Tag Archives: Ancient Greek medicine

Lactuca perennis

Botanical Name: Lactuca perennis
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Lactuca
Species: L. perennis
Order: Asterales

Common Names: Mountain lettuce,Blue lettuce or Perennial lettuce
Other Names:
Nome italiano: Lattuga rupestre
English name: Mountain Lettuce
French name: Laitue perenne
Spanish name: lechuga azul
German name: Blauer Lattich
Swedish name: blåsallat

Habitat: Lactuca perennis is native to S. Europe. It grows on the rocky or other dry places, especially on calcareous soils.
Lactuca perennis is a perennial plant. It reaches on average 60 centimetres (24 in) of height, with a minimum height of 20 centimetres (7.9 in). This plant is glabrous, the stems is erect and branched, leaves are greyish-green, the lower ones with a small petioles, the upper ones partly amplexicaul. It is hermaphrodite and entomophilous. The flowers are violet-blue, with a size of 30–40 millimetres (1.2–1.6 in). It is not frost tender. The flowering period extends from April through August and the seeds ripen from July until September.

The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Prefers a light well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position. Plants are hardy to about -25°c.

Seed – sow April in a greenhouse, only just covering the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring. It is best to pot up the divisions and keep them in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer. Root cuttings in spring.
Edible Uses:
Leaves – raw or cooked. The leaves are often blanched to reduce any bitterness. They are fairly acceptable raw in salads (even without being blanched), especially in late winter and spring when the flavour is quite mild. The leaves do become much more bitter in the summer, however, especially as the plant comes into flower.

Medicinal Uses:
The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air. The sap contains ‘lactucarium‘, which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets, nor is it addictive. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower. It is collected commercially by cutting the heads of the plants and scraping the juice into china vessels several times a day until the plant is exhausted. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used. The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness whilst excess causes restlessness and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis. Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts. It is especially useful as sedative, but the plant should be used with caution.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, many plants in this genus contain a narcotic principle, this is at its most concentrated when the plant begins to flower. This principle has been almost bred out of the cultivated forms of lettuce but is produced when the plant starts to go to seed.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.



Anchusa officinalis

Botanical Name: Anchusa officinalis
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Anchusa
Species: A. officinalis
Kingdom: Plantae

Common Names: Common bugloss, Alkanet, Bugloss

Habitat : Anchusa officinalis is native to Europe to W. Asia. An introduced casual in Britain. It grows in roadsides, pastures and waste ground, preferring warmer areas.

Anchusa officinalis is a biennial/perennial plant, growing to 0.6 m (2ft). . The plants bear a basal rosette of lanceolate leaves the first year. In the following years, a large number of erect stems appear. It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to October, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers have red tinges before turning deep sapphire blue and retain their colour for a long time. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.


Noted for its deep sapphire-blue flowers that are extremely attractive to wildlife, Anchusa is a relative of borage. The flowers that bloom from late spring right through until first frosts, are rich in nectar and pollen and much loved by almost all bee species. In the garden it can be used as part of wildlife friendly planting scheme or can be added to wildlife or wildflower gardens to bring its own brand of natural diversity.

Succeeds in most soils, preferring a sunny position. Prefers a fertile well-drained soil. The flowers are a rich source of nectar and are very attractive to bees. The dry leaves emit a rich musky fragrance, rather like wild strawberry leaves drying.

Propagation :
Seed – sow spring in pots of sandy soil. An overnight drop in temperature helps germination. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 4 weeks at 21°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. The seed can also be sown in an outdoor seed bed during July, transplanting the plants to their final positions during early autumn. These plants will grow larger and flower earlier than those sown in spring.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves.
Edible Uses: Colouring.

Leaves and young shoots – cooked. Used like spinach. Flowers – cooked or used as a garnish. The red dye obtained from the roots can be used to colour oils and fats.
Medicinal Uses:
Demulcent; Expectorant; Homeopathy.

All parts of the plant are demulcent and expectorant. They are used externally to treat cuts, bruises and phlebitis and internally to treat coughs and bronchial catarrh. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of stomach and duodenal ulcers.

Preparations made from roots and/or stems have been used in modern folk medicine primarily as an expectorant (to raise phlegm) or as an emollient (a salve to sooth and soften the skin).

Other Uses:.…..Dye……A red dye is obtained from the roots

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


Gardenia jasminoides

Botanical Name : Gardenia jasminoides
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Gardenia
Species: G. jasminoides
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common Names: Common gardenia, Cape jasmine or Cape jessamine (The common names cape jasmine and cape jessamine derive from the earlier belief that the flower originated in Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

Bengali Name: Gandharaj

Habitat :It originated in Asia and is most commonly found growing in Vietnam, Southern China, Taiwan, Japan and India.

Gardenia jasminoides is a fragrant flowering evergreen tropical plant  with greyish bark and dark green shiny leaves with prominent veins. The white flowers bloom in spring and summer and are highly fragrant. They are followed by small oval fruit.


You may click to see more pictures: 

It is  favorite in gardens worldwide.  With its shiny green leaves and fragrant white summer flowers, it is widely used in gardens in warm temperate and subtropical climates. It has been in cultivation in China for at least a thousand years, and was introduced to English gardens in the mid 18th century. Many varieties have been bred for horticulture, with low growing, and large- and long-flowering forms.

Gardenia jasminoides is generally considered to be somewhat difficult to take care of.

As a tropical plant, it thrives best in warm temperatures in humid environments. Getting those conditions is rather hard when in non tropical latitudes, reason for which gardenias are usually cultivated indoors or in greenhouses. In warm places, though, it can be grown outdoors. Either way, it prefers bright indirect sunlight or partial shade, rather than direct sunlight.

Apart from the difficulties in creating the suitable conditions for the plant to live, Gardenias need to be planted in an acidic soil (it is an acidophile plant). If the soil is not acid enough, many of its nutrients (especially iron compounds) will not be available for the plant, since they won’t dilute in water and therefore won’t be absorbed via the roots. It this happens, gardenias start to develop chlorosis, whose main symptom is a yellowing of the leaves. (See Soil ph).

For this reason, it’s advisable not to water Gardenias with very hard water. When having to water with hard water, it is possible to add some vinegar or lemon juice to it before doing so, this will lower the pH of the water.

Iron chelate can be added to the soil in order to lower the pH, but care must be taken since an overdose can kill the plant, as with any other inorganic soil amendment.

Some gardeners will spill vinegar over the soil to effectively keep the pH low and prevent chlorosis. This can be carried out either regularly or when the first symptoms of chlorosis have been spotted.

Medicinal Uses:
It is used as a tea for feverish states, inflammations of the liver (chronic hepatitis), gastrointestinal tract (with impaired digestion, minor constipation), genitourinary tract (cystitis), and as an antidyscratic (blood purifier) and anti-inflammatory for atopic eczema and chronic rheumatic complaints.

Traditional uses:
Gardenia jasminoides fructus (fruit) is used within Traditional Chinese Medicine to “drain fire” and thereby treat certain febrile conditions.

Pharmacological research:
Studies in animals indicate some pharmacological potential, but there is no evidence from clinical studies in humans. In one animal study Gardenia jasminoides significantly lowered serum IL-1? and TNF-? levels in rheumatoid arthritis rats, and its effect had a close relation with inhibitory development of rheumatoid arthritis in the rats.

A mice study found that genipin was an active constituent in Gardenia that regulated inflammatory activity. Geniposide from Gardenia enhanced glutathione content in rat livers. Glutathione is an important immune system amino acid that helps determine modulation of immune response, including cytokine production

Other Uses:
It is widely used as a garden plant in warm temperate and subtropical gardens. It can be used as a hedge.

The fruit is used as a yellow dye, which is used for clothes and food (including the Korean mung bean jelly called hwangpomuk).

Polynesian people in the pacific islands use these fragrant blooms in their flower necklaces, which are called Ei in the Cook Islands, Hei in French Polynesia and Lei in Hawai’i

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


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Monarda didyma

Botanical Name :Monarda didyma
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Monarda
Species: M. didyma
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names :Bee Balm,  Bergamot, Scarlet beebalm, Scarlet monarda, Oswego tea, or Crimson beebalm

Habitats :Bergamot didyma is native to   Eastern N. America – New York to Michigan, south to Georgia and Tennessee. It grows in  moist soils in rich woods, thickets and bottom lands.

Monarda didyma is a hardy perennial plant grows to 0.7-1.5 m in height, with the stems square in cross-section. The leaves are opposite on the square stems, 6–15 cm long and 3–8 cm broad, and dark green with reddish leaf veins and a coarsely-toothed margin; they are glabrous or sparsely pubescent above, with spreading hairs below.

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It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 10-Apr It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Easily grown in ordinary garden soil so long as it is not too dry. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Requires a moist soil and a sunny position. Prefers some shade but succeeds in a sunny position so long as the soil does not dry out. Plants are hardy to at least -25°c. The flowers are rich in nectar and are very attractive to bees. A good companion plant, it grows well with tomatoes. Bergamot is a very ornamental and aromatic plant, it is often grown in the herb garden, there are some named varieties. The leaves, stems and roots carry a delicious aromatic orange-like perfume when crushed. Plants are subject to mildew in dry summers.

Seed – sow mid to late spring in a cold frame. Germination usually takes place within 10 – 40 days at 20°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in late summer in areas where the winters are not too severe and will produce larger plants. Cuttings of soft basal shoots in spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, large divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves.
Leaves and young shoot tips – raw or cooked. They are used as a flavouring in salads, fruit salads, drinks etc.  Flowers – raw. They are added as an attractive garnish to salads.  An excellent aromatic tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves and flower heads.  The leaves give an Earl Grey flavour to China tea.

Medicinal Uses :
Anthelmintic;  CarminativeDiuretic;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Rubefacient;  Stimulant.

Bergamot is often used as a domestic medicine, being particularly useful in the treatment of digestive disorders. The leaves and flowering stems are anthelmintic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, rubefacient and stimulant. An infusion is used in the treatment of flatulent colic and sickness, it is also used as a diuretic to treat urinary disorders. The leaves can be harvested before the plant flowers, or they can be harvested with the flowering stems. They can be used fresh or dried. An essential oil from the herb is mainly used externally as a rubefacient in the treatment of rheumatism etc.

Bergamot tea is soothing and relaxing and makes a good night-time drink.  Add a handful of fresh leaves to your bath to sooth tired and aching limbs (in a net bag).  Native Americans used the leaves of monarda as a poultice and compress on skin eruptions, as a tea for colds and flus and inhaled as a steam to relieve sinus and lung congestion.  Scientific evidence shows that bergamot may inhibit the herpes simplex and the related chicken pox viruses.  It is also combined with other herbs to treat urinary tract infections and indigestion.

Other Uses
Essential;  Pot-pourri.

Yields an essential oil, used in perfumery, as a hair tonic etc. The dried leaves and flowers are used to scent and add colour to pot-pourri.

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.


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Chinese honeylocust(Gleditsia sinensis)

Botanical Name :Gleditsia sinensis
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Genus: Gleditsia
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Species: G. sinensis

Common Name :In China, it has the name zào jiá.  However, its English name includes Chinese honey locust (or Chinese honeylocust), soap bean and soap pod.

Habitat :  E. Asia – China.   Dry valleys in W. China, 1000 – 1600 metres. Along valley streams or on level land.

Chinese honeylocust is a  deciduous  tree, growing to 12 m (39ft 4in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 5. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.


Easily grown in a loamy soil, requiring a sunny position. Succeeds in most soils[200]. Tolerates drought once established and atmospheric pollution. Rather tender when young, it grows best in S. Britain. A tree at Cambridge Botanical Gardens was 13 metres tall in 1985. Trees have a light canopy, they come into leaf late in the spring and drop their leaves in early autumn making them an excellent top storey tree in a woodland garden. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Seed – pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in a greenhouse. The seed should have swollen up, in which case it can be sown, if it has not swollen then soak it for another 24 hours in warm water. If this does not work then file away some of the seed coat but be careful not to damage the embryo. Further soaking should then cause the seed to swell. One it has swollen, the seed should germinate within 2 – 4 weeks at 20°c. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual deep pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Give the plants some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors

Medicinal Uses :

Anthelmintic;  Antibacterial;  Antifungal;  Antipruritic;  Antitussive;  Astringent;  Emetic;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Haemostatic;  Laxative;
Skin;  Stimulant;  VD.

A decoction of the leaves is used for washing sores, including syphilitic skin diseases. The stem bark is anthelmintic and febrifuge. The fruit is antibacterial, antifungal, antitussive, astringent, emetic, expectorant, haemostatic and stimulant. It is used in the treatment of bronchial asthma with sticky phlegm, epilepsy and apoplexy with loss of consciousness. Overdosage can cause poisoning of the entire body, haemolysis of the blood. The seed is emetic, expectorant, decongestant and purgative. They have been used in the treatment of cancer of the rectum. The root bark is anthelmintic and antifebrile. The thorns on the plant are antipruritic. They are used in the treatment of acute purulent inflammation, dermatopathies and tonsillitis. They should not be used by pregnant women. The plant has been used in the treatment of lockjaw, stroke, acute numbness of the throat and epilepsy, but the report does not make clear whether the seed or the thorns of the plant are used.
Antidote Takeda; Congestion Hunan; Dysentery Hunan; Emetic Woi.4; Epilepsy Hunan; Expectorant Hunan, Takeda, Woi.4; Laxative Hunan; Lockjaw Hunan; Numbness Hunan; Purgative Woi.4; Soap Uphof; Stroke Hunan; Tumor Hartwell.(From Dr. Duke’s  Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases🙂

It is one of the alleged “50 fundamental herbs” used in traditional Chinese medicine. Gleditsia sinensis has been used in China for at least 2000 years as a detergent.

The thorns of Gleditsia sinensis LAM. (Leguminosae) have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of inflammatory diseases including swelling, suppuration, carbuncle and skin diseases in China and Korea. In this study, we investigated the mechanism responsible for anti-inflammatory effects of Gleditsia sinensis thorns in RAW 264.7 macrophages. The aqueous extract of Gleditsia sinensis thorns (AEGS) inhibited LPS-induced NO secretion as well as inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression, without affecting cell viability. Furthermore, AEGS suppressed LPS-induced NF-kappaB activation, phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaB-alpha, phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). These results suggest that AEGS has the inhibitory effects on LPS-induced NO production and iNOS expression in macrophages through blockade in the phosphorylation of MAPKs, following IkappaB-alpha degradation and NF-kappaB activation.

Other Uses
Soap;  Tannin;  Wood.

The pod is used as a soap substitute. The seed is used. Tannin is obtained from the seedpod. Wood – strong, durable, coarse-grained. Used for general construction.

Known Hazards: The plant contains potentially toxic compounds.

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.


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