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THE A-Z OF MEDICINAL HERBS AND SPICES

 

A herb is any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavouring, food, medicine or perfume. In botany herb means any seed-bearing plant which does not have a woody stem and dies down to the ground after flowering. The world's largest herb is the banana plant.

 

Herbs and spices not only contain many nutrients but have amazing medicinal and health giving properties and most have been used for thousands of years to cure adverse human conditions, infections and disease without the serious side effects that modern day drugs can inflict because they work with the body naturally as nature intended. The body is a clever machine which takes what it needs from plants and expels that which it doesn't. Interfering with this natural process by trying to kill off the pathogenic bacteria causing infection and disease will never work until the processes that take place on a molecular level are understood. The human body cannot naturally deal with powerful synthetic chemicals which build up as toxins in the system. It needs the additional supportive phytochemicals which herbs possess.


To then treat side effects with more drugs adds to the burden already placed on the delicate weakened human system. The alternative is to use natural herbs as medicine instead which have been 'tested' for thousands of years by our ancestors. Every human body is so completely different, in its makeup, it is impossible to manufacture a 'one size fits all' drug. Certain basic elements are needed in so many different combinations and amounts that drugs will never heal without side effects. Drug companies have managed to persuade society that they have all the answers when in actual fact they have no idea of the consequences for humans that ingest large doses of single chemical elements over a long period of time.


Home made remedies

 

 

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There are many ways to utilise foods to make remedies that are natural and toxin free. See how to Make Your Own Home Remedies

WARNING: Many drugs and addictive substances (including alcohol, coffee and sugar) block the absorption of nutrients and have adverse effects on the medicinal properties of many natural plant foods and herbs. Therefore, the benefit of consuming natural plant foods will only be truly felt by those that do not take any synthetic drugs or addictive substances. Some herbs and spices can create the same effect as certain medications so if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication), or hormone therapies and contraceptive pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen and some other medications, it is advisable to avoid these herbs. There are also foods that can adversely affect some ongoing health issues and so should be avoid too. To find out more see What to Avoid and When

INDEX OF MEDICINAL HERBS AND SPICES

As any botanist will tell you, there is such a huge diversity of species of plants around the planet and many have been named differently over the centuries. Here they are listed by their most common names, but if you do not see what you are looking for, do type the name in the search box at the top of this page as it will invariably be listed under a different name. Some have links as they are described in more detail on their own page.

Search for a herb or spice:

 

A

B

C

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E

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G

H

I

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L

M

N

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Q

R

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T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

 

See also:

The Herb and Spice index

A - Z of Natural Foods

A

Abuta (Abutta officinalis)

Acacia (Acacia nilotica)

Ajos Kiro or Ajos Caspi (Cordia alliodora)

The root of this Amazonian plant has substances which have anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.

Ajos Sacha (Mansoa alliacea)

An alcoholic maceration of the stem and roots of this Amazonian plant is used for rheumatism and a leaf infusion is used in baths to relieve “manchiari” (a nervous state caused by terror or sudden shock), especially in children. A stem decoction is used in baths to relieve fatigue and cramps. Some Amazonian natives use it to protect themselves against bad spirits, whilst others use the decoction of leaves and stems as antipyretic baths, for body aches and flu.

Alisma (Alisma plantago aquatica, European water-plantain, common water-plantain or mad-dog weed)

Allspice (Pimenta dioica, Jamaica pepper, pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, pimento corns, English pepper, new spice)

This is the dried unripe fruit of the pimento tree native to the Greater Antilles, Southern Mexico and Central America. This spice is named for its aroma which is like a combination of the spice scents of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.

It contains caryophyllene, eugenol, glycosides, methyleugenol, quercetin, resin, sesquiterpenes, tannins, vitamin A, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid),  vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9, vitamin C, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and selenium.

Eugenol, has local anaesthetic and antiseptic properties and is useful in gum and dental treatment. Allspice oil mixed with extractions from garlic and oregano can work against E.coli, Salmonella and L.monocytogenes infections.

This spice is also very good for relieving flatulence, stomach cramps and dyspeptic pain and can help with nervous exhaustion and diarrhoea. 

It may be applied as an external compress in cases of rheumatism and neuralgia. It can also be used as a poultice or in hot baths for arthritis and joint problems or back pain.

NOTE: This spice should be avoided in individuals suffering from stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)

Aloe vera was known as the 'plant of immortality' by the ancient Egyptians and 'the wand of heaven' by the native tribes of the Americas because they were aware of its powerful properties that can assist the functions of the gastrointestinal tract and soothe, cleanse and help the body to maintain healthy tissues. See more about aloe vera.

Alum Root (Heuchera, cranesbill root, spotted cranes bill, wild geranium, crowfoot, dovefoot, American keno root)

Alum root is a strong astringent used to stop the bleeding of cuts, superficial abrasions and ulcers on the lips. It is used in dilute form as a mouthwash or gargle and has been effective for mouth and throat ulcers. Internally, it is useful as a tea or in capsules to help ease malaria symptoms, diarrhoea, for loose bowels and for excessive mucus in the urinary tract accompanied by frequent urination.

A decoction can be made of grated alum root simmered in a litre of water until the liquid has halved, strain then drink when cooled.

NOTE: Alum root can cause gastrointestinal irritation if taken in large amounts.

Andiroba (Carapa guianensis)

Oil from the seeds of the Andiroba tree that grows in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has potent analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-cancerous and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in linoleic fatty acids required for healthy cell membranes which reduce puffiness and swelling of the skin. It can also prevent and even reverse cervical dysphasia which is a precancerous condition that often develops into cervical cancer. In Latin America, the oil is often mixed with copaiba oil and honey as a cure for cancer and to aid internal healing.

Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata, Indian echinacea, green chiretta)

Andrographis is an  immune stimulant and anti-parasitic, antibiotic and anti-viral tonic herb used for treating hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, flatulence, healing and preventing gastric acidity, bowel complaints, colds, flu, sinusitis, tonsillitis, familial Mediterranean fever and upper respiratory tract infections. It also inhibits the body's inflammatory mechanism and has anti-microbial abilities and is instrumental in killing certain tumour cells. Andrographis can also help to stop the clumping of blood platelets which is the clotting process that can lead to heart attacks.

NOTE: Pregnant women or those trying to conceive should avoid Andrographis. Safety during lactation is not known. Andrographis may increase glucose metabolisation which could unduly enhance blood sugar lowering medication. Those taking anticoagulant agents such as warfarin or heparin or anti-platelet agents such as ibuprofen should also avoid the andrographis herb.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica, Angelica sinensis, Chinese angelica, Dong quai, female ginseng)

Angelica is a herb which has been used for centuries in the Far East as a tonic, spice and medicine. The health benefits of Chinese Angelica come from the plant's root and studies have shown has powerful antibacterial properties against Bifidobacteria, Candida albicans, Clostridium difficile, Clostridium perfringens, Enterococcus faecalis, Eubacterium limosum, Lactobacilli and Peptostreptococcus anaerobius.

Due to angelica’s antihistamine properties, it is used to treat allergies. It is also used as a muscle relaxant and pain killer and is also beneficial for sufferers of lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. Used in conjunction with other herbs like Asian ginseng, it produces the ability to decrease chest pain in patients suffering from heart disease. Further health benefits of Chinese angelica are its ability to stabilise female hormones, ease the pain of arthritis and lower blood pressure. Nutritionally it supports the digestive and respiratory systems.

Angelica calms the central nervous system and nourishes the brain. It also balances and strengthens the female organs and regulates their functions. It can be taken by mouth in the following forms:

  • Decoction (a teaspoon or tablespoon of cut root simmered in one cup of hot water)

  • Dried leaf (taken in an infusion)

  • Dried root (taken directly by mouth or in an infusion)

  • Fluid extract

  • Leaf liquid extract

  • Leaf tincture

  • Root tincture

  • Tea (root steeped in hot water)

  • Candied dong stems

  • Whole root or root slices (boiled or soaked in wine)

NOTE: Avoid angelica if taking any type of medication that thins the blood or for hormone therapies and contraception.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum, aniseed)

Anise has been shown to possess potent antimicrobial properties. Chemical studies indicate that a major portion of this antimicrobial property is due to anethole present in the dried fruit. Anise components can remove excess mucus in the gastrointestinal area. It is excellent for improving memory and treating colds, flu, cough, bronchitis, sinusitis, gas, colic, tension, lactation (not pregnancy), as an eye brightener and for fresh breath.  Anise is very useful for breaking up mucus and is used for hard, dry coughs where expectoration is difficult. 

A tea is made by adding a cup of boiled water to three teaspoons of crushed seeds, steeping for 20-minutes.  This may be used to stimulate the productions of mother's milk. The seeds may be smoked or added to a cough syrup formula.  It is also used as a stimulant and carminative to treat flatulence and colic, taken as a tea.  Added to laxative formulas, it will reduce cramping of the bowels.

For hacking coughs add seven teaspoons of anise seeds to one litre of boiling water and then simmer down to one and a half pints. Strain and add four teaspoons each of honey and glycerine.  Take two teaspoons of this syrup every few hours to relieve the cough.

To improve memory, take two tablespoons three times a day.

Annatto (Bixa orellana, Achiote)

The seed and leaf of this plant are used medicinally to treat diabetes, diarrhoea, fevers, fluid retention, heartburn, malaria and hepatitis. They are also used as an antioxidant and bowel cleanser.

Annatto can be used topically on the affected area to treat burns and vaginal infections and to repel insects.

In foods, annatto is used as a colouring agent which can cause many allergic side effects especially in children's behaviour. It is also known to cause urticaria (nettle rash) and flare-ups of angioneurotic oedema. It contains salicylic acid that has been implicated in asthma and hyperactivity. See E160b Annatto for more information.

Areca nut See Betel Nut

Arnica (Arnica montana, leopard's bane, mountain arnica, mountain tobacco, wolf's bane)

Arnica is a yellow daisy-like member of the sunflower family with the active components of sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoids which are known to reduce inflammation and ease pain. It also contains thymol, an essential oil that fights infection and carotenoid a powerful antioxidant. It is believed to work by stimulating the activity of white blood cells and dispersing fluid that accumulates around damaged, swollen joints thus relieving pain and inflammation. Arnica can boost immunity, accelerate healing and fight inflammation. It also helps the body combat bacterial infection. It can be taken internally or applied externally.

Ashitaba (Angelica keiskei koidzmi)

The name ‘ashitaba’ name in Japanese means 'tomorrow's leaf' or 'earth growth' in English and refers to the fact that if its leaves are picked in the morning, new leaves will be in place by the next morning. Ashitaba is a 'super food' which has been consumed as a vegetable and medicine for many hundreds of years by the inhabitants of Seven Islands of Izu (the Longevity Islands). It is an Asian green vegetable rich in the highly potent antioxidant known as chalcone. Chalcones are rarely found anywhere in the natural world but are the key factor in ashitaba. These organic compounds are flavonoids known as Xanthoangelol, Xanthoangelol-E and 4-Hydrooxyderricin and they give the plant its characteristic yellow sap. This sap differentiates ashitaba from all other strains of angelica. The antioxidant activity of these flavonoids is due to their molecular structure and they have a potent antioxidant activity exceeding that of red wine, green tea, or soy.

Most plants are devoid of vitamin B12, which is normally only obtainable through meat, fish and eggs. However, ashitaba is a good source of this nutrient, making it an ideal supplement for strict vegetarians and vegans, who omit these foods from their diets and are at risk of suffering from a deficiency. A shortage of B12 can cause serious cognitive and nervous system problems, in addition to increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and pernicious anaemia.

Including ashitaba in the diet can cleanse the blood and promote blood circulation, regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reduce allergies, sinus problems, joint and muscle pain, blood pressure and smooth muscle spasms in the arteries and bronchial tubes, improve vision and memory, enhance liver and kidney function, normalise cells, prevent osteoporosis and thrombus, strengthen the immune system, suppress gastric acid secretion, promote metabolism and act as a sedative. Ashitaba also possesses antibacterial and antiviral properties and is a potent antioxidant which protects the organs from destructive free radicals and slows the aging process. It also enhances smooth bowel movements which promotes detoxification and acts as an effective diuretic to remove toxic waste from the body. The active substance, xanthoangelol, in the roots of ashitaba provide anti-tumour and anti-metastatic activities

Ashitaba is a detoxifier, which helps remove heavy metals such as mercury, lead etc. which have been found in mother’s milk. It promotes a better immune system with healthy milk for babies. It also restores the efficient function of organs, especially the liver and kidneys as an effective blood purifier and detoxifier.

Ashitaba is useful in treating menstrual cramps and pains and menopause symptoms, gynaecological conditions and can provide options beyond hormone replacement therapy and hysterectomies.

The production of nerve growth factor (NGF) is enhanced by several compounds contained in Ashitaba. NGF is a protein essential in the development and survival of certain neurons in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. This protein is effective in preventing and treating Alzheimer type dementia and diabetic peripheral neuropathy and as yet cannot be manufactured. However NGF production enhancers such as ashitaba can pass through the blood brain barrier to work in the brain and increase the NGF concentration.

Ashitaba is recommended for diabetics as it has the ability to normalise blood sugar levels. A diabetes patient in Japan took ashitaba powder daily for six months and his blood sugar level dropped from 400 mg/dl to 150 mg/dl.

Significant components in ashitaba

Ashitaba is also a rich source of coumarins which are potent antioxidants found to contain anti-carcinogenic properties. It also contains chalcones, 4-hydrodexydelisin glycosides, 4-Hydrooxyderricin, xanthoangelol, xanthoangelol-E and melatonin.

Consuming 100 grams of Ashitaba powder provides the beta-carotene content equivalent to four carrots, the vitamin B2 content equivalent to 28 cloves of garlic, the vitamin C content equivalent to 4 lemons, and nine times the amount of iron found in spinach.

It also contains vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B12, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, copper, germanium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sulphur and zinc.

Ashitaba is rich in chlorophyll, the green pigment present in plants that is responsible for collecting and storing energy from the sun. Because the chlorophyll molecule is almost identical to the haemoglobin molecule in red blood cells it is often referred to as 'nature's blood'. One of its many attributes includes its ability to stimulate the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body's tissues. It is also an excellent agent for cleansing the blood and liver and promotes the growth of 'friendly' intestinal bacteria.

Ashitaba contains water based (hydrophillic) antioxidants that are more potent than those found in green tea. Ashitaba contains 6.20. Sage tea contains 4.67 and green tea 3.50.

The leaves, stems and roots can be consumed as a vegetable or salad ingredient and a tea can be made from the leaves. The recommended dosage for medicinal purposes is one teaspoon of ashitaba powder taken in the morning and evening in a small amount of juice, followed by a glass of water. Ashitaba has a sweet herb like taste and has no known contraindications.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, winter cherry)

Ashwagandha is a plant found in India that is part of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. It has been used for over 3000 years as a powerful medicinal herb to treat many disorders and diseases including anxiety,  depression, Lyme disease and malaria. The properties of this herb can provide the following benefits:

  • Boosts immunity

  • Combats effects of stress

  • Enhances sexual potency for both men and women

  • Helps to reduce the pain of arthritis

  • Improves learning, memory and reaction time

  • Improves thyroid function and hormone balance

  • Increases stamina and endurance

  • Increases the white blood cell count

  • Lowers cholesterol

  • Prevents and treats cancer

  • Reduces adrenal fatigue

  • Reduces brain cell degeneration

  • Reduces cholesterol levels

  • Reduces the damage caused by lead poisoning

  • Relaxes muscles

  • Slows tumour growth

  • Stabilises blood sugar

  • Treats insomnia

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous)

This Chinese herb is a member of the bean family, has been shown to boost the immune system and inhibit certain bacterial infections such as scarlet fever and strep throat and viruses, such as the cocksackie B virus. It has a long history of preventing and treating colds and various other respiratory-related conditions.

Aveloz (Euphorbia tirucalli, Indian tree spurge, konpal-sehnd, milk bush, milk hedge, pencil tree, petroleum-plant, sehund, thohra)

Aveloz is a succulent cactus-like plant growing to a height of about 10 m and is also known as the "petroleum plant" because it produces a hydrocarbon substance very much like gasoline. In studies, it has proved to be effective against ten clinical strains of Cryptococcus neoformans yeast and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The roots are boiled and the juice is consumed for sterility problems in women and to treat snakebites. It is also used to treat sore throats and stomach ailments.

NOTE: The latex is very irritating to the eyes and skin and can cause temporary blindness. Several deaths have been attributed to the use of aveloz for medicinal purposes. In Tanzania, the plant is well-known as a fish poison and insect repellent for ants and mosquitoes. The latex is an effective arrow poison as it causes irritation at the wound which enhances absorption of the poison and acts as a cohesive. Human milk is a known antidote to this poison.

B

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)

Bacopa is a herb that has been used in traditional medicine for longevity and cognitive enhancement. It provides a mild reduction in anxiety and a reliable increase in memory formation seen after a month of consumption. It also protects cells and restores cell damage by acting as a free radical scavenger in the body. It has interactions with both dopamine and serotonine systems and works through proliferating dendrites (to enhance synaptic transmission) and thus promotes neuron communication.

NOTE: If taken on an empty stomach, those with digestive problems may experience nausea, cramping, bloating and diarrhoea. Prolonged use can promote apathy and cause  a reduction physical metabolism.

Balloon Flower Root (Platycodon grandiflorum, Campanulaceae, jie geng)

Changkil saponins isolated from the roots of the balloon flower have been found to increase intracellular glutathione content and significantly reduce oxidative injury to liver cells, minimise cell death and lipid peroxidation. Glutathione is found in every cell of all human tissues, with the highest concentrations found in the liver and eyes. It is the body's most potent and important antioxidant because it is within the cell and protects fatty tissues from the damaging effects of free radicals and this is especially important for the brain.

Glutathione also plays a vital role in the detoxification of harmful substances in the liver such as drugs, pollutants and other toxins and can chelate (attach to) heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium and eliminate them from the body. This is particularly beneficial to those that may be prone to developing, or have developed, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease and those that smoke tobacco.

As an immune system booster and a detoxifier, glutathione can also help the body repair damage caused by aging, burns, drugs, infection, injury, pollution, poor diet, radiation, stress and trauma. It has the potential to fight almost any disease, particularly those associated with aging, as free radical damage is the cause of many of the common diseases of old age. It is also believed that glutathione carries nutrients to lymphocytes and phagocytes which are important immune system cells.

Banderol (Otoba acuminata, Otoba novogranatensis, Otoba parvifolia)

Banderol comes from the bark of Otoba species of trees that is found in Peru and other areas of South America. Banderol has antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic and antiviral properties and is useful as a natural remedy in the elimination of the Lyme disease and syphilis bacterial infections.

Barberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Berberis aristata, Berberidaceae, bearberry, Indian barberry, daruharidra, daruhaldi, uva ursi) See Uva Ursi

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Components in basil have a balancing effect on the nervous system and hormones. A basil tea is good for lowering blood sugar levels and blood pressure and can treat difficult urination, fever, flu, hay fever, headaches, kidney and bladder disorders, memory problems, migraines, nasal congestion, nervous conditions. It can also improve nutrient absorption and clear and relieve abdominal distension, congestion and respiratory disorders as it is analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Basil is also a herbal antibiotic, antiseptic, carminative and appetiser that benefits the stomach during digestion and can provide immediate relief from constipation, flatulence, indigestion, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting.

The essential oil of basil contains eugenol which works similarly to aspirin and ibuprofen in decreasing the swelling in joints and tissues to provide relief from arthritis, cramps, fibromyalgia, joint pain and rheumatism. Its powerful anti-inflammatory properties can also provide relief for inflamed bowel conditions such as colitis, IBS, Crohn's disease and coeliac disease. Because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties it is also effective against bacterial infections, intestinal parasites and the viruses that cause colds, flu, herpes, mononucleosis and shingles.

Basil is a rich source of magnesium which relaxes muscles and blood vessels and supports cardiovascular health by lowering the risk of irregular heart rhythms and spasms.

Basil is a natural remedy for kidney stones as it can strengthen the kidneys. Make a tea or juice out of fresh basil leaves, by steeping them for ten minutes in hot water. Then strain and add a teaspoon of raw honey. Drinking two to three cups everyday can help to alleviate the discomfort of kidney stones.

Basil is also nerve tissue strengthening, a heart tonic, oxygenates the body, cleanses the brain, relieves depression and the effects of poisons, prevents the accumulation of fat in the body (especially for women after menopause) and fights skin diseases, first stages of many cancers and builds the immune system.

A tea made of one handful of leaves to one pint of water simmered gently for 10 minutes with three crushed black peppercorns per cup will be effective for the above ailments. Adding a teaspoon of raw honey can provide addition benefits.

Basil’s fungicidal properties also aid in healing wounds, skin rashes, warts and insect bites. Crush fresh leaves in a small amount of pure coconut oil, apply to the skin and wrap with a fresh bandage daily. Externally diluted essential oil can be useful for acne, hives, insect bites and skin infections.

Basil can work as a natural antihistamine to treat hives. Heat a couple sprigs of basil leaves up under some steam and apply gently to the hives. Basil may help to reassure the body that the foreign agent causing the hives is not something it should be fighting.

NOTE: Essential oil is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women or people with high blood pressure.

Basil contains the trace mineral copper (organic form), needed to absorb iron. It is also a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium, iron and magnesium.

Bayberry (Myrica cerifera, Myrica communis, Myrica pensylvanica, candle berry, myrica, tallow shrub, waxberry, wax myrtle)

Bayberry is an excellent blood purifier and detoxifier. It is effective for helping to stop a cold from forming if taken when the first symptoms appear.

Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis, Cinnamomum tamala, sweet bay, true laurel, laurier d'apollon, roman laurel, noble laurel, lorbeer, laurier sauce, daphne)

Internally, bay leaf components are good to stimulate appetite, promote digestion, relieve colic and flatulence. Externally good for dandruff, boosting hair growth, rheumatism, sprains, scabies, and bruises. Also externally, can be applied as a poultice on the chest with a cloth covering to relieve bronchitis and coughs. An oil infused with bay leaves can be applied with great benefit to rheumatic and arthritic aches and pains as well as to swellings and sprains.

Bdellium gum (Commiphora africana, Balsamodendron mukul, guggul, guggulu, gugul,mfalse myrrh, sweet myrrh)

Closely related to frankincense, the myrrh gum collected from the bdellium tree has many positive effects on the human body such as lowering cholesterol levels, reducing tissue inflammation, promoting balance in the thyroid gland and lowering body weight.

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Berberis aristata, Berberidaceae, bearberry, Indian barberry, daruharidra, daruhaldi, uva ursi) See Uva Ursi

Bergamot (Monarda didyma, bee balm)

Bergamot is not related to Bergamot citrus bergamia. Young leaves are used as flavouring and seasoning and in Oswego tea. Other related species contain antiseptic thymol. Traditionally oil from the leaves is applied to pimples and the leaves are infused for steam-inhalation for colds or tea for nausea, flatulence and insomnia. Essential oil is used for oil burners and added to baths for the deep rich fragrance.

Betel Nut and Leaves (Areca catechu innaeus, areca seed, betel nut palm, pinang)

Betel nut is the dried ripe seed of the Areca catechu L. of the Palmae family. The major constituents of the nut are carbohydrates, fats, proteins, crude fibre, polyphenols (flavonols and tannins), alkaloids. 8 polyphenols (flavonols, tannins) constitute a large proportion of the dry weight of the nut and are responsible for the astringent taste. It contains structurally related pyridine alkaloids including arecoline, arecaidine, arecaine, arecolidine, coniine, guvacine, guvacoline, isoguvacine, muscarine and pilocarpine.

It is useful for digestive and dental health, to facilitate bowel movements and kills intestinal worms. Arecoline, the principal alkaloid in areca nut, acts as an agonist primarily at muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, acts as a stimulant of the central and autonomic nervous system and causes increases in the levels of monoamines such as nor-adrenaline, as well as acetylcholine at higher doses. This leads to subjective effects of increased well-being, alertness and stamina, improved concentration and relaxation, lifting of mood, a sense of well-being, heightened alertness, staving off hunger, aphrodisiac properties, postprandial digestant and increased stamina.

It is also useful for treating alcoholism, aphrodisiac, low appetite, asthma, blindness from methanol poisoning, cough, dermatitis (used on the skin), digestive aid, diphtheria, diuretic, ear infection, excessive thirst, excessive menstrual flow, fainting, flatulence, glaucoma, impotence, intestinal worms, joint pain/swelling, leprosy, respiratory stimulant, toothache, veterinary uses (intestinal worms). It has also been reported that areca nut extract exerts a direct antimicrobial effect against oral bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus salivarius, candida albicans and fusiform nucleatum. Tannic acid at concentrations varying from 1.8-18 mg/ml inhibited growth of E. corrodens, prophyromonas gingivalis, C. rectus and fusiform nucleatum.

The chewing of betel leaf causes the suppression of bacterial activity in the oral cavity and prevents halitosis.

Tapeworm Expulsion. To kill tapeworms grind one betel nut with a small glass of milk. Take this early in the morning on an empty stomach. It is safe to use occasionally to expel human parasites and worms but should not be used regularly as it can have some detrimental health effects. Excessive use leads to palpitations, increased pulse rate, sweating, Prolonged use for many years may increase the risk for oral cancers. The regular use of betel will, in time, stain the mucosa, gums and teeth. 

NOTE: it is highly addictive. Users develop oral submucous fibrosis and oral cancer over a relatively shorter duration and die earlier compared to smokers. In India it has been banned in the state of Tamil Nadu since 19 November 2001 and from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra and Rajasthan since August 2003

NOTE: Avoid if suffering with cardiovascular disease or pregnant.

NOTE: Do not give to children under 16.

Birch (Betula)

Birch is unexcelled in the tree bark remedies for successfully treating acne, eczema, herpes, psoriasis and similar chronic skin diseases. A tea is made by boiling the bark which American Native Indians used externally on the skin either as a poultice or ash to treat bruises, burns, eczema, sores and wounds. A similar tea can be made by bringing one litre of water to a boil, reducing the heat, adding three tablespoons of dried bark, covering and simmering for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and steep for an additional hour then strain and use externally only.

Bird cherry (Prunus padus, hackberry, hagberry, Mayday tree)

The bird cherry has shown in scientific studies to have antibacterial activity against the methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) and its fruit has antimicrobial properties that is toxic to flies, fungi and mosquitoes.

Biscuit root see Lomatium

Bissy Nut (Cola acuminate)

Bissy nut has been known to help relieve inflammation in disorders such as rheumatism and gout. It also is used as a diuretic and contains metabolism enhancing properties.

Bitter Kola (Garcinia kola, Garcinia afzelii)

Bitter kola is a medium-sized tree that is common to central Africa. Its seeds are used as medicine throughout the region and can cure Ebola, has anti cancer properties and works against many viruses, including the flu. Unfortunately this tree is a rare species which is on the endangered species list so acquiring the seeds may be nigh on impossible.

Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina, ewuro, hausas, ironweed, mujonso, onugbu, shiwaka, yorubas)

Bitter leaf is a member of the daisy family and an African herb of which the bark, leaves, roots and stems are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The juice from the leaves is good to reduce fever and lowers blood sugar and raises the metabolism which is beneficial for diabetics and those wishing to lose weight. It is also good for mild stomach disorders and has been known to increase breast milk production in nursing mothers. Its anti-inflammatory properties can also help to treat rheumatism. Bitter leaf can also cleanse the lymphatic system and protect the lungs against chemicals found in tobacco smoke and, due to its natural quinine content, it is useful for preventing malaria sickness. It is a powerful tonic for women to take before, during and after the menopause as it helps the body produce the correct oestrogen levels and in doing so can prevent the hot flushes and other symptoms that can occur.

The washed roots and stalks can be boiled and a cup of the liquid drunk first thing in the morning before food to expel worms and parasites.

Externally the juice from the leaves can be used for eczema, haemorrhoids, ringworm, warts and dry skin conditions but do not use on broken skin.

Bitter leaf contains steroid glycosides known as type vernonioside B1. These compounds possess potent antibacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, C and E.

NOTE: Bitter leaf juice can cause contractions of the uterus so should be avoided by pregnant women.

NOTE: Bitter leaf should never be harvested from locations near to mines, power stations or road sides as it absorbs heavy metals from traffic pollution and chemical combustion which can then be ingested and cause many ill health effects. See Heavy Metals.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

The early Native Americans used black cohosh to treat snakebite and a tea from the root is reputed to soothe sore throat. They also used the root to help ease complaints associated with the skeletal system.

It is a traditional approach for many gynaecological topics, including menstrual cramps, labour and delivery and menstruation. When combined with other nervine herbs, it provides excellent soothing properties. Black Cohosh also nourishes the respiratory system. Black Cohosh has traditionally been used to calm the nervous system by nourishing blood vessels and balancing the hormones in menopausal women. Studies show it contains substances that bind to oestrogen receptors. It has also been shown in lab experiments (in vitro) to inhibit microbial activity and can treat intestinal infections such as helicobacter pylori. Black cohosh has also been known to shrink fibroids in the uterus.

NOTE: Black Cohosh should be taken with caution as it can cause an allergic reaction.

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) See Peppercorns below

Black Plum (Calyptranthes jambolana, Syzygium cumini, damson plum, duhat plum, jaam, jamblang, jambolan, jambul, jamun, Java plum, kalojam, wu mei)

A small, fleshy fruit native to Japan and China. It grows on tall trees that bloom in the spring, with scented flowers. In China, black plums are grown primarily in the Zhejiand, Fujian and Yunnan provinces. The plums are harvested while the fruit has yet to ripen. They are baked at a low temperature until the skin of the fruit turns black; at that point the plum stone, or seed, is removed, and the fruit is stored in a sealed container for later use.

In traditional Chinese medicine, black plum has sour and neutral properties and is associated with the spleen, lung and large intestine.  Its main functions are to stop prolonged, coughs with phlegm, soothe the intestines and promote the production of body fluids. Black plum is high in citric acid, an important substance that the body uses for energy and to fight fatigue. Black plum extracts and decoctions can fight the production of several types of bacteria, including meningococcus, typhoid bacillus and bacillus anthracis and it can stimulate the immune system and promote digestion.

The typical dose of black plum ranges from 3 to 10 grams, depending on the condition being treated. Lower doses are given if black plum extracts are being used; larger doses can be used if it is being applied externally. Typically, the fruit is mashed or charred, then ground down into a powder.

Black plum should not be taken by patients who are diagnosed with exterior syndrome. In addition, any plum that is very bitter should not be consumed due to the fact that it may have significant amounts of hydrogen cyanide. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide can stimulate respiration and improve digestion, but extremely large amounts can cause respiratory failure. There are no known drug interactions with black plum.

Black Seed (Nigella sativa, black cumin, habbatul barakah, kalonji, baraka)

These seeds have long been used in folk medicine in the Arabian Gulf region, Far East Asia, and Europe. The Prophet Mohammad described the healing powers of the Black Seeds against a variety of diseases. According to common Islamic and Arabic belief, Habbatul Barakah is a remedy for all ailments (universal healer). Black Seed is also mentioned as the curative “black cumin” in the Holy Bible and is described as Melanthion by Hippocrates and Dioscorides and as Gith by Pliny.

Phytochemical studies of black seed showed the presence of100+ constituents. Many of these compounds have not yet been chemically identified. They have analgesic, antilipemic, postcoital contraceptive, diuretic, antihypertensive, bronchodilator, calcium antagonist, histamine release inhibitor, hepatoprotective, anthelmintic, antifungal, antimicrobial (against a wide range of organisms), anti-ulcer, anticancer and anti-inflammatory activities. It is an immensely powerful seed which can kill MRSA, heal the chemical weapon poisoned body and stimulate regeneration of the dying beta cells within the diabetic's pancreas

Black seeds are useful for a wide range of ailments, including fever, cough, bronchitis, asthma, depression, chronic headache, migraine, dizziness, chest congestion, dysmenorrhoea, obesity, diabetes, paralysis, parasites and worms, hemiplagia, back pain, infection, inflammation, rheumatism, hypertension and gastrointestinal problems such as dyspepsia, flatulence, dysentery and diarrhoea. It has been used as a stimulant, diuretic, emmenagogue, lactagogue, anthelmintic, and carminative. Black Seed is also used externally where it is applied directly to abscesses, nasal ulcers, orchitis, eczema, boils and swollen joints.

Researchers found in some cases that black seeds kill pancreatic cancer cells. The studies also showed they can block the growth of the cancer cells.

The Nigella Sativa black seeds are very nutrient rich. They contain dozens of nutrients including magnesium, zinc, calcium, and almost every major vitamin. It's been found to increase energy levels, cure vaginal infections and lower blood pressure. When used medicinally, Nigella Sativa is usually reduced to an oil and often eaten with honey. The seeds are mixed together with honey and eaten as a tasty snack food. It's a delicious way to get a huge portion of the daily nutrients and vitamins the body needs.

Black seeds contain alfa-pinene, arachidic acid, argenine, beta-pinene, carotene,  linoleic acid (omega 6), linolenic acid (omega 3) myristic acid, nigellone, oleic acid, p-cymene, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, protein, sabinene, stearic acid, thymoquinone, vitamin B1 (thiamine) , vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin C, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.

For headaches, rub 1/2 teaspoon of oil on the forehead. Also place 3-4 drops of oil in the nose. Do this 3 times a day. Also digest 1 teaspoon of the oil mixed with honey at midday.

For cancer mix 1 teaspoon of the Nigella Sativa oil with 1 teaspoon of honey. Eat this mixture one hour before the first meal and right before going to bed. Eat 4 to 5 cloves of garlic each day in conjunction with the oil and honey.

For urinary infections, parasites and worms, take one teaspoon of blacks seed powder or oil per day and the infection should be gone within a few days.

For parasites and worms, take one teaspoon of black seed powder with honey and drink three times a day, one hour before meals and one before bed. Eat four to five cloves of garlic each day in conjunction with the black seed and honey.

Black Walnut Hulls (Juglans nigra, carya, Jupiter's nuts)

Black walnut hulls contain a substance which helps the body eliminate parasites. Although this is the primary purpose of this herb, it is also used for poison oak, ringworm and skin ailments. It has antifungal properties and is also said to promote bowel regularity.

Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus, Carbenia benedicta, St. Benedict thistle, holy thistle, spotted thistle, cardin, carduus benedictus)

Blessed thistle acts as a general tonic to the female reproductive system, as well as helping to balance the hormones. It contains cnicin and polyacetylene constituents which have been shown to have effective antibacterial activities against Bacillus subtilis, Brucella species, Escherichia coli, Proteus species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis. It also contains anti-inflammatory lignans.

Blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis, Bloodwort, Coon Root, Indian Plant, Indian Red Paint, Pauson, Red Indian Paint, Red Puccoon, Red Root, Sang-Dragon, Sang de Dragon, Sanguinaire, Sanguinaire du Canada, Sanguinaria, Sanguinaria canadensis, Snakebite, Sweet Slumber, Tetterwort)

The root of this plant has powerful antibacterial properties and is used to cause vomiting and empty the bowels. It is also used to treat achy joints and muscles (rheumatism), croup, fever, hoarseness (laryngitis), Lyme disease and syphilis bacterial infections, nasal polyps, poor circulation in the surface blood vessels, reduce tooth pain, sore throat (pharyngitis) and warts.

Bluebell (Agraphis nutans, Scilla nutans, auld man's bell, calverkeys, endymion, culverkeys, jacinth, ring-o'-bells, wild hyacinth, wood bells)

Although the bluebell is poisonous, the bulb, dried and powdered, has been used in the past to help prevent nightmares, cure leprosy, tuberculosis, treat spider-bites and as a styptic (which stops bleeding by contracting the bleed vessels and tissue) for leucorrhoea and a diuretic. The dose should not exceed three grains.

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides, squaw root, papoose root, blue ginseng, yellow ginseng)

Blue cohosh nutritionally supports the female reproductive system. It was used by native Americans to treat menstrual cramps, to suppress profuse menstruation and to induce contractions in labour

NOTE: Blue cohosh should be taken with caution as it can cause an allergic reaction. Pregnant women should avoid this herb.

Blue Flag ( Iris versicolor, blue iris, dragon lily, flag lily, fleur-de-lis, harlequin blue flag, iris ivy, liver lily, poison flag, snake lily, water flag, wild iris)

Native Americans used the root of this plant to make poultices to treat skin cuts and burns and chewed it to protect themselves against rattle snake bites. It is also used as a laxative and to relieve fluid retention and bloating. Other uses are to treat chronic rheumatism, colic, enlargement of the thyroid gland, pelvic inflammatory ailments, skin disorders, swelling (inflammation) and weight gain. Some people also use it for liver disorders and to increase bile production.

The medicinal compounds in blue flag are iridin, isophthalic acids, resin, salicylic acids, tannins, triterpenoids and volatile oils.

NOTE: Blue flag can have side effects such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and watery eyes and should never be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women or children.

Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata, Verbena azul, Verbena officinalis, enchanter’s plant, herb of the cross, devil's medicine, bastard balm, juno’s tears, pigeon’s grass, pigeonweed, simpler’s joy, herb of grace, holy herb, iron-weed, wild verbena, wild hyssop)

This herb was one of the most revered used by the Druids. It was called hiera botane (sacred plant) by the Romans, who used it to purify their homes and temples

Blue vervain nourishes the digestive, nervous and respiratory systems. It helps the body maintain balance during the winter season and fortifies it against the organisms which promote flu, coughs and colds. This herb acts as a diaphoretic, which means that it helps the body eliminate toxins through the pores by stimulating perspiration.

Blue vervain contains aucubin and oleanolic acid which help to protect the gall bladder and liver. It also has mild analgesic and sedative properties that can assist with recovery from injury and surgery. It also contains verbascoside which can inhibit the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Poultices made from the aerial parts of the plant, particularly the flowers, can be used to heal wounds and prevent infections.

NOTE: Blue vervain is not suitable for pregnant women although it is good during labour as it is a uterine stimulant. Avoid if suffering from heart disease. Excessive consumption of blue vervain can cause abdominal pain, convulsions, diarrhoea and vomiting so care must be taken.

Bolaina or Mutamba Bark (Guazuma ulmifolia)

This Amazonian plant is regarded as astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, emollient, pectoral, refrigerant, stomachic, styptic and sudorific. It is used for alopecia, asthma, bronchitis, dermatitis, diarrhoea, dysentery, elephantiasis, fever, hepatitis, syphilis, leprosy, malaria and nephritis.

Borage (Borago oficinalis, Echium amoenum)

Borage is a medium-sized, bushy plant that grows prolifically in the UK. Native to the area around the Mediterranean Sea, the borage plant is now found in various mild and warm climate zones. Borage has wrinkled dark green leaves but is covered in soft bristles. Borage has brilliant blue flowers which are present for most of the summer and early fall. The flowers have been used to create blue dye. Borage oil is derived from the seeds of the borage plant.

Fresh borage flowers have been shown in studies to contain highly effective antibacterial agents against Staphylococcus aureus.

Borage oil contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is a fatty acid the body converts to a material called prostaglandin which has anti-inflammatory properties that are believed to act as blood thinners and blood vessel dilators. Borage seed oil is 20 to 26% GLA, a very rich source of gamma linolenic acid.

Borage oil also contains tannin anti-oxidants that protect the brain and neurons from oxidative stress. The combination of GLA and tannin anti-oxidants improves blood supply into the brain which provides more oxygen and nutrition into this vital structure.

While scientific studies are not conclusive, some studies indicate that borage oil can reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and is useful for people with atopic dermatitis (eczema). For the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the amounts of GLA from borage used has been recommended at 1.4 to 2.8 grams daily for at least two months.

Topically, 0.5 ml of borage oil may be applied to areas of seborrhoea daily for two weeks, and then three times a week until the condition is stable. Similarly it may be applied to areas of fungal infections.

Furry grey/green leaves with cucumber flavour. Leaves used in salads, iced drinks and vegetables. Beautiful blue bell-shaped flowers can be used as garnish in fruit cups, Pimms and salads. Magical properties are courage and psychic powers. A tea made from borage induces psychic powers.

Borage is attractive to bees and butterflies and prefers full sun. Sow borage seeds outdoors every month for a continual harvest of fresh leaves and flowers. Borage is excellent to grow alongside tomatoes and helps to improve a strawberry crop.

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata, Indian frankincense)

Boswellia is a tree with fragrant resin that has powerful anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties that can rapidly alleviate pain especially that caused by osteoarthritis. In the case of people affected by arthritis, Boswellia is able to improve pain, mobility, and joint flexion after eight weeks of treatment. It can also help to boost the immune system and fight off infections.

Bo Tree Figs (Ficus religiosa, ashwattha tree, bodhi tree, peepal tree, pippala tree)

The bo tree is a large fig tree that grows in the southern parts of Asia. The tree is holy to Buddhists and is used ritually and medicinally. The bo tree’s figs contain the greatest amount of serotonin when compared to all other figs and is able to significantly inhibit epileptic seizures by increasing the amount of serotonin that nerve cells transmit.

Bulrush (Scirpus fluviatilis, river bulrush)

The dried tubers of the bulrush are used in Chinese medicine to reduce flatulence and remove uterine fibroids. Bulrush can also be used to treat bladder and kidney stones, coronary heart disease, ectopic pregnancy, hemiplegia after a stroke, malignant tumours, pelvic inflammatory disease and thrombosis. The bulrush tubers are particularly effective when consumed with white turmeric (Curcuma zedoaria) and Chinese rhubarb root.

NOTE: Because bulrush can cause increased menstrual flow it should never be consumed during pregnancy, skipped periods caused by anaemia or when there is a heavy menstrual flow.

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

This plant needs moist ground and is able to grow without shade. The root of the burdock plant is an excellent blood purifier and detoxifier. Very few, if any, herbs possess more curative powers equal this one. It has ancient history as a reliable herbal aid for blood disorders, ulcers and tumours. It also nutritionally supports joints and other skeletal tissues and the urinary and respiratory systems. It promotes glandular and hormone balance and removes accumulations and deposits around the joints. it is also helpful for treating cancer, dyspeptic complaints, leprosy, liver and gall bladder problems, neurologic disorders, scrofula, syphilis and throat and chest ailments and expels toxic products from the blood through the urine. It contains polyacetylenes that gives the herb its antibacterial and antifungal properties and it also has anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help to repair done to the liver by alcohol.

It is also an appetite stimulant and can control blood sugar and cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate and weight and can help to prevent muscle wasting.

Place a tablespoon of chopped burdock root into one pint of boiled cold water. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Strain, cool, keep in a cold place and drink four times a day. This tea can also be used as a skin and face wash. Apply the cooled tea to the skin with a clean facecloth and rinse in cool water.

Dose for adults. A wineglassful (2 oz) 3 or 4 times a day. For children, less according to age.

Western and Chinese herbal medicine both use burdock in the methods of detoxification. Its root is commonly used for treating ‘toxic overload’ that leads to throat infections and skin ailments such as:

The leaves can also be crumpled and the seeds crushed to treat bruises, burns, ulcers and sores topically.

Burdock root is very low in calories; 72 calories per 100 g, and a good source of non-starch polysaccharides such as inulin, glucoside-lappin, mucilage, etc. It also contains high amounts of electrolyte potassium and is low in sodium. It also contains many vital vitamins, including vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.

NOTE: Burdock root may trigger allergic reactions in people with allergies to ragweed, daisies or chrysanthemums (from the same plant family).

Butcher's Broom (Ruscus aculeatus, knee holly, box holly, sweet broom)

The butcher's broom plant gets its name because it was once used by butchers in Europe to clean their chopping blocks. It has a long history of traditional use for haemorrhoids and varicose veins. It is often used when there is underlying poor circulation in the veins.

Butcher's broom extract contains anti-inflammatory and vein-constricting properties that are believed to improve the tone and integrity of veins and shrink the swollen tissue. The active compound is called ruscogen.

It is taken in tea form and has a slightly bitter taste, so honey can be used to sweeten it. The tea can be made by steeping one teaspoon of the herb in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.

Butchers broom has also been shown to be effective when applied topically as an ointment or compress.

NOTE: Butcher's broom should not be used by people with high blood pressure, benign prostatic hyperplasia, by pregnant or nursing women or by people taking alpha blocker or antidepressant, monoamine oxidase (mao) inhibitor drugs

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)

A perennial wild flower/herb with lilac-pink flower heads and large rhubarb like leaves mainly found on river banks, streams and in damp woods. The leaves were once used to wrap butter. This plant has been used as a herb as far back as the Iron Age. The leaves and roots can be used fresh or dried, used to treat coughs and respiratory infections as a poultice.

NOTE: Not recommended for internal use due to toxic alkaloids.

C

 

Calendula See Marigold

Camphor (Cinnamonum camphora, Dryobalanops camphora)

Camphor has stimulant, antispasmodic, antiseptic, decongestant, anaesthetic, sedative, anti-neuralgic, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant and insecticide properties. Camphor oil is an effective stimulant, which boosts the activity of the circulatory system, metabolism, digestion, secretion and excretion.

The strong, penetrating aroma of camphor oil is a powerful decongestant which immediately relieves congestion of the bronchi, larynx, pharynx, nasal tracts and lungs.

It also acts as a good anaesthetic and is very effective for local anaesthesia. It causes numbness of the sensory nerves at the area of application.

It also reduces the severity of nervous disorders and convulsions, epileptic attacks, nervousness and chronic anxiety and gives immediate relief from spasms and cramps. It is also effective at curing extreme spasmodic cholera.

Being a detoxifier and a stimulant for circulatory system, camphor oil excites blood circulation and gives relief to rheumatic conditions, arthritis and gout. The cooling and penetrating effects of camphor oil make it an anti-inflammatory and sedative agent. It is very helpful in curing nearly all types of inflammation, both internal and external.

It is also beneficial in the treatment of hysteria, viral diseases like whooping cough, measles, flu, food poisoning, infections of the reproductive organs and insect bites.

Camphor oil is an excellent disinfectant, insecticide and germicide. It can be added to drinking water to disinfect it, particularly during the summer and in rainy seasons when there is a higher chance of water becoming infected. An open bottle or container of camphor oil, or burning a piece of cloth soaked in camphor oil, drives away insects and kills germs. A drop or two of camphor oil, mixed with a large quantity of food grains, keep those food items safe from insects. Camphor is also used in many medical preparations such as ointments and lotion to cure skin diseases, as well as bacterial and fungal infections of the skin. When mixed into bathing water, camphor oil disinfects the whole body externally and kills lice or other small parasites or bugs.

Camphor oil, when consumed, boosts the libido by stimulating those portions of the brain which are responsible for sexual desires and urges. When externally applied, it helps to cure erectile problems by increasing blood circulation in the affected parts, since it is a powerful stimulant.

Some of the active components of camphor are alcohol, borneol, pinene, camphene, camphor, terpene and safrol.

NOTE: It does have some narcotic effects, since it temporarily desensitizes the nerves and relaxes the brain. It can also make a person lose control over their limbs if taken in excess, since it impacts brain function. The smell and consumption of camphor oil is addictive so caution should be taken.

CAUTION: Camphor oil is toxic and can be fatally poisonous if ingested in excess. Even two grams can be lethal. Ingestion of a slight overdose can manifest symptoms of poisoning, including extreme thirst, vomiting and a drop in body temperature. It’s always important to remember that a substance which is toxic for insects can be toxic in high enough doses for human beings as well.

Cape ash (Ekebergia capensis)

In studies, the cape ash tree bark and stems have shown potent antimicrobial properties against Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and the Candida albicans fungi due to its phenolic compounds and tannins.

Capers (Capparis spinosa)

Capers are the unripe flower buds of a prickly, perennial plant which is native to the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia. They render special taste to vegetable, meat, veal and fish (especially along with anchovy sauce) recipes and can add good flavour to brine pickles.

They are the second richest source of phytosterols after lettuce. Consuming foods rich in phytosterols promotes cardiovascular health by lowering LDL cholesterol levels, inhibits breast, colon and prostate cancers and reduce inflammation and improves urinary tract symptoms related to benign prostatic hyperplasia (noncancerous enlargement of the prostate).

They contain good levels of vitamin A, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin K, calcium, copper and iron.

Capers are also very rich source of quercetin (180 mg/100g) second only to the tea leaf which gives them anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

They also contain a high level of rutin which strengthen capillaries and inhibits platelet clump formation in the blood vessels. Both these actions of rutin help in smooth circulation of blood in very small vessels. They are a useful addition to the diet for those suffering with haemorrhoids, varicose veins and in bleeding conditions such as haemophilia.

They can also reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals and relieve rheumatic pain. They are also an appetite stimulant and can relieve stomach ache and flatulence conditions.

NOTE: Their use should be limited in during pregnancy. Patients undergoing any surgical intervention should avoid them as they act as a blood thinner and may result in excessive bleeding.

Caraway Seeds (Carum carvi)

A member of parsley or Umbelliferae family that includes herbs and spices such as dill, anise, fennel, cumin, etc. 100 g of caraway seeds provide 38 g of fibre which binds to toxins in the food and helps protect the colon mucus membrane from cancers and bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) decreasing their re-absorption in colon which helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Caraway contains compounds carvone, limonene, carveol, pinen, cumuninic aldehyde, furfurol, and thujone. These active principles in the caraway seeds are known to have antioxidant, digestive, carminative, and anti-flatulent properties.

They also contain lutein, zeaxanthin, carotene and cryptoxanthin. These compounds are powerful anti-oxidants that remove harmful free radicals from the body protecting it from cancers, infection, aging and degenerative neurological diseases. They also provide vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). They are also a good source of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium and zinc.

Caraway seeds are used as a spice in sauerkraut and brine pickles

Caraway seed tea can be used to treat flatulence, indigestion, colds, coughs, bronchitis, irritable bowel syndrome and colic in infants.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)

Cardamom is often used to treat indigestion, heart burn, flatulence and soothes upset stomachs. It warms the body and is good for diarrhoea, colic and headaches.  It is an important ingredient in Chai tea, an Indian spice valued for its warm, stimulating effects. To make this tea, mix one teaspoon of ginger, add seven peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, five cloves, and 15 cardamom seeds and heat in one pint of water, simmering for 10-minutes.  Then add one-half cup of milk and simmer for another 10-minutes.  Add a sprinkle of nutmeg and a few drops of vanilla extract.  Drink one cup of the tea, sweetened with honey, twice per day or as needed for warmth.

Cardamom also flushes toxins from the body (especially caffeine) and increases blood circulation. It is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-carcinogenic. Its sweet aroma makes it a natural breathe freshener. Cardamom is a good for cardiovascular health because it reduces the formation of blood clots while lowering blood pressure. Cardamom can be combined with fennel and aniseed for a nutritious detoxifying tea.

It is an outstanding source of manganese, one teaspoon of cardamom holds 26% of the daily value.

Cardamom can also be combined with fennel and anise for a detoxifying tea.

Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana, sacred bark)

Cascara is used to help the body relieve constipation. It also nutritionally supports the stomach, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. It is cleansing, as well as nourishing, to the colon. It is also known to assist with digestion, and help the body to eliminate worms and parasites. Cascara bark contains polyphenols and tannins that have shown antimicrobial properties against bacteria, fungi and viruses

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Catnip nourishes the stomach and nerves. It calms the nervous system and is used also for digestion. Catnip is also said to help ease symptoms of the flu such as nausea and diarrhoea. Growing catnip near to the home can repel mosquitoes.

Cats Claw (Uncaria tomentosa, uña de gato, samento)

Cat's claw, has a long history of use in Peru for a host of conditions including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, diseases that effect the immune system and infections. The highly effective properties contained in the inner bark of the cat's claw plant have demonstrated, through centuries of usage dating back to the time of the ancient Incas, to have a profound and positive influence on the body's defence system.

Studies conducted since the 1970s at research clinics in Peru, Austria, Germany, England, Hungary and Italy validate the traditional usage and indicates that this herb may be beneficial in ameliorating a host of modern day afflictions which have no answers from the orthodox medical arena. It is known to help nutritionally support the body's defence, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems through its antioxidant and repairing properties.

Cancer patients taking cat's claw, in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation treatments, have fewer side effects like hair loss, nausea, secondary infections and weight loss. Components in cat's claw can also aid in DNA cellular repair and prevent cells from mutating. They can also help prevent loss of white blood cells and immune cell damage caused by many chemotherapy drugs.

Cat's Claw is the most sacred herbs herb among the Ashaninkas, Campo and some other Amazonian tribes. According to indigenous Shamans Uña de gato serves as a bridge and balancer between the two worlds "physical and spiritual"; they believe in spiritual causes of ill health, they believe that firstly the soul becomes ill then the body, the sacred balance/unity is broken, and Uña de gato is helping to unify the two. They believe that greed and anger often causes cancer and fear causes asthma, etc.

Cattle Tongue (Pluchea carolinensis, cure-for-all, goat tongue, guerit-tout, ram goat bush, ovra bla, salvia, sauge rouge, sourbush, sweet scent, tabak djab, tabac zombie, wild tobacco, zówèy mouten)

Cattle tongue Is a plant native to the Caribbean and Africa. It has several herbal applications including aromatic baths, control of fever, treatment of uterine fibroids, relief of sore throat and stomach pain, poultices for wounds and skin ulcers, as an analgesic and for the treatment of the mosquito borne infections such as chikungunya and malaria.

Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum anuum) See Chilli Pepper

Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus, birch mushroom, cinder conk)

Rather than soft like a mushroom, chaga is hard, almost as hard as wood. It is unique, nothing like common mushrooms. In fact, chaga is the most nutritionally dense of all tree growths. Known by the Siberians as the “Gift from God” and the “Mushroom of Immortality,” this vibrant growth has been used by humans to support health for thousands of years. The Japanese call it “The Diamond of the Forest,” while the Chinese deem it “King of Plants.” For the Chinese that is saying a lot, since they have an immense history with countless plants.

Chaga is powerful, because it contains the nutrients of actual trees. Because of their special, biologically potent substances, trees live long, far longer than herbs. Some trees live as long as 10,000 years or more. Thus, they are the most powerful living beings in the world. Concentrating this power, chaga contains numerous B vitamins, flavonoids, phenols, minerals and enzymes. It is also one of the world’s densest sources of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) needed by the adrenal glands as well as digestive organs. It also contains vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin) in significant amounts.

In particular, it is highly rich in special phenols which are pigment-like. These phenolic compounds are known as chromogenic complex. Chaga can be up to 30% chromogenic complex by weight. The chromogenic complex is highly protective for all tissues and is only found in chaga. In the cream base it is highly protective of the skin. Rubbed on the skin it even helps people develop a tan, because it contains the pigment melanin, the same pigment responsible for dark coloured skin. Chaga contains wild source minerals and is particularly high in calcium, copper, iron, manganese, potassium and zinc. Yet, its most potent ingredient is a special substance known as superoxide dismutase. This is an enzyme with great potency. Its function is to halt oxidation, especially the toxicity of a free radical known as singlet oxygen. This is the type of oxygen which is responsible for oxidizing and damaging the tissues, which results in aging. It is the same oxygen which rusts a nail. Superoxide dismutase blocks this damage by quenching the singlet oxygen free radical. The superoxide dismutase content per gram of chaga is exceedingly high and accounts for many of its historical powers.

Chaga is a health food which supports the entire system. The Siberians drink it daily. This is why they are long-lived. The chaga drinker lives 85 to 100 years, while the non chaga-drinking person, the Inuit, lives only about 50 years. This proves that natural phytonutrients, found in chaga, do make a difference. Yet, there is more traditional use that offers evidence. Ancient Chinese regarded it as a longevity factor, which is why they deemed it the most complete of all growths. Japanese and Koreans use it regularly, and look how powerful they are today. In much of Siberia, Russia and Eastern Europe it is an essential beverage. Chaga has been used as an essential whole food supplement for many years by Russia’s long-lived peasants, as well as long-lived villagers of Japan and Korea. These village people consume it as a daily beverage. They prefer it over common drinks such as tea and coffee.

Because of its cleansing properties, in primitive Siberia the chaga drink was known as “soup water,” although its taste is like a pleasant combination of tea and coffee. It is one of Russia’s state secrets for power and strength and was heavily used by champion Russian athletes, who defeated all others. The Russians discovered that certain plants help the body fight the effects of stress and disease. They called these plants adaptogens. They discovered that chaga is the most potent adaptogen known in the fight against premature aging and for prevention of serious diseases.

Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita, Roman chamomile, ground apple, whig plant)

Chamomile is a very easy herb to grow and does not require feeding in good soils. Some people use one species instead of a lawn for a green covering. Chamomile tea is made from the dried flower heads of the chamomile plant.

Chamomile is rich in aldehydes and sequiterpene that soothe the nerves and stomach. It also has components that support the respiratory tract and helps alleviate discomfort associated with menstrual problems. It is also useful for treating gastrointestinal disorders, hay fever, inflammation, insomnia, muscle spasms, and rheumatic pain. Its antimicrobial agents, such as anthemic and phenolic acid, can also inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori in the intestines and other microbes such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Salmonella typhimurium, Staphylococci aureus and parasitic worms (helminths). The coumarins in chamomile are also antiviral agents.

Three cups of chamomile tea a day will provide these benefits. To make tea, use about a teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers per cup. In the summer, ice cubes can be made to make a fresh iced tea. Freshly harvested chamomile can be used for tea as well, but will need twice as many flowers. Drying concentrates, the oil and flavour. Externally, chamomile tea can be used as a wash on the skin for inflammations and skin diseases.

Chancapuedra (Phyllanthus niruri)

This Amazonian plant is effective in eliminating bladder, gall and kidney stones. It has anodyne, aperitif, carminative, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, laxative, stomachic, anti-hepatotoxic, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, diuretic, febrifugal and vermifuge properties. It is used for blennorrhagia, colic, diabetes, dropsy, dysentery, dyspepsia, fever, flu, gonorrhoea, itch, jaundice, kidney problems, malaria, proctitis, tumours, vaginitis and stomach ache.

Chaparral Leaf (Larrea tridentata)

The resin extracted from the chaparral leaf can help to detoxify the liver and aids with fat metabolism and can help to detoxify the body of heavy metals and other toxins. Concentrated chaparral leaf resin has been shown to have significant anti-viral and antioxidant activity especially against the Epstein Barr virus. Natural ingredients from the leaf resin inhibit viral replication by at least three documented mechanisms. At least two of the active ingredients act to inhibit the activity of a certain gene promoter that is important for viral replication. When they inhibit this promoter, the appropriate gene cannot work and the viruses cannot replicate.

The lignans and nordihydroguaiaretic acid in chaparral leaves are potent agents against bacteria that can infect the skin.

NOTE: Chaparral leaf should not be used by pregnant or lactating (nursing) women or children under age 12. People have had or may have had liver disease or who are taking any over-the-counter or prescription medication on a regular basis should consult a physician before taking chaparral leaf. Discontinue use if any unusual symptoms such as nausea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain or jaundice (e.g. dark urine, yellow discolouration of the eyes or skin) should occur.

Chasteberry  (Vitex agnus castus, chaste tree)

Chasteberry is a flowering plant and is popular as a women’s herb. One of the foremost causes of hirsutism is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Just like saw palmetto berry the standardised extract of Chaste tree also has anti-androgenic properties. Primarily used as a herbal remedy for PCOS, chasteberry extract can also cure hirsutism when the underlying cause is PCOS. It acts on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands and increases the production of luteinizing hormone (LH). This mildly inhibits the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). As a result progesterone hormone increases as compared to oestrogen hormone in the body. Thus, chaste tree extract balances the right hormones essential for women, treats their menstrual problems related to PCOS and in the process also removes unwanted facial and other body hair.

Chaste berry, taken two to four times daily, often shrinks small uterine fibroids within two months.

Chaste tree extract is available in tincture as well as capsule form. As far as daily dose of chasteberry extract is concerned, the general guideline states that you should take 175 mg of this extract which is standardised to contain 0.6% agusides. However, because this herb affects the female hormone levels, it is strictly advised that a qualified naturopathic doctor is consulted to get the exact dosage for the specific problem.

This herb, like most of the other herbal remedies, takes time to show its effect. Before drawing any conclusion about its positive effect on unwanted body hair, take this extract for 2-6 months.

NOTE: Pregnant and nursing women should not take any herbal extract without consulting their doctor. Chaste tree herb can also interfere with certain antipsychotic drugs and medications for Parkinson's disease.

Chebulic myrobalan (Terminalia cebula, Haritaki, ink tree)

Chebulic myrobalan is a common plant in India and in Ayurvedic medicine, it is said to be the mother of all herbs for its many health benefits. The outer skin of the fruit is dried and powdered to use for the following ailments.

Asthma, bleeding gums, constipation, diarrhoea, digestive disorders, dysentery, colon disorders, coughs, headaches, heart disorders, haemorrhoids, rheumatism, sinusitis, sore throat, urinary disorders and for swelling and blood impurities and viral infections such as mumps. Its fruit made into a paste with water is anti-inflammatory, analgesic and has a purifying and healing capacity for wounds

It is also used as a safe and effective laxative in dose of 2-3 teaspoonfuls at bedtime.

Chestnut leaf extract (Castanea sativa)

Leaves of the European chestnut contain ursene and oleanene compounds (pentacyclic triterpenes) that have the power to block the virulence and pathogenesis of Staphylococcus aureus without detectable resistance. It works by taking away the bacteria’s weapons which effectively stops the ability of the bacteria to create toxins that cause serious tissue damage.

The Staphylococcus aureus bacteria communicate with one another, a process known as quorum sensing, and uses this quorum-sensing signalling system to manufacture toxins and ramp up its virulence. The extracts from the chestnut leaf block this and does it without harming skin cells or disturbing the normal beneficial bacteria that reside on the skin. It is an effective weapon against MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

NOTE: The chestnut should not be confused with the horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Chickweed (Stellaria media, stitchwort)

Chick weed is a herb that helps the body eliminate mucus and fatty plaque from the system. It nourishes the gastrointestinal areas and has soothing properties. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties, especially against hepatitis B and is a natural blood cleanser and addresses fat accumulations. It can also be used as a topical remedy for skin conditions including cuts, eczema, irritation, itching, irritation, psoriasis and wounds.

Chilli Pepper (Capsicum anuum)

Chilli pepper is a gift to humanity because it has more health benefits than any other food or herb on earth. There are over 3000 scientific studies listed in the National Library of Medicine to support the use of chilli pepper in preventing and reversing many common health ailments. It is miraculous that this simple fruit has healing benefits for a wide assortment of ailments. It has been used as a food, a spice and an herbal medicine for over 9000 years.

A fresh chilli pepper is nutrient rich and contains: carbohydrate, starch, protein, fibre, vitamin C, beta carotene, pectin, chlorogenic acid, capsaicin, histadine, beta carotene, iron, phosphorus, and calcium. Chilli peppers are also low in fat and contain the right kind of fat: 66% of the fat as linoleic and 5% as linolenic acid which are two essential fats in the diet of humans. Capsaicin, has been proven to protect DNA and cells from attack by toxic molecules such as from tobacco and other toxins. It can also prevent cancer by inhibiting the transformation of cells which eventually form cancer.

The following are just some of the conditions which cayenne is used to treat: stops bleeding (internally or externally), allergies, arthritis, asthma, blood circulation problems, congestive heart failure, cancer prevention, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, obesity, osteoarthritis, colds and flu, constipation, haemorrhoids and diabetes.

Chilli pepper is a pepper well known for its benefits to the circulatory system. It aids the body to balance pressure levels and resist abnormal bleeding. It also nourishes the digestive system. This plant assists in the body's utilisation of other herbs, when used in any herbal combination. When applied topically, it helps relieve minor discomfort.

Considered a superior crisis herb, useful as a first aid remedy for most conditions.  Taken as a daily tonic, one-quarter teaspoon three times daily, it is beneficial for the heart and circulation, preventing heart attack, strokes, colds, flu, diminished vitality, headaches, indigestion, depression and arthritis

Chilli pepper is hot, but it not harmful. It may be difficult to swallow for a beginning user. Cayenne powder can be rubbed on toothaches, swellings and inflammations. A remedy for arthritis is to rub a little chilli pepper over the inflamed joint and wrap a flannel around it to remain throughout the night. The pain is usually relieved by morning. 

A little chilli pepper on a banana skin placed on the skin with a bandage will remarkably draw out any foreign object (splinters, etc) embedded in the flesh.

For Health Maintenance: Put a quarter teaspoon of chilli pepper in water or juice and drink it 1-3 times a day. You can slowly increase the dosage.

Chilli has powerful antiseptic and fast healing properties and for a bleeding injury liberally flush the wound with a chilli pepper tincture or pack with chilli powder and apply pressure to the wound.  Depending on the severity of the bleeding, also take 1-10 droppers full of the tincture in a few ounces of water in the mouth or just put directly into the mouth.

Chinaberry Tree (Melia azedarach)

The chinaberry is a deciduous tree in the Meliaceae, or Mahogany Family with purplish, reddish bark. It is able to grow to 50 feet in height.  Like the English yew tree and the aak and datura plants it is poisonous and should be treated with extreme care. It is a sacred tree in Iran, Malaysia, India and Pakistan, and is revered like the Neem tree. The Baikan is a fast-growing shade tree, which doesn’t usually last for many more than twenty years.  Even though the tree’s parts are poisonous medical preparations are prepared by the traditional healers, or hakims, who know exactly what they are doing.

The leaves and flowers are used to relieve nervous headaches, applied in a poultice, while the leaves, bark and fruit are natural insect repellents. The oil extracted from the seeds is used for rheumatism and extract of the bark is given for asthma. A decoction of the leaves is used to treat skin problems such as eczema, acne and ulcers as they have antiseptic qualities.

The berries produce a highly inflammable gas which gives a clear light and the roots produce oil which can also be used for lighting. The hakims use the oil to promote hair growth and it is applied to bald spots. It has proved to have antiviral properties and to be good at ridding the body of tapeworms.

The antiviral properties come from the meliacine extracted from the leaves. Extracts from the tree have also shown that it can be used as an alternative to pharmaceutical medication for the HSV-2 genital infection. It may even have anti-cancer properties, but this is far from conclusive as yet.

Chinese rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum, Rheum rhaponticum, R. palmatum, Rhizoma rhe, false rhubarb, garden rhubarb, India rhubarb, pieplant, sweet round-leaved dock, Turkey rhubarb)

Chinese rhubarb root has been used for over two thousand years as a mild, yet effective, laxative. It supports good colon health by cleansing it and treating constipation; and in smaller doses, its astringents ease diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. It also helps to modify the process of nutrition and excretion and restore normal bodily function, acting to thoroughly cleanse and stimulate the efficient removal of waste products from the system. It not only cleanses the intestinal tract and blood, but it is also cleanses the liver by encouraging bile flow. The herb is also said to enhance and improve gallbladder function and relieve both liver and gallbladder complaints by releasing an accumulation of toxins.

As an antimicrobial, it is used to treat internal pinworms, threadworms and ringworm. The herb stimulates the uterus and is thought to move stagnated blood, which also helps to relieve pains and cramps and premenstrual tension.

Chinese rhubarb root has antibacterial, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, which have made it useful for both internal and external inflammation and infection, skin eruptions, boils and carbuncles, etc. and to promote the healing of acne, dandruff, eczema, poison ivy, poison oak, psoriasis, wounds, cold sores and burns. The anthraquinones in rhubarb can create virucidal activity against HSV I, measles, polio and the influenza virus. Rhubarb is also used for its positive effect on the mouth and nasal cavity.

Mix 1 teaspoon of rhubarb powder to 1 cup of water. Then, bring to boil and simmer at a reduced heat for 10 minutes. Add a little honey to sweeten.

NOTE:
Not recommended for long term use.

NOTE: Not suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women, children under twelve years of age, those who suffer from colitis or have intestinal obstruction or have a history of renal stones or urinary problems, or if taking anticoagulant (blood thinning) medicine or aspirin.

Chinese yam (Dioscorea polystachya)

The Chinese yam is easily grown in fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny area and it is the roots and leaves that are used in Chinese medicine. The roots contain diosgenin, which can be used to produce steroids such as oestrogen and progesterone. People who suffer from gall bladder, kidney, lung, spleen and stomach disorders can find it very useful for their condition. It also provides a positive effect on the kidneys, lungs and skin. Conditions it can be used to treat are asthma, diabetes, diarrhoea, digestive disorders, dry coughs, fatigue, frequent urination, hot flushes, lack of appetite, menstrual and menopause disorders, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. It can also help with emotional imbalances and can help to regain weight lost due to illness.

Chinese yam contains allantoin, a natural compound that can accelerate the growth of healthy tissue and reduce healing time and can be used externally to treat boils, snake bites and scorpion stings (the leaf only) and ulcers and abscesses.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Chives belong to the onion family and contain more than 80% water. They are fairly high in protein and carbohydrate content, rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus and sulphur. They are stimulating to the digestive system, valuable as a blood cleanser and exercise a strong diuretic action. Chives have natural antibacterial qualities that can eliminate a wide range of bacteria, particularly those in the Salmonella family. They are also antifungal and antiviral and the juice from the leaves can be used as an insect repellent.

NOTE: Drinking beer should be avoided if consuming chives as it may cause undue discomfort because beer has a very strong disintegrating effect on the kidneys.

Chuchuhuasi (Maytenus macrocarpa)

A bark maceration of chuchuhuasi is considered anti-diarrheic, anti-arthritic, anti-tumour, a menstrual regulator and good for upset stomach. Its main use is in a cordial or liquor. A bark decoction is used for dysentery. Chuchuhuasi is probably the best known of all Amazon jungle remedies. In Peru it used as aphrodisiac, anti-rheumatic and a muscle relaxant medicine.

Cinchona Bark (Cinchona ledgeriana, Cinchona succirubra, Quinaquina officinalis, Quinaquina lancifolia, Quinaquina coccinea, Bois aux Fièvres, calisaya bark, China bark, Cinchona calisaya, Cinchona carabayensis, Cinchona ledgeriana, Cinchona officinalis, Cinchona pubescens, Cinchona succirubra, Chinarinde, Cinchonine, Écorce du Pérou, Écorce de Quina, Écorce de Quinquina Rouge, Fever tree, Fieberrinde, Jesuit's Bark, Kina-Kina, Peruvian Bark, Poudre des Jésuites, Quina, Quinine bark, Quino, Quinquina, Quinquina Gris, Quinquina Rouge, Red Cinchona Bark)

The cinchona contains about forty species of trees that grow 15-20 meters in height and produce pink, white or yellow flowers. All cinchonas are indigenous to the eastern slopes of the Amazonian area of the Andes, where they grow from 1,500-3,000 meters in elevation on either side of the equator from Colombia to Bolivia. It was named after the countess of Chinchon, the wife of a Peruvian viceroy, who was cured of a malarial type of fever by using the bark of the cinchona tree in 1638.

Although all cinchona species are good sources of quinine, cinchona ledgeriana and cinchona succirubra are the species containing the highest amount of quinine alkaloids that are the powerful medicinal compounds that can treat malaria and other disorders.

The dried bark of this rain-forest tree is used for increasing the appetite by promoting the release of saliva and digestive juices and to treat bloating, flatulence and other stomach problems and in the treatment of alcoholism, anaemia, anorexia, colds, diarrhoea, dysentery, dyspepsia, fatigue, fever, influenza, malaria, pinworms, pneumonia, swine flu and typhoid. Other uses are as a treatment for an enlarged spleen, cancer, gall bladder and liver disorders, gland disorders, headaches, irregular heartbeat and other heart problems and mouth and throat disorders. It can kill bacteria, fungi, insects, parasites and viruses, reduce fevers and spasms and calm the nerves.

Cinchona is also used in lotions as an astringent for eye pain and to kill germs and can be applied to the skin to treat lumbago, neuralgia and sciatica and blood vessel disorders including haemorrhoids, leg cramps and varicose veins and to the hair to treat dandruff and stimulate hair growth. It also makes a good insect repellent.
Malaria strains have evolved and developed a resistance to the synthesised quinine drugs and it has been found that the natural quinine found in extracts from cinchona bark and the use of natural bark tea do not create resistant strains and can kill the strains that have become resistant. This may also be true of the antibiotic resistant bacteria which can probably be killed off by using naturally antibiotic plants instead of synthesised antibiotics.

The main plant chemicals found in quinine bark include aricine, caffeic acid, cinchofulvic acid, cincholic acid, cinchonain, cinchonidine, cinchonine, cinchophyllamine, cinchotannic acid, cinchotine, conquinamine, cuscamidine, cuscamine, cusconidine, cusconine, epicatechin, javanine, paricine, proanthocyanidins, quinacimine, quinamine, quinic acid, quinicine, quinine, quininidine, quinovic acid, quinovin, and sucirubine.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

Cinnamon is a potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal medicinal herb offering many advantages to the human body. It is derived from bark that grows in the evergreen trees which reach 20 to 30 feet on average and are located in remote areas such as Malabar, Cochin-China, Sumatra and the Eastern Islands, amongst other places. The bark's essential oils mainly have three active components which trigger specific healing abilities. These active components are called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol. These particular components directly account for cinnamon's various health benefits, but more specifically, its anti-clotting actions in the blood, its anti-microbial activity in the body and also its stabilising effect on blood sugar levels.

The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon prevents the disproportionate clotting in the blood by restricting the delivery of an inflammatory fatty acid from platelet membranes, named arachidonic acid. Besides the anti-clotting action, the result of this chemical process shows that cinnamon has the ability to reduce inflammation therefore it can also be seen as an anti-inflammatory herb. It is also an excellent source of calcium and fibre.

Cinnamon is helpful to those with type-2 Diabetes because it lowers blood sugar levels while increasing insulin production. Cinnamon’s anti-fungal properties make it good for fighting the yeast like, parasitic fungus Candida. Research studies have shown that simply smelling cinnamon boosts brain functions like memory. The smooth aroma of this brown spice fights bad breath and kills the bacteria responsible for it. Cinnamon is a natural painkiller and contains a potent antioxidant.

Cinnamon has shown to be a very potent anti-microbial spice. It has the capacity to inhibit the formation and proliferation of bacteria, yeast, fungi and mainly Candida albicans. For this reason, simmered in milk and taken with a little honey, is very helpful for digestive problems especially when accompanied by cramping, diarrhoea, flatulence and vomiting.  Medicinally it is used to warm the organs to treat chronic diarrhoea, cramps, heart and abdominal pain. It is effectively used as a tincture given every fifteen minutes or so to stop bleeding from the uterus.

Cinnamon's normalising effect on blood sugar levels can help people with type 2 diabetes, as it enhances a positive response to insulin. Half a teaspoon of cinnamon each day can provide a 20% reduction in blood sugar levels.

Traditional uses: helicobacter pylori infection, backaches, bronchitis, colds and flu, congestion, diabetes, depression, arthritis and rheumatism, diarrhoea, dysentery, oedema (water retention), flatulence, hiccups, nausea, toothache, vomiting, indigestion, liver problems, menstrual pain, melancholy, headaches, menorrhagia, muscle tension, pain of the waist and knees and palpitations

Cinnamon can also be used as a natural alternative to food preservatives.

NOTE: Avoid if pregnant or taking blood thinning medications

Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans, five finger grass, finger leaf, five fingers, crampweed, shepherd's knot, silverweed)

Cinquefoil is a herb with astringent properties and is used to cure diarrhoea, chronic catarrhs, night sweats and  inflammation of the digestive system. It is part of anthroposophy preparations to relieve non-traumatic bleeding such as in the digestive tract and is good to use as a gargle.

A tea called kuril, which is made by steeping cinquefoil flowers, leaves and shoots in hot water for 10 minutes, is used in the treatment of various gastrointestinal infections. It is as potent as most modern drugs for antiviral and antibacterial properties, and most importantly, does not cause dysbacteriosis (microbial imbalance), which occurs in patients receiving conventional antibiotics.

Cipura paludosa See Marsh marica

Clavo Huasca (Tynnanthus panurensis)

The pieces of roots and stems of this Amazonian plant are macerated in aguardiente (alcohol) to make a stimulant liqueur used for rheumatism. The resin is used for fevers and toothache, being as effective as clove oil. It is also an aphrodisiac mainly for women, but excellent for males as well.

Cleavers (Galium aparine, goosegrass)

Cleavers are in the same family as the coffee bean and the fruits are often dried and roasted and used as a coffee substitute which contains a much lower amount of caffeine. Geese enjoy eating cleavers which gave it the name goosegrass. The stems and leaves are used medicinally.

This herb taken as a tea stimulates the activity of the lymphatic system and organs so they can perform at their best. It helps in cases of lymphatic congestion, tonsillitis and swollen lymph glands and it also helps to cleanse and nourish the blood.

A poultice or the pulp of the whole cleavers plant can be applied externally to treat skin ailments, poisonous stings and bites and on burns and light wounds to provide relief.

Cleavers contains asperulosidic acid, asperuloside, monotropein, aucubin, caffeine, phenolic acids, aldehyde nordamnacanthal, flavonoids, coumarins and citric acid.

The asperuloside in cleavers acts as a mild sedative and one study showed that cleaver extract lowers the blood pressure of dogs, without slowing their heart rate, or any other dangerous side effects.

A dosage of one ounce of dried leaves to a pint of water, 1 to 2 teaspoons of tincture or 2 to 4 grams of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water, three times daily.

Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum, Egenia caryophyllata)

Cloves should not be confused with garlic cloves. Syzygium aromaticum is a warming, soothing spice that's antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Helpful for colds and flu, nausea, depression, hay fever and diarrhoea. Clears phlegm and relieves wind. Internally cloves are also good for pain relief, nausea, vomiting, digestive problems and hiccups. They may be chewed for toothaches and eating cloves is said to be an aphrodisiac.

Cloves also boost the metabolism while removing toxins from the blood stream and support a healthy immune system. Cloves also improve cardiovascular health by preventing the formation of blood clots while regulating blood sugar levels.

Cloves contain the most powerful germicidal agent in the herbal kingdom known as eugenol. It also contains caryophyllene which is a powerful antimicrobial agent. These components travel through the bloodstream, killing microscopic parasites and parasitic larvae and eggs. Cloves are tremendously effective in killing malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, scabies and other bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi, including Candida. Cloves also destroy all species of Shigella, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus.

The essential oil, eugenol in this spice has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local anaesthetic and antiseptic for teeth and gums. Eugenol also has been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, but further detailed studies required to establish its benefits. The decoction is sometimes used in treating flatulence and indigestion in traditional medicine preparations.

To make an infusion, use one teaspoon of powdered herb per cup of boiling water, steep 10-20 minutes and drink up to 3 cups a day. Alternatively simply add three cloves to a cup of herbal tea.

Apply externally to treat athletes' foot, insect bites, rheumatism and myalgia.

Cnidium Monnieri Seed (Cnidium monnieri, she chuang zi)

Cnidium monnieri seed is a Chinese stimulant and aphrodisiac herb to treat impotency. It is also used as a vaginal wash against trichomoniasis and to treat scabies, skin problems and fungal diseases.

It contains several compounds including coumarins osthol (or osthole), bergapten, xanthotoxol, imperatorin, monoterpene polyols, glucides and hepatoprotective sesquiterpenes. Osthole has been found in studies to have anti tumour activity and to be helpful in strengthening bones.

Coccinia (Coccinia indica, Coccinia cordifolia)

Coccinia is a medicinal herb used abundantly in India as it reduces inflammation in the body. It is particularly effective at treating diabetes, orchitis and urinary tract infections. It is also a good laxative and stimulates digestion and bile production in the liver. It can help to treat dysentery and parasitic infections of the intestines.

Coccinia also helps to open pores which can stimulate sweat which helps to eliminate toxins in the body. It is also a good wound healer and helps to treat asthma, bronchitis, colds and coughs and other respiratory disorders.

Coccinia leaf or root extract has antibacterial properties which can help to treat bacterial infections. Boil 10 to 12 leaves or chopped up roots in water for 10 to 15 minutes, strain and drink two times a day until the infection is gone.

The leaves of coccinia can be used externally to treat injuries and wounds.
 

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara, coughwort)

The genus name of coltsfoot, Tussilago, means cough dispeller and the fresh leaves, juice or syrup is especially effective for treating a dry cough, shortness of breath or wheezing. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents that make it useful in the treatment of colitis, gastritis and sinusitis.

Coltsfoot is a yellow flowering perennial herb in the daisy family that grows wild in wet areas such as by the sides of streams and has been used medicinally for centuries. Pliny mentioned it as a powerful medicine for respiratory disorders. It is commonly used to treat asthma, bronchitis, colds, congestion, coughs and is useful to repair the damage caused to the lungs through smoking tobacco.

Coltsfoot is most often taken in teas or in cough syrups with honey. Coltsfoot is also one of the herbs traditionally smoked that may be of help as a transition for those who wish to stop smoking tobacco.

Coltsfoot contains calcium, mucilage, alkaloids, potassium, saponins, tannins (especially in the leaf) and zinc.

NOTE: Coltsfoot should be taken in moderation for short periods due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids it contains.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

Comfrey root and leaves are used to treat pulmonary haemorrhages, diarrhoea, dysentery, internal ulcers, glandular disorders, chronic coughs, bronchitis and gout, as gargles to treat hoarseness and sore gums and as fomentation used to treat varicose veins, inflammations, burns, sores, sprains, fractures, gangrene, otitis, mastitis, fibrositis and pleurisy.

Comfrey relieves pain and inflammation caused by injuries and degeneration, especially the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Many healing effects of comfrey are attributable to allantoin, a compound shown to speed cell production both inside and outside the body. Comfrey works so fast that many herbalists will add antibacterial herbs such as goldenseal or thyme to comfrey salves to prevent sealing bacteria inside a fast healing wound.

The plants high concentration of mucilage provides rationale for comfrey's historical usage in treating stomach ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease and for upper respiratory conditions. Comfrey nourishes the pituitary gland (the master gland of the body) as well as the bones and skin. It also strengthens the respiratory system and is considered to be one of nature's great healers.

Comfrey also makes a good plant feed for vegetable and flower crops in the garden. See Grow Your Own Health Garden.

NOTE: Use of comfrey should be short term for recovery purposes only due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids it contains. Prickly comfrey (Symphytum asperum) contains more of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids than the common Symphytum officinale and should not be used.

Copaiba Oil (Copaifera pauper)

The resin from this Amazonian plant is used as a cicatrizant, for gonorrhoea, psoriasis, sores, catarrh, syphilis and urinary problems. Copaiba oil (copaiba balsam) is used for skin disorders and as an anti-inflammatory agent that can be rubbed directly on sore joints. Internally, locals suggest its usage for gastric ulcers, as a diuretic and expectorant and to treat ear ache.

It is also a powerful treatment for eczema, fungus infections, dermatitis and any kind of skin disorder including dandruff and athlete’s foot. It can also treat skin and stomach cancer. It can be used to eliminate inflammation and yeast infection of genital and urinary mucous membranes, to treat haemorrhoids, bronchitis and stomach ulcers. The Shamans of Amazon say that there is nothing better to expel mucus from the lungs and for any kind of respiratory problems.

Copaiba oil has been used for several centuries in Europe and Latin America as a powerful antibiotic to treat skin inflammation, cancer and ease the pain of arthritis. It is also used as an antiseptic and expectorant for the respiratory tract (including bronchitis and sinusitis), as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic for the urinary tract (for cystitis, bladder and kidney infections) and as a topical anti-inflammatory agent for all types of skin problems; a wonderful natural remedy for stomach ulcers, inflammation of all kinds, nail fungus (applied topically) and for its documented wound-healing, antimicrobial and anticancer properties.

The oil is also used in art restoration, restoring colour to old paintings. It contains essential oil and resin acids and turpentine.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum, cilantro)

Coriander seeds are added to hot stimulating foods to impart a balanced coolness.  Steeped in tea, it is useful to relieve fevers (a small amount of black pepper may be added to stimulate its action).  Use two teaspoons of crushed seeds in a cup of boiled water and steep for 20 minutes.  Before the invention of toothpaste, coriander seeds were chewed as a breath sweetener. Coriander is added to laxative formulas to help prevent cramping. 

It has a health-supporting reputation that is high on the list of the healing spices. In parts of Europe, coriander has traditionally been referred to as an "anti-diabetic" plant. In parts of India, it has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as for digestive and gastric complaints such as indigestion and nausea. It is also useful for treating bladder disorders, chest pains, chickenpox, coughs, dysentery, fever, halitosis, leprosy rash, oral and pharyngeal disorders, typhoid fever and complications after child birth. 

Coriander contains an antibacterial compound, dodecenal, that may prove to be a safe, natural means of fighting Salmonella and also has cholesterol-lowering effect. While dodecenal is found in comparable amounts in both the seeds and fresh leaves of coriander, the leaves are usually eaten more frequently since they are one of the main ingredients in salsa, along with tomatoes, onions and green chillies. In addition to dodecenal, eight other antibiotic compounds are found in fresh coriander that can prevent food borne illness.

Coriander has also been proven to be able to eliminate highly toxic mercury from the body. Heavy metal contamination can lead to the development of conditions such as Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's.

It can be applied externally for rheumatism and painful joints and headaches. Once thought to be an aphrodisiac. Chinese herbalists use coriander to remove unpleasant odours occurring in the genital areas of men and women, as well as bad breath. It also improves the flavour of other medicinal preparations. 

Not only is coriander filled with a variety of phytonutrients, this exceptional herb is an important source of many high quality nutrients. It is a very rich source of dietary fibre, iron, magnesium and manganese.

Corn Silk (Zea mays, Indian corn, jugnog, maize, sea mays, turkey corn, turkish corn, yu-shu-shu)

Corn silk refers to the stigmas from the female flowers of maize. Fresh corn silk resembles soft silk threads 10-20 cm long that are either light green or yellow-brown in colour. Corn silk is known to have diuretic, lithotriptic, cholagogue, antifungal, anodyne, demulcent, anti-hypoglycaemic, protective, alterative and stimulant properties.

A tea made from corn silk, consisting of the stigmas of the flowers, has been valued as a diuretic. Corn silk aids the kidneys, bladder and small intestines. Take for hypertension (high blood pressure), edema (water retention), urinary tract dysfunction and stones, gonorrhoea, gout, rheumatism, bed-wetting, jaundice and painful urination caused by the prostate gland. It is also useful for the treatment of cystitis, kidney stones nephritis, pancreatic damage, prostatitis, dropsy and heart trouble. Corn silk extract is a useful hypoglycaemic food for diabetes sufferers.

Corn silk contains protein, fibre, starchphytonutrients, alkaloids, cryptoxanthin, fluorine, malic acid, oxalic acid, palmitic acid, resin, saponins, silicon, sitotsterol, stigmasterol, tannins, tartaric acid, vitamin A (ascorbic acid), vitamin B1 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin K, potassium and manganese.

Couch grass (Elymus repens, dog's grass, durfa grass, graminis, quackgrass, scutch, triticum, twitch grass, wheat grass and witch grass)

Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)

Cramp bark is an herb often taken in tea form that can treat female problems like irritability and cramps associated with the menstrual cycle. The herb is hailed as a stomach cramp remedy in Russia and helps to flush parasites from the body's intestinal system. In addition to killing parasites, cramp bark can lower blood pressure and treat colds and coughing. Cramp bark tea taken with pumpkin seeds can completely eliminate intestinal worms.

Cryptolepis (Cryptolepis sanguinolenta)

Cryptolepis is one of the top five systemic herbal antibiotics in the world and tests have found the plant to be a stronger antibacterial than the pharmaceutical antibiotic 'chloramphenicol' and this is due to the the antibacterial alkaloids cryptolepine, quinoline and neocryptolepine found in this plant. It is mainly found in the root and has been effective at treating people infected with malaria in West Africa as a decoction or tincture taken two times a day. It is also highly effective against Candida albicans, Escherichia coli and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Cubeb (Piper cubeba, Java pepper)

The cubeb is the red alternative to black pepper and the seeds have antibacterial activity against Micrococcus pyrogens var. aureus. The oil of this plant is effective against the influenza virus and Bacillus typhosus. It is also a good tonic for the spleen which can help fight infections.

Cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum)

Cumin seeds are a very good source of iron, a mineral that plays many vital roles in the body. Iron is an integral component of haemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. Additionally, iron is instrumental in keeping your immune system healthy. Iron is particularly important for menstruating women, who lose iron each month during menses. Additionally, growing children and adolescents have increased needs for iron, as do women who are pregnant or lactating.

Cumin seeds contain very potent antibiotic compounds that have been studied and found to be able to kill many types of bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Micrococcus luteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus. Aureus and other Proteus</ital> species of bacteria.

Cumin consists of vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The medicinal properties of cumin are in its volatile oil which is a rich source of thymol.

Cumin seeds have traditionally been noted to be of benefit to the digestive system. Cumin seeds may also have anti-carcinogenic properties. In one study, cumin was shown to protect laboratory animals from developing stomach or liver tumours. This cancer-protective effect may be due to cumin's potent free radical scavenging abilities as well as the ability it has shown to enhance the liver's detoxification enzymes. Yet, since free radical scavenging and detoxification are important considerations for the general maintenance of wellness, cumin's contribution to wellness may be even more farther reaching.

NOTE: Avoid cumin, ginger and turmeric if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication), or hormone therapies and contraceptive pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have heart problems or during the first three months of pregnancy or are breast feeding.

Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum)

This fruit comes from a South American tree of the same name which belongs in the cocoa family. it has been a primary food source for natives in the rainforest for centuries and has a creamy, exotic pulp at the centre of a large melon. It is a rich source of the polyphenol theograndins, vitamins B1, B2, B3, fatty and amino acids, and at least nine antioxidants (including vitamins A and C). Being from the cocoa family, cupuacu also has a high flavonoid content. Because of this it is a far healthier substitute for coffee and chocolate products.

Its primary health benefit is stimulating the immune system while simultaneously supporting the body's ability to fight disease. Cupuaçu has a caffeine-like effect, but does not contain caffeine. It is one of the few cocoa relatives that does not, yet it retains this energetic effect. Regular consumption of this fruit can produce healthier skin and hair, balanced blood sugar levels, lowered cholesterol levels (through lipid peroxidation inhibition), improved brain and gastrointestinal tract function and better libido.Curry powder

Curry powder, as apposed to curry leaf, is a blend of ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cumin, coriander and other spices that have been shown to increase metabolism, help breathing and reduce cholesterol. They also have anti viral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Curry leaf plant

(Murraya koenigii, kadi patta)
This genuine curry leaf plant is a small shrub which is native to India, the Himalayas and southern Chine. The plant often mistaken for the curry plant, because of its aroma, is known botanically as helichrysum italicum but it is a herb which is bitter to the taste and loses its aroma when cooked.

Curry leaves are useful in the reduction of the side effects from both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. They can also stop diarrhoea and protect the gastrointestinal tract, the liver and the eyes. They also help to reduce high cholesterol levels and obesity.

In scientific studies a monomeric protein found in curry leaves effectively inhibited Bacillus subtilis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella typhi Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Vibrio cholerae bacteria.

Curry leaves can also help to prevent and control diabetes as they have anti-diabetic properties as they contain an ingredient that reduces the rate at which starch is broken down to glucose in diabetics. Chew about ten fresh curry leaves daily in the morning. For best results, continue this treatment for three to four months.

Significant components of curry leaves

Beta-carotene, bisabolene, bornyl acetate, cadinene, cadinol, carbazole alkaloids, carbohydrates, fibre, humulene, lauric acid, lutein, ocimene, nicotinic acid, palmitic acid, phellandrene, pinene, protein, ryophyllene, sabinene and terpinene.

Vitamins in curry leaves

A, B1, B2, B3, B9 and C.

Minerals in curry leaves

Calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.

Ailments curry leaves can help to treat and protect against

  • Chemotherapy symptoms

  • Diabetes type 2

  • Diarrhoea

  • Digestive complaints

  • Eye disorders

  • Hair and nail disorders

  • High LDL cholesterol

  • Kidney disorders

  • Liver disorders

  • Morning sickness

  • Obesity

  • Radiation

  • Skin disorders

External uses of curry leaves

As an external application, curry leaves can be used as a poultice to treat skin eruptions and minor skin infections. The leaves can also be ground into a fine paste with a pinch of turmeric and applied to the skin to treat acne. The fruit of the curry tree can be used as an external application for insect bites and stings. For dandruff, greying hair and hair loss, simmer some basil leaves, curry leaves, gooseberry leaves and hibiscus flowers in some coconut oil and cool. Apply this oil to the scalp; leave it on for about half an hour and then shampoo.

Cyani Flowers (Centaurea cyanu, cornflower, bachelor's button, bluebottle, boutonniere flower, hurtsickle)

Cyani flowers have properties that can soothe the nervous system and exerts a positive influence on tissues of the eyes.

D

Damiana (Turnera diffusa)

Damiana is known for its aphrodisiac properties and has also been used for nervousness, weakness, exhaustion and reducing stress. It is said to increase sperm count in the male and to balance hormones in women and has antibacterial properties. Damiana contains components that can fight bacterial infections, cancer, fungal infections and relieve pain. It has been found to modulate the neurotransmitter known as gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), in the body, which plays a role in the transmission of pain. As an antibacterial, damiana has been found to block some bacteria's ability to reject antibiotics (as is the case with MRSA). If used as an adjunct treatment with these medicines, their effectiveness will greatly improve.

Drug resistant bacteria are becoming an increasing danger to society, as it is becoming harder and harder to kill them. Modern medicine is running out of effective medicines to combat these deadly bacteria, and development of new antibiotics are slow and extremely expensive. Herbal therapies such as damiana are becoming increasingly popular in combating and defeating these infectious organisms.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion root helps to protect the liver and contains many vital nutrients. Dandelion root has been used traditionally to purify the blood, and to benefit the circulatory and glandular systems and its compounds have natural diuretic properties. It stimulates the removal of waste/toxins via the bile and the urine and spares the potassium that is otherwise lost with conventional diuretics. Commonly used as food, it also makes excellent herb for arthritis and erectile dysfunction and has antibacterial properties that can treat orchitis (inflammation of the testes) and urinary tract infections. It also has antifungal properties especially against the Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast.

The dandelion, milk thistle and yellow dock root herbs help to support the liver which, in turn, helps to remove excess oestrogen from the body and this can help to reduce the development of uterine fibroids.

Dandelion is a rich source of nutrients like potassium, iron and vitamins A, B, C and D. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective in dealing arthritic pain. Dandelion is believed to be effective in dealing with symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism and other chronic joint pain conditions as this herb is capable of flushing toxins that causes the joints and muscles to inflame. Also, it plays a vital role in reducing the level of uric acid in the body which results to reduced pain and stiffness in the joints and increased joint mobility and can help to relieve symptoms of gout.

Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)

Devil's claw is a herb which has been well-known in Europe and Africa for hundreds of years and is gaining popularity in the United States and the entire North American continent. It is known for its ability to nourish the skeletal system. Studies indicate that its action is similar to cortisone. It helps the body lessen the severity of pain in joints and connective tissues. It can also reduce the inflammation and can be helpful if skin lesions occur from severe hive outbreaks.

NOTE: If suffering from diabetes or are taking blood pressure or blood-thinning medication, do not take devil's claw.

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Dill has a unique health benefit from two types of healing components: monoterpenes, including carvone, limonene, and anethofuran; and flavonoids, including kaempferol and vicenin. The monoterpene components of dill have been shown to activate the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps attach the anti-oxidant molecule glutathione to oxidized molecules that would otherwise do damage in the body. The activity of dill's volatile oils qualify it as a "chemoprotective" food (much like parsley) that can help neutralise particular types of carcinogens, such as the benzopyrenes that are part of cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke.

The volatile oil portion of dill has also been studied for its ability to prevent bacterial overgrowth. In this respect, dill shares the stage with garlic, which has also been shown to have "bacteriostatic" or bacteria-regulating effects. In addition, dill is a very good source of calcium which is important for reducing the bone loss that occurs after menopause and in some conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is also a good source of dietary fibre and the minerals manganese, iron and magnesium.

Dogwood (Cornus mas), American dogwood (Cornus florida), Chinese or Japanese dogwood (Cornus machrophylla, Sung-yang, Celtis muku, Ehretia serrata), Common dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) Jamaican dogwood (Piscidia erythrina, Florida fish poison), Osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)

There are a few dogwood species around the world and each are used for different medicinal purposes. The Jamaican dogwood is used medicinally for anxiety, arthritis, insomnia, migraines, muscle spasms, panic attacks, rheumatism and excessive stress and the Osier dogwood is used by the Native Americans as an alternative to quinine for fevers and to treat mosquito borne infections.

To make an infusion of the osier dogwood for mosquito borne infections, steep one tablespoon of dried bark in 568 ml (one pint) of water for 30 minutes. Then strain and sip half a cup every two to three hours.

NOTE: Never use fresh bark (only properly dried) as it will cause stomach and bowel upset.

NOTE: Never self-medicate with dogwood as the side effects can be serious. Jamaican dogwood has sedative properties that can interact with medications. Never use dogwood if pregnant or breastfeeding or elderly and never give to children.

Dogwood contains gallic acid, gum, iron, lignin, lime potash, oil, resin, tannic acid and wax.

Dragon's Blood (Dracaena cinnabari, sangre de drago)

The latex/sap  of the dragon's blood plant is used to heal wounds, cuts, injuries, for vaginal baths before childbirth. It is also recommended for throat, mouth, intestinal and stomach ulcers. It is an excellent instant bandage for children and adults, good for leucorrhea, piles, cuts, etc. The alkaloid taspine hydrochloride has been found to be the main cicatrizant, wound healing principle and anticancer agent. 

It also has anti-tumour, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties and is good for wound healing.  It possesses potent antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, genital herpes lesions and is an excellent healing agent for wounds, blisters, burns, etc. It is also an effective and quick acting natural medication for diarrhoea and its effects may be felt in within hours.

Drumstick See Moringa

E

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, coneflower)

Modern scientific studies now validate Echinacea's traditional usage as a topical agent to help the body repair skin wounds, and internally to enhance the immune system. The active constituents in Echinacea, which are thought to bolster the body's defence, are known as polysaccharides. Polysaccharides stimulate the activity of macrophages which are the white blood cells that destroy bacteria, fungi, viruses, other foreign invaders and even wayward cells. It also activates the body's production of interferon, a specific protein which protects cells against the invasion of viruses.

Many people have observed good effects taking Echinacea in cases of syphilis. The longest time, to affect the cure was nine days. The patient begins to feel a general improved condition after taking the remedy a few days. It removes the pain and discomfort, removes the fever and abates the evidences of the disease without after-effects. The leaves, flowers and roots can be used medicinally.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Elder berries and flowers made into a tea can help rid the body cells of toxins, increase circulation and purify the blood. It is also used as a remedy for viral infections like the flu and common cold and has antiviral properties against both influenza A and B viruses as well as the bacteria Branhamella catarrhalis and Streptococcus pyogenes, both of which are associated with upper respiratory tract infections.

Elderberries are able to help rid the body cells of toxins, increase circulation and purify the blood. Elderflowers have compounds that can reduce potassium levels in the blood so are good to consume in the case of hyperaemia which is the medical term for too much potassium in the blood.

Elecampane (Lula helenium, horse-heal or marchalan)

With flowers that resemble miniature sunflowers and a basal leaf rosette that resembles a mullein plant, elecampane is an attractive member of the Asteraceae or daisy family. Ancient Roman healers treasured the roots as a digestive remedy and Native Americans and herbalists continue to value the medicinal properties and uses of elecampane. It grows well in northern Europe including the UK. The roots are not ready for medicinal use until the autumn of the second year, when they have developed their healing properties. It is a natural expectorant and nourishes the respiratory system.

People have used elecampane as a digestive stimulant and remedy for upset stomach for hundreds of years due to a chemical called alantolactone for expelling worms and parasites from the digestive tract. Taken before a meal, the root decoction has a bitter principle called helenin which promotes digestion, improves vitamin and mineral absorption and stimulates the appetite. This remedy is especially helpful for reviving the appetite after a bout with the flu or other illness.

Elecampane is an effective remedy for many types of respiratory ailments, including bronchitis. A volatile oil gives the roots expectorant, anti-inflammatory and warming properties that help break up congestion and calm coughs. Regular intake of elecampane root decoction can relieve symptoms of chronic bronchitis, asthma and other chronic lung conditions. Its antibacterial property is so effective, it kills the organism that causes tuberculosis. A flower decoction or syrup is especially helpful for coughs or nausea caused by excessive mucous.

When dug up during the autumn, the roots are a rich source of inulin, a type of fibre named after this plant’s botanical name. Inulin, which is different from the hormone insulin, helps stabilize blood sugar and improve absorption of nutrients from foods.

As a topical remedy, elecampane root has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve eczema and other types of skin inflammation. The alantolactone in the roots appears to be responsible for this healing property. Prepare a wash by diluting the root decoction.

Prepare an infusion by placing an ounce of dried elecampane root in a pint canning jar and filling the jar with boiling water; cover the jar and let the mixture brew overnight. Strain the infusion, place it in a stainless-steel pot, and slowly heat the infusion until it is reduced by half. After it cools, refrigerate the decoction for two or three days in a jar. The decoction maybe mixed with honey for a soothing cough syrup.

Ephedra Sinica (Ephedra sinica, Brigham, joint-pine, jointfir, ma huang, Mormon-tea)

This Chinese herb is nutritionally beneficial for fat reduction and increased energy. It facilitates energy and heat exchange for efficient metabolic function. It is traditionally used to treat symptoms of allergies, bronchial asthma, colds, hives and influenza.

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus labill, blue gum)

The leaves and oil from the eucalyptus tree have powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which can improve respiratory health, enhance mental clarity and the mood and relieve stress. It is also antiviral, a deodorant; clears mucous from the lungs; works as a liniment and relieves rheumatic, arthritic and other types of pain.

It is especially useful for skin eruptions and oily complexions, it is also used for acne, herpes and chicken pox. For a homemade preparation, mix eucalyptus essential oil with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar and dab on problem areas. This mix can also be used as an antiseptic on wounds, boils and insect bites.

Inhaling the vapour works well for chest complaints, asthma and colds or sinus congestion. A mouthwash made by distilling the oil and diluting with water can eliminate bacteria residing there. Hanging some branches in the shower will provide these benefits as the steam will release the vapour.

The scent increases brain wave activity and counters physical and mental fatigue. Eucalyptus is useful on long car trips or if sniffed when studying. Smelling it also increases energy.

NOTE: Do not use during an asthma attack.

Eucalyptus contains cineol or eucalyptol, pinene, limonene and at least 250 other compounds. Different varieties can include citronellal, cineole, cryptone and piperitone.

F

Fagara (Zanthoxyloides)

Fagara is a rutaceae that is widely distributed in Uganda and other African countries. It is well known for its varied uses in traditional medicinal practices. The root-bark extract is used in treating abdominal pain, dysmenorrhoea, elephantiasis, gonorrhoea, malaria, sexual impotence, toothache and yellow fever and the Zika virus. Workers in West Africa have reported that fagara has powerful antimicrobial activity.

In Nigeria fagara is used as a chewing stick. Water extracts from the plant showed activities against bacteria significant to periodontal disease. The anthelmintic activity of the methanolic extract of the root-bark of fagara was also reported, and it is a very popular anthelmintic amongst the various tribes in Uganda. It has also been found that the alcoholic extracts of the root-bark possess considerable antibacterial activity and may be effective against Lyme disease and syphilis.

False Daisy (Eclipta alba)

Jaundice is a condition that severely affects the liver and its functionality, resulting in a discoloration of the skin. False daisy has been used for thousands of years to properly balance the liver and ensure its normal function. Research has shown that it also contains components that can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the liver.

It is also a powerful remedy for constipation, indigestion and haemorrhoids. It also has powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties that make it highly effective at preventing and treating infections. When taken for a urinary tract infection, it can quickly reduce discomfort and neutralise the bacteria to restore normal function to the bladder.

It is also a useful remedy for respiratory infections and coughs due to its antibacterial nature and can clear up the infection, while the expectorant qualities can force out any remaining phlegm or mucus where additional pathogens may be growing.

The leaves of this plant have a very high carotene content, which is a crucial antioxidant substance for the health of the eyes. Carotene can eliminate the free radicals that cause macular degeneration and the formation of cataracts.

Externally, It can be mixed in with shampoos to moisturise the scalp, preventing dry skin and consequent dandruff. Furthermore, it can strengthen follicles and follicle beds, preventing hair loss and slowing down conditions like male pattern baldness.  It can even promote the re-growth of hair that has already been lost, and speeds the growth of existing follicles.

False Pepper (Chamaelirium luteum, helonias root , devil's bit , blazing star , drooping starwort, fairy wand)

False pepper is an Indian vine with tiny flowers that are yellow/green in colour. The bark, leaves and fresh fruit are used to treat parasites, rheumatism, stomach difficulties, skin diseases, tumours, psychological problems and convulsions. The active component in the plant is embelin, and it has anti-fertility, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-oxidant properties. Embelin is a member of a chemical class called benzoquinone and derivatives of quinone have anticonvulsant properties.

False Unicorn (Chamaelirium luteum)

The false unicorn root is considered a tonic to the reproductive organs and addresses symptoms of headaches and depression in menopausal women. The root is also used for treating infertility, menstrual problems, ovarian cysts and vomiting during pregnancy. Some women take it to normalise hormones after discontinuing birth control pills.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel seeds are an excellent super-herb that has been used for centuries for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Fennel is grown extensively across the planet but is native to Europe, The Middle-Eastern, China, India and Turkey. In India it is common to chew fennel seeds after meals to facilitate digestion as they help prevent and treat flatulence, expelling gases from the stomach. The oils in fennel seeds have antacid properties and help to facilitate proper absorption of nutrients in the stomach and intestines.

Fennel seeds can not only help prevent and treat constipation but can also act as a laxative with their high fibre content. They help clear the bowels and their stimulating effect helps maintain the proper peristaltic motion of the intestines and helps to eliminate worms and parasites.  Studies have also shown that fennel may also inhibit the formation of certain tumours caused by cancer-causing chemicals as it helps detoxify and remove waste material from the body and protect against aging and other degenerative diseases.

Fennel seeds can help to improve the vision and hair, relax the body, sharpen the memory and have a cooling effect when one becomes over-heated. Their anti-oxidant properties make them a powerful anti-inflammatory which prevents oxidation thus preventing many chronic conditions that cause fevers and pain when taken as a tea.

Health issues fennel seeds can improve and help to treat

Fennel seeds have many health benefiting compounds, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins that are known to help prevent and treat disease. Most commonly, fennel seeds contain high amounts of flavonoid anti-oxidants like kaempferol and quercetin. They also contain numerous essential oil compounds such as anethole, anisic, cineole, limonene and pinene which have digestive, carminative and anti-flatulent properties. These volatile oils are effective antibacterial, antiviral and disinfectant agents.  In scientific studies the agents in fennel seeds have shown to be particularly effective against many types of bacteria including Agrobacterium radiobacter, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Bacillus cereus, Enterococcus faecalis, Erwinia carotovora, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Pseudomona aeruginosa, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas glycinea, Salmonella typhi, Salmonella typhimurium, Shigella flexneri and Staphylococcus aureus</ital>. Fennel seeds are probably one of the best natural antibiotics to include in the diet to both prevent and treat infections.

Fennel seeds are also concentrated with fibre, phytonutrients, histidine, terpenoids, flavonoids, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin C and vitamin E. They are also good sources of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

Feverfew tea is an effective for treating migraines. It reduces inflammation, which takes pressure off the nerves and can help prevent migraines entirely.

Feverwort (Triosteum perfoliatum, agueweed, crosswort, eupatorium, horse gentian, Indian sage, sweating plant, teasel, thoroughwort, tinker's weed, tse-lan, vegetable antimony, wild coffee, wild ipecac, wood boneset)

Ingested as a hot tea or warm tonic, feverwort promotes sweating, relaxes peripheral blood vessels and soothes and reduces symptoms of infections such as coughs, fever, headaches, muscle cramps, sore throat and stuffy nose. It is a good herb to use for the symptoms of mosquito borne infections. In a cold beverage, it can work as a mild laxative.

Externally, a hot poultice placed on the afflicted part is said to reduce inflammation and ease the discomfort of broken bones, bruises, cystitis, gout, rheumatism, spasms and sprains.

How to use feverwort

  • Tea: Place leaves in boiling water and steep for 3 to 5 minutes, strain, add honey and pour into a cup. Drink one cup every eight hours, followed by plenty of water.

  • Infusion: In one cup of boiling water add 1 teaspoon of dried leaves, steep for 20 minutes and strain. Take warm three to five teaspoons.
    Poultice: Use leaves, flower tops and or roots.
    Tonic: Prepare as for Infusion only take cold three to six teaspoons.

Figwort  (Scrophularia nodosa, carpenters square, escrophularia (Spanish), kernelwort, knoldbrunro (Danish), Knotige Braunwurz (German), knotted figwort, rosenoble, scrophula plant, scrophulaire noueuse (French), throatwort, woodland figwort and another related species Chinese figwort (Scrophularia ningpoensis).

Fig Leaves (Ficus carica)

Fig leaves are best known for treating diabetes, but there are many other uses such as treating  boils, cancer, cardiovascular disease, bronchitis, genital warts, fungal infections, liver cirrhosis, haemorrhoids, high blood pressure, ringworm, shingles, skin problems and ulcers.

The diabetic needs less insulin when on a treatment of using the fig leaf extract. The diabetic should take the extract with breakfast, first thing in the morning. An additional remedy is to boil the leaves of the fig in some freshly filtered or bottled mineral water and drink this as a tea.

  • Cardiovascular and Cancer patients should try drinking some freshly made fig leaf tea and eat some fresh figs daily.

  • Genital warts - Take one fig leaf and apply the milk or sap from the leaf to the affected areas.

  • Haemorrhoids - Place two or three of the leaves in one litre of water and bring to boil. Boil for at least 15 minutes. Remove from the fire and let the pot cool. Remove the leaves from the tea and use as a bath or apply to the affected areas.

  • Liver cirrhosis - Take 4 fig leaves, wash them thoroughly and pound them. Fill a medium glass with water (preferably bottled mineral water), add the leaves and drink this twice a day.

  • High blood pressure - Place 3 fig leaves in half litre of water. Boil for 15 minutes and drink daily.

  • Ringworm - Cut open a leaf and take the milk or sap. Rub on the ringworm. This procedure works very quickly for ringworm as well as scalp fungal infections, warts and boils.

  • Fig leaves can be used in decoction form to condition hair and treat fungal infections of the scalp.

  • Shingles: Place three to four fig leaves in two cups of water. Boil for a few minutes, let cool and remove the leaves. Take a wash cloth and dip in the water and apply to the affected area.

  • Stomach and Mouth Ulcers - Every day chew two fig leaves and swallow the whole leaf. People with advanced ulcers should do this in the morning on an empty stomach.

If the leaves are mashed, they can be used as a skin cleanser for acne and pimples.

Frankincense (Boswellia sacra, Olibanum)

Frankincense is an oily gum resin from the tree Boswellia sacra and related species. It is named in the Bible as one the three gifts given to the the infant Jesus by the 'Three Wise Men'. It has been used for thousands of years in many different cultures. The ancient Egyptians believed frankincense to be the sweat of gods, fallen to earth. The legendary Phoenix bird was believed to build its nest from twigs of frankincense and to feed upon ‘tears’ of the resin. The ancient Egyptians also used the resin in religious rites, in embalming and anointing the mummified bodies of their kings, in cosmetics and to treat wounds and sores. Incense containing frankincense was found in Tutankhamen's tomb. Large scale exploitation of frankincense began in Oman approximately 8,000 years ago. In 1400 BC, Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt sent a plant-collecting expedition to the eastern coast of Africa. Among the botanical prizes garnered were 31 boswellia trees that were subsequently planted at the Temple Of Karnak along the Nile.

It is still used in religious ceremonies by the Parsees, thought by some to be cultural descendants of the 'Three Wise Men' (Magi) of the Christian tradition. The earliest recorded account of the use of Arabian frankincense and myrrh by the ancient Greeks comes from Herodotus, suggesting that by 500BC a well-established trade existed between southern Arabia and Greece. In 295BC Theophrastus recorded that Alexander the Greek (356-323 BC) sent Anaxicrates to southern Arabia to ascertain the origin of frankincense.

Theophrastus (372-287BC), the Greek botanist, and Pliny the Elder (23-79AD), the Latin naturalist, provided eyewitness accounts of the cultivation and harvesting of frankincense and the methods remain largely unchanged today. When slashed, the bark exudes an oily gum resin which is either scraped off the tree or collected from the ground as it drips off, a method which produces a better-quality resin. The best quality resin is pale in colour, while resin which is scraped off the bark is reddish and considered inferior.

The frankincense gum is highly beneficial in cases of inflammation caused by arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma or ulcerative colitis.

The essential oil has powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and astringent properties. The oil is effective as an antiseptic and even the fumes or smoke obtained from burning it have antiseptic and disinfectant qualities that eliminate the germs in the space where the smoke filters out which is why it is often used in religious ceremonies. It is also good to help protect internal wounds from getting infected and helps to fight infections anywhere the body. For internal use always make sure that the oil purchased is food grade and be cautious to use very small doses or take with a carrier oil such as coconut as it can cause oesophageal irritation.

Frankincense oil blends well with lime, lemon, orange and other citrus oils as well as benzoin, bergamot, lavender, myrrh, pine and sandalwood oils when used in an essential oil burner.

Boswellia gum is painstakingly collected by hand in India, Egypt and Somalia. At the beginning of April, collection begins by making incisions in the bark. The freshly exuded gum initially appears as a milky-white resin. This resin solidifies upon exposure to air, and turns into white to yellow crystals. Boswellia crystals are harvested about two weeks after the gum exudes from the cut bark, are cleaned by hand to remove debris, and are graded according to colour and fragrance.

The means by which boswellia works is not fully understood. However, it has been analysed extensively, due to its traditional medicinal uses, and its use in perfumery and fragrances. Boswellia contains a broad range of phytochemicals in its gum, including a group called the boswellic acids, which are terpenes. These compounds possess anti-inflammatory properties, which may possibly explain the contemporary and traditional anti-arthritic uses of boswellia. It also contains several anti-cancer compounds, though it is not used for cancer inhibition.

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Garam Masala (translated “hot spicy mixture”)

Garam masala is a staple of authentic South Asian cuisine and consists of a blend of traditional ground South Asian spices, usually containing: peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and occasionally other spices depending on the region it comes from. All these spices can slowdown the ageing process while promoting weight loss. They each have many other great health and medicinal benefits. See each one for more information.

Garcinia Cambogia (Garcinia, malabar tamarind, brindall berry, kankushta)

This south Asian plant is nutritionally beneficial in blocking the production of fats. Scientific research conducted on this herb since 1969 demonstrates that it slows the body's conversion of carbohydrates and excess calories to fat, decreasing production of harmful fats (low-density lipoproteins), promoting sustained energy levels by enhancing the body's production of glycogen, reducing the body's desire for excess food; helping to nutritionally support the metabolism and burn calories. Human studies indicate that Garcinia, also known as HCA (hydroxycitric acid) may be especially effective when combined with chromium and L-carnitine.

Garlic (Allium sativa)

Garlic is a natural antibiotic, anti-microbial, a fungicide and a cleanser and antioxidant. It is useful for treating  arthritis, asthma, bacteria infections, bronchitis, cancer, candida, poor circulation, colds, colitis, coughs, digestive problems, fever, flatulence, flu, high blood pressure, intestinal infections, lung disorders, parasitic diarrhoea, prostate disorders, sore throats, toothache, tumours, virus infections, warts, whooping cough, worms and yeast infections. It is also a blood purifier, detoxifies the liver, eliminates excess mucus, fights the toxoplasmosis gondii parasite and protects against stomach cancers.

Garlic has been used for expelling intestinal worms and parasites from ancient times by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Hindus and Babylonians. Garlic is a natural anthelmintic. It is especially useful against roundworms, giardia, trypanosome, plasmodium and leishmania.. Both fresh garlic and its oil are effective. Chop finely or crush 4 cloves of garlic and mix with 1 glass of liquid (water, juice or milk) and drink daily for 3 weeks.

Garlic can slow and kill over 60 types of fungus and 20 types of bacteria, as well as some of the most potent viruses. It has a history of killing parasites and controlling secondary fungal infections, detoxifying while gently stimulating elimination and has antioxidant properties to protect against oxidation caused by parasite toxins. The active components in garlic that kill parasites are allicin and ajoene. These compounds can kill amoeba’s including one-cell varieties, as well as pinworms and hookworms.

Allicin is not present in garlic in its natural state. When it is chopped or otherwise damaged, the enzyme alliinase acts on the chemical alliin converting it into allicin, the active component contributing for its success for killing parasites. It is therefore important to chop foods that produce allicin, such as garlic and onions then set them aside for ten minutes for this process to take place before cooking or consuming.

It has now been proven scientifically that garlic is 100 times more effective than antibiotics at killing food poisoning bacteria in the intestines.

Externally a slice of raw garlic held onto the affected skin for just a few minutes can heal cold sores and other skin eruptions and even naturally remove cancerous moles painlessly and without surgery. Also use externally as an infusion in oil for sprains, joint problems, fungal infections, earache and chest infections.

Garlic has nutrients that provide nourishment for the circulatory, immune and urinary systems. It aids in supporting with normal circulation, nourishing stomach tissues, maintaining normal blood pressure and aids the body's natural ability to resist disease. It also helps to reduce cholesterol and blood fats and is a good source of vitamins B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), C and K1, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorous, selenium and zinc.

Gentian root (Gentiana lutea, bitter root, bitterwort', centiyane, gall weed, genciana, yellow dock root)

Yellow gentian root is a bitter herb noted for its high iron content and therefore good to treat anaemia. It is useful in treating chronic digestive disorders and exhaustion caused by different diseases and gall bladder, liver, kidneys and urinary problems. It can help to strengthen the digestive system, stimulates the appetite and bile production, nutritionally supports the liver and nourishes the spleen, pancreas, stomach and kidneys. Gentian is one of the most useful bitter vegetable tonics. It is especially useful in all cases of general debility, weakness of the digestive organs and want of appetite. It is one of the best tonics to strengthen of the human system and is an excellent tonic and of extreme value in jaundice. It can also improve and treat anaemia, anorexia, blood impurities, colds, constipation, diarrhoea, dysentery, fever, flatulence, gastritis, gout, heart burn, high blood pressure, hysteria,  indigestion, malaria, menstruation/absent, nausea and vomiting, poor circulation, stomach cramps, worms and parasites, wounds and yeast infections.

It also nourishes the skin, purifies the blood and is known to treat impotency and bacterial orchitis. Some people use gentian to prevent muscle spasms, start menstrual periods and as a germ killer especially against the methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA).

The dandelion, gentian root and milk thistle herbs help to support the liver which, in turn, helps to remove excess oestrogen from the body and this can help to reduce the development of uterine fibroids.

To eliminate worms and parasites take 28 g (1 oz) of gentian root powder in a glass of any available liquid.

Externally gentian root can be applied to the skin for treating wounds and skin cancer.

NOTE: The highly toxic white hellebore (Veratrum album) can be misidentified as gentian and has caused accidental poisoning when used in homemade preparations.

Ginger (Gingiber officinalis, Zingiber officinale)

Ginger is good for bronchitis, colds, cough, digestion problems, muscle and menstrual cramps, increasing energy, sore throat, poor circulation, flu and infection with helicobacter pylori in the stomach. It has antioxidant, antiseptic and expectorant properties, promotes perspiration in a fever, cleanses the digestive tract in cases of diarrhoea, lowers blood pressure and thins the blood. It is also very useful for coughs, colds and flu, indigestion, nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness and motion sickness. It also helps the body to eliminate wastes through the skin. Ginger enhances circulation and acts as a catalyst for other herbs, to increase their effectiveness and helps relieve congestion.

Consuming 2 g of ginger per day can produce significantly higher insulin sensitivity which is beneficial to diabetics as well as lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Ginger can be taken with food, as a tea and the raw peeled root can be dabbed onto the affected area for relief of hives.

Externally, ginger is applied as a fomentation for the treatment of pain, inflammation and stiff joints. Simmer one ounce of dried ginger root in two quarts of water for ten minutes. Strain and soak a cloth in the water and apply to the affected area.  Keep changing the cloth to keep a constant warm temperature on the skin.  The skin should become red as the circulation increased. 

For children and adults with bronchial coughs: mix ginger root powder with a non-petroleum jelly and rub on the chest to help loosen coughs and expel mucous.

NOTE: Avoid cumin, ginger and turmeric if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication), or hormone therapies and contraceptive pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have heart problems or during the first three months of pregnancy or are breast feeding.

Ginger Thomas (Tecoma stans, yellow cedar, catapult tree)

Ginger Thomas has powerful components in its bark that can kill the Treponema pallidum bacteria that causes syphilis. A decoction of the leaves and barks is useful as a diuretic and as a treatment for headaches, diabetes and swollen legs. A tea made with pink cedar (Tabebuia heterophylla) flowers can be consumed to treat fevers.

Ginkgo Biloba (Ginkgo biloba, maidenhair tree)

Ginkgo biloba is one of the most promising and highly studied natural botanicals. Current interest in ginkgo began in the Orient, where it has long been valued for its effects on the challenges of aging. Ginkgo is effective in nutritionally supporting the body's systems, especially through its antioxidant properties. This is especially important as we grow older.

Aging is a process of deterioration and the hypothesis that free radicals (reactive molecules) in the body are a direct cause of this deterioration is gaining widespread acceptance. Recently, the benefits of antioxidant vitamins in reducing free radicals in the the body have been widely published. Ginkgo is a very potent free radical scavenger. Eliminating free radicals is important in preserving youthfulness. If the deterioration of the body systems is slowed down, fitness and vitality can be consistent all throughout life. Ginkgo biloba can also improve circulation and brain activity.

Ginseng (Panax spp)

The name "Ginseng" evolved from the Chinese name "man root". Since the 1950's an increasing amount of worldwide research was done that revealed ginseng's healing properties. Nutritionally beneficial for the immune system and long term energy. It nourishes the circulatory system and enhances mental alertness and stamina. For over 2000 years, ginseng has been used in the Far East as a tonic with revitalizing properties and to help boost energy. It is especially beneficial during times of stress and fatigue because it preserves glycogen, the glucose that is stored in the liver and muscle cells, by increasing the use of fatty acids as a source of energy. It has been shown that the active compound, Ginsenosides, helps the body to respond to stress and is also noted for its endurance enhancing effects.

Ginseng is known to have strong antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, especially against the Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and the fungi Sporothrix schenckii and Trichophyton rubru.

The possibility of side effects with ginseng use is low however, high dosages may cause insomnia and nervousness.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Ginseng should be strictly avoided under the following circumstances:

Goats Rue (Galega officinalis)

Goat’s rue is a wild legume used during the Middle Ages to treat the plague. It was also used to induce sweating to break fevers and to treat infections with parasitic worms and snakebite. This herb can help balance blood sugar levels and help women balance hormones. The plant has no odour unless a stem or leaf is bruised, causing the release of a stench, hence the name “goat’s rue.” Effective in both humans and animals alike.

Golden Rod (Solidago canadensis, Solidago odora, Solidago virgaurea, Aaron’s rod, blue mountain tea, heathen wound herb, woundwort)

Golden rod has powerful antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and acts as an effective diuretic. It is mostly used to treat infections and disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract, including bladder and kidney stones, but can also treat catarrh, colds, coughs, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal disorders, influenza, sore throats, whooping cough and inflammation causing arthritis and rheumatism. It is also effective against fungal infections such as Candida and oral or vaginal thrush and can treat the symptoms of viral infections including fever and stomach disorders and this is effective against mosquito borne infections such as yellow fever and the Zika virus.

The goldenrod herb also contains the compound known as rutin that is effective in treating capillary fragility.

Golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis)

American natives used goldenseal as a medication for inflammatory internal conditions such as respiratory, digestive and genital or urinary tract inflammation induced by allergy or infection. The Cherokee used the roots as a wash for local inflammations, a decoction for general debility, dyspepsia and to improve appetite. The Iroquois used a decoction of the root for whooping cough, diarrhoea, fever, flatulence, liver disease, pneumonia, stomach disorders and with whiskey for heart trouble. They also prepared a compound infusion with other roots for use as drops in the treatment of earache and as a wash for sore eyes

Golden seal can be used both internally and externally to help the body fight infections with its nutritional properties. It helps the body soothe inflammations of the mucous membranes and balance their function. This herb especially nourishes the liver, glandular and respiratory systems  and helps cleanse the system of foreign organisms.

This herb can also clear parasitic worm contaminations as well as bacterial infections of the mucous membranes within various human tracts like respiratory and gastrointestinal. Goldenseal's potent properties are primarily due to the alkaloids berberine, canadine and hydrastine which produce a powerful astringent effect on mucous membranes, reduce  inflammation and have antiseptic effects.

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)

Gotu kola can help to support the nervous system, especially the brain. It is said to help improve memory and enhance vitality throughout the body. This herb is known for helping the body to balance blood pressure levels and assist in the healing of wounds. Gotu Kola is known in India as a "longevity" herb. The plant portion above the ground contains a large amount of vellarin which is a substance that fights infections diseases like leprosy, syphilis and is also capable of treating allergies like eczema. Evidence from studies shows that asiaticoside, also found in gotu kola, damages the cell walls of the bacteria that cause leprosy. The weakened bacteria are then easier for the body's immune system to eliminate. Care is taken to dry this herb in the shade to preserve these valuable substances.

Gotu kola reduces scarring when applied during the inflammatory period of a wound. It is effective if applied on patients with third degree burns, when the treatment commences immediately after the accident. It is known to prevent infection and inhibit scar formation. It is also useful in repairing skin and connective tissues and smoothing out cellulite. Saponins (also called triterpenoids) known as asiaticoside, madecassoside, and madasiatic acid are the primary active constituents. These saponins beneficially affect collagen which is the material that makes up connective tissue

Grape seeds (Vitis vinefera)

Recent studies have discovered that there are inorganic mineral compounds such as iridium and rhodium in grape seeds and colloidal gold in black grape skins which causes cancer cells to 'commit suicide' within 24 hours without affecting surrounding healthy cells.

In a healthy person, cancer cell apoptosis is a normal, healthy part of biology. Every living system creates cancerous cells. There are hundreds or thousands of "micro tumours" in every human being living today, but cancerous cells in healthy people destroy themselves once they realize they're flawed. This cellular "realization," however, requires healthy cell communication, and that's dependent on the correct nutrients, minerals and proteins being available in the body.

Leukaemia cancer cells exposed to grape seed extract are rapidly killed through a process of cell suicide known as "apoptosis.". An astonishing 76% of leukaemia cells committed suicide within 24 hours thanks to the ability of compounds found in grape seeds which activates a protein called JNK, which regulates apoptosis. Put simply, a tumour is the result of out of control cell growth. To assure that the cell cycle - the cell's process of duplicating itself to make more cells - goes smoothly, a large network of proteins tells other proteins what to do and when to do it. When any of these layers of protein regulation fail, cell growth can get out of hand. On the molecular level, JNK influences cellular functions by tagging other proteins with a phosphate chemical group (a process known as phosphorylation), a common mechanism cells use to turn enzymes on and off.

Phosphorylation is so important that when JNK goes awry, a number of different disorders can result, such as cancer, diabetes or neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. This JNK activating compound cannot be found in seedless grapes (obviously) or grape seed oil as the process to make the oil removes it. Grape seed extract can be found as a supplement but if you can find grapes with the seeds intact it is perfectly safe to chew and swallow the seeds and may help in the fight against cancer. Why not try grinding the seeds (which do taste bitter) into a powder and adding to meals and drinks daily to take advantage of this healthy and nutritious source of cancer fighting food?

Guanabana (Ammona moncata, custard apple, graviola, guanabana, guyabano ) See Soursop

Guayaba  (Psidium guayaba)

This Amazonian fruit is edible and the infusion of foliar buds is used for diarrhoea, dentition and the swellings of gout, emotional shock, vertigo and vomiting and some use the floral infusion to regulate menstrual periods. The wood used to for tool handles, and for the “tramojo” (an implement put on pigs so they cannot walk easily).

Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestra, Australian cowplant, cowplant, gurma, madhunashini, merasingi, meshashringi, miracle plant and periploca of the woods.

H

Hawthorn berries (Crataegus monogyna)

Hawthorn berries are traditionally known for their strong and powerful effect on the circulatory system, particularly the heart. They have been used for centuries with great success, especially in Europe. Even today they remain a favourite among herbalists as a cardiac tonic. Hawthorn is valued for nourishing blood pressure and circulation. When used on a regular, long-term basis hawthorn exerts a continued protection to the cardiovascular system. It is said to boost heart health; hawthorn was found to reduce levels of blood fats and aid in the prevention of atherosclerosis in an animal study published in 2009.

Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum, tulsi, tulasī)

Holy basil has many medicinal properties. The leaves are a nerve tonic and sharpen memory. They promote the removal of the catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tube. The leaves strengthen the stomach and induce copious perspiration. The seed of the plant are mucilaginous.

Stress plays a destructive role in overall cardiovascular health and the adaptogenic properties of holy basil can help alleviate stress-related damage. It prevents stress-induced biochemical changes, improves energy levels and endurance, supports healthy immune functions and promotes healthy gastric tissue which is often subjected to damage during times of stress. It also has many beneficial actions on the heart as a blood thinner and promotes good circulation. When taken daily, it can lower high blood pressure by helping optimize cholesterol levels.

Holy basil contains excellent antibiotic, germicide, fungicide and disinfectant agents such as eugenol that is especially effective against Micrococcus luteus and Salmonella typhimurium. It can treat many types of infections that affect the eyes, intestines, lungs and skin and has been proven to speed up the healing of bone injuries.

The leaves of holy basil are specific for many fevers. During the rainy season, when malaria and dengue fever are widely prevalent, tender leaves, boiled with tea, act as preventive against these diseases. In case of acute fevers, a decoction of the leaves boiled with powdered cardamom in half a litre of water and mixed with honey and milk brings down the temperature.

The juice of holy basil leaves can be used to bring down fever especially in children. Extract of holy basil leaves in fresh water should be given every 2 to 3 hours. In between one can keep giving sips of cold water.

Holy basil leaves are an important constituent of many Ayurvedic cough syrups and expectorants. It helps to mobilize mucus in bronchitis and asthma.

Chewing Holy basil leaves relieves cold and flu.

Water boiled with holy basil leaves can be taken as a drink in the case of sore throat. This water can also be used as a gargle.

The herb is useful in the treatment of respiratory system disorders. A decoction of the leaves, with honey and ginger is an effective remedy for bronchitis, asthma, influenza, cough and cold. A decoction of the leaves, cloves and common salt also gives immediate relief in case of influenza. They should be boiled in half a litre of water till only half the water is left and then taken.

Holy Basil has strengthening effect on the kidneys. In case of renal stone the juice of holy basil leaves and honey, if taken regularly for 6 months it will expel them via the urinary tract.

Holy basil has a beneficial effect in heart disease and the weakness resulting from them. It reduces the level of blood cholesterol.

Common paediatric conditions like cough cold, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting respond favourably to the juice of basil leaves. If pustules of chicken pox delay their appearance, basil leaves taken with saffron will hasten them.

Holy basil leaves are regarded as an 'adaptogen' or anti-stress agent. Recent studies have shown that the leaves afford significant protection against stress. Even healthy persons can chew 12 leaves of holy basil, twice a day, to prevent stress. It purifies blood and helps prevent several common ailments.

The herb is a prophylactic or preventive and curative for insect stings or bites. A teaspoonful of the juice of the leaves is taken and is repeated after a few hours. Fresh juice must also be applied to the affected parts. A paste of fresh roots is also effective in case of bites of insects and leeches.

Applied locally, holy basil juice is beneficial in the treatment of ringworm and other skin diseases. It has also been tried successfully by some naturopaths in the treatment of leucoderma.

It is also useful for teeth disorders. Its leaves, dried in the sun and powdered, can be used for brushing teeth. It can also be mixed with mustered oil to make a paste and used as toothpaste. This is very good for maintaining dental health, counteracting bad breath and for massaging the gums. It is also useful in pyorrhoea and other teeth disorders.

Holy basil makes a good medicine for headache. A decoction of the leaves can be given for this disorder. Pounded leaves mixed with sandalwood paste can also be applied on the forehead for getting relief from heat, headache and for providing coolness in general.

Holy basil juice is an effective remedy for sore eyes and night-blindness, which is generally caused by deficiency of vitamin A. Two drops of black basil juice are put into the eyes daily at bedtime.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera pericylmenum, Lonicera japonica)

Honeysuckle flowers have antibiotic properties and can be drunk as a tea to treat asthma, bladder infections, colds, coughs and colds, diabetes, diarrhoea, fevers, headaches, infections caused by the Streptococcus bacteria, intestinal bacterial infections such as Salmonella, inflammation, sore throat, tuberculosis and upper respiratory tract infections. Combining honeysuckle with chrysanthemum flowers is the most effective at treating a cold.

The tea is also useful for patients with hepatitis C as it can reduce nausea and vomiting and the buds of honeysuckle flower can be efficiently used to treat various digestion related disorders.

Honeysuckle can also be used externally in a bath to relieve burns, minor sunburn and skin rashes such as those caused by the measles virus.

Combining honeysuckle with other herbs such as cowslip, Echinacea, ginger root, milk thistle and mulberries provides powerful health benefits for the liver and kidneys.

NOTE: Some individuals may experience skin irritation from the application of honeysuckle and the blue berries growing along with the flowers may be poisonous at times so should be avoided. Pregnant women should avoid using honeysuckle internally or externally.

Hops (Humulus lupulus)

These are the dried female flower clusters of the hop plant. They are added to beer to improve its flavour and to help preserve it. Hops are rich in nutrients that nourish the nervous system. The herbalist Culpeper said, "It opens obstructions of the liver and spleen, cleanses the blood, loosens the belly, cleanses the veins from gravel and provokes urine." This plant is considered both a tonic and relaxant.

The alcoholic hop extracts have been used by doctors in China in different dosages to cure different forms of diseases, such as leprosy, pulmonary tuberculosis and acute bacterial dysentery. Lupulon and humulon are two of the other antibiotic bitter acids present in the herb, which provide partial effectiveness in treatments involving hops.

Hops also help in relaxing and soothing the muscles in the digestive tract. Plus, they can help with relieving pain and can sedate, relax and reduce the effects of anxiety hyperactivity, stress, nervousness, body pain and restlessness. They are also used to treat insomnia, sexually transmitted disease, shock, toothache and ulcers.

Hop extract when rubbed into the scalp help to deal with dandruff and flaky skin on the scalp. Shampoo the hair then apply the hop extract and rub in all over the head. Then, rinse the hair as normal and apply usual conditioner.

Horehound root (white: Marrubium vulgare, black: Ballota nigra)

Horehound is a bitter herb from the mint family that grows like a weed in many areas of the world. It was first mentioned in the first century in ancient Rome. In his manual of medicine A. Cornelius Celsus, described antiseptic uses as well as treatments for respiratory ailments using horehound juice. In his book, 'On Agriculture', first century agriculturist Lucius Columella wrote about the use of horehound for various farm animal ailments such as ulcers, scabs and worms. In humans, it is useful for treatment of disorders of the respiratory system and a natural expectorant. It can also stimulate menstrual flow and induce abortions.

NOTE: Excessive use of horehound root may lead to high blood pressure and should be avoided by pregnant women.

Horny goat weed (Epimedium, yin yang huo)

Horny goat weed is a pungent ornamental herb found in Asia and the Mediterranean. Legend has it that the name came from a herder who noticed his goats becoming more sexually active after eating the plant. Horny goat weed plant has the botanical name Epimedium because it is like a plant found in the ancient Asian kingdom of Media, now a part of Iran.

It has a history of traditional use for disorders of the kidneys, joints and liver. It also is now used in the western world is as an aphrodisiac for both men and women and it can also help with erectile dysfunction and combat fatigue.

It contains flavonol glycosides, ikarisoside A, icarisid II, epimedoside A, icariin, epimedin B, yinyanghuo A - E and epimedokoreanoside. Flavonoids include chrysoeriol, quercetin, apigenin, kaempferol, and luteolin. Like viagra, Icariin can block an erection-inhibiting enzyme but without the side effects.

Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horse chestnut is widely used externally or taken internally in the treatment of haemorrhoids, varicose veins, swollen ankles, sports injuries and in mouth washes to treat tender gums. It is also good for poor circulation in the veins or chronic venous insufficiency. It is used to relieve symptoms such as swelling and inflammation and strengthen blood vessel walls. The active compound is believed to be aescin.

Horse chestnut can be taken as a tea and applied externally as a compress.

NOTE: People with an allergy to the horse chestnut family, bleeding disorders, or people taking blood thinners should not take horse chestnut. Only products made from the seeds or bark of the young branches should be used. Other parts of the plant are poisonous. Although uncommon, side effects have included bruising, kidney and liver damage and severe bleeding.

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense, Vegetal silica, common horsetail, field horsetail, shavegrass)

Horsetail is a herbaceous perennial plant, native throughout the arctic and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Oil from the roots can be used to treat toxoplasmosis. Horsetail is also rich in "beauty" nutrients that nourish the nails, skin, hair, bones and the body's connective tissue. It is also benefits the glands and urinary tract and helps heal fractured bones because of its rich supply of nutrients.  Horsetail has traditionally been used as a diuretic (helps rid the body of excess fluid by increasing urine output). Horsetail contains silica which is lethal to the eggs of parasites and so is a good remedy to eliminate worms.

Externally it can be used to stop bleeding and heal ulcers and wounds.

NOTE:  Another species of horsetail called Equisetum palustre is poisonous to horses.

Ho Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum, flowery knotweed, fo-ti, he shou wu)

Fabled in Asian history to restore the original colour of greying hair, compounds in the ho shou wu root can help to support the glandular, nervous and skeletal systems. This herb is also reputed to enhance the health of the liver and kidneys. The properties of ho shou wu are said to be similar to golden seal, chamomile and ginseng. It is known to help improve health, stamina and resistance to diseases. It is also effective in the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer's disease.

Huang Lian (Picrorhiza kurroa, Coptis chinensis, kadu, katuka kutka, kutki, picroliv, titka kul)

Huang lian is one of the oldest Chinese medicinal plants traded from the Karnali zone of the Nepalese Himalayas. Berberine is a major active component in the root of this herb which has been used in China to treat what is now identified as type 2 diabetes for thousands of years. In 2008 it was found that the natural plant alkaloid berberine is just as effective and much safer than metformin, the patent medicine most commonly now prescribed to help re-regulate blood sugar in type 2 diabetes.

This herb contains berberine which is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, antimicrobial, fungicidal and antiviral agent meaning it can be used to treat many infectious diseases including bacillary dysentery, diphtheria, malaria, scarlet fever, tuberculosis and typhoid to name but a few.

It is also used for allergies, asthma, cirrhosis, fever, jaundice and liver infections caused by a virus (acute viral hepatitis). Some people use it for digestion problems including indigestion, constipation and ongoing diarrhoea. Other uses include treatment of infection, scorpion stings, epilepsy, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis.

It is used externally to treat boils, burns, carbuncles, ear infections, eczema, painful red eyes, sore throat, toxic sores, vitiligo (a disorder that causes white patches on the skin).

Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

Hydrangea is traditionally used to strengthen the urinary tract and help regulate its function. This plant contains alkaloids which help soothe the body, especially in the bladder and kidney areas. Hydrangea also works like a natural inflammation reliever and cleanses the joint areas.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis, curdukotu, hastipippili, hisopo, yanagi-hakka)

Hyssop has been used for hundreds of years as an herbal remedy for afflictions of the respiratory system. It soothes throats and nourishes the lungs. Hyssop is a perennial plant from the family of Laminacea, or mint family. This family contains a wide variety of medicinal and kitchen herbs. Other well known plants in this family are peppermint, basil, sage, lavender, thyme and catnip.

Hyssop has been used for cleansing ritual and as medicine since biblical times. Nowadays it is known that the volatile oil and other ingredients that are contained in the leaves and green stems have antibacterial, antiviral and other beneficial properties.

The infusion or decoction is being used to bring relief for the symptoms of lung and upper respiratory problems like the common cold, bronchitis, catarrh and asthma, as it is antispasmodic, sweat-inducing and an expectorant (helps with the coughing up of mucus). It can also bring relief in these conditions by preparing a poultice that is placed directly on the chest or through applying of Hyssop-oil containing ointment.

Hot decoction vapours are also used as a natural remedy for tinnitus. Prepared as an infusion, hyssop can be used as natural treatment for colic, abdominal cramps, as a stimulant, to eliminate flatulence and to help with upset stomach. Since hyssop works as a diuretic (increases the urine output) that can help flush out excessive sodium from the body and therefore lower the blood pressure.

Hyssop leaves can be prepared for medicinal use as infusion, decoction, or poultice. The commercially available oil can be used internally after dilution or in ointments for external use.

For an infusion one teaspoon of the dried herbs should be steeped in half a cup water. Over the course of the day half to one and a half cups should be taken, a mouthful at a time.

For a decoction, one teaspoon of the herb should be boiled with one cup water. The usual dose is one to two cups per day.

To prepare a poultice, the fresh or dried herb should be soaked in a small amount of boiling water for 15 minutes and place on a cloth for application. The crushed fresh leaves, if available, can also be applied directly to the skin for similar effects.

NOTE:
The essential oil contains pino-camphone. This ketone can cause convulsions and seizures when taken in high doses. It is therefore not advisable to take hyssop oil and other hyssop preparations internally in high doses or over a longer time than two weeks. As with all natural products allergies can develop. Since these can potentially be life-threatening, a doctor should be consulted immediately, if symptoms like skin rashes, swelling of skin or tongue, difficulty breathing, and/or tightness in the chest develop after the use of hyssop preparations.

I

 Icoja (Unonopsis floribunda diels)

An alcoholic maceration of this Amazonian plant's root is used for arthritis, rheumatism and diarrhoea. There is another species: Unonopsis spectabilis also commonly called “icoja” and its bark is used for arthritis, bronchitis, diarrhoea, lung disorders, malaria and rheumatism.

Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis, Phyllanthus emblica, amla, emblic, emblic myrobalan, malacca tree, myrobalan)

Indian gooseberry, also known as amla from the Sanskrit amalika, is a deciduous tree of the family Phyllanthaceae. The fruits are rich in vitamin C and Indian gooseberry juice promotes proper functioning of the pancreas and can help to prevent and treat diabetes. It is also good for the health of the eyes.

Take two to three Indian gooseberries, remove the seeds and grind into a fine paste. Put the paste in a cloth and squeeze out the juice. Mix two tablespoons of the juice in one cup of water and drink it daily on an empty stomach. Alternatively, mix one tablespoon of Indian gooseberry juice in a cup of bitter gourd juice and drink it daily for a few months.

Externally, Indian gooseberry powder mixed with water is very effective in reducing the itching and burning sensation of measles.

Indian nettle (Acalphya indica)

Indian nettle, is native to India as its name indicates. It is a medicinal herb having expectorant, emetic, anodyne, hypnotic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic and wound healing properties. It has been used traditionally for treating various conditions like pneumonia, asthma, rheumatism, bedsores, wounds etc. The juice of Indian nettle herb is mixed with oil or lime to treat various skin diseases.

Clotrimazole is a medication used to treat yeast infections of the vagina, mouth and skin such as athlete's foot, jock itch and body ringworm. In studies, it was found that the agents in Indian nettle were more potent in controlling the fungi Aspergillus niger and Candida albicans and the bacteria Escherichia coli.

Indian nettle is also a very good remedy for unwanted hair, especially facial hair, as it gently permeates the skin gradually thinning hair on face. With time, facial hair fall off and then stop growing altogether. Turmeric, with its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties is one of the skin friendly herbs that works excellently with Indian nettle to get rid of unwanted facial hair. See Hair Removal.

Indian Tobacco See Lobelia

Iporuro (Alchornea castaneifolia)

An alcoholic bark maceration of this Amazonian plant is used to treat rheumatism, arthritis, colds and muscle pains. The “Candochi-shapra” and the “Shipibos” used the bark and roots to treat rheumatism and cough. Others take one tablespoon of bark decoction before meals for diarrhoea. Iporuro is a powerful aphrodisiac and the leaves are used to increase fertility for the impotent male. It is sometimes found in the famous “Rompe calzon” aphrodisiac.

J

Japanese or Chinese knotweed (Fallopia japonica, Polygonum cuspidatum)

Japanese knotweed is an excellent source of the potent antioxidant resveratrol. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to have positive anti-cancer and weight loss benefits. Resveratrol helps reduce inflammation, prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and makes it more difficult for platelets to stick together and form the clots that can lead to a heart attack. It is a tremendous anti-aging agent and may protect nerve cells from damage and the build-up of plaque that can lead to Alzheimer's disease.

Resveratrol also helps prevent insulin resistance, a condition in which the body becomes less sensitive to the effects of the blood sugar-lowering hormone, insulin. Insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. Resveratrol protected mice fed a high-calorie diet from obesity-related health problems by mimicking the effects of caloric restriction.

Japanese knotweed root is known to aid the central nervous system and kill the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.

Significant components in Knotweed

Alkaloids, astringin, barium, bromine, calcium, catechin, chrysophanol, citreosein, copper, dimethylhyroxychromone, emodin, emodin monomethyl ether, fallacinol, glucofragulin, glucoside, iodine, iron, isoquercitrin, manganese, methylcourmarin, molybdenum, napthoquinone, nickel, oxalic acid, phenolics, phosphorus, physcion, physide, piceid, piceatannol, plastoquinone, polydatin (piceid), polydatoside, polygonin, potassium, protocatechuic acid, quercitrin, questin, questinol, resveratrol, reynoutriin, rheic acid, rubidium, rutin, sterol/terpenes, sulphur, tannin, trans-resveratrol and zinc.

NOTE: Avoid Japanese or Chinese knotweed if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as aspirin and ibuprofen due to the risk of bleeding.

Jasmine (Jasminum officinale)

Jasmine flowers are often added to teas for the distinct flavour but they also have some powerful nutritional benefits. The antioxidants in jasmine tea can help protect the body against damage from free radicals. Free radicals are oxidized molecules that have unpaired electrons. As they circulate through the body, they steal electrons from other molecules to replace the ones they are missing. This process can damage the body's cells and is associated with the aging process. Drinking jasmine green tea can help prevent damage from free radicals.

Drinking jasmine green tea regularly also reduces the amount of dietary fat and cholesterol absorbed by the body.

Jasmine is especially good for weight loss because of its naturally sweet taste. Even people who would normally add sugar or honey to their tea often find that they enjoy jasmine tea without it.

Methyl jasmonate and cis-jasmone are two key chemical constituents of jasmine which have been shown to prevent cancer of the oesophagus, prostate and breast.

Green tea with jasmine must be of high grade quality to benefit from the nutritional value.  Unfortunately, jasmine flavouring rather than the flowers is often used to improve the flavour of poor quality tea. Always check that the tea is organic and made from the young green tea buds and that there are no artificial additives.

One of the aromatic components of jasmine is linalool. In aromatherapy, jasmine essential oil has a tranquilizing effect. The smell of jasmine can slow down the heart rate, reduce stress and anxiety and cause a calm mood.

Jergon Sacha (Dracontium loretense)

The root of this Amazonian tree is used to treat snakebites and indigenous people repel snakes by whipping their feet and legs with the branches. The corms/roots are used to control and steady the shaking hands of Parkinson's disease. It is also a very powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb and is especially useful in fighting HIV/AIDS and cancer (taken together with Cat's Claw and/or Pau D'Arco).

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum)

Jiaogulan is a popular Chinese herb in traditional Chinese medicine. Gypenosides extracted from Jiaogulan decrease cancer cell viability, arrests the cell cycle and induces apoptosis (cell death) in human cancer.

Juniper berries (Juniperus communis)

Components in juniper berries can strengthen the urinary system and help the gastrointestinal system. They are also useful in the treatment of upset stomach, heartburn, flatulence, bloating, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal infections and intestinal worms. The antiseptic properties in juniper disinfect the urinary tract to provide treatment and relief for conditions like urinary tract infections, urethritis, kidney stones and bladder stones. Juniper also acts as a diuretic to help flush excess fluids and waste from the body. This helps rid the body of excess uric acid which can lead to gout. It also reduces fluid around the joints. Ingested juniper is high in natural insulin and therefore lowers blood sugar levels. It can also help heal the pancreas if no permanent damage has occurred. Juniper also alleviates problems associated with menstruation.

The bark, berries, fruit, needles and roots all contain the medicinal active components which are particularly effective against Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella dysenteriae, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus.

NOTE: Juniper berries should not be consumed when pregnant as they are a uterine stimulant. Repeated use can cause kidney damage and those with serious kidney disorders should avoid them. They may also cause increased menstrual flow.

K

Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)

Kava kava's botanical name roughly translated means "intoxicating pepper". The rhizome (underground stem) is used as a sedative to alleviate stress, anxiety and insomnia and soothe the nerves. The active components in kava root are called kavalactones. Specific types of kavalactones include dihydrokavain, methysticin, kavain, dihydromethysticin, dihydrokawain, yangonin and desmethoxyyangonin.

NOTE: Possible side effects of over consumption of kava kava can include indigestion, mouth numbness, skin rash, headache, drowsiness and visual disturbances. Chronic or heavy use of kava has linked to pulmonary hypertension, skin scaling, loss of muscle control, kidney damage, and blood abnormalities. Kava may also lower blood pressure and it also may interfere with blood clotting, so it should not be used by people with bleeding disorders. People with Parkinson’s disease should avoid kava because it may worsen symptoms and it should not be taken within two weeks of surgery. Pregnant and nursing women, children, and people with liver or kidney disease should also avoid kava.

Kudzu root (Pueraria lobatam Japanese arrowroot)

A relative to the pea family and native to China (known as gé gēn) and Japan, kudzo is a voracious invasive plant that is often sprayed with herbicide so source is important. It contains isoflavones puerarin and daidzein (an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent) and daidzin (structurally related to genistein). Kudzu root can combat both gram-negative and gram-positive food borne pathogens in various foods, especially liquid foods

It has shown value in treating migraine and headaches. and is often used for allergies and diarrhoea. In Chinese medicine, it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs and is used to treat alcoholism, hangovers, tinnitus and vertigo. The flowers are used to detoxify the liver. Kudzu may also be helpful in treating Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The roots, flowers and leaves of kudzu all show antioxidant activity.

L

Lady slipper (Cypripedium areitinum, Cypripedium pubescens, Cypripedium calceolus, orchid, American valerian, nerve root, bleeding heart, moccasin flower, monkey flower, Noah's ark, slipper root, venus shoe, yellows)

Lady slipper is a member of the orchid family and its root contains many nervine properties. The plant was held in high regard by the indigenous tribes of America, who used it to ease menstrual and labour pains and to counter insomnia and nervous conditions, headaches, spasms and cramps. The Chippewa placed the dried and remoistened root directly onto skin inflammations and toothaches to relieve discomfort. The Cherokee used one variety to treat worms in children. It has also been used to treat reflex functional disorders, chorea, hysteria, nervous headaches, insomnia, low fevers, nervous unrest, hypochondria, and nervous depression accompanying stomach disorders.

Like valerian, lady's slipper is an effective tranquilliser, reducing emotional tension and often calms the mind sufficiently to allow sleep. It appears to have more positive restorative effects than that of valerian. However, because of its scarcity and cost, lady's slipper is now used only on a small scale as a sedative and for relaxing herb treating such stress-related disorders as palpitations, headaches, muscular tension, panic attacks, and neurotic conditions.

Land caltrop (Tribulus terrestris, abrojos, al gutub, bai ji li, gokshura, puncture vine, tack weed)

The fruit, leaves and roots of land caltrop have properties known to optimise the function of the prostate and urinary tract and can help to treat orchitis which is a swelling of one or both testicles. It contains a saponin which is also known to help with premature ejaculation and sexual function by increasing sperm production, motility, survival time and the quality of the sperm.

It has properties which can help to support the liver and kidneys and can help to treat anaemia, diabetes high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and urinary tract infections. It also promotes a good mood and helps to counteracts anxiety, depression, nervousness and stress.

It can also help to treat the andropause in men and dysuria (painful urination) associated with cystitis and is a diuretic herb. It also helps to strengthen and enhance the blood circulation and immune system. If taken with ginger it can help to treat gout. Extracts from the seeds, roots and leaves of land caltrop contain antimicrobial substances, such as saponins, carboline alkaloids, that can treat infections of urinary tract.

To treat bladder and kidney stones make a paste with land caltrops seed powder and mix with honey. Take one teaspoon three times a day under the stones are gone.

It also helps to promote recovery after physical exertion and is popular with athletes.

NOTE: Land caltrop can cause foetal miscarriage and must be avoided by pregnant or breast feeding women or individuals with breast or prostate cancer. Excess consumption of land caltrop can cause sleep disturbances and irregular menstruation and high doses may adversely affect the eyes and liver.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula. stoechas, Lavandula luisieri)

There are four species of lavender that have potent antimicrobial properties against the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and meticillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus </i(MSSA). They are known as Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula. stoechas, and Lavandula luisieri. Results of studies have shown that the necrodane-rich Lavandula luisieri oil interacted synergistically with Lavandula stoechas (high in 1,8-cineole, fenchone, and camphor) and Lavandula langustifolia (rich in linalool and linalyl acetate) to produce larger inhibition zones of these bacteria than those produced using each oil individually.

Lavender is widely used for its calming and relaxing properties, in ointments and oils for the treatment of muscular aches and pains including rheumatism. Massaging the body with lavender oil can dramatically reduce high blood pressure by 50 percent. Lavender works as a vasodilator by relaxing and expanding the blood vessels, thereby causing the blood pressure to lower. Lavender oil can be applied throughout the body or by bathing using either lavender flowers or the oil itself. Boiled lavender leaves and flowers can be used internally, as a tea, which has the added benefits of treating insomnia or an upset stomach.

Aids with digestion
Lavender also helps with bloating, flatulence and upset stomach.

Mosquito repellent
Lavender can be applied to the skin to repel mosquitoes and other insects.

Relieves tension
A tea made of lavender flowers relieves tension caused by nerves and stress. Lavender also reduces muscle spasms, increases relaxation and helps with menstrual cramps.

Sleep aid
Lavender tea is a traditional home remedy for insomnia. Inhaling lavender oil vapour is also used for insomnia and agitation.

Lavender tea recipe (makes 2 cups)

  • 2 tbsps of dried lavender flowers

  • 2 cups boiling water

  • 1 tbsp of honey

  • 1 tbsp or organic lemon juice

Method

  • In a teapot put the dried lavender flowers and pour the boiling water over them

  • Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes

  • Strain and add the honey and lemon juice

Neem leaves, rosemary and lavender contain natural insecticidal properties and act as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. These herbs together with aroma therapeutic ingredients such as tea tree oil and rose geranium have the ability to eliminate external parasites including pubic lice and prevent re-infestation.

NOTE: Rosemary is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women or those with high blood pressure.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, melissa oil)

The name 'Melissa' means honey bee in Greek. Lemon balm is easy to grow and very attractive to bees and gives their honey a lemony scent. This herb was brought to Britain by the Romans and has soothing and sedative properties which helps with relaxation and sleep. It is also useful to treat colic, poor digestion, vertigo and  vomiting. It was often used by Avicenna, the famous Arab physician.

Lemon balm contains harmine, also known as telepathine, which is a fluorescent harmala alkaloid belonging to the beta-carboline family of compounds which has shown in studies to induce beta-cell proliferation, increase islet mass and improve blood sugar balance in diabetics.

Lemon balm contains many potent volatile oils such as caffeic, ferulic and rosmarinic acids and tannins that can combat viruses such as the herpes simplex virus, HIV/AIDS, influenza virus, myxoviruses, Newcastle disease virus, Semliki forest virus and vaccinia.

It is equally effective against oral and vaginal bacteria including Actinomyces odontolyticus, Capnocytophaga gingivalis, Eikenella corrodens, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Peptostreptococcus micros, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella spp. and Veilonella parvula and a multi-resistant strain of Shigella sonei.

It is also affective against many yeast species including, Torulaspora delbrueckii, Zygosaccharomyces bailii, Pichia membranifaciens, Dekkera anomala and Yarrowia lipolytica.

Lemon balm makes a refreshing tea that calms anxiety, restores depleted energy, enhances the memory and acts as a  decongestant and antihistamine, helping with chronic problems like asthma or allergies and helps reduce hay fever symptoms. Lemon balm leaf tea with mint or peppermint leaves and a teaspoon of locally produced honey, can eliminate hay fever symptoms and reduce bloating and flatulence.

To make a tea, pour hot water onto a handful of leaves in a jar. Screw on the lid and then cool leave to chill for four hours in the refrigerator then strain out the leaves and serve the liquid with ice. Make the tea as above but include the mint or peppermint leaves then reheat, strain and add the honey then sip slowly. Drink three cups a day.

Externally, a tea made from lemon balm can be used to dab onto spots and other skin rashes at night to relieve itching and help them to heal faster. The essential oil can be used as an insect and mosquito repellent. Crush a handful of the leaves in the hand and rub them on exposed skin.

Lemon balm leaves may be dried or frozen to preserve them. Make ice cube trays of the tea to use daily.

NOTE Sun on the skin must be avoided, after applying lemon balm, due to the risk of sunburn.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon)

Lemongrass is a tall stalked plant with a lemony scent that grows in many tropical climates, most notably in Southeast Asia. A common ingredient in Thai cooking, lemongrass provides a zesty lemon flavour and aroma to many Thai dishes. Lemon juice (or lime) may be substituted for lemongrass, but citrus fruits will not be able to fully replicate its qualities. Lemongrass is also thought to have numerous health benefits, especially when used in combination with other Thai spices such as garlic, fresh chillies and coriander. Thailand's favourite soup, ‘Tom Yum Kung’, is thought to be capable of combating colds, influenza and even some cancers.

There are some volatile oils in lemongrass that can inhibit the growth of the multi-drug resistant bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. When combined with honey, these oils show more potent activity against Staphylococcus aureus.

Lemongrass is also useful for diarrhoea, catarrh, colic, congestive and neuralgic forms of dysmenorrhoea, vomiting, flatulence, menstruation disorders, muscle spasms and fever,  For fevers, combine with ginger, honey and cinnamon. It is also beneficial for children's digestive system.

Externally, it can be used to treat athletes foot, chronic rheumatism, lice, lumbago, neuralgia, ringworm, scabies and sprains. Mix with pure coconut oil to apply as a liniment.

Citronella oil is derived from the leaves and stems of lemon grass and is an excellent insect repellent especially against mosquitoes and can also be used as an effective household cleaner without harsh chemical additives.

NOTE: Lemongrass is extremely fibrous and a little “stringy”. For this reason, be sure to cook thoroughly. If making a soup, for example, boil the lemongrass for at least 5-10 minutes in order for it to soften adequately.

Grow Lemongrass at Home

Buy a few stalks and place the bulb end in water and allow to soak until roots form (this may take anywhere from two weeks to a month). Once the lemongrass has developed roots ½ to 1 inches long, plant in the garden or in a pot with lots of rich soil. Lemongrass likes sun and warm temperatures, so to keep it indoors as a houseplant in the winter and place near a south-facing window.

Linden (Tilia cordata, Tilia platyphyllos, common lime; European lime; lime tree)

Linden is a herb that comes from various species of Tilia, or lime tree. It has been used in European folk medicine for centuries to treat a wide range of health problems. Linden flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are the parts used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the linden flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants), volatile oil, and mucilage components (which are soothing and reduce inflammation). The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.

Linden may have antispasmodic (reducing muscle contractions), astringent (drying), diuretic and sedative properties. Tilia cordata/platyphyllos flowers can treat colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine); as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. Tilia cordata/platyphyllos wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). Tilia cordata/platyphyllos charcoal has been used orally to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat swelling (oedema) or infection (such as cellulitis or ulcers) of the lower leg.

NOTE: Frequent use of linden has been linked with heart damage. Do not use if you have heart disease or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

NOTE: Avoid linden if taking diuretics (water pills) as it could increase the concentration of lithium in the blood.

Liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Liquorice root nutritionally supports the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, heart and spleen. This herb can soothe irritated mucous membranes and help the body get rid of unwanted mucus with its expectorant properties. Liquorice root has properties like cortisone and oestrogen. It stimulates the adrenal glands and helps the body cope with stress.

Genuine liquorice root has been a key ingredient in most Chinese herbal formulas for more than 3,000 years. Research indicates that liquorice's two primary ingredients-glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetinic acid boost production of interferon. Active ingredients hypericin and pseudohypericin, are phytochemicals that display strong antiviral properties enough to overpower herpes simplex viruses type 1 and 2, certain flu viruses (influenza A and B) and EBV.

It can also treat chronic hepatitis B. Glycyrrhizin interferes with hepatitis B surface antigen and is synergistic with interferon against hepatitis A virus. It is also used at times to treat hepatitis C. Liquorice root helps protect the liver from damage due to chemotherapy. At low doses, the herb stimulates the liver to manufacture cholesterol and excrete it in bile. This can help lower serum cholesterol levels.

NOTE: If suffering from high blood pressure, a heart condition, oedema or are taking certain medications such as warfarin or diuretics, do not take liquorice root.

Lobelia (Lobelia inflata, asthma weed, bladderpod, emetic herb, emetic weed, eyebright, gagroot, Indian tobacco, lobelia herb, pan pien lien, pokeweed, puke weed, rag root, vomit root, vomit wort, wild tobacco)

Lobelia has been traditionally revered for its soothing properties that nourish the nervous system. Lobelia also enhances the function of the respiratory system and has antispasmodic effects. This herb is traditionally used for convulsions, seizures and tremors and relaxes the muscles.

Lobelia helps the body remove obstructions and congestion, thus strengthening and improving many areas. It nourishes and strengthens the lung areas, as well as soothing the muscles and joints.

Lobelia, also known as Indian tobacco, is technically not a tobacco, even though it is smoked and is known for reversing the lung damage that is caused by smoking real tobaccos. It has also been used in preparations designed to lessen one's desire for nicotine.

Lomatium dissectum (Lomatium cous, lomatium geyeri, lomatium macrocarpum, biscuit root)

Lomatium, a member of the parsley family, is historically, one of the most important medicinal plants of the native American Indians who used the herb as an internal remedy for viral and bacterial infections, especially those of the eyes, respiratory tract and urinary tract. Several tribes of Indians ate the shoots and roots. Some also immersed the fresh root in streams to stun fish for harvesting. However, the most important use of the herb was as a medicine. A decoction of the root was taken internally, and the above ground portion of the plant was smoked or burned and inhaled to treat coughs, colds, ocular infections, throat infections, hay fever, bronchitis, asthma, influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis. The decoction was also applied externally for cuts, sores and rashes; the oily sap was placed on skin lesions and used in the eyes for trachoma, gonorrhoeal infections, rheumatic conditions, as well as the chronic viral infections and immune system suppression prevalent today (HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, viral hepatitis, herpes simplex I and II and candida infections. Lomatium can inhibit bacteria, fungi and viruses and decrease inflammation.

The raw root was chewed for sore throat and used as a poultice for swellings, sprains and rheumatism. It was also used to cure equine distemper and as a nail fungicide for humans and animals.

A doctor named Ernest Krebbs, who was working in the desert in Nevada, found that the Indians there were peeling lomatium root, drawing and boiling it and skimming off the oil. Using about a pound of herb, the Indians were getting well within a week’s time. Krebbs and other doctors began using the root and found it had significant healing effects. It gained in popularity, and soon four manufacturing plants were producing the extract. Since it was a Western frontier remedy, however, lomatium never attracted the attention of the medical profession in general, and shortly after the influenza epidemic died off, interest in lomatium died as well

Lomatium contains coumarins which have a broad range of physiological activities such as estrogenic action; spasmolytic, sedative, anthelmintic and/or uricosuric actions. They have been found to activate adrenaline, useful in the treatment of malignant metastasis and in therapy for retinal pigment degeneration. Coumarins are free of toxic side effects and may be used for years without cumulative effects.

Lomatium also contains saponins and have been used historically as medicinal remedies, specifically as tonics, tranquilizers, expectorants and antitussive agents. Recent research reports anti-tumour, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of saponins, as well as their ability to stimulate production of serum proteins. Water soluble triterpenoidal saponins reportedly enhance antibody production which actively stimulate the immune system.

NOTE: Lomatium is best to use with a liver/urinary stimulant such as dandelion to help avoid a lomatium rash side effect.

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)

The loquat is a shrub-like species of flowering plant in the family Rosaceae, native to south-central China. The fruit is sometimes used as a sedative and is thought to reduce vomiting and excessive thirst. Loquat leaf tea is a traditional medicinal remedy for brain, colon, liver, pancreas and respiratory disorders, diarrhoea and inflammation as it contains potent antioxidants.

It can also help to improve the mood and supports skin health. Compounds in the leaves also act as a mucolytic agent which can help to dissolve thick mucus that holds onto infectious and toxic compounds. The vitamin B17 in the loquat leaves is known to help combat liver disorders as well as supporting the liver’s ability to process and eliminate poisons in the body

Loquat leaf produces a variety of chemicals called triterpenes and one of the most important is tormentic acid that has been shown to increase insulin production which may help reduce the symptoms related to diabetes.

The loquat leaf also produces a variety of acids that produce antigens which are antiviral agents. Two of these chemicals are called megastigmane glycosides and polyphenolic constituents and the triterpene chemicals may help prevent and treat rhinovirus (the common cold).

One of the major drugs that is used to combat the side effects of chemotherapy is adriamycin and loquat leaf can help to reduce the side effects associated with this drug.

The loquat and leaves are low in calories and contain high amounts of calcium, copper, fibre, iron, manganese, pectin, phosphorous, polysaccharides, potassium, vitamins A, B3, B6, B9 and B17 and phenolic flavonoid antioxidants such as chlorogenic, coumaric, ferulic, feruloylquinic, hydroxybenzoic, neo-chlorogenic and protocatechuic acids, triterpenes and epicatechins. Ripe fruits have more chlorogenic acid concentrations. They also contain small amounts of vitamin C.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis, Jerusalem cowslip, lung moss, oak lungs)

Lungwort is a herb related to borage that is used in cough medicines, to relieve fluid retention and to treat lung diseases such as tuberculosis. It can also help to protect and repair lungs that have been damaged by tobacco smoking. The plant is used to flavour vermouth, and mixed with coltsfoot, it is a common cough remedy for children’s whooping cough.

The plant also has antibiotic properties which means it can kill the bacteria which cause lung and chest infections. It also contains the bioflavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol and research has shown that it also exhibits some anti-tumour activities.

An infusion of one teaspoonful of the dried herb to a cup of boiling water is taken several times a day for subduing inflammation and for its healing effect in pulmonary disorders.

Lungwort contains allantoin which is known to have wound healing properties so this supports the plant’s traditional use for skin problems such as eczema. Lungwort can also be applied topically to the skin as a drying agent (astringent).

M

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) See Pepperwort

Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)

The male fern can help the body get rid of tapeworm parasites.

Mandrake (Mandragora officianarum, atropa mandragora, alraun, devil's testicles, mandragora, Satan's apple)

The Greek name from which the word 'Mandragora' is derived implies a plant that is harmful to cattle

Extracts from the mandrake root can support the liver, gallbladder and all aspects of digestion and can exert a powerful beneficial influence on the glands but care must be taken with preparation.

The leaves can be applied as a poultice to swellings, inflammations and hardened glands.

NOTE: The 'apples' are narcotic, milder than the root, but still powerful enough to kill if taken in excessive quantity

NOTE: Mandrake contains the tropane alkaloids atropine, cuscohygrine, hyoscyamine, mandragorine and scopolamine that have a powerful effect on the central nervous system therefore extreme caution is advised.

Margosa (Azadirachta indica) See Neem leaves

Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Marigold is often used in lotions or ointments as a natural antiseptic and to aid wound healing and prevent wound infection, for burns, sores, abrasions, wind burn, fungal skin infections and varicose veins. It' can also be used as a mouth wash after tooth extraction and for inflamed gums and laryngitis. Extracts and potencies can be taken internally to cure inflammations of the stomach or gall bladder and to aid healing after surgery. A tea can be made to relieve the symptoms of measles and expel worms and parasites that will also heal any tissue damage the worms have caused in the bowels.

Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Marjoram oil is especially effective against the Beneckea natriegens, Erwinia carotovora and Moraxella sp bacteria and the fungi Aspergillus niger. Moraxella sp can cause infections of the central nervous system, eye, joints, middle ear and respiratory system of humans.

A tea made from Marjoram is used for an upset stomach, headache, colic, high blood pressure and a variety of nervous complaints.  It can be used for cramps and nausea associated with menstruation and for severe cases of abdominal cramps. It is also considered helpful for seasickness. It can be added to the bath to promote a calming effect and to relieve insomnia.  Marjoram can also be applied as a fomentation to painful swellings and rheumatic joints and in salves to stimulate the circulation.

Marshmallow (Althea officinalis, mallow, white mallow, common marshmallow, malvavisco, altea, hatmi, iviscus, ghasul, khitmi, khatmah, usubeni-tati-aoi)

Marshmallow root should not be confused with the confectionery of the same name. This is a herb native to Europe which thrives in an environment of dark and salty marshes. The flowers of the marshmallow root are used to make expectorant syrups. They are picked when the flower has matured to at least two years old and in August just as the flower is coming into bloom. The root it exhumed in the late autumn; cleaned of root fibres then corked and desiccated immediately.

The Marshmallow plant, especially the leaves and roots, contains polysaccharides that have antibacterial properties that are especially effective against the Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae strains of bacteria. A syrup made from the roots is good for treating bronchitis, laryngitis and respiratory or urinary system infections. It is also good for healing a leaky gut which can prevent autoimmune reactions and can help to treat inflammatory disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis.

When it comes to the leaves, they can be eaten as an addition to a salad or boiled or fried. They are very helpful in the fight against cystitis and frequent urination. The Roman poet Horace refers to his own diet in his Odes “As for me, olives, endives and smooth mallows provide sustenance.”

Marshmallow root has soothing properties and nutritionally supports the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. It has a long history dating back thousands of years as an herbal remedy for cough, sore throat and other respiratory problems such as bronchitis and whooping cough (pertussis). This is due to the large amounts of mucilage found in the flower as well as the root. It is also useful for the treatment of diarrhoea and indigestion; along with chronic diseases that cause these symptoms such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Its anti-inflammatory properties are also useful for treating peptic ulcers, hiatus hernias, mouth ulcers, enteritis and colitis.

Marshmallow root has strong anti-inflammatory properties and contains mucilages, which form a protective coating to soothe tissues that have become inflamed and irritated. This coating protects the digestive and urinary tract when kidney stones pass. A daily intake of two pints of marshmallow root tea can effectively flush out kidney stones from the body.

Roots may be formed into a mouthwash and used to treat inflammation. It is in this form that the roots can be extremely helpful in aiding the irritation of teething infants. The root may also be peeled fresh and given to infants to chew on. See Nature Cures for Babies.

As a cough medicine, mouthwash and respiratory agent two grams of the root should be put into one cup of cold water, soaked for two hours and then gargle with it.

Externally it is useful for treating cuts, scrapes and other wounds, as well as a remedy for eczema, psoriasis and pinkeye. For topical use shredded root should be mixed with enough warm water to form a thick paste and spread onto a clean cloth. Apply to irritated area as needed.

NOTE: Caution should be taken by those suffering with diabetes, alcohol dependency or liver disease. Use is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Marsh marica (Cipura paludosa)

Ethanolic extract from bulbs of the marsh marica can reduce long-lasting learning and memory deficits induced by prenatal methylmercury exposure in mice but it has not been tried on humans yet and very little information can be found about it.

Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum, isanu, cubio, añu, ysaño, puel)

The mashua, or anu as it is also known, is a perennial climbing tuber/salad crop from the Andes related to the nasturtium. It has been cultivated since approximately 5500 BC and has been an important food source for more than nine million indigenous people living in the Andes mountains at elevations between 2500 meters and 4000 meters. One plant can yield up to 4 kilos of tubers. This, plus the ease of cultivation, makes it a good crop to grow for both human and animal consumption. Both the tubers and vigorous profusion of leaves are edible. The tubers contain isothiocyanates (mustard oils) that give them a sharp, peppery taste reminiscent of hot radishes when eaten raw  When cooked they turn sweet.

Mashua is resistant to many insects, nematodes, fungi and other pathogens including the Andean weevil which attacks potatoes and other tuber crop. These insect repellent properties makes a very good companion plant but cabbage white butterflies are strongly attracted so it is best planted where birds can easily feast on caterpillars.

The tuber has antibiotic and diuretic properties and can treat nephropathy (damage or disease of the kidneys), eliminate bladder and kidney stones, skin ulcers and kill lice. It also has anaphrodisiac effects and was used by Incas to feed troops to keep their mind on fighting and off of sex as it causes a drop in the levels of testosterone/dihydrotestosterone. In Bolivia it is used to induce menstruation as it has a beneficial effect on oestrogen in females. It has also been shown to prevent the development of cancerous cells in stomach, colon, skin, and prostate.

Mashua is a good source of antioxidants such as delphinidin 3-glucoside-acetylrhamnoside , cyanidin 3-glucoside and delphinidin 3-sophoroside-5-acetyl rhamnoside, plus isothiocyanates (glucosinolates), all of the essential amino acids, protein, carbohydrates, carotenoids, tryptophan, valine, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium.

NOTE: Mashua must be consumed with fatty foods like avocado, nut, seed or fish oils or olive oil in order to absorb the fat-soluble carotenoids.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) See Queen of the meadow

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)

Milk thistle contains a potent antioxidant which prevents harm from free radicals and lends nutritional support to the liver. It is a natural liver detoxifier and protects the liver from many industrial toxins such as carbon tetrachloride and more common agents like alcohol. Milk thistle seed extract contains silymarin, a unique type of flavonoid like compound, considered the active ingredient of milk thistle.

The dandelion, milk thistle and yellow dock root herbs help to support the liver which, in turn, helps to remove excess oestrogen from the body and this can help to reduce the development of uterine fibroids.

Two recent studies have shown that silibinin in milk thistle kills skin cells mutated by UVA radiation and protects against damage by UVB radiation, thus providing two kinds of benefit against UV-induced skin cancer and ageing.

Mint (Mentha arvensis)

Mint is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-fungal and stimulant for the heart and circulatory system. It is useful in chills, fevers, coughs, colds, flu, hiccups, colic, wind, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Use externally for skin infections, cuts, grazes and sores and the oil can help in toothache. Mint vapours can be inhaled to relieve the effects of a cold.

Moringa (Moringa oleifera, drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben oil tree, or benzoil tree)

Moringa is a tree native to parts of Africa and Asia and the name is derived from murungai/muringa, the Tamil/Malayalam word for drumstick. Currently, most Moringa comes from India, but it is also found in Thailand, the Philippines, Africa and Taiwan. The taste resembles horseradish and led to its nickname of the horseradish tree. Many underdeveloped countries rely on the Moringa to help with their malnutrition problems and some humanitarian aid organisations use it to help keep people’s nutrition levels up and prevent starvation.

The nutrients in drumstick leaves are equivalent to seven times the vitamin C in oranges, three times the potassium in bananas, two times the protein in milk, four times the vitamin A in carrots and more iron than in spinach.

The leaves which are rich in vitamins A, C and the B complex, can be cooked like spinach or they can be dried and used in soups or other recipes. The pods can be eaten like nuts and the roots can be diced up and used as a sauce similar to horseradish.

Unusual for plants, moringa is rich in protein containing the eight essential amino acids. It also contains thirty-six of the known anti-inflammatory compounds. It is known to treat anxiety, depression, diabetes, skin disorders and sleep disorders. It can also provide a huge boost in energy and can even help provide a quicker recovery after a workout. It also protects the stomach lining and can treat ulcers, improves digestion and the immune system, improves the mood and lowers blood pressure.

Because of the high calcium, iron and vitamin content, moringa leaves can be used as a wonderful tonic for infants, growing children and young adults, to promote strong and healthy bones and for purifying the bloodstream. To prepare the tonic, drumstick leaves should be ground with water, filtered and mixed with milk.

Moringa leaf juice is very beneficial for pregnant women as it can help them with an easier delivery and reduce post-delivery complications. In India, drumstick leaves are boiled in water and salt, the water is drained and the leaves are served with ghee (clarified butter) to lactating mothers to increase breast milk. Six tablespoons of leaf powder will provide nearly all of a woman's daily iron and calcium needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Moringa leaves, flowers, and seeds are also useful in treating sexual problems.

A soup prepared by boiling a handful of leaves in 177 ml of water for five minutes and cooled is served to those with respiratory problems. A little sea salt, black pepper and lime juice can be added to this soup.

A teaspoonful of fresh moringa leaf juice mixed with black strap molasses and a glass of tender coconut water taken two to three times a day is a good remedy for digestive disorders. Drumstick leaf juice is also effective in treating urinary disorders, such as excessive urination.

The leaves are an excellent source of protein that can rarely be found in any other herb or green leafy vegetable. Altogether 100 grams of fresh raw leaves provide 9.8 grams of protein or about 17.5% of the recommended daily amount. Dry, powdered leaves are a very concentrated source of many quality amino acids.

Moringa seeds produce oil, also known as ‘ben oil’, which is a sweet, non-sticky oil that does not become rancid and can be used in salads. The seeds can also be eaten green, roasted, powdered or steeped for tea, or used in curries.

Moringa has antibacterial properties and as such is very useful in preventing infections such as those of the throat, chest and skin. Moringa soup can be prepared from the leaves, flowers and pods and used for this purpose as an antibiotic.

Moringa can act as a cardiac and circulatory stimulant and possesses antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antipyretic (reduces fever), antispasmodic anti-tumour and diuretic properties. The juice of the moringa flowers can improve the quality and flow of mothers’ milk when breast feeding and is useful for urinary problems as it encourages urination. In Haiti, villagers boil moringa flowers in water and drink the tea as a powerful cold remedy.

If eaten raw, the moringa pods act as a de-wormer and can help to treat liver and spleen problems and relieve pain in the joints.

The roots and the bark have all the properties described above but are more concentrated so care must be taken when using them as medicines. The roots and bark are used for cardiac and circulatory problems, as a tonic and for inflammation. The bark is also an appetiser and digestive.

The alkaloid spirachin (a nerve paralyser) has been found in the roots and the gum has diuretic, astringent (has a drying, tightening effect on tissues to aid in wound healing) and abortifacient (causes miscarriage) properties and is used to treat asthma.

NOTE: Pregnant women should be aware of moringa’s ability to induce miscarriage.

Disorders moringa can help to treat and protect against

  • Anaemia

  • Anxiety

  • Asthma

  • Arthritis

  • Bacterial infections

  • Boils

  • Bone disorders

  • Bronchitis

  • Cancer

  • Cholera  

  • Colds

  • Colitis  

  • Cystitis

  • Cramp

  • Depression

  • Diabetes type 2

  • Diarrhoea

  • Digestive disorders

  • Dysentery

  • Ear infections

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Eye infections

  • Epilepsy

  • Fungal and yeast infections

  • Gout

  • Heart problems  

  • High blood pressure

  • Hysteria

  • Inflammation

  • Joint disorders

  • Liver disorders

  • Malnutrition

  • Obesity

  • Orchitis

  • Parasites and worms

  • Poor circulation

  • Prostate disorders

  • Respiratory disorders

  • Rheumatism

  • Sexually transmitted diseases

  • Scurvy

  • Skin disorders

  • Sleep disorders

  • Spleen disorders

  • Stomach ulcers

  • Throat infections

  • Tuberculosis

  • Urinary disorders

  • Urinary tract infection

  • Varicose veins

  • Water retention

Significant components in moringa

All essential amino acids, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid, chlorophyll, fibre, kaempferol, oleic acid, quercetin, spirachin, terygospermin and zeatin.

Vitamins

A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and C.

Minerals

Calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.

External uses of moringa

Used for its antibiotic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, the seeds are roasted, pounded, mixed with coconut oil and applied to the affected area. Seed oil is used for the same purpose. Moringa seeds are effective against the skin-infecting bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa as they contain the potent antibiotic and fungicide terygospermin. In Senegal and India, roots are pounded and mixed with salt to make a poultice for treating rheumatism and joint pains. In Senegal, this poultice is also used to relieve lower back or kidney pain.

Moringa seed oil is useful in treating conjunctivitis. Fresh drumstick leaf juice mixed with lime juice can be applied to treat pimples, acne and blackheads. Dried and powdered bark of the drumstick root can be used for fungal skin infections. Crushed drumstick leaves are used as a domestic cleaning agent and powdered seeds are used for clarifying honey and sugarcane juice and for purifying water.

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiac, thow-wort, lion’s ear, lion’s tail)

Motherwort is a relative of the mint family and an ancient herb used by Culpeper as an antidepressant and to regulate the heartbeat. Pink and lilac flowers bloom from June to September on a bush that grows to heights of five feet. Motherwort has some light relaxing effects and can treat, anxiety, depression, rapid heart rate, heart palpitations, post-natal depression, menopause symptoms, vertigo, insomnia, headaches, bronchitis, asthma and relieves shortness of breath by clearing congested airways. It also regulates the thyroid gland functions and supports the liver and bladder.

Motherwort also improves menstrual flow, improves blood circulation by increasing oxygen in the veins, prevents blood clots, relieves painful gas, constipation and menstrual pains, increases blood flow to the pelvic area, helps to reduce hot flushes, help mothers with milk production. It contains leourine which can help stimulate uterine contractions and is a uterus tonic both before and during childbirth. Motherwort can also help to treat uterine fibroids.

Motherwort and black cohosh together relieves fluid retention and bloating.

It can be applied directly to the skin to relieve itching and shingles.

Using motherwort

Bring to the boil 6 ounces of bottled or filtered water. Add one tablespoon of dried motherwort and allow to steep. Drink this tea two to three times a day. It has a bitter taste but honey can help to disguise this. Can be bought as a tincture and one tablespoon per day is the allowance.

NOTE: Avoid motherwort if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication) or have problems with blood clotting, have heart problems and during the first trimester of pregnancy.

NOTE: Motherwort may be habit forming.

Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum muticum, hoary mountain mint, narrow leaf mountain mint, short tooth mountain mint, Torrey's mountain-mint, Virginia mountain mint, Virginia thyme,wild basil, wild mint)

Mountain mint is a analgesic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, carminative, emmenagogue and a useful tonic. The medicinal tea is used in alternative medicine in the treatment of menstrual disorders, indigestion, mouth sores and gum disease, colic, coughs, colds, chills and fevers.

A strong decoction can be poured over infected wounds and crushed flowers placed on tooth ache and almost instantly kills pain. Very aromatic the herb is used in potpourri or burned as incense. Placed in a muslin bag it can be used as bath additive and is said to be very soothing to irritated skin. Will freshen laundry when used in the dryer. Thrown in a drawer or trunk it will not only freshen clothing and blankets but also keep moths away. Sprinkle on carpets to freshen the whole house and is said to be a good natural insecticide as it repels insects and is good for use in the garden. Crushed flowers are rubbed on clothing to repel insects.

Pulegone is the natural insecticide component of mountain mint and should be avoided by pregnant women as it can be dangerous for the foetus.

This herb was considered powerful medicine and used by medicine men to revive the dead. Several native American tribes claim that the fresh crushed flowers, when stuffed up the nose of a person near death will revive them.

Mucura (Petiveria alliacea, anamu, apacin, apacina, apazote de zorro, aposin, ave, aveterinaryte, calauchin, chasser vermine, congo root, douvant-douvant, emeruaiuma, garlic weed, guinea henweed, guine, guinea, guinea hen leaf, gully root, herbe aux poules, hierba de las gallinitas, huevo de gato, kojo root, kuan, kudjuruk, lemtewei, lemuru, mal pouri, mapurit, mapurite, mucura-caa, mucura, mucuracáa, ocano, payche, pipi, tipi, verbena hedionda, verveine puante, zorrillo)

Mucura is an Amazonian plant that is a strong immune system enhancer as well as a powerful pain killer. It contains compounds that increase the actions of the body’s immune cells which are responsible for tracking down and removing foreign cells like bacteria and cancer. It also has broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties against a wide variety of bacteria, fungi, viruses and yeasts including Escherichia coli, Candida albicans, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus and Shigella.

Mucura contains benzaldehyde and coumarin, both of which have anticancer properties. It is said to be; anti-spasmodic, anti-pyretic; analgesic, abortifacient, vermifuge, analgesic, a memory enhancer, mental stimulant, used also as anti- rheumatic, emmenagogue, sudorific, diuretic, abortive and contraceptive.

The plant is used in magic bathing rituals call “limpias” (“cleansing”). Chewing the plant puts a coat on teeth and protects them against cavities. It said to have depressive and anti-convulsive effects on the central nervous system, with anti-convulsive effects. The leaf decoction is sudorific (induces sweating) and a cough suppressant. It is a custom in some parts to bathe feverish patients in the leaf infusion and wash headache with a decoction. For bronchitis and pneumonia, a drop of lemon juice is added to a teaspoon of macerated leaves. It is also used to help in; beriberi, cramps, nerve problems and paralysis.

It is an excellent remedy for hip and knee osteo-arthritis, and/or severe arthritis and is anti-inflammatory for treating gastritis and gout. It has been used to stimulate growth in children and teen-agers who are not too tall, it also is known as the herb for the thymus gland. It is an excellent immune system supporter and builder and it has anti-cancer and anti-tumour properties. It is also good for caring for the veins and blood circulation and for vascular diseases as well as leukaemia.

Shamans state that mucura helps to balance the communication centre and the heart centre. Mucura heals emotions and soul; they also say that every illness starts with long negative emotions such as: sadness, stress, trauma, fear, hate, greed, etc, every emotion is emanated by a different body part, blocking the flow of energy, eventually damaging it.

Mucura contains allantoin, astilbin, barbinervic acid, benzaldehyde, coumarins, daucosterol, dibenzyl sulfide, engeletin, flavonoids, friedelinol, ilexgenin A, leridal, leridol, lignoceric acid, linoleic acid, myricitrin, nonadecanoic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, petiveral, pinitol, proline, sitosterol, stearic acid, steroids, sulphur, triterpenes and trithiolaniacine.

NOTE: Pregnant women should be aware of its ability to induce abortions.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris, artemis, chrysanthemum weed, common wormwood, cronewort, felon herb, moxa, muggons, naughty man, old man, old uncle Henry, sailor's tobacco, St. John's plant, wild wormwood)

This is a perennial member of the daisy family and a relative of ragweed. It can be used as a topical anaesthetic with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Mugwort has been used for centuries for various disorders and epilepsy, as it has mild sedative and antispasmodic properties. Mugwort is in the same family as wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and both are very effective at ridding the body of microbes and parasites including Bacillus dysenteriae shiga, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococci.

Fresh, crushed mugwort leaves applied to the skin relieves shingles, burning, itching and pain and, with continued application, can help get rid of warts.

Chewing fresh mugwort leaves will help relieve fatigue and clear the mind. A decoction of the roots can also be for this purpose. An infusion of fresh leaves can be used for chronic stomach complaints and to stimulate the appetite.

Mugwort has also been used in Europe to induce abortions. It helps strengthen contractions and it is used in a compress to promote labour and help expel the afterbirth. It is also used to help regulate the menstrual cycle and ease painful menstruation and the onset of menopause. Use in combination with ginger in a tea to soothe difficult menstruation.

It is used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine to prevent miscarriage, ease excessive menstrual bleeding and correct foetal position prior to delivery. It is also used to make moxas to cure rheumatism. The mugwort fluff is carefully removed and rolled into a cylinder which is heated and placed near pressure points to relieve pain. This method is called moxibustion.

Mix the dry herb with honey and apply to bruises to fade them.

An infusion of the dried leaves and flowers helps expel pinworms.

Infusion: 1 ounce dried herb or fresh leaves to 1 pint boiling water. Steep for 5-10 minutes then strain and sip slowly.

Tincture: Cover four ounces of fresh herb with 1 pint 100 proof alcohol, vodka, gin or brandy. Cover and keep in a dark place, shaking several times per day for two weeks.

Harvest mugwort shortly before it flowers and hang the leafy steps upside down in a dry place away from sunlight to dry. Collect the root in autumn. Wash and dry mugwort root thoroughly and lay it on a screen to dry. Do not let the roots touch one another or they may mould.

Mugwort can be used to season fish and meat, especially game and is a traditional seasoning for Christmas goose in Germany. It is also used to flavour rice cakes in Asia.

Before hops, mugwort was used to flavour beer. For this purpose, the plant should be gathered while in flower and dried before use.

WARNING: Mugwort should not be taken medicinally for more than one week. Break for several weeks before taking mugwort again as regular use can cause liver damage, nervous issues and convulsions. Mugwort should never be used internally during pregnancy or lactation or by anyone who has pelvic inflammatory issues as it can cause uterine contractions and can be passed through the mother's milk.

Mullaca (Physalis angulate, battre-autour, bolsa mullaca, camapu, cape gooseberry, capulí cimarrón, cecendet, dumadu harachan, hog weed, juá-de-capote, k'u chih, nvovo, polopa, saca-buche, thongtheng, tino-tino, topatop, wapotok, urmoa batoto bita, wild tomato, winter cherry)

Mullaca has potent antimicrobial properties against numerous types of gram positive and gram negative bacteria, including Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus and antiviral activities against herpes simplex, HIV/AIDS, measles and polio. It is also a useful antiseptic against skin diseases and disorders such as dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea and scleroderma and can help to fight off various parasites including the one that causes malaria.

The fruits of this Amazonian plant are edible and a leaf infusion is diuretic. Leaves and fruits are used as a narcotic; the decoction of leaf is anti-inflammatory and a disinfectant for skin diseases. The leaf juice used to eliminate worms, earache, liver, malaria and rheumatism. Some drink the leaf infusion for asthma. Root infusion has been used for hepatitis. Boiled roots with Bixa and Euterpe for jaundice. The herb has been tested by number of laboratories in Far East and in Europe, some studies indicate that it stimulates production of T and B type lymphocyte.

Indigenous tribes in the Peruvian Amazon use the leaf juice internally and externally for worms and the leaves and/or roots for earache, liver problems, malaria, hepatitis, and rheumatism. Indigenous tribes in the Brazilian Amazon use the sap of the plant for earaches and the roots for jaundice.

Mullaca has properties to fight against a few different types of cancer cells: melanoma, leukemia, lung, cervix and colon cancer. It also has positive action against HIV/AIDS and the polio virus demonstrating reverse transcriptase inhibitory effects. Mullaca has also demonstrated good antibacterial properties in vitro against numerous types of bacteria.

Mullaca contains ayanin, chlorogenic acid, choline, ixocarpanolide, myricetin, phygrine, physagulin A to G, physalin A to K, physangulide, sitosterol, vamonolide, withaminimin, withangulatin A, withanolide D, withanolide T, and withaphysanolide.

NOTE: Mullaca may thin the blood and lower the blood pressure.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullien has been referred to as a "natural wonder herb" which soothes the lungs and irritations associated with the respiratory tract. It also nourishes the lymphatic and glandular systems. The leaves and flowers activate lymph circulation and can be useful for swollen glands, especially when lymph nodes in the throat, neck, arms, and groin swell or are congested. Mullein removes mucus from the system.

Mushrooms (Asidiomycotina, fungus, fungi (plural), agaricus, bolete, mycelium)

Mushrooms can boost the immune system by stimulating white blood cells. They also have certain anti-cancer properties and prevent blood clots by thinning the blood.

Mushrooms are part of the fungi kingdom. Medicinal mushrooms primarily belong to the fungi phylum basidiomycetes. In general, mushrooms are low in fat and calories and high in carbohydrates and protein. They also contain lentinan, d-fraction, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin K, vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium.

The phytochemicals present in mushrooms block the activity of the aromatase enzyme, which facilitates the production of oestrogen. Blocking this enzyme would decrease the production of oestrogen, which in turn helps control and possibly prevents the growth of hormone-dependent breast cancer cells.

In addition to reported immune stimulant and anticancer properties, mushrooms used for medicinal purposes are described as having antioxidant, antihypertensive, cholesterol-lowering, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-parasitic effects. Some varieties of healing mushrooms are edible and others are inedible. Historically, inedible mushrooms with medicinal properties were heated in hot water and made into a tea or broth.

NOTE: Consuming too many mushrooms may cause hypoglycaemia in some people with diabetes and can cause itching. They are sometimes known to trigger herpes attacks in someone with the virus.

Types of common edible and medicinal mushrooms

Agaricus
(meadow mushroom, common mushroom, button mushroom, white mushroom, table mushroom and a medicinal mushroom known as Agaricus blazei. White button mushrooms have been found to block the conversion of the enzyme steroid alpha-reductase to dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is associated with an increased risk in the development of prostate cancer.

Basidiomycete mushroom (boletus badius)
Many bioactive substances have been identified in the basidiomycetes phylum. These include polysaccharides, glycoproteins, triterpenoids and fungal immunomodulatory proteins. The specific bioactive components vary depending on the species. Active hexose correlated compound is a mixture of polysaccharides, amino acids, lipids and minerals derived from cocultured mycelia of several species of Basidiomycete mushrooms.

Chaga mushroom
is a parasitic fungus that grows on birch trees with many medicinal benefits.

Chanterelle or chantrelle mushroom

Cordyceps
is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Hericium erinaceus
also known as Lion's mane

Kombucha is a type of fermented tea.

Maitake:
the key component of the maitake mushroom is beta glucan (a polysaccharide). Beta glucan is thought to have immune-stimulating effects as well as the ability to activate certain cells and proteins that attack cancerous cells, can enhance the immune system, fight viruses, inhibit tumour growth, prevent the development of cancer in normal cells, lower blood sugar and lower blood pressure. This edible mushroom is considered safe but it may interfere with anti-diabetes drugs because of its ability to decrease blood sugar.

Meshima:
prevents of breast cancer.

Oyster:
One large oyster mushroom contains 52 calories, 59.2mg omega-6 fatty acids, 14% RDA fibre, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (foliate), choline, ash, betain, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.

Phellinus linteus:
called song gen in Chinese medicine, sang-hwang in Korean and meshimakobu in Japanese.

Portabella
(portobello, portabello) A variety of agaricus mushroom, called agaricus bisporus, falls under this category. When fully matured, white button mushrooms grow to become portobello mushrooms.

Reishi
(ganoderma lucidum, lingzhi, ling chi) is a known anti-inflammatory used to treat headaches, menstrual problems, constipation. Cardiovascular benefits include help in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, helps relieve allergies and asthma, known to stimulate nonspecific immune response, can fight off viruses and has anti-tumour activities, helps control type II diabetes, improves over-all health and immunity, promotes regular sleeping patterns. Contains beneficial polysaccharides and ganodermic acids. The reddish-orange type of reishi mushroom is best because its polysaccharides contain the highest levels of immune-stimulating properties. Studies confirm reishi’s good results, especially in treating hepatitis and bronchitis. Side effects may cause mouth dryness, bleeding from the nose and bloody stools.

NOTE: Reishi mushrooms can be placed in hot water and taken as tea, hot chocolate, mocha or Latte as an alternative to coffee.

NOTE: Avoid reishi mushrooms if taking medication for anti-hypertensive, blood sugar lowering medications and anti-coagulants or are pregnant.

Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) has high antioxidant ability for boosting the immune system, decreasing cholesterol levels, and for anti-aging. Lentinan, derived from shiitake, has been injected as an adjunct treatment for cancer and HIV infection.

Mustard (Brassica juncea)

Mustard greens and seeds have antiseptic as well as anti-fungal properties. This makes them very useful for purging the digestive system and increasing the body's natural defence system and reducing fever. They have compounds that are potent against Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella enterica which also makes them good for using as a natural disinfectant in the kitchen against food-borne bacteria.

Mustard seeds consumed on a regular basis have been found to be beneficial for reducing the frequency of migraines.

Mustard seeds are high in antioxidants and are nutrient dense with selenium, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. They are high in antioxidants and selenium, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. One teaspoon of white mustard seed, which is the kind used for the yellow condiment, is packed with 87.1mg of omega-3 fatty acids, 84.2mg of omega-6 fatty acids, 22.2mg of potassium, 27.3mg of phosphorous, 9.7mg of magnesium and 16.9 mg of calcium. These high amounts of body beneficial substances in the seeds when consumed encourage the body to speed up metabolism, lower blood pressure and prevent atherosclerosis

Internally, a teaspoon full of crushed seeds in warm water acts as a mild laxative and blood purifier.  Externally, a Mustard infused oil is used to stimulate local circulation.  A Mustard plaster is used for aches, sprains, spasms, and cold areas needing circulation.  It should not be used on tender, sensitive areas and if it seems to strong, the Mustard may be diluted with a little rye flour.

Mustard can be used in preparations of hot compresses to help reduce the impact of strains and sprains in the body, or they can be used in poultices and plasters which can be massaged onto the chest to encourage the decongesting of blocked sinuses and lungs.

Myrrh (Commiphora molmol)

Traditionally, the properties of myrrh resin have been highly favoured for soothing muscles and wounds. Myrrh nourishes mucous membranes with its cleansing effects. The extract, when combined with water, is excellent as a comforting gargle for a sore throat. Myrrh is an antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating herb and can be used to treat wounds and prevent infections especially acne, athlete’s foot and ring worm. It can also be used as a treatment for the parasitic fascioliasis infection.

Myrrh can also help to relieve inflammation of the mouth and gums caused by diseases such as gingivitis and mouth ulcers and, if used as mouth rinse, can prevent gum disease. Myrrh has the power to increase the function of white blood cells, critical for wound healing and was found to decrease the incidence of ulcers and improve their healing time in scientific studies.

N

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

The leaves, seeds and flowers of the nasturtium plant have been used medicinally for centuries. The freshly pressed juice has been used internally and externally in the treatment of the ailments listed below. The leaves are antiscorbutic (prevents or cures scurvy), depurative (cleanses wastes and toxins from the body), diuretic (reduces excess water), expectorant (breaks up excess mucus and phlegm), purgative (improves bowel action), hypoglycaemic (lowers blood sugar), odontalgic (relieves toothache), stimulant and stomachic (improves digestion).

Nasturtium can be used to stimulate the appetite and has a long-standing reputation as an effective hair tonic, helping to promote the growth of thick hair. Nasturtium leaves and flowers are rich in vitamin C, while the seeds are high in iron. The leaves (which taste like peppery cucumber) and flowers can be used as a colourful and nutritious culinary garnish or steeped in hot water to make a tea. Drink three cups (hot or cold with lemon and honey) per day to gain the nutritional benefits and use as a skin wash or hair rinse to improve the condition of the skin and hair.

Nasturtium leaves or petals can be ground up using a mortar and pestle to make a paste that has antibiotic, antiseptic and antifungal properties and can be used to treat acne, minor cuts and skin irritation or rashes.

Ailments that nasturtium can help to treat and protect against

  • Bronchitis

  • Digestive disorders

  • Hair disorders

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Influenza

  • Kidney disorders

  • Liver disorders

  • Odontalgia (toothache)

  • Respiratory disorders

  • Scurvy

  • Skin disorders

  • Tuberculosis

  • Urinary tract infection

  • Water retention

Neem leaves (Azadirachta indica, Indian lilac, margosa, nim tree)

The neem is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. Neem leaf and its constituents have been demonstrated to exhibit immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycaemic, anti-ulcer, anti-malarial, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties without adverse side effects.

For acne, psoriasis, eczema, make a neem leaf paste by simply pounding fresh neem leaves, using a mortar and pestle. For treatment just use the paste as it is. Apply it onto the affected skin and leave for twenty minutes or until nearly dry. Then rinse it off.

Neem leaves, rosemary and lavender contain natural insecticidal properties and act as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. These herbs together with aroma therapeutic ingredients such as tea tree oil and rose geranium can eliminate external parasites including pubic lice and prevent re-infestation.

NOTE: Rosemary is not suitable for pregnant r breast feeding women or those with high blood pressure.

Scabies: As above but add one part turmeric to three parts neem leaf.

Another variation is to soak the leaves in hot water until they soften. Once soft, crush the leaves in the same water until it becomes a neem leaf paste.

Parasites and Worms: To kill intestinal parasites and worms, grind neem leaves to a fine paste. For one week, take a marble sized ball of this paste every morning on an empty stomach. Do not take this for the second week. For the third week, take the neem leaves again as before on an empty stomach. The whole family should take this treatment together for curing threadworms.

More than 135 compounds have been isolated from different parts of neem and several reviews have also been published on the chemistry and structural diversity of these compounds. The compounds have been divided into two major classes: isoprenoids (like diterpenoids and triterpenoids containing protomeliacins, limonoids, azadirone and its derivatives, gedunin and its derivatives, vilasinin type of compounds and C- secomeliacins such as nimbin, salanin and azadirachtin ) and non-isoprenoids, which are proteins (amino acids) and carbohydrates (polysaccharides), sulphurous compounds, polyphenolics such as flavonoids and their glycosides, dihydrochalcone, coumarin and tannins, aliphatic compounds, etc.

Nettles (Urtica dioica)

Noni plant (Morinda citrifolia)

Noni is a plant used by the Polynesians to especially help support the body's immune, respiratory, digestive and structural systems.

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)

During ancient times, Roman and Greek civilizations used nutmeg as a type of brain tonic. This is because nutmeg can effectively stimulate the brain. Thus, it can help eliminate fatigue and stress. Nutmeg can relieve anxiety or depression. Nutmeg can also improve the concentration. Nutmeg is also an effective sedative. In fact, nutmeg is a staple in ancient Chinese medicine. The Chinese used the spice to treat inflammation and abdominal pain. Use nutmeg to relieve aching joints, muscle pain, arthritis, sores and other ailments. To relieve the pain, apply nutmeg oil to the affected areas.

Antimicrobial compounds in nutmeg are α-pinene, β-pinene, p-cymene, β-caryophyllene and carvacrol which have been found to effectively combat infections of bacteria and fungi such as Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus niger, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pseudomonas putida and Staphylococcus aureus.

Nutmeg gives effective relief from digestion-related problems like diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and flatulence and can boost the apetite. Nutmeg oil relieves stomach aches by removing the excess gas from the intestines.

Because of its antibacterial properties, nutmeg can also effectively treat halitosis or bad breath. It can rid the mouth of the bacteria responsible. This is the reason why nutmeg is a common ingredient in many brands of toothpastes. It can also be used to treat gum problems and toothaches.

Detoxification is an important factor of good health. Diet, pollution, stress, tobacco, medication and other external substances can lead to the build-up of toxins in the organs. The liver and kidney are two of the organs where this toxic build-up usually develops. As a tonic, nutmeg can clean the liver and kidney and remove these toxins. If suffering from a liver disease, then nutmeg can also be beneficial. Nutmeg is also effective in preventing and dissolving kidney stones. When the liver and kidney are successfully detoxified, they can perform their function better.

Nutmeg can help achieve smoother and healthier skin by treating skin problems. A scrub made from nutmeg powder and orange lentil powder can help remove blackheads, a type of acne characterized by pores clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. Nutmeg can also help make acne scars less noticeable. Mix some nutmeg powder with some honey to make a paste, then apply to the acne marks.

If having difficulty sleeping at night, drink a cup of milk with some nutmeg powder. This will help you achieve relaxation and will induce sleep.

A small amount of nutmeg, about the size of a pea, can be taken once daily over a long period to relieve chronic nervous disorders and heart problems. Internally good for diarrhoea, dysentery, gastroenteritis, vomiting, bloating, indigestion, colic.  Externally it is useful to treat eczema and abdominal or rheumatic pain. 

O

Oat straw (Avena sativa, groats)

Oat straw heals osteoporosis, mends bones, relieves cramps and strengthens teeth and is a good allopathic medicine for treating panic attacks and calming hyperactive children. Oat straw contains high amounts of the bone-building compounds, calcium and other minerals which promotes bone strength. It stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone which triggers ovulation in females and testosterone in males. Since luteinizing hormone boosts hormone levels also stimulate cell growth, it is a good reason to add oat straw as a part of a bone building protocol.

Oat straw extract has a positive impact on cognitive performance in healthy individuals. Due to the high Vitamin B complex content it is as an effective herbal remedy for anxiety and stress. Oat straw's calming qualities also strengthens nerves and encourages a restful night's sleep. It is also a good allopathic medicine for treating panic attacks, depression, nervous exhaustion and calming hyperactive children.

Taking 1600 mg oat straw extract daily can "acutely" improved the cognitive function including attention, focus and concentration abilities in elderly adults.

To make an infusion (herbal tea) pour a cup of boiling water over the ripe dried stems of oat straw, leave to steep for 10 minutes then strain and drink it. Honey can be added to sweeten it.

Oje (Ficus insipida)

The latex of this Amazonian tree is used to relieve
rheumatic inflammation by rubbing it onto the affected area. It is also anthelmintic. For parasites mix the latex (one tablespoon) with one litre of water and drink one glass of this mixture every other day. A leaf decoction is also used to treat anaemia and tertian fever. It contains lavandul, phyllosanthine, eloxanthine, beta amyrin and phyllanthol.

Oleander Leaf (Nerium Indicum, laurier rose, dogbane, rosebay)

Oleander is an incredibly hardy, adaptable plant which grows thick and green in mountainous climates and is native to the Western Himalayas. Known in ancient texts as “the desert rose,” historical references show that 15th century B.C. Mesopotamians trusted in the healing benefits of oleander extracts. From a remedy for hangovers to a herb studied for cancer, the Babylonians, Romans, Arabs and ancient Greeks used this herbal extract for a variety of health conditions.

In studies, extracts of the bark, leaves and roots of oleander showed moderate antimicrobial activities against Bacillus pumillus, Bacillus subtitlis and Staphylococcus aureus and very potent activities against Escherichia coli.

The extracts from this plant is a powerful immune system stimulator and inhibits angiogenesis and NF-kB factor in cancer cells. It also causes apoptosis in cancerous cells (natural cell death) and increased rates of autophagic cancer cell death when tested on pancreatic cancer.

Heavily diluted oleander leaf extract can also provide relief for the following: arthritis, asthma, Crohn's disease, epilepsy, heart conditions, hepatitis C, HIV virus, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle cramps, paralysis, psoriasis, skin conditions such as eczema. It can also promote normal menstrual cycles and healthy blood sugar levels

The crushed leaves applied topically can speed up healing times for wounds.

The extract also works as a powerful all natural organic insecticide.

NOTE: While oleander may possess many healing properties, much like many powerful botanical remedies, this plant can also be deadly when taken or prepared incorrectly. This plant should never be eaten raw, as its raw extract form is highly toxic. One raw leaf has enough poison in it to kill a small child, as well as any pet. It is advisable to only take this herbal extract to treat a condition under the guidance of a fully qualified herbalist.

Olive leaf (Olea europaea)

First used medicinally in Ancient Egypt, iIt is gaining recognition as a powerful defender against sickness and numerous scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the extract's beneficial properties. The reported benefits of olive leaf extract range from promoting increased energy and healthy blood pressure, to supporting the cardiovascular system and the immune system.

Olives are native to Asia Minor and Syria, but are cultivated in Mediterranean countries and Chile, Peru and South Australia. Olive leaf was first used medicinally in Ancient Egypt and was a symbol of heavenly power. It was also used to mummify pharaohs. More recent knowledge of the olive leaf's medicinal properties dates back to the early 1800s when pulverised leaves were used in a drink to lower fevers. A few decades later, green olive leaves were used in tea as a treatment for
malaria.

Many people who live stressful lives or who may be particularly susceptible to colds and viruses may benefit from long-term use of olive leaf as a preventive agent. Some patients have expressed other unexpected benefits of olive leaf, including improved psoriasis, normalisation of heart beat irregularities, diminished cravings, less pain from haemorrhoids, toothaches and chronically achy joints.

Research suggests that olive leaf may be a true anti-viral compound because it appears to selectively block an entire virus-specific system in the infected host. This appears to offer healing effects not addressed by pharmaceutical antibiotics. Olive leaf's broad killing power includes an ability to interfere with critical amino acid production for viruses; an ability to contain viral infection and/or spread by inactivating viruses by preventing virus shredding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane; the ability to directly penetrate infected cells and stop viral replication. It is especially useful in combating the hepatitis and herpes viruses.

As an antioxidant, olive leaf extract protects those blood vessels from damage, and has been shown to be effective in protecting the heart from coronary occlusion. When taken over an extended period, it is believed to reverse arteriosclerosis. Olive leaves are astringent and antiseptic and can eliminate worms and parasites. Both the leaves and the bark have valuable febrifugal qualities.

Oregano (Origanum compactum)

Oregano helps to settle flatulence and stimulates the flow of bile. It is also a useful promoter of menstruation and can relieve headaches. It is often used in the treatment of colds and flu and winter vomiting disease and the infusion is used in coughs and whooping cough.

Oregano contains carvacrol which is very effective in lowering blood pressure. It reduces the heart rate, mean arterial pressure, and both the diastolic and systolic blood pressures. It is also a viable alternative to salt in meals. A high-sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure as each teaspoon of salt has more than 2,300 mg of sodium whereas oregano is a sodium-free food. A low-sodium diet for individuals with high blood pressure has a limit of 1,500 mg per day.

Oregano can effectively fight food poisoning bacteria, the Toxoplasmosis gondii parasite, the norovirus (winter vomiting disease) and the intestinal infection of Helicobacter pylori. It can also lessen the aging effect of pollution and help in the treatment of diabetes. It also reduces cholesterol and protects against cancer.

Oregano contains vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenes, vitamin B9 (folic acid) and iron

Carvacrol in oregano also acts directly on the capsid, the tough shell of proteins surrounding the norovirus, that encloses its genetic material. Consuming a tea made by steeping oregano leaves in hot water for 15 minutes then straining and sipping slowly can help fight off this infection which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

Making a household cleanser and surface sanitizer using oregano oil or a tea from oregano leaves is especially useful where people may be vulnerable to the effects of strong bleach or alcohol-based cleaners, such as care homes, hospitals and schools. See the Hygiene and Health page.

As with basil, it has been suggested that eating plenty of oregano can help repel mosquitoes. Oregano has many of the medicinal attributes of other marjoram herbs, but it also contains further essential oils which make it much more antiseptic in action, both internally and externally. It can be used as an effective mouthwash for inflammations of the mouth and throat.

Oregano oil has been shown to be effective against the Dientamoeba fragilis trophozoites parasite.

Externally it is useful for infected cuts and wounds and may be applied as a hot fomentation to relieve painful swellings and rheumatism, as well as for colic. A lotion may be made which will soothe stings and bites. 

To make an infusion steep the leaves and/or roots in hot water for 15 minutes, strain then heat gently and drink the tea when warm.

Oregon grape root (Berberis aquifolium, Berberis vulgaris, Berberis aristata, Tinospora cordifolia)

Oregon grape root is a rich source of berberine. This compound is highly effective against fungi, protozoa, worms and parasites as well as bacteria and viruses. Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid present in the roots, rhizome and stem bark of this herb. The potential importance of berberine is indicated by its use in the Indian Ayurvedic, Unani and Chinese systems of medicine since time immemorial.

Berberine possesses a wide range of biochemical and pharmacological activities, anti-diarrheal, anti-arrhythmic and anti-tumour activities. Berberine has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of oesophageal cancer cells and inhibits cyclooxygenase-2 transcriptional activity in human colon cancer cells.

In 2008 it was also discovered that berberine is just as effective and much safer than metformin, the patent medicine most commonly now prescribed to help re-regulate blood sugar in type 2 diabetes.

P

 Paico leaf (Chenopodium ambrosoides)

The most common medicinal use of the paico leaf is anthelmintic (destructive to worms) and anti-parasitic. Paico leaf is also considered effective in treating skin and kidney diseases, stomach aches, haemorrhoids, high blood pressure, inflammations, and asthma and is proposed to help with intelligence. Recent studies show it to be effective against many different cancerous tumours. In homes, people hang branches in the house to repel insects and use the leaf to season soups. 

Plant infusions are used for stomach ache, cholera and tumours and a maceration is applied topically for arthritis. Some use it as a vermifuge for children, for upset stomach, infant dermatitis, colds, fever, flu, laryngitis and internal haemorrhages caused by injury (falls).

Some Amazonian native woman take a root and leaf decoction each month during menstruation as a contraceptive. A capful of leaf decoction is taken to induce labour.

The leaf decoction is depurative, carminative, a decongestant, insecticide and vermifuge (expels worms). It effectively eradicates human parasitic round worms (Ascariasis lumbricoides) and tape worms (hymenolepsis nana). It is also used for cramps, gout, haemorrhoids and is helpful in hysteria and panic attacks.

Beating the leaf juice with the yolk of an egg can heal the lungs in general and cures tuberculosis

NOTE: Should not be used while pregnant or nursing. It has traditionally been used to induce abortions. Do not take while trying to conceive.

See the Parasite page for more remedies against worms and parasites.

Pan pien lien See Lobelia

Paprika (Capsicum annum, nightshade family)

Paprika, which is commonly sold as a powdered spice, is a type of ground pepper, which is in the same family as chilli and bell peppers. To reap its many health benefits, use the sun dried, organic paprika, which is not exposed to the high temperatures of commercially produced paprika.

Paprika is extremely high in vitamin C. A whole paprika pepper is known to have six to nine times the amount of vitamin C as a tomato. Because of its high C content, paprika can also help with absorption of absorb iron-rich foods which can help to fight common infections.

Peppers, especially those that are used to produce paprika, are loaded with capsaicin, the phytochemical that makes them taste hot. Capsaicin is known as a powerful anti-inflammatory, which can ease chronic conditions like arthritis and joint pain. Capsaicin also helps improve blood circulation, thereby improving conditions like cold feet and hands. Paprika also has plant enzymes that can help neutralise stomach acids, thus aiding digestion.

Use paprika to add colour and depth to beef, chicken or fish dishes like or seafood stew. If you're a vegetarian, smoked paprika adds a rich taste to bean and rice dishes. Paprika also adds a wonderful heat to olive-oil roasted vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes or butternut squash. For a zesty, healthy snack, mix paprika with thyme and red pepper and sprinkle over hot popcorn.

NOTE: Not suitable to be used medicinally for pregnant women.

Parruva Brava (Pyloccarpus jaborandi)

Parruva brava is a herb that supports the thermogenic processes of the body. It has been traditionally valued for its purification properties which promote perspiration.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Parsley is a native of the Mediterranean region, but, quickly spread throughout the world as a popular culinary essential. To honour the Greek god Archemorus, the herald of death, wreaths of parsley were worn by funeral attendants and the deceased were adorned with the herb before burial. Hercules chose the herb for his victory garland, and, continuing the honoured tradition, victorious athletes were crowned with wreaths of woven parsley during the Isthmian Games. Early uses for the herb were mainly as a fodder for horses, but, soon, parsley gained a growing reputation as a culinary herb. Romans were so fond of parsley that garlands were woven with it to present to party guests to control strong odours and to counter the effects of alcohol.

It is one of the most potent foods of the common vegetable kingdom and, as a juice, if properly and completely extracted, it is wise not to drink more than four ounces daily without the addition of other vegetable juices because otherwise it is likely to create a serious disturbance of the nervous system. With the addition of the raw juice of carrots and celery it is very valuable as nourishment for the optic system, also for the kidneys and bladder and as an aid in allaying inflammation of the urethra and genital organs.

In studies, extracts taken from parsley stems have been shown to produce potent activities against the Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli bacteria.

Parsley stimulates the secretion of digestive juices and helps considerably in disorders of the liver and spleen. The water content of parsley is more than 85% but the fibres are so tough that it requires enough hydraulic pressure to extract all the vitamins and mineral elements with the juice. Parsley is rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium and chlorine. In salads, it should be ground up very fine and can be used to the extent of one to two teaspoons per serving, not merely to decorate it. When eating meat, raw parsley should be eaten at the same time, because of its diuretic action, to stimulate the elimination of the excessive uric acid resulting from the digestion of meat.

Herbalists make a tea made of parsley as an aid to digestion and bladder problems. It is considered a tonic for the liver and kidneys and is believed to help with rheumatism and excess gas.

Hair rinses can be made from crushed parsley seeds or leaves soaked in hot water to make a "tea", which can be poured over the hair as a final leave-in rinse. Pour a strong tea made from the crushed seed onto the hair and leave in for 30 to 45 minutes to kill head lice.

It is a tonic, blood purifier, diuretic, appetite stimulant and breath freshener that can help to alleviate wind, fluid retention, colic, indigestion, cramps and anaemia. Internally it can be used as a diuretic, to relax spasms, reduce inflammation, clear toxins in the body, inhibit tumour growth, menstrual complaints, urinary tract problems, gas, dyspepsia, rheumatism, arthritis, anaemia, anorexia, colic, indigestion and induce lactation. 

Parsley can also be used externally, as a tea, on abscesses, eczema, itching, rashes, toothache and wounds and kills  head lice.

NOTE: Parsley is not suitable to be used medicinally by pregnant women.

Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passion flower has been used to help the body reduce anxiety, hysteria and nervousness by nourishing the nervous system. It has been traditionally used in both herbal and homeopathic medicine for pain, insomnia, nervous exhaustion, high blood pressure, asthma and attention deficit disorder. Passicol, an alkaloid found in passionflower, kills a range of moulds, yeasts and bacteria.

Passicol, an alkaloid found in passionflower, kills a range of bacteria and fungi and it also contains other antimicrobial components such as flavonoids and glycosides. In studies, the stem tissues of the passionflower showed high levels of inhibition against the following:

Moulds: Arthroderma flavescens, Aspergillus fumigatus, Epidermophyton floccosum, Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, Microsporum cookie and Penicillium notatum.

Yeasts: Candida albicans, Candida krusei, Cryptoccoccus neoformans and Rhodotorula.

Bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus and Torulopsis glabrate. 

Ethyl acetate extracts of the passionflower stems also showed potent activity against all these as well as the mould Trichophyton quinckeanum and the bacteria Clostridium sporogenes, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica serovar Stanley and Shigella sonnei.

The main plant chemicals in passionflower include: alkaloids, alpha-alanine, apigenin, aribine, chrysin, citric acid, coumarin, cyclopassifloic acids A-D, cyclopassiflosides I-VI, diethyl malonate, edulan I, edulan II, flavonoids, glutamine, gynocardin, harmane, harmaline, harmalol, harmine, harmol, homoorientin, isoorientin, isoschaftoside, isovitexin, kaempferol, loturine, lucenin-2, lutenin-2, luteolin, n-nonacosane, orientin, passicol, passiflorine, passifloric acid, pectin, phenolic acids, phenylalanine, proline, prunasin, quercetin, raffinose, sambunigrin, saponarin, saponaretin, saponarine, schaftoside, scopoletin, serotonin, sitosterol, and stigmasterol.

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin, Herba pogostemonis, green leaf, Guang Huo Xiang)

Pau d'arco (Tabebuia serratifolia, Tabebuia impetiginosa, tahuari)

The Pau d'arco is an Amazonian tree used for centuries by the Incas and Aztecs which helps strengthen and nourish the body's defence system. A healthy immune system is a key in fighting diseases and infections. A herbal tea is used by many during the cold and flu season and is a remedy for smoker's cough. Another medicinal use of Pau d’arco is as an expectorant: to promote "coughing up" by the lungs to free mucus and contaminants that had been lodged there. Pau d’arco tea or tincture concoctions have reportedly had beneficial effects for cancer and leukaemia patients, anywhere from alleviation of chemotherapy symptoms to complete remission of tumours especially when used in conjunction with cat's claw and jergon sacha.

It can also treat diabetes, fever and leishmaniosis sores (from sand fly bites) and can support and restore the pancreas proper functioning (taken together with Cuti Cuti and Pasuchaca)

Pau d’arco is also anti-parasitic and works against various parasites, including: malaria, schistosoma and trypanosoma.

Antiviral uses have also been displayed against several viruses, one of which is vesicular stomatitis virus, shortened as VSV. It can also help to alleviate inflammation.

It can also successfully treated fungus infections such as candida albicans and bacterial infections such as staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus, helicobacter pylori (common cause of stomach ulcers), brucella, tuberculosis, pneumonia and dysentery. The bark has active principles, mainly lapachol, quercetin and other flavonoids.

Peelu (Salvadora persica arak, miswak, siwak)

The twigs and fibres of this Middle Eastern tree have been used since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, who is said to have recommended its use to clean teeth and purify the mouth. Because its use dates back to the middle of the first millennia, many believe the “Kayu Sugi,” or chewing stick, is the world’s oldest toothbrush. Traditionally, the outer bark is removed and a person chews on the interior fibres for gentle, non-abrasive oral care which will prevent cavities and gum disease. Walnut and olive twigs are also used for the same purpose. The great benefit of using these natural twig toothbrushes is that they lack the usual abrasive chemicals added to normal toothpaste.

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium, Hedeoma pulegiodes), mosquito plant, pudding grass, squaw mint)

Peppercorns ( Piper nigrum)

Black pepper is the fruit of the black pepper plant from the (Piper nigrum)Piperaceae family and is used as a spice and also as a medicine. The chemical piperine, present in black pepper, causes the spiciness. It is native to the southern state of India Kerala and the tropical rain forests in Indonesia. From ancient times, black pepper is one of the most widely traded spices in the world. The peppercorn is a berry but is often categorised as a spice due to the way it is used in cooking.

This plant, a perennial climbing vine, will require the use of a pole to reach its full growth potential. It will not produce fruit for as long as four years after planting. Often peppercorns are harvested when they are nearly matured and ready to turn red in colour. White peppercorns, the result of berries that have fully ripened, which are then soaked to remove the dark, outer shell, revealing a white pepper seed on the inside. 

Peppercorns contain agents that can fight against fungi and bacteria especially Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus and Micrococcus luteus. Ground pepper is ideal to add to foods that may be infected with any of these bacteria as it will destroy them before they can do any harm in the intestines. Because of its antibacterial properties, pepper is often used to preserve food.

Peppercorns are a source of manganese, iron, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K and dietary fibre. It is a very good, anti-inflammatory agent and are rich in antioxidants, controls blood pressure and heart rate with its high level of potassium. Pepper is also high in iron which is essential in the production of healthy blood cells. Peppercorns contain vitamin A and vitamin C and are also rich in other antioxidants such as carotenes which work to help the body fight cancers and other diseases.

The outer layer of peppercorn assists in the breakdown of fat cells; therefore, peppery foods are a good way to shed weight. It also helps to cure vitiligo, which is a skin disease that causes some areas of skin to lose its normal pigment and turn white. Piperine, a phytochemical, contained in pepper can stimulate the skin to produce pigment. It also reduces the chances of skin cancer due to excess ultraviolet radiation. Piperine, increases metabolism which effectively increases the calories that the body can burn helping with weight loss. This phytochemical also increases the body’s ability to absorb other nutrients such as vitamin B and beta-carotene. Black pepper also helps to transport the nutrients of otherherbs to different parts of body.

Peppercorns digestive benefits are caused by stimulating taste buds which increases the amount of hydrochloric acid that the stomach produces. This additional secretion improves digestion of food once it reaches the stomach. This is one of the most notable attributes of black pepper and because of its ability to eliminate the pathogenic and harmful bacteria in the stomach, black pepper is also an antibacterial agent.

The health benefits of black pepper

The health benefits of black pepper include relief from for abnormal heart rate, acne, anaemia, asthma, bloating, blocked arteries, blood pressure disorders, boils, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, colic, common cold, cough, constipation, dental care, diarrhoea, ear ache, eye problems, fever, flatulence, gangrene, indigestion, infections, haemorrhoids, heartburn, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, impotency, indigestion, insect bites, joint pain, kidney infections, liver problems, muscular strains, nasal congestion, obesity, phlegm, pyorrhoea, rheumatism, respiratory disorders, sinus congestion, sinusitis, skin diseases including cancer, sore throat, toothache, tooth decay, vitiligo, whooping cough, water retention, wind and worms.

Medicinal Uses

Black pepper is an excellent remedy one can take at the first sign of most diseases. Yogis consider pepper to be one of nature's most perfect foods and useful not only to cure disease but also as a preventive, taking a dose of seven peppercorns, ground and mixed with honey each morning. The mixture of pepper and honey is useful to overcome cold mucous diseases and sore throats.  When treating acute diseases, it may be used three to four times a day. 

Black pepper in conjunction with turmeric has strong anti-cancer properties as well assisting with stopping smoking in vapour form.

Grinding peppercorns to make pepper powder at home is better than buying ready-made pepper powder. But even home-made powder retains its freshness for only up to three months. Whole peppercorns can keep their freshness indefinitely.

Thus, adding a pinch of black pepper to every meal not only helps improve taste and digestion, it also improves your overall health and wellbeing.

NOTE: Pepper may cause sneezing. Patients who have undergone abdominal surgery should not take pepper added diet because pepper has an irritating effect on the intestines. It is also not good for people with ulcers. Black pepper should not be taken in high doses.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

First described in England in 1696, peppermint and its oil have been used in Eastern and Western traditional medicine for its aroma and for cramps and infections. It has also been used in treating cancers, colds, indigestion, nausea, sore throat, toothache and worms and parasites. Today, the oil is used widely as a flavouring for chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, cigarettes and drugs. It also is used as an ingredient in cough and cold preparations and for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the constituent menthol is used in many antiseptic, anti-itch and local anaesthetic preparations. Peppermint has astringent properties and can calm the stomach, intestinal tract and nervous system. It also stimulates the menstrual flow and the salivary glands to help with digestion and can help to fight off bacterial infections.

The oil of the peppermint has been studied by scientists and shown potent activity against Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella enteritidis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin sensitive Staphylococccus aureus (MSSA).

NOTE: Avoid peppermint oil if pregnant or suffering from gastric reflux or active stomach ulcers and do not apply peppermint oil to the face, especially under the nose of a child or infant.

Pepperwort (Lepidium meyenii, ayak chichira, ayuk willku, ginseng andin, ginseng Péruvien, lepidium peruvianum, maca maca, maca Péruvien, maino, maka, Peruvian ginseng, Peruvian maca, maca root, peppergrass)

Pepperwort is a plant that grows in central Peru in the Andes mountains. It has been cultivated as a vegetable crop in Peru since 1600 BC and is a staple diet of the indigenous people in this region to this day due to its very rich nutritional content. It is a brassica relative of radish, mustard and cress, has an odour similar to butterscotch and its root is used to make medicine. It can also be baked and used as a vegetable like sweet potato.

Pepperwort is rich in sugars, protein, starches and essential nutrients (especially iodine and iron). It contains alkaloids, whole fibre, lipids, twenty amino acids (including arginine, serine, clycine, valine, histidine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid, etc.), beta-ecdysone, beta-sitosterol, hydrolyzable carbohydrates, fatty acids (including linolenic, palmitic and oleic acids), glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, iodine, phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, steroid glycosides, saponins, sitosterols, stigmasterol, tannins, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B12 and vitamins C and E.

The glucosinolates found in the root of the pepperwort help to combat serious invasive infection. They are the substances that are also found in other members of the Brassicaceae family (including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables) and are said to be particularly effective in building the body's defences against serious malignant illnesses.

It is used to treat anaemia,
chronic fatigue syndrome, constipation, depression, hypothyroidism and boost the immune system. It is also used to treat HIV/AIDS, leukaemia, stomach cancer and tuberculosis. It has properties which can improve the bone density and can be very helpful for those suffering with osteoporosis.

It is also useful to treat hormone imbalances, menstrual problems and symptoms of menopause and can improve fertility and sexual health and treat erectile dysfunction due to its compounds that can balance the sex hormones. It has a reputation for being a powerful aphrodisiac and, as it is rich in minerals like zinc and iodine and essential fatty acids, it can improve the mood and overall brain health.

Because it is rich in essential fatty acids, minerals, protein and vitamins, pepperwort is known to improve sports performance and provides faster repair from sports injuries. It can enhance athletic performance, energy, memory, mental clarity and stamina. See Sports Nutrition

Perilla leaves (Perilla frutescens, kkaennip, sesame leaves, shiso leaves)

The perilla plant is a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family. Aside from having a shared name perilla leaves have no relation to sesame seeds. The leaves are used for both their culinary and medicinal properties and the seeds of the herb can be pressed to make an oil that is rich in omega-3 fatty acid, specifically linolenic acid.

Being a member of the mint family, the leaves of the perilla have potent antibiotic properties that can act as an antidote to food poisoning from food-borne bacteria and this is partly due to the presence of rosmarinic acid. It also shows the ability to protect against mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis that can be caused by an infection of the Streptococcus bacteria.

Perilla leaves are used in Chinese medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments such as morning sickness and food related nausea, cough and chest congestion, as an antidote to food poisoning and topically to soothe bug bites. In Asian cooking they are used as a garnish and their flavour goes well with chilli, garlic, grilled meats, soft cheeses and soy sauce.

They are a nutrient rich green herb high in calcium, iron, phosphorous and vitamins A, K and C. In Korea, the leaves are commonly eaten with preserved and grilled meats as they are believed to have nutritional properties that are anti-carcinogenic and help clear sodium nitrates from the body. The leaves also contain rosmarinic acid which is being studied for its anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties and ability to help reduce the severity of asthmatic attacks and allergic reactions.

NOTE: Perilla leaves are poisonous to cattle.

Periwinkle (Vinca minor, Vinca major, myrtle)

There are two main varieties: lesser periwinkle (vinca minor), which is also called common periwinkle, and greater periwinkle (vinca major). Lesser periwinkle originated in Spain, France and other areas of Europe but can now be found growing in many parts of the world, while greater periwinkle is native to southern Europe.

The leaves, and seeds of the periwinkle contain vincamine, a precursor to the chemical vinpocetine, is used medicinally to naturally enhance memory in aging minds by improving brain circulation. It can also be used to alleviate heavy menstrual periods.

Madagascar periwinkle has been used for centuries to treat a variety of medical problems, from diabetes and eye infections to sore throats and tumours.

NOTE: Madagascar periwinkle is not widely recommended as a dietary supplement because some of the alkaloids in the plant can cause serious and potentially dangerous side effects.

Phyllanthus amarus (Phyllanthus niruri, gale of the wind, stonebreaker or seed-under-leaf)

Phyllanthus amaraus is also known as chanca piedra in Spanish, bhumyamalaki in Ayurveda, and quebra pedra in Portuguese, keela nelli in Tamil, nela nelli in Kannada and nela usiri in Telugu. It has many other common names in assorted languages, including dukong anak, dukong-dukong anak, amin buah, rami buah, turi hutan, bhuiaonla, niruri and meniran. This herb is a common weed that can be found in most parts of tropical countries; in fields, cultivated fields of cotton, maize, rice, coffee, banana plantations, gardens and on waste ground. It grows in wet soils.

It is a world-renowned botanical herb that has been used medicinally for the past 2000 years. It is very effective in treating viral infections of the liver, specifically hepatitis B. It is anti-hepatotoxic, anti-lithic and anti-hypertensive. Useful in the treatment of kidney stones and gallbladder stones (active stones and as a preventative), colds, flu, tuberculosis, and other viral infections. Also, cystitis, prostatitis, venereal diseases and urinary tract infections. It has also been proven effective in other liver diseases like jaundice and liver cancer. It is used to tone, balance, strengthen, detoxify and protect the kidneys and liver (and to balance liver enzymes). In the kidneys it helps to reduce uric acid and increase urination.

The main constituents in Phyllanthus include; lignans (phyllanthine and hypophyllanthine), alkaloids, bioflavonoids (quercetin), and repandusinic acid. Repandusinic acid has been shown to have anti-viral properties in vitro. It is mildly diuretic and has demonstrated hypoglycaemic effects in animals and humans. In ayurvedic medicine, it is used to treat diabetes.

Picrorhiza (Picrorhiza kurrooa, kadu, katuka kutka, kutki, picroliv, titka kul) See Hu huang lian

Pine (Pinus aphremphous, Pinus koraiensis, Pinus sabiniana, Pinus sibirica, Pinus sylvestris, Pinus taeda)

Pine is a traditional centuries old Native Indian wild food and healing remedy that gives great health benefits due to its aromatic oils and vitamin C content. It can relieve wintertime colds, urinary and respiratory infections. Pine needles and pine bark contain a compound called pycnogenol which is the most powerful antioxidant today and acts as a protector against environmental toxins. Research has demonstrated that pycnogenol is 50 times more effective than vitamin E and 20 times more powerful than vitamin C. Studies show that Pycnogenol is rapidly absorbed and distributed throughout the body within twenty minutes. Pycnogenol also activates vitamin C and puts it to work before it leaves the body. It is used in France, Finland, Holland, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Korea, Argentina, and Switzerland 

When European settlers arrived in the USA they were suffering from scurvy due to lack of vitamin C, so the Native Americans introduced them to pine needle tea. Today, Native Americans still drink pine needle tea to treat coughs and colds. Drinking a cup of pine needle tea may help your body expel phlegm causing the congestion of colds or coughs. Pine needles are strongly aromatic and even inhaling the vapours from the tea breaks up mucus in the lungs. It is also antiseptic and may help heal infections in the respiratory and urinary systems.

Pine needle tea is high in vitamins A and vitamin C. A cup of pine needle tea supplies five times as much vitamin C as one cup of orange juice which can help to treat urinary tract infections and  aid the absorption of iron.

Pine needle tea is also useful as a bath infusion. Pour it in the tub and soak for relief of cramped muscles, sore joints, rheumatism, gout, itching and irritated skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis

Pine needles were used as an herbal aid for syphilis. The patient chewed the needles, swallowed them, drank a quantity of cold water and then exercised until he perspired profusely. When he returned home, he wrapped himself in a heavy blanket. A tea of the twigs was drunk warm in conjunction with chewing the needles.

French maritime pine extract is known to thin the blood as effectively as aspirin but without any harmful side effects. It is also used as a remedy for asthma, high blood pressure, menopause symptoms and tinnitus. It is a useful dietary supplement for smokers.

Pine Needle tea Preparation

To prepare pine needle tea, pick a handful of pine needles. Remove the papery brown coverings at the ends and chop the needles into 1/2 inch pieces. Pour a cup of very hot -- but not boiling -- water over a tablespoon of chopped needles. Let the infusion steep for ten minutes. Strain and drink. Sweeten with honey if desired.

Pine Nuts (Pinus sibirica, Pinus koraiensis, Pinus sylvestris, Pinus aphremphous, Pinus taeda, Pinus sabiniana)

Pine nuts are the small edible seeds of pine trees such as Pinus sibirica and Pinus koraiensis. They are high in calories 100g provides 673 calories. Pine nuts contain the essential fatty acid pinolenic acid useful in weight loss by curbing the appetite. Pinolenic acid triggers the release of hunger-suppressant enzymes cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide-1 and has LDL lowering properties by enhancing hepatic LDL uptake. They also provide oleic acid that helps to lower LDL cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol.

Pine nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E; contain about 9.33 mg per 100g (62% of RDA), free from gluten, an excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (foliate), calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc and one of the richest sources of manganese which helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.

Pink cedar (Tabebuia heterophylla, black cedar, pink manjack, tooshee, white cedar)

Pink cedar has antibacterial properties and is consumed with molasses to kill the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium that causes gonorrhoea and for the treatment of food poisoning from fish, as a diuretic and for backache and toothache. A tea can be made with Ginger Thomas to treat fevers.

Pippali fruit (Piper longum

Pippali is a pepper which has been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine to address digestive disorders and obesity.

Piri piri root (Cyperus articulatus)

The roots of this Amazonian plant can treat influenza and has febrifuge (reduces fever), haemostatic (stops bleeding) and vulnerary (heals wounds) properties. It can also treat snake bites and is abortifacient (induces abortion).

As an astringent, it is best to decoct the powdered rhizomes; For flu use the, rhizomes decoction and for haemorrhages use the rhizomes powder decoction.

The Amazonian people attribute magical powers to piri piri and drink the leaves and flower infusion to awake the love feelings of a desired/loved person.

Plantain herb (Plantago lancelota, Plantago major, Plantago ovato)

The plantain herb has wide-ranging antimicrobial properties besides being anti-inflammatory and analgesic. A decoction of plantain roots is used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, cystitis, diarrhoea, dysentery, gastritis, hay fever, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids, peptic ulcers and sinusitis. Its seeds can kill parasites and the leaf is an antiseptic useful for cuts, insect bites and wounds that can prevent infections and accelerate healing. It is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding as it quickly stops blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue without scarring. The active biochemical aucubin is mainly responsible for the antimicrobial action of this herb.

NOTE: Plantain can cause allergic reaction to the skin so should be tested on a small area too. If taken internally it may cause diarrhoea and low blood pressure.

See also Psyllium husks

Poke root (Phytolacca americana, Phytolacca decandra, American nightshade, bear's grape, ink berry, pigeon berry, poke berry, poke bush, poke sallet, poke weed, red weed, Virginia poke)

The botanical name of the poke bush comes from the Greek word φυτόν (phyton), meaning 'plant' and the Latin word 'lacca', a red dye. It has anti-arthritic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and anti-viral properties and is also very effective in treating lymphatic disorders and boosting the immune system. It is also known to treat various types of skin disorders, fungal infections like acne, ringworm and scabies and eye infections such as conjunctivitis.

Decoctions made with poke root can also treat catarrh, constipation, dysmenorrhoea, dyspepsia, Lyme disease, mumps, pharyngitis, respiratory infections, sore throats, syphilis and tonsillitis.

It may also be helpful in treating diseases related to the immune system such as HIV/AIDS as it has certain properties that help strengthen the immune system by interacting with the proliferating T-cells. It also has potential to help treat breast and uterus cancers and is known to shrink tumours.

Poke weed extracts are used as insect repellents and are extremely effective.

Poke root contains glycoproteins, resins, tannins, triterpene saponins, many other components and an active glycoprotein lectin called pokeweed mitogen which stimulates lymphocytes.

NOTE: The whole of the plant is toxic and increases in toxicity through the year with children at risk of its very poisonous purple-red ripe fruit. The juice of poke root can be absorbed through the skin and therefore contact of plant parts with bare skin should be avoided. Care must be taken to prepare it properly when using this herb medicinally.

Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis, Zanthoxylum americanum)

Prickly ash supports and enhances circulation throughout the entire body. This herb is also effective against Lyme disease, scrofula and syphilis. The herb mixed with blue flag and mandrake should be given in small doses at short intervals.

Propolis (beeswax)

Propolis has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to 350BC, the time of Aristotle. Greeks used propolis for abscesses; Assyrians used it for healing wounds and tumours; and Egyptians used it for mummification. Bees collect sap from trees and mix the resin with beeswax to make propolis for their hives.

Propolis has potent anaesthetic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antiseptic properties and can help to boost the immune system. It can be used both orally and topically to help treat a wide range of health disorders including cancer of the nose and throat, cervicitis, colds, cold sores, canker sores, gastrointestinal problems, gingivitis, H1N1 “swine” flu, Helicobacter pylori infection, herpes, periodontal disease and other dental problems, parasite infections including giardiasis, respiratory disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach ulcers, tuberculosis, vaginal infections and skin wounds.

Make a Honey and Propolis Tincture

Place 100ml of honey in a jar and stir in the tincture you need:

5ml (1 teaspoon) of tincture = 100 drops: this will mean 1 drop in each 1ml of honey. Thus a teaspoon of honey will contain 5 drops of tincture. Take the honey as is, or add it to rooibos tea or warm water, so that the alcohol is removed.

For 10 drops a day, add 10ml (2 teaspoons) tincture to the 100ml honey and have 1 teaspoon a day. (Or 2 x ½ teaspoon).

For very intensive treatment, eg: getting rid of parasites or a stomach ulcer, take 10 drops 3 x a day, before meals. Do this for a week and then reduce to 5 drops 3x a day for the second week. Afterwards, take 5 drops a day.

Psyllium Husks (Plantago ovata)

If there is one herb that everyone should consume daily for a healthy colon and digestive system it is psyllium husks. Psyllium is the husk of the seed of the plantain and is the best herb for weight control and general intestinal health. It contains a spongy fibre that reduces appetite, improves digestion and cleanses the system, making it an excellent choice for healthy dieting. Easily purchased from health food stores, psyllium husks are an amazing high fibre food which can instantly relieve constipation, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids and bleeding from the anus. Try sprinkling the psyllium husks on cereals or salads and in sauces, soups and stews daily rather than buying the capsules. One tablespoon can also be added to juices or milk.

Psyllium can provide the fibre that is missing on low carbohydrate diets. Every 100 grams of psyllium provides 71 grams of soluble fibre; a similar amount of oat bran would contain only five grams of soluble fibre. Only recently have scientists learned that soluble fibre has unique effects on metabolism. The herb also provides a feeling of fullness that is helpful before meals.

Psyllium has also been used for irritable bowel syndrome (a stress-related disorder with alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation. Because it will produce easy bowel movements with a loose stool, psyllium is used by patients with anal fissures (cracks in the skin near the anus) and haemorrhoids.

Psyllium soaks up a significant amount of water in the digestive tract, thereby making stool firmer and, under these circumstances, slower to pass. Psyllium also has the additional advantages over other sources of fibre of reducing flatulence and bloating. It may be recommended by a physician to help soften stool and reduce the pain associated with haemorrhoids.

In a study of people with ulcerative colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disorder), psyllium seeds were as shown to be as effective as the prescription drug mesalamine in decreasing recurrences of the disease. In addition, psyllium is excellent as a bulking agent for mild to moderate cases of diarrhoea from either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease (another type of inflammatory bowel disorder).

The use of soluble-fibre cereals is an effective and well-tolerated part of a diet for the treatment of mild to moderate Hypercholesterollaemia. Soluble fibres such as those in psyllium husk, guar gum, and oat bran have a cholesterol-lowering effect when added to a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Psyllium is effective in lowering total as well as LDL cholesterol levels, which can be helpful to those with high cholesterol and those at increased risk for developing hypercholesterolemia, such as people with type 2 diabetes.

NOTE: Drink plenty of water when consuming psyllium husks.

See also the Plantain herb

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea, Portulaca sativa, duckweed, fatweed, pigweed, pursley, pussley, verdolagas, wild portulaca)

Q

Quassia (Q amara, amargo, bitter wood, Jamaica, bitter ash)

Quassia is a tree native to Jamaica and its neighbouring islands, has traditionally been used as a remedy for roundworms and as an insecticide. It has also been used as a bitter remedy for digestive disorders and for parasites and head lice.

Queen of the meadow (Filipendula ulmaria, spiraea ulmaria, meadowsweet, bridewort, meadowwort, meadwort, quaker lady, trumpet weed, gravel weed, gravel root)

Queen of the meadow has been used historically since Culpepper's time to treat cold, coughs, headaches and flu. It has antacid, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, anti-emetic and stomachic properties and the root is traditionally valued to help heal strains, sprains, and the associated aches. It nourishes the ligaments and tendons and assists in restoring their normal function and so is useful and effective for treating arthritis. It helps release inorganic deposits from the joints and tissues and can prevent some types of bladder stones.

It is a mild, but effective anti-inflammatory herb used to treat arthritis and other aches and pains. Meadowsweet leaves and flowers contain salicylates which are compounds that are converted by the body to aspirin. Salicylates are analgesic, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and can reduce fevers. It is astringent and helps to tighten and tone the lining of the stomach which can help to heal ulcers.

Quisqualis indica (Combretum indicum, Chinese honeysuckle, rangoon creeper)

Quisqualis indica is a vine with red flower clusters found in Asia. The genus translates into Latin for 'What is that?' Decoctions of the root, seed or fruit can be used as antihelmintic to expel parasitic worms or for alleviating diarrhoea. Fruit decoction can also be used for gargling for sore throats and to combat nephritis. Leaves can be used to relieve pain caused by fever. The roots are used to treat rheumatism.

R

 Red clover (Trifolium pratense)

Red clover is one of the few sources of deoxybenzoins which are polyphenols that have antimicrobial and antiviral properties and can help to relax arteries in the human body and protect the heart. Red clover is also known to clear congestion and thin the blood. Try growing the seeds in a jam jar as in sprouts. Rinse daily with water and eat after five days.

Red clover is rich in phytoestrogens that can help to inhibit the growth of uterine tissue making it an effective way to treat uterine fibroids. Drink two to three cups of red clover tea per day.

Red raspberry leaf (Ubus idaeus)

Red raspberry leaf strengthens the uterus wall and regulates menstrual flow by nourishing the reproductive organs, especially the uterine muscles and helps strengthen and prepare the body for childbirth. It has also been known to help reduce and eliminate fibroids in the uterus. It is also highly valued for its soothing and astringent properties to the stomach and intestinal tract. Raspberry leaf is a nutrient-rich herb that helps balance the body so that diarrhoea or constipation can be relieved.  They also contain astringent tannins that can soothe a sore throat when consumed as a tea.

Red raspberry seed (Ubus idaeus)

Raspberry seeds usually pass through the human system, but when ground up, contain one of the most powerful antioxidants known, ellagitannin (ellagic acid). Aside from being used very successfully in cancer treatment, ellagitannin has also been found to be a powerful destroyer of parasites. It has very strong antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, lowers cholesterol and protects the DNA.

Red sandalwood (Santalum album)

Red sandalwood tea has powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that are especially effective against infections of the urinary tract. It can also be used topically to treat damaged skin and boils.

Reed mace (Typha latifolia variegata)

Evidence of preserved starch grains on grinding stones suggests reed mace were eaten in Europe 30,000 years ago. The content of protein is comparable to that of maize or rice and 100 g of powdered root provides 266 calories. They also are a rich source of omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic).

The roots of reed mace have been traditionally used as a poultice and the flowers for diarrhoea. The boiled rootstocks can also be used as a diuretic for increasing urination or used mashed to make a jelly-like poultice for sores, boils, wounds, burns, scabs and smallpox pustules.

The outer portion of young plants can be peeled and the heart can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten like asparagus and has often been called the ”Cossack asparagus”, as it has been of great popularity with the Cossacks in Russia. The bases of the leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, in late spring when they are young and tender. In early summer the sheath can be removed from the developing green flower spike which can then be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob. In midsummer, once the male flowers are mature, the pollen can be collected and used as a flour supplement or thickener.

Restharrow (Ononis repens)

The common restharrow is a perennial plant species of the pea family found by the shore and is also common in dry hill pastures in chalk or limestone areas. It is a favourite food of the donkey, from which the generic name is derived, ‘onos’ being the Greek word for an ass. but is obnoxious to snakes. A tradition exists that this was the plant from which the crown of thorns was plaited for the Crucifixion.

Restharrow possesses aperient (relieves constipation), diuretic (stimulates urine production), expectorant (loosens phlegm), metabolic stimulant (increases energy production) and sedative (aids sleep) properties. It is good for oedema and water retention, especially uric acid retention, gravel and stones. It is also recommended for urinary catarrh, kidney inflammation and rheumatism. A decoction of the roots can also be used externally for eczema, itching, and other skin problems.

The sweet viscid juice extracted from the root can be used to treat the parasitic toxoplasmosis infection, bladder stones and delirium. The young shoots can be eaten in salads.

Infusion: Steep three to four tablespoons of chopped roots in one cup hot water for five minutes while stirring. Take one to one and a half cups per day, warm.

Decoction: Soak two teaspoons of the chopped roots in half a cup cold water for eight hours, then bring rapidly to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes then cool and strain. Drink once a day for one week. Can be added to sauces, soups and teas.

Restharrow is a good source of calcium, iron, sulphur and magnesium.

Rhodiola (Sedum roseum, Aaron's rod, rhodiola rosea, golden root)

This herb has a legendary history dating back to the Greeks in 77 AD. It was used as a treatment for cold and flu and Mongolian physicians prescribed it for tuberculosis and cancer. It has been used extensively by the Russians because it enhances work performance, eliminates fatigue and prevents high altitude sickness. It has been shown to shorten recovery time after prolonged workouts, increase attention span, memory, strength and provide anti-toxic action.

It can strengthen the nervous system, fight depression, enhance immunity, elevate the capacity for exercise, enhance memory, aid weight reduction, increase sexual function, balance lung and circulatory functions, improve energy levels and support physical strength.

Rhodiola both stimulates and protects the immune system by reinstating homeostasis (metabolic balance) in the body. It also increases the natural killer cells (NK) in the stomach and spleen. This action may be due to its ability to normalise hormones by modulating the release of glucocorticoid into the body.

Rhodiola rosea also decreases the amount of catecholamines and corticosteroids released by the adrenal glands during stress. The abnormal presence of these stress hormones will subsequently raise blood pressure, cholesterol, potassium levels and increase risk factors for heart disease. Rhodiola has been found to decrease harmful blood lipids and thus decrease the risk of heart disease. It also decreases the amount of cyclic-AMP released into cardiac cells. Cyclic AMP is related to adenosine triphosphate, the body's primary energy molecule. C-AMP acts as a 'second messenger' or liaison between the outer and inner environments of the cell. It assists in the uptake of more intracellular calcium into the heart thus promoting a greater potential for heart muscle contraction. Rhodiola thus regulates the heart beat and counteracts heart arrhythmias.

It also enhances the transport of serotonin precursors, tryptophan, and 5-hydroxytryptophan into the brain. Serotonin is a widely studied brain neurotransmitter chemical that is involved in many functions including, smooth muscle contraction, temperature regulation, appetite, pain perception, behaviour, blood pressure and respiration. When balanced, it imparts a sense of contentment and mental ease. Either too much or too little serotonin on the other hand has been linked to various abnormal mental states such as clinical depression.

It has also been reported to improve hearing, regulate blood sugar levels for diabetics and protect the liver from environmental toxins, assist with weight reduction. It can also clinically enhance thyroid function without causing hyperthyroidism, enhance thymus gland function and protect or delay involution that occurs with ageing. It can also improve adrenal gland reserves without causing hypertrophy. It has shown to substantially improve erectile dysfunction and/or premature ejaculation in men and normalises their prostatic fluid.

Rock-rose flowers (Helianthemum nummularium)

Rock rose flowers are used as a natural remedy for fright and panic.

Rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

Neem leaves, rosemary and lavender contain natural insecticidal properties and act as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. These herbs together with the aromatic therapeutic ingredients such as tea tree oil and rose geranium have the ability to eliminate external parasites including pubic lice and prevent re-infestation.

NOTE: Avoid rosemary if suffering from high blood pressure, pregnant or breastfeeding.

Rosemary  (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary has antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiseptic properties, stimulates the circulation and detoxifies the system. It has been shown in studies to be active against Bacillus cereus, Botrytis cinereal, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Listeria monocytogenes, Penicillium roquefortii, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus mutans.

It is useful for treating a poor memory and poor concentration and is used for a wide range of other conditions such as circulatory problems, colds, coughs, diabetes, flatulence, influenza, nervous complaints, stomach cramps and as a mild stimulant. It can also fight food poisoning bacteria and lessen the aging effect of pollution and protect against cancer and rosemary tea is useful for treating Candida and as a mouthwash for sore gums and a gargle for sore throats. It is also commonly used as an aspirin substitute for headaches and can improve digestion.

Rosemary contains carotenoids, vitamins B9, C and E and iron.

Externally, the diluted essential oil is also a warming ingredient in ointment for aches, painful joints, muscle stiffness and rheumatism and can be used as a tonic for hair and scalp in shampoos or hair lotions as it increases circulation and scalp stimulation and can combat dandruff and may even help to prevent baldness.  

Neem leaves, rosemary and lavender contain natural insecticidal properties and act as an antiseptic. These herbs together with aroma therapeutic ingredients such as tea tree oil and rose geranium have the ability to eliminate external parasites including pubic lice and prevent re-infestation and can be used as a toxin free household cleaner. Greek fishermen cover their catch with rosemary to retard spoilage.

NOTE: Avoid rosemary if pregnant or breastfeeding or suffering from high blood pressure.

Rough chaff (Achyranthes aspera, adharajhada, apamara, apamarga, aghada, aghata, antisha, apamarga, apamargamu, apang, atkumah, chirchira, devil's horsewhip, duk.-agari, kadaladi, katalati, kharamanjari, khare-vazhun, kune-la- mon, kutri, latjira, nayuruvi, pan-dhara-aghada, prickly chaff flower, safed hedo, shiru-kidaladi, uttaraene, uttaranee, washerman's plant)

S

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)

The flowers of the safflower plant are used to nourish the liver, gallbladder and respiratory system. Due to its ability to support the liver it is a useful herb to consume to help treat uterine fibroids. Safflower helps balance cholesterol in the body and assists in eliminating excessive uric acid and so can relieve symptoms of gout and can help to eliminate some types of bladder stones. It also helps break up phlegm and soothes the digestive system.

Saffron (Crocus sativus)

Saffron has many inexplicable benefits that are proved by a variety of testaments and age old experiences which cannot be explained by science. It is important for every supplier to state the origin or source of their saffron, for the soil and climate creates the basic characteristics and strength of the saffron.

Like most of the European spices, Saffron derives from Arabic za'fran "be yellow". The Hindi and Sanskrit names have been derived from the Northern Indian region Kashmir, where old saffron was produced. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. In production countries, the price is much lower, but so is the quality. Saffron's aroma is unique and there is no substitute for it. Saffron is the slender, dried, reddish-brown, flattened stigma of a small crocus of the iris family.

The threads that make up saffron must be picked from each flower by hand and more than 160,000 of these flowers are needed to produce just one kilogram of saffron filaments.

Saffron finds a variety of uses in India and abroad. In India, it is used as a herb in Ayurvedic Medicines which heal a variety of diseases ranging from arthritis to impotence and infertility. It is known to have aphrodisiac properties and is widely used in Asia and the Middle East as such. Chinese and Tibetan medicine also find many uses of this exotic herb. Records of ancient and medieval periods indicate anti-tumour and anti-cancerous activities and the Ebers Papyrus (Ca 1550 BC) has mentioned it as an ingredient in case of kidney problems.

Conditions saffron can help to treat

  • Acne and skin diseases.

  • Alcoholism.

  • Asthma.

  • Bacterial and viral infections.

  • Colds and coughs.

  • Depression.

  • Enlarged liver.

  • Inflammation.

  • Urinary system infections.

  • Menstrual disorders.

  • Diabetes (pounded with clarified butter, Ghee).

Crocetin and safranal found in saffron can increase anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity in the body and crocetin has been shown in studies to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Saffron can be used as a diuretic if soaked overnight in water and administered with honey.

About 50 mg of saffron dissolved in a 200-ml glass of milk with a teaspoonful of honey makes an effective health tonic that c an strengthen the heart and act as a refrigerant for the brain. A regular intake of this every day for a period enables the body to build resistance against a lot of common diseases such as asthma and common colds. In high dosage, saffron exhibits toxic qualities. However, due to its high price, saffron poisoning is very rare.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is a pot herb known since ancient Roman times. This legendary herb with numerous virtues, long held to be the guardian over all other herbs, has been in use in various traditional European and Chinese medicines for its health promoting and disease preventing properties.

The primary biologically active component of common sage appears to be its essential oil, which chiefly contain ketones; α-thujone and β-thujone. In addition, sage leaf contains cineol, borneol, tannic acid, cornsole, cornsolic acid, fumaric, chlorogenic, caffeic acid, nicotinic acid, nicotinamide, flavone glycoside and oestrogenic substances. These compounds are known to have counter irritant, rubefacient, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antifungal and antiseptic properties and helps check excessive mucus in the body.

Thujone in sage is GABA and Serotonin (5-HT3) receptor antagonist. It enhances concentration, attention span and quickens the senses; hence sage infusion has long been recognized as "thinker's tea." Its effects help deal with grief and depression.

This herb is exceptionally very rich source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B9 (folic acid), many times higher than the recommended daily levels. The herb also contains very good amounts of vitamin A and beta-carotene levels as well as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Internally sage is good for indigestion, flatulence, can reduce excessive lactation, night sweats-especially menopausal, excessive salivation, profuse perspiration, anxiety, depression, female sterility and menopausal problems. It should not be used for more than a week, but during this period, the tea may be taken up to 3 times per day. 

Externally it is good for insect bites, throat mouth and gum infections, vaginal discharge, combats greasy and oily hair and scalp and helpful with acne.

NOTE: Sage should be avoided if pregnant or suffering with epilepsy.

Salba (Salvia hispanica)

Salba is a cousin of mint that grows throughout southern Mexico and an exceptionally rich source of vegetable protein, calcium, magnesium and iron. A tablespoon of salba seeds (ground or whole) contains eight times more omega-3 than salmon, 30% more antioxidants than blueberries and 25% more fibre than flaxseeds. Salba seeds can be used in the same way as flax or sesame seeds and can also be sprouted. See the Nature Cures Micro Diet Sprouting page.

Sarsaparilla (Smilax longiflora,Smilax regelii )

Sarsaparilla is an Amazonian plant used in cases of pruritus and erythema (redness of skin). There is a Smilax regelii also commonly called zarzaparilla and the roots are mainly used in decoctions and infusions as anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, anti-flu and anti-syphilitic.

It also possesses the following properties: alterative, aphrodisiac, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, carminative, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, protects the liver against hepatitis, formonal, steroidal, stimulant, stomachic and tonic

Sarsaparilla was discovered by the early Spanish settlers in Jamaica, Perus, St. Domingo and Brazil in the middle of the sixteenth century. It was introduced into Seville about 1536 from "New Spain" and another variety soon arrive from Honduras. Pedro de Cieze de Leon in 1553 wrote that he saw it growing in South America. It was recommended as a cure for syphilis and for some time was considered the only effective remedy for this ailment. It was from the time of its introduction considered a superior blood purifier. It fell into disuse for a while until Sir William Fordyce revived it in 1757. After this short resurgence, it was ignored. During the latter part of the nineteenth century its use was considered the result of ignorant superstition.

In 1928, however, Perutz studied sarsaparilla extensively and concluded that it really did help in the treatment of syphilis, probably by stimulating the body's defensive mechanism and may be also effective against the Lyme disease bacteria.
It can also safely help to increase the metabolic rate and balance the glandular system.

Sarsaparilla's medicinal benefits comes from its plant steroids sarsasapogenin, smilagenin, sitosterol, stigmasterol, and pollinastanol; and the saponins sarsasaponin, smilasaponin, sarsaparilloside, and sitosterol glucoside and others. It also contains substances which are like the male hormone testosterone and the female hormone progesterone.

Sassafras (Sassafras officinale, Sassafras albidum, Sassafras variifolium, Laurus sassafras)

This is a tree which has similar properties to cinnamon. It is aromatic, stimulant, diaphoretic and alterative. It was used medicinally by Native Americans for many centuries and it is said the aroma from the tree was what saved Columbus when he was trying to convince his mutinous crew that land was near. Unfortunately, one species that used to grow in North America is now extinct.

The leaves can be made into teas and poultices, while the root bark can be either chipped or crushed and then steeped in boiling water (one ounce of bark to one pint of water) and taken in doses of a wineglassful as often as needed to reduce fevers; soothe chronic rheumatism, gout, and dropsy; prevent bladder stones, relieve eye inflammation; ease menstrual and parturition pain; help cure scurvy and various skin conditions and act as a disinfectant in dental surgery.

It is often combined with guaiacum or sarsaparilla to treat chronic rheumatism, bronchitis, syphilis and skin diseases.

The oil from this tree, in doses of 5-10 drops on sugar, is said to reduce painful menstruation and treat gonorrhoea.

WARNING: The sassafras oil can produce marked narcotic poisoning and death by causing widespread fatty degeneration of the heart, liver, and kidneys, or, in a larger dose, by great depression of the circulation, followed by a centric paralysis of respiration. It should not be used by pregnant women as it can cause abortion.

Savoury (summer savoury, satureja hortensis, winter savoury, satureja montana)

Savoury (savory USA spelling) is an aromatic herb similar in structure to thyme but with its own unique taste and comes in two varieties; summer savoury and winter savoury. Thymol, one of the important essential oils in savoury, has scientifically been found to have antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Carvacrol in savory inhibits the growth of several bacteria strains like E. coli, and Bacillus cereus. Carvacrol gives savoury it's pleasant tangy taste and marjoram like aroma.

The savoury plant, especially the flowering shoots, have anti-septic, carminative (anti-flatulence), digestive, expectorant (helps clear the throat) and anti-rheumatic (relieves joint pain) properties.

Prolonged cooking may result in the evaporation of savoury's essential oils so it should be added at the end of cooking meals. Fresh savoury leaves can be used in salads. It can be steeped in hot water for 20 minutes and consumed as a tea. It can also be used in soups, sauces and to marinate chicken, fish and meat dishes.

Significant nutrients of savoury

Aamphene, caryophyllene, carvacrol, fibre, linalool, myrcene, terpenoids, terpineol, thymol

Savoury contains an astonishing number of vitamins and minerals. 100 g of dried savoury provides the following:

vitamin A (retinol)
vitamin B3 (niacin)
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
iron
calcium
magnesium
manganese
dietary fibre

177%
25%
130%
83%
474%
210%
94%
265%
120%

Saw Palmetto Berry (Serenoa repens, sabal serrulata)

This is a palm like plant with berries that were a staple food and medicine for the Native American Indians. It is known to nourish glandular tissue, prevent and treat urinary tract infections and is used to nutritionally support the prostate gland and prevent enlargement. It contains properties which can reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.

Schizandra chinensis (Chisandra chinensis, five flavour berry)

This herb is only used medicinally. It can help the body adapt to stress and nourishes the nervous system. It also purifies the blood, supports the mind, helps maintain a strong memory, and maintain sexual energy and sexual functions in both men and women.

Scutellaria (Scutellaria baicalensis, baical skullcap, huang-qin, skullcap root)

Scutellaria is part of the Lamiaceae plant family and is a native of China. It is a very powerful antiviral herb with no side effects and perfect for treatment of pandemic diseases. The root of this plant, which has been used in Chinese medicine for a very long time as the herb Huang-qin, is extremely effective for treating contagious flu-like viruses. There is no better anti-infection agent in herb kingdom.

 It is also one of the most powerful herbs to induce sleep. It calms the nervous system, relaxes the muscles and helps balance blood pressure and has no side effects. It also contains a compound known as baicalin that is as powerful as ibuprofen in reducing pain without the side effects.

The herb is more effective if grown in poor, sandy soil. Added advantages of scutellaria are

  • no side-effects

  • quick to germinate

  • easily grown in most climates

  • can be harvested in the autumn of the first or second year

NOTE: Avoid scutellaria if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Senega Root (Polygala vulgaris, milkwort, rattlesnake root, seneca, snakeroot)

Senega root was highly esteemed by the native Seneca Indians for its effectiveness in curing rattlesnake bites and many other disorders. It is a diaphoretic (encourages sweating), cathartic, diuretic, expectorant, sialagogue (enhances saliva flow) and has emetic properties. It is especially effective for treating bronchitis and asthma by nourishing the respiratory tract. It is also useful for treating colds, whooping cough, bleeding wounds, rheumatism, pain and inflammation, pneumonia and pleurisy, respiratory tract inflammation, emphysema, tracheitis or inflammation of the trachea.

It possesses an intricate blend of triterpenoid saponins in the roots. These saponins work by causing irritation locally on the stomach’s internal coating and a nauseated feeling that eventually promotes secretions from the bronchial tubes as well as the sweat glands. However, care should be taken not to take this herb in excessive amounts, as it may result in violent purging and vomiting. It also contains phenolic acids, polygalitol, methyl salicylate and plant sterols.

It has been discovered that the saponins present in senega root have the promise to treat type II diabetes, the form of the disease that is not dependent on taking insulin injections.

The bark of polygala senega is used to prepare a tea, which is drunk to induce abortions or cause miscarriage.

NOTE: Senega root may prove to be poisonous when taken in large amounts and cause vomiting and aggressive purging. Excessive use may cause nervousness, vertigo, mental tedium and vision disturbance. People who are hypersensitive to salicylates or aspirin should stay away from using senega root. Pregnant women should also avoid this herb.

Senna (Sassia angustifolia)

Senna assists with expelling waste from the intestines relieving constipation and kills worms.

Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris, blindweed, case-weed, clappedepouch, lady's purse, mother's heart, pepper-and-salt, pick-pocket, pick-purse, poor man's parmacettie, rattle pouches, sanguinary, shepherd's bag, shepherd's scrip, shepherd's sprout, witches' pouches)

Shepherd's purse is one of the most important medicinal plants of the cruciferous family (brassicas). The medicinal compounds in this plant are bursinic acid, a tannate and an alkaloid, bursine, which resembles sulphocyansinapine (sulphoraphane). This sulphuretted volatile oil, is closely similar to, if not identical with the oil of mustard.

It has been used in English domestic practice from early times as an astringent in diarrhoea, haematuria, haemorrhoids, chronic dysentery and locally as a vulnerary in nose-bleeding, which is checked by inserting the juice on cotton-wool. It is also used as an application in rheumatic affections and has been found curative in various uterine haemorrhages, especially those with which uterine cramp and colic are associated and in various passive haemorrhages from mucous surfaces.

When infused, and used as a tea, it can stop haemorrhages of all kinds; stomach, lungs, uterus and more especially bleeding from the kidneys.

It is a remedy in catarrhal conditions of the bladder and ureters, also in ulcerated conditions and abscess of the bladder. It increases the flow of urine. Its use is specially indicated when there is white mucous matter with the urine; relief in these cases following at once.

Its anti-scorbutic, stimulant and diuretic action causes it to be much used in kidney complaints and dropsy; other similar stimulating diuretics such as couch grass may be combined with it.

In cases of uncomplicated chronic menorrhagia (excessive menstruation) it has accomplished permanent cures, especially if the discharge is persistent. The agent is also useful where uric acid or insoluble phosphates or carbonates produce irritation of the urinary tract. Externally, the bruised herb has been applied to bruised and strained parts, to rheumatic joints and where there is ecchymosis or extravasations within or beneath the skin.

The herb is unpleasant to take and will need other herbs and honey to disguise the taste. The infusion may be taken, in wineglassful doses, four times a day.

The medicinal infusion should be made with 28 g (one ounce) of the plant to 340 ml (12 oz) of water, reduced by boiling to 284 ml (half a pint), strained and taken cold. This fluid extract can be taken in doses of half to one teaspoonful in water.

Shiric sanango (Brunfelsia grandiflora)

In Pucallpa, Peru, the leaf decoction of this Amazonian plant is used internally for arthritis and rheumatism. A root infusion with aguardiente (an alcoholic beverage) is taken for for rheumatism, venereal diseases and chills. The plant is regarded as; diaphoretic, a diuretic, good to reduce fever and can treat snakebites, syphilis and yellow fever, It contains lactic acid, quinic acid, scopoletin and tartaric acid.

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Siberian ginseng supports the glandular system. It is called an "adaptogen", which means that it helps the body adapt to any situation which normally would alter its function. Siberian ginseng has a beneficial effect on the heart and circulation. It stimulates the entire body energy to overcome stress, fatigue, and weakness. Studies suggest that Siberian ginseng may help reduce blood sugar levels, balance blood pressure levels, and enhance the immune system by boosting the body's production of natural killer cells.

NOTE: Not recommended for patients with high blood pressure or anxiety.

Skullcap See Scutellaria

Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva, Ulmus rubra)

Slippery elm can help the body eliminate mucus from the lungs and strengthen the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems. It soothes irritated tissues and helps nourish and strengthen the body. The inner bark (not the whole bark) is used as medicine. People take slippery elm for bladder and urinary tract infections, colic, constipation, coughs, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, herpes, irritable bowel syndrome, sore throat, syphilis and for expelling tapeworms.

Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa, Rumex acetosa)

Sour plum (Ximenia caffra, amatu nduluka, suurpruim, mtundakula, mpingi,tsvanzva, umThunduluka-obomvu)

In studies, the bark and stems of the sour plum have shown potent antimicrobial properties against Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and the Candida albicans fungi due to its phenolic compounds and tannins.

Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

This herb as a decoction is an excellent remedy for minor ailments such as headaches, nervous strain, fatigue and stress, as well as for the respiratory problems; helping with asthma, bronchitis and catarrh.

It is very useful to deal with digestive problems, including nausea, flatulence and hiccups as it relaxes the stomach muscles.

The essential oil, menthol, has analgesic, local anaesthetic and counterirritant properties. Menthol is a useful addition for toothpaste and mouth refreshers.

On the skin, when used as cream or lotion, it may help relieve the itching of pruritis, dermatitis, and hives.

Spearmint oil is used as blended massage oil and in the aromatic therapy to help relieve headaches, stress, fatigue and nervous conditions and to relieve itching.

Spearmint tea can be used safely in pregnancy. In women, it also helps reduce unwanted hairs through its anti-androgenic properties.

This herb is rich in many antioxidant vitamins, including beta carotene, vitamin A (provides 4054 IU or 135% of RDA), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (foliates) and vitamin C. It is also a good source of potassium, calcium, manganese, iron (148% of RDA), and magnesium

The medicinal components of spearmint are α-pinene, β-pinene, carvone, cineole, linalool, limonene, myrcene and caryophyllene. These compounds in mint help relieve fatigue and stress

Squaw vine (Mitchella repens, partridgeberry)

Squaw vine, as the names suggests, strengthens the uterus and helps relieve congestion there and in the ovaries. It can also help to strengthen the defence against vaginal infections and can be very effective in treating uterine fibroids.

St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Stephania root (Stephania tetrandra, fang ji)

Stephania has powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In Japan, it is used as a pain reliever and to treat inflammation and stiffness of the shoulders and back. In China, it is used to treat flatulence, kidney and spleen disorders and as an effective diuretic to relieve oedema. It is also known be effective in treating Lyme disease and syphilis and can prevent silicosis. It can also help the cardiovascular system by increasing blood flow, expanding coronary vessels and lowering blood pressure.

Stone root (Collinsonia canadensis, Canada horsebalm, richweed, hardhack, heal-all, horseweed, ox balm)

This is a perennial medicinal herb in the mint family and its active components are mucilage, resins, saponins and tannins. It is useful for stabilising the lining on the sinus cavities and to minimize the build-up of excess mucus in the sinus cavities, throat and stomach. It also can relax painful constrictions and spasms of the rectum. As such it is used for fistulas, ulcers and anal fissures. It also has a relaxing activity on urinary organs, where it can relax the ureter and therefore increase urination, reduce irritability of the bladder and assist with the passage of kidney stones and bladder stones.

Suma (Pfaffia paniculata, Brazilian ginseng)

In South America, suma is known as para toda (which means; ‘for all things’) and as Brazilian ginseng, since it is widely used as an adaptogen with many applications (similar to ginseng). The indigenous peoples of the Amazon region have used suma root for generations for a wide variety of health purposes, including as a general tonic; as an energy, rejuvenating and sexual tonic; and as a general cure-all for many types of illnesses. Suma has been used as an aphrodisiac, a calming agent and to treat ulcers for at least 300 years. It is an important herbal remedy of several Amazon rainforest indigenous tribes today.

Suma root is employed as a cellular oxygenator and taken to stimulate appetite and circulation, increase oestrogen production, balance blood sugar levels, reduce high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, enhance the immune system, strengthen the muscular system, treat inflammation, exhaustion, fatigue, PMS, menopause, menstrual symptoms, and hormonal disorders, stress impotence, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, tumours, circulatory and digestive disorders, rheumatism, bronchitis, mononucleosis, sterility, arteriosclerosis, anaemia, enhance memory, restore nerve and glandular functions, balance the endocrine system, strengthen the immune system, for infertility, to minimize the side effects of birth control medications, neutralize toxins, helps to heal wounds, acts as an antifungal and antibacterial agent and as a general restorative tonic after illness.

Suma may also be a helpful adjunct therapy in the treatment of syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections.

It is an adaptogen herb, which means it helps the body adapt to stress, and acts as a tonic to the entire system. By enhancing the body's immune system, Suma aids in preventing free-radical damage to the body and contains significant amounts of germanium, a trace mineral which stimulates the immune system and helps promote oxygen flow to cells. It also contains "allantoin", a substance which assists in healing wounds. Some of Suma's other beneficial nutrients include the natural plant hormones sitosterol and stigmasterol. These phytochemicals nourish the circulatory and glandular systems.

The Japanese investigated Suma in trials against specific types of tumour cells. The researchers discovered that six saponins called pffaffosides A, B, C, D, E, and F are the unique chemicals present in Suma that inhibit tumour cell growth. Brazilian researchers have found that Suma is both safe and effective for altered-immune disorders.

Suma has also been called "the Russian secret," as it has been taken by Russian Olympic athletes for many years and has been reported to increase muscle-building and endurance without the side effects associated with steroids. This action is attributed to an anabolic-type phytochemical called beta-ecdysterone and three novel ecdysteroid glycosides that are found in high amounts in suma.

A French company has also filed a U.S. patent on the topical use of these ecdysterone chemicals, claiming that their suma ecdysterone extract strengthened the water barrier function of the skin, increased skin keratinocyte differentiation (which would be helpful for psoriasis), and gave the skin a smoother, softer appearance and improved hair appearance.

Suma root contains 19 different amino acids, a large number of electrolytes, trace minerals; germanium, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin E and vitamin K. It is high in beta-ecdysterone. The root also contains novel phytochemicals including saponins, pfaffic acids, glycosides and nortriterpenes. Suma's main plant chemicals are: allantoin, beta-ecdysterone, beta-sitosterol, daucosterol, nortriterpenoids, pfaffic acids, pfaffosides A-F, polypodine B, saponins, silica, stigmasterol, stigmasterol-3-o-beta-d-glucoside.

Suma root has a very high saponin content (up to 11%). One of the most famous plant saponins is digitalis, derived from the common foxglove garden plant, which has been used as a heart drug for over 100 years.

The root of the plant is most commonly used in herbal preparations, although the bark, berries and leaves may also contain beneficial medicinal ingredients.

NOTE: Avoid if female suffering with oestrogen positive cancers

NOTE: The root powder has been reported to cause asthmatic allergic reactions if inhaled. Ingestion of large amounts of plant saponins in general (naturally occurring chemicals in suma) has shown to sometimes cause mild gastric disturbances including nausea and stomach cramping. Reduce dosages if these side effects are noted.

Sumac (Rhus coriaria)

Sumac is a shrub like tree that grows in thickets and is a member of the Anacardiaceae or Cashew family. It is often grown by gardeners who do not realise that the red berries are edible and a rich source of vitamin C. There are a few different edible varieties such as: staghorn sumac (rhus typhina), smooth sumac (rhus glabra) also known as red sumac, winged sumac (rhus copallina) is also called dwarf sumac or shining sumac and skunkbush (rhus trilobata) is also called sourberry, three-leaf sumac or squawbush.

NOTE: Poisonous White Sumac with drooping white berry clusters is as the name suggests, highly toxic.

Another species of sumac, which is used as a spice, comes from berries harvested from a bush that can be found in the wild across the Mediterranean. Sumac spice figures heavily in Arabic cuisine, as well as many other Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Greece and Lebanon. It is often substituted for lemon or vinegar in many dishes due to a tart and tangy flavour.

The best time to harvest the ripe berries is after a prolonged dry spell. The worst time is the day after it's rained, when most of the flavour has been washed away. The berries can be used fresh or dried to make hot or cold beverages and the lemon fragranced shoots can be used in salads and as a herb.

Sumac is an astringent and is used in herbal medicine as an antiseptic and tonic. Sumac pink lemonade is used to treat patients with a fever. It does not actually reduce a fever, but like lemonade, it will make the patient feel cooler. The berries have diuretic properties and can relieve stomach upsets. Sumac also has anti-inflammatory properties and is useful for treating arthritis, respiratory problems such as bronchitis, colds and influenza and skin inflammations.

A decoction of the cambium or an infusion of the leaves can be used to treat asthma, cold sores, diarrhoea, dysentery, gum problems, sore throat and urinary tract infections . The Native Americans chewed the root to ease swollen or infected gums and to stop children bed-wetting and they applied sumac compresses to burns and cuts, to stop bleeding and reduce swelling. Sumac helps get rid of free radicals in body, mainly from the gastro intestinal tract. It is also effective in treating hyperglycaemia, diabetes, dermatitis and obesity.

The seeds of sumac are effective against the Aspergillus fungus which causes lung infection and infection to other organs.

Sumac has antibacterial properties and a solution of sumac and water can be used to wash bacteria from vegetables and fruits. Anti-microbial properties of sumac are attributed to the presence of methyl gallic acid, gallic acid and other compounds

Sumac contains anthocyans, citric acid, malic acid, methyl gallic acid, omega 3 fatty acids, phenolic acid, tartaric acid, flavonols, tannin, protein, fibre, vitamin C, aluminium, barium, boron, bromine, cadmium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, lithium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium, vanadium and zinc

NOTE: Sumac is related to cashews, mangos and poison ivy. Anyone that is so sensitive to poison ivy they cannot eat cashews or mangoes should avoid sumac too.

T

Tamanu oil (Calophyllum inophyllum, foraha, doomba oil)

Tamanu oil is pressed from nuts of the Calophyllum tacamahaca (ati) tree. The nuts yield 70–75% of the greenish-yellow inedible oil. The oil originates in Polynesia, where it continues to play an important cultural role. The best tamanu oil comes from the trees that grow near coastal areas, rather than from those that grow inland.

The ability of tamanu oil to heal the skin surpasses that of most, if not all, modern day skin care products. Scientific studies show that it is a significant healing agent because of its ability to produce new skin tissue and because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-neuralgic, antibiotic and antioxidant properties.

Due to the anti-bacterial presence of canophyllol and the antibiotic presence of lactone, tamanu oil can be used effectively to treat a range of infections including

  • Abrasions and cuts

  • Acne

  • Age spots

  • Allergic rashes

  • Athlete’s foot

  • Blemishes and spots

  • Blisters and burns including chemical burns and  sunburn

  • Chilblains

  • Dermaphytosis of the scalp or beard

  • Diabetic sores

  • Dry or scaly skin

  • Eczema

  • Fissures

  • Gangrenous leg ulcers

  • Herpes sores

  • Infected burns or wounds

  • Insect bites and stings

  • Itching

  • Nappy rash

  • Post-surgical wounds and skin grafts

  • Psoriasis

  • Ring worm and

  • Scabies

  • Scarring and stretch marks

  • Skin ulcers

  • Vaginitis

  • Warts

It can also act as a natural sun block and protect the skin against the elements.

Tamnu oil is also a natural deodorant and is used for the reduction of foot and/or body odour. The natural anti-inflammatory qualities of the oil also produce significant pain-relieving properties (due in part to the presence of phenyl coumarin calophyllolide and various xanthones in the oil). It is this anti-inflammatory quality that is primarily responsible for the reduction of general swelling, rashes, sores, and abrasions.

Sometimes referred to as “Green Gold” or the Sacred Oil of Tamanu', this oil also possesses analgesic properties that help rid the body of pain extremely fast for conditions such as neuralgia, sciatica, shingles and rheumatism. The combination of the oil’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities can be particularly beneficial in the case of pulled muscles, ligament damage and sprains.

One of the most important features of tamanu oil is its ability to penetrate all three layers of the skin i.e. the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. This oil can even also be used to treat animals such as dogs and cats.

NOTE: Not for internal use

Tamarind  (Tamarindus indica)

The bark, flowers, fruit pulp, leaves and seeds of the tamarind have been used in several ancient cultures and by medieval herbalists for many centuries.

The dietary fibre in tamarind fruit pulp acts as a mild laxative and binds to bile salts. Two teaspoons of tamarind pulp per day can help to relieve constipation and improve bowel movements due to the content of mucilage, pectin and tannins. The fruit canalso lower levels of cholesterol (LDL) and improving cardiovascular health due to the presence of phenols and antioxidants and can relieve many digestive and bowel disorders. It is also useful for preventing bone disorders, healthy muscle function and disorders of the thyroid gland and is a blood purifier.

The juice of tamarind can help to prevent scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) and can treat jaundice and other liver disorders. It is also used as traditional medicine along with jamun and other herbs for diabetes control. The pulp of this fruit helps lower glucose levels that tend to rise after meals.

Tamarind fruit pulp with a mix of crushed herbs such as coriander and mint is an excellent treatment for mouth ulcers.

Leaves of tamarind steeped in hot water for 20 minutes, then strained and the water sipped slowly can help to reduce fevers. A gargle of this tea can also help to relieve throat infections.

Extracts of the leaves and flowers are used as a treatment for dysentery, erysipelas (bacterial skin infection) and haemorrhoids.

External uses

Powdered tamarind seeds mixed with turmeric paste are used as an external treatment for boils, burns, inflammation, sunburn and sores and can relieve the itching caused by rashes such as measles. It can also act as an antidote and is used as a home remedy for insect bites and stings. It is also an anti-inflammatory that can be used to reduce the swelling and painful joints of arthritis.

In many Asian countries tamarind juice is also used to clean brass, copper and other metals.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare, bitter buttons, cow buttons, golden buttons)

Tansy is a perennial flowering plant of the aster family and has been used medicinally since the times of the ancient Greeks to treat digestive problems, fevers, flatulence, gout, jaundice, migraine, neuralgia, rheumatism, scabies and intestinal worms. The dicaffeoylquinic acid and axillarin found in tansy are antiviral compounds that have been found to be active against the herpes simplex virus. However, its dangerous toxicity makes it a herb to avoid unless under the strict guidance of a professionally trained herbalist.

Tansy contains volatile oils (up to 70% thujone), bitter glycosides, sesquiterpene lactones, terpenoids including pyrethrins, tannin, resin, vitamin C and oxalic acid.

Tansy can be used as a companion plant, especially with cucurbits like cucumbers and squash, potatoes or with roses or various berries to repel ants, beetles, squash bugs and some kinds of flying insects. It has been used as a mosquito and tick repellent but there are some types of mosquitoes that feed on the tansy nectar.

NOTE: The leaves and flowers are toxic if consumed in large quantities and the volatile oil contains toxic compounds including thujone, which can cause convulsions and liver and brain damage and contact dermatitis. Pregnant women should especially avoid this herb.

Tarragon (Artemisia dranunculus)

Tarragon is an age-old herb that can fight food poisoning bacteria, inhibit the growth of helicobacter pylori and protect against and fight lung infections such as tuberculosis. It contains over thirty antiseptic components that are particularly effective against Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella and Staphylococcus aureus  bacterium. It also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties particularly useful for toothache and has the ability to kill intestinal worms.

It also lessens the aging effect of pollution, helps in the treatment of diabetes, reduces cholesterol and blood pressure and protects against cancer and tuberculosis. It contains vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenes, vitamin B9 (folic acid) and iron.

NOTE: Due to the high levels of estragole in herbs such as basil, fennel, star anise and tarragon, it should not be used as a medicine for more than 10 days and should be avoided by pregnant women.

Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Tea tree oil is an oil extracted from the leaves of the Australian Melaleuca alternafolia tree. It has powerful anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-viral qualities. Tea tree oil has been traditionally used for athlete’s foot, body odour, bad breath, cold sores and it has been traditionally used topically for acne and proven effective at killing acne bacteria when topically applied. Because of this it is often used as a replacement to benzoyl peroxide in many of the "natural" acne treatments.

Neem leaves, rosemary and lavender contain natural insecticidal properties and act as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. These herbs together with aroma therapeutic ingredients such as tea tree oil and rose geranium have the ability to eliminate external parasites including pubic lice and prevent re-infestation.

NOTE: Rosemary is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women or those with high blood pressure.

Thyme  and Lemon Thyme (Thymus vulgaris, Thymus x citriodorus)

A tea made with thyme is commonly used for bronchial problems such as acute bronchitis, whooping cough and laryngitis.  It is also beneficial for the treatment of diarrhoea, gastritis and lack of appetite. It can also help to treat alcoholism, excess mucus, hangovers, headaches, parasites and worms, respiratory problems and stomach problems including cramps.  It is said that thyme is to the trachea and bronchitis what peppermint is to the intestines and stomach. It contains an aromatic oil called thymol that is responsible for many of its excellent properties.

Externally, its antiseptic properties make it a useful mouthwash and cleansing wash for the skin. It will destroy fungal infections such as athlete's foot and skin parasites such as crabs, lice and scabies. For those purposes, a tincture is made from four ounces of dried thyme to a pint of alcohol. 

Torreya seed (Semen torreyae)

The dried ripe seed of Torreya grandis Fort of the Taxaceae family which kill worms and relaxes the bowels. The seeds are gathered in winter when the fruit is ripe and then dried in the sun.

Parasites in the intestines

a) hookworm - torrya seed is used with basket fern and betel nut
b) tapeworm - torrya seed is used with pumpkin seed and betel nut
c) roundworm - torrya seed is used with chinaberry bark, quisqualis fruit and black plum

It is also taken for constipation and a dry cough. Dosage is 30-50g. The parched kernel is chewed and swallowed, made into powder, or mashed and used in a decoction. In treating ancylostomiasis, 30– 40 pieces are taken before meals every day until there are no worm eggs in the stool.

NOTE: This herb can be taken with a decoction, but is most effective when made into a medical ball with honey and taken directly.

Tree turmeric (Berberis aristata)

Tree turmeric is a Himalayan herb found between 200-3000 m height. English names are tree turmeric and Indian berberry. Also known as Bérbero Indio, Chitra, Darhahed, Darhald, Daruhaldi, Daruharidra, Darurajani, Darvi, Épine-Vinette Aristée, Hint Amberparisi, Indian Barberry, Indian Berberry, Indian Lycium, Indian Ophthalmic Barberry, Nepal Barberry, Nepalese Barberry, Ophthalmic Barberry, Pisse Vinaigre, Vinettier Aristé.

Contains vitamin C, tannins and pectin, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron and as the name suggests, tree turmeric, has all of the same qualities of normal turmeric.

It is a cooling laxative for children. The stem is said to be diaphoretic and laxative and useful in rheumatism. The dried extract of the roots is used as an application in ophthalmia and excellent medication in the case of sun-blindness. The root is one of the few good medicines in India. In its efficacy, it is almost equal to quinine. It does not produce any bad effects on the stomach, the bowels, the brain and the organs of hearing.

This herb is used to treat diseases related to the eye, ear and face. Also used in cases of enlarged liver, spleen, jaundice, periodic neuralgia, dysentery and colitis. Tincture made from the root bark is used as bitter tonic, stomachic, cholagogue, anti-periodic, antipyretic and in debility and is a purgative (blood purifier). The watery solution of this is also used for washing piles, sores and glandular swellings.

It is used for heart failure, liver disease, malaria, trachoma, eye infections, skin diseases, menorrhagia, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and jaundice. Supports the immune system and is particularly good at reducing acquired intolerances or allergies. Acquired intolerances are allergic reactions to foods such as wheat or dairy that are acquired over time. These kinds of intolerances stem from an overactive immune system, with a root cause of too many toxins in the body.

Topically, tree turmeric is also used for burns and wounds.

Turkey Berry (Solanum torvum, devil's-fig, prickly nightshade, shoo-shoo bush, wild eggplant, pea eggplant, pea aubergine, susumber (in Jamaica), boo, terongan, tekokak, berenjena cimarrona, berenjena de gallina, berenjena silvestre, tabacón, pendejera, tomatillo, bâtard balengène, zamorette, friega-platos)

Turkey berries have been used as a herbal medicine for centuries in India. They contain a compound called methyl caffeate, an ester of hydroxycinnamic acid, which is a naturally occurring polyphenol that has antibiotic, anti-diabetic, antiviral and anticoagulant properties. It can help to fight off infections by bacteria such as Klebsiella, Pseudomonas and Mycobacterium. It also hinders HIV replication but shows weaker anticancer and chemo-preventive activities than other caffeic acid esters. It is being studied as a treatment for diabetes.

Turkey berries are useful for treating anaemia, colds, diarrhoea, flatulence, haemorrhoids, insomnia, respiratory disorders, stomach ulcers and tuberculosis. Turkey berries consumed four days a week can help to control diabetes and strengthen bones and teeth. It has been said to also cure problems of paralysis as it has compounds that nourish the nerves. It can be grown as a houseplant.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa, curcumin)

Turmeric is the bright yellow of the spice rainbow and a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including bacterial infections, flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, haemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain and colic. It may also provide an inexpensive, well-tolerated, and effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's, prostate cancer, arthritis, neurological disorders, liver disorders and ulcerative colitis.

Curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric that gives the spice its yellow colour, can correct the most common expression of the genetic defect that is responsible for cystic fibrosis. The frequent consumption of turmeric leads to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer. Even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs. Curcumin exerts very powerful antioxidant effects.

As an antioxidant, curcumin can neutralise free radicals, chemicals that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric's combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly. Turmeric is also beneficial in the treatment of measles. Turmeric has also been scientifically proven to be more effective at treating depression than many common anti-depressant drugs.

Treatment of brain cells, called astrocytes, with turmeric has been found to increase expression of the glutathione and protect neurons exposed to oxidant stress. Increasing turmeric in the diet can increase the levels of the amino acid glutathione in the body which can be beneficial for a huge range of diseases and disorders as it is present in every cell of the body and has an important antioxidant role..

Prostate cancer is a rare occurrence among men in India, whose low risk is attributed to a diet rich in brassica family vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips) and the curry spice, turmeric. Both phenethyl isothiocyanate and curcumin greatly retarded the growth of human prostate cancer cells. The combination of cruciferous vegetables and curcumin could be an effective therapy not only to prevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of established prostate cancers.

 White turmeric root (Curcuma zedoaria), bulrush tubers and Chinese rhubarb root are used in Chinese medicine to reduce flatulence and remove uterine fibroids. This can also be used to treat bladder and kidney stones, coronary heart disease, ectopic pregnancy, hemiplegia after a stroke, malignant tumours, pelvic inflammatory disease and thrombosis.

Cauliflower spiced with turmeric for protection against prostate cancer

Cut cauliflower florets in quarters and let sit for 5-10 minutes; this allows time for the production of phenethyl isothiocyanates, which form when cruciferous vegetables are cut, but stops when they are heated. Then sprinkle with turmeric, and healthy sauté on medium heat in a few tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and top with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste.

Makes an excellent arthritis tea as a strong anti-inflammatory, bacterial killer, blood purifier and effective treatment for hepatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, bruises, colic, ulcers, haemorrhages, yeast infections and is antiseptic. It can be used internally and externally to heal wounds, relieve pains in the limbs, break up congestion and as a restorative after the loss of blood from childbirth.

Turmeric arthritis tea recipe

  • In a pan place a quarter of a cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, a pinch of black pepper and 3 cardamom pods (optional).

  • Simmer 5 to 7 minutes.

  • Then add 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons almond oil (cold-pressed)

  • Bring just to the boiling point (but do not boil).

  • Add honey to taste.

  • Sip slowly as a hot tea.

NOTE: Avoid cumin, ginger and turmeric if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication), or hormone therapies and contraceptive pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have heart problems or during the first three months of pregnancy or are breast feeding.

U

Umbrella leaf (Diphylleia cymosa)

Umbrella root tea was used by the Cherokees to induce sweating. It has effects similar to the May apple (Podophyllum peltatum). Because of its rarity, little research has been carried out into its medicinal virtues. However, it is believed that the root might contain podophyllin, an effective anti-cancer agent.

Usnea (Usnea lapponica, old man's beard)

Uva Ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Berberis aristata, Berberidaceae, bearberry, Indian barberry, daruharidra, daruhaldi, uva ursi)

Medicinal use of uva ursi back more than 2,500 years. It has been used in Indian folk medicine to treat diarrhoea, reduce fever, improve appetite, relieve upset stomach, and promote vigour as well as a sense of wellbeing. Today, it is widely used for medicinal purposes in Iran, including for biliary disorders, such as gallbladder disease and heartburn. It treats liver and gallbladder inflammation and jaundice and helps the bile to flow freely. It is also a very mild laxative and removes toxins from the bowels and it can also help treat an enlarged spleen.

Uva ursi and goldenseal are often used for similar medicinal purposes because both herbs contain the chemical berberine. The aqueous extract of barberry has beneficial effects on both the cardiovascular and neural system. As such, it may be useful in the treatment of hypertension, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), and some neuronal disorders, such as epilepsy and convulsions. Recent studies suggest that barberry also has antioxidant properties. It also strengthens the urinary system and helps the body eliminate excess water and bladder or kidney stones.

Make a tea with two to four grams of dried root steeped or one to two teaspoons of whole or crushed berries steeped in 150 ml of boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes then drink three times daily.

Use a decoction to gargle and relieve minor throat irritations. Apply and rub uva ursi juice (the juice from the fruit) on the gums to treat pyorrhoea.

 

 V

Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian root can support the nervous system and has soothing properties. Valerian is a safe and natural sleeping aid. It helps soothe rattled nerves and assists the body in relieving insomnia. Properties of the plant have demonstrated to give calming relief to muscles, the nerves and blood vessels. As it contains a natural tranquilizer it relaxes muscles and lowers blood pressure. Daily consumption of valerian will aid in a state of overall relaxation and elimination of stress which will, in turn, decrease blood pressure in people experiencing hypertension.

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia)

Pleasantly fragrant rich vanilla beans are the pods or fruits obtained from a tropical climbing orchid. Mayans used them to flavour chocolate drink centuries before Spanish first set their foot in Mexico in 1520. The chief chemical component in the beans is vanillin. They also include numerous traces of other constituents such as eugenol, caproic acid, phenoles, phenol ether, alcohols, carbonyl compounds, acids, ester, lactones, aliphatic and aromatic carbohydrates and vitispiranes. They contain small amounts of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and small traces of  calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.

Violet tree roots (Securidaca longepedunculata, krinkhout, mpesu, mmaba)

This small tree with fragrant purple flowers is indigenous to the tropical parts of Africa. The roots can treat a variety of physical and psychological problems such as discomfort, irritation, nervousness, head ache and epilepsy. It has been scientifically proven that the root extract is as powerful and effective as the pharmaceutical drug ‘phenobarbitone’ often used for epilepsy but without the damaging side effects.

 

W 

 

 Water lilly (Nymphaea caerulea, Nymphaea nouchali)

Some species of water lily have traditionally been used in the treatment of sore throat and diarrhoea. The flowers have been found to have antibacterial properties against the pathogenic bacteria that can infect humans such as Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia and Sarcina lutea and the plant pathogenic bacterium Xanthomonas campestris without the side effects of conventional antibiotics.

White oak bark (Quercus alba)

White oak bark is a powerful herb to help nourish and strengthen injured areas of the body. It has been used successfully for many applications, including fortifying blood vessels and tissues. It also has astringent properties and it can sooth a sore throat.

White willow (Salix alba)

White willow bark benefits the bowels, intestines and kidneys. It works like a mild and natural analgesic which is gentle on the stomach. Its anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties are known to relieve chronic lower back pain, headaches, influenza, joint pain, menstrual cramps, osteoarthritis and tendon pain.  The salicylic acid, found in willow bark, is a monohydroxybenzoic acid, a type of phenolic acid that has antibiotic properties.

Wild carrot  (Daucus Carota, biscuit root)

As an aromatic herb, wild carrot is not to be confused with the common vegetable carrot. The leaves and seeds of the wild carrot are a known diuretic, which means they encourages toxins and waste to be flushed out from the kidneys. It has been said that a herbal infusion of the wild carrot leaves and seeds is a good natural antidote to kidney stone formation. Even if stones have begun to form, the same concoction is still reported to be capable of diminishing stones and reducing their recurrence.

Wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina)

Wild cherry bark is a very useful expectorant for treating coughs and congestion. It has been used in several cough suppressant formulas, often combined with coltsfoot and horehound to combat whooping cough and with meadowsweet and marshmallow root to fight dyspepsia. It is also used to sooth the after effects of allergy attacks.

NOTE: The bark, leaves and fruit of the wild cherry tree contain a chemical similar to cyanide (hydrocyanic acid) that in large doses can cause serious poisoning and even death and thereore administration should only be done under the supervision of a professional herbalist.

Wild strawberry leaf (Fragaria vesca)

Wild strawberry leaf is used in anthroposophic preparations for liver disorders. The fruit is used in preparations to normalise iron absorption/assimilation in the body. It is also an ingredient in a medicine for everyday stress and strain.

Wild yam (Dioscorea oppositae)

Wild yam has many effective uses. It is known to relax the muscles and promote glandular balance in women. Wild Yam contains natural plant components which help the body balance hormone levels so is especially useful during the menopause by helping to eliminate hot flushes. Wild yam also nourishes the digestive system and the nerves and is helpful to the liver and endocrine system.

Willow bark (Salix) See  White willow

Wisteria (Bolusanthus speciosus)

In studies, wisteria tree bark and stems have shown potent antimicrobial properties against Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and the Candida albicans fungi due to its phenolic compounds.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Witch hazel may have got its name from its association with dowsing, which was once thought to be a form of witchcraft. Witch hazel's branches were once the wood of choice for dowsing rods, whose purpose was to locate water, or "witch" a well. Although witch hazel was once used to find hydration, it is now used as an herbal remedy to dry and cleanse skin.

The bark, leaves, and twigs of witch hazel are all high in tannins, giving this plant astringent properties. Astringents are substances that can dry, tighten, and harden tissues. It can be used an astringent on the skin to tighten pores and remove excess oil.

The astringent tannins in witch hazel temporarily tighten and soothe aching varicose veins or reduce inflammation in cases of phlebitis (an inflammation of a vein). Witch hazel also contains procyanidins, resin, and flavonoids, all of which add to its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. A cloth soaked in strong witch hazel tea reduces swelling and can relieve the pain of haemorrhoids and bruises. It can decrease the bleeding of haemorrhoids by acting as an astringent. It may also relieve pain, itching and swelling. An ointment is made from the leaves and bark of the plant. It is not to be taken internally but is instead applied topically to the anal area in the form of witch hazel distilled liquid.

Its ability to shrink swollen tissue makes witch hazel appropriate to treat laryngitis as well. A throat gargle of cloves, myrrh and witch hazel reduces the pain of an uncomfortable sore throat. Only use fresh tea or tincture, not the bottled witch hazel, which contains isopropyl alcohol. You can rinse your mouth with witch hazel and myrrh for cases of swollen and infected gums. Place a dropper full of tincture of each herb in 1/4 cup of water and use as a mouth rinse. A teaspoon of strong witch hazel tea combined with one drop each of myrrh and clove oil makes a pain- and inflammation-relieving gum rub for use in teething babies.

As an ointment, it should be diluted in equal portions of water, arnica oil or extra virgin olive oil and applied 2-3 times daily but should not be used on serious open wounds.

A cotton swab dipped in a witch hazel, goldenseal, and calendula tea and applied to the outer ear is useful in treating swimmer's ear. Swimmer's ear is associated typically with pus and moisture in the outer ear canal. Witch hazel helps dry up the secretions, while goldenseal and calendula fight infection.

Witch hazel combined with arnica makes an excellent topical remedy for the treatment of traumatic bruises, bumps, and sprains to relieve pain and promote speedy healing. Witch hazel is sometimes combined with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol for use on external skin lesions; this form of witch hazel should not be used internally.

For watery stools or blood or mucus in the stools on a regular basis, it may be Witch hazel can reduce intestinal secretions associated with these conditions. A tea made from witch hazel, chamomile, mint and thyme can be very effective for diarrhoea that accompanies an intestinal illness, stomach flu, colitis or irritable bowel syndrome.

Combine 1 tablespoon each of dried chamomile and mint and 1.5 teaspoons of dried witch hazel and thyme. Steep in 3 cups of hot water.

Witch hazel can control bleeding: It can reduce bleeding when applied topically to a wound or used internally for bleeding ulcers or bleeding gums.

Witch hazel can be used externally or internally to help dry and calm. Although it is a generally safe herb, please note the following:

Witch hazel is most often used topically in the form of lotions, poultices and creams, but it is also added to tinctures and teas for internal use.

Witch hazel is not recommended as a general daily beverage, but it may be consumed for cases of haemorrhoids, diarrhoea or weak, lax uterus, veins and intestines.

Tincture: Use 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon, two to three times a day.
Herbal Tea:
Drink three cups each day, when needed. Limit use to two weeks duration.

NOTE: Do not use commercial witch hazel preparations internally if they contain isopropyl alcohol, which is a poison. The tannins in witch hazel can produce nausea and migraine if taken too frequently or take too large a dose at once.

Wood betony (Stachys spp.)

There are many species of wood betony. Extracts of eight different Stachys species have been found to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, including Stachys alopecuros Bentham, Stachys scardica (Griseb.) Hayek, Stachys cretica ssp. cretica, Stachys germanica ssp. heldreichii (Boiss.) Hayek, Stachys recta, Stachys spinulosa, Stachys euboica Rech., and Stachys menthifolia.

Wood betony works well for both children and adults. It is said to help migraine headaches and a poultice or compress made with wood betony can treat skin ulcers, cuts, insect bites and sores.

NOTE: This medicinal versions of wood betony should not be confused with Canada lousewort (Pedicularis canadensis) which is also called wood betony.

Wormseed (Chenopodium ambrosioides)

Worm seed, as the name suggests, is a traditional herbal remedy used in the tropics for expelling roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms.

Wormwood (Artemisia annua, sweet Annie, sweet wormwood, qinghaosu)

Named for its ability to expel parasites, wormwood is known worldwide for its strong killing ability as it contains the potent chemicals thujone and isothujone, which are the primary components that kill parasites. Wormwood also contains santonin, an effective remedy for parasitic diseases and has been proven as a powerful remedy for malaria. Wormwood also contains sesquiterpene lactones, which work similarly to peroxide by weakening the parasites membranes therefore killing them. Wormwood also helps produce bile, which in turn helps the liver and gallbladder.

Wormwood is the second most bitter herb known to man and has been used for centuries to battle internal parasites. It is useful against roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, pinworms, plasmodium, schistosoma and giardia. Wormwood can be taken as a tea, a liquid extract or as a capsule. Do not take the pure oil as it is toxic.

Historical documentation shows that this Vietnamese/Chinese herb was used to treat intestinal parasitic infections, haemorrhoids (it’s an anti-inflammatory) and malaria as early as 2000 years ago. This treatment for malaria was, however, lost over time. It was only rediscovered in an archaeological dig in the 1970s where its medicinal use was found in a recipe inside a tomb. The formula was dated back to 168 B.C. when a Chinese chemist isolated the primary active ingredient from the leafy portion of plant and it was named artemisinin by western scientists in 1972.

Artemisinin was found to be close to a 100% successful treatment for malaria during the Vietnam war and symptoms subsided within a few days. It can destroy the malaria parasite by releasing high doses of free radicals that attack the cell membrane of the parasite in the presence of high iron concentration. The malaria parasite accumulates iron by infecting iron-rich red blood cells. Excessive iron that is spilled onto the surrounding tissues will activate the artemisinin to generate a burst of free radicals that attack the iron rich cells, killing the parasite in the process.

To make a medicinal tea, soak a handful of sweet wormwood leaves in hot water for 20 minutes. Then wring out the juice and drink it all.

Sweet wormwood and cancer

Iron is required for cell division, and it is well known that many cancer cell types selectively accumulate iron for this purpose due to special receptors that help them in cell division, called transferring receptors. Most cancers have a very large number of iron attracting transferring receptors on their cell surface compared to normal non-cancerous cells.

In tests, radiation resistant breast cancer cells, that have a high propensity for accumulating iron, revealed that artemisinin has 75 percent cancer cell killing properties in eight hours and almost 100 percent killing properties within 24 hours whilst normal cells were left unharmed.

Artemisinin is effective against a wide variety of cancers such as leukaemia, colon cancer, melanoma, breast, ovarian, prostate, central nervous system and renal cancer.

Although artemisinin is insoluble in water, it can cross the blood brain barrier and therefore may be particularly suitable for curing brain tumours when used in conjunction with Poly-MVA (an metalo-vitamin).

When alpha-lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant with many biological functions, is connected to an electrically charged metal substrate, and joined with various B vitamins, the resulting Poly-MVA complex becomes totally soluble in both water and fat. It can easily and safely travel throughout the body and into every cell, crossing the blood-brain barrier as well.

The fact that iron content of cancer cells is high has also been used in another anti-cancer therapy called Zoetron therapy, where iron containing cancer cells are induced into motion using a magnetic device to induce resonance. Resonance generates heat. Cancer cells are more sensitive to heat compared to normal healthy cells. When cancer cells are heated to a certain temperature, they die while normal cells still survive. Read more on the Cancer page.

Y

 Yarrow (Achillea millefolium, soldier’s woundwort)

Native to Europe and naturalised to the temperate regions of North America as well as other temperate regions. Yarrow plants have been used for the treatment of external skin wounds for since as far back as at least the ancient Greeks. Achillea refers to the ancient hero Achilles, who is said to have used yarrow for himself and his soldiers. Millefolium, on the other hand, means "of a thousand leaves" - this refers to the fine, delicate and feathery leaves of the plant.

Yarrow flower tops and leaves are the parts of the plant used for medicinal purposes. Yarrow can be taken as an infusion (yarrow tea) or as a tincture. Yarrow essential oil, extracted from the plant, is also used. It is antibiotic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent due to the presence of resins and a sedative useful for dealing with mild insomniac conditions

The yarrow herb helps to improve cardiovascular conditions, partly by regulating blood pressure, improves the appetite, purifies the blood, regulates the menstrual cycle - due to the sterols in yarrow, which function in a similar fashion to hormones, repairs damaged or worn out body tissues due to the presence of silica, removes heat and toxins from the body, by increasing sweating, stimulates the circulatory system and stimulates the flow of bile. It is also used to stimulate digestion and appetite and to treat
varicose veins. A tea made with the flowers is used in anthroposophic formulations to relieve irregularities of the menstrual cycle.

In addition, yarrow helps to deal with the following health conditions.

  • Allergies, such as hay fever - helps to alleviate the symptoms

  • Chest and respiratory congestion - helps to clear the condition

  • Colds and flu - provides relief from these conditions, especially when taken hot

  • Coughs - provides relief

  • Diarrhoea and dysentery - astringent quality helps to alleviates these conditions

  • Digestive system - improves digestion and the body's ability to absorb nutrients

  • Enteritis - anti-inflammatory property helps to alleviate this condition

  • Fever - provides relief, especially when taken hot, as it promotes sweating

  • Fibroids - can help to reduce and eliminate uterine fibroids.

  • Gastritis, stomach ulcers and other gastrointestinal conditions - anti-inflammatory property helps to alleviate these conditions

  • Haemorrhoids - helps to heal the condition, as it stimulates blood flow

  • High blood pressure - helps to regulate blood pressure

  • Infections - aids healing, due to its anti-inflammatory quality

  • Intestinal bleeding - astringent quality helps to alleviate this condition

  • Intestinal issues like colic, cramps and flatulence - antispasmodic quality helps to relief these symptoms

  • Menstrual conditions, such as heavy menstruation or menstrual bleeding, uterus blockages - provides relief and helps to heal

  • Sore throats - provides relief, especially when taken hot

Externally, the yarrow herb has been used, and is reputedly very effective, for helping to heal bruises, burns, cuts, swelling, ulcers and wounds on the skin or body surface. This is usually carried out using poultices made from the whole plant, yarrow leaves, or powder produced by grinding up dried yarrow tops. Infusions are also used to wash the skin to help deal with skin conditions, for example eczema. In addition, the essential oils of yarrow are sometimes rubbed on affected skin. In the past, the leaves of the yarrow plant were chewed on to reduce the pain arising from toothaches. The gas rising from boiling yarrow infusions were also inhaled to alleviate mild asthmatic symptoms. For its other uses, yarrow oil is sometimes included as part of hair shampoos.

Crushed yarrow leaves are known to promote blood clotting, and traditionally yarrow leaves are a first aid remedy. Yarrow was used for soldier’s field dressing, hence the alternative name for yarrow, soldier’s woundwort. In fact, the botanical name for yarrow, Achillea is a direct reference to Achilles, the legendary hero of Greek mythology. Achilles always carried yarrow leaves with him into battle, during the Trojan wars, which he used to bandage the wounds of his warriors. Modern research has discovered that the alkaloid achilleine, one of three alkaloids present in the leaves and stems, is responsible for the blood staunching properties of yarrow.

NOTE: Yarrow should not be used during pregnancy as it may stimulate the uterus or if breastfeeding or scheduled to undergo surgery. Yarrow may also cause drowsiness and increase urination and affect blood pressure.

Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus) See Gentian

Yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum, bear's weed, consumptive weed, gum plant, mountain balm, sacred herb)

Yerba santa was used medicinally by Native American healers for many centuries and then taken up by the Spanish settlers, who gave it its current name, yerba santa meaning 'Holy Herb'.

Yerba santa helps the body expel mucus from the respiratory tract and is a blood purifier and strengthens the digestive and immune systems due to its potent flavonoid known as eriodictyol.

 It dilates bronchial tubes and is used to ease asthma and allergy attacks. A tea, tincture or syrup is typically made from the leaves, sometimes including the flowers or as a smoke from the leaves.

Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata)

This highly perfumed oil is derived from the flowers of a tree that can be found in the rain forests of certain Asian and South Pacific Islands like Indonesia, Philippines, Java, Sumatra, Comoro and Polynesia. It has antidepressant, anti-seborrhoeic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, hypotensive, nervine and sedative properties which can treat conditions like anxiety, depression, epilepsy, fatigue, high blood pressureinsomnia palpitations and stress. It also has properties that can treat seborrhoea or seborrhoeic eczema because it is extremely effective in maintaining moisture and oil balance of the skin and keeps the skin looking hydrated, smooth, and young.

Ylang ylang can help to avoid both sepsis and tetanus by inhibiting microbial growth and disinfecting the wounds and protecting the body from infections from bacteria, virus and fungus. It also helps to speed up the healing process of wounds.

This oil is a very effective agent for lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major health epidemic among both the young and the old, and the drugs for lowering it having serious adverse side effects on the health. Ylang ylang oil can be an easy and natural solution. It has no adverse side effects on health, if taken in prescribed quantities.

It also strengthens the nervous system and repairs any damage, reduces stress on the nerves and protects them from developing several nervous disorders.

It can be used to cure infections in internal organs such as the stomach, intestines, colon and urinary tract.

It has an uplifting effect on mood and induces feelings of joy and hope. It is an effective treatment for those undergoing nervous breakdowns and acute depression after a shock or an accident.

It can be very beneficial for those people who have lost interest in sex due to work load, professional stress, depression or the effects of pollution. The loss of libido or frigidity is a growing problem in modern life which can be resolved by using ylang ylang as a massage oil, in an oil burner or a few drops in a hot bath.

The main components of the essential oil of ylang-ylang are benzyl acetate, benzyl benzoate linalool, caryophyllene, geranyl acetate, methyl benzoate, p-cresyl methyl ether and other components known as sesquiterpenes, which all contribute to its aroma and medicinal properties.

Ylang ylang blends very well with essential oils of bergamot, lavender and sandalwood.

NOTE: Some cases of sensitivity, nausea and headache have been observed when taken in excessive amounts. Otherwise, when taken in recommended doses, it is non-toxic and is not reported to cause any irritation, howevewr, it should not be taken by pregnant or breast feeding women.

Yohimbine (Pausinystalia johimbe)

Derived from the bark of a West African evergreen tree, yohimbe dilates the blood vessels and can lower blood pressure, helps with an erection and erectile dysfunction. Yohimbe extracts are powerful antioxidants that can prevent heart attacks, act as a stimulant and an anti-depressant and an aid to weight loss.

Too much yohimbine can lower the blood pressure to far and cause dizziness, facial flushing and nausea. Yohimbine and yohimbe bark may also increase heart rate and raise blood pressure. There are potential interactions between yohimbe and drugs and herbs. Some of these combinations may be dangerous.

Z

 Zhi mu (Anemarrhena asphodeloides)

Internally zhi mu used for high fever in chronic bronchitis, infectious diseases, tuberculosis and urinary problems. Zhi mu is also used in Chinese herbal medicine for coughs, fever and night sweats. It has a bitter taste and is used to treat canker sores, particularly in combination with rehmannia and Scrophularia ningpoensis.

It has powerful antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Bacillus dysenteriae, Bacillus. typhi, Bacillus. paraatyphi, Proteus and Pseudomonas and Salmonella typhosa It can also be used as a mouthwash in the treatment of ulcers. The rhizome is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. Therapeutic action is slightly altered by cooking with wine or salt.

NOTE: Zhi mu should not be given to patients with diarrhoea and should be administered with caution since when taken in excess it can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure.


Precautionary Note

Many herbs are powerful and can react with medications especially astragalus, cats claw, dandelion, and Echinacea. Always check before taking at the same time as any drugs. Some individuals may have an allergic reaction to these powerful herbs. Always take cautiously in small amounts at first, preferably under the guidance of a fully qualified health practitioner or herbalist. Test on a small area of skin if using topically.

Some herbs can cause problems under certain circumstances and should be avoided such as the following

  • All essential oils if pregnant or breast feeding. Also, not suitable for children under five years of age.

  • Allspice if suffering from stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.

  • Almonds, cabbage and kale, plums and prunes if suffering from gout, bladder stones, gallstones or kidney stones, joint problems, osteoporosis or thyroid gland problems.

  • Aloe vera, cats claw, dandelion, Echinacea and astragalus if pregnant or breast feeding or have high blood pressure.

  • Angelica (dong quai), cumin, ginger, Japanese knotweed, motherwort and turmeric if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication) hormone therapies and contraception or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have heart problems and during the first trimester of pregnancy.

  • Camphor, fennel, hyssop and lavender if suffering from epilepsy or pregnant.

  • Chinese rhubarb root is not recommended for long term use and not suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women, children under twelve years of age, those who suffer from colitis or have an intestinal obstruction or have a history of kidney stones or urinary problems, or if taking anticoagulant (blood thinning) medicine or aspirin.

  • Chlorella and spirulina if suffering from a seafood or iodine allergy, a metabolic condition called phenylketonuria (PKU), multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. If pregnant or nursing or have hyperthyroidism, consult a healthcare provider before taking spirulina. It may interfere with medications to suppress the immune system.

  • Devil's claw if diabetic or taking blood pressure or blood-thinning medications.

  • Gingko and ginseng may interfere with the blood thinning medication Warfarin.

  • Ginseng if pregnant or breast feeding or suffering from asthma, emphysema, fibrocystic breasts, high blood pressure, clotting problems and cardiac arrhythmia.

  • Goji berries if taking medication for diabetes, high blood pressure or anti-coagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin or aspirin.

  • Grapefruit can interact with many types of medications, such as statins or blood pressure medications amongst others, by reducing or increasing their effectiveness.

  • Land caltrop can cause foetal miscarriage and must be avoided by pregnant or breast feeding women or individuals with breast or prostate cancer. Excess consumption of land caltrop can cause sleep disturbances and irregular menstruation and high doses may adversely affect the eyes and liver.

  • Linden if suffering from heart disease or are pregnant or breast feeding or if taking diuretics as it could increase the concentration of lithium in the blood.

  • Liquorice root if suffering from high blood pressure, a heart condition, oedema or are taking certain medications such as warfarin or diuretics.

  • Marshmallow herb if suffering with diabetes, alcohol dependency or liver disease or if pregnant or breast feeding.

  • Nettles if suffering from heart or kidney problems.

  • Poke root if pregnant or breast feeding and do not give to children.

  • Reishi mushrooms if taking medication for anti-hypertensive, blood sugar lowering medications and anti-coagulants or are pregnant.

  • Rosemary if pregnant or breastfeeding or suffering from high blood pressure.

  • Sage if pregnant or suffering from epilepsy.

  • Scutellaria if pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • Senega root if hypersensitive to salicylates or aspirin or pregnant.

  • Siberian ginseng if suffering from high blood pressure or anxiety.

  • Swiss chard if there is an existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problem.

  • Whole nuts and seeds if suffering from diverticulitis (grind to a fine powder first).

NOTE: Motherwort may be habit forming.

NOTE: Avoid yohimbine and ginseng under any of the following circumstances:

What to be aware of when using essential oils

  • Use inhalations with caution if asthma is an issue or if prone to nosebleeds.

  • Do not swallow oils unless supervised by a medically qualified practitioner.

  • Never apply neat essential oils to the skin (except lavender and tea tree).

  • Keep essential oils away from naked flames and out of reach of children.

  • Consult a qualified practitioner if epileptic or have high blood pressure.

See also

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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