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The Herbs

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Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

OTHER NAMES: Marigold, Golds, Ruddes, Mary Gowles, Pot marigold, Fiore d’ogni mese, Solis Sponsa, Oculus Christi. Botanical family – compositae.

PART USED: Flowers

CONSTITUENTS: Volatile oils, saponins, flavonoids, resin, bitters, mucilage, steroidal compounds.

ACTIONS: Antiseptic, vulnerary, anti-spasmodic, aromatic, diaphoretic, haemostatic, astringent, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, menstrual regulator, stimulates bile production.

USES: To promote skin and wound healing, heal stomach and duodenal ulcers, clear fungal infections, prevent deterioration of varicose veins, blood cleanser, stimulate circulation.

HELPS: Wounds and festering sores, rashes, stings, bites, athlete’s foot and cracked feet, contusions, bedsores, mouth ulcers & gum disease, menstrual irregularities, liver tonic, sluggish digestion, eczema, burns and sunburn, viral infections, ulceration, varicose veins.

HISTORICAL: ‘The common marigold is familiar to everyone, with its pale green leaves and golden orange flowers. It is said to be in bloom on the calends of each month, hence its Latin name, and one of the names by which it is known in Italy – fiore d’ogni mese – countenances this derivation. It was not named ofter the Virgin Mary, its name being a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon merso-mear-gealla, the Marsh Marigold. Old English authors called it Golds or Ruddes. It was, however, later associated with the Virgin Mary, and in the seventeenth century with Queen Mary.

The medicinal use of calendula probably originated in Egypt where is was used as a rejuvenating herb.

Over many centuries it has been cultivated in the kitchen garden for the flowers, which were dried for broth and said to comfort the heart and spirits. The dried petals were added to winter broths by Europeans peasants for general wellbeing.

The golden flowers are a favourite among herbalists. Macer’s 12th century herbal recommends simply looking at the plant to improve eyesight, clear the head and encourage cheerfulness. In Culpepper’s day, marigold was taken to “strengthen the heart”, and was highly regarded for smallpox and measles.

References:A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieves & Mrs. C. F. Leyel – Tiger Books International, London 1992 (First published 1931)The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody – Viking O’Neil 1993

Nature’s Medicine- Plants that Heal by Joel L. Swerdlow, PhD. – National Geographic

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ECHINACEA (E. angustifolia & purpurea root)

OTHER NAMES: Purple Cone Flower, Black Sampson, Rudbeckia. It is a member of the daisy family – asteracaea.

PART USED: Root

CONSTITUENTS: Volatile oil, alkaloids, glycoside, resin, fatty acids ( oleic, cerotic, linolic & palmatic), betaine, vulose, phenolics, phytosterols.

ACTIONS: Anti-septic, anti-microbial, anti-viral, immune system stimulant, alterative, anti-catarrhal, anti-allergic, lymphatic tonic.

USES: To strengthen the immune system and support the bodies defenses against infection, to heal wounds, to help recovery from colds and influenza.

HELPS: Boils, carbuncles, catarrhal conditions of the nose and sinuses, influenza, laryngitis, tonsillitis, upper respiratory tract infections, eczema, psoriasis, septic sores and cuts, colds, pyorrhea, gingivitis, blood cleanser, enhance immunity, acne, glandular fever, herpes, enlarged glands, bites.

HISTORICAL: Echinacea is a native of North America and was held in high esteem by the native people there. Magician-like shamans washed their hands with its juice before plunging them into scalding water as a ritual act. Native Americans also used Echinacea for snakebites, insect bites, toothache, burns, colds, throat infections and inhaled the plant smoke for headaches. During the 19th century it was employed as an anti-septic and blood cleanser. Today it is a proven antiviral agent and wound healer, and it is considered a nonspecific immune system stimulant. The plant’s Latin name Echinacea means “prickly” and derives from the Greek word for hedgehog.

References: The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman – Element Books 1996Magic and Medicine of Plants, Readers Digest 1994A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve & Mrs. C. F. Leyel – Tiger Books London 1992The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody – Viking O’Neil 1993

Nature’s Medicine – Plants That Heal by Joel L. Swerdlow PhD – National Geographic

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MYRRH (Commiphora molmol)

OTHER NAMES: Myrrh, Balsamodendron Myrrha.

PART USED: Oleo-gum-resin from the stems

CONSTITUENTS: Resin (myrrhin), gum, volatile oil, bitters, benzoates, malates, sulphates, ash, salts.

ACTIONS: Antimicrobial, astringent, alterative, analgesic, anti-spasmodic, rejuvenative, anti-catarrhal, antiseptic, vulnerary.

USES: Stimulates immunity by aiding the production of white blood corpuscles with their anti-pathogenic actions, direct antimicrobial effect, specific use in oral infections, catahhral problems, wound healer, systemic treatment of boils, glandular fever.

HELPS: Wound healer, abrasions, ulceration, skin disorders, acne, ringworm, abcesses, boils, oral thrush, gingivitis, bleeding gums, fungal infections, pyorrhea, mouth ulcers, pharangitis, sinusitits, glandular fever, brucellosis, common cold.

HISTORICAL: Myrrh has been a precious substance for millennia. The ancient Egyptians used it as part of their embalming mixture (Kyphi) for the pharaohs and thought it could bring back the dead to life. The ancient Egyptian housewife burned myrrh in pellets to rid her home of fleas and in other folk traditions, myrrh was used for muscular pains and in rheumatic plasters. It appears in the Bible in the holy oil of the Israelites and, of course, was one of the gifts brought to Jesus by the three Wise Men. Myrrh has a long traditional use in perfumes and incense, but its best service to humankind came in the form of medicine where it had wide application. In China it is called mo yao and has been used at least since the Tang Dynasty (600AD), primarily as a wound herb and blood stimulant. The amazing properties of myrrh are still relevant in our modern world. It is a native of the arid areas of the Middle East and northern Africa and the resin is collected as teardrop shaped secretions which flow as a pale yellow liquid and dry to a hard reddish-brown brittle mass.

References: Herbal Remedies by Nicloa Peterson – Blitz Editions 1995.A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve & Mrs. C. F. Leyel – Tiger Books London 1992The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody – Viking O’Neil 1993