Herb Page

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 This cottage-perennial plant. Translated from the Latin «lava» – means “to wash more in antiquity and its lavender essential oil used for medicinal purposes. Someone described the plant as “a wonderful remedy for all diseases of the head and brain.” Lavender – a plant that comprises about 1.2 percent of essential oils, which, in turn, contains tannins, and its esters with acids. Currently, lavender and essential oil extracted from it, and is widely used in medical practice. By hydrodistillation an essential oil, which is contained in the root and stem, and flower plants. Kilograms of Lavender extract hundred grams of essential oil, the main component of which are esters of L-linalool alcohol and acids. They also include geraniol, borneol, caryophyllene, lavandiol. Essential oil extracted from lavender is a wonderful drug. It is used in cosmetics, perfumes and many other industrial areas. Medicinal properties allow oil to get rid of bruises, contusions, burns, stems and leaves of lavender is used in Aromatherapy  for bathing. In addition, a so called lavender honey, which is an excellent drug. Contained in lavender essential oils are a good sedative, relieve spasms and relieve pain, delaying wound, improve the functioning of the intestines and stomach, eliminate the worms and rheumatism, contribute to the removal of fluid from the body through sweat or urine. In addition other things, the plant helps get rid of insects and parasites, as well as helping bites of snakes or insects, including poisonous. Lavender herb promotes the excretion of bile from the body, and the oil, because of its effectiveness in the fight against microbes used for inhalation in diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis. Given the calming effect of lavender, it is used for neurasthenia, nervousness, insomnia, melancholy, skin eruptions associated with nervous feelings, excessive fatigue and weakness, together with lower blood pressure. In addition, such a plant as lavender is an excellent air freshener in the room. Marked by a wonderful effect, which has lavender on overall mental and emotional state and its central nervous system as a whole. Lavender helps to create a sense of calm inside the person and peace, thereby reducing the negative impact of adverse factors and stress, protecting the mind and mental state. Lavender is used to treat many diseases and cerebral vessels of the brain, it also eliminates the feeling of sleepiness, helps with headaches and dizziness, paralysis and seizures after stroke. Among other things, it promotes urine output, reduces toothache, opens clogged spleen and liver, warms the uterus of pregnant women, as well as the stomach in the case of lack of it warming, removes excess fluid content in dropsy and much more.
For the treatment of stomach, especially discomfort, there is a special tea from lavender. To make it, it is necessary to add a cup of hot water to a teaspoon of lavender flowers, then let stand for five minutes, then pass through a strainer and drink two or three cups of prepared every day.
#2- Nettle:
 There are  many illness and diseases that can be treat with nettle.     Nettle tea is used for eczema ,headaches,disorder of the kidneys and bladder etc. Also like and medicinal plants that purify the blood. Woman should use it after the birth. And advise is  to drink nettle tea as nettle prevents from the formation of sand in the kidneys and bladder.   Nettle  is one of the best medicinal plants for purification of the blood that simultaneously increases the number of red blood cells. Because it has a positive impact on the pancreas, nettle tea is good for  blood sugar level. It can heal the diseases and urinary tract infections, and abnormal stoppage of urine.

#3-Marjoram (Origanum Majorana):

Is a powerful antiviral herb. It is also a stimulant, antispasmodic, antiseptic, and carminative, a combination of opposites that brings balance. It relaxes the lungs and digestion and expels mucus
wherever it may be situated. It is helpful in many bowel disorders, easing, soothing, and healing. It can be used for cramps and nausea and adds a slightly lemony flavor to dishes.

#4-Mustard (Brassica Hirta, B. Nigra, and other species):

Is a stimulant, alterative, and rubefacient that is excellent for the digestive system.

#5-Nutmeg and Mace (Myristica fragrans):

Come from the same seed. Mace is the outer covering of the nutmeg. Nutmeg  very good for depression and nervous disorders. Mace is an antiseptic and is delicious in sweet dishes.  The effect is generally warming and soothing. Together they are supposed to be an aphrodisiac, but be aware that in large quantities they can be hallucinatory. Nutmeg encourages menstruation and can be abortive in large quantities — therefore avoid it during pregnancy.

#6-Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum):

comes in many varieties, all of which are incredibly tasty and health-giving. Parsley has a very high vitamin and mineral content and is very rich in chlorophyll.  Try parsley in soups, stews, or salads, not just as a garnish, to which status it is usually relegated. It is a blood cleanser — the high iron content helps the blood. It also acts as a diuretic and digestive through increasing bile flow, so one could call it a digestive and a detoxifier. Do not make it into strong teas if you are pregnant or suffer from heavy periods, as the estrogen within it could be unsuitable.

#7-Pepper (Piper Nigrum):

Specifically black pepper, is Anticatarrhal, Antimucus, Antifungal, and Antibacterial, as well as being a natural preservative. It should be freshly ground and added after the food has been cooked; cooking changes its chemistry, making it more aggressive to the stomach. White pepper produces acids and is almost a mature fruit when the skin is removed — use it only as a seed to flavor, and do not eat in large quantities.
Green pepper, like black pepper, is an immature fruit. Those with liver problems should eat only small amounts of it.

#8-Chamomile:

  Commonly used to make herb infusion to serve various medicinal purposes. Popular uses of chamomile preparations include treating hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasm, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, gastrointestinal disorder, and hemorrhoids.

#9- Comfrey  (Symphytum officinais)

a member of the borage family..
Comfrey Leaf is used externally for its use in healing wounds and broken bones. It is high in Calcium and Vitamin C and simulates healing activity. In folk medicine it is sometimes referred to as “knitbone” for its ability to speed wound healing.
Used mainly now in cosmetics – and for acne, it contains “allantoin’ which is a tissue builder found in both the roots and leaves. Comfrey can be used in many more ways and for many more ailments.

#10-Plantain:

This weed has been known to just show up anywhere. But this plantain weed is very useful for medicinal uses.This is one of the most common herbs that can be found that is growing in North America and it can be seen growing out of the cracks of sidewalks and roads, gardens, waste ground and places where there is little sun. There is an old saying that plants grow where they are needed most. This plant is greatly needed in the urban societies we live in today because we suffer from many illnesses where this plant can offer a lot of help. Plantain weed is a clumped perennial herb that grows to about 10 centimeters in height. There are 2 types of plantain; common plantain and narrow-leaved plantain that have narrower leaves with several prominent ribs. These plants can be found growing almost everywhere in Canada. This weed can be used for medical purposes. 1. Wound healer: This weed can be used to heal wounds. Chewed or pounded into a paste it can be applied to a wound to stop bleeding. This weed has soothing and cooling effects. It can heal wounds, cuts, and scratches. It can also be used as an anti-venomous herb because of its blood cleansing effects. 2. Healthy digestion: This weed aids in digestion because of its antibiotics. The leaves and the seeds of this plant helps in reducing inflammation and helps repair the gut lining. Seeds of the plantain weed are useful for cleaning the digestive tract, which acts like to psyllium husk in absorbing toxins and creating firmer stools. 3. Congestion and respiratory problems: Plantain weed is high in mineral silica it makes for an expectorant, which means that it clears up congestion and mucus. Plantain helps treat coughs, colds, and various other respiratory ailments. 4. Blood diseases: Plantain is effective in treating almost all blood diseases, many glandular diseases, mercury poisoning, diarrheal conditions, female disorders, and injuries, bites and rashes on the skin. 5. Hemorrhoids: Plantain has astringent properties which make it effective wound-healer which makes it great for hemorrhoids. It can be applied to hemorrhoids to stop the flow of blood, so it is useful for treating cystitis that is accompanied by bleeding. 6. Toothaches: The plantain root can be made into a powder and used for toothaches. If you don’t have the powder, you can just dig up a root and chew the root for relief. Plantain is an anthelmintic and can be taken as a tea and it can kill worms internally.

#11 Dandelion:

 Dandelion is one of the healthiest and most versatile vegetables on the planet. The entire plant is edible. The leaves are like vitamin pills, containing generous amounts of vitamins A, C and K — far more than those garden tomatoes, in fact — along with calcium, iron, manganese, and potassium. The leaves are most tender, and tastiest, when they are young. This happens in the spring but also all summer along as the plant tries to rebound after being cut or pulled. You can add them to soup in great abundance. Or you can prepare them Italian style by sautéing with a little olive oil, salt, garlic and some hot red pepper.You can eat the bright, open flower heads in a lightly fried batter. You can also make a simple wine with the flowers by fermenting them with raisins and yeast. If you are slightly adventurous, you can roast the dandelion root, grind it, and brew it like coffee. It’s an acquired taste. You might want to have some sugar on hand.

#12 Purslane:  

If you’ve ever lived in the city, you have seen good ol’ Portulaca olearacea, or common purslane. The stuff grows in cracks in the sidewalk. Aside from being surprisingly tasty for a crack dweller, purslane tops the list of plants with omega-3 fatty acids, the type of healthy fat found in salmon. If you dislike the bitter taste of dandelion greens, you still might like the lemony taste of purslane. The stems, leaves and flowers are all edible; and they can be eaten raw on salads — as they are prepared worldwide — or lightly sautéed. You should keep a few things in mind, though, before your harvest. Watch out for spurge, a similar-looking sidewalk-crack dweller. Spurge is much thinner than purslane, and it contains a milky sap, so you can easily differentiate it. Also, your mother might have warned you about eating things off the sidewalk; so instead, look for purslane growing in your garden, or consider transplanting it to your garden from a sidewalk. Also, note the some folks incorrectly call purslane “pigweed,” but that’s a different weed — edible but not as tasty.

#13 Lamb’s-quarters:

 Lamb’s-quarters are like spinach, except they are healthier, tastier and easier to grow. Lamb’s-quarters, also called goosefoot, usually need more than a sidewalk crack to grow in, unlike dandelion or purslane. Nevertheless, they can be found throughout the urban landscape, wherever there is a little dirt. The best part of the lamb’s-quarters are the leaves, which are slightly velvety with a fine white powder on their undersides. Discard any dead or diseased leaves, which are usually the older ones on the bottom of the plant. The leaves and younger stems can be quickly boiled or sautéed, and they taste like a cross between spinach and Swiss chard with a slight nutty after-taste. Maybe that taste combination doesn’t appeal to you, but lamb’s-quarters are ridiculously healthy. A one-cup serving will give you 10 times the daily-recommended dose of vitamin K; three times the vitamin A; more than enough vitamin C; and half your daily dose of calcium and magnesium.

#14 Stinging Nettles: 

It sounds like a cruel joke, but stinging nettles — should you be able to handle them without getting a painful rash from the tiny, acid-filled needles — are delicious cooked or prepared as a tea. You may have brushed by these in the woods or even in your garden, not knowing what hit you, having been trained all your life to identify poison ivy and nothing else. The tiny needles fortunately fall off when steamed or boiled. The trick is merely using garden gloves to get the nettles into a bag. Nettles tastes a little like spinach, only more flavorful and more healthful. They are loaded with essential minerals you won’t find together outside a multivitamin bottle, and these include iodine, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, silica and sulfur. Nettles also have more protein than most plants. Like all weeds, nettles are free. But you get even more of a bargain if you boil them. You can eat the leaves and then drink the water as tea, with or without sugar, hot or cold. If you are adventurous — or, well, just plain cheap — you can collect entire plants to dry in your basement. The needles will eventually fall off, and you can save the dried leaves for tea all winter long.

#15 Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis):

Is astringent, bitter, highly stimulating, and yet calming, which makes it useful for indigestion, colic, nausea, gas, nervousness, and fever. It is also high in calcium and is a natural antiseptic.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an antispasmodic, antiseptic, and astringent, and is helpful for slowing fluid secretions. Consequently, it is helpful in cases of excessive perspiration, night sweats, milk flow, and vaginal discharge. It has
a slightly bitter taste, so limit its usage and certainly never consider it alone as a herbal tea. It requires careful dosage, but is invaluable if used correctly. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is useful in cases of lack of appetite, chronic gastritis, and diarrhea. It is highly antiseptic and can activate and strengthen the immune system, and it warms and tones as it works. (However,  excessive amounts can cause depression if drunk daily in teas.)

#16 Acacia :

Herbalists use acacia gum to bind pills and to stabilize emulsions. It is also used in aromatherapy for applying essential oils. Acacia (gum arabic) is used widely as an ingredient in foods like candies and soft drinks, the gum has the properties of a glue that is safe to eat. Acacia gum is widely used in organic products as natural alternative to chemical binders. Flowers:Small flowers have five very small petals, almost hidden by the long stamens, and are arranged in dense globular or cylindrical clusters; they are yellow or cream-colored in most species, whitish in some, even purple (Acacia purpureapetala) or red (Acacia leprosa)  The acacia is a plant in the subfamily Mimosacaea(sometimes considered a family, Mimosaceae ) , of the flowering plant family Fabaceae(the legumes), of mostly tropical and subtropical trees and shrubs. The trees produce the most resin under stress conditions. The Egyptians used acacia as a fixative for ink, and to coat the bandages of mummys, and the gum is mentioned frequently in ancient Egyptian inscriptions. Acacia was used by the Egyptian, and pre-Egyptian healers in medicinal preparations for its soothing properties on inflamed mucus membranes, and to treat coughs and catarrh. Theophrastus, in the third and fourth centuries before Christ, described it, as also did Dioscorides and Pliny, under the name “Egyptian Gum.” Acacia has been connected to a reverence for the dead, resurrection and immortality in many religious traditions and magical contexts. Egyptians burned acacia wreaths to honor the dead, and Hebrews planted the trees to mark graves. In Voodun and African-American conjure acacia in used with Frankincense and Myrrh in rituals to contact the dead and to open the mind to visions.  Acacia has the mournful distinction of supplying the crown of thorns at Golgatha. Various other plants have been named in different countries, the hawthorn, barberry and holly among them, but in the Near East, where the legend arose, only the acacia was considered to be the provider of the spiny crown.

#17 Chamomile : Anthemis nobilis

Chamomile is said to take away weariness and pain/inflammation of the bowels. The oil from the flowers can be used against many pains and aches, including joint cramps. Chamomile is also helpful in healing migraines and regulating menstrual periods.

#18 Cinquefoil : Potentilla reptans

Cinquefoil is used to reduce inflammation. It can also treat sore mouths and ulcers. The juice is known to aid jaundice. As well as helping hoarseness of the throat and cough, Cinquefoil can be applied to painful joints.

#19 Columbine : Aquilegia vulgaris

Because columbine is slightly poisonous, its astringent properties are mainly exploited in lotions and used externally.

#20  Feverfew : Chrysanthemum parthenium

Feverfew is known as an effective treatment for migraine headaches and fevers. It may also help ease diseases like arthritis.

#21 Foxglove : Digitalis purpurea

A pure form of the plant is used to strengthen cardiac contractility and regulates heart rhythm.

#22 Golden Rod : Solidago virgaurea

Golden rod can be used as a treatment for painful menstruation, arthritis and eczema. Externally, it can be applied to skin ulcers to stimulate healing.

#23 Lady’s Mantle : lchemilla vulgaris

This herb has been used to cure excessive menstruation. The root of lady’s mantle has been recommended to stop bleeding.

#24 Lovage : Levisticum officinale

Lovage is used as a digestive aid. It eases inward pains. This herb is also known to diminish redness of the eyes.

#25 Pennyroyal : Mentha pulegium

Pennyroyal is said to ease headaches. It has been used as a remedy for colicky pains in the abdomen. It has also been known to ease the feverish symptoms that come with measles and whooping cough.

#26 Poppy : Papaver rhoeas

The poppy is known to soothe coughs and induce sleep. The petals are helpful in treating asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough and angina.

#27 Primrose : Primula vulgaris

Primrose, a sedative, induces rest and sleep by reducing tension. An infusion of the root taken in spoonful doses is effective in healing headaches. It has also been used for treating gout and rheumatism.

#28 Sage : Salvia officinalis

Sage is helpful for head pains, hoarseness and cough. It is one of the best known remedies for laryngitis, tonsillitis and sore throats. An infusion of the herb sweetened with honey is mildly laxative and stimulates menstrual flow.

#29 Sorrel : Rumex acetosella or Rumex acetosa

The cooling leaves of sorrel are known to allay thirst and aid in fevers. These leaves also serve as a diuretic.

#30 Vervain : Verbena officinalis

Vervain is known to be a good remedy for coughs and colds. It aids against the wheezing and shortness of breath that comes with fevers.

#31 Wintergreen:Pyrola minor

Wintergreen is known for its cooling properties, flavoring everything from mouthwash to gum. Medicinally, it can be used topically on wounds and internally to aid ulcers in the kidney and bladder. The plant contains a natural antiseptic.

#32 Woodruffe: (Sweet) –

Galium odoratum – Woodruff can be taken for its tranquilizing effects to treat insomnia. Used as an infusion, it can strengthen the stomach and removes obstructions from the colon.

#33Yarrow: Achillea millefolium

Yarrow is used topically for wounds, cuts, and abrasions. An infusion of yarrow is known to speed recovery from sever bruising. Yarrow flowers are used for various allergic mucus problems, including hay fever.

#34 Acorus Calamus :

has been used since ancient times, however modern misuse of the root oil has given rise to concerns over its use. Traditionally calamus was used for its effects on the digestive system and the lungs. This herb eliminates phlegm, clears congestion, and tranquilizes the mind. Traditional uses include :amnesia, heart palpitations, insomnia, tinnitus, chronic bronchitis, and bronchial asthma. The root oil is strong and fragrant, its taste warm, bitterish, pungent and aromatic. Its active principles are taken up by boiling water. It is a thick, pale yellow liquid, and has a high toxicity. In Europe calamus is used as a digestive aid, helping to counter acidity and ease heartburn and dyspepsia. The root is also chewed to help toothache and to help stop smoking. Acorus can blunt gastric upset during the acute phase of drug withdrawal. Traditionally taken as a tea, however internal use is not recommended for the casual user. Seek guidance from a herbal practitioner. Calamus may be used externally as a bath additive, or as an alcohol rub for sore muscles and circulation. The essential oil of calamus contains aserone, which has a high toxicity. In high doses, it is hallucinogenic. European varieties have a low concentration of aserone compared to those from India. The FDA has issued warnings about the marketing of Aserone contained in Calamus extract as a “Legal Ecstasy”, and does not permit the use of calamus in food products. Do not use this herb internally without the supervision of a qualified expert. Use the whole herb only in external applications; never use the essential oil of calamus in extract form. Flowers:Spike Leaves:Average of 1 cm. The sympodial leaf of Acorus calamus is somewhat shorter than the vegetative leaves. The margin is curly-edged or undulate. The leaves are fragrant and were used as a strewing herb. Botanists distinguish between the Acorus species by the number of prominent leaf veins. Acorus calamus has a single prominent midvein and then on both sides slightly raised secondary veins (with a diameter less than half the midvein) and many, fine tertiary veins. This makes it clearly distinct from Acorus americanusRoot: Aromatic, spicy, part used medicinally Preferred Habitat:Wetlands Distribution:Probably indigenous to India, Acorus calamus is now found across Europe, in southern Russia, northern Asia Minor, southern Siberia, China, Japan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Australia, southern Canada and northern USA.

#35 Agrimony

is most used in modern herbal practice as a mild astringent and a tonic. Agrimony is approved by the German Commission E internal use for mild, nonspecific, acute diarrhea and inflammation of oral and pharyngeal mucosa (sore throat). The dried, above-ground parts of Agrimonia eupatoria L. and/or A. procera can be used as a skin wash to treat skin inflammation and irritations. Agrimony is most used in modern herbal practice as a mild astringent and a tonic. Agrimony’s astringency is effective against diarrhea, especially in small children, and because of its low toxicity, the herb is particularly suitable for children’s illnesses.(Hoffmann, David, 589) Agrimony stops irritation of the urinary tract that may increase a child’s urge to urinate and, therefore, may be useful in the treatment of bladder leakage (cannot hold urine), bed-wetting and may help to control incontinence in adults as well. Sip a cup of Agrimony tea slowly before retiring to bed. Agrimony is perhaps best known as a wound herb used on medieval battlefields to staunch bleeding. This same property helps to slow heavy menstrual bleeding as well.(Ody, Penelope ) Agrimony is also considered a very useful agent in skin eruptions and diseases of the blood, pimples, blotches, etc. The tannins it contains tone the mucus membranes making it is useful for alleviating the symptoms of coughs and sore throats. Agrimony has had a great reputation for curing jaundice and other liver complaints..It was at one time included in the London Materia Medica as a vulnerary herb…Agrimony is also considered a very useful agent in skin eruptions and diseases of the blood, pimples, blotches, etc. The herbal tea can be used as a skin wash; it is thought to improve minor injuries and chronic skin conditions. The combination of being a bitter tonic as well as an astringent herb make agrimony a valuable tonic for the digestive system and a useful remedy for healing peptic ulcers. The bitter principles in the plant support the function of the liver and gallbladder.  Preparation Methods & Dosage :Standard brew using 1 teaspoon of dried herb to each cup hot water. The longer you let it steep, the more tannins are extracted. Make a stronger decoction for external use in baths and skin washes Drink 2 to 3 cups per day. Used in ointment form for skin rashes, and as a gargle for sore throat.

#36  Alder Buckthorn :

Common Names: Alder Buckthorn, Alder Dogwood, Alder Buckthorn.  Botanical  : Rhamnus frangula Syn. Frangula alnus.  The dried and aged bark is the part used in herbal medicine, primarily as a laxative.  Frangula bark is considered to be milder in action than aloes and senna with only minimal irritant properties, about the same as rhubarb. It is a close relative of the California buckthorn, Cascara sagrada.  The slightly gentler action makes it more suitable to those with chronic constipation as a tonic to re-educate the bowel. For persistent cases frangula with not suffice on its own and is often combined with carminatives and stronger laxatives Side affects : If the buckthorn is not aged, it is not laxative. it is purgative , causing intense intestinal spasms and vomiting.  As with all laxative herbs it is not meant for continuous long term use . A colour riot in the fall, with leaves in green and yellow, and berries ripening from green through red to black. Plant Class: Shrub Etymology: The genuse name Frangula refers to the brittle wood Flowers/Fruit/Seeds:  The flowers are small and insignificant, a greenish white, growing in groups from a leaf axil. The fruits are first red then aging into black.:  Aged bark Leaves: Deciduous, alternate on stem; Shape: Ovate, with the margins entire Veins: Pairs of prominently grooved veins Habit: Growing between 3m occasionally to 7 m tall. It is usually multistemmed, but rarely forms a small tree with a trunk diameter of up to 20 cm. Flowering Season: Distribution: Native to Europe and naturalised in eastern North America. It likes company and often forms dense undergrowth in damp woodlands together with spindle trees, alders, guelder rose and others.Unique Feature : This buckthorn has no thorns.

#37:  Alfalfa Leaf  (Prunella vulgaris L.)

Family: Lamiaceae.  Medicinal Uses: Cancer, Prevention Candida/yeast, Cholesterol, Female Hormones, Herbal Teas, Menopause, Nutrition, Spring Tonics, Culinary/Kitchen, Longevity Tonics, Osteoporosis, and  Pet . Properties:Anodyne,Anti-inflammatory, AntiCancer, Antioxidant, Antirheumatic, Depurative, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Estrogenic, and Galactagogue. Parts Used: dried leaves, stems, unopened flowers, sprouts ,  Constituents: beta-carotene and vitamins c, e, and k.  Alfalfa leaf contains a broad spectrum of nutrients, including considerable quantities of protein, trace mineral and vitamins, dietary fiber and chlorophyll, which serves as an antioxidant in the bloodstream. The deep root system absorbs minerals from the soil resulting in a plant rich in vitamins and minerals and a great source of fiber and protein. Alfalfa leaf is rich in protein and vitamins A, D, E, and K. Alfalfa extract is a good source of chlorophyll and carotene. It is important to insist on certified organic alfalfa, since the plant concentrates cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc when it is grown in contaminated soils. The leaves contain eight essential amino acids. Alfalfa sprouts are a staple of salads and contain nutrients, but the leaves hold the best healing potential.  Alfalfa is not recommended as primary treatment for any condition, alfalfa is a tonic herb, one that supports health by nourishing the body. Alfalfa is of special interest to women because of its estrogenic activity.  Chemicals in alfalfa called saponins can help lower blood cholesterol (by impeding intestinal absorption) without affecting heart-healthy HDL cholesterol.

Preparation Methods & Dosage : Alfalfa can be taken in capsules, teas or eaten as fresh raw sprouts that have been rinsed thoroughly to remove mold. Alfalfa tea is mild and good tasting, and blends well with many other tonic herbs like nettle, mints, and citrus. Alfalfa Side Effects: If you have lupus or are in remission, you shouldn’t consume alfalfa seeds. Use alfalfa only during its prebloom stages of growth. Alfalfa seeds should never be eaten unless sprouted because they contain high levels of the toxic amino acid canavanine.  Folklore: Alfalfa is believed to have the power to bring good fortune in matters of money, business and good luck in gambling. This symbolism may stem from its use as a high quality hay that keeps animals fed in times of want.

#38Self-Heal:

Common Names: Self-Heal , Self-heal, Heal-all, Blue Curls, Heart-of-the-Earth, Brunella Carpenter-weed Botanical NamePrunella vulgaris L.  Family: Lamiaceae.  Medicinal Uses: Bruises/sprains, Cuts & Wounds, Herpes/Cold Sores, Sore Throat,  Properties: AntiCancer,Antioxidant, Antiscrofulous, Astringent, Styptic,  Parts Used: whole herb Constituents: betulinic-acid, d-camphor, delphinidin, hyperoside, manganese, oleanolic-acid, rosmarinic-acid, rutin, ursolic-acid, and tannins.  Culpepper, explaining the name ‘Self-Heal’ whereby when you are hurt, you may heal yourself, as the bruised, fresh leaves and flowers may be applied directly to a fresh wound. While self-heal is not so immediately effective as comfrey, yarrow, or bugle, it is a good herb to know about because of its almost universal presence and availability. One of its popular names “Carpenters Herb”, indicates that it was traditionally used for many a mashed, bruised or cut finger.  Plant Description:  Flowers:Purple and violet, in dense spikes, somewhat resembling a clover head, from 1/2 to 1 in. long in flower, becoming 4 times the length in fruit. Corolla tubular, irregularly 2-lipped, the upper lip darker and hood-like; the lower one 3-lobed, spreading, the middle and largest lobe fringed; 4 twin-like stamens ascending under upper lip; filaments of the lower and longer pair 2-toothed at summit, one of the teeth bearing an anther, the other tooth sterile; style thread-like, shorter than stamens, and terminating in a 2-cleft stigma. Calyx 2-parted, half the length of corolla, its teeth often hairy on edges. Stem: 2 in. to 2 ft. high, erect or reclining, simple or branched Leaves:Opposite, oblong  FruitPreferred Habitat:Fields, roadsides, waste places  Flowering Season:May to October. This humble, rusty green plant, weakly lopping over the surrounding grass, so that often only its insignificant purple, clover-like flower-heads are visible, is another of those immigrants from the old countries which, having proved fittest in the fiercer struggle for existence there, has soon after its introduction here exceeded most of our more favored native flowers in numbers. Everywhere we find the heal-all, sometimes dusty and stunted by the roadside, sometimes truly beautiful in its fresh purple, violet, and white when perfectly developed under happy conditions. In England, where most flowers are deeper hued than with us, the heal-all is rich purple. What is the secret of this flower’s successful march across three continents? As usual, the chief reason is to be found in the facility it offers insects to secure food; and the quantity of fertile seed it is therefore able to ripen as the result of their visits is its reward. Also, its flowering season is unusually long, and it is a tireless bloomer. It is finical in no respect; its sprawling stems root easily at the joints, and it is very hardy. Preparation Methods & Dosage :The dried leaves of Prunella are often combined with other antibiotic herbs in making teas. Even a weak infusion of self heal has enough antibiotic and antiseptic effect to be an effective treatment for conjunctivitis and sties. Use the infusion in a sterile eyewash, or apply as a cool compress.

#39: Allspice:

 Common Names: Allspice , Pimento, Jamaica Pepper. Botanical Name: Pimenta officinalis, Family : Myrtaceae . Medicinal Uses:* Aromatherapy* Christmas* Culinary/Kitchen* South_American* Thanksgiving Harvest.  Properties: * Analgesic* Antioxidant* Aromatic* Muscle Relaxant* Warm.  Parts Used: Dried fruits, Constituents: essential oil: eugenol, eugenol methyl ether, myrcene, 1,8-cineol, and alpha-phellandrene.  Allspice, Pimenta officinalis , is an aromatic, digestive stimulant, whose taste, aroma and properties resemble a combination of cloves, juniper berries, cinnamon, and pepper. The essential oil extracted from allspice contains a good deal of eugenol, the same oil extracted from cloves. Adding allspice to herbal teas as well as foods aids in digestion.  Preparation Methods & Dosage  :  Adding allspice to foods aids in digestion. Allspice : Essential Oil Profile  Allspice essential oil is steam distilled from the berries of the tree. It has a warm, spicy-sweet comforting aroma that is reminiscent of cloves and cinnamon, lifting the spirit and inspiring confidence.

#40: Ginseng Root: 

Common Names: American Ginseng Root,  Botanical Name: Panax quinquefolius , Family: Araliaceae. Parts Used: root . Constituents: hormone-like saponins,(ginsenosides), volatile oil, sterols, starch, sugars, pectin, vitamins bl, b2 and b12, choline, fats, minerals.   We tend to think of ginseng primarily as a Chinese herb, however American ginseng is just as valuable and in some cases more suitable. American ginseng is a “cooler” alternative to Chinese (also known as red or Korean) ginseng (Panax ginseng) for persons who have high blood pressure or for treatment during summer months.   Preparation Methods & Dosage : Ginseng is often taken for a month at a time, alternating with a two week rest period. Ginseng powder can be taken in teas, added to other soft drinks, or even used in cooking soups. Ginseng roots are also used as extracts, and in capsule supplements. American Ginseng Side Effects:  Do not use during pregnancy. Consult with a health professional before self treating if you have high blood pressure. Flowers:Scented yellow-green flowers. The fruits, which follow the blossoms, are two-seeded red berries. Stem:One to two foot high Leaves: leaves are divided into three to seven sharp-toothed, lance-shaped leaflets Root: Large fleshy root – part used medicinally. A good-quality root has first a sweet and then a bitter flavor as it is chewed.  Preferred Habitat:Flowering Season:June – July Distribution:American ginseng is found from Maine to Georgia and from Oklahoma to Minnesota. Unfortunately, it is now an endangered species in much of this area. Asians highly value the ginseng grown in Wisconsin. A heavy concentration of ginseng was once found in the Appalachian mountains, in fact plant geographers have recognized a phenomena know as the “disjunct eastern Asiatic-eastern North American range. There are about one hundred genera of plants that only occur in eastern Asia and Eastern North America, including well-known plant groups such as sassafras, witch hazel, hickory, blue cohosh, and the most famous example, ginseng. These patterns of plant disjunctions, where plant populations are separated by dozens or even thousand of miles, are believed to be remnants of an ancient forest that covered much of the northern hemisphere about 70 million years ago In appearance, American ginseng is a smaller version of its more famous Asian cousin. In the wild, American ginseng cohabits with other shade and moisture loving plants such as >wild ginger, may apples, goldenseal, rattlesnake ferns, and jack-in-the-pulpit. It can be found under ash, basswood, oak, elm and other deciduous trees. Ginseng has an affinity for shady north slopes, and prospers in loose rich soil.

#41 Althaea Officinalis

Background & Uses: The root, leaves, and blossoms of the Althaea officinalis plant are used in traditional Chinese medicine for maladies of the throat and bronchial passageways. [1] Marshmallow is a commonly-used ingredient in herbal teas marketed for medicinal purposes. [2]

Althaea Officinalis
Althaea Officinalis
Image source –
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Althaea_officinalis_Prague_2011_1.jpg
– lic. under CC

Althaea Officinalis is considered diuretic, anti-inflammatory, astringent,antitussive, vulnerary.

Althaea Officinalis – Scientific Studies:

According to analyses of laboratory tests, Althaea officinalis has a high rate of antioxidant activity. [3]

The polysaccharides in Althaea officinalis have been studied to determine its potential to treat coughs. Sutovska, Nosalova, Franova, and Kardosova (2007) conducted experiments to determine the influence of polysaccharides from Althaea officinalis L. var. Robusta and from other plants such as Arctium lappa L. var. Herkules and Prunus persica L.Batsch on induced cough. In this study, purified and modified polysaccharides from these plants were tested for their cough-suppressive (i.e., antitussive) activities, the cough being induced mechanically in conscious cats. Results from this study showed that the tested polysaccharides from Althaea officinalis L. var. Robusta and from the other already mentioned plants revealed “statistically significant cough-suppressing activity, which was noticeably higher than that of the non-narcotic drug used in clinical practice to treat coughing.” Most notably, it is the polysaccharide in Althaea officinalis L. var. Robusta that showed the most noteworthy antitussive activity. [4]

The results of in vivo experiments suggest that Althaea officinalis may have greater efficacy as a cough suppressant than over-the-counter remedies. Sutovska et al. (2011) performed another more recent study where they investigated the antitussive activity of marshmallow (Althaea officinalis). In this study, the polysaccharide rhamnogalacturonan was scrutinized for its ability to inhibit the cough reflex and to alter the reactivity of airways in guinea pigs in vivo, as well as its changes during conditions of inflammation associated with allergies. Results revealed that the rhamnogalacturonan inAlthaea officinalis inhibited the cough reflex in unsensitized guinea pigs in a dose-dependent fashion but did not modulate the airway’s reactivity in vivo. Therefore, this translates to the finding that the rhamnogalacturonan isolated from Althaea officinalis renders a very high antitussive effect in guinea pig models. [5]

The cough-suppressive activity of codeine was also experimentally determined in this study under the same circumstances as that of Althaea officinalis’s rhamnogalacturonan. At an oral dose of 10 mg kg-1 b.w., codeine’s activity was said to be comparable to that of higher-dose rhamnogalacturonan in unsensitized animals. [5]

Nosál’ova et al. (1992) also had ventured on studying the efficiency of Althaea officinalis polysaccharides in suppressing cough. In their study, the polysaccharide obtained from the said plant’s roots was investigated for its antitussive activity in unanaesthetized cats, and cough was evaluated with respect to the changes in tracheal pressure. The results demonstrated the ability of the Althaea officinalis polysaccharide to effectively decrease the number of cough efforts from both laryngopharyngeal and tracheobronchial areas of the respiratory system. Moreover, when compared to prenoxdiazine (a certain antitussive) at a dose of 30 mg kg-1 b.w., the polysaccharide (at 50 mg/kg b.w.) was considered more effective as regards cough suppression.[6]

Aside from its purported antitussive property, J. Williamson and C. Wyandt’s Herbal Therapies: The Facts and the Fiction (1997) lists Althaea officinalis as among the traditional treatments for the irritation of mucous membranes (i.e., demulcent), throat ulcers, and gastric ulcers. According to this guide, the plant has other properties of medicinal value, too, including being an expectorant and diuretic. [7]

A study by Hage-Sleiman, Mroueh, and Daher (2011) also has reinforced prior findings about the potential role of the aqueous extract of Althaea officinalis flower in lipemia, gastric ulcer, inflammation, and platelet aggregation. In their study, a rat model was used, and no visible adverse effect from the administration of Althaea officinalis flower aqueous extract was observed. [8]

Althaea Officinalis in old Herbals & Pharmocopœia:

William, John Fyfe and John Milton Scudder’s “Specific diagnosis and specific medication” (1909):Marshmallow Althaea has been employed with advantage in many affections of the kidneys and bladder. It increases the secretion of urine and exerts a demulcent influence upon all parts of the urinary mucous membrane. In acute cystitis its influence is relieving in character and in strangury it has often proved useful. In gastritis enteritis and bronchitis it is deemed a remedy of merit. It is also of value in inflammation of the fauces and tonsils and in coughs and hoarseness its soothing influence has been found useful.

“Marshmallow is an excellent remedy in diseases attended with pain especially of the urinary organs. It relaxes the passages in nephritic complaints in which cases a decoction is the best preparation.” – Beach

Althaea officinalis is diuretic and demulcent.

Indications: Renal irritation acute dysentery and diarrhea strangury inflammation or irritation of the bladder retention of urine hematuria gastro intestinal irritation or inflammation.

Dose: Fluid extract 30 drops to 2 drachms infusion 1 to 2 ounces 362

Therapeutics and Materia Medica, Volume 1 by Alfred Stille, MD – (1869):

Althaea officinalis is an herbaceous perennial plant several feet in height with heart shaped or ovate downy leaves and a long tap shaped and fleshy root. It grows in moist and marshy places in Europe and in this country but in the former is extensively cultivated for medicinal purposes. In Europe the root flowers and leaves of Malva sylvestris Malva rolundifolia and Althaea rosa as well as of Althaea officinalis are employed in medicine. Their qualities are not materially different As found in commerce marshmallow root is in fragments several inches in length deprived of their epidermis round or in split pieces whitish light and brittle. When chewed it has a mucilaginous and sweetish taste. Its chief constituents are mucilage and starch making about 73 per cent of the whole it also yields some sugar phosphate of lime and fatty oil. Cold water extracts its mucilage but hot water its starch also. Besides these elements it contains a proximate principle called althein which is crystallizable inodorous almost tasteless and is soluble in water and diluted alcohol.

History: Nothing can illustrate more perfectly the carelessness with which singular qualities are sometimes applied to medicinal substances than the history of this simple plant. Its very name according to Dioscorides was given it in consequence of its numerous virtues because it is resolvent and maturative brings abscesses to a head and cicatrizes them when voided. Its root boiled in water or wine was applied as a pessary in uterine inflammations and its decoction as an injection to promote the discharge of the placenta. Its juice with wine was esteemed diuretic and useful in dysentery with vinegar it was a remedy for toothache oil in which its seeds had been cooked was a terror to serpents and good for dysentery diarrhoea spitting of blood etc etc. Pliny after enumerating these and similar statements says. Other marvels are told of mallows but the greatest of all is that whoever will daily drink half a cupful of its juice will be exempt from all diseases. Still more marvellous is that which he himself declares to be ascertained that the delivery of women in labor is hastened by mallow leaves strewn under the bed he adds that they must be removed immediately after the delivery for fear that the uterus should also be expelled. He also avers on the authority of Xeno crates that the seeds of a species of mallow in contact with the genital organs of women infinitely excite their venereal desires and that three roots applied to the same part have a similar effect. With more truth he states that injections of mallow tea are very serviceable in tenesmus and dysentery and that taken internally it relieves dysury.

Action and Uses: Marshmallow decoction is an emollient protective and somewhat nutritious but when long and abundantly used it impairs the digestion. It is employed as a demulcent in all inflammatory and irritable conditions of the mucous membrane of the respiratory digestive and urinary organs and poultices formed of the bruised or powdered root may be applied to local inflammations affecting the skin. The decoction has been used as an injection in dysentery and in inflammation of the uterus and vagina and also to lessen rigidity of the soft parts in cases of difficult labor. A preparation sold as Marshmallow paste is a very agreeable demulcent but contains no marshmallow at all It is made of gum Arabic sugar and white of eggs and is flavored with orange flower water.

#42  Arnica:  is a flowering herbaceous perennial composed of some thirty different species. Closely related to the sunflower, and subsequently, to other gaudy perennials such as Echinacea, arnica is reportedly among the oldest medicinal herbs – having been employed for healing purposes since ancient times, although this suggestion is contested by some modern-day herbalists, who claim that while arnica is an undoubtedly ancient plant, the applications for which it has been employed may have been dissimilar to how it is used today.

Thought to be a native to the northern parts of the Americas and a wide area of Eurasia, arnica may also be found thriving in a large body of Asian or European countries, having also been employed in such areas for folk remedies since prior to the Industrial Revolution. Being a relatively hardy plant, arnica prefers to grow under full daylight, usually in nutrient-rich but slightly dry soil, although it does hold out well in moist climates. Arnica grows best in mountain environments, preferring to grow in patches on fields, although a number of species may also be found growing in lawns, untended lots, and on roadsides. Due to their hardiness and nearly all-pervasive growth, arnica is often considered a weed in some parts of the world.

Nearly all arnica species are characterised by their bushy appearance, replete with erect, hardy, often unbranched stems that shoot up, only to divide upon flowering. Arnica is notable for its oval-shaped or slightly fan-shaped, alternately arranged leaves, chiefly due to its leathery texture and the profusion of fine furze that occurs in the lower part of the leaves from which its name was taken. The most telling characteristic of arnica is it’s vibrant, yellow-hued to orange-hued flowers. These sizable inflorescences typically measure some six to eight centimeters with between eight to fifteen asymmetrically arranged petals. Just like many plants under the sunflower family arnica possesses a central ‘furze ball’ or disc that is replete with numerous florets, the whole of which is held together by a hairy bract beneath the flowerhead. Arnica also sport tiny fruits, resembling seeds more than actually fruits, which are discernable for their while or dun-hued bristles. While not commonly grown for ornamental use, arnica may be left to thrive if found growing as a weed as is usually collected for the creation of potpourris, usually for the colour, but also for the slight pine-like or sage-like aroma that it exudes when bruised. [1]

Common / Popular Uses

Arnica has long been attributed as an indispensable analgesic for primitive cultures, chiefly due to having been ascribed such properties via the conduit of folkloric herbal medicine. Typically ascribed ancient usage, the employment of arnica as medicine within the Western context may actually have experienced the height of its popularity during the Early Middle Ages until well into the latter days of the Industrial Revolution, although it undoubtedly experienced inevitable ups and down in its popularity and in the commonality of its usage. In the East, arnica has had a longer standing as an herbal medicine, although its applications differ largely from that of the Western methods, with medicinal properties that are sometimes at variance with common Western associations.

Arnica is a known poisonous plant, with even very little of it being ingested causing severe bowel discomforts, and moderate doses even resulting in death. Due to this, its use has been limited to external applications, generally of an analgesic, anti-histaminic, or anti-inflammatory nature. Its toxic nature has limited its widespread use over the years as the ingestion of arnica for therapeutic purposes has been known to be detrimental to health, although traditional medicine (veering largely to the Western sphere of things) have employed arnica as potent ointments, liniments, salves, or unctions for pain management and pain-relief. [2]Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, ointments or topical salves made from arnica have been employed since ancient times as an excellent means to cure a wide assortment of muscular discomforts. [3] A simple arnica ointment or liniment may be made by macerating dried arnica flowers in one’s choice of base oil or high-proof grain alcohol. When making liniments, a substantial amount of the infused alcohol is mixed with the base oil – a step which is omitted when creating simple ointments. Salves containing arnica may best be made by either mixing its extracted essential oil or a concentrated tincture of arnica into a chosen salve base such as beeswax or shea butter, making sure that it is thoroughly incorporated prior to eliciting solidification through one’s chosen methods. Likewise, finely ground arnica flower powder and sometimes even ground roots may be incorporated into the salve or butter for added potency.

In the Eastern sphere of herbal medicine, the roots of the arnica are more valued than its flowers (the exact reverse can be said of the matter in Western herbal medicine), and it is often allowed to steep in distilled spirits to either be applied directly to the skin or the affected area, or to be largely diluted in a neutral liquid such as tea or plain water and ingested in very small amounts to provide pain-relief. Due to the toxicity of arnica, only highly experienced practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine advice, or even so much as undertake the preparation of arnica-containing products that are meant for oral ingestion. [4] Outside of the Chinese preference for orally ingested arnica-based medicines, they too create topical liniments, salves, balms, ointments, and lotions which contain arnica, although their macerated mixtures often include a combination of arnica roots and flowers along with a large assortment of other medicinal herbs, usually of the ‘warming’ or ‘Yang’ varieties.

It is due to the age-old practice of using arnica as a natural pain-reliever that its employment in the modern field of herbal medicine has maintained a slow but stable presence. Nowadays, topical arnica liniments, ointments and salves are just as widely albeit employing more modern base substances that veer away from natural oils, waxes or esters to avoid that “oily” feeling. [5] Modern arnica gels are often made from concentrated extracts incorporated into a pre-made non-oil-based base, resulting in a far more efficient end-product, but with the added risk of possible allergic reactions or overdose.

When arnica is ingested orally, it is usually first diluted to prevent even the slightest possibility of poisoning or adverse effects. The most common modern preparations of orally ingested arnica come in the form of homeopathic capsules or tinctures, although because of its heavily diluted nature, some homeopathic preparations may be no better than mere placebos. [6] In Traditional Chinese Medicine, trifling amounts of arnica are often integrated into medicinal tea mixtures under the supervision or the direct participation of expert herbalists, although it is nevertheless a considerably risky practice especially for hypersensitive individuals who may have a previously unknown allergy to arnica. Very mild infusions of arnica flower may be employed to treat psoriasis, dandruff, lice infestations, mild to severe fevers, anxiety, and even counteract halitosis, although the risks are far too great for it to be employed safely by an inexpert herbalist despite its being ‘approved’ by some medical authorities to be safe for such applications. [7] In mediaeval times, mild infusions of arnica was even employed as an emmenagogue, a highly risky abortifacient, and as a means to quicken labour and ease the pain associated with delivery.

Loose arnica may also be employed as a base for poultices or compresses simply by encasing it in cloth and allowing it to be heated via steam. Similarly, the constituent parts may be pounded and a little oil may be added in order to facilitate the faster absorption of its medicinal constituents. Unlike other poultices which may be left on the affected area for maximum therapeutic benefits, poultices containing arnica should only be applied for short durations of time in limited occasions lest allergic reactions occur due to prolonged or repeated contact. [8] Likewise, loose arnica may be strongly decocted or made into a tincture and diluted in a large amount of water to create a rinse or wash that may be applied to sprains, bruises, and mending fractures to hasten healing. A foot soak which contains diluted arnica may be employed as a remedy for chilblains and sore feet, although it should only be done sparingly.

Arnica – Shamanic / Esoteric / Magickal Uses

Arnica’s use in magick is generally considered a two-way road, with one way being completely inextricable from the medicinal and which can be considered as the earliest esoterical use of arnica. It’s nearly miraculous ability to hasten the healing of bruises, sprains, and even fractures earned it a reputation for being sacred, especially in a number of shamanic practices such as that of the First Peoples of the Americas. Its employment outside of the practical side of early shamanic magick veered towards its being used as an offeratory herb. It is said that some Native American Nations gathered and ritualistically “planted” (in reality, setting the gathered bunch into the ground) in the corners of fields or in places where crops were grown to appease the corn spirits (katchinkas) and guarantee a good harvest for the tribe. [9]

In spite of the fact that it is referred to as “mountain tobacco”, it is not actually smoked, although it has been suggested that minute amounts of it have been incorporated into hallucinogenic brews drunk by some tribal healers for entheogenic purposes. The veracity of such claims is, however, difficult to substantiate. In the context of magick, arnica might be employed as an incense to drive away evil spirits or to enhance one’s inherent psychic abilities. [10] The practical applications of arnica still apply as esoteric applications even in the modern context, although it is rarely done or much less associated as such nowadays.

Arnica – Safety Notes

Arnica is a dangerous and powerful herb that, if ingested, may cause extreme discomfort to one’s person, leading to hospitalization and (in cases of substantial oral ingestion of plant matter) even death. Even the minutest amount of arnica can be potentially dangerous, both when employed topically or when ingested orally. While expertly prepared arnica products are generally considered safe, some individuals who suffer from hypersensitivity of the skin may nevertheless experience allergic reactions to topical applications of high-grade arnica. Since it is a powerful allergen, products containing arnica or that are made from arnica should never be used on open wounds or broken skin, lest the risk of possible absorption ensue, leading to complications which consist of, but are not limited to itchiness, a burning sensation, a reddening of the affected area, and possible blistering or breakouts. Due to its toxic nature, casual usage for all individuals regardless of age should be avoided if possible. If usage is a must, professional guidance and even monitoring may be necessary to avoid potential complications. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid arnica and all products which contain even traces of it altogether.

Arnica – Other Names, Past and Present

Greek (etymological):arna (lit. “lamb”)
Chinese:shan jin che
Japanese:arunika (transliteration of “arnica”)
Korean:aleunika (transliteration of “arnica”)
French:arnica des Montagnes / doronic d’Allemagne / fleurs d’arnica / herbeaux Chutes / herbe aux precheurs / plantin des Alpes / quinquina des pauvres / souci des Alpes / tabac des Vosges / tabac des Savoyards
German:arnikabluten / kraftwurz
Swedish:wundkraut
Russian:bergwohlverieih
English: arnica / wolf’s bane (not to be confused with aconite) / mountain tobacco / leopard’s bane (not to be confused with aconite) / tumbler’s cure-all / mountain arnica
Latin (scientific nomenclature):Arnica montana / Arnica helvetica / Doronicum montanum (early nomenclature; other exist, depending on species)

#43 Basil:

Basil

Basil Next to rosemary, thyme, and parsley, basil is one of the most well-known and well-loved culinary herbs, with a rich history of both medicinal and culinary use that dates back to ancient times. Once referred to as the ‘king of herbs’ by ancient herbal, basil is, to this day, one of the most commonly used and most versatile of herbs. While commonly associated with Mediterranean cuisine, basil has long been employed in both Asiatic and Indian cuisine, with its origins having been attributed by some to be Asiatic more than European. The popularity of basil in Western culinary practices may have stemmed from trade between Asia and Europe, although conflicting evidence also suggests that Europe’s own species of basil have also been employed for culinary and medicinal use in about the same time as, or a little further than, the Asian strains. Basil is a relatively hardy plant, which is why it grows in a vast range of climates, although it does prefer slightly sunny to relatively sunny areas, with loamy to clayish well-drained soil. Basil can be easily propagated by stem cuttings, provided that it is not exposed to extremes of temperature, or otherwise planted in unsuitable soil. The basil plant is characterized by its verdant deep-green to jade-green leaves, although some cultivars may sport pale-green, yellow-green, and even purple leaves. The leaves’ texture can best described as silky, bordering on the slightly textured in some cultivars, measuring a trifle at three to eleven centimeters long in some species. Growing from a semi-woody stalk, the plant can grow to a maximum height of 130cms, making it a perfect potted plant to be had near your kitchen. The plant is further characterized by terminally arranged white flowers that often grow in a screw-like protrusion from the topmost parts of the branches. The delicate flowers are notable for its visible stamens and for the delicate, slightly ‘frayed’ ends of its petals. As with the majority of culinary herbs, basil’s every constituent part can be employed for either culinary or medicinal purposes, although nowadays, it is the leaves that garner most of the attention. Surprisingly, while most culinary herbs are typically employed in its dry state, basil is best used in its fresh state as it is said to give off more flavor. When employed medicinally however, basil may be employed in either its fresh or dried form unless otherwise stated.  Basil – Herbal Uses Basil is most commonly employed as a culinary herb, and is employed to flavor a wide assortment of dishes, usually European (specifically Mediterranean) in origin. It is used as a seasoning for soups, stews, meat-based, and vegetable-based dishes especially when dry, and is made into sauces or integrated into salads in its fresh form. Because many culinary experts attest that basil is best used in its fresh form, most cooks typically keep a fresh supply by planting a small shrub of basil and keeping it as an indoor plant. Perhaps the most popular use of basil is as a prime ingredient in the creation of the Mediterranean sauce pesto, of which it is the primary ingredient.  The flowers of the plant, while no longer typically used as a culinary herb, were also at one time employed in cooking, chiefly due to its subtler flavor. The use of the flowers as a culinary spice remains commonplace in some areas of the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, although its employment everywhere else for either culinary seasoning or as a garnish in edible salads is thought of to be exotic, if not downright strange. More often than not, dried basil is more popular than fresh basil, typically because it is handier and more easily acquirable than fresh basil. It also makes for the perfect seasoning due to the fact that dried basil is a tad more mellow in terms of aroma and flavor than fresh basil, making it an excellent addition to breads, pasta-based dishes, and even (in some instances) seafood. When employed medicinally, dried basil is far more popular an option than fresh basil, simply because it is far more convenient than the fresh leaves, and is far more stable when it comes to long-term storage. Because flavor is not really an issue medicinally, dried basil can be employed almost universally in all herbal remedies that call for the plant, as it is just as potent (if not more potent) than its fresh counterpart. Employed medicinally, basil is typically made into decoctions (in either it’s fresh or dried form), infusions (chiefly in its dry form), tinctures, salves, ointments, and even creams. A decoction or infusion of basil can be employed for pain-relief, and it works best when drunk before bedtime and after waking to help manage the discomforts brought about by arthritis and rheumatism. Stronger decoctions of dried basil leaves may also be employed as a natural mouthwash and antiseptic for minor cuts and moderately severe wounds, as it possesses potent and time-tested antibacterial properties that help to stave off infection.  Used in this manner, it can be employed as a topical rinse (ensuring that the decocted liquor is cool enough to the touch to avoid incurring tissue damage), or as a medicating liquor for use in bandages. When drunk as a tisane, it can be used as a digestif and a carminative. It may also help to encourage digestion, prevent bloating and dyspepsia and help to improve the body’s ability to assimilate the nutrients acquired from food.  Moderately strong decoctions of basil can be drunk to relieve the symptoms of fever, while very strong decoctions of either fresh or dried leaves can be drunk as an emmenagogue to help regulate the menstrual cycle and encourage the menstrual flow. When employed as a hair-rinse it helps to keep dandruff at bay while encouraging hair re-growth, thickening, and hair darkening. Employed as a facial rinse, it helps to keep acne at bay and encourage the enlivening of one’s skin-tone. Very strong decoctions may even be used as an astringent. Allowed to steep in vinegar, it can be employed as an extremely potent astringent, or as a far more effective after-shampoo hair-rinse (if diluted with water). Moderate consumption of basil tea or fresh basil may also help to improve cardiovascular health due to its relatively high Beta-carotene (Vitamin A) content, which helps to protect the vascular muscle from the ravages of cholesterol. While it is not really a cure for heart-disease, a cup of basil tea a day, or pesto every three days or so can help to markedly improve one’s heart health along with lowering one’s risk of arrhythmia, lessening the occurrence of cardiovascular spasms, and helping to prevent or moderate the occurrence of angina attacks.   Some medicinal studies have even suggested a degree of anti-carcinogenic properties to be found in a number of volatile compounds in basil leaf, although the veracity and efficiency of its anti-carcinogenic effects is still largely debated. When made into a poultice (with, or without the addition of oil), it can be placed directly unto moderately severe wounds to stave off infection, or it can be applied on bruises to prevent swelling. Placing a poultice of basil unto one’s forehead may also help to promote relaxation in the same manner as a moderately strong decoction or infusion of basil tea, as it is known to possess notable sedative properties that are especially helpful for relieving stress, anxiety, and even mild depression.  The dried leaves, when allowed to macerate in a base oil (of one’s choosing) can be used as a disinfectant salve for cuts and other minor injuries, a soothing oil employed for the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism, or a hair oil that helps to prevent all topical disorders and encourage hair growth. When thrown into a pot of boiling water, the ensuing vapours may be employed as an inhalant to encourage decongestion and help manage mild to moderate asthma attacks without the need for a nebulizer. This inhalant may also be helpful for curing stuffy noses, and for alleviating headaches. The essential oil of basil (derived from steam distillation) may be added to a base oil in the creation of hair oils, healing salves, or ointments. The essential oil of basil, when diluted with a base oil makes for a perfect mosquito repellant when applied topically, while it makes for an equally effective mosquito repellant for the home when employed undiluted and diffused via a diffuser. When creating creams or waxes, incorporating basil essential oil is better than macerating whole dried leaves in one’s choice of wax or ester, as its properties are more potent. When creating inhalants or employing the plant for aromatherapeutic purposes, the essential oil is also a better and more accessible option. The whole dried leaves may be added to one’s choice of high-proof alcohol to create a tincture, diluting small amounts of the tincture in water or some other liquid base prior to consumption. The tincture may also be employed topically, either in its diluted form, or otherwise integrated into oils to make liniments for antihistaminic, antipyretic or analgesic purposes. The whole leaves may also be pulverized, encapsulated, and taken as in moderate doses as a food supplement. Basil – Esoteric Uses and Lore: Basil has long been thought of as an herb of blessings and protection, as it is considered sacred by a number of different cultures. In Indian mythology, basil is an herb sacred to both Visnu and the avatar Krsna, and is typically planted in households and temples to bring protection and ward off evil. This idea was later adopted or perhaps was integrated into Western magick and folklore, as fresh basil sprigs were hung in doorways to stave off evil and sickness, while dried basil was sprinkled on floorboards to exorcise negativity and illness. In the Orthodox Christian tradition, it is said that basil was the plant that sprang up from the foot of the Cross during the Crucifixion, and is therefore considered a highly sacred herb. In many Eastern Orthodox Churches, fresh basil leaves were allowed to macerate in water, the ensuing ‘liquor’ then employed for use as holy water in founts and fore general use. In magickal practice, this infused water is commonly sprinkled on doorways or floors to help attract luck, health, and wealth into a household.  Some cultures believe in the magickal ability to basil to bring about luck or wealth, and this is commonly done through the creation of medicine pouches or juju bags stuffed with basil and carried on one’s person. Furthermore, said medicine pouches may be stored in places where money is kept, and is said to attract more money along with protecting what is already present from loss or theft. In African shamanism, crushed basil is said to keep scorpions at bay, although European lore stated – astonishingly – that the very aroma of basil could cause scorpions to breed in one’s brain. Dried basil may be employed as an incense, typically of a warding nature, or otherwise smoked (either by itself or mixed with other smokable herbs) for grounding, cleansing, or centering. Oils infused with basil or incorporated with its essential oil can be employed as a cleansing and warding oil, and can be useful in the blessing talismans and amulets. Its protective properties extend to the mythological, as it is among the few plants that was said to be able to cure the lethal look of a basilisk (from which basil itself is named after). [10]Due to this extremely powerful nature, it has also been associated with evil in some cultures, as in ancient Rome and Greece, where basil was once considered a demonic plant and a symbol of undying hatred. Despite this contradictory nature, basil’s role in modern magick seems to be relegated solely to the protective fields, although it can (as is still employed albeit rarely) for hexes.
#44: Bergamot:
Other Names, Past and PresentChinese:foshou gan
Japanese:berugamotto (an onomatopoeia of the English-French ‘bergamot’)
Hindi:jambhi
Turkish:beg armundi (possible etymological origin, lit. ‘prince of pears’)
Korean:beleugamos (an onomatopoeia of ‘bergamot’)
French:bergamot / bergamotier / bergamotte
Italian:bergamota / bergamotto
Spanish:bergamoto / bergamota (adopted from Italian)
Latin (scientific nomenclature):Citrus bergamia / Citrus aurantium subsp. bergamia Bergamot – Background and History Bergamot (pronounced either ber-gah-mot or ber-gah-mow) is a type of citrus plant, and subsequently, the fruit and the aroma derived from it which is quite popular in the Levantine areas, some parts of the Middle East, a large part of Europe and some parts of America. It is highly popular for its aroma, and is well known the world over for being the key ingredient in the famed tea blend called ‘Earl Grey’ as well as a highly popular additive to the food condiment marmalade (and although the latter may employ normal orange or citrus peel in lieu of bergamot, bergamot-based marmalades are nevertheless still prized by connoisseurs of the fruit). Bergamot’s famed fragrance is derived from the essential oils which are found in its rind, which is extracted via steam distillation, or otherwise obtained through any number of processes (not limited to infusion, tincturing, decoction, and maceration). The fruit itself, distinctive for its yellow and sometimes lime-green colouration and its similarity to lemons, is about the size of an average orange (though smaller and larger examples are known), and grows from a moderately sized tree that is distinctive for its pale-white to ivory-hued inflorescence that blooms only during wintertime, and for its broad, glossy leaves. The tree is most notable for the aroma that it exudes when the bergamot fruits are well into maturity. Generally considered to be a native of Southern Italy (specifically Calabria, a small province of Reggio), it is also found throughout the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. The name bergamot itself may point out to a possible point of origin for the earliest varietals of the plant – Bergamo, Italy – although a much more plausible etymological origin would be the Turkish word beg-armudi (lit. ‘prince’s pear’), as the employment and perhaps the eventual cultivation of the plant itself had been introduced to the Italian community from the Turks, who may have obtained the plant (if not expressly cultivated it) from their trade with the Far East. It is surprising that while the fruit of the bergamot tree is perfectly capable of producing juices (and does in fact contain juice) and a succulent, albeit somewhat tough ‘meat’, the fruit is chiefly cultivated and largely employed solely for its aromatic skin, and no known mention of its edibility or at least the employment of the fruit solely for general consumption (in its past or in the present day) has been found.  Bergamot has been cultivated since the latter part of the 1600s for its potent essential oil, which is derived chiefly from the skin of its fruit. Earlier mention of the fruit’s possible cultivation and usage is vague, as the employment of citrus fruits prior to the Renaissance period were limited only to specific areas. Theoretically however, it is perfectly possible for bergamot to have been employed since the Middle Ages, whether for chiefly culinary or medicinal purposes, although the possibility of a city or town dating from the period to have done so is rare, chiefly due to the fact that bergamot is not consumed as a foodstuff (and its ‘meat’ is believed to be inedible). This aspect was not at all in line with the practice of the times, which was to cultivate products foodstuffs, and to trade for inedible commodities. The earliest mention of the employment of bergamot as a scent or as a substance employed for perfumery (which is among its more famed purposes) dates back to 1714, yet it can be argued that bergamot may have been employed in its point of origin (Bergamo, Italy) even earlier, though the veracity of such assumptions is at best only theoretical. Bergamot orange may sometimes be confused with other plants which are referred to as ‘bergamot’ – Monarda didyma and Mondarda fistulosa – two plants of the mint family, which are not true bergamot and not even remotely related to the bergamot orange, but simply plants which have been named after bergamot due to a similarity in its aromatic nature. Bergamot is a popular scent chiefly due to its light aromatic profile and for its versatility. This, alongside its medicinal properties, make it a highly valuable plant. Bergamot – Common / Popular Uses  today, bergamot is chiefly known as an integral ingredient in the famed British tea blend referred to as Earl Grey (first sold circa 1880, with earlier ‘prototypes’ not associated with the moniker having existed since the 1850s), and its offshoot blend (a relatively modern incarnation at that, having been made in 1996) Lady Grey. Its usage as a flavouring for tea generally comes in two forms – the initial being an integration of the whole fine shaved rinds of the orange into a mixture of fine black tea (with, or without the accompaniment of other fragrant flowers, herbs, or spices), and an incorporation of its highly aromatic essential oil (derived from the rinds) into the tea leaves itself, often with the accompaniment of other fragrant plant matter. Earl Grey tea is named after former British Prime Minister Charles Grey, the Second Earl of Grey, which received a blend of the tea (which he eventually grew to favour and perhaps even patronise) perhaps as a tribute. Apocryphal tales told of how a Chinese mandarin whose son had been saved by the Earl from drowning presented the tea to the Earl in 1803 – a very unlikely origin tale as the Earl himself had never set foot in the Orient. A possible truer origin of the blend is Jacksons of Piccadilly, a tea shop which claims to have obtained the recipe for Earl Grey tea from that prestigious personage himself. The Grey family claim that the tea was expressly blended for them by a Chinese mandarin (perhaps a servant or a merchant), in order to suit the water at their family seat at Howick Hall, Northumberland, which had hints of lime that left an off-taste in otherwise fine tea. It was the Earl’s wife, Lady Grey, who had asked if it were possible for the blend to be marketed, to which it is said that the recipe for the blend was given to Jacksons of Piccadilly and (later on) to Twinings respectively, both of whom continue to market the blend to this day.  Aside from its more well-known employment as the primary flavouring agent of Earl Grey tea, bergamot, or, more specifically, the essential oil of bergamot is also employed as a flavouring agent for a number of other foodstuffs and products. In Italy, bergamot rind is a very popular additive to marmalade, and may sometimes even be employed as an additive to confectionary treats, and may even be included in natural candies. The essential oil of bergamot is also quite popular in the Middle East, where it is employed as a flavouring for hard and soft candies, as an inclusive scent to tea, and as a flavouring for the popular confection loukum – better known as Turkish Delight. Outside of its usage for foodstuffs and beverages, the essential oil of bergamot is also employed as an ingredient in tobacco-based products such as snus and some blends of snuff. While there is yet no known occurrence of bergamot scented or flavoured cigarettes, pipe tobaccos have been flavoured with bergamot essential oil, and some pipe tobacco blends (particularly those to Turkish origins meant to be smoked with ashisha or narghile) may even contain fine to moderately fine particles of bergamot rind. Bergamot is among the staple essences employed in perfumery, with the earliest usage of the plant dating back to the early 1700s in many of the finest perfume houses of the period, long before it employment as a primary ingredient in Earl Grey tea. Bergamot essential oil is one of the primary constituents of the originalEau de Cologne, which was first blended by famed perfumer Farina at the beginning of the 18th century, and for the famed perfume Shalimar.   In traditional and modern perfumery, bergamot is generally employed as a top note, due to its light and refreshing scent. Bergamot is known for its versatility with regards to the number of scents that can be blended with it to create varying levels of depth and aromatic complexity. To this day, bergamot remains one of the most widely employed aromas. In aromatherapy, the scent of bergamot is employed as an anti-depressant and stress-reliever, as well as an energy booster. Perfumes containing bergamot are said to energise individuals, and are reputedly particularly helpful for individuals who are suffering from minor ailments such as nasal congestion, colds, fever, or flu.  Bergamot essential oil is also often mixed with carrier oils and use for massage. It is traditionally ascribed skin tonifying and rejuvenating properties, and has been employed to help relieve stress, cure anxiety, and even treat insomnia and restlessness. It is believed that a minute amount of bergamot oil mixed with one’s choice of carrier oil and massaged unto the abdomen helps to cure the symptoms of colic, while a combination of jojoba oil and bergamot essential oil makes for an excellent skin moisturiser.  Mixed with peppermint essential oil, coconut oil, and oil of cloves, it makes for an excellent antiperspirant and deodorant, while a general employment of the substance for massage is excellent for analgesic and antibacterial purposes. Bergamot’s essential oil is among the few rare essences that can be safely consumed and partaken of orally, although when taken in large amounts it nevertheless poses considerable health risks. Due to the ‘edibility’ of the essential oil, it is often taken orally to treat a wide assortment of ills. Since the inception of bergamot scented teas, it has been prescribed for everything from indigestion, gastritis, respiratory problems, urinary tract infections, colic and flatulence. When diluted with water, the ensuing mixture can be employed as an all-natural antimicrobial gargle which helps to rid the mouth of cavities and prevent dental caries. Furthermore, gargling with a mixture of bergamot oil and water will help effectively to treat cold sores and canker sores (even the rind of the fruit, when decocted accomplishes the same benefits). Taken internally, it is also believed to be a powerful purgative and vermifuge.  When applied to the hair as a wash or rinse, it effectively rids the hair of lice and other parasites, as well as treat common scalp problems such as eczema and dandruff. The whole rind itself, when peeled and decocted, can be used in much the same vein as its concentrated essential oil. The Native Americans employed the peel of the bergamot orange to treat a variety of different diseases, among them cold, fever, flu, coughs, and parasites. A mild decoction was often dfrunk during and after heavy meals as a digestif, gargled to cure oral problems and sore throat, used as a wash to disinfect wounds and treat various skin diseases, and employed as a skin tonic.  Modern oral applications of bergamot in the form of infusions or decoctions (and even the mere consumption of Earl Grey tea) may even help to prevent the accumulation of bad cholesterol, as the active chemical compounds found in bergamot are known to combat the accumulation of bad cholesterol.  Bergamot – Esoteric / Magickal Uses when employed esoterically, bergamot is still predominantly used as a perfume scent. It is traditionally ascribed as among the ‘Angelic Fragrances’, and is associated with either the Archangel Gabriel or the Archangel Raphael. It is often incorporated into oils and salves meant to drive away negativity and help to improve one’s overall outlook. Because it is a healing oil, it is often employed as a blessing ointment, and is even used as a charging oil. The rind of bergamot, when encased in a medicine pouch or juju bag is reputed to help attract money and success, while anointing oneself with a mixture of dragon’s blood essential oil, bergamot oil, and olive oil is said to increase your confidence and luck.  Bergamot – Safety Notes:  While bergamot can be consumed safely in small to moderate dosages (for example as used in Earl Grey tea), and applied topically (diluted) without much risk for allergic reaction, the prolonged employment of bergamot (in whole or oil form) can be detrimental to health, as it may cause photosensitivity, severe muscle cramping, and micronutrient deficiencies. As a rule of thumb, pregnant and nursing women should abstain from the consumption of products made from or containing bergamot (although the limited use of cosmetics containing the essential oil are deemed safe). Small children are also advised to moderate their consumption of bergamot-containing confections, while adults are warned to consume no more than a half-a-litre to a litre of bergamot-containing beverages per day. The essential oils must also never be used in high concentrations or in its undiluted form.
#45 Bilberry –
Other Names, Past and Present :Chinese:fu penzi Japanese:biruberi (onomatopoeia of the English ‘bilberry’) Korean:wolgyul namusog / paektusan tuljjuksul Hindi:bluberi (onomatopoeia of the English ‘blueberry’) French:feuille de myrtille / fruit de myrtille / gueule noire / myrtille / myrtille Europeenne / raisin des Bois /Arielle Italian:mirtillo / mortiÒo Spanish:arandano Romanian:afina Irish:fraughan / fraochanPolish:jagody English: bilberry / European bilberry / dyeberry / dwarf bilberry / black whortles / brimbelle / burren myrtle / huckleberry / trackleberry / whortleberry / wineberry / ground hurts Latin (esoteric):myrtilli fructus Latin (scientific nomenclature):Vaccinium myrtillus  Bilberry – Background and History Bilberries are a species of low-growing shrubs that are commonly found in the wilds of Eurasia and some parts of Asia. Belonging to the genus Vaccinium, bilberries are often mistaken for blueberries due to their strong resemblance, although blueberries are distinct in their own right albeit they are indeed closely related. Bilberries are distinct from blueberries in that while the latter is aptly named for its dark-blue to almost violet hue, bilberries are decidedly darker, with some wildcrafted varieties even being and intensely dark purple to pure black in appearance. Unlike blueberries which appear in clusters that grow from the stem of the plant, bilberries grow in pairs, and are possessed of a richer number of leaves than blueberries. Bilberries are also distinct from blueberries in the light of the former’s more intense flavour, and for the fact that the pulp and juice exuded by bilberries are a rich red to purple hue, in stark contrast to blueberries (whose pulp and juices are actually green). Bilberries are rarely a cultivated plant (although successful attempts at cultivation are not altogether unheard of), and is more often than not wildcrafted due to the fact that they are quite difficult to grow. Bilberries grow in temperate to subarctic areas, often in highly acidic, nutrient-poor soils which obtain moderate amounts of sunlight and long periods of cold. Wild bilberries are distinctly noticeable for their pale-green to bright-green foliage as well as their low-lying nature. Most wild bilberries grow no taller than waist-high, although some older shrubs, if left un-harvested can and will grow taller. Because of their penchant for colder weather, bilberries are more often found in European and Eurasian countries, where both fresh, locally harvested bilberries, and frozen wildcrafted billberries are available (the former only during peak seasons, and the latter all-year-round). Bilberries are also found in temperate climates in Asia such as in China, Japan, and Korea, although bilberries are an introduced plant for the former two, while there are wild ‘bog bilberries’ to be found in both North and South Korea, respectively. In some European countries, wild bilberries are fair game for anyone with a mind to pick them. Places like Finland, Norway, and Switzerland, as access to bilberries are under ‘everyman’s right’, with the exception of lands which are protected (i. e. private gardens and nature reserves). In other areas however, such rights are not applicable. While bilberries are chiefly cultivated for their berries, the leaves of the plant have been, and still are employed by traditional herbalists as a medicine along with the berries themselves. In most cases however, the berries are seemingly exclusively cultivated for human consumption, and because they tend to be somewhat smaller, and a tad softer than blueberries, harvesting them via semi-mechanical or assisted means is something of an impossibility, with most fruits berries either locally or commercially sold being harvested generally by hand. As with most berries however, bilberries are generally employed for culinary purposes more so than medicinally, with the bulk of every harvest generally used for human consumption in whatever form. Bilberry – Common / Popular Uses the most popular (and perhaps the most prolific use) of bilberry is in its edibility, whereby the fruits in fresh or dried form are often employed as a snack-food or a prime ingredient in foodstuffs. As with most berries, bilberries are either made into jams, jellies, or some other variant of preserves, or otherwise consumed fresh. When dried, it may be stored and consumed in much the same way as raisins. Bilberries can also be juiced, with the extruding liquid being stored for future use. The fruits of the plant possess the full range of versatility of all berries, and may be used as a food in its own right, as an integral ingredient in pastries and desserts, or as a condiment for other foods. Foodstuffs which contain bilberry are known for their highly nourishing and energising nature, which is why it is often consumed as a breakfast meal or as sustenance after a long rigorous day. Regardless of its employment in whatever form, the berries are highly nutritive, with the consumption of the berries in itself being medicinal. Since ancient times, the berries have been eaten as a nutritive food that helps to boost overall health. Bilberries, like blueberries, are often consumed as a health food (the dried varieties being partaken of as a food supplement) in order to help manage high blood pressure, improve heart health, boost the immune system, and treat various diseases such as angina pectoris, indigestion, and malnutrition (the latter in tandem with other highly nutritious food).  When crushed and applied topically, the berries are said to help treat a number of various skin conditions (excessive oiliness, dryness, or flaking) and cure fungal and bacterial skin disorders (i. e. shingles, eczema, etc.).  The berries, when extruded into a juice, is even employed for the treatment of urinary tract infections, kidney and liver disorders, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Prior to the modern day, bilberries were prescribed as a supposed remedy for macular degeneration, cataracts, and an assortment of other eye problems. It was believed that regular consumption of bilberries helped to improve eyesight and allay such macular disorders. It is now known that the anthocyanin and carotenoid contents of the berry are far too low to actually statistically help improve eyesight, although a moderate consumption of the nutrient-dense fruit may help improve health on an overall basis enough for the body to actually combat the onset of such diseases. The berries are often made into food supplements through drying and powdering the whole berries, subsequently encasing the powdered matter into gelatin capsules. This food supplement is often taken for its antioxidant properties, as well as for its tonifying, cardio-protective, and nourishing properties. Like a majority of other berries, bilberry possesses very significant amounts of antioxidants, and can be employed as a supplement to address diseases such as cancer, reverse the hardening of the arteries and the ravages of stress, as well as to bolster flagging health. Foodstuffs containing fresh or dried berries have along been given as a cure to diseases such as colds, flu, fever, cough, and general malaise. It is not only the berries which are prized for their nutritive properties, as the leaves of the plant have also been employed since ancient time as a medicine in its own right; it being decocted and given as a remedy for coughs and cold. Stronger decoctions of the leaf are even prescribed to help lower blood pressure and treat dizzy spells. A tisane made from bilberry leaf is even reputedly helpful for lowering blood pressure and stabilising erratic blood sugar levels. Very mild decoctions of the leaf is employed for curing stomach pains, while moderately strong decoctions are used to treat chest pains, circulatory problems, and aches and pains brought about by arthritis.  When employed as a supplementary medicine, it is believed to help treat diabetes. Like the fruits, a topical application of a very strong decoction of the leaves may help to cure various skin diseases and hasten the healing of wounds, and, if employed as a mouth rinse, can even be used to treat cold sores, canker sores, and halitosis. Bilberry – Esoteric / Magickal Uses Bilberries have long been considered as protective herbs. When employed esoterically, the dried leaves may be powdered and sprinkled around the perimeters of a household or otherwise burnt as an incense to protect the inhabitants within from malign forces and to drive away negativity. An incense of bilberry leaves is also said to generate luck and facilitate in the acquisition of material desires or wealth. The leaves may be encased in a medicine pouch or juju bag and carried upon one’s person during travelling to protect one from harm. When worn next to one’s skin, it is said to effectively nullify nearly all forms of psychical attacks. The protective properties of the leaf are also possessed by the berries, and it is said in folklore that eating foodstuffs containing the berry effective de-hexes a person of any spell or enchantment. Bilberry – Safety Notes : The consumption of these berries in whatever form is generally deemed safe, even in slightly large amounts, although as with other fruits, excessive consumption may result in indigestion, diarrhoea, or general stomach upset. The leaves however should only be consumed as a supplement or medicine in minute doses, as it may compromise the ability of the body to properly synthesise sugar. Excessive consumption of the leaf for prolonged periods may result in hypoglycemia for diabetic patients. Patients who are under blood-thinning medication or anti-depressants of any sort are also advised to limit, if not altogether do away with the consumption of bilberries in berry or leaf form, as it may interact negatively with their medication. As a general rule, pregnant and nursing women should limit their intake of bilberry berries, and wholly abstain from the consumption of the leaf as a supplement or medicine in whatever form until the terminus of pregnancy or nursing.
#46 Black Pepper,
Other Names – Past and Present: Chinese:hu jiao Japanese:kosho / kuro kosho Korean:huchu  Sanskrit:kali mirchi / pippali  Hindi:krishna  Greek (ancient / modern): piperFrench: grain de poivre / poivre / poivrier  Spanish: pimienta / pimienta negra / pimienta blanca  Italian: pimiento / piper / pepe  Filipino: paminta / pimiento (adapted from Spanish)  Old English: pipor  English: pepper / black pepper / white pepper / peppercorns  Dutch: peper  German: pfeffer  Latin (scientific nomenclature): Piper nig   French:grain de poivre / poivre / poivrier  Spanish:pimienta / pimienta negra / pimienta blanca  Italian:pimiento / piper / pepe  Filipino:paminta / pimiento (adapted from Spanish)   Old English:pipor  English: pepper / black pepper / white pepper / peppercorns  Dutch:peper  German: pfeffer  Latin (scientific nomenclature):Piper nigrum   Background and History Pepper, or, more specifically, peppercorns, are one of the most ancient and most prolifically traded of spices, having been employed for culinary and medicinal use since the dawn of civilisation. While generally considered quite commonplace in these modern times, peppercorns were originally highly prized by the ancients due to its rarity and for its medicinal potency. Nowadays, peppercorns are typically only known or referred to as ‘black’ peppercorns, but there are actually three distinct types of peppercorns all derived from the drupe of the plant, with its colour only varying through the process of drying which it undergoes. The three distinct types of peppercorns are black, white, and green peppercorns; with the foremost having been boiled in water prior to being dried, the second variant being employed in its ‘fresh’, hulled (i. e. skinless) state, and the latter simply being sundried. There is a final variety of pepper which is not very common in Western applications, with the exception of Hispanic and Mexican cuisine – the red or pink peppercorns, which are actually no more than fresh ripe pepper drupes preserved in brine or vinegar and employed as condiments for things like salads or spreads. The intensity of the spice’s flavour varies depending on the variant employed for cooking, although in most cases, black peppercorns are employed for heartier, spicy meals, white pepper is employed for vegetablebased dishes, and green peppercorns are employed for seafood-based foodstuffs. Medicinally, peppercorns possess the same properties and potency regardless of the variety used, although there seems to be a general propensity for black pepper in contrast to other variants, stemming from the not-so-erroneous assumption that black pepper is more potent than all other peppercorn varieties. Artisanal varieties of peppercorns (especially those that are specifically reserved for gourmet purposes) are expressly identified by their place of origin which serves as a marker of their quality. The pepper plant is a moderately-sized flowering vine which is said to be a native of the southern parts of India. The plant is classified as a perennial, and takes on the form of a woody, climbing vine that measures some four metres in height upon maturity. In the wild, pepper plants are commonly found climbing above trees, with ground-based stems readily taking root in soft, moist soil, adding to the support of the plant. The whole of the plant is characterised by its darkgreen alternate, somewhat broad, heart-shaped leaves, and for its hanging fruit clusters – an overhanging mass of tiny jade-green spheres all bunched up together into a caterpillar-like cylindrical shape which hangs suspended upon a spike that grows from the tough branch of the plant. These drupes, when left to their own devices, eventually ripen and become florettes, although cultivated species are usually picked or plucked to be processed one the drupes have taken on their full, rounded form. The plant itself prefers rich, nitrogenous, moist soil, and support-plants which possess thick bark. It is chiefly cultivated in India, although other countries such as Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam also cultivate and produce various variants of pepper.  Historically, peppercorns were once employed as both a medicinal and culinary spice. Since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, black pepper has been prized as a very costly spice, and often only used with impunity by the Pharaonic families. Black peppercorns were so prized in fact that it was often used in funerary rites as a type of preservative and natural perfume, with a number of royal mummies having been interred with peppercorns (as well as other then-costly spices and herbs) usually stuffed into cavities to help in the preservation process. The spice was at the time only cultivated in the Southern and South-Eastern parts of Asia and in select areas in India. It was largely unavailable anywhere else, and was only procurable by the rest of the Western world through trade. Due to the fact that trading routes were often restricted to land and some minor sailing vessels, the price of peppercorns were often exorbitant, making them a luxury item available only to the very rich. The demand for peppercorns did not decrease, however, as their unique flavour tended to give the foodstuffs of those times a certain, much-coveted ‘edge’. The demand for peppercorns of all varieties helped to further fuel the spice trade, which eventually ushered the Age of Discovery. Peppercorns were in fact so pricey that in some parts of the world they were employed as a type of currency, and as bargain-able collateral for trade. Nowadays, with the ease of transportation brought about by modernism, pepper (along with a majority of other spices) has now lost their once costly status, although its preeminence as an integral culinary additive and condiment remains strong. Common / Popular Uses  Peppercorns are the most commonly and widely employed spice in the world, with both Eastern and Western cuisines having employed it as an integral spice, although some types of cuisines have a propensity to choose one variant over another. Peppercorns are typically sold in whole form, and is usually ground, crushed, or otherwise pulverised via a variety of means prior to being employed as a condiment or a culinary spice, although it can also be employed in its whole form, a common practice in Hispanic, Italian, and Continental cuisine. Peppercorns are themselves very versatile spices, and, depending on the variant employed, is capable of adding a whole range of flavours to various dishes. It is generally accepted by common (more traditional than logical) consensus that some variants of peppercorns are more suited to some types of foodstuffs or cuisine than others. As a general given, black peppercorns are chiefly employed as a spice for heavy, hearty meals, while white and green peppercorns are employed as milder alternatives for less robust foodstuffs. Black pepper is commonly employed in Western cuisine both as a spice and as a condiment, typically in ground form (with some exceptions), while Asiatic cuisine tends to prefer white peppercorns, although some national culinary preferences (such as Filipino cuisine) which are highly influenced by western predilections usually employed black peppercorns, often in its whole, but sometimes in its ground state. As with western preferences, black pepper is typically paired with salt, although unlike in the west, Asiatic applications usually employ this combination chiefly as for cooking than for seasoning already cooked food. Peppercorns have also been employed as medicines, and in fact, began their prolific usage as such until it was absorbed into the culinary field. In the medicinal field, black peppercorns are usually more widely or generally employed than its other variants, with a preference for its employment in the Ayurvedic branches of alternative medicine, and in some localised branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine, decoctions of black peppercorns are usually employed as a remedy for indigestion and mild to moderate stomach complaints. Employed by itself or with other spices, it has even been used to remedy colds, nasal congestion, flatulence, colic, diarrhea, and general weakness. Black peppercorns are usually mixed with foodstuffs to help aid in digestion as well as improve the appetite. It has long been thought of as helping to increase the body’s innate capacity to absorb and assimilate nutrients, with recent scientific studies having shown that moderate consumption of foodstuffs containing black pepper or peppercorns in general helped to increase the rate of absorption and synthesis of vitamin B-complex, beta-carotene, selenium, iron, and other essential nutrients. Peppercorns themselves contain a good amount of essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, and iron, making decoctions of the corns, or the addition of them to foodstuffs helpful for the remedying of diseases such as anaemia, especially if combined with other iron and potassium-rich foodsources.  Because peppercorns possesses powerful antimicrobial properties, it can even help to prevent or delay food spoilage, although the general idea that it was employed chiefly as a preservative during the Dark Ages is at best erroneous.  In India, black peppercorns are often combined with other spices to create masala – a spice mixture which is employed for culinary purposes, or otherwise combined with beverages such as tea or milk and drunk as a comforting beverage and as a medicinal tonic. When combined with tea (to create a beverage referred to as masala chai) it can be drunk as an enervating and energising drink, and is perfect for cold weather, as it effectively warms the body and prevents sluggishness and a weakening of the digestion.  Fortified with milk and honey, it is an excellent remedy for cold, and may be drunk as a daily pick-me-up. It is believed by both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese branches of medicine that peppercorns help to improve blood circulation. This belief is further supplemented by the fact that it has a long history of use as a heart and lung tonic, and is believed to help protect the aortal arteries from the possibility of clogging as brought about by the accumulation of plaque.  Due to its powerful antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, very potent decoctions of peppercorns have even been employed as mouthwash, rinses for wounds, or as a means to medicate bandages. It has long been used as a topical astringent and disinfectant, and, due to its capacity to help improve circulation, has even been used to stimulate hair growth when applied to the scalp as a hair rinse.   Employed as a gargle, it not only helps to manage halitosis and relieve toothache, but it may even help to correct gingivitis and prevent the occurrence of dental caries, especially if used in conjunction with antimicrobial herbs and spices, and supplemented by proper oral care. A gargle made from peppercorns may even help alleviate hoarseness of voice and sore throat, which is usually brought about due to inflammation.  It’s powerful antiinflammatory properties not only help to soothe the raw muscle, but allow it to heal, especially if combined with a cooling or soothing herb such as peppermint or marshmallow root.  When employed in whole form, it may be crushed and sprinkled on minor cuts to act as a styptic and staunch the bleeding. Whole peppercorns have been used in Filipino folkloric medicine as a remedy for cavities, usually by mixing crushed peppercorns with mastic (also known as Arabic or Yemeni gum) or softened frankincense resin and stuffed into the cavity to relieve nagging pain. When ground and made into pills or tablets, it has even been prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a remedy for cholera and syphilis, usually combined with herbs such as ginseng root and lotus root. When ground and mixed with coconut oil or shea butter, it may be used as a salve or ointment for the alleviation of pain brought about by arthritis and rheumatism, or otherwise employed as a hair-oil or a topical rub to help improve circulation, especially when combined with spices such as ginger root and cinnamon. The essential oil of peppercorns are even extracted through pressing or through steam distillation, and the ensuing essences mixed with a base oil and employed as a topical analgesic against general aches and pains.  It can even be used as a disinfectant and healing balm for minor cuts and bruises.  Esoteric / Magickal Uses Peppercorns have long been integral to the Western alternative medicinal and culinary world, and so it comes naturally that it too plays a major role in Western esotericism. When employed for magickal purposes, peppercorns are said to be able to dispel evil, ward-off malevolent entities, and protect an individual from harm. It is typically burnt as a pungent incense and employed for de-hexing, although it may be employed as an herb for cursing or attracting negative energy to the intended recipient of a hex. When encased in a medicine pouch and worn as a necklace, it is said to help protect the wearer from all types of physical and psychic harm. In some cultures, an amulet of peppercorns is employed as an amulet against the Evil Eye. When ground and mixed with salt, it can be employed for the creation of protective circles during rituals, and is believed to fend off all forms of evil. Scattered about one’s property, it is said that it not only dispels misfortune, but drives away ghosts and malevolent entities that may be out and about.  While peppercorns are considered generally safe for regular consumption, the topical application of peppercorns may cause allergies in individuals with very sensitive skin. It is advisable to employ topical applications containing peppercorns solely on adults, as it may be unsafe when employed for children. If redness, itching, or burning sensations are felt upon application, reduce the amount employed or otherwise immediately discontinue usage. Under no circumstances should black pepper be applied into the eyes or the nostrils (in spite of what some traditional systems of healing suggest), and a patch-test prior to topical application should be rigorously followed to ensure that no allergic reactions ensue.  As a general rule of thumb, pregnant women should limit their intake of peppercorns to food amounts. Employing peppercorns for medicinal purposes at such times is ill-advised due to the possible abortifacient properties of the spice which may cause premature uterine contractions that may result in a a miscarriage. Furthermore, individuals who are under diuretic (both synthetic and alternative) medications should limit their intake of peppercorns of all variants, as it may interact with, and possible interfere with the efficiency of such medications. Individuals who are under medications such as lithium, ketoconazole, phenytoin, and propranolol should also avoid the consumption of peppercorns, or otherwise limit it solely to food-amounts.
#47 Burdock – Other Names, Past and Present
Chinese: niu bang zi / bang / niu bang Japanese: gobo  Korean: ueong Greek: glouteron (attributed)  French: bardane / bardane comestible / herbe aux Teigneux / rhubarb du Diable  Italian / Spanish: bardana / personata  English: beggar’s buttons / cocklebur / cockle buttons / fox’s clote / great bur / happy major / hardock / harebur  Latin (scientific nomenclature): Arctium lappa / Arctium mnus (other nomenclatures exist, depending upon wild varieties and inter-related species)  Background and History Burdock is a relatively common plant (often considered as a weed) which thrives in waste areas, untended lots, and grassy places. Known the world over for its relative hardiness and for the unique prickly heads which have a tendency to catch on to pet fur or human clothing, burdocks were initially an Old World plant which thrived in nearly any condition. Characterised by its dark-green, often heartshaped leaves which have a tendency to grow disparately, some ranging between a few inches wide to others being almost as wide as the span of a human’s hand, burdock has long been considered a pesky plant chiefly due to its most telling trait – a series or clusters (depending on the species and maturity of the plant) of prickly heads (known as burrs) which have a tendency to attach itself to practically any soft textured surface. Burdocks are also notable for their hollow leafstalks and for their fuchsia or lavender hued efflorescence replete with tiny vine-like growths which springs from its burr. Some species of burdock are also notable for their uniquely-shaped or otherwise sizeable burr, the range of which may vary from no more than five millimeters to about the size of a marble. Because of the fact that burdock possesses burrs that stick to fur and clothing, they are often mistaken for cockleburs (genus Xanthium), which also possesses hairy or spiked burrs that stick to clothing, with the only difference being their size, as cockleburs burrs tend to be far smaller than burdock burrs. Burdock may also be confused for rhubarb chiefly due to its leaves, although such instances are rare and only occur through inexpert identification.  Common / Popular Uses  While burdock may seem generally useless to the modern individual aside from its possible employment for pranks (as it is wont to be used by children or childish individuals who go out hiking or camping), burdock actually played an important role in the early dietary habits of many human civilizations. Forager peoples and hunter-gatherers may have perhaps dug out burdock roots and consumed them as a type of root-crop, as the young taproot of the plant is crisp, sweet, and possessed of a mildly pungent aroma. Today, the practice of cultivating or wild-crafting burdock roots for the purpose of human consumption persists in nations such as China, Japan, and Korea, where it is often served in accompaniment with other vegetable-based or fish-based dishes, or otherwise consumed as an appetizer or a snack in its own right. Burdock roots, regardless of age, have a tendency to veer towards tasting a little off, with its flavour having been compared to muddy radishes. This muddiness is typically remedied by soaking sliced, shredded, julienned, or grated roots in water prior to preparation or consumption. The flavour of the roots may also be changed or enhanced by allowing it to soak in a saline solution prior to consumption, or by creating a sauce that accompanies it upon serving. When cooked as a root vegetable, burdock root works well with dishes such as pork, although it may also be mixed with beef or seafood, albeit with lesser flavourful impact. In the olden times, burdock root was mixed with dog meat (a then non-taboo and commonplace foodstuff in China and some parts of Japan), and was a common addition to hotpots (shabu-shabu / nabemono / shuan yang rou). Burdock root may be integrated into meat or vegetable-based soups and stews, or may otherwise be julienned and stir-fried with an assortment of vegetables, usually accompanied by a generous integration of diced or ground pork-meat. The roots may even be pickled and eaten as a side dish, or otherwise incorporated as an ingredient for seafood-based dishes. Pickled burdock root, often accompanied by pickled ginger root, is a common palate cleanser, appetizer, and condiment in Japanese cuisine. It is among one of the more uncanny foodstuffs in traditional Japanese cuisine, and is popular chiefly due to its having been advocated largely by experts and supporters of the macrobiotic diet. The leaves of the plant are also quite edible, having been employed as a vegetable green in China and Japan since ancient times. Nowadays, cultivars expressly bred for the use of its leaves as a vegetable have become quite commonplace in Japan, where even the immature flower stalks (harvested prior to flowering) are consumed alongside the leaves as a type of vegetable.  Outside of Asian cultures, the most significant contribution of the plant to Western history was its early employment as a bittering agent for the creation of beer and ales long before the eventual introduction of hops and the subsequent change in heralded to beer making.  As with some Asiatic cultures, the Westerners of the Mediaeval periods may have also consumed burdock root as a type of root crop – a practice which was later echoed by frontier-folk in the early days of the American Colonies. Prior to the arrival of the settlers however, the practice of consuming burdock root for food was already very commonplace among the First Peoples of the Americas. It may have even been possible that the First Peoples themselves introduced some settlers who were ignorant to the burdock’s edibility to the practice of its consumption.  One of the oldest and perhaps most iconic products derived from burdock are drinks which are comprised of the combination of burdock and dandelion. Initially concocted by Europeans (typically attributed to the Irish), the dandelion and burdock beverage combination has spawned a range of drinks that include beer, wine, flavoured mead, ale, and even soft drinks. Initially brewed by combining dandelion flowers and cleaned, peeled and sliced burdock roots which were then allowed to ferment, nowadays only very few authentically made or brewed dandelion and burdock beverages are left, although synthetic versions still prove to be somewhat popular, with its most common consuming demographic found throughout the British Isles. Burdock and dandelion beverages were initially marketed as health drinks (it was believed to be a general tonic), and was, for a time flavoured with the help of wintergreen, mint, or sassafras – a practice which was later banned sometime in the early 1960s due to sassafras’s active compound safrole having been found to be a mild carcinogenic. Burdock and dandelion wine still prove to be quite popular in smaller towns or village settings, where home-brewers still create them in small batches either for personal or general consumption in limited numbers, although some microbrewries and specialty wine or spirits shops do sell authentic ‘period’ burdock and dandelion beverages.  Burdock has also been employed in folk medicine since time immemorial, with is most prolific usage dating back to the Early Middle Ages. The dried roots and leaves of burdock were often decocted and drunk as a diuretic, a diaphoretic, and antipyretic. It was typically given to individuals suffering from influenza or some other type of viral malaise, as its cleansing action (as facilitated by urination and sweating) not only helped to hasten recovery, but it’s purported blood purifying properties also helped to combat whatever ailment was being treated more efficiently.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, burdock roots and seeds are often decocted, the tea being drunk as a remedy for various bodily infections, or as a general blood purifier. It is also not uncommon to drink burdock tea while on a cleansing or restorative fast, or to partake of it in minute doses while on a weight-loss regimen (the latter, however, is ill-advised). Traditional Chinese Medicine also considers alcoholic beverages brewed from burdock to be therapeutic in far more ways than is common in the Western sphere of herbal medicine. In China, burdock wine is generally drunk as a tonic, as a remedy for indigestion, as an appetizer, as an analgesic, an aphrodisiac, an anti-coagulant (and subsequently, a heart tonic) and as a detoxifying beverage. The seeds of the plant when decocted were also employed as a remedy for incontinence and, in earlier times was even believed to help rid the kidneys and bladder of stones. Burdock has even been employed (in both Eastern and Western herbal medicine) as a remedy for coughs, and as a general nutritive drink for individuals with impaired immune systems – a practice which is common in Japan and China, where nourishing stocks or stews containing burdock root and young shoots are given to convalescent individuals and nursing mothers, the latter practice (also employed in the West) stemming from its galactagogue properties.  Likewise, alcoholic extracts derived from burdock’s constituent parts are also employed for the exact same purposes, although in smaller dosages, as these tinctures (derived from macerating dried plant parts in alcohol) tend to be more concentrated than wines or tisanes. Tinctures of the plant may even be mixed with a base oil to create liniments that are used as antifungal and analgesic agents.  Very potent decoctions of burdock root have also been applied topically as a remedy for ichthyosis (a rare, often debilitating, and disfiguring skin condition), eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Milder decoctions of the root and leaves (or sometimes only the dried leaves) can be drunk as a remedy for griping and as a tonic beverage for toning the digestive system, and for easing stomachaches and indigestion. An alternative would be to soak dried roots and leaves in a base oil and allow it to macerate for several months, shaking every week or so. The subsequent macerated oil may then be distilled and employed as a beautifying agent, hair oil, and even as an ointment for the relief of rheumatism and arthritis. A poultice of dried leaves mixed with a little base oil may even be heated and applied to aching body parts or rheumy joints in order to alleviate the discomfort. In traditional folkloric medicine, such poultices were even applied to sore and tired feet after a long day’s hike. It was believed to treat gout effectively, and to prevent muscular spasms associated with over-exertion. Poultices made from burdock leaves may even help to soothe the pain and discomfort associated with skin lesions, topical ulcerations, and allergic breakouts. Esoteric / Magickal Uses  When employed for magickal purposes, burdock is commonly associated with protection, healing, and health. In most branches or systems of magick, it is employed in much the same way as it would be medicinally, although Voodoo, Hoodoo, and some branches of folk magick and shamanism typically employ burdock as an amulet, especially its root, although its leaves and burrs may also be employed. In sympathetic magick, the burrs of burdock may be employed as protective articles for warding off evil, as they can be used in herb-based hex bottles, or they can be used to attract luck or fortune (if such is the spellworker’s intention), due to its tendency to ‘cling’ to whatever comes into contact with it. In Voodoo, Hoodoo, and some branches of shamanism, the taproot of burdock that has experienced its first year of growth and subsequent ‘hibernation’ may be dug out, carved, and worn as an amulet (usually by encasing it in a juju bag, mojo bag, or Medicine pouch) and worn upon one’s person to counter hexes and drive off misfortune.  Practitioners of hoodoo even create ointments which contain burdock root and prescribe it to restore flagging sex drive especially in men.  While burdock is deemed generally safe when consumed as a foodstuff, care should be taken when employing burdock topically or when harvesting burdock, as the tiny hairs found on its leaves and stems can cause allergic reactions in individuals who have very sensitive skin. Individuals who are allergic to plants from the Asteraceae or Compositae family (i. e. chrysanthemums, daisies) should steer clear of burdock, as contact with the plant, or internal consumption of remedies containing the plant may pose a health risk.  Due to its anti-coagulative properties, individuals who are under similar synthetic medications should limit or altogether discontinue their intake of any products containing burdock, as it may interfere with the body’s ability to facilitate blood clotting. Persons who are set to undertake any type of surgery should cease the consumption of burdock or medicines containing the plant at least two weeks prior to the appointment lest complications occur. Likewise, pregnant women should steer clear of burdock tea and limit their consumption of burdock root during pregnancy as it may stimulate the uterus and cause miscarriages (a very rare but nevertheless possible occurrence). Furthermore, individuals who partake of water pills should likewise limit their intake of the herb, lest its diuretic action interact with the medications, resulting in dehydration as well as nutrient and electrolyte depletion.
#48  Bergamot –
Other Names, Past and PresentChinese: foshou gan
Japanese: berugamotto (an onomatopoeia of the English-French ‘bergamot’)
Hindi: jambhi
Turkish: beg armundi (possible etymological origin, lit. ‘prince of pears’)
Korean: beleugamos (an onomatopoeia of ‘bergamot’)
French: bergamot / bergamotier / bergamotte
Italian: bergamota / bergamotto
Spanish: bergamoto / bergamota (adopted from Italian)
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Citrus bergamia / Citrus aurantium subsp. bergamia

Bergamot – Background and History

Bergamot (pronounced either ber-gah-mot or ber-gah-mow) is a type of citrus plant, and subsequently, the fruit and the aroma derived from it which is quite popular in the Levantine areas, some parts of the Middle East, a large part of Europe and some parts of America. It is highly popular for its aroma, and is well known the world over for being the key ingredient in the famed tea blend called ‘Earl Grey’ as well as a highly popular additive to the food condiment marmalade (and although the latter may employ normal orange or citrus peel in lieu of bergamot, bergamot-based marmalades are nevertheless still prized by connoisseurs of the fruit). Bergamot’s famed fragrance is derived from the essential oils which are found in its rind, which is extracted via steam distillation, or otherwise obtained through any number of processes (not limited to infusion, tincturing, decoction, and maceration).

The fruit itself, distinctive for its yellow and sometimes lime-green colouration and its similarity to lemons, is about the size of an average orange (though smaller and larger examples are known), and grows from a moderately sized tree that is distinctive for its pale-white to ivory-hued inflorescence that blooms only during wintertime, and for its broad, glossy leaves. The tree is most notable for the aroma that it exudes when the bergamot fruits are well into maturity. Generally considered to be a native of Southern Italy (specifically Calabria, a small province of Reggio), it is also found throughout the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. The name bergamot itself may point out to a possible point of origin for the earliest varietals of the plant – Bergamo, Italy – although a much more plausible etymological origin would be the Turkish word beg-armudi (lit. ‘prince’s pear’), as the employment and perhaps the eventual cultivation of the plant itself had been introduced to the Italian community from the Turks, who may have obtained the plant (if not expressly cultivated it) from their trade with the Far East. It is surprising that while the fruit of the bergamot tree is perfectly capable of producing juices (and does in fact contain juice) and a succulent, albeit somewhat tough ‘meat’, the fruit is chiefly cultivated and largely employed solely for its aromatic skin, and no known mention of its edibility or at least the employment of the fruit solely for general consumption (in its past or in the present day) has been found. [1]

Bergamot has been cultivated since the latter part of the 1600s for its potent essential oil, which is derived chiefly from the skin of its fruit. Earlier mention of the fruit’s possible cultivation and usage is vague, as the employment of citrus fruits prior to the Renaissance period were limited only to specific areas. Theoretically however, it is perfectly possible for bergamot to have been employed since the Middle Ages, whether for chiefly culinary or medicinal purposes, although the possibility of a city or town dating from the period to have done so is rare, chiefly due to the fact that bergamot is not consumed as a foodstuff (and its ‘meat’ is believed to be inedible). This aspect was not at all in line with the practice of the times, which was to cultivate products foodstuffs, and to trade for inedible commodities. The earliest mention of the employment of bergamot as a scent or as a substance employed for perfumery (which is among its more famed purposes) dates back to 1714, yet it can be argued that bergamot may have been employed in its point of origin (Bergamo, Italy) even earlier, though the veracity of such assumptions is at best only theoretical. Bergamot orange may sometimes be confused with other plants which are referred to as ‘bergamot’ – Monarda didyma and Mondarda fistulosa – two plants of the mint family, which are not true bergamot and not even remotely related to the bergamot orange, but simply plants which have been named after bergamot due to a similarity in its aromatic nature. Bergamot is a popular scent chiefly due to its light aromatic profile and for its versatility. This, alongside its medicinal properties, make it a highly valuable plant. [2]

Bergamot – Common / Popular Uses

Today, bergamot is chiefly known as an integral ingredient in the famed British tea blend referred to as Earl Grey (first sold circa 1880, with earlier ‘prototypes’ not associated with the moniker having existed since the 1850s), and its offshoot blend (a relatively modern incarnation at that, having been made in 1996) Lady Grey. Its usage as a flavouring for tea generally comes in two forms – the initial being an integration of the whole fine shaved rinds of the orange into a mixture of fine black tea (with, or without the accompaniment of other fragrant flowers, herbs, or spices), and an incorporation of its highly aromatic essential oil (derived from the rinds) into the tea leaves itself, often with the accompaniment of other fragrant plant matter. Earl Grey tea is named after former British Prime Minister Charles Grey, the Second Earl of Grey, which received a blend of the tea (which he eventually grew to favour and perhaps even patronise) perhaps as a tribute. Apocryphal tales told of how a Chinese mandarin whose son had been saved by the Earl from drowning presented the tea to the Earl in 1803 – a very unlikely origin tale as the Earl himself had never set foot in the Orient. A possible truer origin of the blend is Jacksons of Piccadilly, a tea shop which claims to have obtained the recipe for Earl Grey tea from that prestigious personage himself. The Grey family claim that the tea was expressly blended for them by a Chinese mandarin (perhaps a servant or a merchant), in order to suit the water at their family seat at Howick Hall, Northumberland, which had hints of lime that left an off-taste in otherwise fine tea. It was the Earl’s wife, Lady Grey, who had asked if it were possible for the blend to be marketed, to which it is said that the recipe for the blend was given to Jacksons of Piccadilly and (later on) to Twinings respectively, both of whom continue to market the blend to this day. [3]

Aside from its more well-known employment as the primary flavouring agent of Earl Grey tea, bergamot, or, more specifically, the essential oil of bergamot is also employed as a flavouring agent for a number of other foodstuffs and products. In Italy, bergamot rind is a very popular additive to marmalade, and may sometimes even be employed as an additive to confectionary treats, and may even be included in natural candies. The essential oil of bergamot is also quite popular in the Middle East, where it is employed as a flavouring for hard and soft candies, as an inclusive scent to tea, and as a flavouring for the popular confection loukum – better known as Turkish Delight.

Outside of its usage for foodstuffs and beverages, the essential oil of bergamot is also employed as an ingredient in tobacco-based products such as snus and some blends of snuff. While there is yet no known occurrence of bergamot scented or flavoured cigarettes, pipe tobaccos have been flavoured with bergamot essential oil, and some pipe tobacco blends (particularly those to Turkish origins meant to be smoked with a shisha or narghile) may even contain fine to moderately fine particles of bergamot rind.

Bergamot is among the staple essences employed in perfumery, with the earliest usage of the plant dating back to the early 1700s in many of the finest perfume houses of the period, long before it employment as a primary ingredient in Earl Grey tea. Bergamot essential oil is one of the primary constituents of the original Eau de Cologne, which was first blended by famed perfumer Farina at the beginning of the 18th century, and for the famed perfume Shalimar. [4] In traditional and modern perfumery, bergamot is generally employed as a top note, due to its light and refreshing scent. Bergamot is known for its versatility with regards to the number of scents that can be blended with it to create varying levels of depth and aromatic complexity. To this day, bergamot remains one of the most widely employed aromas. In aromatherapy, the scent of bergamot is employed as an anti-depressant and stress-reliever, as well as an energy booster. Perfumes containing bergamot are said to energise individuals, and are reputedly particularly helpful for individuals who are suffering from minor ailments such as nasal congestion, colds, fever, or flu. [5] Bergamot essential oil is also often mixed with carrier oils and use for massage. It is traditionally ascribed skin tonifying and rejuvenating properties, and has been employed to help relieve stress, cure anxiety, and even treat insomnia and restlessness. It is believed that a minute amount of bergamot oil mixed with one’s choice of carrier oil and massaged unto the abdomen helps to cure the symptoms of colic, while a combination of jojoba oil and bergamot essential oil makes for an excellent skin moisturiser. [6] Mixed with peppermint essential oil, coconut oil, and oil of cloves, it makes for an excellent antiperspirant and deodorant, while a general employment of the substance for massage is excellent for analgesic and antibacterial purposes. [7]

Bergamot’s essential oil is among the few rare essences that can be safely consumed and partaken of orally, although when taken in large amounts it nevertheless poses considerable health risks. Due to the ‘edibility’ of the essential oil, it is often taken orally to treat a wide assortment of ills. Since the inception of bergamot scented teas, it has been prescribed for everything from indigestion, gastritis, respiratory problems, urinary tract infections, colic and flatulence. When diluted with water, the ensuing mixture can be employed as an all-natural antimicrobial gargle which helps to rid the mouth of cavities and prevent dental caries. Furthermore, gargling with a mixture of bergamot oil and water will help effectively to treat cold sores and canker sores (even the rind of the fruit, when decocted accomplishes the same benefits). Taken internally, it is also believed to be a powerful purgative and vermifuge. [8] When applied to the hair as a wash or rinse, it effectively rids the hair of lice and other parasites, as well as treat common scalp problems such as eczema and dandruff.

The whole rind itself, when peeled and decocted, can be used in much the same vein as its concentrated essential oil. The Native Americans employed the peel of the bergamot orange to treat a variety of different diseases, among them cold, fever, flu, coughs, and parasites. A mild decoction was often dfrunk during and after heavy meals as a digestif, gargled to cure oral problems and sore throat, used as a wash to disinfect wounds and treat various skin diseases, and employed as a skin tonic. [9] Modern oral applications of bergamot in the form of infusions or decoctions (and even the mere consumption of Earl Grey tea) may even help to prevent the accumulation of bad cholesterol, as the active chemical compounds found in bergamot are known to combat the accumulation of bad cholesterol.

Bergamot – Esoteric / Magickal Uses

When employed esoterically, bergamot is still predominantly used as a perfume scent. It is traditionally ascribed as among the ‘Angelic Fragrances’, and is associated with either the Archangel Gabriel or the Archangel Raphael. It is often incorporated into oils and salves meant to drive away negativity and help to improve one’s overall outlook. Because it is a healing oil, it is often employed as a blessing ointment, and is even used as a charging oil. The rind of bergamot, when encased in a medicine pouch or jujubag is reputed to help attract money and success, while anointing oneself with a mixture of dragon’s blood essential oil, bergamot oil, and olive oil is said to increase your confidence and luck. [10]

Bergamot – Safety Notes

While bergamot can be consumed safely in small to moderate dosages (for example as used in Earl Grey tea), and applied topically (diluted) without much risk for allergic reaction, the prolonged employment of bergamot (in whole or oil form) can be detrimental to health, as it may cause photosensitivity, severe muscle cramping, and micronutrient deficiencies. As a rule of thumb, pregnant and nursing women should abstain from the consumption of products made from or containing bergamot (although the limited use of cosmetics containing the essential oil are deemed safe). Small children are also advised to moderate their consumption of bergamot-containing confections, while adults are warned to consume no more than a half-a-litre to a litre of bergamot-containing beverages per day. The essential oils must also never be used in high concentrations or in its undiluted form.

#49  Bilberry –

Other Names, Past and Present

Chinese: fu penzi
Japanese: biruberi (onomatopoeia of the English ‘bilberry’)
Korean: wolgyul namusog / paektusan tuljjuksul
Hindi: bluberi (onomatopoeia of the English ‘blueberry’)
French: feuille de myrtille / fruit de myrtille / gueule noire / myrtille / myrtille Europeenne / raisin des Bois / Arielle
Italian: mirtillo / mortiÒo
Spanish: arandano
Romanian: afina
Irish: fraughan / fraochan
Polish: jagody
English: bilberry / European bilberry / dyeberry / dwarf bilberry / black whortles / brimbelle / burren myrtle / huckleberry / trackleberry / whortleberry / wineberry / ground hurts
Latin (esoteric): myrtilli fructus
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Vaccinium myrtillus

Bilberry – Background and History

Bilberries are a species of low-growing shrubs that are commonly found in the wilds of Eurasia and some parts of Asia. Belonging to the genus Vaccinium, bilberries are often mistaken for blueberries due to their strong resemblance, although blueberries are distinct in their own right albeit they are indeed closely related. Bilberries are distinct from blueberries in that while the latter is aptly named for its dark-blue to almost violet hue, bilberries are decidedly darker, with some wildcrafted varieties even being and intensely dark purple to pure black in appearance. Unlike blueberries which appear in clusters that grow from the stem of the plant, bilberries grow in pairs, and are possessed of a richer number of leaves than blueberries. Bilberries are also distinct from blueberries in the light of the former’s more intense flavour, and for the fact that the pulp and juice exuded by bilberries are a rich red to purple hue, in stark contrast to blueberries (whose pulp and juices are actually green). [1]

Bilberries are rarely a cultivated plant (although successful attempts at cultivation are not altogether unheard of), and is more often than not wildcrafted due to the fact that they are quite difficult to grow. Bilberries grow in temperate to subarctic areas, often in highly acidic, nutrient-poor soils which obtain moderate amounts of sunlight and long periods of cold. Wild bilberries are distinctly noticeable for their pale-green to bright-green foliage as well as their low-lying nature. Most wild bilberries grow no taller than waist-high, although some older shrubs, if left un-harvested can and will grow taller. Because of their penchant for colder weather, bilberries are more often found in European and Eurasian countries, where both fresh, locally harvested bilberries, and frozen wildcrafted billberries are available (the former only during peak seasons, and the latter all-year-round). Bilberries are also found in temperate climates in Asia such as in China, Japan, and Korea, although bilberries are an introduced plant for the former two, while there are wild ‘bog bilberries’ to be found in both North and South Korea, respectively. In some European countries, wild bilberries are fair game for anyone with a mind to pick them. Places like Finland, Norway, and Switzerland, as access to bilberries are under ‘everyman’s right’, with the exception of lands which are protected (i. e. private gardens and nature reserves). In other areas however, such rights are not applicable. [2]

While bilberries are chiefly cultivated for their berries, the leaves of the plant have been, and still are employed by traditional herbalists as a medicine along with the berries themselves. In most cases however, the berries are seemingly exclusively cultivated for human consumption, and because they tend to be somewhat smaller, and a tad softer than blueberries, harvesting them via semi-mechanical or assisted means is something of an impossibility, with most fruits berries either locally or commercially sold being harvested generally by hand. As with most berries however, bilberries are generally employed for culinary purposes more so than medicinally, with the bulk of every harvest generally used for human consumption in whatever form.

Bilberry – Common / Popular Uses

The most popular (and perhaps the most prolific use) of bilberry is in its edibility, whereby the fruits in fresh or dried form are often employed as a snack-food or a prime ingredient in foodstuffs. As with most berries, bilberries are either made into jams, jellies, or some other variant of preserves, or otherwise consumed fresh. When dried, it may be stored and consumed in much the same way as raisins. Bilberries can also be juiced, with the extruding liquid being stored for future use. The fruits of the plant possess the full range of versatility of all berries, and may be used as a food in its own right, as an integral ingredient in pastries and desserts, or as a condiment for other foods. Foodstuffs which contain bilberry are known for their highly nourishing and energising nature, which is why it is often consumed as a breakfast meal or as sustenance after a long rigorous day. [3] Regardless of its employment in whatever form, the berries are highly nutritive, with the consumption of the berries in itself being medicinal. Since ancient times, the berries have been eaten as a nutritive food that helps to boost overall health. Bilberries, like blueberries, are often consumed as a health food (the dried varieties being partaken of as a food supplement) in order to help manage high blood pressure, improve heart health, boost the immune system, and treat various diseases such as angina pectoris, indigestion, and malnutrition (the latter in tandem with other highly nutritious food). [4] When crushed and applied topically, the berries are said to help treat a number of various skin conditions (excessive oiliness, dryness, or flaking) and cure fungal and bacterial skin disorders (i. e. shingles, eczema, etc.). [5] The berries, when extruded into a juice, is even employed for the treatment of urinary tract infections, kidney and liver disorders, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. [6] Prior to the modern day, bilberries were prescribed as a supposed remedy for macular degeneration, cataracts, and an assortment of other eye problems. It was believed that regular consumption of bilberries helped to improve eyesight and allay such macular disorders. It is now known that the anthocyanin and carotenoid contents of the berry are far too low to actually statistically help improve eyesight, although a moderate consumption of the nutrient-dense fruit may help improve health on an overall basis enough for the body to actually combat the onset of such diseases.

The berries are often made into food supplements through drying and powdering the whole berries, subsequently encasing the powdered matter into gelatin capsules. This food supplement is often taken for its antioxidant properties, as well as for its tonifying, cardio-protective, and nourishing properties. Like a majority of other berries, bilberry possesses very significant amounts of antioxidants, and can be employed as a supplement to address diseases such as cancer, reverse the hardening of the arteries and the ravages of stress, as well as to bolster flagging health. Foodstuffs containing fresh or dried berries have along been given as a cure to diseases such as colds, flu, fever, cough, and general malaise.

It is not only the berries which are prized for their nutritive properties, as the leaves of the plant have also been employed since ancient time as a medicine in its own right; it being decocted and given as a remedy for coughs and cold. Stronger decoctions of the leaf are even prescribed to help lower blood pressure and treat dizzy spells. A tisane made from bilberry leaf is even reputedly helpful for lowering blood pressure and stabilising erratic blood sugar levels. Very mild decoctions of the leaf is employed for curing stomach pains, while moderately strong decoctions are used to treat chest pains, circulatory problems, and aches and pains brought about by arthritis. [7] When employed as a supplementary medicine, it is believed to help treat diabetes. Like the fruits, a topical application of a very strong decoction of the leaves may help to cure various skin diseases and hasten the healing of wounds, and, if employed as a mouth rinse, can even be used to treat cold sores, canker sores, and halitosis. [8]

Bilberry – Esoteric / Magickal Uses

Bilberries have long been considered as protective herbs. When employed esoterically, the dried leaves may be powdered and sprinkled around the perimeters of a household or otherwise burnt as an incense to protect the inhabitants within from malign forces and to drive away negativity. An incense of bilberry leaves is also said to generate luck and facilitate in the acquisition of material desires or wealth. The leaves may be encased in a medicine pouch or juju bag and carried upon one’s person during travelling to protect one from harm. When worn next to one’s skin, it is said to effectively nullify nearly all forms of psychical attacks. The protective properties of the leaf are also possessed by the berries, and it is said in folklore that eating foodstuffs containing the berry effective de-hexes a person of any spell or enchantment. [9]

Bilberry – Safety Notes

The consumption of these berries in whatever form is generally deemed safe, even in slightly large amounts, although as with other fruits, excessive consumption may result in indigestion, diarrhoea, or general stomach upset. The leaves however should only be consumed as a supplement or medicine in minute doses, as it may compromise the ability of the body to properly synthesise sugar. Excessive consumption of the leaf for prolonged periods may result in hypoglycemia for diabetic patients. Patients who are under blood-thinning medication or anti-depressants of any sort are also advised to limit, if not altogether do away with the consumption of bilberries in berry or leaf form, as it may interact negatively with their medication.

As a general rule, pregnant and nursing women should limit their intake of bilberry berries, and wholly abstain from the consumption of the leaf as a supplement or medicine in whatever form until the terminus of pregnancy or nursing.

#50 Black Pepper,

Other Names – Past and Present

Chinese: hu jiao
Japanese: kosho / kuro kosho
Korean: huchu
Sanskrit: kali mirchi / pippali
Hindi: krishna
Greek (ancient / modern): piper
French: grain de poivre / poivre / poivrier
Spanish: pimienta / pimienta negra / pimienta blanca
Italian: pimiento / piper / pepe
Filipino: paminta / pimiento (adapted from Spanish)
Old English: pipor
English: pepper / black pepper / white pepper / peppercorns
Dutch: peper
German: pfeffer
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Piper nigrum

Background and History

Pepper, or, more specifically, peppercorns, are one of the most ancient and most prolifically traded of spices, having been employed for culinary and medicinal use since the dawn of civilisation. While generally considered quite commonplace in these modern times, peppercorns were originally highly prized by the ancients due to its rarity and for its medicinal potency. Nowadays, peppercorns are typically only known or referred to as ‘black’ peppercorns, but there are actually three distinct types of peppercorns all derived from the drupe of the plant, with its colour only varying through the process of drying which it undergoes. The three distinct types of peppercorns are black, white, and green peppercorns; with the foremost having been boiled in water prior to being dried, the second variant being employed in its ‘fresh’, hulled (i. e. skinless) state, and the latter simply being sundried.

There is a final variety of pepper which is not very common in Western applications, with the exception of Hispanic and Mexican cuisine – the red or pink peppercorns, which are actually no more than fresh ripe pepper drupes preserved in brine or vinegar and employed as condiments for things like salads or spreads. The intensity of the spice’s flavour varies depending on the variant employed for cooking, although in most cases, black peppercorns are employed for heartier, spicy meals, white pepper is employed for vegetablebased dishes, and green peppercorns are employed for seafood-based foodstuffs. Medicinally, peppercorns possess the same properties and potency regardless of the variety used, although there seems to be a general propensity for black pepper in contrast to other variants, stemming from the not-so-erroneous assumption that black pepper is more potent than all other peppercorn varieties. Artisanal varieties of peppercorns (especially those that are specifically reserved for gourmet purposes) are expressly identified by their place of origin which serves as a marker of their quality.

The pepper plant is a moderately-sized flowering vine which is said to be a native of the southern parts of India. The plant is classified as a perennial, and takes on the form of a woody, climbing vine that measures some four metres in height upon maturity. In the wild, pepper plants are commonly found climbing above trees, with ground-based stems readily taking root in soft, moist soil, adding to the support of the plant. The whole of the plant is characterised by its darkgreen alternate, somewhat broad, heart-shaped leaves, and for its hanging fruit clusters – an overhanging mass of tiny jade-green spheres all bunched up together into a caterpillar-like cylindrical shape which hangs suspended upon a spike that grows from the tough branch of the plant. These drupes, when left to their own devices, eventually ripen and become florettes, although cultivated species are usually picked or plucked to be processed one the drupes have taken on their full, rounded form. The plant itself prefers rich, nitrogenous, moist soil, and support-plants which possess thick bark. It is chiefly cultivated in India, although other countries such as Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam also cultivate and produce various variants of pepper. [1]

Historically, peppercorns were once employed as both a medicinal and culinary spice. Since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, black pepper has been prized as a very costly spice, and often only used with impunity by the Pharaonic families. Black peppercorns were so prized in fact that it was often used in funerary rites as a type of preservative and natural perfume, with a number of royal mummies having been interred with peppercorns (as well as other then-costly spices and herbs) usually stuffed into cavities to help in the preservation process. The spice was at the time only cultivated in the Southern and South-Eastern parts of Asia and in select areas in India. It was largely unavailable anywhere else, and was only procurable by the rest of the Western world through trade. Due to the fact that trading routes were often restricted to land and some minor sailing vessels, the price of peppercorns were often exorbitant, making them a luxury item available only to the very rich. The demand for peppercorns did not decrease, however, as their unique flavour tended to give the foodstuffs of those times a certain, much-coveted ‘edge’. The demand for peppercorns of all varieties helped to further fuel the spice trade, which eventually ushered the Age of Discovery. Peppercorns were in fact so pricey that in some parts of the world they were employed as a type of currency, and as bargain-able collateral for trade. Nowadays, with the ease of transportation brought about by modernism, pepper (along with a majority of other spices) has now lost their once costly status, although its preeminence as an integral culinary additive and condiment remains strong. [2]

Common / Popular Uses

Peppercorns are the most commonly and widely employed spice in the world, with both Eastern and Western cuisines having employed it as an integral spice, although some types of cuisines have a propensity to choose one variant over another. Peppercorns are typically sold in whole form, and is usually ground, crushed, or otherwise pulverised via a variety of means prior to being employed as a condiment or a culinary spice, although it can also be employed in its whole form, a common practice in Hispanic, Italian, and Continental cuisine.

Peppercorns are themselves very versatile spices, and, depending on the variant employed, is capable of adding a whole range of flavours to various dishes. It is generally accepted by common (more traditional than logical) consensus that some variants of peppercorns are more suited to some types of foodstuffs or cuisine than others. As a general given, black peppercorns are chiefly employed as a spice for heavy, hearty meals, while white and green peppercorns are employed as milder alternatives for less robust foodstuffs. Black pepper is commonly employed in Western cuisine both as a spice and as a condiment, typically in ground form (with some exceptions), while Asiatic cuisine tends to prefer white peppercorns, although some national culinary preferences (such as Filipino cuisine) which are highly influenced by western predilections usually employed black peppercorns, often in its whole, but sometimes in its ground state. As with western preferences, black pepper is typically paired with salt, although unlike in the west, Asiatic applications usually employ this combination chiefly as for cooking than for seasoning already cooked food.

Peppercorns have also been employed as medicines, and in fact, began their prolific usage as such until it was absorbed into the culinary field. In the medicinal field, black peppercorns are usually more widely or generally employed than its other variants, with a preference for its employment in the Ayurvedic branches of alternative medicine, and in some localised branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine, decoctions of black peppercorns are usually employed as a remedy for indigestion and mild to moderate stomach complaints. Employed by itself or with other spices, it has even been used to remedy colds, nasal congestion, flatulence, colic, diarrhea, and general weakness. [3] Black peppercorns are usually mixed with foodstuffs to help aid in digestion as well as improve the appetite. It has long been thought of as helping to increase the body’s innate capacity to absorb and assimilate nutrients, with recent scientific studies having shown that moderate consumption of foodstuffs containing black pepper or peppercorns in general helped to increase the rate of absorption and synthesis of vitamin B-complex, beta-carotene, selenium, iron, and other essential nutrients. Peppercorns themselves contain a good amount of essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, and iron, making decoctions of the corns, or the addition of them to foodstuffs helpful for the remedying of diseases such as anaemia, especially if combined with other iron and potassium-rich foodsources. [4] Because peppercorns possesses powerful antimicrobial properties, it can even help to prevent or delay food spoilage, although the general idea that it was employed chiefly as a preservative during the Dark Ages is at best erroneous.

In India, black peppercorns are often combined with other spices to create masala – a spice mixture which is employed for culinary purposes, or otherwise combined with beverages such as tea or milk and drunk as a comforting beverage and as a medicinal tonic. When combined with tea (to create a beverage referred to asmasala chai) it can be drunk as an enervating and energising drink, and is perfect for cold weather, as it effectively warms the body and prevents sluggishness and a weakening of the digestion. [5] Fortified with milk and honey, it is an excellent remedy for cold, and may be drunk as a daily pick-me-up. It is believed by both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese branches of medicine that peppercorns help to improve blood circulation. This belief is further supplemented by the fact that it has a long history of use as a heart and lung tonic, and is believed to help protect the aortal arteries from the possibility of clogging as brought about by the accumulation of plaque. [6]

Due to its powerful antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, very potent decoctions of peppercorns have even been employed as mouthwash, rinses for wounds, or as a means to medicate bandages. It has long been used as a topical astringent and disinfectant, and, due to its capacity to help improve circulation, has even been used to stimulate hair growth when applied to the scalp as a hair rinse. [7] Employed as a gargle, it not only helps to manage halitosis and relieve toothache, but it may even help to correct gingivitis and prevent the occurrence of dental caries, especially if used in conjunction with antimicrobial herbs and spices, and supplemented by proper oral care. A gargle made from peppercorns may even help alleviate hoarseness of voice and sore throat, which is usually brought about due to inflammation. [8] It’s powerful antiinflammatory properties not only help to soothe the raw muscle, but allow it to heal, especially if combined with a cooling or soothing herb such as peppermint or marshmallow root.

When employed in whole form, it may be crushed and sprinkled on minor cuts to act as a styptic and staunch the bleeding. Whole peppercorns have been used in Filipino folkloric medicine as a remedy for cavities, usually by mixing crushed peppercorns with mastic (also known as Arabic or Yemeni gum) or softened frankincense resin and stuffed into the cavity to relieve nagging pain. When ground and made into pills or tablets, it has even been prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a remedy for cholera and syphilis, usually combined with herbs such as ginseng root and lotus root. [9]

When ground and mixed with coconut oil or shea butter, it may be used as a salve or ointment for the alleviation of pain brought about by arthritis and rheumatism, or otherwise employed as a hair-oil or a topical rub to help improve circulation, especially when combined with spices such as ginger root and cinnamon. The essential oil of peppercorns are even extracted through pressing or through steam distillation, and the ensuing essences mixed with a base oil and employed as a topical analgesic against general aches and pains. [10] It can even be used as a disinfectant and healing balm for minor cuts and bruises.

Esoteric / Magickal Uses

Peppercorns have long been integral to the Western alternative medicinal and culinary world, and so it comes naturally that it too plays a major role in Western esotericism. When employed for magickal purposes, peppercorns are said to be able to dispel evil, ward-off malevolent entities, and protect an individual from harm. It is typically burnt as a pungent incense and employed for de-hexing, although it may be employed as an herb for cursing or attracting negative energy to the intended recipient of a hex. When encased in a medicine pouch and worn as a necklace, it is said to help protect the wearer from all types of physical and psychic harm. In some cultures, an amulet of peppercorns is employed as an amulet against the Evil Eye. When ground and mixed with salt, it can be employed for the creation of protective circles during rituals, and is believed to fend off all forms of evil. Scattered about one’s property, it is said that it not only dispels misfortune, but drives away ghosts and malevolent entities that may be out and about.

While peppercorns are considered generally safe for regular consumption, the topical application of peppercorns may cause allergies in individuals with very sensitive skin. It is advisable to employ topical applications containing peppercorns solely on adults, as it may be unsafe when employed for children. If redness, itching, or burning sensations are felt upon application, reduce the amount employed or otherwise immediately discontinue usage. Under no circumstances should black pepper be applied into the eyes or the nostrils (in spite of what some traditional systems of healing suggest), and a patch-test prior to topical application should be rigorously followed to ensure that no allergic reactions ensue.

As a general rule of thumb, pregnant women should limit their intake of peppercorns to foodamounts. Employing peppercorns for medicinal purposes at such times is ill-advised due to the possible abortifacient properties of the spice which may cause premature uterine contractions that may result in a a miscarriage. Furthermore, individuals who are under diuretic (both synthetic and alternative) medications should limit their intake of peppercorns of all variants, as it may interact with, and possible interfere with the efficiency of such medications. Individuals who are under medications such as lithium, ketoconazole, phenytoin, and propranolol should also avoid the consumption of peppercorns, or otherwise limit it solely to food-amounts.

#51 Burdock :

Chinese: niu bang zi / bang / niu bang
Japanese: gobo
Korean: ueong
Greek: glouteron (attributed)
French: bardane / bardane comestible / herbe aux Teigneux / rhubarb du Diable
Italian / Spanish: bardana / personata
English: beggar’s buttons / cocklebur / cockle buttons / fox’s clote / great bur / happy major / hardock / harebur
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Arctium lappa / Arctium mnus (other nomenclatures exist, depending upon wild varieties and inter-related species)

Background and History

Burdock is a relatively common plant (often considered as a weed) which thrives in waste areas, untended lots, and grassy places. Known the world over for its relative hardiness and for the unique prickly heads which have a tendency to catch on to pet fur or human clothing, burdocks were initially an Old World plant which thrived in nearly any condition. Characterised by its dark-green, often heartshaped leaves which have a tendency to grow disparately, some ranging between a few inches wide to others being almost as wide as the span of a human’s hand, burdock has long been considered a pesky plant chiefly due to its most telling trait – a series or clusters (depending on the species and maturity of the plant) of prickly heads (known as burrs) which have a tendency to attach itself to practically any soft textured surface. Burdocks are also notable for their hollow leafstalks and for their fuchsia or lavender hued efflorescence replete with tiny vine-like growths which springs from its burr. Some species of burdock are also notable for their uniquely-shaped or otherwise sizeable burr, the range of which may vary from no more than five millimeters to about the size of a marble. [1]

Because of the fact that burdock possesses burrs that stick to fur and clothing, they are often mistaken for cockleburs (genus Xanthium), which also possesses hairy or spiked burrs that stick to clothing, with the only difference being their size, as cockleburs burrs tend to be far smaller than burdock burrs. Burdock may also be confused for rhubarb chiefly due to its leaves, although such instances are rare and only occur through inexpert identification.

Common / Popular Uses

While burdock may seem generally useless to the modern individual aside from its possible employment for pranks (as it is wont to be used by children or childish individuals who go out hiking or camping), burdock actually played an important role in the early dietary habits of many human civilizations. Forager peoples and hunter-gatherers may have perhaps dug out burdock roots and consumed them as a type of root-crop, as the young taproot of the plant is crisp, sweet, and possessed of a mildly pungent aroma. [2] Today, the practice of cultivating or wild-crafting burdock roots for the purpose of human consumption persists in nations such as China, Japan, and Korea, where it is often served in accompaniment with other vegetable-based or fish-based dishes, or otherwise consumed as an appetizer or a snack in its own right. Burdock roots, regardless of age, have a tendency to veer towards tasting a little off, with its flavour having been compared to muddy radishes. This muddiness is typically remedied by soaking sliced, shredded, julienned, or grated roots in water prior to preparation or consumption. The flavour of the roots may also be changed or enhanced by allowing it to soak in a saline solution prior to consumption, or by creating a sauce that accompanies it upon serving.

When cooked as a root vegetable, burdock root works well with dishes such as pork, although it may also be mixed with beef or seafood, albeit with lesser flavourful impact. In the olden times, burdock root was mixed with dog meat (a then non-taboo and commonplace foodstuff in China and some parts of Japan), and was a common addition to hotpots (shabu-shabu / nabemono / shuan yang rou). Burdock root may be integrated into meat or vegetable-based soups and stews, or may otherwise be julienned and stir-fried with an assortment of vegetables, usually accompanied by a generous integration of diced or ground pork-meat. The roots may even be pickled and eaten as a side dish, or otherwise incorporated as an ingredient for seafood-based dishes. Pickled burdock root, often accompanied by pickled ginger root, is a common palate cleanser, appetizer, and condiment in Japanese cuisine. It is among one of the more uncanny foodstuffs in traditional Japanese cuisine, and is popular chiefly due to its having been advocated largely by experts and supporters of the macrobiotic diet. [3]

The leaves of the plant are also quite edible, having been employed as a vegetable green in China and Japan since ancient times. Nowadays, cultivars expressly bred for the use of its leaves as a vegetable have become quite commonplace in Japan, where even the immature flower stalks (harvested prior to flowering) are consumed alongside the leaves as a type of vegetable.

Outside of Asian cultures, the most significant contribution of the plant to Western history was its early employment as a bittering agent for the creation of beer and ales long before the eventual introduction of hops and the subsequent change in heralded to beer making. [4] As with some Asiatic cultures, the Westerners of the Mediaeval periods may have also consumed burdock root as a type of root crop – a practice which was later echoed by frontier-folk in the early days of the American Colonies. Prior to the arrival of the settlers however, the practice of consuming burdock root for food was already very commonplace among the First Peoples of the Americas. It may have even been possible that the First Peoples themselves introduced some settlers who were ignorant to the burdock’s edibility to the practice of its consumption.

One of the oldest and perhaps most iconic products derived from burdock are drinks which are comprised of the combination of burdock and dandelion. Initially concocted by Europeans (typically attributed to the Irish), the dandelion and burdock beverage combination has spawned a range of drinks that include beer, wine, flavoured mead, ale, and even soft drinks. Initially brewed by combining dandelion flowers and cleaned, peeled and sliced burdock roots which were then allowed to ferment, nowadays only very few authentically made or brewed dandelion and burdock beverages are left, although synthetic versions still prove to be somewhat popular, with its most common consuming demographic found throughout the British Isles. Burdock and dandelion beverages were initially marketed as health drinks (it was believed to be a general tonic), and was, for a time flavoured with the help of wintergreen, mint, or sassafras – a practice which was later banned sometime in the early 1960s due to sassafras’s active compound safrole having been found to be a mild carcinogenic. [6] Burdock and dandelion wine still prove to be quite popular in smaller towns or village settings, where home-brewers still create them in small batches either for personal or general consumption in limited numbers, although some microbrewries and specialty wine or spirits shops do sell authentic ‘period’ burdock and dandelion beverages. [7]

Burdock has also been employed in folk medicine since time immemorial, with is most prolific usage dating back to the Early Middle Ages. The dried roots and leaves of burdock were often decocted and drunk as a diuretic, a diaphoretic, and antipyretic. It was typically given to individuals suffering from influenza or some other type of viral malaise, as its cleansing action (as facilitated by urination and sweating) not only helped to hasten recovery, but it’s purported blood purifying properties also helped to combat whatever ailment was being treated more efficiently. [8] In Traditional Chinese Medicine, burdock roots and seeds are often decocted, the tea being drunk as a remedy for various bodily infections, or as a general blood purifier. It is also not uncommon to drink burdock tea while on a cleansing or restorative fast, or to partake of it in minute doses while on a weight-loss regimen (the latter, however, is ill-advised). Traditional Chinese Medicine also considers alcoholic beverages brewed from burdock to be therapeutic in far more ways than is common in the Western sphere of herbal medicine. In China, burdock wine is generally drunk as a tonic, as a remedy for indigestion, as an appetizer, as an analgesic, an aphrodisiac, an anti-coagulant (and subsequently, a heart tonic) and as a detoxifying beverage. The seeds of the plant when decocted were also employed as a remedy for incontinence and, in earlier times was even believed to help rid the kidneys and bladder of stones. Burdock has even been employed (in both Eastern and Western herbal medicine) as a remedy for coughs, and as a general nutritive drink for individuals with impaired immune systems – a practice which is common in Japan and China, where nourishing stocks or stews containing burdock root and young shoots are given to convalescent individuals and nursing mothers, the latter practice (also employed in the West) stemming from its galactagogue properties. [9]

Likewise, alcoholic extracts derived from burdock’s constituent parts are also employed for the exact same purposes, although in smaller dosages, as these tinctures (derived from macerating dried plant parts in alcohol) tend to be more concentrated than wines or tisanes. Tinctures of the plant may even be mixed with a base oil to create liniments that are used as antifungal and analgesic agents. [10]

Very potent decoctions of burdock root have also been applied topically as a remedy for ichthyosis (a rare, often debilitating, and disfiguring skin condition), eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Milder decoctions of the root and leaves (or sometimes only the dried leaves) can be drunk as a remedy for griping and as a tonic beverage for toning the digestive system, and for easing stomachaches and indigestion. An alternative would be to soak dried roots and leaves in a base oil and allow it to macerate for several months, shaking every week or so. The subsequent macerated oil may then be distilled and employed as a beautifying agent, hair oil, and even as an ointment for the relief of rheumatism and arthritis. [11]

A poultice of dried leaves mixed with a little base oil may even be heated and applied to aching body parts or rheumy joints in order to alleviate the discomfort. In traditional folkloric medicine, such poultices were even applied to sore and tired feet after a long day’s hike. It was believed to treat gout effectively, and to prevent muscular spasms associated with over-exertion. Poultices made from burdock leaves may even help to soothe the pain and discomfort associated with skin lesions, topical ulcerations, and allergic breakouts. [12]

Esoteric / Magickal Uses

When employed for magickal purposes, burdock is commonly associated with protection, healing, and health. In most branches or systems of magick, it is employed in much the same way as it would be medicinally, although Voodoo, Hoodoo, and some branches of folk magick and shamanism typically employ burdock as an amulet, especially its root, although its leaves and burrs may also be employed. In sympathetic magick, the burrs of burdock may be employed as protective articles for warding off evil, as they can be used in herb-based hex bottles, or they can be used to attract luck or fortune (if such is the spellworker’s intention), due to its tendency to ‘cling’ to whatever comes into contact with it. In Voodoo, Hoodoo, and some branches of shamanism, the taproot of burdock that has experienced its first year of growth and subsequent ‘hibernation’ may be dug out, carved, and worn as an amulet (usually by encasing it in a juju bag, mojo bag, or Medicine pouch) and worn upon one’s person to counter hexes and drive off misfortune. [13] Practitioners of hoodoo even create ointments which contain burdock root and prescribe it to restore flagging sex drive especially in men.

While burdock is deemed generally safe when consumed as a foodstuff, care should be taken when employing burdock topically or when harvesting burdock, as the tiny hairs found on its leaves and stems can cause allergic reactions in individuals who have very sensitive skin. Individuals who are allergic to plants from the Asteraceae or Compositae family (i. e. chrysanthemums, daisies) should steer clear of burdock, as contact with the plant, or internal consumption of remedies containing the plant may pose a health risk.

Due to its anti-coagulative properties, individuals who are under similar synthetic medications should limit or altogether discontinue their intake of any products containing burdock, as it may interfere with the body’s ability to facilitate blood clotting. Persons who are set to undertake any type of surgery should cease the consumption of burdock or medicines containing the plant at least two weeks prior to the appointment lest complications occur. Likewise, pregnant women should steer clear of burdock tea and limit their consumption of burdock root during pregnancy as it may stimulate the uterus and cause miscarriages (a very rare but nevertheless possible occurrence). Furthermore, individuals who partake of water pills should likewise limit their intake of the herb, lest its diuretic action interact with the medications, resulting in dehydration as well as nutrient and electrolyte depletion.

#52 Calendula:

Names of Calendula, past and present

Chinese: jin zhan ju
French: calendula / fleur de tous le mois / souci de jardins
Anglo-Saxon (proposed): ymbglidegold
English: calendula / marigold / pot marigold / holligold / marybud / gold-bloom
Sanskrit: zergul
Latin (esoteric): calendae (fr. Latin ‘calend’; lit. ‘calendar’)
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Calendula officinalis

Calendula – Background and History:

The calendula is a popular flowering plant of the daisy family. It is also commonly known as marigold – however Calendula is a distinct genus all its own, with as much as twenty distinct species displaying either perennial or annual traits; and should not be confused with other plants that are referred to as ‘marigolds’.

Calendula
Calendula – image to repin / share
Background pic – Alvesgaspar – lic. under CC 3.0

Thought to be a native of the Mediterranean, calendula is also found in several parts of Macronesia, India, Arabia, and Asia, although it is most popular in European areas, especially in places where Grecian or Roman influence is strong. Calendula is characterized by its herbaceous appearance, and sports an iconic yellow-hued blossom that resembles a sunburst. The flowers come in varied shades of yellow, with everything from yellow-gold, dun-yellow and bright-yellow colours being common. The petals of the blossoms vary, with some species showing as much as twenty or more petals. The base of the plant itself is shrub-like and reaches no more than thirty inches tall, with hairy leaves that often display a ‘toothed’ or sharpened appearance on the tips and edges. Calendulas also sport fruits that possess thorny exterior skins, and are notable for their curved ‘tooth-like’ appearance. [1] The seeds are likewise curved and thorny.

Calendula has a long-standing reputation for being a medicinal plant, with usage dating back to the time of the Early Greeks. Despite being prescribed Mediterranean origins, the use of calendula as an herbal medicine may also be found in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, although its present popularity does indeed seem to stem from the medicinal properties attributed it by the Greeks, and later, by the Romans. Calendula may also be used as a foodstuff, typically as an accompaniment to salads, although the culinary use of calendula has decline as of late, with preferences veering towards a markedly medicinally-inclined purpose. Despite its popularity during ancient times, and up until the latter part of the 19th century, nowadays, the use of calendula has declined, typically being used by those with a pre-established interest in alternative medicine.

Calendula – Common Herbal Uses:

Nowadays, the most common use of calendula is as an ornamental plant, typically planted in pots or in small garden hedges. In earlier times however, calendula served various purposes and was initially considered indispensible in the kitchen, where it was typically grown in tiny pots, to be used fresh whenever needed, earning it the name of ‘pot marigold’. It was employed as a garnish, and as a type of culinary herb both for salads and light soups, although this practice fell into disuse during the early 20th century. Nowadays, the petals of the calendula are commonly employed in the making of tisanes, typically in its fresh form, although pre-packaged tea bags or loose dried calendula petals may also be employed in its creation. Tisanes made from calendula petals have long been ascribed tonifying, detoxifying, and emmenagogue properties and is commonly drunk to help relieve menstrual cramps, or (in stronger concentrations) to encourage regular menstruation. [2]

Calendula officinalis
Calendula officinalis

It has long been prescribed for everything from erratic periods, wound disinfection, bladder cleansing, and organ tonifying. A very strong decoction of calendula tea may even be useful in preventing sepsis and infection, while at the same time encouraging the repair and recovery of damaged or diseased skin. Because of its rejuvenating and antifungal properties, calendula tea may be used as a topical hair, face, or skin rinse to help stave off dandruff, wrinkling, and minor fungal infections.

When employed as a hair-rinse, it makes for the perfect natural hair-lightener (for blondes and brunettes), especially when combined with honey and applied religiously for three days to a week at the most. [3] Potent decoctions of the petals may also be employed as an all-natural alternative to chemical-based feminine washes or douches, as it provides ample antimicrobial actions, without being harsh enough to interfere with the natural flora of the female organ. This mild decoction may even be employed as a remedy for ear and eye infections when used as a topical rinse over the affected areas.

When mixed with honey and ginger and allowed to infuse for up to a month, it makes for an excellent syrup for mild coughs and sore throat as well as a great healing salve for cuts, burns, and fungal infections. Calendula petals may even be powdered, encapsulated, and taken orally as a food supplement. Despite the commonality of this practice, it is ill-advised, as prolonged consumption of calendula in extremely large dosages may have detrimental side-effects. Allowed to infused in a base oil of one’s choosing, it is said to be useful for relieving discomforts brought about by rheumatism, lumbago, colic, and arthritis when applied topically to the affected area, although it is perhaps more potent if combined with a spice or herb possessing a warming or cooling nature, as calendula ointments by itself alone simply provides minor anti-inflammatory effects. [4] Calendula petals may even be made into tinctures, and is employed as a remedy for much of the same ailments it treats in its decocted or infused form, albeit the tincture of calendula is of a far more concentrated nature than any other preparation, and thus must be used sparingly.

While calendula petals have been used in the past as an organic dye which yielded a pale-yellow to yellow-orange hue depending on the concentration, the most popular (and well-known) use of calendula petals is in the creation of calendula oil. Unlike other oils however, calendula oil is not in the truest sense of the word an essential oil, but is rather a very strong macerated infusion of fresh calendula petals in a base oil of one’s choosing. The maceration process imbues the base oil with the properties found in the calendula petals, making it a perfect healing oil for cuts, burns, bruises, warts, and general aches and pains. Calendula oil is known for its potent antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties and is a must-have in every first-aid kit. [5] It is also among the most easy-to-make of all medicinal oils, requiring very little fuss during preparation.

The leaves of the calendula also possess some degree of medicinal use, although it is far more limited than that of the flowers. The leaves may be consumed as a type of salad greens while yet young, and has been traditionally prescribed as a remedy for scrofula in Western folkloric medicine. The juice extracted from the macerated leaves have also been said to be a potent remedy against warts and boils, and either poultices or the extracted juices of the calendula’s leaves have been prescribed for the treatment of warts, usually as no more than a folk remedy of dubious efficiency. [6]

Calendula – Safety Notes:

While calendula appears to lack any distinct detrimental side-effects, one should nevertheless err on the side of caution when taking calendula orally, regardless of the method employed. Occasional individuals have allergic reactions to calendula.

Pregnant and lactating women should refrain from taking calendula tea or supplements containing calendula for the duration of their gestational term until well into the end of their lactating phase as it may cause unwanted side-effects such as accidental miscarriage (in pregnant women) due to its emmenagogic properties, or a change in the constitution of breast milk in the case of lactating mothers.

Calendula – Esoteric / Magickal Uses

Calendula features strongly in old “folk magick” and hearthcraft where it was traditionally considered a powerful protective herb. Garlands or boquets of calendula are usually hung upon doorways and rafters to prevent any form of evil from entering the abode. Typically associated with the properties of Fire and the Sun, calendula oil may help to increase the potency of amulets or talismans if employed in consecration, while its petals made into a sachet and stashed beneath a pillow are said to bring about prophetic dreams. The seeds of the calendula are typically associated with protective properties sympathetic to fire elementals.

When carried in a mojo bag or a medicine pouch, it is said to help in all legal matters, especially if carried into a courtroom during a hearing. Bathing in water infused with calendula is said to help improve one’s charisma and charms, and may have been employed to this effect by leaders or individuals who wished to obtain dominant or powerful roles in their respective fields.

#53 Catnip:

Names of Catnip, past and present

Chinese: chi hsueh tsao

Spanish: hierba gatera / nebada / menta de gato
Italian: herba catti / herba cataria /
French: cataire / chataire / herbe a chat / herbe aux chats / methe des chats
English: catmint / catnip / catnep / catwort / cat’s wort / field balm / cat’s heal-all / cat’s-play / garden nep / nepeta (adapted) / nep (abbreviation for ‘nepeta’)
Latin (esoteric): catera menthe / herbe felixis / neptera
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Nepeta cataria (other nomenclatures exist, with each varietals of catnip having its own distinct nomenclature)

Background and History

Catnip is quite a popular herb chiefly due to the fact that it appeals to cat lovers – because of its intoxicating quality when inhaled or partaken of by cats. This unassuming plant typically grows in untended lots or waste places, and measures some fifty to one hundred centimetres tall at the most. Because it is a hardy plant that is commonly found in abandoned places, or else simply shooting up from lawns out of nowhere, it is often considered a weed by unknowing individuals. Considered a native of both Asia and Europe, catnip has become naturalised throughout many areas of the world, especially since it is now widely cultivated primarily for its appeal to pet cats, and (only secondarily) for its medicinal purposes. [1]

Catnip
Uses Of Catnip – infographic to repin / share
Background image – Forest & Kim Starr – lic. under CC 3.0

While chiefly resembling mint, which is a distant relative of catmint (hence the alternative name of ‘catmint’), it is characterised by its greyish-green hued leaves and tiny, clustered flowers of a white hue replete with tiny dots of purple all throughout. While chiefly available in pet stores in already pre-prepared form, catnip is also cultivated by both cat lovers and herbalists alike from seedlings or seeds available nearly everywhere plants are sold. Some wild varietals may even be cultivated and multiplied in any home garden, as the plant is very hardy and not at all difficult to grow. Catnip is notorious for its effect on cats, as it evidently appears to make them “high” in a manner that is often highly entertaining; although it has also been used medicinally by humans since ancient times, a practice which persists to this day.

Catnip – General Herbal Uses

The most common use of catnip is as a treat for cats that find its scent and taste highly appealing and pleasurable. Its active compound, nepetalacone, is responsible for the highly alluring appeal that it has over felines. Although it is commonly thought of that all cats (both small and big cats alike) are susceptible to the lure of catnip, it is now understood that only a select population of cats find catnip arousing or appealing, and only if they have inherited the dominant trait from their sires. Nepetalacone is usually imbibed by cats through their Jacobson’s organ (medicinally termed ‘vomeronasal organ’) usually when they accidentally bruise the plants (or when their human friends purposely rub or bruise the leaves for them), which elicits a variety of responses ranging from mild sedation, purring, ‘smiling’ (aka the ‘Flehmen response’), clawing, affectionate rubbing (on the plant), giddiness, general euphoric behavior, arousal, and even aggression. The reactions vary from cat to cat, although one thing is true for cats that are susceptible to catnip – they love it. The effects of catnip usually lasts only for a few minutes, after which the cats become insensate to the plant for at least an hour or two, and then the fun starts again!

When employed for the pleasure of furry friends, one must take note that while catnip is perfectly safe for all cats (including lions, tigers, jaguars, pumas, and every other feline within this sphere of existence), it can encourage aggressive behaviour in some cats which may result in biting, scratching, or general unsavoury behaviour. If catnip causes one’s pet to misbehave, discontinuance of use is advised for the safety of both (human and animal) friends and persons. [2]

When used medicinally for human consumption, the leaves of the catnip more than any other part of the plant is typically employed, usually by being made into decoctions or, if dried, made into infusions. It may even be powdered (when dried) and encased in veggie or gelatin capsules, to be taken orally for faster results. In the simplest application, a decoction of catnip leaves is typically made and drunk as a nervine, to soothe anxiety, relieve stress, and promote relaxation. [3] Just as in cats, catnip also has a soothing and sedative quality when drunk by humans. Because it is a distant relative of the mint family, catnip also works as an excellent stomachic, especially when drunk after heavy meals, as it not only soothes the stomach, but also facilitates in faster and easier digestion. [4] Due to its distinct aroma, sipping hot catnip tea while inhaling its fumes may help to alleviate the symptoms of migraines and headaches while enveloping one with a sense of calm.

The fresh leaves may be crushed or bruised and used as an antimicrobial rub or poultice for minor cuts and abrasions, as well as for larger wounds as it not only facilitates in faster healing, but it also staves off infection. The fresh leaves may even be chewed to help relieve the symptoms of toothaches, or a very strong decoction of the leaves (either dry or fresh) may be made into a gargle taken after each meal. Catnip tisanes are perfect for small children who suffer from colic, and since the tea can be somewhat unpalatable for children, mixing it with honey (for children aged 10+) or integrating it into their milk bottle (two to three tablespoons mixed into a full bottle of formula milk or pumped mother’s milk) . Because of its soothing and sedative properties, strong decoctions of catnip make for the perfect before-bed drink, especially if mixed with lavender and chamomile. [4] This concoction also works well to alleviate panic attacks and general stress and is perfect for soothing hyperactive children. Taken in moderation, catnip may even help to boost the body’s immune system and protect it from common diseases like fevers and flu. Catnip also acts as an excellent detoxifier, as it’s diuretic and warming properties help to flush out the nasties that have been accumulating in the body easily and safely.

A poultice made from the fresh leaves can also be applied to rheumy parts to provide pain-relief. Further efficiency is achieved if one mixes ginger, chili, or turmeric along with the catnip for a truly penetrating relief for rheumatism and arthritis. It is best applied heated or warm, although applying it fresh from the mortar and pestle works just as well. Very potent decoctions of catnip may even be used as a vermicide or parasiticide in much the same way as wormwood or anise, although great care / expert guidance should be taken when using the herb for such purposes as there can be some unpleasant side-effects. When drunk in controlled doses twice or thrice a week, catnip tisanes may even work as a general tonic. It works best for women as it not only relieves the symptoms of PMS and helps to relieve anxiety and stress, but it also helps regulate menstruation and help ease cramps. [5]

Catnip may be integrated into warm baths either by adding dried leaves unto the warm or tolerably hot bathwater, or by boiling a very strong decoction of the leaves and mixing it with one’s bathwater to create a lukewarm bath. It is an effective means to unwind as well as to soothe sore and aching muscles. A tincture of catnip leaves may even be made by mixing dried catnip leaves with 90% proof vodka or cognac and allowing it to macerate for a couple of weeks, shaking regularly. This tincture may then be used (in very minute and diluted amounts) as a general tonic, nervine, or emmenagogue.

Catnip
Catnip – illustration from an old book

Dried catnip leaves can even be smoked either by itself or mixed with other smokable herbs such as vervain, and even (de facto) tobacco. When smoked, catnip not only promotes a sense of calm and a temporary ‘high’, it is also believed to promote better, more restful sleep as well as lucid dreams. Smoking catnip may also bring about a feeling of coolness that spreads all throughout the body, not unlike the feeling of smoking menthol-tipped cigarettes, but with a more intense minty feel. Smoking catnip may even bring about a certain feeling of euphoria, or a sense of time slowing down. This ‘slowing down’ of one’s external sense of time includes slower reaction time, a feeling of ‘floating’ and a sense of everything being in ‘slo-mo’. If smoking catnip, it is therefore advisable to refrain from any activity which may require fast reflexes such as driving or the operation of heavy machinery, as catnip may impair one’s performance.

Dried catnip leaves may be burnt as an incense to make an all-natural 100% effective insect repellant that deters flies, roaches, mosquitoes, and many other common pests. The essential oil of catnip (which is obtained through steam distillation) may be burnt in an oil diffuser to achieve the same insect repellant effect. It may even be added into a pan of hot water and inhaled to help relieve the symptoms of stuffy nose, as well as to ease the pain of headaches, relive nausea, and alleviate the dragging feeling of fatigue. [5]

Catnip – Esoteric Uses and Lore

In magickal practices, catnip has been used for love spells and lust-charms. It has been used as a magickal herb for women who wish to attract a potential mate, as catnip, when burnt as an incense that is cast all over the person, or otherwise used as a face-wash or rinse is said to increase one’s attractiveness. Catnip is usually made into gris-gris pouches and carried by women to attract men (or women) that they desire, as legend has it that the apple of their eye will find them irresistible. Catnip is also employed as an herbal bath, not only to promote relaxation and calm, but to increase attractiveness and seductiveness as well. Sprinkling powdered catnip leaves on the four corners of a bed is said to spice up one’s sex-life, as well as ensure their lover’s devotion and fidelity! Macerating dried catnip leaves in whiskey or rum and sprinkling the ensuing concoction on one’s doorstep under a full moon is said to bring about a lover into one’s life within the next twenty one days. Catnip, being a feminine herb, can also be burnt as a soothing and relaxing incense as well as a totemic offering for shamanic magick (working best if one’s totem is of the feline family). [6]

Catnip – Safety notes.

Care should be taken when consuming catnip for long periods of time, as excessive consumption of very strong decoctions may act as an abortifacient and may induce premature labour or uteral contractions if taken while pregnant. Pregnant and nursing women are dissuaded from drinking even mild infusions of catnip tea, although inhalants, if partaken only sparingly, are allowable, granted the permission and guidance of an expert herbalist or medical practitioner. This is not medical advice.

Catnip – Scientific Studies and Research

Catnip as aphrodisiac: A 2011 research study had revealed the positive effect of catnip (Nepeta cataria) on the sexual behavior of rats. In this study, male rats were fed with food added with 10% catnip leaves for 4 hours and were monitored for general activity and motor coordination. Results had demonstrated that catnip consumption increases male rat sexual behavior, which is closely linked with the dopaminergic system. [1] Catnip thus may have potential as a viable candidate for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. [2]

Catnip as antimicrobial: A 2009 Turkish study had also revealed catnip’s in vitro antimicrobial and antioxidant activities, although with a rather weak antioxidative nature. In this study, the antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of the essential oil and methanol extract from catnip as well as its essential oil composition were explored. The results showed that catnip essential oil worked against eleven bacteria species and twelve fungi species, including a yeast (Candida albicans), whereas catnip methanol extract displayed a weaker activity. [3] Moreover, in another separate earlier study that focused on 44 Staphylococcus aureus strains (some resistant to meticillin), the extract from catnip has also been determined to exhibit inhibitory effects on the DNAse, thermonuclease, and lipase of Staphylococcus aureus at concentrations equal to 1/2 and 1/4 MIC. [4]

Catnip for gastrointestinal and respiratory issues: Catnip, especially the essential oil, has long been traditionally regarded as an alternative treatment of several gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders, such as colic, diarrhea, cough, and asthma. Catnip exerts spasmolytic and myorelaxant actions through a blocking activity on the calcium channels and inhibition of phosphodiesterase. Pharmacological and clinical evidence for this has been provided by Gilani et al.’s (2009) study wherein the essential oil Nepeta cataria L. (Limiaceae) was chemically analyzed. [5]

Catnip as anxiolytic: The leaves of catnip are reported as well to help reduce anxiety and induce sleep. [6] In a study by Sherry and Hunter (1979), at low and moderate dose levels (i.e., 25–1800 mg/kg), the alcohol extract of catnip induced sleep among a good number of chicks. [7] Nepetalactone is chiefly responsible for the mild sedative property of catnip. [8]

Catnip – Active Ingredients / Phytochemistry

Adiguzel et al. (2009) isolated the following main components from the essential oil of catnip:

4aalpha,7alpha,7abeta-nepetalactone (70.4%)
4aalpha,7alpha,7abeta-nepetalactone (6.0%)
thymol (2.3%)
4aalpha,7alpha, 7abeta3-nepetalactone (2.5%) [3]

Gilani et al. (2009), on the other hand, identified four very different major constituents from catnip in their study:

1,8-Cineol (21.00%)
Alpha-humulene (14.44%)
Alpha-pinene (10.43%)
Geranyl acetate (8.21%) [5]

The primary constituent of catnip essential oil is the organic compound nepetalactone, a monoterpenoid that triggers a peculiar response among almost all cats when ingested or inhaled. [8] Hydrogenating nepetalactone yields dihydronepetalactone (DHN) diastereomers, which in turn are effective insect repellents, especially against mosquitoes and flies. [9] At a dosage of 20 mg, catnip essential oil has an average repellency rate of 96% against stable flies (Stomoxys calcitrans (L.)) and an average repellency rate of 79% against houseflies (Musca domestica (L.)). [10] This is medically valuable in the global combat against mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and elephantiasis and fly-borne diseases such as dysentery.

#54 Cayenne:

Other Names – Past and Present

Chinese: la jiao
Indian: lal mirchi / mirchi
Sanskrit: katuvira
Swahili: pili-pili
French: piment de Cayenne / piment engrage / piment-oiseau / poivre rouge
Spanish: pimento / chili picante / chili / aji
Filipino: siling-labuyo / kasira / pimiento (adopted from Spanish) / silit-diablo (lit. “Devil”s chili)
Hungarian: paprika
English: Cayenne pepper / bird pepper / capsicum (adopted from Latin) / Spanish pepper / red pepper / chili / Guinea spice / cow”s horn pepper
Latin (esoteric): capsicum / ici fructus
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Capsicum frutescens / Capsicum fastigiatum / Capsicum annuum (general taxonomy)

Background and History

Nowadays, Cayenne pepper is one of the most popular spices, but despite this popularity, it is anomalous in that it is both well-loved and well-disdained by a nearly equal number of individuals the world over. Strictly a cultivar of the singular chili species, it is commonly referred to simply as “red chili” or any other variant of the name, making it nearly synonymous with all chilies in general despite the fact that the Capsicum family features a broad range of distinct species, each with their own characteristic flavor, spiciness, and culinary as well as medicinal properties (the Cayenne pepper itself being no more than a mere relative of all other chilies in the world). Cayenne peppers are usually thought of as among the spiciest of the lot, and are generally used very sparingly in most types of cuisine, with some centralized cultural exceptions that make for culinary oddities (that proves quite popular with a large body of gourmands, as it proves unpalatable for an equally large body of intolerants).

Initially thought of by some herbalist as native to India, it is now generally accepted that the small, hardy Cayenne pepper shrub is widespread throughout a vast area encompassing a large part of Europe, Asia, Eurasia, and equally large parts of the New World. Its culinary usage is predominant in a number of cultures, although it is most commonly associated with Hispanic, Indian, and North / Northeastern Chinese cuisine. Other ethnic dishes also integrate cayenne pepper liberally into their cuisine, with Korean cuisine, Eastern European cuisine and FilipinoHispanic cuisine featuring the spice avidly as a source of both flavor and the well-loved “kick” redolent of nearly all varieties of peppers.

The Cayenne pepper plant is a relatively small, hardy plant measuring no more than two to three feet tall at the most. While many varieties and cultivars are actively cultivated in plots or in individual pots, more often than not, the cayenne plant grows will in nearly any soil type, although it prefers semi-moist soils. In some countries such as the Philippines, China, India, as well as a vast area of the Americas, the cayenne typically thrives in wild settings or is otherwise found growing profusely in waste areas or abandoned or untended lots. It is usually characterized by the profusion of small, broad leaves that taper to a point at the end, and more so by the presence of its fruits, which range from a few centimeters to several inches in length, and start off as tiny, green-hued stubs that later mature and ripen into bright-red, orangey, or maroon-hued fruits. Some examples of yellow or ivory-hued fruits are also known, but its occurrence is rare. Despite this anomaly, the colour does not in any way affect the flavor, body, or spiciness of the pepper. The plant is also known for its tiny, scentless white flowers which grow from the dried stubs of the unpicked fruits. [1]

Despite their popularity, cayenne peppers (like all chili peppers) were not commonplace in the Old World, being a plant that thrived in, and was used predominantly in the New World. It’s rare integration into decidedly Old World-style cuisine may have come about due to its localized presence (mainly thanks to international trade with Asia) is Arabic territories such as Morocco, Turkey, and Istanbul, which were significant areas of trade and commerce long before the discovery and subsequent colonizing of the New World. Some food historians suggest that milder variants of the cayenne pepper and all its other relations were a relatively modern introduction thanks to specialized crossbreeding of strains. Cayenne peppers are widely consumed as a food and vegetable (with edible fruit and leaves), or otherwise employed as a spice, condiment, or seasoning in its whole fresh, dried whole, or dried and processed forms.

Aside from its culinary uses, cayenne peppers (and many of its other relative species) have been employed medicinally for centuries. Due to its unpalatable nature, it is not very commonly taken orally, although it has been incorporated into foodstuffs for therapeutic purposes with varying levels of efficiency. It has been employed topically, however, as its spiciness is more tolerable, and is in fact highly beneficial, for problems of the topical sort. Ingesting cayenne pepper for supplementary purposes have also become somewhat commonplace nowadays, although it is usually through the medium of an extract of its primary active compounds (chiefly capsaicin), or via the traditional pulverized medium, readily encapsulated for easy and sure ingestion sans any discomfort.

Common / Popular Uses

The most common use of cayenne pepper was and still remains to be as a culinary spice. Commonly integrated into soups and stews, it is also a welcome addition to meat-based preparations, vegetable-based dishes, and even a limited number of desserts and confections, although its usage for the latter is a relatively (debatably) modern innovation that has yet to gain a strong and regular following. Cayenne pepper can be employed culinary in a variety of different mediums, and in a number of forms. The most common (as easily obtainable) form of the spice is in its dried and powdered form. This is often incorporated into rubs or otherwise used as a seasoning and a condiment. In its dried whole form, it is often infused into oils or vinegars, if not altogether incorporated into soup-based dishes or employed as a condiment for a select number of dishes. The fresh cayenne pepper is also employed in a similar manner, or it may be pickled (if it is sizeable enough) and used for seasoning, or consumed as a snack by the daring and the foolhardy.

Furthermore, while it is not as well-known, the use of its leaves and (on occasion) its flowers as a vegetable is quite commonplace in several parts of Asia, and later on, some parts of Eurasia and Eastern Europe. While the flowers are tasteless, they do add an aesthetic flourish to soups, stews, roasts, and salads. The leaves, usually fresh (but sometimes dried) are integrated into soup-based dishes. In rare occasions, it is used as a garnish, a condiment (especially when dried), or as a base for mellow rub mixtures. It is characterized by a muted pungency which encourages salivation and adds a very subtle body to soups.

The consumption of cayenne peppers is in itself medicinal, and oftentimes, its medicinal use is solely relegated to that of the supplemental. Traditional applications however call for the use of the unprepared fruit, which, due to its spiciness, is unpalatable for most, hence the relegation of the use of fresh cayenne peppers to (mostly) topical applications. The fruits, when bruised and mixed with oil can be used as a foementation and applied to rheumy parts to provide relief. A mild decoction of the fresh fruit is drunk (by those who have the gall enough) as a stomachic, a digestive aid, mouthwash, and as a remedy for dyspepsia. Relatively stronger brews yield an excellent antihistaminic, antispasmodic and analgesic drink. [2] Very strong decoctions of the fruit can be applied topically after the liquor has sufficiently cooled makes for a good (albeit slightly uncomfortable) remedy for scalp problems, ringworm infection, fungal infection, dandruff, oily scalp, and eczema. Strong decoctions of the fruit combined with the leaves have also been used as a remedy for coughs, sore throat, laryngitis, ulcerations of the mouth, and as a supplementary beverage for the management of diabetes mellitus. [3]

Infused in vinegar (by itself or combined with other medicinal plants) it makes for an excellent antiseptic for minor wounds and scratches, or as a great hair rinse that helps to improve and encourage hair-growth while keeping common scalp problems at bay. This infused vinegar may also be used for culinary purposes, or as a complimentary side-condiment to meals, especially of the piscine variety.

Left to steep in a base-oil of one’s choosing, it is an excellent liniment or ointment for general aches and pains. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties make it extremely useful for the management of arthritis and rheumatism. When applied to the scalp, it is said to improve blood flow and encourage hair-growth. [4] Highly concentrated ointments (made stronger through the heated infusion process) may also be employed in much the same way as clove oil for the relief of tooth aches and mouth sores, but despite its efficiency, it can be very uncomfortable. When dried and allowed to steep in oil, it can also be employed for culinary purposes, typically as a cooking oil, a dip, or as a preparatory rub for meats and fish prior to cooking.

The fresh fruit of the cayenne plant may also be used by itself as an instant rubefacient when crushed and applied to the affected area. It may be applied directly to swollen joints to help alleviate pain and reduce swelling. The highly pungent and extremely spicy juice of the fresh fruit may be applied on aching teeth to relieve nagging pain. Crushed and brought near to the olfactory glands, it makes for an excellent smelling herb that helps to relieve nausea, drowsiness, and feelings of vertigo. Crushed and mixed with oil, it can be used as a poultice for general pain relief, although it works best as a liniment (especially if combined with ginger root and essential oil of peppermint).

The dried, pulverized fruit can be consumed as a supplement when encapsulated, or otherwise regularly incorporated into meals for supplementary purposes especially for the management of discomforts brought about by rheumatism, arthritis, gout, and gastric or digestive complaints. It may also be taken to hasten one’s metabolic function and promote weight loss. When consumed in moderate doses regularly, it helps to improve the body’s ability to assimilate and absorb nutrients, as well as to regulate one’s appetite – a very useful benefit, especially for individuals who are combating obesity. Daily supplementation cayenne pepper may also help to improve cardiovascular health, reduce LDL cholesterol levels, and help improve the normal detoxification capacities of the body. [5]

Aside from the extremely useful fruit, the leaves also possess some medicinal properties. It can be employed as an antiseptic through the decoction process, or made into an excellent hemostatic agent when crushed and applied to open wounds. Very strong decoctions of the leaves also possess moderately strong anti-fungal properties, and is useful for topical applications with the added benefit of a lack of “spiciness” which can oftentimes cause discomfort for some individuals. The leaves may also be made into a tisane (with, or without the fruit) and drunk as a detoxifying beverage in the mornings to jumpstart the body’s metabolic activity.

Magickal / Esoteric Uses

Despite being highly useful medicinally, there is a limited amount of information with regards to the magickal uses of cayenne peppers. While it does feature strongly in some branches of voodoo and hoodoo, as well as in shamanism, its use in the realm of Western magick is rare. It is typically attributed strengthening and enervating properties, and is usually associated with the planet Mars and the element of fire. In some voodoo practices, it is employed as a protection herb and as a charm to increase the possessor’s vigour and charisma, and may feature in mojo bags or medicine pouches. In modern Western magickal theory, it is said to increase the “size” of a person’s aura (perhaps meant in the light of its possible use to multiply or enhance the vigour of aural energy), and is typically carried around or consumed for such purposes. In India, it is commonly offered (along with other variants of the chili family) as an offering to gods, especially those of a particularly malevolent, violent, or fierce nature. In Philippine shamanism, it is employed as a protection herb and is hung above doorposts or next to windows to ward off malignant spirits, usually accompanied by the more commonplace garlic garlands (it was traditionally hung on the four corners of a house, or stashed beneath its foundations). While the fruit may be burnt as incense, it is usually not attempted as the whole dried fruit emits a foul odour with an unpleasantly stinging, acrid smoke, and has the tendency to explode with a loud pop. Powdered cayenne pepper may be used to remedy this problem, or its leaves and flowers may be substituted for its fruits. It makes for an excellent incense casting circles, as it is a protective herb. It is also a great enchanting and charging herb (used in its decocted or incense form), as it helps to increase the power of the spellwork. Cayenne may be employed (albeit rarely) for love spells that incur passion and unbridled lust, although it is geared more towards the masculine, more than the feminine forms of desire. [6]

While cayenne pepper is relatively safe to use, there are dangers associated with excessive consumption of cayenne peppers which can result in mild diarrhea, vomiting, and elevated body temperatures. It can also cause mild tremors and cardiovascular discomforts, shortness of breath, and blurred vision, but only if consumed in the utmost excess. It is also traditionally thought to cause hemorrhoids, and is known to aggravate stomach ulcers and hyperacidity when consumed excessively. Cayenne peppers (along with all of its relatives) should be avoided by individuals who regularly experience heartburn, and who have a history of angina pectoris. This is contradicted however by the fact that it is a useful supplement for individuals who suffer from high-blood pressure. Used topically, cayenne peppers may incur mild rashes, itching, and general discomforts, so doing a patch test prior to topical application is a must. While cayenne is not a known abortifacient, supplementing with encapsulated cayenne pepper powder must be ceased during pregnancy. It can, however, be resumed after delivery as it helps to facilitate in the faster healing of the womb. Under no circumstances should any product containing cayenne pepper in any form of preparation be applied directly to the eyes or sinuses as it can cause severe discomfort (and, in the case of the eyes, temporary to permanent blindness).

#55

Chamomile

Chamomile
Chamomile
Chamomile photo – Kallerna – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0

Chamomile – Background Information And History:

Chamomile (aka Camomile) is one of the world’s most popular and widely recognized herbs. It comes from the family of plants known as Asteraceae or Compositae. The part of the plant typically used in herbalism are the flowers, which are sweetly aromatic and have a bright yellow center with white radiating petals closely resembling those of a daisy. Originally, the word, Chamomile, was derived from the Greek, chamaimilon, or “earth apple.” In Russia, Chamomile is the national flower. [1] [2] There are several species of Chamomile including German or Roman and others, which are unrelated botanically speaking, yet both contain a blue-colored oil containing the plant’s active constituents. [3] The plant is used mostly in herbal teas, medicine, perfume and condiments. It is indigenous to Europe and western Asia. [4] The FDA includes Chamomile in its (GRAS) list, or Generally Recognized As Safe. [5]

In English herbalist Culpeper’s famous 17th century Compleat Herbal, he states, “It is so well known everywhere that it is but lost time and labor to describe it.” He also goes on to explain that the Egyptians dedicated it to the Sun, and used it for ‘agues’ or fevers. [6] In fact, many ancient cultures valued it, including the Greeks and Romans. Chamomile is also one of the nine sacred herbs listed in The Lacnunga(‘Remedies’) which is a compendium of Anglo-Saxon medical texts and prayers, most likely compiled in England in the tenth or eleventh century and written primarily in Old English and Latin. [7]

In folklore, Chamomile is featured in Norse Mythology as “Balder’s brow or Balder’s eyelashes, named after Balder, the Norse God of Light. [8] Chamomile is traditionally gathered for May Day, in honor of the Goddess, Freyja, to make aromatic beds for lovemaking and is also one of the important herbs of Midsummer. Shakespeare mentions Chamomile in Henry IV, part 1, saying, “The Camomile; The more it is trodden on, the faster it grows.”

 

Chamomile – General Herbal Uses:

A wide range of chamomile (Matricaria) preparations have been traditionally used to manage or prevent several common maladies such as hay fever, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, ulcers, insomnia, and hemorrhoids. Although various forms of chamomile preparations exist, the herbal tea brewed from dried flower heads still stands as the most prevalent. Many people are familiar with Chamomile as a relaxing drink at bedtime and it has been widely used in this manner since old times. [9]

Modern herbal sources claim that Chamomile is essentially beneficial to nervous and digestion systems, and used both orally and topically for the skin. It is generally used for insomnia, anxiety, and gastrointestinal conditions. [10] Mothers swear by it in herbal as well as homeopathic form to soothe fussy babies and children suffering from painful teething, colic, and stress. [11] In fact, the Latin name for Chamomile, Matricaria is derived from the word Mater, meaning both mother and womb. [12] Curiously, Chamomile also has a reputation as a “plant doctor” that can heal other plants which surround it in gardens. [13]

Chamomile – Scientific Studies:

There are hundreds of recent, interesting studies listed Pubmed on Chamomile and its essential oil, many reporting medicinal benefits of the plant.

Matricaria chamomilla

Matricaria chamomilla
Matricaria chamomilla (German chamomile)

Chamomile boasts a long battery of pharmacologically valuable actions such asantioxidant, antimicrobial, (in vitro) antiplatelet activity, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, cholesterol-lowering, antispasmodic, andanxiolytic activities. [14]

Chamomile as skin healer (topical): A team of researchers from Islamic Azad University, investigated the effects of chamomile versus hydrocortisone ointment on skin lesions. They found the chamomile reduced inflammation and healed the skin lesions significantly faster, and with less pain and itching than the hydrocortisone group. [15] Despite these interesting conclusions, follow-up studies still need to be done to confirm these studies.

Chamomile as anti-inflammatory: The anti-inflammatory effect of chamomile is partly due to its inhibitory action on the activity of COX-2 enzyme and thus on the release of lipopolysaccharide-induced prostaglandin E2 – a mechanism of action that parallels that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). [16]The inhibitory action of chamomile against tumor growth, on the other hand, comes from apigenin, one of chamomile’s major bioactive constituents.

Chamomile flavonoids: The flavonoids in chamomile inhibits the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in vitro, and the regular consumption of flavonoids may reduce one’s chances of dying from coronary heart disease, as illustrated by the study of Hertog, Feskens, Hollman, Katan, and Kromhout (1993). [17] Chamomile also serves as a fine traditional remedy for several gastrointestinal conditions such as flatulence, ulcers, colic, and irritation. [18]

Chamomile as anti-anxiety agent:In a 2009 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled efficacy and tolerability trial of chamomile extract therapy performed in patients with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder, study results have shown that chamomile exerts modest anxiolytic activity, as evidenced by a significant reduction in mean total Hamilton Anxiety Rating (HAM-A) scores. [19]

Chamomile – Active Ingredients

Several kinds of terpenoids and flavonoids abound in the dried flowers of chamomile, all of which contribute to the medicinal herb’s pharmacologic properties. [9] Phenolic compounds such as those listed below are the main constituents of chamomile [15] :

Apigenin: Apigenin is a plant flavone that is shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties; is associated with a decreased cancer risk, especially to cancers of the breast, digestive tract, skin, prostate, and blood [20] ; and is a potent inhibitor of epidermal ornithine decarboxylase induction by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), which plays a role in tumor promotion. [21] Chamomile is a rich source of apigenin, and a maximum concentration of 0.8–1.2% can be derived from the chamomile infusion.[20] )

Quercetin: Quercetin is a flavonoid known to possess not only antioxidant and anti-inflammatory but also mitochondrial biogenesis–increasing activities as shown by myriad in vitro and animal studies. Quercetin supplementation can increase endurance [22] and provide symptomatic improvement among men with chronic pelvic pain syndrome. [23]

Patuletin: Patuletin is a lens aldose reductase (AR) inhibitor being studied as a means to prevent eye and nerve damage. [24]

Luteolin: According to a recent South Korean study, luteolin has the potential to be a potent anti-angiogenic agent for retinal neovascularization because of its ability to block reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and suppress the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). [25] Luteolin and quercetin are also effective agents against leishmaniasis, both of which deter the growth of Leishmania donovanipromastigotes and amastigotes in vitro and inhibit DNA synthesis in promastigotes. [26]

The following are the chief constituents of the essential oil extracted from chamomile flowers [15] :

Alpha-bisabolol and its oxides
Azulenes, including chamazulene

Chamomile – Safety Notes:

A word of caution as Chamomile is a known emmenagogue, meaning its use can potentially cause contractions of the uterus and a consequential miscarriage. Thus, The U.S. National Institutes for Health recommends that pregnant and nursing mothers avoid it for this reason. [9]

Chamomile in old Herbals & Pharmocopœia:

William Thomas Fernie – “Herbal Simples” (1895): CHAMOMILE – No Simple in the whole catalogue of herbal medicines is possessed of a quality more friendly and beneficial to the intestines than “Camomile flowers.” This herb was well known to the Greeks, who thought it had an odour like that of apples, and therefore they named it “Earth Apple,” from two of their words, kamai-on the ground, and melon-an apple. The Spaniards call it Manzanilla, from a little apple, and they give the same name to one of their lightest sherries flavoured with this plant. The flowers, or “blows” of the Camomile belong to the daisy genus, having an outer fringe of white ray florets, with a central yellow disk, in which lies the chief medicinal virtue of the plant. In the cultivated Camomile the white petals increase, while the yellow centre diminishes; thus it is that the curative properties of the wild Camomile are the more powerful. The true Camomile is to be distinguished from the bitter Camomile, or Corn Feverfew, which has weaker properties, and grows erect, with several flowers at a level on the same stalk. The true Camomile grows prostrate, and produces but one flower (with a convex yellow disk) from each stem, whilst its leaves are divided into hairlike segments. The flowers exhale a powerful aromatic smell, and present a peculiar bitter to the taste. When distilled with water they yield a small quantity of most useful essential oil, which, if fresh and good, is always of a bluish colour. It should be green or blue, and not faded to yellow. This oil is a mixture of ethers, among which “camomilline,” or the valerianate of butyl, predominates. Medicinally it serves to lower nervous excitability reflected from some organ in trouble, but remote from the part where the pain is actually felt; so it is very useful for such spasmodic coughs as are due to indigestion; also for distal neuralgia, pains in the head or limbs from the same cause, and for nervous colic of the bowels. The oil may be given in doses of from two to four drops on a lump of sugar, or in a dessert-spoonful of milk. Camomile tea is an excellent stomachic when taken in moderate doses of half-a-teacupful at a time. It should be made by pouring half-a-pint of boiling water on half-an-ounce of the dried flower heads, and letting this stand for fifteen minutes. A special tincture (H.) of Camomilla is made from the bitter Camomile (Matricaria), which, when given in small doses of three or four drops in a dessert-spoonful of cold water every hour, will signally relieve severe neuralgic pains, particularly if they are aggravated at night. Likewise this remedy will quickly cure restlessness and fretfulness in children from teething, and who refuse to be soothed save by being carried about.

The name, Matricaria,, of the bitter Camomile is derived from mater cara, “beloved mother,” because the herb is dedicated to St. Anne, the reputed mother of the Virgin Mary.

Camomile tea is also an excellent drink for giving to aged persons an hour or more before dinner. Francatelli directs that it should be made thus: “Put about thirty flowers into a jug, and pour a pint of boiling water on them; cover up the tea, and when it has stood for about ten minutes pour it off from the flowers into another jug, and sweeten with sugar or honey.” A teacupful of this Camomile tea, into which is stirred a large dessert-spoonful of moist sugar, with a little grated ginger added, will serve for the purpose now indicated. For outward application, to relieve inflammatory pains, or congestive neuralgia, hot fomentations made of the infused Chamomile “blows” are invaluable. Bags may be loosely stuffed with the flowers, and steeped well in boiling water before being applied. But for internal use the infusion and the extract of the herb are comparatively useless, because much of the volatile essential oil is dissipated by boiling, or by dry heat.

The Corn Feverfew, or bitter Camomile, differs from the Anthemis nobilis, or true Camomile, in having a concave yellow disk, with spreading oblong stigmas. It is remarkable that each Camomile is a plant physician, as nothing contributes so much to the health of a garden as a number of Camomile herbs dispersed about it. Singularly enough, if another plant is drooping, and apparently dying, in nine cases out of ten it will recover if you place a herb of Camomile near it.

Dr. Schall declares that the Camomile is not only a preventive of nightmare, but the sole certain remedy for this complaint. As a carminative injection for tiresome flatulence, it has been found eminently beneficial to employ Camomile flowers boiled in tripe broth, and strained through a cloth, and with a few drops of the oil of Aniseed added to the decoction.

Falstaffe says in Henry IV.: “Though Camomile, the more it is trodden on the faster it grows; yet youth, the more it is wasted the sooner it wears.” For coarse feeders and drunkards Camomile is peculiarly suitable. Its infusion will cut short an attack of delirium tremens in the early stage. Gerard found the oil of the flowers a remedy against all weariness; and quaint old Culpeper reminds us that the Egyptians dedicated the Camomile to the sun because it cured agues. He slyly adds: “They were like enough to do it, for they were the arrantest apes in their religion I ever read of.” Other names for Chamomile, past or present:

Matricaria Recutica, aka German or Blue Chamomile and the one most commonly used in tea
Anthemis Nobilis aka Roman chamomile, the “lawn” chamomile.
English – Mayweed or Scented Mayweed

#55 Dandelion:

Other names for Dandelion, past or present:

English – Swinesnout, Dashelflower, Pissa-bed
Latin – Taraxacum officinale; also Taraxacum Leontodon, Dens Leonis
French – Dents de Lyon
German – Löwenzahn. (Pfaffenblatt, Runnichstopff – archaic)
Dutch – Papencruyt
Spanish – Diente de Lion
Italian – Dente di Cane, Piscia al letto

Dandelion (Taraxum officinale / Taraxacum erythrospermum) is a very well known plant that grows all over the world. Loved especially by childred, it is famous for its bright yellow flower head, white seed head (consisting of numerous tiny “seed parachutes”) and its bright green serrated leaves.

Dandelion
Dandelion – image to share / repin
background pic – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DandelionFlower.jpg
– licensed under CC 3.0

The dandelion, sadly, is considered by many to be a weed – especially on lawns – and great lengths are gone to by many gardeners to be rid of it. The herbalist on the other hand has an entirely different opinion of the dandelion and considers it a plant of great value with many virtuous properties.

Dandelion – General Herbal Uses:

Dandelion is a cleansing herb with a bitter taste. Since the 18th century it has been used as an ingredient in tonics – to purify the blood, liver and kidneys. It has also been used to elevate mood. Despite its potential to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, great pains have been taken – since the onset of suburban living – to remove it from lawns across America. [1] Dandelion is considered a potent diuretic – hence one of its ancient English names “Pissa-bed”!

Dandelion is, interestingly, higher in nutrient content than most vegetables. Taraxum officinale and Taraxacum erythrospermum are both edible in their entirety. The dandelion root, leaf, and stem can be taken as a tea or tincture to bring about feelings of well-being in times of stress. In Victorian times the leaves were eaten in salads and sandwiches – and they also may be boiled / steamed.

Dandelion root, leaf and stem can be brewed as tea (approximately 1 tbsp. per 1 cup water). To reduce bitterness and increase palatability, a natural sweetener (such as stevia leaf) should be added to taste – and the amount of dandelion in the tea can of course be adjusted to suit.

Dandelion is considered a beauty aid for its ability to purify and cleanse; when taken regularly it can aid in clearing and rejuvenating the skin. Dandelion is said to have been used for centuries to improve renal elimination, [2] to relieve feelings of bloat and flatulence, and to help with childhood ailments such as colic (dandelion can be safely administered to children by their medical practitioner or parent). As a complementary treatment, it is sometimes used by veterinarians to calm anxious animals.

In Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), dandelion leaf is used to to treat and prevent mammary gland inflammation and swollen lymph nodes, whereas the root is used to treat disorders of the liver and kidneys. Dandelion leaves are used by practitioners of both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat cysts and abscesses, water retention and tumors. [3]

Dandelion – Scientific Studies:

Dandelion as detox herb: In clinical trials dandelion has been found to increase bile flow (which can prevent gallstones and promote detoxification of the lymph system).

Dandelion as anti-cancer agent: There is encouraging evidence that dandelion (Taraxacum) inhibits the growth and development of a wide range of cancer types and influences their metastasizing behavior. The 2008 study of Sigstedt et al. provided scientific data on Taraxacum officinale that highly suggest that dandelion extracts or their constituents exert anticancer activities. In this study, three aqueous extracts prepared from the mature dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots were investigated for their activities on tumor progression and invasion. The results of this study had demonstrated that dandelion leaf extract suppresses the growth of MCF-7/AZ breast cancer cells in an ERK-dependent manner and blocks the invasion of LNCaP prostate cancer cells into collagen type I. On the other hand, dandelion root extract blocks the invasion of MCF-7/AZ breast cancer cells. [5]

The flower extract of dandelion also holds striking antioxidant activity in both biological and chemical models, as shown in a 2005 Canadian study in which extended lag phase and reduced propagation rate were observed in the oxidation of linoleic acid emulsion plus dandelion flower extract. In this study, the extract from dandelion had suppressed superoxide and hydroxyl radicals. [6] All of these results translate to dandelion being a potential novel anticancer agent.

Dandelion as diuretic: According to the European Scientific Cooperative for Phytotherapy (ESCOP) – as per historical records and recent clinical studies – dandelion has caused weight loss of up to 30% in mice and rats. Although dandelion has not been the object of extensive pharmacological analysis, its exceptionally high potassium content has prompted a number of related studies which determined that excess potassium may cause diuretic action (and thus loss of weight). This may be useful against water retention but is not the same as actual fat loss. [7]

Dandelion has long been utilized in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine as a diuretic, [7] the leaves being prepared in various forms including infusion, extract, or fresh juice. [8] Having the study participants ingest high-quality leaf hydroethanolic extract of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Clare, Conroy, and Spelman (2009) explored the effects of dandelion extract on urinary frequency and volume and found a significant (p < 0.05) increase on urinary frequency after the first dose and a significant (p < 0.001) increase as regards excretion ratio after the second dose for the entire population (n = 17) in their study. [9] Being an herb of diuresis, dandelion proves to be of value in the treatment of conditions where induction of diuresis is of essence, such as in several heart diseases in which the reduction of blood pressure is achieved by decreasing the amount of salt and water in the body through the administration of diuretics or in edema and certain types of kidney or liver diseases. [10]

Taraxacum officinale
Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale
Image from an old book of medicinal plants

Dandelion as free radical scavenger and anti-inflammatory: Dandelion also exerts a hepatoprotective effect against acetaminophen-induced toxicity through scavenging mechanisms against reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). In a recent study, the extract from dandelion had demonstrated an antioxidant and scavenging activity in vitro against 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl and nitric oxide radicals. [11] Choi et al. (2010) in their study had cited the positive hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of dandelion, specifically the root and leaves, concluding that dandelion root and leaf could protect one against oxidative stress–associated atherosclerosis. [12] Dandelion leaves downregulate nitric oxide, prostaglandin E(2), and proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β) and suppress the expression of iNOS and COX-2 by inactivating the MAP kinase signal pathway, making dandelion an anti-inflammatory agent. [13]

Dandelion Active Ingredients

A broad spectrum of flavonoids such as caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, luteolin, and luteolin 7-glucoside can be isolated from dandelion. In the study conducted by Williams, Goldstone, and Greenham (1996), chicoric acid, monocaffeyltartaric acid, and chlorogenic acid were derived from the whole plant (chicoric acid and monocaffeyltartaric acid being the major phenolic constituents in flowers, roots, leaves, and involucral bracts), whereas cichoriin and esculin were found in the leaf extracts. [14]

Dandelion in old Herbals & Pharmocopœia:

Elizabeth Blackwell’s “A Curious Herbal” (1751): 1. The leaves of this plant lie on ye Groud; the Pedikels or Pipes on which the Flowers grow are about six or eight inches high; and the flowers yellow. The root grows about a Finger thick, and eight inches long, full of a white bitter Milk. 2. It Grows almost everywhere in Fallow Ground and flowers most Months in the year. 3. The Roots and Leaves are used, as cooling, aperative, provoking urine, and strengthening ye stomach, and are much eat as a Sallad in the Spring.

John Hill – “The Family Herbal” (1812):Another of our wild plants too common to need much description. The leaves are very long, somewhat broad, and deeply indented at the edges. The stalks are naked, hollow, green, upright, and six, eight, or ten inches high; one flower stands on each, which is large, yellow, and composed of a great quantity of leaves, and seeds which follow this have a downy matter affixed to them. The whole head of them appears globular. The root is long, large, and white. The whol plany is full of a milky juice, the root most of all. This runs from it when broken, and is bitterish, but not disagreeable.

The root, fresh gathered and boiled, makes an excellent decoction to promote urine, and bring away gravel. The leaves may be eaten as salad when very young, and if taken this way in sufficient quantity, they are good against scurvy.

William Thomas Fernie – “Herbal Simples” (1895): DANDELION – Owing to long years of particular evolutionary sagacity in developing winged seeds wafted from the silky pappus of its ripe flowerheads over wide areas of land, the Dandelion exhibits its handsome golden flowers in every field and on every ground plot throughout the whole of our country. They are to be distinguished from the numerous hawkweeds, by having the outermost leaves of their outer cup bent downwards whilst the stalk is coloured and shining. The plant leaves have jagged edges which resemble the angular jaw of a lion fully supplied with teeth; or, some writers say, the herb has been named from the heraldic lion which is vividly yellow, with teeth of gold-in fact, a dandy lion!
In some of our provinces the herb is known as Swinesnout; whilst again in Devon and Cornwall it is called the Dashelflower. Botanically it belongs to the composite order, and is named Taraxacum Leontodon, or eatable, and lion-toothed. This latter when Latinised is dens leonis, and in French dent de lion. The Dandelion, which is a wild sort of succory, was known to Arabian physicians, since Avicenna of the eleventh century mentions it as taraxacon. It is found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America; possessing a root which abounds with milky juice, and which varies in character according to the season in which the plant is gathered.
During the winter the sap is thick, sweet, and albuminous; but in summer time it is bitter, and acrid. Frost causes the bitterness to diminish, and sweetness to take its place; but after the frost this bitterness returns, and is intensified. The root is at its best for yielding juice about November. Chemically the active ingredients of the herb are “taraxacin” and “taraxacerine,” with inulin (a sort of sugar), gluten, gum, albumen, potash, and an odorous resin, which is commonly supposed to stimulate the liver, and the biliary organs. Probably this reputed virtue was assigned at first to the plant largely on the doctrine of signatures, because of its bright yellow flowers of a bilious hue. But skilled medical provers who have experimentally tested the toxical effects of the Dandelion plant have found it to produce, when taken in excess, troublesome indigestion, characterised by a tongue coated with a white skin which peels off in patches, leaving a raw surface, whilst the kidneys become unusually active, with profuse night sweats, and an itching nettle rash. For these several symptoms when occurring of themselves, a combination of the decoction, and the medicinal tincture will be invariably curative.
To make a decoction of the root, one part of this dried and sliced should be gently boiled for fifteen minutes in twenty parts of water, and strained off when cool. It may be sweetened with brown sugar, or honey, if impalatable when taken alone, several teacupfuls being given during the day.
The tops of the roots dug out of the ground, with the tufts of the leaves remaining thereon and blanched by being covered in the earth as they grow, if gathered in the spring, are justly esteemed as an excellent vernal salad. It was with this homely fare the good wise Hecate entertained Theseus, as we read in Evelyn’s Acetaria. Bergius says he has seen intractable cases of liver congestion cured, after many other remedies had failed, by the patients taking daily for some months, a broth made from Dandelion roots stewed in boiling water, with leaves of Sorrel, and the yelk [sic] of an egg; though (he adds) they took at the same time cream of tartar to keep their bodies open.
The medicinal tincture of Dandelion is made from the entire plant, gathered in summer, employing proof spirit which dissolves also the resinous parts not soluble in water. From ten to fifteen drops of this tincture may be taken with a spoonful of water three times in the day.
Of the freshly prepared juice, which should not be kept long as it quickly ferments, from two to three teaspoonfuls are a proper dose. The leaves when tender and white in the spring are taken on the Continent in salads, or they are blanched, and eaten with bread and butter, Parkinson says: “Whoso is drawing towards a consumption, or ready to fall into a cachexy, shall find a wonderful help from the use thereof, for some time together.” Officially, according to the London College, are prepared from the fresh dried roots collected in the autumn, a decoction (one ounce to a pint of boiling water), a juice, a fresh extract, and an inspissated [i.e. thickened] liquid extract.
Because of its tendency to provoke involuntary urination at night, the Dandelion has acquired a vulgar suggestive appellation which expresses this fact in most homely terms: quasi herba lectiminga, et urinaria dicitur; and this not only in our vernacular, but in most of the European tongues: quia plus lotii in vesica in derivat quam puerulis retineatur prœsertim inter dormiendum.
At Gottingen, the roots are roasted and used instead of coffee by the poorer folk; and in Derbyshire the juice of the stalk is applied to remove warts. The flower of the Dandelion when fully blown is named Priest’s Crown (Caput monachi), from the resemblance of its naked receptacle after the winged seeds have been all blown away, to the smooth shorn head of a Roman cleric :-
“The Dandelion this:
A college youth that flashes for a day
All gold: anon he doffs his gaudy suit,
Touched by the magic hand of Bishop grave,
And all at once by commutation strange
Becomes a reverend priest: and then how sleek!
How full of grace! with silvery wig at first
So nicely trimmed, which presently grows bald.”

Dandelion

Dandelion