Category Archives: Nature

saffron

Saffron: What You Need To Know About This Golden Spice

Saffron (Crocus sativus) is an Asian herb, and the world’s most expensive spice, commonly used for culinary purposes.

Saffron spice is made from dried stigmas of the crocus’ flower. This spice has a rich history, having been used by ancient Egyptians and Greeks both as a spice and a medicine.

Traditionally, saffron was used to relieve symptoms of fever, menstrual disorders, epilepsy and problems associated with the digestive system. However, this spice has slowly dominated the kitchen, with countless recipes using it as an essential ingredient.

How to Identify Saffron

Saffron
Saffron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saffron has a rich red-orange color when used in liquids, and it gives dishes and baked items a rich yellow color. This is one of the main reasons why this spice is used for culinary purposes, in addition to its aromatic properties. When buying saffron, here are a few insights into buying the real stuff:

  • If you are on the go and want to buy saffron, you may probably find it powdered. To ascertain that the powder is indeed saffron, take a pinch and stir it in warm water. If the water is instantly colored, the powder is not genuine saffron. The authentic spice should take at least ten minutes to color the water since it takes some time to infuse.
  • Red stigmas mixed with yellow styles.
    Red stigmas and yellow styles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    If you prefer the strands, it is good to learn how to identify high quality saffron. The quality of this golden spice is evident in the color of the stigmas. A high intensity of the color red means that the spice is of high quality, which also translates to a high price. However, to avoid buying dyed counterfeits at exorbitant prices, ascertain that the tips are a lighter red compared to the rest of the strand.

A saffron crocus flower.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To identify fresh saffron, one should know the basic characteristics of the plant. Crocus sativus is in the family of the Iridaceous plants. It grows to about 20 or 30 cm, and bears a maximum of 4 purple flowers per plant. Each flower bears only three bright crimson stigmas, which are connected to the carpel, along with the stalks. The flower emits a characteristic hay-like fragrance, which is hard to miss.

How Can You Get the Best Out of Saffron?

From simple preparation, crush a few strands of saffron and soak them in hot liquid for a minimum of 15 minutes. This allows enough time to infuse and give out maximum color and fragrance. The resulting mixture can be used in small quantities in teas, soups, pastries, confectionary and meals.

It is important to remember that saffron should be taken in minimal amounts. When using saffron as a spice, use only a few strands or a few drops of infused saffron. Too much of the spice makes meals and drinks bitter, and leave a medicine-like after taste.

What Are the Benefits of Using Saffron?

Since this is the most expensive spice, anyone would think twice before making a purchase. However, before you decide not to use it, here is a list of the benefits you will miss out on.

Saffron was, and still is, used relieve symptoms of troubled digestive system. It is a natural remedy for low appetite, nausea and vomiting, as well as diarrhea. It also offers relief from a bloated stomach and acidity. A few drops of the infused saffron in tea, soup or juice are enough.

The bright red-orange color characteristic of the spice is proof of the presence of carotenoids. This is a chemical that is vital for strong bones and healthy eyes. According to recent studies, this herb has enough of the carotenoids to cure arthritis and prevent blindness in old age. It also offers improved vision to people suffering from cataracts.

This golden spice is a mild antidepressant. This makes it the perfect remedy for mild and moderate depression. This property also helps to relieve sleep disorders such as insomnia. A small pinch of saffron powder taken in milk should suffice.

Traditionally, this spice was used to relieve menstrual conditions and regulate the periods. It can also be used to relieve muscle pains and spasms. This herb also clears any clotting in the uterine system, which can lead to excessive bleeding. Pregnant women are, therefore, advised to take this spice in extremely minimal quantities.

Saffron is an antioxidant. Therefore it is very useful in the prevention of cancer. It also relieves fever and acne, and boosts memory and blood circulation. It is a natural aphrodisiac, effective in both men and women.

Keep in mind that saffron is the most expensive spice, which makes it a perfect target for counterfeiters. When using this herb, ensure that you use the genuine one, not an adulterated version.

herbal preparations tinctures

Herbal Preparations: Tinctures

Tinctures are produced by extracting medicinal constituents of herbs in alcohol. They are more potent and longer lasting when compared with preparations that are water based such as decoctions and infusions.

 

Tincture Preparation

You will need the following ingredients:

  1. 30g dried herbs
  2. 400 ml of brandy
  3. 170 ml water

Method

  1. Bruise the herb and mix the water and spirit together
  2. Place the herbs in a large jar and add the water and spirit
  3. Leave to stand in a cool dry place for only 2 weeks. Make sure that you shake the jar daily.
  4. After the 2 weeks, strain through a muslin cloth and pour the liquid in a sterilized glass bottle.
  5. Make sure that you label the bottles with the name of the tincture, the dosage and use and also the date.

The standard dose is 1 to 3 tablespoons daily. For gargles and washes however, it is important to dilute 1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water.

Tinctures are able to preserve themselves indefinitely.

 

Red Clover - Trifolium pratense

The Health Properties of Red Clover

Red clover also referred to as Trifolium pratense is an inhabitant of northwest Africa, Western Asia and Europe, but it has been planted and naturalized in other regions on the globe.

This wild plant belongs to the legume-family which is normally used for grazing livestock among other animals. Traditionally, red clover has been used to cure various illnesses including cancer, skin inflammation like eczema and psoriasis, respiratory problems and whooping cough. This plant was thought to aid with blood purification, liver cleansing, and blood circulation improvement.

Research has shown that this plant has some isoflavones, plant-based chemicals, known for stimulating the production of estrogen within the body. This chemical has demonstrated some potential in treatment of various conditions related to menopause like osteoporosis, cardiovascular health and hot flashes.

Description of Red Clover

Trèfle des prés (Red clover en anglais) (Trifo...

This is a herbaceous, perennial plant which is commonly grown in the meadows around Asia and Europe.

This short-lived plant is variable-in-size and it tends to grow up to 80cm in height.

The leaves of red clover are alternate with 3 leaflet and each leaflet measures 8-15mm broad and 15-30mm long, with a unique pale crescent on the outer half-of-the-leaf. The petiole of the leaflets is about 4cm long with 2 basal stipules.

On the tip of each branch there is a dark pink flower with a unique pale base about 12-15mm long which tends to produce a dense inflorescence.

Health properties of red clover

This perennial plant has been acknowledged for having various properties including:

  • Antispasmodic
  • Alterative
  • Tonic
  • Sedative
  • Expectorant

Because of these properties, red clover is able to tackle various ailments like asthma easily. Some of these health properties include:

Osteoporosis

During menopause the estrogen levels drop in the body, this increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Various studies done suggest that red clover extract can help reduce the rate of bone loss thus boosting the bone density in both peri and pre-menopausal ladies.

Menopause

Various researchers think that red clover’s isoflavones aid in reduction of menopause symptoms like night sweating and hot flashes. This is caused by their estrogen-like effects in the body caused by the water-soluble chemicals, phytoestrogen referred to as isoflavones.

Diuretic properties

The extract from this plant has some diuretic properties and thus can aid raise an individual’s urine output. This is quite helpful in case you are retaining water because of various unknown/known reasons or you body is bloated from menstrual cycle.

Anti-inflammatory property

Red clover has been used as an anti-inflammatory for years now, especially when dealing with various skin inflammations like eczema & psoriasis.

Cleansing property

One of the major red clover properties is cleansing, this extract helps with blood and liver cleansing and it has been featured in various cleansing teas.

Detoxification

Another major property is full body detoxification; red clover helps eliminate the built-up of various toxins and chemicals within the body.

Lower your cholesterol levels

One most beneficial side effect of this extract is that it helps reduce the cholesterol levels. Various scientific studies have been done on the effects the red clover extract has on cholesterol and proved this property of red clover.

Cancer

Various preliminary test-tubes trials show that red clover’s isoflavones can help eradicate and also prevent the growth of various cancerous cells. Although it has shown various anti-tumor activities, this plant has been used in various parts-of-the-Globe to deal with cancer. This herb can help prevent both endometrial and prostate cancer, but the estrogen like effects produced by isoflavones can aid the growth of certain cancer cells.

Red clover infusion preparation

With this method you can create about a pint infusion which can be consumed at ones or in small equal proportions during the day.

1. Add approximately 30g of dried flower into a glass-jar and pour boiled water over it until the jar is filled.

2. Cover the jar with a lid and allow the flowers to rest calmly for about twenty minutes covered. You can leave it for up to 4 hours if you wish to.

3. Then strain the mixture into another mug using a fine-meshed-strainer and discard the flowers.

4. You can add a tea spoon of honey into the infusion and drink it after it has cooled to room temperature. If you want it to soothe cold or coughs you can take it hot.

5. You can then store the remainder in your refrigerator until ready to drink again.

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Salix_Alba_Weeping_Willow

The Original Aspirin: White Willow

What is white willow?

White Willow (Salix alba), Location: Riparian ...
White Willow (Salix alba), Location: Riparian forest near Bingen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Salix alba is the botanical name of white willow. The other common names for white willow are willow, common willow and European willow. The genus name of the willows, Salix, derives from the Celtic sal, which means “near,” and lis, “water.” The specific name, alba, is a Latin word which means “white”, and it refers to the color of the leaves’ undersides.

It comprises of about 300 species. Some species grow very tall up to 25m or more. Some of them grow up to 1.5-2m only.

It is a deciduous tree. Its native is Europe and Western and Central Asia. They are found from Arctic area to South Africa.

How to identify white willow?

As seen earlier, the tree may be medium sized or very tall. They have rounded crown of branches. They have a weak stem that get easily broken during storms.

If you are looking for the tree in the wild, you should first look in places that are far from ponds, stream, river and other sources of water.

de: Blatt der Silber-Weide (Salix alba), Ort: ...

The upper surface of the shiny leaves is grayish green in color. The color changes to yellow when they are ready to whither.The leaves are paler than other species of willow because of the silky white hairy appearance under them.

The bark of white willow is slightly yellow in color. The limbs of the branches extend up to the ground. There is sure to be a lot of litter beneath the tree that includes broken twigs, branches and withered leaves.

Does white willow have medical benefits?

White willow has a lot of medicinal benefits. It has been used thousands of years before to cure many health conditions. It was in the early eighteenth century that it was first found that the bark of white willow contained salicin that treated pain and fever effectively. The extracts were used to make the first aspirin in the later part of eighteenth century.

What are the health properties of white willow?

The bark and leaves of white willow are useful in treating the following.

1. It is used for getting relief from pains. It is effective in treating lower back pain, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
2. Its anti-inflammatory properties are useful in reducing the inflammation.
3. It reduces the symptoms of flu and other types of fever.
4. It is helpful in lowering the symptoms of menopause like night sweats and hot flashes.
5. They have been successfully used to remove warts, corns and unnecessary flesh from the body.
6. Although it is not very effective for weight loss when it is used alone, it boosts the metabolism of the body and helps in weight loss when combined with other herbs.
7. It gives relief from headaches and toothaches.
8. It is useful to people who are at the risk of getting strokes because of its blood thinning properties.
9. It is also used to treat bursitis and tendonitis.

Why is it preferred over aspirin?

It starts to act later than aspirin, but the effects remains for a longer duration of time. Moreover, it does not cause stomach bleeding.

Medicine Uses

Digestion

  • helps to protect the gut lining from inflammation and irritation
  • reduces dysentery and diarrhea
  • great for weak digestion, dyspepsia, heartburn acidity and worms

Respiratory system

  • decongestant for head colds, flu and fevers
  • reestablishes strength after disease

Musculoskeletal system

  • alleviates pain
  • acts as an anti-inflammatory for rheumatism, arthritis, gout, muscular aches, backache, tendonitis, bursitis and sprains

Immune system

  • useful for fevers and headaches
  • cures malaria

Urinary system

  • decreases fluid retention
  • aids to remove toxins via urine

Externally

  • make use lotion for cuts and wounds
  • make gargles for irritated throats
  • mouthwash for mouth ulcers and bleeding gum
  • put poultices on inflamed joints

How to use white willow?

It can be used as tea, tincture and tablets or liquid form. The dosage depends upon the form in which you are taking it.

  • You can drink four or more cups of white willow tea a day.
  • If you are going for the tincture form, you can take 3-5 ml three times a day.
  • If you are going for tablets or liquid form you can take 60-240 mg a day.

How to prepare white willow decoction and tea?

Decoction for white willow herbal tea can be prepared by boiling root, bark, leaves and seeds. They should be boiled in water and simmered to make sure that all medicinal properties are fully extracted. It can be either drunk or used topically for sores or gargled to heal toothaches and throat aches.

If you cannot get the parts of white willow, it is not a matter of concern. It is available in powder form in almost all stores that sell herbal supplements. Take 2 tablespoons of the powder and boil it in 8 ounces of water. When it starts to boil, simmer it for 10-15 minutes. Then let it steep for half an hour. Filter the tea and add lemon, honey or sugar to suit your taste.

How to prepare white willow tincture?

The ratio of white willow powder and the solvent is 1:5. The solvent used here is grain alcohol. Dissolve it thoroughly and store it in a airtight container for 2 weeks. Then strain it. You can mix it with water, milk, juice or tea.

What are the side effects of white willow?

  • The side effects include renal damage, tinnitus and gastrointestinal problems.
  • It may cause other side effects like vomiting, nausea and stomach ulcers etc.
  • It is not advisable for pregnant and lactating women.
  • don’t use if allergic to salicylates and in bleeding problems
  • children and teenagers with chickenpox, flu or any undiagnosed illness should avoid it due to chance of Reye’s syndrome

What are the interactions of white willow?

  • It should not be taken while taking medications like beta blockers, diuretics, anticoagulants and NSAID etc.
  • employ with caution with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen

White willow is a wonderful herb with many medicinal properties, but it is better to take it after consulting your doctor.

Hypericum perforatum -  St. John's Wort

Discover the Healthful Properties of St. John’s Wort

More and more people started to discover the benefits of herbal medicines. Along with the famous ginseng, echinacea and ginkgo biloba, St. John’s Wort started to become increasingly preferred by modern consumers. The truth is that the demand for natural alternatives to conventional medicine grew day by day, allowing this natural herbs to become extremely important. Companies started to use them to create unique products and supplements in order to satisfy the need of today’s savvy consumers.

What is St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum (bostryx)
Hypericum perforatum (bostryx) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also known as Hypericum perforatum, Klamath Weed or Tipton’s Weed, St. John’s Wort is a yellow flowering herb that contains several potent ingredients, such as hypericin andhyperforin. This unique herb features powerful antidepressant, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its success in treating depression has increased tremendously over the years, especially since a study that was conducted proved that about 80% of all people suffering from mild to moderate depression were cured. However, this herb is not that effective against moderate to severe depression cases.

Health Benefits of St. John’s Wort

This herb has been used for thousands of years as a sedative or painkiller. Moreover, its properties made it the perfect natural herb in treating minor to severe health conditions, from mood swings, sleep disorders and bruises to severe burns, malaria, lung and kidney problems, uterine cramping, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, breathing problems, hangovers, gastrointestinal problems, alcoholism and even more serious cases of tuberculosis. There is no doubt St. John’s Wort is one of the most important ingredient found in many tablets, capsules or tea.

According to a recent study performed by a combined group of scientists and herbalists in the United States, this natural herb can help you deal with a sore throat, psoriasis, sinus infections, Parkinson’s disease, chronic cough, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, anxiety and other mental disorders.

Uses and Preparation Methods

St. John’s Wort has been found to possess significant amounts of hypericin and hyperforin. These two ingredients are known to raise the release of major neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine), which will improve the brain signals between your body’s cells, enhancing your nervous system and increasing its functionality. Moreover, hypericin is capable of inhibiting a bodily chemical (also known as monoamine oxidase), that is associated with depression and anxiety. The result of this herb over your body is an increased state of well-being that will help you deal with depression, wintertime blues, low energy levels, mood swings and chronic fatigue cases.

If you deal with anxiety, mood swings or depression, it is recommended to take one capsule of 300 mg at least three times each day with meals. However, it is wiser to consult your doctor before taking these pills. St. John’s Wort can also be administered in the form of tea, tincture, pills, tablets and decoction. Since there are hundreds of products on the market which contain this herb, you have a wide range of choices.

If you deal with alcoholism and hangovers, it is recommended to drink a tea that contains flowers of St John’s Wort. Add 1 cup of flowers to 1 cup and a half of boiling water. Simmer for about 5 minutes, strain and then drink while it’s hot. You can also add honey or any other natural sweetener for an improved taste. The recommended dosage for tea is just like in the case of pills or capsules, which is three times a day. If you prefer tincture, you should take it only twice a day. The preferred dosage is 1/4 teaspoon for one teaspoon of water.

Tips on How to Identify it in The Wild

English: Plantlets of St. John's wart (Hyperic...
English: Plantlets of St. John’s wart (Hypericum perforatum) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nowadays, there are over 300 species of Hypericum. This herb grows all over the Europe and United States, mostly in hayfields, waste places and roadsides. It usually blooms in June and continues to grow until fall. If you want to identify this natural herb in the wild easier, Google it and study some pictures. Always look for that specimen with black dots on its petals and several clear dots on its leaves. These can be easily noticed when its leaves are held up to light. The good news is that you can grow St John’s Wort all by yourself, even if it might be hard to germinate. However, the best choice can be to buy it or simply go in the wild and reap them.

haab-seasonal-calendar

The Right Time To Harvest Plants

Herbs ought to be gathered the moment the specific plant portion reaches the top of its healing power.

  • Leaves and stems – before the plant blooms. harvest in the morning as soon as the dew has disappeared but before the sun’s rays evaporates the oils.
  • Flowers – before they reach full bloom.
  • Fruits and berries – when they become ripe.
  • Roots and rhizomes – in the autumn as the leaves begin to change color, when the plants’ sap has returned down.
  • Barks and twigs – early in the year as the first leaves appear and the plants’ sap is rising.
Mentha piperita

Mint: Discovering the Huge Array of Uses

Mint
Mint (Photo credit: James Jardine)

Mint is part of the Genus Mentha in the Lamiaceae family, and there are a huge number of different species available for you to use. The different species are not incredibly distinct; however, it is believed that there are over 15 different varieties. All mints are considered to be pleasant to smell; however, they can also be used for medicines and for dietary requirements.

The leaves are extremely distinct on the Mentha plant and are arranged in pairs along the steam. The color of the plants varies from grey-green to dark green, and in some countries they can even be yellow. The mint plant also contains fruit, which houses one to four seeds, which can help to propagate the plant.

This perennial herb enjoys wet growing conditions, and thrives in moist soils, however, they can be found in several different countries. Mint is incredibly fast growing, and will spread over a huge distance if allowed to grow. Therefore, many people consider this plant to be invasive, if left to grow unattended.

Due to the incredible speedy growth of these plants, one plant will provide the average household with enough mint for all year. To control the growth, you may find it easier to place the mint in a pot or container, which will ensure that you are not over run with this plant. Having this plant in your garden is perfect to repel many insects and pests.

Mint leaves.
Mint leaves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can harvest mint at any time, and fresh mint leaves are perfect in many different dishes and beverages. Once picked you will need to use the leaves immediately, or store them in a refrigerator in a plastic bag. You may also want to consider freezing the mint leaves in ice cube trays and removing when needed.

Dried mint leaves are another fantastic way of taking advantage of this delicious herb, and these will need to be stored in an airtight container. There are many incredible health benefits from using the Mentha leaves in your cooking. You will find that this plant aids your digestion and stimulates your saliva glands.

Once these have been stimulated, your body will produce the enzymes, which help your body to digest your food. These plants will also help to relieve respiratory problems and coughs, and can help if you suffer with asthma. However, you need to be aware that too much mentha, can cause more problems, and panic attacks.

You will also find that this plant is excellent at helping with headaches and when you suffer from nausea. Some people use the plant for antiseptic purposes, and mint can help with acne and skin conditions. The plant can also be used to purify damaged skin and soothes burns and cuts, which you may have.

Bad breath can also be combated with mint, and will result in your mouth being cleaner and far fresher. The high levels of vitamin C, which is in the mint, will play a huge part in boosting the immune system and help fight viruses. There are also high levels of manganese present, which is an antioxidant, which targets the free radicals within your body.
High levels of amino acid are also present, which is excellent at helping to control mood swings, and will affect how you feel. This is often why people feel better after a cup of mint tea, and why it has an incredible calming effect. If you do not want to drink the tea, you can easily inhale the mint, which will have the same effect.

There are several different dishes that you can place the mint within to create delicious meals for everyone to enjoy. The leaves can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, as it has a pleasant cool after taste. You may want to include the mint in ice creams, jellies, candies, and teas; however, it is also delicious with meat, especially lamb.

This image shows a Mint plant of the species M...
This image shows a Mint plant of the species Mentha gattefossei. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some alcoholic drinks also have this plant included, and these make perfect ingredients for cocktails. Whether you want to eat, drink or use the mint in a natural remedy, it has a huge amount of uses for everyone. You will feel healthier, and have a better digestion after consuming the menthe plant, and be better informed about all of the incredible benefits.

See Also

 

Urtica

Fascinating Facts about the Nettle

Urtica dioica, near Bruges, Belgium
Urtica dioica, near Bruges, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nettle plants (Urtica spp.) have been used for centuries due to their fantastic health benefits, and excellent healing powers, which people have utilized over the years. This fascinating plant is part of the Urticaceae family, which is made up of over 30 different species. Many of these plants and vines have incredible medicinal properties, which can help with a huge array of ailments.

There are specific male and female flowers on these plants, rather than a mix of both, and they are mostly herbaceous plants. Many of the different nettles, which you will find, have stinging hairs on the stem and leaves. These hairs will burn your skin when you touch the plant; however, they do not affect you when eaten.

The most common species of the nettle plant is the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which is found in North America, Africa, Asia and Europe. This is also the oldest form of nettle, and the one that is used the most for medicine and healing properties. Many gardeners do not like to have this form of plant in their garden, however, if correctly handled, it can be a huge asset to grow.

The plant will lay dormant throughout the winter months, and return with a flourish in spring. You will find the nettles where there is an abundance of water, as they love moisture such as spring holes and lakes.

Healthy nettles can reach up to 2m in height, and will take over the area if allowed to grow freely. However, you need to be careful when gathering the plant, as they can irritate your skin. Wearing long trousers and sleeves are advised, alongside gloves to gather the plants before use. You will need to cut the nettles at the stem, and try to keep as much distance as possible.

 

homemade nettle soup
homemade nettle soup (Photo credit: H is for Home)

As food and drink, there are several different methods, which are effective, and can produce healthy alternatives to your daily diet. The flavor of the nettle is incredibly similar to spinach and cucumber; however, the leaves will need to be soaked before use. This will remove the chemicals, which cause the stinging effect.

During the peak season for nettles, the leaves contain over 25% of protein in their dry form, which is incredibly high for a green vegetable. Once the leaves have been soaked, you can handle them like any other herb, placing them in tea, soup or dressings. You will be surprised how many different recipes you can use the nettle leaves within, and how amazing they taste.

Nettles can be consumed in several different forms, including as soups, stews, or drunk as tea. The leaves of the plant are incredibly nutritious and contain high levels of potassium, iron, vitamin K, C and A. The vitamin K, which is found in the plant, will also help to stop wounds bleeding, and some people have used nettles as a laxative.

 

As more people than ever before are searching for alternative medicines, and natural remedies for everyday ailments, the popularity of the nettle has risen. Rising costs of drugs, and the uncertainty of what is included in them has sparked an interest in herbal medicine. People look at the ancient ways of healing, and utilizing what plants they have in the garden.

The humble leaf of the plant is astringent, galactagogue, diuretic, and hemostatic. This is an impressive list that many plants cannot offer, therefore, making the nettles an incredibly useful plant. Some people feel that the incredible tales that have been told are only folklore. However, as more people study nettles, there is now scientific research to back the tales.

Scientists have studied these amazing plants for centuries, to determine what they are useful for, and the best methods to use the plants. There have been studies carried out for hypertension, rheumatic diseases, diarrhea, kidney issues, constipation, cancer, skin disease and asthma. All of which benefit from the use of nettles either applied or consumed, therefore, this plant is considered to be incredibly useful.

The nettles have also been proven to help with dandruff and are often used in shampoos, it can make your hair glossy, and many farmers feed this plant to their cattle to produce an excellent coat.

 

Six Amazing Indigenous Healing Plants

Six Amazing Indigenous Healing Plants

Throughout history, people have used various herbs, plants and fruits for medicinal purposes. Today we’re still discovering plants with seemingly miraculous properties. Some are used to prepare liquid healing concoctions, while others can be eaten straight. Here we take a look at six healing plants, each one native to a different continent.

North America

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is a perennial herbaceous plant that can grow up to 3 meters tall. Also referred to as the Virginia poke, American nightshade and pigeon berry, this native North American plant is an important source of nutrition for native songbirds, such as the Northern Mockingbird and the Gray Catbird.

Pokeweed extract is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, tonsillitis, swollen glands, bronchitis and constipation, among other ailments. This medicinal herb is most commonly taken in the form of a liquid extract. It’s also available as a powder for mixing into drinks, and some use the berries of the plant to make jelly or pie.

South America

Camucamu (Myrciaria dubia) is a short, bushy, riverside tree that grows primarily in Peru and Brazil, preferring the tropical conditions of the Amazonian rainforest.

The cherry-like fruits that it produces range in hue from red to purple and are known for their incredibly high Vitamin C content, which amounts to 2 to 3% of its actual weight – before being dried. This is what gives the fruit its healing properties. In health stores, it’s often sold in the form of powder made from the pulp of the fruit.

Australasia

Cheese fruit (Morinda Citrfolia) comes from a tree in the coffee family Rubiaceae, although this strange-looking fruit looks nothing like a coffee bean.

The cheese fruit plant yields anywhere between 4 and 8 kilograms of fruit per year. The fruit itself has a famously pungent odour when ripening, and is sometimes even referred to as “vomit fruit”. The fruit starts off green, and then changes from yellow almost to white as it ripens.  The fruit, as well as the leaves, roots and seeds of the plant, are used to treat many ailments, including menstrual cramps, bowel irregularities and skin inflammation.

Europe

Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) is an annual plant that thrives all over Europe and that has now been introduced in more temperate parts of Asia.

Chamomile requires open soil to survive, and is often found growing near roads and even landfills. The chamomile plan doesn’t grow much taller than 30 to 40 cm. The dried flower is commonly used in herbal tea and is known to relieve stomach ache, treat irritable bowel syndrome and act as a gentle sleeping aid. Recent pharmaceutical studies have also indicated that chamomile may be effective in lowering cholesterol.

Africa

The Buchu plant (Agathosma betulina) is a herbaceous shrub with small oval leaves with stems that grow between 100 and 200 cm tall. It’s native to the Western Cape in South Africa. The plant has a long history of medicinal use in Southern Africa, most commonly for its anti-inflammatory properties, although it also treats a range of other ailments.

Buchu is also used to treat gastrointestinal pain and urinary tract infections. It’s also known as an effective diuretic and antiseptic. Buchu is most commonly used to make a medicinal tea, although some companies now produce a range of herbal health products that contain oil from the plant.

Asia

Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia), also known as bitter gourd or bitter squash, is a tropical vine. It’s native to India but has spread throughout the rest of Asia. It’s famous for its edible fruit, which varies in flavor and shape depending on the variety of the vine.

Bitter melon has long been used as an herbal remedy. Often it’s first soaked in either oil or honey. The plant is most famous in Asia for preventing and treating malaria. In Togo, the plant is used to treat chickenpox and measles, as well as various gastrointestinal diseases.

 

Guest post by Jeff from Buchulife.com, who provide a herbal health product range based on the buchu plant.

achillea-millefolium

The Health Properties of Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

Yarrow also referred to as Achillea millefolium is a unique flowering plant which belongs to the Asteraceae family which is commonly found in the Northern-Hemisphere. In other regions like southern Colorado and Mexico, this plant is referred to as little feather or plumajillo because of the shape of its leaves. During the ancient times, this plant was referred to as herbal militaris because of its use in stopping blood flow from wounds. Other names include oil man’s pepper, milfoil, thousand seal, thousand leaf, devil’s nestles and Gordaldo among other names.

This herb grows everywhere in the meadows, grass or by the road-side and since its roots creep greatly and it multiplies by seeds, it has become one of the most trouble-some weed in any garden.

Description

Français : Achillea millefolium - Achillée mil...
Français : Achillea millefolium – Achillée millefeuille – Vallée de grâce à Amiens (Somme) le 22/06/2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This plant is an erect herbaceous-perennial plant which produces one or more stems that can grow up to a maximum height of one meter, plus it has rhizomatous growth-form.

Achillea millefolium - leaves (scan)
Achillea millefolium – leaves (scan) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its leaves are distributed evenly along the stem with bottom and middle leaves being bigger. The leaves of yarrow are about 20cm long and either tripinnate or bipinnate, plus they are feathery and arranged in a spiral manner on the plants stem. The leaves of this plant are cauline and clasping.

Achillea millefolium - Duizendblad
Achillea millefolium – Duizendblad (Photo credit: AnneTanne)

Yarrow contains 3-8 ray round or ovate flowers which have white-to-pink flowers. These plants have small achenes fruits and they grow in high or low altitudes of up to 3500m above-sea-level.

Health properties of Yarrow

This herb has been used for years to deal with various illnesses because of its various properties including:

  • Diuretic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antibiotic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Sedative
  • Astringent
  • Antiseptic

Recent research has shown that these properties can help dealt with various illnesses including:

Fever

Yarrow can help lower fever especially in the early stages of flu and cold. To lower your fever all you have to do is drink a mug of hot yarrow after each 2-3 hours. To create the tea, all you need is a spoon of dried leaves and boiling water. You can let it boil for ten to fifteen minutes before straining.

Lowering of blood pressure

To help reduce your blood pressure, yarrow can help dilate your peripheral vessels. This will help improve the tone and circulation of various varicose veins.

Anti inflammatory properties

Yarrow infusion can help relieve inflammation and pain caused by arthritis or various injuries. This herb can help lower skin inflammation like psoriasis & eczema. This also helps cleanse all wounds while speeding up healing.

Hemostatic properties

This is the best herb for dealing with acute surface bleeding and abrasion. You can apply yarrow directly onto the wound to halt bleeding, while reducing inflammation and swelling. This herb can be used to deal with persistent wounds or sores that are not healing easily like rashes, burns and skin ulcers.

Pain

Yarrow can help relieve the pain caused by bladder infection. This herb can also help reduce the frequent need to urinate when you have an infection in your bladder. If you are suffering from hemorrhoids, then the best solution for the pain is soaking in a bath tab mixed with yarrow extract.

Other properties

1. This herb can help deal with the stomach cramps which have been caused by stomach indigestion.

2. This herb can help normalize your menstrual cycle, by reducing the heavy menstrual bleeding.

3. Fresh yarrow leaves can be chewed to relieve any toothache

4. Various studies done have shown that this herb can help reduce smooth-muscle spasms, which can be used to explain its gastro-intestinal benefits further.

Preparation of yarrow tincture

Preparation of yarrow tincture is quite simple, the hard part is storing it until it becomes potent.

1. Get approximately 200g of dried roots and add them into a 1 liter Mason jar or mug.

2. You can then add about 1 liter of rum, vodka or grain alcohol into the jar containing the dried roots to help saturate them and then close the jar tightly

3. Store this mixture in a dry and dark place for about 4 weeks. If you need a stronger tincture, make sure you store it for approximately 8 weeks.

4. Make sure you shake the jar each day until the tincture is ready for use.

Various individuals are allergic to this herb and some have developed dermatitis from just touching it. So make sure you are not allergic before trying this herb. This herb tends to interact with other drugs like blood pressure and thinning drugs.

See Also