Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) Monogram

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)

Family: Lamiaceae

In most folk or older texts it is refereed to as “Balm”. Culpeper calls it “so common” that he doesn’t even offer a drawing of the plant.

Common medicinal properties:Anodyne, Antispasmodic, AntiViral, aromatic, Cardiac Tonic Cordial, Diaphoretic, digestive, emmenogogue, Febrifuge, Hypotensive, Nervine, Sedative, Stomachic, Uterine Tonic, Vermifuge

Current Research:

Cold sores. Applying a lip balm containing 1% lemon balm extract seems to shorten healing time, prevent infection spread, and reduce symptoms of recurring cold sores.

Insomnia. Taking a lemon balm by itself or along with other ingredients might improve the length and quality of sleep in healthy people and in those with insomnia or sleeping disorders.

Contraindications:

Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interact with Lemon Balm

Parts Used: Whole herb

Constituents: volatile oils (citral, citronellal, eugenol acetate, geranoil) polyphenols, tannin, flavonoids, rosmarinic acid, triterpenoids

Folk applications: Soaked in wine and shared with a prospect to induce love. Hang upon a blade that caused a wound to make the wound stop bleeding. Included in charms to ensure success.

Personal observations

Fresh:

Dried:

Water infusion from dried: Fruity smelling, slightly bitter, and a little soapy.

Alcohol infusion from dried: Amber brown like dark whiskey, grassy flavored with a mildly camphorus aftertaste.

Oil infusion:

Essential oil:

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Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)

kava kavaFamily: Piperaceae

In this shrubs native habitat, Polynesia and the Pacific Ocean Islands , natives calm down by chewing a few leaves, but the best medicine is in the roots, which can be used to make a tea. Kava is used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes throughout the Pacific. These cultures have a great respect for the plant and place a high importance on it.

Common medicinal properties:   Analgesic , Anodyne,  Antibacterial, Diaphoretic/sudorific,  Diuretic, Expectorant, Sedative , Stimulant

Current Research:

Anxiety – The majority of evidence shows that certain kava extracts (extracts standardized to 70% kavalactones) can lower anxiety and might work as well as prescription anti-anxiety medications called low-dose benzodiazepines. But it might take up to 8 weeks of treatment to see improvement.

Contraindications:

Kava is hard on the liver, even healthy ones. Taking kava if you already have liver disease is taking a risk.

Parts Used: rhizome

Constituents: kava lactones, kawahin, yanoginin, methysticin, glycosides

Folk applications: Drink as a protection from evil and to invite in good luck. It is a common journey inducing beverage.

Personal observations

Fresh:

Dried:

Water infusion:

Alcohol infusion from dried and ground: Cloudy color and very soapy tasting. After making this tincture I always cut it 50/50 with unsteeped alcohol for my personal recipes.

Oil infusion:

Essential oil:

Receipts

Basic Dreamtime Blend

Knockout Drops Ninja strength

Knockout Drops Godzilla strength

Echinacea decoction to feel better faster

Echinacea decoctionAre you coming down with something? At the first sneeze or tickle I like to brew up an echinacea decoction to boost my immune system. Here is how to do it.

1) Grind or chop an ounce of dried echinacea root
2) In a small sauce pan mix 12 ounces of distilled water with the echinacea
3) Bring the mixture to a high simmer (only one layer of bubbles)
4) Simmer until the mixture is reduced by half
5) Strain, cool and bottle
6) Add a 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) to each of your 8 glasses of water throughout the day
7) Feel better faster!

 

How to make infused oils

IMG_6377Herb infused oils are are great to have on hand. Some are great for salad dressing , some for skin, some for internal medicine, some for all of the above. Here is a simple how to for making infused oils.

1) Figure out how much herb you have and how much oil you want to make. I like a 1 to 10 ratio for dried herbs which means 1 oz (mass) to 10 oz (volume)

2) Choose your oil. I am a fan of olive oil for both food and skin preparations and it’s always on hand.

3) Make sure your dried herb is in small enough pieces to maximize surface area in contact with oil. A freshly ground herb or resin is best!

4) Put the lime in the coconut and shake them both up. Have your cocktail, then get back to work on that infused oil.

5) Put the dried herb in a seal-able container (canning jars work nicely) with the oil. Give it a shake and put it away. Dark is best, warm is good. Give it a shake every day.

6) In 4 to 6 weeks open it up and revel in the herby goodness. Strain it through a cheese cloth to remove all plant material and store it in a cool dark place for up to a year.

Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnate)

passionflower

Family: Passifloraceae

Herbalists have a high regard for the soothing properties of passionflower and recommend it as a general nerve tonic to treat nervous stress. The Commission E approved its use for anxiety. Passionflower is used to gently relax the mind/body to prepare for a more restful nights sleep.

Common medicinal properties: Analgesic , Purgative, Sedative

Current Research: Effective for generalized anxiety.

Contraindications: Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with PASSIONFLOWER

Parts Used:  Dried leaves and stems.

Constituents:  Apigenin and luteolin glycosides, vitexin, isovitexin and their c-glycosides, kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin; indole alkaloids (0.010.09%), mainly harman, harmaline, harmine; coumarin derivatives; cyanogenic glucosides (gynocardin); fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic); gum; maltol; phytosterols (stigmasterol); sugars (sucrose); and a trace of volatile oil

Folk applications:   Placed in the home to calm problems and bring peace. When carried, it attracts friends and creates popularity. Placed in a pillow it brings sleep.

Tincture R

Lavender (Lavandula spp) Monograph

Lavender (Lavandula spp)

eLAVENDER-botanicalFamily: Lamiaceae

Common medicinal properties: Analgesic, AntiCancer,Antifungal,  Antioxidant, Antiperspirant, Antirheumatic, AntiViral, Aromatic, Cardiac tonic cordial, Chlagogue, Cicatrisant, Cytophylactic, Deodorant/Perfumes, Diaporetic/Sudorific, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Hypotensive, Insect repellents, Muscle Relaxant, Nervine, Parturient, Sedative, Splenic, Vermifuge, Vulnerary

Current Research:

Migraine. Some research suggests that rubbing 2 or 3 drops of lavender oil on the upper lip, so that the vapor is inhaled, might reduce migraine pain and nausea, and help stop the headache spreading.

Contraindications:
Sedative medications (Barbiturates) interacts with LAVENDER
Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with LAVENDER

Parts Used: Flowers, leaves and stems

Constituents: volatile oil (up to 1.5%, containing linabol, linalyl acetate, lavendulyl acetate, terpinenol, cineole, camphor, borneol, pinene, limonene), tannins, coumarins (coumarin, umbelliferone, hemiarin), flavonoids, triterpenoids, rosmarinic acid

Folk applications:
Clothing smelling of lavender attracts love (thus the drawer sachets). Rub lavender against anything you want to attract a man. It is burned or smoldered to induce peacefulness and rest.It is carried to see ghosts.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) monograph

feverfewFamily: Asteraceae

Common medicinal properties: Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Circulation, Febrifuge, Insect repellents

Current Research: Preventing migraine headache.  A randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial of feverfew in the prevention of migraine has yielded promising results.

Contraindications: Do not take feverfew if you are pregnant. Feverfew may cause your uterus to contract. This may raise the risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery. It’s also best to avoid using it when breastfeeding.

  • Parts Used: arial parts
  • Constituents: Sesquiterpene lactones (including parthenolide and santamarine), volatile oil, tannins

Folk stories and applications: Carried for protection against cold, fever and accident. The ancient Greeks called the herb “Parthenium,” supposedly because it was used medicinally to save the life of someone who had fallen from the Parthenon during its construction in the 5th century BC

Tincture Ratio: 1:5:dried flowers,leaves and stems: 40%

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) monograph

Echinacea-PFamily: Asteraceae

Herbalists do not agree on which species is best, E.purpurea,, E. pallida, or E.angustifolia, but all variants have phytochemicals that improve the immune system.

Common medicinal properties:  Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial, AntiViral, Depurative, Emetic, and Immunostimulant

Current Research:

Common cold – Many scientific studies show that taking some echinacea products when cold symptoms are first noticed can modestly reduce symptoms of the common cold in adults. But other scientific studies show no benefit. The problem is that scientific studies have used different types of echinacea plants and different methods of preparation. Since the studies have not been consistent, it is not surprising that different studies show different results. If it helps for treating a cold, the benefit will likely be modest at best. It also isn’t clear whether echinacea can help PREVENT colds. Any benefit is likely to be modest.

Vaginal yeast infections. Taking echinacea and applying a medicated cream to the skin seems to lower the recurrence rate of infection to about 16% compared to 60.5% with econazole alone.
Contraindications:

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with ECHINACEA

Caffeine interacts with ECHINACEA

Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with ECHINACEA

Parts Used:  Most often roots, stems and flowers are also used but are weaker

Constituents:  essential oil (including humulene and caryophylene), glycoside, polysaccharide, polyacetylenes, isobutylalklamines, resin, betaine, inulin, sesquiterpene.

Folk applications:  Used by American Indians as an offering to spirits to ensure and strengthen spells.

German Chamomile Monograph

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) Monograph

chamomileChamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Family: Asteraceae

Common medicinal properties:  Analgesic, Anodyne, Anti-inflammatory, Antidepressant, Antirheumatic, antispasmodic, Anti-Viral, Aromatic, Bitter, Carmenative, Cholagogue, Cicatrisant, Depurative, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge, Hepatic, Nervine, Sedative, Splenic, Stomachic, Vasoconstrictor, Vulnerary

Current Research: Research suggests that taking 220-1110 mg of German chamomile daily for 8 weeks reduces anxiety and depression in adults with anxiety disorder.

Contraindications: Should not be used with estrogen or sedative medications.

Parts Used: Chamomile flowers, tea, chamomile oil

Constituents: volatile oil (containing chamazulene, farnesene, bisabolol), flavonoids (including rutin and quercimertrin), coumarins, plant acids (including valerianic acid), fatty acids, cyanogenic glycosides, salicylate derivatives

Folk applications:  Used as hand wash to bring Money or ensure luck at gambling. Added to a bath to attract love. Used in sleep or meditation incenses. Sprinkled around a property to remove curses and create protection.

Tincture recipe: 1:3 ariel dried 40%

Ode to the Lemon

I adore lemons. There is little better than a cool lemon cucumber water on a hot summer day or the occasional glass of sweet-tart lemonade to refresh us. Why are lemons so darn good at cooling us off? What else does the lovely bright citrus offer? Let’s explore it a little.

36996058_sBotanically, this citrus fruit belongs to the family of Rutaceae, in the genus, Citrus (which also includes orange, pomelo, tangerine, and grapefruit). Scientific name: Citrus limon. It is the smallest among citrus fruits, nevertheless, holds more health benefiting nutrients than other larger citrus family fruits such as oranges, yuzu, pomelo (Citrus maxima), etc.

The lemon’s acidic taste comes from its citric acid which constitutes about 8% of its juice. Citric acid makes it easier for the body to absorb some minerals.

Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C  (ascorbic acid). A 3.5-ounce serving provides about 88% of daily recommended intake. Ascorbic acid is a powerful water-soluble natural anti-oxidant. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the blood.

Lemons also contain a variety of flavonoid glycosides (Hesperetin, naringin, and naringenin) that have been found to have a bio-active effect on human health as antioxidant, free radical scavenger, anti-inflammatory, and immune system modulators. Naringenin has also been shown to reduce oxidant injury to DNA in the cells in-vitro studies.

Lemon has long been sought to bolster the immune system and with 138mg of potassium, 53 mg of vitamin C, 26 mg of calcium and 22 mg of vitamin A it’s no wonder it improves the bodies natural functions.

Herbalists look to lemon to improve digestion, as an antimicrobial, as a cooling agent and as an anti-inflammatory.

But what about Lemon essential oil? It is such an amazing scent and like many essential oils, the constituents of lemon oil have antiseptic properties so it is an ideal additive to cleaning products. It’s uplifting and cleansing in aromatherapy and can create a more cheerful atmosphere. A Japanese study suggested that after diffusing lemon oil throughout a busy office building, typing errors decreased by 54%. How cool is that! What essential oil doesn’t contain is the water-soluble vitamins and Lemon waterminerals present in infusions.

One note of caution, you will see a lot of skin treatments with lemon because of it’s lovely astringency and vitamin content but it can increase the photosensitivity of the skin.

A glass of lemon water (yum) will surely do your body good! I like to keep a pitcher in the fridge during the summer and only replace the lemon once a week or so.

How do you use lemon? Tell us in the comments below.