Herbs & Plants

Epilobium parviflorum

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Botanical Name:Epilobium parviflorum
Family: Onagraceae
Genus: Epilobium
Species: E. parviflorumi
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Order: Myrtales

Common Names :Smallflower Hairy Willowherb or Willowherb

Habitat :Epilobium parviflorum grows  in most of Europe, including Britain, from Sweden to Northern Africa and Western Asia up to India, in USA and Canada.

Epilobium parviflorum  is a herbaceous perennial plant.

The biological form of the plant  is hemicryptophyte scapose, as its overwintering buds are situated just below the soil surface and the floral axis is more or less erect with a few leaves….

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Epilobium parviflorum reaches on average 30–80 centimetres (12–31 in) in height. The stem is erect and densely covered with hairs, especially in the lower part. The leaves are opposite, unstalked but not amplexicaul, lanceolate and toothed, rounded at the base, 4–10 centimetres (1.6–3.9 in) long. The tiny flowers are pale pink or pale purple, 6–7 millimetres (0.24–0.28 in) in diameter, with four petals, eight stamens and a 4-lobed stigma. Flowering occurs from June to August.  The hermaphroditic flowers are either self-fertilized (autogamy) or pollinated by insects (entomogamy). Fruit is a three-to seven-centimeter long capsule containing very small black seeeds (about 1 mm long), with white fibres that allow the dispersal by wind. This species is quite similar to Epilobium hirsutum, but the flowers are very smaller

Medicinal Uses:
Extracts of this plant have been used by traditional medicine in disorders of the prostate gland, bladder and kidney, having an antioxidant and antiinflammatory effect . Extracts of Epilobium have been shown to inhibit proliferation of human prostate cells in-vitro by affecting progression of the cell cycle.

Small-flowered willow herb has been used as remedies in folk medicine, particularly in Central Europe, for the treatment of prostate disorders and abnormal growths. This pleasant herb and flower tea was highly recommended by Austrian herbalist, Maria Treben, for ailing men with prostate abnormalities.  Enlarged prostate, prostatitis, kidney or bladder disorders, gastro-intestinal disorders, mouth mucus membrane lesions, rectal bleeding, menstrual disorders, cystitis, Preliminary (in vitro) studies at the Prostate Center of Vancouver found that very low concentrations of an extract from small-flowered willow herb tea, in the micrograms per ml level, was among the most active ever seen against abnormal cells and growths of the prostate. Several extracts from Epilobium parviflorum, were evaluated in biochemical assays with 5-alpha-reductase and aromatase, two enzymes involved in the etiology of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Aqueous extracts displayed inhibition of these enzymes and the active compounds identified were macrocyclic ellagitannins, oenothein A1, B1 and B2, which can make up to 14% of crude plant extracts. Out of a total of 92 plant phenolic extracts tested, small-flowered willow herb was also found to have high antioxidant activity.  Small-flowered willow herb tea is also recommended for treating urinary tract infections in women. Take as a tea for oral, vaginal, and intestinal candidias.  An ingredient of Swedish bitters.

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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Herbs & Plants

Buffalo gourd

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Botanical Name :Cucurbita foetidissima
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucurbita
Species: C. foetidissima
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales

Common Names : Buffalo gourd, Calabazilla, Chilicote, Coyote gourd, Fetid gourd, Missouri gourd, Stinking gourd, Wild gourd, Wild pumpkin

Habitat :Buffalo gourd is a xerophytic tuberous plant found in the southwestern USA and northwestern Mexico

Buffalo gourd is a large plant which is sprawling and prostrate. The leaves can reach large dimensions. The flowers are large and yellow orange with a fringed or rolled margin. The fruits are ovoid and marked with light and dark green when fresh. Cucurbita foetidissima is found at lower to middle elevations. The crushed leaves of this plant have a foul smell, said to resemble the odor of a sweaty armpit. Other members of this family include pumpkin, cucumber and various squashes. Most of these have seeds that look similar to pumpkin or cucumber seeds.
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Edible Uses:
A member of the cucumber family, the fruit is consumed by humans and animals. The fruit is eaten cooked like a squash when very young. As the fruit becomes fully mature, it is too bitter for humans to eat.

Medicinal Uses:
Several  plant parts of buffalo gourd have medicinal attributes that tribes implement into their culture. The Isleta-Pueblo Indian boiled the roots applying the infusion to chest pains. The Tewa grind the root into a powder drinking it with cold water for laxative effects (not safe: can cause diarrhea and irritation of the digestive tract). Cahuilla Indians used to chew the pulp of the gourd and apply the pithy mass to open sores, or boil the dried root and drink the decoction as either an emetic or a physic.  A poultice of the mashed plant has been used to treat skin sores, ulcers etc. The complete seed, together with the husk, is used as a vermifuge. This is ground into a fine flour, then made into an emulsion with water and eaten. It is then necessary to take a purgative afterwards in order to expel the tapeworms or other parasites from the body. As a remedy for internal parasites, the seeds are less potent than the root of Dryopteris felix-mas, but they are safer for pregnant women, debilitated patients and children. The juice of the root is also disinfecting and remedies toothache. The baked fruit rubbed over rheumatic areas will relieve pain. The seeds and flowers help control swelling. The seed also acts as an effective vermicide (kills worms– Grind seed into a fine flour; mix with water and drink). The poultice of the smashed plant will remedy skin sores and ulcers.  Mix root with olive oil; apply to infected area. The pulp of the gourd was mixed with soap and applied to sores and ulcers that other poultices and plasters had failed to cure.  The supperating parts were liberally dusted with a quantity of pulverized dried seeds.  The root was used to cure a bad case of piles or kill a mass of maggots infesting an open wound.

Other Uses:
When the fruit  gets fully matured   it is used for decorative purposes or in making musical instruments, particularly rattles. The seeds are the source of buffalo gourd oil.

It grows fast (including a massive underground tuber) with little water, and some have proposed growing it for fuel or biofuel ethanol

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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Herbs & Plants

Elephant Tree

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Botanical Name: Bursera microphylla
Family: Burseraceae
Genus: Bursera
Species: B. microphylla
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Name : Elephant Tree

Habitat: This tree is native to Northern Mexico, in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora and Zacatecas; and the Southwestern United States, in Southern California and Arizona); especially desert ecoregions.

Bursera microphylla is a shrub or small tree, to 16 feet, widespreading, with a very short, thick, trunk. and its bark is light gray to white, with younger branches having a reddish color. The light foliage is made up of long, straight, flat, legume-like leaves which are composed of paired leaflets. It flowers in rounded yellow buds which open into small, star-shaped white or cream flowers. The fruit is a drupe containing a yellow stone.

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Leaf: Alternate, pinnate, drought deciduous, 11-21 ovate to lanceolate, entire, 1/4 inch long leaflets per leaf, 1 to 1 1/2 inches overall, with a camphor-like odor.
Flower: Small, creamy white, borne on long stalks, usually clustered in 3’s, midsummer.
Fruit: Reddish brown, maturing late fall, 1/3 inch long, splitting into 3 pieces at maturity.
Twig: Resinous and stout, reddish brown.
Bark: Tight and smooth, very attractive, outer layer pale creamy white to gray-brown, peeling to reveal gray-green (photosynthetic), innermost bark reddish, spouting resin when cut.

This mysterious tree of the desert can readily attain a height of six meters in the southwestern USA, with its thick tortuous smooth trunks arrayed in a multifurcate branching habit; moreover, a mature specimen may reach six to seven meters in lateral spread with a characteristic open crown. In some parts of Mexico the height may reach as much as 15 meters with correspondingly greater spread. Young trees have a light reddish trunk, but mature trees have a characteristic white peeling bark. Glabrous leaves manifest an aroma of camphor, and are pinnately compound in a planar geometry with length of two to eight centimeters; the paired leaflets may number anywhere from seven to 33, with the odd terminal leaflet being lone

The drupe type leathery fruits are oval in shaped and tri-valved, with the stone being yellow. Stamens number from six to ten (Jepson) Flower buds are yellow, while the opened cream to white star shaped flower is five petalled with minute green five millimeter sepals and petals measuring four millimeters; blooming time is typically in June and July. Diagnostic features differentiating this plant from its genus member B. fagaroides include the notably longer (up to four cm) and more acute leaflets of the latter.

Medicinal Uses:
The Cahuilla Indian people of the Colorado Desert region of California, according to legend, used the red sap of the Elephant Tree as a panacea medicine.

The bark is flaky and papery like a birch tree and can carry a red hue with age. The leaves give off a camphor smell when crushed. Native Americans considered it a valuable tree with healing powers, probably due to the camphor oils it contains.

The Cahuilla Indians extracted the sap to be used as a generalized cure for a gamut of illnesses. (Bean) In present day the resin is dried and prepared as a substance similar to myrrh, mirroring the use of its Asian family member tree. In Sonora tannin has been historically extracted from the bark for export; (Kearney) in the same Mexican state the gum has been used to treat venereal disease. The copal form resin of intermediate polymerization has been harvested from several Mexican regions historically for manufacture of cement and varnish, and has also been used in medicinal treatment for scorpion stings; there is data to suggest B. fagaroides may have been more common for the latter uses, as well as incense burned in Aztec and Mayan temples in prehistorical times.

The resin was an Aztec remedy.  In the 16th century, Fray Bernardino de Sahagun wrote that a little ground copal, the size of a small fingernail, added to water and drunk only7 once a day on an empty stomach would cure diarrhea.  The resin, bark and leaves are steeped in tequila or grain alcohol to make a tincture that is applied to gum sores, cold sores, and abscessed teeth.  The dried stems and leaves are drunk in a tea to relieve painful urination, and as a stimulating expectorant for slowly healing bronchitis and chest colds.  A tea of the leaves or the leaves and bark is used as a tonic to fortify the immune system.

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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Herbs & Plants

Calamus (Acorus Calamus)

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Botanical Name :Acorus calamus /Acorus americanus
Family: Acoraceae
Genus:     Acorus
Species: A. calamus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Acorales

Common Names  : Calamus root , Sweet Sledge. Sweet Myrtle, Sweet Flag
Other Names:   Beewort, bitter pepper root, calamus root, flag root, gladdon, myrtle flag, myrtle grass, myrtle root, myrtle sedge, pine root, rat root, sea sedge, sweet cane, sweet cinnamon, sweet grass, sweet myrtle, sweet root, sweet rush, and sweet sedge. Common names in Asia include: “vacha”; “bacch” (Unani); “bajai,” “gora-bach,” “vasa bach” (Hindi); “vekhand” (Marathi); “vashambu” (Tamil); “vadaja,” “vasa” (Telugu); “baje” (Kannada); “vayambu” (Malayalam); Haimavati, “bhutanashini,” “jatila” (Sanskrit).

Parts Used: Roots and rhizome

Habitat: Wet soil and shallow water. Probably indigenous to India, Acorus calamus is now found across Europe, in southern Russia, northern Asia Minor, southern Siberia, China, Japan, Burma, Sri Lanka, and northern USA.

Description: Calamus or Common Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) is a plant from the Acoraceae family, Acorus genues. It is a tall perennial wetland monocot with scented leaves and rhizomes which have been used medicinally, for its odor, and as a psychotropic drug.It is a perennial plant that grows more or less abundantly throughout the northern hemisphere, inhabiting pond edges, marshes, swamps, and the banks of rivers and streams. It’s horizontal, creeping rootstock, which may grow to be 5 feet long, produces sword-shaped leaves from 2 to 6-feet high and also a keeled or ridged bloom : May – August
stalk which bears a cylindrical spadix covered by minute greenish-yellow flowers.

Botanical information: The morphological distinction between the Acorus species is made by the number of prominent leaf veins. Acorus calamus has a single prominent midvein and then on both sides slightly raised secondary veins (with a diameter less than half the midvein) and many, fine tertiary veins. This makes it clearly distinct from Acorus americanus.

The leaves are between 0.7 and 1.7 cm wide, with average of 1 cm. The sympodial leaf of Acorus calamus is somewhat shorter than the vegetative leaves. The margin is curly-edged or undulate. The spadix, at the time of expansion, can reach a length between 4.9 and 8.9 cm (longer than A. americanus). The flowers are longer too, between 3 and 4 mm. Acorus calamus is infertile and shows an abortive ovary with a shriveled appearance.
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Constituents: Aserone, Cis-methyl isoeugenol Calamene, Linalool, Eugenol, Azulene, Pinene, Cineole, Camphor, Sesquiterpenes, Acoric acid, Tannin, Resin, Mucilage.

Chemistry: Both triploid and tetraploid calamus contain asarone, but diploid does not contain any.

Usage: Calamus has been an item of trade in many cultures for thousands of years. Calamus has been used medicinally for a wide variety of ailments.

In antiquity in the Orient and Egypt, the rhizome was thought to be a powerful aphrodisiac. In Europe Acorus calamus was often added to wine, and the root is also one of the possible ingredients of absinthe. Among the northern Native Americans, it is used both medicinally and as a stimulant; in addition, the root is thought to have been used as an entheogen among the northern Native Americans. In high doses, it is hallucinogenic.

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Medicinal Properties:Sdedative, analgesic, tpilepsy, hypertensive. Carminative, Diaphoretic, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge,  and stomachic.
Main Uses:

Calamus rhizome is a bitter tonic that stimulates the digestive juices and is combined with gentian in the tonic Stockton bitters. It counters overacidity, heartburn, and intestinal gas. Herbalists report it useful to help reduce severe loss of appetite due to cancer or other illness or the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Traditional Islamic medicine employs calamus for stomach and liver inflammation and rheumatism, as well as a calamus-rose oil-vinegar mix to treat burns. Egyptians used sweet flag for scrofula, but it should be combined with supporting, more effective herbs for this chronic condition.

Chinese studies show that calamus extracts kill bacteria, lower blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels, stop coughing, and eliminate lung congestion. Traditional Chinese medicine uses it to open the orifices, vaporize phlegm and quiet the spirit; for phlegm veiling and clocking the sensory orifices with such symptoms as deafness, dizziness, forgetfulness, and dulled sensorium, as well as seizures or stupor. It harmonizes the middle burner and transforms turbid dampness: for such symptoms as chest and epigastric fullness and abdominal pain due to dampness distressing the Spleen and Stomach. Also used both internally and topically for wind-cold-damp painful obstruction, trauma and sores. Use with caution in cases of yin deficiency with heat signs or where there is irritability and excessive sweating or vomiting blood. According to some traditional sources, this herb antagonizes ma huang.

The Regional Research Institute in India found that calamus reduces epileptic fits and even eases some emotional problems. It is also used in India to treat asthma. The Native Americans for the Great Plains chewed it when they had a fever, cough, cold, or toothache. The American species is especially sedative to the central nervous system and stops muscle spasms. In India the burnt root mixed with some bland oil is used as a poultice for flatulence and colic as well as for paralyzed limbs and indolent ulcers and wounds. Its solvents are alcohol and partially in hot water.

Calamus is particularly known for its beneficial effects on the stomach. It stimulates appetite and helps to relieve acute and chronic dyspepsia, gastritis, and hyperacidity.
In Europe, calamus is used for the stomach and bowel because it stimulates the salivary glands and production of stomach juices, helping to counter acidity and ease heartburn and dyspepsia. It also eased flatulence and relaxed the bowel, reducing catarrhal states of the mucous membranes.

Calamus is good for gastritis resulting from heavy drinking. Take an infusion twice a day.

Preparation And Dosages:
Infusion: Steep 1 teaspoon rootstock in 1/2 cup water for 5 minutes. Twice a day.
Decoction: Add 1 tablespoon dried rootstock to 1 cup simmering water and boil briefly. Take 1 cup a day.
Tincture: Fresh (1:2), dry (1:5), in 60% alcohol. Take 15 to 45 drops, two to four times a day. To improve appetite and digestion, take 15 minutes before meals.
Oil: Take 2 to 3 drops, three times a day.

Regulations: Calamus and products derived from calamus (such as its oil) were banned in 1968 as food additives and medicines by the United States Food and Drug Administration(FDA).

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.