“Catnip” is the common name for a perennial herb of the mint family. Catnip is native to Europe and is imported into the United States. In North America it is a common widespread weed. Catnip is most popular with cats and the reaction that it causes in them when they receive some dried nip from their owner. They roll around in it in all of their glory. The fact is that humans do not smell what cats smell when it comes to catnip so humans do not react the same way that cats do. It is known that the chemical nepetalactone in catnip is the thing that triggers the response. Apparently, it somehow kicks off a stereotypical pattern in cats that are sensitive to the chemical.
In humans catnip has been used for several ailments including the treatment of colic, headache, toothache, colds, and spasms. It is also known to induce sleep in most people but it others it can have a counter effect. Catnip also has antibacterial properties to it too. In the 15th century the English cooks would season meats with catnip and also add a pinch to salads. Many people also prefer catnip tea to Chinese tea. Some of the agents in catnip also act as a very effective cockroach repellent. It has actually been proven to be more effective by 100% than DEET. Continue reading
Burdock is a plant that is related to the daisy family. It is also closely related to Echinacea, Dandelion, and Feverfew. Burdock is an herb but it is one that has been much neglected when it comes to getting attention. Back in ancient times the Greeks used the roots, the seeds, and the greens and used them for healing purposes. Throughout the Middle Ages Burdock was used for both food and medicine.
Today, Burdock is still used for such things as easing liver problems and digestive disorders. It was also found to be very effective for cleansing the skin for problems such as acne and also to assist in digestive problems. To this day throughout Europe the stalk and the greens are still eaten because they hold such valuable nutrition and vitamin values. Continue reading
Belladonna is not an herb that you are going to want to stock your pantry with. While it has its benefits, this is an herb that can be very dangerous and sometimes even fatal. It has some medicinal properties to it and has an interesting history but it can be very dangerous. The nickname “deadly nightshade” is a good clue of its potency. There is however a tincture that comes from this plant that is used for medicinal purposes. Belladonna is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia Minor but is now grown quite often in the United States, Europe, and India. When the plant is in full bloom the plant is harvested and then dried for use.
The most important contribution from Belladonna is atropine which is an important agent that is useful in dilating the pupils of the eye. This has proven to be very beneficial. Even small doses of atropine can cause the heart rate to increase. Some cough syrups are known to contain atropine and are used for bronchitis and whooping cough. Further it is used to soothe the stomach lining prior to an anesthetic being administered and also for peptic ulcers. Continue reading
Tarragon is a relative to the Sunflower family and there are two different breeds of Tarragon, Russian and French. However, when you go shopping and pick up some Tarragon for your pantry or a favorite recipe it is almost guaranteed that you have just selected the dried leaves of the Tarragon plant because that is what is most often used and sold for commercial purposes.
Tarragon has a somewhat bittersweet flavor to it, almost resembling anise with that hint of licorice flavor to it. Tarragon does not have a long history behind it like most of the other herbs as it was not brought into the Unites States until the 19th century. It does have some mention about being used in England much before that time though. Traditionally, Tarragon is used to flavor such things as vinegar, relishes, pickles, mustard, and other various sauces. Continue reading
Originally, Basil was not the most popular herb in the bunch. Actually there were some who simply hated it, mainly the ancient people. The name basil means “be fragrant” but still various cultures battled with a love hate relationship over basil. Americans and Romans loved it while Hindus plant it in their homes as a sign of happiness. On the contrary it was the Greeks who despised it most but those from India and Persia were not too fond of it either. One place that took a special liking to Basil was Italy and to this day not many people prepare a classic pasta sauce without the Basil.
To this day basil and tomato sauce have formed somewhat of a marriage almost globally. Basil is very easy to grow as long as the temperature does not fall below 50 degrees and is in full sunshine. It is popularly used both in the fresh form as well as the dried. A rare known fact about Basil is that the longer it simmers in a dish the more the flavor intensifies. This makes sense as to why people simmer their pasta sauces for so long, to bring out all of the rich herb flavors. Normally in pasta sauces Basil is used in combination with Oregano. However, Basil is not just used for pasta or tomato sauce, it is also used for flavoring fish, vegetables, meats, and soups. Continue reading
Balsam of Tolu is an herb that comes from a very tall tree that can be found in Columbia, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. This herbal plant has also been called Balsam of Peru because it was originally exported primarily from Peru but that is no longer the case. The resin of this tree is what is most valuable and is retrieved in the same fashion that one collects the valuable properties from a rubber tree by tapping into it. The gummy resin that comes from the tree is then turned into balsam. Today, the main exporters of Balsam of Tolu are El Salvador, Columbia, and Venezuela.
In earlier times it was tribal groups from Mexico and Central America that used the leaves of Balsam of Tolu to treat such common ailments as external wounds, asthma, colds, flu, and arthritis. Some native Indians used the bark in a powered form as an underarm deodorant while others found it best for lung and cold ailments. Those who originated in the rainforest tribes used Balsam of Tolu quite frequently for many medicinal purposes such as abscesses, asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, headache, rheumatism, sores, sprains, tuberculosis, venereal diseases, and wounds. Continue reading
Asafoetida has been also referred to as the “Food of the Gods.” The main part of this plant that is used is the resin which makes up a volatile oil. The history of this herb is amazing as it was used frequently back in time by Alexander the Great for flavoring. That was back in 4 B.C. still in early times, Asafoetida was used to treat gas and the bloating associated with it. Carrying through time the resin gum is used often for vegetarian dishes that are prepared in India. Today, it is one of the main flavorings in Worcestershire sauce.
Asafoetida is an herbal plant that has many diverse uses such as an aid for digestion, a remedy for headaches, an antidote, and an expectorant. Asafoetida has been known to be used on some mental impairment but not very often has it been shown to make any significant difference except for mild anxiety. Therefore it focuses primarily on bodily functions where it can do greater good. Continue reading
Alfalfa, which is a perennial herb, has a long list of dietary and medicinal uses and research has proven that Alfalfa might lower blood levels of cholesterol and glucose. Many take Alfalfa supplements orally and is has been proven safe except in a small percentage of people where it produces lupus like symptoms. In the seeds and sprouts of Alfalfa, amino acid L-canavanine is present and that is what is thought to cause this reaction. However, this is not present in the leaves of the Alfalfa. The whole leaf and the herb are what are rendered from the Alfalfa plant.
Since the sixth century the Chinese have used Alfalfa to relieve fluid retention and swelling. The Arabs were the first to find Alfalfa and they named it “the father of all foods.” The leaves of the Alfalfa plant are very rich in minerals and nutrients, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and carotene. The Arabs first fed it to their horses because they believed the Alfalfa made them swift and mighty. Alfalfa has been an animal crop for over a thousand years but is also used as an herbal medicine. Continue reading
Hoodia Gordonii is the newest in a long line of weight loss supplements to hit the market. This new competitor seems to have what it takes to compete for the title as weight loss king.
Hoodia Gordonii is a cactus found in Africa, it has been eaten by the bushmen for thousands of years as a way to silence hunger pangs. These bushmen often go on hunting trips that last several days, while on these trips it is common for them to supplement their diets with Hoodia Gordonii. Continue reading
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