Seven Herbs and Supplements for Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a widespread disorder affecting the blood sugar and insulin levels in the body. Managing the long-term consequences and complications of diabetes are as much of a challenge as the disease itself.

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is where the pancreas produces no insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common. With type 2, the body either does not produce enough insulin or produces insulin that the body does not use properly.

There are many treatment options for people with type 2 diabetes. Growing research suggests that some herbs and supplements may help with the condition.

Useful herbs may be great to combine with more traditional methods to find relief from many type 2 diabetes symptoms.

Seven herbs and supplements

Here are seven herbs and supplements that may be of benefit to people with type 2 diabetes.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera
Studies suggest an antidiabetic potential for aloe that may lower blood sugar levels.

Aloe vera is a common plant with many different uses. Most people are aware of the plant being used to coat the skin and protect it from damage caused by too much sun exposure.

However, the plant has many lesser-known benefits as well. These range from helping digestive issues to possibly even relieving type 2 diabetes symptoms.

One review analyzed many studies using aloe vera to treat symptoms of diabetes. Their results strongly suggested an antidiabetic potential for aloe. Subjects given aloe showed lower blood sugar levels and higher insulin levels.

Further tests showed that aloe helps to increase how much insulin is produced by the pancreas. This could mean that aloe helps to restore bodies with type 2 diabetes or protect them from further damage. The researchers called for more studies to be done on aloe and its extracts to be certain of these effects.

There are many ways to take aloe. The juice pulp is sold in many markets and added to drinks, and extracts are put into capsules to be taken as supplements.


Cinnamon is a fragrant herb created from the bark of a tree and is commonly found in kitchens. It has a sweet and spicy fragrance and taste that can add sweetness without any additional sugar. It is popular with people with type 2 diabetes for this reason alone, but there is much more to cinnamon than just flavor.

A review found that subjects with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes who were given cinnamon showed positive results in many different areas such as:

  • blood sugar levels
  • insulin levels
  • insulin sensitivity
  • blood fat levels
  • antioxidant levels
  • blood pressure
  • body mass
  • time to process food

These are important markers for people with diabetes. From this research, it may be said that cinnamon is important for everyone with type 2 diabetes to take.

The researchers did note that the type of cinnamon and the amount taken does have an effect on the results, however. Only the highest quality cinnamon or cinnamon extracts in capsule form should be used as a complementary treatment method.

An experienced health care practitioner should always be consulted before starting to use cinnamon heavily as a supplement.

Bitter melon

bitter melon
Bitter melon is a traditional Chinese and Indian medicinal fruit. Research suggests that the seeds may help to reduce blood sugar levels.

Momordica charantia, also known as bitter melon, is a medicinal fruit. It has been used for centuries in the traditional medicine of China and India. The bitter fruit itself is cooked into many dishes, and the plant’s medicinal properties are still being discovered.

One discovery being backed by science is that bitter melon may help with symptoms of diabetes. One review noted that many parts of the plant have been used to help treat diabetes patients.

Bitter melon seeds were given to both people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to reduce their blood sugar levels. Blended vegetable pulp mixed with water also lowered blood sugar levels in 86 percent of the type 2 diabetes patients tested. The fruit juice of the bitter melon also helped to improved blood sugar tolerance in many cases.

Eating or drinking the bitter melon can be an acquired taste. Luckily, similar effects were noted with extracts of the fruit taken as supplements as well.

There is not enough evidence to suggest that bitter melon could be used instead of insulin or medication for diabetes. However, it may help patients to rely less on those medications or lower their dosages.

Milk thistle

Milk thistle is a herb that has been used since ancient times for many different ailments and is considered a tonic for the liver. The most studied extract from milk thistle is called silymarin, which is a compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is these properties that may make milk thistle a great herb for people with diabetes.

A review notes that many of the studies on silymarin are promising, but the research is not strong enough to begin recommending the herb or extract alone for diabetes care.

Many people may still find that it is an important part of a care routine, especially since the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can help protect against further damage caused by diabetes. Milk thistle is most often taken as a supplement.


Fenugreek is another seed with the potential to lower blood sugar levels. The seeds contain fibers and chemicals that help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates like sugar. The seeds may also help delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

A recent study found that people with prediabetes were less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes while taking powdered fenugreek seed. This was caused by the seed increasing the levels of insulin in the body, which also reduced the sugar in the blood.

Researchers found that the seed helped to lower cholesterol levels in patients as well.

Fenugreek can be cooked into certain dishes, added to warm water, or ground into a powder. It can also be added to a capsule to be swallowed as a supplement.


Gymnema is a relatively new herb on the Western market. In the plant’s native home of India, its name means “sugar destroyer.” A recent review noted that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients given Gymnema have shown signs of improvement.

In people with type 1 diabetes who were given the leaf extract over a period of 18 months, fasting blood sugar levels were lowered significantly when compared to a group that received only insulin.

Other tests using Gymnema found that people with type 2 diabetes responded well to taking both the leaf and its extract over various periods of time. Using Gymnema lowered blood sugar levels and increased insulin levels in the body of some patients.

Using either the ground leaf or leaf extract may be beneficial for many people with diabetes.


ginger sliced
Ginger has been used for many years to treat digestive and inflammatory issues. Recent research suggests that it may reduce insulin resistance.

Ginger is another herb that science is just discovering more about. It has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine systems.

Ginger is often used to help treat digestive and inflammatory issues. However, a recent review posted to shows that it may be helpful in treating diabetes symptoms as well.

In their review, researchers found that supplementing with ginger lowered blood sugar levels, but did not lower blood insulin levels. Because of this, they suggest that ginger may reduce insulin resistance in the body for type 2 diabetes.

It is important to note that the researchers were uncertain as to how ginger does this. More research is being called for to make the claims more certain.

Ginger is often added to food raw or as a powdered herb, brewed into tea, or added to capsules as an oral supplement.

Important considerations for people with diabetes

It is always best to work with a healthcare professional before taking any new herb or supplement. Doctors usually have patients start out on a lower dose and gradually increase it until a comfortable dose is found.

Some herbs can interact with other medications that do the same job, such as blood thinners and high blood pressure medications. It is very important to be aware of any interactions before starting a new supplement.

It is also important for people to get herbs from a high-quality source. Herbs are not monitored by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products may contain different herbs and fillers, recommend an incorrect dose, or even be contaminated with pesticides.

Herbs and supplements should be seen as a complementary treatment option, and should not replace medications.

Working closely with a knowledgeable healthcare professional, herbs can be a great addition to many care programs for diabetes.

Let’s Plant Some Herbs – Explaining Propagation Terminology

Seed-starting is one of the easiest and enjoyable parts of herbal gardening, but some seeds require special consideration and procedures to ensure germination.

Cotyledon: The first leaf or one of the first pair of leaves to unfold as a seed germinates. Cotyledons generally do not resemble the plant’s actual leaves.

Damping Off: A fungal disease that causes seedling stems from shriveling and collapsing at the soil level.

Dark-dependent germination: Seeds that need a light barrier in order to germinate. Most times, if there’s not quite enough darkness, the germination level may be reduced, but many seeds will still germinate.

Germination: The initial growth of a seed.

Inoculant: A bacterial microbe, usually found in powder or liquid form, that is applied directly to seeds in the Fabaceae {legume} family to improve germination.

Light-dependent germination: Seeds that require light to germinate. These seeds are pressed onto the surface of the soil and kept moist until germination occurs.

Multi-cycle germination: Seeds that require a warm cycle, a cold cycle, and another warm cycle before they germinate. This can sometimes require more than a year for germination.

Rooting hormone: A synthetic version of a natural plant hormone that can encourage root formation on stem cuttings. Commercial rooting hormones are available in garden centers and online in powder form, but they are not approved for organic use.

Scarification: The process of abrading the seed surface to make it more permeable. Some seeds have hard seed coats that need to be broken down so that they can germinate. In nature, this happens when they pass through the digestive tract of an animal or are exposed to rough, changeable weather conditions. You can mimic this process by gently rubbing the seeds with sandpaper, nicking them with a sharp knife {if they are large enough} or dropping them in boiling water and then letting them cool to room temperature.

Seed: A plant embryo and its supply of nutrients, often surrounded by a protective seed coat.

Seedling: A young plant grown from a seed.

Stratification: Exposing seeds to a period of cold to break dormancy. Cold stratification helps germinate seeds that would naturally go through freezing temperatures in the winter. You can either sow in the fall and leave the flat outdoors, where it will experience the natural rise and fall of the seasonal temperatures, or, if your winter is not frigid, you can artificially create those cool conditions: In a plastic bag, mix the seed with moist sand or vermiculite, label the bag, and place it in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 weeks. You can also place the bag in the freezer occasionally to simulate winter weather.

Growing An Aromatic Herb Garden

The first or original aromatic herb gardens were developed by the Persians sometimes over 2,000 years back in the courtyards of their residences. Generally, these herb gardens were of square or rectangular shape and usually they were separated into four by streams that originated from a centrally located fountain. These enclosed scented herb gardens were called pairidaeza, which was derived from the word ‘paradise’. The Persians are known to be outstanding gardeners and their ‘paradise’ essentially included three major features – running water, aroma, and shade.

In fact, the Byzantine church was mainly instrumental in making the concept of such scented herb garden popular in the western regions of Europe, earlier in the structure of cloister gardens, which were soon found in all monasteries in the region. The concept of a walled, scented garden was readily accepted by the traditional Christianity during the medieval times. In effect, it was something familiar to observing the entire creation in a representational term. By now, the references in the Bible, since the Garden of Eden to the Song of Songs, had corroborated gardens like these in the form of illustrations of the Paradise itself.

Way back in 1260, a Dominican monk Albertus Magnus spelled out the prerequisites for developing ideal pleasure gardens. He specified that the scented herb gardens ought to have a fountain plus a lawn, comprising all perfumed herbs, for instance, sage, rue and basil and similarly, include every type of flowers, counting lily, violet, rose, columbine, iris and those similar to these blooms. In addition, Albertus also recommended that there ought to be a vast assortment of aromatic and therapeutic herbs at the back of the lawn. At the same time, he emphasized that the flowers should not be there just to please the sense of smell by their fragrance, but also to enliven the sense of sight by their color and beauty.

The crusaders had already introduced the rose into the western regions of Europe. Actually, the original connotation of the term rosary is said to be an encircling rose garden that is devoted to the Virgin Mary. While the initial rosaries were developed on the sacred or hallowed ground, paintings from the 16th century depict that the pattern was espoused in gardens owned privately, wherein the rose gardens, as well as arbors (retreats), were developed by the rich and royals.

Lilium candidum (Madonna lily), attractive and extremely perfumed, was among the other blessed flowers that were grown by the Christian church in the earliest times. On the other hand, in the gardens of the monastery, lilies and roses were grown in concert along with particularly fragrant herbs like rosemary and lavender. Historians who specialized on gardens are of the view that the medieval romance garden, as well as the Renaissance love garden, were mainly rose plus herb gardens, which were held in high esteem both for their visual features as well as their efficacy.

The era of Queen Elizabeth I’s sovereignty is considered to be the prime of such scented herb gardens. During this period, people took delight in pleasantly aromatic food, clothes, and rooms. It is documented that the mistress of one manor house during the Elizabethan reign cultivated aromatic flowers as well as fragrant plants in a private formal garden generally fenced by rose briers plus fruit trees for enjoying a walk as well as sitting in the garden. In addition, the aromatic herb garden was also utilized to supply the ingredients for the mistress’ still room. In her still room, the mistress made ‘sweet waters’ using rose petals and flowers of rosemary as well as curative lotions using the stems of the spikes of lavender and the Madonna lily. Scented herbs, such as rue and hyssop, were cultivated to cover the floors of rooms with a view to disinfect the air, while they’re dried up flowers were packed into pillows and cushions to support sound sleep.

A contemporary herb garden also comprises herbal plants, which are esteemed for their fragrant attributes. In fact, a scented herb garden is a place which you may possibly want to visit to relax yourself following a hectic day. Such a garden may perhaps be made up of a small number of pleasingly aromatic herbs grown in containers and placed in one corner of the porch, a vast garden having sitting area, or simply comprise numerous aromatic herbs grown along a preferred pathway in your courtyard.

It may be noted that the majority of the aromatic herbs usually emit their fragrance more when someone brushes against them or touches them. In addition, a pleasant waft will also transport the fragrant scent of the herb throughout the yard and to you. Remember this aspect when you are deciding on the place where you desire to have your scented herb garden. It would surely be an excellent idea to have it close to your home.

When we are talking about aromatic herbs, you may choose from a wide variety of them. Take into account that simply for the reason that a herb is aromatic, it does not imply that you will alone take delight in its fragrance. Prior to selecting as well as planting your desired scented herb garden, you need to take the aroma of every plant with a view to ensure that its scent gives you pleasure.

Fragrant Herbs for the Garden

As mentioned above, there are assortments of aromatic herbs from which you may choose for your scented herb garden. Below is a list of such scented herbs which most people believe have a delightful fragrance. However, this list should never be considered to be a complete or final catalog of scented herbs, as there are a great many amazingly aromatic herbs which may be compiled in a list in this article. It is advisable that before you purchase any herb, you should personally examine every herb by rubbing a leaf of the plant and inhaling its aroma to ensure that it releases an aroma that you may find to be delightful. The fact remains that the same aroma is not preferred by everyone and this is something which makes the world revolve.

Generally, people consider basil to be a herb that is mostly used for cooking. However, the irrefutable fragrance of this herb is pleasing as well as comforting. Catnip is another herb which emits a pleasant aroma, you ought to be conscious that the kitties in your neighborhood would also get pleasure from this plant and may perhaps result in some kind of a untidiness in your desired scented herb garden.

Cultivating catmint has a special reward and that is the loaded scent of cinnamon. This herb is really an attractive addition to any scented garden. While Nepeta Grandiflora comes to flower first and is generally incorporated in early collections, Nepeta siberica flowers during the later part of summer and is generally incorporated in the later classifications. Following the blooming of both these herbs, cut them to a height of a couple of inches, as this will encourage fresh growth as well as flowering for a second time. Several beneficial butterflies and insects visit these plants, which are frequently used in the form of an under planting for white as well as pink roses.

While most people usually think that the herb chamomile is used for preparing tea, it may be noted that this herb is also attractive and the flowers, as well as foliage, have a marvelous scent enlivening your garden.

Special mention needs to be made regarding Roman chamomile, which is among the small plants that are loaded with the aroma. Having the aroma that has a resemblance to a Jolly Rancher bitter apple candy, Roman chamomile makes a fragrant vivid green cover for the ground in places having cool summer climatic conditions. In England, this herb is frequently used to jam the fissures between the blocks of the pavement. In addition, Roman chamomile, which is also known as the English chamomile, is also used in the form of a path cover or maybe in the form of a soft cover for a bench.

In addition, you may also use Roman Chamomile to prepare an aromatic alleyway or a pleasant scented amaze grown among other plants in the garden. In case the herb is able to push its way against other plants in its vicinity, Roman Chamomile may even grow up to a height of a foot when it is in bloom.

Feverfew is another herb that has gorgeous flowers, but the majority of the plant’s aroma is released by means of its foliage and making it a pleasant inclusion in any scented herb garden. On the other hand, lavender has always been a preferred herb for gardeners growing scented herbs. The leaves, as well as the flowers of lavender, give off a potent, but comforting aroma.

The herb lemon balm derives its name from the plant’s leaves, which possess an aroma similar to that of lemons. Numerous herbal gardeners actually admire the fresh fragrance of this plant. Recognize the value of the fact that lemon balm multiplies very fast and has the aptitude to invade your garden rapidly provided its growth is not kept under control.

Mint is also an aromatic herb which may be somewhat invasive, but still, it is favored for its fresh fragrance. There are various species of mint and you may choose from spearmint, peppermint, orange mint or chocolate peppermint for growing in your scented herbal garden. Provided you restrict the growth of the different species of mint in different areas of your herbal garden, each species will be capable of releasing its distinct aroma.

Scented geraniums do not blossom very frequently nor are they eye-catching like their cousins, which are just known as geraniums. However, they emit an amazing fragrance which makes this species among the most excellent plants to be grown in any scented herbal garden. In fact, there is an assortment of scented geraniums for you to choose from for your garden. The wide variety of scented geraniums comprises cinnamon, apricot, lemon, apple, ginger, orange, nutmeg, rose, strawberry, and peppermint are only among a few of them. One needs to touch the leaves of this plant for them to emit their rich fragrance, therefore ensure that you grow these scented plants close to the boundary of your scented herbal garden. It may be noted that scented geraniums are subtle plants and in most places, they would require moving indoors during the winter months.

Anise hyssop is neither a mint nor a genuine licorice, but this herb certainly enhances the fragrance of licorice candy to your scented herbal garden. In addition, licorice mint (anise hyssop) is a wonderful culinary herb and may be used for cooking or dried up to prepare a tea. You may try to infuse some amount of this herb in milk and freeze it to prepare an ice cream. Usually, shear licorice mint returns to the ground following flowering during mid spring and again appears in the form of a small green hedge for the remaining growing season. Alternately, you may allow the plant to provide for little birds and disperse the seeds of the plant for a crop of seedlings to appear voluntarily during the subsequent spring. Whatever you may do, this plant will keep on enhancing the aroma of the herbal garden till frosting. Generally, the plants wither away and return to the ground when it frosts. Ensure that you mark the place where you are growing this plant so that it is not removed prior to its re-emergence during the next spring.

This list is likely to help you to start work on your scented herbal garden. However, always bear in mind to spend some time to personally inhale the smell of the entire herbs that are obtainable from your neighborhood gardening center prior to deciding on the specific herbs you would like to grow in your personal scented herbal garden. In fact, it will not be a very easy task choosing the herbs you would prefer to grow because there are far too many varieties available.

The Disorders Of Herbs {Pests and Diseases}

Herbs that are used to treat numerous health conditions are themselves susceptible to the plant diseases that inflict many other garden plants. While some care is required to grow garden plants to keep them healthy, it is essential to take special care while growing herbs since they are primarily cultivated for culinary or remedial reasons. When herbs are grown under glass, ventilation and hygiene are especially vital while cultivating herbs. In addition, you may help the herbs to avoid fungal infections by getting rid of the dead leaves and flowers as well as by using gummy traps to catch flying pests prior to the temperatures becoming extremely high to take initiatives for biological controls. At times it may be necessary to spray insecticides and in such instances ensure that you only use those insecticides that are safe and suggested by those who supply biological controls. In addition, while spraying insecticides, it is also important to follow the instructions meticulously. It is also advisable that you immerse the pots that have been brought under glass in biological solutions with a view to eliminating any slug or snail that may be present.


Aphids are known to be one of the most disparaging pests that invade the cultivated plants in the temperate climatic regions. In effect, they have turned out to be the enemies of the farmers as well as gardeners across the world for the extent of the damage done by them to the cultivated plants. However, when you look at aphids from the zoological viewpoint, you will find them to be among the most successful groups of organisms. Partially, their success is owing to some of their species’ ability to reproduce asexually.

Plants that have been damaged by aphids may have an assortment of symptoms, for instance, lower growth rates, spotted leaves, undersized development, yellowing, coiled leaves, drooping, burrowing, low yields and even untimely deaths. Taking away the plant’s sap results in absence of vitality in the diseased plant. Also, the saliva of aphids is noxious to the plants. In effect, it has been found that often aphids pass on organisms that cause diseases to the plants, such as viruses to the plants which they inhabit. Especially, the green peach aphid (biological name, Myzus persicae) is known to be a vector or carrier for over 100 plant viruses. Similarly, the cotton aphids (botanical name, Aphis gossypii) generally taint the papaya, sugarcane, and peanuts with viruses. It may be noted that aphids have been responsible for spreading late blight (scientific name, Phytophthora infestans) amongst potatoes during the Irish potato famine that occurred in the 1840’s.

On the other hand, the black cherry aphid or the cherry aphid (biological name, Myzus cerasi) is liable for various leaves curling of the cherry trees. This symptom can be easily differentiated from ‘leaf curling’ caused by the species of Taphrina fungus owing to the presence of aphids underneath the leaves.

It may be noted that the harm or diseases caused to the plants, especially the commercial crops, have led to the spending of huge amounts as well as great efforts in trying to control the actions of aphids. Therefore, it is advisable that you control the growth, spread as well as destruction using insecticidal soft soaps, or direct a potent, fine stream of water onto the part swarming with the pests to knock off the aphids from the plants.

Gray mold (Botrytis)

Gray mold, also known as Botrytis blight, is known to be a gardener’s nightmare. In fact, this is a widespread plant ailment, particularly non-woody plants that are grown under humid conditions. Gray mold may be a major problem in the greenhouses, especially when the dampness is high, while the temperatures are reasonable. This disease generally infects tomatoes and, sometimes, cucumbers too. At times, this disease is also a problem on decorative plants, especially the African violets.

It has been detected that Botrytis blight distresses the plants in several ways. This disease may result in the collapse and can weaken the seedlings, cause disfigurement or blotched to blossoms, lead to the rotting of the fruits, stem and the plant crown as well as afflict the shoots. The first symptom of this common plant disease is generally a water-soaked spot on the plant that subsequently makes the tissue soft and watered-down. The inflicted parts of the plant gradually droop and collapse. In case the humidity level stays high, you will notice that a greyish-brown outside layer or mesh of mycelium of fungus threads as well as spores developing over the surface of the bowed tissue.

The infected parts of the plant develop numerous spores that are easily blown or splattered on top of the healthy foliage. In case there is a thin layer of moisture and other conditions are encouraging, germination of the microorganisms as well as contagion may occur only within a few hours’ time. In addition, sclerotia (a vegetative, resting food-storage body in specific higher fungi, made up of a dense mass of toughened mycelia) may develop on the plump parts of the stems and fruits. The sclerotia are the hard-wearing resting structure that allows the fungus to stay alive at times when the conditions are not conducive for its growth. The sizes of the sclerotia differ and may be up to one-fourth of an inch and are generally black and evened out. In fact, sclerotia are always not noticeable but may be entrenched in decomposed tissue or covered with soil and other wreckage or plant remains.

The film or thin covering of moisture is essential for the germination of the spores and infecting the plants. Hence, gray mold normally has a preference for humid and comparatively cool climatic conditions. It is possible to bring down the levels of humidity by opening up plantings while cultivation, by leaving greater spaces between the rows and plants or by means of pruning. This helps the more free movement of air through the plants and reduces humidity. When plants are grown in greenhouses, gray mold can be brought under control by making provisions for excellent ventilation. It may be noted that the gray mold fungus flourishes on plant remain.

In addition to proper ventilation, sanitation is another vital aspect for controlling the germination and growth of gray mold. Therefore, it is important to get rid of the fallen leaves and dead plants from the greenhouses and set ablaze, buried or leave them at some place where they will dry quickly. By doing this, you will be able to lessen a number of contagious substances in the area.

Leaf miners

Generally, leafminers feed in the leaves or needles that result in tunneling or digging injuries on the leaves. In effect, numerous types of insects, as well as the larvae of moths (Lepidoptera), sawflies (Hymenoptera), beetles (Coleoptera) and flies (Diptera), have assumed this habit for their survival. The majority of these insects spend their entire larval period feeding in the leaves. While a number of them also develop from the larva stage to pupa (pupate) in the leaf mine feeding on the leaves, there are others whose larvae, when full grown, cut their way out of the leaves and drop on the soil to develop into a pupa.

In fact, occasionally the leaf miners are categorized depending on the type of mines they create in the leaves. For instance, the serpentine leaf mines meander like a snake across the leaf slowly broadening while the insect grows. Blotch leaf miners are more widespread and they are normally erratically curved. The tentiform leaf miner is a sub-group of the insects that create the swelling stained type of mines that bend upwards something akin to a tent as the tissue of the damaged leaf dries up. Usually, the mining prototypes are generally a mishmash of what has been described above. For instance, the insect species initially create serpentine mines, but in the end, they enlarge the leaf cavity of a splotched mine.

Normally, the areas of the leaves that the insects have mined gradually dry out and die. While the damages caused by the leaf mining insects may appear to be ugly, these insects are seldom known to affect the health of the entire plant. In addition, the majority of the leaf miners have significant natural controls that usually put a check on their population prior to any excessive damage is done to the plants.

Damages done by insects that engage in leaf and needle mining may sometimes apparently look like the symptoms caused by leaf spotting fungi or different abiotic problems. These can be differentiated by separating the mottled part. In case the leaves have been harmed by insects, there will be a hollow area in the leaf or the needle, which may reveal the insect and/ or its droppings. On the other hand, the leaf spotting fungi result in the collapse of the affected areas and there is no tunneling whatsoever.

Before concluding, it may be mentioned that the larvae of an assortment of moths, flies, and beetles survive by mining through leaves of various plants. In order to check this menace, it is advisable to get rid of the affected leaves and destroy them immediately. In addition, you should spray the herbs regularly with water to keep these insects away.

Spider mites

Spider mites belong to the Acari mite family Tetranychidae and include as many as 1600 species. In fact, spider mites are quite widespread pest problems affecting several plants grown in the yards and gardens. These mites damage the plants by feeding on the plants, especially ingesting the sap, with their mouthparts that resemble whips causing bruised cells. Generally, the damaged parts of the plants are noticeable as they are marked with several minutes, pale spots making the plant appear speckled to some extent.

The leaves are discolored when there is an acute swarming of the insects, making the plant look deep gray or bronze. Eventually, the leaves, as well as the needles, may turn out to be seared and drop from the plant. Very often, spider mites kill the plants they invade or inflict grave stress on them.

Spider mites are included in the class of arachnid, closely related to insects, including spiders, scorpions, ticks and daddy-longlegs. The spider mites are so minute that it is normally difficult to see them with the naked eye. Depending on the species of the spider mites as well as the seasonal changes in their look, the colors of the spider mites vary from red and brown to yellow and green.

Several species of spider mites create webs, especially when their population is very high. Such webbings provide the spider mites as well as their eggs with protection from their natural enemies as well as the changes in the environment.

Hot and dry climatic conditions are ideal for the spider mites to thrive. In order to control the menace caused by spider mites, it is advisable to get rid of the webs created by them on the leaves as soon as you notice them. In addition, you also need to spray the plants with insecticidal soap and water or, alternately, use biological control by introducing a predatory mite called Phytoseiulus.


Rusts are basically a type of plant disease spread by disease-bearing fungi belonging to the class of Pucciniales. Thus far, as may as 7,800 different species of such fungi have been identified. In fact, rusts have the ability to damage an assortment of plants, including their stems, leaves, fruits and even seeds. When any plant is affected by rusts, it can be seen as a colored powder made up of minute aeciospores that land on vegetation pustules or uredia that develop on the surfaces underneath. Yellowish-orange or brownish bristles or ligulate formations are known as telia grow on the leaves or surface from the bark of woody hosts, for instance, the Juniperus species, during the later part of spring or in the early part of summer. These telia result in the development of teliospores that subsequently germinate into aerial basidiospores, which spread all over the plant infecting it further.

When the humidity level is high and the air circulation is poor, blotches of rust appear on the affected parts. In order to control this problem, it is essential to provide the herbs with adequate space and sufficient ventilation. At the same time, remove the herbs that have already been infected and never replant the same species for a while.


Whiteflies are basically tiny hemipterans that are the only member of the family Aleyrodidae. Thus far, over 1,550 species of whiteflies have been identified. These small insects generally feed on the underneath of the plant leaves.

In greenhouses, whiteflies can be controlled best by making use of biological control – i.e. utilizing another insect that eliminates them and, thereby, does the job for you. In addition, if the temperatures are low, it is advisable to enhance the circulation of air, dangle sticky traps and also spray the plants with insecticidal soap. When the plants grown under glass are affected by whiteflies, use a biological control by introducing a parasitic wasp called encarsia.

It may be noted that encarsia is a tiny parasitic wasp that lays its eggs in the deposits of whiteflies where the larvae develop and, thereby, eliminates the invading insects. The larvae grow into adults that find additional scales to parasitise. It is interesting to note that when the larvae have done their work (in other words, eliminated the whiteflies) there is no food left for them and, hence, their life cycle ends. In case the invasion of whiteflies reoccurs, you will be required to introduce encarsia once again to combat the menace.

It is an excellent plan to once again use some covering over the ventilators and doors if you wish to keep the whitefly eliminator (encarsia) unharmed inside the greenhouse where they will continue to deal with the whitefly menace. In addition, you may also use insecticides even when the biological controls are in place. However, it is advisable that you use the soft insecticidal soap prior to introducing the biological controls, for they too are harmed by the insecticides.

Propagating Herbs

Plants can be propagated by four fundamental means. They can be propagated by their seeds, grown from root divisions, stem cuttings as well as layering. In order to undertake any of these techniques successfully, it would be prudent if you start by studying the attributes as well as the growth patterns of the particular plant you wish to proliferate. Gaining more and more knowledge about the habits of a plant will help you to propagate the plant more easily.

Growing from seed

Plants produce copious seeds that are vigorous and live for a long period. Naturally, the seeds are driven out of the plants by the force generated when the seedpods split open. Subsequently, they are transported far and wide by sticking to the hairs on the animal hide or under the bellies of birds or by the wind and they land in a new place far away from their original home. In fact, it is possible to sow a number of seeds immediately when they are collected from the fruits enclosing them. On the other hand, some seeds remain dormant for a while prior to becoming feasible as well as ready for germination.

Again there are other seeds that require stratification to facilitate maturing and become feasible for sowing and germination. In fact, when seeds are stratified, they are kept in cold temperatures which they would generally go through in nature during their dormant period in the winter months. Seeds that need to be stratified should be cleaned of dust, soil, and impurities and drenched in water for anything between 24 hours and 49 hours. Subsequently, they need to be packed in any damp medium like sphagnum or sawdust and stored in the refrigerator for a period roughly between one and four months, subject to the species. There are a number of seeds that have further complicated dormancy prerequisites and simply keeping them in cold temperature for any period of time is not sufficient. They require being alternately kept in warm, cold and again warm temperatures.

There is a third type of seeds that are dormant for a considerable period owing to their tough seed coat, which stops moisture from going through till they are notched or lacerated. A section of horticulturists employs a little file to make scratches on the seed coat or to put these seeds in simmering water with a view to make them soft. Soaking seeds in warm water actually make them livelier and makes them ready for germination.

It has been seen that the majority types of seeds germinate most excellently when sown in a neutral soil medium that is porous in nature. However, some plants, for instance, rhododendrons have a preference for acidic soil for germinating, but these types of plants are certainly among the exceptions. Several substances including sand, perlite (a product from volcanoes), sphagnum moss (obtained from swamps), vermiculite (also called expanded mica), pounded granite as well as uncontaminated soil are utilized in the form of germination mediums. You should ensure that the medium is not very weighty and, at the same time, sufficiently substantial to enable the seedlings to grow up straight, while their roots hold on to the soil steadfastly. Using a mixture of equal proportions of crushed granite and sphagnum moss is an excellent medium to start with. In fact, many people prefer to use sphagnum moss as a starting mix, as this substance is extremely resilient to invasion by fungi, which generally weaken and deteriorate the seeds as well as the cuttings. Ideally, you ought to sow the seeds in rows maintaining a space of no less than one inch between them. A common guideline to decide on how deep the seeds need to be sown in the soil says that usually the seeds should be sown up to a depth that is equivalent to their vertical measurement.

Much before you sow the seeds, you need to keep watering the growing medium. Keep the flat in a temperate place, about 70°F. You should keep spraying the seeds many times every day till they begin to germinate. When they start germinating, examine the seedlings closely to detect if there are any fungal diseases. In case you find that the plants have been damaged, prick them out cautiously and annihilate them. Generally, biodynamic gardeners (people who grow plants organically) mist chamomile tea on the germinating plants with a view to avoiding damping off. This herbal tea is prepared by infusing the herb chamomile in water for a couple of days or even more. It is advisable that you apply the spray in the form of a mist with a view to preventing any further damage to the seedlings.

Besides developing damping-off fungus, the major threats to the germinating seeds include allowing the growing medium to become parched and not maintaining a sufficiently warm temperature. Provided you are watchful and succeed in preventing the occurrence of these conditions, you will be able to produce several healthy seedlings, thereby helping nature.

It is worth mentioning here that biodynamic gardeners often bathe the seeds with special preparations based on herbs. People who advocate this method say that when you spray the seeds with diluted solutions prepared with a variety of preparations containing biodynamic compost, it accelerates the pace of germination, makes the seedlings vigorous and also prevent the occurrence of fungal diseases. In addition, biodynamic gardeners support using rainwater for watering the seeds as well as seedlings, as rainwater contains dashes of nitrogen, which is collected when the water from the cloud falls all the way through the atmosphere. According to biodynamic experts, the seedlings are able to absorb the nitrogen easily. However, using rainwater may not be a good thing to do in polluted areas or nearby places where the wind is flowing from the polluted areas.

It may also be noted that the moon affects the sowing pattern by biodynamic gardeners. Substantiating their process, they reveal that the level of underground moisture rises to the surface of the soil during the lunar fortnight when the moon is visible at night (also called ‘waxing of the moon’). The gravitational pull exerted by the moon brings up the maximum amount of subterranean moisture in the soil during the full moon phase. Hence, seeds that are very slow in germinating are generally sown during a full moon and a week following it. On the other hand, seeds that sprout very rapidly, in addition to the seeds that germinate very slowly, are sown two days prior to the new moon and during the following seven days.

When the seeds have sprouted and produced numerous leaves, the seedlings are all set to be transplanted into small, separate containers. In case you want to transplant the seedlings into beds outdoors, make sure that you plant the seedlings no less than 1.25 inches apart. Also be careful while handling the small plants, ensuring that you do not cause any harm to their tender stems as well as roots. You may prepare an excellent potting soil by blending compost, loamy topsoil and sharp sand in equal proportions. Allow the seedling to nurture in the pots for many more weeks with a view to enabling the tender plants to expand their root system as well as produce more new leaves. Once the plants have established their roots and produced numerous leaves, they are all set to be transplanted into their permanent positions outdoors.


Often, perennial plants are propagated by dividing their crown – a procedure involving dividing a large cluster of plants into smaller clumps and replanting them. Generally, the crown division is undertaken during the fall when the plants are in a dormant state. However, some types of plants are also dividing in the early part of spring, prior to the beginning of the new season’s growth. In order to undertake crown division, you need to unearth the clumps carefully and cleanse the soil sticking to the roots using a brush with a view to seeing what you will be doing. Subsequently, separate the plants by pulling them apart or cut the clumps all the way through the top growth using a sharp knife or spade with a view to dividing them into many smaller clusters. Some of the plants that can be propagated well by dividing their clumps with a knife include mugwort, oregano, hyssop, and tarragon. On the other hand, it is better to separate the clumps of garlic, onion, mints and German chamomileusing a spading fork after you have evacuated them from the soil.

It is advisable that you should be very cautious while dividing the plants, because even the slightest damage to their roots may render them unviable for propagation. Be careful while separating the roots and ensure that every plant has its stem/ shoot and roots intact. Once you replant them, you need to water them carefully. In case you are undertaking the crown division during the fall, you also need to provide mulch to the clumps that have been replanted with a view to shield the roots during the harsh winter months.

While handling plants that are very tender or having elongated taproots, you should opt for their propagation by root division. When you undertake propagation by means of root division, you actually chop the plants’ roots into several pieces, each of them having a bud. As new shoots will develop from the buds, you should ensure that each root division has at least one bud attached to it. In addition, root division may also entail separating/ dividing the offshoots developed from subterranean corms, bulbs or tubers, provided these offshoots have the potential to grow into new plants.


Cuttings are of many dissimilar types, including leaf and bud cuttings; stem, root and leaf cuttings; softwood cuttings as well as hardwood cuttings. To ensure that the cuttings thrive and grow into new plants, you need to take them from vigorous plants and at the appropriate time; be cautious while setting the cuttings into a good quality rooting medium; and ensure that you keep the cuttings moist as well as warm till they give out roots.

However, hardwood cuttings are exceptional. Generally, these cuttings are made from the latest growth of deciduous trees and only when the trees have shed all their leaves. Actually, hardwood cuttings are an excellent way to produce sufficient plants to serve as windbreaks and hedges. Each hardwood cutting ought to be roughly between 6 inches and 8 inches having at least three to four nodules or nodes. The node at the uppermost of the cutting should be just roughly one inch from the top. Tie up the hardwood cuttings and put the bundle in somewhat damp sand and keep them in a refrigerator at roughly 50°F for about a month. Subsequently, keep the cutting in further cold temperature, just higher than the freezing temperature, till the spring thaw. When the last spring frost is over, plant these cuttings in a furrow with just their topmost node (bud) remaining above the soil. Water these cuttings every day and keep a careful eye on them till they begin to develop new shoots. Here is a word of caution: ensure that you do not store the cuttings in the refrigerator for an extended period or else they may possibly sprout even before you plant them outdoors.

Softwood cutting are also referred to as greenwood cuttings, which are made by cutting majority of the plants, counting those whose wood is tough. Usually, the new growths of healthy deciduous plants are used for greenwood cuttings. In fact, the stem that would be used as the cutting should split with crack when it is bent. However, if you are able to crush the stem between your fingers, it is considered to tender to be used for cuttings. On the other hand, if the stem just bends somewhat between your fingers, it is considered to be too mature for softwood cuttings. In fact, this is best way to test as well as know whether the plant is sufficiently mature to tolerate cutting, but yet quite young to produce an excellent cutting. Ideally, softwood cuttings should be done either in the latter part of spring or the early part of summer. However, the timings for making softwood cutting differ depending on the type of plant.

Usually, the length of the cutting differs from two inches to six inches. Ideally, you need to cut the stem at about 45° angle and roughly half an inch away from the bud (node) to separate the cutting from the original stem. Softwood cuttings are usually made from the branch terminals and, hence, often they are also referred to as terminal cuttings. Immediately after making the cutting, cover its base with a moist cloth or paper towel and put it in a plastic bag. Examine the shape of the cutting and carefully get rid of nearly all the leaves. It may be noted that having lots of leaves will diminish the prospects of the cutting taking roots.

Remove the cloth or the damp paper towel just before planting the cutting into a bed prepared with moist sand and tiny gravels. Make sure that the cutting stands straight and is properly supported by the medium in which it will take roots. If cuttings have been made in the latter part of the spring or early part of summer they should develop enough and healthy roots by autumn. However, if the cuttings have been made from plants resilient to winter, you may plant them outdoors with a view to allow them to become firm and also let them experience their first winter outdoors after you have relocated them into a medium prepared by mixing equal proportions of topsoil and sharp sand and fertilized by adding little quantities of compost. However, if you are growing the rooted cuttings in containers or pots, you need to keep them under careful observation all through the cold spells, because the soil in the pots freezes much more rapidly compared to the soil in the gardens.


The traditional method of producing a new plant from a plant that already exists is known as layering. This process is employed very frequently for propagating shrubs whose roots are very difficult to cut or separate. Different from cuttings, wherein a part of the plant (especially the stem with nodes) is cut from the mother plant, layering involves encouraging a branch to give out roots by bending it down into the soil and keeping it in that position for a period of time by means of putting a weight (usually a rock) on it. In fact, the process involved in propagation through layering is a very secure one, as it can be undertaken without causing any damage either to the parent or new plant. However, the downside of layering is that it takes much more time to propagate a plant by this method compared to root division and cuttings.

Ideally, layering should be taken up during spring prior to the bud of the plant you have selected open up. First, you need to select a good and sturdy branch, which is long as well as sufficiently flexible so that it can be curved to the ground without much difficulty. Next, you bend the branch to the ground and make a marking at the place where you want it to develop new roots. Remove a small portion of the bark from the place which will be buried into the ground for rooting. Ensure that while cutting the bark you do not cause any damage to the plant tissue just under the layer of the bark. Put in some sand, sphagnum and peat moss to the soil at the portion of the branch where you have removed the bark and set the layered part of the branch into the ground for rooting using a forked stick or a small rock. You may also use a hairpin to hold a slender branch in its place into the ground. Make sure that the top part of the branch that you have layered sticks out from the ground – the tip should never be buried under the soil. At times, gardeners keep the tip of the layered branch out of the soil by fastening it with a stick or by bracing the branch.

By the next spring, it will be time to unearth the layered branch. In order to grow the new plant, unearth it cautiously with a view to protect the new roots and then cut the original branch at a place a little lower than where the new roots have developed. Subsequently, plant this rooted branch in the same manner as you would plant a cutting. This method of propagating plants is known as simple layering. Tip layering is another way you can propagate plants and it is actually a more rapid method of proliferating plants. This method involves only burying the tip of a plant, not the stem, during spring. When you undertake tip layering you can unearth and start growing the new plant in the next fall.

Growing Herbs In Containers

Having a garden where herbs are grown in containers simply appears very pleasant and is also extremely expedient. In addition, a container herb garden also possesses the immense charisma of being formed all of a sudden. When you have successfully put the containers as well as your choice of herbs together, it is simple and also pleasurable to pot the most companionable partners.

The awareness regarding growing herbs has actually persuaded nurseries, garden centers as well as potters to make their assortment of attractive pots and containers available. Hence, in case your finances do not permit you to establish a garden comprising gorgeous and traditional jardinières, still reasonably priced tubs made of wood and terracotta are extensively available in the market. You may also procure inexpensive plastic containers which may be made to look more attractive by including a shallow layer of mortar or domestic filler painted green or gray.

A number of gardeners who deal with herbs have a preference for limited formalism of plant being pruned to give them a decorative appearance, for instance, growing concise bay trees in containers and placed near the entrance of their townhouse. It is also possible to prepare as well as prune additional timbered herbs like lavender and rosemary into the form of a mop-head. If the location is very breezy, it is advisable to envelop the growing means using heavy pebbles or gravel with a view to load down the tub or pot. If you use harmonizing pots that have been properly planted and craftily placed may help to attain a spectacular as well as eye-catching impact. In addition, containers having herbs that grow tall may be used in as a nice-looking and casual partition in your garden.

Herbs grown in pots thrive well when they are planted in compost as well as a sterile medium comprising peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite along with a fertilizer that is quick as well as slow releasing. It may be noted here that compost is sluggishly releasing. In the case of every pot, add sufficient compost to permit space to add a sterile medium of additional six inches depth. The medium should be carefully blended with polymers that soak up water since they reduce the requirement for watering by making the optimum use of the moisture available.

It may be noted that majority of the herbs, whether grown in pots or in an outdoor garden, require total sunlight – a minimum of six hours every day. Having said this, it needs to be mentioned that on a very hot day, containers can actually swelter. Hence, if you are living at any place where the temperatures rise rapidly, it may be necessary to place your herb garden in a shady place when the temperature is hottest during the day.

It is advised that you should exercise caution to ensure that you do not use excessive fertilizers while growing herbs in containers. A majority of the herbs loathe growing in too much fertilizer, while a number of herbs are likely to be susceptible to squawk provided they are bothered and fed with excessive fertilizers. Applying fertilizers in profuse amounts is also likely to make the plants have out-sized growth, while their essential oils that are responsible for their essence and fragrance would also be lessened significantly. A number of herbs, such as thyme and oregano subsist on inattention and they would not be as flavored if excessive attention, food or water is provided to these plants.

Interestingly enough, nearly all things may be used as containers for growing herbs. However, while choosing anything to serve as a herb container, you ought to ensure that it has a suitable drainage. Since a majority of the herbs do not have huge roots, you may do well even with little containers. This is all the more true in the case of herbs which do not have problems even if they dry up between two watering. Moreover, when you are using a smaller container, you require a lesser amount of soil and, therefore the error margin while watering the plants is also relatively small.

On the other hand, a number of herbs flourish well in containers that are self-watering, as they prefer a steady moisture level. In fact, herbs, such as parsley, chives, marjoram as well mint would do well provided they are grown in self-watering containers. Other different herbs, such as thyme, oregano, basil, and rosemary have a preference to shrivel up between watering and, hence, it would not be good for them to be grown in self-watering containers.

It is possible for you to grow several different varieties of herbs in a single container as you may wish, provided you ensure that all the herbs are grown in one pot share the same amount of sunlight, water as well as soil inclination. For instance, rosemary has a preference for a hot and dry environment, while parsley requires constant moisture. Growing these two plants having a diverse preference in one pot would never be a good idea.

In case you are using a large container to grow herbs, it is advisable that you place vertically some length of punctured hose pipe in the middle of the container to enable to water the plants using this hose pipe. You should use the growing medium in a way that it encircles the pipe and then plant the herbs. You may use a strawberry tub or pot that appears delightful when planted with dissimilar selections of thyme. In this case, it is best to plant the herbs once you have filled the pot with a soil blend. Prepare a stratum of rock at the bottom of the container and fix in place a length of punctured hose pipe in a vertical position and subsequently coat the rocks using soil till it comes to same the plane as that of the first opening at the side of the container. Put the herb on the soil and subsequently push out the plant’s leaves gently through the opening. Subsequently, outstretch the herb’s roots and cover them with soil, pushing them downwards gently to keep the herb in the correct position. Following this, put in more soil using a trowel till it is on the same plane with the next opening and then plant a new herb following the same procedure.

If you are growing herbs in hanging baskets, it is best if you line them using sphagnum moss with a view to making drainage easier as well as to reduce the weight of the baskets. In order to pack up, a basket made from wire, put some pieces of damp moss together with their greenish tufts leveled against the wire. Subsequently, fill up half of the basket with the growing medium, put the herbs in the desired position and bed the plants properly using additional growing medium. In case the soil planted in a container newly appears to be too uncovered, you may try to cover it using gravel or chippings of bark. Alternately you may also sow some cress and mustard that germinates rapidly and supplies a green fit to be eaten grass that may be harvested, while the primary herbs develop and increase.

It is essential to water the herbs as per their requirement keeping in mind that all flesh and leafy herbs, for instance, basil, have a preference for moist soil, while the herbs having their origin in the Mediterranean region like rosemary prefer somewhat dry conditions. Remember to give the herbs a good dousing each time you water them. In effect, hanging baskets have a propensity to lose humidity faster compared to the herbs grown in other containers. It is advisable that you provide the fast-growing herbs with liquid organic nourishments sometimes during the hot summer months. The woody or timbered herbs, such as rosemary, hyssop, and lavender, ought to be clipped following their flowering season with a view to making certain that they have a healthier growth during the next year. Also, spruce the herbs grown in containers on a regular basis with a view to maintaining their shape and, if required, you also need to winter or provide warmth to the gentle herbs that grow perennially, for instance, chives and tarragon, below the cover in a place that has light and is frost-free.

You should never feel reticent as far as using the herbs as ornamental components in any container garden are concerned. You should know that the herbs in a container garden may appear to be out of this world as well as offer an immense quality and aroma when they are blended with perennials or annuals. Then again, always remember to grow the herbs having similar water and light requirements in the same pot or container.

You may grow various types of herbs in a container garden – what you consume or what you believe is good-looking/ attractive. Several people have been growing plenty of basil for culinary purposes. In addition, they like growing enough of the herb to enable them to prepare sufficient pesto that they can freeze and make use of all through the winter months. Remember, the common practice is that the more you harvest, you will get more. In addition, you ought to tweak back a majority of the herbs to help them to turn bushier as well as properly shaped.

Before concluding, it needs to be mentioned that it is possible for you to grow nearly all herbs in a container garden and growing majority of them is extremely trouble-free. Nevertheless, different herbs may have dissimilar requirements for water and a number of them are additionally fussy compared to others. Hence, ensure that you place the herbs requiring comparable concern in the same container.

Improving Garden Soils For Herbs

Improving the quality of soil makes you feel deeply satisfied and there are definitely several reasons for such a fulfilling feeling. In fact, the soil is among the most valuable resources we have. As the soil preferences of different herbs are so varied, it is perhaps impossible to provide any guideline on ways to develop a soil that will be excellent for growing all types of herbs.

How do you describe a good soil? Well, a soil having outstanding texture, constitution and permeability are considered to be a good soil. In addition, a good soil will also have a wonderful smell. It will also be absorbent, brittle, aerated and finely textured. A good soil is complete with valuable soil life and its health works to put off all toxic organisms from populating it – something very similar to a fit and fine human body naturally fending off all pathogens that are responsible for various diseases. A nourishing or beneficial soil is vigorously inhabited by earthworms as well as microscopic organisms like bacteria. In addition, it also contains certain growths like algae, actinomycetes, protozoa and fungi, which have a complicated interrelationship among them. When all these organisms are present in a soil, it is not only healthy and living but becomes an altogether different world by itself. Each of the organisms mentioned here and some more play a vital role in decaying organic substances present in the soil and thereby, makes it richer.

It is worth mentioning here that clay, as well as sandy soils, are not considered to be the most excellent soil types, as they characterize a disparity of the perfect soil ecology. In fact, not many gardeners get a good soil when they start gardening on a small plot for the first time. Thus, they need to work with the different not so good soil types – either clay or sandy soils and enhance their quality. It has been found that in nearly all instances, clay soils enclose a remarkable range as well as the quantity of mineral nutrients. However, it becomes problematic for the plants to make use of the nutrients present in a clay soil, as the structure of the soil is extremely dense.

You may adopt various organic methods to lighten the structure of a clay soil. Among these, gardening experts recommend that you put rice hull into clay soil and work them down up to roughly three feet in depth. There are other experts who suggest that you use adequate rice hulls making the soil look like rice hulls with bits of clay sticking on them. Subsequently, they recommend that you continue to change the soil by adding organic substances till the soil contains 50 percent original modified clay and 50 percent organic material.

You can speed up the decomposition of the soil by means of scattering the modified soil along with a tea prepared from stinging nettles and manure soaked in unpolluted water for roughly a week or little more over the soil. Before scattering the tea, you should ensure that it has been watered down such that its color turns pale. Alternatively, you may also use bacterial cultures that are prepared commercially for the purpose. Till the land once more in the subsequent year and plant a leguminous cover crop with a view to improving the soil by nitrogen fixation. In case, the cover crop you have planted is deep-rooted, it will bring up nutrients from the subsoil by means of its elongated roots.

On the other hand, unlike clay soil, sandy soil does not contain nutrients. While a clay soil contains nutrients in large variety and amount, it is not permeable and hence, the plants are unable to assimilate those. In contrast, sandy soils do not contain much nutriment but are extremely pervious. You can only use one method to improve the quality of sandy soils. What you need to do is continuously add organic substances like leaves, kitchen wastes, manure, and green manure to the sandy soil. If you continue doing this for about two to three years, these organic substances will work wonders. Well, it is definitely plenty of hard work, but if a gardener is committed, he will agree that the end product is worth undertaking the labor. After three years, when he collects a handful of soil from his garden, he will notice that the soil that was once just sand, has turned out to be alive, sweet-smelling, and spongy making it a good soil.


Like there are several perceptions regarding the different gardening systems, the notions about soil cultivation are also varied. While numerous gardeners employ farm machinery for cultivation, biodynamic gardeners are of the view that machines are extremely heavy and make the soil more compact. Therefore, they like to plow using their hand with a view to maintaining the aeration of the soil.

In fact, a biodynamic gardener will usually engage in ‘double-digging’ his garden’s soil and during the process, separate the subsoil from the topsoil carefully. The concept of double-digging is not a new one. About 2,000 years back, the primeval Greeks were aware of the fact that plants thrive excellently in the earth that has been moved due to landslides. It has been found that these types of soils are loose, excellently aerated, and can also absorb moisture, warmth, and nutrients without any difficulty.

If you are following the biodynamic method of cultivation, the ability to breathe is vital. In fact, when you engage in ‘double-digging’ your purpose is to undertake deep cultivation – for instance, digging up to two spades or roughly 24 inches is believed to be fine. Double-digging also aims to split the hard layers below the soil and enable the moisture as well as the gasses underneath the ground to come upwards, while facilitating the movement of gasses and moisture from the atmosphere downward.

Testing your soil for nutrients and pH

You can save plenty of money if you test the soil of your garden for its nitrogen, phosphorus and potash content with a view to determining the pH level of the soil.

In case you find that the pH level of the soil in your garden is very elevated, you may add a stratum of decayed pine needles, acid peat moss or oak leaf mold. On the other hand, if you want to increase the pH level of the soil you need to include some dolomitic lime in the soil. Properly prepared compost is considered to be the best-balanced material that can be incorporated into the soil. In fact, methodically aged compost naturally aids in rectifying alkaline as well as acidic soil conditions. When you add enough organic substances to the soil, the plants generally have a propensity to endure a wider assortment of alkaline or acidic soil conditions and yet be in excellent health.

Trace elements and soil deficiencies

Humus naturally contains trace elements and they are also necessary for any good soil, which is healthy too. Today, there are many soils that are dangerously imbalanced owing to excessive use of chemical and artificially manufactured fertilizers as well as the use of various other inappropriate farming methods. In addition, some types of soils naturally contain very less amount of specific trace elements. Hence, it would be a fine ‘health insurance’ for your garden’s soil if you ensure that the soil in your garden is loaded with all trace elements, which are vital for the plants to flourish.

Organic gardeners usually employ various techniques, for instance, mulching, composting and adding soil amendments such as fish fertilizers and seaweed. All these techniques aid in sustaining the vital trace elements in your soil. In addition, there are certain plants that work to accumulate the trace elements. When gardeners grow these ‘weeds’ between cultivating different crops, compost them or utilize them in the form of green manure, they are particularly helpful in redeveloping or renewing the soil. For example, stinging nettle is one plant that helps to accumulate trace elements like calcium, potassium, sulfur and iron. Similarly, chamomile helps to concentrate sulfur, calcium, nd potash inside the plant’s tissues. Another plant that concentrates trace elements zinc and potash is dandelion. Similarly, valerian improves the content of potash in the soil as well as the adjoining areas where it grows. Gardeners in China grow these plants on the soil directly for fertilizing their crops organically.


Omitting compost from this article would leave the discussion on soil regeneration or redevelopment incomplete. Precisely speaking, compost is garbage that gets a rebirth in the form of humus. Several organic materials, including weeds, grass cuttings, kitchen scraps (excluding bones and meat), garden residues like stalks and vines, nut shells, leaves, hay, saw dust, manure, sewage sludge form excellent compost. In addition, various organic waste materials like vegetable pulp discarded by juice companies, coffee wastes, leather dust, and wastes from breweries are also good for being used as compost.

Basically, there are two major compost types – aerobic compost (with air) and anaerobic compost (devoid of air). Among the two, aerobic composting is used more often, as it is faster. Below, we will briefly discuss three different aerobic methods.

Indore compost: This aerobic method was developed by Sir Albert Howard, who undertook valuable agricultural research in Indore, a central Indian town. In fact, Sir Howard’s findings laid the foundation for the movement of organic gardening. This compost method is also considered to be the most traditional aerobic practice. This compost method entails making compost in open piles or inside bins. The piles are made such that they usually measure anything between 10 to 30 feet in length, 6 feet in width and about 3 feet to 5 feet in height. The foundation of the pile is made by laying a plant waste layer measuring 6 inches in height and covering the total area on which the pile is supposed to be built. The plant waste layer may comprise several organic matters like saw dust, leaves, straw, hay, garden residue or wood chips. Subsequently, this method involves adding two layers of manure as well as animal bedding to the pile.

Then, you add a thin layer of topsoil measuring about 1/8 inch in thickness to the pile. After that, you may spread phosphate rock, lime, wood ashes or granite dust over the layer of earth. As the height of the pile increases, you need to water it at every stage and repeat the layers in the same order till the height of the pile is about three to five feet. At the same time, it is important that you ensure that the pile maintains its aerating characteristic. In order to keep the pile properly ventilated, you need to make several tubes with wire netting pieces and place them vertically in the middle of the pile, at a distance of roughly 3.5 feet from each other.

After several days of its completion, the pile will heat up and start decaying. Once completed, you can use a pitchfork to turn the heap after two to three weeks and once again after five weeks from its completion. When you follow this procedure thoroughly, within three months the compost or peat will be ready for use.

Compost in 14 days: Another way of making aerobic compost is to follow the method known as compost in 14 days. Compost prepared following this method decays sufficiently and is ready for application in the garden within just 12 days to 14 days. This method entails proper shredding of all organic materials that would be used for making the compost. Unless this is done, this method will not work satisfactorily. Subsequently, the shredded organic substances are blended together and heaped into a pile that is roughly five feet in height and no higher. You need to turn the pile once in two to three days using a pitchfork till the compost is fully prepared.

Biodynamic compost: This method involves using six different herbs, such as chamomile blossoms, dandelion flowers, oak bark, stinging nettle, yarrow blossoms and valerian flowers. These herbs are mixed and put into the compost heap with a view to facilitate the ripening of the compost as well as enhance its aptitude to preserve nutriments. One teaspoon of the biodynamic preparations made appropriately is placed inside a hole measuring about 20 inches in depth and angled downwards into the compost heap. It is important to note that the biodynamic compost preparation with stinging nettle needs to be made in amount of four to five teaspoonfuls, but the preparations with the other herbs should be made in amount of just the level of a teaspoon and not heaped. Subsequently, the holes are filled up with the herbal preparations and closed.

Generally, people engaged in biodynamic gardening prefer locating their compost heaps close to oak trees, as the oak tree offers a favourable environment beneath its branches, enabling the development of good soil in the surrounding area. The compost piles are situated no less than six feet away from the tree trunk with a view to prevent the development of any disease in the oak tree.

Nitrogen fixing

It is important to note that three key elements are necessary for the health of the soil and among these elements nitrogen affects the growth of plants most significantly. Unlike humans, plants do not have the ability to absorb nitrogen mixed with oxygen and other gases directly from the atmosphere. As an alternative, they have to rely on bacteria that fix nitrogen in the soil to obtain this essential element.

It is interesting to note that lightning flashes have an incredible power, possess the aptitude for nitrogen fixation in the soil. A number of scientists are of the view that in fact such type of contact between the soil and lightning enabled the development of first life on our planet. Nevertheless, the bacteria present in the soil are more reliable as well as a common means for nitrogen. This way, these nitrogen-fixing bacteria help to enrich the quality of soils that have low nitrogen content. It has been found that the nitrogen-fixing bacteria thrive on the roots of numerous leguminous plants – precisely speaking, more than 1,350 species. Such plants include alfalfa, beans, clover, peas and vetch. In addition, it has been found that a number of trees also possess the ability to fix essential element in the soil, for instance acacia, autumn olive and red alder. Some shrubs also help in fixing nitrogen and these can be used as hedge plants around a garden as well as orchards to enhance the fertility of the soil.

A number of cover crops like alfalfa and clover are usually cut and put into the earth prior to their blossoming. During this stage, these cover crops release plenty of nitrogen within a period of just a few weeks. This is considered to be an ancient way of green manuring and several cultures around the world have used it over the ages. Occasionally, some gardeners use such nitrogen-rich plants for mulching, instead of cutting and putting them into the soil to decompose and release the essential element. In addition, some gardeners also cut these plants and include them in their compost pile. Irrespective of the manner these nitrogen-rich plants may be used by the gardeners, eventually they yield the same result – provide additional nitrogen to the earth.

A number of legumes are fit for sowing during the later part of summer and they grow all through the winter months provided the temperatures do not drop below freezing point. Such legumes include Austrian winter pea, bur clover, crimson clover, sour clover, rough pea, fenugreek and winter vetch. There are other legumes that grow well during the summer and one of the most common summer legumes is alfalfa. In addition, crotalaria is one legume that can even thrive well in infertile sandy soils found in the southern climates. On the other hand, red clover grows excellently in places having cool temperate climatic conditions. Lots of people inhabiting the southern climates grow plenty of a legume called lespedeza. Sweet pea and cowpea are two legumes that have the aptitude to flourish in nearly all types of soils and everywhere.


Mulching the soil has multiple benefits. For instance, when you spread mulch on top of the soil in your garden, it not only safeguards the plants from excessive heat during summer and extreme cold conditions during the winter months, but also enriches the soil, helps to preserve moisture and prevents growth of weeds. In fact, a number of gardeners have turned mulching into a genuine art. Majority of the gardeners are of the view that when the soil in their garden has been drained out they need to develop it again by means of covering it with compost prior to starting the no-digging mulch method.

You can make good mulch using almost all organic substances, for instance, rice hulls, a mixture of saw dust and soybean meal, straw mixed with grated leaves, cocoa hulls, buckwheat hulls, grass clippings, shredded corncobs, cornstalks, pine needles and alfalfa hay. You can used mulch to good advantage in the flower, vegetable and herb gardens; in orchard as well as in the fields. In addition, several gardeners grow different cover crops like millet, soybeans, vetch, rye, clover, alfalfa and buckwheat and cut these plants for using them in the form of mulch. A number of gardeners also include a thin stratum of kelp or seaweed in their mulch, because these plants are loaded with various valuable minerals.

It is very important to consider the quality of nutriments contained by the materials that you are use for mulching. Organic substances like corn cobs, straw and saw dust contain very low levels of nitrogen and hence it would prove to be beneficial if you mix them with leguminous mulch. On the other hand, pine needles are known to be acidic like the oak leaves and therefore they are not very useful for mulching plants requiring an alkaline or neutral soil. However, you may use them for mulching if you are growing strawberries or other plants like azaleas, bearberry, rhododendrons and trailing arbutus.

Sleep-Inducing Herb? Ashwagandha

Can’t sleep? Your sleep problems may be improved if you try an Indian herb, Ashwagandha. Researchers in the sleep institute in Japan found that an active component of Ashwagandha leaves significantly induces sleep.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a central herb in Ayurveda, the traditional home medicine native to India. As signified by its Latin name somnifera, meaning sleep-inducing, it has been recommended for sound sleep through centuries. Even though scientific studies also support that crude powder of Ashwagandha promotes sleep, the active component with sleep-inducing property remains unknown.

The research group led by Mahesh K. Kaushik and Yoshihiro Urade of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (WPI-IIIS), University of Tsukuba, investigated the effect of various components of Ashwagandha on sleep in mice by recording electroencephalogram and electromyography. The water extract of Ashwagandha leaf containing rich in triethylene glycol (TEG) promoted non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep significantly and changed rapid eye movement (REM) sleep slightly, while the alcoholic extract containing active withanolides showed no effect on sleep. The sleep induced by TEG was similar to normal sleep. Furthermore, commercially available TEG also increased the amount of NREM sleep. They thus concluded that TEG is the active component that induces physiologically sound sleep.

Sleeplessness and other sleep disorder such as restless leg syndrome are common complaints among the middle-aged population. Insomnia is one of the most common neuropsychiatric disorders, with an estimated incident of 10-15% in general population and 30-60% of the elderly population. It is closely linked with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, mania deficits etc. Currently available synthetic drugs often show severe side effects. On the other hand, Ashwagandha crude powder including the significant amount of TEG can be consumed for better sleep without any side effects. The findings in this study could revolutionize the natural plant-based therapies for insomnia and sleep-related disorders.

However, the clinical application of TEG to treat insomnia is still in the immature status, because the TEG is primarily used for industrial purpose and very little is known about its applicability and toxicity to the biological systems. Further studies will thus be needed to confirm the safety of TEG.

According to the authors, they are currently evaluating the effect of TEG administration on stress, because Ashwagandha is believed to mitigate stress and correct imbalance of various nervous systems. Future studies also include the identification of target brain area of TEG, its BBB permeability and the mechanism through which TEG induces sleep.

This study was conducted in collaboration with Renu Wadhwa and Sunil Kaul of National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan.

Article: Triethylene glycol, an active component of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) leaves, is responsible for sleep induction, Mahesh K. Kaushik, Sunil C. Kaul, Renu Wadhwa, Masashi Yanagisawa, Yoshihiro Urade, PLOS One, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172508, published 16 February 2017.

Quick Educational Reference Guide with Brief Explanations on the Uses of Herbs

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Alfalfa is a nourishing herbal tonic which contains vitamins C, D, and E, beta-carotene, and chlorophyll. It is also rich in minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, and phosphorus.

One cup of tea, drunk before meals, can be useful to strengthen the digestive system. Alfalfa aids in the assimilation of proteins, carbohydrates, iron, and calcium. It also helps to regulate the stomach pH level and can be useful for those who suffer from hyper-acidic stomach conditions and stomach ulcers.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
Angelica root acts as an antispasmodic to the smooth muscle tissues. A decoction or a tincture can be used to allay respiratory spasms, which can be beneficial for dry irritating coughs and asthma. The root also has expectorant properties.

A cup of angelica tea (or 30-60 drops of the extract) works effectively to reduce cramping of smooth muscle spasms of the small and large intestines and the uterus. The root can also be used as an emmenogogue to stimulate menses which is delayed from stress, illness, or exposure to cold. However, angelica consumption should be avoided during pregnancy.

**Contraindications: Do not consume angelica during pregnancy. It may also cause photosensitivity in some individuals. *

Anise Seed (Pimpinella anisum)
Anise seed has carminative properties which enhance digestion. It prevents and expels gas and allays nausea. Anise can safely be used to combat morning sickness. It is also helpful for treating infant colic. Anise tincture has antitussive properties. Anise is commonly used as a flavoring agent and is also used to flavor black licorice candy.

Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera)
Ashwaganda is an Ayurvedic herb that is traditionally used similarly to ginseng. It is a nervous system restorative and has adaptogenic properties which increase one’s vitality and physical endurance.

Ashwaganda is useful for the following conditions: fatigue, general debility, anorexia, senility, irritability, anxiety, tremors, and stress-induced disorders. It also rebuilds and nourishes the immune system following a deep infection. Ashwaganda enhances libido.

**Contraindications: Do not consume Ashwaganda during pregnancy. Avoid consuming ashwaganda during an acute infection. *

Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
Barberry and Oregon grape are plants of the same genus (Berberis) which can be used interchangeably. The root can be used as a digestive bitter to stimulate the livers’ metabolism. The root stimulates liver, pancreatic, and gallbladder secretions, which can enhance the digestion of fats and proteins.

It is also helpful for symptoms which arise from poor digestion such as the following: chronic gum or teeth problems, poorly healing or dry skin, rapid shifts in blood sugar levels, and chronic constipation. It can be used as an antimicrobial for intestinal infections including salmonella.

**Contraindications: Barberry contains berberine alkaloids and should be used with caution or avoided during pregnancy. *

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil has medicinal properties, in addition to being a delicious culinary herb. It is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, and it contains up to 14% protein by weight. It can be useful to relieve mild stomach and intestinal cramps.

In many Mediterranean countries, hot basil tea is used as a folk remedy to break children’s fevers. Basil increases the flow of breast milk. It is said to have a mild calming effect on the nervous system and it may relieve nervous headaches. It is also an aphrodisiac.

Bay (Laurus nobilis)
Bay leaves are a common spice used to flavor soups, stews, sauces, poultry, and meat. They aid digestion and help to expel gas. The leaves have both carminative and mild diuretic properties. Bay also has some disinfectant and lymphatic actions.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Black cohosh can be used as an anti-inflammatory, which often works most effectively when combined with other herbs for the treatment of arthritis, as well as for headaches. It has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscle tissues, which makes this herb helpful in treating digestive cramps, menstrual cramps, cramping of the gall bladder or kidney caused by passing of stones, as well as asthmatic bronchial spasms.

Black cohosh helps to relieve nervous conditions. It can also enhance female reproductive health and can be useful to tone the uterus. Black cohosh is said to mimic estrogen in the body without actually raising estrogen levels. It can be used by women who are perimenopausal or menopausal to reduce hot flashes and to tone the uterus. It does not affect uterine and breast tissue negatively as synthetic estrogen might.

**Contraindications: Do not consume black cohosh during the first 36 weeks of pregnancy. High doses of black cohosh can cause a frontal headache. *

Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus)

Blessed thistle can be used as a digestive and a liver tonic. Like its relative milk thistle, it is known to repair damaged liver cells. Blessed thistle also stimulates blood flow to the mammary glands, thus increasing and enriching the flow of mother’s milk.

Blood Root (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Blood root can be used topically to heal skin conditions such as lesions, tumors, and cysts. It has also been used topically as a successful treatment for melanoma.

This herb is beneficial for the treatment of numerous lung conditions. It has expectorant properties and thus thins and expels mucus. It also has antispasmodic effects on the lower respiratory system, which can be useful to treat dry, hacking coughs, like whooping cough, croup, bronchitis, and some kinds of asthma. Blood root has been shown to have strong antibacterial properties. This may be why it is used in many dental care products as an anti-plaque agent.

Unfortunately, this plant is threatened because of its overuse in dental products and as a result of deforestation. Please use this herb sparingly. .

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
Blue cohosh is an effective uterine tonic. It can be used in small amounts in formulas for the treatment of endometriosis, uterine and ovarian cysts, and fibroids. A decoction of the root or the root extract is often used as a partus preparator during the last two to three weeks of pregnancy. It encourages a speedy recovery after birth, and it decreases the intensity of post birth uterine contractions.

The root is an antispasmodic and is helpful to relieve cramping of the uterus, intestines, and bronchioles. The root has emmenogogue actions, which can stimulate menstrual bleeding. Please consult a medical practitioner before using during pregnancy.

**Contraindications: Do not consume blue cohosh during the first 36 weeks of pregnancy. Excessive doses can cause nausea, vomiting, and gastric upset. Avoid using with individuals with high blood pressure or labile hypertension. *

Blue Vervain (Verbena officinalis)
Blue Vervain has both sedative and antispasmodic properties. It can be useful to treat insomnia, especially for those who awaken in the middle of the night. Take 20-100 drops of the liquid extract in the evening and / or before bed.

Blue Vervain is helpful to reduce menstrual cramping and to stimulate suppressed menses which result from stress. It also reduces intestinal cramping. Additionally, it is a strong digestive bitter. It stimulates hydrochloric acid and bile secretion, which improves the digestion of proteins and fats. It also acts as a diaphoretic, which induces sweating and helps to break a fever. It is specific for children or individuals whose nervous system becomes aggravated from illness.

**Contraindications: Do not consume blue vervain during pregnancy. *

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
Boneset is a valuable remedy for the treatment of colds, flu, and fevers. It is a strong diaphoretic, which helps to break a fever. The herb was used extensively during many of the flu epidemics including “break-bone” fever, which is how it acquired its common name.

Boneset is also used as a remedy to reduce catarrh (excess secretions of the mucous membranes). One glass of the warm tea is encouraged every half hour to an hour to break up mucus and to reduce a fever. The tea is also useful to relieve general dyspepsia. The bitterness of the tea stimulates digestive juices and helps to soften stools. Drink 4-8 ounces of the hot tea at frequent intervals to break a fever. Drink the tea at room temperature for the digestive tonic actions.

Borage (Borago officinalis)
Borage can be used as an emollient to soothe dry, inflamed, and irritated skin. The leaves and flowers can be consumed following an accident or surgery, in order to stimulate tissue regeneration, to speed the recovery rate, and to reduce scarring. Borage can either be taken internally as an infusion (a tea) mixed with calendula and horsetail or it may be applied externally as a poultice or salve.

Borage also has mild demulcent properties that can help to soothe and coat mucus membranes. It is a remedy for sore throats and irritated lung conditions. Borage has traditionally been used for courage. It is helpful to assist the energetic process of moving through heartbreak, death, or other difficult times.

Borage, like its well known relative, comfrey, contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). However, borage contains much lower levels of PAs compared to comfrey. Both borage and comfrey should be used cautiously due to the PAs potentially damaging effects on the liver, when taken internally in excessive amounts.

**Contraindications: Borage leaf consumption should be avoided during pregnancy and with individuals with liver disease or liver problems, due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloid content. *

Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Burdock root is a cooling liver tonic. It is useful to treat moist skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. These conditions often manifest when the liver is overloaded from a diet high in fat and protein. Burdock aids the liver in metabolizing these nutrients and encourages the removal of waste products. This is in part why it is considered a “blood tonic”.

Burdock also aids in the removal of uric acid waste products, which makes it useful for those who suffer from joint conditions such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and bursitis. Such conditions often result from an access of acidic waste products.

Both burdock root and seed can act as a diuretic, making it useful for people who experience swelling in the hands and feet. Burdock root is safe during pregnancy for this purpose, but the seed should be avoided during pregnancy.

**Contraindications: Burdock seed consumption should be avoided during pregnancy. *

Calamus (Sweet Flag) (Acorus calamus)
Calamus is an aromatic bitter herb that improves digestion and reduces gas, bloating, and excess stomach acidity. It acts as an antispasmodic and can be used to relieve stomach and intestinal. It can be a beneficial treatment for individuals who suffer from digestive problems. It is also said to reduce cravings for tobacco, which may be due to its calming action or the fact that it may fill nicotinic receptors.

**Contraindications: Calamus consumption should be avoided during pregnancy. *

Calendula (European Marigold) (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula is renowned for its ability to heal the skin; this herb is helpful to treat cuts, burns, abrasions, bruises, sprains, abscesses, eczema, and varicose veins.

A well-strained tea of calendula can be used as an eyewash for conjunctivitis (be sure to use a sterile eye cup or cotton ball, as well as to make a fresh batch of tea daily). The tea can also be used as a topical wash for impetigo and thrush.

Calendula acts as a soothing emollient for skin conditions characterized by dryness or flakiness, including the following: eczema, dandruff, psoriasis, and the final stages of poison oak rash.

Caraway (Carum carvi)
Caraway seeds are a flavorful addition to applesauce, apple pie, soups, sauerkraut, cheese, and salad dressing. They are often added to rye bread. They contain small amounts of protein and as well as several B vitamins. Caraway seeds help to expel gas and to prevent griping (intestinal cramping). When they are chewed, they may help to relieve toothaches.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
Cardamom has carminative actions which help to relieve gas and bloating. It acts as an antispasmodic and can slow the rate of stomach muscle cramping, as well as numb the nerves in the stomach. It is often added to digestive bitters formulas. It is safe for children, although catnip and chamomile are generally more effective for treating infant colic.

Cardamom can be used in combination with other warming herbs such as ginger and cinnamon, to enhance circulation. Cardamom also acts as an aphrodisiac.

Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana)
Cascara is well known as a classic heroic treatment for constipation; its action is relatively potent. The bark acts as a bitter tonic directly improving the function and the motility of the intestines. It helps to restore digestive secretions, as well as to improve the musculature of the intestinal walls.

Excessive doses can cause cramping and griping. Carminative herbs such as fennel, anise, and coriander should be combined with cascara in order to prevent cramping.

**Contraindications: Avoid consuming cascara sagrada during pregnancy and while lactating. *

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Catnip is a mild antispasmodic which is beneficial for digestive cramping. It is a cooling, astringent for the digestive tract. It is helpful to relieve intestinal inflammation, and can be used as an adjunct treatment for diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohns disease.

The aromatic oils will pass through nursing mother’s breast milk, which can be useful to treat infant colic. The tea is also helpful for children with digestive cramps and restlessness (combine with peppermint and chamomile).

Catnip also reduces irritability which can result from fevers and teething. This herb acts as a gentle nervine and sedative. Pour the strained tea into the bath as an alternative to consuming the tea, for children who do not like the flavor.

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum, C. frutescens)

Cayenne is high in vitamins A, B, C, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Consuming small amounts of caye

nne can increase salivary secretions and improve digestive secretions. Cayenne has a warming effect which can be beneficial for those who tend to feel cold. It can help to increase blood flow to the extremities and is useful for individuals who suffer from cold hands and feet, when consumed in small amounts internally. It can also be used in small quantities in a formula context, as a catalyst to boost the effects of the other herbs. It will increase blood circulation and it acts as a carrier, which aids in directing the other herbs in a formula to their respective locations.

**Caution: Keep cayenne out reach or away from children and pets. Avoid touching the eyes or other sensitive areas after handling cayenne. Avoid using cayenne directly on the skin. *

Celery Seed (Apium graveolens)
Celery seed can be used to flavor soups, sauces, and other foods. Celery seed tea has diuretic properties. It can be helpful to rid the body of uric acid, which in excess, can build up in the joints and cause and / or irritate rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Thus, the extract or tea of celery seed is sometimes recommended for those who suffer from arthritis. It also has very mild nervine actions, as well as carminative properties.

**Contraindications: Avoid consuming larger volumes (more than 16 ounces of tea) during pregnancy as celery seed may act as an emmenogogue. Also, avoid consuming celery seed with acute or chronic inflammation of the kidneys. *

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile is a safe and effective remedy for children, as well as for adults. The tea or bath of chamomile can soothe and calm a baby or child who is restless and irritable, as well as encourage sleep.

Chamomile can also be useful for teething or colicky babies, as well as to reduce children’s fevers. It has anti-spasmodic, carminative (gas expelling), and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can be helpful for the treatment of stomach and duodenal ulcers, diarrhea, indigestion, stomach ache, and stomach cramps.

A compress, bath, or tea of chamomile can reduce the pain and inflammation which results from arthritis and joint aches.

**Contraindications: If you are allergic to ragweed or anything in the daisy family there is a possibility that you may experience allergic reaction to chamomile. Test chamomile topically by placing some of the tea on the inside of the elbow before consuming internally, if you have daisy family allergies. *

Chaparral (Creosote Bush, Greasewood) (Larrea tridentata)
Chaparral is very useful as a topical treatment for skin abrasions and injuries. It slows the rate of bacterial growth and kills bacteria due to its anti-microbial properties. It also has antioxidant properties and it can be added to salves and oils to prevent rancidity.

This herb can be used internally but only with caution. Please consult a practitioner before consuming internally.

**Contraindications: Chaparral can both inhibit and stimulate the growth of cancerous cells. It is not recommended for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. *

Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus)
Chaste tree berry is a valuable hormone balancing agent for both women and men. It is useful for women who have progesterone deficiency, for example women who experience erratic or long menstrual cycles (over 30 days), or for those with slowly starting, crampy menses.

It is also helpful for balancing excess estrogen, which can be the cause of uterine cysts and fibroids. It has the potential to dissolve ovarian and uterine cysts. Chaste tree berry has also been shown to reduce uterine fibroid growth and to help dissolve fibroids. For this purpose, it is often used synergistically with other herbs that support the liver and lymphatic system.

Chaste tree berry appears to stimulate the synthesis of luteinizing hormone (LH) by the pituitary gland. In turn, this stimulates the production of progesterone by the corpus luteum. This indirectly stimulates progesterone production and may have a regulating effect on estrogen. Corpus luteum insufficiency can cause many menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, depression, dizziness, and vaginal dryness. Chaste tree berry harmonizes, nourishes, and restores balance to the female reproductive system.

**Contraindications: Chaste tree berry consumption should be avoided during pregnancy. Discontinue using should heavy menstrual bleeding occur. *

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
Chervil is a flavorful culinary herb that is often used in the French spice blend known as fines herbes. Basil, chives, parsley, sage, savory, and tarragon are also combined in the mixture. Chervil has a mild anise or tarragon-like flavor. The subtle flavor of chervil is easily lost, so it may be necessary to add more chervil than the other herbs in a spice blend.

Chervil enhances the taste of soups, sauces, egg dishes, and baked potatoes. It contains up to 23% protein by weight, as well as other trace minerals including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. It also contains smaller amounts of potassium, iron, and zinc. It is a diuretic, a mild diaphoretic, and an expectorant.

Chicory Root (Cichorium intybus)
Chicory is well known as a substitute for coffee. It helps to reduce the acidifying effects of coffee and also enriches coffee’s color. Some might agree that it enhances the flavor of coffee; it is also a coffee substitute. Add one portion ground chicory to two portions of coffee. Chicory root is a stomachic and it improves the tone of the stomach. It also stimulates bile secretion and can act as a mild laxative.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed is high in vitamins and minerals. The flesh leaves of this plant are a delightful addition to salad greens in the spring and summer. Chickweed soothes the skin and decreases inflammation, both internally and externally. The tea decreases inflammation and helps to heal ulcers of the mouth, the stomach, and the intestines.

A fresh plant poultice is effective as a drawing agent for boils and puss-filled wounds. Apply the poultice to mosquito bites, bee stings, and inflamed hemorrhoids. A tea or poultice can aid with itchy, inflamed skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

Used internally, this plant may help to reduce and eliminate breast cysts, ovarian cysts, and uterine fibroids. It can also be used as a diuretic and can aid in reducing water related weight gain.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia)
Cinnamon is a well-known warming, aromatic spice. It is often added to baked goods, and also to Mediterranean and Indian cuisine, including curry blends. It can be used to relieve flatulence, diarrhea, and dysentery. It is also useful as an acute remedy to check nausea and vomiting.

Cinnamon is specific for any form of mild gastric or intestinal hemorrhage. It can help to slow or stop bleeding for most forms of passive hemorrhage. A strong infusion or decoction can reduce excessive menstrual bleeding.

Midwives have used cinnamon both during labor and afterwards, to control post partum hemorrhage and to restore tone to uterine muscles. In addition, it helps to reduce pulmonary bleeding, as well as nose bleeds. Long term use of cinnamon may be too heating for some individuals.

**Contraindications: Discontinue using cinnamon if it aggravates the stomach. *

Cleavers (Galium aparine)
Cleavers is an effective lymphatic tonic, especially in the form of a fresh plant. When cleavers is used as a daily tea, a fresh plant tincture, or topically as a salve, it has been known to relieve lymphatic swelling of the throat, armpits, or breasts. It is a supportive lymphatic therapy for treating herpes and ovarian cysts. It can be useful for treating long term debilitating diseases when there is lymphatic congestion and / or lymphatic tenderness.

In addition, it can be helpful for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Cleavers is a valuable diuretic, useful for the treatment of bladder infections (along with other antibacterial agents). It also facilitates waste excretion and aids in the removal of catabolic waste products via the kidney. It is helpful to reduce acute inflammation of the urinary tract, as well as to reduce prostate irritation.

Coltsfoot – Eastern Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Coltsfoot leaves and flowers have demulcent, emollient, and expectorant properties. A tea of the leaves can be used as a remedy for lung ailments such as bronchitis, laryngitis, asthma, whooping cough, and sore throats. A traditional European tea recipe used for the conditions previously listed contains equal parts of coltsfoot, mullein, and peppermint.

Like comfrey and borage, coltsfoot contains small amounts of liver toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). The effects of the PAs are cumulative.

**Contraindications: Coltsfoot consumption should be avoided during pregnancy or limited to short term use, due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids content. There is little known about the effects of the PAs on the fetus. Any person with debilitating liver conditions or compromised liver function should also avoid using coltsfoot. *

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
Comfrey is well known to many as “knit bone”. For hundreds of years it has been used to help knit tissue together. It helps to speed the healing of the skin, tendons, and bones. Poultices placed directly over the affected area will dramatically speed the healing process.

The root contains allantoin which stimulates cell proliferation. The root is also highly mucilaginous. Its soothing characteristics render it useful for laryngitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, whooping cough, and diarrhea. It also helps to treat ulcers and dyspepsia (indigestion). The leaves contain calcium, phosphorus, potassium, beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A), and up to 22% protein.

**Contraindications: Comfrey contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) which have been shown to cause cumulative liver damage. Any person with debilitating liver conditions or compromised liver function should also avoid using comfrey. It should be used in moderation when taken internally, as well as for a limited duration of time. The roots contain higher PA levels than the leaves. Due to its PA content, internal use of comfrey is contraindicated during pregnancy. Generally speaking, the homeopathic form of comfrey (Symphytum) is safe for internal use. *

Copal (Bursera microphylla)
Copal is a resinous pitch which comes from trees that are sacred to the Mayan Indians. Traditionally, it was burned as incense. Currently in Mexican tradition, it is still added to love and purification incense blends. Many Hispanic communities burn copal in honor of departed relatives during the Day of the Dead ceremonies.

Coriander Seed (Coriandrum sativum)
Coriander is a gentle anti-spasmodic, carminative, and stomachic. This spice enhances the flavor of both Mexican and Indian dishes. It also enhances the digestion of beans. Coriander can also be used as an aphrodisiac. Coriander seeds come from the plant known as cilantro.

Corn silk (Zea mays)
Corn silk acts as a demulcent for the urinary tract. It is a beneficial addition to tea formulas for the treatment of urinary tract infections. It soothes the urinary tract and reduces inflammation and irritation of the bladder. Long term use of corn silk also helps to strengthen the tone of the base of the urinary bladder. This action can be helpful for any individual with urinary incontinence and bladder weakness, including the elderly, menopausal women, children, post pardum women, and men with prostatitis. It is also a beneficial long term tonic for individuals who suffer from regular urinary tract infections.

Crampbark (Viburnum opulus)
Crampbark is a very useful for relieving irregular spasmodic pains of the uterus and ovaries. It is an antispasmodic for all of the pelvic organs including the reproductive tract, the digestive tract, and the bladder. It is useful to reduce menstrual cramps. It is specifically indicated when there is menstrual pain or pain of the pelvic organs which begins in the back and extends through the loins and down the thighs.

Crampbark can be consumed by pregnant women up to two weeks prior to their due date to prepare for labor and to help relieve afterbirth pains.

Damiana (Turnera diffusa, T. aphrodisiaca)
Damiana is helpful for the treatment of sexual impotence. It is a stimulant tonic to the sexual organs. It can assist in increasing the sexual appetite as well as sexual functions.

Damiana has mood enhancing properties and can be used to treat mild forms of depression. It is also useful for individuals with a debilitated nervous system, as it is a gentle nervine and relaxant. Additionally, it reduces irritation of the urinary tract. It has a soothing influence on irritated mucous membranes, which renders it useful for respiratory disorders.

Damiana has emmenogogue actions and can be used in the treatment of delayed or suppressed menstruation, as well as for young women experiencing amenorrhea (lack of menses) or irregular menstruation. It reduces menstrual cramping and for some women, helps reduce premenstrual headaches.

**Contraindications: Damiana consumption should be avoided during pregnancy, except to bring on labor. It also should not be used during menstruation by women who regularly experience heavy menstrual bleeding. *

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)

Dandelion has been used for centuries as a liver tonic. The bitter flavor stimulates the secretion of digestive juices. Its cholagogue properties increase the flow of bile, which improves the emulsification and digestion of fats, and also acts as a gentle laxative.

Dandelion is a supportive herb for the treatment of hepatitis, jaundice, gallstones, and other liver problems. In addition, the leaves of this herb act as a potassium sparing diuretic. The leaves encourage the release of excess water, which is helpful in the treatment of edema. The leaves can also be used as an adjunct treatment for kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridum)
Devil’s club is a member of the ginseng family. It is an expectorant and a respiratory stimulant. It softens and expels thick, viscous mucus, and also regulates the mucus membrane secretions. The cold infusion is useful for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders. Devil’s club can enhance the liver’s ability to metabolize acidic waste products.

American Indians have long used this herb, in conjunction with other herbs, for adult onset insulin resistant diabetes. It decreases sugar cravings, and reduces blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels. Devil’s club has adaptogenic properties similar to the other members of the ginseng family. It decreases the hypothalamic and pituitary response to stress, thereby allowing the body to cope more successfully with stress and anxiety. It also gently energizes the body, without over stimulating the nervous system.

**Contraindications: Devil’s club consumption should be avoided during pregnancy. *

Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Many people are familiar with using dill as a culinary herb. It is a flavorful addition to omelets, salads, dressings, quiches, and of course dill pickles.

Dill also has valuable medicinal uses; for instance, it is useful to treat infant’s colic (stomach cramps). Historically, colicky infants were placed to sleep on top of fragrant dilly pillow beds and given la grippe, a diluted syrup which contains dill and fennel seeds. Dill can also be consumed by nursing mothers to increase the flow of breast milk and to reduce infant colic.

Dragon’s Blood (Daemonorops draco) (Sanguis draconis)
Dragon’s blood is a resin that comes from a palm tree. When this resin is sprinkled around the house or burned as incense, it creates a protective energy and helps to drive out “negative” energy. It is said to increase the potency of other resins with which it is combined.

Dulse (Rhodymenia palmata)
Dulse is a sea vegetable that is an incredibly rich source of vitamins and minerals. Sprinkle dulse flakes on salads, vegetables, sauces, soups, and on fish. It has a mild, salty flavor. It contains about 25.3% protein by weight.

Dulse also contains iron, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and iodine. It is a good source of beta-carotene and vitamins B6, B12, C, and E. In addition, it has numerous minerals and trace minerals including the following: boron, bromine, calcium, magnesium, radium, rubidium, sulfur, and titanium.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia) (Purple coneflower)

Echinacea was used by the plains Indians to treat bee stings, as well as spider and snake bites, and thus acquired the name “snake root”. Echinacea slows the rate of tissue degradation and necrosis (tissue death), which limits tissue injury and speeds healing, especially after a spider or snake bite.

Echinacea has been used in more recent years for the treatment of acute cold and flu, and as a preventative when one feels symptoms of illness emerging. It stimulates and increases white blood cells and enhances the body’s innate immune response. However, echinacea should not be used on a regular long-term basis for prevention. It is a cooling herb and in order for it to work more effectively for immune conditions, it usually needs to be combined with other warming herbs.

**Contraindications: Regular use of echinacea should be avoided by individuals with Lupus. Consult an herbalist when treating other autoimmune conditions, before consuming echinacea as it may be contraindicated. *

Elder Flower (Sambucus nigra, S. mexicana)
Elder flower is beneficial as a diaphoretic; a hot infusion of the flowers induces sweating. Elder flower is indicated for viral infections accompanied by muscular aching, stiffness, rheumatic pains, and fever. It has mild expectorant actions. It is also a diuretic which is used to treat urinary inactivity, or as an adjunct diuretic to aid in the excretion of kidney (gravel) stones.

Note: Elder berry is also used medicinally but has different uses.

Elecampane Root (Inula helenium)
Elecampane can be used as a respiratory tonic and can also help to speed the recovery process for lingering lung infections. It is specific for respiratory conditions with excessive bronchial secretions, such as bronchitis and for irritation of the trachea and bronchi which results in persistent and irritable coughing. Elecampane exerts a soothing expectorant action, but also acts as an astringent to reduce excess mucous.

It also has carminative properties and bitter actions which encourage digestive secretions. It is especially useful for skin eruptions or skin discolorations which results from sluggish activity in the digestive tract. This root is both a diuretic and a diaphoretic. Drink a hot decoction of the root to induce sweating and to help break a fever.

American Ephedra (Ephedra nevadensis) (Mormon Tea)
American ephedra can be used as a preventative for seasonal allergies. Consume one or two cups of ephedra tea daily, two to three months before the allergies usually occur.

American ephedra is much milder, as far as its stimulant properties, than Chinese ephedra (Ma Huang). Thus, it can be used more safely, and for a longer period of time.

The tea is also used to decrease lung and sinus congestion because of its astringent properties and its respiratory dilating actions. The tea acts as a bronchial dilator, and it is a helpful treatment for breathing difficulty or the constriction of the bronchioles. The tea acts as a volume diuretic, which can assist people experiencing edema (water retention). The astringent properties can also be useful for people who have an acute case of diarrhea; however it has no known antimicrobial properties.

**Contraindications: Consult an herbalist or avoid using American ephedra if you are taking heart medications, have heart problems or heart conditions, anxiety, or nervous system conditions. Discontinue using ephedra if it over dries the mucous membranes. *

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Many people are familiar with the strong aromatic and camphorous odor of eucalyptus. It is often used as an antiseptic spray in sick rooms or it is added to liquid soaps for similar reasons. It exhibits a strong antiseptic action in both upper respiratory diseases and infections of the digestive tract.

Steams with either the herb or 1-3 drops of the essential oil, are useful to clear nasal passages. Eucalyptus steams dilate the bronchioles and aid in breathing. The steams also encourage expectoration of excess mucous of the sinuses and lungs. Thus, eucalyptus is useful for sinusitis, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and for chronic post-nasal drip.

Eucalyptus can be taken internally in small doses in tea form, as an intestinal antiseptic to kill digestive bugs. It also exhibits a diaphoretic action, encouraging secretion of the sweat glands thus reducing fevers. Eucalyptus has also become very popular as an anti-malarial agent.

**Contraindications: Discontinue using eucalyptus essential oil or herb if it aggravates asthma or any other respiratory conditions. Use caution during pregnancy. *

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
Eyebright is a specific remedy for acute infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract when there is thin, profuse, watery discharge. It is useful if there is pressure behind the eyes, pain or heat in the frontal sinus, and if the pressure causes a headache or an earache. Another indication for eyebright is when the eyes and throat are red or watery and there is an inclination to sneeze or blow the nose constantly.

False Unicorn Root (Chamaelirium luteum)
False unicorn root is an endangered herb and it should be used as infrequently as possible. It is currently on the United Plant Savers threatened list.

However, false unicorn root can be used in a case of a threatened miscarriage, in combination with black haw. It can also be extremely useful for women suffering from a prolapsed uterus. False unicorn root’s traditional use was as a tonic for the reproductive organs. It is specific for women with a feeble constitution, who are easily fatigued. Often their nervous and digestive systems are weakened.

False unicorn root is a general tonic improving the functional operations of all of the internal organs, especially the digestive system. It is an active nutritive and restorative tonic. It is also specific for males with a dull ache or dragging sensation in the prostate. It has a toning effect on the genital-urinary organs.

Fennel Seed (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel in tea or extract form can reduce gas and bloating in both children and adults. Fennel is a safe remedy for infants with colic, and incidentally its properties pass through the breast milk and are delivered to the infant. The seeds also stimulate and increase the flow of breast milk in lactating mothers.

Fennel can be used alone or in combination with other carminative herbs to reduce gas and bloating. It has a sweet, anise like flavor, but also a hint of bitterness. Fennel is also an expectorant and an antispasmodic for both the respiratory system and the digestive system. It is a helpful addition to tea formulas for the treatment of a dry, hacking cough. Fennel tea also has diuretic properties. It contains various nutrients including the following: calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, as well as some protein and phosphorus. 

Fenugreek Seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
Fenugreek tea is an invaluable remedy for stomach or intestinal ulceration and inflammation. It is a demulcent and an astringent, which helps to soothe the mucus membranes and to improve their structure. It is useful for both acute and chronic digestive problems. It also has carminative properties.

The tea is useful to treat lung conditions such as bronchitis and for sore throats. It soothes dry, irritated membranes and encourages the expectoration of mucus. It also helps to reduce excess mucus. One could use fenugreek as a recuperative tonic after a long debilitating illness.

The seeds can be used as an emollient poultice for boils, sores, carbuncles, and irritated eczema. Fenugreek is also considered an aphrodisiac. Although the seeds have a maple syrup like smell they taste moderately bitter, but also somewhat sweet. Add fresh lemon, honey, licorice or Indian sarsaparilla to improve the taste of the tea.

**Contraindications: Fenugreek consumption should be avoided during pregnancy. Fenugreek consumption can alter the smell of urine. *

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Feverfew is well known for its effectiveness in treating migraine headaches caused by the constriction of capillaries in the head. Although it can be effective for some individuals as an acute treatment for migraines, most research suggests using feverfew on a daily basis for 3-6 months.

The average dose for preventative measures is often 15-30 drops of the fresh plant liquid extract or 1-3 freeze dried capsules a day. When feverfew is used daily for an extended period of time, migraine-induced headaches, nausea, and vomiting should become less severe and less frequent.

This herb has bitter components that stimulate digestive secretions and decrease liver congestion. Feverfew’s action on the liver could help decrease pelvic pain and congestion and improve sluggish menstrual flow. It helps to ease menstrual cramping and to stimulate menses which is delayed.

**Contraindications: Feverfew should not be used during pregnancy. Fresh feverfew can cause mouth ulceration in some individuals, discontinue using if this occurs. Feverfew has blood thinning properties. Avoid using this herb one to two weeks prior to surgery and one week following surgery. *

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
Frankincense is a resin which is often used as incense; when it is burned it helps encourage purification and protection. It is also said to drive out “negative” energy. It is burned in temples and churches to aid with meditation and to encourage spiritual growth.

Frankincense has other medicinal properties as well. It contains resins that are antiseptic and anti-inflammatory to the lungs, urinary tract, and the genitals. As a tincture, it can be used to treat stomach ulcers and diarrhea.

**Contraindications: Avoid using frankincense internally with acute or chronic kidney inflammation, or kidney conditions. *

Fringe Tree Root Bark (Chionanthus virginicus)
Fringe tree root bark is a powerful cholagogue, which stimulates the flow of bile, from the gall bladder. One of its primary uses is to relieve the referred pain caused by gall bladder attacks; it also helps to speed the passing of gallstones.

This herb is quite bitter; it improves the appetite, aids in the assimilation of nutrients, and also helps to tone the digestive organs. It can be used for chronic liver ailments including the following: jaundice, hepatitis, hypertrophy of the liver, and portal vein congestion. Fringe tree root bark relieves irritation of the stomach caused by alcohol, as well as inflammatory conditions of the duodenum.

**Contraindications: Avoid using fringe tree with individuals who have a blocked bile duct. *

Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is a multifunctional herb that bridges the gap between a medicinal and culinary herb, as well as a dietary supplement. It is easily incorporated into foods such as pesto, sauces, soups, and salad dressings.

The nutritional components are very impressive. Garlic contains numerous vitamins and minerals. The fresh cloves in particular, have potent expectorant and respiratory anti-spasmodic properties. Garlic has strong broad-spectrum effects against bacteria, especially those that are highly resistant to antibiotics. It has anti-viral properties and it prevents the random attachment of viruses. For this reason, garlic is used in the treatment of colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis, sinus congestion, and for digestive microbes.

Garlic also produces a favorable effect on the intestinal micro flora and enhances the absorption of minerals. Garlic can be used as a post-antibiotic therapy to either prevent or treat yeast infections (candida) and to encourage the growth of beneficial intestinal flora.

**Contraindications: Garlic has blood thinning properties and should be used with caution by individuals taking blood thinning medications or who have blood clotting disorders. Avoid consuming garlic two weeks prior to surgery and one week following surgery. *

Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
Ginger has a broad range of beneficial medicinal and culinary uses. It is a digestive stimulant, which increases salivary and gastric secretions. It is useful to reduce flatulence and to quell nausea. It also reduces cramping of the stomach, bowels, as well as menstrual cramping. It can be used in the treatment of motion sickness and can also help to reduce morning sickness.

As a warming diaphoretic, ginger can aid in breaking a fever. It can be useful as an adjunct treatment for the common cold or flu, bronchial pneumonia, and for chronic auto-immune conditions. It also has anti-microbial and anti-parasitic properties. Ginger has anti-inflammatory actions which can be of value in treating rheumatoid arthritis. It is a circulatory stimulant which is helpful for individuals with cold hands and feet. Its blood thinning actions may be useful in the prevention of heart attacks and for individuals with high blood pressure.

**Contraindications: Ginger has blood thinning actions. Take similar precautions that are listed under garlic’s contraindications. *<

Ginkgo Leaf (Ginkgo biloba)
Ginkgo can be used to improve circulation. It increases the blood supply to all tissues of the body, including the extremities, the skin, the heart, the brain, and other vital organs. Due to the increase in blood supply to the brain, ginkgo can be used to treat cerebral insufficiency which may adversely affect memory, equilibrium, balance, concentration, and vision. Ginkgo can also be used specifically in treating cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

Other symptoms or conditions that may be helped by taking ginkgo include the following: headaches, depression, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), vertigo, glaucoma, mental confusion, and impaired vision. Studies have shown that ginkgo improves mental alertness, mood, and memory. Due to ginkgo’s ability to prevent normal blood clotting, it may be helpful in preventing strokes.

**Contraindications: Ginkgo has blood thinning actions. Avoid taking ginkgo two weeks before surgery and one week following surgery. Consult and /or monitor with a health care practitioner before taking ginkgo in combination with other blood thinning medications. *

Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea)
Goldenrod is traditionally used to treat conditions of the kidneys and the urinary tract. It is helpful for the treatment of difficult or scanty urination, for suppressed or retained urine, especially with dark color, and for chronic and acute nephritis. It can to some extent, help to reduce pain in the kidneys which results from passing gravel stones. It can also improve symptoms associated with prostatitis (prostate inflammation) and cystitis (bladder infection).

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Goldenseal is considered endangered because it has long been over harvested in the wild. The use of organically cultivated goldenseal is strongly encouraged so as not to contribute to the extinction of the plant. Choosing an appropriate alternative to goldenseal, depends on a person’s health condition/s and their respective constitution, but some substitutes include yerba mansa, barberry, bayberry, coptis, or Oregon grape.

Goldenseal is highly astringent and has anti-bacterial properties. It works effectively to treat bacterial infections of the mouth, sinus, lungs, urinary tract, or the digestive system. It also helps to reduce excessive mucus that is produced as a result of the infection, for instance conjunctivitis (pink eye), sinusitis, and bronchitis. When the sinuses or lungs feel dry, irritated, or are bleeding, goldenseals astringent properties may aggravate those conditions.

If a person has lost their appetite due to a debilitating illness or a gut infection, goldenseals bitter properties will encourage digestive secretions and increase the appetite. Goldenseal contains berberine alkaloids which will help to kill any foreign bacteria in the digestive system. Do not use this herb for a duration exceeding two weeks without consulting a practitioner.

**Contraindications: Goldenseal consumption should be avoided during pregnancy due to its content of berberine alkaloids. *

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
Gotu kola tones and strengthens the connective tissue and the skin. It also strengthens collagen and elastin fibers that make up the muscles, the skin, and the vascular system. This renders it useful for numerous conditions. It speeds the healing of broken bones, torn ligaments, and tendons. It also improves the healing of cuts, wounds, burns, bruises, and reduces scar tissue. It is a supportive agent for the treatment of tendonitis, carpal tunnel, and rheumatic joints, as it both stimulates tissue regeneration and brings more blood flow to the damaged tissues.

It also helps to strengthen and maintain the vascular system. It aids in the treatment of varicose veins, anal fissures, and poor circulation. Gotu kola also improves the strength of the nails and hair. It is an appropriate treatment for hair that splits easily, lacks luster, or has a tendency to fall out. Gotu kola has been useful for chronic eye conditions such as poor vision and retinal detachment, as well as for weak, tender, or bleeding gums.

**Contraindications: Consult with a health care practitioner before using gotu kola if an individual has a hyperthyroid condition or if they are taking thyroid medications. *

Gravel Root (Eupatorium purpureum)
Gravel root has diuretic properties which can be helpful in the treatment of kidney stones, hematuria, and dropsy, as well as diseases of the kidney and bladder that result from excessive uric acid. Gravel root not only helps with the referred pain often experienced by people passing gravel (kidney stones), it also helps to rid the body of excessive uric acid.

It can reduce symptoms such as the constant desire to urinate, feelings of suppressed urine, and burning sensations or dull ache of the bladder. Gravel root’s diuretic properties enhance the excretion of uric acid which can be helpful in improving rheumatism and gout.

In the past, gravel root was used to stimulate and impart tone to the female reproductive organs. Traditionally, this herb was used to treat chronic uterine diseases such as endometriosis and leucorrhea, as well as for insufficient labor pains.

Guarana (Paullinia cupana) “Brazilian cocoa”
Guarana is a mild nerve stimulant used in very low doses; however, taken in high doses it can be uncomfortably enervating and may cause anxiety. Guarana contains a molecular structure similar to caffeine, and it can be used to encourage nerve stimulation when a person has been debilitated for a long period of time and has recuperated from an initial infection. It can also be helpful in low doses at the onset of a migraine headache, in which caffeine improves the symptoms.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy, lactation, and in children of all ages. *

Gum Benzoin (Styrax benzoin)
Gun benzoin is a valuable preservative for oils and salves. Thirty to sixty drops of the tincture or several drops of essential oil can be added to two ounces of oil salves for this purpose. The essential oil can add a sensual base note to perfume blends. Steam inhalations of the essential oil are helpful for chronic and acute laryngitis. Gum benzoin is useful for many forms of bronchial irritation (without secretions).

**Contraindications: avoid internal use during pregnancy and lactation, or with renal weakness or disease.**

Hibiscus (Hibiscus salbdariffa)
Hibiscus has a tart, fruity flavor, with both astringent and demulcent properties. The demulcent actions help to decrease excessive acidity of the stomach, which can improve conditions such as gastritis and gastric ulcers. Aiding in cooling symptoms of excessive heat, this herb is useful as a summertime tea to improve the body’s adaptability to heat. Hibiscus can be helpful with fevers that result from overexposure to the sun or heat.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
Horsetail contains high amounts of silica. Silica is a mineral that helps to strengthen and maintain connective tissue, including arteries and skin. Horsetail helps to strengthen fingernails if they are weak and break easily, and aids with lingering infection around the nail. It also improves the condition of the hair when it becomes thin, lacks luster, or splits at the ends.

An infusion or topical poultice is useful to strengthen bones, joints, and arteries. To speed the healing of broken bones, broken capillaries (bruises), and weak joints, combine horsetail, oat straw, nettle, comfrey leaf, and rosehips. This combination is useful before and after surgical procedures.

** Contraindications: one may want to avoid using horsetail if one has a kidney disease or kidney weakness. Limited use of horsetail is recommended during pregnancy.**

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Hyssop is useful as an expectorant for ailments of the lungs including bronchitis, asthma, and respiratory conditions associated with coughs and colds. Extracts of hyssop have antiviral effects and can be beneficial in the treatment of herpes simplex. Externally, a strong tea or poultice is useful for relieving muscular rheumatism, sprains, strains, and wounds.

Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus)
Irish moss contains high amounts of mucilage, which helps to coat and soothe irritated or inflamed membranes of the lungs, stomach, or intestines. It is an expectorant and can aid with bronchitis, whooping cough, sore throats, and laryngitis. One could make a cold infusion or add the tea to soups, sauces, and grains. The tea is also beneficial for the treatment of stomach and intestinal ulcers, and can aid the treatment of chronic diarrhea or dysentery.

Jamaican Dogwood (Piscidia erythrina)
Jamaican dogwood is a powerful analgesic, and is useful in treating numerous kinds of pain. It can help to relieve facial neuralgia and toothaches, and it reduces headache pain. Topical and internal use of the herb can be beneficial in the treatment of inflammatory rheumatism.

As a strong antispasmodic, it sedates tracheal spasms which can result from respiratory infections such as bronchitis or whooping cough. It also helps to control night coughing and induces restful sleep.

Additionally, Jamaican dogwood can reduce acute intestinal cramping, as well as gallstone and renal colic. It is effective for ovarian cramps and painful menstruation, and can reduce labor pains without interfering with normal uterine contractions. Jamaican dogwood promotes quiet, restful sleep in cases of insomnia that is caused by nervous excitement, mental worry, anxiety, or pain.

**Contraindications: avoid using with other analgesic medications and use caution while operating heavy machinery. Use with caution during pregnancy.**

Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Juniper berries have disinfectant properties, and can be used to treat upper and lower respiratory infections. Juniper has warming, expectorant actions. It also stimulates the production of white blood cells, and thus can be beneficial in the first phase of a cold or flu. The hot tea has diaphoretic actions, and can help in treating a fever.

Juniper also has diuretic properties. It can be used in the treatment of stubborn urinary tract infections. However, Juniper can be irritating to the kidneys and may aggravate acute inflammation.

**Contraindications: avoid using juniper during pregnancy and lactation, and in children. Discontinue using juniper if it aggravates the kidneys or in individuals who have kidney problems or existing kidney damage. Juniper is best used as a short-term treatment.**

Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) 
Kava is an analgesic (i.e. a pain relieving agent) which is beneficial for treating many forms of pain. It is useful both topically and internally to relieve a toothache, however it should not be used in infants or children.

Kava has antispasmodic properties which are useful for treating cramping of the stomach, intestines, and uterus. Kava is specific for addressing pain in the bladder and the urethra; and can be helpful in addressing chronic dysuria and acute urethritis. It can also help to reduce prostatic and testicular pain. Some find it useful in treating trigeminal neuralgia, and in relieving muscle tension.

Kava can have various effects on the nervous system. For many individuals it has nervine and sedative actions, which can be helpful in treating nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia. However, kava can also increase the intensity of the dream state. For others, kava is a euphoric or a mood elevator which can be helpful for relieving depression. Kava also has potent anti-fungal properties. It can be consumed internally to address a yeast infection, and the strained tea can also be used as a douche for candida. Kava also has topical anti-fungal actions which treat athlete’s foot, ringworm, and skin tinea.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy, lactation, in infants, and in children. Do not combine kava with other prescriptions, over the counter medications, alcohol, or narcotics. Avoid operating heavy machinery when consuming kava. Avoid using kava if it causes unpleasant dreams or nightmares.**

Kelp (Fucus vesiculosis, Laminaria spp.) 
Kelp provides a wide variety of minerals, including iodine. Kelp can stimulate the production of iodine-containing hormones (i.e. thyroid hormones), but mainly in iodine-deficient individuals. Iodine deficiency can result in low thyroid hormone levels or hypothyroidism. Increasing dietary iodine levels in iodine deficient individuals can increase thyroid hormone levels; this can increase the body’s metabolic rate and help to reduce obesity. It can also be helpful for treating fibrocystic breast disease.

Kelp also contains algin (sodium alginate), which is a polysaccharide. Kelp’s algin content is likely responsible for its demulcent properties. A soup broth, tea, or cold infusion can be consumed to coat and soothe the mucus membranes throughout the digestive tract. The polysaccharides have immune-stimulating potential, which can help enhance one’s resistance to disease. The algin, the fiber, and the potassium present in kelp contribute to its bulk laxative effect.

Regular consumption of kelp has also been found to provide protection against radioactive strontium, helping to protect from the effects of radiation as well as to reduce the risks of exposure to radio-active materials.

**Contraindications: avoid the use of kelp in individuals with hyperthyroidism, or consult a practitioner prior to use.**.

Kola (Cola acuminata) 
Kola nut has stimulant actions which closely resemble those of caffeine-bearing drugs. Indeed, it contains caffeine and can therefore become addictive. Kola can exhaust the body’s vital reserves, and thus should only be used short-term and in low doses. However, it is an effective stimulant and can be used to increase mental alertness.

Kola also acts as a vascular dilator at the onset of a migraine headache. It is used medicinally, in low doses, short-term, to treat muscular and nerve depression which may occur with muscular debilitation.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy, lactation, and in children. Kola consumption should be avoided while consuming other stimulants. Discontinue using kola if it causes nervousness, anxiety, irritability, or insomnia. Kola should not be used by individuals taking prescription medications, as well as some over-the -counter medications. Kola contains caffeine, and can therefore be an addictive substance.**

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is a gentle nervine and a mild sedative. It can help to reduce anxiety and nervousness, and in some cases it can assist in the treatment of insomnia. Lemon balm can also be helpful as a treatment for hyperactive children, and sometimes for children with attention deficit disorder.

Lemon balm also has antiviral properties which are helpful for preventing herpes and shingles, as well as speeding the healing process once the sores have erupted. The tea of lemon balm also acts as a cooling diaphoretic. It can be used in the first stages of a cold or flu to break a fever. It is most specific for children’s fevers, or fevers in which a person feels aggravated or nervous.

Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla / Lippia citriodora)
Lemon verbena has an uplifting aroma and is a delightful flavoring agent. It is a flavorful addition to any herbal infusion or iced tea. The fresh herb can be used to flavor fruit salads, melons, jellies, beverages, desserts, and fish.

The leaves have carminative and stomachic properties, and can be useful in the treatment of indigestion, dyspepsia, stomach aches, and diarrhea. Lemon verbena also has mild smooth muscle antispasmodic properties, which are mainly beneficial for conditions of stomach and intestinal cramping or gas and bloating.

Linden Flowers (Tilia europa)
Linden flowers have a gently calming action on the nervous system. They can be useful as a mild relaxant for children as well as adults. The flowers contain both tannins and mucilage, which help to reduce inflammation of the mucus membranes, as well as to reduce excess secretions. The tea can be used so soothe irritated membranes in the upper respiratory system and in the digestive tract.

Additionally, linden has diaphoretic properties, and most specifically it is considered a cooling diaphoretic. It can be used to reduce a fever in the first phase of a cold or flu. Linden contains several flavonoid compounds including quercetin and kaempferol, which may be partly responsible for its anti-inflammatory and diaphoretic actions.

Lomatium dissectum (Biscuit root)
Lomatium has impressive antimicrobial properties. It is an antiviral agent which works effectively for the first phase of a cold or flu, as well as for upper and lower respiratory infections. It also has antibacterial properties which strongly inhibit gram positive bacteria.

The aromatic resins contained in Lomatium are excreted in the respiratory mucosa, thus making Lomatium an effective expectorant, encouraging the thinning and expulsion of mucus. The resins also help to prevent the infection from spreading throughout the respiratory system.

A person with a head cold, chest cold, sinus infection, bronchitis, or pneumonia may benefit from using Lomatium root. The root also stimulates the immune system by increasing the number of white bloods cells, as well as their rate of phagocytosis.

**Contraindications: avoid using Lomatium root during pregnancy, and in cases of liver disease. One should also exercise caution during lactation. Discontinue using Lomatium if it causes a skin rash. Lomatium may cause photosensitivity in some individuals.**

Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
Marjoram is a sweet, aromatic, and pungent culinary herb. It imparts a distinct and pungent flavor to soups, sauces, tomato sauce, salads, vinaigrettes, egg dishes, fish, and meat. The leaves contain up to 13% protein by weight, and are high in vitamin A and C. The leaves also contain minerals including calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and trace amounts of manganese.

Marjoram has carminative and smooth muscle antispasmodic properties. It can be added to bean dishes to reduce gas and bloating. It also enhances digestion of food. Marjoram also has antimicrobial properties.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria, Spirea ulmaria)
Meadowsweet contains both mucilage and tannins. It is beneficial in tea form for healing stomach and duodenal ulcers, as well as for healing the intestinal lining. Meadowsweet helps to regulate gastric secretions and protect the lining of the stomach. The mucilage appears to act as a buffer in the stomach.

Meadowsweet also contains aspirin-like salicylic acid, and can be used as an herbal alternative to aspirin. The salicylic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and can help to reduce inflammation of the joints and muscles. Meadowsweet can be helpful for treating headaches, rheumatic joints, fever, and sore muscles.

Additionally, meadowsweet is a diuretic which enhances the removal of uric acid, and can be useful in the treatment of gout, arthritis, and kidney stones. The hot tea can be used as a cooling diaphoretic to help break a fever.

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Milk thistle seed is an important liver protectant and liver regenerative agent. It can be used to enhance detoxification of hormones, recreational and pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol, endogenous toxins, and heavy metals.

One of the means by which milk thistle works is to prevent liver damage by inhibiting the formation of free radicals. Free radicals have been shown to damage other cells, which can result in immune problems, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, as well as other conditions. Milk thistle can be used by individuals who have poor liver function or liver disease; it can also be beneficial for the treatment of skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne. It can also be used as a short or long term treatment for liver disease such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or jaundice. There is a concentrated form of milk thistle called “Silamarin” which is used to prevent liver damage. It can be helpful if used immediately after toxic alkaloid poisoning from mushrooms. In particular, it prevents damage of the cells of the liver which results from Amanita alkaloids phalloidine and alpha-amanatine.

It is speculated that Silamarin prevents phalloidine from reaching its receptors in the liver cell membrane, which prevents the toxins from destroying the liver cells. Silamarin also protects undamaged liver cells from renewed poisoning by breaking the entero-hepatic circulation of alpha-amanatine.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
A hot infusion of mugwort is a strong diaphoretic (i.e. it induces sweating), and can be used to break fevers. Mugwort encourages mucus secretions in dry membranes of the sinuses and lungs. It also acts as a uterine stimulant (emmenogogue) for women who experience slow, cramping menses. Do not use during pregnancy or if experiencing excessive menstrual bleeding.

A cold infusion of mugwort is effective for chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers. It protects the cells of the esophagus and stomach from harm caused by excessive secretions of acids. It should be avoided during acute flare-ups of the stomach ulcers, since it is more appropriate as a long term treatment for chronic conditions. The cold infusion will also improve the breakdown of dietary fats in the liver. If one is binging on fried foods, cheeses, or other rich foods, the blood becomes more viscous and tends to coagulate more easily.

Mugwort improves the quality of the blood, and enhances the ability of the blood cells to repel each other, thus encouraging the smooth flow of blood through the capillaries. It also cools liver heat. The tea, poultice, or salve can be applied topically as an anti-fungal and anti-microbial.

Topical use is also helpful for the treatment of sprains, hyperextensions, and bruises. Mugwort pillows may be placed near sleeping quarters to stimulate and intensify one’s dream state. It should not be used near children’s beds as it can cause nightmares

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy and lactation. Internal use can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and should be avoided accordingly. Mugwort can heighten one’s dream state.**

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Mullein is a useful remedy for dry, irritated lung conditions or a dry, raspy throat. The leaf is an expectorant and a demulcent which encourages secretions in dry mucus membranes. An infusion of mullein is most appropriate when addressing conditions with dry tissues.

The leaves can be used as an alternative to tobacco, as an expectorant by smokers, during the course of a lung infection. The smoke of mullein can reduce respiratory spasms, which can be helpful for treating asthma and dry coughs. The author does not recommend smoking the leaves unless a person already smokes.

Mustard Seed (Sinapis alba)
Mustard is useful as an external application for pain. A poultice increases blood flow to the area to which it is applied. A poultice made of one part powdered mustard seed and two parts flour, and moistened with hot water, is appropriate for topical applications.

Mustard has little therapeutic influence internally. If too much is consumed it can cause a burning sensation in the stomach, mild gastritis, or even vomiting. Small quantities used for culinary purposes should not produce these effects.

**Contraindications: please note that the direct or prolonged application of mustard may cause painful blisters. Do not leave the poultice on for more than 15-20 minutes.**

Myrrh Gum (Commiphora molmol, C. myrrha)
Myrrh is renowned for its age-old use as incense. Burning myrrh in one’s home or office helps to purify energy, aid in meditation, create a sense of peace, and lift the energy in a dark or dreary atmosphere. Myrrh is a potent anti-microbial and astringent. One could gargle with the tincture diluted in water as a mouthwash for gingivitis and gum infections.

Consuming small quantities of myrrh extract (5-15 drops) stimulates the immune system by increasing the number and quality of white blood cells. It can increase one’s resistance when feeling tired or run-down, as well as relieve symptoms and speed the recovery of laryngitis.

**Contraindications: avoid using myrrh internally during pregnancy, lactation, and in young children. The resins contained in myrrh gum can also aggravate the kidneys, and therefore use should be discontinued if one experiences a dull ache in the mid- to lower back, or if one has existing kidney weakness or disease.**

Nettles (Urtica dioica)
Nettles are one of the most nourishing plants growing on land. They contain a wide variety of nutrients, including the following: calcium, chromium, cobalt, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, sodium (trace), thiamine, tin, zinc, and vitamins A and C. Nettles are also rich in chlorophyll.

Nettles can be used as a nutrient-rich daily tea. Nettles provide a fantastic source of easily-assimilated nutrients. They can be an important source of nutrients for all individuals, but especially for individuals with compromised digestion. Nettles’ nutritional properties support the immune system, the muscular-skeletal system, and the connective tissue, as well as stabilizing blood sugar. The minerals have an alkalinizing effect, which can be beneficial for conditions aggravated by hyperacidity. Nettles are an important herb used in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia.

Nettles also have anti-allergic, astringent, diuretic, hemostatic, and galactogogue actions. The author could go on for pages about this herb, but this writing is limited by lack of space.

Oat Straw (Avena sativa)
Oat straw is high in vitamins A and C. It also contains vitamins E, G, and K, as well as B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and B6. Oat straw contains the following amino acids: histadine, argentine, leucine, lysine, and phenylalanine. The minerals contained in oat straw include calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, and zinc.

Oat straw’s nutritive properties are highly beneficial for most individuals, and especially for pregnant and nursing mothers. The minerals contained in oat straw have an alkalinizing effect. These minerals can also help to reduce sugar cravings and to balance blood sugar levels. The calcium contained in oat straw is easily assimilable and can help to prevent osteoporosis. Additionally, the minerals contained in oat straw aid in the development and maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, hair, and nails.

Orange Peel (Citrus sinensis)
Orange peel has a bitter, aromatic flavor and is considered a digestive tonic. It stimulates bile flow, increases digestive enzymes, and helps to reduce stagnation of the liver. It contains high amounts of pectin, which binds with and removes radioactive compounds, heavy metals, and environmental toxins that are stored in the body.

Orange peel has carminative actions which reduce the cramping that may potentially result from taking potent bitter, cholagogue herbs such as gentian and Oregon grape. It also contains flavonoids that help to strengthen connective tissues, improve the integrity of the blood vessels, and enhance free radical scavenging (i.e. antioxidant) properties. It is a tasty addition to most tea blends when used in small quantities.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Oregano is a flavorful and pungent culinary herb. It is a tasty addition to beans, omelets, deviled eggs, meats, and tomato dishes. Oregano has carminative properties which help to reduce indigestion, gas, and bloating. It is an antifungal and an antibacterial; it also has worm expellant properties.

The herb may be added to the diet to reduce intestinal and vaginal Candida. A tea or the herb cooked in soup stock is useful as an expectorant for respiratory ailments such as bronchitis. Oregano contains aromatic oils that are antibacterial, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory.

Oregon Grape (Berberis vulgaris)
Oregon grape root can be used as a digestive bitter to stimulate the liver’s metabolism. The root stimulates liver, pancreatic, and gallbladder secretions, which can enhance the digestion of fats and proteins. It is also helpful for symptoms which arise from poor digestion, such as chronic gum or teeth problems, poorly healin

g or dry skin, rapid shifts in blood sugar levels, and chronic constipation. Oregon grape root can be used as an antimicrobial for intestinal infections, including salmonella and candida. It can also be beneficial for the treatment of liver conditions including jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and gall stones.

**Contraindications: Oregon grape root contains berberine alkaloids and should be used with caution or avoided during pregnancy. Consult a practitioner before using Oregon grape root as a long-term treatment. **

Osha Root (Ligusticum porteri)
Osha can be highly effective in the treatment of acute viral infections. The root soothes and anesthetizes sore throats and bronchial inflammations. It is also an expectorant that encourages the thinning and expelling of mucus, which is very appropriate for dry, hacking coughs. Additionally, it increases oxygenation in the lungs.

The tea or tincture in hot water acts as a diaphoretic, which causes sweating and helps to break a fever. This is especially useful in the first phase of an infection, to aid in the elimination of toxins. It is also useful for treating fevers which waver from hot to chilled, allowing the body to conserve energy.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy. Discontinue use if the condition is aggravated.**

Pau d’arco (Tabebuia heptaphylla) (Lapacho, Taheebo)
Pau d’arco has shown strong anti-bacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Brucella. Research demonstrates that pau d’arco has also been useful in the treatment of tuberculosis, dysentery, and anthrax. Pau d’arco also displays anti-fungal properties against Candida albicans and other forms of Candida.

Research has shown that the bark demonstrates activity against some viruses including Herpes virus I and II, influenza, polio virus, and vesicular stomatitis virus. Additionally, pau d’arco has anti-parasitic properties. It can increase the numbers of red corpuscles, and is used as an adjunct therapy for treatment of cancer and tumors. It is used specifically in the treatment of leukemia, and also in supportive therapy for other kinds of cancer.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Parsley leaf is delicious in salads, tabouli, tomato dishes, baked potatoes, fish, meat, pizza, egg dishes, omelets, and sauces. Parsley leaf stimulates digestive secretions and gastric activity. It is both a carminative and a stomachic. Chewing the leaves after a meal will help to freshen the breath. The root and seeds are diuretic, increasing the flow of urine. This makes it useful for conditions that result from excessive uric acid such as gout. It is also helpful in the treatment of urinary tract infections.

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) 
Pennyroyal tea has been used historically as an emmenogogue, to encourage menses, and as an anti-fertility herb. It contains the ketone pulegone, which is the primary constituent responsible for its emmenogogue effects. Pennyroyal can also be used to soothe nervous headaches, and to relieve upset stomachs and cramps. Pennyroyal is known as an insect repellent which helps to deter mosquitoes, fleas, mites, and ticks. It does not appear to repel ants.

**Contraindications: even small amounts of the essential oil of pennyroyal can be extremely toxic if ingested. Ingestion of the essential oil may result in convulsions, irreversible kidney damage, coma, or even death. Use of the essential oil should always be avoided in children, animals, pets, and individuals who are prone to seizures. Also, pennyroyal should not be used in any form (herb or oil) during pregnancy or lactation, or by women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding.**

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) 
Peppermint is an age-old remedy which can be used in the treatment of nausea, dyspepsia, and stomach cramps. The tea of peppermint is a safe remedy for morning sickness. Peppermint also anesthetizes the nerves in the intestinal tract, making it an herb of choice for stomach pain or an upset stomach. The tea is helpful to reduce gas pain and hiatal hernia pain. Peppermint can decrease heartburn and esophageal acidity from hiatal hernia. However, for some individuals peppermint may aggravate the latter two conditions.

**Contraindications: discontinue use of peppermint if it aggravates acid indigestion or gastric reflux disease.**

Pleurisy Root (Asclepias tuberosa)
Pleurisy root can be useful for bronchial diseases with a dry, irritating character. It encourages proper secretions in the bronchioles, and acts as an expectorant, aiding in the removal of mucus. It also can reduce pulmonary irritation and relieve tightness and pain of the chest.

Pleurisy root has helped to improve the following conditions: acute bronchitis, pneumonia, croup, coryza, and catarrh. It is also useful for dry, non-spasmodic asthma. Pleurisy root is a true diaphoretic, for it increases circulation and helps sweat glands in removing waste products.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy and lactation.**

Poke Root (Phytolacca americana) 
Although poke root can be dangerous, the tincture can be useful in very low doses. For instance, poke root is a strong lymphatic that is useful in treating hard, swollen and engorged glands, as well as tonsillitis. It can be used internally (use with caution and in low doses) for the treatment of mastitis and soreness or swelling of the mammary glands.

Poke root can also be used in the treatment of ovarian cysts. Poke root is extremely potent and its use should be regulated very carefully, both internally and externally. Only very small doses are recommended for internal use. Please consult an herbalist before using poke root.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy and lactation, and in children. Use with great care.**

Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)
Prickly ash can be used as a digestive bitter tonic for individuals with poor digestion. It increases salivary, gastric, and biliary secretions, which improve digestion and assimilation of starch, proteins, and fat.

This herb causes a tingling sensation on the tongue, which is likely how it acquired the name “prickly” ash. It stimulates circulation and increases blood supply to the extremities, as well as dilating the blood vessels in the digestive system. Prickly ash can be beneficial for individuals who tend to have cold hands and feet. Additionally, it can increase the blood flow to the brain, the lungs, and the liver. Prickly ash’s circulatory stimulant properties improve the overall health of the tissues by increasing oxygen and nutrient supply. Prickly ash can also be used as an agent to stimulate sluggish or depressed individuals.

**Contraindications: people with acid indigestion should avoid consuming prickly ash. Discontinue use of this herb if it causes uncomfortable sensations of heat in the body.**

Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
Red raspberry contains a variety of nutrients including calcium, chromium, cobalt, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, sodium, thiamine, tin, zinc, and vitamins A and C.

It has uterine tonifying properties, and can be used during pregnancy as a partus preparator. Red raspberry’s astringent properties can help to reduce excessive bleeding which may accompany childbirth, as well as reducing spotting and heavy menstrual bleeding. In addition, red raspberry’s astringent properties can help to reduce inflammation in the mucus membranes, thus aiding in the treatment of sore throats, diarrhea, and digestive inflammation and bleeding. The tea can also be used as a douche to reduce excess vaginal secretions.

Red Root (Ceanothus americanus)
Red root is most commonly used to reduce lymphatic swelling and inflammation. It strengthens the lymph tissue and improves the quality of the blood charge, thus helping the blood to move more gracefully through the lymph. A tea or tincture can decrease lymphatic swelling in the throat, armpits, and groin. It can also accelerate the healing process in cases of pharyngitis, tonsillitis, sore throats, and nasal catarrh.

This root can assist in the healing process for individuals with chronic illnesses, including viruses such as chronic fatigue, mononucleosis, Epstein-Barr, and hepatitis. Red root does not kill the virus, but it decreases swelling of the liver and spleen, and speeds the movement of fluids through the lymph. Red root can be useful for the long term treatment of breast cysts, ovarian cysts, testicular cysts, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.

**Contraindications: although red root has hemostatic properties, it also acts similarly to blood thinning agents. Avoid consumption two weeks prior to and following surgery.**

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Red clover has been used traditionally as a “blood purifier” and a gentle cleansing agent. It contains alkaloids known as coumarins, which have mild blood thinning properties. It can be useful in the treatment of chronic skin conditions including dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. For such conditions, red clover combines well with nettles, alfalfa, oat straw, and horsetail.

Red clover is a gentle expectorant and a mild antitussive agent. It can be also be used in the treatment of coughs, colds, and mucus congestion in the lungs. Red clover is also used as an adjunct therapy for tumors and cancer (it is a supportive agent, not a cure-all). It is known as an “alterative,” which is a substance that alters chronic conditions. Red clover can be useful in the long-term treatment of auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

**Contraindications: red clover has mild blood thinning properties. Avoid use for two weeks prior to and following surgery.**

Rose Hips (Rosa canina) 
Rose hips became recognized as a rich source of vitamin C during World War II. The vitamin C and the high flavonoid content strengthen connective tissues and help to reduce inflammation. This can be useful in cases of capillary fragility, and can aid those who bruise easily or have varicose veins. The high vitamin C content can also help speed the healing of wounds and support healthy tissue function. Rose hips are a tasty addition to tea blends.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) 
Rosemary contains vitamins A and C as well as phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and calcium. It aids circulation and is therefore helpful in the treatment of chronic circulatory weakness. This herb is used as a treatment for patients with cerebral arteriosclerosis.

Rosemary is known as “the herb of remembrance” and it is often used in herbal formulas for memory. Rosemary is also a tasty and pungent culinary herb; it can be used both fresh and dried in cooking. It has carminative and cholagogue actions, which enhance digestion.

**Contraindications: avoid use in cases in which the bile duct is blocked.**

Rue (Ruta graveolens) 
Rue is an herb used in European tradition to improve the appetite and digestion. It is also used topically to treat neuralgia, cramps, nervous spasms, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis. Rue can be beneficial when applied topically to relax strained muscles and tendons. It is most helpful when applied externally as a poultice or salve. Rue is also used as an emmenogogue, to promote the onset of menstruation.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy and lactation, and in children. Rue can be toxic when consumed in high doses.**

Sage (Salvia officinalis) 
Sage is a warming, astringent herb. The tea can be useful for diarrhea, gastritis, and enteritis. The tea can also be used as a gargle for sore throats, laryngitis, tonsillitis, or ulcerations of the mouth. Sage is an expectorant, and aids in the elimination of mucus. It also helps to reduce fluid secretions.

Sage will reduce excessive perspiration, and can aid with night sweats. It can also decrease excess vaginal discharge; thus it is beneficial for the treatment of leucorrhea and yeast infections. Sage can also be used to dry up the flow of breast milk.

**Contraindications: avoid use during lactation, and use in moderation during pregnancy.**

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) 
Sassafras is well known as a flavoring agent for root beer, tea, and recreational beverages. It makes a tasty addition to tea blends. It is considered a diuretic and a “blood purifier.”

Sassafras was traditionally employed to treat arthritis and rheumatism, as well as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Sassafras can be used externally as a wash for poison oak rashes, as it can help to dry the rash and soothe the itching.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy and lactation.**

Savory (Satureja hortensis, S. montana)
Savory is a pungent culinary herb with a hot, peppery flavor somewhat similar to that of oregano. It combines well with beans, fish, meat, and vegetables. Adding savory to foods helps to improve their digestibility. The Italians were among the first to use this plant. Savory has carminative actions which can help relieve indigestion, digestive cramps, nausea, and lack of appetite.

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa serrulata)
Saw palmetto can be used long-term to prevent and address prostate problems. It is beneficial for the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostatitis. Saw palmetto decreases swelling and irritation of the prostate and the urethra, and can be used to alleviate prostate pain.

Saw palmetto also improves the tone of the bladder. It enhances the bladder’s ability to contract during urination, which aids in the expulsion of urine and decreases dribbling. Saw palmetto is also beneficial as a long-term tonic for individuals who have interstitial cystitis and / or recurring bladder infections.

Saw palmetto is also beneficial as a reproductive structural tonic for women. It improves the tone of the uterus and the cervix. It increases blood flow to the reproductive organs, increasing the delivery of nutrients and oxygen, and decreasing stagnation of blood. Saw palmetto can be used for women with a dull ache or dull throbbing pain in the reproductive region. Some female reproductive conditions that may be improved by the long-term use of saw palmetto include cervical dysplasia, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovary disease, uterine fibroids, and uterine cysts. Saw palmetto is a wonderful recuperative tonic and restorative agent for a woman to take after childbirth.

Additionally, saw palmetto is a galactogogue agent which increases the flow of breast milk. Saw palmetto will improve the appetite, as well as digestion and assimilation. It can help to increase a person’s strength and vitality if he or she is feeling depleted or exhausted.

Senna Leaves (Senna angustifolia) 
Senna is a very stimulating laxative and should only be used for the short-term, temporary relief of constipation. (The author recommends first considering other options such as demulcent herbs, carminative herbs, cholagogue agents, and / or psyllium.)

However, when a more heroic treatment is needed, an infusion of the senna leaves is effective. In doses such as 2-4 ounces of tea at a time, it produces normal evacuation of the bowels, but can cause griping if excessive doses are consumed. The author recommends combining senna with other carminative agents such as fennel or anise to prevent griping. Senna is sometimes used when constipation results after surgical operations, post-confinement, and in feeble, inactive bowel states.

Senna leaves are the active constituent in the Eclectic formula “Compound Licorice Powder.” The recipe is as follows: combine two ounces each of senna and licorice powder, one ounce fennel powder, and five ounces of sugar (optional). The dose ranges from ¼ gram to 1 gram in water. An additional simple laxative remedy that works well is as follows: make a strong induction of senna leaves and strain. Stew prunes in the liquid until they are thoroughly cooked. Eat one prune 3-4 times throughout the day. Senna may take up to twelve hours to take effect.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy and lactation, and in children. Senna should also be used with caution with some prescription medications.**

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) 
Shepherd’s purse is a potent hemostatic, which reduces bleeding–especially when the fresh tincture is used. It can help to reduce excessive bleeding resulting from extended menstruation or uterine hemorrhage, as well as severe bleeding during labor or postpartum.

Shepherd’s purse can be used to treat hematuria (blood in the urine) which results from cystitis or from passing kidney stones. It can aid with bleeding from flare- ups of ulcerative colitis, as well as bleeding hemorrhoids. Note that shepherd’s purse is not a curative for the conditions listed above; it primarily reduces bleeding which may accompany some of these conditions. Bleeding is often a sign of a more serious problem. Shepherd’s purse also has diuretic properties.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy, except to bring on labor.**

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Skullcap has nervine properties, which can help to reduce nervous anxiety and to decrease the negative effects of stress on the body. Skullcap can be helpful in treating insomnia, and is especially useful if a person is unable to sleep due to an overactive mind.

It has anti-spasmodic actions, and can help to reduce muscular cramping of the back, the uterus, and the intestines. It can also help to reduce the pain associated with bursitis, tendonitis, herpes, and shingles flare-ups. Skullcap is useful for people who are recovering from addictions to substances such as tobacco, caffeine, pharmaceutical pain relievers (including morphine), and heroin.

Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva, U. rubra)
Slippery elm tea is very soothing to irritated sore throats and dry coughs, and is beneficial in addressing most conditions which result in dryness of the throat and lungs.

A potent decoction can be consumed as a nutrient when a person is recovering from stomach flu, or if he or she is having difficulty digesting foods. It is also very nourishing for people who are debilitated and / or deficient. To make gruel, add three to five tablespoons of slippery elm to one quart of water, mix together, and cook on low until the desired consistency is attained. The gruel or the capsules are also useful in the treatment of gastrointestinal inflammations.

Slippery elm can reduce inflammation caused by gastric ulcers, ulcerative colitis flare-ups, Crohns disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or diarrhea. The poultice, used topically, helps to heal dry conditions of the skin, including ulcers, boils, and wounds. The inner bark is the most potent part of the plant.

Note: Slippery elm is an endangered plant. Try marshmallow root as an alternative.

Spearmint (Mentha spicata) 
Spearmint shares most of the properties of peppermint, but it is not as stimulating and has a milder flavor. The tea can be used to relieve gas and digestive upset. Spearmint is sometimes used as a mild diaphoretic to treat the first stages of colds, flu, and fevers. It combines well with elder flower for this purpose. Spearmint is a delightful flavoring agent in tea blends.

Spikenard (Aralia californica, A. racemosa) 
Spikenard has soothing expectorant actions. It can be used for both chronic, moist lung conditions and for dry, irritating lung conditions. The tea or tincture can be useful as an adjunct treatment for lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia. It is also beneficial for those with emphysema or asthma, or for smokers. The root is anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. It also contains aromatic resins that aid in restoring proper mucous membrane secretions. Spikenard is a nourishing lung tonic.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy. Discontinue using spikenard if it causes a rash.**

Spilanthes (Spilanthes achmella)
Spilanthes closely resembles Echinacea in many of its actions. One should notice a strong tingling sensation on the tongue after ingesting the flowers or extract. Spilanthes stimulates the parotid glands and causes increased salivation.

It also stimulates blood flow to the oral mucosa. It can be useful as a mouthwash and rinse for gum infections, degenerative gum diseases, and toothaches. It has a stimulating effect on the immune system and increases white blood cell count. Spilanthes also has anti-bacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal actions.

Spirulina (Spirulina platensis)
Spirulina is a chlorophyll-rich algae. It is a concentrated source of nutrients, which can be used to supplement the diet. It contains vitamins A and E, vitamin B complex, and minerals. Spirulina contains 0.5- 2 micrograms of B-12 per gram. This compares well to liver, which contains 0.2-1.8 micrograms of B-12 per gram. Spirulina contains 50-70% protein, with limited amounts of methionine and cystine. The chlorophyll content can be useful in cases of anemia, and to prevent altitude sickness.

**Contraindications: individuals with hyperthyroidism should avoid consuming Spirulina. Spirulina can also be too energizing for some individuals, so discontinue use if it over-stimulates the nervous system or causes anxiety. Only very low

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St. John’s wort helps to calm the nervous system and repair nerve damage. It is useful for a variety of conditions including nerve pain, nerve inflammation, herpes, shingles, insomnia, anxiety, and ADD.

St. John’s wort is an anti-inflammatory, and can reduce pain and swelling in cases of arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, sore muscles and joints, and hemorrhoids. It can also reduce ulcer pain and encourage healing of stomach ulcers.

St. John’s wort has been used for centuries to treat depression. Studies have shown that St. John’s wort possesses properties similar to both classes of anti-depressant drugs. This herb is an MAO inhibitor and a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (Blumenthal, 1989; Hobbs 1988/1989; Richo Cech 1997). It may take anywhere from three weeks to three months before the effects are noticed.

The oil of St. John’s wort can be applied to hemorrhoids, fistulas, cuts, bruises, sore muscles, and mild sunburns. St. John’s wort tincture and oil are most effective when prepared from the fresh flowers and leaves.

**Contraindications: this herb should not be combined with certain pharmaceutical prescriptions, including birth control pills. Consult a practitioner before using St. John’s wort internally if you are taking medications. Internal consumption of this herb may cause photosensitivity in some individuals.**

Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) 
French tarragon has a rich, sweet, anise-like flavor. This herb is a flavorful addition to chicken, fish, salad and salad dressings, and vegetable dishes. The leaves contain vitamin A, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and iron. Tarragon can be used to stimulate the appetite and to relieve an upset stomach.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme has earned its reputation as a culinary herb. It enhances the flavor of egg dishes, fish, poultry, meat, stuffing, gravy, vinaigrettes, and vegetables. Thyme leaves contain vitamin A, niacin, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Thyme has antioxidant properties, and can be used as a preservative agent for foods, oils, and salves. Internally, the antioxidant actions prevent free radical formation, and can aid in preventing cancer, strengthening the immune system, and improving cardiovascular health. Thyme also has potent medicinal properties. It has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, and can be used in the treatment of numerous conditions of the respiratory tract including colds, flu, bronchitis, asthma, sinus infections, and whooping cough. Thyme also has expectorant and antitussive actions, and can be helpful for dry, unproductive coughs.

Thyme has carminative properties which help to relieve digestive cramping and gas. It is useful for dyspepsia and sluggish digestion. Historically, thyme was used to expel hookworms.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric has been used for centuries in India as both a spice and a medicine. It is a pungent, warming carminative which enhances digestion. Turmeric increases blood flow to the digestive system, and helps to warm the body from the core. One can cook with turmeric to improve the digestibility of foods.

Turmeric acts as an antispasmodic to the smooth muscles. It inhibits prostaglandins, which are agents that can cause the smooth muscles to spasm. Consuming turmeric on a regular or semi-regular basis can help to improve digestive conditions which result in cramping or intestinal spasms, as well as to reduce menstrual cramping.

Turmeric can even be beneficial as a tonic for some individuals with asthma; as decreasing prostaglandins can reduce respiratory spasms. It is most specific for asthma which is aggravated by cold weather, and when the mucus is clear or cloudy.

Additionally, turmeric has liver protectant properties. It shrinks engorged hepatic ducts in the liver and encourages bile secretion. Turmeric’s cholagogue properties encourage detoxification via the liver and the gall bladder, as well as enhancing the digestion of fats. Turmeric can aid in the treatment of some liver conditions, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and jaundice. Additionally, both the anti-inflammatory properties and detoxifying actions are beneficial for some individuals with skin conditions.

**Contraindications: avoid consuming turmeric regularly if one has night sweats, hot flashes, or yin deficiency with heat signs. Turmeric should be with caution by individuals with anemia or blood deficiency. Use in moderation during pregnancy.**

Usnea (Usnea barbata) (Old Man’s Beard) 
Usnea is a lichen that is renowned for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Usnea contains lichen acids, particularly usnic acid, which is effective against gram positive bacteria.

Examples of these fast-growing bacteria are the following: streptococcus (strep throat), staphylococcus (impetigo), mycobacterium tuberculosis, and pneumococcus. Usnea can be helpful in treating the following acute bacterial infections: bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus infections, and pleurisy. The lichen acids have little effect on salmonella and E. coli, a gram-negative bacterium that inhabits the gastrointestinal tract.

Usnea may also be included in formulas as an anti-bacterial for urinary tract infections and some kinds of digestive infections. It can be used as an alternative to the drug Flagyl. Usnea can be used as an anti-fungal internally and as a douche for yeast infections. Topically, usnea works well for fungal infections like athlete’s foot and ringworm. Salves, powders, creams, and tinctures are effective for topical use.

Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi)
Uva ursi can be used to treat urinary tract infections. It is best combined with other disinfectant herbs, as well as mucilaginous herbs such as marshmallow root, when treating a bladder or urinary tract infection.

However, this plant is very high in tannins and should not be used for more than one week, as it may irritate the kidneys and the bladder. A strong, well-strained tea of uva ursi can be added to sits baths. It acts as an astringent to relieve the irritation and inflammation of the local tissues which often accompanies bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, vulvitis, as well as the acute pain of herpes outbreaks.

**Contraindications: avoid internal use during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid using this plant internally for more than one week, as the tannins can irritate the kidneys. Discontinue use if kidney irritation occurs. Consult a practitioner when treating a urinary tract infection. **

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian is well known as a sedative. It can be especially helpful for insomnia resulting from pain or an overactive mind. The fresh plant extract of valerian has a strong antispasmodic action that helps to relax both smooth muscles and skeletal muscles. It is helpful for digestive and reproductive cramps, as well as muscle spasms of the neck, back, and legs. It can also be used topically and internally to reduce tooth pain.

Valerian can help to reduce nervous anxiety and tension. It can be helpful as a nervine for individuals who are recovering from the use of addictive substances such as caffeine, tobacco, barbiturates, heroin, and morphine. Some people may experience the opposite effects on the nervous system from taking this herb. For instance, it may stimulate the nervous system, cause heart palpitations, or nausea. If this occurs, discontinue use and choose another nervine herb.

**Contraindications: avoid using this herb with other pain medications. Do not operate heavy machinery or drive while taking valerian. Avoid using this herb if it causes unpleasant side effects. Consult a practitioner before using valerian during pregnancy.**

White Willow (Salix alba) 
White willow can be used as an anti-inflammatory to treat fevers and arthritis. White willow bark contains salicin or salicylic acid, a constituent that is the basis for aspirin. The salicin has anti-inflammatory actions that can be beneficial in cases of rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, and other inflammatory conditions.

Unlike aspirin, white willow can also be beneficial for stomach ulcers and heartburn. White willow is most helpful to treat fevers when consumed as a hot or warm beverage, or when added to a tepid bath. The tea is also useful as a gargle for sore throats, due to its tannin content.

White Oak (Quercus alba) 
White Oak is rich in tannins and is a powerful astringent. A gargle with the tea or tincture can help soothe a sore throat. A well-strained, cooled tea can be used effectively as an eyewash or as a douche for leucorrhoea. Internally, white oak has been used to stop diarrhea and gastroenteritis. Topical compresses are useful for the treatment of burns, cuts, varicose veins, poison oak, and piles.

White Sage (Salvia apiana) 
White sage inhibits bacterial and fungal growth. The salve or tea, as a nightly foot soak, is useful in the treatment of athlete’s foot. The salve or tea (as a topical wash) is beneficial for skin fungus and for impetigo. The tea (once cooled and strained) can be used as a douche for vaginal yeast.

Consuming a hot cup of white sage tea encourages sweating (i.e., it is a diaphoretic) and can help to break a fever in the first stages of cold and flu. The hot tea will also encourage stomach secretions for a person who is having difficulty digesting food, or who has a reduced appetite from illness. Drinking the tea at room temperature has the opposite effects; for instance, decreasing sweating and gastric secretions. White sage tea can also be used to help dry up mother’s milk when the child is weaning.

**Contraindications: avoid use during lactation, as white sage can dry breast milk. Avoid consuming the hot tea internally during pregnancy.**

Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina, P. virginiana) 
Wild cherry is a respiratory sedative and antitussive agent. If someone is breathing too quickly or shallowly as a result of asthma or a bronchial infection, wild cherry can be very helpful. It helps to relax and strengthen the respiratory system in cases of infection. It is often used in cough syrup and other cough formulas.

**Contraindications: Avoid use the of wild cherry bark with individuals who have very low blood pressure, respiratory depression, or cardiovascular depression.**

Wild Yam Root (Dioscorea villosa) 
Wild yam acts as an antispasmodic for smooth muscles. It can be helpful for intestinal and uterine cramping. It can also be used to relieve colic, griping, and pain from passing gallstones.

Wild yam is both a carminative and a bitter. It has been used safely as a remedy for morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy. Some find it useful for tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and to decrease the pain of inner ear infections. One of its folk names is “Rheumatism root” which is an indication of its use for arthritis; it has moderate anti-inflammatory properties.

Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) (Bishop’s wort) 
Wood betony has a mild calming effect on the nervous system. It helps to reduce anxiety and nervous tension. It can be used to treat headaches and migraines, especially when they are caused by nervous tension. It also contains tannins, which have astringent actions.

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) 
Wormwood can be used as a bitter digestive stimulant; even low doses (such as 5-10 drops of the tincture) are effective. It stimulates the appetite by increasing digestive secretions and peristalsis. It also promotes bile secretion.

Wormwood can also be used, with caution, to expel roundworms and threadworms. Wormwood has traditionally been used in liqueurs such as absinthe and vermouth.

**Contraindications: avoid use during pregnancy and lactation.**

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow has hemostatic properties, it works to stop bleeding. Both topical poultice and internal use are appropriate. In fact, yarrow seems to help the arteries to re-assimilate blood that has flowed out into tissues as a result of a torn vessel.

Yarrow is well known as a diaphoretic; it is specific for high fevers when the skin feels hot to the touch, dry, and constricted. Yarrow contains volatile oils which stimulate mucus membrane secretions in the respiratory mucosa. It can be helpful for irritated lung conditions.

Yarrow is an effective digestive tonic; its bitter components stimulate digestive secretions. Yarrow has astringent properties which can be useful as a treatment for diarrhea. It helps tone the digestive tract and reduce bleeding and sensitivity of the membranes. It can also be helpful as both an astringent and a hemostatic for the treatment of diverticulitis, colitis, and bleeding hemorrhoids.

**Contraindications: avoid internal use during pregnancy.**.

Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)
Yellow dock can be used to improve the health of the digestive system and the liver. It has mild astringent actions, and when used in lower doses it can help to reduce inflammation of the mucus membranes in the digestive tract. These mild astringent properties make yellow dock beneficial as a gentle, long-term tonic for inflammatory conditions of the lower digestive system, including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, leaky gut syndrome, celiac disease, and intestinal candida.

Low doses, such as 5-10 drops of the tincture, can also help to reduce diarrhea and loose stools (when the condition is not caused by a microbe). Interestingly, moderate doses of yellow dock (e.g. 20-60 drops of the tincture) have gentle laxative properties. The root has cholagogue actions, and it also contains anthraquinone derivatives, both of which account for the laxative actions.

Yellow dock is beneficial in the treatment of constipation; in this case consume the tea or tincture up to twenty minutes before meals. Yellow dock is one of the few laxative herbs which are safe to use during pregnancy. Yellow dock enhances digestion of fat and protein, and improves the assimilation of minerals. It can be used to improve the digestion and assimilation of iron, which is beneficial for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia. It can also be used as a digestive bitter tonic by individuals with poor digestion, frequent gas and bloating, and / or difficulty assimilating nutrients.

Yellow dock is a gentle liver detoxifier. It can be useful as a treatment for individuals with chronic skin conditions, including acne, eczema, premenstrual breakouts, and psoriasis. Yellow dock can also be used as a recuperative agent for individuals who have had hepatitis or jaundice. In terms of Chinese medicine, yellow dock clears damp heat in the lower burner.

**Contraindications: too high a dose can cause loose stools. Either lower the dose or discontinue use yellow dock if this occurs.**

Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica)
Yerba mansa is a useful antibacterial agent for infections of the sinus, lungs, and urinary tract. It has aromatic astringent properties which reduce excessive respiratory secretions and address stagnant mucus. The root can be very useful for the treatment of respiratory infections and allergies.

It acts as a urinary tract disinfectant as well a diuretic, and it can be used for the treatment of cystitis and urethritis. Yerba mansa can also be used when tissues are inflamed and congested as a result of injury, prolonged infection, or inflammation. This often happens once an infection has continued past five to seven days. Yerba mansa helps to astringe the tissue, improving fluid transport and waste removal. Yerba mansa is effective in healing lingering infections of the mouth, gums, throat, lung, stomach, duodenum, and urinary tract. It also prevents scar tissue that can result from recurring infections.

Yerba mansa also has anti-inflammatory effects, similar to aspirin, which can be helpful for some types of joint problems. A gargle of the tea is helpful for bleeding gums, sore throat, or mouth ulcers. The root is also an anti-fungal agent; it can be used internally for the treatment of candidiasis of the intestines or of the vagina. Topically, a dust of powder or a salve is beneficial for athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other kinds of skin tinea. Yerba mansa has been used as an alternative to goldenseal.

**Contraindications: discontinue use of yerba mansa if it is too drying to the mucus membranes.**

Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californica)
Yerba santa is an expectorant and a decongestant which is useful for excess mucus in the sinus and the lungs. In addition to drying up the membranes, it helps to thin and expel mucus. It has a beneficial action when incorporated into allergy formulas. It can also be useful for chronic gastritis.

**Contraindications: discontinue use of yerba santa if it is too drying to the mucus membranes.**

Yohimbe (Corynanthe yohimbe)
Yohimbe is used primarily as a sexual stimulant (i.e. an aphrodisiac). It has secondary stimulant actions on the nervous system. Yohimbe can increase the excitability of erectile tissue and facilitate engorgement of that tissue with blood. It is used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, lowered libido, impotence, and an-orgasmia.

Yohimbe can dilate and inflame small arteries, which can be dangerous for some individuals. Please read the contraindications before using this herb.

**Contraindications: never use yohimbe during pregnancy or lactation, or in young people. Yohimbe can increase blood pressure and pulse rate and should never be used by individuals who have moderate or high blood pressure, or by anyone taking medications to manage blood pressure. It should also be avoided by individuals with blood vessel disorders and by those prone to migraine headaches. Yohimbe should also not be used by men with benign prostatic hypertrophy or prostatitis, as it can cause difficulty with prostate drainage. Women who have cervical inflammation or with a tipped uterus should also avoid using yohimbe, as it may cause inflammation of the tissues. Yohimbe should be avoided by individuals who have nervous system conditions and by those who are easily stimulated. Discontinue using yohimbe if it causes anxiety or insomnia. Yohimbe is best avoided by individuals taking any medications on a regular basis.

Building Your Immunity

The last decade alone has seen an influx of infectious diseases and virulent strains increasingly unaffected by conventional treatments. Overuse and abuse of antibiotic medicines and antibacterial products have turned the war on germs into a war on humankind as once-common bacteria and viruses mutate to new levels of resistance. According to an article in Science (August 1992), “doctors in hospitals and clinics around the world are losing the battle against an onslaught of new drug-resistant bacterial infections and other diseases that are costly and difficult, if not impossible, to treat.”

You may not be able to avoid the onslaught of bacteria, viruses and other germs capable of wreaking havoc in your body. However, you can take the offensive by revving up your immune system so your body can more effectively resist whatever diseases come your way.

Running on Empty

Everyday life is full of encounters with any number of pathogens and foreign substances that can infiltrate and attack your body. Your immune system defends your body against these invaders. An intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs, your immune system fights back by detecting and destroying any substance that doesn’t belong in your body.

But when your immune system is compromised, a breakdown occurs that can make you more susceptible to diseases and infections. Physical, psychological and social factors ranging from sustained stress and environmental toxins to poor diet and lifestyle choices can leave your body running on empty. For example, high cholesterol and alcohol can suppress immune activity that fights infection, and sustained stress affects hormone levels that regulate immune functions. Refined sugars and excess natural sugars can weaken your immunity as well. According to a 1977 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking 24 ounces of sugary soda depressed infection-fighting white blood cell activity by 50 percent for about five hours after consumption.

Fortunately, nature has provided plants that can enhance and restore immune function. Scientific studies are verifying the immune-boosting and antimicrobial actions of botanical medicines and their synergistic mix of plant-based chemicals that may help prevent diseases from colds to cancer.