Category Archives: Herbal Medicine Natural Remedies – Anne Kennedy

Goldenseal

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Hydrastis canadensis

Thanks to high levels of hydrastine and berberine, goldenseal offers antiviral and antibacterial benefits. A useful herb to keep on hand for general use, goldenseal finds its way into remedies for cuts and wounds, sinus infections, respiratory congestion, sore throats, and more.
Parts Used: Roots, primarily; leaves offer milder benefits
Precautions: Do not use goldenseal if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have high blood pressure. Goldenseal tincture contains concentrated tannins that can cause stomach irritation; stop internal use if this occurs.
Identifying/ Growing: Wild goldenseal once thrived in shady forests from Minnesota to Georgia, but habitat loss and overharvesting have led to its decline. With leaves and berries resembling those of the raspberry, these perennial shrubs grow to a maximum height of just 10 inches. Roots are thick and knotted, with bright yellow interiors. You can easily grow goldenseal in a protected area with deep, loamy soil and dappled shade. The rootstock should be divided into sections 1⁄2 inch or larger, and should then be placed approximately 8 inches apart at a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Plant the rhizomes in autumn, and keep the area mulched and weeded. Goldenseal has a very slow growth rate and takes up to 2 years to bloom. Your roots should be ready to harvest in 3 to 4 years.

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Raspberry

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Rubus idaeus, Rubus strigosus

Raspberries make a delicious addition to a healthy, natural diet, but don’t overlook the leaves when you next harvest these tasty little fruits. Raspberry leaf is an effective, safe remedy for cold and flu symptoms. It also has a long, successful history of being used in teas for relieving menstrual discomfort. As a uterine tonic, raspberry tea can be enjoyed throughout pregnancy.
Parts Used: Leaves
Precautions: Although raspberry leaf is safe for the entire family to use, green leaves can cause nausea. Ensure that raspberry leaves are completely dried before use.
Identifying/Growing: With their thorny canes and toothed, deeply ridged leaves, raspberry and black raspberry plants grow wild in many places throughout the world. White, purple, or pink flowers give way to`hard green berries that ripen into delicious purple or ruby-red morsels. Whatever variety you wildcraft or cultivate, all offer similar medicinal properties. You can obtain raspberry bushes from your local nursery and plant them in a sunny spot in your garden or yard. Cover them with a protective net to keep the birds from eating your berries, and harvest the leaves as they mature.

Plantain

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Plantago major

An herb so common that it is usually considered to be a weed, the humble plantain offers astringent, antimicrobial, antihistamine, and anti-inflammatory benefits, among many others. All 200 or so plantain species offer similar benefits, and all have been used to treat wounds, insect bites, and other minor ailments since ancient times.
Parts Used: Leaves
Precautions: Plantain is generally considered safe. Be sure to wildcraft only in areas where no herbicide, pesticide, or chemical runoff is present.
Identifying/Growing: Plantain has elongated oval leaves with well-defined ribs. At maturity, slender spikes emerge from the tops of the plants and bear tiny flowers, often in shades of white or yellow. If you can’t find plantain growing wild, you can order seeds online and plant them in fall or spring in an area with moist soil. Treat your plantain to plenty of water and feed it well with organic compost, and you’ll be rewarded with large plants that provide plenty of natural medicine. Once plantain takes root in your garden, it should return year after year.

Hyssop

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Hyssopus officinalis

Hyssop is a reliable antiviral and expectorant herb that proves valuable during cold and flu season. Suitable for treating bronchitis and sinus infections too, this sweet-smelling member of the mint family makes a wonderful addition to teas and decoctions.
Parts Used: Leaves and flowers
Precautions: Do not use hyssop if you are pregnant or have epilepsy.
Identifying/Growing: This fragrant perennial herb has smooth, narrow leaves and white, pink, or royal blue flowers on tall stalks. It is not often found in the wild but is very easy to grow in most places. Plant your seeds or seedlings in full sun, and give each one at least 12 inches of space to spread out. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, and treat the plants to a side dressing of compost each fall. Snip the leaves and blossoms as needed. If you want more hyssop to grow, you can allow it to self-seed, or you can collect the seed capsules after they have dried on top of the plants.

Blue Vervain

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Verbena hastata, Verbena officinalis

Blue vervain relaxes the nervous system and offers reliable pain relief, especially when it is used in poultices for rheumatism, joint pain, and neuralgia. In tea, the leaves help ease headache, bladder discomfort, and sore throat. Try blue vervain tea next time you need an expectorant for chest congestion or bronchitis.
Parts Used: Leaves
Precautions: Do not use during pregnancy.
Identifying/Growing: Blue vervain can be found growing wild in meadows, waste places, and along roadsides throughout most of North America and Europe. Lance-shaped leaves with rough, toothy edges are arranged on stems averaging 3 to 7 feet, and little purplish blue flowers emerge from slender spikes located at the top of the plant. This lovely herb is easy to grow. Blue vervain needs light to germinate, so simply sow the seeds and water them without covering them with soil. Be sure to keep the seeds moist until they germinate. For stronger remedies,
pick the herbs before they flower and dry them right away. Allow some of your blue vervain to flower and go to seed if you’d like a steady supply year after year; it self-seeds and will come back each spring.