispasmodic, diuretic, emmenogogue, tonic, emetic, narcotic, sedative, anodyne, emollient
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that derives all of its nutrients from the live trees it is found growing upon.  It has symmetrically branched stems with narrow yellowish green leaves that grow in pairs.  In the spring small yellow flowers appear followed by globe shaped, sticky, white berries that can get up to ½ inch across.  Mistletoe hails from a few different families-Loranthaceae and Viscaceae.  There are about 900-1000 species of mistletoe found all over the world but the European variety (viscum album) is the most used and preferred for medicine.  Mistletoe is most commonly found on maple, ash, apple, hawthorn, oak and other fruit bearing trees.

This plant has quite an interesting history steeped in several cultures.  The first mention of it would be with the Druids actually.  Records of Posidonius the Apamean, a Greek mathematician, speak of them interacting with the Romans.  Pliny the Elder describes some Druid rituals in ‘Natural History’- a work he penned in 77 AD.  In it he tells of how the Druids would gather mistletoe from oak trees (they considered oak to be the most sacred tree).  They believed that mistletoe was given to them by God because it grew upon their most holy tree.  White robed priests would climb the oak trees and harvest the mistletoe with golden sickles and catch it in white cloth so that it would never touch the earth.  It was thought that if it touched the soil that all of its magical healing properties would be lost.  Two white bulls were also sacrificed during the ‘sixth day of the moon ’ or the time of fertility.  The mistletoe was then given to animals that had problems conceiving to increase their fertility.  The Druids were not the only people to use it for reproductive issues.  The Chinese used it to stop uterine bleeding as a topical agent , to ease fetal restlessness and to treat threatened abortions.  It was also used in South Africa to ease painful menstruation, irregular and excessive menses and endometriosis.  The Cherokee Indians used it as an abortifacient.  A paper was published in ‘Fertility and Sterility ‘ in 2002 that spoke of using injections of mistletoe extract to decrease the pain associated with endometriosis with measurable success.  (With so many women suffering with this condition today this should be looked into as an alternative option by the medical establishment..)

Mistletoes was also used by the Druids to ward off evil spirits and to celebrate winter solstice.  The idea of kissing under mistletoes actually came from the Scandanavians who believed that the Norse God of Peace known as Balder, was killed by an arrow made of mistletoe.  The arrow was given to the Goddess of Love who restored his life and decreed that mistletoe should henceforth be known as a plant of love and that those who passed under it should receive a kiss.  The tradition has carried through the centuries.

Mistletoe has a number of applications that few know about.  There have been a number of studies conducted on this plant due to its past use by the Druids and also by the Greek and Roman cultures as well as the Asians.  Mistletoe contains lectins-at least three kinds that they know of at this time.  It is believed that these lectins are partially responsible for its success in herbal remedies.  The University Hospital of Hamburg found that mistletoe had a strong effect on the immune system.  They were able to obtain the DNA sequence of one of the lectins and create a recombinant lectin that would mimic the effects of natural mistletoe.  They thought this would make it easier to produce vaccines for injection but the synthetic lectins proved to be too toxic and were never used.  (You all know how I feel about the medical industry stealing components from plants to make synthesized versions that don’t work near as well as the natural plant form.)  The natural lectins in mistletoe were found to increase the natural killer cells in the blood (T cells).  One case study on a patient with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas was given injections of a commercial mistletoe extract over 5 weeks.  It was made from mistletoe that had been grown on oak.  After the third injection the patient had an increase in phagocytic cells around the carcinoma.  (Meaning the cancer killing cells increased around the cancer itself).  A few other similar studies had the same results and it was concluded that mistletoe has the ability to stimulate the body’s natural immune responses.  This let the German E Commission to declare it as a non-specific immune system stimulator.  This has led to its used by AIDS and HIV patients around the globe.  Studies conducted on some of its lectins found that it does indeed have the ability to inhibit HIV replication. One study in particular found that it could inhibit HIV replication by as much as 68%.

In Korea, mistletoe is used to alleviate colds.  In India it has been used for consumption and in Taiwan it is used for tuberculosis.  In Indo-China it is used to treat fevers in children.  In Bulgaria it is mixed with other herbs for bronchitis and the flu.  Perhaps the most interesting use of mistletoe though has been with cancer.  One in vitro study was found to kill three different kinds of colon cancer cell lines, one of which was known to be resistant to a multitude of pharmaceutical drugs.  These lectins within mistletoe were found to have an even higher activity against the resistant cancer than against the regular one which makes one think that perhaps mistletoe can tell which cancers are more aggressive and target them.  Hmmmm. (‘Toxicology ‘ 2002; 171(2-3):187-199)

The Roman naturalist, Celsus, wrote ‘De Medicina ‘ and spoke of using mistletoe for growths and suppurations (pus producing tumors).  Celsus described its use as an emollient and applied topically to soothe wounds and produce heat. (Cancer was referred to as an inflammation of black bile and considered a ‘cold-humor’ so it makes sense they would use heat producing agents to treat it).  One such emollient was called the Composition of Apollophanes.  It was actually a combination of ingredients that included mistletoe juice, frankincense soot, iris root, turpentine resin and more.  It was used to soften hard areas.  Similarly the emollient of Andreas was used to draw out the pus and soften the chest when hard and swollen.  Celsus also mentioned that another emollient using mistletoes juice was found to be quite successful for scrofulous tumors (lymphatic).  Dioscorides said that mistletoe could soften and draw out tumors and other lesions.

Modern studies confirm its use for cancer.  In 1920, Rudolf Steiner, a well known German philosopher, made an extract of mistletoe called Iscador, for cancer.  Today that extract is still sold under the same name and is used as a complementary therapy to be used with conventional treatments.  In fact, mistletoe therapy is used by 60% of all cancer patients in Germany. (Obviously a nod to how well it works).  There are several extracts of mistletoe now available in European countries (Eurixor, Vysorel, Helixor, etc).  These extracts differ in how they are made, the trees they are grown on and the time of year in which they are harvested so each have their strengths.  (This is another reason why it is important to pay attention to harvesting details).  Mistletoe extract was also found to be effective for cancer of the larynx and lungs.  More studies should be conducted to see just how far its benefits go in regards to cancer in particular.

Mistletoe has also long been used for nervous system disorders.  The Greek and Roman cultures used it for epilepsy.  Pliny was one of the first to mention its use for that condition.  In 1720, Sir John Colbatch actually used it for epilepsy but also for St. Vitus’ Dance (uncontrollable movements believed to be similar to Parkinson’s).  Colbatch penned a paper entitled ‘A Dissertation Concerning Mistletoe: A Most Wonderful Specifick Remedy for the Cure of Convulsive Distempers ‘ in which he recounts using mistletoe for his patients suffering from those conditions.  He experimented with several forms of the plant all with varied success, including healing a young boy of convulsive asthma and another of epileptic fits

Dr. Edward Sieveking also spoke of using it successfully for epilepsy and convulsions.  A. Dawes, author of ‘Ellingwood’s Therapeutist, stated that mistletoe was the best therapy for epilepsy as it could tone the nervous system at the same time it was easing the seizures.  The South Africans still use it for asthma and epilepsy.  It is also used to treat asthma in India.  In Asia they use it for neuralgia, low back pain and weakness.  Part of its ability to calm epilepsy is believed to be due to its ability to block GABA receptors.  GABA is a neurotransmitter that can over-excite the nerves and has been implicated in some forms of epilepsy. (GABA is also a very good thing for people but in this case it isn’t).
       Other uses of mistletoe have been for menopause, hypertension, diabetes, respiratory issues, arthritis, snoring, leucorrhea, gout, sciatica, dizziness, headaches, irritability, anxiety, loss of energy, as a sleep aid, a heart tonic and for typhoid fever. 
        The European variety is used most as American mistletoe is considered toxic and unsafe.  Mistletoe berries should never be consumed as they are poisonous, nor should they be used in preparations of any kind.  There is no doubt that mistletoe is an amazing plant with a lot of possibilities but it should be used with extreme caution by those that are familiar with its effects.  DO NOT USE if pregnant or nursing (obviously because of it ability to contract the pelvic muscles), are scheduled for surgery or are on blood pressure, blood sugar, immune or epileptic medications as it may interfere with their use.  Unfortunately the United States currently does not offer mistletoe therapy injections like other countries do so it is perhaps best utilized here in tincture and/or tea form.  Always consult with a qualified physician before starting any herbal regimen or program.
As is customary for my posts I am including some links herein for your benefit.  Enjoy and use wisely!  Stay strong and healthy!


PEONY –Paeonia Brownii, Paeonia Lactiflora, Paeonia Veitchii, Paeonia Suffruticosa, Paeonia Officinalis, etc.

Also known as:  White Peony, Red Peony, Bai Shao, Coral Peony, Mou-tan

Parts used: root, flowers

Systems/organs affected: liver, spleen, lungs, nervous system, female reproductive, blood, cardiovascular, kidneys

Properties:  antispasmodic, astringent, emmenogogue, blood tonic, yin tonic, analgesic, anodyne, sedative, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, febrifuge, depurative
          Peony is a member of the Rununculaceae family.  It is a perennial with dark green leaves that are divided into lobed leaflets.  It has red stems and several different color variations of flowers.  The roots are fleshy and either red or white (referring to white or red peony-unlike most assumptions it refers to the root color here rather than the flower color).  While the root is most commonly used for medicine, the flowers also have found a home in herbal kits with European cultures.  The tree peony is also included in this class and rather than be a tree flower, it is in fact a bush with very woody stems.  The peony can get up to 28 inches tall and grows wild throughout China, Tibet, Mongolia and eastern Siberia.  As it is a very popular flower it can now be found throughout the globe. 

Peony is perhaps one of the oldest flowering herbs to be used as medicine dating back some 4000 plus years in ancient Chinese texts.  Peony was actually named for the Greek physician Paion, who was reputedly the physician or caretaker to the Gods.  He used peony quite often for maladies of all kinds.  The healing properties were later recorded by the Roman scientist Pliny who used it for at least 20 different illnesses.  Buddhist monks took it to Japan where they developed a smaller, more delicate version in the 8th century.  In China it is known as the ‘king of flowers’ and has been grown there since 900 BC.   The tree peony was believed to bring riches and honor and was symbolic of spring’s arrival.  The Chinese used both the tree peony and the common peony for medicinal purposes.  They found within their studies that  peonies (Paeonia Lactiflora) yielded two separate kinds of medicine which is commonly known today as Bai Shao (white peony) and Chi Shao (red peony).  The white peony was used for circulation issues, menopause, as a liver tonic, for abdominal pain, menstrual cramping and more while the red peony was used to relieve hot conditions (fevers, sores, inflammation, etc.), to control bleeding and for eczema.  In fact, it was used to treat eczema by the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, England.  Tree peonies (Paeonia Suffruticosa) were commonly used for gastro-intestinal issues, bleeding, as an antibacterial and for pain management.

The early Europeans used the common peony to ward off epilepsy (often used as a charm in that respect) although it isn’t used much in that regard today.  Herbalists do recognize a difference between male and female peonies according to the plants appearance though.  Female peonies have smaller, darker flowers that are more divided and contain black seeds.  The female peony is also far more fragrant than its male counterparts.  There are around 30 different species of peony and it is widely prized for weddings and as an ornamental plant aside from its medicinal uses.
Peony has been used by Asian cultures for centuries as a medicinal.  They have used it extensively for childhood convulsions, epilepsy, whopping cough, chorea (abnormal involuntary body movements) and as a blood tonic.  Peony contains a glycoside called paeoniflorin that has been found to act as an antispasmodic and a calming agent.  One study conducted on a combination of licorice root and peony was found to relieve muscle cramping due to diabetes, cirrhosis and dialysis.  Another one conducted on a formula containing peony root, dong quai and a few other herbs, was found to reduce painful menstruation and cramping.  Paeoniflorin was also found to improve mental function in animals-possibly making it a promising aid for mental illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Red peony root has been found in Asian studies to have antioxidant activity.  It was also found to contain proanthocyanidins, flavonoids and of course, paeoniflorin.  The root and bark also contain polysaccharides that have been found to stimulate immune cells in lab tests.  Red peony root was found to prevent liver damage from chemical toxins-whether by itself OR in combination with other herbs.  An extract of the root was used in a small study to reduce fibrosis in some patients with chronic viral hepatitis.  The Chinese use a combination of peony extracts to help with thrombosis and excessive clotting.  In one study done on rabbits it was found to lower cholesterol.  A small human study confirmed this but more testing is required.  One study done on Mou-tan bark found it had a remarkable effect on lowering one’s blood pressure.  Peony may also hold some promise for women with PCOS as it was found to improve fertility in women suffering with this condition.  Peony was found to also contain paeonol, a compound found to have anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory capabilities and used for skin complaints and wound care.  As a tonic it has been used for gastrointestinal issues and as an antidote for poisoning.  An extract of the flowers is said to be a skin regenerative and hair conditioner.
          White peony has a number of studies under its belt as well.  In June of 2010 a study was published on the antioxidant effects of peony on the liver.  The study published in the ‘Archives of Pharmacol Research’ found that peony extract protects the liver from oxidative stress.  A study published in ‘Die Pharmazie’ in August of the same year found that peony inhibits blood coagulation.  They found 18 different constituents that are active in the blood protecting the cardiovascular system from excessive clotting.  In March of 2010 the results of a study done on rats was published in ‘Phytomedicine’.  The study found that an extract of peony root reduced the urinary albumin in diabetics thus reducing the stress on the kidneys.  (This could help many a diabetic escape dialysis-using other nutrient based options as well of course).

          Peony has also been used for fevers, gout, respiratory issues, upset stomach, neuralgia, migraines, whopping cough, chronic fatigue, osteoarthritis and as an abortifacient to name a few.
          Of special note:  peony should NOT be used by pregnant or nursing for the aforementioned reasons (uterine contractions, etc).  It should not be used by those taking blood thinners or blood pressure medications.  Do not use if scheduled for surgery as it may increase the chance of bleeding-stop using at least 2 weeks before scheduled surgery.  Peony should be taken in short spurts for most people-take up to 4 weeks and then let the body rest for a few weeks before starting again as needed.  As always, consult a qualified physician before ever starting a new regimen. 
          As is customary with my posts I am including some links herein for your perusal.  Use them wisely.  Stay strong and healthy!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


ANGELICA – Angelica Archangelica, Angelica Sinensis, Angelica Sylvestris, Angelica Atropurpurea, Angelica Polymorpha, Angelica Arguta, etc.
Also known as: Dong Quai (pronounced “tang kuei”), Root of the Holy Ghost, Masterwort, Archangel, Dead Nettle, etc.
Parts used: mostly the root, stems, seeds, leaves.
Systems/organs affected: circulatory, reproductive, liver, respiratory, blood, stomach, intestines, structural, spleen.
Properties: warming liver and uterine tonic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, culinary, antispasmodic, carminative, stimulant, emmenagogue, diaphoretic, hypotensive, aromatic, estrogenic, hepatoprotective, sedative, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antimicrobial, diuretic, anti-parasitic, antiviral.
ANGELICA is a member of the Umbelliferae (carrot) family. It is a tall, aromatic, stout plant with white to yellow-green flowers that grow in rounded umbels. The stems are hollow and the leaves are deeply divided into three parts that are serrated. It can get up to six feet tall and likes stream banks, moist woodlands, roadsides, thickets, etc. It is believed to be native to Syria but now can be found all over the globe. The flowers bloom from May to August (depending on location) and are replaced by 'winged' tan-colored seeds that some associate with angel's wings. It smells like parsley or celery and, with a small exception of the leaves, eerily resembles water hemlock which is deadly (1/4 tsp. of water hemlock root can kill an adult within 15 minutes). As the hemlock species and angelica are in the same family they will cross pollinate so if harvesting this herb be careful to take note of your surroundings. If you see hemlock nearby do not harvest the angelica – move on to a hemlock-free area and harvest the plants you find there. The leaves of water hemlock also are a little different than angelica in that the side veins only go to the notches or valleys of the leaf whereas angelica's go to the tip. So always look at the leaf to be able to identify the right plant. Here is a small poem to help remember how to identify the plant: “Leaf vein to the tip, all is hip. Leaf vein to the cut, pain in the gut.”

There is a lot of folklore attached to this herb. It is believed to have obtained its name from a monk who said that an angel told him it was the cure for plague. (Some references say it was the angel Raphael while others say it was Michael the Archangel). In early times it was believed that the plant would protect one against the spells of witches and/or evil spirits. Peasants would tie the leaves around their children believing it would protect them from harm. Angelica stems were used in a yearly celebration in Latvia where the participants chanted the words of a chorus that had been passed down for centuries. This ritual is so old no one actually knows what the words mean – they just know it's about angelica.
Culpeper said angelica is an herb of Leo and considered “of admirable use.” He used angelica juice as drops for the eyes and ears to help with conditions of each one. He also used it the same way for toothaches. The powdered root was mixed with pitch and used to treat poisonous animal bites as well as rabid dog bites. Parkinson said it was good for “tremblings and passions of the heart” and that if one took the powdered root in wine that it would “abate the rage of lust in young persons.” It was often employed for colic, indigestion and circulation issues and anemic conditions. Angelica contains a number of beneficial components that has made it one of the most utilized medicinal herbs. The Chinese version is referred to as Dong Quai and dates back to 200 A.D. Pinene, a part of angelica oil, is a known expectorant and is used for asthma, pleurisy, bronchitis, etc. It can induce sweating which aids in ridding the body of toxins. It is an effective diuretic, helping prevent bloating, stimulates menstruation, and eases cramping. The root oil has been found to be a preventative against both fungus and bacteria. Another phytochemical in angelica – called Fenchon – has been found to improve Alzheimer's in some patients. The Chinese variety is often used for liver and reproductive issues and is sometimes called 'women's ginseng' It is used for all kinds of female complaints. It was introduced to the West around 1899 by Merck who sold it as a liquid extract called Eumenol that was used exclusively for menstrual issues. Gerard recommended chewing the stems to prevent infection during the plague of 1660 and the roots and seeds were burned to purify the air during that time. The same was prescribed by Paracelsus in Milan about 150 years earlier during an epidemic there. Dr. LeClerc used it for anorexia and nervous and digestive disorders. It is said to also be useful as a topical agent for skin lice. Native Americans used it on horses that had what resembled canine distemper (weeping eyes, lack of appetite, runny nose). The Chinese version of angelica actually works better when combined with black cohosh.

Aside from its numerous uses as a medicinal herb it is also quite prized as a culinary plant. The stems were often eaten like asparagus. The leaves were added to soups and stews. In Norway, the roots are used to make bread and Icelanders consume the raw stems and roots with butter. The oil from the roots and seeds are used in gin, chartruese, vermouth and Benedictine. The roots are powdered and used in sachets and rose jars. The stalks are used in making candy and also are mixed with rhubarb to make jams and marmalades while the young stalks are candied and used to decorate cakes and pastries. The leaves smell like parsley and the seeds taste like a cross between cardamom and celery. The young flower heads are eaten in salads or added to stir fries.
Angelica can cause contact dermatitis so it is best to use gloves when harvesting this plant. The plant self-sows pretty easily but if starting from seed it needs 70コ temperatures for at least 21-28 days in a sunny location. The seeds do lose their vitality fairly quickly so it is best to sow them in July or August after harvesting the first crop of seeds. The seeds should remain viable for up to two years.

DO NOT USE: if pregnant (it can stimulate menstruation); if diabetic (it can elevate blood sugar and urine sugar content); It can make one more susceptible to sunburn; if on blood pressure medication (it can affect blood pressure). Some chemicals in the plant also are said to trigger cellular changes which may cause cancer (I am taking that with a grain of salt).
As is customary with all my posts I am including some links below for your benefit. Stay strong and healthy!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


CLEMATIS – Clematis ligusticifolia, clematis occidentalis, clematis columbiana, clematis chinesis, clematis neomexican, clematis virginiana, clematis recta, clematis cirrhosa, etc.
Also known as: Virgin's Bowers, Traveler's Joy, Lady's Bower, Leather Flower, Love Vine, Sugar Bowls, Pepper Vine, Vasevine, Devil's Darning Needles, Woodbine, Wei Ling Xian, Mu Tong, etc.
Parts used: roots, stem flowers, leaves.
Systems/organs affected: bladder, reproductive, nervous, skin, heart, small intestine.
Properties: anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, stimulant, analgesic, antidote, diuretic, anodyne, nervine, anti-inflammatory, vascular tonic, acrid (burning), antimicrobial, cytotoxic, anti-carcinogenic, antipyretic, anti-nociceptive (reduces sensitivity to painful stimuli), antiviral, anti-fungal. .
CLEMATIS is a member of the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup) family. It is a woody vine that wraps itself around whatever it finds in its path be it rock or tree. It has vibrant green foliage with striped cylindrical stems and opposite leaves that vary in shape and length according to the variety. The flowers have four sepals, numerous stamens and vary in color from white to ivory to a bluish purple. The vine can grow to be up to 100 feet long and blooms from April to June with the fruit appearing between July and September. There are around 350 species of clematisthroughout the globe. It is native to China but has naturalized in various climates.
Clematis has been used for centuries by Asian cultures for arthritic and rheumatic conditions and to help drive damp conditions from the body. It was used, also, for anxiety, migraines, uterine and ovarian cramping. The early Spanish Americans called it the 'herb of the goat' and decocted it to wash wounds. The Native Americans used the inner bark for fevers and both the leaves and bark for shampoo. They treated wounded horses with a decoction of the leaves. The fibers from the bark were used to make nets and snares. The King's American Dispensatory states that, Clematis virginiana has been highly spoken of as a nervine in uterine diseases... Clematis recta, being particularly useful in nervous insomnia, neuralgic and rheumatic headaches, toothaches, reflex neuroses of women from ovarian or urinary irritation, neuroses of men with pain in testicles and bladder, cystitis, urethritis, gonorrhea, orchitis and swellings of the inguinal glands.” In the 16th Century, it was powdered and used internally for bone pain. It was used by the early pioneers as a substitute for pepper and the root was ground up and dried and then used for shampoo.
Michael Moore (herbalist), once said of clematis that, “... a useful treatment for headaches in general and migraine and cluster headaches specifically... Most effective in classic migraines where there are head flushes or visual disturbances in advance of the actual headache and most effective then, when drunk at the first sign of these presymptoms. Some folks find the tea works better, some find the tincture more effective. Try both.”
The Virginia variety was used for all kinds of skin problems and venereal diseases. It was also used for cancers, tumors, nephrosis (kidney disease), scrofula (tuberculosis of the lymph nodes in the neck), gout, malaria, blood sugar and blood pressure issues and as an antidote for snake bites. Different species of the plant were used for different things. For instance, the Chinesis version used the roots for pain, fevers, cancer and as an antibacterial. Montana and Armandii varieties were used to promote lactation, urination and to stimulate menstruation. The Vitalba species was used for tooth pain (the branches were smoked like cigarettes for that), etc. Hunters would even use the fuzzy seeds to pack their boots in winter to keep their feet warm.

According to studies, clematis has a host of components that act as anti-inflammatory agents. The ethanolic extracts of three different kinds of clematis were found to inhibit the enzymes that cause inflammation. The strongest of those was clematis pickeringii, In animal studies the vitalba variety was found to reduce the sensitivity to painful stimula, as was the brachiata version. In point of fact, clematis brachiata was able to lower one's body temperature better than indomethacin (a medication used to treat the pain and inflammation associated with gout and rheumatoid arthritis).
In in vitro studies, clematis ganpiniana was found to be effective not only against breast cancer cells but also effective against E. coli, candida, staph, bacillus subtilis (the bacterium from hay and grass) and bacillus pumilus (spore bacteria found in soil).
Clematis Montana has been found to have antiviral effects against HIV and flus.
The Chinese Materia Medica says it is tasteless or slightly bitter and cold in nature. It is used on the meridians for the bladder, heart and small intestine. In traditional Chinese medicine it is typically used for mastitis, hepatitis, diabetes, lower back pain, cancer, arthritis, psoriasis, to induce labor and for digestive issues related to the esophagus and peristalsis. There are some indicators that clematis root may also revitalize beta cells which may help with Type I diabetes. (In Type I diabetes, the beta cells stop producing insulin �clematis seems to re-boot those cells to produce insulin again).
In a study done on 35 patients with viral hepatitis, 90% of them were found to get better when taking clematis.
Clematis is one of the Bach flower essences used for those who seem to live in a dream world and need to be grounded. These people are often considered airheads or 'not all there' and have a hard time focusing (would be good for anyone experiencing focus issues) and meeting obligations. Clematis helps to clear the mind and focus on the present. It is a part of Bach's famous rescue remedies.
Keep in mind that clematis is an acrid herb. This means that it burns and can cause severe reactions if used improperly. It is considered a poisonous plant as it is part of the buttercup family so great care needs to be used when employing this herb. It can cause skin redness, blistering and inflammation if not correctly used topically. Improper oral use can cause labored breathing, blistering, abdominal cramping, irritated kidneys, eye inflammation, weakness, bloody and painful urination, bloody diarrhea, vomiting of blood, dizziness, fainting, confusion and convulsions. If too much has been ingested it is suggested that the stomach be pumped and demulcents employed (slippery elm, marshmallow root, etc.). Generally, clematis is not to be used long-term.

This herb should never be used by: pregnant women, those with excessive urination, enuresis or those on blood pressure or blood sugar medications as it may cause those to drop too low.
As is customary with all my posts, I am including some links below for your perusal.  Use them wisely.  Stay strong and healthy!