Herbs, What are they? And why grow your own?
I've studied many modules of healing these past years from necessity. In time I will try to share all that I've learned, but for now, we will begin with a study of herbs. Most medicines had their beginnings in plants. They provide our basic nourishment, and medicine for when we're sick. In the ideal would, we would care for the plants, and they for us. Everything you need in life is around you - just open your eyes and your mind, and discover.
- The Basics of Herbs
- Allheal through Borage
- Calendula through Dill
- Edelweiss through Fo-Ti
- German Chamomile through Mullein
- Oregano through Roseroot
- Sage through Tea Tree
- Valerian through Yarrow
The Basics of Herbs
Herbs, What are they? And why grow your own?
In general use, herbs are any plants with leaves, seeds, flowers, or other plant part used for flavoring, food, medicine, healing or perfume. MANY of the plants we grow such as annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees are herbs in the true sense of the word. I will be publishing a number of articles in the coming days about herbs. First this one, to help you understand some basics, give a listing of things I grow and why, then I’ll publish articles on particular herbs of importance.
I started my own first herbal garden out of need. Unable to take normal medicines, I had to find an alternative - and so began my journey in the study of alternative methods of healing. Found out some fascinating things about plants, and have had lots of opportunity since then to test and try many of the things I learned. Most of the photos on this file are of my first beginnings in herb gardening. Some started in my front window sill. My front yard became my first outside planting - then it just kept going. My fence eventually was overrun with passionflower. Silly police tried to sneak the lovely flowers to take home to their wives - didn’t take them long to realize a passion flower blossom quickly closes once picked. They were more successful when gathering some of my sage flowers. What they didn’t take home to their wives, I frequently cut and hung inside to dry - with 12 foot ceilings, it was easy - I put hooks ever square foot in the downstair ceilings. Was once that the police had to come into the house (due to a break-in), and they had to duck and dodge all the hanging passion flower, peppermint, and lemon balm. It was quite funny to see. I just shrugged and told them – ‘It’s all legal! Want to see what’s in the basement nursery while you’re here?’ The police eventually became sure that I was nuts (my property adjoins the police department in downtown Hannibal, MO). Before long I had little grassy area left - herbs had taken over my garden and my life!
I’d had formal gardens before while in South Carolina. But that was just about aesthetics - looked lovely, but not so much for health or food. Now, I grow for beauty, health, and food. Every plant I plant has multiple purposes. Of course I’ve come a long way in the past few years since that beginning by the police department. I still have that property, and still grow my herbs there - but now live a couple miles away, just outside city limits - on 15 acres that are slowly being transformed into a unique home. As I fence in the entire property, I plant some primary boundary plants along the fence - raspberry and passion flower to cover the fence and eventually turn it to a full natural privacy fence - and stinging nettle all along the outer perimeter - to provide both nourishment and protection (ever felt the sting of nettle?). When I’m done, I’ll have a natural fortress of beauty, and inside... ah yes, in a couple years I’ll post an article on what’s inside..... with photos! Till then, you’ll just have to wonder!
Now, on to the matter at hand. There are many advantages to growing your own herb garden. From cooking, to healing, to medicinal - the value never ends. Some are grown to enhance the flavor of food, others just as ornamentation in cooking (presentation can be as important as taste!). Others are grown for healing and medicinal values. And still others just smell heavenly! I have one herb - Verbena - it smells so good, I keep a bottle of dried verbena at my bedside, and if I’m not feeling particularly relaxed when it’s time to go to sleep - I simply open the jar, sniff deeply, then close the jar, lay down, and drift into a wonderfully peaceful sleep.
Most herbs are grown outside, but there are a few that can be grown and maintained in your windowsills or other appropriate place in the house (herbs like LOTS of sunshine). Growing inside is a wonderful option for those that just aren’t into yard work or if you have an apartment. It also provides herbs for year round use if you are good at maintaining them. It’s really not so hard - a bit of water now and then and lots of sunshine every day, and they’ll flourish wonderfully. Some of my favorite herbs to grow inside are Basil, Rosemary, French Tarragon, Bacopa, Gotu Kola, and Fo-Ti. I also have an avocado tree that I grew from a seed. Not sure what I’ll do with it as it gets bigger? It could never survive the winters here in Missouri. Hoping to build on to the back of the house, digging a 10 foot deep basement - put a plant nursery on the ground floor over that, and then my bedroom above, leaving the south side framed with all windows - then thinking of leaving a hole all the way up, planting the avocado in the basement - but that would still only give it about 25 feet till it would hit rooftop, and somehow I don’t think that’ll be enough... ah well, time will tell. I keep getting lost here - easy to do when I have plants and planting on my mind, but will try to keep the track and get you that article on herbs...... :)
When planting your garden do not be surprised by the small seeds you will find when you open the packages ready to plant. They are often very tiny and this makes planting, especially when you do it the first time, rather difficult. It is important to avoid planting the seeds too close together or piling them. You need to spread them carefully, do not bury them as you would most vegetable seeds. As well, it is essential to be careful when watering your herbs; too much water is very bad for them. They don’t do well in either dry or flooded conditions, but should be kept moderately moist - usually watering once a week is adequate. Pick a day that works for you, to help you remember. I have a woman I used to care for, and Sunday was always her watering day. She’d have the Sunday nurse go round her house and water all the plants - she had many, so it took about half an hour refilling the water bucket and going from plant to plant. They were all so lovely.
When you make your first herb garden do not be afraid to try a variety of herbs. Pick a few you really enjoy using, whether for food or for decoration and see how they grow. You may find that some types do better than others. When it is time to pick your herbs you should know that there are two different ways to do this. If you are going to use them in cooking wait until you are ready to put them into the pot or on the plate before picking them. But, if you are going to dry them first you should pick them first thing in the morning as that is the time of day that he oils are best. If you’re harvesting from an outside garden you need to wait till the morning dew is dry. Harvesting wet leaves will only risk mildew and mold - nasty things that will ruin your harvest!
The herbs I have grown are listed below with brief notes on each. I’ll create a page for each as I can and publish those for more information. Perhaps inexperienced gardeners as well as those who have not yet had the pleasure of growing these interesting plants will give some thought to starting a small herb garden. Some people even start an indoor herb garden in their kitchen. Even a small plot 4 by 6 feet will grow all a small family would need. If not grown for use in cooking, herbs are worth growing for pleasant aromatic foliage and some of them for the beauty of the flowers as well.
Allheal through Borage
ALLHEAL - Prunella vulgris L.
Not so immediately effective as comfrey, yarrow, or bugle, it is a good herb to know about because of its almost universal presence and availability. It was traditionally used for many a mashed, bruised or cut finger. Fresh leaves can be eaten in soups and salads. Dried leaves are used to make teas.
ALFAFA - Medicago sativa L.
Alfalfa leaf contains a broad spectrum of nutrients, including considerable quantities of protein, trace mineral and vitamins, dietary fiber and chlorophyll, which serves as an antioxidant in the bloodstream. Alfalfa sprouts are a staple of salads and contain nutrients, but the leaves hold the best healing potential and contain phytoestrogens that could be beneficial in menopausal and breast feeding women. Chemicals in alfalfa called saponins can help lower blood cholesterol (by impeding intestinal absorption) without affecting heart-healthy HDL cholesterol. One of its most common uses in Chinese medicine is in the treatment of ulcers. It is also used to strengthen digestion and stimulate appetite. If you have lupus or are in remission, you shouldn't consume alfalfa seeds. Use alfalfa only during its prebloom stages of growth. Alfalfa seeds should never be eaten unless sprouted because they contain high levels of the toxic amino acid canavanine. Alfalfa is not recommended as primary treatment for any condition. Instead, it should be taken in capsules, teas or eaten as fresh raw sprouts that have been rinsed thoroughly to remove mold.
AMERICAN PASSION FLOWER - Passiflora incarnata
Important sedative used to treat insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, nervous disorders -- especially in children. It is very safe; no side effects or contraindications are known. The herb is taken as a tea or in tablet or tincture form. Now incorporated in many commercial products, this herb has become a significant American herbal crop in the Southern U.S. and Central America. All plant parts used in teas, steeped, not boiled. Herbalists have a high regard for the soothing properties of passionflower and recommend it as a general nerve tonic. Together in an extract, the alkaloids and flavonoids of passionflower are stronger sedatives and relaxants that any one on its own, reminding us of the wisdom of using the whole herb, instead of isolated extracts. Passionflower has shown ability to lesson post herpes nerve pain, and shingles neuralgia. It also is used in herbal treatments for withdrawal from opiates, alcohol and painkillers, and may help lessen your reliance on drugs such as Valium and Librium. The herbs calming influence may also help in attention deficit disorder and restless legs syndrome, while causing less drowsiness than prescription counterparts.
ANDROGRAPHIS - Andrographis paniculata
In Scandinavia this is a primary herb used to fight the common cold, flu, and upper respiratory infections. Clinical trials have shown that this herb really works and many believe that it is better than Echinacea. Like Echinacea, it works by boosting the immune system, helping the body to battle infections and to prevent them from reoccurring in the future. But it does more: it has adaptogen-like properties, it has anti-cancer activity, it is a bitter tonic, and it is an antioxidant that has been shown to protect the liver. In China and India the plant is commonly used to treat a wide range of infections such as gastrointestinal complaints, hepatitis, herpes, and throat infections. In short this is one amazing medicinal herb! Easy to grow annual and easy to use.
ANISE - Pimpinella anisum
Cultivated since 1500 BC in Greece and the Middle East for its distinctive sweet licorice flavor, anise is an annual that requires a long hot summer to bring the seeds to maturity. The plant grows to 3ft in rich, well-drained soil, bearing white flowers in umbels that attract butterflies. As a companion plant it does well with coriander, and is protective against aphids. Anise seed has traditionally been valued for its ability to calm nervous stomachs and aid digestion, and is also thought to be helpful with chronic coughs. Ground seed is used in confectionary goods. Fresh chopped leaves are appealing in soups, stews, sauces and salads. According to Medieval herbologists, anise is an aphrodisiac, and the seeds have been found to contain estrogenic compounds. Narcotic in large doses. Anise seeds contain anethole, a plant hormone similar to human estrogen, avoid when pregnant. The essential oil is for topical use only. Traditionally anise was used as an herbal infusion for colic in babies, however high doses can be neurotoxic - anise should be used with caution by pregnant women and very young children
ANGELICA - Angelica archagelica
Angelica has a long history of use as a medicinal herb, in particular for the treatment of digestive disorders and problems with blood circulation. It is closely related to the Chinese herb Dong Quai . The fruit, leaf, and root of angelica stimulate digestion, help dispel gas and calm the nerves. Angelica is especially good when bloating or cramps are present. Angelica is a good herb to add to treatments for colds, congestion and fevers. Because of its coumarin content, it may interfere with anticoagulant drugs. Angelica is a strong emmenagogue (a substance that induces menstruation) and should not be taken by pregnant women.
BACOPA - Bacopa monniera
Useful in treating a variety of conditions that involve impaired mental capacity, Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit disorder (ADD), memory problems, and Parkinson's disease. Laboratory studies indicate that brahmi improves intellectual function primarily by balancing the chemicals gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate in the brain.
BAIKAL SKULLCAP - Scutellaria baicalensis
Important Chinese medicinal herb: prescribed for fevers, colds, hypertension, insomnia, headaches, hepatitis, diphtheria, shingles, and other ailments. Many of its traditional uses are supported by clinical studies. Very showy blue flowers. Ht. 40 cm/15. Must have good drainage, and does not transplant well; otherwise easy to grow and very hardy. Use in nerve disorders. The plant has been used for centuries by herbalists as an effective nerve tonic and sedative. Its common uses include relief of nervous tension, anxiety and nerve pain.
BEE BALM - monarda
A safe herb to use in both animals and humans. Like most mints, bee balm has a special affinity towards the digestive tract. Bee balm has excellent antibacterial qualities that make it useful for treating infections. reparation Methods & Dosage :The fresh or dried leaf, stem and flowers can be made into an alcohol or glycerin tincture. The dried plant can be infused and made into skin and eyewashes, and herb teas.
BETONY - Stachys officinalis
Good substitute for black tea; infusion resembles the taste and is caffeine-free. Helps relieve headache, and has general tonic action.
It is ideal for use as a low hedge or border within the herb garden. Hyssop also has uses in the garden; it is said to be a good companion plant to cabbage because it will deter the Cabbage White butterfly. It has also "been found to improve the yield from grapevines if planted along the rows, in particular if the terrain is rocky or sandy, and the soil is not as easy to work as it might be." Hyssop is said to be antagonistic to radishes, and they should not be grown nearby. Hyssop also attracts bees, hoverflies, and butterflies, thus has a place in the wild garden as well as being useful in controlling pests and encouraging pollination without the use of unnatural methods. Hyssop is used, usually in combination with other herbs such as liquorice, in herbal remedies, especially for lung conditions. The essential oils of hyssop can cause fatal convulsions in rats, and may not be as safe as most people believe. Hyssop leaves have a slightly bitter minty flavor and can be added to soups, salads, or meats, although should be used sparingly, as the flavor is very strong.
BONESET - Eupatorium perfoliatum
Excellent remedy for colds and intermittent fever, especially for flu. Medical evidence suggests that it enhances the immune system. Caution: contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids; not recommended for long term use. This Native American remedy for colds and fever was adopted by early settlers to America. The name refers to the plants use to treat breakbone fever, (dengue), a viral infection that causes such intense muscle pain that sufferers feel their bones will break. Only the advent of aspirin displaced boneset as the popular choice for colds and fever.
BORAGE - Borago officinalis
Known as the Herb of Gladness for its exhilarating effect. Try adding chopped young leaves and flowers to salads or summer drinks. On those sweltering summer days, cool off with iced borage tea, adding honey and lemon juice to taste.
Calendula through Dill
CALENDULA - Calendula officinalis
(Pot marigold) Flower petals give delicate flavor and strong color to salads, omelettes and cheese, and is used as a saffron substitute for rice. Invaluable in first-aid skin lotions and ointments. Only the deep orange-flowered Calendula officinalis have the medicinal properties that make Calendula is a traditional remedy in herbal skin care for many types of skin problems that is well known for it's healing properties. The phytochemicals in calendula make it a particularly good treatment for cuts, scrapes, bruises, and minor wounds.
CATNIP - Nepeta cataria
A harmless high for felines, and beneficial for humans. Catnip leaves contain considerable quantities of vitamins C and E, both excellent antioxidants. The primary phytochemicals, nepetalactone isomers, are mild sedatives, somewhat like the active ingredients in valerian. Catnip, is a potent sleep-inducer for humans. It soothes the nervous system and can safely help get a restless child off to sleep. Catnip calms without affecting you the next day. Catnip teas have long been used in traditional herbal medicine to quell digestive disturbances, and help stimulate menstruation. A hot cup of catnip tea is excellent for colds, flu, or the infectious diseases of childhood (eg measles), because of its action in inducing sleep and producing perspiration without increasing the heat of the system.
CHICORY - Cichorium intybus
Chicory is another of those plants people consider weeds - but it is so very useful, for medicine, for food, and even for coffee! Chicory is right up there with Dandelion in importance and usefulness!
CHINESE JUJUBE - Zizyphus spinosa
Hailed the anti-stress herb, seeds are used in Chinese medicine to calm the mind and preserve chi energy. Studies show that the seeds have a tranquilizing and hypnotic effect, and are analgesic and anti-convulsive. They are said also to nourish muscles and enrich bone marrow. Used to treat irritability, insomnia and anxiety. This species is the medicinal cousin of the tropical jujube fruit. Hardy bush or small tree.
CHINESE MOTHERWORT - Leonurus japonicus
One of the 50 fundamental herbs in Chinese medicine. As its name suggests it is an invaluable aid to mothers, helping to regulate menstruation, ease post-partum pain and bleeding, and to help to eject the placenta. It is used as an emmenagogue (increases milk flow) and helps to relieve PMS. It is also considered the number one herb in Chinese medicine for the treatment of infertility. A tall annual or biennial, easy to grow from seeds. Chinese motherwort, known as yi-mu-cao, and the common European motherwort serve as excellent examples of plants used for parallel purposes by divergent cultures, whose uses are confirmed by modern research. Motherwort herb regulates the menses, promotes blood circulation, stimulates the development of new tissue, is diuretic, and reduces swelling. The seeds promote blood circulation, regulate the menses, and clear away liver heat from the eyes. In TCM motherwort was used to promote longevity and strengthen the heart, Science endorses motherwort's folk applications against heart-related conditions. This fascinating but still little-appreciated member of the mint family deserves greater attention in the West. Motherwort contains alkaloid stachydrine. Because of its ability to stimulate uterine contractions, it is not recommended during pregnancy, except during the last few days, when it is used to stimulate labor.
CHINESE SENEGA - Polygala tenuifolia
Like the North American senega, roots are excellent for coughs, particularly when there is excess phlegm, and for bronchitis and asthma. In Chinese medicine, it calms the spirit and opens the flow of chi in the heart, which in western terms may be related to its sedative and tranquilizing properties. Used for anxiety, insomnia, palpitations, poor memory, and depression, especially in cases of excessive brooding and pent-up emotions. Very hardy. Needs full or partial sun in a well-drained location. Much easier to grow than the North American species.
CHINESE WOLFBERRY - Lycium barbarum
Chinese culinary and medicinal herb. Used to strengthen muscles and bone, liver function, to restore “vital essences,” and to improve vision. Increases white blood cell counts, and stimulates tissue development. Young leaves and shoots are popular as cooked greens in Canton. Sweet berries are eaten raw as a snack or added to soups and stews.
CHIVES - Allium schoenoprasum
Regular onion chives. Besides using the leaves, try the pretty purple flowers, separated into florets, in salads for color and flavor.
Coriander been long valued in Ayurvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties and has recently been studied for its cholesterol-lowering and effects and use in type 2 diabetes. It is also used in skin diseases, digestive disorders, and cough and cold remedies. Cilantro is the usual name for the leaf of the plant and is used in Asian, Mexican, Indian, Tex Mex, Caribbean, and North African cuisines. Cilantro is more than a culinary spice, it is a naturally healing food. When cilantro is added to the diet along with other natural immune system boosters like garlic, omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish, or seed and nut oils, chronic infections can be eliminated. Many health disorders, like Alzheimer's, diabetes, and fibromyalgia have been linked to high levels of heavy metals such as mercury and aluminum in the body.
All parts of the dandelion are used, the roots for hepatitis, the leaves and crowns for salads and cooked greens, the flowers for making wine, and the juice to cure warts and blisters. Like burdock, dandelion root helps the body dispose of unwanted skin bacteria. It also stimulates digestion and supports the liver- the major organ that helps rid the body of toxins and excess hormones, including the androgens that trigger acne breakouts. This common lawn "weed" contains a complex array of nutrients and phytochemicals including taraxacin, a hepatic stimulant, insulin, as sugar, lacvulin, choline, one of the Vitamin B complex, phytosterols, which prevent the body from accumulating cholesterols, and potash, which is a diuretic. The plant is also great source of bone-building nutrients, boron, calcium and silicon. The leaves provide vitamins A and C, (the vitamin A content is higher than that of carrots) the flowers are one of the best sources of lecithin, a nutrient that elevates the brains acetylcholine and may play a role in stemming Alzheimer's disease. Lecithin is also good for liver problems.
Fresh and dried dill leaves (sometimes called "dill weed" to distinguish it from dill seed) are used as herbs, mainly in Sweden, the Baltic, in Russia, and in central Asia. Like caraway, its fernlike leaves are aromatic and are used to flavor many foods, such as gravlax (cured salmon), borscht and other soups, and pickles (where the dill flower is sometimes used). Dill is best when used fresh, as it loses its flavor rapidly if dried; however, freeze-dried dill leaves preserve their flavor relatively well for a few months. Dill seed is used as a spice, with a flavor somewhat similar to caraway but also resembling that of fresh or dried dill weed. Dill seeds were traditionally used to soothe the stomach after meals. Dill oil can be extracted from the leaves, stems and seeds of the plant. Dill is Carminative, (eases gas pains, bloating and settles the stomach). Dill water is an old and effective remedy for colic in babies and is mildly antibacterial.
Edelweiss through Fo-Ti
EDELWEISS - Leontopodium alpinum
Traditionally, used as a tea to treat diarrhea and dysentery, and cooked in milk with honey and butter. It was also used to treat respiratory problems, including tuberculosis. But in the future it is expected that the cosmetic industry will employ edelweiss to neutralize free radicals and prevent the formation of superoxides – compounds associated with the signs of aging such as wrinkles. Due to its bioflavonoid content, the herb also strengthens the walls of capillaries and veins and can be used to treat varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and other vascular problems associated with aging. Has exciting commercial potential. Easy to grow in any well-drained sunny location.
ECHINACEA - Echinacea purpurea
Highly regarded blood purifier used in the treatment of diseases caused by impurities. Said to increase bodily resistance to infection by strengthening the immune system. Rich reddish-purple daisies appear from July to September. There are dozens of dozens of biochemical compounds that act in therapeutic synergy in this complex plant that support disease resistance in several ways. However, taking echinacea when a cold or infection has already become serious may be fighting a losing battle. Echinacea is most effect when taken at the first onset of cold or infection symptoms. When fighting an established virus, combining echinacea with antiseptic herbs such as goldenseal or Oregon grape will enhance the effectiveness of the treatment. Use with caution if you are allergic to ragweed. If you have an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, or a chronic infection such as HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis, you should not use echinacea.
ELECAMPANE - Inula helenium
Soaring like a skyscraper to heights of 7-10ft, this hardy perennial makes an impressive statement in the garden. Topped with dark yellow flowers throughout summer, the whole plant seems to follow the sun like a modern-day sun worshiper. It is a tough garden plant and easily withstands adverse conditions, though it prefers sunny, moist spots out of the wind. Since before Roman times elecampane has been used for medicine, mainly for its expectorant and carminative qualities. In the Middle Ages, apothecaries sold the candied root as a soothing lozenge for asthma and indigestion. Today dried root preparations are used to quiet coughing, stimulate digestion, and soothe the stomach. Research indicates that elecampane is effective against methicillin-resistant stapylococcus aureus (MRSA). Flowers yield yellow and orange dyes. Elecampane is known primarily as a respiratory tonic, and is used to ease breathing in cases of asthma and bronchitis. The root is the part used medicinally, and it's chemical constituents helenalin, helenin, and inulin have been shown to have expectorant and antiseptic properties that support its traditional uses. Highly allergenic in animals and humans with sensitivity to plants in the sunflower family.
ENGLISH THYME - Thymus vulgaris
The medicinal actions of thyme is attributed to its volatile oil constituents, thymol and carvacrol. Thyme has primarily been used respiratory ailments for its infection-fighting and cough suppressive qualities. Thyme has primarily been used respiratory ailments for its infection-fighting and cough suppressive qualities. Thyme tea is an old time favorite cough, cold and hangover remedy, especially when sweetened with thyme honey. Spicy-herbaceous, sweet, medicinal scent. Use with caution, can be very irritating to skin.
EPAZOTE - Chenopodium ambrosioides
Since the time of the Aztecs it has been used to treat intestinal parasites and flatulence, and an early innovation may have been to add it to foods as a preventative measure. The seeds and the oil from the seeds are traditionally prescribed to expel intestinal parasites, and the oil is used in soaps, perfumes and detergents today. Some studies have shown epazote to be effective against athletes foot. Seed requires light and may take several weeks to germinate. The plant prefers a rich, well-drained soil in a sunny position, but will tolerate poor soil. Pinch back to keep from going to seed. Younger leaves have a milder, richer flavor. Harvest leaves before the plant flowers and sets seed for best flavor. NOTE: The seeds and the seed oil are very potent medicinally and should be used only with great caution, and never by those who are pregnant or hoping to conceive. Some authors appear to have assumed that the leaves are similarly potent but centuries of use in food suggests that the leaves are quite safe when consumed in reasonable amounts.
Fennel is best known as a culinary herb, all parts of the plant are edible. Fennel not only improves digestion, but also can reduce bad breath and body odor that originates in the intestines. The fresh stems of fennel can be eaten much like celery, the seeds add a lovely anise flavor to fish and other dishes. Fennel also acts as an excellent digestive aid to relieve abdominal cramps, gas and bloating. If you expect to eat a vegetable that you have trouble digesting, like cabbage, try adding fennel seeds to your recipe. Fennel teas are useful for chronic coughs and act as an expectorant to help clear mucus from the lungs, syrup prepared from fennel juice was formerly given for chronic coughs. Oil of fennel relieves muscular or rheumatic pains and is warming and soothing in massage oil blends. Women may also benefit from the estrogenic properties of fennel. Fennel is one of the plants that repels fleas, and the anise like taste may be more acceptable choice for indigestion and gas in finicky dogs and cats.
FENUGREEK - Trigonella foenum-graecum
Used as a spice, tea, vegetable, forage crop, dye plant, and as a starter material in the production of steroid medications. A common ingredient in curry powder, it is used in oriental sauces, soups, stews, the production of imitation flavorings like maple and vanilla, as well as for seasoning and preserving butter. Fenugreek has some anti-diabetic and hypocholesterolaemic properties, and is a source of diosgenin, used in the manufacture of synthetic sex hormones. Traditionally considered a valuable addition to livestock feed, Agriculture Canada is currently doing research to determine fenugreek’s potential value as a forage crop in this country. Fenugreek is grown from seed, and requires a well-drained soil of average richness. Growth will be hindered by wet soil. A legume, fenugreek requires little fertilizer. It requires a growing season of 4-5 months, with flowering triggered by the shortening days. Seedlings can be eaten raw as a sprout, or the fresh leaves added to salads to add an interesting somewhat bitter taste. Fenugreek contains potent antioxidants that have beneficial effects on the liver and pancreas, making it useful in the treatment of diabetes, high cholesterol, and digestive disorders. Mucilages released from the herb keep the stomach from emptying quickly, with the result that glucose enters the bloodstream more slowly after a meal. In addition a amino acid present in fenugreek stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. If you wish to use fenugreek to lower blood sugars, it is better to use the powder rather than the whole seed. The powder releases more vanadium as it is digested. Avoid fenugreek if you are allergic to chickpeas, and Fenugreek should not be taken medicinally when pregnant, however moderate use in food should be fine.
FLAX - Linum usitatissimum
The plant is the source of flax fibre, which is used to make linen, and flax seeds, called linseeds. When pressed, linseeds release thirty-five per cent of their weight in oil; the leftover “cake” is a useful animal feed. Linseeds are edible, and can also be used in a poultice for rheumatism and infection. Linen is the most famous product of flax, but other applications include linseed oil as a furniture varnish and ingredient in paint formulas, and things like waterproof oilcloth and linoleum, which were common household items until they were replaced by plastics. Flax should be sown in the spring, in moist fertile soil with good drainage. It must receive full sun. Rake a half-inch of soil over the sown seed, and keep moist. Flax sown for its fibre should be sown close together; that for seed, further apart. Germination will take about two weeks, with bloom about two months after that, and harvest a month later, about one hundred days from planting. An enduring plant that has served us well in the past, flax may become popular again in the future for its versatile and ecologically sustainable applications. Flax contains lignans that help impede the body's use of estrogen to feed tumor growth in breast cancer. Flax is a good source of omega-3 (ALA) - benefits immune system dysfunction, kidney problems, heart disease and cancer.
FLORENCE FENNEL - Foeniculum vulgare azoricum
Unlike sweet fennel, this produces a bulbous base of delicate anise flavor and crisp texture. Superb sliced raw in green salads, sauteed, or quartered in chicken casseroles. Does best in cool weather: sow direct in July to mature by fall or start early indoors and plant out in spring.
FO-TI - Polygonum multiflorum
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fo-ti is one of the herbs used to nourish the heart and calm the spirit. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known. The root is considered to have minimum toxicity, however, excessive use can cause numbness in the hands and feet. The unprocessed root can cause loose stool, diarrhea, with abdominal pain, and nausea.
German Chamomile through Mullein
GERMAN CHAMOMILE - Matricaria recutita
Annual (reseeds itself). The most prolific producer of flowers. Beautiful small flowers, makes a relaxing tea with a sweet fruity fragrance, medicinal. Attractive plants. The seemingly endless list of problems chamomile is said to help can all be traced to its effects of the nervous system and digestive system, as well as its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Both Chamomile teas, and chamomile essential oils can be used in herbal skin washes to help heal and Cuts, scrapes, and abrasions. Chamomile creams contain compounds that are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, promoting tissue regeneration. Chamomile makes an effective hot poultice to reduce swelling, ease pain. Chamomile contains the natural blood thinners known as coumarins, avoid chamomile teas when taking prescription blood thinners.
Readily available and inexpensive garlic is of great interest in cardiovascular disease. Along with the onion, another related member of the Allium genus, garlic helps to lower hypertension, serum triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Both garlic and onions help thin the blood by discouraging platelets from sticking together. One notable constituent of garlic is allicin, one of the most impressive broad-spectrum antimicrobial substances in nature. Although this compound receives the lions' share of attention from the public, it is only part garlic's complex healing abilities. Over 30 medicinal compounds have been identified in garlic. Garlic increases the potency of preparations of the herb coleus (forskolin); helps nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as indomethacin (Indocin) provide greater pain relief; and boosts the infection-fighting capacity of many antibiotics, especially amphotericin (Amphocin).
GOTU KOLA - Centella asiatica (L.)
Gotu kola is an excellent vasodilator and blood vessel strengthener. The herb is also often used as a diuretic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory, and facilitates the actions of the antioxidants vitamins C and E in areas where there is damage. Gotu kola is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine and TCM to rejuvenate both mind and body, and can be used in conjunction with Bacopa, or Brahmi , another Ayurvedic herb used to improve mental focus. Clinical experiments have shown that the plant does improve memory, and rejuvenate skin and body tissue, by stimulating collagen synthesis. Gotu kola speeds healing of wounds of all kinds and deters scarring and keloid formation. Phytochemicals such as asiaticoside, asiatic acid and other trierpenes appear to support connective tissue and blood vessels. The active ingredient, asiatic acid, is particularly effective in stimulating synthesis of collagen, a prominent component of the deeper layers of skin. Gotu kola is an excellent vasodilator and tones the blood vessels allowing more circulation to problem cellulite areas. One of its active ingredients, asiaticoside, works to stimulate skin repair and to strengthen skin, hair, nails, and connective tissue. Cellulite occurs when connective tissues under the skin that hold deep-level fat cells break down and are no longer able to hold fat. Gotu kola contains compounds that increase glycosaminoglycan production in such a way that fat cells are not further displaced. Glycosaminoglycan production also stabilizes the connective tissue that surrounds the veins of the legs. Research has also demonstrated the beneficial effect of Gotu Kola, Centella asiatica, on memory, concentration and mental performance levels
GYNURA - Gynura procumbens
Perennial known as 'Leaves of the Gods'; 'Mollucan spinach'; 'Sambung nyawa'; and 'Daun dewa'. Gynura is a traditional Asian herb used for diabetes. Research shows that it is an efficient regulator of blood sugar. In animal studies it lowered blood sugar in diabetic animals but not in normal animals, unlike antidiabetic drugs. At the same time it protects the kidneys and retinas from damage caused by high blood sugar. It also lowers blood cholesterol and triglycerides, lowers blood pressure, and has anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity. The edible young leaves are eaten fresh in salads or stir-fried with garlic and oyster sauce. Gynura will climb if you let it but it is easy to keep it as a small bush in pots with regular pruning.
Hibiscus plants are valued for their beautiful and practical flowers. Traditional cultures world wide, from China to the Caribbean and the Americas have used hibiscus for medicinal teas and natural red dye. Hibiscus flowers are used to make a wine red tea that is naturally high in Vitamin C, a natural antioxidant, and gentle diuretic and laxative. There are many good reasons to add this tart and tasty tea to your daily routine, especially if you tend towards having high blood pressure, or want to safely take off a few pounds. Regular consumption of hibiscus teas often lowers blood pressure1. Hibiscus also contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA, or hydroxycut) used in many diet formulas, and other obesity fighting chemicals such as chromium and ascorbic acid. - The deeper red the flowers, the better the heart tonic.
Medicine is made from the leaves, stems, and seeds. Holy basil is used for the common cold, influenza ("the flu"), H1N1 (swine) flu, diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, earache, headache, stomach upset, heart disease, fever, viral hepatitis, malaria, and tuberculosis. It is also used for mercury poisoning, to promote longevity, as a mosquito repellent, and to counteract snake and scorpion bites. Holy basil is applied to the skin for ringworm. In cooking, holy basil is often added to stir-fry dishes and spicy soups because of its peppery taste. Cookbooks sometimes call it "hot basil." How does it work? Chemicals in holy basil are thought to decrease pain and swelling (inflammation). Other chemicals might lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. There is interest in using holy basil seed oil for cancer. Beginning research suggests that the oil can slow progression and improve survival rate in animals with certain types of cancer. Researchers think this benefit may be explained by the oil’s ability to act as an antioxidant.
LAVENDER - Lavandula angustifolia
Typical form. Compact, narrow foliage; flowers lavender-blue. In general lavender is used to relax muscle spasms anywhere in the body, and to relax the body in the presence of pain. Lavender is used as a cooling herb and anti-depressant. Lavender is especially suited for used in headaches. Lavender is traditionally used for sachets to place among linens and clothing as a perfume and as a moth repellent. Flies and mosquitoes dislike the fragrance of lavender, and the fresh cut flowers added to a summer vase, make both a beautiful and practical addition to your table. Lavender adds a unique flavor to foods, and lavender sugar can be used to decorate baked goods, but use a light hand, too much lavender can overwhelm a dish. Preparation Methods & Dosage :A tea can be made from the fresh or dried flowering flower spikes. Lavender oil should only be used externally.
LEMON BALM - Melissa officinalis
Fresh leaves burst of lemon when squeezed. A truly delightful tea made from the dried leaves is our favorite anytime tea as it both stimulates the heart and calms the nerves. We urge everyone to try it. Fresh chopped leaves are also interesting in salads, soups and stews. Proven effective against herpes. Lemon balm is an aromatic mint with a long reputation for having calming properties. Lemon balm has a mild sedative effect, antibacterial and antiviral properties, and an ability to relieve cramps and gas, stop spasms and relieve pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome. This antispasmodic action is a property of the essential oil, which is strong enough to break up spasms but not so strong as to cause constipation. The essential oil, melissa, is also used for nervous heart, depression, restlessness, excitement, headache and insomnia. Melissa (lemon balm) appears to be so unsurpassed in treatment of herpes, it is so effective that the active ingredient has been isolated and is sold in Germany in an anti herpes preparation called Lomaherpan. None reported, lemon balm is considered a very safe herb, even for babies and the frail. be aware that lemon balm increases the potency of barbiturates. Use the usual care with the essential oil, because of the high cost, this oil is often adulterated with lemongrass and citronella oils.
LION’S TAIL or WILD DAGGA
(Leonotis leonurus) A member of the mint family, it is native to Southern Africa, and is used as a folk medicine among the native peoples for treating numerous ailments, and has shown promise in studies. Tall evergreen tropical plant produces pretty orange flowers. Caution: this plant is a mild narcotic.
LOVAGE - Levisticum officinale
Leaves possess excellent flavoring qualities for soups, stews and casseroles. Flavor is reminiscent of celery, and of the famous yeast extract, Maggi. Can replace meat and bone stock in soups. Also gives the character to vegetable, meat and fish dishes. Vigorous tall growing herb; one of the first to return in spring. Lovage contains quercetin, which makes it a good garden remedy for allergies, respiratory problems, and is effective diuretic for treatment of urinary tract inflammation. Lovage root contains furanocoumarins which can lead to photosensitivity.
Sometimes overlooked for more "flashy" herbs in this current day, it is still a favorite of wise women. Mugwort is most widely known for its affinity for the female reproductive system, used as a uterine stimulant that can bring on delayed menstruation and help restore a woman's natural monthly cycle. Often used as a smudging (burning) ceremonial herb. It is mildly sedative and useful in calming frayed nerves and easing stress. As all the bitter herbs, it is an excellent digestive stimulant, and is quite effective taken before or after heavy meals to alleviate gas and bloating. One of the more interesting traditional uses of mugwort is that of a dream herb, it is often used as one of the main ingredients of sleep pillows, and it said to bring the dreamer more lucid dreams.
MULLEIN - Verbascum thapsus
Striking yellow flower stalks rise from a woolly leaf base in the second year. Good remedy for coughs, hoarseness and bronchitis. All plant parts can be used to produce yellow, bronze and gray dyes. Traditionally used as a tea, and is frequently combined with other herbs in mixtures for treating cough. The soothing mucilages of mullein coat sore throats and make coughing more productive. May be taken as an extract if fresh material was used, and is very rarely found in capsule form. The fresh flowers are used to make an oil infusion for external use. Mullein tones the mucus membranes of the respiratory tract, soothes irritated lungs and speeds healing of damaged tissues. An oil produced by macerating Mullein flowers in olive oil in a corked bottle, during prolonged exposure to the sun, or by keeping near the fire for several days, is used as a local application in country districts in Germany for piles and other mucus membrane inflammation, and also for frost bites and bruises. Mullein oil is recommended for earache and discharge from the ear, and for any eczema of the external ear and its canal. Dr. Fernie (Herbal Simples) states that some of the most brilliant results have been obtained in suppurative inflammation of the inner ear by a single application of Mullein oil, and that in acute or chronic cases, two or three drops of this oil should be made to fall in the ear twice or thrice in the day.
Oregano through Roseroot
OREGANO - Origanum vulgare hirtum
The Greeks used oregano extensively, both internally and externally as a remedy for narcotic poisons, convulsions and dropsy. Oregano oil and leaf are both strong herbal antibacterial agents due to the high thymol content. Externally, the dried leaves and tops may be applied in bags as a hot fomentation to painful swellings and rheumatism, as well as for colic. Oregano tea is a strong sedative and traditionally used to treat colds, fevers, and painful menstruation.
PARSLEY - Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum
Adds true European character to soups and stews. Standard variety for flavoring, slightly earlier maturing than above. Deeply cut, bright green leaves with excellent flavor. This herb is so familiar we often overlook it for more exotic plants, yet this attractive plate garnish is one of the most versatile medicinal plants around and is absolutely a must have in any well stocked herbal garden. Parsley herb is high in iron content and rich in vitamins A, B, C and trace minerals. Leaves, seeds, and root all have medicinal value in the treatment of diseases of the bladder and kidneys, (gravel, stones, congestion, and jaundice) and for rheumatism, arthritis and sciatica. The whole herb used in food rarely causes any problems. Concentrated extracts should be avoided by those with kidney inflammation or are pregnant. The bruised leaves, applied externally are used by herbalists, alone or with celandine, comfrey and red clover to dispel tumors. Parsley helps to inhibit the body's release of histamines, which explains its use by naturopathic healers for colds and congestion. Parsley is chiefly used for its diuretic properties, a strong decoction of the root being of great service in gravel, stone, and jaundice. The parsley herb is well known for helping to expel gas, aid digestion, and freshen breath. Chew a few leaves of this attractive plate garnish after a meal. Parsley has a longstanding folklore reputation for the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and sciatica. It's high concentration of boron and fluoride might help against bone thinning and osteoporosis.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, is also used to soothe an upset stomach or to aid digestion. Because it has a calming and numbing effect, it has been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and flatulence. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs, used to treat symptoms of the common cold. In test tubes, peppermint kills some types of bacteria, fungus, and viruses, suggesting it may have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Several studies support the use of peppermint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome. Of all the mints, peppermint is now probably the most widely used of all, due to its high content of menthol. Peppermint has a antispasmodic effect that soothes stomachaches and is effective in colic and flatulence. Externally peppermint oil is used in pain relieving balms and massage oils. Menthol is cooling and analgesic, and increases blood flow to the painful area. Peppermint oil also contains azulene, which is known for it's anti-inflammatory and ulcer healing effects.
PURSLANE - Portulaca oleracea sativa
Succulent leaves are popular in France for salads, cooked greens or in soups. Good summer green performing best in hot weather. Much improved over its wild relative. Low, crawling plant produces tender stems and juicy leaves that are excellent added to salads. A popular green in Mexico and was favored by my Hispanic Grandmother. Also used in herbal healing plans.
The wild tangle of thorny trailing vines yield a tasty fruit, but it is the leaves that are of interest to the herbalist. Raspberry leaf is a mild and safe medicinal food, and the toothy leaves are commonly used to treat diarrhea, colds, and stomach complaints. The traditional, and most widely known use of raspberry leaf tea is as a female tonic to alleviate menstrual cycle discomfort and facilitate childbirth. Raspberry-leaf tea appears to tone the uterine and pelvic muscles, and can be taken freely during the last three months of pregnancy. This infusion also enriches and encourages the flow of mother's milk. The fruit is rich in nutrients and helps to combat anaemia. In Chinese medicine, Chinese raspberries (the fruit) are used to strengthen the kidneys and to treat enuresis.
Red Clover has been used traditionally to treat respiratory and skin problems, today it is of most interest in menopause and in the prevention of breast cancer because of its strong concentration of natural plant estrogen. Red clover's phytoestrogens, the plant world's equivalents of human female estrogen, preform functions in the body similar to those of natural and synthetic estrogens, relieving menopause and menstruation related problems and perhaps protecting against osteoporosis and cancer of the breast, colon and prostate. At the root of red clovers attributes are an impressive array of vitamins, and trace minerals in synergy with many active medical compounds. Although red clover has a strong following among herbalists as a blood purifying alterative and anticancer agent and has been used safely and effectively for hundreds, if not thousands of years, little scientific study has been done.
The rose is highly steeped in history and romance, but when we think of roses as medicine, we tend to think of the high vitamin C content of the rosehips. But this represents only a fraction of the healing powers of this garden favorite. Rosa gallica officinalis, the apothecary's rose, was the official cultivar in The British Pharmacopoeia, however, there are many variations, in fact there are practically no pure R. gallica now to be had, only hybrids. Those used in medicine and generally appearing in commerce are actually any scented roses of a deep red color, or when dried of a deep rose tint. The main point is that the petals suitable for medicinal purposes must yield a deep rose-colored and somewhat astringent and fragrant infusion when boiling water is poured upon them.
ROSEMARY - Rosmarinus officinalis
Rosemary is an extremely useful herb, with many culinary, medicinal and aromatherapy attributes. Rosemary stimulates the central nervous system and circulation making it beneficial for low blood pressure and sluggishness. The essential oil can be diluted for topical use to alleviate the pain of sprains, arthritis, sciatica and neuralgia. Every good kitchen witch has a rosemary bush outside her door. I use this amazing herb in some form almost every day. A few drops of rosemary essential oil on my hairbrush, rosemary vinegar on my salad, rosemary infused oil to massage my sore shoulders after digging in the garden - the fresh, uplifting scent of rosemary is a constant friend. Rosemary oil is considered a mental stimulant and is wonderful for long hours of study, mental fatigue, and keeping alert at work. It adds a warm and stimulating quality to blends and is indicated in formulas where a circulatory tonic is needed.
ROSEROOT - Rhodiola rosea
Roseroot is only the second North American herb after ginseng to be recognized as an ‘adaptogen’, a herb with the ability to restore the body and mind after physical and mental exertion and stress. Its rose-scented roots contain unique compounds that are thought to account for the adaptogenic properties. Research also shows the roots improve learning and memory, and act as a tonic. In folkloric medicine, the leaves were used like aloe to treat cuts and burns, and the Eskimos used a decoction of the flowers for stomach and intestinal discomfort, and for tuberculosis. The color of the flowers is greenish yellow with reddish and purplish tones competing for attention. Roseroot is one of the hardiest medicinal plants known: it survives Arctic areas without difficulty. Perennial growing to 5-40cm/2-16in high.
Sage through Tea Tree
SAGE - Salvia officinalis
The main culinary varieties popular with onions for poultry stuffing and for flavoring rich meats like pork or duck. Also in homemade sausage, omelettes, cheese and bean dishes. Sage tea gargle is valuable for sore throat. Grey-green pebbly leaves, pale blue flowers The most commonly grown culinary variety.
SEABUCKTHORN - Hippophae rhamnoides
North Eurasian tree of increasing economic importance. Orange berries are rich source of vitamins A and C, and make pleasing sauces, jellies and marmalades. The juice is used as a sweetener for herbal teas. Decoction used to treat skin eruptions. Seeds require 90 days stratification at 5̊C/40̊F to overcome dormancy. - The main interest in sea buckthorn is in the regenerative oil that is traditionally used to treat a wide variety of skin disorders. Sea Buckthorn oil is used superficially to assist in healing skin injuries, burns, wounds, eczema, lesions, sun damaged skin, and abrasions. Current studies are being performed on its ability to combat wrinkles, acute dryness and other symptoms of prematurely aged skin. The reddish/orange, thick oil is chock full of vitamins phytosterols, beta-carotene, anti-oxidants, and carotenoids that help to repair, condition and heal damaged skin. Sea buckthorn oil is also suitable as a dietary supplement, and has shown to help promote healthy blood circulation, the rudimentary treatment of colitis, stomach ulcers, and as soothing agent for the gastro-intestinal tract. Sea Buckthorn oil in its undiluted and concentrated form will stain skin, surfaces and clothing. Use caution, spread evenly and dilute. Use at room temperature.
SOAPWORT - Saponaria officinalis
Excellent shampoos, skin rinses and washes for delicate fabrics are made by steeping roots in water. Lathers like soap when agitated. Skin rinse helps to relieve itchiness. Boil whole plant, strain and use liquid as you would any soap - for body, clothes, etc - very gentle, mild, natural soap. - The common name of this member of the carnation family indicates it's traditional uses in washing. The hormone-like saponins contained in the root produce a lather on contact with water. It has an ancient reputation used both internally and externally for treating skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, boils, and acne, and the herb's main use in modern herbology is in the treatment of skin conditions. Taken internally these saponins are a mild irritant to the respiratory and digestive systems making soapwort an expectorant and laxative in small doses (see caution). Soapwort is a strong purgative and mildly poisonous in large doses. Internal use should be guided by a qualified herbalist.
SORREL - Rumex acetosa 'Blonde de Lyon'
Most famous for sorrel soup. Large, succulent, slightly acid-tasting leaves give zest to salads and any dish which is insipid in itself. Remove flowering tops as they appear to keep leaves tender. Blonde de Lyon is the standard variety esteemed in France.
STEVIA - Stevia rebaudiana
Remarkable herbal sugar substitute! Contains stevioside, hundreds of times sweeter than sugar but without the calories. Leaf powder can be used in place of sugar in drinks, baked goods, desserts, preserves, etc. Has a pleasant flavor of its own that never dominates or overwhelms to which it is added. Helps control blood sugars naturally.
Nettles are a potent herb with a long history of use. This herb is one of natures best nutraceuticals, containing protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, along with vitamins A, C, D, and B complex, all in a form that is easy for the body to use. The stinging comes from the presence on the bristles of histamine that delivers a stinging burn when the hairs on the leaves and stems are touched. Stinging nettle contains natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatories (including quercetin), that open up constricted bronchial and nasal passages, helping to ease hay fever, and nose & sinus type allergies symptoms. Extracts of nettle roots are reliable diuretics that encourage excretion of uric acid, but simultaneously discourage nighttime bathroom urges, making this remarkable plant useful for such disparate problems as gout, bed-wetting, and, the overnight urinary woes of benign prostate enlargement. Nettles use a tonic of the female system goes back to the Native American women who used it throughout pregnancy and as a remedy to stop hemorrhaging during childbirth. It is considered one of the best all round women's tonics. The sting of the nettle can cause a rash in some people. It is a strange fact that the juice of the nettle can provide relief for its own sting. It can also be relieved by rubbing leaves of rosemary, mint or sage.
ST JOHN’S WORT - Hypericum perforatum
St. Johns Wort has a demonstrated ability to act as an antidepressant in both humans and animals. It is this use that garners most of the media attention, but this versatile herb also has dozens of chemical compounds that disinfect and heal wounds as well. St. John's Wort is really a tonic, or overall health booster for the entire nervous system. St. Johns can alter the physiologic impact of MAOIs and SSRIs.
STRAWFLOWER - Helichrysum bracteatum 'Monstrosum'
Most popular everlasting; long cherished for wide color range: crimson, salmon, rose, brown, yellow, and white. Produced in the Mediterranean countries, Madagascar and France this warm, earthy, rich oil is distilled from the flowers. Known for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and regenerative properties, this remarkable oil is used in many healing formulas from infection and inflammation in respiratory conditions, muscle pain, arthritis to liver problems and as a detoxifier in drug withdrawal. Imortelle's ability to stimulate the production of new skin cells makes it popular in facial care for mature skin.
Sunflower seeds, and the oil that is pressed from them are the part of the plant used most often for food and medicine. Sunflower seeds, often eaten raw or roasted, are a good source of protein and Vitamins D, E, K, and B. Sunflower oil is common in margarine, provided a less expensive alternative to olive oil and it is also used for skin care and as a carrier for aromatherapy essential oils. As always it is important to use high quality, organic, expeller pressed oils to reap the health benefits, and not the inferior commercial oils from the supermarket. Dried sunflower petals can also be made into a tea, added to bath infusions, and add color to homemade cosmetics and crafts.
Slow to germinate, late to bloom, and somewhat plain and gawky, sweet Annie (Artemisia annua) is the tomboy of everlasting gardens. Yet this tall annual herb, native to southeastern Europe, northern Africa, and Iran, is a favorite of crafters in this country for its versatility and sweet, lingering fragrance. Reseeds and will take over an area quickly. Be sure you want it where you plant it. Original medicine for Malaria - still used for that purpose.
Historically, Sweet woodruff was used as a vulnerary herb, to treat wounds and stop bleeding, and was taken internally for stomach upsets and liver problems. Sweet woodruff teas are anti-inflammatory, diuretic and gently sedating. Sweet woodruff contains asperuloside that can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels), making the genus of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry. Sweet woodruff contains coumarin, which give it its sweet scent. Very high doses of coumarin can be toxic, which lead to a ban of its use in commercial food stuffs in Germany since 1981. Sweet woodruff has a long history of safe use, and no side effects have been reported using the whole herb in teas.
Tansy is a widely grown herb with a number of traditional medicinal uses, but needs to be used with an abundance of caution. Older herbals recommend the use of tansy for many purposes, one of the active constituents, thujone is toxic in large doses, The amount contained can vary from plant to plant. Perhaps the most well known medicinal use of tansy was to bring on menstruation by drinking a strong tea made of tansy leaves and flowers. This can cause miscarriage and there have been reports of deaths in women attempting to use the tea as an abortifacient. Although tansy is useful as a vermifuge, and as a poultice to treat skin infections, it might be wise to look to less dangerous herbs that can serve the same purposes. Do not use the herb while pregnant, as it is can cause miscarriage. Tansy essential oil is poisonous and should not be used under any circumstances. In large doses, Tansy becomes a violent irritant, and induces venous congestion of the abdominal organs. Preparation Methods & Dosage :Herbal infusion of 1 oz,. to a pint of boiling water. Tansy tea can be made from fresh or dried leaves and is strong and bitter in taste. Tansy tea should only be taken in small doses.
TARRAGON — Should be french tarragon - buy as plant - seeds for true french tarragon not available - buy as plant from richters.com - - - Tarragon was formerly used in the treatment of toothache, and was alluded to briefly in the 13th century as a seasoning for vegetables, a sleep-inducing drug, and a breath sweetener, but what the herb lacks in repute as a medicinal herb, it makes up as a star culinary herb. In the Kitchen: Makes an excellent vinegar, gives a spicy, sweet flavor to fish, eggs, cheese and sauces. In French cuisine, it is an integral part of fines herbs and dijon mustard. Common Uses: Culinary * Properties: Carminative* Antifungal* Antispasmodic* Aromatic* Refrigerant* Parts Used: leaves
TEA TREE - Melaleuca alternifolia
Oil has proven antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties which makes it valuable for skin infections, burns, bruises, cuts, herpes, warts, yeast infections, gingivitis and many other conditions requiring a powerful antiseptic. Can be applied directly on sensitive tissues without irritation. Australian aborigines have long used the crushed leaves for skin infections. The English explorer Captain Cook brewed a spicy and refreshing tea from the leaves. Small tree or shrub with narrow bright-green leaves. Easy to grow in containers. The essential oil is distilled from the feathery, narrow bright green leaves. Tea tree's major contribution to the herbal pharmacy is its broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Often called a "first aid kit in a bottle", it is ideal to take along on camping trip or anytime you are traveling. Tea tree is also an all purpose remedy for respiratory infections, acting as an anti-infective agent and strongly stimulating the body's own immune system.
Valerian through Yarrow
VALERIAN - Valeriana officinalis
Excellent sedative action. Widely used to allay pain, nervous unrest, migraine, and insomnia. Valerian is without doubt the most widely recognized herbal sedative. It is used by herbalists for insomnia ,nervous anxiety and to help the body relax in the presence of pain. Although valerian is potent, it is neither habit-forming nor addictive. Valerian puts you to sleep but doesn't cause a morning hangover, interact with alcohol, or lead to addiction. Research shows that extracts of the root not only help you fall asleep faster but also improve sleep quality. Despite it's distinctly ripe, and somewhat offensive odor, it continues to be one of the most popular medicinal herbs worldwide. The odor is actually an indicator of the strength of the medicinal properties of the root, the more pungent, the better the quality. Valerian root generally does not lose effectiveness over time. Generally considered safe, large amounts can cause stomach upsets. In about 5 percent of the population, valerian acts as a stimulant, be aware of this effect if you are new to the herb
Verbena bonariensis, the tall, slender-stemmed Purpletop Vervain, is often cultivated by the plant nursery trade as an ornamental plant for traditional and drought tolerant and 'pollinator-host' gardens and public landscapes and parks. It is a tender perennial hardy in USDA Zones 7-11. It can be grown as an annual in areas where it is not winter hardy and will bloom in the first year when grown from seed. Its long internodes give it a sparse appearance but allow it to intermingle and coexist with other plants. The flowers are very attractive to butterflies, and provide nectar for native bees and many beneficial garden insects. This species grows best in a well-drained soil. It prefers full sun to partial shade and needs regular moisture. It has a reputation of being rarely attacked by insect pests, but may be susceptible to powdery mildew. V. bonariensis is commonly grown from seed which germinate readily without pre-treatment, but also can be propagated from herbaceous stem cuttings. Used primarily as a culinary herb, but it also makes a delightful medicinal herb tea that soothes stomach spasms and calm nerves and reduce fevers. The sweet, lemony scent is found in perfumes, soaps and sachets.
VERVAIN - Verbena officinalis
Aphrodisiac, said to “secure the favor of the ladies”. Historically associated with sorcerers and witches, bestowing magical powers to those who use it. Slightly bitter tisane is of very old usage as a digestive and sedative nightcap. Also used in Chinese medicine. Vervain is useful in many diseases as a pain reliever and natural tranquilizer, an expectorant used to treat chronic bronchitis, and an anti-rheumatic used to relive joint pain. Herbalists consider vervain especially helpful when depression is related to chronic illness. As an added benefit, it can help to heal any damage that has occurred to the liver.
VERY BERRY WINTERGREEN - Gaultheria procumbens 'Very Berry'
Wonderfully scented leaves and berries are every bit as medicinal as the wild species. Used for headaches and other aches and pains, inflammations and acute rheumatism. Common flavoring for chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash.
Walnuts are a good source dietary source of serotonin and one of the best plant based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Herbalists are more interested in the bark, leaves and nut husks of black walnut. Black walnut hulls contain juglone, a chemical that is antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and a fungicide. As a skin wash, black walnut hulls are used to treat ringworm and yeast infections of the skin. Black walnut hull extract is unquestionably one of the best and safest worming agents offered by the plant world. But it can be toxic if not used with proper care, caution, and training. It is an herb best reserved for use by experienced practitioners. Not for long term or chronic use, the juglone in black walnut has carcinogenic effects. Can be toxic if not used with proper care and respect. Remember anything that can kill a tapeworm has the potential of being harmful to the host.
Fast-growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic, perennial plants native from Europe to central Asia, and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by human beings. These plants are members of the Family Brassicaceae or cabbage family, botanically related to garden cress, mustard and radish — all noteworthy for a peppery, tangy flavor. The hollow stems of watercress are floating, and the leaves are pinnately compound. Watercresses produce small, white and green flowers in clusters. Eating watercress daily can significantly reduce DNA damage to blood cells, which is considered to be an important trigger in the development of cancer, University of Ulster scientists revealed today (15 February). Watercress is a nutritional culinary food that can also be considered a medicinal plant. The leaves have a high vitamin and mineral content and also help digestion. It has been used since the time of Hippocrates as a stimulant and expectorant in the treatment of coughs and bronchitis. Wild watercress may be host to the deadly liver fluke. Use only plants grown commercially in watercress beds
Yarrow was once known as "nosebleed", its feathery leaves making an ideal astringent swab to encourage clotting. It is a well known and versatile herb that is still effective for its historical use of stanching bleeding and disinfecting wounds, but it's uses extend far beyond that. Yarrow is one of the best-known herbal remedies for fevers, a hot cup of yarrow tea induces a therapeutic sweat which cools fevers and helps the body expels toxins. The chemical makeup of yarrow is complex, and it contains many active medicinal compounds in addition to the tannins and volatile oil azulene. In China, yarrow is used fresh as a poultice for healing wounds. A decoction of the whole plant is prescribed for stomach ulcers, amenorrhoea, and abscesses. Avoid in pregnancy, can cause allergic skin reactions in sensitive people who suffer from allergies related to the Asteraceae family. Moderation is the key to safe use, the thujone content can be toxic over an extended period of time.
Lastly, here are a couple places I get seeds from - very good value and selections:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed - http://www.rareseeds.com/
Wonderful selection. I’ve bought seeds from them, and been very satisfied.
Richters Herb Specialists - http://www.richters.com/
They have the largest selection of both seeds and plants - an amazing selection actually! I’ve bought both plants and rare seeds from them. They package the plants so well, and only ship them as weather permits to ensure you will receive healthy beautiful plants. If you don’t mind spending a little extra money, and only have a few plants/varieties to plant - I’d just buy plants from them and put them in the garden. You’d have minimum effort, and quick lovely results! Two of my favorite plants from them are my Gotu Kola and Fo-ti, both of which have to be grown indoor in my area due to temperatures.
Ah yes... and the legal disclaimer - don’t you hate these things? —> The information contained in this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. <– ok, that’s done, hope you find this article useful!!
You are invited to visit either of my primary websites:
Spirit Guided Healer
"If I Could . . ." - autobiography of an Abuse Victim (me)