Herbal ABC

This Listing of Herbs and their properties is never complete. It is meant to give an overview of the herbs I use in my blends.

Alfalfa has been used by the Chinese since the sixth century to treat several health conditions. It is considered the richest land source of trace minerals. Rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients (It contains protein and vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. It also contains calcium, potassium, carotene, iron, and zinc.) Alfalfa makes an amazing herbal remedy. Its specific benefits include:
    Curing kidney problems, and relieving fluid retention and swelling.
    Curing auto-immune disorder.
    Healing arthritis.
    Nourishing the digestive, skeletal, glandular and urinary system.
    Cleansing the blood, liver and bowel.
    Lowering cholesterol levels.
    Preventing strokes.
    Healing whooping cough.

Commission E in Germany recommended aniseed as an expectorant for getting rid of phlegm. In large doses, it also has some antiviral benefits.
Make a tea by steeping one to two teaspoons of crushed aniseed in a cup or two of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Then strain it. Anise is often chewed by Asian Indians after their meals. It is also one of the ingredients used in "Indian Chai."
Suggested dose: one cup of tea, morning and/or night. This should help you cough up what ever is loose and also help you fight the cold.

Anise Hyssop

Catnip is a very gentle herb and therefore highly prized in the treatment of children's ailments. Traditionally it is a cold and flu remedy. It also is known to induce sleep, as it is a mild sedative.


Echinacea after the first
snow (2010-12)

Echinacea is believed to reduce the symptoms of Cold and Flu and helps in the recovery.
There are three main species of echinacea: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida. E. purpurea is the most widely used. It isn't clear if any one type is better than the others.
In Germany, echinacea is the main remedy for minor respiratory infections.
Echinacea is considered to be an immune stimulant. It appears to activate the body's infection-fighting capacity. 
There are some evidence that, when taken at the onset of a cold or flu, echinacea can help you get better faster and reduce your symptoms while you are sick.

Elderberry and Elderflower
Elderberry helps strengthen and maintain the immune and respiratory systems. Elderberry may be taken to help prevent colds and flu. Taken at the first sign of cold or flu, Elderberry will generally reduce the course of the infection down to one or two days. 

Elderberry focuses on the nutritional needs of the immune system offering the body additional amounts of vitamin C, fruit acids and traces of essential oils and anthocyanci pigments. Elderberry helps eliminate toxic stagnations that are typically the home for infectious bacteria. The antibiotic, antiviral and antibacterial properties found in Elderberry also work to stimulate the skin, kidneys and lymphatic system. The flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic effects of the Elderberry flowers and berries. 

A study in humans determined that an extract of Elderberries is an effective treatment for influenza. Animal studies have shown the flowers to have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Make your own Elderberry tincture:
Elderberries (dried or fresh)
Glycerin, Vinegar or Vodka (or any other high % alcohol)
Jar with tight fitting lid

Fill Elderberries in to jar and cover with fluid.
Let sit for at least 2 weeks.
Strain and store the tincture in a dark cool place.

I usually use alcohol for the tincture. After straining I heat the tincture to release the alcohol and add honey (agave nectar or sugar work as well) to achieve a more pleasant taste.

Making a second batch from the same berries is possible.

Ginger contains nearly a dozen antiviral compounds. Scientists have isolated several chemicals (sesquiterpenes) in ginger that have specific effects against the most common family of cold viruses, the rhinoviruses. Some of these chemicals are remarkably potent in their anti-rhinovirus effects.
Other constituents in ginger, gingerols and shogaols, help relieve cold symptoms because they reduce pain and fever, suppress coughing and have a mild sedative effect that encourages rest.

Hyssop Tea
Prevents Colds and Infections

Hibiscus Tea is used in many teas because of its flavorful aroma. It strengthens the immune system as it is rich in Vitamin C. A recent study revealed that hibiscus tea contains a number of different antioxidants that may help to protect against cell-damaging free radicals. These teas also may help control high blood pressure and is good for lowering high cholesterol.
Hyssop tea, if used on a regular basis, is said to help keep away infections.
Add several teaspoons of the chopped leaves of hyssop to 2 cups of boiling water. Allow it to steep 15 minutes. Strain. Sweeten with honey.
Take several cups of this tea warm per day if fighting a cold or infection or as a preventative.
Prepare a fresh cup for each dose. Sip the dosage slowly, never gulp it down. Swish it around the mouth before swallowing. This helps the liquid to mix with the enzymes in the saliva and rapidly assimilates the herbs into the blood stream.

The stinging nettle has stimulating action on the kidneys and bladder. Nettle shoots, eating during spring, helps to clean the body of toxins. Stinging nettle is used to treat inflammation of the urinary tract and kidney gravel.
Stinging nettle improves the excretion of uric acid thereby reducing the symptoms of gout and arthritis.
Stinging nettle leaves have diuretic properties. Nettle root is also used for the treatment of urinary retention caused by prostate enlargement.
Lectins present in stinging nettle appear to stimulate the immune system.

Lemon Balm
"Lemon balm is a mint with a distinctly lemony scent. Its botanical name Melissa is taken from the Greek word for bee, indicative of the plant's attractive power for bees and useful insects of all kinds. The term "balm" refers to balsam, the ancient world's most important sweet-smelling oils. For thousands of years herbalists used lemon balm to treat any kind of disorder of the central nervous system. The London Dispensary (1696) says: "An essence of Balm, given in Canary wine, every morning will renew youth, strengthen the brain, relieve languishing nature and prevent baldness." John Evelyn wrote: "Balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory and powerfully chasing away melancholy." Alcoholic tinctures of lemon balm were combined with lemon peel, angelica root, and nutmeg to make Carmelite water, a nineteenth-century tonic for migraine headache and neuralgia."

Lemon Grass
Lemon Grass is known for its calming effect that relieves insomnia or stress. Studies have shown that the lemon grass has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Mixed with pepper, it's a home therapy for menstrual troubles and nausea. Drank as tea, it is an effective diuretic.
The Lemon grass is a good cleanser that helps to detoxify the Liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder and the digestive tract. It cuts down uric acid, cholesterol, excess fats and other toxins in the body while stimulating digestion, blood circulation, and lactation; it also alleviates indigestion and gastroenteritis. It is said that lemongrass also helps improve the skin by reducing acne and pimples and acts as a muscle and tissue toner. Also, it can reduce blood pressure. Just make a concoction by boiling some lemon grass leaves, let it cool for a while and drink the liquid.

Licorice is often used to harmonize the action of all other herbs and is also used to mask undesirable tastes. It
contains antiviral compounds that induce the release of interferons, the body's own antiviral constituents. The varied uses of Licorice include sore throat relief, cough surpressant, expectorant, mild laxative, treatment of various cancers, and enhancment of immune response.

Passion flower tea may help in calming and sedating the nerves and combating anxiety without addictive effect. It can thus help in ushering restful sleep. This herb may help relax the muscles, improve blood circulation, as well as lower blood pressure. Passionflower may help lessen headaches, toothaches and pain associated with colic, the menstrual cycle and asthma.

Peppermint tea enjoys a great reputation for its healing properties for many illnesses as well as stress and a topical skin relief for rashes. It has been shown to improve such ailments as irritable bowel syndrome, cramps, and other stomach problems including infant colic. It is also soothing for cases of stress and fatigue, and has been shown to help boost the immune system.

St.John's Wort
Among the various health benefits of St John's Wort, using St John's Wort for depression and anxiety is one of the main and most popular ones.
The herb St John's Wort contains chemical substances that elevate the mood and increase the level of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, thereby making the person “feel good”.
In the form of St John's Wort Tea, the herb has been used as an effective remedy for fatigue.
St John's Wort also has certain properties which makes it useful as a mild sedative, too.

Thyme is one of the best antiseptic substances available. It is valuable in the treatment of infections. Traditionally, thyme is used as a cough remedy.
Thyme has a high concentration of volatile oils, which include thymol. This volatile oil is highly antiseptic.

Yarrow is a very valuable medicinal herb, with much scientific evidence of use in alternative medicine as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, stimulant, and tonics, vasodilator and vulnerary. 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.  The main constituents are volatile oils including linalool, camphor, sabinene, and chamazulene, sesquiterpene lctones, flavanoids, alkaloids including achilleine, polyacetylenes, triterpenes, salicylic acid, coumarins, and tannins which prove these uses in alternative medicine to be effective. Extracts of yarrow exhibit antibiotic activity and may also act as anti-neoplastic drugs. Externally for treating wounds and stopping the flow of blood. Yarrow oil has been traditionally used in hair shampoos. Some caution is advised , large or frequent doses taken over a long period may cause the skin to be more sensitive to sunlight.

to be continued