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Herbs & Plants

Monarda didyma

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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.

Description:
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.

Propagation
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.

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.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Monarda+didyma
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarda_didyma
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
.

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Herbs & Plants

Mentha cervina

Botanical Name : Mentha cervina
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
Species: M. cervina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names : Hart’s Pennyroyal

Habitat :Native to  S.W. Europe.Grows in Damp places.

Description:
Mentha cervina is a Perennial, sprawling herb growing up to .3m tall.
It  is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. It is noted for attracting wildlife.  It is very closely related to the “real” pennyroyal. It has very fragrant leaves and foliage. Its essential oils are high in pulegone, a natural abortifacient.

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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:
Succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. Prefers a slightly acid soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but it succeeds in partial shade. Most mints have fairly aggressive spreading roots and, unless you have the space to let them roam, they need to be restrained by some means such as planting them in containers that are buried in the soil. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The leaves have a strong peppermint smell. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion plant for growing near cabbages and tomatoes, helping to deter insect pests. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer.

Medicinal Uses:
Antiseptic; Carminative; Febrifuge.

A tea made from the leaves of most mint species has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses.

Other Uses
Essential; Repellent; Strewing.

An essential oil is obtained from the whole plant. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain[

Scented Plants
Leaves: Crushed Dried
The leaves have a strong peppermint smell.

Known Hazards :  Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.

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/Mentha_cervina
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Mentha+cervina
http://www.gardening.eu/plants/Aquatic-plants/Mentha-cervina/3879/
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mentha+cervina

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Herbs & Plants

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

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Botanical Name: Pelargonium graveolens
Family :Geraniaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Geraniales
Genus: Pelargonium
Species: P. graveolens
Common Names :  Geranium

Synonym
Common names include rose geranium, old fashion rose geranium, and rose-scent geranium. Pelargonium graveolens is also known by taxonomic synonyms “Geranium terebinthinaceum Cav.” and Pelargonium terebinthinaceum (Cav.) Desf.” “Rose geranium” is sometimes used to refer to “Pelargonium incrassatum (Andrews) Sims” or its synonym “Pelargonium roseum – the herbal name- (Andrews) DC.” Commercial vendors often list the source of geranium or rose geranium essential oil as Pelargonium graveolens regardless of its herbal botanical name.


Habitat
:Pelargonium genus, is indigenous to various parts of southern Africa, and in particular South Africa.This specific species has great importance in the perfume industry. It is cultivated on a large scale and its foliage is distilled for its scent. P. graveolens cultivars have a wide variety of smells, including rose, citrus, mint, coconut and nutmeg, as well as various fruits. However, the most commercially important varieties are those that have rose scents.

Description
Pelargonium graveolens is an erect, much-branched shrub, that can reach a height of up to 1,3 m and a spread of 1 m. The hairy stems are herbaceous when young, becoming woody with age. The deeply incised leaves are velvety and soft to the touch due to the presence of numerous glandular hairs. The leaves are strongly rose-scented. The showy white to pinkish flowers are borne in an umbel-like inflorescence and are present from late winter to summer (August – January) peaking in spring (September – October).Mint Scented Rose Geranium is one of the best all around Scented Geraniums. It has great variegation, good size, nice pink flowers and a great fragrance.

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Cultivation :
Pelargonium graveolens grows very well in moist, semi-shaded positions in the garden where it can be used as filler. Its velvety leaves add texture to the planting. This species also makes a good container or hanging basket subject, provided it is kept in a semi shade position. Pelargonium graveolens responds well to feeding with liquid organic fertilizers. Use a suitable systemic insecticide if whiteflies are observed feeding on the plants.

This plant can be propagated by means of stem and tip cuttings, or seed. Cuttings root well when dipped into a suitable rooting hormone and then placed in trays filled with coarse river sand. The trays should be kept in coldframes. Optimum rooting time is autumn (March-May) and spring (September-November). Seed can be sown in spring, summer or autumn.

Uses:
Pelargonium distillates and absolutes, commonly known as “geranium oil,” is sold for aromatherapy and massage therapy applications is sometimes used to supplement or adulterate more expensive rose oils. Other applications include

*Natural insect repellent
*Cake ingredient (flowers and leaves)
*Jam and jellies ingredient (flowers and leaves)
*Ice creams and Sorbets ingredient (flowers and leaves)
*Salad ingredient (flowers)
*Sugar flavouring (leaves)

Medicinal  Uses:
Abrasions/Cuts * Burns/SunBurn * Depression * Diarrhea * Facial and Skin care * Fungus Infections * Insect Repellent * Scabies * Stress *
Properties: Astringent* Cisatrisant* Diuretic* Hemostatic* Sedative* Skin tonic* Vulnerary* Analgesic* Anti-inflammatory* Insect repellents* Stimulant* Antifungal*
Parts Used: Leaves

Pelargoniums were used in South African cultures as a traditional medicine for healing wounds, abscesses, cold sores, sore throats and infections, and continue to have a wide array of uses in the garden, kitchen and medicine cabinet.

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.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail26.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelargonium_graveolens
http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantnop/pelarggrav.htm
http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/pelgraveolensmintrose.htm

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Featured News on Health & Science

Candy Canes Can Help Fight Germs

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The traditional candy canes used for decorating Christmas trees can help fight germs and treat digestive disorders, according to a new study.

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A study led by McMaster University researcher Alex Ford had found that peppermint oil, found in most candy canes, can act as the first line of defence against irritable bowel syndrome.

“Most of the (effective) species are really from the family Lamiaceae, or mint family,” Discovery News quoted Pavel Kloucek, a scientist at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, as saying.

The researchers hope that peppermint oil, and other potent essential oils, may soon be wafted in vapour form over food to inhibit bacterial growth.

For the new study, Kloucek and his team looked at several essential oils to determine how well they could, in vapour form, kill the bacteria responsible for Listeria, Staph, E. coli, and Salmonella infections, and more.

The new study is the first to bring forth the antimicrobial activity of two other mint family members –Mentha villosa and Faassen’s catnip -along with another non-mint herb, bluebeard.Moreover, essential oils for horseradish, garlic, hyssop, basil, marjoram, oregano, winter savory, and three types of thyme also showed potent bacteria-busting abilities.

Kloucek said that plant essential oils are lipophilic, i.e. they gravitate towards fat.

“And luckily, in the cell membrane of bacteria, there is plenty of fat, which serves as a seal,” he said.

“Essential oils are attracted to this fat and, as their molecules squeeze in between the fat molecules, they cause leakage of the membrane,” he added.

If foods were treated with essential oils to prevent illness, the obvious problem to overcome is the oils’ potent taste. While strong mint flavour is desirable in a candy cane, it might not work well with other foods. The solution, according to Kloucek and his team, is to carefully match the oil with the food.

The findings have been accepted for publication in the journal Food Control.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Herbs & Plants

Vetiveria Zizanoides

Botanical Name : Vetiveria Zizanoides
Family Name : Poaceae,Toaceae / Graminae
Common Name : Vetiver, Khas-khas
Part Used : Roots, Oil
Habitat : Cultivated in plains and low hills.
Product offered : Roots, Oil
Popular Name(s): Khus Khus, Cuscus and Vetivert,  Vetiver
Habitat: Cultivated in plains and low hills.
Country of Origin: Java

 

Description: This is a robust grass with spongy roots and long, thin leaves with small brown to purple flowers. It is also referred to as vetivert.

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Medicinal Uses :Hyperdisia, Burning, ulcer, Skin, Vomiting.

Therapeutic Properties

*Anti fungal – inhibits growth of fungus
*Antiseptic – assists in fighting germs/infections
*Grounding, cooling
*Immune stimulant – stimulates functioning of immune system
*Nervine – supports the nervous system: strengthens, restores, eases
*Sedative – reduces activity, calming (insomnia)
*Tonic
strengthens and restores vitality

Emotional and Energetic Qualities:

*Connects one with the earth and earth energies
*Grounds and protects
*Sedates and restores
*Connects one with oneself

Vetiver root is cooling, refrigerent, diuretic, stimulant and tonic. Benzoin presnt in the roots helps in curing headaces. Vetiver il is very usefull in skin healing, this oil repels insects and reduces stress and tension. It is rich, earthy,woody and sweet. Vetiver oil is used extensively in perfumery for its fixative effects and its fragrance.

It can be used for circulatory and nervous problems. It is also used to create a tonic bath, which is the reason why it is often included in high quality soaps. It has an application to combat lice as well. Vetiver roots are used to make brushes for natural cleansing of the body, utensils and applying aroma oils.

Vetiver roots are used to make brushes for natural cleansing of the body, utensils and applying aroma oils. The aromatic roots are used in potpourri and perfumes. Leaves are used in rheumatism, lumbago and sprain.

Vetiver roots are occasionally taken as a stimulating tonic drink in India.  They are used to improve digestion, encourage menstruation, and kill parasites.  It is said to have a  cooling  effect on the body and to increase sweating.  East Indians treat fevers, flus, and rheumatism with it.

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.motherherbs.com/vetiveria-zizanoides.html
http://www.orissafdc.com/products_medicinal_plants.php
http://www.iloveindia.com/indian-herbs/vetiveria-zizanoides.html
Vetiver Oil

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