Sunday, December 29, 2013


Sage-Salvia Officinalis, Salvia Lavandulifolia, Salvia Fruticosa, Salvia Sclarea, Salvia Miltirohiza, etc.

Also known as:  common sage, garden sage, clary sage, Greek sage, narrow-leafed sage, Mexican sage, etc.

Parts used:  leaves

Meridians/Organs affected:  respiratory, digestive, nervous, immune, kidneys, brain, liver, gallbladder, blood, stomach

Properties:  astringent, expectorant, tonic, aromatic, antispasmodic, nervine, vermifuge, emmenogogue, antiviral, antifungal, diuretic, stimulant, antiseptic, stomachic, carminative, diaphoretic, sudorific, antibacterial, galactophyga, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, styptic, anti-sudorific

Sage is a member of the Labitae family (also known as the Mint family).  It is a shrubby plant with velvety leaves that are grayish-green in color.  In the summer it produces lovely whorls of purplish-blue flowers that bees love.  There are over 700 species of sage so the flowers and leaves change with the variety.  Garden sage is the most commonly used (salvia officinalis) for culinary and medicinal purposes but the essential oil of clary sage (salvia sclarea) is most widely used for aromatherapy and topical application with massage therapy, etc.  The essential oil of garden sage is considered toxic so is never used.  The leaves are best gathered before the plant blooms in late July and August.

Sage is one of the plants that goes back to earliest recorded history.  The Chinese, who call it red ginseng (aside from red sage), used to trade China tea for it in great supply.  They believed it gave them longevity and sagacity (wisdom).  The Latin term for sage 'salvere' is to be 'saved' or 'safe and well', and indeed it was considered to be a cure-all since ancient times where it was referred to as 'salvia salvatrix' meaning 'sage the saviour'.  It is a native of the Mediterranean but can now be found globally in a host of varieties.  It is commonly mistaken with the wild sages (wormwood, sagebrush, etc.) which are a completely different species of plants (artemesia). 

Herbalists have used sage for ages for kidney diseases, sore throats, digestive issues, and respiratory infections.  It was used quite commonly (and quite effectively) for colds.  It was combined with apple cider vinegar and used as a gargle for tonsillitis, laryngitis, and sore throats.  The tea was used as a mouthwash for ulcers and gum infections.  It has been found to have the ability to stop sweating as well as to start it (adaptogenic) and in this regard has been used effectively over the centuries for hot flashes associated with menopause.  It has also been used to calm inflammation due to abscesses, wounds and skin disorders.  Clary sage (the tea) was often used as an eye wash for strained eyes and blurred vision.

The Germans also used clary sage to adulterate wine and make it taste more like the expensive muscatel wine.  Clary sage, however, has the tendency to enhance drunkenness and worsen hangovers when used in that capacity. 

In the Middle Ages clary sage was used to prevent night sweats of tuberculosis patients.  It also has been found to fortify the nervous system and is a brain stimulant (hence the 'wisdom' aspect attached to this herb).  Over the centuries it has proven useful across the board for all female complaints.  It has estrogenic components that help to balance female hormones, regulate menstruation, help with cramping and painful periods, and dry up breast milk of nursing mothers who are trying to wean their babies.

It is good used as a poultice for inflammatory conditions and was said to be used as such for small pox, measles, typhoid and scarlet fever.  It also has been found to be a good substitute for quinine.  It has been used for the flu, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, headaches, gas, stomach and bowel complaints, fevers, dandruff, hair loss, graying hair, memory loss, etc.  Gerard said that, "It is singular good for the head and braine, quickeneth the senses and memory, strengthens the sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsie, and taketh away shakey trembling of the members."  Sir John Hill (another herbalist) agrees with Gerard and said that sage, "...will retard that rapid progress of decay that treads upon our heels so fast in the latter years of life, will preserve the faculties and memory, more valuable to the rational mind than life itself without them; and will relieve under that faintness, strengthen under that weakness and prevent absolutely that sad depression of spirits..." 

The Native Americans have used it as a sacred smoke smudge for centuries to open up the physical and spiritual spectrums.  They would also mix it with mullein and comfrey for respiratory issues.  The Chinese used/use it to treat pain, hepatitis, hives, insomnia, and female disorders.  The Greeks have highly valued this plant.  Hippocrates used it in his 400 simples and Dioscorides used it a lot for liver diseases.  The Egyptians would use it as a remedy for plague and for female infertility. 

The oil of clary sage has been found to strengthen the immune system, regulate blood pressure, relax muscles, alleviate emotional upset and anxiety, encourage digestion, and reduce inflammation of many dermatological conditions.  Safe has been found effective against strep, staph, psendomonas bacteria, E. Coli, candida, pneumonia, salmonella and the flu.  More recent studies have found that it inhibits the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine-which makes it useful for Alzheimer's or to protect against Alzheimer's.

Sage is not recommended for pregnant women as it stimulates menstruation.  It is also not recommended for those with epileptic tendencies (at least the oil isn't) as it is a brain stimulant and excessive amounts can trigger seizures in susceptible individuals.

Sage is high is several compounds that are considered to be toxic in excess, so I using the tea please take it for no more than one week at a time and then give your body a two week break before beginning it again.

As is customary with all of my posts I am including some links herein.  Use them as you see fit.  Stay strong, healthy and happy!


Horseradish-Armoracia Rusticara, Cochlearia Armoracea, Rorippa Armoracia

Also known as:  red cole, great raifort, mountain radish

Parts used:  root

Meridians/Organs affected:  respiratory, digestive, circulatory, immune, kidneys, skin

Properties:  expectorant, diuretic, counter-irritant, stimulant, antibiotic, antimicrobial, bitter, antioxidant, aperient, rubefacient, diaphoretic, condiment, antiscorbutic, antiseptic

Horseradish is a member of the Cruciferae or Brassica family and as such is part of the cruciferous 12 vegetables/plants.  It is a hardy perennial with dock-like leaves that are bright green with wavy edges and can get up to 12 inches long and 4-5 inches wide.  Horseradish has white flowers that have 4 petals and are quite fragrant (the scent somehow reminds me of allysum).  It has a long, thick taproot with a white center.  It is a native of Russia, southeastern Europe and the Orient but is now grown all over the globe. 

Horseradish dates back to ancient times, long before the root was ever discovered and used, the young leaves were eaten raw in salads and sandwiches or cooked much like spinach and eaten.  The leaves are also one of the 5 bitter herbs that the Jewish people partake of at Passover.

Horseradish has been used as a spice for over 2000 years and was commonly used to mask the taste of spoiled meats.  It was first mentioned in 1597 in John Gerard's 'General Historie of Plantes'.  He spoke of crushing it into vinegar and then using it as a sauce for meat or fish.  Creamed horseradish was popular in France and England and can now also be found all over the world.

Aside from the culinary aspect of things, horseradish has many medicinal uses.  Theopharastus mentioned using it as a diuretic and Discorides touted it for all kinds of intestinal issues and to stimulate digestion.  Galen recommended it to women with menstrual difficulties and fluid retention.  It also has been used or all kinds of rheumatic and lymphatic conditions.  The fresh root was slowly eaten to help with receding and inflamed gums.  Thin pieces of it were also rubbed around the gums to firm them up.  It was also said to be a sure cure for hair loss.  It was often mixed with a few other oils for this (grapeseed, wheatgerm, and almond oils).  Horseradish produces a mustard-like oil (almost identical to mustard oil, actually) that acts much like an enzyme-breaking down the cell structure of cooked meat to help prevent indigestion and food poisoning (in cases where the meat may have been spoiled).  It improves digestion and causes an immediate reaction among the mucus membranes, often clearing the sinus passages.  In that regard it has been used as an expectorant for all kinds of respiratory ailments with great success and in helping with fevers, flus, colds and other illnesses.  The cut root has been used on stiff and aching joints and muscles and to warm the skin.  (For people with sensitive skin this can cause blistering so always put down a protective layer of oil before using horseradish on the skin).  It was also used a lot for boils and other skin eruptions (as a poultice or liniment).  John Pechey (1707) once noted that "horseradish provokes the appetite, but it hurts the head."   AMEN...LOL  Which is why it is also known as red cole because people believed it was akin to ingesting red-hot coals.  Parkinson (1640) stated that, "...the roote bruised and laid to the place grieved with the sciatica-gout, joint ach, or the hard swellings of the spleene and liver, doth wonderfully helpe them all."

Horseradish cools the body by increasing perspiration-helping the body to rid itself of toxins via the skin.  Horseradish poultices were common for arthritis, infected wounds, and pleurisy.  Dr. Christopher said that it is one of the most prolific stimulants we have-especially for the skin, kidneys, digestive organs and the circulatory system.  It is effective against urinary and lung infections due to the fact that it is excreted through those channels in the body.

Horseradish is a counter-irritant, which means that if you were ingesting spoiled meat all month long the horseradish would irritate the mucous membranes of the digestive tract to produce a protective coating that would prevent further inflammation, irritation or nausea and possibly also absorb some of the spoiled substances in the food. 

Horseradish has also been used very effectively for such things as bronchitis, asthma, allergies and other respiratory maladies.  It is also believed to be an immune stimulant as it can increase the amount of white bloods cells in the bloodstream.

Horseradish should not be used by those with thyroid issues or are using thyroid medications as it depresses (slows) thyroid function.  It should also not be used by pregnant women as it stimulates the lower intestine and uterus.

As is customary with my posts I am including some links below for your perusal. Use them as you deem fit.  Live long and prosper!


Basil-Ocimum Sanctum, Ocimum Basilicum, Ocimum Tenuiflorum, Ocimum Gratissimum, Ocimum Kilimand Schancum

Also known as:  sweet basil, holy basil, garden basil, common basil, St. Josephwort

Parts used:  leaves

Meridians/Organs affected:  lungs, stomach

Properties:  diaphoretic, antipyretic, carminative, stomachic, antispasmodic, galactogogue, antivenomous, antimalarial, emmenogogue, alterative, diuretic, nervine

Basil is perhaps the most well-known herb in the world.  It is an annual with dark green, pointed, oval leaves that are soft and sometimes curled.  The flowers are white or pink and the leaves are best gathered before the plant flowers in late July or early August.

Basil (also pronounced like 'dazzle') is a favorite culinary herb of many a chef.  It is a native of India but is cultivated throughout the world now.

There are some rather comical aspects attached to this plant stemming from its Latin roots.  The Greek name 'okimon' means 'quick' and 'basilicum' from the Latin means 'royal' which is why by early Greek and Roman cultures it was considered to be a 'king of plants' or a royal herb.  In some cultures basil was thought to be a sign of fertility and in others it is associated with death or evil.  This idea stems from another term 'basiliko', which was  a serpent-like creature feared by some (especially in Crete).  The French also had some ties to this as they believed the only way to make basil plants thrive was to 'semer le basilic' or to slander or yell at the plant.  Even Culpeper had some strange ideas about this herb.  Culpeper would divine the nature of the plant through its astrological origins (don't ask me how he determined those) and determined that basil is an .."herb of Mars and under the scorpion therefore called basilicon, it is no marvel if it carry a virulent quality with it.  Being applied to the place bitten by venomous beasts or stung by a wasp or hornet, it speedily draws the poison to it."

The Far Eastern cultures view this plant with respect and reverence.  It is considered a protector and is often laid with the dead to protect them from evil spirits.  It also is given in bundles to the Hindu gods Vishnu and Krishna.  Pots of basil are often found around homes and temples as a sign of safety.  In Italy it is a sign of courtship.  Pots of basil would be on the balconies of young ladies to let suitors know they were available.  The Chinese, who refer to this plant as 'luole', have used it since the 6th century to improve blood circulation, digestion, kidney issues, epilepsy, to relieve itching due to hives, and as an eyewash for bloodshot eyes.  Even today it is part of the top 30 herbs in Chinese medicine.  Basil tea has been used for fevers, flu, colds, indigestion, cramps, nausea and vomiting, constipation, headaches, nervous conditions and kidney and bladder issues.

Pliny used basil for jaundice, and in the Middle Ages it was often used for depression. It was a popular remedy, also, for snake bites and insect bites or stings, and often was used for epidemics and malaria outbreaks.

To bring us up to our time..a noted French aromatherapist, Dr. Jean Valnet, uses basil oil to help normalize menstrual cycles in women; European physicians use it for respiratory complaints; it helps with sinus congestion, bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, whooping cough, and a loss of smell due to excess mucus buildup.

The essential oil helps to open the upper chakras, it clears the head and works amazingly well for migraines.  The oil is also used to ease earaches, mouth ulcers, and gum infections.  It is beneficial in relieving the pain of rheumatism, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, and physical over exertion.  Basil can increase concentration and calm the nerves, it helps with skin tone and is beneficial in acne control.  In the Far East it is used as a prophylactic against cholera, malaria and the flu.  It has been shown to improve resistance to stress and to help balance blood sugar and blood pressure issues.  Used on a regular basis, basil is said to protect against cancer, prostatitis and leukemia.

Basil is divided into two categories (there are about 100 different varieties of basil):  those that are deemed culinary and those used for medicinal purposes.  Ocimum basilicum is a culinary basil-the most common variety for pestos, sauces, soups and vegetable dishes.  Ocimum sanctum or ocimum tenuiflorum are the varieties most used for medicinal purposes.

As basil stimulates the uterus it is best avoided by pregnant women.  However, it will promote milk flow in nursing mothers.  Too much basil can have a stupefying effect and to some it may cause skin irritation.

As is customary with all of my posts I am including some interesting links below for your benefit.  Use them as you feel necessary.  Keep well and stay strong!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Lavender-Lavandula Augustifolia, Lavandula Officinalis, Lavandula Vera, Lavandula Steochas, Lavandula Spica

Also known as:  Garden lavender, Spike lavender, Common lavender

Parts used:  flowers, leaves

Meridians/Organs affected:  lungs, liver, skin, digestive, nervous system, circulatory

Properties:  carminative, antidepressant, antispasmodic, nervine, aromatic, stimulant, tonic, diuretic, antiseptic, vulnerary, antifungal, antibiotic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory

Lavender is a member of the Labiatae family.  It is a gray-green, shrub-like plant with flowering spikes that vary from mauve to deep purple depending on the variety.  The leaves will also differ in size depending on the variety.  They can get between two and three feet tall and are very aromatic when touched although the aroma doesn't last for long.  Lavender blooms between June and July, and if using the flowers and/or leaves for medicinal purposes, they should be gathered before they flower.

There are three main types of lavender.  The are lavender vera (which includes lavender augustifolia and lavender officinalis and is better known as English lavender or True lavender), lavender spica (spike lavender), and lavender steochas (French lavender).  Any other lavenders on the market are considered to be hybrids.

The English and French lavenders have the highest quality oil used mainly for commercial use (although they have many medicinal uses as well) in soaps, sachets, bathroom products, perfumes and sprays.  Spike lavender produces more oil but is not as aromatic.  It takes 220 pounds of lavender flowers to get 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds of essential oil.  It takes one acre of lavender to distill 25 pounds of oil. 

Lavender is native to southern Europe but is now grown commercially in France, Bulgaria, Spain, Russia, Tasmania and England. 

Lavender has been used since ancient times and was well known to the Greeks and Romans who used it as a perfume as well as a medicine.  The Latin 'lavare' means 'to wash' which is how the Romans mainly used it-added to their bathwater.  Many of the early physicians (Dioscorides, Pliny, Galen) spoke of using lavender and Hildegarde of Bingen dedicated a whole chapter to it in her medical writings.  It was commonly found in medicinal gardens in monasteries in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Lavender didn't start to be commercially cultivated until around 1823.  Matthiole, a 16th century botanist, use lavender for mental issues, fluid retention, epilepsy and apoplexy (unconsciousness or incapacity associated with stokes or cerebral hemorrhaging).  The French would make an herbal tea that was said to cure jaundice using lavender, fennel and cinnamon.  This same tea was also said to be a wonderful cardiac tonic.  In Tuscany, lavender was said to protect children from the 'evil eye' and in Africa the Kabyle women believe it protects them from being abused by their husbands.  The tea has been used over the years to prevent fainting and to dispel feelings of nausea. 

This plant also has been used for drawer or linen sachets to keep moths and insects from destroying clothing.  Herbalists have used lavender oil for hundreds of years to kill various strains of bacteria including strep, typhoid, diphtheria and pneumococcus.  It has also traditionally been used for coughs, colds and chest infections as well as a sedative and as a relaxing or calming agent.  An infusion of the dried herb or oil is good for headaches caused by nervous tension and the oil diluted with a carrier has been used for millennia for massage and to ease rheumatic and neuralgic pains.  Lavender also has cytophylatic abilities which means it protects cells and has regenerative capabilities.  It was not only an ingredient of smelling salts but was also part of the herbs d' Provence culinary spice blend.

In medieval Europe lavender was an herb that was looked upon as a protectant of chastity and as an herb of love.  William of Yardley was granted a royal monopoly by Charles I of England to produce lavender as a commercial crop.  (This is where the famous Yardley soap obtained its beginnings.)

Workers of the lavender fields were paid 'danger money' due to the risk of bee stings when harvesting the flowers for distillation.  (Wonder if that is where workers compensation got its beginnings..LOL)

In both World War I and II, lavender oil was carried by medics and soldiers to disinfect wounds.  Perhaps the most well known use of lavender is for burns.  This happened by accident, actually.   A man called Dr. Giatte Fosse' (one of the founders of lavender therapy for burns) was working in his lab and burned his hand.  He immediately plunged it into the nearest bowl of fluid-which in this case was lavender oil, and the pain stopped and the burn healed quickly thereafter.

Lavender is also very useful for leucorrhea, cystitis, vaginitis, varicose veins, frostbite, acne, cellulite, bruises and swelling.  It stimulates new cell growth, calms nerves, lifts moods, fights infections, reduces inflammation, relieves pain and muscle spasms, eases congestion and helps to lower blood pressure.  It is one of the most gentle herbs we have and can be used on infants, children and during pregnancy.

As is customary with my posts I am including some links for your perusal.  Use as you feel necessary.  Live long and be happy!


Skullcap-Scutellaria Lateriflora, Scutellaria Galericulata, Scutellaria Biacelensis

Also known as:  Madweed, Quaker's Bonnet, Hood Wort, Helmet Flower, Blue Pimpernel, Side Flower

Parts used:  root, leaves, flowers

Meridians/Organs affected:  heart, lungs, liver, large intestine, gallbladder, nerves, structural

Properties:  laxative, antipyretic, hemostatic, astringent, diuretic, nervine, sedative, antispasmodic, analgesic, tonic, antibacterial, anti-allergenic

Skullcap is a member of the mint family.  It has blue to lavender colored flowers that are tubular and two-lobed.  It has lance shaped leaves that are coarsely toothed and opposite (just like all mints) and square stems.  It grows in damp areas that provide an equal amount of sun and shade, often found growing beneath poplars, willows and other trees or shrubs generally below 4000 feet, although it has been found above the 5000 foot level.  Skullcap is a native of North America and is found throughout Canada and the United States and in temperate climates throughout the world.  Blooming from June to September, it is best gathered between 9 a.m. and noon.

The Latin term 'scutella' means 'a small dish' referring to the shape of the flower which looks like a kind of cap or a helmet.  It was so named because it resembled the leather helmets often worn by Roman soldiers.  The French refer to this plant as 'Toque.'  The Chinese refer to it as 'Baikal' and descriptions of it have been found in the Ming ti Ben Lu (AD 500) and on wooden tablets that date back to the second century AD. 

Skullcap has a lengthy history as a medicinal herb.  It was originally a Native American remedy for women's issues.  It has also been referred to as 'mad-dog skullcap' for its purported use as an antidote to hydrophobia (rabies).  This dates back to the late 18th century when a Dr. Vandesveer used it to prevent 1000 cattle and 400 persons from becoming hydrophobic after being bitten by rabid dogs (apparently to great success).  However, there is some debate over its use for this in modern times.  In the early 19th century it again was used not only for rabies but also for schizophrenia and epilepsy, convulsions, headaches, hysteria, delirium tremens (usually associated with withdrawal from alcohol), multiple sclerosis, insomnia, nervous exhaustion, poisonous snake and insect bites, St. Vitus' dance (a disorder characterized by rapid, uncoordinated jerking movements affecting primarily the hands, feet and face), etc.

While many of these things are considered by modern allopathic medicine to be unproven-what has been proven is that skullcap has an amazing ability to calm and heal the nervous system.  It has been found to be a tonic for the nerves and to possess some antibacterial components.  It has also been used to treat cholera, tetanus, tremors, neuralgia, hyperesthesia (an abnormal increase in sensitivity to touch), anuresis (the inability to urinate), and paralysis agitans (also known as Parkinson's).    It has been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans as a nervine.  It is excellent for anxiety and skeletal muscle spasms, has been found to lower the blood pressure and strengthen the heart muscle and has been used for irritable bowel, intestinal and gallbladder issues.  The Chinese use it as a cooling herb for PMS, headaches and drug detoxification from Valium, Barbiturates, and Meprobamate (used for tension, anxiety, nervousness, etc.).  Mixed with American Ginseng, it has been used to treat alcoholism.  It is also used to suppress excessive sexual desire.  The Chinese also use skullcap root to remove congestion of heat from the lungs, heart and liver, also for jaundice, sores, pneumonia, carbuncles, etc.

This her is one which works better when given over a period of time in small amounts.  Too much skullcap can lead to dizziness, confusion, numbness in the fingers, toes and lips, excitability, giddiness and twitching.  Pregnant women should not take this herb.

As is customary with my posts I am including some links on skullcap below.  Use them wisely.  Keep healthy and strong!


Chickweed-Stellaria Jamesiana, Stellaria Longifolia, Stellaria Longpipes, Stellaria Umbellata, Stellaria Obtusa, Stellaria Media

Also known as:  Scarwort, Adder's Mouth, Stitchwort, Satin Flower, Star Weed, Winterweed, Chickenweed, Rongue-Grass

Parts used:  aerial parts

Meridans/Organs affected:  lungs, stomach, skin, bowel, circulatory, urinary, digestive, respiratory

Properties:  demulcent, nutritive, resolvent, emollient, pectoral, alterative, refrigerant, mucilage, discutient, antitussive, antipyretic, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory

Chickweed is a member of the Pink family and a cousin to the Carnation.  It is one of the most widely distributed plants in the world, being found from the Artic Circle to the Equator and all points south.  It is a weak-stemmed annual commonly found sprawling on the ground or with other plants (it is often found entangled with rose bushes).

There are close to a hundred species of chickweed but the one used most for culinary and/or medicinal purposes is Stellaria Media.  Opposite ovate leaves grow along its stock and the flowers are tiny and white with five petals; but these are cleft at the tip so it appears as if they have 10 petals.  Although it is considered an annual it spreads relentlessly and continually drop seeds as it blooms.  Chickweed has a distinguishing feature as well; it has a single line of hairs that run up one side of the stalk, switching sides at each leaf seat.  It can be found in ravines, moist meadows, disturbed areas, hedge banks, waste places, etc.  It will bloom March through to November but is best collected between May and July between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Chickweed is a common salad green in many countries and has been for centuries.  It was once sold on the streets of London by country folk.  It has been made into pesto with pine nuts as well as mixed into soups, salads and sandwiches, and is used much the same as spinach.  It is called chickweed because birds love it.  It also gives them better health and provides nutrient rich eggs.

Dioscorides speaks of using chickweed crushed with cornmeal as a poultice for eye afflictions.  Apparently, it works quite well in this regard as it is spoken of a lot in documents about chickweed.  In truth, chickweed has a number of uses, especially where the skin is concerned.  It has been used to soften the skin and to heal skin conditions.  It helps with insect bites, skin ulcers, minor wounds, rashes, inflammations and sunburns.  It is equally as effective internally for such things as pulmonary conditions, bleeding bowels or bleeding lungs, weak stomach, internal inflammatory conditions and oral complaints.  Dr. Christopher used it for asthma, bronchitis, hemorrhoids, rectal cancer, blood poisoning, constipation, inflamed or ruptured appendix, swollen or burning genitalia, boils, deafness, itching, hives and as part of the famous black ointment. 

Jethro Kloss said it is excellent for rheumatism, hoarseness, coughs and colds, scurvy, tumors, cancer and blood disorders.

Chickweed is high in iron, zinc, potassium, copper, magnesium, calcium, vitamins A, C, B6, B12 and D, saponins and antioxidants.  In fact, it is higher in iron and zinc than any other domesticated green.  It also contains a good amount of chlorophyll.

As chickweed is mucilaginous (this is where the saponins come in) it is a soothing agent to any kind of inflammatory condition.  It is also a cooling herb, making it equally helpful to both inflammation and yang conditions.  It has a reputation for clearing stubborn, long-lasting conditions such as eczema, varicose veins and rheumatic joints.

American herbalist Susun Weed said to.."think of chickweed as being soft as slippery elm, as soothing as marshmallow and as protective and strengthening as comfrey root."  It has been used as a blood purifier and to reduce fat deposits in the liver, blood and arteries. 

Chickweed is also high in oxalates s should only be used for short periods of time internally.  It also has a poisonous look-alike called "Scarlet Pimpernel"-the Scarlet Pimpernel plant has red flowers though, which is one way to tell the tow plants apart for the most part except the poisonous variety also has small dots sprinkled across the underside of its leaves.

As is customary with my posts I am including some links below for your perusal.  Use them as you see fit.  Live long and prosper!  :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Thyme-Thymus Vulgaris, Thymus Serpyllum, Thymus Herba-Barona, Thymus Mastichina, Thymus Capitatus, Thymus X Citriodorus, etc.

Also known as:  Garden thyme, Mother of Thyme, Tomillo, Herba Thymi, Whooping Cough herb, Thymain, Thymolium

Parts used:  aerial parts

Meridians/Organs affected:  liver, lungs, stomach, skin, oral, circulatory, structural, digestive

Properties:  astringent, expectorant, antifungal, anthelmintic, aromatic, antiseptic, carminative, antispasmodic, nervine sedative, antioxidant, diaphoretic, antibacterial, tonic, emmenogogue, vulnerary, stimulant (the oil), parasiticide, diuretic, antitussive, antiviral, antibiotic

Thyme is an herb known to most people, especially those who work in the culinary industry.  There are close to 400 species of thyme with the Thymus Vulgaris chemotype being the most used for medicine and as a culinary herb.  Most thymes, however, are considered medicinal (even the creeping varieties) except those that are cultivated as ornamentals.

Thyme is a small shrub, rarely getting over 8-12 inches in height (the erect variety) with numerous stems with soft lance like gray-green leaves and flowers that appear at the axils and are white to pink to purple in color.  The flowers bloom from May to September and are very aromatic.  Thyme is native to the Mediterranean but can now be found the world over. 

This herb has very old beginnings.  It was said to have been used by the Sumerians as far back as 3500 B.C.  The Egyptians referred to it as 'tham' and it was one of the main plants used by them for embalming and preserving bodies.  Hippocrates (Greek physician:  considered to be the "Father of Medicine") used thyme quite a lot; in fact, it was part of approximately 400 different remedies he used.  Burned as incense on the altars of Greek gods it also was frequently rubbed on meats as a way to preserve them before refrigeration was invented.  And as a side note, according to Greek mythology, thyme comes from the tears of Helen of Troy.

In medieval times, sprigs of thyme were given to knights for their courageous feats.  (The word thyme comes from one of two words in Greek:  'thymos' which means 'perfume' or 'to fumigate' and/or 'thymus' which means 'courage').  Women during these times would embroider handkerchiefs with sprigs of thyme and give them to men going into battle to give them strength and courage.  The French Republicans would use sprigs of thyme around the doors to let the loyal Republicans know of a secret meeting.  On the opposite side of the spectrum-in ancient Assyria, thyme was associated with death and a thyme drink was often imbibed in in order to commune with the recently departed.  The souls of the dead were said to rest in beds of thyme flowers.  In England, bringing thyme to someone's house was said to bring serious illness or impending death to the family within.  Some people have even said that they have smelt thyme in supposed haunted locations. 

The Romans often used thyme both as a culinary and medicinal herb.  Virgil, a Roman poet and beekeeper, thought very highly of honey made from thyme.  He said that thyme, "...yieldeth most and best honni and therefore in old time was accounted chief..."  Thyme based honey can still be purchased today in some specialty Greek stores in the usa.  Young sheep in the Mediterranean were grazed on fields of thyme which was said to enhance the flavor of lamb.  It is even believed that thyme was one of the four herbs upon which Mary laid the Christ child in the manger.  As such, it has been included in Christmas crèches all over the world and is a common plant found in churches and monasteries.

Mrs. M. Grieve, an early 20th century herbalist, wrote a lot about thyme.  She said it was used quite a lot during WWI as an antiseptic on the battlefield.  It was also used as a local anesthetic, deodorant, mouthwash and germicide.  The tea was used for coughs, colds, as a gargle for sore throats and gum infections (including thrush), and for chest infections.  The tea also is said to help relieve gas and aid with fevers and menstrual issues.  Thyme is specific for asthma, whooping cough, stomach weaknesses and when taken just before bed, it is said to help tremendously with nightmares.  (This is something that should be considered for those with PTSD).  Pliny used it for epilepsy, headaches, and as an antidote for snake bites.  Hildegarde of Bingen used thyme extensively to assist with paralysis, plague, leprosy, and body lice.  Lemery (17th century French physician) said it.."fortifies the brain and stimulates digestion."

The British Herbal Pharmacopeia has thyme listed as a remedy for tonsillitis, asthma, diarrhea, gastritis, dyspepsia, laryngitis and bronchitis.  It was used by many European physicians to expel intestinal parasites (it seems to work very well for this purpose, especially for hook worms and ascarids, small intestinal round worms).  It will also kill mosquito larvae. 

Thyme has been used in baths to ease rheumatic pain, arthritis and sore muscles.  An ointment of thyme is used even today for shingles.  The oil of thyme also helps to dispel some symptoms of chronic fatigue, sluggishness and exhaustion.  It also helps reduce fluid retention and increase circulation (useful for low blood pressure).  As thyme is a powerful antifungal agent it also is used for athlete's foot and jock itch.  Thyme reduces inflammation and works well for many skin disorders including acne, eczema, psoriasis and other forms of dermatitis.  It has been found to lower cholesterol levels as well.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about thyme is that is it used in ALOT of commercial products such as:  Vicks Vaporub, feminine hygiene products, PMC Douche powder, Auro Ear Drops, antifungal creams and lotions and in Listerine mouthwash to name just a few.

As helpful as thyme is it also can be toxic in large quantities.  Toxicity causes nausea, headache, dizziness, gastric pains, vomiting, convulsions, cardiac and respiratory collapse, and coma.  This herb should be used for small spurts of time and in small dosages.  Pregnant women should avoid using it as it does stimulate menstruation. Also, when using thyme essential oil for children, make sure to use the White thyme essential oil only as the Red Thyme essential oil is too caustic for them.   

As is customary with my posts I am including some links below for your benefit.  Please use them as you deem necessary.  Stay happy and healthy!


Knapweed-Centaurea Biebersteinii, Centaurea Maculosa, Centaurea Cyanus, Centaurea Reperis, Centaurea Protensis, Centaurea Imperialis, etc.

Also known as:  Spotted Knapweed, Star Thistle, Meadow Knapweed, Russian Knapweed, Centaury, Basket Flower

Parts used:  leaves, roots

Meridians/Organs affected:  liver, stomach, eyes, nervous system

Properties:  vulnerary, nervine, digestive, styptic, hepatic, ophthalmic, anti-carcinogenic, stimulant

Knapweed is a rather robust plant that can be found in dry, infertile soil, vacant lots, near railroad tracks, roadsides, coastlines and high lime or salt areas.

Knapweed has deeply, lobed, gray-green leaves that get up to 6 inches long in its first year.  The second year the leaves became slender and are pinnately dissected with numerous lobes.  The flowers are thistle-like and appear at the ends of the stems or branches around mid to late summer.  The flowers bulbs resemble a small basket before the flowers actually bloom, hence the name 'basket flower'.  The flowers range in color, depending on the species, from yellow to pinkish-purple.  They bloom from July to October.  This plant produces an abundance of nectar and is well loved by honeybees (which possibly helps to explain why they have managed to propagate so easily and freely).

In many states knapweed is considered to be a noxious plant and has found a permanent spot on the "Top 10 Noxious Weeds" list.  Although it is considered a weed by most of the populace, it is a medicinal herb that has been used for centuries.  Culpeper said that "knapweed gently heals up running sores, both cancerous and fistulous, and will do the same for scabs of the head."

The Native Americans used it for jaundice, eye disorders, venomous bites and indigestion.  It was commonly used in the 14th century as an appetite stimulant, a sore throat remedy, and as a topical wound healing agent.  Herbalists throughout the ages have used it as a nervine to relieve problems related to the nervous system and nerve impairment.  It has also been used as a remedy for bleeding gums, bruises, nose bleeds and catarrh.  It is supposed to work very well for glandular issues as well.

Arctiin, a component found in the imperialis species of knapweed, has been found to have anti-carcinogenic abilities in lab studies.  This herb also has been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation (the process in which free radicals steal electrons from fats within cell membranes causing cell damage) and xanthine oxidase (an enzyme involved in purine metabolism which reduces the production of uric acid) which would help  with conditions like gout.  This is also one of the remedies used for an adder or viper bite.  It was made into a tea and drunk.

In some countries, knapweed is considered an edible plant although it has never been considered so in western cultures.  In Albania, Turkey, Crete and Italy, knapweed leaves are boiled and fried in mixtures with other greens. 

As is customary with my posts I am including some links below that I hope you will find interesting and beneficial.  Stay well and healthy!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Honeysuckle-Lonicera Japonica, Lonicera Periclymenum
Also known as:  Japanese honeysuckle, Morrow's honeysuckle, Woodbind
Parts used:  flowers, leaves, roots
Meridians/Organs affected:  liver, stomach, lungs, blood
Properties:  alterative, refrigerant, antibiotic, diuretic, diaphoretic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, purgative, sedative, analgesic, antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory
Honeysuckle is a member of the Caprifoliaceae family.  It is a deciduous shrub with twining vine-like branches, ovate leaves, and very fragrant white, yellow or red flowers followed by red or black berries.  It is a native of Europe but has been naturalized in the United States, Asia and Russia.  In most of these countries it is now listed as a weed.  It grows very well in wooded areas and as a hedge, which is how many people use it, as an ornamental barrier.
There are 180 species of honeysuckle, most of which have medicinal capabilities.  The flowers should be harvested when in bloom between the spring and fall (May through September).
Honeysuckle is a plant that most people know both by sight and by smell.  It has an intoxicating fragrance that bees love and often come to steal honeysuckle nectar.  The berries are a very popular food source for birds in the fall months.

In most cultures this plant is considered a symbol of love.  There are many old wives' tales attached to the plant.  For instance, it was once believed that keeping honeysuckle flowers inside the home was dangerous because it might give young women impure thoughts.  The twisty vines were commonly used in making walking sticks and gentleman with honeysuckle walking sticks were said to win any woman they wanted because of honeysuckle's allure.  Shakespeare also spoke of it as a 'lover's nest' in "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
The Elizabethans knew of honeysuckle's many romantic associations but were also wise enough to use it as medicine.  The flowers and leaves have a fair amount of salicyclic acid (the same compound found in aspirin) and a tea made from the leaves or flowers was often used for rheumatism, headaches, bronchial issues and fevers.  Today, most herbalists use the flowers rather than the leaves although they share many similar medicinal capabilities.  The yellow-flowered varieties are used more to temper 'hot' conditions such as heat stroke or sunstroke, hot flashes, fevers and urinary tract infections.
Honeysuckle itself has been used for many chronic respiratory complaints like croup, asthma and bronchitis.  In many Asian cultures it is standard to use honeysuckle along with forsythia for any respiratory disorder.  It has been found to be effective for sore throats and Dr. James Duke says it is second only to eucalyptus for such things.  Recent Chinese studies have found that honeysuckle has a rather broad spectrum antimicrobial reach; it has been found to be effective against staph, strep, salmonella and pseudomonas aeruginosa; and also rather effective against cancer, especially that of the breast and lung.  It helps with intestinal inflammation, reproductive and urinary complaints, the flu and colds.  It is even a good skin wash for poison ivy and other skin rashes.
Honeysuckle is also one of the Bach flower remedies.  Its essence is used for those who are stuck in the past, often being lost with thoughts or memories of happier times and are unable to move forward.  It is used for those who cannot let go of the past and are lost in nostalgia.

As is customary with my posts I am including some links here for your perusal.  Use them as you deem necessary.