Valerian, Valeriana officinalis L.
Venus Fly trap, Dionaea muscipula
Vervain, Verbena officinalis
Violets, heartsease, woodland violet, pansy, Viola tricolor L. and Viola papilionacea L., Viola pubescens Aiton
Vitex, chaste tree, Vitex agnus-cactus (L.)
Valeriana officinalis L.
I grow this herb in my garden and imbibe on the flowers and leaves. The root, a stinky thing, may be simmered and used as a mild sedative. I also like Valeriana sitchensis of the Pacific Northwest mountains. It is especially prevalent on the north side of Mt. Rainier.Uses:
Food: Leaves and flowers of V. officinalis are eaten in our household.
Medicine: Sedative and warming herb, improves digestion, lowers pain and is hypotensive. Said to relieve painful menstruation (PMS). Relieves cramps, treats insomnia, migraine and jangled nerves. Sometimes combine with hops (Humulus lupulus) and skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) in valerian may reduce blood pressure and help mild depression. This chemical is also high in Evening primrose seeds and several varieties of tomatoes. Sedative quality and used to assist sleep and relaxation.
Chemistry: Volatile oils, sesquiterpenes, caffeic acid derivatives, may have pyridine alkaloids.
Wildlife/Veterinarian: Extracts of roots are use as baits to lure wild cats, rodents, mountain lions.
Venus Fly trap
Dionaea muscipula Ellis
Medicine: Aerial parts are used. Experimental and unproven use against breast cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, bone cancer Hodgkin disease.
Chemistry: Plumbagin (immune stimulating and anti-tumor).
Wildlife/Veterinarian: Cherokee chewed plant and spit on lures to improve fish catch.
Verbena officinalis L.; V. hastata
Medicine: Traditionally both V. officinalis and V. hastata used to fight or treat colds, whooping cough, asthma, coughs, sore throat. Also to treat exhaustion and nervousness.
Chemistry: Caffeic acid derivatives, Flavonoids, iridoide monterpenes
Contraindications: Not to be taken by pregnant women and nursing mother.
heartsease, woodland violet, pansy
Viola tricolor L. and Viola papilionacea L., Viola pubescens Aiton
Violaceae(Photo and more information)
Food: May be added to salads, soups a floating garnish, stir fried. Eat flowers and leaves. Can be dried and infused into water.
Medicine: Whole plant was used salad green with cooling properties, blood purifier, detoxifier, mildly laxative and diuretic eaten to treat respiratory infections: slightly mucilaginous helpful with whooping cough, bronchitis. Used for rheumatism. Anti-inflammatory. Expectorant. Claimed to be good for fibrocystic breast, both internally and externally applied (unproven). Possibly helpful for hemorrhoids and varicose veins because of high vitamin C content. May strengthen capillaries (rutin) preventing capillary fragility. Use with autoimmune disease. Healing both internally and externally. Externally for eczema, varicose ulcers.
Viola tricolor, heartease, dried aerial parts, is mucin rich and makes a soothing dressing for skin inflammations such as cradle cap, eczemas, acne, impetigo. Traditional uses to relieve inflammations of the mouth and throat, colds, whooping cough. Powdered or cut herb is taken in infusion one cup of water off the boil to a 5-10 grams of the dried herb three times daily after meals. Active chemistry may be salicylic acid, mucilage, tannins, saponins.
Chemistry: rutin (bioflavonoids) High in vitamin C, A and Potassium.
CAUTION: ROOTLETS AND RHIZOME ARE NOT EDIBLE. POISONOUS LOOK-A-LIKES DWARF LARKSPURS DELPHINIUM TRICORNE AND MONKSHOOD ACONITUM UNCINATUM. As with all unfamiliar plants use a field guide and forage with a knowledgeable gatherer.
Vitex, chaste tree
Vitex agnus-cactus L.
Food: Monks and sisters used seeds ground up like pepper to lower sex drive.
Vitex berries have been eaten in judicious amounts by traditional people to treat women's disorders.
Medicine: Distinct hormonal effect on body. Anti-androgenic inhibiting male sex drive. May in increase fertility in women. Progesterogenic effect on women. Considered anti-asthmatic, sedative, antispasmodic, antibacterial, expectorant, used to treat female problems of menstrual cycle and menopause.
Lactagogue that may improve lactation. digestive aid cooling. Combined with golden seal rood powder for women's problems and the treatment of aformication (a nervous disorder with the sensation of insects crawling over the body). Considered to normalize the secretion of hormones of the hypothalamus and pituitary and hormone secreting organs. Said to lower secretion of prolactin thereby lowering the estrogen to progesterone ratio.
Study: Extract from vitex berries is used in Europe and the North America to relieve symptoms of PMS. In a controlled double blind study conducted in Germany (Lauritzen, et. al. 1997 Treatment of premenstrual tension syndrome with Vitex agnus-castus...Controlled double blind study versus pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)..Phytomedicine, Vol. 4, No. 3 183-189) vitex was associated with a marked relief of symptoms as compared to Vitamin B6. Improvement was seen in 77.1 percent of participants vs. 60.6 percent on pyroxidine. Symptoms that were relieved varied but included: breast tenderness, edema, inner tension, depression, constipation and headache. Over 25% of the physicians administering the test said vitex treatment was excellent. Paricipants in the test group took one capsule of vitex extract containing 3.5 to 4.2 mg. of dried vitex extract in a ration of 9.58-11.5:1. Those taking pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) took two capsules 100 mg each per day. Pyridoxine was rated at 60.6% effective at relieving symptoms. SAFETY: 12 VITEX USERS IN THE TRIAL REPORTED SYMPTOM SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDING: HEADACHE, LOWER BOWEL GASTROINTESTINAL COMPLAINTS AND SKIN PROBLEMS.
PREGNANCY: ALTHOUGH NONE OF THE WOMEN WERE PREGNANT IN THE TRIAL...FIVE WOMEN TAKING VITEX BECAME PREGNANT DURING THE TRIAL. Avoid use of the drug during pregnancy.
OF COURSE, THEY DID NOT GET PREGNANT ON THE VITEX, BUT TYPICALLY VITEX THERAPY HAS BEEN C0NTRAINDICATED WHILE PREGNANT. UNTIL MORE RESEARCH IS AVAILABLE IT IS PRUDENT NOT TO TAKE VITEX WHILE PREGNANT.
CHEMISTRY: volatile oils: cineol, glycosides: casticin...alkaloid viticine and iridoids aucubin agnoside and eurostoside.