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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.

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.

Sage - Salvia Officinalis

A Sage In The Garden: Salvia officinalis

Name

 

Common sage
Common sage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The genus name, Salvia, comes from the Latin verb “salvare” (to save but also to cure).

Salvia officinalis (garden sage, common sage) ...
Salvia officinalis (garden sage, common sage) – Lamiaceae; Flower Français : sauge officinale Latina: Salvia officinalis – Lamiaceae (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The specific name, officinalis, refers to this plant’s medicinal use.

Also Known as

  • sage
  • common sage
  • garden sage
  • golden sage
  • kitchen sage
  • true sage
  • culinary sage
  • dalmatian sage
  • broadleaf sage

 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

leaves

Actions

antimicrobial, astringent, antiseptic, decongestant, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, expectorant, tonic, digestive, antioxidant, rejuvenative, diuretic, phytoestrogenic, antihydrotic, carminative, cholagogue, vasodilator

Systems

Digestion

  • enhances appetite and digestive function
  • facilitates assimilation of fats
  • calms tension and colic
  • alleviates bloating and wind
  • decreases blood sugar levels
  • reduces excessive salivation, as in Parkinson’s disease

Mental and emotional

  • decreases anxiety
  • raises mood

Respiratory system

  • good for catarrh, common colds and upper body infections

Immune system

  • beneficial in the treatment of cold, flu, fevers, sore throats and chest infections
  • effective against candida, herpes simplex type 2 and influenza virus II
  • great for arthritis and gout

Urinary system

  • removes toxins via the kidneys

Reproductive system

  • decreases excessive lactation
  • ideal for menopausal problems such as night sweats and insomnia
  • balances hormones and it is antispasmodic for irregular and painful periods

Externally

  • apply as antiseptic lotion for cuts, burns, insect bites, skin problems, ulcers and sunburn
  • gargle for sore throats
  • mouthwash for inflamed gums and mouth ulcers
  • apply leaves to reduces toothache
  • use poultice for sprains, swellings and ulcers

Caution

  • may be toxic in large dosage or over a prolonged period
  • avoid in pregnancy and breast-feeding
  • avoid with epilepsy

 

5 Natural Ways To Help Your Immune System

5 Natural Ways To Help Your Immune System

Five natural, but uncommon ways to boost one’s immune system are consuming antioxidants, getting adequate sleep, consuming certain fats, adequate sunshine and moderate exercise. Boosting one’s immune system naturally can be easy with just a few modifications to diet and lifestyle.

Antioxidants

Everybody knows that vitamin C can boost immunity. Many vitamin C containing foods are also packed with antioxidants. Protecting one’s body from the damage of free radicals can help contribute to a healthy immune system. Not only do antioxidants boost the immune system, they can also help to lessen the effects of aging and arthritis. They have even been shown to mitigate the effects of certain cancers.

Antioxidant Rich Foods

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Pinto Beans
  • Prunes
  • Red Delicious Apples
  • Granny Smith Apples
  • Russet Potatoes Plums
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Black Beans

Sleep

Getting adequate sleep seems remains one of the most important ways to naturally boost one’s immune system. Going without sleep can increase the likely hood of getting sick. Getting enough sleep helps one’s body to recharge. Instituting a ‘bedtime’ may help to get one in the habit of going to bed earlier. Forcing a habit is okay to begin with.

Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids are great at boosting the immune system. Adding fat to a diet to boost health may seem counterproductive. When it comes to fat, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for good immune system health. Omega-3 fatty acids have shown to lessen inflammation and aid in production of white blood cells. Not everybody eats fish three times a week, so adding omega-3 fatty acids to a diet has to be a conscious decision. Fish oils are a great way to supplement an omega-3 deficient diet.

Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Spinach
  • Winter Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Beans
  • Nuts and Seeds

Sunshine

A little bit of sunshine goes a long way. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D. Absorption of vitamin D through foods may not be as effective as sun exposure. It is actually beneficial to the immune system to get a little bit of sunshine. It is recommended to get from 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure a few times each week. The sun exposure can be coupled with a brisk walk for an additional immune system boost.

Moderate Exercise

The tip to boosting immunity with exercise is to keep it moderate. Over straining or stressing one’s body with training can actually weaken the immune system. Taking a brisk 30 minute walk two or three times per week is a great way to get moderate exercise. The walk can be coupled with sun exposure to take advantage of two immune boosting strategies.

The five natural ways to help boost one’s immune system are eating foods rich in antioxidants, sleeping more, including omega-3 fatty acids into the diet, adequate sunshine and moderate exercise. Making these minor changes to one’s diet and lifestyle can make a positive impact on one’s immune system.

 

Sally writes on behalf of Trac Services, a regulatory affairs consultancy that help pharmaceutical companies with the clinical trial application process throughout Europe. Sally enjoys reading health and fitness blog and is particularly interested in the power of food as a medicine. Any opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the business Sally writes for.

Trifolium pratense - red clover

Trifolium pratense

Name

The genus name “Trifolium” means three-leaved grass. The specific name “pratense” is latin for “found in meadows”.

Also Known as

  • red clover
  • beebread
  • broad red
  • cleaver grass
  • cow clover
  • cow grass
  • marl grass
  • meadow clover
  • meadow honeysuckle
  • meadow trefoil
  • purple clover
  • trefoil
  • wild clover

Identification Keys

  • perennial herbaceous
  • usually upright but may also creep on the ground, producing stems and fibrous roots at nodes
  • grows to 20-80 cm tall
  • alternate, palmate-compound leaves
  • leaves arise from a long, slender, branching downy stem
  • leave is trifoliate (with three leaflets)
  • leaflet oval to elliptical
  • leaflet 15–30 mm long and 8–15 mm broad, green with a characteristic pale crescent in the outer half of the leaf
  • leaflet has a V-shaped chevron in the outer half
  • a midrib runs down the leaflet length, creating a seam
  • rounded flower head with up to 60 tiny, bilateral-symmetrical, magenta, pea-like flowers
  • tiny brown seeds

Bloom Time

  • late spring – early fall

Habitat

  • fields
  • disturbed habitats
  • trailsides
  • roadsides
  • parks
  • sunny places
  • meadows
  • pastures
  • open fields
  • lawns

Look-alikes

  • Trifolium repens (white clover) resembles red clover, but it’s smaller with white flowers and leaves arising from separate stems
  • Oxalis spp. (wood sorrel), also edible, is often confused with clover, but it has heart-shaped and completely different flowers

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

flowering top

Actions

alterative, antioxidant, antispasmodic, aperient, diuretic, expectorant, sedative, oestrogenic

Systems

Circulation

  • prevents hypertension

Respiratory system

  • antispasmodic for whooping-cough, dry cough, bronchitis and asthma

Immune system

  • useful as a detoxifying herb for cancer of the breast and lung
  • benefits lymphatic system

Musculoskeletal system

  • protects from osteoporosis
  • used for arthritis and gout

Reproductive system

  • increases follicle-stimulanting hormones
  • useful for menopausal issues such as hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia
  • helpful in mastitis
  • guard against prostate problems

Externally

  • apply poultices to skin problems and cancerous growth

Caution

  • avoid in bleeding disorders, pregnancy and breast-feeding
  • diseased clover can contain toxic alkaloids
  • use with caution with anticoagulants and contraceptives

Food Uses

Parts Used

flowers, leaves

Main Uses

potherb, salad, tea

Nutrition

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin B1, B3
  • vitamin E
  • calcium
  • chromium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • potassium

Cooking

  • add the raw flowers to salads
  • cook (10-15 min) the flowers in any dish that calls for vegetables. They cook in about 10 to 15 minutes
  • dehydrate flower, grind them into powder. Add to whole-grain flour to use in breads
  • make an infusion with the freshest flower heads and few leaves
  • cook (15 min) the leaves like other greens
  • sprouted seeds are edible in salads


Harvesting

Harvesting Season

  • the leaves are barely edible in early spring but can be used in tea
  • the flowers are at their peak in late spring, but good ones are also available in the summer and fall

Harvesting Methods

  • pick the young leaves and the flower heads by hand
  • collect the most attractive-looking flower heads
  • avoid those that still include some immature, green flowers
  • collect completely brown flowers (contain seeds) and use them to supplement the protein of whole grains in breads

rubus idaeus - raspberry

Rubus idaeus

Name

Rubus is a latin name meaning bramble. Idaues is an adjective and means “of Mount Ida”, a sacred mountain associated with the mother goddess in the deepest layers of pre-Greek myth.

Also Known as

  • raspberry
  • wild raspberry
  • red raspberry

 


 

Identification Keys

  • arching or erect shrub
  • multiple stems up to 1 m
  • purplish-red stems
  • stem has curved prickles
  • leaves are alternated
  • leaf is palmate-compound with 3-5 (sometimes 7) toothed, pointed, oval leaflets
  • leaflet is bright green on  upper side and minty-greenish white underneath
  • leaflet is long 3.5-6.5 cm and about half as wide
  • short, loose raceme
  • white, 5-petaled flower
  • round, downy, red raspberries in summer and fall

Seasons

  • fruits: mid-summer to late summer (sometimes there’s a second season from mid-fall to late fall)
  • leaves: spring to fall

Habitat

  • moist, sunny or partly shady habitats
  • thickets
  • hedges
  • overgrown fields
  • edges or openings of woods
  • trail sides

Poisonous Look-alikes

Poison ivy can resemble raspberry, with which it share territory; raspberry stem almost always has thorns whereas poison ivy stem is smooth. Also, the 3-leaflet pattern of some raspberry leaves changes as the plant grows: leaves produced later in the season have 5/7 leaflets rather than 3. Raspberry leave has many fine teeth along the edge, the top surface is very wrinkled where the veins are, and the bottom of the leaves is light minty-greenish white. Poison ivy leave is all green. The stem of poison ivy is brown and cylindrical, while raspberry stem can be green or purplish red, is squared in cross-section, and has prickles.

  • Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
  • Toxicodendron diversilobum (poison oak) – West Coast of North America
  • Toxicodendron pubescens (poison oak) – Eastern United States

 


 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

leaf, fruit

Actions

anti-inflammatory, astringent, decongestant, oxytocic, antiemetic, opthalmic, antioxidant, antiseptic, antidiarrheal, diaphoretic, diuretic, choleretic, hypoglycemic

Systems

Digestion

  • protects guts lining from irritation and inflammation
  • relieves nausea and suppress vomiting
  • astringent for diarrhea, especially for children
  • normalizes blood sugar level

Respiratory system

  • beneficial for sore throats, colds, flu and catarrh

Immune system

  • anti-microbial, inhibits pathogens such as Candida albicans

Reproductive system

  • relieves nausea in pregnancy
  • prevents miscarriage
  • tones uterin and pelvic muscles to prepare childbirth (taken as infusion of leaves, in the last 3 months of pregnacy)
  • speeds the healing after the birth
  • stimulates the flow of breast milk
  • fruits are useful to combat anaemia in pregnancy

Externally

  • gargle for sore throats and tonsillitis
  • use as mouthwash for mouth ulcers and inflamed gums
  • apply poultice or lotion on sores, minor cuts and burns
  • useful for conjunctivitis

 


Food Uses

Parts Used

Fruit, leaf

Main Uses

Raw/cooked fruit, Tea

Nutrition

  • source of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B1, B2, B6
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K
  • pantothenic acid
  • folate

Cooking

  • eat directly or add in any dessert recipe
  • make jams and jellies
  • milkshake
  • fruit salads
  • pies

 

Rosmarinus officinalis - rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

Name

The latin name Rosmarinus is a compound word: “Ros” means “Dew” and “Marinus” means “of the sea”. So Rosmarinus stands for “Dew of the Sea” as the plant grows well near the sea-coast and sea-foam sprays upon it.
Officinalis (meaning ‘of the workshop’) is a common species name and it denotes medicinal plants.

Also Known as

  • rosemary
  • sea dew
  • our lady’s rose
  • rosemarine
  • compass weed
  • incensier
  • mary’s mantle
  • old man
  • polar plant

 

Identification Keys

  • perennial herb
  • bushy evergreen shrub
  • height up to 2m
  • aromatic linear, leathery, with enrolled margins leaves
  • leaf size: 2-4cm × 1.2-3.5mm
  • leaf color: bright green and wrinkled above, white-tomentose beneath,
  • stalkless leaves
  • inflorescence and flower stalks with star-shaped hairs almost hairless and distinctly veined
  • calyx 3-4mm when young, later 5-7mm,
  • corolla 10-12mm, pale blue (rarely pink or white)
  • nutlets brown

Bloom Time

  • summer

Habitat

  • full sun
  • sandy, well-limed soil

 


 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

Aerial parts

Actions

diaphoretic, carminative, emmenagogic, nervine, antioxidant, cholagogue, thymoleptic, decongestant, antispasmodic, antimicrobial, circulatory stimulant, febrifuge, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, diuretic

Systems

Digestion

  • protects the gut  from irritation and inflammation
  • reduces diarrhea
  • active against infections
  • stimulates appetite
  • relieves flatulence
  • aids digestion
  • enhances elimination
  • clears toxins

Circulation

  • stimulates circulation, improving peripheral blood flow
  • reduces inflammation and muscle tension
  • reduces migraines and headaches
  • used for arteriosclerosis, chilblains and varicose veins

Respiratory system

  • dispels infection
  • helpful in asthma
  • used for fevers, catarrh, sore throats, colds, flu and chest infections

Mental and emotional

  • improves concentration and memory
  • calms anxiety
  • lifts depression
  • relieves exhaustion and insomnia

Immune system

  • enhance immunity
  • detoxifies poisons
  • relieves arthritis and gout

Urinary system

  • enhances elimination of wastes

Reproductive system

  • reduces heavy menstrual bleeding
  • relieves dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain)

Externally

  • massage the skin for joint pain, headaches and poor concentration

Caution

  • avoid in pregnancy

 


Food Uses

Parts Used

Flowers, Leaves

Main Uses

Seasoning, Tea

Nutrition

  • rich source of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium
  • very good amounts of vitamin A
  • exceptionally rich in vitamin B
  • fresh leaves are good source of  vitamin C

Cooking

  • enhances the flavor of any savory or sweet food
  • the leaves flavor is quite strong, use it only sparingly
  • use it to season lamb, rabbit, veal, pork, sausages, poultry, egg dishes, fish, pickles and shellfish
  • flavor oil by adding a few sprigs
  • add to jellies, fruit jams, and cookies
  • use for add extra special flavor to dishes that need asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplants, green beans and peas, zucchini and potatoes
  • use in breads and biscuits
  • soak dried Rosmarinus officinalis in hot water before adding it to uncooked foods
  • the flowers can be candied, preserved, or added to jellies, honey, wine or vinegar

 

Harvesting

  • harvest the rosemary needle leaves throughout the summer
  • in autumn, pick the leaves in the morning for best oil-content and quality
  • use the fresh leaves in dishes immediately after picking them, or dry the leaves

 


Thymus-vulgaris

Thymus vulgaris

Name

Thymus comes from greek verb “to perfume” or “to burn incense”, indicating that this plant was used in sacrifices.
The specific name vulgaris means a common plant.

Also Known as

  • thyme
  • common thyme
  • English thyme
  • summer thyme
  • winter thyme
  • French thyme
  • garden thyme

 


 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

flowering aerial parts

Actions

antispasmodic, astringent, digestive, antiseptic, antibacterial, decongestant, circulatory stimulant, relaxant, immunostimulant, antioxidant, antifungal

Systems

Digestion

  • enhances appetite and digestion
  • relieves wind, colic, irritable bowel syndrome and spastic colon
  • protects the gut lining from irritation and antibiotics
  • reduces diarrhea

Circulation

  • prevents chilblains
  • combats the effect of cold in winter

Mental and emotional

  • strengthening tonic for physical and mental exhaustion
  • relieves tension, anxiety and depression
  • enhances concentration and memory

Respiratory system

  • helps resolve colds, sore throats, flu and chest infections such as bronchitis, pneunomia and pleurisy
  • relieves asthma and whooping-cough

Immune system

  • has powerful antibacterial and antifungal effects thanks to its volatile oils
  • increases longevity
  • increases perspiration
  • reduces fever

Urinary system

  • relieves water retention

Reproductive system

  • relieves dysmenorrhea pains
  • useful in infections such as candida and salpingitis

Externally

  • disinfects cuts and wounds
  • useful for aching joints and muscular pain
  • gargle used for sore throats
  • douche used for vaginal infections

Caution

  • avoid large amounts in pregnancy

 


 

Origanum majorana

Origanum majorana

Name

The name “Origanum” comes from the Greek “origanon” which is a compound term formed with the words “oros” (mountain) and “ghana” (I am pleased), alluding to the concept of delight or ornament of the mountain. The specific name “majorana” derives  from the Greek “amàrakos”, with meaning fragrant plant.

Also Known as

  • sweet marjoram
  • knotted marjoram
  • common marjoram
  • joy of the mountain
  • wild marjoram
  • wild oregano
  • wintersweet
  • mountain mint

 


 

Identification Keys

  • tender soft-stemmed perennial bush
  • square stalks
  • grows up to 30 cm
  • oval leaves
  • opposite leaves
  • tiny pink-lavender flowers
  • flowers have a 1-lipped calyx deeply fissure on one side
  • pungent, sweet, sage-like aroma.

Bloom Time

  • July-September

Habitat

  • hills
  • sunny hedges
  • sunny woodland clearings
  • up to 2000 meters above sea level
  • prefers dry soil, rocky, limestone soil
  • it is sensitive to cold and can not stand the rigors of winter

Look-alikes

There are three other varieties of marjoram that it is often confused with but none of these has the
distinctive taste of Origanum majorana.

  • Origanum vulgare (wild marjoram)
  • Origanum onites (pot marjoram)
  • Origanum pulchellum (showy marjoram)

 


 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

Flower, leaf

Actions

digestive, carminative, tonic, stimulant, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, diuretic, antiviral, antioxidant, expectorant, sedative

Systems

Digestion

  • relieves indigestion
  • stimulates appetite
  • relieves nausea, diarrhea and constipation

Circulation

  • taken in hot tea, clears toxins via the skin
  • stimulates blood flow
  • improves circulation
  • useful to treat chilblains, arthritis and gout

Mental and emotional

  • eases loneliness and heartbreak
  • relaxes physical and mental tension
  • relieves stress-related symptoms (indigestion, colic, headaches, migraine)
  • helps memory
  • improves concentration
  • relieves insomnia, depression and anxiety

Immune system

  • probiotic
  • reduce damage from free radicals
  • retards ageing
  • enhances immunity
  • protects against winter infections (coughs, colds)
  • active against bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • helps against viruses as herpes simplex
  • heals fungal infections such as candida
  • clears phlegm
  • soothes cough
  • relieves sinusitis and fever

Urinary system

  • clears toxins via urine
  • antiseptic diuretic for infections

Externally

  • use diluted essential oils to massage into painful joints, aching muscles, sprains and strains
  • soothes oral pathologies such as mouth ulcers

 

Harvesting

  • pick leaves as needed
  • harvest tips from June to August when most flowers are open
  • avoid woody parts when cutting trunks from 10 to 20 cm
  • collect in a dry day and after the dew has evaporated
  • dry in bunches hung from a string in a well ventilated place

olea-europaea

Olea europaea

Name

The specific name “europaea” indicates its origin: the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin as well as northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea.

Also Known as

  • olive

 


 

Identification Keys

  • evergreen tree
  • height up to 15 m
  • thick, gnarled and silvery trunk
  • trunk and main branches have many  large cavities and holes
  • wild tree (oleaster) is bushy and spiny
  • cultivated tree (sativa) is unarmed
  • leaves not divided into leaflets
  • leathery leaves 20-80 mm
  • leaves are grey-green above, silvery-hairy beneath
  • leaves in opposites pairs on shoots
  • flowers in loose spikes
  • each flower has 4 sepals, 4 petals, joined in a tube, and 2 stamens
  • fruit size: 10-35 mm
  • in first year, fruits are green; they ripens black in second year
  • fruits are oily fleshed
  • each fruit has a single large stone

Bloom Time

  • July-August

Habitat

  • grows in lightly wooded, rocky areas

Look-alikes

You can confuse the Olive tree with other Oleaceae

 


 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

Fruit, oil, leaf

Actions

demulcent, emollient, antiseptic, astringent, febrifuge, antioxidant, cholagogue, hypotensive, hypocholesterolaemic, laxative

Systems

Digestion

  • alleviates inflamed and irritated conditions such as indigestion, heartburn, gastritis, colitis and peptic ulcers
  • stimulates bile flow
  • helps in liver and gall bladder issues
  • alternating with lemon juice, helps to dissolve and encourage the passing of gallstones
  • helpful in diabetes; leaves lower blood sugar
  • oil is useful as a laxative

Circulation

  • lowers harmful cholesterol and blood pressure
  • reduces risks of atherosclerosis, clots, heart attacks and strokes
  • mitigates hypertension
  • increases sweating and reduces fever, taken as hot infusion

Respiratory system

Immune system

  • protects cell membranes against free radicals
  • retards ageing
  • reduces development of cancer

Externally

  • To speed healing, apply to boils, eczema, cold sores, dry skin, brittle nails, insect bites, stings and minor burns
  • warm oil dropped into the ear softens wax
  • oil, mixed with essential oils such as garlic or lavender, relieves earache
  • massage over kidneys for bedwetting treatment
  • mouthwash with an leaves infusion heals bleeding/infected gums
  • use infusion as gargle for sore throats

 


 

Harvesting

Leaves

  • gather the leaves by cutting the stem to encourage new growth. Do not uproot the olive leaves wherever possible
  • hang the stems upside down in a brown paper bag
  • tie off the bag opening with a rubber band or piece of string
  • hang your paper bag in a space for drying
  • let dry for one to two weeks
  • cut off the stems from the leaves. Some of the leaves may drop naturally from the stems as they dry in the bag

Fruits

  • gather the fruits when they are completely ripe (October-December)
  • put the fruits in clean water
  • change water every other day for 2 weeks
  • move the fruits in salted water