Herbs (A-K)


Plants, herbs and trees have properties and powers that heal.
First a few preliminaries, useful things to know.

I am NOT a physician. I do NOT claim to be a physician or any other kind of medical practitioner. If you have a serious medical problem, please see a Physician or trained medical practioner.
Making Healing Infusions and Decoctions.
The most common way to take herbal medicine is in an herb tea infusion. Drinking a medicinal tea is different however from drinking an herbal tea as a beverage. Medicinal teas are stronger. They usually require 1 ounce of the herb per pint (2 cups) of water. The container you use to prepare the medicinal herbal beverage is important also. Heatproof glassware and earthenware are best, as they do not impart any of there own qualities into the preparation. Avoid containers made of aluminum or cast iron, these can taint the herbal preparation. Heavily chlorinated tap water or water with a high mineral content should also be avoided. Pure spring water, or distilled water is best to use.
Infusions are medicinal beverages made by steeping the herbs in hot water until their useful qualities are extracted. To make an infusion, bring a pint of water to a full rolling boil and remove from the heat. Immerse 1 ounce (about 2 cups) of the dried herb in the water and cover tightly. Let the infusion steep for 10-15 mins.

Decoctions, simmering herbs in water, is the most effective method of drawing the healing elements from the coarse plant parts such as the bark, roots, stems or heavy leaves. Bring one pint of water to a full rolling boil and add the dried herbs. Keep the water just below boiling for about 30 mins and let the herbs simmer gently. Allow to cool and strain the preparation through cheesecloth before using.

Lotions and Washes

Washes are teas or infusions meant only for external use. A mild form of a wash is 1/2 ounce of herb to one pint of boiling water, steeped until lukewarm, then applied to the area requiring treatment. Lotions are made by adding the herbs to an oil such as almond, sesame, or glycerin. Three teaspoon of herb to one cup of oil, steeped and heated several times makes a very effective lotion. Lotions should be kept cool and in air tight containers for best results.

Tinctures are an excellent way to preserve and concentrate the healing qualities of herbs. Several drops to one tablespoon is the general dosage. To make a tincture, combine 4 ounces of the powdered or finely cut herb with a pint of spirits, such as brandy, vodka or gin, in a large jar or jug with a secure fitting lid. (NEVER use rubbing or wood alcohol, both are poisonous.) Shake the mixture several times daily over a period of two weeks. Let the herb settle, then strain off the liquid and put them into another clean bottle for storage. Tinctures may be put up at the time of the new moon and finished on the full moon to take advantage of the natural drawing power of the waxing moon.

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( a small note: I've listed the magical properties of these plants when the information was available to me.)

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Herbal Syrups
Honey based herbal syrups are used to soothe sore throats and provide relief from coughs and colds. Some serve as laxatives or general tonics. To make an herbal syrup, combine 2 ounces of dried herb with 1 quart (4 cups) of water. Boil down the mixture until it is reduced by half, then add 1 to 2 ounces of honey. If you are using fresh fruit, leaves or roots in making the syrup, double the amount of herbs. Store all herbal syrups in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Ointments and Salves
Ointment and salves are useful for healing cuts and treating skin ailments. To make an ointment, warm one cup of oil (olive, almond, sunflower, or sesame) over a low flame and place one-half ounce herbs wrapped in cheesecloth to soak until the herb has lost color and the oil is rich with its scent, about 1 hour. Strain and bottle the oil when cool.
To make a salve, use method described above. After staining the mixture, add 1 1/2 ounces of melted beeswax to the oil. Stir mixture as it thickens and cools, and store in a wide mouthed jar. The salve can be kept in the refrigerator up to one year. If the mixture separates, reheat and allow it to cool.

Compresses, Poultices and Plasters

Compresses consist of towels soaked in herbal infusions or teas and applied to an area of the body to soothe, stimulate or otherwise energize. To prepare a compress, immerse a clean small towel in the herbal infusion heated to between 150 and 180 degrees. Wring it out well as a too wet towel will cause burns. Cover the hot compress with a dry towel.
Compresses are usually applied for 10 to 30 mins. and the hot clothes are changed every few minutes throughout the treatment. The duration of the treatment varies according to the herbs used and the condition being treated. Generally, the treatment is stopped when feelings of relief develop or the skin becomes uniformly flushed.

Poultices consist of dried, powdered or macerated* herbs that are moistened with hot water or herb tea and applied directly to the skin area to be treated. A clean towel, cloth or bandage is place over the poultice to hold it in place.
Poultices are effective for drawing out infections or foreign bodies and relieving muscle spasms and pain. *(Macerated herbs are steeped in an oil or fat, such as done with ointments and salves.)

A plaster consists of herbs set within the folds of a cloth, usually cheesecloth or muslin. Plasters are most often used for small injuries when an antiseptic and healing effect is desired.

ALDER ( Common alder, English Alder)
The bark of this tree is astringent and prepared as a decoction is used for a gargle for sore throats, to induce cirulation, check diarrhea, and for eye drops. Fresh leaves applied to the bare feet are a treatment for the relief burning and aching feet, a footbath may also be made by brewing a strong tea of the leaves and bark.
ALFALFA (Lucerne, Buffalo Grass)
Alfalfa has been grown in the Middle East since ancient times as a fodder crop for Arabian horses. During the 17th century the plant acquired its common name, lucerne, from the Latin for lamp, a reference to its luminous seeds. Medicinally, alfalfa tea is used to improve the appetite. Its diuretic action is helpful for urinary problems and water retention. The seeds are highly nutritious and contain vitamins C, B1, B2 , K, chlorophyll and amino acids. When the seeds are sprouted the vitamin concentration increases, making alfalfa an excellent source of nutrients.
ALOE (aloe vera, Barbados aloe, curacao aloe)
Aloe has been used medicinally since 400 BCE. The ancient Greeks considered it a valuable purgative and the gel was applied to wounds to speed up the healing process. Today the gelatinous juice of the aloe is rarely used internally and is most commonly used externally for its remarkable ability to heal burns, sunburn, dermatitis, eczema and poison ivy rashes. It also helps to combat a variety of bacteria that commonly cause infections in skin wounds. It is also used as an additive for soaps and creams. For minor burns and rashes, break off a leaf and apply the gel. The opened leaf will seal itself and can be stored in a plastic bag for future uses.
AMARANTH (cockscomb, prince's feather, love-lies-bleeding )
Amaranth takes its name from the Greek amarnton, meaning unwithering, because the flowers retain their shape and color when dried. In ancient Greece the flower was sacred to Ephesian Artemis and regarded as a symbol of constancy and fidelity. As a medicine, amaranth gained favor in the 17th century. Because of the flower's red color it was believed that the plant would stop any kind of bleeding. The herb does in fact possess astringent properties and has been recommended as a mouthwash for ulcers of the mouth. Amaranth has also been used to check excessive menstrual flow. The young leaves were once eaten as a vegetable.
ANGELICA (Garden angelica, European angelica)
Can be grow in the garden for protection. The root may be carried as an amulet, and the dried leaves burned in exorcism rituals. n Medieval times, angelica was credited with the power to ward off evil spirits and witches. People wore necklaces of angelica leaves and steeped the roots to make holy water. During the Great Plague, it was used as a protection against infection. Angelica's stems can be used to decorate cakes and the aromatic seeds flavor liqueurs and cordials. Medicinally, angelica roots and leaves are used for their digestive and expectorant properties.
ANISE (aniseed)
Anise is used for treating coughs, bronchitis and a stuffy nose, expectorant, breath freshener and prevent bad dreams. A digestive aid, relieves upset stomach and flatulence, a treatment for colic when taken as a tea. Also anise may help to relieve the discomfort of menopause. Aniseed was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans and introduced into Central Europe during the Middle Ages. The Romans used aniseed for its digestive properties and in spiced cakes to aid in the digestion after a rich feast. Medicinally aniseed has a mild expectorant and antibiotic action. The seeds were once used as an ingredient in asthma and bronchitis remedies.
Apple blossoms are admired for their beautiful pink and white hues and their spicy sweet fragrance, but the blossom has medicinal properties as well. An infusion of apple blossoms can be used to treat sore throats, colds and as a diuretic. The inner bark of the root or trunk makes an excellent astringent tonic for the colon, kidneys, bladder, and spleen. Chinese herbalists use apple tree bark as a poultice to treat spleen disorders, hypoglycemia, and blood toxicity. Other uses for apple tree bark include treatment of nausea, fever, vomiting, all symptoms of the flu. The inner bark of the wild crab apple tree is considered best for use in herbal therapy.
A tree with protective qualities, it is used to make brooms for purification and wands for healing. The leaves placed beneath a pillow induce psychic dreams. The leaves bring luck and good fortune when carried in a pocket or bag worn around the neck.
ARROWROOT (Maranta starch, Indian arrowroot)
The mashed rhizome of this plant is used to speed healing of small wounds, bites and cuts.
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BALM (lemon balm, common balm)
Balm, which takes its name from the Greek for bee, has been a popular plant in the Mediterranean area for over 2000 years. Balm was also a favorite remedy of Arabic physicians who considered it a tonic for the heart. Six centuries later, balm continued to be recommended for its anti-depressant properties. The essential oils of the plant have a soothing, sedative action and are said to relieve anxiety and nervous headaches. Balm tea promotes sweating and is a traditional remedy for feverish colds.
BASIL (sweet basil, garden basil)
Hot basil tea can be used for calming the nerves, settling the stomach, and easing cramps. An ingredient of the Purification bath sachet. Add to love sachets and incenses. Basil was introduced into Europe from India where it was once customary to place a sprig of basil on the dead to ensure their safe journey into the next world. The dried powdered herb was once used as a snuff to clear the head in cases of headaches and colds.
BAY (sweet bay, sweet laurel)
Can be used as a poultice on chest for bronchitis and chest colds. In classical times bay was sacred to the sun god Apollo, who wore a crown of its leaves. Bay was used to induce abortions, cure snakebite, and urinary problems, however, Bay should NOT be taken internally. The essential oils of the plant are an effective rub for stiff or rheumatic joints.
BETHROOT (Brown Beth, squawroot, stinking Benjamin)
Bethroot is a traditional Appalachian Indian remedy for treating disorders of the female reproductive system, hence the common name squawroot. Native Americans and Shakers valued the astringent properties of the dried root for stemming blood flow in post partum bleeding and used it to treat excessive menstrual flow. The boiled roots were once used to treat dysentery and diarrhea.
BETONY (bishopswort)
Native to the United Kingdom, it is rare however in Scotland. It was considered a traditional remedy for headaches and a cure-all that could drive away evil spirits. Sleeping on a pillow stuffed with betony is said to prevent nightmares.
BORAGE (Talewort, Cool Tankard, Bee's Bread)
Borage has a calming and cooling effect and can help break fevers. Borage tea has also been used as a strengthening tonic. This plant also has the reputation for being useful in restoring lost vitality and lagging spirits.
BURDOCK (Beggar's buttons, gypsy's rhubarb)
The plant is considered a valuable blood cleanser. The root, used in a wash, is recommended as a treatment of skin disorders, such as acne and psoriasis. Burdock see is said to act beneficially on the kidneys and urinary system. An infusion of the seeds has a tonic effect on the skin and hair. Poultices of fresh burdock leaves can be applied to bruises and swellings to aid in healing.
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CATNIP (catmint)
Its flowers and leaves have often been used to treat colds and insomnia. Used as an incense to consecrate magical tools. History: Native to Europe and parts of Asia, it was introduced to North America and other temperate zones. Catnip tea is a traditional remedy for children's stomach upsets, colic and intestinal ailments. Catnip leaves were once smoked to relieve bronchitis. Catnip must never be boiled as they lose much of their volatile oils and much of their healing qualities. A simple infusion in water that has just been boiled is all that is necessary.
CHAMOMILE (Roman chamomile, German chamomile)
Chamomile is an excellent herb for digestion, fevers, anti- inflammatory for wounds, and sedative for nervous disorders. Can be planted in your garden to be the guardian of the land, for certain success. German chamomile is the preferred species of this plant and is known for its properties to relieve a variety of ailments from relieving menstrual discomforts to healing thrush in babies and small children. Chamomile can be used as a topical preparation to speed the healing of cuts and burns, as well as skin rashes. Chamomile oil, added to the bath, is said to have a relaxing effect.
COMFREY (knitbone, Healing herb, Boneset, bruisewort)
A member of the borage family, this herb has been known to slow bleeding, aid colds, ease burns. Known to the Greeks, its botanical name, Symphytum, comes from the Greek word meaning to join together. Comfrey was used for centuries as a poultice or a tea in remedies for broken bones, bruises, sprains and cuts.
COWSLIP (key flower, Peter's herb)
It gets its name of key flower and Peter's herb from legend. It is said to have sprung up where St. Peter dropped the keys to heaven. The essential oils of the cowslip are traditionally used to make a sedative wine and cowslip tea is said to be a remedy for restlessness, nervous headaches and insomnia. In Shakespeare's time, it was used to banish freckles and wrinkles. The root, made into a tea, is used as an expectorant and bronchitis remedy.
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DANDELION (piss-a-bed, Lion's tooth, Wild Endive)
The ground root can act as a coffee substitute, and the flowers make a lovely wine. The dandelion acquired its name from a resemblance to a lions teeth (in French, dent de lion) In the 16th century, dandelions were used as a diuretic. It is also said to have a tonic effect on the liver and gall bladder. Dandelion is an effective blood-cleanser, and acts as an antidote for many of caffeine's ill effects on the body.
DILL (Meeting house seed)
A culinary herb, a remedy for stomach upsets, and as a tea, soothes colic in young children. Dill's use has been recorded in the Bible and was well known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Its name comes from a corruption of a Norse word, meaning to lull. It was a custom to chew dill seeds during long church services to relieve rumbling stomachs, hence the name, meeting house seed.
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ECHINACEA (Purple coneflower, Black Sampson)
Considered by many as an effective blood purifier and antibiotic, echinacea was used by the Native Americans for everything from burns to insect and snakebites. The juice of the plant can be applied to the affected area directly or a tea, made of the flowers, can be taken internally.
ELDER (pipe tree, bour tree)
Used for cold remedies, skin tonics, insect repellent In English folklore, the juice of the elderberries were said to have magical properties and when smeared on the eyes of a baptized person, enabled them to see the approach of a witch. In Scandinavia, it was believed that the tree-Mother resided in the tree and permission must be asked before cutting its branches. The elder was known as the "medicine chest of country people". Its berries could be made into a warming cordial for chest colds, while its flowers, made into a tea, could be used to induce sweating. Elder flower water is considered an excellent skin tonic. An infusion of bruised elder leaves can be used to repel insects.
ELECAMPANE (scabwort)
The flower of this plant is said to have sprung from the tears of Helen of Troy when she was abducted by Paris. This herbs root is a powerful expectorant and is used for respiratory disorders. In Elizabethan England, the roots were dried and sugared and eaten as a sweetmeat. In Switzerland, the roots extract is used to flavor the liqueur, Absinthe.
Used in healing rituals, charms and amulets. Place the leaves around a blue candle and burn for healing energies. Green pods worn around the neck eases the discomfort of colds, sore throats and congestion. A infusion of eucalyptus leaves can be made by steeping a handful of fresh or dried leaves for 20 mins in a quart of water that has just been boiled. This makes a stimulating addition to an herbal bath. The oil from this plant must never be applied directly to the skin, it must first be diluted with water, a vegetable oil or rubbing alcohol. Caution should be used to keep the oil away from your eyes.
This plant is effective for the treatment of PMS. The oil extracted from its seeds is a hormone-like substance and brings relief from such discomforts as bloating, sore breasts and mood swings. Evening primrose supplements are widely available at pharmacies and healthfood stores. The oil from this plant has been used as an effective treatment for eczema, psoriasis, dandruff and dry flaking skin.
EYEBRIGHT (Meadow eyebright)
Anoint eyelids with the infusion daily to induce clairvoyant visions and psychic dreams. A wash made from this plant is useful in the treatment of discharge from the eyes, conjunctivitis, and allergic reactions that affect the eyes. Teas, wines and ales made from this plant have been widely used to cure all forms of eye problems.
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Sometimes employed as an appetite suppressant and digestive aid. Used in tea form to expel mucus. Chew the seeds slowly for really bad breath, or use the fluid extract to rub on gums. A tea made from fennel seeds, drunk 2-3 times daily is reported to relieve flatulence and soothe the stomach. In poultice form, fennel can be used to relieve swelling in the breasts of nursing mothers.
FEVERFEW (Featherfew, featherfoil)
The fresh leaves from this plant, eaten in a salad with other greens, is reported to relieve indigestion, sleeplessness, and headaches. It has also been claimed as an effective treatment for migraines, although the user must be warned that eating this herb may cause mouth ulcers in a few people.
A very powerful aid to meditation. Use to purify ritual spaces and invoke a spiritual frame of mind.
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GARLIC (stinking rose)
A very protective herb, healing, good weather, courage, exorcism. Garlic has antibacterial properties that help the immune system fight infection. A poultice made of fresh garlic, applied to wounds, prevent infection. Garlic tea, made by infusing several chopped cloves in 1 quart of water, can be used as a gargle or taken internally for colds and flu. A fresh clove of garlic, placed in the mouth, can help soothe a toothache of other inflammation of the mouth. A cotton ball soaked in garlic oil is a remedy for treating ear infections. Garlic has also been in the treatment of lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
Acts as an aid to ingestion or colds (tea form). Also in tea form, good for cramps, to stimulate the digestive organs, migraines and nausea, external stiffness. Can be added to the bath as a way to ease pain and increase circulation, but only use a few sprinkles, not too much, like cayenne, ginger quickly brings the blood to the surface of the skin. For pain you can also soak cloths in ginger tea and apply them directly to the painful areas. A good healing tea is made from a pinch of peppermint, a pinch of ginger and either a pinch of clove powder or 2 bruised cloves, add 1 cup of hot water and steep. Ginger tea sweetened with honey can help alleviate cold symptoms.
GINSENG (Man root, Root of life, Root of immortality)
Stimulant, tonic, and agent for prolonged life. Also a mild pain killer, and improves blood circulation. Reported to successfully treat asthma, bronchitis, cancer, flatulence, diabetes, weakness, fever, coughs and heartburn, and a mild stimulant. In tea form it helps to relieve stressand moderate heart disease, by helping the body deal more easily with the infections and disease.
GOLDEN SEAL (Orange root, eye balm, yellow puckoon)
A tonic of golden seal can be used for healing of inflammations of the digestive system. An infusion of the powdered root makes an effective eye wash, and also serves as an astringent mouthwash for sore gums and throat infections.
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HAWTHORN (May blossom, bread and cheese)
Used in protective sachets and amulets against evil influences.
Promotes happiness in marriage or a relationship. It is bad luck to cut down a hawthorn. Burn the berries as an incense when you need energy and change in life.
In recent medical tests, the berries were reported to lower blood pressure by helping to dilate clogged and hardened arteries.
Carried to attract the love of a woman. Was once used as an ingredient in a Witches flying ointment. Henbane is extremely poisonous and the utmost caution is urged.
Use this as an additive to candle anointing oils, and charms to increase their strength.
Planted around the home for protection against evil. The leaves and berries can be carried by a man to heighten his masculinity, virility and to attract a lover.
HOPS (hop bine)
Hops contain a volatile oil that have a soothing effect on the
nervous system an is beneficial for tension and anxiety. Stuffing a pillow with dried hops is said to improve sleep. Hops also relax the bowels and ease digestion problems. Taken in large quantities, however, hops can interfere temporarily with male sexual function. Hops should be avoided by those suffering from depression.
HORSERADISH (red cole)
Fresh horseradish is pungent and grating the root has the same effect as peeling onions, the oil of this plant makes your eyes water. Horseradish stimulates appetite and aids digestion. Taken internally its strong diuretic action is beneficial for kidney problems. A poultice made of the fresh root stimulates the circulation and is excellent in the treatment of joint pain and chilblains.
A syrup of the flowers and leaves is a effective remedy for chest complaints as an expectorant and antiseptic. An infusion of hyssop is recommended for coughs and bronchitis. A poultice made of hyssop can be used for treatment of black eyes and bruising.

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Iceland Moss finds use in the treatment of gastritis, vomiting and dyspepsia.  It is often used in respiratory catarrh and bronchitis. It calms dry and paroxysmal coughs, being particularly helpful as a treatment for elderly people.   It generally soothes the mucous membranes. The extract is added to antiseptics and to lozenges for dry coughs and sore throats. 
It is a bronchial dilator and stimulates lymph drainage from the lungs, consequently, a medicine for asthma, pleurisy, bronchitis, and lung infections in general  One-half teaspoon of the dried root is boiled in water and drunk every three or four hours as long as necessary.  The root is a mild but reliable cardiac tonic, particularly in congestive heart disorders, one-half teaspoon of the powdered root swallowed with water in the morning, either occasionally or for maintenance.  Has no tendency to accumulate.
This very property is the basis of its use in digestive conditions where a demulcent is called for, such as gastritis and ulcers.  However, its main use is in respiratory problems such as bronchitis.  Its expectorant effect encourages the coughing up of phlegm, and it soothes dry and irritated mucous membranes.  Applied externally, this emollient herb soothes inflamed skin. 
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Jasmine flower syrup for coughs and lungs was once made. The flowers make a tea that calms the nerves and increases erotic feelings. Steep two teaspoons of flowers per cup of water for 20 minutes.  The dose is a quarter cup, four times a day. Headaches and insomnia have been relieved with a tea made from the root. The oil of the leaf is rubbed on the head to heal the eyes. 
The juice from the broken stem is a well-known folk remedy for poison ivy rash. It also works on poison oak. Can be frozen into small ice cubes and used. Also relieves the pain of insect bites, nettle stings, burns, sprains, ringworm and various skin diseases. 
It is diuretic, stimulant, stomachic and carminative. The berries are mainly used for urinary infections and prescribed to clear acid wastes from the system in arthritis and gout. They reduce colic and flatulence, stimulate the digestion and encourage uterine contractions in labor.   It is a valuable remedy for cystitis, and helps to relieve fluid retention but should be avoided in cases of kidney disease.  In the digestive system, juniper is warming and settling, easing colic and supporting the function of the stomach. Taken internally or applied externally, juniper is helpful for chronic arthritis, gout, and rheumatic conditions. 
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The kava lactones have a depressant effect on the central nervous system and are antispasmodic. Kava’s analgesic and cleansing diuretic effect often makes it beneficial for treating rheumatic and arthritic problems such as gout.  The herb helps to bring relief from pain and to remove waste products from the affected joint.  Kava is a safe and proven remedy for anxiety.  It can induce lethargy, drowsiness and dreams.  It is one of the best pain-relieving herbs.
A medieval wound salve.  Used to soothe sore throats and bleeding gums. Also acts as a diuretic.
It has been used in the treatment of chronic urinary tract infections.  It is an ingredient in many herbal teas. Knotgrass has also been used to treat inflammations of the mucous membranes of the intestinal tract and has been useful in cases of flatulence and biliary insufficiency.  Externally it has been used to treat sore throats and vaginal inflammation.  Dosage is a decoction of the root from 10-20g to 2 glasses of water, half a glass 3 times a day.  Can be used for douches, compresses, rinses. 
Indicated for colds, fever and chills with attendant aches in shoulders, neck and back; dry throat and stomach.  The root is good for most external, acute conditions and is particularly useful in relieving stiff neck and muscular tension due to “wind-heat” injury,  as well as in treating colds, flu, headache and diarrhea. 
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