Orris Root

Iris pallida

Also, Known As

  • Dalmatian Iris
  • Orris Root
  • Sweet Iris

The term orris root is used to denote the roots of a number of species, including Iris germanica, Iris pallida and Iris florentina. They have a very sweet fragrance, which is more distinct in some bearded irises compared to others. The aroma of the flowers of a particular species known as Iris pallida, is considered to be the best. In fact, it is difficult for one to miss the characteristic fragrance of this flower, which blooms during spring. Just take a sniff of the aroma and you will surely admit that its smell is akin to that of grape soda.

The flowers of Iris pallida measure about four inches in diameter and appear in the later part of spring. Every branched stem of this plant bears anything between two and six attractive pale bluish-purple blooms.

Native to Croatia, this plant is not only popular for the typical fragrance of its flowers. Gardeners look for this plant as well as grow it for its wonderful multi-colored foliage, which is equally attractive as its flowers. The plant normally grows up to a height of two feet and bears clusters of broad and stiff leaves. Clusters of these green and creamy yellow plants may be used to enhance the look of any woodland garden. A white-and-green variety of this plant is also available.

Like in the case of other iris species, there are numerous different ways in which you can use the Iris pallida plants in your garden. You can plant them with different bulbs with a view to create a vibrant, multicolored spring show. In fact, these plants accentuate the beauty of any perennial bed. The foliage alone of these plants is so attractive that it enhances the eminence of the plants in your garden. The plants grow up to a moderate height and this makes it possible to grow them in pots and place them in appropriate locations to attract attention as well as augment the beauty of the place.

As it is not difficult to grow Iris pallida, it is possible to plant this species anywhere you wish to and enjoy their beauty perpetually. You only need to provide these plants with some nourishment during the flowering season and shade during the midday to ensure that they readily multiply their clumps. Among all varieties of bearded irises, this species is considered to be the hardiest plant. In fact, when grown in places having mild climatic conditions, the foliage of the plant will remain almost throughout the year. However, deer do not browse on this species, even if they do, the plants have the aptitude to resist the invasion. The plants also provide us aromatic cut flowers making them one of the most favored bearded iris varieties.

This iris species is also called Dalmatian iris for the reason that it is indigenous to Croatia’s Dalmatia province, where it has been cultivated for several centuries. In fact, Iris pallida is a forerunner of the present-day bearded irises. Occasionally, people cultivate this species as an orris source, which is obtained from the plant’s rhizomes and used in the manufacture of perfumes and also breath fresheners.

Pallida is a Latin term that denotes pale, while the word Dalmatica implies ‘from Dalmatia’. Often, this species is also called “The Sweet Iris”. However, it is also referred to as Iris odoratissima and Iris glauca. This species is indigenous to Dalmatia, the European Alps and Crimea.

Many botanists are of the view that although people cultivated Iris pallida since much before 1600, the species was named officially only in 1789. This plant is a favourite of several gardeners owing to its endurance power and aroma. The plant has broad bluish-green foliage that resembles a sword. Although the firm spikes of the plant are poorly branched, each of them bears as many as eight lavender-blue aromatic blooms. It is easy to distinguish Iris pallida, as its flowers are papery and its large and colourful bracts (spathes) often cover the buds having yellowish beards. This species keeps growing in beautiful clumps, which do not divide for several months together.

The blooms of Iris pallida have more of lilac blue and are widely used by gardeners hybridizing plants for the vital underpinning of the present-day hybrid species known as the Tall Bearded Iris. Provided the plants of this species are grown in a well-drained soil and sunlit position, they grow vigorously and are very hardy. This iris variety is most widely used for producing orris root. The aromatic dehydrated rhizomes of these plants are used for making perfumes. Iris pallida is cultivated in large fields in the region around Florence and the magnificent blue carpet formed by their flowers during May every year will leave you awe-struck.

Plant Part Used:

Root.

Uses For Iris Pallida Roots:

Iris pallida root has numerous uses and supplies Orris powder, which has a high demand in perfumery industry. The dried up roots of the plant are pulverized to obtain Orris, whose aroma is akin to that of violets. In addition to being used in the form of a fixative in perfumes as well as potpourri, Orris root is also used in the manufacture of breath fresheners, toothpastes and similar products. It is also widely used in the form of a food essence.

It may take several years for Iris pallida roots to dry properly so as to develop the right fragrance. The flavour of the fresh root of this plant is acrid and it is almost fragrance-free. The fresh roots yield an essential oil and it can be used for the same purposes for which the dried roots are used. The root also yields a black dye, while the flowers yield a blue dye. Besides growing the plants for its attractive, aromatic flowers and its roots, you may also cultivate Iris pallida for ground cover. The roots of this plant are so densely matted that they do not allow any weed to grow.

Occasionally, the juice extracted from Iris pallid roots is employed in the form of a cosmetic and it also helps to get rid of freckles on the skin. The juice obtained from the fresh roots is a potent cleanser and can be used effectively for treating dropsy (a condition that was earlier known as edema).

The dried roots can be pounded into a powder and used to flavor foods. In fact, the fresh root is almost neutral and does not have any fragrance. It generally takes many years for the dried roots to develop their characteristic fragrance. The dried roots of Iris pallida yield an essential oil called the “Orris oil”, which is used to add essence to sweets, soft drinks, chewing gums and other food products.

Growing Iris Pallida:

Iris pallida needs a well-drained limey soil and sunlit position to achieve optimum growth. When grown in sunlit position, it is very easy to cultivate this plant in any common garden soil. Its preferred pH level ranges between 6.0 and 7.5. However, it can grow well in soils having a higher pH. Plants that have established themselves well possess the aptitude to tolerate drought conditions.

Iris pallida is mainly cultivated for the essential oil contained in its roots, particularly in Italy. The flowers of this plant have a sweet aroma that will possibly remind you of orange blossoms. Some people also compare the aroma of Iris pallida flowers to that of vanilla, grape or civet. This is a very vigorously growing species. The rhizome of this plant should be placed slightly above the level of the soil. Plants belonging to this genus are seldom, if ever, disturbed by rabbits or browsing deer.

Propagation: Iris pallida is mainly propagated by its seeds, which should be ideally sown in a cold frame immediately after they ripen. When the seedlings have grown large enough to be handled, you should prick them out individually and plant them in separate containers or pots and continue growing them in a cold frame or a greenhouse at least for the first year of their existence. The grown up young plants can be planted outdoors into their permanent positions either during the end of spring or the early part of summer.

It is also possible to cultivate Iris pallida by means of root division. Although it is best to undertake root division of this plant soon after its flowering season, you can also do it throughout the year. Growing this plant from its root divisions is very easy and you can directly plant the larger root clumps outdoors in their permanent position. However, if the clumps are small you should plant them in pots and continue growing them in a cold frame till they root properly. Ideally, you should plant them outdoors during the spring.

The soft young shoots may be victims of snail and slug invasions. In addition, bacterial infections may result in extensive discoloration (blighting) of the leaves. Other problems may include crown disintegration or decay.

Constituents:

Chemical analysis of orris root has revealed that it primarily contains the oil of orris in measures of anything between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent. Oil of orris is a pale yellowish to yellow mass that encloses approximately 85 percent of neutral or fragrance-free myristic acid, which is apparently released from a type of fat found in the plant’s rhizome when it is processed or steam distilled. Commercially, the oil of orris is known as Orris butter.

In addition to the oil of orris, the plant also contains resin, fat, large amounts of starch, a bitter-tasting extract, mucilage and a glucoside called iridin. It is important that you don’t mistake iridin for the powdered extract called irisin or iridin. In fact, the extract iridin or irisin is made from the rhizome of another Iris species known as the Iris versicolor, which is basically an American plant.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions:

As several plants belonging to this genus are believed to be poisonous when taken orally, it is advised that you exercise caution while using these plants. In fact, the roots of these plants are more likely to be noxious. In some people, these plants may cause allergies and skin irritations.

Benefits Of Cinnamon And Honey

Since ancient times, people have been using a blend of cinnamon and honey to heal several ailments. While honey is readily available in most countries across the globe, contemporary scientists also acknowledge the benefits of honey as a ‘Ram Ban’ or extremely useful medication for almost all types of maladies. What is more significant is the fact that ingestion of honey does not lead to any unfavorable aftereffects in any type of ailment.

According to contemporary science, despite being sweet, taking honey as a medication and in measured dosages is also beneficial for people suffering from diabetes and does not cause any damage. The January 1995 edition of a Canadian magazine called the Weekly World News has published a directory of the maladies that can be healed by taking cinnamon and honey. The report of the magazine is based on the findings of the different studies undertaken by the scientists in the West. The disease-specific findings vis-à-vis the benefits of using honey and cinnamon are mentioned below.

Cardiac Ailments

If you are suffering from any heart disease, it is advisable that you quit taking jam and jelly with bread during breakfast and instead use a blend of cinnamon and honey paste on the bread every day. In fact, ingesting a blend of cinnamon and honey often will help to lower the cholesterol level in the arteries and protect patients from suffering a cardiac arrest. It must be mentioned here that even people who have already endured a heart attack will be able to avoid cardiac arrests by regularly ingesting honey and cinnamon. In addition, habitual use of cinnamon and honey helps to ease the loss of breath and also reinforces the pulsation of the heart. Several nursing homes in the United States and Canada that have effectively cured heart patients have found that as an individual grows in age his or her blood vessels are deprived of their suppleness and become choked. In such situations, cinnamon and honey help to invigorate their blood vessels.

Cholesterol

Among their other benefits, cinnamon and honey, when used in a blend, are effective in lowering the intensity of cholesterol in the blood. Doctors have found that administering three teaspoons of powdered cinnamon and two tablespoons of honey mixed in 16 ounces of tea water to patients with high cholesterol helped to decrease the intensity of cholesterol in the blood by at least 10 percent in just two hours. Like in the instance of people enduring arthritis, people suffering from high and constant cholesterol will benefit immensely if they take the preparation three times every day. According to information obtained by the Canadian magazine Weekly World News, even ingesting pure honey with food every day helps to alleviate cholesterol problems.

Colds and Coughs

A mixture of one tablespoon of tepid honey along with one-fourth spoon of powdered cinnamon consumed once every day for three consecutive days helps in alleviating problems such as common or relentless colds. In effect, taking the blend also helps in getting relief from an incessant cough, cold, and even free sinus problems.

Stomach Disorder

A combination of honey and powdered cinnamon is also beneficial for people suffering from an upset stomach. The blend not only alleviates stomach aches but also removes ulcers in the stomach from their root.

Gas

Researches undertaken by scientists in Japan and India have found that consumption of honey along with powdered cinnamon helps in mitigating the gas formed in the stomach.

Dyspepsia or Indigestion

Have you ever tried taking powdered cinnamon with honey before meals? If you haven’t it is the time you should do this, for ingesting powdered cinnamon sprayed on two tablespoons of honey before any meal not only alleviates acidity but also helps the alimentary canal to absorb the heaviest of foods.

Foul Breath

Using a mixture of honey and powdered cinnamon is an excellent mouthwash and helps to keep one’s breath fresh throughout the day. It has been a practice of the people in South America to gargle with cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in hot water every day in the morning to enjoy fresh breath all through the day.

Flu or Influenza

Even while the whole world is concerned over the increasing cases of flu, it is interesting to note that a researcher in Spain has established the natural property of honey that helps to eliminate germs responsible for influenza. In addition, the natural elements contained in honey also save people from enduring flu.

Cancer

Although it may seem to be incredible, researches undertaken by scientists in Australia and Japan have shown that a mixture of honey and cinnamon is effective enough to heal the cancer of the stomach and bones even in very advanced stages. Trials carried out by the researchers have established this aspect of honey and cinnamon. It is advisable that people enduring these types of cancer take one tablespoon of honey along with one teaspoon of powdered cinnamon thrice every day for a month.

Immune or Resistance System

Consuming the blend of cinnamon powder and honey every day not only helps to reinforce the body’s natural resistance system but also protects us from bacterial and viral contagions. Researches undertaken by scientists have demonstrated that honey is immensely useful for our body as it encloses great quantities of iron and numerous vitamins. It may be specially mentioned here that regular ingestion of honey helps to make the white blood corpuscles stronger enabling them to combat diseases spread by bacteria and viruses.

Long life or Anti-aging Effects

Drinking a special tea prepared from powdered cinnamon and honey habitually helps to prevent the devastation brought about in our system by aging. To prepare this special tea, add one spoon of powdered cinnamon and four spoons of honey to three cups of water and boil the mixture. For most effective results, drink one-fourth cup of this tea four times every day. Following the procedure will help to maintain the skin spanking new and supple preventing the thaws of old age. It is interesting to note that taking this tea regularly also helps in increasing the lifespan of an individual.

Inflammation of Joints or Arthritis

People suffering from arthritis or acute inflammation of joints will find it beneficial if they take two spoons of honey and one spoon of cinnamon powder mixed in a cupful of hot water twice daily – morning, and night. It has been found that people enduring constant arthritis can be cured if they follow the procedure often. During a research conducted by scientists at the Copenhagen University, it was unearthed that medical practitioners who recommended or administered one tablespoon of honey along with half a tablespoon of cinnamon powder to patients suffering from arthritis prior to breakfast produced incredible results. While 73 of 200 such patients treated by the doctors experienced complete relief from pain in a span of a week, almost all these arthritic patients who were immobile owing to the disease were able to move around sans any pain after a month’s treatment.

Infections of the Bladder

A mixture of honey and cinnamon is also immensely beneficial for people suffering from an infection of the bladder. For best results blend one teaspoon of honey with two tablespoonfuls of cinnamon in a glass of tepid water and consume it regularly. Following the practice regularly will help to eliminate germs from the bladder.

Skin Contagions

Applying a paste made with honey and cinnamon powder also helps in eliminating skin problems or diseases other than pimples. Anyone suffering from skin ailments such as eczema, ringworm or other skin contagions will benefit immensely if they regularly apply a mixture of powdered cinnamon and honey in equal proportions on the affected areas.

A pimple or Boils

If you are concerned over the pimples or boils distorting your face, then apply a blend of honey and cinnamon. Prepare a paste with one teaspoon of powdered cinnamon and three tablespoons of honey. Apply the honey and cinnamon paste before going to bed at night and cleanse it the following morning with lukewarm water. Anyone following the procedure every day for two weeks continuously will be relieved from pimples and boils. The paste has been found to remove pimples from their root.

Exhaustion or Fatigue

Several types of research have demonstrated that the sugar enclosed in honey is very useful and not harmful for the vigor of the body. In fact, elderly people who regularly consume equal proportions of cinnamon and honey have been found to be usually more attentive and supple. Researchers have also shown that drinking this potion daily (half tablespoon of honey in a glass of water peppered with powdered cinnamon) helps to reinforce the energy levels in the body in just one week. It is an immensely useful drink for anyone who is experiencing fatigue or exhaustion.

Shedding Flab or Weight Loss

If you are worried about your increasing weight and want to shed the extra flab, try using a blend of honey and cinnamon. Drinking honey and powdered cinnamon in a cup of boiled water before going to bed every night and in empty stomach every morning, approximately half-an-hour before breakfast, will work wonders for you. Following this procedure regularly facilitates reducing weight substantially even in the most overweight person. The reason for this is simple. Consumption of this blended drink prevents fat buildup in the body despite anyone consuming meals rich in calorie content.

Loss of Hearing

Researchers have shown that regular consumption of honey and powdered cinnamon in equal parts helps in curing hearing problems. For best results, it is advisable that the mixture is taken twice daily – once in the morning and again at night.

Cardamom Health Benefits

What Is Cardamom

Scientific Name: Elettaria cardamomum

Other Names: Amomum cardamomum, Bai Dou Kou, Black Cardamom, Cardamome de Malabar, Cardamome Noire, , Cardamome Verte, Cardamomo, Cardomom, Cardomomi Fructus, Ela, Elettaria cardamomum, Green Cardamom, Huile Essentielle de Cardamome, Indian Cardamom.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a plant that is native to India, Bhutan and Nepal in the ginger family Zingiberaceae, that is highly valued as an expensive culinary spice next only to saffron and vanilla. Cardamom fruits or seeds are primarily used as flavoring for drinks, baked goods, and confection. Cardamom is also valued for its traditional use in herbal medicine, providing health benefits for those suffering from stomach problems, liver, and gallbladder ailments, and as a stimulant. Other species that is closely related to genus Amomum in the ginger family are likewise called cardamom. These cardamom species have larger and darker fruits and have somewhat coarser taste and aroma.

Plant Description

Cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum) is a herbaceous perennial plant usually found in the wild in India and Sri Lanka but has since been cultivated in other tropical areas. Cardamom is a clumping plant of up 20 leafy shoots arising from the rhizome. The shoots are composed of overlapping leaf sheaths, lanceolate in shape with dark green color. The clump of leaves can reach up to 6 meters in height. Some shoots produce flowers on a drooping pinnacle. The flowers are both male and female and are pale green in color. The cardamom fruits are pale green to yellow in color but turns into brown when dried and contains 15 to 20 small aromatic seeds about 3 mm in length which are highly valued as flavoring.

Cardamom, Nutrient value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient Database)
Proximates NV %RDA
Energy 311 Kcal 15.5%
Carbohydrates 68.47 g 52.5%
Protein 10.76 g 19%
Total Fat 6.7 g 23%
Dietary Fiber 28 g 70%
Vitamins

Niacin 1.102 mg 7%
Pyridoxine 0.230 mg 18%
Riboflavin 0.182 mg 14%
Thiamin 0.198 mg 16.5%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 21 mg 35%
Minerals

Calcium 383 mg 38%
Iron 14.0 mg 78%
Magnesium 229 mg 57%
Phosphorus 178 mg 32%
Sodium 18 mg 1%
Zinc 7.5 mg 50%
Copper 0.4 mg 19%
Percent daily values are based on 2000 Kcal diets.

Traditional Health Benefits Of Cardamom

Cardamom being native in South India and Sri Lanka, it has a long history of use in Ayurveda medicine. When the Chinese discovered this spice, it was brought to China and likewise applied in traditional Chinese medicine.

Cardamom has long been used as an effective herbal remedy for digestion problems including intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, liver and gallbladder complaints.

Other traditional uses and health benefits of Cardamon include the treatment of;

Bronchitis
Cold
Constipation
Cough
Gallbladder problems
Gas
Heartburn
Intestinal spasms
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Liver problems
Loss of appetite
Preventing infections
Sore mouth and throat
Urinary problems

In recent years, claimed health benefits of Cardamom include its strong antioxidant property and an effective body detoxification agent,

Cardamom being rich in minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium maintains cell and body fluids that help control heart rate and blood pressure. It also contains copper and iron that is important in the production of red blood cells.

Cardamom is also rich in vitamins including riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C and contains essential oils that improve overall health.

Cardamom promotes urination that improves kidney function by eliminating excess calcium, urea, and other toxins. It is also used in the treatment of genital and urinary infections. Cardamom is also believed to improve sexual performance.

Other health benefits of cardamom are its use in the treatment of gum problems and in preventing bad breath. It is also used as an antiseptic and antimicrobial.

Scientific Studies Of Cardamom Health Benefits

Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).The Indigenous Drug Research Center, RNT Medical College, Udaipur, India conducted a study on  Elettaria cardamomum  (Small cardamom) fruit powder  to evaluate its antihypertensive potential and its effect on some of the cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with stage 1 hypertension.
Results have shown that administration of 3 g of cardamom powder to patients with primary hypertension of stage 1 for a period of 12 weeks demonstrated a significantly (p<0.001) decreased systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure and significantly (p<0.05) increased fibrinolytic activity at the end of 12th week. The total antioxidant status was also significantly (p<0.05) increased by 90% at the end of 3 months.
Additionally, all study subjects experienced a feeling of well-being without any side-effects. Thus, the present study demonstrates that small cardamom effectively reduces blood pressure, enhances fibrinolysis and improves antioxidant status, without significantly altering blood lipids and fibrinogen levels in stage 1 hypertensive individuals. (Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics. December 2009).Protective effect of Eleteria cardamomum (L.) Maton against Pan masala induced damage in the lung of male Swiss mice.

In a study conducted in Ranchi University India, the potential ameliorating properties of cardamom Elettaria cardamomum (E. cardamomum) L. Maton against pan masala induced damage in the lung of male Swiss mice was investigated.  Results have shown that the lungs of pan masala treated group showed adenocarcinoma, edema, and inflammation with increased activity of acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase, and lactate dehydrogenase. While the deleterious effects were seen to be less in cardamom treated group and the enzymatic activity also decreased significantly (P<0.05) in the ameliorating group. This study suggests that cardamom supplementation may decrease the  damage to the lungs of pan masala treated subjects. (Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, July 2013)

Chemopreventive effects of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum L.) on chemically induced skin carcinogenesis in Swiss albino mice.

The potential of cardamom as a chemopreventive agent was investigated in a study done in the College of Health Sciences, University of Hail, Saudi Arabia. The study was done on mice treated orally with 0.5 mg of cardamom powder in suspension continuously at pre-, peri-, and post-initiation stages of papilloma genesis compared with the control group. It was observed that the treatment of cardamom suspension by oral gavage for 15 days resulted in a significant decrease in the lipid peroxidation level of the liver (P < .01). In addition, the reduced glutathione level was significantly elevated in comparison with the control group (P < .05) following cardamom suspension treatment. These findings indicate the potential of cardamom as a chemopreventive agent against two-stage skin cancer (Journal of Medicinal Food, June 2012).

Antioxidative effects of the spice cardamom against non-melanoma skin cancer by modulating nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 and NF-κB signaling pathways.

Cardamom,  a dietary phytoproduct, has been commonly used in cuisines for flavor and has numerous health benefits, such as improving digestion and stimulating metabolism and having antitumorigenic effects.  A study done in Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkata, India, investigated the efficacy of dietary cardamom against 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced skin papilloma to genesis in Swiss albino mice that closely resembles human NMSC. Results from the oral administration of cardamom to DMBA-treated mice up-regulated the phase II detoxification enzymes, such as glutathione-S-transferase and glutathione peroxidase, probably via activation of nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 transcription factor in ‘DMBA+CARD’ mice. Furthermore, reduced glutathione, glutathione reductase, superoxide dismutase and catalase were also up-regulated by cardamom in the same ‘DMBA+CARD’ group of mice compared with DMBA-treated mice. Cardamom ingestion in DMBA-treated mice blocked NF-κB activation and down-regulated cyclo-oxygenase-2 expression. As a consequence, both the size and the number of skin papillomas generated on the skin due to the DMBA treatment were reduced in the ‘DMBA+CARD’ group. Thus, the results of the study suggest that cardamom has a potential to become a pivotal chemopreventive agent to prevent papilloma genesis on the skin (British Journal of Nutrition, Sept 2012)

Gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic and sedative activities of cardamom.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is traditionally used in various gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neuronal disorders.
A study done in the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan have using Cardamom crude extract in guinea-pig, mice and rabbits suggested that  cardamom exhibits gut excitatory and inhibitory effects mediated through cholinergic and Ca++ antagonist mechanisms respectively and lowers BP via a combination of both pathways. The diuretic and sedative effects may offer added value in its use in hypertension and epilepsy. (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, February 2008).

Cardamom extract as an inhibitor of human platelet aggregation.

The Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, India, investigated the protective effects of cardamom extract against platelet aggregation and lipid peroxidation.  In the study, a sample from the blood of healthy volunteers was taken and the platelets were subjected to stimulation with a variety of agonists including ADP, epinephrine, collagen, calcium ionophore and ristocetin.  Results have shown that the inhibitory effects of cardamom against lipid peroxidation and platelet aggregation were dose dependent and time dependent and an increase in the concentration of the aqueous extract of cardamom results to significant decreased MDA formation.(Phytotheraphy Research, May 2005)

Allergic contact dermatitis from cardamom.

Cardamom is a popular traditional flavoring agent for baked goods and confectionery.  A case is presented of a confectioner with a chronic hand dermatitis and positive patch test reactions to cardamom and certain terpenoid compounds present in the dried ripe seeds of cardamom. Dermatitis from skin exposure to cardamom has to the best of our knowledge not been reported.

Cardamom Side Effects And Warnings

Cardamom may be considered safe for most people in food amounts and there were no reported side effects from its consumption.

Cardamom is considered safe for use by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers if taken in food amounts. But caution should be taken if to be taken in large doses as there are no sufficient studies that determine its full effects.

Large doses of cardamom have been found to trigger gallstone colic that causes spasmodic pain.

Cardamom may trigger an allergic reaction for sensitive people. Severe side effects include difficulty in breathing, hive, swelling of skin and heaviness of chest.

Cardamom Availability And Preparation

Where To Buy Cardamom

Cardamom comes in several forms depending upon how the cardamom seed pods are treated. Cardamom is usually available in most grocery stores along with the other spices;

Green cardamom pods are the preferred form of this spice in its native country, India. This fancier cardamom has been picked while still immature and sun-dried to preserve its bright green color. Green cardamom pods are harder to find and more expensive than the other forms of cardamom in part because of their superior ability to retain aroma and flavor longer. This premium form of cardamom is all connoisseurs will use in any recipe which calls for cardamom.

Cardamom seed has had the outer pod, or cardamom fruit, removed so that only the pure seeds remain. This form of cardamom spice is sometimes called cardamom-decort, which simply means the seeds have been removed from the pods or hulled. The seeds are crushed or ground prior to use, which provides plenty of cardamom flavor at a more economical price, substitute 12 seeds for every whole pod called for in a recipe.

Black cardamom is the seed pods of closely related species that also are aromatic and have an appearance similar to that of true cardamom. Although, black cardamom is not a suitable substitute in recipes that call for cardamom. Its flavor is much earthier with sweetness and a flowery accent that is different from that of true cardamoms. It is an ingredient used in some African cooking and abroad to add a bacon-like a flavor to some vegetarian dishes.

Ground cardamom is convenient to have for baking and other applications where the spice needs to be ground. Freshness and thus flavor are of course compromised when cardamom is pre-ground because it loses flavor soon after grinding. To appreciate cardamom’s true flavor we suggest grinding it before use in a spice mill, electric coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle.

White cardamom that was commonly available in the North America and Europe had been bleached to achieve its color or lack of it. It is used in baking and some desserts because its color helps keep light colored batters, sauces, and confections speck free. The bleaching process also destroyed much of the cardamom’s flavor leading to white cardamom’s decline in popularity.

Cardamom – The Queen of Spices

My favorite spice in the house!

Cardamom is the Queen of Spices and has grown lavishly under the tropical canopy on hillsides in the Ghat Mountains on the Malabar Coast of southern India to be harvested by hand and shipped around the world.  The cardamom familiar to India and the western world is called green cardamom and it, along with several other types such as giant cardamom, black cardamom, and bastard cardamom, have been used for cooking, perfumery, incense, and medicine since very early in history.

cardamom lotion

Ancient Egyptians used it frequently for perfume along with frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon and cassia, and had a recipe for an ointment called “Oil of Lilies” that included the scent from 1000 lilies. It is often mentioned as one of the ingredients of the ancient incense kyphi. Cardamom essential oil is one of the oldest essential oils known in perfumery and in the apothecary. Cardamom  is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla.

Why is cardamom called the Queen of the Spices? Maybe it is its association with queens. The large-leaved plant with purple and white flowers had a place in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The terraced garden was built by King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife who was homesick. Cleopatra burnt cardamom incense whenever Mark Antony visited.

Eletteria cardamomum is the popular green cardamom and has an exotic aroma with warm, spicy and highly aromatic nuances.  There is an initial sharp camphor note, somewhat like eucalyptus, that quickly evolves to a sweet, spicy-woody, balsamic scent that can have lovely floral tones.  It can be long-lasting in a blend and must be used with skill so that it doesn’t overwhelm a perfume or add too much sharpness. The warmth and sweetness of cardamom can provide a lovely backdrop to floral perfumes such as muguet and rose scents. It also warms Oriental perfume bases and is used in the heart notes of chypres perfumes. Although it is called the Queen of Spices, it is a favorite ingredient in masculine scents. Cardamom is available as an essential oil but there is also a solvent-extracted absolute and a CO2 extraction.

cardamom aromatherapyIn the company of the King of Spices, black pepper, cardamom was an important commodity of the early spice trade that also transported frankincense, myrrh and other resins and precious aromatics. Caravans with as many as 4,000 camels would carry treasures of the East in the form of spices to markets in Babylon, Carthage, Alexandria, and Rome.  Later traders would sail ships along the Indian Coast and through the Red Sea into Egypt and thus through the rest of the world. The Spice Route was second in importance only to the Silk Road and the spices it transported were often as valuable, or more so than gold or precious metals. In addition to Arab and Portuguese traders, the Vikings discovered cardamom on one of their raids and brought it back to Scandinavia where they enjoyed it in festival cakes.  According to The Economist the spice trade, founded on spices like black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, has been the foundation of the world economy’s oldest, deepest, and most aromatic roots.

Cardamom plants require very warm and humid climates and are perfect understory plants for humid mountainsides. As a member of the Ginger family, they also have tall leaves, thick rhizomes, and a unique flower. The flower stalk or panicle comes out from the base of the plant and in the Malabar variety will grow along the ground but there is also a Mysore variety that has vertical panicles. Cardamom plants will bear seeds in pods clustered near the ground and continue bearing for 10-15 years. The seeds need to be gathered at exactly the right time, if too early the pods will shrivel and if too late they will shatter. They are then dried, traditionally in the sun but sometimes by fire or in traditional hot houses. The pods are naturally green and, if dried correctly, will retain a green color.  However, some markets prefer a light colored pod and producers will bleach cardamom pods to achieve a creamy or golden yellow color to the husk. Outside of India and Asia, Guatemala is a big producer of much of the world’s cardamom.

cardamom cakeThe Queen of Spices is best used in sweet dishes such as pastries, cakes, and baked goods; however it is often used in some meat dishes and curries where the spices are mild. It’s an important ingredient in the spice mix garam masala.  There is a Bedouin coffee called Gahwah that is made with freshly crushed green pods and often combined with mace, nutmeg, and/or saffron. In many Arabic countries, cardamom is symbolic of welcoming (traditionally male) guests; there is a ritual to making the coffee and  cardamom is closely associated with hospitality. The green coffee beans are first roasted and powdered with mortar and pestle then the cardamom pods are broken and dropped into the pot with the coffee.  Often the blend may be as much as half cardamom and half coffee or more.  Its common use with coffee in hot climates reflects the belief in the cooling properties of the spice. It is believed that Arabs consume one-half of the world’s cardamom annually.

Cardamom is frequently used to aid in digestion, and is often consumed after a meal as a breath freshener and digestive aid; it may even prevent tooth decay . The seeds have a distinctive tingling feel on the tongue when chewed and a tenacious sweet aroma.  Many people chew cardamom to freshen the breath and, in Sweden, it is thought to mask the residual aroma of too many alcoholic drinks. It’s used in over 30 traditional Chinese medicines and is a famous Ayurveda medicinal plant for digestive disorders, for detoxifying, stimulating the senses and may benefit those suffering from asthma or bronchitis.

It is called Ela “golden grains of paradise” in Sanskrit and is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts,  as well as during the Vedic period (about 3000 BC). Cardamom has been used for thousands of years for its sexual powers. It is known in many cultures to have aphrodisiac properties and is included in the ingredients to be poured in “the sacrificial fire on the occasion of a Hindu marriage ceremony.” Asian cultures use cardamom as nature’s Viagra- to cure impotency and premature ejaculation.

The 1001 Arabian Nights makes frequent reference to cardamom’s use as an aphrodisiac.One might associate it with Venus but it is more closely allied with Mars due to its warming and stimulating effect.   But it is Mars exhibiting a lighter, feminine side with sweet heat.  It is frequently found in women’s love charms, or perhaps more accurately ‘lust charms’. Ancient Romans used cardamom to stimulate desire.  Does cardamom sweeten the words of love and soften the heart of the other?  Add some cardamom spice to your life and find out!

Cardamom Tea

Cardamom has many health benefits from detoxification, oral health, digestion. Usually, it’s the seeds in the cardamom pods that hold flavor and you can remove the seeds and then blend to have a powder, but I felt that using the pods/ shells reduces the work, later you can sieve it to get a fine powder.
cardamom tea
HOW TO MAKE CARDAMOM POWDER

Prep time – 10 mins
Makes – 1 and 1/4 cup cardamom powder
Storing suggestion – in an air-tight container at room temperature

Ingredients

Cardamom seeds- 1/2 cup
Sugar – 3/4 Th cup

Method

Using a mixer blend the sugar and cardamom pods for 3-4 minutes giving an interval of 30 seconds every minute. This is to avoid the mixer becoming really hot. later sieve this powder to grind again, let it cool down completely. Store in an air-tight container and use as and when required.


HOW TO MAKE CARDAMOM TEA/ ELACHI CHAI / YELLAKAI TEA

Ingredients

Tea powder – 3 teaspoons ( I used Taj Mahal Gold)
Water – 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
Milk – 1 and 12 cup
Sugar – 3 tsp (as required)

Method

In a saucepan bring water to a boil, add tea powder and let it boil further for a minute, now add milk, let it boil, add the sugar and cardamom powder and switch off

Serve hot along with crisps or snacks

Cooks Wisdom

  • You can remove the shells of the cardamom and use only the seeds to make a fine powder
  • Tea can be made with boiling tea powder in milk or with water and then adding milk. Since I used full-fat milk I used water to make the tea
  • Store the cardamom powder in a moisture free air tight jar for long life.

Ginger’s Quality

The quality of the original rhizome must be the primary concern for the person using supplements of ginger in their diet. At the same time, the ginger herb is a valuable supplement in a variety of supplemental forms. At the same time, the value of the rhizome and the supplemental quality will be less if the original material is old, is shriveled, was moldy or chemically treated in anyway, in such cases, the quality of the ginger will obviously not yield the herbal values comparable to a herbal ginger product created using fresh and organically grown rhizomes.
BenefitsofGingerAn extensive and exhaustive grading system has been developed over the years, so as to insure that the international supply of ginger products remains top quality – the standards adopted in this grading system are fairly rigorous ensuring only good quality products pass the test. Chemical exposure of ginger products is still an unfortunate issue, and one of the issues that require much greater attention as chemical contamination of herbal products is a severe problem. The exposure of ginger to chemicals can easily occur at many stages through the product development process, the ginger can become contaminated by chemicals during the stage of cultivation, chemicals can contaminate the ginger in storage and processing stages, and the ginger is often exposed to a barrage of chemicals, which can include lethal mercury compounds, all forms of chlorinated hydrocarbons, and all kinds of fungicides and fumigants, aside from insecticides and pesticides used during cultivation.
ginger_benefitsIdeally, the ultimate goal is to have an opportunity for examining the freshly retrieved ginger rhizome and to check these for possible chemical exposure before the processing stages and before they are made into powdered herbal ginger or other types of finished and processed products. This ideal check is not possible in most cases, and indeed it would be a very difficult or even impossible process for large scale operations, for this reason, individuals who wish to use only likely uncontaminated products must try to place as their first choice only those products which are organically grown or those products that are certified and have passed many of the state and international organizations standards of food safety. This is an ideal step to take for all individuals planning a long term therapeutic use of the ginger based herbal medications and particularly so, when they are going to be using ginger in large amounts.
ginger partsThe ginger herbs are processed into a variety of products for the culinary market and this process begins with fresh or dry rhizomes; the finished products can include all kinds of ginger syrups, ginger based candies, ginger based jams, herbal capsules, herbal extracts, ginger fortified liqueurs, ginger pickles, cookies and ale etc. Different products made from the ginger have different and varied effects, for example, if the researchers noticed a ginger based marmalade might have had a dramatic impact on the platelet aggregation rate in the body, then the it will be inferred that the therapeutic principles inherent in the herb are obviously very stable or that they are resistant to the rigors of processing. For this reason, it is fair to suggest that each of the finished ginger products possesses its own distinct advantages in terms of herbal healing properties. As an example, the candied forms of ginger, may meet with objections due to its content of the sugar sucrose, this does not discount the fact that, if it came down to a choice between an artificially flavored and colored confection and the ginger candy possessing an actual health benefit, the ginger based candy will always be chosen. The appeal of ginger is therefore increased by the candied form of the remedy as it gives the ginger a wider, and much more mainstream market, thus the new adherents of this form of herbal remedy can now include people who may never have considered using the ginger as a health supplement in any form whatsoever.
ginger-health-benefits-uses-ginger-teaConsuming at least a combination of ginger based supplements is ideal for patients, so as to receive good amounts of the beneficial compounds repeatedly confirmed by research, these include the gingerols – found in the fresh rhizome based products and the shogaols – which are found in the dry products, it is reasonable to assume, that a combination of ginger products in the supplement to include sufficient quantities of these two beneficial compounds. Different ginger based products will have varying levels of these two critical and beneficial compounds and this will depend a great deal on the processing methods involved. Distinct health benefits are endowed by the gingerols and the shogaols respectively. The gingerols as a compound class are much more potent and effective in the role of anti-hepatotoxics and anti-helmintics within the body, at the same time, shogaols compounds seem to be more effective in the role of anti-inflammatory agents in the body, and they also function as antipyretics and analgesics in the body at the same time-thus the two classes of compounds have distinct effects though they are found in the same herb.
The many uses of the ginger can be suitably studied from its use in the medical systems of China and eastern Asia. In Chinese and traditional Oriental medicine, the individual value of each different product made from ginger is confirmed in that the four different forms of ginger used in treatment – fresh, dried, steamed and roasted – are actually considered and classed as distinct herbal medications. So each form of ginger is prescribed only for treatment of specific group of illnesses and for specific applications in herbal remedies. At the same time, one modern Chinese study has suggested that the four forms of the ginger have much more in common then traditionally believed, and the one may not need to consume every conceivable ginger product to gain some specific benefit – such a step will be complex and time consuming, besides being expensive. During the study, among twenty-five of the vital compounds checked, it was discovered that there was only a maximum variation in three novel or missing constituents per herbal remedy – thus the similarity of different ginger remedies is very great.
ginger aleSome suggest that the fresh ginger rhizome has some intangible advantage over other types of ginger remedies and whatever the final form of herbal product – the suggestion is that it is more effective as long as it was made using the fresh ginger rhizome. One may consider the delicate flavor of fresh cut ginger as being a distinct study in the culinary arts. The importance of the fresh ginger in cuisine and its remedial power and potency is underlined by the results of a recent fragrance test, during which it was found that fresh ginger scent can be detected by humans even at a dilution as low as 1 part in 35,000, this is in contrast to the powdered ginger which can only be detected by humans at 1 part in 1,500-2,000, if diluted beyond this the scent is lost – the fresh form is thus more potent in all respects. Fresh ginger rhizomes can be used in many types of herbal remedial measures and in many different medical applications such as to make hot compresses and as a culinary spice to flavor medicinal herbal tea. As far as possible, always use fresh ginger for any herbal remedy.
Many people who have used compresses made from the ginger have understandably names this herb as one of their most precious health routines and remedies during treatment. As far as topical treatments go and among all the myriad applications of the herb, the ginger compress can be extremely effective for the treatment of virtually all external signs due to underlying inflammatory processes in the body of patients, these can include the treatment of muscular stiffness and headaches of all kinds – the ginger compress is one of the best topical herbal applications. The compress is also an extremely valuable healing remedy for the topical treatment of swollen glands, for treating external problems in the chest region and for the treatment of head colds and disorders such as persistent stomach cramps.
The herbal ginger tea is believed to be a near perfect after dinner drink, and is an excellent fasting staple, it is also believed to aid in weight-loss and helps relieve pain and can also be used as a remedy against the cold. Prepare the herbal ginger tea, by using half a teaspoon of the freshly grated ginger rhizome into eight ounces of boiling water, mix these in a covered pot and let the herb steep in the water for 10 to 15 minutes at a stretch, this will allow the water to fully extract the juices from the fresh ginger rhizome. Once it has been cooled down, slowly strain the water and add some honey for taste to sweeten the tea. As an iced tea, the ginger tea can also induce a great tonic effect on the body.
A variety of ways can be chosen, when adding some fresh ginger to the daily diet of any person on a course of this wonderful herbal remedy. Thus ginger can be added to different fruit and vegetable juices and as a part of the daily juicing routine with carrot and apple juices. Because of its high potency, the fresh ginger juice must be carefully and gradually added to the daily routine so as not to shock the system.
Undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular confectionaries, candied ginger is ranked high in the list of best confections. Candied ginger is usually processed using fresh ginger and plenty of sucrose, this form of ginger is very convenient when the need to take ginger exist during a period of travel and it can also be used as a delightful and effective digestive aid following dinner at night.
Ginger is also used in the form of honey-based herbal syrup; this form of the remedy offers more desirable way of delivering ginger with maximum health benefits for the user. As an herbal vehicle, pure and unadulterated honey has a long and traditional history of utilized in this role of delivery agent for various therapeutic herbs and ginger is no exception to the rule, the honey endows extra value to the herbal remedy being used. The recipe for a ginger herbal remedy in a base of honey syrup is described in detail, and dates back to the early sixth-century A.D. this was the traditional use of the honey in herbal medicine back at that time. Ginger is moreover fortified by the honey, the substance gives the ginger its own range of excellent synergistic and healing values, particularly when the ginger is allowed to be infused into the honey using a low heat process. The ginger product is benefited by mixing with honey in many ways, the honey enhances the flavor of the herb, it aids in the preservation of the herb, and it can also be used for a variety of different ginger remedies and herbal applications. Furthermore, the honey itself possesses an intrinsic range of anti-bacterial, anticancer and antifungal actions, besides promoting wound-healing actions, and having a good anti-ulcer properties on the body.
The role of honey is to effectively enlarge the herbal ginger’s bactericidal and fungicidal properties. The addition of the honey also enhances the ginger’s anti-ulcer properties on the whole. At the same time, the honey has a good protective effect over the gastric mucosa and induces significant action against a bacterial species known as Helicobacter pylori, which is the bacterial species associated with the development of peptic ulcers in humans. Individuals concerned with the potential conflict between the use of honey and the effect on blood sugar levels during trials and in the candida albicans treatment programs, the gathered evidence suggested that the body tolerates honey significantly better than commonly consumed simple sugars such as sucrose. Candida albicans is also defeated by a distinct remedial factor in the honey.
At the same time that the herbal ginger and honey combination is being used, a health tonic or a cough or cold syrup, also made from ginger and honey can be taken by the individual in the form of a hot beverage or as a sweetener in tea, this can also be used as a culinary seasoning or even as a dinner table sauce, it can be used as a dessert topping or it can be mixed with some carbonated water for a nutritious and delicious homemade ginger ale – which can be taken at any time.
Prepare your own unique ginger syrup, by adding a part of fresh grated or juiced ginger, into three parts honey and then refrigerate the two together. You must ensure that you peel the ginger rhizome; this will result in the extension of the vital properties of the herb and will prevent the chances of fermentation from occurring at the same time. Usually about one to two teaspoons of this syrup can be added for every eight ounces of carbonated or hot water to make the drink.
The exceptional herbal benefits of ginger can be experienced in one of the most versatile and powerful ways by using it in the form of a dehydrated herbal powder. Used in this form, ginger can benefit a person by providing two of the essential and principal values of the herb:
  • Used in this form, the herb is up to ten times the concentration that is normally seen in certain fresh ginger elements.
  • This is one of the most novel and therapeutic herbal compounds. As a general rule, the powdered down ginger contains far more nutrients than other forms of the herb, as a consequence of the removed moisture, far more important is that this powder is likely to possess far more and higher levels of the compounds known as shogaols, these compounds are supposed to possess more of the ginger’s very significant aspirin like pain killing qualities.
The high-quality beneficial effects of the powdered ginger form have been verified during studies, and the powdered herb can be effectively taken for the treatment of both internal and external injuries. The powdered form of the ginger can also be used in a lot of the remedial applications where the fresh form is normally used, these include herbal compresses, it can be used to make ginger herbal tea and in cooking dishes. The herbal powdered ginger can be used in the form of capsules, or it can be consumed by the teaspoonful in any food or in liquids such as juices, this form of the herbal remedy provides the best anti-inflammatory effects during treatment and it is also a very excellent all spectrum treatment for various problems with the digestive system, and it can also be used as a cardiovascular tonic – and has very beneficial protestant properties over the body. The herbal ginger powder can also be used for external treatments as a topical compress or it can be used to infuse bath water, the ginger powder induces a very powerful and stimulating effect on the body, it also possesses transdermal and aroma-therapeutic effects on the body. At the same time, the herbal ginger powder is also excellent for use as a moistened chest compress, it can also be added by the tablespoon to infuse hot bath water for the topical treatment of various muscle strains and to treat the symptoms of cold. The herbal ginger powder can also be used to make an excellent chest compress, prepare the powdered ginger by simply moistening about 2-3 teaspoons using a little hot water and then spread this slowly over a hot and wet cotton towel – this can then be applied directly to the affected parts of the body. The amount of ginger to use in cases of sensitive skin must be low, in such cases, the herbal build up must be slow and application sustained over a long period of time.
Herbalist and traditional medical practitioners as well as modern researchers recognize alcohol to be an excellent extraction agent for the beneficial properties of all herbs and herbal extracts. Dried ginger derived double-macerated or highly potent alcohol ginger extract can give all the benefits of this form of the herbal remedy, and also includes very significant levels of the beneficial compounds known as shogaols. The juice of fresh ginger can be added to the mixture so as to maximize or balance the full benefits of the alcoholic ginger extract. A dual purpose is served by the addition of the ginger juice, the juice will complements the dryness in the remedy as it has unique fresh elements such as the compounds called the gingerols, at the same time, the juice will also enable a lowering of the final alcoholic concentration to a safe level, which the majority of individuals will find tolerable.
Convenience and concentration of the herb are the principal benefits inherent in the extracted form of the herbal remedy. The full range of benefits will become apparent in the person, within a few seconds of taking a dropper full of the extract, especially when it is taken straight, or mixed in a glass of water. There are some limitations to the utility of the extract, however, while it may not be practical to use the extract for purposes of cooking and to make compresses, it comes into its own as an exceptional therapeutic form of the herbal remedy and by and large, it offers the most comprehensive and immediate therapeutic response, which is very effective for the treatment of various digestive disorders or in the treatment of the symptoms of the cold.

Ginger’s Essences

No modern medication can rival the range and variety of therapeutic effects that can be induced by ginger. However, the full awareness of the health benefits and value of the herbal ginger remedies is rather limited because of the monopolistic health-care systems and a historically biased regulatory environment in most countries. Out of the hundreds of species in the plant family Zingiberaceae, the ginger remains the most famous and popular herb. Ginger is a rhizome, according to the correct botanical classification, though the underground stem of the ginger is often mistaken to be a root. Many different varieties of the ginger herb exist in the wild and in cultivation, these varieties range from mild to spicy in taste, and all of them require tropical conditions and fertile soils to grow at an optimal rate. The ginger herb has traveled out from Southeast Asia to the new world, over a period spanning 5,000 years, and most regions of the world now cultivate it as a food crop.
ginger_benefitsThe ancient trade in ginger helped shape nations and insured the universal cultivation and survival of the herb, it is considered a botanical treasure by some of the great figures of history. The interaction of over four hundred chemical constituents present in ginger produce the observed effects of herbal ginger remedies, these result producing compounds can be grouped into four major classes: those which affect taste, those responsible for fragrance, and chemicals which act as nutrients and synergists in the human body. The pungent compounds which affect taste are the focus for most of the therapeutic value associated with the ginger. These taste compounds, are known as gingerols and shogaols, the protein digesting enzymes and antioxidant compounds present in abundant quantities in the ginger are also key elements in its overall effects over the body. Most of the observable physical effects on the body, such as the anti-inflammatory action, the anti-parasitic effect, and the anti-microbial and the digestive remedial actions, may all be due to the presence of one principal action – which is enzyme action on the body. At the same time, the observed effect, namely an anti-inflammatory action, can also be due to the presence of a number of principal actions at core, it can be due to enzymes, because of eicosanoid balance and due to the presence of antioxidants in the herbal remedy. The main key to understanding the diversity of the ginger’s overall action may lie in the dynamics of the eicosanoid compounds; indeed, these may represent the point to develop a full understanding the various beneficial effects of the ginger remedy. The physiologically active compounds known as the eicosanoids are synthesized by the body from essential fatty acids already present from absorbed food. The development of an imbalance in these vital elements is the reason for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, which evolve in response to the imbalances. The modulation and control of the compounds known as eicosanoids has been attempted by pharmaceutical companies, in order to develop treatment methodologies for a host of disease conditions, this step is essentially a failed step, because of the many serious side effects such compounds can induce in the human body. The advantage of herbal ginger remedies is that the ginger helps in naturally bringing a balance to many of these vitally important eicosanoid compounds, without inducing any corresponding side effects in the body of the person using the herbal remedy.
ginger-health-benefits-uses-ginger-teaThe benefits of ginger herbs have been enjoyed by many millions of people, over the course of millennia, as part of herbal treatment strategies. Thus ginger remedies have been utilized for spiritual up-liftment, they have been used to provide digestive comfort and physical strength, they have also been taken to stimulate and bring relief from infirmity in the body, the herbal remedies made from the ginger have been touted as the herbal remedy of choice and most traditional Eastern herbal formulas consider ginger remedies as a part of their herbal treatment methodologies. The ancient Indian Sanskrit name for the ginger very appropriately vishwabhesaj, translated as the universal medicine. The early twentieth century saw more than 25,000 U.S. physicians called the eclectics, praising the pain relieving and cold fighting properties of the ginger. Traditional use of the ginger remedies was also made by many different cultures historically in many different regions of the world – these societies used the herb for some of the same basic therapeutic applications to which we put the herb to use. Some of these herbal remedies and applications of the ginger included its use as an analgesic, its anti-arthritic ability was utilized universally, the wound healing properties were utilized widely, the anti-helmintic and anti-ulcerabilities were widely known and put to use, its actions as a stimulant and its aphrodisiac properties also found great use in traditional medicine.
At the same time, traditional treatment of a variety of respiratory diseases, and problems in the reproductive and digestive system were treated using herbal remedies derived from the ginger. For many types of cardiovascular diseases, the ginger remains a primary preventive treatment especially in the treatment of critical cases of such conditions. Similar in action and usage to the common drug aspirin, the herbal remedies made from the ginger possesses a therapeutic potential and an ability to prevent thousands of deaths arising from sudden heart attacks and strokes as well as in the treatment of diseases such as cancer of the colon. The ginger has an advantage over aspirin, in that it will produce no side effects in the body whatsoever even after prolonged and continuous use. Ginger’s anti-ulcer effects are complemented on the whole by a host of other important beneficial properties pertaining to the digestive system, which includes immense relief from both diarrhea and constipation; it helps protect the liver and is an effective pro-biotic support agent. Ginger has also been documented as clearly having an effective anti-nausea effect. The ginger based herbal remedies can thus be used to rid the body of nausea arising from the continuous use of chemotherapy and those which affect people during oceanic travels, it is also helpful during nausea from a term of pregnancy and in treating nausea following gynecological surgery, in all such cases, herbal remedies based on the ginger is the natural treatment of choice for the nausea. The assistance that ginger gives to the digestive system marks it as a prominent bio-availability herb, and the ginger assists the digestion of other consumed nutrients and is a greatly recommended addition to the natural supplemental regimes during treatment processes for many digestive complaints. While not generally recognized, intestinal parasites pose a much greater threat to the industrialized world than they are credited for. Here too, the potent range of anti-parasitic activities displayed by the ginger can play a great role in treatment of parasite infections. Historical observations of the ginger, place it in a role of an effective remedy for cold, this ability of the ginger arises from a combination of principal actions and benefits which can include eicosanoid balancing within the body, its pro-biotic supporting role, its anti-toxic and cytoprotective influences on the body among other beneficial effects.
BenefitsofGingerThe remedies based on ginger also have a very significant anti-mutagenic potential, and these can be used to beat powerful carcinogens such as the compound benzopyrene and the more toxic burned byproducts of the amino acid tryptophan in the body. Ginger’s reputed anticancer abilities also deserve further research and study, this property of the herb must be further investigation and its role in cancer-treatment programs must be studied in the future so as to take advantage of any beneficial effects. In addition, to all of these abilities herbal remedies made from the ginger positively affect all other parameters of health such as levels of the compound cholesterol and the levels of blood sugar, at the same time, the herb helps in balancing a variety of vital body systems such as the performance of the circulatory system, the functioning of the respiratory and reproductive systems besides others. Topical remedies made from the ginger also have very positive and beneficial effects; the potency of the ginger in this topical role has been demonstrated during external treatments which showed dramatic results and improvement from a variety of skin disorders in many patients.
The safety of herbal remedies made from the ginger is remarkable. It can be said that almost no modern pharmaceutical products can compete with the range of therapeutic properties displayed by this herb and this does not even include the complete absence of all adverse physical side effects from prolonged use of the herbal remedy. However, when using ginger products during a term of pregnancy and before surgery, patients must be careful about doses and use the herb in moderation at such times. A general safe and preventive dosage of the herbal remedy for the use of the general population can be up to 1 gram a day of the powdered herbal remedy. Dietary use of therapeutic ginger remedies must be gradual and over a long period of time in all cases, as this will ensure the optimal benefits. The quality of the rhizome will also greatly influence the effectiveness of the remedy made from ginger. Organically certified ginger products are the best, as many of the commercial ginger products are normally subjected to many potential levels of chemical contamination, at different stages of the manufacturing process. For regular supplementation, both the fresh and the dry ginger herbal remedies are recommended and these two can even be used in tandem. Though, the properties and benefits given by each will be slightly different and both will have specific strengths and weaknesses. Commercially the herbal remedies made from the ginger are available in many forms, which include the fresh and dried forms, ginger syrups, and as herbal capsules and extracts.

Ginger {Zingiber officinale}

Also, Known As:

  • African Ginger
  • Ardraka
  • Black Ginger
  • Chiang
  • Gan-jiang
  • Ginger
  • Nagara
  • Race Ginger
  • Shen-jiang
  • Sunthi
Zingiber officinale, the official name of the common ginger was coined by the famous eighteenth-century Swedish botanist and general naturalist, Carl Linnaeus. While Latinizing the name, Carl Linnaeus also derived the name Zingiber for the generic term, using the Indian Sanskrit name for ginger – singabera, or shaped like a horn.
About 1,400 species of plants are placed in the family Zingiberaceae and the ginger is just another of these plants. It shares equal honors with other famous family members, the spices turmeric – which is a principal component used in curry; it is also an herbal medicine – and the spice cardamom – used extensively in South Asian cuisine. The ginger has a slender stem; ginger is a perennial plant, about 24 to 39 inches in height. Compared to the second and following stems, the first stems are lengthier and also bear beautiful and fragrant flowers. The ginger flowers are greenish yellow and streaked with purple down the sides. Dark green ginger leaves are characterized by a famous midrib that is sheathed at the growing base. The seeds of the ginger appear in the rare fruiting body.
The underground stem of the ginger is the most familiar part of the plant and it is extensively used for commercial as well as domestic purposes. Often mistakenly called the root of the ginger, the irregular shape and size of the underground section of the stem is the most important part of this herb – the plant stores food reserves in this underground stem. The botanically correct term to apply to the underground stem is rhizome, even if the ginger will probably always be associated with the term root by common people. Whole new ginger plants can self generate from budded sections, and property of the rhizome is very different to a root, which will die if split into sections. Cultivation of the ginger has been made possible by these buds in the rhizome and the plant has been cultivated in this way for thousands of years. The habitat most suited to the cultivation of ginger is one with a hot and moist climate with some shade; ginger also prefers soil that is well tilled and rich in loam. The rhizome is white to yellow in color and bears thick lobes – it is also very aromatic, a property used in culinary and herbal processes. An unusual exception to this mild color range is one ginger variety, which has a characteristic blue ring, lying in circles inside the fleshy interior – this is one of the most prized varieties of ginger.
ginger parts
Today, the ginger is the most widely cultivated spice around the world. A lot of countries and regions cultivate this spice and different opinions exists as to who grows the best ginger. Any favoritism of a particular variety of ginger is purely a matter of personal taste, as the ginger appears in countless varieties, shapes and sizes, India alone is said to have an estimated fifty varieties of this versatile herb. Depending on the conditions of the soil and the manner of its cultivation’s, each and every variety of the ginger possesses its own distinctive flavor and aroma. Africa is reputedly the home of the most pungent ginger, while the milder varieties are grown mainly in China. The general agreements is that culinary applications will likely use milder ginger varieties, while the stronger and more pungent varieties are best to prepare ginger beverages and for use in therapeutic herbal remedies.
Oral anti-coagulants are normally prescribed to individuals who suffer from frequent blood clots to help keep their blood free from clots. The compound known as warfarin sodium commonly called coumadin, is one of the most frequently used medications in this regard. This compound is also a potent rat poison and taking it in high doses can cause serious internal hemorrhages in the body, especially if it is used over an extended period of time by the person. The ideal substitute for these synthetic blood thinners is ginger root, which can replace the role of this compound in the body. At least some individuals suffering from such problems who took an average of two herbal ginger capsules two times a day in between meals appears to have benefited.

Plant Parts Used:

Rhizome, root, essential oil.

Ginger Tea for Women:

This ginger tea is extraordinarily healing for all female organs and the intestines, as well as for stressed nerves and a sluggish metabolism.
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 1 cups (1/4 l) water
  • 2 cups (1/2 l) milk
Peel the ginger and grate or slice very fine. Simmer very slowly for about 20 minutes in the water. Now add up to 2 cups (1/2 l) milk and let it boil up. Remove from the heat and sweeten with honey or cane sugar. Ginger tea is best consumed in small sips over the course of the day, as required. In the morning and before meals it stimulates digestion; on cold winter afternoons it warms and protects from the flu. Many women take the tea after miscarriages or abdominal surgery, to promote the healing of the uterus.
Ginger tea is so effective against ailments of the reproductive and digestive systems because it stimulates circulation and supports a good blood supply to these organs. Bloating can be treated with this tea, by adding a pinch of cinnamon. In the presence of stomach ulcers, however, modest amounts of this tea are recommended and the quantity of ginger can be cut down. Similarly, in the early weeks of pregnancy, the further stimulation of blood flow into the abdomen is not recommended, so go easy on ginger at this time. Modest amounts, however, are a great remedy for morning sickness.

Candied Ginger:

  • 1 lb. fresh ginger root
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
Pare the root and cut into long narrow slices, across the grain. Cover with about 1 1/2 cups cold water in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Simmer 5 minutes, drain and cover with cold water again. Heat to boiling, simmers 5 minutes more. Drain. Dry well.
Combine granulated sugar and 1 cup of water in a small kettle. Boil 10 minutes. Add the ginger slices and cook over very low heat. Do not boil. Stir, and cook until all the syrup is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove the ginger, and dry on a rack.
Roll the cooled ginger in superfine sugar, and let it stand in the sugar until it has crystallized.

PARTRIDGEBERRY

My botany professors first introduced me to partridgeberry, and with excitement I recognized the scientific name as a medicinal from one of my herbal books. This was back in the late 70’s when the modern herbal literature was scanty, computers were not in my reality, and I still had yet to meet a herbalist in the flesh. I would learn a plant in school and then ride my horse home to devour any information I could find on the medicinal uses of that plant. Partridgeberry and I became quick friends, as it would accompany me on my stream-side explorations and canoe rides. I spent a lot of time in the woods by myself at that time and relished the relationships with my newfound and cherished plant allies. These relationships were the threads that wove me into the interconnected majestic quilt of biodiversity and Gaian consciousness. I began to gain a purpose and feel empowered as I learned how to wildcraft and make medicine for my neighbors and myself.

I learned to pick its stems so that some roots and stem remained and were able to continue growing. I made fresh tea and tincture from the leaves and stems, always including a bit of flower or fruit depending on the season, for a whole plant medicine. Nibbling the edible red berries whenever I could, I developed a taste for the unusual fruit. Partridgeberries are not very sweet and are more like a vegetable in flavor, being somewhat reminiscent of a slightly sweet and astringent cucumber. The fruit can brighten salads, make a fun trailside nibble, and is easy for little people to gather and gobble. Like many things in life, if we relax our expectations, we can appreciate what is.

Botany/Ecology:

Partridgeberry is in the Rubiaceae, or madder, family and has opposite, entire, leathery, ovate and glabrous (smooth, hairless) leaves. Twinflower is yet another name for this prostrate evergreen vine, alluding to its two diminutive white flowers with a fused ovary, which eventually give rise to one fruit. There are two “eyes” on the fruit, which are the scars left behind from the fallen calyx and corolla of the flower, a usual trait helpful in identification. The two flowers giving rise to one fruit is an excellent doctrine of signatures for a reproductive tonic.

Mitchella is quite an adaptable species, growing from central Florida north to Newfoundland and Quebec, west to Texas and up into Minnesota. Mitchella prefers to grow in the shade in well-drained soil, with the porosity being obtained from either the fluff of forest duff or sandy soils. Often growing under conifers, Mitchella repens frequently grows with rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera spp., Orchidaceae), and spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata, Ericaceae).

In much of its range, it grows under the shade of the eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis, Pinaceae). I believe one of the reasons Mitchella thrives under conifers is because of the finer leaf litter created by needles, as opposed to the wider leaf litter created by broad-leafed trees. The eastern hemlocks are currently dying from the infestation of the hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), an introduced insect from Asia. The old growth trees are particularly susceptible, and here in the southern Appalachians, the older hemlocks are all dead, except for the few trees that have been treated with insecticide. Until other trees take their place in the forest canopy, wide areas of our forests, especially along streams, are receiving more sunlight than usual. So far the partridgeberry seems to be tolerating the extra light, but I am beginning to see signs of sun damage on other forest floor inhabitants. My concern is that partridgeberry will not be able to tolerate the changes of increased sunlight and, later on, the denser shade and leaf litter cover created by broad-leafed trees, which will replace the hemlocks. Rhododendron is a common inhabitant with hemlocks in acidic mountain stream environments. I believe rhododendrons will be one of the major plant species replacing the dying hemlocks, which will be challenging to the understory plants as little grows under its dense shade and thick leaf litter.

Partridgeberry is on the United Plant Savers “to-watch” list, as one of our native medicinal herbs that could be potentially threatened, especially if it gains widespread popularity. Currently, Mitchella is far from the twenty top-selling herb lists, with its major threat being habitat loss. Partridgeberry is easy to grow and quite adaptable to a wide variety of habitats, so its prospects look good. However, I am concerned about its immediate future, as it is so intertwined with the fate of the eastern hemlock.

berries (1)Medicinal uses:

Everything we know about this plant originates with the indigenous people of North America, who used partridgeberry as an emmenagogue, astringent, diuretic, parturient and styptic. In addition, it was used to ease menstrual cramps, help with labor pains and ease delivery. Topically, partridgeberry was employed as a wash for sore nipples during breastfeeding. Squaw vine is an early name for this plant, attesting to its Native use in treating female reproductive disorders. Squaw vine usually goes by partridgeberry these days as the term squaw has been used in a derogatory way by many Europeans and is considered to be insulting to many Native women.

Personally, I have a strong sense of gratitude for partridgeberry as an ally, which helped to bring my sweet daughter, into this world. I used a tincture made of equal parts Mitchella repens, wild yam root (Dioscorea villosa, Dioscoreaceae), and black haw root bark (Viburnum prunifolium, Adoxaceae) taking 2 ml, 3-6 times a day.

Another story of Mitchella involved a woman in her sixth month of pregnancy who was experiencing a lot of stress in her home life. Her emotional situation had intensified the usual “practice” contractions typically felt in later pregnancy and she was concerned that she might go into early labor. I recommended a tincture of equal parts Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus, Rosaceae) and Mitchella repens. She took 2-3 droppers full three times a day and her contractions subsided.

Mitchella is also indicated in early pregnancy for women who have experienced multiple miscarriages or are facing a potential miscarriage. The dosage in this situation and most others would be 2-3 droppers full of tincture three times a day. A decoction from the dried or fresh herb may also be employed in such a situation. I am conservative with herbs in pregnancy and recommend their use only when necessary. It is my belief that a healthy pregnancy does not warrant the use of partus preparatory, as the body in its wisdom knows how to give birth. Contemporary uses in female reproductive disorders also include tonic treatment for infertility and menstrual cramps.

Some other uses of partridgeberry involve its use in urinary tract disorders; it can give ease in urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis, and BPH as a diuretic and astringent. The Alabama herbalist, Tommie Bass, used the leaves for incontinence in children, “kidney trouble”, and the berries for diarrhea and painful urination. It has also been used as a moderate astringent for gastrointestinal disorders, including diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Cultivation of Partridgeberry:

Soil and site requirements: Mitchella prefers to grow in the sight of streams and spring seeps, but not right next to the water. If you don’t have any wet sites or streams, plant it in the shade and water it occasionally during drought spells. Mitchella is a running plant and will spread indefinitely as long as it doesn’t suffer too much competition from faster growing or more upright understory plants. You may want to help partridgeberry by weeding, cutting back or transplanting highly vigorous co-inhabitants. Harvest vining stem tips, leaving some of the plant rooted, and you can continually harvest from the same site as long as the population is large enough. pH 5-6; Zones 3-9, moist soil, can be sandy or fluffy, partially broken-down forest duff but not too clayey, full shade to part shade, under conifers or mixed hardwood/conifers.

Propagation: The preferred method of propagation is by layering during the growing season, or stem cuttings in the fall.  The easiest method is to take a growing vine tip and bury a portion of the stem one inch below the soil, weigh it down with a rock, leaving the distal end of the stem above ground. You can do this right on site in the earth, or in a soil-filled pot next to the plant. Check back in a couple months by gently pulling on the free tip of the buried vine to check for resistance. If the stem is rooted, you can then cut the tip from the parent plant and dig up your layeringling. You can then transplant the new plant to a different site, or pot it up. Some other running plants that can be grown this way are Gotu kola (Centella Asiatica, Apiaceae) and jiaogulan (Gynostemma Penta phylum, Cucurbitaceae). Since the plant naturally spreads in this manner, you can also find rooted portions, divide them into several plants, and move them to their new site or pot them up.

 

Mitchella is much trickier to grow from seed. The seeds are hydrophilic, which means they cannot be stored dry for very long and should be planted as soon as possible. Wash the seeds free of pulp before planting. Germination takes place after three months of cold moist stratification, though sometimes it can need alternating treatment of warm moist, cold moist and then warm moist. Which means if you plant seeds in the late summer, you may get germination the following spring or in the second spring after planting.

Partridgeberry Common names: partridgeberry, mitchella, twinflower, squawvine

Scientific name: Mitchella repens, Rubiaceae (Madder family)

Plant Part used: leaves and stem

Preparation and dosage: Fresh tincture 1:2 95%, dry tincture 1:4 60%, both preparations 1-2 ml 3x/day. One teaspoon of the dried herb or two teaspoons of the fresh herb finely minced, decocted in one cup of water for twenty minutes, drunk 3x/day.

Actions: uterine tonic, partus preparatory, diuretic, astringent, parturient

Energetics: cooling and drying

Indications: Partridgeberry is a uterine tonic for heavy menstruation, and after childbirth, miscarriage, surgical abortion, and D&C. It is one of the safer partus preparators and parturients and is often used to prevent miscarriage with wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) and black haw (Viburnum prunifolium). Also used in amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and infertility. Urinary tract: urinary tract infections, benign prostatic hyperplasia, interstitial cystitis, bed-wetting in children, recurrent urinary tract infections in pregnancy, edema, dysuria. Digestive: diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids

Specific Indications from Eclectic sources: Atonic conditions of the female reproductive organs; tardy menstruation, uneasy sensations in the pelvis with dragging tenderness and pressure, frequent desire to urinate, and difficulty in the evacuation. Also on menorrhagia: Excessive bleeding caused by uterine tonicity with a sensation of fullness, tenderness, and pressure in the abdomen.

Side effects/contraindications: May is too drying for long-term use with drier constitutions. Combine with demulcent or moistening herbs to mediate its effects.

Chamomile

  • German Chamomile – Matricaria chamomilla
  • Roman Chamomile – Anthemis nobilis

The chamomile herb is another well known plant, used in making effective herbal remedies for the treatment of a variety of illnesses. The herb has a great relaxant action on the nervous system and the digestive system. The herbal remedies made from this plant are considered to be a perfect remedy for the treatment of disorders affecting babies and children. The main action of the chamomile is that it brings about relaxation in all the smooth muscles throughout the body of an individual. The herb acts on the digestive tract and rapidly brings relief from any muscular tension and spasms, it alleviates disorders such as colic, and it can reduce the amount of abdominal pain, and remedy excess production of wind and abdominal distension in patients.

The other major affect of the herb lies in its ability to regulate peristalsis along the esophagus, resulting in the treatment of both diarrhea and persistent constipation in a patient. The chamomile is well known for its ability to soothe all types of problems related to the digestive system, particularly when these are specifically related to persistent stress and tension affecting the person. The flow of bile is stimulated by the bitters, at the same time, the chamomile also affects the secretion of digestive juices in the body, as a result it enhances the general appetite and this leads to an improvement in the sluggish digestion of the patient. When used internally and as a topical medication, the volatile oil is known to prevent ulceration’s and is also observed to be capable of speeding up the healing process in areas of the skin affected by ulcers, this ability makes chamomile an excellent remedy for the treatment of gastritis, and in the treatment of peptic ulcers along with varicose ulcers affecting the legs of the patient.

The potent antiseptic action of the chamomile is also very valuable, the herb is very active against all infections arising from bacteria, and it can be used in the treatment of various illnesses, including common thrush – caused by the Candida albicans. Herbal chamomile tea is also another way to use the herb, and this tea helps in lowering the temperature of the body during a persistent fever and furthermore, the herbal tea is also effective against colds, flu, common sore throats, persistent coughs, and against all kinds of digestive infections such as the common gastroenteritis which affects a lot of patients annually. Inflammation in the bladder and cases of cystitis are soothed easily by the antiseptic oils in the chamomile – leading to effective and rapid relief from the condition.

Herbal remedies made from the chamomile also helps in relieving persistent nausea and sickness felt by a women during the term of her pregnancy, the herbal remedy can also help bring relaxation from uterine spasms and aids in relieving painful periods, it also helps in reducing painful menopausal symptoms, the remedy can also be used to bring relief from mastitis, it is effective against premenstrual headaches and migraines. In addition, the remedy is also used in the treatment of absent flows during menstrual period – if the condition is due to the presence of stress felt by the women. The pain felt during the contractions of labor can be relieved by drinking herbal chamomile tea; the tea can also be drunk throughout the process of childbirth to help relax the tension in the muscles. The herbal remedies made from the chamomile also function as an effective general pain reliever, thus the chamomile can be taken to treat persistent and painful headaches, it can be used in the treatment of migraines, it can be used to treat neuralgia, and it can also be used to relieve a toothache, an earache, or the achiness which occurs during flu, it is effective against muscular cramps, it can be used to treat rheumatic and gout pains in the body. Inflammation in arthritic joints can also be effectively relieved by consuming herbal remedies made from the chamomile.

The property of the chamomile in the role of a natural anti-histamine has also been observed during recent researches conducted the chamomile herb – thus there is a possibility that the herb can be used in this role. Herbal remedies made from the chamomile are also used in the treatment of asthma and to treat hay fever and the herb is used externally as a topical remedy against skin disorders such as eczema. As an antiseptic remedy, the chamomile has been used topically in the treatment of all kinds of wounds, it has been used in the treatment of different types of ulcers, it can be used to treat sores, and to treat burns as well as scalded skin.

Chamomile in the form of steam inhalations can effectively aid in bringing relief from asthma, it can ward off hay fever, and it can also alleviate catarrh and sinusitis in patients. Topical chamomile cream has also been used to treat sore nipples and this cream is also used as a vaginal douche for the treatment of all kinds of vaginal infections in women. Soothing relief from cystitis and hemorrhoids can be had by sitting on a bowl of chamomile herbal tea. The anti-septic actions of the chamomile herb is also excellent in the role of an antiseptic eyewash to treat sore and inflamed eyes and it can also be used as a lotion for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions including eczema and common fungal infections such as ringworm.

Chamomile herbal remedies must be considered by anyone who has ever suffered from an occasional migraine headache and this remedy is also effective in treating hyperactive children, the famous French herbalist, Maurice Messegue, had great success with herbal remedies made from the chamomile in treating such ailments. In one example, a man affected by debilitating migraine attacks was cured after just 14 days of intensive treatment using herbal remedies made from the chamomile herb – such is the power of this plant. Herbal teas made from the chamomile can be very relaxing to the body, preparation of such teas involve relatively simple steps, just steep about 2 tablespoons of some fresh or dried chamomile flowers in a pint of water, boil the water for about 40 minutes. After removing the pot, cool down the broth and strain the liquid, it can then be sweetened using some pure maple syrup and this herbal tea can be drunk in doses of 1-2 cups at a time on a regular basis for long term treatment of headaches.

The chamomile has also been frequently praised for its properties by many European herbalists, who have often raved about its big cosmetic benefits – especially when used as a topical herbal application. A healthier and softer glow can be detected for example, when the face is washed several times every week, with the herbal tea made from the chamomile. At the same time, this tea also has other uses, it is considered to be a wonderful hair conditioner and has great benefits, and particularly when treating blond hair, the herbal tea makes hair more manageable and induces a shinier surface on the hair. This herbal tea can be prepared by bringing one pint of water to a boil, once the boiled water has been removed from the heat, immediately add 2 tsp. of dried chamomile flowers.

Now cover the pot and let the herbal essences steep into the water for about 45 minutes. After this infusion process, the water can be strained and the resulting tea can be used while still lukewarm or when fully cooled down.

chamomile_tea

All external conditions of the body, including inflammation in the skin can be treated using the chamomile as an herbal compress or in the form of an herbal wash; the herbal oil can also be rubbed into affected areas of the body to treat muscular stiffness and to alleviate temporary cases of paralysis in the limbs. Prepare a consumable herbal tea from the chamomile – which can also be used as a wash – by bringing about 1-2 pints of water to a boil, to this boiling water add 2 heaped teaspoons of dried or fresh chamomile flowers. The pot containing the water must then be removing from the heat at once and the herb can then be allowed to steep into the water for about 20 minutes or so-it can then be cooled and strained to get the tea. This herbal tea made from the chamomile can be drunk one cup at a time about 2-3 times every day and the tea can also be used as a herbal wash to treat inflamed areas of the skin, by applying it on the affected area several times per day. Paralysis and stiffness in the limbs can also be treated using a chamomile massage oil, this oil can be topical used to treat all aches such as lower backaches, prepare this herbal oil solution by filling a small bottle with some fresh chamomile flowers and pour some olive oil until it completely covers the flowers inside the bottle. Once the oil and the flowers are sealed into the bottle, place a tight lid over the mouth of the bottle and place the bottle under direct sunlight for two weeks at a stretch, during this time, the herbal essences from the flowers will seep into the olive oil and the remedy is ready, it can then be stored in the refrigerator and used as a topical healing oil whenever necessary. Any oil that is going to be externally applied on the skin must always be warmed before it is massaged into the affected areas of the skin. To gain immediate and incredible relief, and to help you soothe your tired or irritated eyes, soak some chamomile tea bags in some ice water for a little while, this solution can then be used as an application on the eyelids for rapid relief from the tiredness and irritation. The particular topical eyewash is an especially good idea during allergy season when eyes are typically affected because of irritants such as pollen in the air.

chamomile herbA chemical compound known as azulene is one of the chief chemical components in all species of chamomiles, and particularly so, in the German variety of the herb. This particular chemical compound is a very potent anti-allergen and has been recorded as helping in the prevention of allergic seizures, up to an hour following its administration even in experimental guinea pigs. A possible cure to hay fever might lie in careful use and administration of the azulene. In little children as well as in adults, the herbal remedies made from the chamomile are effective in relieving sudden asthmatic attacks – this is another very important ability of the herb. In a majority of health stores, a very effective chamomile throat spray is marketed under the name CamoCare, this spray has been used to relieve the distress and blockage during an asthma attack. Patients suffering from asthma can benefit from this herbal spray by spraying some of this chamomile concentrate into the mouth right at the very back of the throat, the spray will aid in relieving the sudden choking sensations during an attack and it will also help in facilitating respiration during the attack. During allergy season, vulnerable adults are advised to drink 3-4 cups of warm chamomile tea on a daily basis, young children can also benefit by taking 1-2 cups per day during this time, concurrently such vulnerable individuals are advised to inhale the warmed herbal vapors while keeping their heads covered using a heavy bath towel and they should do this while holding the face 8-10 inches above the pan which has some freshly made chamomile tea, inhalation must lasts for 12-15 minutes every sitting for beneficial results.

The ability to inducing regeneration in the body is a property possessed by only a very few herbs in the plant kingdom, such abilities as producing brand new liver tissue belong to very few herbs. German chamomile possesses this unique property, and so does the common tomato juice among herbs. The chemical compounds azulene and guaiazulene present in herbs were identified as being able to initiate the growth of new tissues in experimental rats which had a portion of their livers surgically removed, this experimental results were obtained in one research recorded in Vol. 15 of Food & Cosmetics Toxicology published in the year 1977. Patients with wasted liver tissues are advised to take up to 6 cups of the herbal chamomile tea every other day or in an average dosage amount of 3-4 cups every day – this regimen is ideal for encouraging the regeneration of liver tissues in the body of the patient. Compared to the powdered capsules, for example, it is known that the herbal tea works much better and is a more efficient way of treatment over the long term. In the treatment of patients, and especially patients already suffering from some severe degenerative liver diseases such as infectious hepatitis or the complications due to the AIDS virus, the consumption of this remedy will prove to be extremely beneficial in the long term.

Chamomile hair rinse

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers

Boil together for 5 minutes. Strain. Apply to the hair after washing.

Herbal shampoo with chamomile

  • 2 Tbs. dried chamomile flowers
  • 2 Tbs. dried rosemary
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. borax
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup dried mint leaves, crushed
  • 2 cups no detergent shampoo

Pour boiling water over the herbs in a medium bowl, cover, and allow the herbs to steep for 1 hour. Remove the herbs.
Beat the egg until frothy, and beat into the shampoo, along with the borax. Combine with the herbal infusion. Bottle, and keep stored in the refrigerator. It will keep about 1 month. Use as regular shampoo.

Chamomile cleansing milk

Chamomile cleansing milk is excellent for people having dry skin. The ingredients used to prepare this herbal cleanser include:

  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 ml) of chamomile flowers
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) of milk containing full fat

To prepare this cleansing recipe, you should first gently heat the two ingredients together in a double boiler for about 30 minutes. However, be careful not to allow the mixture to boil. Allow the mixture to cool down for two hours, filter it and store the preparation in a refrigerator. This herbal cleanser ought to be used within seven days of preparation.

Mullein {Verbascum thapsus}

Also, Known As:

  • Bunny’s Ears
  • Flannelleaf
  • Jacobs staff
  • Mullein
The common mullein or Verbascum thapsus L. found in the United States is a biennial (thriving for two years) plant. The herb is wooly in appearance and belongs to the Scrophulariaceae family of plants. During the first year of its existence, the large and hairy leaves of the common mullein form a rosette or a rose-shaped decoration just above the ground. In the spring of the second year, the plant gives rise to a tall stem from the leaves and it grows to a height of approximately four feet. The apex of the stem is covered by a barb of yellow colored flowers. The leaves, as well as the flowers of this herb belonging to the Verbascum species, have been used for medical purposes since ages. Incidentally, the flowers of the common mullein are very popular in Europe and are acquired from Verbascum phlomoides or Verbascum thapsiforme – the species that are indigenous to the continent.
Naturalist Grieve described the common mullein as a tremendous valuable herb for treating an assortment of ailments. Grieve eulogized the herb to such an extent that he said that it could even put the latest ‘wonder medicine’ appear to be ineffective in contrast. Physicians believe that the common mullein has demulcent (a calming substance), emollient (something soothing to the skin) and astringent (a substance that draws affected tissues closer) effects and hence it is beneficial in curing bleeding of the lungs or tuberculosis and also of the bowels. The common mullein also has sedative (tranquilizing) and narcotic (a drug that relieves pain and induces sleep) properties and is widely used for healing ailments such as asthma, coughs and hemorrhoids. The herb may also be applied externally to treat burns and erysipelas or streptococcus infections. At the same time, it is useful in treating bruises, frostbite, diarrhea, ear infections, microorganisms that cause most of the ailments as well as migraines. Interestingly, there are many who believe that the common mullein is also effective in getting rid of evil spirits. Most significantly, this ‘wonder medication’ or common mullein may be taken internally, applied externally and even smoked to cure different ailments. The mullein has some very practical uses, but people seldom adopt them. For instance the yellow flowers of the herb may be used as a dye for blond hair and the fuzzy or hairy leaves of the herb may be put inside the stocking to keep the feet tepid during cold climes.
According to the French herbal medicine practitioner, Maurice Messegue, the common mullein may be used to treat heart palpitation, fast or irregular heartbeat, angina (chest pains owing to lack of adequate blood in the heart) and several other coronary disorders. Syrup prepared from the leaves and yellow common mullein flowers is effective for treating such conditions. To prepare the syrup, boil two handfuls of roughly cut common mullein leaves and flowers in one and a half quart (one quart is equal to one fourth of a gallon) of water for an hour. Cover the container and boil the substance till it reduces to one pint. Next, filter the boiled liquid and add three tablespoons of blackstrap molasses and the half teaspoon of glycerin to increase the shelf life of the syrup. For effective use, it is suggested that one should take one tablespoon of this syrup twice a day between the meals. Normally, it is advisable to take the syrup once in the morning and then in the evening. However, one may take more of it if there is more pressure on the heart.
MulleinTea-550 jpg
It may be noted here that the common mullein is one of the best herbs to treat most of the ailments associated with infancy or childhood. It is considered to be effective in healing tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils), chicken pox, measles, and mumps. In the later case, the use of mullein is more beneficial when it is blended with another herb called catnip. Incidentally, the combination of mullein and catnip has been found to be effective in treating pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) also. A tea prepared from the dried or fresh leaves and flowers of mullein is comparatively delectable and hence easier for children to consume when they are sick and need the herb. To prepare the drink, take a handful of dried or fresh mullein leaves and flowers and some dried or freshly cut herb and simmer these in one-quarter of water. Cover the container and heat the substance for about 35 minutes. Next, filter the solution twice – first through a superior sieve and then again through a piece of clean cloth. While the solution is still temperate, add two tablespoons of dark honey, one teaspoon of pure maple syrup and a few drops of unadulterated vanilla to add flavor to the drink. It is recommended that for effective use, children affected by the above-mentioned ailments may take half cup of the warm syrup every three to four hours. Here is a word of caution. The children affected by these ailments must not be given any dairy product, eggs, soft drinks, bread, greased foods, meat, candy and other similar food stuff while they are in the healing stage.
During these ailments, along with the mullein syrup, children may be given a small enema (insertion of fluid into the rectum) prepared with mullein leaves and flowers at least once every day till the inflammation of the glands sink and the fever vanishes. To prepare the enema, steep one-fourth handful of dried or freshly chopped mullein leaves, one-fourth handful of dried or freshly cut catnip herb and one peeled and finely sliced garlic clove in one pint of boiling water. Cover the container and heat the substance for about 40 minutes or till the liquid is lukewarm. Next, administer the enema to the ailing child through the rectum strictly following the instructions of the physician. It is important to advise the child to try and hold as much of the solution inside the bowels for as much time before asking for the reprieve on the toilet. Always remember to administer the enema in very small jets to enable the child to hold on to the solution inside the bowels for a couple minutes or a little longer.
mullein-flowers-infusing-in-oilThe common mullein can also be used applied externally for dressing skin ulcers, wounds, sunburns, common burns as well as hemorrhoids. To prepare medicated oil with the common mullein, drench two handfuls of cut dehydrated or fresh mullein flowers and leaves in two cups of olive oil or sweet almond for eight days at a stretch. Then filter the liquid and store it in bottle for later use. It is important to store the liquid in a cool and dry place to retain its properties. This oil is beneficial for dressing different skin conditions. Faintly warm a few drops of this medicated oil and place it inside the ear canal to alleviate an earache. Remember to cover the ear with a warm cloth after applying the oil. There is another version of this oil which may be prepared by blending St. John’s wort oil and mullein oil. Put a couple of drops of each oil in a teaspoon and heat the mixture over a cigarette lighter or gas stove for just 45 seconds or till it is lukewarm. Next, use an eyedropper to extract the liquid from the teaspoon and put in the external ear canal. Once the liquid has been placed in the ear canal, stuff the ear with small sterilized cotton lobes. For more effective healing, you may place a hot water bottle or a half cut oven-roasted Bermuda onion over the cotton lobes. This will help to keep the ear warm. However, in both the cases, before applying the oil in the ear canal it is necessary to ensure that the ear drums are not perforated or punctured. It may be mentioned here that excruciating pain and  the risk of the ear drum being in danger of being split, applying these herbal medications are not only cheaper, but also more sensible than depending on antibiotics.

Plant Parts Used

Leaves, flowers.

Medicinal Properties

Mullein has several medicinal properties important for treating various ailments, especially coughs and congestion. Mullein is particularly effective in treating disorders of the respiratory track such as tracheitis and bronchitis. The leaves and flowers of the herb are widely used as an infusion to diminish the production of mucus as well as arouse the coughing up of phlegm or thick mucus. It may be mentioned here that mullein blends well with other expectorants (medicines for a cough) like coltsfoot and thyme. When applied externally as an emollient (a substance that smooths the irritating skin), mullein proves to effectively heal dermis disorders. In Germany, herbal medicine practitioners soak the mullein flowers in olive oil and the resultant substance is used to treat ear infections as well as hemorrhoids.

mullein plantBasic Growing of Mullein

Mullein is indigenous to central and southern regions of Europe as well as western parts of Asia. However, now mullein has acclimatized itself to all other temperate climatic regions of the world. Normally, mullein grows and thrives in open fallow land and also beside the pavements. The leaves and flowers of the plant that have rich medicinal worth are harvested during summer months.

Constituents of Mullein

Mullein contains mucilage, flavonoids, triterpenoid saponins, volatile oil, and tannins.

Recommended Use

A tea prepared with dehydrated mullein flowers or leaves is medicinally useful and widely recommended for treating coughs and bronchial exasperation’s. To prepare this tea add one to two teaspoons of dehydrated mullein leaves or flowers to 250 ml or one cup of boiling water and allow it to soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Normally, it is recommended to take the tea three to four times daily. But if you prefer the tincture prepared with the dry mullein leaves or flowers, take one to four ml of it three to four times daily. Even the dried flowers and leaves may be taken in the proportion of one to two grams three times every day. Normally, mullein is blended with another demulcent (a substance that relieves inflamed skin or mucous membranes) or expectorant herbs as a remedy for coughs and bronchial pain.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions

Studies, as well as experience, have shown that mullein is a safe herb and does not have any adverse side effects. Although, there have been infrequent reports of skin irritation after the use of mullein; mullein is believed to be safe to use during pregnancy or lactation.

Teas and Tinctures

Mullein has several applications and its flowers and leaves may be consumed as infusion, tincture as well as syrup to treat numerous disorders. The flowers of the herb may be used as a gargle too.
Flowers:
TINCTURE: Consumption of up to 20 ml of tincture prepared from the dried mullein flowers every day is recommended for treating persistent dry coughs as well as swelling and irritation of throats.
GARGLE: Dilute the infusion prepared with dehydrated mullein flowers and use to rinse your throat for chronic and difficult coughs.
SYRUP: The syrup prepared from the mullein flower infusion is effectual in treating persistent and rigid coughs.
INFUSED OIL: Prepare infused oil with dehydrated mullein flowers by the cold infusion procedure and apply drops of the oil to treat earaches. Here is a word of caution. Only use the oil in the ear if you are sure that the eardrum is not punctured. This infused oil may also be applied externally for relieving pains and irritations in wounds, hemorrhoids,eczema or inflamed eyelids.
 
Leaves:
INFUSION: An infusion prepared with the dried mullein leaves may be used for unceasing coughs as well as swelling and irritation in the throat. Normally, the infusion is prepared by adding 50 grams of the dried leaves of the herb to 500 ml of water. As this infusion induces sweating, it is beneficial for reducing the high temperatures associated with cold and coughs.
TINCTURE: The tincture prepared with mullein leaves is beneficial for treating respiratory conditions. It may be blended with invigorating herbs for treating coughs like mulberry bark, cowslip root, elecampane, sweet violet, anise or even thyme.

German bactericidal oil

1 cup (40 g) mullein flowers

2 cups (500 ml) olive oil

2 t (10 ml) benzoin or myrrh tincture

1 green glass jar

Quickly crush the flowers in a mortar. Combine all the ingredients and macerate in a green jar near a fire or in a window for 21 days. Strain using a fine cotton cloth. Place in the ear in case of otitis or an infected pinna, or apply in the case of eczema,ringworm or mycosis.