This is the first in a series of posts on healing herbs. I intend to post about 10 herbs at a time, with approximately 10 posts over time. (I will NOT be posting them all at one time.) Those following my Online Book of Shadows will of course get notification when the next list is posted.
For any witch, I recommend that you acquire some type of book or find a website that lists the herbs and how to use them. There are simply too many to list all of the herbs you use in your Book of Shadows. I used my copy of “PDR for Herbal Medicines, First Edition;” Medical Economics Company, Montvale, New Jersey for the information in this post. I also used Wikipedia for some of the points and to see if there was any other information I could add.
There are several other websites where the information about herbs and plants are available; however, some of them require that you pay a fee to access all of the information that you may need. For that reason, I decided that taking the formal course in Herbal Medicine and purchasing the PDR were a better investment for me. This is a decision that each of you will have to make for yourselves, but it is no longer necessary to spend money to get the information. If you ask, you may find that someone is willing to give you the information you need.
Allspice (Pimenta Racemosa); also Jamaica pepper, pimento, or new spice-Is a spice which is the dried unripe fruit of the Pimenta racemosa plant. It is indigenous to the West Indies and can be cultivated in South America, Central America and Jamaica. The medicinal part is the berries and the oil that is extracted from them. The oils are antiseptic and analgesic as well as a cutaneous stimulant. It is used externally in lotions and liniments. Allspice has been used as a deodorant; and 18th century Russian soldiers would put allspice in their boots. Volatile oils found in the plant contain eugenol, a weak antimicrobial agent. Allspice is also one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine.
Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum)-The medicinal portion of the Piper nigrum are the berries which have been freed from the pericarp and the dried berry-like fruit which has been collected before ripening. This should not be confused with the pepper shells, spindles or stiles that are by-products of the extraction of white pepper from the black pepper. Black pepper stimulates the thermal receptors as well as increases secretion of saliva and gastric mucosa. It also has antimicrobial effects and influences liver and metabolic functions. Use black pepper for stomach disorders and digestion problems. It can also be used to treat bronchitis. It has been used externally to treat neuralgia or scabies.
Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla)-The medicinal part of True Chamomile is the whole flowering herb or only the flowers. True Chamomile is indigenous to Europe and northwest Asia but can be grown anywhere. The Chamomile flower is brewed as a tea infusion. Taken internally, its effects include calming of the digestive tract, fostering tranquility for well-being or sleep, and the infusion can be used externally to reduce minor skin irritation. It can also aid in the assistance of defecation. For a sore stomach, some recommend taking a cup every morning without food for two to three months. It is also used as a mouthwash against oral mucositis. It has bactericidal properties against certain mites, such as rabbit ear mites. The primary known active ingredient of the essential oil from German Chamomile is bisabolol but other active ingredients include essential oils, notably chamazulene, flavonoids and coumarin.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum)-is a small evergreen tree 30 to 50 feet tall, belonging to the family Lauraceae, and is native to Sri Lanka and southwest India. The bark in powdered form is widely used as a spice due to its distinct odor. However, the medicinal parts of the plant are the cinnamon oil (extracted from the bark), the bark of younger branches and the cinnamon leaf oil. In medicine it acts like other volatile oils and once had a reputation as a cure for colds. It has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system. Cinnamon is high in antioxidants. The essential oil of cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties, as well as antibacterial, fungi-static and promotes movement. Cinnamon is also used as an insect repellent.
Frankincense (Boswellia Carteri)-is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra. It is used in incense as well as in perfumes. Frankincense bark and the trunk of the trees are edible and often used in various traditional medicines in India for digestion, to expel flatulence and for healthy skin. It is also used as a treatment for chronic rheumatic inflammation. Remember that edible frankincense must be pure for internal consumption, meaning it should be translucent, with no black or brown impurities. It is often light yellow with a very slight greenish tint. It can be chewed like gum, but it is stickier because it is a resin.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Species); Citronella-Is a genus of about 55 species of grasses, native to warm temperate and tropical regions. The leaves and flower tops contain sweet smelling oil which is used for the production of geriniol, (a pale yellow liquid alcohol that is used in cosmetics and flavorings). It is also distilled into palmarosa oil and used in aromatherapy for its calming effect to help relieve nervous tension and stress. Lemongrass in some cases has been used as a mild depressant for the central nervous system. Lemongrass oil has mild astringent properties and can be used as a tonic for the stomach. It is also sometimes used as a weed barrier.
Myrrh (Commiphora Molmol)-is a reddish-brown resinous material, the dried sap of the tree Commiphora molmol, native to the Mediterranean countries and Somalia. In western pharmacy, Myrrh is used as an antiseptic and is most often used in mouthwashes, gargles and toothpastes for prevention and treatment of gum disease. Myrrh has astringent, disinfectant and granulate-forming effects and is currently used in some liniments and healing salves that may be applied to abrasions and other minor skin ailments. It can be used to treat mild inflammation of the mouth and pharynx and in folk medicine is also used internally to treat gas or as an expectorant. Today, it is also used in the production of Fernet Branca, a bitters, aromatic spirit made of 27 different herbs and spices.
Patchouli(Pogostemon Cablin); also patchouly or pachouli-Is a bushy herb of the mint family, with erect stems, reaching two or three feet in height and bearing small pale pink-white flowers. The medicinal parts of the plant are the young leaves and shoots and the oil that is extracted from them. It is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. One study suggests Patchouli oil may serve as an outdoor insect repellent. In several Asian countries, Patchouli is also used as an antidote for poisonous snakebites; however, the PDR for herbal medicines lists patchouli for use in only cosmetics and perfumes. Its scent is used with the aim of inducing relaxation.
Sandalwood (Santalum Album)-The medicinal parts are the essential oils extracted from the trunk wood, the heartwood freed from the sapwood and the bark, and the dried wood. The sandalwood plant is widespread in the temperate regions of Europe, temperate Asia, and in North America. Sandalwood is often used for rituals or ceremonies. It is also used as an embalming paste. Sandalwood is considered in alternative medicine to bring one closer with the divine. Sandalwood essential oil, which is very expensive in its pure form, is used primarily for Ayurvedic medicines which uses the principles of nature, to help maintain health in a person by keeping the individual’s body, mind and spirit in perfect equilibrium with nature and it can also be used for treating anxiety. It is also used internally for female disorders, mennorrhagia during menopause, hot flushes, dysentery, enteritis, diarrhea, bladder restraint, hemorrhoids, phlebitis and varicose veins. Externally it is used in a plaster that is applied to wounds and boils.
Walnut (Juglans Regia)-The walnut is indigenous to the Middle East and Iran but today is cultivated in many different regions. There is an astringent effect from the tanins as well as antifungal effects that come from the juglon content and the essential oils. Externally, walnut is used to treat mild inflammations of the skin as well as excessive perspiration. Internally, walnut is used to treat hyper-secretions from the gastrointestinal tract. Walnut can also be used to expel or destroy parasitic worms so it is used as a blood purifier.