Saffron, Crocus sativa L.
Sage, Salvia officinalis L.
Saint John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum L.
Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius
Sarsaparilla, Smilax species
Sassafras, Sassafras albidum (Nutt.)Nees
Saw Palmetto, Serenoa repens (Bartr) Small.
Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis
Scopolia, Scopolia carniolica
Seaweed, Kelp, Nori, Porphyra, Laminaria digitata Lamour, Nereocystis leutkeana , Macrocystis
Shepherd's purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
Shiitake mushrooms, Lentinus edodes)
Shunkiku, Garland Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum coronarium
Siberian ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus
Skunk Cabbage, Western Skunk cabbage (Yellow Arum) Symplocarpus foetidus (L.) Nutt.; Lysichitum americanum (L.)
Skullcap, Scutellaria baicalensis S. lateriflora
Slippery Elm, Ulmus rubra
Solomon seal, False Solomon Seal, Polygonatum biflorum (Walt.) (Ell.) False Solomon Seal Smilacina racemosa (L.)
Sorrel, French sorrel; Garden Sorrel, Rumex acetosa L., Rumex species, French sorrel is R. scutatus
Soy beans, Tofu (soy bean products), Glycine max L.
Spearmint, Mentha spicata L.
Spicebush, Lindera benzoin L.
Spiderwort, Widow's Tears, Spider plant, Tradescantia virginiana L.
Spirea, spiraea, Spiraea douglasii Hook.
Spring beauty, Indian potato, mountain potato, Claytonia caroliniana, C. lanceolata and C. tuberosa
Spruce, Picea species
Squill, Urginea maritima
Star Anise, Illicium verum
Strawberry, (Fragaria virginiana Duchesne), (Fragaria vesca L.)
Smooth Sumac, Staghorn Sumac, Poison Oak; Poison Sumac, (Rhus glabra L.)(Rhus typhina L.) (Rhus toxicodendronL. )(Rhus vernix L.)
Sunflower, (Helianthus annus L.)
Sweet Cicely, wild anise, Osmorhiza claytonii (Michx.) Clark
Sweet clover, Melilotus officinalis
Sweet grass, Holy grass, vanilla grass, Hierochloe odorata (L.)
Sweet Woodruff, Galium odoratum
Safflower, Saffron thistle
As an edible flower.
Medicine: Oil is useful as a substitute for butter and corn oil as a salad oil or cooking oil as cholesterol lowering agent prophylaxis to atherosclerosis.
Chemistry: High in linoleic acid, carotenoids.
Crocus sativa L.
Uses: (Photo, more)
Food: Flower parts (stigmas) used for coloring and flavoring in cooking. Integral part of my fish soups. Used to flavor and color liqueurs. Coloring for cakes, sauces, rice, paella, risotto, bouillabaisse.
Medicine: Crocetin in saffron lowers blood pressure. The flower parts used traditionally to move congestion from liver, to improve depression and relieve menstrual disorders. Used to improve digestion, warming, circulatory stimulant.
Reduces high blood pressure (hypotensive in conditions of hypertension).
Chemistry: Fats, volatile oils, picrocrocin
(yellow carotenoid), lycopene, alpha, beta and gama carotenes, crocin.
Warning: short shelf life, use within 6 to 10 months, or put in your freezer in tightly sealed bottle.
Salvia officinalis L.
Food: Smoking foods, poultry, sauces, dressing. Cooking: smoking foods, poultry, sauces, dressing.
Try rolling up flavored cream cheese in sage leaves.Medicine: FACT OR FANCY: Leaves chewed as a breath cleanser. Infusion of leaves or essential oil used to treat cancer of the mouth, prevent baldness, treat sore throats as gargle, repel insects, treat diarrhea. Also, used in Native American religious ceremonies for smudging considered a "Warrior Plant", capable of expelling bad spirits, allowing the good spirits to enter and initiate healing.
Commission E approved to treat mouth and pharynx inflammations, excessive perspiration (homeopathic use), appetite stimulant.
Traditionally used to treat fevers, inflammations of the mouth and pharynx and as an appetite stimulant.
ANTIPERSPIRANT AND BACTERIOSTAT. Native Americans substitute salvia for Artemisia occasionally as a male warrior plant in smudging and sweeping away evil spirits and illness.
Chemistry: Caffeic acid, diterpenes, triterpenes, flavonoids and volatile oils to include thujone and camphor.
Contraindicated during pregnancy.
Preparation: One teaspoon of dried and cut herb, or two teaspoons cut fresh herb to one cup of water just off the boil. Infuse until cool, use as a gargle or tea. Use under the skilled care of a professional holistic health care practitioner.Note: Good garden companion: Rosemary
Saint John's Wort
Hypericum perforatum L.
Clusiaceae (syn. Hypericaceae, Guttiferae)
(Photo and more information)
For more details see Physician's Laptop section.
Notes: I have supplied video of this plant to all the major networks and many affiliates.
There is tremendous interest in using it for treating mild forms of depression. Sam's Club (Walmart) sells this supplement by the truckload. There it is stacked halfway to the ceiling...millions of capsules. Every Tom, Dick and Judy that doesn't feel great is trying Saint John's Wort, without medical supervision, without counseling. Happiness in the form of a pill. There is a better way. But lifestyle and behavior changes are not easy to make but they are free and the results can be forever.
Medicine: Wound healing and anti-depressant. Also, for anxiety and insomnia related to stress and anxiety. Popular for treating non-bi-polar depression. Traditionally used for over 2000 years (initially in Greece to drive out evil spirits). Mono Amine Oxidase (MAO) inhibitor, keeps serotonin brain levels up. Flower infusion or flower tincture used. Use flowers and leaves...cooling astringent, anti-infective agent, wound healing infection fighter, antiviral, calms nerves, may relieve insomnia, may boost mood, dispel lethargy, nervine, anti-inflammatory, promotes healing, antiseptic, analgesic, reduces nervous tension internally, PMS premenstrual syndrome treatment with tea, sciatica, anxiety, shingles, fibrositis externally as poultice or wash for infections, healing burns, bruises, sprains, tendenitis, sprains, neuralgia, cramps. EFFECTIVE DOSE IN MANY STUDIES WAS 300 MILLIGRAMS OF HYPERICUM EXTRACT CONTAINING A MINIMUM OF .3 PERCENT HYPERICIN ONE OF THE ACTIVE INGREDIENTS. FOR SUCCESSFUL PARTICIPANTS EFFECTS WERE NOTICED AFTER A FEW WEEKS OF DOSAGE.
Commission E approved for internally for anxiety, moody depriession, blunt injuries, internally for skin inflammations, wounds, burns, blunt injuries.
OTHER REPORTED MOOD BOOSTERS: KAVA ROOT (sometimes combined with St. John's Wort in fluid extracts), L-tyrosine, serotonin (see file on carbohydrates and serotonin), hormone pregnenolone.
Preparation: flowers and leaves as tea, flowers and leaves as a poultice or water wash. Can be tinctured in alcohol, steeped in hot water, infused in hot oil. Infusion: two tsp. of fresh herb to 5 oz. of boiling water, steep ten minutes. Tincture: Twenty grams of chopped dried drug to 100ml of ethanol (70%) and stored in dark stopped bottle. Best tincture is from hot alcohol (150-176F). Be careful heating alcohol can be explosive. Boil water, put alcohol in container in hot water with thermometer, then pour in dried herb when selected temperature is reached. Use a little higher concentration of alcohol as some will be lost to evaporation when heating. Oil macerates: Macerate flowers in oil at 113 degrees F for ten days (Smith). Or according to Christopher Hobbs in oil at 158 degrees F for 12 -24 hours. Exposure to sunlight may increase yield of hypericin. For more details and broader information see HerbalGram No. 40.
Safety: Millions of Germans have used the herb with no reported deaths as of the date of this writing. Millions more of North Americans are using it now. It is being sold like a vitamin. See a professional health care practitioner for advice and dosages. Of 3250 German patients 2.4% reported side effects including gastrointestinal irritation, restlessness and mile allergic reactions.
WARNING: Best to buy prepared products, animal studies show the plant to cause photo dermatitis, photo allergic reaction. This phototoxicity, as yet, has not been demonstrated as a problem in humans(1997) when taken recommended dosage. Phototoxicity was demonstrated in humans in doses twice that of typical antidepressant dosage. Once again, consult a physician before using the drug (supplement). Do not use with sleep aids, sleeping pills, seserpine (antagonistic to it), barbiturates.
Chemistry: Hypericin and pseudohypericin are quinones. They are red pigmented and have antidepressant activity, and are antiviral (in vitro), anti-cancer (in vitro) antidepressant, used in AIDS research. Xanthones: (in flowers) cardiotonic, diureftic, antibacterial, antiviral, MAO inhibitor
Tannins: (leaves and flowers) styptic, anti diarrhea for external and internal bleeding, dry and bind skin.
Coumarins: (throughout plant) umbelliferone and scopoletin antifungal, antiviral and in vitro antitumor.
Essential oils: monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes (highest in plant leaves and flowers just at flowering) calming, sedating, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-asthma, for headaches, antifungal.
Bioflavonoids include: quercetrin, isoquercetrin, rutin, biapegenin. Hyperin and biflavone are sedative. As a family and individually are MAO inhibitors (quericitin) all flavonoids are antioxidants; proanthocyanidin is vasorelaxant, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-ulcer (amentoflavone anti-ulcer, sedative, anti-ulcer).
Beta-sitosterol: anti-PMS, anti-menopausal symptoms.
Also numerous acids: p-coumaric, ferulic, gentisic, chlorogenic, isoferulic...Essential oils, carotenoids, umbelliferone, xanthones, Vit C, tannins, amino acids.
Carotenoids are implicated for wound healing properties.
GABA neurotransmitter that may have sedative effects.REFERENCES:
-August 1996 British Medical Journal published 23 controlled studies of over 1700 patients using St. John's Wort or a placebo. St. John's wort was about 3 times as effective as a placebo.
Bladt, Wagner, Inhibition of MAO by fractions and constituents of Hypericum extract, Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology 7 Suppl. 1(1994): S 57-59.
Demisch et al. Identification of MAO type A inhibitors in Hypericum perforatunL Pharmacopsychiatry 22 (1989): 194.
Handbook of Proximate Analysis Tables of Higher Plants; Duke, Atchley, CRC Press; 1986.
Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, James A. Duke CRC Press, 1985.
Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses, Demi Brown; Dorling Kindersley Publishing, NY,NY. 1995.
Lavie, et al. The chemical and biological properties of hypericum-compound with a broad spectrum of biological activities. Medicinal Research Reviews 15, no. 2 (1995): 111-119.
Linde, K., et al. St John's wort for depression and overview and meta analysis of randomized clinical trials. British Medical Journal 313, no. 7052 (1996): 253-258.
Muller, Rossol Effects of Hypericum extract on the suppression of serotonin receptors. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology. 2nd. Inter Conference on Phytomedicine, Munich, 1996.
Murray, Encyclopedia of Herbs, Prima 1996.
Murray, Healing Power of herbs, Prima 1995. Contains 24 references.
Panossian, Immunosuppressive effects...Phytomedicine 3 1996: 18-28.
Sommers, Harrer, Placebo-controlled double blind study examining the effectiveness of Hypericum preparation in 105 mildly depressed patients. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology 7 Suppl 1(1994) 9-11.
Wolk et. al., Benefits and risks of the hypericum extract LI160: drug monitoring study with 3250 patients. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology 7 Supple 1 (1194) 34-38. Top20
Climbing vine, a thorny tangle of branches, shrubby evergreen growth. Stops a person in their tracks, retreat and try another route.
Medicine: Root harvested, dried. Preparation is then taken internally to treat psoriasis, rheumatism, kidney ailments. It is a diaphoretic.
Native American uses: Decoction of stems used as a tonic. Infusion of leaves and stems for gastrointestinal complaints. Used to treat skin problems. Used to scarify limbs as an analgesic, thorns rubbed into body. Cosmetic use of crushed vines in infusion, rubbed on face.
Chemistry: Saponins, phytosterols.
Sassafras albidum (Nutt.)Nees
(photo and information)
Food: I use the twigs as a tooth brush (chew stick). Chew the end of the twig until it is bristly, then use the bristles to clean between your teeth. Peel the root before you boil it for tea. Actually whittle off with a knife root shavings to make tea. Leaves may be dried and use as file, in file gumbo. Mucilaginous leaves thicken soup stocks. Best picked in Spring, but I pick them any time of year. Pick young new growth end leaves if you are gathering late in the season.
Medicine: Extracts are used to make perfume and root beer. Oil used as an antiseptic until 1960 when USDA declared it unsafe because of the content of safrole. Medicinally used in traditional healing as tonic and blood purifier, also: acne, syphilis, gonorrhea, arthritis, colic, menstrual pain, upset stomach. Bark tea used to cause sweating.
Chemistry: Safrole concentrated in the oil is carcinogenic to laboratory animals. Also isoquinoline alkaloids.
Serenoa repens (Bartr) Small.
For more detail see Physician's Physician's Laptop Reference Section
Notes: I've tried to raise these plants in Michigan with no success. We have one in the greenhouse at Andrew's University Berrien; Springs, Michigan. The berries are eaten as food. Next time you are in southern Georgia or northern Florida pick some berries (Fall of the year).
Palmettos are common residents of sub tropical and tropical areas. They thrive in both dry and wet conditions, in the open or as under story. Some varieties are a few feet high others several meters.
Berries may be crushed and used in Paleo waffle described in recipe section of this program. Powdered berries may be used much like flax seed on cereal, in bread, waffles, pancakes, in orange juice.
Medicine: Extract from the berry is used to treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Phase I studies are complete and were successful. Phase two studies are underway sponsored by PharmaPrint. Extracts and capsules are available at drug stores and health food stores. In one study saw palmetto berry extract outperformed Proscar (finasteride). Saw palmetto increased urinary flow rate 6.1 ml per second and decreased the amount of residual urine on average by 50%. Significantly to me 10.7% finasteride patients discontinued use of the drug because of side effects while only 1.8% of the saw palmetto group discontinued treatment due to side effects.(1) There appears to be an anti-androgenic effect on the prostate, preventing the accumulation of DHT that induces prostate enlargement.
Chemistry: Free fatty acids, fatty oil phytosterines, flavonoids: isoquercitrin.
Personal note: I use pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and occasionally saw palmetto berries all as food. Other extracts use to treat BPH include nettle roots and pygeum.
(1) Bach; et al.: Phytopharmaceutical and synthetic agents in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Phytomedicine 3(4): 309-313, 1997.
Carilla, et al.: Binding of Permixon, a new treatment for prostatic benign prostate hyperplasia, to the cytosolic androgen receptor in the rat prostate. J Steroid Biochemistry 20, 521-523 1994
DiSilverio et al.: Evidence that Serenoa repens extract displays antiestrogenic activity in prostatic tissue of benign prostatic hypertrophy. Eur Urol 21, 309-314 1992.
Mattei et al.: Serenoa repens extract in the medical treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy. Urologia 55, 547-552, 1998.
Braeckman: The extract of Seronoa repens in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: A multi-center open study. Curr Ther Res 55, 776-785, 1994.
Murray, Healing Power of Herbs. Prima 1995 pp. 306-313 contains 15 references.
Medicine: Aerial parts cut and dried. Ayurvedic practice sees the herb used to treat women's problems, menstrual disorders. While in China the herb is used to treat envenomations, dog bites, poisoning (fish poisoning).
Considered a febrifuge, diuretic, expectorant. Animal studies show the herb to be antiviral, anthelmintic and anti-fungal. Also acts as a uterine stimulant.
Infusion of herb used externally on freckles.
Little used today because of potentially toxic saponin content, none of traditional uses proven.
Preparation for internal use was one teaspoon of dried herb to cup boiling water, cool and drunk, three times per day. See holistic practitioner for application to your condition. Use is typically not recommended. More research needed.
Chemistry: Caffeic acid, flavonoids, cucurbitacins, saponins.
Scopolia, Japanese Belladonna
Medicine: Potentially toxic herb. Extract from dried rhizome approved for treating liver and gallbladder complaints by Commission E. Traditionally used to treat spasms of gastrointestinal tract. Drug induces Belladonna effect of dilating pupils.
In Chinese medicine the drug is used to treat dysentery, diarrhea, manic depression and stomachaches.
Chemistry: Alkaloid hyoscyamine (dries to atropine) also scopolamine, coumarins, chlorogenic acid.
Warnings: Not to be taken in conjunction with treatment of glaucoma. Seed professional consultation and have a professional health care provider monitor use of this drug; especially if you have prostate hyperplasia, tachycardia, stenosis (narrowing) of gastrointestinal tract.
Seaweed, Bull Kelp
Laminaria digitata Lamour, Nereocystis leutkeana (bull kelp), Macrocystis
Notes: Seaweed is one of the best mineral sources on the planet. A complete mineral supplement.
Uses: Stipes were used to make fishing lines (after soaking in dogfish whale oil), fishing nets. The hollow stalks of kelp used as containers, often filled with slated herring eggs.
Food: Use seaweed as a snack to get minerals in a carbohydrate chelated form. Easily digested and absorbed, utilized. Native Americans cooked thick parts of kelp in ovens on ashes, then consumed with salmon, in soups or by itself. Kelp stipes used as tubes, filled with herring eggs.
Medicine: Chinese traditional uses the herb to reduce swellings and soften lumps, for goiter (not typically a problem in US) for scrofula and inflamed testis. Laminaria has antilipemic activity due to polysaccharide content, also anticoagulant activity when sulfated, hypotensive due to histamine in lowere basal leaf blades. Study shows the alginate in seaweeds may reduce the absorption of radioactive substances (radioactive strontium in food products and other ingested materials).
Native American Uses of kelp: Kwakiutl used leaves to dress burns, as a poultice over scabbed wounds. Dried leaves were crushed then massaged into scalp to induce hair growth. Dried strips of leaves sucked by Pomo, Kashaya for treating colds, sore throat, said to thin mucus, get it flowing. Because they are hydrophilic I believe they would make a good wound covering where chemo taxis is necessary....drawing impurities out of a wound for example. Floating bulbs of Kelp were melted by Nitinaht, then hardened and used as a skin cream providing protection from the elements. Kelp blades were anchored at mouths of streams and rivers so herring eggs would be attached to them.
Salves were made by pouring emollient oils into a hollow kelp stipe, hot wax was added, mixed, allowed to harden, then kelp cut away, revealing hardened salve.
Cervical dilator: Laminaria was used as a tent in pregnant women to ease vaginal birth and induce labor. The hygroscopic laminaria tent made from a hollow tube of laminaria absorbs fluids in the vagina and swells. in the 18th century these tents were sometimes coated with wax that would melt in the vaginal, releasing antiseptic agents along the birth canal wall. Laminaria tents swell slowly enlarging the birth canal. CAUTION: tenting with laminaria may be hazardous due to harmful bacteria on the algae. This was more a problem in the past than today due to the availability of numerous methods to sterilize laminaria and package it safely.
Preparation: Eat nori right out of package as daily mineral supplement. Add seaweeds to soups and stir fry.
Note: supplies body with minerals in absorbable chelated form.
Chemistry: Laminaria (and other seaweeds) contains vitamins A, B vitamins, iodine, algin, laminin, minerals (calcium, iron, sodium, potassium etc..) mannitol, laminarin (3). Polysaccharides
Garden TIP: Add seaweed to your garden for a mineral rich, mineral complete mulch.
Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik
Food: Seeds eaten, or dried, ground into flour. Tops (seeds) cooked as a spice with greens and/or meat.
Medicine: Aerial parts of plant are quickly dried, cut and used as a tea. Commission E approved uses include: for nosebleeds, wounds, burns and treating Premenstrual Syndrome. Traditionally (Native American use) the infusion of the aerial parts was used to treat headaches.
Other Native American uses as an analgesic, anti-diarrhea, to relieve stomach cramps, externally an infusion of aerial parts as a wash for poison ivy.
Not to be used during pregnancy.
Preparation: Dried herb infusion: 5 grams of dried herb to one cup of water.
Chemistry: Caffeic acid, cardioactive steroids, sinigrin.
Shunkiku, Garland Chrysanthemum
Notes: Will self seed in temperate zones as far north as Michigan. Buy seeds at Oriental markets, Chinatown.
Food: flowers and leaves in salads, Chinese stir fry, soups.
Preparation: As food...leaves and flowers, aerial parts of plant may be dried to make teas in off season, winter.
Medicine: Slightly bitter leaves and flowers digestive stimulant, entire digestive tract and related organs. anti-inflammatory, increases blood flow to heart by dilating coronary arteries (thus name). anti-microbial...Internally for hypertension, angina, lowers fevers from colds (cooling), liver disorders, may help improve coronary artery disease. Not to be used externally may cause dermatitis in some.
Scutellaria baicalensis; S. lateriflora; S. barbata; S. galericulata
Medicine: S. baicalensis primarily used for diarrhea and dysentery. Also may effect liver function in a positive way due to anti-inflammatory bioflavonoids. S. barbata used as a detoxicant on liver for various poisonings. S. lateriflora used by Native Americans (Cherokee) for dysmenorrhea, to promote menstruation. Historically, this species was used successfully to treat rabies. S. galericulata a is used in a similar way to S. lateriflora. S. baical is used as a febrifuge, it is considered hypotensive and may lower cholesterol levels. It is antispasmodic, cholagogue (stimulates liver); stems bleeding and has mild diuretic effect. It is anti-microbial.
Chemistry: flavonoids appear to be the anti-inflammatory chemistry.
Western Skunk Cabbage (Yellow Arum)
Symplocarpus foetidus (L.) Salisb. Nutt.; Lysichitum americanus(m) Hulten and St. John
Description: Large, green elephant like leaves that are lustrous and waxy in appearance with a "skunky" odor when torn. Found as undercover in wet woods, swamps. lowlands. Flower is an archaic showy sheath surrounding club like flower spike. Western skunk cabbage has yellow flower. (Photo and information).
Food: CAUTION: OXALATE CRYSTALS PRESENT. Native American Cooking: Western skunk cabbage leaves and roots were washed and steamed or pit cooked until a mush like consistency. Root can be dried, roasted and ground into flour. Leaves were placed over cooking vegetables as a spice. Young leaves may be thoroughly dried, then cooked in soups. Several Western tribes ate roots after boiling them eight times. It is said that to dry the leaves or roots of Western or Eastern skunk cabbage eliminates some of the peppery, hot taste of the calcium oxalate crystals. Calcium oxalate crystals (raphides) are toxic and makes these plants unsuitable foods. The waxy leaves were used as plates to eat off of, also to line cooking pits and cedar boxes used in cooking. Leaves used to wrap meat and vegetables for cooking. Also used to store foods and cover fresh berries. Typically, leaves used to keep heat and steam in while cooking. Apparently, the oxalate does not effect the food when prepared with raw leaves as a lining or covering. Never eat these plants fresh and uncooked. Roots are numerous and tentacle like. According to Couplan, Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America, buds of an Northeast Asia species are eaten.
Medicine: Considered a antispasmodic, expectorant, diaphoretic and sedative. The liquid extract is used to treat bronchitis and asthma. Native American uses: Dried root of Eastern species used as antispasmodic tea to stop seizures (epilepsy), coughs, asthma, toothaches. Paste of dried root used externally for skin irritations, itching. Crushed Leaf poultice used externally on swellings and as an analgesic.. Poultice of leaves considered anti-rheumatic. Root infusion used to treat coughs (dried root?). Root was used as a poultice over wounds. Considered good poultice for bad wounds. Decoction of crushed stalks used as a douche to improved displacement of the womb. Leaves chewed for epilepsy. Dried powdered root used as infusion to treat convulsions. According to Foster and Duke (Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants. Peterson Field Guides) the "skunky" leaf was used as an underarm deodorant. Me thinks this was used by cheating husbands, who rubbed the stink on their body and claimed to have worked all day. Ha!
According to Moerman, In Native American Ethnobotany, Timber Press, the root decoction was used for a weak heart, root hairs as a hemostat and for toothache. Root also used to tattoo body and whole as talismans against evil.
Modern phytopharmacology uses a liquid extract of skunk cabbage to treat bronchitis and asthma. Plant is antispasmodic, expectorant, sedative and diaphoretic.
Western Skunk Cabbage (L. americanus): Used in the same way as Eastern variety. Flower was steamed and placed against joints to treat arthritis. Sweat lodge, warm leaves used to sit on to treat arthritis. Poultice of smashed root used on boils and abscesses. Root burned and smoke inhaled for treating nightmares, disrupted sleep and flu. Leaves used as poultice for burns. Makah tribe chewed raw root to cause abortion. Charcoal of burned plants steptic used on wounds. Steamed roots used to treat stroke, arthritis.
Chemistry: Calcium oxalate crystals in all parts of plant, volatile oils (odor) and resins.
Notes: Skunk cabbage protrudes through the soil about a month before it should. Plants generate heat to jump start growth through snow and ice. I have eaten the raw leaf and lived to regret it. It was as if a gnome pounded a thousand needles in my tongue.
Warning: Avoid using the fresh parts of this plant as food or medicine.
Slippery Elm, Red Elm
Ulmus rubra Muhl.
Medicine: Bark of this tree acts as an antioxidant. A mucilaginous extract is demulcent, emollient. Traditionally used to treat gastritis and ulcers. Externally extract is an excellent wound dressing used on burns. Also, used externally to treat gout and rheumatism and arthritis. Today being used to treat colds and sore throats, bronchitis. Outer bark used to make the salve. Outer bark used to induce abortions. Inner bark dried and powdered added to water for gastric ulcers, duodenal ulcers, colitis.
Chemistry: Tannins, polysaccharides, phytosteroids, sesquiterpenes.
False Solomon Seal
Polygonatum biflorum (Walt.) (Ell.) False Solomon Seal Smilacina racemosa (L.)
Description: True Solomon seal has flower umbels in the notch of each leaf. False Solomon seal has a flower spike at the top of the plant. Leaves oval to elliptical, alternate. Flowers white drooping from notch of alternate leaves. Stamens are indicative they are longer than petals. Found in moist woods, road sides. Transplants to garden (photo and information).
Food: The young shoots of false Solomon seal are said to be edible but berries may be emetic. That is, they may cause you to vomit. Root stocks of false Solomon seal are inedible. Young shoots of true Solomon seal are fair as a trail food steamed or cooked with mixed vegetables. This plant should be judiciously sampled. Large quantities may be harmful. Inside each fruit are several seeds that may be transplanted into your herb garden. This is a beautiful herbal that needs little care and has a different look each season.
Medicine Solomon Seal: The rootstocks of Polygonatum are sliced and used as food and medicine in China. native Americans used root tea for respiratory ailments, indigestion, weakness, sleep aid, laxative. Root tea used externally on wounds, burns, irritations, sores, bruises.
Medicine False Solomon Seal: Warming tea from root. Root tea considered a blood purifier, tonic. Root tea used as a laxative to treat constipation. Tea of root considered a female tonic for women's ailments. Reported that smoke from burning roots inhaled to relieve insanity or quiet a crying child.
Sorrel, French sorrel; Garden Sorrel (Rumex acetosa L.)
Rumex species, French sorrel is R. scutatus
PolygonaceaeUSES: (Photos and more information)
Food: French sorrel leaves in salads, soups, savory dishes. cream cheese, egg dishes, creamed soups good with watercress soup.
This is wood sorrel. Leaves, flowers and seeds have a sour taste. Add flowers, seeds and leaves to salads or brew them into a beverage. A few words of caution, however, use this plant sparingly. Excessive consumption may inhibit the absorption of calcium in the body. Cheap sorrel like wood sorrel may also inhibit calcium absorption.
Wood sorrel leaves, flowers and seeds have a sour taste. Add flowers, seeds and leaves to salads or brew them into a beverage. A few words of caution, however, use this plant sparingly. Excessive consumption may inhibit the absorption of calcium in the body. Sheep sorrel like wood sorrel may also inhibit calcium absorption.
Medicine: Cooling herb, astringent internally and externally (anti-diarrhea?), diuretic. R. crispus (yellow dock roots are infused in water with dandelion root to treat skin problems, both used internally and externally. slightly laxative cathartic, fights constipation, Use judicious as too much may upset stomach. Bitterness stimulates entire digestive system including liver and gall bladder, may improve digestion.
CAUTION: Rumex species have oxalic acid, oxalates can be poisonous in excess.
I use these plants judiciously (but love them) not more than twice a week.
Tofu (soy bean products)
Glycine max L.
For more details see soy in Physician's Laptop .
Uses: Also, see soy dog food.
Food: See Herbal Preparations and Nutritional Therapies Video from Jim Meuninck. You can easily make your own soy milk, vegetated soy protein, soy dog food and tofu. Add this helathful food to stir fry, blend soft tofu into banana smoothies, fry tofu, eat vegetated tofu burgers, use soft tofu in your creamy salad dressings, try tofu and Marukan seasoned gourmet rice wine vinegar to make a vegetable dip.
See Herbal Preparations and Nutritional Therapies section for how to make soy milk and soy protein.
Medicine: tofu and other soy products may help prevent breast, uterine, stomach and prostate cancer due to phytoestrogen content. Isoflavones in soy are antioxidants. Phytic acid in soy reduces cholesterol absorption; soy protease inhibitors may provide protection from virus invasion in gut, and consequent cancer (unproven). Genistein in soy inhibits cell proliferation and inhibits growth of carcinogen induced cancers in rats and human leukemia cells transplanted into mice. PR Newswire, April 24, 1998.
Commission E approved for controlling serum cholesterol levels.
Soy may be helpful in preventing hot flashes (1). In the study it was soy extract was not particularly helpful against menopause symptoms such as aches, cramps, insomnia, headaches and anxiety(2).
Chemistry: Equol, genistein and daidzein (soy isoflavones), lignins (enterodiol, enterolactone, matairesinol; protease inhibitors prevent activation of cancer causing orgainisms, genes and mechanisms; phytate (phytic acid) soluble fiber slows release of food (sugars) into blood stream; cancer protection from phytosterols; saponins as antioxidants perhaps inhibiting colon cancer, also increase removal of chelesterol from body; phytate binds excessive iron and removes it; phenolic acid anti-carcinogenic; lecithin antioxidant; essential fatty acids anti-arthritic, anti heart disease; anti-diabetic; anti-cancer.
Studies: There is a good association between soy product intake and the risk of breast cancer. Women with a high amount of plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) in their urine had a substantial reduction in risk for breast cancer. In another study, it showed that fat intake was associated with a higher risk of endometrial cancer, whereas fiber intake reduced the risk. High consumption of soy foods and other legumes reduced the risk of uterine cancer. This reduction in cancer rate was also show by people who ate ample amounts of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seaweeds.
Notes: It is estimated that Japanese women eat about 200 mg of phytoestrogens per day. The Italian study (hot flashes) used about 1/3 that amount (76mg/day). The dietary supplement used in reference (1) contained 40 mg of genistein and 28 mg of daidzein.
(1) Albertazzi, P. Pansini, Bonaccorsi, Zanotti, Forini et al.: The effect of dietary soy supplementation on hot flushes (flashes) . Obstetrics and Gynecology (1998) 91(1) 9-11.
(2) Leigh, E. Research Reviews: Soy helps with hot flashes. HerbalGram 44 (1998) p.22.
-IngramD, et. al. Case-Study of phytoestrogens and breast cancer. The Lancet 350:990:94, 1997.
-Adlercreutz et. al. Soybean phytoestrogen intake and cancer risk. Journal Nutrition. 125:575S-67S, 1995.
-Goodman, Et.Al. Association of soy and fiber consumption with the risk of endometrial cancer. American Journal Epidemiology 146:294-306, 1997.
Soy for health Web sites:
Japanese soy research http://www.fujioil.co.jp/daizu/srj/sre_about,html
Soy products and osteoporosis http://www.obgyn.net/women/articles/soyosteo.htm
Soy products and treating cancer http://www.cheshire-med.com/services/dietary/nutrinew/soy.html
Soy Symposiums: role of soy protein in preventing and treating chronic disease http://soyfoods.com/symposium/ScientificProgram.html
UCLA center for human nutrition http://www.soyfoods.com/research/uclasymposium/
Mentha spicata L.
Medicine: Use as same as other mints less irritating oil, make sauces from leaves, for flatulence hiccups, fevers and upper respiratory tracts infections in children and adults
-Spearmint is preferred for cooking over peppermint, milder. Not an effective tea.
Chemistry: Thymonin (flavonoid); volatile oils: rosmaric acid; L-carvone, limonenes, carvon (spearmint odor).
See M Section mints for more info.
Lindera benzoin L.
(photo and information)
Description: Shrub found in rich lowlands grows to 15 feet. Numerous spreading branches. Smooth branches give off spicy odor when scratched. Leaves smooth, bright green, pointed. Widest near or above middle section. Simple, alternate, deciduous 2.5 to 5 inches long, 1.5 to 2.5 wide. Flowers small, yellow, in dense clusters along previous year's twigs. Fruit in clusters somewhat football shaped. Fruit starts green and is bright red in fall. Aromatic fruit, marsh dweller, along streams.
Food: In the spring I gather end twigs, tie them together with string, and throw them in a pot with leeks, nettles, mushrooms and dandelions. Bundles of stems can be steeped in boiling water to make tea. Sweeten with honey. Young leaves can be used in the same way. In the fall, try drying the fruits in a food dryer. Dried fruits are hard and can be ground in a coffee mill and used as a substitute for allspice.
Medicine: Native Americans used the bark in infusion for treating colds, coughs and dysentery. Tea made from the bark was used as spring tonic. Bathing in this tea reportedly helps arthritis, rheumatism. Tea made from the twigs was used to treat dysmenorrhea. Chinese used tea or aromatic bark to treat urinary incontinence.
Chemistry: Seed 21 percent protein and 60 percent fat dry weight. As per handbook of Proximate Analysis Tables of Higher Plants, Duke and Atchley, CRC Press, Boca Raton.
Widow's Tears, Spider plant
(Tradescantia virginiana L.)
USES: (photo and more information)
Food: Winter hardy, escaped and now wild perennial. Eat young stems and leaves in spring...Flowers are edible throughout year, pick in morning before they wilt. In salads, stir fry, or right off the plant. Flowers may be dipped in egg white and coated with powdered sugar. Root tea a laxative (see below).
Medicine: Root tea used as a laxative, for female kidney disorders and stomach problems. Root tea a laxative. Crushed and smashed aerial parts of plant used as a poultice over insect bites, stings. Native American and folk use as anticancer agent. Flowers have health protecting bioflavonoids, heart, blood pressure, hypotensive, diuretic, may improve distal circulation.
Science Education: Flowers open in morning, wilt by afternoon and turn into a jellylike mass by evening. Hairy stamens of flower have large rows of thin-walled cells in a chainlike pattern. Flowing cytoplasm and nucleus of these cells easily seen under a microscope.
Spring beauty, Indian potato, mountain potato
(Claytonia caroliniana) (C. lanceolata) and (C. tuberosa)
(photo and information)Uses:
Norway Spruce, Black Spruce
Picea abies (L.), Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP, Abies alba
Medicine: Needle oil is antibacterial, expectorant (secreolytic), antiseptic, hyperemic. Commission E approved drug for following therapies:
Fresh Spruce Shoots: To treat infections, fevers, colds, bronchitis and related cough, mouth and pharynx inflammations, muscular and nerve pain.
Spruce Needle Oil: infections, colds, coughs related to bronchitis, fever, mouth and pharynx inflammation, rheumatism and neuralgia.
Commission E approved uses: Needle oil used to treat colds, coughs, bronchitis, fevers, neuralgia, rheumatism, infections, mouth and pharynx infections. Fresh spruce shoots for infections, muscle and nerve pain, coughs, bronchitis, colds, fever, mount and pharynx inflammations.
Native American Uses: Picea mariana, Black Spruce, gum was used as a digestive, used as a sealing (styptic) salve. Needles used in baths or in infusion as a wash (antiseptic, soothing). Decoction of twigs and needles taken for coughs and colds. Root and bark infusion for nervous conditions: "fits", convulsions. Potawatomi used a poultice of the inner bark for infections and inflamed infections. Decoction of cones was used to treat diarrhea. Gum and grease mix used to treat burns. Decoction of needles imbibed for respiratory infections. Plant was used by numerous nations: Algonquin, Anticosti, Carrier, Cree, Inuktitut, Eskimo, Malecite, Micmac and others.
Chemistry: bornyl acetate, limonene, camphene, alpha pinene, beta pinene, borneol, borneol acetate.
Preparation: Internal use: three drops of needle oil in oatmeal, lump of sugar, blended into maple syrup three times a day.
Also used in inhalation therapy, aromatherapy: a few drops of oil in hot water. Put a towel over your head and inhale vapors.
PRECAUTIONS: See your holistic health care professional before using the oil. In baths the oil may exacerbate skin conditions, wounds. Do not take in a hot bath if you have a heart condition or are febrile and weak. Do not use to treat whooping cough and bronchial asthma.
Squill, sea onion
Medicine: Commission E approved drug extracted from plant bulbs for treating venous conditions; arrhythmia, cardiac insufficiency and heart complaints, venous insufficiency.
Potent drug to be prescribed by holistic physicians and administered with care. Side effects and contraindications may increase risk of cardiac arrhythmias especially when used concomitant with quinidine, glucocorticoids, laxatives, calcium and saluretics.
Chemistry: Mucilage; cardiac glycosides.
Veterinarian/Wildlife: used as a rat poison.
Food: Anise flavoring agent. Key flavoring ingredient (My wife, Jill, hates it) in Vietnamese and Chinese "Five spice powder". Used in stir fry, curry sauces, as a tea and pickling agent. Also, used (oil) to flavor coffee, liqueurs, bread and other baked goods. If oil is unavailable, grind seeds in coffee grinder to yield aromatic powder.
Commission E approved to treat loss of appetite, coughs, bronchitis.
Medicine: In traditional Mexican and Oriental
medicine star anise is used for abdominal pain and weakness, upset of the stomach, especially
in summer heat. Tea used to treat arthritis, lumbago. Seeds are a
carminative digestive aid eaten like fennel seeds after meals.
Tip: Try star anise in your next herbal tea. Ground or whole seed.
(Fragaria virginiana Duchesne), (Fragaria vesca L.)
Uses: (photo and information)
Food: Of course, who hasn't tried them, wild or cultivated. The great news is that they are high in ellagic acid, especially the seeds. Eat a cup a day and keep cancer away. Maybe!
Medicine: Ellagic acid in strawberries is in phase two trials for its anti-angiogenic effect. Ellagic acid inhibits the formation of blood vessels to tumors. Without vascular nutrition and cleansing tumor cells go through apoptosis, that is they die. The trials are being tested with pureed raspberries also high in ellagic acid (see reference A below)
Traditionally the astringent leaf tea was used by Native Americans as a nervine and nerve tonic, for diarrhea, kidney cleansing, jaundice of scurvy, gout, bladder ailments. Root was used as a diuresis, for lung problems, venereal disease (gonorrhea) and stomach complaints. Tea wash used on sunburns and other burns, skin blemishes, generally considered cleansing and tonic to the skin.
Used to treat irregular menses.
Fruit juice used for discolored teeth.
Chemistry: Ellagic acid, flavonoids, vitamin C, pectin (also anti-cancer and anti-cholesterol).
A. Daniel Nixon MD, Hollings Cancer Center, Charleston Carolina, presented at 1998 NOAT annual conference. Title:Overview of Carcinogenesis Current State of the Art.
Smooth Sumac, Staghorn Sumac, Poison Oak; Poison Sumac
(Rhus glabra L.)(Rhus typhina L. )(Rhus toxicodendronL. )(Rhus vernix L.)
Description: Staghorn Sumac is widely distributed. Usually seen on your bike ride bordering fences and fields, roadsides. This shrub can grow to 20 feet. Leaves are compound anywhere from 11 to 30 leaflets. Leaves are toothed, hairless. Dense cones of white flowers mature to spikes of fuzzy red berries (photo and information).
Food: In the Eastern United States we have smooth, dwarf, winged sumac and staghorn sumac. I prefer the heads of staghorn sumac. Collect them before they have been leached by too many rainfalls. Strip the "cotton" covered berries from the heads and stems.
RECIPE: With honey and sumac berries you can make a pleasing summer beverage. Place the stripped berries into a clean sock, simmer the sock full of berries in a pan of water, tasting frequently until you get the lemony flavor you desire. Then sweeten with honey.
Kurdish people use dried and crushed sumac seeds as a spice. You might try this with staghorn sumac berries.
Sumac berries soaked in water can be used wherever you need the flavor of lemon. Use the water in cooking. Try it with peas and string beans.Medicine: Leaves used by Native Americans to treat several ailments. Leaf tea used to treat dysentery and diarrhea from other sources. The tea is astringent, a tonic, cooling. Leaf tea also used by asthmatics. Smoking the leaves reported to treat symptoms of asthma, perhaps an antispasmodic. Root of glabra and typhina made into an emetic tea. Berry tea may be thickened with honey and used for coughs. Chippewa used a decoction of flowers for stomach pain. A few tribes used tea of inner bard for treating hemorrhoids. Berry tea may be helpful as therapy for sore throats, at least early pioneers and Native Americans used it this way.
RESOURCE: An excellent field piece for discovering wild fruits and many others is the "Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants" by Elias Dykeman available from Outdoor Life Books, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company and Jim Dukes's Handbook of Northeastern Indian Medicinal Plants from Quarterman Publications.
Helianthus annus L.
Food: Eat out of hand. Eat raw seeds. Make pesto with them. Add them to hot cereals and cold cereals. In waffle and pancake mixes. Add to bread recipes and other baked goods. Stir frys. Seed oil is used in margarine and cooking oils.
Medicine: Seeds have four anti-acne compounds. Ranked second to butternut as sought out nutrition for those with acne (source: Phytochemical Database, USDA, ARS, NGRL). Six chemicals in pumpkin seeds are considered anti-inflammatory.
High in antioxidants. Sunflower seeds have ten chemicals considered anti-tumor, anticancer. Historically the seeds were used internally, to treat malaria, tuberculosis, and bronchial infections. Externally oil used as a base for massage oils for sore muscles and rheumatic complaints.
Chemistry: Omega 6 fatty acids, therefore it is recommended that sunflower seeds be eaten with flax seeds and other sources high in Omega 3 fatty acids to balance off the inflammatory effect of Omega 6. If you inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and arthritis it is wise to restrict your use of Omega 6 rich sources, unless you consume them with an equal amount of Omega 3.
Wildlife/Veterinarian: Great bird food. Also add to dog and cats dry chow if they will eat them.
Sweet Cicely, wild anise
Osmorhiza claytonii (Michx.) clark (Myrrhis odorata)
Description: Be careful, hemlock look a like. Broken root smells like anise seed. Shiny, bright green leaves; small, white flowers in umbels. Wild anise, commonly called sweet cicely , has a sweet anise odor and taste. Used as an anise substitute. Forest dweller. Found throughout entire United States except extremes of dessert, mountains. (photo, more)
Food: Use root to spice cooked greens and baked goods. Leaves can be added to salads. cooked root can be eaten cold, pickled, try it in salads, soups.
Medicine: Root tea used as an expectorant, decongestant. Digestive aid. Was considered useful in treating anemia, probably due to iron in root.
Preparation: Root is macerated and infused in water as a tea. Keep pot or cup covered as to not loose essential oils. Macerating the root in stoppered bottle of water may yield more of the aromatic, volatile oils.
Chemistry: Flavonoids, apigenine, luteolin and volatile oils alpha pinene, limonene, anethole, germacrene-D, myrcene, alpha farnesene.
Sweet Clover, Yellow Sweet Clover
Melilotus officinalis (L.) All.
Medicine: Leaves, flowers and stems used to procure drug. Infusion and other forms of the drug used to treat wounds, blunt injuries (edema), hemorrhoids, varicose veins. Commission E has approved use for blunt injuries, venous conditions, hemorrhoids. It is considered anti-inflammatory. Used to increase venous performance and lymphatic performance.
Native Americans used the flowers and root infusion as a wash to treat pimples (acne) and sunburn. Cold infusion of aerial parts used by Ramah Navajo to treat colds. Dried flowers smudged to sweeten smell of house and invite in good spirits.
Chemistry: volatile oils, flavonoids: kampferol, quercitrin; saponins, coumarins.
Liver enzymes should be monitored while on the drug.
Preparation: An infusion of two teaspoons or less of the dried aerial parts of the plant to a cup of boiling water. Two or three times per day. Available in ointments, liniments, sachets, whole plant liquid extracts.
Wildlife/Veterinarian: Plant used to repel bed bugs. Excellent forage plant for herbivores.
holy grass, vanilla grass
Hierochloe odorata (L.)
Description: Shiny green grass with sweet fragrance. Prefer moist, well drained soil. Prefers sunny location and must be contained in the garden because of invasive powers. (Photo, more).
Food: Used in Europe to flavor liqueurs and vodkas. The grain is probably edible but little information is available. The problem is the presence of coumarin in the plant that may cause excessive bleeding. Oil a flavoring for candy, soft drinks, alcohol drinks. Tobacco chews are flavored with the grass. Native Americans mixed grass with tobacco.
Medicine: Spiritual healing, smudging (burning) and sweeping (brushing) with the grass. Water infusion used to treat sore throats, coughs. Used externally as wash, for vaginal disorders, chafing, venereal diseases.
Chemistry: Coumarin, aromatic essential oils, bioflavonoids.
Cosmetics: Used in perfumes, sachets,
Notes: Native Americans weave the grass into baskets. Grass is woven and dried and used in sweeping and smudging rituals to invite the aid of good spirits. Sweeping and smudging with sweet grass is typically performed after sweeping or smudging with a "Warrior Plant" like sage, garlic.
Food: Edible flower. Also see cleavers.
Medicine: Aerial parts of the flower are used to obtain the drug. Astringent herb, aromatic, used as a nervine. Antispasmodic, may reduce tendency for blood clotting. Sleep aid. To treat hemorrhoids, venous insufficiency and other circulation problems: varicose veins, thrombophlebitis, biliary obstruction.
Caution: Coumarins are potentially dangerous chemicals. Liver enzymes should be checked is drug is administered.
Chemistry: Mellilotoside, coumarin, asperuloside, monotropein, scandoside