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Herbs & Plants

Echium vulgare

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Botanical Name: Echium vulgare
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Echium
Species: E. vulgare
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Boraginales

Synonym: Blueweed.

Common Names : Viper’s Bugloss or Blueweed, Common viper’s bugloss

Habitat: Echium vulgare is native to southern and western Europe and Western Asia. It has been introduced to North America and is naturalised in parts of the continent, being listed as an invasive species in Washington. It grows in calcareous and light dry soils, especially on cliffs near the sea is also found on walls, old quarries and gravel pits.
Description:
Echium vulgare is a biennial or monocarpic perennial plant growing to 30–80 cm (12–31 in) tall, with rough, hairy, lanceolate leaves. The flowers start pink and turn vivid blue and are 15–20 mm (0.59–0.79 in) in a branched spike, with all the stamens protruding. The pollen is blue but the filaments of the stamens remain red, contrasting against the blue flowers. It flo wers between May and September. It is found in dry, bare and waste places…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation: Succeeds in any good garden soil but flowers best when the soil is not too rich. Requires a sunny position. The plant is very deep rooted. A good bee plant.

Propagation: : Seed sow February-May or August-November in situ. Germination usually takes place within 2 – 3 weeks at 15°c. If the seed is in short supply then it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses: Young leaves – raw or cooked. They can be used as a spinach substitute. Mild and mucilaginous. Although somewhat hairy, when chopped up finely they are an acceptable part of a mixed salad. Eating the leaves is said to stimulate sexual desire. Use with caution, there is an unconfirmed report of toxicity.

Part Used in medicine: The whole Herb.

Medicinal Uses:
Antitussive; Aphrodisiac; Demulcent; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emollient; Pectoral; Vulnerary.

Viper’s bugloss was once considered to be a preventative and remedy for viper bites. It is related to borage, Borago officinalis, and has many similar actions, especially in its sweat-inducing and diuretic effects. In recent times, however, it has fallen out of use, partly due to lack of interest in its medicinal potential and partly to its content of pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are toxic in isolation. The leaves and flowering stems are antitussive, aphrodisiac, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and vulnerary. An infusion of the plant is taken internally as a diuretic and in the treatment of fevers, headaches, chest conditions etc. The juice of the plant is an effective emollient for reddened and delicate skins, it is used as a poultice or plaster to treat boils and carbuncles. The leaves are harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use. The roots contain the healing agent allantoin. The plant is said to be efficacious in the treatment of snake bites. When chopped up finely, the fresh flowering heads can be made into a poultice for treating whitlows and boils.
Known Hazards: The leaves are poisonous. No cases of poisoning have ever been recorded for this plant. The bristly hairs on the leaves and stems can cause severe dermatitis.

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.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echium_vulgare
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bugvip85.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Echium+vulgare

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Herbs & Plants

Comfrey

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Botanical Name : Symphytum officinale
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Symphytum
Species: S. officinale
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: (unplaced)

Common Name :common comfrey, Quaker comfrey  and cultivated comfrey  and Other common names include boneset, knitbone, consound, and slippery-root.

Habitat :Symphytum officinale  is native to Europe and it is known elsewhere, including North America, as an introduced species and sometimes a weed.

Description:
Symphytum officinale is a perennial hardy plant and it  can grow to  1.2 m (4ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a fast rate.It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Jun to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.
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Cultivation:  
Tolerates most soils and situations but prefers a moist soil and some shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Best grown in an open sunny site in a deep rich soil if it is being grown for compost material. Plants can be invasive, often spreading freely by means of self-sown seed. The root system is very deep and difficult to eradicate, even small fragments of root left in the soil can produce new plants.

Propagation :
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. 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. If you have sufficient seed you can try an outdoor sowing in situ in the spring. Division succeeds at almost any time of the year. Simply use a spade to chop off the top 7cm of root just below the soil level. The original root will regrow and you will have a number of root tops, each of which will make a new plant. These can either be potted up or planted out straight into their permanent positions

Edible Uses:
Young leaves – cooked or raw. The leaf is hairy and the texture is mucilaginous. It may be full of minerals but it is not pleasant eating for most tastes. It can be chopped up finely and added to salads, in this way the hairiness is not so obvious. Young shoots can be used as an asparagus substitute. The blanched stalks are used. Older leaves can be dried and used as a tea. The peeled roots are cut up and added to soups. A tea is made from the dried leaves and roots. The roasted roots are used with dandelion and chicory roots for making coffee

Medicinal Uses:
Anodyne;  Antidiarrhoeal;  Antirheumatic;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Emollient;  Expectorant;  Haemostatic;  Homeopathy;  Refrigerant;  Vulnerary.

Comfrey is a commonly used herbal medicine with a long and proven history in the treatment of various complaints. The root and the leaves are used, the root being more active, and they can be taken internally or used externally as a poultice. Comfrey is especially useful in the external treatment of cuts, bruises, sprains, sores, eczema, varicose veins, broken bones etc, internally it is used in the treatment of a wide range of pulmonary complaints, internal bleeding etc. The plant contains a substance called ‘allantoin’, a cell proliferant that speeds up the healing process. This substance is now synthesized in the pharmaceutical industry and used in healing creams. The root and leaves are anodyne, astringent (mild), demulcent, emollient, expectorant, haemostatic, refrigerant, vulnerary. Some caution is advised, however, especially in the internal use of the herb. External applications and internally taken teas or tinctures of the leaves are considered to be completely safe, but internal applications of tablets or capsules are felt to have too many drawbacks for safe usage . See also the notes above on toxicity. The leaves are harvested in early summer before the plant flowers, the roots are harvested in the autumn. Both are dried for later use. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh root, harvested before the plant flowers. This has a very limited range of application, but is of great benefit in the treatment of broken bones and eye injuries. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Symphytum officinale for blunt injuries .

Comfrey leaves and especially the root contain allantoin, a cell proliferant that increases the healing of wounds. It also stops bleeding, is soothing, and is certainly the most popular ingredient in herbal skin sales for wounds, inflammation, rashes, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and just about any skin problem. Taken internally, comfrey repairs the digestive tract lining, helping to heal peptic and duodenal ulcers and colitis. Studies show it inhibits prostaglandins, which cause inflammation of the stomach lining. Comfrey has been used to treat a variety of respiratory diseases and is a specific when these involve coughing of blood. In cases of bleeding of the lungs, stomach or bowels the leaves or root should be made into a strong decoction, or a strong infusion of the leaves and regular hourly or two hourly drinks taken until the bleeding ceases. The root is stronger and more effective than the leaves. In the case of bleeding piles the addition of distilled extract of Witch Hazel to the infusion or decoction will increase the effectiveness. To aid in the cure of mucous colitis mix equal parts of comfrey leaves, agrimony herb, cranesbill herb and marshmallow herb, use one ounce of the mixed herbs, make an infu9sion and take a wineglassful at least three times daily.

The leaves moisten the lungs, help dissolve and expel mucus, soothe the throat, lowers fever, relieves cough and treat asthma. It is applied externally as a poultice and taken internally to promote healing of injured tissues and bones. The root is used to treat chronic lung diseases with dry cough and inflammation, sore throat, pulmonary catarrh, stomach ulcers, and wasting diseases. It is excellent both internally and externally for promoting the healing of sores, bones, muscles and other tissues, and is as powerful as some of the best Oriental tonic herbs. Concurrent internal and external application has the most favorable effect on the healing process.

Other Uses :
Biomass;  Compost;  Gum.

The plant grows very quickly, producing a lot of bulk. It is tolerant of being cut several times a year and can be used to provide ‘instant compost’ for crops such as potatoes. Simply layer the wilted leaves at the bottom of the potato trench or apply them as a mulch in no-dig gardens. A liquid feed can be obtained by soaking the leaves in a small amount of water for a week, excellent for potassium demanding crops such as tomatoes. The leaves are also a very valuable addition to the compost heap.  A gum obtained from the roots was at one time used in the treatment of wool before it was spun

Known Hazards: This plant contains small quantities of a toxic alkaloid which can have a cumulative effect upon the liver. Largest concentrations are found in the roots, leaves contain higher quantities of the alkaloid as they grow older and young leaves contain almost none. Most people would have to consume very large quantities of the plant in order to do any harm, though anyone with liver problems should obviously be more cautious. In general, the health-promoting properties of the plant probably far outweigh any possible disbenefits, especially if only the younger leaves are used. Use topically on unbroken skin. May cause loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting. Do not use with Eucalyptus. Do not combine with herbs containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids (e.g. agrimony, alpine ragwort, help, tansy ragwort)

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

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Symphytum+officinale
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphytum_officinale
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail89.php

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

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Borage

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Botanical Name:Borago officinalis L
Family: Boraginaceae (borage family)
Kingdom: Plantae
Genus: Borago
Species: B. officinalis
Common Names:”starflower”, Borage
Parts Used:Fresh leaves. The blue flowers are sometimes tried as a food colourant

Habitat: Originating in Syria, but naturalized throughout the Mediterranean region, as well as Asia Minor, Europe, North Africa, and South America.The plant grows wild in Central and Eastern Europe.

Description:
Borage (Borago officinalis L.) is an annual herb.It grows to a height of 60-100 cm (2-3 feet), and is bristly or hairy all over the stems and leaves; the leaves are alternate, simple, and 5-15 cm (2-6 in) long. The flowers are complete, perfect with five narrow, triangular-pointed petals. Flowers are most often blue in color, although pink flowers are sometime observed. White flowered types are also cultivated. The flowers arise along scorpiod cymes to form large floral displays with multiple flowers blooming simultaneously, suggesting that borage has a high degree of geitonogamy. It has an indeterminate growth habit which may lead to prolific spreading. In milder climates, borage will bloom continuously for most of the year.
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The bright blue, star-shaped flowers (which bloom most of the summer) make borage one of the prettiest herb plants, thought the dark green leaves are rather plain. The flavor of the leaves resembles that of cucumber. The plant will grow to a height of about 18 inches, and spread about 12 inches. This hardy annual has a messy, straggling habit.

Cultivation:
Borage is not a fussy plant, but the richer the soil, the bushier the plant will be. It prefers full sun, and needs protection from wind as it is easily blown over. Seeds can be sown throughout the season, and once growth is established, it will continue to seed itself. Place plants close together so they can support each other. A plant or two in an indoor pot will provide leaves all winter, but it will need lots of sun.

Borage is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes, squash and strawberries. The plant actually improves the flavor of tomatoes growing nearby.

Constituents:
The leaves contain an essential oil (below 0.1%) dominated by 2,6 nonadienal, which is also a main components in cucumber aroma (cucumber aldehyde).

Several non-volatile components have also been identified, among those the toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids intermedine, lycopsamine, amabiline and supinine. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are extremely common in the Boraginaceae family, are powerful hepatotoxins that cause severe liver damage on chronic ingestion, often with lethal outcome. Although the total concentration in borage is extremely small (around 10?ppm in the dried herb), it has been argued that borage is an unsafe herb when used in folk medicine; the risks associated with casual culinary usage are probably negligible. In the flowers, thesinine (a non-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid) has been found.

The fatty oil obtained from borage seeds (“borage oil”, “starflower oil”) is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, e.g., ?-linolenic acid (20%). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids seem to occur only in negligible traces in this oil, if at all.

The seed oil is desired as source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:3, cis 6,9,12-octadecatrienoic acid), for which borage is the highest known plant-based source (17-28%). The seed oil content is between 26-38% and in addition to GLA contains the fatty acids palmitic acid (10-11%), stearic acid (3.5-4.5%), oleic acid (16-20%), linoleic acid (35-38%), eicosenoic acid (3.5-5.5%), erucic acid (1.5-3.5%), and nervonic acid (1.5%). The oil is often marketed as “starflower oil” or “borage oil” for uses as a GLA supplement, although healthy adults will typically produce ample GLA through dietary linoleic acid.

Culinary Uses:
Borage production does include use as either a fresh vegetable or a dried herb. As a fresh vegetable, borage, with a cucumber like taste, is often used in salads or as a garnish. The flower, which contains the non-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid thesinine, has a sweet honey-like taste and is one of the few truly blue-colored edible things, is often used to decorate dessert.

Vegetable use of borage is common in Germany and the Spanish regions of Aragón and Navarra. Although often used in soups, one of the better known German borage recipes is the Green Sauce (Grüne Sauce) made in Frankfurt. The leaves and flowers were originally used in Pimms before it was replaced by mint. It is used to flavour pickled gherkins in Poland.

*Borage flowers and leaves are the traditional decoration for gin-based summer cocktails, and may be set in ice cubes to garnish other drinks.

*The flowers and young leaves may be used to garnish salads. dips, and cucumber soups.

*Candied borage flowers make attractive cake decorations.

*Chopped leaves can be added to soups and stews during the last few minutes of cooking.

*The leaves can be cooked with cabbage leaves (two parts cabbage, one part borage.)

*Borage does not dry well for culinary use.

Medicinal Use:
Naturopathic practitioners uses of borage for regulation of metabolism and the hormonal system, and consider it to be a good remedy for PMS and menopause symptoms such as the hot flash. Borage is sometimes indicated to alleviate and heal colds, bronchitis, and respiratory infections in general for its anti-inflammatory and balsamic properties. The flowers can be prepared in infusion to take advantage of its medicinal properties. The oleic and palmitic acid of borage may also confer a hypocholesterolemic effect.It is notable that the leaves have been found to contain small amounts (10 ppm of dried herb) of the liver-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids: intermedine, lycopsamine, amabiline and supinine.

Tea made from the dried flowers is a traditional calming drink in Iran (Echium amoenum ). It has a rich purple color that turns bright pink by adding a few drops of lemon juice

The ancient Greek naturalist Pliny said that borage ‘maketh a man merry and joyful.’ Dioscorides, the first century Greek physician, mentioned the use of borage to ‘comfort the heart, purge melancholy and quiet the lunatic person.’
John Evelyn, the seventeenth century English herbalist, spoke of borage ‘to revive the hypochondriac and cheer the hard student’, while his contemporary Culpepper used the plant for ‘putrid and pestilential fever, the venom of serpents, jaundice, consumption, sore throat and rheumatism.’
For centuries it was thought to be a mood elevator when ingested as a tea or as leaves steeped in wine. This may or may not be the case. There is some evidence that perparations made from seed oil have a use in soothing and relieving inflammations associated with respiratory disorders

*Because it is a tonic plant for the adrenal glands, borage provides an invaluable support for a stressful lifestyle.

*Borage is rich in minerals, especially potassium.

*A tea made with borage helps to reduce fevers and ease chest colds.

*An infusion of borage acts as a galactogogue, promoting the production of milk in breastfeeding mothers.

Other Uses:

*Borage makes an excellent facial steam for improving very dry, sensitive skin.

*The flowers may be dried to add color to potpourri.

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.gardenguides.com/plants/info/herbs/borage.asp#morebelow
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Bora_off.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borage