Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow: Medical Uses Yarrow encourages perspiration, appetite, and strength. Historical Uses Yarrow was called “soldiers’ woundwort” because the leaves were taken onto the battlefield and applied to stop wounds from bleeding. Yarrow compresses were used for hemorrhoids. In folklore, fresh yarrow root was used as an anesthetic for surgery. Fresh roots or leaves were also mashed in whiskey and used for toothache. Growth Yarrow grows wild in meadows and on roadsides in North America. The flower heads grow in clusters of different-colored varieties of white, yellow, orange, and bright red. White yarrow is the variety most often used medicinally. Yarrow repels ants, flies, Japanese beetles, and termites. Part Used • Flowers (whole white flower heads) Major Chemical Compounds • Tannins • Volatile oils • Flavonoids • Vitamins (ascorbic acid, folic acid) • Coumarins Yarrow: Clinical Uses Yarrow encourages perspiration, appetite, and strength. It is approved by the German Commission E for loss of appetite and dyspepsia and externally for psychosomatic cramps of the female pelvis. Mechanism of Action The anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties of yarrow may result from its flavonoid Read more […]

Paeony: Seeds, Roots And Flowers

The decoction of root in wine is recommended by Dioscorides for ‘belly aches’, the jaundiced, kidney disease and ‘those smarting in the bladder’. Astringency is referred to in the taste and Dioscorides states that boiled down in wine it stops diarrhoea, advice which is given by Galen too. The recommendation of an extract in wine is repeated by later authors. A compound medicine of 76 ingredients, including paeony, Potio sancti Pauli, is given in The Trotula for disease of the head and was used for ‘epileptics, analeptics, cataleptics’ with wine in which mixed paeony had been boiled. Pliny refers to use of paeony root as a food. He gives this after referring to a decoction in wine for the trachea and stomach, and with an astringent action on the bowels. Macer makes a similar suggestion of a mixture in honey water with powdered coriander for the stomach, spleen and kidney gravel. Macer and the Salernitan herbal suggest external use of the powder placed on the anus with a cloth for tenesmus caused by cold. Hildegard says that the crushed root in wine will chase away the tertian and quartan fevers, while the root in flour with lard or poppyseed oil as a porridge will act as a preventative. Dioscorides, Pliny and Ibn Read more […]

Paeony: Convulsions And Nightmares

Following its general ‘cleansing’ role and its specific use in menstruation, paeony has a more extraordinary application in the literature for nightmares and potential use in epilepsy. The name comes from a powerful god and suggests a deeper meaning to the herb. Paeon, an ancient god of healing, is famous for healing the wounds of the gods themselves when they foolishly become embroiled in the world of humans. When the gods took to the field in the Trojan war, he healed Ares, god of war, wounded fighting on the side of the Trojans. He gave Ares ‘such sovereign medicines that as soon the pain was qualified … as fast as rennet curdles milk’ and the sides of the wound were reunited. Paeon used herbs to heal. In fact Macurdy (1912) argues that the word is associated with the Paioniae tribal group of northern Greece, who were designated herb-gatherers as they were from the north. Both Dioscorides and Pliny refer to the familiar 15 black seeds. Dioscorides says simply for ‘those who gasp from nightmares,’ expressed by Turner as ‘against the strangling of the nightmare’. Pliny, for the seeds taken in wine, has a more fanciful expression ‘this plant also prevents the mocking delusions that the Fauns bring on us in our Read more […]

Sweet Violet (Viola Odorata)

Family: Violaceae Part used: aerial parts There are over 90 Viola species in Europe. The Flora of Turkey gives 20 Viola species, including Viola odorata and Viola tricolor. Viola odorata L. is a low-growing perennial with a stout rootstock found in hedgerows, rough land and margins of woodlands. It is native to Europe south of the Alps and west into France, but has naturalized in more northern areas because of widespread cultivation. The stalked leaves arise in a rosette from the sturdy rootstock and are heart-shaped and hairy with an oval stipule. The fragrant, five-petalled dark violet or white flowers occur in spring and it may flower again in early autumn. The leafless flower stalks curve sharply so that the flower hangs down. The lowest petal has a prominent nectar-filled spur and the five sepals have basal appendages. The small seeds form in a three-valved capsule and it also spreads by long creeping stolons. Other species used Parma violets are cultivated for cut flowers and for their fragrance. The leaves are shiny green and the flowers are double. A study of six specimens cultivated in France and 31 wild Viola species found that Parma violets are cultivars of Viola alba. Parma violets are tender and Read more […]

Betony: Genito-Urinary Uses

Other abdominal pains for which betony may be used relate to the urinary system and reproductive organs. Honey is required in the vehicle for kidney problems. Dalechamps and Bauhin report Musa advising 2 drachms (8 g) of herb mixed with honey for defects of the kidneys and double this dose in 4 cyathi of water (180 mL) to break stones. With the addition of 27 peppercorns and no honey, the herb is good for pains in the sides, which may refer to ureteric pain. Since the recommendation for dropsy follows that for stones, this may indicate oedema of renal origin, although ascites cannot be ruled out. Certainly Dioscorides specifies oedemata after kidney problems and bladder pain, for which 2 drachms (8 g) in honey water is the dose. He claims betony is diuretic, as does Galen, who confirms its use in kidney stones. On the other hand, Macer speaks of dropsy and this is how Dioscorides’ oedemata is interpreted by Fuchs and the other Renaissance writers. The Old English Herbarium also offers recipes for both pains in the side and pains in the loins. In both cases betony is taken with peppercorns, 27 in the former recipe and 17 in the latter, the herbs being powdered and gently boiled in aged wine. Three cupfuls are taken warm Read more […]

Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), commonly referred to as yeast infection, is the second most common cause of vaginitis in the United States. Approximately 75% of all women will experience an episode of VVC in their lifetime, with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis occurring in 5% of women. It is most commonly caused by the fungus Candida albicans; however, other Candida species, such as C. tropicalis and C. glabrata are becoming increasingly common, possibly because of increased use of OTC anti-fungals, and they are also typically more resistant to antifungal treatments. OTC antifungal treatments are among the top 10 selling OTC medications in the United States with an estimated $250 in annual sales. Establishing Candida as a cause of vaginitis can be difficult, because 50% of all women have Candida organisms as part of their normal vaginal flora. Candida is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, and conventional medical practice does not include treatment of male partners unless uncircumcised or presenting with inflammation of the glans penis. recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis is defined as four or more episodes annually. Recurrence may be a result of associated factors, intestinal microorganism reservoir, Read more […]

Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a member of the human herpes virus group that includes, for example, herpes simplex virus-1, herpes simplex virus-2, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Herpes simplex virus is a recurrent viral infection that remains dormant in the nervous system with periods of reactivation characterized by individual or multiple clusters of fluid-filled vesicles at specifically affected sites. Herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 are the main types of herpes virus seen in general clinical practice. Herpes simplex virus-1 typically manifests above the waist and is referred to as Herpes labialis because of it primarily appearing on the lips in the form of “cold sores.” Herpes simplex virus-2, Herpes genitalis, typically appears on the genitals, although it also produces skin lesions. The vesicles rupture, leaving small, sometimes painful ulcers, which generally heal without scarring, although recurrent lesions at the same site may cause scarring. Coinfection with herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 increases the frequency of herpes simplex virus-2 outbreaks. Orogenital sex can lead to cross-contamination of these sites, with oral herpes being more likely transmitted to the genitals than the other way around. The incubation Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Strategies for Herpes: Nervines

Herpes simplex virus outbreaks can be precipitated by stress. Nervines are therefore an important part of the treatment protocol in patients in whom stress is a chronic underlying factor. Not surprisingly, this may be the case for many individuals. Therefore, herbalists routinely include herbs that nourish the nervous system — nervous trophorestoratives (nervines) — with the aim of reducing stress, improving sleep, and promoting a sense of well-being in herbal protocol to prevent recurrent herpes simplex virus. Nervines work more directly on the nervous system than adaptogens, which improve stress response through their actions on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. A combination of adaptogens and nervines is excellent for both short- and long-term tonific-tion of the nervous system. The herbs in this section are discussed more thoroughly in chapters on anxiety and insomnia, as well as in Plant Profiles. A brief description to help differentiate when each nervine might be selected follows. California Poppy California poppy is the most sedating of the herbs in this section. Traditionally, it has been used to treat pain, neuralgia, anxiety, stress, depression, migraines, and to promote sleep. It was used by Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Protocol for Recurrent Herpes Simplex Virus

Combine the following botanical therapies both for internal and topical treatment, as appropriate for specific patients’ needs. This symbol *** in front of internal protocol in the following indicates that the formula is not considered safe for use during pregnancy. Special pregnancy protocols are noted as such. Topical protocol can be used freely during pregnancy, although thuja should be omitted even for topical use in pregnancy. *** Immune Supporting / Antiviral Tincture For patients prone to regular recurrent outbreaks give the following formula as a prophylactic agent to boost the immune system and for its antiviral effects, for use daily. For patients with only periodic and predictable outbreaks, such as during periods of stress such as after the holidays or during exams or deadlines, give the following formula for 6 weeks prior to the time of anticipated stress and continue for 2 weeks after the stressful event or period. For women susceptible to herpes outbreaks at the time of menstruation, give daily until recurrent outbreaks become infrequent, and then take two to three times weekly. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) 20 mL St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) 20 mL Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Of Chronic Pelvic Pain: Anti-inflammatories

Dong Quai Dong quai possesses antispasmodic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory antioxidant, uterine tonic, as well as specific immunomodulatory effects (see Plant Profiles). Immunostimulatory and anti-inflammatory effects have been attributed to isolated ferulic acid. It has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine for the treatment of “blood vacuity” and “blood stasis,” which may be considered related tochronic pelvic pain. Evening Primrose Oil It is thought that the use of evening primrose oil (evening primrose oil), with its high gamma linoleic acid content, may preferentially promote the synthesis of anti-inflammatory prostaglandin series over inflammatory prostaglandins. One critical review of the effects of evening primrose oil for the treatment of PMS concluded that there was no benefit. However, in a study of women (n = 40) who experienced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) just prior to and at the onset of menstruation, 53% reported an improvement in symptoms, whereas no improvement was seen in the placebo group. Improvement generally took 2 to 3 months to become apparent. Blood analysis at the beginning and end of treatment revealed significant improvement in fatty acid imbalances in the evening primrose Read more […]