Pumpkin

Botanical Name: Curcurbit pepo | Family: Cucurbitaceae

Common name(s): Pumpkin

GROWING

  • Annual vegetable | Zones 3-9 |  | Sprawling vines, orange fruit
  • Full sun | Very rich, nutrient soil

HARVESTING

Parts used: Seeds and pulp

Harvest in autumn, when the pumpkin is ripe (turns orange). Use fresh seeds (discard after 30 days).

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 pint of boiling water over 1 ounce of seeds. (Used for urinary complaints.)

Mash: Beat 2 ounces of seeds with sugar/honey and enough water or milk to make a pint. Drink in 3 doses, every two hours, while fasting. Follow a couple of hours later with a dose of castor oil. (Used for internal parasites.)

MEDICAL

Constituents: fixed oil, protein, sterols, cucurbitin, vitamin E, beta-carotene, minerals (iron, zinc, selenium).

Actions: Anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic

Uses: internal parasites, enlargement of the prostate gland

SOURCES 


Here’s an interesting tidbit. I brought some pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), which I had spiced up, to my daughter’s house. My son-in-law ate a lot and told me the next day he had the weirdest dreams he’d ever had and asked “what was in those pumpkin seeds?” Come to find out, via google, they can induce vivid dreaming.

Saw Palmetto

SŠgepalmen-FrŸchte.; Saw palmetto fruits.

Botanical Name: Serenoa repens (syn. Seronoa serrulata) Family: Palmaceae

Common name(s): Saw Palmetto, Sabal, Seronoa

GROWING

  • Palm tree/bush | Zones 8-11 | 7 feet tall/wide | Stems grow along the ground and upright. Green (and sometimes blue) leaves are the shape of a fan blade with sharp, saw-like edges. Fragrant white flowers in the spring followed by dark purple to black berries resembling grapes.
  • Sun/shade to full shade | Most soils | Tolerates draught and salt | Grows year round

HARVESTING

The berries are harvested in Autumn, when ripe. They are dried, often with the seeds removed. Be careful when harvesting, the leaf edges can cut skin or fabric!

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Decoction: Bring 1/2-1 teaspoon of the berries to a boil in 1 cup water and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-2ml 3x/day

MEDICAL

Constituents: Essential oil, dextrose, flavonoids, lipids, polysaccharides, resin, steroids

Actions: Antiandrogenic, Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, endocrine agent, urinary antiseptic

Uses: Enlarged prostate, male tonic (tones and strengthens the male reproductive system), gastro-urinary tract infections

Combinations: Horsetail and hydrangea for treating enlarged prostate glands

CHINESE MEDICINE

Pungent, sweet, warm

SOURCES 


I just happen to be heading down to South Carolina this year around the time they say the Saw Palmetto berries are ripe. My parents used to live on Fripp Island in the Saw Palmetto neighborhood. It’s been fun learning about this plant because of that. And I hope to gather some berries while I’m down there!

Sarsaparilla

I am not posting a photo of this plant because I can’t find one for officinalis and there are tons of Sarsaparilla varieties. Please see my notes at the bottom of this post for a picture of wild sarsaparilla, which is a different botanical plant (but used medicinally, as well).

Botanical Name: S. officinalis and varieties. S. ornata (Jamaica), considered to be the most medicinal Family: Liliaceae

Common name(s): Sarsaparilla, Greenbrier, Catbrier, Bullbrier, Tramps Trouble

GROWING

  • Perennial woody climber | Zones 6-9 | 15 feet tall | Broad, ovate leaves, tendrils, , thorny branches, small green and flowers, black-ish berries
  • Grows in forests

HARVESTING

The root is harvested throughout the growing season

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Decoction: Bring 1-2 teaspoon of the root to a boil in 1 cup water and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-2ml 3x/day

MEDICAL

Constituents: Essential oil, glycoside, phytosterols, sapogenins, resin, starch, sugar, fat, minerals

Actions: Alterative, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antipruretic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic,diuretic, estrogenic, tonic

Uses: Inflammatory conditions (including rheumatism), liver disorders, menstrual issues, skin issues, venereal disease, virility

Combinations: Burdock, yellow dock, and cleavers for psoriasis

CHINESE MEDICINE

Sweet, mild, spicy neutral to cool

SOURCES 

  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffmann
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
  • SFGate

Aralia nudicaulis is a plant in northeastern forests that goes by the same name – called Wild Sarsaparilla. I learned that it is often used as a substitute in herbalism for Smilax. And I was actually surprised to learn this because I was taught by a local herbalist that this northern plant was Sarsaparilla and didn’t know that it wasn’t the official variety. Also, there are about 300-350 varieties of Smilax (a.k.a. Sarsaparilla). Confusing, to say the least!

This is a picture of the wild version, from my yard’s forest area: