Three Herbs for Anxiety


California Poppy is the first plant that comes to mind. Although it contains none of the opiates that this family is famous for, it has a very similar calming effect on the nervous system. It works particularly well for PMS related stress as it has pain relieving and muscle relaxing benefits as well. The whole above ground plant, leaves, flowers and all can be made into a relaxing tea.


St John’s Wort needs no introduction. It is a wonderful plant to treat stress, anxiety and depression. It is used primarily for nervous function for which is has a calming, restorative influence, whether the symptoms are physical or emotional. It will ease the pain of any nerve-related problem as well. The leaves and flowering tops can be made into tea. Please see the full article for contraindications to use.


Chamomile is an oldie but a goodie. It has held an esteemed place in the home herbal medicine arsenal for hundreds if not thousands of years. And for excellent reason, as it is a very reliable relaxant, calming the nervous system without undue sedation. I works well for children, and because of it’s calming effect on digestion, it settles an anxious stomach. Pick a few flowers for your tea and get ready to relax and let go.


Oats

Avena sativa

Common names: Oat straw, Wild Oats

Family name: Graminaceae

Part used: mature seed as oatmeal, green plant as nerve tonic, anxiolytic, chaff to improve blood lipid profile and reduced formation of atherosclerotic plaques

Constituents: proteins, C-glycosyl flavones, avenins, saponins (avenacosides A and B), flavinoid glycosides (quercetin), fixed oil, starch, plant sterols, fatty acids, vitamin B1, B2, D, and E, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, silica, chromium, indole alkaloids gramine, rigonelline, and avenine are believed to have an effect upon the nervous system (Caldecot)

Pharmacology: Has a selective action on the brain and nerve cells,

Therapeutic actions: thymoleptic, cardiac tonic, nutrient, nerve restorative, external emollient, anxiolytic

Therapeutic uses: Internally: debility, convalescence, improves stamina, anxiety, stress, depression, hyperactivity, nervous exhaustion, support in drug and alcohol withdrawal, adolescence, menopause, PMS type A, Externally: eczema, dry skin, psoriasis, poultice, Oatmeal is a mucilaginous bulking fiber suitable for constipation, bowel inflammation, haemorrhoids, reducing cholesterol.

Combinations: works well with other nerviness, Valerian and Skullcap for drug withdrawal, alcoholism, nerve and physical weakness with depression and anxiety, recovery from illness and surgery.

Toxicity/side effects: none

Contraindications: potentially exposed to gluten during harvesting and processing, celiac alert

Dosage: max 5ml of a 1:5 fresh plant extract three times per day, as a tea as needed, as a food.

Duration of treatment: as required

Studies: Animal studies showed antagonism of analgesic effect in co-administered morphine; physical dependence on morphine was reduced; nicotine response was antagonized.

A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical study showed a significant reduction in tobacco use. The extract added to apple juice reduced cigarette consumption by 66% compared to the placebo group. In a 1968 study, 6 of 10 opium addict quit the drug after 27 to 45 days of oat treatment, and 2 other reduced their intake. 3 to 9 months later their use status remained the same. (Bone-350)

In animal studies, Avena extract was found to antagonize the effects of morphine. The extract was also found to antagonize the effects of intravenous nicotine administration in rats. Fresh plant extracts have been shown to be clinically effective in reducing cigarette addiction. Oat leaf extract had a LH-releasing activity upon the adenohypophysis in a rat’s brain. (Caldecot)

California Poppy

Escholtzia californica

Common names: California Poppy

Family name: Papaveraceae

California Poppy is a common roadside herb here in Victoria, it brightens up the travel with it’s cheering vivid orange flowers. Although it belongs to the poppy family, it contains none of the opioid alkaloids that the family is famous for. Although it has a distinct relaxing effect on nerves and muscles, this effect is probably due to the different alkaloids interacting with our endogenous benzodiazepine receptors as described below. The class of chemicals in this plant are in no way addicting.

Parts Used: above ground herb harvested in flower. I like to include the orange taproot and immature seed pods as well; chopped up fresh and placed in 50 % alcohol for a powerful whole plant tincture.

Constituents: isoquinone alkaloids-(eschscholtzine, californidine, californine, chelirubine, chelirutine, cryptocavine, cryptopine, escholidine, escholine, protopine, sanguinarine, chelerythrine) flavones glycosides (quercetin, isohamnetin)

Pharmacology: There is inhibition of enzymatic degradation of catecholamines and the synthesis of epinephrine in vitro, alkaloids enhanced gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) binding possibly indicating a benzodiazepine-like activity, binding to benzodiazepine receptors displacing the benzodiazepine flurazepam. The sedative and anxiolytic effects are likely linked to benzodiazepine receptor activation.

Therapeutic actions: hypnotic, sedative, nerve relaxant, anodyne, anxiolytic

Therapeutic uses: insomnia, migraine, stress, nervous bowel (IBS), anxiety, depression neuralgia, menstrual cramps, colic, and gastric pains, suitable for children, painful conditions where codeine or morphine might be used. This herb is highly valued in reducing the effects of opiate withdrawal.

Combinations: With Passiflora incarnate for hyperactivity and sleeplessness.

Donna Odierna, herbalist and director of the H.E.A.L.T.H. needle exchange clinic in Oakland California, uses Escholtzia as a primary ingredient in her “Kick Juice”. She has found that her formula helps to wean and/or reduce her patient’s use of heroin and methadone. The other components include Vitex agnus castus, Avena sativa, Piper methysticum and Verbena officinalis.

Toxicity/side effects: If using high doses avoid driving or operating machinery.

Contraindications: avoid in pregnancy and fever,

Dosage: max 3ml of a 1:5 extract three times per day

Duration of treatment: as required

How it is given: tincture in warm water 1/2hr before meals

Studies: Canadian study showed some attenuation of the development of morphine addiction. sm230

Sedative and anxiolytic properties were demonstrated in mice dependent upon dosage; sedation was produced on higher doses.

It was demonstrated that an aqueous extract inhibits the enzymatic degradation of catecholamines, including dopamine beta-hydroxyase and monoamine oxidase, as well as the synthesis of adrenaline.

Researchers determined an affinity for the benzodiazepine receptor.

(Caldecott)

Feverfew

Tanacetum parthenium

Feverfew is a composite plant, a hardy biennial to perennial with alternate leaves, covered with soft short hairs or may be almost smooth, 8-10cm long and 3-6cm across, bipinnatifid, with serrate margins, the leaf-stalk is flat on top and round beneath. The leaves differ from those of the otherwise similar Chamomile, whose leaves have a feathery appearance. An upright plant, it can grow to a height of 25-50cm and has many, small, daisy-like yellow flowers arranged in tiny flat clusters and surrounded by a circle of white rays, the whole being no more than 2cm across. The stem is hairy and finely furrowed. The seeds are brown, tiny, and numerous. All parts of the plant have a strong bitter smell and taste.

A plant of European origin, it has naturalized in many areas of North America and is a common volunteer in flower beds. Once planted, Feverfew requires very little care. The best time to plant is around the end of April. Almost any soil will suffice but best is a well-drained loamy mix, treated with rotted manure. It grows easily from seed, cuttings, and root division. Seeds are best sown indoors February and March, then planted out in June. Divisions may be made any time the roots are active, and cuttings may be made from young shoots from the base of a plant at any time. Cuttings must be shaded and well-watered while rooting. This plant is susceptible to snails, slugs, and black fly. Pepper spray will deter the flies and ashes or lime sprinkled around the plants will stop snails and slugs. Mrs. Grieve makes the delightful suggestion to place half buried flower pots on their sides to attract toads to your garden as pest control. The leaves may be harvested through spring and summer but quality is best just before the flowers open.

Feverfew is most widely known as a prophylactic for migraine headaches. It is effective and will reduce episodes and severity, but must be taken on a routine basis to enjoy these benefits and it may take several months of daily use to get the full effect.

What is not as well known is that it takes some properties from other members of the Asteraceae family, like Chamomile and Tansy. It reduces inflammation and spasmodic pain, improves blood consistency and helps circulation, stimulates appetite and digestion and settles an upset stomach, will reduce cold and allergic symptoms, is relaxing and calming, and will even help eliminate gastrointestinal parasites. As such, it may be used for menstrual pain, amenorrhea, headaches, nervousness, bronchitis or any catarrhal condition of the airways, arthritic, colitis or whenever digestive calming and strengthening is needed, minor fever, muscle tension, allergies, asthma, Meniere’s disease, vertigo, external use is an insect deterrent and treats such bites.

Cautions and Considerations

  • Not for use by pregnant women as it is oxytocic, however, as an antispasmodic it has been used for threatened miscarriage (only under the care of a qualified person).

  • Not recommended for children younger than two.

  • Those with ragweed allergy should avoid using this plant as it may cause a skin rash.

  • Chewed fresh, the leaves may cause canker sores in the mouth.

  • For migraines, use must be discontinued gradually to avoid possible ‘rebound

headaches’.

  • As a thrombolytic (anti-coagulant), use must be monitored carefully where this is a concern. Avoid use with prescription anti-clotting agents.

How to Use Feverfew Leaves

  • Fresh leaves may be eaten in amounts of 1 or 2 large or 3 or 4 small per day. Eat in a salad or sandwich to mask the taste and avoid mouth sores.

  • As powder, one or two 250mg capsules or tablets per day is recommended. Dried is the least effective form to use Feverfew.

  • Tincture is best prepared within two hours of harvest. Use one part fresh leaves to five parts 45% alcohol. Dose is 1ml three times per day to a maximum of 20ml per week.

  • An infusion of 3 tsp fresh herb and 1 cup boiling water, made with sugar or honey can be taken for cough.

  • Externally, a wash, lotion or cream may be used.

  • May be formed into a suppository for haemorrhoids.

Constituents

Volatile oil; Sesquiterpene lactones

Good Combinations

May be used in combination with other antispasmodics or muscle relaxants for pain: Crampbark or Jamaican Dogwood for muscular pain,

Hyssop or Thyme for respiratory distress, Chamomile or Hops for nervous or spasmodic digestion.

Interesting Tidbits

* It is said to purify the air and prevent disease if planted around the home.

* It has been claimed that Feverfew can bring relief to those suffering from opium overdose.

* In Italy it was used as a seasoning for fried eggs.

Yarrow

Achillea millefolium

Yarrow is one of my favorite herbs. It fulfills all of my ideals: it’s easy to grow, it grows wild locally, a simple water extraction is effective, and it has many applications!

It looks very elegant in flower, and the leaves are so finely feathered they have a soft appearance. It makes a good companion plant as it keeps the Japanese beetle, ants, and flies away, and is said to increase the volatile oil content of nearby plants. It should be moved from year to year as it secretes a toxin into the soil that is harmful to all plants if allowed to accumulate. The above ground portion of the plant is harvested in flower and dried quickly to prevent browning.

A popular plant of our ancestors; it has more than seventeen common names. And for good reason, it is an outstanding wound dressing. It will not only stop the bleeding, it will disinfect, and diminish the pain. Taken by the same patient as a tea, it will reduce the shock, relax, promote healing to the site, and help recover the blood electrolyte levels lost in bleeding.

If that’s not a good enough reason to have it around, it is considered an herbalists’ standard in fever and cold treatment. A hot cup of tea will promote sweating to manage body temperature, calm an upset stomach, and make you feel all relaxed and looked after. It combines wonderfully with elder flowers (Sambucus nigra) and peppermint (Mentha piperita).

Yarrow is well studied and very dependable for a variety of other complaints as well. It has an effect on many systems and may be used for such conditions as: colds, amenorrhea, hypertension, diarrhea, dyspepsia, ulcers, varicose veins, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, thrombosis, bruises, hemorrhoids, rashes, dermatitis, nose bleeds (this is actually one of its common names), earache, and slow healing wounds.

Cautions and Considerations

Although it is considered a non-toxic plant, care must be taken in those with known rag-weed allergies (plants belonging to the Asteraceae family). Topical use may cause contact dermatitis. Large doses may cause headaches. Expectant mothers should avoid this plant in high doses to avoid possible uterine stimulation.

How to Use Yarrow

  • An infusion is made by adding one cup of boiling water to 1 tsp of dried or 1 tbls of fresh herb, cover and steep for 15 min, sip as needed up to three cups per day.

  • Powder may be taken in 300-400 mg capsules, two or three at a time, up to six per day, on an empty stomach.

  • Tincture is usually made in a 1:5 strength in 25% alcohol and administered at 3ml, three times per day with a weekly maximum of 50 ml

  • Fresh crushed plant can be applied as a compress directly to the skin for wounds.

  • A cloth soaked in the infusion can be applied to bruises, aches, hemorrhoids, etc.

  • As a component in a cream or ointment it may be used on rashes and skin conditions.

  • Infused oil is useful when rubbed externally on inflammations or for joint pain.

  • In infusion in a sitz bath will alleviate muscular aches and pains including menstrual cramps.

Constituents:

Yarrow contains a wide variety of active component which give its multifaceted uses. Volatile oil – pinenes, bornyl acetate, borneol, camphor, caryophyllene, eugenol,

farnesene, myrcene, sabinene, salicylic acid, terpineol, thujone; Sesquiterpene lactones – achillin, achillicin, hydroxyachillin, balchanolide, leucodin,

millifin, millifolide; Flavinoids – apigenin, luteolin, quercitin and their glycosides, artemetin, casticin, rutin; Alkaloids and bases – betonicine, stachydrine, achiceine, moschatine, trigonelline; Miscellaneous – acetylenes, aldehydes, cyclitols, plant acids; Minerals – calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, sulfur

Some Interesting Tidbits

At one time yarrow was used as a snuff. In Sweden and Africa, it has been used in the making of beer in place of hops.

Placed under a pillow before bed it is said to reveal the name of the future mate to the dreamer.

As one of the herbs dedicated to the Devil, it was used in divination spells.

It was held in some areas that if a leaf was tickled in the nostril and the following rhyme was recited, love would be confirmed or denied.

“Yarroway, Yarroway, bear a white blow, if my love love me, my nose will bleed now.”

Plantain

Plantago major

This is a very common weed. It is a dark green perennial with round to oblong basal leaves 4 to 8 cm across, with prominent ribs. The flowering spikes are up to 30 cm high and end in cylindrical blunt clusters of small green flowers.

Introduced from Europe, the stuff grows everywhere; it was called ‘White man’s foot’ by the aboriginal people of both North America and New Zealand because it seemed to appear at every settlement.

It may be found at roadsides, and most disturbed areas such as pastures, fields, lawns. It grows taller amongst grasses. Not cultivated these days, it can be easily wild-harvested if required, just be sure the area hasn’t been sprayed. At one time it was grown as fodder for sheep. It grows easily in the poorest soil. Leaves are gathered throughout summer during flowering time. They must be rapidly dried to avoid discolouration.

This wonderful plant is a versatile remedy used chiefly for its positive influence upon all epithelial tissue. This means any tissue that is at some point exposed to the outside of the body, including skin, the entire digestive tract, the respiratory system, urinary, and parts of the reproductive system. It lends a healing, soothing, drawing effect internally and externally. It has also been shown to have complex effects on the cardiovascular system.

Some of its actions include: antihistamine, anti-bacterial, lymphatic blood tonic, antihaemorrhagic, diuretic, expectorant, demulcent, astringent, antacid, emollient, and vulnerary. It stimulates the secretion of uric acid by the kidneys, which is very helpful in cases of gout.

Internally, it may be used in chronic blood disorders, neuralgic troubles, intermittent fever, kidney and bladder disorders, bedwetting, irritable bowel, dysentery, bleeding haemorrhoids, diverticulosis/itis, any gastrointestinal ulceration, as an expectorant in coughs, mild bronchitis, and respiratory allergies, heavy menses, or hyperacidity.

Externally, Plantain is highly effective used on stubborn healing wounds, ulcers, skin eruptions, malignancies, erysipelas, burns, insect bites, snake bites, haemorrhoids,

The seeds may be substituted for flax as a bulking agent; indeed, it is of the same family as the commonly used psyllium. The leaves are a delicious pot herb and salad green.

Cautions and Considerations

None known

How to Use Plantain

  • 1 tsp of dried leaf plant is steeped in 1c or boiling water for 15min and drunk at a rate of ½ – 1c three times daily.

  • The juice may be taken in doses of 1-2 tsp three times daily or mixed with honey and taken for cough and sore throat as needed.

  • A tincture is made in a ratio of 1:5 in 25% alcohol and taken in doses of 5 ml three times per day to a maximum of 100 ml per week.

  • The powder in capsules or tablets is taken in 200 mg doses three times per day.

  • Externally, it may be applied directly as juice, juice mixed in honey, or as a poultice, infused oil, or in a salve or cream. An infusion can be used as a gargle, enema, or douche.

Constituents

Iridoids; Flavinoids; Miscellaneous-tannin, oleanolic acid, plant acids; Minerals-potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, silica

Good Combinations

Plantain works well with many plants including with Coltsfoot for cough, with Calendula and Greater Celandine as a healing ointment, and coupled with Goldenseal for wounds.

Interesting Tidbits

* One of the nine sacred herbs given to mankind by Woden, in the Anglo-Saxon “Waybread”

* Pliny suggests that its healing powers are so great that if a few leaves are placed in a pot with pieces of flesh, they will knit themselves together again.

Cleavers

Galium Aparine

This is a weak-stemmed annual with a fine taproot. Every gardener knows it as the plant that attaches itself to anything. The stems are square with tiny hooked bristles on the angles giving a sticky feel, growing 20-100cm in sprawling length. It climbs and scrambles over any nearby vegetation. The leaves occur in whorls of 6-8, are linear to oblong shaped and also are bristled along the margins. The petals of the tiny white to greenish flowers are fused at the base in a short tube which divides into 4 lobes and are clustered at the axils of the leaf whorls. The fruits are small two-lobed burrs, covered with hooked bristles. Seeds are dispersed by virtue of these bristles attaching themselves to passerby’s. This plant has a bitterish and slightly astringent taste.

A weedy native species found on beaches, moist fields, clearings, ditches, open forest, common at low to middle elevations The plant is gathered in May and June when in flower.

Constituents

Iridoids; Polyphenolic acids; Anthraquinone derivatives; n-Alkanes; Flavonoids; Miscellaneous- tannins, coumarins, chlorophyll, starch

Actions

diuretic, aperient, lymphatic tonic, mild astringent, alterative, detoxifier, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-neoplastic, antipruritic, depurative

Uses

Primarily used as a lymphatic cleanser and tonic. Used fresh, this plant will benefit many conditions related to this system or where there is infection anywhere in the body. Cleavers can be of benefit in: enlarged lymph glands, cystic and nodular changes in glands, dry skin disorders, suppressed painful urination, cystitis, irritable bladder, kidney stones, skin problems (acne, eruptions, cysts, psoriasis), tonsillitis, benign breast lumps, cysts, glandular fevers, all urinary and reproductive organ inflammation, hepatitis, venereal diseases, chronic sinusitis, middle ear infection, and rhinitis.

Externally Cleavers is used to treat burns, sunburns, ulcerations, growths, sores, bites, blisters, to lighten freckles, and for any conditions where there is dryness or itching.

Cautions and Considerations

None

How to Use Cleavers

  • 1tsp of fresh herb is steeped in 1c of boiling water for 15 minutes and drunk at a rate of ½ -1c three times per day.

  • Juice is taken in 1-3tsp doses three times per day. Terminal cases may take as much as can be tolerated.

  • Tincture is prepared fresh in a 1:2 concentration in 50% alcohol and taken in doses of 5ml three times per day to a maximum of 100ml per day

  • Cleavers may be applied externally as a poultice, wash, cream, lotion, or oil as

appropriate. External application is best used cold.

Good Combinations

Combine with Uva-Ursi and Buchu for kidney and bladder complaints, with Marshmallow and Iceland Moss for cystitis, With Echinacea, and Calendula for lymphatic congestion, and with Yellow dock, Burdock, Dandelion, and Red Clover for skin disorders.

Interesting Tidbits

* The seeds are a good coffee substitute when roasted.

* Reported in folk use as a sieve.

* The roots make a red dye.

* The green plant may be eaten as a salad vegetable. I have not done this but would suggest chopping it very finely.

Uva Ursi

ARCTOSTAPHYLOS UVA URSI

This plant is also commonly known as Bearberry, but another name is Kinnikninnik, said to be an Algonquin word for ‘smoking mixture’.

It belongs to the Ericaceae family, along with our beloved Arbutus trees. It is a trailing evergreen whose ascending tips rarely reach 20cm in height. It forms a matt with rooting branches and makes a handsome landscaping ground cover; be careful it hasn’t been sprayed where you plan to harvest it. It has alternate, oval leaves 3cm long, with dark green and shiny topsides and paler beneath. The flowers are pale pink and white, 5mm long, shaped like inverted urns, and droop in terminal racemes. The berries look like tiny apples, are bright red and mealy, and remain on the plant through winter. Berries contain large, hard seeds. The bark is dark brownish-red and prone to peeling in shreds.

If you think you’d like to grow it, it grows in sandy, well-drained, open areas. Preferring an acid soil, it can be grown from seed, cuttings, or by thinning existing patches. Leaves are best harvested in the spring and summer but may be used all year. Use it for companion planting to deter snails.

Uva Ursi’s best claim to fame is its effectiveness in battling urinary tract infections. It is highly antibiotic against such organisms as Staphylococcus and Escheri coli. It has a strong diuretic action, which is necessary to flush the urinary tract in support of disinfection. As well is it soothing, toning, and strengthening to the membranes of the urinary system, maybe be used to help move small stones, and will stop bleeding and promote healing of abrasions or ulcerations of these tissues.

It can be used to treat such conditions as urethritis, pyleitis and other urogenital inflammation, nephritis, urolithiasis, ulceration in kidney and bladder, acute and chronic conditions. It is a powerful astringent in some forms of incontinence, specific for lack of innervation, tone and feeble circulation in the urinary tract, painful conditions of the lower urinary tract, oedema in face or legs. It‘s astringency also lends itself to the treatment of excessive menstrual flow, diarrhea, and it may be used as a douche in vaginal ulceration and infection.

Constituents

Hydroquinones – glycosides, mainly arbutin (5.0-18.0%), hydroquinine, methylarbutin; Iridoids – monotropein; Flavonoids – quercitrin, isoquercitrin, myricacitrin;

Miscellaneous – tannins (6%), volatile oil, ursolic, malic, and gallic acids.

.

Cautions and Considerations

  • Large doses harmlessly turn urine green.

  • Not for expectant or nursing mothers or children under 12 years.

  • Not to be used unsupervised for more than two weeks.

  • There exists a poorly supported warning against use in kidney disorders.

  • Should not be given with treatments which cause acid urine.

  • Has high tannin levels which can block the absorption of various nutrients so short term or intermittent use is recommended..

  • May cause cramping, nausea, vomiting, constipation.

  • Do not combine with cranberry juice.

How to Use Uva-Ursi

  • Tincture is usually made in a 1:5 ratio and may be taken at a rate of 2 ml three times per day, up to 30 ml per week.

  • For tea, infuse one heaped tsp in 1cup of boiling water, for 15min. Drink 1/2cup three times per day. It is my opinion that infusion is best to replace fluid lost in diuretic action, except in cases of oedema.

  • Powder may be taken in 250 mg capsules, twice per day.

Good Combinations

For lower urinary tract infections, combine with dandelion leaves (Taraxacum officinalis), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), marshmallow (Althea officinalis), and couchgrass (Agropyron repens). For incontinence and toning, combine with horsetail (Equisetum arvense).

Folklore and other Uses

Uva-Ursi has been used as a hide-tanning agent in Sweden and Russia and as an ash-coloured dye in Scandinavia.

Borage

Borago officinalis

This wonderful plant is definitely one of the unsung, underused heroes of the medicinal herb world. Known as ‘The plant that cheers.’ it restores adrenal function after steroid use or prolonged stress, mental exhaustion, and depression. It is used to treat toxicity, allergy or infection affecting the digestive tract, and in convalescence. Borage may used to prevent inflammation of the stomach and intestines in such conditions as: colitis, gastritis, gastric ulcer, Crohn’s disease, chronic catarrh, fevers, and pulmonary disease. It is excellent used externally for soothing rashes and inflammation, and as a re-moisturizer.

The seeds provide good quality oil, high in linoleic acid and gamma linolenic acid, valuable omega 6 essential fatty acids that may be used to treat menstrual irregularities, eczema, irritable bowel, rheumatoid arthritis, and to reduce cholesterol deposits.

Botanical Description:

Borage is a hardy annual which can grow to a height of up to 50cm but prefers to spread out over an area of four square feet. All parts of the plant are covered with rough, prickly hairs (wear gloves!). The alternate leaves are oval, dark green, deeply veined, and have a cucumber-like fragrance. The flowers may be blue or pink, sometimes on the same plant. They are small but strikingly star-shaped, were often candied for cake decoration, and will liven up the visual appeal of cold drinks and salads!

Cultivation:

This plant readily grows in ordinary soil, may be propagated from root divisions or stem cuttings, but springs easily from seed, and indeed will self-sow in proliference. Sow March through May. The flowers appear throughout the season and may be gathered as desired. Gather the leaves when the plant is coming into flower, on dry days. Borage is a good companion plant for strawberries as an insect and disease deterrent.

Constituents:

Small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, choline, saponins, mucilage, tannins, essential oil, potassium, calcium, mineral salts

Safety Considerations:

  • There have been traces of erucic acid, which is known to damage heart tissue in high amounts, sometimes found in the seed oil (it is also found in canola oil).

  • As a member of the same family as Comfrey, it does contain trace amounts of pyrolizidine alkaloids though I imagine that they dissipate upon drying as they do with Comfrey. It would be prudent to exercise caution in cases of liver disease.

  • This plant has a long history of folk use as a pot and salad herb as well as for medicinal use but it has been banned in some countries, and some sources recommend short term use of only one week at a time. Most herbalists strongly feel that these measures are unwarranted.

  • Avoid in pregnancy.

How to Use Borage Leaves

  • The juice may be taken internally at 1tsp three times per day, as an external emollient, or in syrup for cough to clear phlegm.

  • As an infusion, steep 1 tsp dried herb in 1 cup coiling water for 15 min and take ½ cup three times per day.

  • A tincture is made in a 1:5 ratio, and may be taken in doses of 3 ml three times per day to a maximum dose of 60 ml per week.

  • Powder may be taken in capsules, 250 mg three times per day.

  • The seed oil is available in 500 or 1000 mg capsules and may be taken at a rate of 1000 mg three times per day.

In Combination:

A simple, this herb works well on its own but may be combined with beneficial herbs to the system being treated, for instance, with Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) for cough, with Calendula for healing internal and external membranes, or with a nervine like Valerian for stress.

Red Clover

TRIFOLIUM PRATENSE

This easily recognized plant is a sprawling perennial, its stem grows 1-2 feet high from a single root, and is slightly hairy. The small trifoliate leaves are ternate, ovate, entire, fairly smooth, pointed, and may be lighter in colour towards the center. The ovoid flower head is 1-4cm round, red to purple and is composed of many papilionaceous keeled flowers. Faintly sweet smelling, taste is slightly bitter.

A common plant throughout North America and Europe, it is found in fields, road sides, in light sandy soil. Wild-harvested, gather blossoms in midsummer in full bloom. As always, be sure it has not been sprayed.

Constituents

Isoflavones; Other Flavinoids; Volatile oil; Phenols; Glucosides; Glycosides; Clovamides; Coumarins; Miscellaneous-galactomannan, resins, mineral, vitamins, phytoalexins

Actions:

deobstruent, antispasmodic, alterative, sedative, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, anti-neoplastic.

Uses

Red Clover is commonly used internally to effectively treat chronic skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and old, difficult sores, to reduce glandular swellings, mouth ulcers, sore throat, and is especially helpful for whooping cough and bronchitis in children, and although isoflavones levels are low, it has recently gained popularity in the treatment of menopause.

Cautions and Considerations

None

How to Use Clover Blossoms

* 1tsp dried herb is steeped in 1c boiling water for 15 minutes drunk three times per day or freely as required.

* tincture may be prepared in a 1:5 ratio and 2-4ml taken three times per day.

* powder may be taken in capsules or tablets at a rate of 750mg, three times per day.

Combinations:

Combine with Rumex crispus (Yellow Dock), Taraxacum off. (Dandelion), or Arctium Lappa (Burdock) for stubborn skin conditions, with Larrea mexicana (Chaparral), and Panax Ginseng for wasting diseases, blood disorders, and anaemia.

Folklore and Other Uses:

* The dried, ground blossoms have been smoked as an anti-asthmatic.

* The flower heads are burned in North American aboriginal tradition to clear the mind and focus the spirit.

The entire plant maybe washed and cut up as a stir fry.