Posts tagged ‘Herb’

October 20, 2014

Wormwood the Infamous Ingredient In Absinthe

Wormwood is an ingredient used in the infamous alcoholic drink absinthe, also known as the green fairy. It is an extremely bitter herb and absinthe was traditionally poured over sugar cubes to sweeten the taste.
When used on its own, it is a powerful medicinal herb. It’s main taste is bitter, which is good for stimulating the digestive axis of the stomach, liver/gallbladder and intestines. As its name suggests it expels internal worms, while it also provides immune support.

It is best combined with aromatic carminatives like peppermint, anise, fennel, ginger, chamomile, bergamot, thyme for taste and balance, just like the ancient recipe absinthe.

I prefer wormwood macerated in red wine to temper the bitterness. Steep it for at least a couple of weeks, and then strain. I take a single teaspoon once a day, for a week. Take small doses before or after meals as an aperitif. A tincture formulation is good, but the tea infusion might be too bitter to swallow. It is Not advisable to add sweeteners, the taste cannot be masked. It is better to taste the bitters to stimulate secretions for maximum medicinal power. This is a medium strength remedy so caution is always advised. Be careful dancing with the green fairy.

Use Artemisia species medicinally in the same way, including mugwort, annual wormwood, southernwood, but wormwood is the most bitter.

Wormwood is native to Europe and Western Asia and established in the temperate regions of North America.

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Wormwood herb starting to show its tiny yellow flowers from my garden.

Common Name

Wormwood herb
Latin Name

Artemisia absinthium
Family Asteraceae
Parts Used Perennial herb pick aerial parts, flowering tops bloom in July/August summer
Target Organs Digestion, stomach, nervous, urinary, reproductive
Common Uses Digestion: cooling bitter stimulant, digestive conditions, infections, poor digestion, promotes bile, indigestion, dyspepsia, flatulence, IBS, inflammation, parasites worms-pinworm, roundworm, threadworms, constipation, colic, poor appetite, anorexia, food poisoning, toxicity, headache, nausea

Stomach: all conditions,

Liver/gallbladder: congestion, infections

Moxybustion

 

Properties Cold bitter digestive, astringent, pungent, antibacterial, hepatic, liver decongestant, carminative, stimulating digestion immune, cholagogue, laxative, stomachic, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, tonic, nervine, antimicrobial, anti-emetic but emetic in large doses, vulnerary,
Constituents Sesquiterpene lactones, volatile essential oil, thujone, thujan, cineole, linalol, chamazulene, camphene, cadimene, monoterpene, pinene, phellandrene, azulene, bisabolene, flavonoid glycosides, rutin, quercetin, organic acids, amino acids, phenolic acids, polyacetylenes, lignans, ascorbic acid, tannins,

Cautions Medium strength: contains thujone a neurotoxin with narcotic properties. Large doses can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, restlessness, tremors, convulsions. Long term use may lead to liver and kidney damage. Not recommended during pregnancy, lactation, infants, or if kidney or liver damage is present.
Dosage Use in formulations (herbal combinations) up to 25% of formula. continuous use should not exceed two months.
Macerate in red wine or vermouth: 1 small teaspoon a day for a week
Or used as an aperitif small sips before or after meals to aid digestion

Tincture: 1-2ml dilute with water 1 oz before consuming.
Mix a formula with aromatics, do not add sugar or sweeteners

Tea: 3-5g (Very bitter) infuse

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August 21, 2013

Goldenrod is Falsely Blamed for Allergies

Many people blame goldenrod for their allergies and dread seeing the tall golden plumage bloom in late summer, but goldenrod is not wind pollinated. It is hard to be allergic to goldenrod unless it is an allergy from touching the plant. Most people that blame goldenrod for their allergies are really allergic to ragweed. It blooms at the same time, but is smaller and has unnoticeable greenish flowers that are wind pollinated and often grows underneath or near goldenrod.

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Goldenrod is one of the best urinary tonics and is useful in those conditions that require a diuretic, like water retention, edema, congestion, inflammation and infection of the urinary tract and gout rheumatic conditions. There are over 30 species in Ontario and other hybrids sub-species but all of them are used in the same way. Goldenrod is native to Canada and the Solidago canadensis is the standard herb of use. Flowers were also used to make a yellow dye as well as herbal medicinal use as a tea or tincture in which case the fresh is superior to the dried versions. There is goldenrod essential oil as well used for the same purposes and helps reduce water retention and swelling externally.

Common Name  Goldenrod herb
Latin Name  Solidago canadensis spp.
Family Asteraceae
Parts Used Perennial- pick top 30% herb/ flower-late summer August
Target Organs urinary, skin, lymph, immune, digestion
Common Uses kidney bladder prostate tonic, infections, gout, oedema, external wounds, vascular tonic, UTI, kidney stones, inflammation infection of urinary tract, upper respiratory catarrh, gargle, laryngitis
Properties urinary kidney prostate tonic, diuretic, astringent, antiseptic, antioxidant, vulnerary, Antifungal, styptic, lymphatic, anticatarrhal, diaphoretic
Constituents Essential Oil, flavonoids, tannins, bitter, saponins
Cautions mild remedy do not take during pregnancy. Use in formulations of up to 20% continuous use of no more than 2-3 months
Dosage Tincture: 2-4ml Tea: 2-3 tsp 10-15 min fresh is preferred
August 20, 2013

Elecampane Beautiful Garden Flower with Medicinal Roots

imageElecampane is a tall perennial that grows over four feet tall and has cheery golden yellow sunflower like flowers, but elecampane has thinner floret petals with fringe tips.

The Latin name is Inula helenium with the species name Helen stemming from Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships. Elecampane flowers are really that stunning and it did launch a thousand ships when it was brought to North America from Europe. It likes to grow in full sun in open moist meadows. The plant is best propagated by root division spacing four or feet apart because they have huge course leaves.

The genus name Inula refers to the inulin content found in almost half of the plant, which has been shown to help control blood sugar levels as a fibre and regulates the immune system which is good for autoimmune disorders. Inulin is a fibre but should only be used in whole form, attached to the whole plant root it is soluble starch fibre. The whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts. Whenever plant parts are removed the outcome and quality are always compromised.

The root is used in herbal medicine for coughs, colds and parasites mainly but it is a good restorative and tonic for chronic fatigue and infections. It benefits the hypothalamus, and is a thymus, spleen, endocrine tonic that has digestive, respiratory and immune stimulating properties that make it good to combat infections, especially of the respiratory, digestive tract or in cases of parasitic, worm infections or food poisoning. The root was popular candied and to make ale or beer drinks out of, but even then the candied root tastes bitter and pungent. The bitter quality helps to stimulate the body through reflex reactions of the digestive and respiratory tracts.

Common Name Elecampane root
Latin Name Inula helenium
Family Asteraceae
Parts Used Perennial- harvest second year or older root in the Fall
Target Organs immune, endocrine, digestion, respiratory, stomach, pancreas, spleen, uterus, nerves, liver, kidney/ bladder
Common Uses endocrine restorative, spleen thymus tonic, immune stimulant, infections, coughs, colds, catarrh, bronchitis, UTI, digestive, parasites, worms, stomach upset, food poisoning, fatigue, allergies,diabetes,
Properties digestive immune respiratory stimulant, antimicrobial, demulcent, expectorant, anti-tussive, stomachic, astringent, demulcent, bitter tonic, warming, drying, anti-allergenic
Constituents 40% inulin,E.O: camphor, sesquiterpenes lactones; mucilage, triterpenes, bitter resin, alkaloid, helinin, sterols, calcium, magnesium
Cautions mild remedy: combine with demulcents for dry coughs. Do not use during pregnancy it is a uterine stimulant.
Dosage Tincture: 2-4mlTea: 2-3 tsp steep 10-15 min

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July 15, 2013

Keep Cool in the Summer Heat with Herbs and Essential Oils

imageThere are many essential oils and herbs that help to cool the body down when feeling too hot and sweaty, but the best known one is peppermint.

See my blog about the many medicinal uses and cautions of peppermint -

http://earthelixir.ca/2013/06/06/healing-properties-of-peppermint-herb/

The mint family lowers body temperature which is good to help cool off in the summer heat, but there are other essential oils and herbs besides peppermint that lower body temperature including spearmint, lemon balm, lavender, eucalyptus, chamomile, geranium, rose, frankincense, comfrey and borage to name a few.

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Ways to Keep Cool with Herbs

1. Drink iced herbal infusions. Use peppermint, chamomile iced tea or use flavours of your choice to create your own recipes that help cool the body.
I love mints like peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, bee balm mixed with rose petals.

See my blog about herbal infusions and floral waters -

http://earthelixir.ca/2012/07/19/diy-floral-waters/

Put a drop of organic peppermint essential oil in drinks

2. Eat mints and cooling herbs as food.
Experiment with many culinary herbal delights incorporating these cooling herbs as delicious food.

3. Make an essential oil spray or spritzer to cool down your body, and spray linens and rooms as well. See my blog on how to make DIY body spray and there is a cooling peppermint spray recipe here->

http://earthelixir.ca/2013/07/15/diy-aromatherapy-body-spray/

4. Soak your feet and ankles or hands and wrists in cool herbal infused water or add your choice of cooling Essential oils
See my blog about Bath Recipes -

http://earthelixir.ca/2013/04/10/diy-aromatherapy-bath-recipes/

Soak a cloth or bandana in a cool herbal infusion and wear around your neck, this will cool main arteries and veins.

5. Make a massage oil blend using a carrier oil and some cooling essential oils. Use coconut oil it lowers body temperature and cools the body as well and is great to quench dryness.

Peppermint is so cooling it may cause hypothermia in the bath so caution is advised using that method to cool off. See more of the uses and cautions of peppermint essential oil here -

http://earthelixir.ca/2013/06/06/do-not-use-peppermint-essential-oil-in-the-bath/

Enjoy the summer here in the North!

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June 6, 2013

Healing Properties of Peppermint Herb

Peppermint

Peppermint

Peppermint is best known for its beneficial effects on the digestive system and strengthening action on the stomach and liver.

It calms and relaxes smooth muscles and eases stomach pain, indigestion and nausea.

Its analgesic properties bring pain relief to headaches and all kinds of cramps.

Peppermint is widely used as a flavouring agent in food and cosmetics like shampoo.

Peppermint is a hybrid perennial herb which grows up to 30-90 cm tall. The stems are erect and square-shaped like most mint plants, and it has creeping root stocks called ‘stolons’ that grow rapidly. The leaves are sharply toothed, pointed, and in midsummer dense clusters of tiny pink-purple flowers appear. Mints prefer moist shade with partial sun.

It is invasive and spreads quickly so it is best grown in pots if you don’t want it taking over.

Common Name

Peppermint herb

 

Latin Name

Mentha x piperita
Family Lamiaceae(Mint Family)
Parts Used Perennial- herb picked all season
Target Organs Digestion, Nervous System, Liver/gallbladder, Stomach, Respiratory, Muscular
Common Uses Digestion: Fortifies liver, stomach, and intestines. Stomach upset, gastritis, indigestion, nausea, colitis, Crohn’s, relaxing digestive, infection, inflammation

Respiratory: infections, bronchitis, sinusitis, cooling, colds, flu, coughs, nasal catarrh, pain,

Nervous: migraines, headaches, stress tension, itching,

Muscular: relaxes smooth muscle, arthritis, neuralgia, aches and pain, sciatica, bruises, inflammation

Properties Analgesic, antiallergenic, antibacterial, anticatarrhal, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-emetic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory (local, systemic), antiseptic, anti-galactagogue antispasmodic (digestive, general, respiratory), antiviral, anxiolytic, appetite stimulant, carminative, cholagogue, choleretic, decongestant, diaphoretic, relaxing expectorant, febrifuge, nervine relaxant, stomachic, tonic tranquilizer, vasodilator, vulnerary.

 

Constituents Essential Oil: 2%

Monoterpene alcohol: Menthol 30-70%,

Ketone: menthone,

Aldehydes:

Esters: methyl acetate,

Oxide: 1, 8 cineole

Monoterpenes: menthene, phellandrene, azulene, limonene, pinene

Other: tannins, bitter

Cautions Medium strength: Do not use with epilepsy, convulsions, during pregnancy, breastfeeding, dry conditions, gastric hyperacidity or with children under the age of two. Older children, seniors take breaks. Essential oil: Do not store with homeopathic remedies. Do not use in a bath, it may cause hypothermia.
Dosage Tincture: 1-4ml

Tea: 1-2 tsp. infuse 10-15 minutes

April 19, 2013

Greater Celandine Herb

herba 006Greater Celandine is a very hardy perennial that likes moist woodlands and transition areas. It is a native to subarctic Eurasia and became established throughout Eastern North America.

I grew Celandine from seed and transplanted in the garden not knowing what an aggressive invasive it was, but it is pretty and definitely shade tolerant.

I have lots of celandine medicine now after “weeding” a little. The stems ooze a yellow latex that stains. The latex is used to get rid of warts, and any skin condtions, injuries or infections.  Harvest the top 50% just before or when it flowers in May or June, or use the leaves anytime. It is a potentizing herb that is best used in an herbal formulation mixed with demulcents and soothing herbs to counter any skin, mucus membrane irritations. Caution is strongly advised.

Common Name  Celandine (Greater) herb/ flowers/ root
Latin Name  Chelidonium majus
Family Papaveraceae (Poppy)
Parts Used Perennial – herb/ flower- May- June root-fall
Target Organs Digestion, liver/gallbladder, spleen,
Common Uses Liver/ gallbladder: infections, gallstones, spasms, jaundice, hepatitis,  Digestive conditions : IBS, constipation, digestive disturbances,Spleen conditions: dysfunction digestion

 Skin/Immune: infections, skin conditions, spasms, warts, rhematic conditions, cancer (especially skin, stomach, colon, liver)

Secondary use for soft tissue injuries and coughs

Properties antineoplastic, anodyne, analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antihepatotoxic, hepatic, bronchodilator, stimulating cardiac, diaphoretic, hypotensive, immune stimulant, narcotic, pancreatic, sedative, spleenic, uterine stimulant, vulnerary,  diuretic, antispasmodic, purgative, anti-inflammatory, depurative, appetite stimulant, laxative, cholagogue, purgative, 
Constituents Isoquinoline alkaloids: chelidonine, sanuinarine, berberine,  allocryptopine, sparteine, stylopine, chelamine, magnoflorine, crytopine, chelerythine, protopine, coptisine; organic acids: chelidonic, malic, citric acid, flavonoids, essential oil, saponins, proteolytic acid, carotenoids, latex,
Cautions Do not use in pregnancy, lactation or for infants. Fresh herb may cause irritations to mucus membranes. Large doses may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Berberine can cause depressed heart function and chronic low pressure with long term use. Dried herb has less caution, but fresh is best used in a formulation up to 25% with combined demulcents. Do not exceed 2-3 month use.
Dosage Formulation Tincture: 2-4ml              Dried  Tea: 2 tsp 10 min
January 23, 2013

Marshmallow root

Marshmallow root is one of my favourites during cough and cold season. It is one of the best treatments for a dry, sore, irritated throat. The root has so much mucilage it makes it demulcent which soothes, coats and moisturizes a sore throat and inflamed tissues. Teas are the best way to treat a sore throat because it creates the most contact to heal inflamed and infected tissues. I add herbal tinctures to the tea for maximum effectiveness in healing coughs and colds. Marshmallow root is good for healing any ulcers and inflammation in the respiratory and digestive tract and has some immune boosting properties to help heal infections. To treat ulcers grind up the fresh root into a gruel and eat it as food. It is good to eat with other demulcent bulk laxative foods like chia and flax seed.

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Common Name  Marsh mallow root/ leaves
Latin Name  Althea officinalis
Family Malvaceae (Mallow Family)
Parts Used Perennial- leaves picked in summer , root picked in Fall
Target Organs Digestion, stomach,  respiratory, kidney/ bladder      
Common Uses bulk laxative, inflammation, dry conditions, ulcers, colds, sore throat, dry coughs, catarrh, bronchitis, Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
Properties anti-inflammatory, stomachic, cool demulcent/ emollient, diuretic, relaxing expectorant, immune stimulant, bulk laxative
Constituents Root: 35% mucilage, polysaccharides, pectin, tannins, asparagine         Leaf: mucilage, trace Essential oil
Cautions mild remedy
Dosage Tincture: 2-4ml                Tea: 2 tsp. steep 10 min
January 7, 2013

Basil Herb

Basil is an annual herb that likes full sun.  It is best known for being used in Italian cooking and making pesto

basil docBasil is easy to grow in the summertime either from seed or seedlings. Do not store basil in the fridge it does not like the cold and will turn an off colour. Trim the stalks and store in a pint glass with water on the counter which makes it easier to use in cuisine.

Common Name  Basil herb
Latin Name  Ocimum basilicum
Family Lamiaceae (Mint)
Parts Used annual herb picked all through summer
Target Organs digestion, nerves, respiratory, urinary, reproductive system
Common Uses Digestive conditions: digestive upset, gas, bloating, inflammation, liver congestioninfections, digestive, IBS, mucus colitis, nausea, pain,

Nervous system: tension, stress, nervousness,   fever, headache, exhaustion, depression,  fatigue(mental, physical)

Respiratory: flu, congestion, coughs, colds,  sinusitis, asthma

Reproductive system: infertility, Nutritive

Head: headaches, earache (external use only with essential oil), migraines

Used as insect repellent and for treating insect stings and bites.

Properties Anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal, antispasmodic, antiseptic, anti-depressant, antimicrobial, antibacterial, astringent, emmenagogue, expectorant, digestive, relaxant, nervine, nutritive, hepatic, carminative, stimulant, warming, tonic,
Constituents Phenylpropanoids: eugenol, trans methyl isoeugenol,Monoterpene alcohols: linalool, geraniol,

Oxide: cineole

Phenol: methyl chavicol-40-50% Methyl ester: methyl cinnamate,

Monoterpenes: pinene, camphor, ocimene, mycrene, terpinolene,

Sesquiterpenes: caryophyllene, terpinolene;

Tannins 5%, saponins, flavones, ursolic acid

Cautions Mild remedy. Do not use during pregnancy
Dosage Tincture: 2-4ml               Tea: 2 tsp steep 10 min

 

December 7, 2012

DIY Ginseng Tincture

“Cold fx ®TM” is the most popular over-the-counter cold remedy in Canada. If you read the ingredients on the label the active ingredient is ground up dried ginseng which is put in a gelatin pill casing. This product has come under scrutiny lately for poor quality due to an ecoli-related bacteria that contaminated some batches. The American Ginseng is being contaminated when it is being shipped from China because it is laying in dirty containers. Shouldn’t American ginseng be grown and processed here in North America? It is also very expensive costing $70.00!

Watch the Marketplace episode about the Coldfx scandal and become consumer aware. http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2012/whatfx/

220px-Panax_quinquefoliusIt is better to make your own Ginseng tincture, it is better quality than pills and more cost-effective. It is all around cheaper and better for you to make your own or buy a ginseng tincture. There are different types of ginseng, the popular types are American ginseng -Panax quinquefolius and Asian ginseng -Panax ginseng that belong to the Genus Panax. American ginseng is more expensive than Asian ginseng, but both are used in similar ways. The research is there to support the amazing actions of Ginseng. The Ginsengs are long-term immune tonics and are adaptogens that help your body adapt to any kind of stress. They are not short-term immune stimulants like Echinacea. It is good to take ginseng to strengthen your immune system, but may not do well in the acute phase in the middle of a cold. It is good to take Ginsengs after a cold or illness to help the body recuperate or as a preventative to help the body adapt to any kind of stress.

See my blog -how to make your own herbal tincture for easy detailed instructions:

http://earthelixir.ca/2012/01/10/make-your-own-herbal-tinctures/

Other herbs referred to as ginseng

Codonopsis pilosula (poor man’s ginseng)

Schisandra chinensis (five-flavoured berry)

Gynostemma pentaphyllum (southern ginseng, jiaogulan)

Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)

Pseudostellaria heterophylla (prince ginseng)

Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng, ashwagandha)

Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng, suma)

Lepidium meyenii (Peruvian ginseng, maca)

Oplopanax horridus (Alaskan ginseng)

Angelica sinensis (female ginseng, dong quai)

Panax notoginseng (known as san qi, tian qi or tien chi; hemostatic ingredient in yunnan bai yao)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginseng

Find out some other better natural cold remedies here http://earthelixir.ca/?s=Cold

November 25, 2012

DIY Calendula Infused Oil

I always use dried herbs for making herbal infused oils. Using fresh herbs may ruin the oil because of the water-soluble content, especially in demulcent herbs like plantain. Oil and water don’t mix and may result in slimy spoiled oil. Use good quality carrier oil of your choice along with good quality herbs. Many people use olive oil but I prefer peach kernel and apricot kernel oil. Make sure the oil covers all the herbs to avoid spoilage.

Fill up a mason jar 1/3 the way with dried herb and pour in the oil to cover the herbs.

Screw the lid on and place in a sunny window for about 2 weeks.

Strain the herbs out of the oil and use for skin care.

Make a salve or balm or use the oil straight for healing skin quenching action.

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