Archive for ‘Health conditions’

May 13, 2015

Invasive Species in North America

Invasive species in North America are having a detrimental effect on the environment, the economy and human health. These alien invasive flora and fauna species are a serious threat to North American native biodiversity.

The dog strangling vine not only chokes out native species, but fools the Monarch butterfly into laying eggs on it that don’t mature, which contributes to population decline.

Get to know invasive species so that you can spot and remove them.

Picture of Dog Strangling Vine

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How to Help:

Choose non-invasive and native plants for your garden and remove alien species.

Don’t dump fish pets or garden waste into waterways.

Clean boats and shoes between waterways and after hiking to avoid spreading seeds. Stay on trails and keep dogs from wandering and check for seeds that cling to coats to stop the spread.

Here are some of the invasive species that need to be removed to help keep our environment safe and healthy. 

 INVASIVE PLANT SPECIES

Miscanthus

Norway Maple

Common Buckthorn

Periwinkle

Dog Strangling Vine

Goutweed

Yellow floating heart

Tartarian Honeysuckle

Manitoba Maple

Flowering Rush

Japanese Knotweed

Himalayan balsam

Giant Hogweed

INVASIVE WATER SPECIES

Round Goby

Zebra mussels

Asian carp and goldfish

INVASIVE TREE INSECT SPECIES

Emerald Ash Borer

April 1, 2015

Herbal Pills vs Tinctures

Herbal pills have come under scrutiny for having no active ingredients and unhealthy additives. Pills are usually filled with dried up and ground herbs, which oxidize and weaken herbal effectiveness as essential oil content and other constituents degrade. 

  

Herbal Pills:

Are NOT as bioavailable as liquid, meaning that they don’t absorb as well or
as fast into the body as liquid forms such as tinctures

Cannot be tasted, which impairs results 

Pills are not easy to swallow. They are hard to digest and contain unhealthy binders 

Most herbal pill casings are not vegetarian, because they contain gelatin which is from an
animal source most of the time, because it is cheaper. 

Most casings and binders are not kosher 

Improper drying and over processed preparations may cause essential oils
and other constituents to degrade and herbs to dissipate, and may contain
contaminants. 

Tinctures absorb better, are more effective and cheaper. If you make them yourself then you have quality control. 

Learn how to make your own tinctures here > http://earthelixir.ca/herbs/diy-herbal-tinctures/

  

 

February 23, 2015

Adaptogens

Adaptogens are herbs that help the body adapt to any kind of stressors. They are mainly used for Chronic conditions, which require long-term use for full benefits.

Ginsengs are a good example of herbal adaptogens. The actions aren’t obvious and immediate like herbal purgatives, they are more subtle and accumulative over time.

Take Ginsengs and other adaptogens for chronic stress, illness or if catching frequent colds. Ginsengs are immune tonics that nourish all systems.

Take Ginsengs or other herbal adaptogen tonics internally for 3 weeks,
and then take a break for a week.

Take Ginsengs and other herbal adaptogen immune tonics at a chronic dose:
CHRONIC DOSE
2-3 times a day for 2-3 weeks
then take a break for 1-2 weeks
and repeat if necessary.

Do not take Ginsengs with anticoagulant drugs,
MAOI’s, Opioids, corticosteroids, Hypoglycemic drugs.

asain ginseng

Adaptogens are Long-term Immune Tonic Herbs

Primary Adaptogens
Aralia nudicaulis– Wild sarsaparilla root
Aralia racemosa– Spikenard root
Astragalus membranaceus- Chinese milkvetch root
Eleutherococcus senticosus- Siberian ginseng/Shigoka root
Ganoderma lucidum- Lacquered varnish polypore fungi
Ganoderma applanatum- Artist’s conk polypore fungi
Ganoderma tsugae– Hemlock varnish shelf fungi
Panax ginseng– Asian Ginseng root
Panax quinquefolius– North American ginseng root

Secondary Adaptogens
Curcuma longa– Turmeric rhizome
Ginkgo biloba- Ginkgo Leaf
Glycyrrhiza glabra– Licorice rhizome
Hypericum perforatum- St. Johnswort herb
Inula helenium– Elecampane root
Rosmarinus officinalis– Rosemary herb
Vitex agnus-castus– Chaste tree berry
Zingiber officinale– Ginger rhizome

Secondary adaptogens go well together with primary herb adaptogens as a catalyst.

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Learn more about Ginsengs here
http://earthelixir.ca/herbs/american-ginseng/
http://earthelixir.ca/herbs/asian-ginseng/
http://earthelixir.ca/2012/12/18/diy-siberian-ginseng-shigoka-root-tincture/

February 19, 2015

Essential Oil Safety Guidelines and Dosages

Essential oils are the fat soluble parts of plants that are separated from the water soluble hydrosol part, which is mainly done by the process of steam distillation. Essential oils are the main part of a plants aroma, and when a plant is separated from any of its chemical constituents, cautions and contraindications will follow. To prevent harmful misadventure, please read important guidelines and safety concerns before starting any treatment.
Always consult with a qualified Aromatherapist before using essential oils.

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ESSENTIAL OIL GUIDELINES AND SAFETY

1. NEVER TAKE ESSENTIAL OILS INTERNALLY, even if they are organic.
Essential oils can irritate, inflame and damage skin, mucous membranes, mucosa and intestinal flora. People have harmed themselves by improperly taking oregano oil internally. Oregano has phenols, which are really hot, irritating chemical constituents that need to be diluted.
The whole herb is always greater than the sum of its parts, and the whole herb is always recommended over essential oils for internal use.
The natural flavours that are listed on product ingredients like orange juice are synthetic perfume from the perfume industry. Essential oils are no longer used for flavouring, because synthetics are cheaper.

2. NEVER USE ESSENTIAL OILS UNDILUTED.
Only lavender, tea tree and chamomile are used “neat,” which means you can use them undiluted in certain circumstances, such as treating burns and cuts. Always patch test first regardless, and always dilute these oils anyways just to be safe, they can still be drying and irritating depending on quality and the individual.

3. NEVER USE ESSENTIAL OILS CLOSE TO THE EYES, AROUND OR NEAR THE EYES OR OPENINGS OF THE MUCOUS MEMBRANES.
***If essential oils come into contact with eyes or mucous membranes like your private parts, rinse well with any kind of milk, yogurt, cream, ice-cream. If milk is unavailable flush eyes with lots of water. Milk works better than water, because the oils are fat soluble and dissolve more readily in fatty substances like milk. Any type of nut milk or coconut milk, cream can also be used for vegans.

4. Never massage directly on veins, varicose veins, spider veins, broken
skin, cuts, bruises, infections, fractures, inflammation or acute injuries.

5. Avoid these essential oils with sun exposure: (Citrus Peels)
Lemon, Lime, Orange Grapefruit, Tangerine,
Bergamot
Melissa, Lemongrass, Citronella, Angelica, and Anise
These essential oils are photosensitizing, which means they can increase the risk of sunburn, and skin rash with direct sun exposure.

6. Never use essential oils on babies under one month old and caution up to one year old.
Always dilute essential oil for use.
In general only use Lavender, Chamomile and Tea tree with children under seven years of age.

DO NOT USE THESE TOXIC OILS:
Mugwort, Pennyroyal, Thuja-Northern White Cedar, Wormwood


Dosage Dilutions for Essential Oils

This is a general guide for essential oil dilution dosages found in the book “First Steps in Aromatherapy by Jane Dye, 1996, The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd.”

I use a complex calculation for what percentages of essential oil to use in products like lip balms and body butters, but this is an easier guide to follow and remember.
The average blend is usually 1-3% depending on use.

Use small 1% dilution of Essential oil blends for the face, meaning less is
more, because the face is a sensitive place. Avoid using strong or hot oils on
the face.

*Remember the stronger, hotter the essential oil the more you dilute and use less of the essential oil. Base notes smell stronger, last longer and are used less in a blend. Base notes are often resins and roots.

These are general basic guidelines, but important factors to consider are age, weight, height, general health and constitution.

DOSAGES FOR ADULTS

2-3% is approximately ½ drop to 1 ml of carrier oil

Therefore divide by 2 to the amount of carrier oil

4mls carrier oil= 2 drops of essential oil
10 mls carrier oil= 5 drops of essential oil
20 mls carrier oil= 10 drops of essential oil

DOSAGES FOR CHILDREN

1 month- 1 year old 1 drop in 10 mls carrier oil
1-year old -2 year old 2 drops in 10 mls carrier oil
2-year old -7 year old 3 drops in 10 mls carrier oil
7-year old -14 year old 4 drops in 10 mls carrier oil

*Essential oils are not recommended for pregnant, nursing women or babies.
Always consult with a qualified Aromatherapist before using essential oils.

February 18, 2015

Herbal Catalysts

When using more than one herb to mix a herbal tincture formulation, adding a catalyst herb is sometimes beneficial.

Catalyst herbs are strong, hot or warming herbs, that require only minimal amounts in a herbal tincture formulation. These herbs act as a circulatory stimulant to boost the effectiveness of other herbs, by increasing circulation due to heat generation. Adding a warming herb is helpful for people with poor circulation or who feel cold.

Caution is advised, because of the strength and Heat of the Herbs.

The stronger and hotter the herb, the lower the dose. Cayenne pepper and other hot pepper varieties are the hottest, so only use 1% in a formula. That’s 1ml in a 100ml formula.

If taking these herbs on their own, make sure it is a low dose for use in tincture and tea.

Consult a qualified Herbal practitioner before taking any herbal treatment.

Follow these general guidelines when preparing herbal tincture formulations with warming catalyst herbs.

Herbal Catalyst Percentages in Formulations:

Capsicum spp.- Cayenne fruit 1%
Cinnamomum spp.- Cinnamon bark 3-10%
Allium sativum– Garlic bulb 3-10%
Rosmarinus officinalis- Rosemary herb 5-15%
Zingiber officinale– Ginger rhizome 3-10%
Zanthoxylem spp.- Prickly ash bark/berries 10-20%

These are general guidelines, and many factors vary.

Consult a qualified Herbal practitioner before taking any herbal treatment.

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February 18, 2015

Herbal Dosages

The dosages in the herbal monographs are meant to act as general guidelines and are strictly adult dosages only. It is very difficult to generalize, because everyone is different with unique needs, but dosage needs to be a part of the conversation in order to understand how to use herbs. Everything is a remedy or a poison depending on the dose.

There are many factors to consider when calculating dose. Dosages vary depending on the strength of the herb, the constitution of the person, age, weight, and height.
As a general rule dosage goes down as the strength and/or heat of the herb increases.
Taking lower than recommended doses apply to people who have significant levels of toxicity, are in a severely depleted state, taking pharmaceutical medication, or are elderly.

If symptoms get worse, decrease or cease dosage, or change herbs.
Always consult a qualified professional.

It is best to start taking herb tinctures with only one herb at a time, until you become more familiar with the herbs and what they do.

Dosages:

As a general rule use one drop per pound per person.

Dosages can range anywhere from one drop to one teaspoon,
or 1-5 ml, and depends on if you are treating acute symptoms or chronic long term issues. An example of an acute condition is a cold, and a chronic condition is arthritis.

1 teaspoon= 5ml
15ml = 1 tablespoon =3 teaspoons= .5 oz.
30mls = 2 tablespoons= 6 teaspoons= 1 oz.

Dropper bottles with Droppers can contain 28 drops = 1 ml per dropper full
One squeeze of a dropper equals 1 ml

ADULT DOSE: Puberty- 70 (or 100 pounds or more)
Chronic dose: 3-5 droppers
Acute dose: 5-8 droppers

SENIORS DOSE: 70 Years or older
Chronic dose: 2-4 droppers
Acute dose: 4-5 droppers

CHILDREN DOSE: 2 year- Puberty
Chronic dose: weight in pounds × 0.04+/- .25 droppers
Acute dose: weight in pounds × 0.07+/- 0.5 droppers

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February 7, 2015

DIY Rose Tincture and Perfume for Nutritive Medicine and Skincare 🌹

Roses are such divine food, medicine and perfume, but watch out for those pointy, sharp thorns on the stem. It’s easy to see why it is such a universal symbol of love. 🌹

I collected some wild rose petals from my garden, for a rose petal tincture and essence. Wear gloves and protective clothing to harvest. Wild roses are better than the commercial varieties for medicinal use.

You can make your own perfume out of Rose petal flowers, as well as medicine.image

See my blog on how to make your own natural perfume from flowers. http://earthelixir.ca/2012/06/05/making-natural-perfume-from-flower-petals/

Rose petal tincture is used medicinally as a nutritive for debility. Rose has a euphoric, aphrodisiac action that soothes and relaxes the nervous system. It tones digestion, reduces inflammation, and is great to use in skincare products. It is good for all skin types, especially mature skin. It’s easy to add rose water and essential oil to make your own skincare products.

See my blog on using Rose essential oil. http://earthelixir.ca/2012/06/04/rose-essential-oil/

Rose water is what is separated from the essential oil part, and is used in cooking, baking, and for beverages.

Rose hips, collected after the flowers bloom, are delicious, nutritious medicinal food. Rose hip tea beverages and culinary soups have a pink red colour, and pack some good Vitamin C content and phytonutrients.

Here are some beautiful roses for you friends. The roses in these pictures are from my garden, so take some time to smell the roses.🌹

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Common Name  Rose hips/ flowers
Latin Name  Rosa spp.
Family Rosaceae
Parts Used Perennial- Collect flower petals during growing season. Roses lay dormant in colder climates. Collect rosehips in the Fall. Essential oil made from flowers. 
Target Organs Digestion, Central Nervous System, Nerves, Skin
Common Uses Aphrodisiac, perfume, debility, exhaustion, nutritive, inflammation, skincare, Rosehips, rosewater, are used in cooking and beverages
Properties Aphrodisiac, antidepressant, antiseptic, euphoric, antispasmodic, nutritive, astringent, mild laxative, vulnerary, diuretic, anti-inflammatory,
Constituents Essential oil : Esters: geranyl acetate, citronellyl acetate, neryl acetate, 

Sesquiterpene alcohol: farnesol, 

Aldehydes: benzaldehyde

Monoterpene alcohols: Citronellol 15-20%, geraniol 10%, linalool, nerol 15%, cedrol, linlool  

Monoterpenes: a+b pinene, limonene, camphene, b-caryophyllene, citronellal, p-cymene  

Damask rose: a-damascenone, B-damascenone, B-damscone, B-ionone, rose oxide  

Other: vitamin C, tannin, pectin, carotene, fruit acids

Cautions Do not use during pregnancy. Thorny plant, caution while harvesting.
Dosage Tincture: 1-4ml Tea rose hips, flowers

 

February 3, 2015

Wild Bergamot and Bee Balm Wildflowers Make Delicious Medicine

Bee-balm or Monarda which is the Latin name, is a beautiful wildflower native to North east North America. It is known for the popular beverage Natives call Oswego tea, and is also cooked in stews, and used to flavour salads. Being aromatic the essential oil makes great perfume and keeps insects and flies away.

Monarda fistulosa has beautiful tubular lavender-purple pinkish flowers.  The common name is known as Wild Bergamot, not to be confused with the citrus bergamot orange – Citrus bergamia L. used in EARL GREY tea, but it smells similar and is now sometimes combined. English Settlers that came to North America named it that, because they thought it smelled just like earl grey tea, and introduced it to England in 1744. Having a high geraniol content, it smells like geranium flowers mixed with citrus and mint.

Monarda didyma has showy red flowers that smell like citrus and mint. The leaves make a wonderful tea dried or fresh. The common name is Bee-balm because it attracts bees, along with hummingbirds and butterflies. It is also called Scarlet bee-balm because of the colour of the flowers. The M. didyma species has a higher thymol content that makes it smell more like citrus thyme.

The stems are square like some mints, with paired grey green leaves that is rough on both sides. It prefers moist, light soil. Being a mint family member it likes some shade from the hot afternoon sun.  Use all Monarda species the same way. The essential oil has a very pleasant fragrance and is used for coughs and colds. Enjoy in a tea, tincture or in a culinary masterpiece!

Common Name  Bee balm/  Wild Bergamot
Latin Name  Monarda didyma (Bee balm) Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot)
Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
Parts Used Perennial- pick herb from spring until it flowers in July-August
Target Organs circulatory, digestion, respiratory, nerves, lymphatic, skin, urinary, reproductive
Common Uses Respiratory: infections, colds, flu, nasal congestion, coughs, fever, swollen lymph

Digestion: digestive catarrh, indigestion,  constipation, gas, bloating,

Urinary: UTI,  incontinence, infection

Female reproductive: spasms, cramps, PMS, balancing

Nervous system: relaxant, stress, depression

External: wounds, inflammation,

Properties antimicrobial, antibacterial, anticatarrhal, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic (digestive, general, respiratory, uterine,) antiviral, anxiolytic, appetite stimulant, astringent, warming carminative, cholagogue, circulatory stimulant, decongestant, diaphoretic, diuretic, digestive stimulant, stimulating emmenagogue, relaxing, secretolytic, stimulating expectorant, febrifuge,  nervine, rubefacient, relaxant, stomachic, tranquilizer, uterine relaxant, (neural, peripheral vasodilator), vulnerary
Constituents Essential Oil Yield: 0.4%-0.6%

Monoterpenes

Monoterpene  alcohols: geraniol 90% 

Phenol: thymol(found in M. didyma)50%

Cautions Mild remedy. Do not use during pregnancy or consult with a professional.
Dosage Tincture: 2-4ml                Tea: 2 tsp. infuse

 

January 24, 2015

Traditional Medicinal Uses of Pine Tree Needles

White pine aka Weymouth Pine and Northern White Pine, is a tree native to Canada, and is favoured for woodwork carvings and furniture construction.
This soft pine is the provincial tree of Ontario, Canada and is one of the most commercially valuable trees for eastern North America.

The tall straight trunks made excellent naval ship masts, and some of the largest trees were reserved for the Navy. This made Eastern Canada the world centre for wood harvesting in the 19th century, that is until the Giant Pines became extinct from over harvesting.

The Native Iroquois considered this tree a symbol of their strength and endurance. The tree tips were boiled to make a nutritious tea. 

Scots pine aka Scotch Pine is used in the same way as White Pine and grows world wide, but doesn’t grow very well in North America. It is not used in the lumber industry, but it makes a good Christmas tree. Different Pine species are used medicinally in the same way.

Both Pine needle Essential oil and Pine needle Tincture treat coughs and colds. Pine opens up breathing passages and resolves congestion created by phlegm, mucus and catarrh. It opens the chest, relieves wheezing and is good to use for respiratory infections, inflammation and pain.
Pine is a cardiovascular and adrenal tonic, which makes it good to use to restore strength and alleviate fatigue.

Use the essential oil externally in steam inhalations for sinusitis or upper respiratory conditions like catarrh. Mix with base oils like hemp, coconut oil for chest or body rubs, or mix in the bath with carrier or in an Epsom salt, baking soda scrub.
Use the Pine needle tincture or cough syrup internally at acute dosages for coughs, colds and infections.

Caution is advised when using the essential oil in massage, it can irritate skin in large doses, because it is very drying. Do not use during pregnancy.

Pine should not be confused with Turpentine essential oil, which is made from the resinous pitch of fir and pine, and sometimes other trees like spruce, it is a medium strength remedy.

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Common Name Pine needles herb
Latin Name Pinus strobus (White Pine) 
Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine) spp.
Family Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Parts Used Perennial tree pick young twig tips of evergreen tree needles
Target Organs Digestion, lungs, liver, urogenital, respiratory, adrenals, cardiovascular,
Common Uses Respiratory: relieves phlegm, opens sinuses,
coughs, colds, flu, congested sinus with headache, infection, dry and damp lung phlegm, bronchitis, tight chest, upper respiratory catarrh
Adrenal: Tonic to adrenals and uterus
Cardiovascular: Tonic to vascular system
Digestion: gas, spasms infection, catarrh, 
Immune: infections, arthritis, gout, inflammation, pain, 
Nutritive
Deodorant, foot perspiration, hygiene,
Properties Adrenal tonic, antibacterial, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, inflammatory- general local, antioxidant, antispasmodic(digestive, respiratory, general), antiviral, astringent, bronchodilator, carminative, decongestant, diaphoretic, diuretic, drying, relaxing/stimulating expectorant, haemostatic, nervine, relaxant, vascular tonic, vasodilator, uterine tonic
Constituents Essential Oil:
Monoterpenes up to 80% content, a+b pinene, limonene, borneol, bornyl acetate, cardimene, phellandrenes, pumilone, Pinicrin,
Esters: bornyl acetate
Monoterpene alcohol: borneol 2%
Other: Vitamin C, glucose, galactose, resin, tannin
Cautions mild remedy do not take during pregnancy.
Dosage Tincture: 1-4ml 
Tea: 1-2 tsp. infuse

Trees of Ontario – Linda Kershaw. Lone Pine publishing, 2001
The Energetics of Western Herbs- Peter Holmes.

November 28, 2014

Chaste tree berries are a Woman’s Best Friend

Chaste tree berries Vitex L. look like light grey brown wrinkled peppercorn fruit or allspice. These berries also have the same spicy, warm and pungent qualities like peppercorns, but taste more bitter in flavour, not hot. They are not sweet like blueberry fruit, they were used more like cracked pepper spice.

This very popular berry is native to the Mediterranean and has a long history of being used to regulate sex organ functions. Chastetree berry has both relaxant and stimulating actions that normalize and restore.
It is a pituitary and ovary tonic that balances all conditions of the Female reproductive system including PMS, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause and infertility.

Chaste tree berry regulates hormonal balance and ovary function through the action of the female hormones: estrogen and progesterone; although primarily progesterone.
The pituitary gland gets stimulated to increase or decrease progesterone or estriol levels.

It therefore treats progesterone deficient conditions, such as: osteoporosis, fibroids or fibrocystic Breasts, along with other female complaints.

The reproductive restoration is also due to a dopamine action that reduces prolactin release.

It reduces male hormones and has been called monks pepper or cloister berry, because it was popular among monks, or men of the cloth to help temper sexual desires. It was used as an anaphrodisiac to treat sexual overstimulation and to curb nymphomania.
When given to nuns however, it turned out to be a female fertility tonic and aphrodisiac.

It is also a good herb for the digestive system, treating poor digestion or liver function, which may be contributing to female reproductive conditions.

It is best taken in a tincture, the long infusion tea needs to be mixed with some better tasting herbs. Also mix in other female friendly herbs in the tincture like mother wort to create a formulation.

There are also two Asian Vitex species used in Chinese medicine: Mu Jing-five leaf chaste tree berry and Man Zing Zi- Seashore chaste tree berry that are used in the same way. They all share the same bitter pungent taste, having the same essential oil constituents and flavonoids, and are used also for rheumatic and arthritic conditions.
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Common Name Chastetree berries aka monk’s pepper, Chaste Lamb
Latin Name Vitex agnus-castus
Family Verbenaceae (Vervain)
Parts Used Perennial shrub mature fruit/berries picked in the Fall
Target Organs Female reproductive, urogenital, intestines, liver, pituitary, sinews,
Common Uses Pituitary Ovary Tonic
Female reproductive: PMS, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause, infertility in women, hormonal imbalance, imbalance of ovary function, fibroids, swollen Breasts, withdrawn,
premature ejaculation, sexual overstimulation, sexual disinterest, progesterone deficiency,
Stimulates circulation, chills, painful joints, muscle tension, osteoporosis, fatigue,
Stimulates digestion, liver congestion, indigestion, fluid congestion,
Properties Bitter pungent, drying, regulating, anti-inflammatory (local, systemic) general antispasmodic (digestive, uterine) anxiolytic, astringent, analgesic, anti-androgenic (reduces male hormones) warming carminative, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, bitter digestive tonic stimulant, emmenagogue tonic, nervine, relaxant, female reproductive tonic, tranquilizer, uterine relaxant, ovarian tonic, pituitary tonic, progesterone, aphrodisiac/anaphrodisiac, 
Constituents Essential oil,
Flavonoids: casticin, isovitexin, orientin; 
Iridoid glycosides: aucbin, agnoside
Cautions mild remedy- Do not use during pregnancy or lactation
Dosage Tincture: 1-3ml Tea: long infusion 4-10g
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