Tag Archives: demulcent

Althea officinalis

Althea officinalis

Name

The meaning of Althea is “healing herb”. Officinalis (meaning “of the workshop”) is a common species name and it denotes medicinal plants.

Also Known as

  • marsh mallow
  • marshmallow
  • marshmellow
  • common marshmallow

 


 

Identification Keys

  • perennial herbaceous
  • 60-120 cm tall
  • upright, hairy stem with few side branches
  • tough, pliant, long, thick, tapering taproot
  • taproot is pale yellow outside and white and fibrous inside
  • gray-green, stalked leaves
  • coarsely and irregularly toothed, alternate leaves
  • heart-shaped or three to five-lobed leaves toward the bottom
  • oval and pointed leaves toward the top of the stem
  • flowers grow in short, dense cluster from the upper leaves
  • five-petaled, pinkish flowers
  • bushy central column composed of fused stamens
  • dry, flattened, disk-shaped fruit
  • fruit is radially divided into 15 to 20 segments

Bloom Time

  • late summer

Habitat

  • marshes
  • seashore
  • sunny salt marshes
  • coastal areas

Look-alikes

Malva spp. is a related edible species:

  • Malva sylvestris
  • Malva neglecta

 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

root, leaf, flower

Actions

emollient, mucilage, demulcent, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic, antitussive, expectorant, diuretic, antilithic, immune enhancer, galactogogue

Systems

Digestion

  • relieves ulcerative colitis, gastritis and peptic ulcers
  • soothes heartburn, IBS and constipation
  • reduces peristalsis
  • relieves diarrhea
  • has a laxative effect if it’s used at larger doses

Respiratory system

  • soothes harsh, dry coughs, sore throats, laryngitis, bronchitis and croup
  • clears catarrh
  • relieves inflammation

Immune system

  • aids production of white blood cells
  • protects against Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus

Urinary system

  • eases passing of gravel and stones
  • relieves irritable bladder, cystitis and urethritis

Reproductive system

  • eases childbirth
  • stimulates flow of breast milk

Externally

  • soothes irritation and inflammation from insect bites and stings
  • used for treating varicose veins, ulcers, abscesses, bruises, sprains, aching muscles
  • treats scalds, burns and sunburns (mixed with Lavandula and flax oil)
  • heals skin in acne, eczema and sore nipples
  • used for mastitis, boils and abscesses as warm poultice
  • treats sore throats (gargle) and inflamed gums (mouthwash)

Food Uses

Parts Used

leaves, roots

Main Uses

potherb

Nutrition

  • good source of vitamin C
  • iron, calcium and copper

Cooking

  • young leaves thicken soups
  • use as cooked vegetable in stews, sauces, or a variety of side dishes
  • use the raw leaves and flowers in salads
  • boil the root, discard the root, boil down the liquid, sweet it and beat it

Recipes


 

Harvesting

Please do not overharvest where this plant it’s rare or you might eradicate it. 

Harvesting Season

  • young leaves:  mid- to late spring
  • flowers and fruits: late summer to fall
  • roots: spring and fall.

Harvesting Methods

  • strip off the young leaves
  • pick the flowers and fruits with your fingers
  • dig up the roots with a digging stick

 


Plantago major

Plantago major

Name

Plantago means “footprint” and it refers to the foot-like shape of the leaf. The specific name “major” means ‘larger’ referring to the leaf size, probably in contrast with other Plantago plants as Plantago lanceolata.

Also Known as

  • greater plantain
  • common plantain
  • soldier’s herb
  • white man’s foot
  • broadleaf plantain
  • broad-leaved plantain
  • roadweed
  • wayside plantain
  • lamb’s foot
  • snakeroot
  • waybread
  • healing blade
  • hen plant

Identification Keys

  • perennial weed
  • makes a tough, leafy rosette
  • leaves all in tuft at base of plant
  • leaves 10-30 cm, oval
  • leaves not spear-shaped
  • strongly veined leaves, main veins are parallel
  • pencil-shaped flowering spikes about 15 cm
  • short, flattened, purple leaf stalk
  • flowers 2-3 mm
  • 4 oval, brownish, papery sepals
  • sepals are shorter than petals
  • 4 greenish, yellowish-white petals
  • petals form a tube beneath oval lobes
  • 4 long, protruding stamens, 1 stigma
  • flower-head not covered by hood
  • fruit is a 2-4 mm oblong capsule
  • fruit has 6-13 elliptical flattened seeds
  • each seed is 1-1.5mm
  • the top of the fruit detaches to release the seeds
  • sap is not milky

Bloom Time

  • May-September

Habitat

  • grassy place, cultivated or waste ground
  • spreads through most temperate regions of the world
  • requires moist soil
  • needs a sunny or partly shaded position
  • can withstand temperatures down to -15°C

Look-alikes

It can be confused with other Plantago plants:

  • Plantago lanceolata (long-leaf plantain). It has narrower leaves.

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

leaf, seed

Actions

astringent, alterative, diuretic, vulnerary, demulcent, refrigerant, detoxifying, decongestant, expectorant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral

Systems

Digestion

  • counters inflammation and irritation in the bowels and stomach
  • helps in gastritis, diarrhea and colitis
  • reduces colic and spasm
  • bulk laxative for constipation (taken as a tea of seeds)

Respiratory system

  • relieves colds, sinusitis, bronchial congestion, hay fever and asthma depressing mucous secretion
  • prevents ear infections and glue ear
  • soothes cough reflex
  • protects mucosae from irritation

Immune system

  • reduces swelling and inflammation
  • stops bleeding
  • promotes wound healing
  • reduces fever and infections
  • clears toxins
  • has antiviral action against herpes viruses and adenoviruses

Urinary system

  • helps in urinary tracts infections

Reproductive system

  • reduces excessive menstrual bleeding
  • useful for prostatitis enlargement

Externally

  • cures cuts, stings and insect bites

Harvesting

  • pull off the leaves
  • strip the immature, green fruits with your fingers
  • gather the seeds inside the mature fruits

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