Aloe Vera ( aloe bardadensis)
History and uses : Nowadays a surprising number of people take advantage of the skin-softening properties of aloe vera
in some way. It has long been used in folk medicine, and modern research indicates that when applied externally, aloe vera
restores skin tissues and may aid the healing of burns and sores. It can also be used on blemishes and dandruff, and it works
cosmetically to keep skin soft.
While aloe seems to be the most potent when taken fresh from the leaf, it is an ingredient in several skin creams and
shampoos. However, these products contain only small amounts of aloe.
Aloe gel has also been taken internally for stomach disorders, while dried aloe latex - a different substance derived
from the leaf - is a strong laxative.
USE THE FRESH LEAF EXTRACT FOR TREATMENT. BOTTLED GELS HAVE CHEMICALS AND PRESERVATIVES TO INCREASE THEIR SHELF LIFE AND
AS SUCH ARE LESS EFFECTIVE, AND MAY HAVE SIDE EFFECTS.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf gel and sap. Aloin.
AMLA ( INDIAN GOOSEBERRY )
· Amla or Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis) is the fruit of this deciduous tree found mainly in India. This plant
belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae. The fruit of this plant is round shaped with vertical stripes. It is greenish yellow
in color and tastes sour. The fruit is fibrous in nature. The fruit is sometimes eaten along with salt. Amla is rich in natural
vitamin C. This fruit is used as the main ingredient in the ayurvedic tonic Chyavanprash. It is also used along with several
other herbs as an ayurvedic tonic.
· The Indian gooseberry or Amla has cooling, diuretic and laxative properties. It helps in cleansing the mouth, and strengthens
teeth and bones. It increases the red blood cell count and helps to promote good health. It helps to reduce pitter. It also
has antioxidant properties. Apart from vitamin C, amla also contains cytokine like substances such as zeatin. The dried Amla
fruit is useful in the treatment of Hemorrhage, diarrhea, and dysentery.
· Amla has laxative properties and therefore useful in the treatment of constipation and piles. I t also has antibacterial
properties and helps in preventing infections and healing ulcers. I t also helps in preventing skin infections. Amla has cell
rejuvenating properties and therefore used in maintaining good health of skin and hair. It is widely used in preparation of
hair shampoos. Amla helps to keep the hair glossy and shining.
It also helps to prevent dandruff. Amla is also known to have anti aging properties.
· Amla is the richest source of natural vitamin C .It provides upto 900mg/ 100 g of juice of the fresh fruit. It has the
same amount of ascorbic acid or vitamin C present in two oranges. Due to high Vitamin C content Amla has anti oxidative properties.
Amla also has carminative properties. It helps in maintaining a health y digestive system. It is used in the preparation of
many gastrointestinal ayurvedic tonics. Amla also has many therapeutic properties. It is used as a cardiotonic, aphrodisiac,
and antipyretic medicine. Some research studies have shown that Amla acts as antidiabetic too. Amla also helps to prevent
respiratory disorders such as common cold, bronchitis, and other respiratory tract infections. The high content of vitamin
C helps to boost the functioning of the immune system of the body and thereby helps in preventing a wide range of diseases.
Amla is therefore included in most of the ayurvedic tonics as a general ingredient.
· Amla also helps in improving body weight. It helps in increasing the total protein level due to positive nitrogen balance.
Thus it is known to give an anabolic effect in the body. Amla is considered as one of the highly nutritious fruit. Apart from
Vitamin C, Amla also provides many other essential minerals to the body. These minerals help in maintaining proper functioning
of the metabolic activities of the body. Amla contains minerals such as chromium, zinc, and copper. The chromium present in
it helps in its anti diabetic effect. Amla is also used in the treatment of gastritis. It was found to be very effective in
the treatment of heartburn due to increased hydrochloric acid secretion of the stomach. Amla helps patients suffering from
Anise ( Pimpinella anisum )
History and uses : Anise with it's nippy licorice flavour, has been used for centuries in both foods and medicines. The
ancient Greeks, including Hypocrates, recommended it for coughs. Ancient Romans used anise in a special cake that concluded
their enormous feasts. They included it not only for it's flavour, but to aid digestion and ease flatulence. The ancients
also used anise as an aphrodisiac, for colic, and to combat nausea.
Today anise is still used for coughs, in both syrups and lozenges. Drinking a tea made from the crushed and steeped seeds
is said to aid digestion and ease gas pains. Some herbalists also recommend the tea to nursing mothers to increase milk flow.
Anise is considered safe when taken in reasonable amounts.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Seed. Anethole and other aromatic compounds.
Astragalus ( Astragalus membranaceus )
History and uses : Primarily used in traditional Chinese medicine, astralagus has only recently become popular among western
herbalists because of it's purported effects on the immune system. Although there is some evidence, based on experiments done
in test tubes, that it stimulates the immune function, there is no scientific evidence that this same effect can be produced
in humans. There is evidence, however, that astralagus may have value in protecting the liver, and it is used by some herbalists
to lessen the severity and duration of colds.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Polysacharides.
Basil ( Ocimum basilicum )
History and uses : Herbe royale to the French, a sign of love to Italians, and a sacred herb in India, basil has a rich
and fanciful history, and a reputation for both good and evil. Some ancient herbalists believed that basil damaged the internal
organs and caused the spontaneous generation of scorpions inside the body.
Various cultures of the world have found their own uses for basil. In the Far East it has been used as a cough medicine,
and in Africa it has been used to expel worms. American colonists considered basil the essential ingredient in a snuff used
to ease headaches. One folk remedy says that tea made with basil and peppercorns will reduce fever.
While most herbalists prefer other, more effective herbs, basil is still recommended for a variety of home remedies. The
herb is a carmenative, meaning that it relieves gas, and when brewed in tea is said to aid digestion. Basil tea may also be
useful for relieving stomach cramps, vomiting and constipation.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf. Volatile oils (up to 28% methyl cinnamate)
Black Cohosh ( Cimicifuga racemosa )
History and uses : Long known to North American Indians, black cohosh has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including
rheumatoid arthritis, edema and sore throats. It's primary reputation, however, rested on it's ability to relieve menstrual
cramps and the pains of childbirth. For this reason it was often known as "squawroot".
Modern herbalists still recommend black cohosh for menstrual problems. this may be explained by the fact that exttracts
from the roots have effects similar to the hormone estrogen. Herbalists also recommend a tea from the roots as a sedative.
Current experiments suggest that extracts from the plant's rhizome may have anti-inflamatory effects, and so may be useful
in treating neuralgia and arthritis. Balck Cohosh is generally considered safe, although large doses should be avoided because
of possible toxicity. Consult an experienced herbal practitioner before using black cohosh during pregnancy.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Black cohosh contains a number of potent alkaloids and glycosides.
Boneset ( Eupatorium perfoliatum )
History and uses : Don't be mislead by the name: boneset doesn't mend broken bones. A favorite of both North America's
Indians and pioneers, boneset was believed to relieve breakbone fever, caused by a strain of influenza virus, hence the name.
It was also thought that a strong infusion of boneset would relieve indigestion, malaria and snakebite.
Herbalists are showing renewed interest in boneset to treat fevers due to colds and flu. It is also used as an expectorant
to break up mucus. Boneset is considered safe when consumed in reasonable amounts.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves and flowering tops. Flavonoids and terpenoids.
Buckthorn ( Rhamnus frangula )
History and uses : Alder buckthorn was known as early as the second century AD, when the Greek physician Galen wrote about
it. Once credited with the power to protect against demons and witches, it is now known mainly as a laxative. Herbalists often
recommend buckthorn tea, made from the bark, to ease constipation. Buckthorn compresses are used to relieve minor skin irritations.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Bark. Anthraquinones.
Burdock ( Arctium lappa )
History and uses : Just as the burrs of the burdock plant will attach themselves to any passerby, so has burdock attached
itself everywhere in the world of folk medicine. It has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, indigestion, kidney trouble,
dropsy, high fevers, gout, leprosy and dandruff. And in Shakespear's play "As You Like It" , burdock was a symbol
of lingering annoyance.
Most commonly, burdock root was brewed as a tonic, which was used as a "blood purifier", a diuretic, a mild
laxative and in the treatment of acne and other skin conditions. A poultice made with crushed burdock root is said to be an
effective remedy when applied to sores and bug bites. While burdock's widespread application has not stood the test of time,
scientific studies have focused on possible value as an external antiseptic.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Inulin, a starch (up to 50%)
Cascara Sagrada ( Rhamnus purshiana )
History and uses : Used primarily as a laxative, cascara sagrada was first used by North America's native peoples, and
is still in use today. The name means "sacred bark" , a reference to the medicinal part of the plant. Cascara sagrada
is popular for the relief of constipation, and it is reported to restore the bowel to a healthy tone, making repeated use
of the remedy unnecessary. Small doses of tonic prepared from the bark are sometimes taken to ease digestion. Cascara sagrada
extracts are found in many over-the-counter preparations. The bark is considered safe when aged for at least a year, however
it should never be used by pregnant women.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Bark. Anthraquinone glycosides.
Catnip ( Nepeta cataria )
History and uses : Catnip is a popular ingredient in a variety of traditional remedies. Catnip tea is best known as a
sleep aid, but it is also recommended to ease menstrual pain, to help soothe the nerves, and as an insect repellent. Compresses
applied to the forehead are said to relieve headaches.
Felines of the world, of course, also appreciate the effects of catnip. But rather than eating the plant, they inhale
a volatile oil given off by the plant's leaves.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves and other above-ground parts. Nepetalactones
Cayenne ( Capsicum annuum & C.frutescens )
History and uses : Cayenne pepper has been known to the natives of the tropical Americas for thousands of years, but it
was Christopher Columbus who first introduced it to the Old World. Since then, it's had a variety of uses, both culinary and
medicinal. Perhaps best known today as an ingredient in hot sauces, cayenne has been recommended as a digestive aid, as a
treatment for toothache and as a way to ward off chills at the onset of a cold.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne, is so effective in relieving pain that it has literally become a hot topic
for research. Ointments made from capsaicin stop joint and muscle pain by "confusing" pain transmitters; it temporarily
upsets the chemical balance in the sensory nerve cells that relay pain messages from the skin. Several over-the-counter products
containing capsaicin as the active ingredient can be used externally to ease arthritic pain.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Fruit. Capsaicin.
Chamomile ( Matricaria chamomilla )
History and uses : A soothing cup of chamomile tea has long been a popular way to take the edge off a long, hard day.
Indeed, some studies have shown the herb to be an effective mild sedative, and so it has been used to combat insomnia. To
get the strongest possible effects, the tea should be steeped in a closed vesel for at least ten minutes.
Chamomile has a number of other uses as well. The oil of chamomile is sometimes prepared as an extract, which, when applied
to the skin, may help reduce inflammations, and thereby alleviate the pain of arthritis. The extract may also be used to heal
When taken internally, chamomile is said to aid digestion and relieve menstrual cramps, as well as settle acute stomach
This variety of chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla, is know as German chamomile. A related plant, Roman chamomile (anthemis
nobilis), is less common but has similar effects. Both plants have feathery green leaves and delicate daisy-like flowers that,
when crushed, give off a faint scent reminiscent of apples. And both grow along roadsides, in meadows and other abandoned
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Flowers. Chamazulene and alpha bisabolol, both found in the flower's volatile oil.
Cinnamon ( Cinnamomum zeylaicum )
History and uses : Cinnamon is a common ingredient in folk remedies for colds, flatulence, nausea and vomiting. It has
been shown to be carminative (releasing gas in the stomach and intestines), and so is useful for settling an upset stomach
and for alleviating diarrhea. Cinnamon has also been used as a treatment to stimulate the appetites of anorexics.
Consumers should note that the variety of cinnamon available for home use is actually derived from cassia bark. It is
a related species and is said to produce similar effects.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Tree bark. Cinnamic aldehyde, eugenol and tannins.
Cranberry ( Vaccinium macrocarpon )
History and uses : More than a mere garnish on the Thanksgiving table, cranberries are proving to be a very useful natural
remedy. While folk practitioners have often recommended the berries for bleeding gums, some recent research suggests what
many people have thought all along: cranberry juice may help fight urinary infections caused by certain bacteria. However,
the treatment is only useful as a preventive measure, not as a cure for an existing ailment.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Fruit. Flavonoids.
Dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale )
History and uses : Medical panacea or ubiquitous weed? While there's little doubt about the tastiness of a dandelion leaf
salad or a glass of dandelion wine, this common plant has medicinal use as well. Once recommended for kidney, liver and gallbladder
problems, it is best known as a mild laxative, an appetite stimulant and a diuretic. The leave also contain high levels of
The bane of lawn tenders across North America, dandelions were transported to the New World by European settlers, then
brought to the Prairies as food for the bees.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf and root. The starch inulin (about 25%), bitter principles, sesquiterpenes.
Echinacea ( Echinacea angustifolium & E. purpurea )
History and uses : Commonly found growing wild in the Prairies, echinacea has long been known to the native peoples, who
use it to treat toothaches, snakebites and insect bites.
Today echinacea is still used, and research has shown that it may have value in fighting infections and healing wounds.
It is also used to stimulate the immnune system, and may help ease colds and sore throats.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves and roots. Echinacoside, polysaccharides, isobutyl amides.
Elder ( Sambucus nigra )
History and uses : Elder has a long and varied history. Archaeologists have traced it's cultivation to ancient Europe.
Legends have associated this flowering shrub with witches and spirits, while folk practitioners have used it as an insect
repellent, a purgative and a blood purifier. Many people have at one time tasted elderberries in such foods as preserves and
pies. Some may even have sampled a glass of homemade elderberry wine.
Today, elder flowers are brewed in tea, which is mainly prescribed as a mild stimulant and to induce perspiration. The
tea is thought to be the most effective when the elder flowers are mixed with peppermint leaves and yarrow flowers. In addition,
elder extracts are included in a number of commercially available cold remedies. While elder flowers are safe, avoid the roots,
stems and leaves, and use only ripe berries.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Flowers. Triterpenes,flavonoids.
Elecampane ( Inula helenium )
History and uses : Known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, elecampane was among the many herbal preparations prescriberd
by Hypocrates. It's Latin name may be a reference to Helen of Troy, who in one version of the story is said to have been holding
a bunch of elecampane when abducted by Paris.
Elecampane may help soothe itchy skin and minor cuts, and it has been used to induce perspiration in the case of cold
or flu. However, the herb's real value is as an expectorant. Prescribed for chronic coughs and bronchitis, elecampane has
also been recommended for the treatment of asthma. Researchers are taking a close look to see if the herb has a chemical compound
that may be an antibiotic.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Inulin, a starch (up to 44%), volatile oil and sesquiterpenes.
Eucalyptus ( Eucalyptus globulus )
History and uses : The eucalyptus tree came to the Americas and other continents by way of Australia, where it's the mainstay
of the koala's diet. You have already experienced it's healing properties The leaves from the eucaluptus tree contain a pungent
oil that helps clear sinuses and soothe mucous membranes. For this reason it is a popuplar ingredient in throat lozenges,
toothpastes, mouthwashes and balms.
Bronchial congestion may be relieved by mixing a few drops of the oil with boiling water, and then inhaling the rising
steam. When applied directly to the skin and scalp, eucalyptus oil is said to help ease sore muscles, chapped skin and dandruff.
Warning: Take care to avoid getting eucalyptus oil in the eyes, as it can be extremely irritating. If it happens immediately
rinse eyes with clean water.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf. Essential oil, primarily composed of eucalyptol.
Evening Primrose ( Oenothera biennis )
History and uses : This fragrant plant, which waits unil early evening to open it's flowers, has something of a reputation
as a cure-all. Fans of evening primrose swear that it promotes weight loss, lowers blood cholesterol and blood presssure,and
is effective in treating numerous other common ailments.
Evening primrose is native to North America and grows wild in fields, roadsides and waste areas. Native peoples from the
Great Lakes region used the entire evening primrose plant as a sedative and a painkiller. It has also been used to treat a
variety of ills, from asthmatic coughs to stomach problems. Today oil from the seed is taken orally for atopic asthma (asthma
due to allergy). atopic eczema and migraines. Most recently, it has been claimed that the oil is effective in the treatment
of premenstrual syndrome. Other research suggests that evening primrose oil may have anticlotting factors, and so may be useful
in the prevention of heart attacks that are caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vesel.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Seed.Fatty oil containing the essential fatty acid called GLA (gamma linolenic acid)
Fennel ( Foeniculum vulgare or F.officinale )
History and uses : Most people are only aware of fennel's use in salads, soups and stews. It's licorice-like flavour was
much in demand as early as the Middle Ages, but even before that, early practitioners, including Hypocrates, were prescribing
parts of the plant to increase milk supply in lactating women. And others thought that fennel could provide protection against
witches and all manner of spiritual intruders.
Today, fennel is primarily known for it's soothing properties. A carminative, it is recommended to ease stomachaches and
to aid digestion. Taken in a tea or in extracts, fennel has also been used as an aid to stimulate the appetites of anorexics.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Seed (actually the dried ripe fruit). Volatile oil (about 8% of the seed), consisting
mainly of anethole.
Fenugreek ( Trigonella foenum-graecum )
History and uses : A prized healing herb in ancient Egypt, India, Greece and Rome, fenugreek has at times been prescribed
for tuberculosis, bronchitis, sore throats, diabetes, anemia, rickets and waning sexual desire. It has also been used as an
expectorant, a laxative and a fever fighter. While it is no longer considered a cure-all , fenugreek is known today for having
some effective medicinal properties. The secret lies in the seeds, which contain mucilage, a slimy substance that soothes
and protects sore or inflamed tissues. Poultices, ointments and lotions containing fenugreek are recommended for treating
skin irritations and wounds, while a tonic brewed from the seeds is said to ease stomach ailments. However, fenugreek has
a pungent odor that lasts for days.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Seed.Mucilage (up to 40%), oil.
Feverfew ( Tanecetum parthenium )
History and uses : One of the earliest references to feverfew was in the writtings of the Greek herbalist Dioscorides.
In the first century AD, he recommended the herb for "all hot inflammations and hot swellings," which may have been
a reference to arthritis. Feverfew was also used to treat menstrual cramps and headache pain, as well as to aid digestion,
repel insects and soothe insect bites. But the herb's popularity waned, even among dedicated herbalists.
Recent research is now restoring feverfew's reputation as a pain reliever. Studies of migraine sufferers indicate that
feverfew is effective in reducing the number and severity of headaches, as well as alleviating the nausea and vomiting that
often accompany them. In addition, some claims have been made about feverfew's effectiveness against rheumatoid arthritis,
but these claims are as yet unproven.
The bestway to get feverfew's benefits is by eating two or three of the fresh leaves daily. The leaves must be taken for
a prolonged period, as it may take some time for the herb's medicinal properties to become effective. Eating feverfew leaves,
either fresh or freeze-dried, has been shown to be safe. The only adverse reactions appear to be temporary mouth ulcers in
a small percentage of users.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf. Parthernolide.
Garlic ( Allium sativum )
History and uses : For centuries an amazing array of magical and medicinal powers has been attributed to garlic. It has
been used as protection against vampires as well as to enhance sexual prowess. The Egyptians prescribed garlic to build up
physical strength, while the Greeks used it as a laxative. Garlic is given some credit for providing immunity to those who
ate it during the plague years in Europe. The Chinese have traditionally used it to lower elevated blood pressure.
Early in this century, garlic was used to treat tuberculosis, and as an antibiotic for battle wounds during WW II. Although
today most people think of it as a culinary ingredient rather than a potent medicine, scientists have not totally ignored
garlic's potential as a healing agent.
Louis Pasteur, the great 19th century French chemist, was the first to prove garlic's antiseptic properties, and since
then hundreds of studies have established the value of garlic as an effective destroyer of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites.
Modern day antibiotics such as penecillin may have overshadowed garlic as a remedy; yet it is still regarded by many herbalists
as an effective preventive for colds, flu and other infectious diseases. Garlic is also used to treat some lower tract problems,
such as gas pains and intestinal worms.
Recent research has also shown that garlic has great potential for treating cardiovascular conditions. Various controlled
studies have shown that it can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood. Experiments also indicate that garlic
affects the blood in another important way - by reducing the blood's ability to clot. The herb's capacity to lower high blood
pressure has also been proven in tests involving both laboratory animals and humans.
Scientific attention has also turned to garlic's potential as an anticancer agent. Experiments with animals suggest that
garlic may inhibit or even reverse the growth of certain tumor cells. In another area of research, some studies involving
the immune system indicate that garlic may stimulate immnune functions by making "killer cells" more active against
invading microbes, and perhaps cancer cells as well.
Garlic is considered a safe herbal remedy. No one is immune to garlic's distinctive odor, which lingers on the breath
and the skin. In large amounts, garlic may have toxic effects, such as stomach ulcers and anemia.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Bulbs. Before a bulb of garlic is crushed or chopped it contains few medically active
compounds. But once it is cut chemical reactions occur that create dozens of new compounds. Two of the many newly formed sulfur-containing
compounds are allicin, which gives garlic it's antibiotic properties, and ajoene, which is an anticoagulent. Allicin is responsible
for garlic's strong odor.
Many of garlic's medicinal compounds are destroyed through processing, some studies suggest, and so it may be best to
use fresh garlic, and not dried or powdered forms.
Ginger ( zingiber officinale )
History and uses : Known to most people as a food and a spice, ginger has been used medicinally for centuries. Practitioners
of Chinese medicine discovered it's healing properties at least 2500 years ago, and in China it remains popular for treating
colds, nausea, seafood poisoning and other ailments. But ginger was valued in Greece, India and many other countries as well.
For example, Tibetans used it to help those recuperating from illness and in Japan a ginger-oil massage was given to help
alleviate spinal and joint problems.
Today, ginger tea is still prescribed for stomachaches and to aid digestion. A mild stimulant, it is also used to help
promote circulation,especially on cold winter days. But current research has come up with some novel ways of using ginger.
For instance, powdered ginger has been shown to be more effective for treating motion sickness than some well-known commercial
remedies. One added benefit is that ginger does not cause drowsiness, as do many over-the-counter remedies.
A common folk remedy recommends ginger for the treatment of burns. Fresh gingerroot is mashed to release it's juices,
which are then applied to the burned area. Some who have tried the remedy report that relief is instantaneous, and that a
single application will suffice for easing the pain of minor burns.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Rhizome (undergroung lateral root). Essential oils, gingerols, shogaols, zingerones
Ginkgo ( Ginkgo Biloba )
History and uses : The oldest species of tree in the world, dating back to ancient history, the ginkgo is native to the
Far East. So it is not surprising that the Chinese have made the best use of the tree's healing properties. Practitioners
of Chinese medicine have traditionally used the ginkgo's fan-shaped leaves to treat bronchial, asthmatic and pulmonary conditions.
Today, ginkgo is the subject of considerable study in Europe, but increasingly in North America too. It has been shown
to dilate arteries, veins and capillaries, thereby increasing peripheral circulation, as well as blood flow to the brain.
For this reason, ginkgo may have potential for treating senility, short-term memory loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears),
and a range of vascular diseases. Ginkgo extracts are regularly prescribed in Asia and Europe to improve mental functions.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf. Flavonoid glycosides and diterpenes (including some unique terpene structures
Ginseng ( Panax ginseng )
History and uses : A Chinese text dating from the first century AD describes ginseng as "enlightening to the mind,
and increasing the wisdom. Continuous use leads to longevity." This description of ginseng's powers is strikingly similar
to claims made today. For instance, ginseng tea is often taken by people who believe it will promote long life and soften
the effects of aging.
A subject of considerable scientific study around the world, ginseng has captured the interest of doctors, researchers
and herbalists alike.Ginseng is most commonly use as a tonic to enhance general health and stimulate the central nervous system.
In tests to lower blood cholesterol, ginseng has shown positive results.
Other studies report that ginseng prevents heart disease, inhibits blood coagulation and protects cells from radiation
damage. The Chinese have long used ginseng as an aphrodisiac, but there are no studies lending support to this claim. With
the herb receiving more and more clinical attention worldwide, ginseng may well be the source of important discoveries in
future years. In general, thousands of years of ginseng usage attest to it's safety when used in reasonable amounts.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Saponins called ginsenosides.
Goldenseal ( Hydrastis canadensis )
History and uses : Goldenseal root has a long history of use among aboriginal peoples. The Cherokees, for example used
it for sore eyes, mouth ulcers, tuberculosis and edema. They also mixed it with bear grease for use as an insect repellent.
Settlers, too, learned of it's antiseptic and wound-healing properties, and it was later included in a commercial tonic for
Today, the herb is relatively rare and expensive, the result of both over-zealous harvesting and drought. While goldenseal
doesn't have the following that it once had, it is still recommended for some disorders. For instance, goldenseal root is
reported to cleanse the liver and blood, as well as to restore digestive functions, and so is sometimes prescribed for alcoholics.
In addition, in some circles it is a popular remedy for colds and flu. The tea, which is extremely bitter, is commonly recommended
for mouth sores, including cracked, bleeding lips and cankers. When used as an eyewash, the tea may soothe the itchiness of
certain allergies. In fact, a popular eyedrop intended to reduce eye irritation contains berberine, a major alkaloid of goldenseal.
It works by constricting blood vesels in the eyes.
The responsible use of goldenseal is considered safe in reasonable amounts. Though there is little real evidence of any
adverse reactions, some herbalists caution against the use of the herb during pregnancy, as it may cause uterine contractions.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root and Rhizome. Alkaloids hydrastine, berberine, canadine and hydrastinine.
Hawthorn ( Crataegus oxyacantha )
History and uses : A common tree in the English countryside, hawthorn has long been used in folk and clinical medicine
to treat heart ailments. Experimental studies have determined that hawthorn works in two ways: it dilates blood vesels, which
eases blood flow and lowers blood pressure, and it strengthens the heart itself. In Germany, physicians commonly prescribe
preparations with hawthorn for minor heart conditions, especially those due to the effects of aging.
Hawthorn also acts as a mild sedative, so it may be useful when heart problems are brought on by stress or nervousness.
However, hawthorn extracts are cumulative, so it must be taken over an extended period for the full effect. Hawthorn is considered
a safe and effective medicine, but if you suspect that you have heart problems, see a physician before embarking on self-treatment.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf, flowers and fruit. Flavonoids.
Hop ( Humulus lupulus )
History and uses : A well known soporific and flavoring, hop has been used for centuries by herbalists and brewmasters
alike. Some native peoples took the blossoms for their sedative effects, and also dried the flowers for use in a toothache
Today, hop is prescribed in cases of nervousness, mild anxiety and sleeplessness. In addition, as an antispasmodic, it
may ease diarrhea and intestinal cramps. Hop may be taken as a tea (often in combination with valerian and other sedative
herbs), in extracts, capsules and it's safety has been confirmed by centuries of use in brewing and as a food flavoring.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Lupulin, a chemical complex found in the glandular hair of the strobiles (flower
cones). Volatile oil, flavonoids, resins including bitter acids.
Horse Chestnut ( Aesculus hippocastanum )
History and uses : Native to Asia and southeastern Europe, horse chestnuts were long used ny the Turks, not for their
own ailments, but for their horses' respiratory problems. By the 18th century, horse chestnuts had been introduced to North
America, and native peoples began exploiting the fruits of these stately trees for human use. They discovered that when crushed,
the fruits eased the pain and inflammation of hemorrhoids.
Today, horse chestnuts are used in the treatment of a number of circulatory problems, including varicose veins, blood
clots and hemorrhoids. An extract sold commercially is popular in Europe for arthritis and other complaints - and there is
some scientific evidence that horse chestnuts may indeed have anti-inflammatory properties. Horse chestnut extract is also
available as a salve, which may be applied to ease sore muscles and leg cramps. These remedies are widely available in Germany
and are just beginning to be marketed in North America.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Fruits. A mixture of saponins collectively called aescin.
Hyssop ( Hyssopus officinalis )
History and uses : A traditional herb used since Biblical times, hyssop has long been popular for treating mild respiratory
problems. In folk medicine, hyssop tea or garle is taken as an expectorant, and also to relieve colds, coughs, horseness and
A member of the mint family, hyssop is a carminative, meaning that it aids digestion and helps to relieve gas. Some claim
that it speeds the digestion of fat, and recommend drinking hyssop tea with fatty meats or fish. In addition, extracts of
hyssop are used in liqueurs and candies.
Used externally, hyssop may be useful for treating sores. One caveat about this herb: it has been erroneously reported
that hyssop leaves contain penicillin. They do not.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Herb. Volatile oil, hyssopin, tannin, flavone glycosides, a terpenoid called marrubin
(also found in horehound)
Juniper ( Juniperus communis )
History and uses : The juniper berry has many fans, though few are actually seeking it's medicinal benefits. Best known
as the flavoring in gin, sauerkraut and other foods and spirits, the fragrant berries are also an active ingredient in many
Aboriginal peoples drank juniper berry tea to reliev stomachaches, arthritis and colds. While they are still taken for
these ailments, juniper berries arer primarily used for their diuretic action.
Experts caution against the use juniper berries during pregnancy as they may stimulate uterine contractions. Because of
their diuretic action, extended use (more than six weeks) may cause problems for people with weak or damaged kidneys.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Berry. Volatile oil, sugars, ascorbic acid, tannins, jumiperin
Lavender ( Lavandula officinalis )
History and uses : Known as an herb of love in the Middle Ages, lavender's fragrant flowers continue to inspire devotion.
The blossoms are a familiar ingredient in many herbal sachets, and lavender-filled pillows have long been used for their purported
Lavender flowers may also be brewed in tea. The aroma is soothing, and the mild carminative action of the blossoms may
be useful for settling an upset stomach that often accompanies nervousness and irritability. The flowers are also reported
to stimulate bile flow, and so are sometimes included in herbal formulas recommended for liver and gallbladder problems
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Flowers. Volatile oil, tannins, coumarins, flavonoids.
Lemon Balm ( Melissa officinalis )
History and uses : Lemon balm has a long history of use, not only for it's mild medicinal benefits, but also because of
it's pleasant lemony aroma. For instance, the Arabs relied on it to treat depression and anxiety, while the English included
it in furniture polish.
Lemon balm is now widely used in herbal teas, both for it's flavor and it's mild carminative and sedative properties.
The tea is recommended to induce perspiration and relieve fever due to colds and flu, and to ease menstrual cramps, insomnia,
headaches and nervousness.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Herb. Volatile oil and polyphenols.
Licorice ( Glycyrrhiza glabra & G.uralensis )
History and uses : Licorice is one of the world's most widely used medicinal plants. Many people think of it as a flavoring
for candy, but in fact most "licorice" sticks sold in this country are flavored with anise oil. Licorice itself
was used by the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and Chinese to treat coughs and chills, and research has shown that it does have
expectorant, antiallergic and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, licorice contains mucilage, a substance that coats
and soothes inflamed membranes, and so may be useful for treating ulcers and constipation.
Today, licorice is the subject of much study, primarily for it's active compound glycyrrhizin. This substance produces
the herb's anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects. But there is also some evidence that licorice may be useful for preventing
and healing gastric ulcers, and it may offer an effective treatment for chronic hepatitis. In addition, licorice extracts
stimulate the adrenal glands, and so have been used for patients suffering from Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency),
a particular boon for those who are allergic to the conventional medication. Further studies have shown licorice to counter
the effects of two tumor-producing agents. It may also suppress the enzyme that leads to tooth decay from sugar.
In general, licorice and it's extracts are safe for normal use. However, long-term or excessive ingestion can produce
serious side effects. Symptoms include headache, lethargy, sodium and water retention, loss of potassium, high blood pressure
and possible heart failure. Such reactions, however, are rare, a fact demonstrated by licorice's widespread use in herbal
teas, and as a flavoring in foods and tobacco.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root and rhizome. Glycurrhizin (an extremely sweet triterpene glycoside), flavonoids
and isoflavonoids, coumarins, polysaccharides.
Ma Huang ( Ephedra sinica )
History and uses : For thousands of years, practitioners of Chinese medicine have relied on ma huang tea to treat asthma,
flu and even arthritis. In the early part of this century, Chinese scientists isolated two important alkaloids from the herb:
ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. These alkaloids clear up mucus, open clogged breathing passages, stimulate the central nervous
system and are now commonly used in many over-the-counter and prescription allergy and asthma medications.
Ma huang is considered safe in reasonable doses. However, because it can raise blood pressure, it is best avoided by those
with high blood pressure. A North American cousin, mormon tea (Ephedra nevadensis), is similar to ma huang, but contains no
ephedrine. The herb is found the US southwest, and is used to treat arthritis pain.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Herb. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
Marshmallow ( Althaea officinalis )
History and uses : No longer used in the puffy white candy that bears it's name, marshmallow is known primarily for alleviating
sore throats and other ailments. The roots of the marshmallow contain mucilage, a gelatinous substance found in plants. When
mixed with water, marshmallow root helps soothe irritation and inflammation due to dry coughs, bronchitis, urinary tract infections,
colitis and other problems. When used as a gargle, marshmallow may provide instant relief to inflamed throat tissues. Marshmallow
root may also be taken to ease constipation, and when applied topically, to soothe skin abrasions.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Mucilage.
Milk Thistle ( Silybum marianum )
History and uses : Milk thistle has a long history of use in European folk medicine, and was frequently prescribed as
a liver tonic and digestive aid. In addition, lactating women were sometimes given the herb to stimulate production of their
milk. While this last use has been disproven, medical science has confirmed milk thistle's effectiveness in treating certain
types of liver disease. Some studies have shown that extracts of the herb are beneficial for treating cirrhosis, hepatitis
and some other chronic liver problems.
Milk thistle's active ingredients are a complex of compounds known collectively as silymarin. These substances protect
the liver against certain chemical toxins, and increase the function and regeneration of the organ. In addition, silybin,
one of the compounds contained in the herb, is an antidote to the deadly deathcap mushroom, whose poisons act to destroy the
liver cells. But to be effective, the antidote should be administered intravenously.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Seed. The extract of the seed contains a complex of three flavolignans collectively
refered to as silymarin.
Mullein ( Verbascum thapsus )
History and uses : People have long made use of the long-stemmed mullein to heal, to soothe and even to protect. For instance,
according to Homer, the Greek hero Ulysses used the herb to protect himself from the temptress Circe, and in other times it
was used to counter the chrms of witchcraft
Less romantized today, mullein, which contains mucilage, is used as an expectorant, as well as to soothe inflamed mucous
membranes. Mullein is an old European remedy for chest conditions, and is still considered useful for treating sore throats,
chest colds and horseness. When applied topically, it may offer relief for burns, chilblains and arthritic joints. Mullein
also has astringent properties, and so is useful in healing open wounds. In earlier times, traditional herbalists soaked yellow
mullein flowers in oil, which was then used to treat earaches.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves. Mucilage.
Myrrh ( Commiphora molmol )
History and uses : Prized since ancient times for it's fragrance and healing properties, myrrh is perhaps best known for
it's frequent mention in the Bible. The most famous reference is Mathew 2:11, where myrrh is one of the gifts brought to the
infant Jesus by the wise men. Later Mark reported that before Jesus was crucified, he was offered a sedative consisting of
a cup of wine laced with myrrh, which He refused. Finally, after His death, Jesus' body was prepared with large amounts of
myrrh and aloe.
Today, myrrh is still popular for it's resinous scent, but herbalists have many other uses for it as well. The herb has
astringent and antiseptic properties, meaning it is useful for cleansing and healing wounds, including bedsores. Myrrh is
also a common ingredient in mouthwashes and gargles, and is prescribed for sore throats, gingivitis and sore gums.
As in Bible times, myrrh is a popular incense, and it can also double as a mosquito repellent since the smell of burning
myrrh drives these pests away.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Gum resin. Volatile oil, resins, gums. Myrrh is used as a food flavoring.
Nettle ( Urtica dioica )
History and uses : Brush against the leaves of the "stinging nettle", and you'll quickly discover the key to
this herb's nickname. The bristly hairs covering the leaves are actually miniature tubes filled with an irritating liquid.
When a person or animal brushes against the leaves, the hairs inject their fluid, producing an itchy, burning rash that may
last for hours.
But, while harvesting the plant may pose some problems, dried nettles have long been used by herbalists, mainly as a diuretic.
In addition, nettles have astringent properties, and when applied to the skin they may relieve eczema and numerous other skin
More controversial is their use for treating arthritic conditions. According to some users, when nettle leaves are allowed
to sting the skin over sore joints, arthritic pain is eased instantly. Apparently, nettles act as counterirritants, relieving
pain in the afflicted area. A recent study on freeze-dried nettles (in capsule form) indicated potential benefits for hay
fever sufferers, but evidence was not overwhelmingly convincing.
Dried nettles are considered safe for internal consumption, but the skin rash produced by the fresh leaves may be very
irritating to some people.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Herb. Chlorophyll (large amounts), histamine, acetylcholine.
Passion Flower ( Passiflora incarnata )
History and uses : Aboriginal peoples made poutices from the leaves of the passion flower, which they applied to bruises
and other injuries. Today, the whole plant - leaves, stems and intricate blossoms - is used medicinally.
Although the name suggests otherwise, passion flowers have been found to have mild sedative effects. For reasons not yet
fully understood, the plant depresses the central nervous system. For this reason, when taken in tea, capsules or extracts,
passion flowers may be useful for treating insomnia and nervousness, and for lowering high blood pressure.
Passion flowers are usually combined with other sedative herbs in mixtures prescribed for a variety of nervous conditions.
In addition, the plant has anti-inflammatory properties, which may make it useful in the treatment of arthritis.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Entire herb (floer, stem, leaf).Flavonoids and an alkaloid.
Peppermint ( Mentha piperita )
History and uses : The Greeks may have crowned their heroes with wreaths of laurel, but they relied on peppermint for
curing their ailments. One of the oldest of all medicinal herbs, peppermint was used for everything from hiccups to "sea
serpent" stings. The Greeks were not alone in recognizing this aromatic plant's many virtues. In Medieval times, many
people depended on it's aroma to rid their houses of vermin and noxious odors, and some suggested mixing peppermint leaves
with salt as a treatment for dog bites and rabies.
Today, peppermint is better known for it's soothing effects on the stomach. An antispasmodic and a carminative, the herb
is useful for relieving indigestion, nausea and intestinal gas. In addition, peppermint tea is recommended for headaches as
a mild sedative, and even to treat some upper respiratory conditions. Applied externally, oil of peppermint may help relieve
muscle and nerve pain. To ease bronchial symptoms, some herbalists recommend putting a few drops of the oil into boiling water,
and inhaling the menthol fragrance.
Peppermint tea is considered to be quite safe when consumed in normal quantities. The consentrated oil should be used
sparingly, with internal use being limited to just a few drops.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf and distilled oil. Menthol.
Psyllium ( Plantago ovata & P. major )
History and uses : Called the "mother of herbs" in an Anglo Saxon poem, the leaves of this hardy roadside plant
have long been used to soothe minor bites and stings. They were also applied to blisters, and their astringent properties
were said to stop bleeding. In the New World, aboriginal peoples used psyllium leaves to treat abrasions, sprains, gout and
as a wash for sore eyes.
Today, psyllium is still widely used. However, it is not prized for it's leaves, but for it's tiny seeds. The seeds are
coated with mucilage, a gelatinous material that swells upon contact with moisture. For this reason, psyllium seeds and their
husks are a popular bulk laxative, one that is especially useful for cases of chronic constipation.
Psyllium is but one member of the large plantain family, and the leaves of several related species are still used for
minor insect bites and stings.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Seed, seed husks and leaves. Mucilage (10 to 30 %), primarily in the seed husk.
Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis )
History and uses : A well-known culinary herb, rosemary also has a long history of medicinal use. European herb practitioners
used it as a tonic and stimulant, as well as to treat stomach upset, digestive disorders and headaches. The richly scented
camphor oil in it's leaves is said to invigorate the circulatory and nervous systems, and so rosemary is frequently given
to older people and those recovering from illness. Rosemary hair tonic is sometimes recommended for preventing baldness. As
with most culinary herbs and spices, rosemary is considered safe when used in reasonable amounts.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves. Volatile oil containing camphor and other compounds, flavonoids, phenolic
Sage ( Salvia officinalis )
History and uses : The powdery green leaves of the sage plant have, at one time or another, been offered as a cure for
just about anything. In the Middle Ages, the herb was popular for colds, fevers, epilepsy and constipation, while aboriginal
peoples used it to heal sores and to clean their teeth.
Today, sage is best known for it's astringent and drying properties, and is especially useful for easing colds symptoms.
When used as a mouth rinse or gargle, sage may help to alleviate the irritation of cankers and sore throats.
As with most herbs, sage should not be taken during prenancy (except as flavoring in foods). Professionals caution that
prolonged use of sage oil or extract may result in convulsions. Herbalists contend that excessive use of sage tea can reduce
milk output in lactating women, but this has not been confirmed by scientific studies.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves. The oil contains thujone, cineole and camphor.
Saw Palmetto ( Sabal serrulata / serenoa repens )
History and uses : Saw palmetto is a popular remedy for urinary tract disorders, particularly in males. It is often said
that any man who lives long enough will suffer from prostate problems. This nagging disorder makes one of the most basic of
human functions, urination, difficult. Some studies suggest that saw palmetto berries and extracts may ease prostate symptoms.
In Germany, saw palmetto extracts are also used to treat obstructions of the bladder. The berries and extracts are considered
safe, and produce no adverse side effects.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Fruit. Essential and fixed oils, a liposterolic compound, and high molecular weight
Scullcap ( Scutellaria lateriflora )
History and uses : Scullcap, a sedative herb, has traditionally been used to treat hysteria, nervousness and as an antispasmodic
for muscle spasms and tension. In the 19th century it gained a reputation as a rabies cure, and was dubbed "Mad Dog"
scullcap. Indeed, it was effective in easing the muscle spasms associated with the disease, but it did not produce a cure.
Today, scullcap is widely used in herbal formulas (often in combination with other calming herbs such as hop and valerian)
prescribed to treat a range of problems, including mild anxiety and epilepsy. It is considered safe in reasonable amounts.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Entire plant. Mainly scutellarin, a flavonoid, iridoids, tannins and volatile oil.
Shepherd's Purse ( Capsella bursa-pastoris )
History and uses : This plant is named for it's pouch-shaped seed pods. Herbalists have traditionally recommended Shepherd's
purse to stem internal and external bleeding. However, some researchers believe it may be a white fungus often found growing
on the plant that has the remarkable antihemorrhagic properties.
Shepherd's Purse has also been used for urinary tract infection and to lower fevers.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Herb. Flavonoids, polypeptides.
Slippery Elm ( Ulmus fulva )
History and uses : Aboriginal peoples used slippery elm as a salve for skin injuries, such as burns and chapped lips.
And, in fact, their remedy has been shown to have validity. The bark of the elm contains mucilage, a gelatenous substance
that swells in water. When applied to wounds, or when taken internally, the mucilage coats the injured area, bringing soothing
Today, slippery elm is often used in lozenges to ease sore throat pain and smoker's cough. In addition, a powdered form
of the bark is useful in treating burns, boils and minor wounds. Slippery elm is considered non-toxic and safe for external
and internal use.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Bark. Mucilage.
St. John's Wort ( Hypericum perforatum )
History and uses : Traditionally used to drive off demons and evil spirits, St John's Wort has recently shown promise
against a more tangible enemy: viruses. In fact, the plant is being tested as a possible treatment for HIV infection, the
deadly virus that attacks the immune system. Hypericin, a pigment in the plant, has been shown in experiments to have anti-HIV
Beyond these novel uses, St John's wort has anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and sedative properties, and has been useful
for treating a range of ailments, from depression and bed-wetting to colds and arthritis. Use topically in a salve, the herb
may be applied to open wounds, and it does seem to promote healing.
St John's wort is relatively safe for human use.However, hypericin, the plant's red pigment, causes photosensitivity (supersensivity
to the sun's rays) in livestock that graze large quantities of the herb. For this reason, in the 1970's it was deemed unsafe
by the USFDA, although it still enjoyed widespread use elsewhere. Even in the US, there is a growing body of opinion that
holds the herb is safe for human use, as long as quantities ingested do not approach those of cows and sheep grazing on the
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : All above-ground parts of the herb. Hypericin and essential oil.
Thyme ( Thymus vulgaris )
History and uses : Thyme is considered by herbalists as one of nature's most powerful antiseptics. It's active ingredient,
thymol, is germicidal and has found wide use in toothpastes and mouthwashes, as well as some topical ointments. Thymol is
also an expectorant and cough supressant, and is a common ingredient in syrups prescribes for coughs and bronchitis.
The herb itself may be brewed in tea, and some herbalists recommend it as an excellent gargle for sore throats and tonsillitis.
In addition, thyme's carminative properties make it a good choice for upset stomach, although the taste is a little strong
for some people.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves. Thymol.
Turmeric ( Curcuma longa )
History and uses : Primarily used as a spice, turmeric lends it's fragrance and flavor to many Indian curries. But it
has also enjoyed long use for it's purported health benefits. In India, an extract of turmeric is sold as an eyewash for conjunctivitis.
In addition, traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic practitioners combine turmeric with other herbs to relieve gas, liver problems,
toothaches, sores and a number of other conditions.
Some research seems to confirm turmeric's use for protecting the liver. There is also evidence that the ingestion of the
active compound curcumin may protect the liver by increasing bile secretion, which aids in the digestion of fats.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Rhizome (underground stem). Volatile oil, curcumin.
Uva Ursi ( Artostaphylos uva-ursi )
History and uses : The leaves of this evergreen shrub, also known as a bearberry, have been used for centuries to treat
a range of ailments. Aboriginal peoples mixed uva ursi with tobacco leaves and smoked it, and made a poultice of the leaves
for use on sprains and sore muscles. But mainly uva ursi has been regarded as a diuretic.
It's real value lies in it's antiseptic activity in the urinary tract, but only under alkaline conditions. Uva ursi teas,
capsules and extracts are useful for treating inflammations of the tract, as well as cystitis. The leaves also contain a fair
amount of tannin, and taken over time may irritate the stomach. Some people tolerate uva ursi more easily by adding an equal
amount of peppermint leaves to the mixture. Uva ursi is safe for short-term use, but should be avoided during pregnancy.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves. Arbutin.
Valerian ( valeriana officinalis )
History and uses : A popular and reliable sleep aid, valerian has not always been used for it's sedative properties. In
ancient Greece is was prescribed for digestive problems, nausea and urinary tract disorders, while native peoples relied on
another species of valerian for treating cuts and wounds.
However, recent research has lent support to valerian's use as a sedative. Studies have indicated that active ingredients
in the plant's pungent root both depress the central nervous system and relax smooth muscle tissue (involuntary muscles, such
as those that control the intestines and the blood vesels.)
In controlled tests, the herb has been shown to lessen the time needed to fall asleep, and it also produces a deep, satisfying
rest, similar to that of many commercial sleep aids. In addition, valerian doesn't cause "sleep hangovers" the next
morning, nor does it produce dependancy as some prescription sleeping pills can.
But valerian is not just useful for inducing sleep. It has also been found effective for calming nervous stomachs, and
may be taken during the day to relieve symptoms of stress.
Tinctures and capsules are widely available, and are especially popular in Europe. But valerian is also effective in other
forms, including teas and liquid extracts - although many people are put off by valerian's strong smell.
Cats, on the other hand, are wildly attracted to the pungent roots of valerian, which contain a chemical similar to one
that may be found in catnip.
Valerian is generally considered safe but, like most medicinal herbs, should not be used to treat infants. In addition,
pregnant women should consult their obstetricians before using valerian or any other herbals.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Essential oil, valeric acid, and chemically unstable compounds called valepotriates.
Wintergreen ( Gaultheria procumbens )
History and uses : Once a popular flavoring in candies and gum, wintergreen has also enjoyed long use as a herbal remedy.
Indian peoples,including the Sioux, Penobscot and Nez Perce nations, use wintergreen tea to treat arthritis pain and sore
muscles. Later, the settlers used the leaves of the herb for similar purposes, as well as to alleviate headaches and colds.
In the 1800's pharmacologists discovered that the plant's essential oil is composed approximately 90% methyl salicylate,
a chemical closely related to aspirin. It's the oil that gives wintergreen it's anti-inflammatory, midly analgesic properties.
Today, wintergreen is widely used in over-the-counter balms and ointments for the temporary relief of arthritis pain, sciatica
and muscle pain. In addition, when brewed in tea, wintergreen is sometimes used as a diuretic.
Wintergreen tea is considered safe in reasonable amounts. When applied to the skin, oil of wintergreen preparations are
also considered safe, although they may cause skin irritations. Taken internally, oil of wintergreen is poisonous, except
in very small amounts. Artificial flavorings have now replaced the natural oil in most "wintergreen" sweets.
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves. Essentialoil (Approximately 90% methyl salicylate)
Witch Hazel ( Hamamelis virginiana )
History and uses : The leaves and bark of this flowering shrub have long been used in traditional medicine, and the plant's
forked branches are often the material of choice for divining rods. While witch hazel's effectiveness for dowsing is dubious,
the astringency of the leaves and bark (due to the high tannin content) does make the plant a reasonable choice for treating
various skin conditions.
Today, witch hazel is a common ingredient in a soothing lotion bearing it's name, as well as in commercially available
eye drops, aftershave lotions and cosmetics. In addition, witch hazel preparations have been found to be effective for treating
hemrrhoids. When used externally, witch hazel has no adverse side effects
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves. Tannins.
Yarrow ( Achillea millefolium )
History and uses : A fragrant, flowering plant that is popular in potpourris and herbal preparations, yarrow is said to
have been used by the Greek hero Achilles (hence it's genus name) to stop the bleeding of his warriors' wounds. Aboriginal
peoples and pioneers also used yarrow for it's healing properties, both as a tea to treat digestive disorders and fevers,
and as a poultice to treat cuts and burns. They also chewed the leaves to relieve toothache pain.
Modern medicine has not yet confirmed yarrow's use as a blood coagulant, but recent research seems to demonstrate it's
value as an antispasmodic. Yarrow's astringent action is also useful in cases of diarrhea and dysentery. In addition, the
herb has been used as an anti-inflammatory (to treat arthritis), a diuretic and as an antieptic.
Some herbalists recommend steeping an infusion of yarrow leaves and flower tops, which is drunk to reduce fever or to
stimulate appetite. A poultice made from the flowers or the whole plant may be applied to swollen joints,as well as to cuts
and wounds. While yarrow use is considered safe, it should noty be taken by pregant women
Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Flowers. Volatile oil, sequiterpene lactones, flavonoids.