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Plants & Herbs

A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T V W Y  

How to chose your products?        Here (Terry Breverton) offers a succinct summary of the healing properties of various Plants and Herbs.


(OPHIOGLOSSUM VUGLATUM) - Family Ophioglossaceae

"The name Ophioglossum comes from the Greek ophios (serpent), and glossa (tongue). Medieval herbalists called it 'a fine cooling herb', but if anyone picking the hard-to-find herb risked being followed by snakes. In witchcraft, the herb's use is said to stop slander and gossip. Adder's-spear ointment was sold by apothecaries from the 18th century.
Adder's tongue was a popular treatment for scrofula, a form of tuberculosis that affects the lymph nodes in the neck, and it is still used by herbalists for skin ailments. The name 'Christ's spear' comes from its appearance, and the fact that Jesus' side was pierced by a spear. Thus, according to Paracelsus's 16th-century Doctrine of Signatures the plant was used to cure wounds. In flower language it is a symbol of jealousy."



"The fresh leaves make an effective and comforting poultice for ulcers and tumours. The juice of the leaves, drunk alone, or with distilled water of horsetail, used to be popular for internal wounds and bruises, vomiting or bleeding at the mouth or nose. The distilled water was also considered good for sore eyes. The juice of the leaves drank with the distilled water of horse tail, is a singular remedy for all manner of wounds in the breasts, bowels, or other parts of the body, and is given with good success unto those that are troubled with casting, vomiting, or bleeding at the mouth or nose, or otherwise downwards"....go home



"Agrimony is best known as a wound herb used on medieval battlefields to staunch bleeding, and Anglo-Saxons taught that it would heal wounds, snake bites, warts. The Ancient Roman author Pliny described it as a 'herb of princely authority' and Dioscorides recommended it as a general purgative, stating that it was 'a remedy for those that have bad livers', and also 'for such as are bitten with serpents'. Galen recommended it for jaundice and as an astringent of the bowels."

"An infusion of the leaves and flowers can be taken as a tonic or diuretic, and used for bathing wounds or skin conditions. It is useful for alleviating the symptoms of coughs, bronchitis and asthma"....go home 

ALDER (ALNUS GLUTINOSA) - Family Betulaceae, Birch

"The Alder is very durable under water, and it was therefore valuable for pumps, troughs, sluices, and particularly for piles. It is the wood used in Venice as piles for the Rialto Bridge and other buildings, and was used widely for similar purposes in Amsterdam and France. Alder is commonly found supporting ancient crannogs, defensive artificial islands on lakes.
The Physicians of Myddfai recommended the use of alder twings for cleaning the teeth. In celtic mythology, the alder is said to be the tree of Bran the Blessed, god of the Underworld. He was also known as the god of Prophecy, Arts, War and Writing. Possessing the size of a giant, it was impossible for King Bran to fit in a house or in a boat."



"Alder greatly improves soil fertility through its ability to fix nitrogen from the air. A bacterium (Frankia alni), forms nodules on the tree's roots, absorbing nitrogen from the air and makes it available to the tree. Alder, in turn, provides the bacterium with carbon, which it produces through photosynthesis. Alder bark contains the anti-inflammatory salicin, which is metabolized into salicylic acid in the body. It seems that Culpeper recognized this effect. He recommended bathing burns and inflammation with distilled water of the leaves to reduce swelling and for ague"....go home




ALDER BUCKTHORN (FRANGULA ALNUS)  - Family Rhamnaceae, Buckthorn

"The name rhamnus is derived from the Greek rhamnos, meaning a branch. In the 13th century it was a herbal laxative (hence purging buckthorn), and its wood was used to make arrows (hence the name arrow wood), shoe lasts, wooden nails, and veneers. The bark and leaves make a yellow dye, which turns black when mixed with iron salts, and unripe berries make a green dye.
It is thought that the name 'alder' buckthorn comes about because the leaves look similar to that of alder, and the two trees/shrubs often grow in similar places, but they are not related. It has no thorns, so its name of alder buckthorn is doubly misleading."  

"The berries are toxic and the sap is an irritant. Alder buckthorn can be used as a tonic, is said to be antiparasitic, and is used as a local antiseptic. Fresh bark, powdered and mixed with vinegar, can treat fungal diseases of the skin and acne. An infusion of the bark can treat constipation and haemorrhoids, and as a treatment for chronic constipation is milder than its close relative, the significantly named purging buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)Its green leaves make tumours less inflamed, ease pain and remove weariness"....go home 

ALECOST (TANACETUM BALSAMITA) - Family Asteraceae/Compositae, Daisy/Sunflower 

"It was taken to the New World by early English colonists who combined it with lavender to scent linens and blankets. It was also used in wardrobes and clothes' stores to deter clothes moths. The dried leaves of alecost retain their minty-balsam perfume for a long time and make a sweet addition to pot pourris. A small amount of the leaf can be added to soups and salads, or added to melted butter and new potatoes. 
Alecost is recommended in modern herbals to relieve a stuffed-up nose. Place a handful of the leaves in a bowl of boiling water, cover the head with a towel and inhale for five to ten minutes. In flower language it is the symbol of impatience."

"Alecost (Costmary) was once a popular herb for scenting bath water and rinsing hair. It is astringent to the stomach, and strengthens the liver, it is very profitable for pains of the head that are continual, it cleanses that which is foul, and hinders putrefaction and corruption.
Alecost was grown exetnsively for the treatment of burns and insect stings, when a fresh leaf was rubbed on the bite"...go home 




 ALE-HOOF (NEPETA GLECHOMA syn. GLECHOMA HEDERACEA- Family Lamiaceae/Labiatae, Mint 

"The herb has been considered a panacea or "cure-all". Its tea was a remedy for sciatica; boiled in a mutton broth it was good for weak backs; mixed with daisies, celandines, rose water and sugar removed any grief whatsoever in the eyes; it is proved to be the best medicine in the world.
It was given to children to clear lingering congestion and to treat conditions such as "glue ear" and sinusitis. 
It is tea also was recommended for tinnitus, poor hearing, stomach aches, indigestion, yellow jaundice, mouth ulcers, wounds, itching. 
The ancient herbalists praised it greatly, saying it would cure insanity and melancholia by opening the stopping of the spleen. It also regulated the heart beat by making the blood more fluid." 

"Ale-hoof is a stimulant and tonic, and was used for chest infections. Ale-hoof was made into 'gill' tea prescribed for: jaundice, arthritis, coughs and respiratory ailments, indigestion, fevers, headaches, stomach pains, gout, sciatica, vertigo, weak backs, nervous disorders and depression, hypochondria, normalizing heart beat, stones in the urinary tract, stimulating the circulation, detoxifying the body and strengthening the stomach, spleen, gall, glands, kidneys, liver, and even to prevent premature ageing.
Traditionally, leaf tea used for lung ailments, asthma, jaundice, kidney ailments, blood purifier. Externally, a folk remedy for cancer, backackes, bruises, piles"....go home 

Family Apiaceae/Umbelliferae, Carrot/Parsley

"Alexanders was introduced into Britain by the Romans (hence the name 'Roman celery').
Its roots are diuretics, its leaves make a healing juice for cuts and its crushed seeds were a popular condiment.
Chewing 'Alexander's herb' with aniseed and a little honey in the morning to sweeten the breath.
It warms a cold Stomach, and opens stoppages of the Liver and Spleen, it is good to move Women's Courses to expel the After-birth, to break Wind, to provoke Urine, and help the Stragury [painful urination caused by bladder diseases or kidney-stones], it is also effectual against the biting of Serpents." 





"One of Europe's forgotten vegetables, it was grown as a salad and pot herb before being replaced in many dishes by celery. Once can steam the stems, shoots and buds, ideally just before the flowers have opened for an absolutely distinctive vegetable, a little like celery, parsley or chervil to use in fish dishes and soups. For some reason it has, over the last ten years, exploded in its range of sites, becoming invasive in many places"....go home  



(ANCHUSA OFFICINALIS- Family Boraginaceae, Borage 

"An effective wound ointment was made by pounding alkanet roots with olive oil and earhworms. Egyptians created a face paint using the red dye obtained from alkanet roots.
The name alkanet comes from Arabic, al khenna (henna), from the red colour of the roots. The bark of the roots provides a weak brownish-red or lilac dye, which is not as strong as the dye of its cousin, Alkanna tinctoria, dyer's bugloss. It was grown in medieval gardens, but is considered a weed if found in cereal fields. The name bugloss, which is of Greek origin, signifies an ox's tongue, and was applied to the plant because of the roughness and shape of the leaves." 

"It helps old ulcers, hot inflammations, burnings by common fire, and St. Anthony's Fire [erysipelas], by antipathy to Mars; for these uses, your best way is to make it into an ointment; also, if you make a vinegar of it, as you make vinegar of roses, it helps the morphew [blisters caused by scurvy] and lepsory; if you apply the herb to the privities, it draws forth the dead child. It helps the yellow jaundice, spleen, and gravel in the kidneys. It stays the flux of the belly, kills worms, helps the fits of the mother.
Its decoction made in wine, and drank, strengthens the back, and eases the paints thereof: It helps bruises and falls, and is as gallant a remedy to drive out the small pox and measles as any is; an ointment made of it, is excellent for green wounds, pricks or thrusts. Extracted into vinegar, it was even used against leprosy. The dry leaves emit a rich musky fragrance, rather like wild strawberry leaves drying. Leaves and young shoots can be cooked like spinach"....go home

ALL-HEAL (OPOPANAX CHIRONIUM, FERULA OPOPANAX) - Family Umbelliferae/Apiaceae, Carrot/Parsley

"The plant grows wild in the south of France, Italy and Greece. when the base of the stem or root is cut, a yellowish juice exudes. When dried in the sun, this constitutes the gum-resin opopanax. Its odour is strong, peculiar and unpleasant, and its taste bitter and acrid.
It was one of the gum-resins thought to be applicable to almost all ills, hence the name opopanax, meaning 'all-healing juice'."

"It kills worms; helps the gout, cramp, and seizures; provokes urine, and helps all joint aches; helps all cold griefs of the head vertigo, fits and lethargy; obstructions of the liver and spleen, stone in the kidneys and bladder. It provokes menses, and expels the dead birth; it is excellent good for the grief of the sinews, itch, sores and toothache; also the bitting of mad dogs and venomous beasts, and purges choler very gently. In later times it was used in plasters, and iternally for bronchitis with abundant expectoration, asthma, hysteria, amenorrhoea"....go home



"It was first imported into Britain in the early 17th century, and was described as 'allspice' in 1621 because its flavour resembled a combination of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Around 65 to 90 per cent of the oil extracted from the seeds of Jamaican trees is eugenol, the same oil found in the above three spices.This oil gives the distinctive flavouring to Chartreuse, Benedictine and other liqueurs which were made in European monasteries. 
When dry, the fruits are brown and resemble large peppercorns, so allspice is often confused with black pepper (Piper nigrum) and cubeb (Piper cubeba). However, when fully dried the two-celled allspice is dark reddish-brown, while one-celled black pepper is black and one-celled cubeb is grey. The fruit's similarity in appearance to peppercorns (for which the Spanish is pimienta i.e. pepper nigrum), led to its latin name pimenta." 

"Its hard pinkish wood was once employed for the manufacture of walking sticks and umbrella handles. The oil is used by the toiletry and perfumery industries. It provides a commercial source of eugenol and vanillin, and is valuable in the food industry, particularly in sausages, sauces, fish preserves, ketchups, pickles, ice cream and baked food. Medicinally, the powdered fruit has been used to treat flatulence, diarrhoea and rheumatism, and allspice has been used as a poultice to relieve the pain of arthritis"....go home

ALMOND TREE (PRUNUS DULCIS) - Family Rosaceae, Rose

"There are two forms of the plant, one (often with white flowers) producing sweet almonds, and the other (often with pink flowers) producing bitter almonds.
The name almond refers to the early blossom, as it comes from the Greek amygdale, meaning 'to hasten or awake early'.
The pollination of California's almonds is the largest annually managed pollination event in the world, with nearly a million hives being trasported in February to almond groves across the state." 

"It was considered a soothing and calming herb, used to treat constipation and to help in cases of gallstones and kdney stones. The nuts can be eaten raw or roased, and marzipan is made from ground almond paste. Almond milk and almond butter help people with allergies, and almond oil is used to remedy dry skin conditions and as a soothing carrier oil.
Sweet almonds nourish the body, and increase the seed (male fertility); they strengthen the breath, cleanse the kidneys and open the passages of urine.
Bitter almonds also open obstructions of the liver and spleen, expel wind, cleanse the lungs from phlegm, and provoke urine and the menses; the oil of them kills worms, and helps pains of the womb, the oil of both also clean the skin".....go home


ALOE VERA (ALOE BARBADENSIS) - Family Asphodelaceae (formerly Liliaceae), Lily

"Arabian records suggest that by the sixth century BCE aloe was being used as a laxative as well as for embalming. The Greeks believed aloe symbolized beauty, patience, fortune and good health, for hair growth, healing of tumours, relief of dysentery and stomach aches. Cleopatra's beauty was attributed to the natural goodness of aloes, and she was supposed to have bathed in its juice before her first meeting with Mark Antony.
Aloe was being recommended for many other medicinal purposes, including the treatment of digestive disorders, eye inflammation, kidney ailments and oral and skin diseases, soothing dry itchy skin, ulcerated genitals, tonsils, gum and throat irritations, haemorrhoids, bruising, and stop bleeding wounds. the fresh pulp of aloe stopped the falling of hair."



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