4 Bulk Herb Wholesalers You Can Trust

Consider these conscious companies when shopping for herbal ingredients.

Many of us like to take our health into our own hands and create our own herbal remedies such as tinctures, teas, salves, and oils. Of course, growing our own herbs is the absolute best way to get the freshest possible ingredients. But there are many reasons we might not be able to supply all of our own medicinal herbs, and that’s when we turn to bulk herb suppliers. When it comes to making medicinal products, though, it’s more important than ever that the herbs we source are high-quality, grown organically and harvested and handled by experts who know how to best maximize and retain the plants’ medicinal qualities.

The following Editors’ Picks are some of our very favorite suppliers of high-quality herbs grown, processed and distributed in conscientious ways. They all showcase a dedication to superior quality, whether growing their own herbs or developing long-standing relationships with trusted small farmers. In addition, these companies make it obvious that they value the people who work for them through innovative corporate policies. And they value their customers, too, answering every question promptly via phone, email or Facebook.

Frontier Co-op

Norway, Iowa
(800) 669-3275

Founded in 1976, Frontier Co-op is headquartered on 56 acres just outside Norway, Iowa, where its 145,000-square-foot facility houses its bulk herbs, seasonings, and spices. Owned by its 40,000 active co-op member-owners, Frontier Co-op offers a full line of natural and organic products, including bulk herbs and spices in addition to culinary spices, organic aromatherapy products and more. Frontier Co-op’s goal is to provide its customers with the highest quality organic and natural products while supporting and promoting social and environmental responsibility.

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Ingredient Sourcing & Quality: Frontier was one of the first suppliers to actively advocate organic products and agriculture, carrying its first organic products in 1978 and becoming the first herb and spice manufacturer in the U.S. with certified organic processing. Frontier Co-op also offers farmers fair prices, dealing directly with growers whenever possible. Frontier’s comprehensive sustainable sourcing program, Well Earth, promotes the sustainable production of natural and organic products and creates partnerships built upon a mutual respect for quality botanicals and sound social and environmental principles. The Well Earth program is built on the sourcing expertise Frontier Co-op has gained in more than three decades of experience buying botanicals and meeting personally with growers all over the world. Frontier says, “The Well Earth program is good for our suppliers, their communities, the environment, our co-op and our customers.” Through this program, Frontier helps bring more organic, sustainable and ethically sourced products to the natural foods market, giving consumers the opportunity to use purchases to influence the way the world does business.

Responsibility: Frontier Co-op is committed to sustainability in the storage, processing, packaging and shipping of its products. Its operations practice water conservation; offset 100 percent of power use with renewable energy credits; recycle as much waste as possible; and offset the carbon generated from shipping. Frontier Co-op’s mission is “Nourish people and the planet. Always be fair.” To this end, Frontier Co-op donates 4 percent of its pre-tax sales to support sustainability and community development programs and to promote organic agriculture research, education, and practices in communities across the globe—this standard ranks Frontier among the top companies in the nation for yearly social giving as a percent of sales. Some of Frontier Co-op’s many causes include the Frontier Co-op Foundation, which supports social, educational and environmental causes; the Simply Organic 1% Fund, which supports organic agriculture through research, education and grower development; and the Aura Cacia Positive Change Project, which supports organizations that empower women to transform their lives. Through the Well Earth program, Frontier helps improve the communities where its farmers and growers live. In one recent example, Well Earth worked with its partners to bring expanded dental care services to 41 co-ops of farmers in the mountains around Coban, Guatemala, serving nearly 25,000 people.

Pacific Botanicals

Grants Pass, Oregon
(541) 479-7777

Pacific Botanicals is dedicated to empowering people everywhere to experience the miracle of good health. For more than 37 years, Pacific Botanicals has been growing certified organic medicinal herbs. Pacific Botanicals’ farm in Oregon’s Applegate Valley employs organic growing methods and beyond, saving seed from its own plants suited to the microclimate where they grow, feeding the soil with organic nutrients, and harvesting herbs at the peak of health. For those herbs the company does not grow on its farm, it turns into its network of worldwide certified organic farms and suppliers who understand its stringent quality requirements. Pacific Botanicals has become a leader in organic medicinal herb production through a passionate and uncompromising dedication to quality.

Ingredient Sourcing & Quality: As leaders in the field of providing herbal alternatives to conventional pharmaceutical medicines, Pacific Botanicals believes it must start with the finest chemical-free ingredients possible. The company views its farm, people, and processes not as a factory but rather as a living whole system. Recognizing that organic production integrates social, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity, the Pacific Botanicals farm has many interwoven components—from the seeds to the soil, from the climate to the workers. Each piece of the farming process contributes to making something greater than the sum of its parts.

Responsibility: Pacific Botanicals is a good steward of the earth. Sustainability is the foundation of organic agriculture, and at Pacific Botanicals that means cooperating with the natural renewing and sustaining the power of the earth. The company works to build up its soil and protect its watershed. Its rigorous recycle/reuse program includes everything from recycling the bags in which herbs are received and composting earth-friendly paper towels to purchasing and adapting used equipment for farming and reusing cardboard boxes to ship out orders. The farm also has a 27 kW solar-electric system that supplies about 35 percent of the total electricity used to power its dryers, pumps, processing equipment and the owner’s personal residence.

Oregon’s Wild Harvest

Redmond, Oregon
(800) 316-6869

Founded in 1994 by a husband-and-wife team, Oregon’s Wild Harvest is a whole plant herbal supplement company headquartered in Redmond, Oregon. In harmony with its team of more than 40 farmers, scientists and quality assurance experts, Oregon’s Wild Harvest is dedicated to nurturing good, healthy soil and clean water and saving and replanting its non-GMO seeds on its three farms strategically located in distinct growing zones. With the well-being and care of its customers at heart, the company is committed to growing and procuring only the very highest-quality fresh, whole herbs, which are tested for optimum potency and prepared in small batches.

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Ingredient Sourcing & Quality: Oregon’s Wild Harvest offers 80 varieties of dried herbs and spices in whole, cut and sifted, and freshly milled powdered form. The company’s extensive assortment of bulk herbs is the same premium plant material that goes into all of its finished herbal products sold in natural foods stores around the country and online. All of its bulk herbs go through the same rigorous, in-house quality testing process as its bottled products to verify identity, purity, and potency. Oregon’s Wild Harvest grows many herbs on its certified organic and biodynamic farms. The company also sources from a community of trusted suppliers. Each bulk pouch has a lot number and date for identification and traceability. Herbs are stored in a temperature-controlled room, out of direct light and in the whole form, prior to processing. Each bulk bag is hand-filled to ensure the herbs remain in the whole form as much as possible to minimize essential oil loss. Oregon’s Wild Harvest’s hands-on, closed-loop approach gives the company maximum control over the identity, quality, potency and safety of all of its ingredients and the process itself every step of the way.

Responsibility: Oregon’s Wild Harvest says running an organic herb company requires land, energy, family, farmers, scientists, great partners and a lot of passion. Through its daily practices and operational decisions, Oregon’s Wild Harvest is dedicated to minimizing its impact on the planet. The responsibility starts with the company’s farms, which are dedicated to 100 percent non-GMO organic seed-saving and use Demeter Certified Biodynamic farming practices. The farms are also certified USDA Organic by Oregon Tilth and certified by Salmon-Safe, a nonprofit working to keep urban and agricultural watersheds clean enough for native salmon to spawn and thrive. More than 10 percent of the farm habitat is dedicated to pollinators. Oregon’s Wild Harvest sources the plants it doesn’t grow from growers and wildcrafters with the same high standards employed on the farm. The company also operates a resource-conscious production facility, purchasing carbon offsets via Clean Wind Green Tag, amounting to the equivalent of planting more than 5,400 trees each year. The office and manufacturing plant use 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper and recycle 100 percent of all plastic, glass, cardboard and paper.

Mountain Rose Herbs

Eugene, Oregon
(800) 879-3337

Mountain Rose Herbs offers an enormous selection of organic and fair-trade certified herbs, spices and seasoning blends from culinary traditions around the world. All products are fresh and potent thanks to the company’s dedication to supporting suppliers who use skillful growing, harvesting and drying practices.

Find them on Facebook.

Ingredient Sourcing & Quality: Since 1987, Mountain Rose Herbs has been growing and offering high-quality certified organic herbs, teas and spices. Herbalist-owned and operated, the staff at Mountain Rose understands the importance of sourcing the most vibrant plants harvested at peak potency, dried and processed with expert care for making medicinal teas, tinctures, salves, infused oils and other medicinal preparations. Mountain Rose Herbs has built long-standing relationships with family farms in the Pacific Northwest, Appalachia and abroad to grow fair trade, organic crops that help sustain agricultural livelihoods around the world, as well as natural healing traditions. The company has an on-site Quality Control laboratory to analyze plant identity, test for macroscopic and microbial contaminants, and screen for heavy metals.

Responsibility: Not only is Mountain Rose a zero-waste company, Fair Trade Certified, solar-powered and the founder of a river restoration project, the company is also blazing trails to support medicinal plant conservation. Mountain Rose’s mission to preserve wild places and promote organic agriculture led the company to partner with the nonprofit United Plant Savers in support of the Forest Grown Program. This initiative fosters cultivation of native medicinal woodland crops in Appalachia, using third-party verification and organic certification to guarantee forest products most at risk of poaching—such as American ginseng—are grown and harvested in a sustainable and legal manner. The company is committed to its community and sponsors more than 30 educational events focused on herbal medicine and sustainable living, as well as 35 environmental nonprofit organizations each year.

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HERBAL MEDICINE BOOKS WORTH THE INVESTMENT

Books are an invaluable resource for the home herbalist, and growing your home library over time is always a great idea. Having at least three herbal books or resources available is absolutely necessary when studying plants and creating a materia medica. Still, there are so many fantastic books available – where should you begin? Here are 6 herbal medicine books that we think are worth the investment!

 Herbal Medicine Books Worth The Investment

The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green

This book has step-by-step instructions for making any kind of herbal preparation you could possibly think of. It also explains why you should do certain things, not just how, which is handy to know if you find yourself faced with the need to improvise. The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook extremely detail-oriented, but still very readable – Green is authoritative while still being lighthearted. A prime example of this is the chapter on herb jellos, an unexpected and surprisingly useful way to prepare herbs for kids – and one that he stumbled on quite by accident! The book also contains a brief overview of 30 plants that he and the other co-directors of the California School for Herbal Studies developed for use as part of the school’s curriculum.

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Herbal Medicine Handbook

Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine by David Hoffman

This textbook is not for the faint of heart, but it provides an incredible amount of information on the most medical side of herbalism. This tome is a great resource if you are interested in learning the chemistry behind herbalism, as it explains the different types of chemical compounds and goes into great detail for pharmacology, toxicity, and safety issues, formulation, and chapters for treatment approach by body systems. An extensive materia medica with herbal profiles is included at the end. It’s a fascinating and extensive look at the scientific side of herbalism.

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Medical Herbalism

The Earthwise Herbal, Volumes 1 and 2 by Matthew Wood

One of the most thorough resources on herbal materia medica available anywhere, The Earthwise Herbal details the historical use of many herbs and includes Wood’s personal experiences in working with the herbs in his clinical practice. Volume One focuses on Old World, European plants while Volume Two discusses the New World plants of North America. Wood has focused on western herbalism and a more folk-style approach, but his books are an excellent resource for herbalists of any tradition. These references are valuable both for beginners and experienced herbalists alike, as they provide valuable insight and lesser-known perspectives on many well-loved herbs.

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Earthwise Herbal Volume 1

The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride

No herbal home should be without this delightful book, which provides simple and creative ways to use herbs in the kitchen. Detailed profiles of many common cooking herbs and spices explain how these often over-looked plants are useful for health.  Delicious and unique recipes include cooking oils, seasoning salts and sprinkles, herbal honey, cordials, and vinegar. The Herbal Kitchen is full of creative ways to use recipes in everyday cooking- nothing about this book is complicated, but the recipes are delightful and not to be missed.

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Herbal Kitchen

The Herbalist’s Way by Nancy and Michael Phillips

One of the best volumes for folk herbalists searching for their path, the informal but detailed exploration of the art of herbalism in The Herbalist’s Way leaves you with the sense that you’ve spent the afternoon across from a wise elder, chatting as you both enjoyed tea. In fact, the authors highlight conversations with many herbalists throughout the book, so by the end of the book you have learned from the experiences of many others.  This book explores how to become a herbalist and why – from an overview of the many possibilities to finding your niche, legal aspects, and more.

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The Herbalist's Way

Healing with the Herbs of Life by Leslie Tierra

Tierra has a background in Traditional Chinese Medicine, so that’s the focus of Healing with the Herbs of Life. This book is more detailed and yet easier to understand than some courses on the subject, so it is absolutely worth the investment if you are interested in learning about this style of herbalism. The book is divided into three sections covering the fundamentals of herbalism, a TCM perspective on disease and the process of healing, and a section on regaining and maintaining health. The fundamentals of herbalism section include a detailed material medica and appendices at the end of the book contain a convenient reference for weights and measures, along with a listing of TCM formulas. This book is good for beginners as a learning tool, or for advanced students as a reference.

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Healing with the Herbs of Life - 6 Must Have Herbal Books

If you’re already an herbal bookworm here are more all for your reading pleasure.

 Herbal Medicine Books Worth The Investment

Imhotep and the “Stinking Ones” of the Nile

In 1874, in the Valley of the Tombs near Luxor, the German Egyptologist Georg Ebers discovered the world’s oldest surviving medical text, a 65-foot papyrus dating from shortly after the time of Joseph, around 1500 B.C. The Ebers Papyrus listed 876 herbal formulas from more than 500 plants, including aloe, caraway, cardamom, castor, chamomile, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, gentian, ginger, juniper, mint, myrrh, onion, opium poppy, saffron, sage, sesame, and thyme. This represents about one-third of the herbs in today’s Western herbal pharmacopeia.

PapyrusWestcar_photomerge-AltesMuseum-Berlin-3Some Ebers formulas strike the modern reader as bizarre, such as a shampoo made from a dog’s paw, decayed palm leaves, and a donkey hoof, all boiled in oil and then rubbed on the head. Others sound surprisingly contemporary, such as the recommendation to bandage moldy bread over wounds to prevent infection. Modern antibiotics were originally derived from molds.

In Egyptian mythology, medicine was created by Thoth, the god of knowledge. Thoth also invented writing and the arts and sciences. The most notable Egyptian physician was Imhotep, who was also the architect to Pharaoh Zoser {3000 B.C.}

Imhotep is credited with designing one of the first pyramids, but as time passed, he was remembered mostly as a healer. Imhotep became deified, and around 700 B.C., Egypt’s medical school at Memphis was dedicated to him, as was a nearby school for midwives.

The Egyptians imported enormous quantities of herbs for perfumes, embalming mixtures, and medicines. They also considered plants important spoils of war. In 1475 B.C., when Pharaoh Thutmose lll conquered what is now Syria, he demanded as tribute specimens of all Syrian plants not found in Egypt.

The Egyptians loved aromatic herbs. The ancient kingdom’s access to both the Mediterranean and Arabian seas allowed them to import aromatics from as far away as Spain to the west and the Spice Islands {Indonesia} to the east.

However, the Egyptian’s affection for fragrant herbs paled next to their obsession with two herbs that many ancients considered foul-smelling: garlic and onion. The Egyptians believed that garlic and onion strengthened the body and prevented disease {a view supported by modern science}. They ate so much that the Greek historian Herodotus called them “the stinking ones.” Six cloves of garlic were found in the tomb of King Tut.

The Egyptians also gave their slaves daily rations of garlic and onions to keep them strong and healthy. In 450 B.C., Herodotus wrote of an inscription inside the Cheops Pyramid at Giza {built in 2900 B.C.} that said “1,600 talents of silver” {about $4 million} had been spent on garlic and onions for its builders.

According to legend, a garlic shortage once forced the Egyptians to cut their slave’s rations. The slaves were so incensed that they refused to work. If this story is true, it would be the world’s earliest recorded strike.

Egyptian farmers could not satisfy the demand for garlic and onions, so the Egyptians turned to the Philistine city of Askelon, in Gaza, became a major garlic and onion trading center, not only for the Egyptians but also for the Greeks and Romans. The Romans favored the Philistine’s small green onions, calling them ascalonia after Askelon. The word evolved into escallon, and finally into our scallion.

Middle Eastern herbalists also used opium. Recent excavations of ancient tombs in Israel dating to 1400 B.C. have turned up distinctive pottery vessels shaped like opium poppy pods and containing residues of opium, the narcotic that’s still used today, typically as morphine.

By about 500 B.C., Egyptian herbalists were considered the finest in the Mediterranean, and rulers from Rome to Babylon recruited them as court physicians. Aspiring physicians- Rome’s Galen among them went to Egypt to study with the medical masters of the Nile.

A Broadcast Circa 1930 on Growing & Using Herbs by Mrs. Maude Grieve

The cottager and smallholder in this country greatly neglect either to grow or collect herbs. You, as a thrifty housewife, often do not realise how much they can be used in preparing appetising meals or in saving the doctor’s bills by making simple medicines from the herbs and so called weeds which often abound in your back garden.

Now first let me tell you about that wonderful plant, the common garden Sage. This plant grows wild in Southern Europe and has become acclimatised in Britain, France and Germany. It is fragrant and aromatic and contains a camphorated essential oil, the whole plant is strongly scented and has a warm, sharp, slightly bitter taste. You all know its uses in stuffings and seasoning sausages, pork, duck and geese, etc., but possibly you have never thought why it is so used. It is used for sauces and stuffings because of its great antiseptic properties; it prevents meats becoming tainted and helps you to digest heavy rich food. Here is a recipe for making a simple, wholesome and delicious sauce.

Chop finely 1 oz. of onion, 1 oz. fresh or dried Sage leaves; add 4 tablespoonsful of water and simmer slowly for a few minutes, then add to this 1 oz. of breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoonful of pepper and salt mixed together and quarter of a pint of soup, stock, gravy or melted butter and finish off with simmering a few minutes longer. Little additions of this sort to your meals make them more tasty and enjoyable.

Maude Grieve

Sophia Emma Magdalene Grieve 1858-1941

Now for the homely medicinal uses of Sage. If you are bothered with indigestion, chop up some tender Sage leaves finely, sprinkle them on bread and butter sandwiches and eat for your tea. And make some Sage tea just as you would your ordinary beverage and drink a cup full cold, after your meals.

This infusion is also very beneficial where there is kidney trouble. For sore throats, make a stronger brew and mix with a little honey and gargle well two or three times daily. When I had diphtheria, this gargle greatly relieved and cleansed my throat. If you have red inflamed eyes, make a wash for them by soaking Sage seeds in water overnight – they are full of mucilage and make a thin gummy liquid – bathe your eyes with that water a few times, it will strengthen your eyes and take away the redness from the lids. Or if you have a racking headache, make a snuff of dried Sage leaves, you will sneeze well and your headache disappear. Many people make a tobacco of Sage leaves and like smoking it: they find it helpful for bronchial and catarrhal colds and coughs. Sage oil is splendid for rubbing rheumaticky joints, and for ulcerous sores, cuts and abrasions. Just try what an ointment made with Sage leaves will do for you.

I haven’t time this morning to tell you about Thyme, Mint and Marjoram, though they too can be used for many different purposes, but what I do want to tell smallholders and farmers who may be listening is all the nice things you can do for yourselves with Dandelions.

This plant was originally a native of Greece, but it is now to be found growing abundantly all over Europe, Asia and North America. All of you, farmers and smallholders alike, should collect and utilise this weed, instead of burning it on rubbish heaps – in so doing, you are burning money. In ploughing time, if you collect the roots out of the furrows and roughly clean them of leaves and mud, I can give you the name of a man who would give you £10 to £12 a ton put on rail.

It may interest and encourage you to hear this man’s herb-romance. Four years ago, being tired of the poverty resulting in a small way, he started with 10 shillings capital to collect and dry herbs (weeds, you would call them). He got interested in the work and succeeded more and more and now today, with pluck, grit and hard work, he has orders amounting to hundreds of tons from chemical manufacturers and he employs between 40 and 50 collectors, is enlarging his plant and has a comfortable money balance in the bank, and he generously acknowledges that I have helped him to this position.

Dandelion flowers give both nectar and pollen in early spring when the bee’s harvest from fruit trees is nearly over. Birds are very fond of the seeds, pigs eat the whole plant greedily; horses, sheep and cattle will not eat it, but when cows do, it is said to increase their milk. It is a valuable food for rabbits, especially at breeding time. For use in the kitchen, in spring the young leaves soaked over night in water and shaken out make a nice salad alone or mixed with sliced cold potatoes, beetroot, tomatoes, lettuce, watercress, etc., and by adding the young flower buds you get a delicious filling for sandwiches for tea. Always tear your leaves into pieces, do not use a knife in preparing them. For a cooked vegetable, boil and prepare the leaves in the same way as you cook spinach.

The dried leaves are often used to make herb-beers and digestive and diet tea; this proves an excellent stomachic. In the Midlands, where there are furnaces and potteries, herb-beers are in great request by the workmen, especially Dandelion Stout, also a fermented drink made of Dandelions, Nettles and Docks. You can make a good wine from Dandelion flowers, but take care not to drink too much of it at a time, or you will find it too exhilerating.
A good coffee is made from the roots, roasted and ground; its flavour is improved by adding a spoonful of chocolate or real coffee to the brew. Dandelion coffee soothes and gives peaceful sleep and it has an excellent cleansing effect on one’s inside, and best of all, tell the girls it will clear their complexions and brighten their eyes. By its constant use it will remove pimples and make them bright and merry.

For medicinal purposes we read of the Arabian physicians using it as long ago as the tenth and eleventh centuries and In Britain we find it mentioned in the Welsh medicines of the thirteenth century. Taraxacum is the Latin name for Dandelion and under that name you know it as pills. For medicine, the root is best dug in late autumn, when it is full of sap, which is thick, sweet and albuminous.

If farmers and nurserymen would grow between their crops or lines such things as parsley, horseradish, etc., for which there is an enormous demand by manufacturing chemists (apart from the culinary side) the proceeds from these would help them materially in these hard, depressed agricultural times.

Now I want to tell you about Parsley, a common little garden plant you know, yet quite a wonder­ful one in the many uses it has. There is a very big trade in it. I know of a firm which has used ninety tons of it this season; just imagine the number of little plants it takes to make ninety tons of these little leaves and roots. The best leaves were dried and put into bottles and packets for the culinary trade; the stems and roots and surplus coarse pickings left over from the culinary trade were put into a still to get the oil known as apiol to chemists for the medicinal trade. Parsley proved a very valuable medicine during the War.

Years ago Parsley used to be called Perceley and its Latin or botanical name means “growing on a rock” where it is found wild, you see it likes-lime and chalk; so when you plant the seed in your gardens remember the kind of soil it likes best to grow in and the soil must also be rich and moist and partially shaded. The seed is tricky to germinate – sometimes it starts growing a month after planting but if it doesn’t appear leave your patch alone as the germs sometimes won’t think about waking up and starting to grow for 6 months. The best kind to grow is the crisped curled one,because the commoner kind is more like fool’s parsley, a nasty poisonous weed, and you could never mistake the nice crisped curly bright green leaves of the good kind.

There are thirty-seven different kinds of Parsley, so there are lots to choose from if you want variety. Authorities differ a good deal as to what country Parsley originally came from, but Linnaeus, the great botanist, who wrote a great deal about plants, decided its first home was Sardinia, and it was first grown in England in Edward VI’s reign, 1548. In ancient days it was held in great esteem by the Greeks, who made it into wreaths to crown their victors at the Isthmian games, and edged their garden borders with it and Rue.

There is a very funny thing about Parsley – if you chop up some of its leaves with Garlic, the Garlic will hardly smell at all. So if you have a fancy to eat raw or cooked onions with your meals, before you go to the dance-hall, chew a leaf or two of Parsley and, hey presto, your breath then becomes like new mown hay. You must not let your parrots eat it or it kills them and other small birds, but hares and rabbits will come long distances to steal it from your borders as they love it and so do sheep. It is said to prevent foot rot among sheep if you will let them have a good quantity of it to eat. Of course, you domesticated housewives all know the uses of Parsley in cookery; finely chopped and sprinkled on potatoes, chops and steaks and vegetable marrows, or fried in butter a bright crisp green and served with rissoles, etc., and as flavourings in sauces, soups, stuffings and minced for salads. It is specially good for potato and tomato salad; as a garnish, and for winter use you can dry and powder it and keep it in bottles. The stems are dried and powdered for culinary colouring and you can collect the seeds carefully sun-dried and sell to nurserymen.

Now for its medicinal uses; in the form of apiol it is largely used in malarial disorders, and in Brittany for ague. A decoction of the root does great service in kidney troubles and years ago they distilled water of Parsley and gave it to children as you give them dill water now. Dr. Fernie in his “Meals Medicinal” gives a funny little bit about it in poetry – here it is:-

“One morning in the garden bed the
onion and the carrot said Unto the
parsley group: ‘Oh when shall we
three meat again, In thunder,
lightning, hail or rain?’ ‘Alas!’
replied in tones of pain The parsley,
‘In the soup’.”

Now to finish, I’d like to make a little suggestion to help farmers. Some time ago I read a newspaper article headed “A Million Acres Deserted by Plough”, and the thought occurred to me, all of those acres need not go out of cultivation if some of the farmers would grow culinary herbs. The demand for these in the trade is enormous, and if they would put down by the hundred acres, Mint, Sage, Thyme, Tarragon, I would introduce them to a market where 20 tons of each would be welcomed, and a guarantee given them that their crops would be bought for cash. Men, with cares lying idle I beg of you to consider this matter very seriously. It is no fairy tale I am telling you but solid absolute truth. Those of you who grow Brussel Sprouts for the markets have to allow their fields alternate years to lie fallow because you know otherwise you would get club root disease in it. Now why don’t you fallow your ground by growing culinary herbs on it – such as Sage and Thyme – which need no manuring and would sweeten and purify your soil, giving you the following season finer crops of Brussel Sprouts free from disease.

Sophia Emma Magdalene Grieve (1858-1941) was the Principal and Founder of The Whins Medicinal and Commercial Herb School and Farm at Chalfont St. Peter in Buckinghamshire, England. Mrs Grieve was a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society with an encyclopedic knowledge of medicinal plants. The training school gave tuition and practical courses in all branches of herb growing, collecting, drying and marketing. She had an extensive herbal garden in Chalfont St. Peter, and during World War 1 trained people in the harvesting, drying and preparation of medicinal herbs, to help remedy the shortage of medicinal supplies. In this effort she started publishing informative pamphlets. Mrs Grieve was President of the British Guild of Herb Growers, and Fellow of the British Science Guild. “Lost demesnes : Irish landscape gardening, 1660-1845 “. This article originally appeared in the Winter 1980 issue of The Herbal Review.

Harvesting Herbs

Whether you are collecting the flowers, leaves or stems, you should always harvest them on a sunlit day and only when the dew has dispersed from the plants and prior to the garden being filled with the day’s full heat. In case the plants contain volatile oils, for instance, lemon balm and mints, it is best to harvest them immediately prior to noon. This is because the oils get enough time to move to the leaves, but they have not been evaporated by the heat of the day. As it has been found that rain sweeps away some amount of the aromatic volatile oils, it is advisable that you should wait for at least one day after a rainstorm and then harvest the leaves. Preferably, you should wait for two to three days prior to harvesting, as this will give the plants sufficient time to gather their essential oils.

In case it is still time for harvesting the whole plant, you should only consider selective harvesting, for instance, pruning the plant or the parts that are useful as an herb. At the same time, you should be careful not to collect more than just one-third of the harvest available, as this will help the plants to survive even after such selective harvesting. However, it would be much safer if you just picked one-fourth of the available harvest. Provided you are not sure as to the extent of selective harvesting the plants will be able to endure, you need to start by harvesting just one-tenth of the available harvest. In addition, you need to ensure that you monitor the herbs during the current season as well as the subsequent season, and properly note the effect of the selective harvesting on them.

There are several things that you must remember and be careful about while collecting herbs. For instance, it is important that you do not harvest any unhealthy plant or collect the plants from any site where they may have come in contact with toxic fumes emitted from cars or the harmful chemicals used for cultivation. You can control this aspect much better if you grow the plants in your garden, rather than picking them from anywhere in the wild. In addition, scavengers ought to be very cautious not to encroach on any private property or perturb the habitat while collecting the plants. At the same time, foragers ought to be extremely skilled so that they are able to keep away from wild locations where pesticides or herbicides have been sprayed. Also be careful to stay away from collecting herbs that may have grown along the highways, close to farm fields (unless you are certain that organic farming is undertaken in a particular field), forest lands where pesticides may have been sprayed to repel gypsy moths during the summer, marshes where insecticides may have been sprayed to eliminate mosquitoes and also places near the fence of your neighbor if he/ she has been using herbicides or pesticides on their lawns.

You can very easily collect the flowers, leaves or stems of young, non-woody stemmed plants using a sharp knife or scissors. However, you will be requiring small shears meant for pruning if you are harvesting woody or tough stemmed plants.

cropped-fresh-herbs-and-spices.jpegSpeaking generally, it is much better for the plants you harvest and also for the ensuing dried out herb, if you harvest their entire stems or branches, instead of removing the leaves and allowing the stripped branches and stems to remain on the plant. It is very easy to harvest the entire plants if they have flexible stems like those of oregano, mint, lavender and pennyroyal and strip their leaves afterwards when they have been dried. While you are stripping the dried out herb from the branches or stems, you should be careful to ensure that the leaves remain whole – at least as far as achievable. When you do this, it helps in preserving the healing properties of the herbs for a longer period. Remember to put on your gloves if you are harvesting any prickly or hairy plants, such as borage, comfrey, mullein or nettle to ensure that you are not hurt or you do not come in contact with the prickles or hairs.

If you are careful, as you are while pruning any plant, it is also possible to harvest different material from plants having relatively woody stems as well as from different parts of trees. While it is comparatively easy to harvest some parts of the plants, for instance, elderberry leaves and oak leaves, which can be picked individually, in general, harvesting the plants by stripping their entire branches and removing the leaves later when they are dry, is a much better harvesting method. In case you only plan to use the leaves of an herb, dangle the branches of the herb in bunches upside down for some days. Hanging the branches in this manner will facilitate the movement of the sap contained by the branches or stems to the leaves. Subsequently, you should lay the leaves out on screens in slight layers till they become dry. However, if you intend to use the entire branch, you need not hang it.

Harvesting roots and bark

rosea-vers

While unearthing the roots of some plants is quite easy, digging up the roots of some others is really challenging. For instance, if you are excavating the roots of any herbaceous plant like comfrey, dandelion or dock, the job is quite simple, provided you have prepared their growing bed in the proper manner. To cultivate plants having elongated roots you ought to make a deep bed, which is permeable and well aerated, as this will help you in digging up the roots manually later. However, digging up the roots of plants growing in the wild and in compacted soil is like a challenge. It will be helpful to dig out the roots of such plants if you use a shovel having an elongated and slender blade at its end. It is advisable that you use this shovel to make a hole deep down on any side of the plant’s root. Then start removing the soil gradually adjacent to the hole and in the direction of the root. After the soil on the side of the root has become loose, just drag the root to one side and into the hole. When you adopt this method, it will cause less damage to the root compared to that caused by digging down on all sides of the root and directly pulling the root up. This is all the more important if the root is longer that the length of one shovel.

A lot of times, the therapeutic properties of a tree are found in their branches, trunks, or the internal bark of the roots. As a result of this, the harvester is faced with more problems. When he tries to remove the bark from the tree, it not only injures the plant, but also damages it. Moreover, evacuating the roots of such trees is similarly harrowing. In such situations, using the bark of the trees’ branches that may in any case require pruning, instead of severely damaging a vigorously growing tree is an easy and straightforward solution.

However, the bark of the tree itself or the trunk is more effective compared to the branches’ bark, while the bark of their roots is further potent compared to the bark of the trunk. Therefore, one way to avoid cutting strong living trees for their herbal content is to search for trees that are being felled in any case. In case you are harvesting from a woodlot owned by you or your private orchard, you may also choose the trees that may require removing or pruning. For instance, to harvest the bark of the trunk or roots, you may select the trees in your orchard that have grown very old and need to be removed. You may also select young trees that require pruning or trees which require removing for the reason that they have become an obstruction for your house, a road, a scenic beauty or even coming in the way of a scenic beauty. Similarly, you may also use trees that have already been injured by animals, cars, lightening or weather for this purpose.

It is also possible to collect the barks of the roots of healthy trees quite safely, provided you are careful and undertake the harvesting in a manner like pruning to the tree roots mildly. In order to harvest the roots of a living tree, you should make a hole at the farthest point on the periphery of the tree’s root. The circumference of the roots of the tree will approximately be parallel to the perimeter of the branches of the tree. Similar to the bark of the tree, the bark of its roots becomes thicker with the maturation of the tree and, hence, you will not be able to obtain much bark from the young trees. Moreover, the root bark of young trees is not potent. You need to be very cautious while harvesting the root bark and ensure that you do not cut the main roots of the tree. Prior to harvesting the root bark, you must locate a medium-sized root (harvesting the root bark of smaller trees will not yield therapeutically potent barks) and use a saw, an axe, or pruning clippers (as may be necessary) to cut the roots cleanly and without causing much injury to the tree.

It is worth mentioning here that rather than using the bark of the trunk of a full-grown tree, you may also use the twigs as well as the small branches of a tree for therapeutic purposes. Ideally, such twigs and branches should be cut during the spring, as the sap rises to its maximum at this time of the year. You may consider this method to be similar to pruning. Remove the inner bark of these small branches and slice them into small parts prior to laying them out for drying. If you have collected tiny twigs, simply cut them and then spread them for drying.

Most commonly, herbalists use the living cambium (the layer of subtle meristematic tissue found between the inner bark and the wood) layer of the trunks, branches and roots for therapeutic purposes. The technique employed to open up this delicate inner bark may possibly be different for each tree. At the outset, you may scrape, cut, chop or even use force to open the rough outer bark. You may use several different types of implements to achieve this, for instance a knife having razor-sharp blade and point is excellent for scraping the bark from the roots, which are usually neither very chunky nor hard. Similarly, you may use a small, incisive hatchet to separate fragments of the inner bark from the branches’ heartwood harvested by you. You may also use a big chisel plus a hammer for peeling the inner bark. Provided you are familiar with handling a machete, you can use this implement for removing the external and even the inner bark.

Irrespective of the implement you may be using for harvesting herbs, you should ensure that it should be sharp, easy to hold and also be handled easily. Once the parts of the external bark have been removed, chop it down all the way through the cambium stratum using a chisel or knife, subject to the hardness of the bark and the thickness of the wood. Subsequently, take away the inner bark of the tree in chips, squares or strips, depending on which is easier. Next, slice the inner bark into little pieces prior to drying it for many weeks in a shady place or in any warm site.

Whether or not you are harvesting the plants in your backyard, herbal garden, on a land belonging to your neighbor or in the forest lands, always remember to carry containers for the harvesting. In addition, these containers ought to be dirt free as well as lightweight and they should permit proper ventilation for the herbs to remain fresh and not dry prematurely. You may also use flexible baskets having handles, dirt free drawstring bags that have been made using burlap or any other cloth, bags made with double canvas that sling from your shoulder or shoulder straps for this purpose.

When the harvesting of the plant parts is complete, you should try to your best to restrict them from coming in contact with sunlight and make preparations for drying them up at the earliest. In addition, if you are transporting the herbs by any vehicle to dry them, you need to ensure that they are protected from heat, dust and wind. Provided you are transporting the herbs employing a pickup truck, you need to use a trap to wrap the bed. On the other hand, if you are piling the herbs in a car, ensure that the windows are open, as it will help to keep the temperature inside the vehicle down and also help in preventing them from drying up ahead of time. Nevertheless, use a light cloth to provide shade to the herbs as well as shield them from sunlight.

Herb Day!

Herb Day is always on the first Saturday of May.

HerbDay 2016 Set for May 7th!

The 11th annual HerbDay will take place Saturday, May 7, 2016. HerbDay is an international celebration of herbs and herbal products that are packed with events aimed at educating and sharing ideas about the many ways herbs bring joy and well-being into our daily lives. We celebrate herbs’ use in food, beverages, medicine, beauty products, and crafts, along with the art of growing and gardening with herbs.

HerbDay is a grassroots movement and its events belong to everyone who chooses to participate.

Although May 7th will be the focal point of our celebration, we encourage you to commemorate HerbDay any time, any day, any time of year!

The HerbDay Coalition consists of the American Botanical Council, United Plant Savers, the American Herbal Products Association, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, and the American Herbalists Guild.
HerbDay Coalition

How will you celebrate HerbDay?

Previous years’ HerbDay events have brought together professionals, businesses, and organizations that share a love of and passion for herbs and herbal medicine. These have included herbalists and health care providers who use herbs in their practices; authors, teachers, and lecturers with expertise in herbs; herbal product manufacturers and marketers; retailers and distributors of herbal goods; botanical gardens, parks, and schools; and, most importantly, individuals and families who love to use herbs.

HerbDay 2016 promises to be even more fun!

About HerbDay

HerbDay LogoHerbDay is a coordinated series of independently produced, public, educational events that celebrate the importance of herbs and herbalism. HerbDay was conceived of by the HerbDay Coalition, a group of five nonprofit organizations that have interest in these areas, to raise awareness of the significance of herbs and the many ways they can be used safely and creatively for health, beauty, and culinary enjoyment. Greater familiarity with herbs will increase informed use of herbal products and build public support for maintaining personal choice in the use of botanicals.

The HerbDay Coalition is comprised of the American Botanical Council, United Plant Savers, the American Herbal Products Association, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, and the American Herbalists Guild.

You can learn more about the HerbDay Coalition members here.

The first HerbDay was held on Saturday, October 14, 2006. HerbDay 2012 and all future HerbDay celebrations will be scheduled for the first Saturday in May. Participants in HerbDay include individuals, businesses, and organizations that share a love of and passion for herbs and herbal medicine. These include herbalists and health care providers who use herbs in their practices; authors, teachers, and lecturers with expertise in herbs; herbal product manufacturers and marketers; retailers and distributors of herbal goods; botanical gardens, parks, and schools; and, most importantly, individuals and families who love to use herbs.

HerbDay GirlNumerous harmonized, independent activities occur on HerbDay, as well as during the weeks leading up to and following the actual day. Events are held at retail stores, botanical gardens, and parks throughout North America and around the world. HerbDay is decentralized in that hosting venues have significant autonomy in developing activities and designing their own site-specific events. Events include lectures and workshops by locally and nationally known herbalists; book signings and talks by renowned herbalist-authors; herb walks guided by experienced botanists familiar with regional habitats; in-store cooking demonstrations featuring fresh and dried herbs and spices; displays of seasonal herbal handcrafts; and in-store beauty product demonstrations. Events hosted at retail venues include presentations by herb company representatives and herbal-themed children’s activities.

HerbDay brings key industry members together with the entire herbal community to deliver a cohesive, honest, and positive message about herbs and herbalism to the entire nation.

The vision of HerbDay is realized each year when thousands of Americans gain access to this message.

‘Elk Root’

Echinacea angustifolia was used extensively by the North American Plains Indians for general medical purposes.

In the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, Echinacea was used for treating infection with anthrax, snakebites and also as a pain reliever.

In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s Echinacea became extremely popular in Europe and North America as a herbal medication.

Echinacea was first used as a treatment for the common cold when a Swiss supplement maker mistakenly understood that it could prevent colds, and was used for such purposes by Native American tribes in South Dakota.

Echinacea was not commonly used for the treatment or prevention of colds by Native American Indians. Some, like the Kiowa and the Cheyenne, used it for sore throats and coughs, while the Pawnee said it was effective for headaches. The Lakota said it was an excellent painkiller.

Native Americans say that humans learned to use Echinacea by watching elk seeking out the herb and eating them whenever they were wounded or sick. They named it the “elk root”.

From the medical community.

Echinacea: Health Benefits, Uses, Research

Echinacea is a very popular herb and people commonly take it to help combat flu and colds. It is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family – Asteraceae. It is also known as the American coneflower.

Echinacea was commonly used by Native Americans for hundreds of years before the arrival of European explorers, settlers and colonizers. It is endemic to eastern and central North America and thrives in moist to dry prairies and open woodlands.

By the early 1800s Echinacea became a popular herbal remedy among those who had settled in the USA, and soon became commonly used in Europe as well. It became much more popular after research was carried out on it in Germany in the 1920s.

Echinacea is available OTC (over the counter) at pharmacies, health shops and supermarkets as teas, liquid extracts, a dried herb, and as capsules or tablets.

Promoters of Echinacea say that the herb encourages the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu and some other illnesses, infections and conditions.

Echinacea is a perennial plant, it lasts for many years. It is approximately from 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) tall when mature. It is slightly spiky and has large purple to pink flowers, depending on the species. The center of the flower has a seed head (cone), which is also spiky and dark brown to red in color.

Echinacea Purpurea
Echinacea purpurea.

Three species of Echinacea are used as herbal remedies:

  • Echinacea angustifolia – Narrow-leaf Coneflower
  • Echinacea pallida – Pale Purple Coneflower
  • Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower, Eastern Purple Coneflower

Active substances in Echinacea

Echinacea has a complex mix of active substances, some of which are said to be antimicrobial, while others are believed to possibly have an effect on the human immune system.

All species of this herbal remedy have compounds called phenols. Many plants contain phenols, active substances which control the activity of a range of enzymes and cell receptors, and protect the plant from infections and UV radiation damage. Phenols have high antioxidant properties, which are good for human health.

Echinacea also contains alkylamides or alkamides, (not in E. pallida), which have an effect on the immune system.

Echinacea also contains polysaccharides, glycoproteins, and caffeic acid derivatives.

How effective is Echinacea?

Several health claims and accusations of no health benefits have been made about Echinacea. The lay reader, as well as many health care professionals generally do not know how many studies there have been, which were scientifically carried out, and which claims are worth considering.

A number of studies were carried out in the mid 1990s, including randomized trials. However, they were nearly all sponsored by Echinacea manufacturers and marketers and were not considered by the scientific community as being of good quality. Most of them reported on the benefits of the herbal remedy.

Does Echinacea have any effect on catching colds or reducing symptoms of a cold?

Studies have produced conflicting results:

Uses of Echinacea

Echinacea is widely used all over the world today for a wide range of illnesses, infections and conditions. Below is a list –apart from some studies quoted earlier on in this article, most of the benefits claimed have been anecdotal; this means that in the majority of cases, the benefits have not been proven scientifically to be effective or ineffective.

Echinacea is used by people today for:

Echinacea supplements and bottle
Studies have produced conflicting results as to the benefits of echinacea.
  • Acid indigestion
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Diphtheria
  • Dizziness
  • Genital herpes
  • Gum disease
  • Malaria
  • Migraines
  • Pain
  • Rattlesnake bites
  • Rheumatism
  • Septicemia – Bloodstream infections
  • Streptococcus infections
  • Syphilis
  • The flu
  • Tonsillitis
  • Typhoid
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vaginal yeast infections

Echinacea quality control

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns consumers about being careful regarding some Echinacea products which are on the market.

Echinacea products are commonly mislabeled; some have been tested and were found to have no Echinacea in them at all. The term “standardized” may sound impressive, but has no real meaning, the NIH emphasized.

Laboratory tests have shown that some Echinacea products are tainted with arsenic, lead or selenium.

Herbal remedies are not regulated in most countries, including the USA and UK, in the same way medications are. This can mean that a remedy – and Echinacea is a herbal remedy – which is bought at a drugstore might not contain what the label claims.

“Natural” does not mean “harmless”

Marketers of natural products tend to promote how harmless natural products are in comparison to man-made ones. It is important to remember that all natural means is that it exists in (or is derived from) nature, “natural” does not mean that it is harmless.

The following are all “natural” plants that can cause harm:

  • Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladona) – one of the most toxic plants in the Western hemisphere. Also known as belladonna, devil’s cherry and dwale.
  • Apple seeds – they contain small quantities of amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside. If you swallowed all the pips from one apple, there would not be enough poison to harm you. However, if you kept eating mouthfuls, you would eventually reach a fatal dose
  • Rhubarb – the stalks are edible, but the leaves contain oxalic acid, which can cause serious kidney disorders, convulsions and even coma
  • Daffodil (Narcissus) – the bulbs are toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If enough is consumed it can be fatal. The stems are also toxic and can cause blurred vision, vomiting and headaches
  • Cicuta – also known as water hemlock, cowbane or poison parsnip. A highly poisonous plant that can kill humans if consumed. It has high levels of cicutoxin, a powerful toxin.

Healing Herbs!

cropped-handful-herbs.jpg

 

Herbs have caught the imagination of mankind ever since its advent on the earth. They have been admired for their beauty and fragrance, and savored for their flavor, for thousands of years. Moreover, they have been used as medicines for common ailments and injuries like sore throat and battle wounds, as well as more difficult health conditions like hypertension and heart diseases, since the earliest of times.

All ancient systems of medicine have been based upon the use of herbs. All ancient civilizations of the world – Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, as well as Greek and Roman – are known to have used herbs, not only for the treatment of various diseases but also for revitalizing the body and mind. Plants were even believed to possess mystical or supernatural powers to cure various ailments. It was as a result of these beliefs that many superstitions also grew round plants and herbs, like the belief in witches deriving their power from various herbal potions which was at its peak in Britain in the Middle Ages. Ironically, herbs were used even to counteract the effects of these evil powers. Garlic, hyssop, wormwood, all fell in this category of herbs.

Even in modern times, herbs have taken their rightful place as the ill effects of processed food and prolonged medication have come to be realized. Apart from their use as cures for various diseases in alternative systems of medicines, they are also being used in foods, beverages and cosmetics. In fact, they are a very important part of the shift towards a healthier lifestyle that recognizes their importance in maintaining and enhancing our health.

The way of using herbs may differ, but the purpose of using them always remains the same – to make them interact with our life processes taking place within our bodies. Whether they are used as food or medicine, for fragrance or for beauty, they should be used in a way that the body absorbs their active constituents in order to benefit from their properties. When the body absorbs these active constituents, they are circulated through blood to all its cells to positively affect the whole system. The effect of these active constituents is fundamentally different from that of modern medicine. While modern medicine imposes its effects on the body’s inherent healing mechanism and thus disturbs it, herbal constituents restore and strengthen it so that the healing is natural and does not produce any long term negative effects.

There are several ways to make the active elements of these herbs interact with the life processes within the body. Most commonly, they are orally consumed so that the digestive system may absorb them and take them to the circulatory system. But they can also be taken in by the body in other ways. For example, their aromas can be inhaled through the nose to take in the vapors of their essential oils. They can be applied on the skin or the scalp in the form of poultices or through cosmetic products from where they are taken in by the skin pores. In the form of liquid extracts, they can also be dropped into the eyes or nose for local benefits.

Usually herbs have no harmful side effects, but we can’t generalize the statement. Some people may experience slight problems consequent upon their use. Therefore, when using a new herb, you should try it as a single product, and wait and watch for its effects. If no problem is experienced, you can increase the dosage cautiously. Further, you should remember that everybody is different, and the herb which benefited some may not show the same benefits on you. Finally, you should never replace proper medication with herbs, if you are facing a medical emergency or suffering from a serious chronic condition.

Apart from the medicinal benefits, herbs are of great value in maintenance of general health and well-being. They are rich, natural sources of vitamins, minerals, and other micro-nutrients. Some of them are delicious to taste, like betel leaf or mint, some others extremely difficult to tolerate, yet all of them are full of beneficial properties in their different spheres.

Herbs positively influence blood circulation and aid in detoxifying the system in a natural way. Because of detoxifying effect, they alleviate the effects of food poisoning. Besides, they also aid digestion and thus enhance the body’s ability to absorb various nutrients derived from food consumed.

Herbs improve the functioning of various internal organs of the body which results in correction of the hormonal imbalances. Their regular use improves the functioning of the immune system which results in reduced cases of seasonal infection like common cold or cough. They also soothe the mucous membranes which reduces inflammation and internal pain. On the whole, they strengthen the body in several ways.

Herbs are used both, internally and externally. The internal use involves taking them in the form of tea, or infusion of tinctures, or for gargles and mouthwashes. The external use mostly consists of massage with the essential oils, taking herbal baths or saunas, or applying in the form of creams or poultices.

The same herb can be used for different benefits by altering the way of its use. For example, flax seeds taken with cold water, morning and evening, act as a good laxative. But when applied on the skin after dissolving them in hot water, the same seeds counter skin infections.

However, care is required in selecting and procuring herbs to be used as medicines. If a herb is not pure, it won’t give the desired benefits. So, always buy them from an authentic and trusted dealer. Further, if a herb is not used in the correct way, it may again not be as beneficial. For example, herbal infusions (teas) should be taken hot and should have been prepared using 1 tbsp of the dried herb with a cup of water. However, if fresh herbs are used, the amount should be doubled. If these instructions are not followed, the tea may lose much of its effectiveness.

Many people believe that herbs, being natural products, will not be harmful even if taken in larger than required quantities. It’s true that the human body is often able to metabolize natural plant constituents even in large quantities, but again we cannot generalize the statement. Some herbs, taken in high doses, may indeed be toxic and therefore sufficient care has to be taken even while using herbal products.

Today, scientific research is increasingly confirming what was known to our ancestors from experience. While plants continued to provide us pleasure with their beauty, color and fragrance, and enhance the taste of our food by their flavor, we seemed to have become oblivious of their importance as medicines. It is indeed a matter of great satisfaction that we have now rediscovered this particular aspect of herbs which has the potential of providing the greatest benefit to mankind.

Herbs – The Basics

Herbs have always been the basic source of medication in all the cultures across the world. We find mention of herbs and their uses in history, literature, the Bible as well as several other religious texts. What is more significant is the fact that the Bible lets us know that ‘God has provided man with all herb bearing seeds that is upon the surface of the earth and all the trees, wherein is the fruit of a tree producing seed, it should be considered as meat by us’. For thousands of years, man has been using the herbs to cure his ailments. Most importantly, compared to other types of medications, herbs are safe for use and very consistent having little or no side effect whatsoever.

First and foremost, it needs to be mentioned that term ‘herb’ denotes plants that of non-woody nature. In contemporary times, the term ‘herbs’ means any plant or part of a plant that is used to flavor foods or in the form of medications. Herbs are almost present everywhere. For instance, they are present even in your kitchen – the mustard on your table as well as several other spices that line your kitchen shelf originate from herbs. Actually, there are numerous instances of herbs in our daily life. Herbs are often described as wonders of Mother Nature.

Since the prehistoric days, people have always been seeking help via the herbs, as they are natural resources. In fact, herbs are dissimilar to contemporary medications that result in numerous side effects and they possess the aptitude to restore the defenses of the body, thereby, assisting the body to heal itself without any side effects.

All herbs are natural medications and they have been the natural medicines for the humans all the times. While writing about herbs, it is essential to mention the different types of herbal medicine systems that are in use even to this day – for instance, European, Chinese, American, Ayurveda, Western and Native are the most established systems. All these systems help to cure the body as a whole and each of them make use of the force of the herbs to function as required in collaboration with the natural energy in every individual. Therefore, it is advisable that you should use herbs to possess natural, vital energy to undertaking things that you take please in, to possess the capability to sustain the normal immune system of your body to protect yourself from different ailments.

Precisely speaking, the herbs provide us with numerous health benefits. Here we shall discuss about a few of them. Herbs are effective in cleansing as well as sanitizing the body with no side effects whatsoever. In addition, herbs help to control and nature the glands so that they function as usual. Herbs also enclose high levels of different vitamins, minerals as well as other nutrients that nurture as well as build the body. Herbs also enable the body to possess additional vigor/ energy so that it is able to heal itself. Last, but not the least important, herbs encourage the good bacteria present in our body naturally.

Herbs actually absorb various substances from the soil and subsequently transform them into minerals, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats that are used by our body for nourishment as well as healing itself. By making use of the herbs or whole plants, we soak in all the essential ingredients they enclose. Almost all herbs enclose numerous active substances, one among which normally dominate and help us to decide on its choice as a medication. Different other curative factors of the herbs ought not to be ignored since they also assist the body to absorb its benefits and safeguard against side effects.

It may be noted that the herbs always function in synergy and, hence, combining them improves the properties of each herb, facilitating to obtain better curing to the body. For instance, a good combination of herbs like hops, valerian and passiflora works wonderfully to induce sleep. All the three herbs mentioned here possess relaxant attributes, while passiflora focuses on facilitating sleep. At the same time, valerian helps to unwind the tense muscles, while hops have a distinctive impact on calming the nervous system.

In the study of herbs (herbology), herbs are supposed to possess changing combinations of properties and extent of each property also. Herbs have the ability to heat as well as dry or heat and moisturize. In addition, herbs may be cooling and drying or cooling and moistening. For instance, one herb may possess highly warming qualities, while another one may simply be somewhat warming. But, both these herbs would be regarded as heating herbs.

The manner in which these attributes are allocated to the plants is quite simple. The herbs that possess heating properties are thought to generate warmth inside the body. Plainly speaking, all the aromatic herbs, for instance, caraway and anise, are deemed to be warming. Interestingly enough, even several bitter herbs, for example Oregon grape, are also categorized as herbs possessing heating properties.

Conversely, cooling herbs are basically those herbs, which medical practitioners consider, that take away the heat from the body or some body part. Generally, herbs that enclose extremely volatile natural oils, for instance spearmint or wintergreen, are classified as cooling herbs. Borage is another example of a cooling herb and, like other cooling herbs, is also referred to as refrigerants. In order to obtain some notion or awareness regarding what a refrigerant actually is, you may imagine of a scorching summer day and subsequently envisage a slice of cucumber or watermelon. In fact, cucumber and watermelon are among the two best refrigerant foods.

It may be noted that the categorization of an herb as drying or moistening also largely depends on the individual properties of a particular herb. Any herb which is effective in augmenting urine passage, for instance bearberry, is considered to be a drying herb. Similarly, all herbs possessing astringent properties, for instance sage or oak bark, too are also known as drying herbs. Generally, aromatic herbs, such as caraway or anise, are also believed to be drying herbs. However, there are exceptions to this general rule too. For instance, fennel is considered to be a moistening herb – it is known to augment milk secretion in lactating women. If an herb is demulcent (soothing) or mucilaginous, it is also considered to be a moistening herb. Other herbs that are also classified as moistening herbs include marshmallow, flax seed, slippery elm and licorice.

The European herbalists had developed a novel way of understanding the properties of different herbs. What they actually did was to imagine that each herb had a specific activity on the different parts of our body. Precisely speaking, they started defining specific activity hubs within the body for every herb. For instance, cayenne pepper, which was categorized as a heating herb, was identified as having an affect on the circulatory system since it was found to enhance the blood flow, particularly to the capillaries close to the skin’s surface. Possibly this clarifies the reason why people who inhabit extremely hot climatic conditions generally use hot peppers in their culinary. In effect, ingestion of hot peppers assists them to disperse the body heat by flowing it to the surface of the skin, where it results in cooling in the form of perspiration and evaporates, while the heat is spread out into the nearby atmosphere.

Another good example of heating herb is ginger which is said to possess the same properties as those of cayenne pepper. Nevertheless, the center of activity of ginger is described as basically lying in the internal organs. According to the conventional European medicine system, ginger is believed to generate a type of heat that remains within the body. Hence, ginger is often used by people during the winter months and in more proportions in the cool northern climatic conditions. People inhabiting these regions use ginger as a medication to treat colds as well as to reinforce the bladder and the kidneys. The basic dissimilarities between cayenne pepper and ginger are owing to the different activity centers of each herb within the body.

Making issues further complicated, it may be noted that herbs are not confined to merely one activity center. There are several herbs that people use for treating numerous dissimilar problems at the same time and instantly, for instance headaches, acne, weariness, constipation and indigestion. The main activity center for such herbs may possibly be the gall bladder and liver, where they would be considered to result in augmenting bile secretion. In fact, the hypothesis goes something like this: enhanced secretion of bile augments digestion of fats and oils, which, in turn, enhances the complexion. Increase bile secretion will also facilitate in easing chronic constipation. Rinsing out the colon is also a vital function.

Build up of toxic substances in the bowels owing to poor decomposition of ingested foods and their elimination from the body also adds to the common toxic condition that may lead to several of the symptoms mentioned earlier in this article. The toxic substances present in the colon are taken up by the blood and, hence, the cleaner the colon will be, the purer will be the blood. It may be noted that the liver being the natural filter of the body, facilitates in straining toxic substances from the blood. If the pace of the liver’s activity is enhanced, it will result in the blood containing lesser impurities or toxic substances. Like Oregon grape, there are a number of herbs that have their activity center in the liver and gall bladder and they influence the body in several ways – most are discussed above.

Hypothesis like these are unsophisticated in contemporary medical terms and mostly unproven by medical research. However, traditional herbology or the study of herbs need not deal with curing from the viewpoint of analysis done in the laboratories. In fact, herbology has always been founded on experimental observation of people as individuals.

It may be noted that the earliest nations or cultures, for instance, the Egyptians, were extremely proficient in using herbs appropriately. An antique text written in 1500 B.C. mentions about over 700 herbal medications, counting herbs like aloe vera, caraway seeds, garlic and poppy. Nevertheless, people in China have been practicing herbal medication for more than 5000 years. In fact, the Chinese are renowned for their understanding as well as use of ginseng. Hence, there is no reason to be apprehensive to use herbs in your kitchen. On the contrary, you should discuss about herbs and their significance in our life. There are infinite other subjects that endorse the gainful consequences of using herbs, inclusive of the quality of herbs, different herbal formulations, procedures to prepare herbal medication, the nutritional content of herbs as well as the dosage of herbal medicines. At the same time, it is important to always bear in mind that using herbs or any product containing herbs, denotes a more vigorous life. Therefore, take pleasure in the herbs, vitamins, aromatherapy and your life!

Honeysuckle – August Flower of the Month.

Lonicera japonica

Family: Adoxaceae, syn. Caprifoliaceae

honeysuckleThis lovely, cascading, woody vine, with its divine scent, is often planted as a landscape attraction. It dazzles the eye with its gorgeous blooms in warm weather and retreats to a pleasant but unremarkable placeholder at other times of the year. Its name refers to the fact that fairies {and everyone else} love to sip the nectar from the flowers. There are well over 100 different species, and at least 15 are used medicinally.

Description..

Honeysuckle is a perennial, deciduous or evergreen climbing shrub that typically wraps tightly around other plants or a support. It can grow to over 20 feet long and is invasive enough to be considered a noxious weed in the eastern United States. The tubular flowers bloom in the summer and are a pale yellow, sometimes tinged with pink, that turns a darker golden color as they age. Orangish red fruits that are rather nasty-tasting but are attractive to birds occur in clusters following the flowers in the fall.

Preparations and Dosage..

Make a strong infusion by steeping the flowers for as long as 30 minutes, or even gently simmer them, and drink 1/2 to 1 cup twice daily, or as often as desired. Honeysuckle also makes a delicious syrup. It’s found commercially in powder, granule, extract, and tablet form. Follow the directions on the product label.

Healing Properties..

The flowers {or flowers plus young stems} are mildly antibiotic and antiviral and are used to treat colds and flu. They are also recommended in traditional Chinese medicine {TCM} for relief of upper respiratory tract infections, fevers, bronchitis, sore throat, heat stroke, and diarrhea. The tea is also known for healing boils and other skin infections, as it helps to remove “fire toxins” {a TCM description that refers to metabolic waste buildup and inflammation} from your body. Teenagers and anyone who is prone to acne, boils, and sties can drink the refreshing tea daily to reap the strongest benefits.

Western herbalists recommend taking the flower tea or extract to relieve hot flashes, to prevent and promote healing of urinary tract infections, and to treat skin conditions like acne, boils, and eczema. The whole vine, including the leaves and twigs, can be decocted and used as a compress for treating burns, sores, and acne.

Safety..

The flowers and twigs are considered nontoxic by traditional Chinese medical practitioners.

In the Garden..

Honeysuckle is frost hardy, heat tolerant, and sturdy; it’s an easy plant to have around. If you want to create a hedge or fence-row, plant honeysuckle vines 3 feet apart, and expect them to push those bounds unless you trim them back during the dormant season. Honeysuckle likes moist, rich soil but is adaptable and somewhat drought tolerant once it’s large, and it will do well in full sun {or even partial shade, in hot climates}. Start it from seed, if you’re willing to wait a month or two for germination {stratification helps}, or take stem cuttings in the spring or woody cuttings in the fall. Easier yet, try layering a neighbor’s plant. Be sure to provide a trellis or fence for it to climb. Stems will trail along the ground, and you may want to prune them back for a tidier look.

Harvesting Honeysuckle..

Collect the flowers when they are just starting to open and are lovely, fresh and have a creamy hue. {Older, orange flowers will dry to a brown color.} Be sure to pick them every few days. As with all flowers, honeysuckle blooms are fragile and will bruise easily, so gather them in the morning, before the warmth of the day has compromised their freshness. Dry them immediately after harvest, at a low temperature and out of the sun. Tender stems may be collected also; they contain many of the same compounds.

Let’s Create Some Herbal Remedies – When Cold and Flu Season Arrives.

These two recipes are prepared as teas but are not taken in your tea cup – they help with the discomfort of flu season in other ways.

Winter Inhalation

living-herbs-for-cold-flu-thymeThis traditional herbal steam helps open your sinuses, discourages bacterial and viral growth, and reduces pain and inflammation. Remember to stay a comfortable distance from the steaming pot to avoid burning your face.

8 – 12 teaspoons fresh or 4 teaspoons dried eucalyptus leaf {Eucalyptus globulus}

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried peppermint leaf

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried thyme herb

3 cups purified water

Essential oils of the herbs above {optional}

Place the eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, and water in a saucepan and stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and uncover. Drape a large towel over your head and the saucepan, forming a steam-filled tent, and inhale the medicated steam deeply for 5 minutes or so. Repeat several times daily as needed, warming the decoction each time just to the boiling point.

You can enhance the inhalation by adding 6 or 7 drops of essential oil to the brew after you remove it from the heat. Try oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, and thyme, and add one or more as desired. {Because essential oils can cause dizziness and light-headedness, do not use enhanced inhalations more than two or three times a day, and discontinue use if redness of the mucous membrane develops.}

A Soothing Throat Gargle

herbs for cold and fluThis decoction soothes throats that are sore from illness or hoarse from overuse; it’s ideal for public speakers or teachers even when it isn’t winter. You will notice that this recipe calls for simmering above-ground portions of the plant that are usually steeped; this is because you will be extracting deeper compounds that are only somewhat water-soluble.

5 -7 tablespoons fresh or 2 1/2 tablespoons dried echinacea leaf

4 – 6 tablespoons fresh or 2 tablespoons dried lemon balm herb

3 – 5 tablespoons fresh or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried sage leaf

3 – 5 tablespoons fresh or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried licorice root

2 tablespoons dried witch hazel bark {Hamamelis virginiana} or marshmallow root

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh or dried usnea lichen, if available {Usnea spp.}

5 cups purified water

Place the echinacea, lemon balm, sage, licorice, witch hazel or marshmallow, and optional usnea in a saucepan. Pour the water over the herbs and stir to thoroughly combine. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and steep for 10 minutes, covered. Strain and compost the herbs. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Gargle with 1/4 cup of the warm or room-temperature tea four or five times a day; swallowing the liquid after gargling will provide extra benefits. For portability, put some in a little dropper bottle, and gargle with 3 or 4 droppersful for 30 seconds as a quick fix for an irritated throat.