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Herbs & Plants

Iceland moss

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Botanical Name : Cetraria islandica
Family: Parmeliaceae
Genus:     Cetraria
Species: C. islandica
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class:     Lecanoromycetes
Order:     Lecanorales

Synonyms: Cetraria. Iceland Lichen.

Common Name :  Iceland Moss, Island cetraria lichen, Oriental cetraria lichen

Other names: Iceland Lichen, Eryngo-leaved liverwort

Habitat:Iceland moss grows abundantly in the mountainous regions of northern countries, and it is specially characteristic of the lava slopes and plains of the west and north of Iceland. It is found on the mountains of north Wales, north England, Scotland and south-west Ireland. In North America its range extends through Arctic regions, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and south in the Rocky Mountains to Colorado, and to the Appalachian Mountains of New England.A common plant in northern countries and in the mountainous part of warmer countries.
It grows on damp places, usually on rocks and the bark of trees, especially conifers.

Description:
Iceland Moss is a composite life form (lichen), symbiotic connection between algae and fungus. It has an appearance similar to moss. It is shrub-like plant, with crinkled, gray-green to dark brown forked branches. The upper side is darker; the underside is lighter, whitish. It grows up to 1, 2 meters in height.  The whole plant is tough and springy.
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Cultivation:
There is no known information on the cultivation of this plant. It requires clean air and is very intolerant of atmospheric pollution so cannot be grown in towns. See the plants native habitat above for ideas on how it can be encouraged to grow. This species is a lichen, which is actually a symbiotic association of two different species, one an algae and the other a fungus. It is very slow-growing. This plant is often used in commercially produced disinfectants.

Propagation :
The only way of reproducing this plant is vegetatively. Almost any part of the plant can be used to produce a new plant, simply separate a portion and place it in its new hom.

Edible Uses:
A jelly is made by boiling the whole plant. It is nutritious and medicinal. Rather bitter, it requires leaching, which can be done by changing the cooking water once or twice during the cooking process. The dried and powdered plant can be mixed with wheat and used in making bread. It is very bitter and the process required to leach it is far too time-consuming and tedious to be countenanced

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used :Lichen

Constituents: It contains about 70 per cent of lichen starch and becomes blue on the addition of iodine. It also contains a little sugar, fumaric acid, oxalic acid, about 3 per cent of cetrarin and 1 per cent of licheno-stearic acid.

Demulcent, tonic, and nutritive when deprived of its bitter principle. Excellent in chronic pulmonary troubles, catarrh, digestive disturbances, dysentery, advanced tuberculosis. Decoction, B.P. 1885, 1 to 4 OZ. Ground, it can be mixed with chocolate or cocoa.

Iceland Moss is strongly antibiotic and expectorant. It soothes irritated tissues, especially mucous membranes and is often used in cough medications. It eases dry cough and helps in case of a sore throat. It has beneficial results in cases of tuberculosis and bronchitis. It also controls vomiting, has excellent effects in treatment of gastroenteritis, loss of appetite and food poisoning. Used externally, the plant is an excellent remedy for vaginal discharge, boils and wounds.

Iceland moss has been used since ancient times as a cough remedy and has also been used in European folk medicine as a cancer treatment. In present day herbalism it is highly prized for its strongly antibiotic and demulcent actions, being used especially to soothe the mucous membranes of the chest, to counter catarrh and calm dry and paroxysmal coughs – it is particularly helpful as a treatment for elderly people. Iceland moss has both a demulcent and a bitter tonic effect within the gut – a combination almost unique amongst medicinal herbs. The whole plant is strongly antibiotic, antiemetic, strongly demulcent, galactogogue, nutritive and tonic. It is excellent when used internally in the treatment of chronic pulmonary problems, catarrh, dysentery, chronic digestive disturbances (including irritable bowel syndrome and food poisoning) and advanced tuberculosis. Externally, it is used in the treatment of boils, vaginal discharges and impetigo. The plant can be harvested as required throughout the year, preferably during dry weather, and can also be dried for later use. Use with caution. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Cetraria islandica for cough & bronchitis, dyspepsia, inflammation of mouth and pharynx, loss of appetite.
Other Uses:
Disinfectant; Dye.

A powerful antibiotic can be obtained from the plant and this has become a fundamental ingredient in a wide range of commercially produced disinfectants. A brown dye is obtained from the plant.

Known Hazards: Some herbs could react with certain medication. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor/herbalist before consumption of any herb.   Indigestion and nausea with large doses. Rare liver damage. Herb bitterness possible in breast milk .

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.health-from-nature.net/Iceland_Moss.html
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mosice52.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceland_moss

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cetraria+islandica

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Herbs & Plants

Dulse

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Botanical Name : Rhodymenia palmata
Family: Palmariaceae
Genus: Palmaria
Species: P. palmata
Domain: Eukaryota
Division: Rhodophyta
Class: Florideophyceae
Order: Palmariales

Synonym:Palmaria palmata (Linnaeus) Kuntze

Common Name ;Dulse, dillisk, dilsk, red dulse, sea lettuce flakes or creathnach

Habitat : Dulse is the only species of Palmaria found on the coast of Atlantic Europe. It is to be found from Portugal to the B altic coasts also on the coasts of Iceland and the Faroe Islands. It also grows on the shores of Arctic Russia, Arctic Canada, Atlantic Canada, Alaska, Japan and Korea. The records from California are of Palmaria mollis which is considered a different species.

It grows on the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is a well-known snack food, and in Iceland, where it is known as söl, it has been an important source of fiber throughout the centuries.

Description:
Dulse  grows attached by its discoid holdfast to the stipes of Laminaria or to rocks. It has a short stipe, the fronds are variable and vary in colour from deep-rose to reddish-purple and are rather leathery in texture. The flat foliose blade gradually expands and divides into broad segments ranging in size to 50 cm long and 30 – 8 cm in width which can bear flat wedge-shaped proliferations from the edge.

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Reddish brown, membranous or leathery, flattened fronds, 50-300 (rarely –1000) mm long, arising from a discoid base, usually with a small stipe expanding gradually to form simple or dichotomously and palmately divided fronds, often with characteristic marginal leaflets. Blade very variable in shape, having broadly ovate to narrowly linear segments.

The reference to Rhodymenia palmata var.mollis in Abbott & Hollenberg (1976), is now considered to refer to a different species: Palmaria mollis (Setchel et Gardner) van der Meer et Bird.

Dulse is similar to another seaweed Dilsea carnosa (Schmidel) Kuntze, Dilsea, however, is more leathery with blades up to 30 cm long and 20 cm wide. Unlike Palmaria palmata it is not branched and does not have proliferations or branches from the edge of the frond. The older blades may split however

Edible Uses;
Dulse is a good source of minerals and vitamins compared with other vegetables, contains all trace elements needed by humans, and has a high protein content.

It is commonly found from June to September and can be picked by hand when the tide is out. When picked, small snails, shell pieces and other small particles can be washed or shaken off and the plant then spread to dry. Some gatherers may turn it once and roll it into large bales to be packaged later. It is also used as fodder for animals in some countries.

Dulse is commonly used in Ireland, Iceland, Atlantic Canada and the Northeast United States both as food and medicine. It can be found in many health food stores or fish markets and can be ordered directly from local distributors. In Ballycastle, Ireland, it is traditionally sold at the Ould Lammas Fair. It is particularly popular along the Causeway Coast. Although a fast-dying tradition,[citation needed] there are many who still gather their own dulse. In South West Ireland, as in County Antrim, it is eaten dried and uncooked in a manner similar to that in which one would eat snacks at a drinks party. It is also used in cooking. (Its properties are similar to those of a flavor-enhancer). It is commonly referred to as dillisk on the west coast of Ireland. Dillisk is usually dried and sold as a snack food from stalls in seaside towns by periwinkle-sellers.

Waste pipes have spoiled some sites.

Fresh dulse can be eaten directly off the rocks before sun-drying. Sun-dried dulse is eaten as is or is ground to flakes or a powder. In Iceland the tradition is to eat it with butter. It can also be pan fried quickly into chips, baked in the oven covered with cheese, with salsa, or simply microwaved briefly. It can also be used in soups, chowders, sandwiches and salads, or added to bread/pizza dough. Finely diced, it can also be used as a flavour enhancer in meat dishes, such as chili, in place of monosodium glutamate.

Medicinal Uses:

Dulse contains iodine, which prevents goiter.

In several traditions of European herbal medicine, dulse was used to remove parasites, to relieve constipation, and as a treatment for scurvy. It is a superior source of the iodine the body needs to make the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine which affect weight and metabolic rate.  The complex polysaccharides in the herb make it a gentle alternative to psyllium or senna in the treatment of constipation.

Externally, the fresh blades can be used to treat skin diseases, headaches, and to help expel placenta. It is used as a gentle laxative. Dulse has also been used to help prevent fibroid tumors of the breasts, the uterus or the ovaries and in cases of swollen lumps or enlargements of the intestinal area. Natural, organically-bond iodine extracts from Dulse are used for the treatment and prevention of thyroid disease, and clinical trials on daily molecular iodine supplementation have shown that cyclical breast lumps and cysts are completely resolved within two months. The iodine in Dulse can also prevent goiter.

Dulse has an alkalizing effect on the blood that neutralizes wastes that build up in the body and also aids in removing radioactive and heavy metals from the body. It also prevents the absorption from the gut by binding these elements, which include radioactive strontium, barium, and cadmium. This is done by transforming them into harmless salts (via a substance called alginic acid) that are easily eliminated. Dulse has elements to eliminate excess uric acid from the system and has been used for genitourinary problems such as kidney, bladder, prostrate, and uterus.  Clinical documentation shows that taking some each day can reduce enlarged prostrates in older men and urination can become painless.

Seaweeds may reduce the risk of poisoning from environmental pollution by providing fiber that increases fecal bulk and also reduces cholesterol levels through the retardation of bile acid absorption. Recent research has suggested that Dulse may help reverse hardening of the arteries, reduce high blood pressure, regress and prevent tumors  Research has shown that Dulse extracts inhibited HeLa cell proliferation that is found in human cervical adenocarcinoma and has also been found in animal studies to reduce the risk of intestinal and mammary cancer.

It has been used to treat the problems associated with thyroid malfunction. Liquid Dulse can help to soothe an irritated throat and mucous membranes. It has been used for enlarged thyroid and lymph nodes, swollen and painful testes and to reduce edema. Seaweeds are used to promote wound healing. New generation dressings such as the hydrocolloid dressings are seaweed base as they provide optimal conditions for healing to begin.  It is known to prevent seasickness. Thus it should be of value in other conditions where motion sickness is the cause such as vertigo and labrynthitis or Meniere’s Disease.

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/Palmaria_palmata
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_DE.htm

http://www.horta.uac.pt/species/Algae/Palmaria_palmata/Palmaria_palmata.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Bilberry

Botanical Name :Vaccinium myrtillus
Family: Vacciniaceae/Ericaceae
Genus: Vaccinium
Species: V. myrtillus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Synonyms:Whortleberry. Black Whortles. Whinberry. Trackleberry. Huckleberry. Hurts. Bleaberry. Hurtleberry. Airelle. Vaccinium Frondosum. Blueberries.
Common Names:  bilberry, European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry

Parts Used:The ripe fruit. The leaves.

Habitat: Vaccinium myrtillus  is native to   Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Spain, Macedonia, the Caucasus and N. Asia . It grows in heaths, moors and woods on acid soils to 1250 metres.

Description:

Vaccinium myrtillus is a deciduous Shrub. It  grows abundantly in the heathy and mountainous districts, a small branched shrub, with wiry angular branches, rarely over a foot high, bearing globular wax-like flowers and black berries, which are covered when quite ripe with a delicate grey bloom, hence its name in Scotland, ‘Blea-berry,’ from an old North Countryword, ‘blae,’ meaning livid or bluish. The name Bilberry (by some old writers ‘Bulberry’) is derived from the Danish ‘bollebar,’ meaning dark berry. There is a variety with white fruits.
The leathery leaves (in form somewhat like those of the myrtle, hence its specific name) are at first rosy, then yellowish-green, and in autumn turn red and are very ornamental. They have been utilized to adulterate tea.

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Bilberries flourish best on high grounds, being therefore more abundant in the north and west than in the south and east of England: they are absent from the low-lying Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, but on the Surrey hills, where they are called ‘Hurts,’ cover the ground for miles.

The fruit is globular, with a flat top, about the size of a black currant. When eaten raw, they have a slightly acid flavour. When cooked, however, with sugar, they make an excellent preserve. Gerard tells us that ‘the people of Cheshire do eate the black whortles in creame and milke as in these southern parts we eate strawberries.’ On the Continent, they are often employed for colouring wine.

Stewed with a little sugar and lemon peel in an open tart, Bilberries make a very enjoyable dish. Before the War, immense quantities of them were imported annually from Holland, Germany and Scandinavia. They were used mainly by pastrycooks and restaurant-keepers.

Species:
Bilberries include several closely related species of the Vaccinium genus, including:

*Vaccinium myrtillus L. (bilberry)
*Vaccinium uliginosum L. (bog bilberry, bog blueberry, bog whortleberry, bog huckleberry, northern bilberry, ground hurts)
*Vaccinium caespitosum Michx. (dwarf bilberry)
*Vaccinium deliciosum Piper (cascade bilberry)
*Vaccinium membranaceum (mountain bilberry, black mountain huckleberry, black huckleberry, twin-leaved huckleberry)
*Vaccinium ovalifolium (oval-leafed blueberry, oval-leaved bilberry, mountain blueberry, high-bush blueberry).

Edible Uses:
Owing to its rich juice, the Bilberry can be used with the least quantity of sugar in making jam: half a pound of sugar to the pound of berries is sufficient if the preserve is to be eaten soon. The minuteness of the seeds makes them more suitable for jam than currants.

Recipe for Bilberry Jam—
Put 3 lb. of clean, fresh fruit in a preserving pan with 1 1/2 lb. of sugar and about 1 cupful of water and bring to the boil. Then boil rapidly for 40 minutes. Apple juice made from windfalls and peelings, instead of the water, improves this jam. To make apple juice, cover the apples with water, stew down, and strain the juice through thick muslin. Blackberries may also be added to this mixture.

If the jam is to be kept long it must be bottled hot in screw-top jars, or, if tied down in the ordinary way, more sugar must be added.

Bilberry juice yields a clear, dark-blue or purple dye that has been much used in the dyeing of wool and the picking of berries for this purpose, as well as for food, constitutes a summer industry in the ‘Hurts’ districts. Owing to the shortage of the aniline dyestuffs formerly imported from Germany, Bilberries were eagerly bought up at high prices by dye manufacturers during the War, so that in 1917 and 1918 a large proportion of the Bilberry crop was not available for jam-making, as the dyers were scouring the country for the little blue-black berries.

Wild and cultivated harvesting:-
Bilberries are found in very acidic, nutrient-poor soils throughout the temperate and subarctic regions of the world. They are closely related to North American wild and cultivated blueberries and huckleberries in the genus Vaccinium. One characteristic of bilberries is that they produce single or paired berries on the bush instead of clusters, as the blueberry does.

The fruit is smaller than that of the blueberry but with a fuller taste. Bilberries are darker in colour, and usually appear near black with a slight shade of purple. While the blueberry’s fruit pulp is light green, the bilberry’s is red or purple, heavily staining the fingers and lips of consumers eating the raw fruit. The red juice is used by European dentists to show children how to brush their teeth correctly, as any improperly brushed areas will be heavily stained.

Bilberries are extremely difficult to grow and are thus seldom cultivated. Fruits are mostly collected from wild plants growing on publicly accessible lands, notably Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, parts of England, Alpine countries, Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and northern parts of Turkey and Russia. Note that in Austria, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, it is an everyman’s right to collect bilberries, irrespective of land ownership, with the exception of private gardens. Bilberries can be picked by a berry-picking rake like lingonberries, but are more susceptible to damage. Bilberries are softer and juicier than blueberries, making them difficult to transport. Because of these factors, the bilberry is only available fresh in gourmet stores, where they can cost up to 25 Euro per pound. Frozen bilberries however are available all year round in most of Europe.

In Finland, bilberries are collected from forests. They are eaten fresh or can be made in different jams, and dishes. The famous one is Mustikkapiirakka, bilberry pie

In Ireland, the fruit is known as fraughan, from the Irish fraochán, and is traditionally gathered on the last Sunday in July, known as Fraughan Sunday.

Bilberries were also collected at Lughnassadh in August, the first traditional harvest festival of the year, as celebrated by Gaelic people. The crop of bilberries was said to indicate how well the rest of the crops would fare in their harvests later in the year.

The fruits can be eaten fresh or made into jams, fools, juices or pies. In France and in Italy, they are used as a base for liqueurs and are a popular flavoring for sorbets and other desserts. In Brittany, they are often used as a flavoring for crêpes, and in the Vosges and the Massif Central bilberry tart (tarte aux myrtilles) is a traditional dessert.

Constituents:
Quinic acid is found in the leaves, and a little tannin. Triturated with water they yield a liquid which, filtered and assayed with sulphate of iron, becomes a beautiful green, first of all transparent, then giving a green precipitate.

The fruits contain sugar, etc. Bilberries contains approximately 0.5% by volume of the anthocyanosides, they also contain the vitamins B1 and C, pro-vitamin A, at least 7% by volume is composed of tannins, and assorted plant acids are also seen. The tonic effect of the anthocyanosides on the blood vessels is the beneficial to the human body.

Medicinal Uses:
Often associated with improvement of night vision, bilberries are mentioned in a popular story of World War II RAF pilots consuming bilberry jam to sharpen vision for night missions. However, a recent study by the U.S. Navy found no such effect and origins of the RAF story cannot be found.

Although the effect of bilberry on night vision is controversial, laboratory studies have provided preliminary evidence that bilberry consumption may inhibit or reverse eye disorders such as macular degeneration. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial on 50 patients suffering from senile cataract showed that a combination of bilberry extract and vitamin E administered for 4 months was able to stop lens opacity progress in 97% of the cataracts.

As a deep purple fruit, bilberries contain high levels of anthocyanin pigments, which have been linked experimentally to lowered risk for several diseases, such as those of the heart and cardiovascular system, eyes, diabetes and cancer.

In folk medicine, bilberry leaves were used to treat gastrointestinal ailments, applied topically, or made into infusions. Bilberries are also used as a tonic to prevent some infections and skin diseases.

•Historically, bilberry fruit was used to treat diarrhea, scurvy, and other conditions.

•Today, the fruit is used to treat diarrhea, menstrual cramps, eye problems, varicose veins, venous insufficiency (a condition in which the veins do not efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart), and other circulatory problems.

•Bilberry leaf is used for entirely different conditions, including diabetes.

The leaves can be used in the same way as those of UvaUrsi. The fruits are astringent, and are especially valuable in diarrhoea and dysentery, in the form of syrup. The ancients used them largely, and Dioscorides spoke highly of them. They are also used for discharges, and as antigalactagogues. A decoction of the leaves or bark of the root may be used as a local application to ulcers, and in ulceration of the mouth and throat.

The fruit is helpful in scurvy and urinary complaints, and when bruised with the roots and steeped in gin has diuretic properties valuable in dropsy and gravel. A tea made of the leaves is also a remedy for diabetes if taken for a prolonged period.
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Other Uses …..Dye; Ink…….A green dye is obtained from the leaves and the fruit and is used to colour fabrics. A blue or black dye is obtained from the fruit. This can be used as an ink.
Known Hazards: High tannin content may cause digestive disorders – avoid prolonged use or high doses. Avoid in pregnancy. Avoid if on anticoagulant therapy (e.g. warfarin)

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.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_bilberry.htm
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bilber37.html
http://www.elements4health.com/bilberry-health-benefits.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Vaccinium+myrtillus

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