Monday, October 28, 2013


FIR-Abies Balsamea, Abies Bifolia, Abies Grandin, Abies Concolor, Abies Lasiocarpa

Also known as:  subalpine fir, white fir, grand fir, red fir

Parts used:  inner and outer bark, needles, branches, pitch

Meridians/Organs affected:  respiratory, urinary

Properties:  antiseptic, expectorant, vulnerary

Fir is an evergreen tree, like so many others.  It is a coniferous tree with thin, smooth bark that bulges with pockets of resin.  The branches are thin and whorled and the needles are flattened and twist upwards.  The cones are upright and cylindrical appearing from May to July.  The subalpine fir has rounded tips on its branches and grows on the alpine slopes from the southern Yukon in Alaska to New Mexico.  The white fir has pointed needles with white lines on both sides and it grows from southern Idaho and Wyoming to New Mexico.  The grand fir has notched blunt needles with white lines on the under surface only.  It grows from southeastern BC to Idaho and Wyoming.

 The fir tree has a resin called fir balsam that the native americans used for religious and medicinal purposes.  The needles tea was mixed with deer grease and used as a hair treatment.  It was also used for colds.  The needles were dried and powdered and used like baby powder or rubbed on the body as perfume and as insect repellent.  It was also used in this manner to sprinkle on runny open sores and mixed with tallow to use on wounds, cuts, bleeding gums, ulcers, and skin infections.  They were also used in poultices for chest colds and fevers.  The needles were also burned as incense and hung on walls to freshen the air.  The smoke from the burning needles was inhaled for fainting, venereal diseases and headaches.  The needles are also high in vitamin C and a good source of nutrition.  They are diuretic and help to expel phlegm from the lungs.  White fir branches were used to make tea for malaria and to stimulate urination.  The burning of the wood was thought to bring protection and to stimulate confidence in those who were afraid of thunderstorms.  The smoke was also used to cure sick horses.  The cones were ground up into a powder and mixed with marrow and eaten as a delicacy.  The inner bark was ground and was also mixed with flour to extend food supplies during shortages (this wasn't considered too tasty..just necessary).  The cones were said to help with digestion.  The pitch was used alone or in tea for colds, tuberculosis, asthma and coughs.  In larger amounts it would cause vomiting.  It was also used as an antiseptic for bruises and sores, cuts and wounds.  The resin was chewed for bad breath.  The resin can also cause skin reactions in some people though so use it with caution.  The bark should be gathered in the early spring as should the sap. 

As is customary with my posts I am including some links below that you might find useful.  Happy and healthy living!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Cedar-Thuja Plicata, Cedrus Atlantica, Cedrus Libani, Cedrus Brevifolia, Cedrus Deodorata, Juniperus Virginiana, Juniperus Mexicana

Also known as:  Cedrium, cedarwood, cedar, cedrus

Parts Used:  Bark, berries, sprays/needles

Meridians/Organs Affected:  urinary, pulmonary, skin, hair, kidneys

Properties:  antiseptic, antifungal, stimulant, tonic, insecticide, aromatic, expectorant, diuretic, anodyne, aphrodisiac, anti-anxiety, emmenogogue, anti-inflammatory, digestive, antibacterial, astringent

There are several different varieties of cedar and also several different opinions as to which one is the best to use for medicinal purposes.  There are a few varieties of cedar here in the states.  One is more commonly called red cedar or Juniperus Virginiana.  It can get up to 100 feet tall and is found primarily east of the Rocky Mountains.  The oil is obtained from the cones and the heartwood of the tree through distillation.  It has a balsamic scent and looks yellow or orange when distilled.

Juniperus Mexicana also known as Texas cedarwood gets about 21 feet tall and can be found in Mexico, Central America and the southwestern united states.  It has a dark orange to brown oil that is made from the needles and branches of the tree.  It has a sweet woodsy scent.

The Atlas cedar grows in North Africa on top of the Atlas Mountains.  It can also reach 100 feet in height.  The oil is obtained from the steam distillation of the sawdust and wood chips.  The oil is a nice yellow honey color and has a soft woodsy pine-like scent.

There are actually 4 true species of cedar.  They are coniferous, evergreen trees that are known for their hardiness and long life.  The 'true' cedars are the Atlas cedars which are native to the Atlas mountains of Morocco, the Cyprus cedars, the cedars of Lebanon found in Syria and SE Turkey and the Deodorata cedar in the western Himalayas.  The needles of true cedars are bunched and yellow male flowers appear in the summer followed in the fall by the females after the pollen is gone.  The cones take 2 years to come to maturation and then die off as the seed is released.

There is a grove of cedars in Lebanon that have been there since King Solomon's time.  The first cedar planted in Britain was done in 1646 and is still there today.  There is also a forest of cedars in Provence, France that have been there since 1862.

Cedars are the most often mentioned tree in the Bible, symbolizing abundance and fertility.  The Egyptians used it as part of their embalming process and as part of 'mithridat' which was an antidote for poisoning for centuries.  Dioscoredes and Galen referred to it as 'cedrium' and often used the resin to keep the body from putrefaction.  Nicholas Lemery alsso used it for that but also would use it as an antiseptic for pulmonary and urinary issues.  In 1925, Dr's. Gilbert and Michel used it for chronic bronchitis with great results.  It has been used for eczema, dermatitis, alopecia, dandruff and as a sexual stimulant.

Cedar wood, cedar shavings and cedar oils have been used for eons as a moth repellant and in potpourri.  They have also used cedar planks for smoking meats.  It is one of the oldest components that was originally used as a perfume.  Noah is supposed to have used it as incense to show his gratitude after the flood.  The Tibetans also use it for incense in their temples as well as using it medicinally.

The Egyptians also used it to build their sarcophages-many of which are over 3000 years old and still in pristine condition.  They also used it to build furniture and ships, in cosmetics, incense, perfumes and to repel insects.  The papyri was also covered in cedarwood oil to preserve it.  For thousands of years cedar has also been used to line closets, drawers and shelves and to protect clothes and belongings from insects and moths.

The native americans used cedar for skin rashes, rheumatism, respiratory problems, kidney infections, arthritis, gonorrhea, menstrual difficulties and tuberculosis.  It is an expectorant so has been used for coughs, mucous build up and sinus congestion.  Cedarwood oil promotes urination as well so helps with prostate problems and urinary tract infections, cystitis and urethritis.  As it is also an antifungal it may be beneficial for candida.  Cedarwood is also good to help with problems involving nervousness or anxiety.  It can ease fear, stress, help to stabilize energy levels, diffuse anger and aggression, stimulate hair growth on the scalp, help fight dandruff and excessive sweating.

The Moroccan cedarwood oil is considered the best to use for medicinal purposes, but all cedars are medicinal.  It is not recommended for internal use (the oil) as it can cause nausea, burning sensations and thirst.  Also many cedars are adulterated with other oils so perhaps that is one reason the Moroccan variety is deemed the best to use as it has remained a true cedar oil.

A tea made from the boughs has been used for sore throats, colds, diarrhea and coughs.  The tea from the bark has been used for kidney complaints.  Tinctures of cedar are used for ringworm, athlete's foot, nail fungus and jock itch.  The red cedar tincture and tea have been used to help with sluggish respiratory, reproductive, urinary and digestive tracts.  Chewing the green buds was often done to relieve toothaches.  The steam has been used to induce labor in pregnant women and the oil from the needles has been used for hemorrhoids, warts,  herpes simplex and fungal infections.

The bark is rather pliable and has been used by the native americans to make baskets, ropes, mats, blankets and clothing.  The bark was pounded until it became fluffy and was used in mattresses, diapers and as sanitary pads.  The wood was used to make bowls, cradle boards, canoes, masks, siding and roofing.

Cedar should not be used by pregnant women as it stimulates menstrual flow.  The western red cedar grows in rich, moist soil in BC, Alberta, Montana and Idaho.  It takes 29 pounds of cedar to produce 1 pound of oil.

As is customary for my posts, I am including links below for you perusal.  May you use them as you deem necessary.  Be healthy and be happy!

Monday, October 7, 2013


Teasel-Dipsacus Fullonum, Dipsacus Sylvestris
Also known as:  card weed, gypsy's comb, barber's brush
Parts Used: root, flowers (as an essence)
Meridians/Organs affected:  kidney, liver, musculoskeletal, immune system, circulatory
Properties:  tonic, diuretic, sudorific, stomachic, ophthalmic, antibiotic
Teasel is a biennial that can get up to 10 feet tall given the proper growing conditions.  It has prickly rigid stalks, pale purple flowers (depending on the variety) on their cone shaped heads and large, prickly basal leaves.
Teasel has long been used by the Chinese for its medicinal benefits, something that this country is still struggling to realize.  Since ancient times teasel water (collected by the cups that surround the stem of the cone) has been referred to as the 'bath of Venus'.  It was used as an eyewash and a beauty wash for the skin, especially good for warts.  The flowering tops are tipped over into a bowl of water to impart their 'essence' so that the plant itself is not destroyed.
Teasel has some interesting history.  There are about 15 different species of teasel, one of which is called Fuller's teasel.  This was used to tease the nap on wool to clean the cloth without ripping or breaking it-something the new metal cars are known to do when they meet a snag.  In fact, some dedicated spinner's still use teasel today even though teasel needs to be replaced every so often-but they swear by it.

In Chinese medicine, teasel root is used for lower back pain, knee issues, weak legs, issues with cartilage and joints and to tone the kidneys and liver.  They also believe it reduces inflammation and enhances the body's circulation.

There are a few herbalists here in the states who have taken the history of teasel with the Chinese and run with it here in the states.  They found in their own use with this plant in their own practices that it is indeed invaluable for joint injuries and chronic inflammation of the muscles making it beneficial in cases of fibromyalgia, sciatica, rheumatic conditions, chronic arthritis and lyme disease.  Teasel flower essence has been found to bring relief to chronic fatigue and lupus as well as fibromyalgia and lyme.  The root tincture (the root must be dug of the first year plant) strengthens the liver, tendons and bones as well as stimulating blood circulation and to prevent miscarriage.

The teasel cone contains about 2000 seeds and will readily reseed itself if they are not eradicated by man.  They are an important food source for birds in the cooler months.  Some people actually grow this as an ornamental for floral arrangements, wreaths and as unique holiday d├ęcor.

Teasel is NOT a weed.  It is a wonderfully amazing plant for those who are suffering unnecessarily with a variety of diseases.  It should be utilized by those who need it most.  Teasel blooms from June to September and during this time a floral essence can be made for use without killing the plants.

As is customary for my posts I am including links below for you benefit.  Use them as you see fit in health and happiness!