Herbs & Plants

Tanacetum balsamita

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

Synonyms: Alecost. Balsamita major. (L.)Desf. Chrysanthemum balsamita.
Balsam Herb. Costmarie. Mace. Balsamita.
(French) Herbe Sainte-Marie.

Common Names:Costmary, alecost, balsam herb, bible leaf, or mint geranium.

Habitat : Costmary is a native of the Orient, but has now become naturalized in many parts of southern Europe and was formerly to be found in almost every garden in this country, having been introduced into England in the sixteenth century – Lyte, writing in 1578, said it was then ‘very common in all gardens.’ Gerard, twenty years later, says ‘it groweth everywhere in gardens,’ and Parkinson mentions it among other sweet herbs in his garden, but it has now so completely gone out of favour as to have become a rarity, though it may still occasionally be found in old gardens, especially in Lincolnshire, where it is known as ‘Mace.’

The plant seems to have originated in the Mediterranean. It is unclear whether the plant called “balsamita” described by Columella in 70 AD is the same. According to Heinrich Marzell, it was first mentioned in 812 in a plant catalogue. Costmary was widely grown since the medieval times in herb gardens until the late 19th and early centuries for medical purposes. Nowadays it has mostly disappeared in Europe, but is still widely used in southwest Asia. It was used in medieval times as a place marker in bibles.

It is an introduced weed of roadsides in eastern N. America.

The costmary is a perennial herb with oval serrated leaves and can grow up to 2 meters high. In distinction to the feathery leaves of its near relative, the Tansy, the somewhat long and broad leaves of Costmary are entire, their margins only finely toothed. The stems rise 2 to 3 feet from the creeping roots and bear in August, at their summit, heads of insignificant yellowish flowers in loose clusters, which do not set seed in this country.

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The plant will thrive in almost every soil or situation, but will do best on dry land.

Propagation is effected by division of the roots in early spring, or in autumn, planting 2 feet apart, in a dry, warm situation. As the roots creep freely, the plants will probably spread over the intervening spaces in a couple of years and need dividing and transplanting every second or third year.

Grown in the shade, Costmary goes strongly to leaf, but will not flower.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

Leaves – raw or used as a flavouring in soups, beer etc. They can be chopped and added sparingly to salads. They have a very pleasant aroma, but can be overpowering in the food if you are not careful. The leaves were at one time widely used in brewing beer, before being superseded by hops (Humulus lupulus). The whole leaves can be laid in cake trays to flavour the cake whilst it is baking. The flower petals are used for conserves. A delicious tea is made from the dried leaves

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used: Leaves.

Alecost is seldom used in herbal medicine, though it does have a beneficial effect upon the digestive system. Early writers suggested the leaves to relieve headaches and gout pain, to increase menstruation, and as a diuretic.  It was also used for conditions of   excessive coldness. Costmary is slightly astringent and antiseptic on wounds and burns and was also used with other herbs in ointments for dry, itch skin and skin parasites.  Infuse the leaf as a tonic tea for colds, catarrh, upset stomachs and cramps, and to ease childbirth.  Add to a salve for burns and stings.  It was at one time employed medicinally in this country, having somewhat astringent and antiseptic properties, and had a place in our Pharmacopceia until 1788, chiefly as an aperient, its use in dysentery being especially indicated.  An ointment made by boiling the herb in olive oil with Adder’s Tongue and thickening the strained liquid with wax and resin and turpentine was considered to be very valuable for application to sores and ulcers. The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, digestive and laxative. They have been used internally as an aperient in the treatment of dysentery, and as a remedy for liver and gall bladder complaints. Externally, they have been used as a salve to treat burns and insect stings. They are considered to be virtually obsolete in modern herbalism.
Other Uses:Insecticide; Pot-pourri; Strewing……….The plant was traditionally used for its insecticidal properties. The dried leaves retain their fragrance well and so are used in pot-pourri, they are also used as a strewing herb

The plant is known from ancient herbals and was widely grown in Elizabethan knot gardens.


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


Herbs & Plants

Colchicum Luteum

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Botanical Name: Colchicum luteum
Family: Colchicaceae
Tribes: Colchiceae
Genus: Colchicum
Species: Colchicum luteum

Common names: hirantutiya (India), sunanjan-e-talkh (Pakistan), suranjan (India), virkum (India), Gelbe Zeitlose

Habitat:Colchicum luteum is native to E. Asia – China to the Himalayas.  It grows on stony or earthy hillsides and alpine meadows at higher altitudes.

Colchicum is an annual herb growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in). with narrow leaves and yellow flowers and fruits with recurved tips..It is almost conical in shape,flattened on one side and round on the other.It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Apr to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Prefers a rich well-drained loam that does not dry out rapidly in summer. Requires a very sunny position. This species is hardy to at least -15°c. Plants can take 4 – 5 years to flower when grown from seed. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in early summer in a seed bed or a cold frame. Germination can be very slow, taking up to 18 months at 15°c. It is best to sow the seed thinly so that it is not necessary to transplant the seedlings for their first year of growth. Apply a liquid fertilizer during their first summer, however, to ensure they get sufficient nourishment. Prick out the seedlings once they are dormant, putting perhaps 2 plants per pot, and grow them on in a greenhouse or frame for at least a couple of years. Plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant. The seedlings take 4 – 5 years to reach flowering size. Division of the bulbs in June/July when the leaves have died down. Larger bulbs can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on in a cold frame for a year before planting them out. The plant can be divided every other year if a quick increase is required.


Constituents:  The chief constituent of colchicum is an alkaloid known as colchicines.

The chief constituent of colchicum is alkaloid ,colchicine, which occurs in the form of yellow flakes ,crystals or as whitish yellow amorphous powder.This alkaloid is also used in conventional medicines in the treatment of acute gout.

Parts used : Seed, corm, flower

The seeds are analgesic, antirheumatic, cathartic and emetic. They are used mainly in the treatment of gouty and rheumatic complaints, usually accompanied with an alkaline diuretic

Medicinal uses:

The corms are alterative, aphrodisiac, carminative and laxative. They are used in India to treat gout, rheumatism and diseases of the liver and spleen. They contain the toxic alkaloid ‘colchicine’ which is used externally to relieve pain. The dried corms contain around 0.25% colchicine and the seed about 0.4%.

Colchicum is a medicine of great repute.It is mostly used in Afghanistan and northern India.Its medical properties were well known even amongst the Arabs.As an effective Allopathic medicine colchicum is used beneficially in Gout.

Actions : Aperient, alternative, aphrodisiac, carminative, and laxative.

Gouts:Colchicum is useful in relieving pain and inflamation of gout.Clinical experiments with colchicum in small dose over a long period have shown effective results. The seeds, chiefly the rind, also contaning colchicine may be used in the treatment of gout.

Rheumatism:The drug is very beneficial in the treatment of rheumatic swelling.A paste made with saffron and egg can be applied beneficially to rheumatic and other form of swellings.

Wounds:Dried and powdered roots of the plant is very useful in healing the wounds.It should be sprinkled on the affected areas.

Therapeutic uses :In Arthritis and related disorders

Modern science has established that colchicines relieves pain and inflammation of gout. The corms and seeds are used in the treatment of Arthritis. It is considered one of the best remedies for acute gout. Its paste is also used as an external applicant in pain and inflammations..
It is used in spleen and liver problems . It is also useful in prostate enlargement and dropsy.

Mode of Administration and Dosage

For an acute attack of gout, an initial oral dose equivalent to 1 milligram of Colchicum, followed by 0.5 to 1.5 milligrams every 1 to 2 hours until the pain subsides, can be taken. But the total dose should not exceed 8 milligrams of Colchicum per day.

Precautions: It has very bitter taste.It has an action similar to that of colchicine,but the latter is active and toxin.When taken in large dose, it may cause intestinal pain,diarrhoea and vomiting.The regular use of drug can cause severe irritation in the intestines. To counteract this, it is advisable to use the drugwith belladonna.
It is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation. Long-term use of Colchicum can cause kidney and liver damage. For adults, a dose of only 5 grams of Colchicum seeds can prove fatal. For a child , the lethal dose is 1 to 1.5 grams. A mere 200 milligrams of the active ingredient Colchicum is sufficient to cause death.

Other Uses:
The following notes are for C. autumnale. Since this plant also contains colchicine it can be assumed that it has the same uses. The poisonous alkaloid ‘colchicine’ is extracted from this plant and used to alter the genetic make-up of plants in an attempt to find new, improved varieties. It works by doubling the chromosome number
Known Hazards: All parts of the plant, but especially the bulb, are poisonous. They cause vomiting, violent purging, serious inflammation of the stomach and bowels, and death. Handling the corms can cause skin allergies in some people.

The information presented herein by 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.

Miracles of Herbs,