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forum.kymlun.com • View topic - Medicinal Herbs: How to Prepare Them and Where to Find Them

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PostPosted: Jun 30th, '07, 04:27 
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*The title is written in brown, plain lettering on the front with a bright green cover and brown bindings. The author's name, "Lucille Bentram" is written in the bottom corner of the cover. As you open the book, you see the first part is dedicated to describing the various herbs and their medicinal properties.*

Agrimony- This herb has its place in traditional herbal medicine. It is safe for use for minor ailments and is often used to make a spring or diet drink for purifying the blood. It is especially useful as a tonic for aiding recovery from winter colds, fevers, and diarrhea. This herb may also be used as an herbal mouthwash or gargle ingredient and may be applied as a lotion to external sores, ulcers, blemishes, and pimples.
Its natural habitat is woods and fields, but it takes to cultivation easily. Agrimonies have one to two foot branchy stems covered with a fine, silky down and terminate in spikes of yellow flowers. Both the flowers and the notched leaves give off a faint characteristic lemony scent when crushed. After the flowers fade they give place to tiny clinging "burrs" which will quickly adhere to your clothing if you brush by it.
Caution: This herb should not be used when constipated or if pregnant as it is an astringent herb.

Angelica-Angelica is used extensively in herbal medicine mainly to cure fevers, colds, coughs, flatulent colic and other stomach disorders. A medicinal infusion made from stems, seeds, and root is carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, sedative, stomachic and tonic. Angelica is used for obstructed menses and should not be taken in large quantities by pregnant women. Angelica is a very good tonic herb for women and children, the elderly or general debility, it is said to strengthen the heart. Powdered root is said to cause disgust for liquor. It has an antibacterial action, preventing the growth of various bacteria. Angelica is a very good tonic herb for women and children, the elderly or general debility, it is said to strengthen the heart. Powdered root is said to cause disgust for liquor. It has an antibacterial action, preventing the growth of various bacteria.
Angelica is a tall, stout very ornamental and aromatic plant with large white flowers, growing to a height of 4 to 6 feet or more. It is found in rich thickets, bottomlands, moist cool woodlands, stream banks and shady roadsides. It has a smooth, dark purple, hollow stem 1 to 2 inches round. The leaves are dark green, divided into three parts, each of which is again divided into three serrated leaflets, sometimes lobed. The lower leaves are larger sometimes 2 feet wide. Angelica leaves have flattened, inward curved, stalks with clasping bases or sheathing to form an elongated bowl which holds water. The root is branched, from 3 to 6 inches long, thick and fleshy with several small rootlets. Flowers are small and numerous, yellowish or greenish-white and grouped into large, compound umbels. The flowers bloom in July and are succeeded by pale yellow, oblong fruits, 1/6 to a 1/4 inch in length when ripe produced in somewhat rounds heads, which sometimes are 8 to 10 inches in diameter.
Caution: The fresh root of Angelica is not edible and is poisonous. This herb should not be used while pregnant or breast feeding.

American Mandrake- The resin of May Apple, which is obtained from the root, is used in the treatment of warts. The whole plant, apart from the ripe fruit, is highly poisonous in large doses. May Apple is a perennial native herb found growing in moist soils in rich woods, thickets and pastures. May Apple grows to about 18 inches high, the stem separates into two large, dark green, long stemmed, palmate, lobed, leaves. Looking almost like umbrellas to protect the large white flower on a short peduncle, growing right in-between the leaves, flowers bloom in April to May. May apple flowers turn into crab apple size edible fruits, gather in early summer when fully ripe.
Caution: The whole plant, apart from the ripe fruit, is highly poisonous in large doses. American Mandrake herb produces nausea and vomiting, and even inflammation of the stomach and intestines, which has been known to prove fatal. In moderate doses, it is a drastic purgative with some cholagogue action. Do not use while pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive.

Bee Balm- Bee Balm leaves and flowers and stems are used in alternative medicine as an antiseptic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stimulant. An infusion is medicinal used internally in the treatment of colds, catarrh, headaches, and gastric disorders, to reduce low fevers and soothe sore throat, to relieve flatulence, nausea, menstrual pain, and insomnia. Steam inhalation of the plant can be used for sore throats, and bronchial catarrh (inflammation of the mucus membrane, causing an increased flow of mucus). Externally, it is a medicinal application for skin eruptions and infections.
It grows in dry thickets, clearings and woodland edges. Bee Balm has showy, red, pink, or lilac flowers in large heads or whorls of about 20-50 flowers at the top of the branching stem, supported by leafy bracts, the leaflets are a pale-green color.

Blackberry- The most astringent part is the root. Orally, they are used to treat sore throats, mouth ulcers and gum inflammations. A decoction of the leaves is useful as a gargle in treating thrush and also makes a good general mouthwash.
It is found in dry thickets, clearings and woodland margins, fence rows, open meadows, roadsides in and waste places. When the Blackberry flowers bloom in the wild it is a beautiful sight; hillsides and fields are covered with white flowers. The flowers are white, with five petals, and bloom in April and May.

Black Cohosh- It is used mainly to treat painful periods and problems associated with the menopause, used in conjunction with St. John's Wort it has proven to be effective in treating hot flushes and other menopausal problems. Black Cohosh is believed to be useful for treating a range of other complaints; including tinnitus and high blood pressure. The fresh flowers have a strong odor and are effective insect repellents.
Black Cohosh grows mostly on hillsides and in open woods in moist rich soil. Black Cohosh grows to about 8 feet tall and bears a handsome long plumb of white flowers from June to August. The leaves are pinnate and compound with irregular tooth leaflets
Caution: Black cohosh is not recommended for pregnant women because its potential effects on the uterus may induce labor early. There is a report of damage to multiple organs in a child whose mother used black cohosh to induce labor. Cases of liver damage and failure associated with black cohosh have been reported.

Bloodroot- Bloodroot is used in herbal medicine in very small doses, mainly for bronchial and severe throat infections.
It is perennial herb found growing in shaded, moist, rich woodlands. Bloodroot grows to about 6 to 7 inches tall. The pale green, palmate, lobed, basal leaf is wrapped around the flower as it emerges and opens as the flowers blooms.
Caution: Use internally with caution, it contains toxic opium-like alkaloids and can cause mucous membrane irritation, an over dose can be fatal, do not use when pregnant or lactating. Bloodroot is not edible.

Blue Cohosh- Tincture or tea made from dried Blue Cohosh root is used in herbal medicine as a uterine tonic, and as an aid in difficult menstruation. It is also used to induce labor but should not be used in pregnancy prior to the ninth month.
It needs rich, moist soil and deep shade to thrive. It blooms in early April and is usually found on wooded slopes.

Blue Lobelia- Lobeline stimulates the respiratory center of the brain, producing stronger and deeper breathing, making it very useful in treating many respiratory complaints, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, spasmodic croup, and pneumonia. Also used for scorpion and snake bites and to induce nausea and vomiting. A poultice of the root has been applied in treating pleurisy, rheumatism, tennis elbow, whiplash injuries, boils, ulcers and hard to heal sores.
Found growing in moist woods, stream and pond banks, and marshes, Lobelia prefers light to medium moist, well drained soils and partial shade. The stems are erect, sometimes branching, flower stalks. Growing to 3 feet high they are covered with light blue or purpleish two lipped flowers.
Caution: An overdose of lobelia may cause dizziness, nausea, hypotension, vomiting, stupor, tremors, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and death.

Blue Vervain- It is useful in intermittent fevers, ulcers, pleurisy, scrofula, gravel, easing pain in the bowels and expelling worms. A very strong infusion is emetic. As a medicinal poultice it is good in headache and rheumatism. An infusion of the plant is a good galactagogue (increases breast milk) and used for female obstructions, afterpains and taken as a female tonic. The infusion is used to help pass kidney stones and for infections of the bladder. Used as a sudorific and taken for colds and coughs. It is also useful for insomnia and other nervous conditions.
Found growing along roadsides, in open sunny fields, and waste places. Growing erect from 2-3 feet tall, with square stems and opposite branches. The leaves are opposite, serrate, and lanceolate with short leaf stalks. The flowers are small and pale-lilac.

Cleavers- A valuable diuretic, it is often taken to treat skin problems such as seborrhoea, eczema and psoriasis, and as a general detoxifying agent in serious illnesses such as cancer. It has a mild laxative effect and stimulates the lymphatic system and has shown benefit in skin related problems. The fresh plant or juice is used as a medicinal poultice for wounds, ulcers and many other skin problems. An infusion of the herb has shown of benefit in the treatment of glandular fever, tonsilitis, hepatitis and cystitis. The infusion is also used to treat liver, bladder and urinary problems.
Found growing in hedgerows, woods, fields, among cultivated crops and in waste places. The stems and leaves are covered with little hooked bristles, which attach to passing objects, in this way it fastens itself to adjacent shrubs, to climb its way upwards through dense undergrowth into daylight, often forming matted masses. Leaves are narrow, lance-shaped and are rough along the margins and surface, the prickles pointing backwards, they occur in whorls of 6 to 8 leaves, around and along the square, delicate, branching stem which may grow to 6 or more feet in length. The flowers are white, tiny, 1/16 to 1/8 inch in diameter and star-like, growing in a stemmed bud rising from the leaf axils and arranged in clusters or whorls, six or eight together, blooming separately, 2 or 3 at a time.

Downy Wood Mint- The medicinal tea is used in the treatment of indigestion, colic, coughs, colds, chills and fevers. A warm poultice of the leaves will relieve a sinus headache. Chewing the fresh leaves kills bacteria in the mouth and is good for teeth and gums.
Found in dry woods, thickets, fields, clearings and rural roadsides. The plant stands about 3 feet tall the stems are branched opposite. The leaves are light green, whitish downy beneath, opposite, simple, subsessile to short-petiolate, lanceolate ovate and slightly serrate. Flowers are blue to purple, arranged in whorls and separated by a row of fringed bracket like round platforms or pagodas, hence pagoda plant.

Ephedra- The young stems are best if eaten raw, though older stems can be used to make a medicinal tea. The plant has antiviral effects, particularly against influenza. While Ephedra does not cure asthma it is very effective in treating the symptoms and making life somewhat easier for the sufferer.
Found growing on dry slopes and hills, sandy plains, canyons, sandy and rocky places, and deserts, Ephedra is an evergreen shrub growing 2 to 3 feet high with no leaves. Stems are green, smooth, woody, branching, and very jointed.
Caution: An overdose can be fatal, causing high blood pressure, racing of the heart, confusion, nervous stupor, twitching, convolutions and death. Ephedrine is also seen as a performance-boosting herb.

Feverfew- An infusion made from the whole plant is used in the treatment of arthritis, colds, fevers, as a sedative and to regulate menses. Also used as a foot bath for swollen feet. Applied externally as a tincture, the plant is used in the treatment of bruises. Chewing several leaves a day has proven to be effective in preventing some migraine headaches.
Found growing on rocky slopes, walls, waste places and a weed of gardens. Growing to 2 1/2 feet the stem is upright, erect, hairy, finely furrowed and branching. Strongly aromatic leaves are alternate, hairless, toothed, light green about 4 inches long, and divided into broad, lobed segments. The lower leaves are bipinnate with oval shaped leaflets. Many daisy-like flower heads (composite) bloom June-August, with white ray flowers surrounding nearly flat yellow centers, growing to about 1 inch across.

Jewelweed- Jewelweed is best known for its skin healing properties. The leaves and the juice from the stem of Jewelweed are used by herbalists to cure poison ivy and other plant induced rashes, as well as many other types of dermatitis.
It is found most often in moist woods, usually near poison ivy or stinging nettle. Jewelweed often grows on the edge of creek beds. Jewelweed is a smooth annual; 3-5 ft. Leaves oval, round- toothed; lower ones opposite, upper ones alternate. A bit trumpet shaped, the flowers hang from the plant much as a jewel from a necklace, Pale Jewelweed has yellow flowers, Spotted Touch-Me-Nots have orange flowers with dark red dots. The seeds will 'pop' when touched; that is where the name Touch-Me-Nots came from.

St. John’s Wort- Hypericum perforatum is used in treating a wide range of disorders, including pulmonary complaints, bladder problems, diarrhea and nervous depression. It is also very effectual in treating bed wetting in children. It has a sedative and pain reducing effect, it is especially regarded as an herb to use where there are menopausal changes triggering irritability and anxiety. In addition to neuralgic pain, it will ease fibrosistis, sciatica and rheumatic pain.
Found growing in open sunny or partial shady areas, along roadsides in dry, gravelly soils, St. John’s Wort grows to a height of 1 to 3 feet, The leaves are opposite, sessile and smooth edged, oblong to linear, light green and smooth, covered with small transparent oil glands that look like holes, more visible when held to bright light. The cymes of yellow flowers, grow atop each stem.

Trilliums- The young edible unfolding leaves are an excellent addition to salad tasting somewhat like sunflower seeds. The leaves can also be cooked as a pot herb. The root is used as an alternative medicine and is antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, emmenagogue (to promote menstruation), and ophthalmic. The roots, fresh or dry, may be boiled in milk and used for diarrhea and dysentery. The raw root is grated and applied as a poultice to the eye in order to reduce swelling, or on aching rheumatic joints. The leaves were boiled in lard and applied to ulcers as a poultice, and to prevent gangrene. An infusion of the root is used in the treatment of cramps and a common name for the plant, ‘birthroot', originated from its use to promote menstruation. A decoction of the root bark can be used as drops in treating earache.
Found growing in rich woods and thickets, Trillium grows from a short thick root or rhizome. The long stem is tinged with red, round and smooth, unbranched, growing up to 2 feet high. Atop the stem there is a whorl of 3 broadly ovate, short petiole, wavy-edged and dark green (sometimes mottled) leaves. The flower perches above the leaves on a 2 to 3 inch petiole or small stem, or is sometimes sessile (having no stem) as with the Toad shade Trillium or the Prairie Trillium, and may be dark red to pink or white or even both, but always with 3 petals and 3 green sepals, forming a star shape.

Yarrow- Yarrow is used against colds, cramps, fevers, kidney disorders, toothaches, skin irritations, and hemorrhages, and to regulate menses, stimulate the flow of bile, and purify the blood. Medicinal tea is a good remedy for severe colds and flu, for stomach ulcers, amenorrhea, abdominal cramps, abscesses, trauma and bleeding, and to reduce inflammation.
Yarrow is very common along roadsides and in old fields, pastures, and meadows. Yarrow grows from 10 to 20 inches high, a single stem, fibrous and rough, the leaves alternate, 3 to 4 inches long and 1 inch broad, larger and rosette at the base, clasping the stem, bipinnatifid, the segments very finely cut, fern-like, dark-green, giving the leaves a feathery appearance. The flowers are several bunches of flat-topped panicles consisting of numerous small, white flower heads. Each tiny flower resembling a daisy. The whole plant is more or less hairy, with white, silky appressed hairs.

*As you finish the first part, you see that the second part is dedicated to describing how to prepare the herbs.*

Drying herbs
There are several methods for drying herbs. The simplest method is hang drying, where the herbs are tied into bunches and hung from raters or a rack (a clothes drying rack is good.) The herbs should be hung in a cool, dry place with air circulation, such as an attic or enclosed porch. You should label the herbs because they can be difficult to identify in their dried state. The disadvantages to this method are that it can take weeks for herbs to dry if you live in a humid area, and that dust and mildew can form on the herbs. The plants are dried when their herbs are brittle and break easily. Hang drying is a very good method for drying large woody herbs.

Making ointments
An ointment is a salve that the powdered form of an herb or an essesntial oil has been added to.
To make an oil, you will need a powder or an essential oil and a fatty or oily substance. The traditional base for ointments is pork lard. As well as your herb and a base, you will need a thickener to be used on the final product. You can use powdered gum or resin that has been soaked in cold water and then simmered in gently boiling water. After you have used the thickener, you will also need a wax to harden the ointment or cream. Beeswax alone is the best hardener.
When you have gathered all that you need (herb, base, thickener, hardener, and a preservative if you want one), you can begin to make your ointment.
1. Heat the base and the herb together until the plant has lost its normal color. This is when the base has fully absorbed the healing essence of the plant.
2. Strain the plant out of the ointment.
3. Add your thickener.
4. Add your hardener.
5. Store the ointment in a small, tightly closed jar. Make sure to label the jar with the name of the herb used in the ointment.

Making Teas
1. Boil water in a teakettle.
2. Pour the boiling water into a mug.
3. Steep the herbs for at least five minutes. Do not steep for more than ten minutes as the tea will become bitter.
4. Store the tea in an amber-colored jar as light destroys the potency of the herbs. Teas can be kept for a long time.

Making Powders
To make a powder, you will need and herb and a mortar and pestle.
1. Grind the useful parts of the herb with the mortar and pestle.
2. If you wish you can put the powder in a capsule or tablet

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