Tag Archives: vulnerary

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

Achillea_millefolium_paint

Achillea millefolium

Name

The name “Achillea” commemorates the greek hero Achilles who used yarrow to heal the wounds of his soldiers. The specific name “millefolium” means ‘thousand leaves’, a perfect name to describe the finely divided leaves.

Also Known as

  • yarrow
  • milfoil
  • thousand-leaf
  • bloodwort
  • old man’s pepper

 


 

Identification Keys

  • bushy perennial herb
  • leaves finely divided into narrow segments
  • thin, fern-like leaves resembling a pipe cleaner or small feathers
  • leaves arranged spirally on stem
  • dark green leaves
  • height: 8 cm – 65 cm, width: 60 cm (2 ft)
  • sap not milky
  • flower-head in flat-topped clusters
  • flower-head with flat outer florets, tubular inner florets
  • white to pinkish-white daisy-like flowers
  • flowers enclosed by bracts; no sepals; 5 petals form a tube; 5 stamens and 1 stigma
  • flower-head without collar beneath
  • fruits and floret base without a parachute
  • 1.5-2 mm long, flattened, shiny, nut-like fruit; retains the seed
  • strongly scented

Bloom Time

  • June-November

Habitat

  • fields, hedges, meadows, roadsides, gravelly areas, waste places
  • dry or poor soils but also found in moist areas
  • grows in low to high elevations

Look-alikes

You can confuse common yarrow with other plants with dissected leaves:

  • Mayweed chamomile
  • Pineapple-weed
  • Wild carrot. It tends to grow in more of a rosette with leaves that are more pinnatafid than yarrow.
  • Poison hemlock
  • Fennel

 


 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

Aerial parts

Actions

diaphoretic, diuretic, astringent, digestive, bitter tonic, hepatic, antimicrobial, decongestant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, analgesic, antihistaminic, emmenagogic, expectorant, anticatarrhal, hemostatic, styptic, vulnerary, alterative

Systems

Digestion

  • stimulates appetite, aids digestion and absorption
  • relieves wind, spasm and indigestion
  • astringent tannins protect the gut from irritation and infection; helpful in diarrhea and inflammatory issues

Circulation

  • taken in hot tea, it promotes sweating and reduces fevers
  • lowers blood pressure, improves circulation
  • relieves leg cramps and varicose veins

Respiratory system

  • it relieves colds and congestion, taken in hot tea with mint and elderflower
  • antihistamine effect is useful in treating allergies

Immune system

  • volatile oils and luteolin have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
  • relieves arthritis, allergies and autoimmune problems
  • stimulates blood flow to the skin and brings out the rash in eruptive infections such as measles and chickenpox
  • clears toxins by aiding elimination through the skin and kidneys

Urinary system

  • diuretic, relieves irritable bladder
  • tightens muscles, helping incontinence

Reproductive system

  • regulates menstrual cycle
  • eases menopause change
  • relieves premenstrual syndrome and heavy bleeding
  • speeds up childbirth and aids in expelling the afterbirth
  • stimulates lactose production

Externally

  • tannins and silica speed healing of cuts, wounds, ulcers, burns, varicose veins,
  • hemorrhoids and skin conditions
  • infusions used as vaginal douche, skin lotion and mouthwash for gingivitis
  • a little of yarrow tincture on a tissue, stuffed up the nostril, stops a bleeding nose

Caution

  • avoid in pregnancy and if allergic to Asteraceae
  • prolonged use can cause contact dermatitis and photosensitivity
  • avoid with anticoagulants

 


 

Harvesting

  • gather the leaves and flowers by cutting the entire stem half way down.
  • harvest after the flowers opened and when they look  vibrant.
  • tie them by their stems in small bunches and hang them out of direct sunlight.
  • when fully dry, garble them, and store in a mason jar.