Pau D’arco

Botanical Name: Tabebuia spp. | Family: Bignoniaceae

Common name(s): Pau d’arco, Lapacho, Tabebuia


  • Evergreen tree | Grows in the warm parts of Central and South America (found in the forests of Brazil and Argentina) | 125 feet | pink to purple flowers
  • Over-harvesting has endangered this tree


This inner bark of mature trees is harvested and aged to maximize it’s effectiveness. Beware of companies trying to sell the outer bark or bark from immature trees.


Decoction: Simmer 1 ounce in a pint of boiling water. Take 1 cup 3-4x/day for acute conditions, and 1/2 cup 3-4x/day for chronic conditions. Can also apply this tea topically for skin conditions.

Tincture:  25-40 drops, 3+ x/day


Constituents: Quinones (lapachol &beta-lapachone), antioxidants (quercetin)

Actions: Alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, antidiabetic, antiviral, digestive, hypotensive, immune stimulent, bitter tonic, antitumor

Uses: Slowing and inhibiting growth of tumors, skin diseases; used alongside conventional cancer treatment

Combinations: Used in combination with other herbs like echinacea and goldenseal to treat internal infections, like candidiasis

Cautions: Large doses can be toxic. Do not give to children. Do not use when pregnant or nursing. May interfere with blood thinning drugs.


  • Cool energy, bitter flavor


  • Herbal Remedies, Andrew Chevallier
  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • University of Maryland Medical Center
  • photo credit:  this image is used on quite a few herbal pages. The only attribution I could find was a credit to Luis Neto on one of the pages. But when I searched for the image and his name I couldn’t find the source. So, I will remove this image if someone finds it to not be in the public domain for reuse. I downloaded the source from Nat Med Talk Wiki.

A beautiful tree. I hope to see one in person some day! This probably won’t become a go-to herb for me, though, because of the fact that it is becoming endangered and the abundance of cautions concerning its use.


Botanical Name: Astragalus membranaceus | Family: Fabaceae

Common name(s): Chinese Astragalus, Huang Qi, Milk Vetch


  • Perennial; herbacious | Zones 4-11 | 3-4 feet | Pale yellow flowers (pea-flower shaped) from middle of the summer until frost
  • Sun to partial shade | Dry, sandy soil


Harvest roots in the fall after plant is at least 2 years old. (Best 3rd-5th year, depending on where you live and how roots grow). Deep taproots. Slice and dry the root.


Decoction: Bring 2 tsp dried root to boil in 12 ounces water and simmer 20-30 minutes. Steep another 1/2 hour. Take up to 3 cups/day.

Tincture: (1:5) 40-80 drops, 3x/day


Constituents: polysaccharides, glucuronic acid, astragalosides, flavones, isoflavones

Actions: Adaptogen (mild), antibacterial, antioxidant, antiperspirant, antiviral, diuretic, heart tonic, immune tonic, liver protector, vasodilator

Uses: Increases energy, builds resistance to disease, a tonic to the spleen, kidneys, lungs, and blood. Effective in fighting cancer – helps prevent immunosuppression caused by chemotherapy and inhibits tumors (work with a doctor). Used for anemia, relieving fluid retention, and reducing night sweats.

Combinations: Combine with Angelica sinensis for treating anemia

Cautions: Like any tonic herb, stop using when dealing with an acute infection, although its immune stimulation can help during a cold.


  • Sweet, slightly warm, moist


  • Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung
  • Adaptogens, David Winston and Steven Maimes
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • photo credit: Wikipedia

This will grow in my neck of the woods. Always excited to learn that about medicinal plants, especially tonic ones!


Botanical Name: Ganoderma lucidum, G. tsugae | Family: Ganodermataceae

Common name(s): Reishi, Ganoderma, ling zhi, hemlock varnish shelf (G. tsugae)


  • Fungi | Found across North America and Asia | Sizes vary. Most commonly 4-6 inches wide, 1/2-1 inch thick
  • Begin growing as white, red-orange comes with maturity
  • Shade | Grows on trees/logs


G. tsugae is harvested between May and July. Make sure undersides are still white so you aren’t harvesting old mushrooms that have lost their medicinal qualities.


Double Extraction Tincture: 30-60 drops, 1-2x/day

Tea: Use in tea blends. See cautions, below


Constituents: polysaccharides, bitter triterpenes, protein

Actions: Adaptogen (mild), anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, cholesterol lowering, heart tonic, immunomodulator, liver protector, nervine

Uses: Deep immune activation, anti-cancer treatment, chronic health issues, hepatitis and other viral diseases, maintaining good health

Cautions: reishi can be drying. Use in small doses. Also, use cautiously when on blood thinners. Consult an herbalist.

Note: according to David Winston, G. tsugae has immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties but it doesn’t have the rest of the profound effects G. lucidum has (which he calls the true reishi). However, the original edition of his book was written in 1956 and I wonder if there has been more research done since then. Guido Masé lists it together with G. lucidum in his PDF. Since I was researching reishi as part of the materia medica on immunity, and since that is the variety that grows in my area, and since they look so similar, I have included it.


  • Bitter,* warm

* Michael Tierra lists reishi as sweet, warm, but my experience with it is that it is bitter, so I’m using David Winston’s classification


After researching this and other mushrooms for my materia medica, I am wanting to set up a mushroom log farm! I know reishi can be wildcrafted around here, but I’ve only ever found one growing on a log, and it appeared to be old, not fresh. The variety that grows in the Northeast is G. tsugae, and it is most often found on hemlocks.




Botanical Name: Lentinus edodes | Family: Tricholomataceae or Marasmiaceae or Omphalotaceae

Common name(s): Shiitake Mushroom, Black Mushroom, Hua Gu


  • Fungi | Zones 3-9 | mushrooms will sprout for 1-2 weeks in the spring and fall
  • Part shade | grown on logs (see SFGate and Rodale’s Organic Life links for how to grow your own mushrooms on logs)


Harvest mushrooms within 5-7 days after sprouting. If drying, allow to dry in the sun for 2 days to increase the vitamin D content.


Double Extraction Tincture: 1/2 – 1 tsp, 2x/day

Food: Eat, cooked from fresh or rehydrated dried mushrooms (soak for 30 minutes), or add dry powder to foods (recommended intake is 4-8 whole caps, daily)

Note: Rosemary mentions a way to make mushroom gravy in the video I posted below.


Constituents: (in dried shiitake) vitamin D, protein, amino acids, potassium, polysaccharides.

Actions: Antitumor, Antiviral, immunomodulator, liver protector

Uses: Deep immune activation, anti-cancer treatment, chronic health issues, hepatitis and other viral diseases, maintaining good health

Cautions: any mushroom should be dried or cooked to provide proper bioavailability of their medicinal properties


I found a lot of neat sources on mushrooms while looking outside of my existing herbal resources. If you want to dive deeper, check out the links in the resources. The SFGate and Rodale’s links tell you how to grow your own.

And here is a treat for you. A video with Rosemary Gladstar, the author of my herbal correspondence course. Enjoy!


Botanical Name: Schisandra chinensis | Family: Schisandraceae

Common name(s): Schisandra, Wu wei zi (Chinese, roughly translates to 5-flavored fruit), Magnolia Vine


  • Perennial woody vine | Zones 4-7 | up to 30 feet long  | Fragrant leaves and flowers followed by red berries
  • Need male and female to get fruit
  • Partial to full shade | moist, well-draining, acidic soil


The ripe red fruit is harvested in autumn. (Above photo’s berries are not ripe.)


Decoction: Simmer 1-2 tsp of the berries in 8-10 ounces of water for 5-10 minutes, then let steep for 20-30 minutes. Take 4 ounces 3x/day.

Tincture: 2-4 ml, 3-4x/day

Capsules: 400-450 mg powdered herb, 3x/day


Constituents: Lignans*, triterpenes, essential oil, vitamins C & E

Actions: Adaptogen, aphrodisiac, astringent, hepatoprotective (liver protector), sedative, tonic

Uses: Anxiety, insomnia, mental clarity, depression, improve reflexes, stress, hepatitis, when taking acetaminophen, tetracycline, or other hepatotoxic medicine, normalizing blood pressure

Cautions: Do not take as a tonic while suffering from acute bacterial or viral infections like cold, flu, pneumonia

Combinations: Use with bacopa, fresh oat extract, and rhodiola for treating ADHD in teenagers and adults


  • Sour, sweet, salty, bitter | pungent, warm, dry


*  The lignans are what help protect and heal the liver

I am so – SO – excited about this plant and definitely want to add it to my property. I can’t believe all the things it is good for. And it appears to be relatively easy to grow and grows in my growing zone.