Categories
Herbs & Plants

Asarum canadense

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Botanical Name: : Asarum canadense
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Asarum
Species: A. canadense
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales

Synonyms: Canada Snakeroot. Indian Ginger. Coltsfoot.

Common Names: Canada wild ginger, Wild ginger,  Canadian snakeroot and Broad-leaved asarabaccais

Habitat: Asarum canadense is native to deciduous forest in eastern North America, from the Great Plains east to the Atlantic Coast, and from southeastern Canada south to approximately the fall line in the southeastern United States. It grows on  moist rich soils in woodlands, usually on calcareous soils.  Understorey of deciduous (rarely coniferous) forests from sea level to 1300 metres.

Description:
An inconspicuous but fragrant little plant, not over 12 inches high, found growing in rich soil on roadsides and in woods. A stemless perennial, much resembling the European Asarum, but with larger leaves, provided with a short spine, leaves usually only two, kidney-shaped, borne on thin fine hairy stems, dark above and paler green under-surface, 4 to 8 inches broad, strongly veined. A solitary bell-shaped flower, dull brown or brownish purple, drooping between the two leaf stems, woolly, the inside darker than the outside and of a satiny texture, the fruit a leathery six-celled capsule. It has a yellowish creeping rootstock, slightly jointed, with thin rootlets from the joints. In commerce the rootstock is found in pieces 4 to 5 inches long, 1/8 inch thick, irregular quadrangular, brownish end wrinkled outside, whitish inside, showing a large centre pith hard and brittle, breaking with a short fracture. Odour fragrant, taste aromatic, spicy and slightly bitter–it is collected in the autumn…...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Woodland garden. Prefers a rich moist neutral to acid soil in woodland or a shady position in the rock garden. Plants are found on alkaline soils in the wild. Plants are hardy to at least -25°c. The flowers are malodorous and are pollinated by flies. Plants often self-sow when growing in a suitable position. Special Features:Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the summer. Stored seed will require 3 weeks cold stratification and should be sown in late winter. The seed usually germinates in the spring in 1 – 4 or more weeks at 18°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out when large enough in late spring. Division in spring or autumn. Plants are slow to increase. It is best to pot the divisions up and keep them in light shade in the greenhouse until they are growing away strongly.

Edible Uses: Condiment.
The underground stem and the flowers are used as a ginger substitute. The root, especially when quite dry, has a pungent, aromatic smell like mild pepper and ginger mixed, but more strongly aromatic. The root is best harvested in autumn but is available all year round. It can be dried for later use.

Constituents: A volatile oil once largely used in perfumery, also resin, a bitter principle called asarin, mucilage, alkaloid, sugar and a substance like camphor.

The plant yields its properties to alcohol and to hot water.

Medicinal Uses:

The long rhizomes of A. canadense were used by Native Americans as a seasoning. It has similar aromatic properties to true ginger (Zingiber officinale), but should not be used as a substitute because it contains an unknown concentration of the carcinogen aristolochic acid and asarone. The distillate from the ground root is known as Canadian snakeroot oil. The odor and flavor are spicy. It has been used in many flavor preparations.

Native Americans used the plant as a medicinal herb to treat a number of ailments including dysentery, digestive problems, swollen breasts, coughs and colds, typhus, scarlet fever, nerves, sore throats, cramps, heaves, earaches, headaches, convulsions, asthma, tuberculosis, urinary disorders and venereal disease. In addition, they also used it as a stimulant, an appetite enhancer and a charm. It was also used as an admixture to strengthen other herbal preparations.

Known Hazards: The leaves are poisonous. Handling the leaves is said to cause dermatitis in some people.

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/Asarum_canadense
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/g/ginwil14.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Asarum+canadense

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Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Cholangitis

Definition:
Cholangitis is an infection of the common bile duct, the tube that carries bile from the liver to the gallbladder and intestines. Bile is a liquid made by the liver that helps digest food.

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Cholangitis can be life-threatening, and is regarded as a medical emergency. Characteristic symptoms include yellow discoloration of the skin or whites of the eyes, fever, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, low blood pressure and confusion. Initial treatment is with intravenous fluids and antibiotics, but there is often an underlying problem (such as gallstones or narrowing in the bile duct) for which further tests and treatments may be necessary, usually in the form of endoscopy to relieve obstruction of the bile duct.
Symptoms:
The following symptoms may occur:

*Pain on the upper right side or upper middle part of the abdomen. It may also be felt in the back or below the right shoulder blade. The pain may come and go and feel sharp, cramp-like, or dull.

*Fever and chills

*Dark urine and clay-colored stools

*Nausea and vomiting

*Yellowing of the skin (jaundice), which may come and go
Physical examination findings typically include jaundice and right upper quadrant tenderness.Charcot’s triad is a set of three common findings in cholangitis: abdominal pain, jaundice, and fever. This was assumed in the past to be present in 50–70% of cases, although more recently the frequency has been reported as 15–20%.Reynolds’ pentad includes the findings of Charcot’s triad with the presence of septic shock and mental confusion. This combination of symptoms indicates worsening of the condition and the development of sepsis, and is seen less commonly still.

In the elderly, the presentation may be atypical; they may directly collapse due to septicemia without first showing typical features. Those with an indwelling stent in the bile duct (see below) may not develop jaundice.

Causes:
Cholangitis is most often caused by a bacterial infection. This can occur when the duct is blocked by something, such as a gallstone or tumor. The infection causing this condition may also spread to the liver.

Bile duct obstruction, which is usually present in acute cholangitis, is generally due to gallstones. 10–30% of cases, however, are due to other causes such as benign stricturing (narrowing of the bile duct without an underlying tumor), postoperative damage or an altered structure of the bile ducts such as narrowing at the site of an anastomosis (surgical connection), various tumors (cancer of the bile duct, gallbladder cancer, cancer of the ampulla of Vater, pancreatic cancer, cancer of the duodenum), anaerobic organisms such as Clostridium and Bacteroides (especially in the elderly and those who have undergone previous surgery of the biliary system). Parasites which may infect the liver and bile ducts may cause cholangitis; these include the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides and the liver flukes Clonorchis sinensis, Opisthorchis viverrini and Opisthorchis felineus. In people with AIDS, a large number of opportunistic organisms has been known to cause AIDS cholangiopathy, but the risk has rapidly diminished since the introduction of effective AIDS treatment. Cholangitis may also complicate medical procedures involving the bile duct, especially ERCP. To prevent this, it is recommended that those undergoing ERCP for any indication receive prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics.

The presence of a permanent biliary stent (e.g. in pancreatic cancer) slightly increases the risk of cholangitis, but stents of this type are often needed to keep the bile duct patent under outside pressure

Diagnosis:
Routine blood tests show features of acute inflammation (raised white blood cell count and elevated C-reactive protein level), and usually abnormal liver function tests (LFTs). In most cases the LFTs will be consistent with obstruction: raised bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase and ?-glutamyl transpeptidase. In the early stages, however, pressure on the liver cells may be the main feature and the tests will resemble those in hepatitis, with elevations in alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase.

Blood cultures are often performed in people with fever and evidence of acute infection. These yield the bacteria causing the infection in 36% of cases, usually after 24–48 hours of incubation. Bile, too, may be sent for culture during ERCP (see below). The most common bacteria linked to ascending cholangitis are gram-negative bacilli: Escherichia coli (25–50%), Klebsiella (15–20%) and Enterobacter (5–10%). Of the gram-positive cocci, Enterococcus causes 10–20%.

You may have the following tests to look for blockages:

*Abdominal ultrasound

*Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

*Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)

*Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTCA)

*You may also have the following blood tests:

#Bilirubin level
#Liver enzyme levels
#Liver function tests
#White blood count (WBC)
Treatment:
Quick diagnosis and treatment are very important.Antibiotics to cure infection is the first treatment done in most cases. ERCP or other surgical procedure is done when the patient is stable.Patients who are very ill or are quickly getting worse may need surgery right away.

Cholangitis requires admission to hospital. Intravenous fluids are administered, especially if the blood pressure is low, and antibiotics are commenced. Empirical treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics is usually necessary until it is known for certain which pathogen is causing the infection, and to which antibiotics it is sensitive. Combinations of penicillins and aminoglycosides are widely used, although ciprofloxacin has been shown to be effective in most cases, and may be preferred to aminoglycosides because of fewer side effects. Metronidazole is often added to specifically treat the anaerobic pathogens, especially in those who are very ill or at risk of anaerobic infections. Antibiotics are continued for 7–10 days. Drugs that increase the blood pressure (vasopressors) may also be required to counter the low blood pressure.
Prognosis:
Acute cholangitis carries a significant risk of death, the leading cause being irreversible shock with multiple organ failure (a possible complication of severe infections). Improvements in diagnosis and treatment have led to a reduction in mortality: before 1980, the mortality rate was greater than 50%, but after 1980 it was 10–30%. Patients with signs of multiple organ failure are likely to die unless they undergo early biliary drainage and treatment with systemic antibiotics. Other causes of death following severe cholangitis include heart failure and pneumonia.

Risk Factors:
Risk factors include a previous history of gallstones, sclerosing cholangitis, HIV, narrowing of the common bile duct, and, rarely, travel to countries where you might catch a worm or parasite infection.

Risk factors indicating an increased risk of death include older age, female gender, a history of liver cirrhosis, biliary narrowing due to cancer, acute renal failure and the presence of liver abscesses. Complications following severe cholangitis include renal failure, respiratory failure (inability of the respiratory system to oxygenate blood and/or eliminate carbon dioxide), cardiac arrhythmia, wound infection, pneumonia, gastrointestinal bleeding and myocardial ischemia (lack of blood flow to the heart, leading to heart attacks).

Prevention:
Treatment of gallstones, tumors, and infestations of parasites may reduce the risk for some people. A metal or plastic stent that is placed in the bile system may be needed to prevent the infection from returning.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.
Resources:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000290.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascending_cholangitis

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Asclepias tuberosa

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Botanical Name :Asclepias tuberosa
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: A. tuberosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common Names: Butterfly Weed, Canada Root, Chigger Flower, Chiggerflower, Fluxroot, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Posy, Orange Milkweed, Orange Swallow-wort, Pleurisy Root, Silky Swallow-wort, Tuber Root, Yellow Milkweed, White-root, and Windroot, and also Butterfly Love.

Habitat :Asclepias tuberosa is native to N. America – S. Ontario and New York to Minnesota, south to Florida and Colorado.
It grows on dry open sandy and gravelly soils and grassy places by the sides of roads.

Description:
It is a perennial plant growing to 0.3–1 metre (10 in–3 ft 3 in) tall, with clustered orange or yellow flowers from early summer to early fall. The leaves are spirally arranged, lanceolate, 5–12 cm long and 2–3 cm broad…...CLICK & SEE 

You may click to see the picture

The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects, lepidoptera.It is hardy to zone 3.

Identification:
The plant looks similar to the Lanceolate Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata), but is uniquely identified by the larger number of flowers, and the hairy stems that are not milky when broken. It is most commonly found in fields with dry soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained light, rich or peaty soil. Prefers a sandy soil and a sunny position. Prefers a slightly acid soil. Prefers a dry soil. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. Another report says that this species is only suited to the warmer areas of Britain. A very ornamental plant, but it is not easy to establish or to keep in British gardens. Resents root disturbance, plants should be pot-grown from seed and planted out in their permanent positions when young. Plants are particularly at risk from slugs, however, and some protection will probably be required until the plants are established and also in the spring when the new shoots come into growth. The flower can trap insects between its anther cells, the struggles of the insect in escaping ensure the pollination of the plant.

Propagation :
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn or in late winter. We have also had good results from sowing the seed in the greenhouse in early spring, though stored seed might need 2 – 3 weeks cold stratification. Germination usually takes place in 1 – 3 months at 18°c. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out when they are in active growth in late spring or early summer and give them some protection from slugs until they are growing away strongly. Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and place them in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse until they are growing away strongly, then plant them out in the summer, giving them some protection from slugs until they are established.. Basal cuttings in late spring. Use shoots about 10cm long with as much of their white underground stem as possible. Pot them up individually and place them in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse until they are rooting and growing actively. If the plants grow sufficiently, they can be put into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in the greenhouse until the following spring and when they are in active growth plant them out into their permanent positions. Give them some protection from slugs until they are established.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Oil;  Root;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses: Oil;  Sweetener.

Whilst most parts of this plant have been used as food, some caution is advised since large doses can cause diarrhoea and vomiting – see the notes above on toxicity. Flower buds – cooked. They taste somewhat like peas. Young shoots – cooked. An asparagus substitute. The tips of older shoots are cooked like spinach. Young seed pods – cooked. Harvested when 3 – 4 cm long and before the seed floss begins to form, they are very appetizing. The flower clusters can be boiled down to make a sugary syrup. In hot weather the flowers produce so much nectar that it crystallises out into small lumps which can be eaten like sweets, they are delicious. Root – cooked. A nutty flavour. Some reports say that it is poisonous. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. The seed is very small, however, and commercial usage would not be very viable.

Medicinal Uses:

Antispasmodic;  Carminative;  Cathartic;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  ExpectorantPoultice;  Tonic;  Vasodilator.

Pleurisy root is a bitter, nutty-flavoured tonic herb that increases perspiration, relieves spasms and acts as an expectorant. It was much used by the North American Indians and acquired a reputation as a heal-all amongst the earlier white settlers. Its main use in present day herbalism is for relieving the pain and inflammation of pleurisy. The root is antispasmodic, carminative, mildly cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, tonic and vasodilator. The root was very popular as a medicinal herb for the treatment of a range of lung diseases, it was considered especially useful as an expectorant. It has never been scientifically examined and warrants further investigation. It has also been used internally with great advantage in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, rheumatism etc. Use with caution, This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women. See also the notes above on toxicity. The root is harvested in the autumn and can be used fresh or dried. A poultice of the dried, powdered roots is used in the treatment of swellings, bruises, wounds, ulcers, lameness etc.

Although it has fallen into disuse, butterfly weed was a well-recognized remedy for all sorts of lung ailments, including bronchitis, consumption, typhoid fever, and pleurisy.  It is a lung tonic that relieves congestion, inflammation, and difficult breathing by increasing fluidity of mucus in the lungs and bronchial tubes.  It promotes the coughing up of phlegm, reduces inflammation and helps reduce fevers by stimulating perspiration.  A warm tea of butterfly weed relieves digestive disturbances, diarrhea and dysentery.  The settlers learned of its use from the Native Americans, who chewed the raw root to alleviate lung problems.  They also put the powdered roots on wounds to stop bleeding and pounded fresh roots into a poultice to place on bruises, rheumatism, inflammation, and lameness in the legs.  It has also been used to treat certain uterine problems and estrogenlike components have been reported.

Other Uses:
It is commonly known as Butterfly Weed because of the butterflies that are attracted to the plant by its color and its copious production of nectar. It is also the larval food plant of the Queen and Monarch butterflies. Hummingbirds, bees and other insects are also attracted

Fibre;  Latex;  Oil;  Pollution;  Stuffing.

A good quality fibre is obtained from the bark and is used in making twine, cloth etc. It is easily harvested in late autumn after the plant has died down by simply pulling the fibres off the dried stems. The seed floss is used to stuff pillows etc or is mixed with other fibres to make cloth. It is a kapok substitute, used in life jackets or as a stuffing material. Very water repellent. The floss has also been used to mop up oil spills at sea. The plant is a potential source of latex, used for making rubber. This species is the only member of the genus that does not have latex in its sap. The seedpods contain an oil and a wax which are of potential importance. Candle wicks are made from the seed floss. The seed contains up to 21% of a semi-drying oil.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asclepias_tuberosa
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Asclepias+tuberosa
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_OPQ.htm

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Mitella diphylla

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Botanical Name : Mitella diphylla
Family: Saxifragaceae
Genus: Mitella
Species: M. diphylla
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Saxifragales

Common Names :Coolwort,Two-leaf Miterwort,  Mitrewort

Habitat : Mitella diphylla is native to Eastern N. AmericaQuebec to Minnesota, North Carolina and Missouri.It grows in rich woodlands, meadows and swamps.

Description:
Mitella diphylla is an evergreen Perennial  and a spring blooming plant with lacy, white flowers produced on stems growing from 20 to 50 centimeters tall.
It is hardy to zone 3. It is in leaf all year, in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)The seeds are produced in small green cups and when ripe are black and released by mid summer.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. 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 moist woodlands and in pockets in rock gardens. Requires a moist humus-rich soil. Self-sows when grown in a rich soil and usually spreads quickly by this means.

Propagation:
Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing it as soon as it is ripe or in early spring in a greenhouse. 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.

Medicinal Uses:
Febrifuge; Ophthalmic.

An infusion of the leaves is used to treat fevers. The infusion can also be used as eye drops for sore eyes.

Other Uses:
A good ground cover in moist woodland. Plants form a carpet and should be spaced about 45cm apart each way.This species is grown as an ornamental plant in shade gardens.

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://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Mitella+diphylla
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitella_diphylla
Mitella diphylla

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Black Willow

Botanical Name ; Salix nigra

Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Salix
Species: S. nigra
Order: Malpighiales
Kingdom: Plantae

Common Name : Black Willow,
Another name occasionally used for Black Willow is “swamp willow”, not to be confused with Salix myrtilloides (Swamp Willow).

Habitat :Salix nigra is  native to eastern North America, from New Brunswick and southern Ontario west to Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and Texas.It is typically found along streams and in swamps.

Description;
It is a medium-sized deciduous tree, the largest North American species of willow, growing to 10-30 m tall, exceptionally up to 45 m, with a trunk 50–80 cm diameter. The bark is dark brown to blackish, becoming fissured in older trees frequently forking near the base. The shoots are slender, variable in color from green to brown, yellow or purplish; they are (like the related European Salix fragilis) brittle at the base, snapping evenly at the branch junction if bent sharply. The foliage buds are small, 2–4 mm long, with a single pointed reddish-brown bud scale. The leaves are alternate, long, thin, 5-15 cm long and 0.5-2 cm broad, usually somewhat falcate, dark, shiny green on both sides or with a lighter green underside, with a finely serrated margin, a short petiole and a pair of small stipules. It is dioecious, with small, greenish yellow to yellow flowers borne on catkins 2.5-7.5 cm long in early spring at the same time as the new leaves appear. The fruit is a 5 mm capsule which splits open when mature to release the numerous minute, down-covered seeds. The leaves turn a lemon yellow in the fall.

click to see the pictures…>…..(1)…...(2)…...(3).
Salix gooddingii (Goodding’s Willow) is sometimes included in S. nigra as a variety, as S. nigra var. vallicola Dudley; when included, this extends the species’ range to western North America. However, the two are usually treated as distinct species.

Medicinal Uses;
Black Willow roots are very bitter, and have been used as a substitute for quinine in the past.

Black willow is a safe natural source of aspirin-like chemicals which helps to explain its reputation in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis where there is much associated pain and inflammation.  It may be used as part of a wider treatment for any connective tissue inflammation anywhere in the body, but it is especially useful in rheumatoid arthritis.  It may also be used in fevers such as influenza.  The bark has been used in the treatment of gonorrhea, ovarian pains and nocturnal emissions. The bark of this species is used interchangeably with S. alba. It is taken internally in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, inflammatory stages of auto-immune diseases, diarrhea, dysentery, feverish illnesses, neuralgia and headache. The bark can be used as a poultice on cuts, wounds, sprains, bruises, swellings etc. The leaves are used internally in the treatment of minor feverish illnesses and colic.
Other Uses: The Great Lakes Ojibwa used the young branches and twigs to make baskets and other parts were used to treat indigestion. The bark of the tree can also be used to make a bitter tea with similar chemical compounds to aspirin.

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

http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=13167

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