Tanacetum vulgare

Botanical Name :Tanacetum vulgare
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tanacetum
Species: T. vulgare
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names:Tansy , Bitter Buttons,Common Tansy, Cow Bitter, Mugwort, or Golden Buttons.

Habitat :Tansy is native to Eurasia; it is found in almost all parts of mainland Europe. It is absent from Siberia and some of the Mediterranean islands. The ancient Greeks may have been the first to cultivate it as a medicinal herb. In the sixteenth century it was considered to be “necessary for a garden” in Britain.

Description:
Tansy is a flowering herbaceous plant with finely divided compound leaves and yellow, button-like flowers. It has a stout, somewhat reddish, erect stem, usually smooth, 50–150 cm tall, and branching near the top. The leaves are alternate, 10–15 cm long and are pinnately lobed, divided almost to the center into about seven pairs of segments, or lobes, which are again divided into smaller lobes having saw-toothed edges, giving the leaf a somewhat fernlike appearance. The roundish, flat-topped, button-like, yellow flower heads are produced in terminal clusters from mid-to-late summer. The scent is similar to that of camphor with hints of rosemary. The leaves and flowers are toxic if consumed in large quantities; the volatile oil contains toxic compounds including thujone, which can cause convulsions and liver and brain damage. Some insects, notably the tansy beetle Chrysolina graminis, have resistance to the toxins and subsist almost exclusively on the plant.

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Edible Uses:
Tansy was formerly used as a flavoring for puddings and omelets, but is now almost unknown. The herbalist John Gerard noted that tansy was well known as “pleasant in taste”, and he recommends tansy sweetmeats as “an especial thing against the gout, if every day for a certain space a reasonable quantitie thereof be eaten fasting.” In Yorkshire, tansy and caraway seeds were traditionally used in biscuits served at funerals.

During the Restoration, a “tansy” was a sweet omelette flavoured with tansy juice. In the BBC documentary “The Supersizers go … Restoration”, Allegra McEvedy described the flavour as “fruity, sharpness to it and then there’s a sort of explosion of cool heat a bit like peppermint.” [25] However, the programme’s presenter Sue Perkins experienced tansy toxicity.

According to liquor historian A. J. Baime, in the 19th century Tennessee whiskey magnate Jack Daniel enjoyed drinking his own whiskey with sugar and crushed tansy leaf.

Medicinal Uses:
* Amenorrhea * Insect Repellent * Parasites/worms * Scabies

Properties::  * Abortifacient * Antiparasite * Aromatic * Bitter * Bitter * Carminative * Emmenagogue * Stimulant * Vermifuge

Parts Used: The leaves and tops. The plant is cut off close above the root, when first coming into flower in August.

Constituents:  volatile oil (containing up to 70% thujone), bitter glycosides, sesquiterpene lactones, terpenoids including pyrethrins, tannin, resin, vitamin c, citric acid, oxalic acid

Tansy was once a widely grown herb with a number of traditional medicinal uses, but one that has lost favor over time with the modern herbal community. Older herbals recommend the use of tansy for many purposes including as an anthelmintic, for migraine, neuralgia, rheumatism and gout, meteorism( distended stomach due to trapped gas), and loss of appetite. Mrs. Grieve highly recommends an infusion of tansy be given to children to kill worms among other things.4 This is an excellent example of how we need to filter our readings of the wisdom of our elder teachers with today’s better understanding of plant chemistry. The danger with using tansy is primarily with it’s thujone content, which is responsible for much of tansy’s medicinal actions, but which is toxic in large doses. The amount of thujone contained can vary from plant to plant making safe dosing problematic. According to the German Commission E ” Uncontrolled usage of tansy, depending on the quality of the herb, can result in the absorption of thujone in toxic amounts, even at normal dosages.” 3

Tansy was a popular strewing herb in times past because it’s clean, camphorous scent repelled flies and other pests. It is still a good custom to plant tansy outside the kitchen door and around the garden for the same reasons. Although tansy is useful as a vermifuge, and can be used externally as poultice to treat skin infections, it might be wise to look to less dangerous herbs that can serve the same purposes.

For many years, tansy has been used as a medicinal herb despite its toxicity. 19th-century Irish folklore suggests bathing in a solution of tansy and salt as a cure for joint pain. A bitter tea made with tansy flowers has been used for centuries as an anthelmintic to treat parasitic worm infestations, and tansy cakes were traditionally eaten during Lent because it was believed that eating fish during Lent caused intestinal worms. Various Tanacetum species are used ethnomedically to treat migraine, neuralgia and rheumatism and as anthelmintics. Traditionally, tansy was often used for its emmenagogue effects to bring on menstruation or end an unwanted pregnancy, and pregnant women are advised to not use this herb. Research published in 2011 identified 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid (3,5-DCQA) and axillarin in tansy as antiviral compounds that are active against herpes simplex virus.

Other Uses:
In England, bunches of tansy were traditionally placed at windows to keep out flies. Sprigs were placed in bedding and linen to drive away pests.

Tansy has been widely used in gardens and homes in Melbourne, Australia to keep away ants.

Some traditional dyers use tansy to produce a golden-yellow colour. The yellow flowers are dried for use in floral arrangements.

Tansy is also used as a companion plant, especially with cucurbits like cucumbers and squash, or with roses or various berries. It is thought to repel ants, cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, and some kinds of flying insects, among others.

Dried tansy is used by some bee-keepers as fuel in a bee smoker.

Known Hazards:
Tansy contains a volatile oil which can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. If taken internally, toxic metabolites are produced as the oil is broken down in the liver and digestive tract. It is highly toxic to internal parasites, and for centuries tansy tea has been prescribed by herbalists to expel worms. Tansy is an effective insecticide, and is highly toxic to arthropods.  Because it contains thujone, the U.S. FDA limits the use of tansy to alcoholic beverages, and the final product must be thujone-free.

The active components of the volatile oil include 1,8-cineole, trans-thujone, camphor and myrtenol, with the quantities and proportions of each varying seasonally and from plant to plant.

1,8-cineole is a toxin believed to defend the plant leaves against attacks by herbivores. It has many biological activities including allelopathy, anesthetic, antibacterial, carcinogenic, fungicide, herbicide, insectifuge, nematicide, sedative, testosterone hydroxylase inducer, and others.

Thujone is a GABA receptor antagonist that sensitises neurons; it is reputed to be an aphrodisiac, increasing brain activity and causing hallucinations, spasms, convulsions, and even death.

Camphor has various uses, including manufacture of plastics, lacquers and varnishes, explosives and pyrotechnics; as a moth repellent; as a preservative in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics; to relieve itching and pain by creating a cooling effect on the skin; as an injectable antibacterial for root canals in dentistry; as a food flavor enhancer; and as a medical ingredient in chest rubs.

Myrtenol has been used as an insect pheromone in insect trapping, as a beverage preservative, a flavoring and a fragrance

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tansy
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail254.php

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Verbena hastata

 

Botanical Name : Verbena hastata
Family: Verbenaceae
Genus: Verbena
Species: V. hastata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms:  Herb of Grace. Herbe Sacrée. Herba veneris.

Common Names :Vervain , Blue Vervain, Wild Hyssop, Simpler’s Joy, Herb of the cross, Swamp Verbena.

Habitat : Verbena hastata is native to Europe, Barbary, China, Cochin-China  & Japan. It grows  in moist meadows near floodplain woodlands, soggy thickets, borders of rivers and ponds, marshes, ditches, fence rows, and pastures. This plant adapts readily to degraded wetlands and other disturbed areas, but it can be found in higher quality habitats as well.

Description:
Verbena hastata is a slender, but erect, perennial plant that grows up to 5′ tall, branching occasionally in the upper half. The green or red stems are four-angled, sometimes with fine white hairs. The opposite leaves are up to 6″ long and 1″ across. They are lanceolate, conspicuously veined, and have short petioles. The margins are coarsely serrated with variably sized teeth. The upper stems terminate in a panicle of flowering spikes. These erect spikes are up to 5″ long, and densely crowded all around with numerous reddish blue or violet flowers. Each flower is a little less than ¼” across, and has 5 lobes flaring outward from a slender corolla tube. There is no scent. Four nutlets are produced per flower – they are reddish brown, oblong, and triangular convex. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer, and lasts about 1½ months. The root system has fibrous roots and short rhizomes.The flowers are often a pretty blue or violet, but they are quite small. Blue Vervain is easy to identify because it is the only vervain with elegant spikes of flowers in this color range.
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Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sunlight and moist conditions. The soil should consist of a fertile loam or wet muck. This plant tolerates standing water, if it is temporary. This is a good plant to locate near a small river or pond in a sunny location.

Medicinal Uses:

: * Anxiety * Colds * Depression * Lupus * Nerve/Back Pain

Properties: * AntiCancer * Antiscrofulous * Antispasmodic * Astringent * Bitter * Digestive * emetic * Emmenagogue * Febrifuge * Nervine * Stomachic * Vulnerary
Parts Used: Leaves, flowering heads
Constituents:  tannin

Vervain has been useful to herbal healers for many centuries of recorded history, both in the Europe (Verbena officinalis)Netje Blanchan  and in North America, (V. hastata),yet there is a dearth of human studies with this herb. Vervain’s healing properties are attributed primarily to its bitter and stimulating effect on the liver and other organs, as well as its relaxing effect on the nervous system. 2 Vervain is useful in many diseases as a pain reliever and natural tranquilizer, an expectorant used to treat chronic bronchitis, and an antirheumatic used to relive joint pain. Herbalists consider vervain especially helpful when depression is related to chronic illness. As an added benefit, it can help to heal any damage that has occurred to the liver.

Other Uses:
The flowers attract many kinds of long-tongued and short-tongued bees, including Epeoline Cuckoo bees, Eucerine Miner bees, Halictid bees, and the oligolege Calliopsis verbenae (Verbena Bee).These bees seek primarily nectar, although some species collect pollen. Other flower visitors include Ammophila spp. (Thread-Waisted wasps), Bee flies, Thick-Headed flies, small butterflies and skippers, and Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus (Goldenrod Soldier Beetle). The caterpillars of Crambodes talidiformis (Verbena Moth) feed on the foliage. Most mammalian herbivores avoid eating this plant because of the bitter leaves – an exception is the Cottontail Rabbit, which may eat the foliage of young plants to a limited extent. Also, various songbirds occasionally eat the seeds, including the Cardinal, Swamp Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Slate-Colored Junco (during the winter). Experimental studies have shown that these seeds can pass undamaged through the digestive tracts of cattle, therefore they are probably distributed to some extent by these seed-eating birds.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/wetland/plants/bl_vervain.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbena_hastata
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail121.php

Aloysia citriodora

Botanical Name :Aloysia citriodora
Family: Verbenaceae
Genus: Aloysia
Species: A. citrodora
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

 Synonyms: Verbena triphylla L’Hér., Verbena citriodora Cav., Lippia triphylla, Lippia citriodora, Aloysia citriodora (Cav.) Ort.Aloysia triphylla

Common Names:vervain,lemon verbena and lemon beebrush

Habitat :Aloysia citriodora is  native to western South America.(S. America – Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay. Locally naturalized in the Mediterranean) It grows in fields and roadsides

Description:
Lemon verbena is a perennial shrub or subshrub growing to 2–3 m high. The 8 cm long glossy, pointed leaves are slightly rough to the touch and emit a powerful scent reminiscent of lemon when bruised (hence the Latin specific epithet citrodora—lemon-scented).It is hardy to zone 8 . It is in leaf from May to November, in flower in August, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
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Sprays of tiny lilac or white flowers appear in late Spring or early Summer. It is sensitive to cold, losing leaves at temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) although the wood is hardy to ?10 °C (14 °F). Due to its many culinary uses, it is widely listed and marketed as a plant for the herb garden.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in most moderately fertile soils if they are well-drained. Prefers a light soil. Requires a sunny sheltered position. Requires a warm damp climate. A very ornamental plant, lemon verbena is only hardy in the milder areas of Britain, growing well in Cornwall. It can withstand about 10°c of frost and survives outdoors on a wall at Kew. It generally survives most winters outdoors if growing in a suitable position, though it is often cut back to ground level and then resprouts from the base in late spring or early summer. Giving the roots a good, thick organic mulch will confer extra protection from winter cold. The plant succeeds outdoors at Howick, a garden on the coast of Northumberland. The leaves are very aromatic with a lemon scent, they are often used to make a drink or for their essential oils. There has been considerable confusion over the naming of this species. We are following the treatment used in  and , which is also the current treatment in the 1999 edition of The Plant Finder. However, the book ‘World Economic Plants’ uses the name A. citrodora Palau (a different author to the one we cite) as the correct name. Any pruning is best carried out in the spring. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a greenhouse in late spring. Only just cover the seed and keep in a light position, making sure the compost does not dry out. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out in early summer and give some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of softwood, May/June in a frame. Grow on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. The cuttings root quickly and easily, though there can be losses in the first winter[K]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Grow on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts[K]. The cuttings root quickly and easily, though there can be losses in the first winter

Edible Uses:
Leaves are occasionally cooked as a spinach but more commonly used as a flavouring in salads, fruit salads etc. A delicious lemon-like flavour, it is adored by most people who try it. A delicious and refreshing tea is made from the leaves. The dried leaves will retain their lemon aroma for many years.

Medicinal Uses:
Antispasmodic; Aromatherapy; Febrifuge; Sedative; Stomachic.

An undervalued medicinal herb, lemon verbena contains a strong lemon-scented essential oil that has calming and digestive qualities. The plant has a gentle sedative action and a reputation for soothing abdominal discomfort. It has a mildly tonic effect upon the nervous system and helps to lift the spirits and counter depression. The leaves and the flowering tops are antispasmodic, febrifuge, sedative and stomachic. A tea made from the leaves has a deliciously refreshing lemon flavour and is used mainly in treating digestive disorders such as flatulence, indigestion and acidity. Some caution is advisable though, since prolonged use or large internal doses can cause gastric irritation. The herb is also useful as a stimulant for treating lethargy or depression whilst it is also used to treat feverish colds. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy in the treatment of nervous and digestive problems and also for acne, boils and cysts.

Infuse as a mildly sedative tea to soothe bronchial and nasal congestion, to reduce indigestion, flatulence, stomach cramps, nausea and palpitations.  Lemon verbena is especially useful for women. In the past, midwives gave a woman in the last phases of childbirth a strong tea to stimulate contractions of the uterus.  Ancient Egyptian medicine included it for this purpose.  Today, verbaline has been isolated from the plant and used as a stimulant for uterus contractions.  Do not use the oil internally during pregnancy.  Used as a cold compress or in an aroma lamp, it is wonderfully refreshing and aids the birth process where stamina is required.  It has also been said to stimulate milk production and to be helpful for infertility.   Its tonic effect on the nervous system is less pronounced than that of lemon balm, but nonetheless helps to counter depression.

Other Uses:
Essential; Insecticide; Pot-pourri; Repellent.

An essential oil obtained from the leaves is extensively used in perfumery. An average yield of 0.5% is obtained. There is some evidence that the use of this oil can sensitise the skin to sunlight and so its use has been largely replaced by the tropical plant lemongrass, Cymbopogon spp.. The dried leaves retain their fragrance well and so are used in pot-pourri. The growing plant repels midges, flies and other insects. The essential oil is an effective insecticide in 1 – 2% concentration.

Scented Plants
Leaves: Crushed DriedThe leaves are very aromatic with a strong lemon scent.

Known Hazards:
The essential oil from the plant might sensitise the skin to sunlight

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Aloysia+triphylla
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloysia_citrodora
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail348.php

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

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Galium odoratum

Botanical Name :Galium odoratum
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Galium
Species: G. odoratum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales
Synonyms: Asperula odorata – L.
Common Names: woodruff, sweet woodruff, and wild baby’s breath; master of the woods
Habitat :Galium odoratum  is native to much of Europe from Spain and Ireland to Russia, as well as Western Siberia, Turkey, Iran, the Caucasus, China and Japan. It is also sparingly naturalized in scattered locations in the United States and Canada. It grows in woodland and shady areas on damp calcareous and base rich soils. Often found in beech woods

Description:
Galium odoratum  is a Perennial herb, growing to 0.15m by 0.45m at a medium rate.The leaves are simple, lanceolate, glabrous, 2–5 cm long, and borne in whorls of 6-9. The small (4–7 mm diameter) flowers are produced in cymes, each white with four petals joined together at the base. The fruits are 2–4 mm diameter, produced singly, and each is covered in tiny hooked bristles which help disperse them by sticking temporarily to clothing and animal fur.

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It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies, bees. The plant is self-fertile.

This plant prefers partial to full shade in moist, rich soils. In dry summers it needs frequent irrigation. Propagation is by crown division, separation of the rooted stems, or digging up of the barely submerged perimeter stolons. It is ideal as a groundcover or border accent in woody, acidic gardens where other shade plants fail to thrive. Deer avoid eating it (Northeast US

Cultivation:
Prefers a loose moist leafy soil in some shade. Tolerates dry soils but the leaves quickly become scorched when growing in full sun. This species does not thrive in a hot climate. Prefers a moist calcareous soil. Dislikes very acid soils. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.3. This species is very tolerant of atmospheric pollution and grows well in towns. A very cold-hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c. Sweet woodruff is occasionally cultivated in the herb garden for its medicinal and other uses. The dried foliage has the sweet scent of newly mown hay. A very ornamental plant but it spreads rapidly and can be invasive. However, this is rarely to the detriment of other plants since these are normally able to grow through it. It does no harm to any plants more than 60cm tall.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in situ as soon as it is ripe in late summer. The seed can also be sown in spring though it may be very slow to germinate. A period of cold stratification helps reduce the germination time. Lots of leafmold in the soil and the shade of trees also improves germination rates. Division in spring. The plant can also be successfully divided throughout the growing season if the divisions are kept moist until they are established. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Cuttings of soft wood, after flowering, in a frame.

Edible Uses:
Leaves are eaten raw or cooked. The leaves are coumarin-scented (like freshly mown hay), they are used as a flavouring in cooling drinks and are also added to fruit salads etc. The leaves are soaked in white wine to make ‘Maitrank‘, an aromatic tonic drink that is made in Alsace. A fragrant and delicious tea is made from the green-dried leaves and flowers. Slightly wilted leaves are used, the tea has a fresh, grassy flavour. The sweet-scented flowers are eaten or used as a garnish

Medicinal Uses:
Antispasmodic; Cardiac; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Homeopathy; Sedative.

Sweet woodruff was widely used in herbal medicine during the Middle Ages, gaining a reputation as an external application to wounds and cuts and also taken internally in the treatment of digestive and liver problems. In current day herbalism it is valued mainly for its tonic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory affect. The leaves are antispasmodic, cardiac, diaphoretic, diuretic, sedative. An infusion is used in the treatment of insomnia and nervous tension, varicose veins, biliary obstruction, hepatitis and jaundice. The plant is harvested just before or as it comes into flower and can be dried for later use. One report says that it should be used with caution whilst another says that it is entirely safe. Excessive doses can produce dizziness and symptoms of poisoning. The dried plant contains coumarins and these act to prevent the clotting of blood – though in excessive doses it can cause internal bleeding. The plant is grown commercially as a source of coumarin, used to make an anticoagulant drug. Do not use this remedy if you are taking conventional medicine for circulatory problems or if you are pregnant. A number of species in this genus contain asperuloside, a substance that produces coumarin and gives the scent of new-mown hay as the plant dries. Asperuloside can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels), making the genus of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry. A homeopathic remedy made from the plant is used in the treatment of inflammation of the uterus

Other Uses
Dye; Ground cover; Pot-pourri; Repellent; Strewing.
A red dye is obtained from the root. Soft-tan and grey-green dyes are obtained from the stems and leaves. A good ground-cover plant for growing on woodland edges or in the cool shade of shrubs. It spreads rapidly at the roots. It is an ideal carpeting plant for bulbs to grow through. Although the fresh plant has very little aroma, as it dries it becomes very aromatic with the scent of newly-mown grass and then retains this aroma for years. It is used in the linen cupboard to protect from moths etc. It was also formerly used as a strewing herb and is an ingredient of pot-pourri. It was also hung up in bunches in the home in order to keep the rooms cool and fragrant during the summertime.

Scented Plants:
As the epithet odoratum suggests, the plant is strongly scented, the sweet scent being derived from coumarin. This scent increases on wilting and then persists on drying, and the dried plant is used in pot-pourri and as a moth deterrent. It is also used, mainly in Germany, to flavour May wine (called “Maibowle” in German), syrup for beer (Berliner Weisse), brandy, sausages, jelly, jam, a soft drink (Tarhun, which is Georgian), ice cream, and a herbal tea with gentle sedative properties. In Germany it is also used to flavour sherbet powder. Mixed with German “Korn schnapps” or vodka, it is a popular party drink among young people. Also very popular at parties is Waldmeister flavoured jelly made from vodka

Disclaimer:  The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Galium+odoratum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galium_odoratum
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail499.php

Stachys officinalis

Botanical; Name :Stachys officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Stachys
Species: S. officinalis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms.: Betonica officinalis

Common Names:betony, purple betony, wood betony, bishopwort, or bishop’s wort.  (The name betony is alleged to derive from the ancient Celtic words bew (head) and ton (good), an indication of its use for headaches. The word stachys comes from the Greek, meaning “an ear of grain,” and refers to the fact that the inflorescence is often a spike.)

Habitat :In Europe, Stachys can be found growing in wastelands, grasslands and woodland edges. All-heal thrives in any damp soil in full sun or in light shade. Plants are apt to become troublesome weeds in turf that is at all damp.
.

Stachys officinalis is a pretty woodland plant, met with frequently throughout England, but rare in Ireland and northern Scotland. Though generally growing in woods and copses, it is occasionally to be found in more open situations, and amongst the tangled growths on heaths and moors.

Description:
Stachys officinalis is a perennial grassland herb growing to 30 to 60  cm (1 to 2 ft) tall. Its leaves are stalked on upright stems, narrowly oval, with a heart-shaped base, with a somewhat wrinkled texture and toothed margins. The calyx is 5–7 mm long, with 5 teeth, edged with bristles. The corolla 1–1.5 cm long. Its upper lip flat, almost straight when seen from the side. The anthers stick straight out. It flowers in mid summer from July to September, and is found in dry grassland, meadows and open woods in most of Europe, western Asia and North Africa.

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It comes up year after year from a thickish, woody root. The stems rise to a height of from 1 to 2 feet, and are slender, square and furrowed. They bear at wide intervals a few pairs of oblong, stalkless leaves, 2 to 3 inches long, and about 3/4 to 1 inch broad, with roughly indented margins in other plants of this group, the pairs of leaves arise on alternate sides of the stem. The majority of the leaves, however, spring from the root and these are larger, on long stalks and of a drawn-out, heart shape. All the leaves are rough to the touch and are also fringed with short, fine hairs; their whole surface is dotted with glands containing a bitter, aromatic oil.

At the top of the stem are the two-lipped flowers of a very rich purplish-red, arranged in dense rings or whorls, which together form short spikes. Then there is a break and a piece of bare stem, with two or four oblong, stalkless leaves and then more flowers, the whole forming what is termed an interrupted spike, a characteristic peculiarity by which Wood Betony is known from all other labiate flowers. The cup or calyx of each flower is crowned by five sharp points, each representing a sepal. The corolla is a long tube ending in two lips, the upper lip slightly arched, the lower one flat, of three equal lobes. The four stamens lie in two pairs within the arch of the upper lip, one pair longer than the other, and shed their pollen on to the back of bee visitors who come to drink the honey in the tube, and thus unconsciously effect the fertilization of the next flower they visit, by carrying to it this pollen that has been dusted upon them. After fertilization, four brown, smooth three-cornered nutlets are developed. The flowers are in bloom during July and August.

The common name of this plant is said by Pliny to have been first Vettonica, from the Vettones a people of Spain, but modern authors resolve the word into the primitive or Celtic form of bew (a head) and ton (good), it being good for complaints in the head. It has sometimes, also, been called Bishopswort, the reason for which is not evident. The name of the genus, Stachys, is a Greek word, signifying a spike, from the mode of flowering.

Cultivation:
Prefers a light moist neutral to acid soil in sun or light shade[7, 17, 238]. A characteristic plant of healthy roadside banks on heavy soils[187]. Hardy to at least -25°c[187]. At one time bugle was often cultivated for its medicinal virtues, though it is now little used[4]. There are some named varieties selected for their ornamental value[188]. An excellent bee plant.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Very easy, the plant can be successfully divided at almost any time of the year. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.

Sow seed in very early spring in a flat outdoors, or give a short cold and moist conditioning treatment before sowing in a warm place. Growing from 1 to 2 feet high, with creeping, self-rooting, tough, square, reddish stems branching at leaf axis. The leaves are lance shaped, serrated and reddish at tip, about an inch long and 1/2 inch broad, grow on short stalks in opposite pairs down the square stem. The flowers grow from a clublike, somewhat square, whirled cluster, immediately below this club are a pair of stalkless leaves standing out on either side like a collar. Flowers are two lipped and tubular, the top lip is a purple hood, and the bottom lip is often white, it has three lobes with the middle lobe being larger and fringed upwardly. Flowers bloom at different times depending on climate and other conditions. Mostly from June to August. Gather whole plant when flowers bloom, dry for later herb use.

Edible Uses:The leaves and flowering tops make a good tea substitute. Refreshing and aromatic, it has all the good qualities of tea without the negative ones

Constituents:
The aerial parts contain phenylethanoid glycosides, (betonyosides A-F) and acetoside, acetoside isomer, campneosides II, forsythoside B and leucosceptoside B. The roots contain diterpene glycosides, betonicosides A-D and the diterpene, betonicolide.

Medicinal Uses:
The whole plant is medicinal as an alterative, antibacterial, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, stomachic, styptic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary. A cold water infusion of the freshly chopped or dried and powdered leaves makes a refreshing beverage, while a weak infusion of the plant can be used as a medicinal eye wash for sties and pinkeye. It is taken internally as a medicinal tea in the treatment of fevers, diarrhea, sore mouth and throat, internal bleeding, and weaknesses of the liver and heart.

Betony was once the sovereign remedy for all maladies of the head, and its properties as a nervine and tonic are still acknowledged, though it is more frequently employed in combination with other nervines than alone. It is useful in hysteria, palpitations pain in the head and face, neuralgia and all nervous affections. In the Medicina Britannica (1666) we read: ‘I have known the most obstinate headaches cured by daily breakfasting for a month or six weeks on a decoction of Betony made with new milk and strained.’

As an aromatic, it has also astringent and alterative action, and combined with other remedies is used as a tonic in dyspepsia and as an alterative in rheumatism, scrofula and impurities of the blood.

The weak infusion forms a very acceptable substitute for tea, and in this way is extensively used in many localities. It has somewhat the taste of tea and all the good qualities of it, without the bad ones. To make Betony tea, pour a pint of boiling water on an ounce of the dried herb. A wineglassful of this decoction three times a dayproves a benefit against languid nervous headaches.

The dried herb may also be smoked as tobacco, combined with Eyebright and Coltsfoot, for relieving headache.

A pinch of the powdered herb will provoke violent sneezing. The dried leaves formed an ingredient in Rowley’s British Herb Snuff, which was at one time quite famous for headaches.

Gerard tells us, among other uses, that Betony, ‘preserveth the lives and bodies of men from the danger of epidemical diseases. It helpeth those that loathe and cannot digest their food. It is used either dry or green either the root or herb – or the flowers, drunk in broth or meat or made into conserve syrup, water, electuary or powder – as everyone may best frame themselves, or as time or season requires.’ He proceeds to say that the herb cures the jaundice, falling sickness, palsy, convulsions, gout, dropsy and head troubles, and that ‘the powder mixed with honey is no less available for all sorts of colds or cough, wheezing, of shortness of breath and consumption,’ also that ‘the decoction made with mead and Pennyroyal is good for putrid agues,’ and made in wine is good as a vermifuge, ‘and also removes obstructions of the spleen and liver.’ Again, ‘the decoction with wine gargled in the mouth easeth the toothache…. It is a cure for the bites of mad dogs…. A dram of the powder taken with a little honey in some vinegar is good for refreshing those that are wearied by travel. It stayeth bleeding at the nose and mouth, and helpeth those that spit blood, and is good for those that have a rupture and are bruised. The green herb bruised, or the juice, applied to any inward hurt, or outward wound in body or head will quickly heal and close it up. It will draw forth any broken bone or splinter, thorn or other thing gotten into the flesh, also healeth old sores or ulcers and boils. The root is displeasing both to taste and stomach, whereas the leaves and flowers by their sweet and spicy taste, comfort both in meat and medicine.

Other Uses:
The fresh leaves are said to have an intoxicating effect. They have been used to dye wool a fine yellow.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stachys_officinalis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stachys
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/betowo35.html
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Stachys+officinalis
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail252.php

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