SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Circulatory, Reproductive, Nervous, Muscular (particularly the uterine muscle), Endocrine/Glandular (emphasis on the hypothalamus)
POSSIBLE USES:preparation for labor, labor regulator, headaches, muscle spasms of any kind, nerve and muscle pain, asthma, coughs, menstrual cramps, menopause, high blood pressure associated with peripheral blood vessel tension, arthritis, menopausal symptoms
Matthew Wood is an herbalist who leans very much to the traditional American Indian use of herbal remedies, and to the spiritual qualities of plants and their effects on our own spiritual growth. He also teaches about the qualities of plants from the standpoint of what they survive in their own environment and how the strengths that they possess as a result of their own struggles can strengthen us. He presents an amazing description of Black Cohosh from these standpoints in his bookSeven Herbs, Plants as Healers. I would recommend this entire book, and everything else that he has written, to any student of herbal medicine. Wood points out that Black Cohosh is particularly applicable to women whose health issues are tied to an abusive relationship, and will be most effective when they have managed to leave that relationship behind or have worked out the problems with counseling or therapy. Matthew Wood refers to Black Cohosh as the “Herbal Chiropractor” and recommends a cup of warm tea if the neck or spine is out of alignment. I am going to have to try this!
Black Cohosh eases muscle tension and produces more effective but less painful contractions during labor. The anodyne and nervine properties of this marvelous herb, which are specific to nerve and muscle pain, make it excellent for labor and for relieving pain in joints and muscles at other times. Black Cohosh is often used as part of a formula to prepare the uterus for the birthing process in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Black Cohosh is used outside of pregnancy to relieve headache, muscle spasms, bronchial spasms, asthma, and for menstrual cramps. Black Cohosh is sometimes used to dilate the peripheral blood vessels to lower blood pressure. Black Cohosh is considered a vermifuge although I have never noticed this to occur when using this herb. Black Cohosh is an adaptogenic and alterative which means that it gradually improves health through its effects on the blood, the immune system, and the connective tissues.
PROPERTIES:Alterative, Adaptogenic, Tonic, Stimulant, Relaxant (yes, it is both, depending on need and circumstances), Analgesic, Demulcent, Emmenagogue
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Reproductive, Muscular
POSSIBLE USES:during labor, pain relief, muscle tension, arthritis, urinary disorders
Blue Cohosh contains phosphorus and potassium (and likely other things I cannot find documented). Blue Cohosh is used extensively for things related to pregnancy and childbirth. Like Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh is often part of formulas taken in the last weeks of pregnancy to prepare the woman’s body for birth. The relaxant properties of Blue Cohosh are especially useful when stress and tension are producing uterine irritability, spasmodic false labor pains, and overly strong Braxton-Hicks contractions in the weeks prior to birth.
During labor, Blue Cohosh aids the uterus in producing regular and effective contractions with good rest periods in between. I have seen Blue Cohosh, in both herbal and homeopathic form, strengthen a labor that is stalling out due to fatigue and uterine inertia. At those times I have breathed a heavy sigh of relief, knowing that we have just averted a likely Caesarean section surgery for mom and baby because labor would just not get underway properly.
Blue Cohosh is often combined with Black Cohosh; these are complementary plants with similarly beneficial nervine and antispasmodic properties. Combined with other system specific herbs, both Cohoshes are used to treat nervous disorders, urinary tract problems, relief of muscle cramps including menstrual and stomach cramps, bronchial disorders, arthritis, and rheumatism.
Use Blue (and Black) Cohosh with caution during pregnancy prior to labor or when wanting labor to kick in more productively. In rare cases, Blue Cohosh is what is needed to relax pelvic structures to prevent an impending miscarriage.
Some herbal references recommend against using the Cohoshes in a tea as the best medicinal parts are not thought to be water soluble.
In a study conducted at the Yale Pain Management Center in New Haven, CT, capsaicin (the active ingredient in Cayenne) was shown to dramatically reduce the pain of the mouth sores that result from chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Strangely, the capsaicin was administered in taffy. Taffy was chosen because the sugar decreased the initial burning sensation, taffy would remain in the mouth long enough for the capsaicin to desensitize the neurons, and because taffy is so soft and did not irritate the mouth.
As you can see from the lists above, Cayenne is about as close to a cure-all herb as there is in nature. If I could only have one herb in my house, Cayenne would be the one that I would choose.
Tincture using 1:7 ratio and alcohol that is 100 proof or higher. Use fresh or whole dried Cayenne Peppers. Cayenne, picked fresh and tinctured the same day, makes a beautifully clear and amazingly potent tincture.
Cayenne is the #1 stimulant herb. It is the purest and most powerful of all the medicinal herbs. The best description I have ever read of Cayenne is that it causes “the fires of life to burn more brightly.” Cayenne rebuilds (yes, rebuilds) vein structures, removes plaque from veins, and sends the blood rushing along carrying nutrients to every cell of the body.
Cayenne’s action on the cardiovascular system is almost instantaneous. Cayenne brings the blood, especially the clotting factors, into a state of homeostasis, making it effective for hemorrhage as well as poor circulation. Cayenne will stop bleeding, even of hemorrhage proportions, and is the first thing that I would reach for at the onset of a stroke or heart attack. Studies have repeatedly shown that Cayenne reduces blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In addition to that amazing feat, Cayenne reduces the instances of platelet aggregation—meaning that Cayenne prevents blood clots.
Taken as a cold or fever begins, Cayenne fights the infection while inducing a beneficial and bacteria-killing sweat. Cayenne is an excellent digestive and reproductive stimulant herb. In respiratory illnesses, Cayenne acts as an expectorant, thinning the mucus in the lungs and making it possible for the body to expel it. In the digestive tract, Cayenne promotes the secretion of digestive juices and improves the ability of the body to absorb nutrients. Cayenne is often used—usually in capsule form—to cauterize and heal stomach ulcers.
The sensation (the burning feeling) created on the tongue stimulates the brain to release endorphins. Endorphins block pain receptors throughout the body and induce feelings of wellbeing. A positive attitude alone can have a beneficial effect on healing, especially with chronic illnesses.
Cayenne contains carotene molecules which are powerful antioxidants. Interestingly, although Cayenne is hot to the taste it actually lowers body temperatures by stimulating a center in the hypothalamus that is responsible for cooling the body. Cayenne, applied topically, reduces pain.
Cayenne is an accentuator and will increase the healing properties of the other herbs. By adding a touch of Cayenne to a respiratory formula, for example, the respiratory herbs will reach the lungs and begin their healing action much more quickly. You will notice in the recipe section of this manual that Cayenne, in small parts, is in many formulas.
ELDERBERRIES (Sambucus nigra)
PROPERTIES:Nutritive, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Antiviral, and (according to some) Anti-cancer
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Cardiovascular, Integumentary
POSSIBLE USES: hair rinse, heart tonic, skin toner
Rich in vitamin C (off the charts), vitamin A and flavonoids, Elderberries are antioxidant powerhouses and may prevent cell damage even in the toxic environment that modern life has created for each of us. Only black currants and Rosehips contain more vitamin C than Elderberries. Other prominent ingredients in Elderberries are iron, potassium, phosphorus, copper, calcium, vitamin B6, beta carotenes, some proteins, and some very nice antioxidants.
The high fiber amounts in Elderberries are said to help eliminate excess cholesterol from the system and provide for “good” cholesterol that the body produces itself if it has the right materials. The potassium in Elderberries protects the heart muscle by relaxing tension in the blood vessels and arteries—even those around the heart itself.
Elderberries have been used for nearly a millennium to soften and tone the skin and to lighten freckles. Elderberries are also used as a rinse for brown hair (as is Rosemary)
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Vision, Nerves, Respiratory, Digestive (liver), Mental
POSSIBLE USES:vision, eye infections, eye tics and spasms
Eyebright’s affinity for the eyes (and its name) seems to have originated, at least in part, with the ancientDoctrine of Signatureswhich states the way a plant looks—its signature—indicates the ailments for which it should be used as a medicine. At first glance, this may seem like silly superstition but it has proven to be true too many times to be taken lightly.
Eyebright stimulates the liver to clean the blood, relieving those conditions that affect vision and the eyes. Eyebright will strengthen all parts of the eye, nourish the nerves that supply the eye, and bring clarity of vision. There are those who believe that this clarity of vision includes clarity of thought and purpose as well.
Eyebright should be taken liberally, and for eye infections a well-strained tea should be applied, a few drops at a time to the eyes. Eyebright, as an eyewash, is usually combined with other herbs such as those found in the EB formula.
Eyebright has also proven useful for inflammations of the nose and throat, the middle ear, and the sinus and nasal passages. Because it is so astringent, it should be used carefully when the congestion in the head is dry and stuffy rather than wet with copious mucus.
PROPERTIES:Adaptogenic, Antidepressant, Aphrodisiac, Tonic (general and specific to reproductive and endocrine/glandular organs), Nervine
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Nervous, Reproductive, Lungs, Immune, Endocrine/Glandular
POSSIBLE USES:increased energy and immune function, blood pressure, stress management, insomnia, and a host of other things! (Please see the section onAlterative and Adaptogenic Herbsin the book for further information.)
Goldenseal Root was prized during the 19th century as a cure-all, and as you can see from the list above of healing properties and the body systems affected, calling this herb a cure-all is not much of a stretch. The many healing properties of this herb are so well known that very little interest has ever been shown in research as to its usefulness. It is difficult to find a disease or condition for which Goldenseal has not been found effective by someone somewhere.
There were studies done in the late 1960s that identified hydrastine as the constituent that constricts blood vessels and stimulates the autonomic nervous system. Berberine is another vital part of Goldenseal and is responsible for a long list of healing properties. Berberine containing plants always show a broad spectrum of antibiotic activity. The action of berberine is actually considered to be stronger than that of modern antibiotics but berberine produces no side-effects. Effectiveness against strep and staph is a hallmark of berberine containing plants and usually requires only low doses for effectiveness.
Goldenseal has proven effective in the treatment of liver disorders, various cancers, and any condition that presents with lowered white blood cell counts, including chemotherapy. Prevention and recovery from strokes, improvement in the flow of bile, and the strengthening of liver function are also accomplished by Goldenseal. This herb is amazing for healing even deep wounds, particularly diabetic sores. I have witnessed this in my own family. Goldenseal is also used to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and is used by midwives to help stop bleeding following childbirth.
A comparison between this marvelous herb and Oregon Grape, which grows in the Mountain West where I live, can be found in the chapter onAlterative and Adaptogenic Herbs.
Goldenseal grows wild in the moist mountainous woodland areas of North America and prefers soil that is well covered with dead leaves. Goldenseal has been excessively harvested and is now found only rarely in its natural habitat. Most of what is sold as a medicinal herb today has been cultivated. The plant must reach 3 years of age before the rhizomes are mature enough to contain the constituents necessary for healing properties.
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Respiratory, Circulatory, Integumentary, Structural, Liver, Glandular, Urinary
POSSIBLE USES:kidney ailments and stones, healing of sprains and fractures, internal bleeding, brittle nails, skin rashes, nosebleeds
Horsetail is one of the best diuretic and kidney support herbs available. Besides strengthening and toning the urinary tract, Horsetail is listed as one of those herbs that helps to prevent, or even dissolve, kidney stones. Being both astringent and hemostatic, Horsetail is particularly indicated when there is bleeding within the urinary system. Horsetail is also known to staunch the bleeding of external wounds, stop nosebleeds, and reduce the coughing up of blood when that is necessary. While handling the bleeding, Horsetail speeds the repair of damaged connective tissue, improving its strength and elasticity.
Horsetail is most noted for its silica (silicon) content, which is very high and remarkably soluble. Recent studies in Europe have found that broken bones do not heal well, even in the presence of high levels of calcium, if there is insufficient amounts of silicon available in the blood. This interaction between calcium and silicon makes this herb valuable to strengthen hair and nails, and to prevent the formation of gallstones and kidney stones. There are many great diuretic herbs, but none with the other benefits of Horsetail. Horsetail strengthens hair, nails, bones, and teeth.
Horsetail also has an effect on the liver and gallbladder. Horsetail is high in vitamin E and selenium, and is certainly much cheaper than taking a supplement of vitamin E. Other rather unusual nutrients found in Horsetail include both iron and iodine, as well as cobalt, copper, and manganese.
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Endocrine/Glandular, Urinary, Digestive
POSSIBLE USES:blood sugar issues (such as hypoglycemia), inflamed sinuses, kidney and bladder problems, indigestion, gas
The antiseptic properties of Juniper Berries disinfect the urinary tract, while the diuretic and antilithic properties rid the urinary tract of excess fluid and uric acid buildup. Reduction in fluid and uric acid can prevent or relieve gout and even help with arthritis.
Juniper is high in natural insulin and naturally lowers blood sugar levels. It can assist in healing the pancreas as long as the damage has not become irreversibly severe. Juniper Berries, when ingested as a tea, reduce inflammation and soothe the entire gastrointestinal system, and is a helpful treatment for upset stomach, heartburn, flatulence, bloating, and may even help the body expel intestinal worms.
‘Just Elderberry’ Baby and Concentrate can be taken straight and placed right under the tongue. Or you can mix it in your favorite drink – juice, water, even milk. Do whatever works best for you. It’s a safe and convenient way for you to give your children (and babies) a little bit of Elderberry Juice….. without corn syrup or artificial colors or sweeteners or unknown chemical preservatives. Our ‘Just Elderberry’ Baby is NOT a super-secret, man-made, laboratory created medication. It IS a lighter concentration of Elderberry juice; preserved in all-natural vegetable glycerin; and placed in an easy-to-use dropper bottle.
INGREDIENTS: Elderberry juice concentrate, Vegetable glycerin.
Elderberry Family Farm
Just Elderberry Concentrate
‘Just Elderberry’ Concentrate can be taken straight and placed right under the tongue. Or you can mix it in your favorite drink – juice, water, even milk. Do whatever works best for you. It’s a safe and convenient way for you to get your daily elderberry dose….. without corn syrup or artificial colors or sweeteners or unknown chemical preservatives. Our ‘Just Elderberry’ Concentrate is NOT a super-secret, man-made, laboratory created medication. It IS concentrated Elderberry juice; preserved in all-natural vegetable glycerin; and placed in an easy-to-use dropper bottle.
INGREDIENTS:Elderberry Juice Concentrate, Vegetable glycerin.
LOBELIA (Lobelia inflata)
PART USED:Aerial portion
PROPERTIES:Relaxant, Sedative, Emetic, Cathartic, Nervine, Antispasmodic, Expectorant, Carrier for other herbs and properties—called the “Thinking Herb” by Dr. John Christopher
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Nervous, Muscular, Immune, Circulatory
POSSIBLE USES:many of them are listed in a separate chapter in this book (chapter 3)
Lobelia is one of the greatest herbs that we have available to us. It was discovered by the great 19th century herbalist, Dr. Samuel Thompson. He was a contemporary of Joseph Smith and believed by Joseph Smith to be an inspired man. Dr. Thompson said,“There is no vegetable which the earth produces more harmless in its effect on the human system and none more powerful in removing disease and promoting health. It is calculated to remove the cause, and no more, as food removes hunger, and drink thirst. It clears all obstructions to the extremities, without regard to the names of disease, until it produces an equilibrium throughout the system, and will be felt in the fingers and toes, producing a prickling feeling like that caused by a knock on the elbow. This symptom is alarming to those unacquainted with its operation, but is always favorable, being certain indication of the turn of the disorder, and patients generally gain from that time. This plant is the most important article I make use of in my practice.”
In 1789, in the midst of much persecution of naturopathic practitioners by the allopathic doctors of the day, Dr. Thompson was brought to trial for the use of Lobelia. Much vituperative press accompanied this trial and has been quoted and then quoted again over the years for many of the same reasons as the original statements were written. Without going into great detail, let it be sufficient to say that Dr. Thompson was acquitted and the court record shows that no case could be made for the administration of Lobelia sensibly as being a harmful agent. The very fact that so much continual misrepresentation abounds concerning this herb indicates to me that it must be very valuable indeed in curing illness.
Lobelia is, as far as I know, the strongest relaxant and sedative herb known anywhere. As indicated, there are some who claim that it is a dangerous herb. I certainly would not describe it as dangerous in the sense of life-threatening, but it would be an easy herb to overuse and abuse. Lobelia is strongly emetic, so even though it probably could relax and sedate the respiratory system to the point of death, you would have a very difficult time keeping enough of it down to seriously harm yourself! You might, however, feel like death would be a welcome relief from the vomiting and cramping!
Lobelia can remove obstructions and congestions throughout the body and in the blood at a rapid and remarkable rate. An overdose produces the very strong response of vomiting and diarrhea. The vomiting and diarrhea are brought about because the eliminative organs cannot keep up with the housecleaning that the Lobelia has set into motion. Lobelia is a vasodilator and a muscle relaxant. Coupled with the vomiting these sensations can be really alarming! But, even in an overdose situation, the marvelous cleansing that has resulted eventually leaves the person feeling wonderful—energetic and relaxed at the same time. It takes a very large amount of Lobelia to produce these symptoms. It is not something you need to be concerned about. If you take a bit too much, your body will respond with a slightly chilly sensation. This early warning signal can be trusted and passes in just a few moments.
Lobelia is the most efficient of the herbs that act as carriers for other herbs. Lobelia added to any combination will deliver the herb quickly and efficiently to the area of distress. Moreover, it seems to be selective in its course of action. Dr. Christopher often described, in his talks and lectures, the cases of two young men who were similar in age but completely different in strength and constitution. Each young man had a boil forming on his neck. The same formula, with a bit of Lobelia added, was administered to both. The strong, robust young man with a good digestion and elimination system was healed by the boil disappearing into the body and the poisons being carried off by his system. The other young man, very weak and delicate, was healed by the boil continuing to encapsulate and grow on his neck until it could be safely removed; his system did not have the strength to process the toxins internally. Because of the intelligence of the Lobelia the best action for the circumstances was chosen by the body.
Dr. Christopher often referred to Lobelia as the “thinking” herb.
I have personally witnessed this aspect of the action of Lobelia.
Because Lobelia is such a strong relaxant I never give it, especially to small children, without a baseline pulse rate being established. This enables me to ascertain how much the pulse is slowing, if at all. This does not have to be an exact count, only a feel for what is going on. In sick children the pulse is usually racing and thready and the slowing brought on by the Lobelia is actually a beneficial effect.
Lobelia is usually administered as part of a formula, rather than by itself. When used as a small percentage of a formula, it is possible to get all of the beneficial effects of Lobelia and never have to give a thought to possible overdose.
If I am dealing with a child whose pulse is not racing or with a particularly debilitated adult, I will administer a stimulant such as Cayenne, Ginger, or Peppermint prior to, or along with, the Lobelia. This is not difficult since Peppermint tea is probably indicated anyway and it takes only a swallow or two of tea to offset the sedative effects of the Lobelia. Formulas containing Lobelia already have a mild stimulant added into the recipe in most cases.
SOME BASICS ABOUT THE USE OF LOBELIA
In childbirth, Lobelia is often administered with Cayenne as a means of relaxing the pelvic muscles. I have found that this gently speeds labor along. The increased circulation produced by the Lobelia and Cayenne helps in producing a very pink, well-oxygenated child and in keeping the mother from tearing.
BBL—the recipe is given in the tinctures chapter—has so many uses that, try as I might, I will probably not get them all listed. In this formula, Lobelia is combined with Blue Vervain, Blue Cohosh, Black Cohosh, and Skullcap to produce an antispasmodic formula, nervine, and pain reliever. Antispasmodic means that BBL will provide relief from anything that manifests with spasms or pain with a pulsing quality. Examples might be coughing, muscle or abdominal cramping, or any kind of pain that pulses—such as toothache, earache, certain types of stomachache, pleurisy, and boils.
BBL is much more than a pain reliever and antispasmodic. It is also a nervine formula, which means that it also helps to rebuild damaged nerves wherever they may be in the body. BBL has a special affinity for the spine, the motor nerves at the base of the skull, and the brain.
As a pain reliever, BBL should be applied externally to the skin around broken bones, smashed fingers, or strained shoulders. A cloth soaked in BBL and applied as a poultice can relieve even extreme pain. A few drops, in water, should also be taken frequently by mouth.
I smashed the index finger on my right hand thoroughly one day and the pain was excruciating. I put Arnica oil on it—for the swelling. I poured some BBL tincture into a small paper cup and put my finger in it. The pain was manageable that way and within a few hours most of the discoloration, swelling, and pain were gone.
A dropperful of BBL, taken at bedtime or added to the tub for a relaxing bath is one of my favorite ways to relax into a good night’s sleep. There is nothing narcotic, however, in the effects of BBL. There will be no stuporous type feeling, just relaxation and rest.
BBL can be taken internally and applied topically as a liniment for muscle cramps. Topical application does not require the giving of a stimulant. In fact, when using BBL for its relaxant properties, stimulant herbs such as Cayenne, Ginger, or Peppermint should not be used.
A few drops of BBL, EO oil, is very good in the ear for earache. The BBL acts as a pain reliever while carrying the medicinal properties of the oil more deeply and more rapidly into the affected and painful areas. The addition of BBL increases the antibacterial action of the Garlic and herbs in the EO oil.
Place two drops of EO oil in the ear, followed by 2 or 3 drops of BBL. I always warm both the BBL and the oil, if I possibly can. It is not fun to have something cold dropped into your ear, especially when the ear is hurting already. Put a small piece of a cotton ball in on top of the remedies.
A couple of dropperfuls of BBL in a tub of warm water relieves cramps, including really nasty menstrual ones. Taking it by mouth at the same time is also helpful. Used as a liniment on the abdomen, or on any muscle that is cramping, it brings almost instant relief.
A few drops of BBL should always be considered for convulsions in children. When working with children I usually use the BBL that is made with a glycerin base rather than alcohol. The alcohol formula is best for use in the tub, although you can use the glycerite. The glycerite leaves just a little bit of a sticky feeling on the skin after the bath. For convulsions—and the prevention of convulsions during a fever—I use a few drops of glycerin BBL by mouth and a bath in lukewarm water at the same time.
BBL is also excellent for the treatment of asthma—both as a way of dealing with an attack and as part of a long-term, overall program. Lobelia, added to any respiratory formula, will facilitate the clearing of the passages.
I have used Elderflower to which a bit of Lobelia has been added to reduce a fever. It is very effective.
*** Please note the number of times Lobelia, in a small amount, has been added to the tincture recipes found later in this book. Lobelia plays a major part in the effectiveness of the versatile and amazing BBL tincture formula. Please pay particular attention to this recipe and its description.
Dosage:Lobelia should be given in small doses for healing purposes, and in larger doses when its emetic or cleansing properties are required. A stimulant, such as Cayenne, Peppermint, or Ginger should be considered unless extreme relaxation is required.
Caution:Lobelia, taken in large quantity for too long, can cause nausea and coldness as the body attempts to give warning that it has had enough. Occasionally, these symptoms are mistaken for part of the illness and even more Lobelia (or BBL, which contains Lobelia) is given. It is possible for an overdose of Lobelia to slow the heart rate down. If this occurs, administering a mild stimulant, such as Peppermint —in a tea or a tincture or as an essential oil—or Cayenne tincture will remedy the situation. In sick children, and sometimes in adults, the pulse is often accelerated, making the slowing of the pulse created by the Lobelia a beneficial effect.
I usually prefer to use Peppermint. It tastes better and is beneficial for fever as well as for any upset in the digestive system. The need for a stimulant is very rare. Please do not interpret the above as any kind of reason not to use this amazing healing herb.
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Cardiovascular, Nervous, Endocrine/Glandular
POSSIBLE USES:painful, delayed, or suppressed periods, effective labor contractions, anxiety, high blood pressure
Motherwort is a mild nervine and tonic herb with pronounced hormonal properties. Motherwort is used for painful, delayed, or suppressed periods. It is often used to encourage rhythmic, effective contractions during labor. This stimulating property is offset by strong sedative and relaxing properties, and the ability to relieve anxiety and tension. Motherwort is also used in formulas for the prevention of miscarriage.
Motherwort is an excellent cardiovascular tonic. It is used for arrhythmias and palpitations that are brought on by stress, anxiety, and tension. Motherwort will temporarily lower blood pressure, giving a person time to adjust diet and lifestyle to eliminate the problem altogether.
The combining of Motherwort with Passion Flower makes an excellent substitute for the wonderful but unavailable (except in homeopathic form) herb, Lady Slipper. Motherwort should be used cautiously and sparingly during pregnancy, if at all, as it may stimulate bleeding.
PROPERTIES:Tonic (heart, respiratory), Diuretic—mildly but Demulcent so often added to kidney formulas, Expectorant (and again provides its own demulcent properties), Vulnerary, Anti-inflammatory, Astringent, Nervine, Antispasmodic, Pectoral
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Cardiovascular, Integumentary, Respiratory, Structural, Urinary, Lymphatic, Endocrine/Glandular, Nerves
POSSIBLE USES:earaches, bronchitis, coughs, pneumonia, allergies, asthma, lymph congestion, kidneys
Mullein is a true multi-purpose herb, with many properties that are useful for many systems in many ways. In reviewing my herbal notes I found such references as “Mullein has a particular affinity for the respiratory organs,” and “Mullein is of particular use in pulmonary complaints,” and “Mullein is particularly useful to the urinary tract and the eliminative organs,” and “Mullein is particularly useful in calming and quieting inflamed and irritated nerves.” In other words, Mullein is useful in just about any circumstance and with any body system. Mullein is one of my favorite and most often reached for herbs.
Mullein has the unique distinction of being both astringent (drying to tissues) when drying is needed, and demulcent (healing and soothing) when this is needed. I have added Mullein to a great many formulas, especially kidney/bladder ones, as a protective agent and to guarantee that accidental overuse will not result in further irritation and possible damage. You never make a mistake when choosing Mullein.
Mullein flowers and leaves are used to treat lymphatic congestion that results in earaches, toothaches, and even hemorrhoids.
POSSIBLE USES:hemorrhage after childbirth, nosebleeds, blood in the urine or from the bowels (any type of bleeding really), cystitis, diarrhea
Side note: The name of this herb derives from the shape of the seed pods, which resemble the small, heart-shaped satchels that were carried by shepherds of former years. During the first World War, when the standard medicines for staunching bleeding—Goldenseal and Ergot—were unobtainable in Britain, the common Shepherd’s Purse was used instead and credited for saving many lives.
The herbal midwives that I know swear by Shepherd’s Purse as one of the best ways to stop uterine hemorrhage after childbirth. Certainly, I have seen this herb work miracles time after time. I have used Shepherd’s Purse to control bleeding, both at births, and with my family for many other types of bleeding.
Shepherd’s Purse is an astringent herb and is used to disinfect the kidneys in cystitis and for slowing diarrhea. Believed to be anti-inflammatory and helpful in reducing fevers.
POSSIBLE USES:convulsions, anxiety, hysteria, pain, depression, nerve issues
Native Americans used Skullcap to stimulate menstruation, relieve breast pain, and encourage expulsion of the placenta after birth. Skullcap has been recognized since early in the 19th century as a nervine and was said to have a “deeper” action than other nervine herbs. It was used for hysteria, epilepsy, convulsions, and rabies, as well as to calm patients who had serious mental disorders.
Today Skullcap is used mainly as a nervine herb and is considered to be far more than a basic relaxant and pain killer. Skullcap supports and nourishes the nervous system, calms and relieves stress and anxiety, and is used for depression.
Skullcap, while added to many formulas for its nervine properties, is a main ingredient of my favorite nerve and pain remedy, BBL. This formula is especially beneficial as a pain reliever and nerve rebuilder for nerve-rich areas such as fingers, toes, hands, and feet.
Notable among the nutrients found in Skullcap are calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all of which are extremely nourishing to the nerves.
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Digestive (bile ducts and gastrointestinal), Cardiovascular
POSSIBLE USES:gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, liver disorders, inflammation
Turmeric, native to India and used there in both cooking and healing for all of recorded history, has experienced a tremendous surge of popularity in the United States in recent years—and it probably is as good an herb as its press makes it out to be. There have been thousands of studies conducted and articles published showing the benefits of Turmeric and its most renowned healing compound, curcumin.
I came across a reference to the University Medical Center so I went directly to their site to check it out. The rest of this section on Turmeric is taken directly from information on the University of Maryland site.
Turmeric has been used for 4,000 years to treat a variety of conditions. Studies show that Turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems. Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric, lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. It also stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.
Turmeric stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that Turmeric reduced symptoms of bloating and gas in people suffering from indigestion. Turmeric may also help people with ulcerative colitis; in one study those who took curcumin had a significantly reduced rate of relapse than those who took the placebo. Stomach ulcers, osteoarthritis, and heart disease were also studied. (These studies were conducted using extracted curcumin. In my experience, the herb—before laboratories mess with it—is even more effective and has far fewer, if any, side effects.)
There is much more information on this site about studies and possible uses for Turmeric. The site is also quick to point out that most of these studies were conducted either in petri dishes or with animals. There is, however, ample anecdotal evidence from the last few years to establish Turmeric’s place in the herbal world as an amazing and effective healer.
The following paragraph is taken directly from the University of Maryland Medical Center website:
“There has been a great deal of research on Turmeric’s anti-cancer properties, but results are still very preliminary. Evidence from test tube and animal studies suggests that curcumin may help prevent or treat several types of cancers, including prostate, breast, skin, and colon cancer. . .”
In a separate article, the University of Maryland site lists Turmeric (along with Slippery Elm, Marshmallow, Cat’s Claw, and Boswellia) as possible herbal treatments for Crohn’s disease.
PROPERTIES:Nervine, Sedative or Stimulant—for most people Valerian is relaxing but is highly stimulating (to the point of crazy) for some
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Nervous, Brain, Cardiovascular, Muscular, Skeletal
POSSIBLE USES:managing stress, insomnia, calming erratic heart beat, headaches, anxiety, convulsions, colic, muscle cramps, improving circulation, shoulder, neck and muscle tension, menstrual pain and cramping
Valerian was known as “all-heal” in the Middle Ages and is still referred to by that name in older herbal texts.
Valerian’s main impact is on the nerves, brain, liver, and heart. Because it heals and rebuilds in these areas, people feel calmed, strengthened, and uplifted by this herb. This is one of the best herbs in the world for helping people sleep and helping them cope with high levels of stress. Valerian reduces mental over-activity and nervous excitability, and helps people who find it hard to stop the mental chatter and get to sleep. Valerian is beneficial for almost any stress-related condition and has a calming, rather than heavy sedative, effect on the mind and body.
Valerian contains large amounts of calcium and comes with its own supply of magnesium so the calcium is readily absorbed and made available to build bones, strengthen nerves, and relax the smooth muscles.
SYSTEMS AFFECTED:Structural, Endocrine/Glandular, Digestive, Mucous membranes, Integumentary
POSSIBLE USES:diarrhea, burns, cuts and wounds, dental/oral care
White Oak is one of the most valuable astringent herbs because it is useful for both external and internal bleeding and wound healing. White Oak heals damaged and inflamed tissues of the skin, mucous membranes, stomach, and intestines. A tea of the bark makes an excellent wash for gum infection, a gargle for sore throats, and a corrective for diarrhea. White Oak has proven to be an excellent remedy for gangrenous and other seriously infected flesh.
White Oak is one of the few herbs I have even seen listed (and had any success with) as an antidote for drug reactions and chemotherapy side effects.