Category Archives: Medicinal Herbs

Cleaning Up Our Act with Cleavers

Thanks to everyone for voting on which herb to cover next. Cleavers is an important restorative spring herb. As with Rosemary, this will be a series of short posts designed to focus on just a few aspects of the herb at a time. I’m trying my hand at using infographics, please note that there’s a discussion topic posted at the end of the infographic. You ought to get an idea of some of the conditions that Cleavers would help, besides those mentioned directly. Please use the comments area to discuss.

Clevers Lesson #1

Clevers Lesson #1

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Polling for the Next Herbal Series

Next Herbal Series – Which Herb?

Pick an herb

I’d love to know which herb you would choose for the next herbal series. Its been a few weeks since the Rosemary series ended and I can feel the urge coming on to start another one. Is there a particular herb you’d like to focus on?

Rosemary #6 – Anti-Cancer

rosemary 6 Photo: thebittenword.com

 

One of the really cool things Rosemary does is to block oestrogen, which promotes certain kinds of breast cancer. Research done at the State University of New Jersey demonstrated that a 2% concentration of Rosemary extract was able to inactivate excess oestrogen. How? Possibly by stimulating the liver enzymes responsible for inactivating the oestrogen hormones, oestrone and oestradiol.

We’ve already discussed how it can protect cells from radiation, obviously another way it can prevent cancer. But it does more to protect our DNA, through its antioxidant compounds: vitamin E (its a rich source), monoterpenes, phenolic diterpenes and flavonoids.

Research done at the department of Mutagenesis and Carcinogenesis, Cancer Research Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences, in the Slovak Republic proved that Rosemary was able to significantly protect DNA from free radical damage.

Furthermore, in a study looking for agents effective against cancer cell lines,two components of Rosemary, carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, showed direct anti-proliferative actions resulting in recommendation by the authors to consider Rosemary as part of cancer treatment with predetermined doses to prevent toxicity.

And this, my friends, is the final quickie post on Rosemary. There’s still much more to this herb which I’ll be covering in a video. Meanwhile, check out the 70 some odd recipes I’ve added to our Ozark Herbal Academy Pinterest site on the culinary uses of this majestic herb.

Research Studies:
Inhibitory effects of rosemary extracts, carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid on the growth of various human cancer cell lines.
Slovak Science Study on DNA Protection
Research on Estrogen Metabolism

Rosemary #5 – Eliminates Tiny Pests

rosemary 5

Are you finding it helpful to break the study of Rosemary down into chunks? We have more to go. Today, think of this plant as a spunky, warm, broad-acting antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic. Here’s a memorable list of actions:

Flea and Tick Repellent

Used in powdered form, alone, or combined with other repellent powders or diatomaceous earth.

Antibacterial:

Its been tested against the following and found effective: Staphylcoccus aureus , S. albus , Vibrio cholerae , Escherichia coli , and Corynebacteria, Remember that as a rule of thumb, direct antibacterial actions of herbs only apply to putting them in direct contact with the bacteria. So, for example, an external manifestation of staph would respond to topical Rosemary applications. The essential oil is recommended but you could also make a strong wash or compress using an infusion.

Rosemary oil has been found very effective in preventing the spoilage of meat due to gram negative and gram positive bacteria, I suppose this would make rosemary a good choice for marinades.

Antifungal

Candida albicans does not flourish in its presence, nor does Aspergillus parasiticus. Rosemary is one of the herbs used for chronic Candidacis.

Scabies

Rosemary essential oil is a traditional remedy for scabies.

Dr. Linda White and Steven Foster state that rosemary is a useful remedy for many types of parasites, and washing the infested parts of the body with rosemary tea may stop a scabies infestation.

Head Lice

We get mixed reports here. According to tradition, it works but a clinical trial evaluated it as a failure when it comes to head lice. As usual, finding specifics about what quality and formulation of rosemary was used in the study is missing.

First Aid for Wounds

To prevent infection, application of Rosemary as an essential oil or infusion (wash or compress) is a good choice for first aid. Remember that the essential oil ought to be diluted in a carrier oil. Virgin coconut oil is my first choice because its antimicrobial all by itself. Or, you could dilute it in fresh aloe vera gel…another good antiseptic wound healer. Wounds that are slow to heal benefit from a salve made with the oil or fresh leaf infused lard (never use salves on fresh wounds!)

Rosemary #4 – Digestive Aid

rosemary 4

 

Rosemary is added to our cuisine for more than gustatory pleasure. It can actually improve our digestion of starches and vegetables, relieve an upset stomach and halt flatulence. Rosemary’s constituents,  caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories which will go to work in the digestive system right away.

If you consider the energetics of Rosemary, as a warming, stimulating herb, you’ll easily associate it with the type of digestive issues its most suited to: cold digestive issues. These generally manifest as a lack of appetite, bloating, gas, and constipation.

I especially like it combined with Oregon Grape Root for the liver issues, and is additionally helpful in a pattern that often includes excessive, dilute urination from kidney deficiency and low blood pressure as well as inability to digest protein/fat efficiently.

A More Efficient Liver with Rosemary

Anything that can reduce the strain on the liver in its efforts to clear the body of toxins is an important ally, especially when a liver becomes sluggish. Researchers at National Institute of Agronomic Research in Dijon, France, discovered that Rosemary actually boosts the activity of detoxifying enzymes like cytochrome P450, glutathione transferase and quinone reductase , speeding up the elimination of toxins from the liver.

Kiva Rose writes,

I especially like it combined with Oregon Grape Root for the liver issues, and is additionally helpful in a pattern that often includes excessive, dilute urination from kidney deficiency and low blood pressure as well as inability to digest protein/fat efficiently.

Rosemary also helps by stimulating the flow of bile.

Back to energetics. Peter Holmes enlists Rosemary for the following energetically defined conditions:

Intestines (spleen) damp cold: indigestion, cold limbs, gurgling abdomen, loose mucousy stools

CHRONIC GASTROENTERITIS; colitis

Liver cold; right flank soreness, alternating constipation and diarrhea, frontal headache, chills

JAUNDICE, CHOLECYSTITIS, liver cirrhosis, gallstones due to damp or cold

Rosemary #3 – Powerful Protection from Radiation

Rosemary is a powerful ally to protect from radiation

Do you use a cell phone? WiFi? Have you been exposed to ionizing radiation? A new study shows that the risk for glioma (brain cancer)  was tripled among those using a wireless phone for more than 25 years and that the risk was also greater for those who had started using mobile or cordless phones before age 20 years.These exposures also carry a high risk of other cancers and cardiovascular disease. Thankfully, along with other precautions, Rosemary can help us.

From “Rosemary Found to Offer Best Protection against Radiation Poisoning” by Barbara Minton we read:

RF/microwave exposure leads to cancer development
It has been know for a decade that RF/microwaves from cell phones and tower transmitters cause damage in human blood cells that results in nuclei splintering off into micronuclei fragments. The development of micronuclei heralds the development of pre-cancerous conditions. Many victims of Chernobyl developed blood cell micronuclei that rapidly turned into full blown cancers.
Numerous animal studies have demonstrated that mobile phone radiation quickly causes DNA single and double strand breaks at levels well below the current federal “safe” standards. A six-year industry study showed that human blood exposure to cell phone radiation had a 300 percent increase in genetic damage in the form of micronuclei, suggesting a health threat much greater than smoking or asbestos.

….non-ionizing communications radiation in the RF/microwave spectrum has the same effect on human health as ionizing gamma wave radiation from nuclear reactions.

Its hard to believe that our familiar Rosemary is an effective natural agent to protect ourselves from radiation, but  science says its true so let’s look at some of the studies.

Ionizing radiation generates massive free-radical production which damages cellular DNA. Four constituents found in Rosemary; carnosol, carnosic, rosmarinic and caffeic acids, ward off damage from radiation poisoning.

One study explored several compounds for their ability to protect cells from gamma-irradiation. As reported in the British Journal of Radiology, February 2, 2009 the fat soluble carnosol and carnosic acids in rosemary “provide highly significant protective anti-mutagenic activity”. It turns out that powerful water soluble antioxidants can’t match rosemary’s antioxidant activity against radiation damage. Even so, another study shows that water extracts of Rosemary were able to prevent skin damage from UV exposure.

Plants that grow in full sun develop strategies to protect themselves from excessive radiation. Rosemary is a good example of such a plant, whose sun protective compounds  extend to those who consume it.Take, for example, it’s  Rosmarinic acid. It acts as a photo-protector to the skin by scavenging free radicals and inducing the body’s own endogenous defense mechanisms. For example,  malonyldialdehyde, one of the toxic compounds formed after exposure to UV radiation, it’s formation was inhibited by Rosmarinic acid. Rosmarinic acid was 3.34 times more effective in this action than any other compound tested. While taking Rosemary orally was found effective in protecting the skin from UV damage, it seems to me  Rosemary essential oil would be ideal to add to your homemade sunscreen. Try blending coconut oil with a few drops of Rosemary EO.

Another constituent of Rosemary, Caffeic acid, was found to protect human lymphocytes from intense gamma radiation, finding that when lymphocytes were pre-treated with caffeic acid they were positively modulated against all radiation induced changes. Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology, 2008.

This animal study determined that Rosemary extract was a good radio-protector against lethal doses of gamma radiation. Animals were pre-treated  with various doses of Rosemary extract prior to exposure and the dosage of 1000mg/kg of body weight turned out to be the most effective. This is more than I’d want to be taking on a regular basis but if I knew we were about to be exposed to high levels of gamma, I’d aim for this dose short term as a pre-treatment.

How much to take?

The German Commission E monograph on Rosemary suggests 3/4 to 1 1/4 teaspoons (4-6 grams) a day. An infusion can be made by adding 2 teaspoons (10 grams) to 1 cup (250 ml)  of boiling water (removed from the heat) and steeped, covered, for at least 15 minutes. Strain and sip several times a day.

Its standard to use the tincture at 2-5 ml (1/2 – 1 tsp) three times a day, HOWEVER, high doses of Rosemary can damage the kidney so I recommend using the smaller dose of tincture, 1-5 drops.

Rosemary essential oil can be added to skin lotions, oils or creams to use directly on the skin at a 2% dilution.

Cautions:

While culinary use is safe, medicinal doses of this herb are not recommended for those suffering from heat conditions. If you experience sharp headaches, flushing, increased pulse, roaring in the ears …this herb is not for you. Back off of it, or try using it externally as the essential oil.

Never use this herb in high medicinal doses, greater that the above recommendations, because it can cause digestive upset, kidney damage and even convulsions.

Do not use medicinal doses during pregnancy, it can act as an abortifacient.

Ozark Herbal Academy offers a course on Radiation Protection that covers all of the risk factors and what to do to protect yourself, including the use of rosemary herb.

Rosemary Series #2 – Your Hair

RosemaryThe tradition of using Rosemary as a hair rinse or Rubbing rosemary oil into the scalp originated in the Mediterranean long ago. But does it work?

It does according to Valerie Ann Worwood, in her book, “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy,” She recommends adding Rosemary essential oil to shampoo, conditioner, or a hair rinse. She claims that Rosemary’s oils help to stimulate cell division, dilate blood vessels and thus, stimulate hair follicles to grow hair.

A woman who fretted over her thinning hair attended my Rosemary dinner workshop where she learned how to use it for a scalp condition and hair growth. A couple of months later I saw her at another dinner workshop and she showed me new growth and a cleared scalp.

If you’ve been using Rosemary for you hair and seen results please let us know in the comments area. Here’s where you can find out more about how to prepare it for your hair.

Secrets of Solomon’s Seal

The first secret you can discover for yourselves. If you check around your local health food stores and apothecaries, odds are you won’t find it. That was my experience traveling to several cities in Arkansas looking for Solomon’s Seal to help heal my spinal injury.  Since I could barely walk, locating it in the woods was out of the question. Please share your own search results with us in the comment’s section.

When I lived on Hurricane Creek I kept a patch just outside the door for emergencies, like those that cripple us. So why is it so hard to find commercially (other than online)? Folks don’t know about it, and are not asking for it!

Now that I’ve given a class on this amazing plant at FireOmEarth & Flora Roja, it’s been added to their apothecary. A few leading herbalists, like Mathew Wood and Jim McDonald, esteem it as much as I. We recognize this as one of the most dependable plants for healing damage to the musculoskeletal system.

D'Coda (left) discussing Polygonatum botany at FireOmEarth class

D’Coda (left) discussing Polygonatum botany at FireOmEarth class

Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum spp., gripped my curiosity years ago when I read that in ancient times the Taoist monks sought it out as a spring tonic food to restore them after barren winters. Their vitality was restored by eating the spring shoots of this perennial member of the Asparagus family, Asparagaceae. Secret #2, most of your Materia Medica will have it classified as belonging to the Lily family, Liliaceae, but in 2009 it was relocated. The taste of the young shoot is compared to asparagus but that’s not enough of a reason to switch it. The latest botanical classification system, APG III, is based on genetic similarities.

I don’t advocate eating the shoot. It diminishes the development of a robust rhizome (also a good food), why not wait for the jackpot?  Besides, we can harvest the root without killing the plant (secret #3). I learned this from Jim McDonald. The rhizome, just beneath the soil, grows in a fairly straight, lumpy, line with the stem growing at the “front”. Feel under the ground, around the stem to locate the rhizome’s front and back. The front part has a bud to grow next year’s stem. The back is what you can cut and harvest, leaving the stem portion and its frontal bud to keep growing year after year. Be sure to tamp moist earth back around the plant. The rhizome’s are best taken in the fall.

(Secret #4) Do you have a shady part of your garden where you’d like to grow beautiful ornamental food? This plant is not only nutritious and medicinal but beautiful, fragrant, perennial, relatively disease and pest free. It’s the perfect solution for shady garden woes.  Don’t be overly concerned about which species to select since they all seem to have similar properties. Polygonatum multiflora is the European species. The most common American species is Polygonatum biflorum. (Be careful not to confuse with Polygonum, a completely different plant genus)

Now then, let’s move on to some of its healing virtues. As usual with medicinal plants, there are too many to remember so I suggest you just aim to remember these two key areas: Musculoskeletal (secret #5) and Yin Deficiency (Secret #6)

Read More…

 

Dia de Los Muertos – Remember The Rosemary!

Rituals celebrating the death of ancestors by indigenous peoples in America go back about 3,000 years. Yesterday Sunhawk gave me an introduction to her ancestors at the altar with its ofrendas that she’d set up over the weekend. Photos of departed family, friends, even pets are displayed among marigolds and candles. She explained that during the month of October the spiritual realm is vibrationally closer to us so we’re better able to communicate with those who’ve passed. Every day, until the actual Dia de Los Muertos on November 2 (although the day can vary in different areas), there’s talk about and to, the departed.

Sunhawk, Silverwolf and I toasted our visitors with wine (after Sunhawk filled their tiny cups on the shrine) and shared a meal of pasta and stories about various individuals and the tradition itself.

I thought to myself, what a coincidence that this is my Rosemary month! I’m giving a Rosemary Dinner Workshop in collaboration with the Blue Mountain Bakery & Deli in Jasper, Arkansas this week. You see, for many hundreds of years, Rosemary has been known as the herb of remembrance! And it, too, has an ancient association with the dead as well as sacred ritual. In the past, rosemary was placed in coffins, on coffins, and given to mourners to wear. Part of the reason, in some cases, was that rosemary disinfects and protects against contagion.  In churches, when there wasn’t any frankincense or myrrh to burn for incense, rosemary was considered the next best thing.

Now I doubt Rosemary has yet joined marigolds (thought to attract the dead to the offerings left for them) or the traditional pan de muerto as a necessary inclusion. But, if recent scientific research showing how it  improves our minds and hearts can persuade traditionalists to adopt it…rosemary has a place on the table at the very least…burned as incense, too.

Pan de Muerto

Consider this;

  • As a central nervous system stimulant, Rosemary essential oil increases the generation of Beta waves in the brain (wakefulness)
  • Research confirms that its an anti-depressant and lowers anxiety (See here and here)
  • Studies reveal several ways Rosemary protects the brain, aiding memory:
    •  Rosemary extract shows significant ability to enhance NGF (nerve growth factor) needed for growth and functional maintenance of the nervous system (See here )
    • The carnosic acid in Rosemary has a protective effect against oxidative stress on cortical neurons (See here)
    • Rosemary is one of the best substances to protect the brain (& all cells in the body) from radiation. (See here and here )
    • It’s carnosic acid may safeguard dopaminergic neuronal cells from environmental neurotoxins (See here)
    • Rosemary, especially when combined with curcumin, shows ability to ward off Alzheimers. (Source)
More information on Dia de Los Muertos found here.
Of course, there’s so much more to Rosemary, its anti-tumor , anti-inflammatory, antibiotic abilities are amazing. It helps relieve pain, helps defeat HIV, protects against ulcers, protects against environmental toxins. Its even under consideration now for treatment of leukemia and melanoma. Its also a rare heart and lung restorative. Fabulous for the entire circulatory system. I’ll be sharing all of its wonders at our dinner on Wednesday. After that, I’ll offer everyone else a webinar about this little treasure. And, since I take Rosemary everyday, I’m certain I’ll remember!