Sunday, November 19, 2017


GOLDENROD –Solidago Canadensis, Solidago Multiradiata, Solidago Gigantea, Solidago Occidentalis, Solidago Altissima, Solidago Missouriensis, Solidago Odora, Solidago Virgaurea, etc.

Also known as: wound wort, Canada goldenrod, northern goldenrod, Missouri goldenrod, giant goldenrod, yellow weed, Aaron’s rod, etc.

Parts used: roots, leaves, flowers, seeds

Systems/organs affected: kidneys, bladder, lungs, immune, gastrointestinal, lymphatic

Properties: styptic, diuretic, kidney tonic, analgesic, lymphatic, astringent, anti-allergenic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, renal tropho-restorative (nutritional restorative for the renal system), stimulant, antifungal, carminative, vulnerary, cicatrisant (promotes cell regeneration for tissue and skin by scar formation), antioxidant, anti-catarrhal
Goldenrod is a member of the Compositae (daisy) family.  There are between 60-130 species of this plant (depending on who you talk to) that have lance-like alternating leaves that may or may not be serrated (depending on the variety).  They can be anywhere from two to eight feet tall with clusters of tiny, bright yellow flowers.  Depending on the variety the stem may or may not have hairs as well.  The erect plant blooms from June to September (depending on the location) and can be found in open meadows, irrigated fields, roadsides, drainage ditches, etc.  It is native to North America but can now be found several places throughout the globe.  Goldenrod isn’t like other plants that normally spread through insects or wind transfer.  It sends out runners from the root and multiplies that way.  Often you will find a colony of them growing together.  Goldenrod pollen is heavy and so depends entirely on insects for pollination above ground.  It does get blamed for a lot of seasonal allergies as it blooms the same time as ragweed which is notorious for causing allergic reactions (ragweed is also wind pollinated) and so it gets a bad rap.

Goldenrod comes from Latin origins and it literally means, ‘to make whole’.  It has quite the reputation medicinally and was a very popular herbal remedy which has somehow been forgotten by modern man and big pharma.  It is still used widely in Europe though so at least some people have some common sense to keep the plant useful.  There are at least 12 species of goldenrod in the Rockies with 8 of them being located right here in Idaho.

Goldenrod, like so many other herbs, has an interesting history.  In the Crusades it was often referred to as ‘wound wort’ for its ability to stop bleeding.  The injured were often given poultices of the plant until help could get to them, which in those days could take a while. (It was given either in powder form or as a decocted boiled plant wash).  The Native Americans used it in much the same way for humans and for saddle sores on horses.  The Spanish Americans would mix it with soap to make a plaster for topical use on sore throats (kind of like a throat cast).  One particular species called Missouri goldenrod has a high latex content and has been experimented with as a possible replacement for rubber.  It was rumored that Thomas Edison was gifted with a car from Henry Ford with tires that Edison had made using the latex of goldenrod plants.  For whatever reason the idea never caught on.  The root and leaf teas were used both internally and externally for headaches, burns, rheumatic conditions, colds, ulcers, neuralgia, kidney stones, toothaches, etc.  The flowers were used for sore throats and were often chewed for such.  It was also mixed with other herbs as an immune stimulant and to alleviate fatigue and exhaustion.  It has also been used to some degree for diabetes.  The Native Americans also used this plant as an edible.  The leaves and flowers were added to soups, salads and stews for texture as well as flavor.  The leaves  were cooked much like spinach and eaten.  The seeds were eaten in survival situations and used to thicken gravies and soups.  The leaves and flowers provided  a lovely tasting tea also known as Blue Mountain Tea which was the tea believed to be tossed into Boston Harbor but then was known as Liberty Tea or Freedom Tea.  The tea was used by the natives and early colonists for urinary issues, cramps, intestinal gas, colic and to remove excess mucus from the lungs.  The German E Commission also approved its use for urinary, bladder and kidney issues as studies have found it particularly effective for those areas.  In Europe it is used to prevent and treat kidney stones. (Better watch out Europe or the FDA word Nazis might come down on you for using those ‘medical’ terms.)

Goldenrod is also an essential oil that is steam distilled from the flowers.  It has an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of 61,900! ORAC was created by the USDA to measure the antioxidant capabilities of foods and plants.  When you realize that blueberries have an ORAC value of 2400 and cloves have an ORAC value of over one million you soon have an understanding of the plants with incredible toxin fighting abilities.  The oil is mostly used for liver function, the circulatory system, cardiovascular system and the urinary tract.  It helps to open up the sacral, root and solar plexus chakras that govern both our sexual and survival instincts.  In Ayurvedic medicine it means that rather than being ‘pissy’ and resentful towards others we learn to become more accepting of our life experiences so that we can grow.  As this happens we are able to let go of our negative energy and our kidney and bladder energies then begin to flow as they should (detoxifying the body).  The oil is used mostly via inhalation through a diffuser or water bath, although people are using it more in topical applications every day (ALWAYS DILUTE).  It has been found to be helpful for skin issues, arthritis, gout, athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, burns, insect bites and as a mouthwash for toothaches and oral infections.  It is inhaled directly from the bottle or in a diffuser to ease respiratory congestion and to calm and uplift the mind and senses.  As it has a citrus pepper like scent it also helps to get rid of odors in the home and/or workplace.  It is also purportedly aquaretic-which means it acts as a diuretic without removing electrolytes needed by the body as so many diuretics often do.

Culpeper said that it is a plant of Venus and thus good for beauty (skin).  He also stated that, “The decoction of the herb, green or dry, or the distilled water thereof, is very effectual for inward bruises, as also to be outwardly applied it stays bleeding in any part of the body, and of wounds; also the fluxes of humours, the bloody-flux, and women’s courses, and is no less prevalent in all ruptures and burstings, being drank inwardly, and inwardly, and outwardly applied.  It is a sovereign wound herb, inferior to none, both for the inward and outward hurts, green wounds, old sores and ulcers, are quickly cured therewith.  It is also of especial use in all lotions for sores or ulcers in the mouth, throat, or privy parts of man or woman.  The decoction helps to fasten teeth that are loose in the gums.” (1653)

Peter Holmes, author of ‘Energetics of Western Herbs’ said that goldenrod should be used for any chronic kidney condition as it is tropho-restorative for those organs in general.  Goldenrod contains rutin.  Rutin increases capillary strength and circulation to the cardiovascular system.  Apparently it is also a thinking herb in regards to mucus in the body as well.  If there is too much mucus goldenrod will thin it out, if there is too little it will produce just enough to do whatever the job is necessary. 

Goldenrod is currently being studied for its possible use for cancer (especially prostate) and insulin resistance (diabetes).  Both look promising at this time.  It will be interesting to see what the future brings with this plant.

With all its benefits you can bet that big pharma will find reasons for you not to take it.  WebMD says that you should avoid this plant if you are pregnant and/or nursing, taking diuretics, lithium, blood pressure meds, if you have issues with fluid retention, osteoporosis or are allergic to the ragweed family.  It is also advised not to give it to children under 5 years of age.  The tea does have a lovely anise like flavor and is believed to be safe to consume up to 3 cups a day.  As with any herb, please consult a qualified physician before beginning any herbal product or regimen.

As is customary with my posts I am including some links below for your perusal.  Use them as you see fit.  Stay strong and healthy


WOOD BETONY – Betonica officinalis, Stachys officinalis, Pedicularis Canadensis, veronica officinalis.

Also known asbetony, lousewort, bishop’s wort, Paul’s betony, herb Christopher, beefsteak plant, high heal-all, hedge nettle.

Parts used: aerial portions.

Systems/organs affected: liver, heart, stomach, nerves, digestive.

Properties: nervine, astringent, sedative, bitter tonic, aperient, stomachic, antiscorbutic, aromatic, antidepressant, hypotensive, anti-diarrheal, anthelmintic, anti-venomous, carminative, alterative, anodyne, emmenogogue..

WOOD BETONY is a member of the Labiatae (deadnettle) family. It is a lovely perennial that can get up to three feet tall. It has purplish/pink flowers and long, narrow leaves with round-toothed margins. Some varieties are native to Europe, Asia and Africa while others seem to be native to North America. It blooms from June to August (depending on the species) and can be found in woodland clearings, gardens, grasslands and hedgebanks. Harvest the leaves before the flowers bloom and dry in the sun.

Wood Betony has a long history as a panacea. The ancient Egyptians believed it had magical powers and that it could ward off evil spirits. This translated to the Middle Ages where the Anglo-Saxons wore betony amulets to protect them from evil. The Romans believed it could cure at least 47 different diseases and disorders. In fact, Caesar Augustus’ personal physician, Antonius Musa, wrote a small book about it. Gerard gave a long list of uses for this plant, especially its use for urinary issues. Culpeper wrote that it preserves the liver and protects one from disease and witchcraft. It also was believed that wounded animals would seek out the plant and ingest it to cure wounds and diseases. Maude Grieve (A Modern Herbal, 1931) said that, “… throughout many centuries, faith in Betony’s virtues as a panacea for all ills was thoroughly ingrained in the popular estimation… betony was once the sovereign remedy for all maladies of the head.” Apparently this has merit as the word “betony” is derived from the Celtic “bew” which means “head” and “ton” which means “good.” The Celts and others used it for all kinds of head issues including migraines which it seemed to be very effective against. It also was used for: poor circulation, poor liver function, joint pain, depression, insomnia, as a nerve tonic, for addiction, psychiatric disorders, head injuries, digestive issues, inflammation and more.

The Chinese and East Indian cultures use it as a tonic. A tonic by definition means it is something that helps the body heal itself, but slowly. Tonics are employed in Asian cultures long before using the traditional herbs. Perhaps this is one reason it really isn’t used much in Western cultures as we tend to want the healing to happen NOW!!! We are impatient and don’t wish to wait for our healing to happen naturally.

More recently wood betony was found to contain betainerosmarinic acidbetulinic acid, and the alkaloids trigonelline and stachydrine. It also is higher in tannins which is what makes it work so well as an astringent. Trigonelline is a component commonly found in fenugreek which is used in China for nervous system disorders and diabetes among other things. This component has been studied and found to be important for insulin secretion, glucose metabolism and cell regeneration just to name a few. It has been found to have neuro-protective, sedative, antiviral, anti-migraine, hypoglycemic, antibacterial and anti-tumor activities. (, “Trigonelline: A Plant Alkaloid with Therapeutic Potential for Diabetes and Central Nervous System Disease.”) And that is just one component of wood betony!
Curr Med Chem. 2012;19(21):3523-31. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Review
Stachydrine also has been studied and was found to have anticancer capabilities especially with regard to prostate cancer. (
Nat Prod Res. 2012;26(18):1737-40. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2011.608673. Epub 2011 Oct 11.
, “In Vitro Anticancer Activity of Stachydrine Isolated from Capparis Decidua on Prostate Cancer Cell Lines.”) It was found to promote blood circulation and break uyp stagnant blood (blood stasis). (
, “Stachydrine, A Major Constituent of the Chinese Herb Leonurus Heterophyllus Sweet, Ameliorates Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells Injury Induced by Anoxia-reoxygenation.”)

Wood Betony also contains phytochemicals that have been found to be effective against tuberculosis. It has elements within it that specifically aid the nervous system which is why it has been used for migraines, Parkinson’s Disease, stomach cramps, colic and other nerve-related issues. It also increases tone throughout the body, making it a good option for things like prolapsed organs and/or uterus, debility, excessive menstruation, liver and/or gallbladder issues and even more. Wood betony works well when used in combination with other herbs too, such as yarrow or comfrey for sinus problems or nosebleeds.

Wood betony is said to taste similar to black tea – so it has a mild bitter flavor. Overuse of wood betony can cause digestive irritation and nausea so be aware of this fact. WebMD says that if one is pregnant or breastfeeding it should be avoided; and as betony can lower blood pressure it is recommended that those on blood pressure medications avoid it as well as those scheduled for surgery for the same reason.

AS ALWAYS, CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE STARTING ANY HERBAL PRODUCT OR REGIMEN. As is customary with all of my posts I am including some links below for your benefit.  Stay strong and healthy my friends!


BIRCH – Betula lenta, Betula pendula, Betula pubescens, Betula utilis, Betula populifolia, etc.

Also known as: black birch, sweet birch, mountain mahogany, cherry birch, spice birch, red birch, river birch, gray birch, etc.

Parts used: twigs, inner bark, leaf buds and leaves, sap.

Systems/organs affected: stomach, spleen, nervous, intestinal, rectal, kidneys, bladder, blood, skin, liver.

Properties: anti-rheumatic, aromatic, diaphoretic, stimulant, astringent, anthelmintic, diuretic, lithotriptic, detoxifying, tonic, anti-inflammatory, depurative, anti-carcinogenic, hypouricemic (lowers uric acid), anti-neuralgic, antidepressant (oil), germicide, insecticide, antispasmodic.

BIRCH is a member of the Betulaceae family. It is a deciduous tree that can get up to 100 feet tall depending on the variety. Silver birch and Downy birch are both native to Eurasia while the Sweet birch is native to the eastern part of North America. Most species of birch can now be found worldwide. With whitish bark that tends to be papery it can be found growing in woods, gardens, moors, etc. Birches tend to prefer wetter places but can be found almost anywhere.

Birch is an interesting species – it was often used for medicine in early times but now is basically used for a myriad of other things: furniture, baskets, boats, adhesives and more. It is a shame that such a wonderful medicinal has fallen by the wayside to make room for bigger, better drugs.

The British believe it to be one of the oldest trees as it appeared after the ice caps melted and moved across the land. It is a fast grower which makes it more of a soft wood which is why it was often used to make canoes, buckets and baskets.
Every aspect of birch has been used in some way medicinally although I never found any references to using the root. The leaves and twigs often were infused or decocted and drunk for help with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, cystitis, rheumatism and heart/kidney edema. Its effects in that regard are contributed to its betulinic acid content. It also was used in this capacity to help with digestive issues. The leaves were soaked in vinegar for several weeks to get minerals and other necessary nutrients out of them; this in turn was used to boost one’s immunity and strengthen bones. The tea also was used topically as a wash for boils, eczema and other skin conditions. Birch leaves were juiced to help with water retention, urinary complaints and kidney stones.

Birch oil often was used for a number of maladies; it stimulates the digestive, nervous, excretory, circulatory and endocrine systems (quite a hefty feat for one plant!). Birch was used for detoxification, fevers, depression, toothaches, headaches, cramping, spasms, muscle and joint pain, skin issues, ringworm and gout and fungal infections to name a few. The American version, known as sweet birch (Betula lenta) is almost identical to wintergreen without being as caustic or toxic. Birch contains methyl salicylate, betulin and betulinic acid, all of which can be harmful if used improperly. Birch bark was found to have some anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic capabilities making it something to consider in such conditions.

Birch is a powerful diuretic – often helping to rid the body of excess uric acid that other diuretics leave behind. The difference here is that birch is high in potassium and as such doesn’t deplete the body of this vital element as it cleanses. Birch is used in many creams and ointments for cellulite, wrinkles and chronic skin conditions.

There is no doubt in my mind that birch is underutilized as a medicine but it should be used carefully. Birch should not be used by: pregnant or nursing women, the elderly, the fragile or those on blood thinners; those who are allergic to mugwort, celery, wild carrot, soy, hazelnuts, apples or peanuts. WebMD also says that birch may increase one’s blood pressure so it should be avoided by those with blood pressure issues. As birch also is nature’s ‘water pill’ it should not be used by those taking Lasix, Thalitone, Diuril or other pharmaceutical diuretics. The oil should always be diluted before use. Birch oil is rich in methyl salicylate (which can cause death at 10 ml) so ALWAYS USE WITH CAUTION.

As with any herb or supplement – ALWAYS CONSULT A PHYSICIAN before starting any herbal program.

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


EVENING PRIMROSE –Oenothera Biennis, Oenothera Caespitosa, Oenothera Glazioviana, Oenothera Parviflora, oenothera Lamarckiana, Oenothera Tanacetifolia, Oenothera Subacaulis, etc.

Also known as: Sundrops, fever plant, scurvish, night willow-herb, suncups, scabish, kings-cure-all, tee primrose, evening star, etc.

Parts used: root, leaves, flowers, seeds

Systems/organs affected: liver, kidney, skin, reproductive, cardiovascular, structural

Properties: yin tonic, anti-inflammatory, pro-inflammatory, emollient, antioxidant, antithrombotic, vasodilator, antiproliferative (stops bad cells from reproducing)
EVENING PRIMROSE is a member of the Onagraceae family. It is a tall plant-getting as high as six feet or more and is native to North America although it has been naturalized in Europe, South America and other places.  Evening primrose is a biennial which means it takes 2 years to come full circle. The stem has a circle of leaves at its base the first year that continue up the stem in an alternate fashion the second year.  The leaves are between 3-6 inches long (depending on the variety) and have a somewhat lemony scent.  The flowers tend to be yellow for the most part but can also be white or pink in color.  There are 4 petals, 4 sepals and 8 stamens and are 2-4 inches around.  They also give off a strong, sweet aroma.  The ‘fruit’ is an inch long, pod shaped vessel that contains a host of red looking seeds.  The flowers bloom from June to September (depending on the region) and are thought to bloom only at night but have been found blooming during daylight hours as well.  It can be found growing in dry, sandy soil, rocky outcroppings and ridges, plains, etc.  There are approximately 200 species of primrose growing today.  The root should be dug in its first year for use, after that use the above ground portions only. 

Evening primrose is a plant of much controversy.  Modern medicine would tell you it has little value while alternative medicine tells entirely another story.  Apparently this is a plant that one needs to experience for themselves in order to make an informed choice.  However, there have been SOME studies conducted on the plant which are included herein for your benefit.

Evening primrose (EP) contains gamma linolenic acid as well as linoleic acid, two very important essential fatty acids in the omega family.  (Omega 6)  Both are items that compose the myelin sheath which is the protective coating around the nerve cells and fibers.  While many believe that our diets are heavy in omega 6 fatty acids, some illnesses that have come to the forefront lately may dispute that.

There have been more than 120 studies done on primrose’s use for PMS, with conflicting results.  A double blind study done in Australia found that there was no difference between a placebo and evening primrose in those who supplemented with it for 3 months.  A different double blind study found that EPO (evening primrose oil) it reduced breast pain and tenderness, irritability and mood swings.  Other clinical trials found that it worked to relieve breast tenderness better than conventional drugs.  Anecdotal evidence suggests it is useful for fluid retention and depression associated with PMS and menopause as well. 

In a Canadian study on cholesterol it was found that those supplementing with EPO for 3 months had a 31.5% drop in their cholesterol as compared to those in a placebo group.

The Lancet published a study in 1982 in regards to EPO and eczema.  In a double blind study, 99 people were given various amounts of EPO.  Forty three percent of patients given the highest dosage saw improvement in their condition.  At least 9 trials have found it to be effective for itching associated with skin conditions.  Studies published by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that EPO was beneficial for many age-related skin issues such as roughness, redness, lack of tone, etc.  A study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology found that 96% of those suffering from atopic dermatitis improved after 5 months of EPO supplementation.

One study done in Britain on 49 people with rheumatoid arthritis found that 94% of them had significant improvement in their conditions while taking EPO.

EPO may help with labor and fertility as well.  Omega fatty acids are important for proper hormone function, mainly the production of prostaglandins which are hormone-like substances that appear where injuries or problems in the body occur.  When the body is damaged or impaired, prostaglandins respond by producing reactions that spark the healing process to occur.  In women these hormone like substances also help to regulate the reproductive system.  For instance, gamma linolenic acid has been found to increase cervical mucus which helps the sperm to move more freely through the cervix.  This helps to increase fertility and the chances of becoming pregnant.  Likewise, a pregnant woman getting ready to give birth can supplement with EPO in the final weeks of pregnancy to prepare the cervix for delivery.  The Department of Animal Nutrition and Management did a study on blue foxes given EPO during mating season to gauge its effects on reproduction.  What they found was an increase in litter size which they attributed to the male foxes having better sperm quality and motility via the supplementation.  (It appears that EPO works on both sexes).

There have been many more studies on EPO regarding auto-immune disorders, osteoporosis, alcoholism, ADHD, MS, baldness, high blood pressure, acne, scleroderma, raynaud’s, diabetic neuropathey and more.  All of these studies have been considered ineffective or too small or don’t have enough data to confirm their results, etc. by the AMA.  So when in doubt-go back to its roots.  The Native Americans used the plant for food.  The root was boiled twice and then consumed and the rest of the plant was eaten too.  The leaves were cooked much like we use our greens and the flowers and seeds were added to salads and breads (seeds).  They also used the plant medicinally.  The plant was applied topically for hemorrhoids, boils, bruises and small wounds.  The seeds were cold pressed and the oil used for gastrointestinal complaints.  The roots and shoot tips were made into syrups and teas and used for asthma, pain, sore throats, coughing and as a sedative for spasms.  Some tribes even used it to combat obesity and laziness (didn’t know there was an herb for THAT..LOL)  Mrs. Grieve (A Modern Herbal-1931) talks of using it in tea form to helps with whooping cough, asthma and gastrointestinal complaints.

         While its uses are varied and somewhat controversial, this herb deserves a look.  I have seen it work well for some people and not as well for others so you really need to try it for yourself to see whether or not it works for you.   A word of caution however, according to big Pharma and WebMD this plant should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women, those on blood thinners or clotters, those on blood pressure meds, antidepressants, seizure meds, immune-suppressants, phenothizines (for schizophrenia), ceftazidime (antibiotic), those on chemotherapy drugs or NSAIDS.  EP can cause headaches, nausea and stomach pain and if taking too much (over 5000 mg for some people) it may cause loose stools and/or seizures but those are rare.  It should also not be given to someone with a high fever.  As always, consult a qualified physician before beginning any kind of herbal regimen or program.

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