Strawberry leaf

Botanical Name: Fragaria vesca and related species Family: Rosaceae

Common name(s): Wild strawberry, Woodland strawberry, Alpine strawberry

GROWING

  • Perennial; herbaceous | Zone 3-10 | 6-12 inches tall | White leaves followed by red fruit in the spring to early summer. The wild strawberry has smaller fruit than the garden variety.
  • Full sun/partial shade | Prefers rich, moist soil but will tolerate dry

HARVESTING

Gather leaves throughout the growing season

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoons of the fresh or dried herb. Steep for 15 minutes. Drink 4-5x/day.

Tincture: 5-15 drops in water 3x/day

External: use a strong decoction on the skin to treat eczema

MEDICAL

Constituents: Essential oil, flavonoids, tannin

Actions: Mild astringent, diuretic

Uses: Diarrhea, dysentery, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, eczema

SOURCES 


I never knew strawberry leaves were medicinal! So much medicine in all plants, it seems! This is in my herbal studies for a reproductive system herb, but I didn’t find any information in my books on it being used for that. And it is not even listed in the two sources I usually use. One book said it isn’t used so much anymore. But it was listed in a recipe for a reproductive tonic, so I expect it contains some nourishing elements.

Blue Cohosh

Botanical Name: Caulophyllus thalictroides Family: Berberidaceae

Common name(s): Blue Cohosh, Squawroot, Papoose Root

GROWING

  • Perennial; herbaceous | Zone 3-8 | 1-3 feet tall | Leaves dark purple when they emerge then they turn green. Greenish-brown or yellow-brown flowers mid to late spring, turn into waxy yellow flowers that hang below the foliage.
  • Partial to full shade| Moist, hummus-rich, acidic soil | Grows in woods

HARVESTING

Harvest the root/rhizome in Autumn

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Decoction: Put 1 tsp of the dried root into 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-2ml 3x/day

MEDICAL

Constituents: Alkaloids, glycosides, gum, minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, silicon, phosphorus), salts, starch, steroidal saponins, resin

Actions: Anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, anthelmintic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, uterine tonic

Uses: Menstrual irregularities (including cramping), genito-urinary disorders, worms, colic, easing childbirth

Cautions: Do not take during the first two trimesters of pregnancy

CHINESE MEDICINE

Acrid, bitter, warm, mildly toxic

SOURCES 


This herb may be growing down by my stream. I’ll be looking for it!

Pippsissewa

pippsissewa

Botanical Name: Chimaphilla umballata Family: Ericaceae | Subfamily: Pyrolaceae

Common name(s): Pippsissewa, prince’s pine, ground holly

GROWING

  • Perennial | Zones 5-8 | 6-12 inches tall | Lance-shaped, toothed, waxy leaves (pale underneath). Flowers whitish pink with a ring of red anthers, May – August
  • Found in dry, shady woods

HARVESTING

The whole plant is harvested when in bloom. Leaves can be harvested throughout the season.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoons of the leaves or root and let sit in a covered container for 5-10 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 2-15 drops, as required. A tincture is the preferred medicinal dosage.

Externally: Apply fresh leaves to rheumatic joints and muscles, and blisters, sores, swelling.

MEDICAL

Constituents: Hydroquinones (including arbutin), flavonoids, triterpenes, methyl alicylate, tannins.

Actions: Aperient, alterative, antiseptic,astringent, bitter tonic, diuretic

Uses: Urinary tract infections, arthritis, rheumatism. Even more than these uses are found in homeopathic medicine.*

Cautions: Used externally, it may cause skin irritation – redness, blisters, peeling – to susceptible individuals. Avoid long term use.

CHINESE MEDICINE

  • Bitter, astringent, cool

SOURCES 

  • Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Peterson Field Guide (Foster & Duke)
  • Indian Herbalogy of North America, Alma R. Hutchens
  • A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve
  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
  • Herbs2000.com
  • photo credit: Little Pippsissewa via photopin (license)

Pipsissewa is a member of the wintergreen family.

*also used in homeopathic medicine for acne, breast cancer, cataract, cystitis, diabetes, dropsy, fevers, enlarged glands, gleet, gonorrhoea, liver disorders, nephritis, proctitis, prostatitis, pterygium, ringworm, scrofula, stricture, syphilis, toothache, ulcers, unrinary disorders, whitlow – source: Indian Herbalogy of North America.

Parsley

parsley

Botanical Name: Petroselinum crispum Family: Umbelliferae

Common name(s): Parsley

GROWING

  • Biennial; herbaceous | Zones 5-8 | 12-20 inches tall | White, umbel flowers in early to midsummer in the second year
  • Full sun; partial shade

HARVESTING

Aerial parts can be harvested any time. Harvest the roots the fall of the first year or spring of the second year.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoons of the leaves or root and let sit in a covered container for 5-10 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 10-30 drops, 3x/day.

Food: Use as a culinary herb. It is a rich source of vitamin C.

MEDICAL

Constituents: Essential oil (strongest in the seeds), apiol, myristicin, glycoside apiin, vitamin C, mucilage (in root), starch, sugar.

Actions: Antirheumatic, aperient, antiseptic, antispasmodic,  carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue (the seeds), expectorant, sedative

Uses: Urinary inflammation, fluid buildup, stimulating menstruation

Cautions: do not use during pregnancy

CHINESE MEDICINE

  • Root: Sweet, bland, neutral
  • Leaves: Spicy

SOURCES 

  • Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung
  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman

 

Did you know parsley was a great breath freshener? Just grab a few leaves and chew them up. I knew this, but I didn’t know any of the other stuff I just learned while researching this post!

Gravel Root

Joe-pye weed

Botanical Name: Eupatorium purpureum Family: Compositae

Common name(s): Joe-Pye Weed, Trumpet Weed, Purple Boneset, Queen of the meadow, Kidney root

GROWING

  • Perennial | Zones 3-8 | 5-6 feet tall | Purple to white flowers August and September
  • Distinguishable by the ~1-inch purple band around the leaf joint.
  • Found in low places and meadows, often where it is damp

HARVESTING

Harvest the root in the fall.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Decoction: Put 1 teaspoon in 1 cup water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 10-30 drops, 3x/day.

MEDICAL

Constituents: Volatile oil, euparin (a flavonoid), resin

Actions: Antirheumatic, antilithic, carminative, diuretic

Uses: Kidney stones, most urinary tract issues including incontinence and rheumatism

CHINESE MEDICINE

  • Bitter, pungent, neutral

SOURCES 


I looked up gravel root only to find out it is Joe-Pye Weed, which is how I know it. I did find out how it got that name while writing up this materia medica. It was named after a New England medicine man who used it to cure typhus. Interesting discoveries while doing my herbal studies. I just LOVE this stuff! 

I have Joe-Pye Weed in my orchard – although I believe it is Eastern Joe-Pye Weed (E. dubium). And as you can see from this picture (not mine), the butterflies love it!

Juniper Berries

Juniper Berries

Botanical Name: Juniperus communis Family: Cupressaceae

Common name(s): Juniper

GROWING

  • Evergreen tree or shrub | Zones 2-9 | Gardens, yards, fields
  • Full sun

HARVESTING

Harvest the ripe berries (they ripen the second year and will be dark purple). If drying, dry in the shade to preserve the oils.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Steep, covered, 1 teaspoon of the berries in a cup or boiling water for 20 minutes. Drink 1 cup, 2-3x/day.

Tincture: 10-30 drops 3x/day.

External: Apply as a diluted essential oil (made by steam distillation)

Note: You can also chew on the berries, but not too many (6-10/day).

MEDICAL

Constituents: Volatile (essential) oil, various sugars, resin, vitamin C

Actions: Antiseptic, carminative, diuretic antirheumaticemmenagogue

Uses: Cystitis, edema, digestive issues, chronic arthritis/rheumatic conditions, stimulates menstruation and increases menstrual flow

Cautions: Should not be used in the case of Kidney disease, infection, or pregnancy because of it’s powerful action on the kidneys.

CHINESE MEDICINE

  • Spicy, sweet, warm

SOURCES 

  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Indian Herbology of North America, Alma R. Hutchens
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
  • The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody
  • Backyard Foraging, Ellen Zachos
  • photo credit: Waxy blue berries via photopin (license)

Eastern Red Cedar’s (J. virginiana) berries are also medicinal – I remember these berries on our cedar tree when I was a kid. And, yes, juniper berries (unripe) are used to make gin.

Corn Silk

cornsilk

Botanical Name: Zea mays Family: Gramineae

Common name(s): Corn silk, corn tassles

GROWING

HARVESTING

Harvest the silk when it is still golden/green and sticky (this is before corn is ready to eat).

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 2 cups boiling water over 2 ounces of fresh herb (or 1 ounce dry) and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Drink 1/2 cup, 3x/day.

Tincture: 15-30 drops in water between meals and before bedtime.

MEDICAL

Constituents: Allantion, maizenic acid, saponins,  sterols, vitamins C & K

Actions: Alterative, demulcent, diuretic

Uses: Urinary infections/inflammation, bed wetting, edema

Combinations: with dandelion root and golden seal for advanced urinary complaints – 4:2:1 ratio of corn silk to dandelion root to golden seal

CHINESE MEDICINE

  • Sweet, bland, neutral

SOURCES 

  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Indian Herbology of North America, Alma R. Hutchens
  • Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss
  • photo credit: corn silk via photopin (license)

Corn silk?!!! I always just thought it was that annoying thing that was hard to get off of your fresh ears of corn! I’ve also read that it is a good thickening agent (kind of on the idea of cornstarch).

Chickweed

chickweed

Botanical Name: Stillaria media Family: Caryophyllaceae

Common name(s): Chickweed, Starweed, Starwort, Stitchwort (and more!)

GROWING

  • Annual; considered a weed | Zones 3-8 | Grows along ground, 6-15 inches | Very small white flowers all season (March – September) | Leaves are smooth and oval, stalks are hairy
  • Grows everywhere, easily reseeds | Good ground cover because the roots are shallow and don’t compete with garden plants.

HARVESTING

Harvest the aerial parts all season long.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 2 cups boiling water over 2 ounces of fresh herb and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Drink 1/2 cup, 3x/day.

Tincture: A dropperful 2-3x/day. (This is not the most common way of using chickweed, but useful for preserving it for use off-season.)

Food: Can be eaten as a green, in salads, or added to juices.

Salve: Infuse wilted fresh greens (spread in a single layer on a basket, screen, or towel out of the sun for a few hours until limp) in oil and use directly or to make a cream.

Notes: The fresh leaves don’t dry or store well, so it’s best to freeze or tincture them, or make them into a salve.

MEDICAL

Constituents: Vitamin C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, coumarins, saponins

Actions: Alterative,  antitussive,antipyretic, demulcent,diuretic, emolient, expectorant, vulnerary

Uses: Nutrition, weight loss (stimulates the metabolism), kidney and liver disorders, skin irritation, eye irritation. Mild enough to be used on babies and children as a salve for diaper rash.

CHINESE MEDICINE

  • Sweet, mildly bitter, cool

SOURCES 

  • Mother Earth Living
  • Susanweed.com
  • Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs (Peterson Field Guide)
  • Medicinal Herbs, Rosemary Gladstar
  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra

This picture is chickweed in my garden (really close up, the flowers are tiny, and the leaves are delicate). I have another sprawling, similar looking plant in my front garden with larger white flowers and pointier leaves. Loved this article for helping me identify chickweed via its internal “stem.” Still trying to identify that other plant! I haven’t eaten chickweed yet because I wasn’t sure about its identification (you gotta be sure before you eat the weeds!).

Cleavers

cleavers

Botanical Name: Galium aparine Family: Rubiaceae

Common name(s): Cleavers, Clivers, Clives, Goose Grass, Bedstraw

GROWING

  • Annual; wild, considered a weed | Zones 4-7 | Creeping/climbing plant that can grow up to 6′ | Very small white flowers in late spring/summer | Small, hooked hairs on leaves and stems | Root can be used as a permanent red dye
  • Grows everywhere, likes moisture

HARVESTING

Harvest from spring to fall

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 2-3 teaspoonful of dried herb and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: Take 2 – 4ml 3x/day

Juice: The juiced (or pulverized) plant is stronger medicine than an infusion. Take 1 teaspoon, 2 – 3x/day as a tonic, or can be used in external preparations (compress, cream, hair rinse)

Food: Can be eaten as a green, like spinach.

Oil: Infuse wilted fresh greens in oil and use directly or to make a cream.

MEDICAL

Constituents: Coumarins, glycosides, tannins, citric acid

Actions: Alterative, aperient, astringent, diuretic, refrigerant,tonic

Uses: Lymphatic cleanser, cystitis or gravel, bed wetting, to break fevers, skin conditions, like dandruff and psoriasis, but also burns and inflammations.

Combinations: Poke root* and echinacea for the lymphatic system; Yellow Dock and Burdock for skin conditions.

Cautions: Cleavers can cause a rash in some individuals. If you break out in a rash, DO NOT ingest the plant. Cleavers is also highly astringent and should only be taken internally for up to two weeks, then skip one or two weeks before taking again.

CHINESE MEDICINE

  • Bitter, cool

SOURCES 


*Poke weed (recommended in more than one source as a combination with cleavers) is a very powerful and toxic plant. Please read the information at the link provided. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Buchu

buchu

Botanical Name: Agathosma betulina Family: Rutaceae

Common name(s): Buchu

GROWING

  • Perennial; bush | South Africa and some parts of South America – cannot grow easily outside of its natural habitat | 2 – 3 meters | White or mauve star-shaped flowers
  • acidic (ph 3.7-5.3), nutrient-poor, sandy soil | Grows on slopes | Hot, dry summers and rainy winters

HARVESTING

Is very specialized and the technique is passed down through the generations by experienced cutters. Care is taken not to damage the plants, and harvesting of the leaves happens in February, after they have had a chance to produce seed. Leaves must be processed right after picking for the volatile oil.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1-2 teaspoonful of dried herb and let sit for 10 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: Take 1 – 4ml 3x/day

MEDICAL

Constituents: Flavonoids, essential oil (including pulegone and diosphenol, the key active constituent), sulfur compounds, mucilage

Actions: Carminative, diuretic, urinary antiseptic

Uses: Cystitis, nephritis, and urinary infections.

Combinations: Cornsilk and juniper for cystitis, uva ursi and cornsilk for prostatitis.

Cautions: Should not be taken when pregnant since the pulegone constituent is an abortificant and emmanagogue (stimulates menstrual cycle).

CHINESE MEDICINE

  • Pungent, warm

SOURCES 


I loved stumbling across the African Aromatics article while researching this herb!