Lungwort

Pulmonaria Officinalis

Lungwort is a perennial herb that normally grows up to a height of one feet or 30 cm. The plant bears wide oval shaped leaves at the base, while the upper leaves are relatively smaller marked with the irregular color pattern, especially white spots. The lungwort plants also bear bunches of pink-purple colored flowers.

Going by the Middle Ages Doctrine of Signatures, an ancient European philosophy, herbs bearing parts that resembled human body parts, animals, or other objects, had useful relevancy to those parts, objects or animals. It may as well indicate to the surroundings or specific places in which herbs grew. Following this theory, lungwort is effective in treating chest ailments and hence its leaves bear resemblance to the lung tissues.

The lungwort plant is native to Europe and western Asia and belongs to the family of Boraginaceae and the Pulmonaria genus of flowering plants. One species of the plant – P. mollissima – is found in the region spreading from east to central Asia. Rough estimates prepared by various herbalists list around 10 to 18 species of Pulmonaria growing in the wild. However, researchers have found it extremely difficult and perplexing to classify or categorize (taxonomy) this species of the plant.

Interestingly, the scientific term Pulmonaria has been obtained from the Latin word Pulmo literally translated to English means ‘the lung’. During the period of ‘sympathetic magic’ (magic based on the belief that somebody or something can be supernaturally affected by something done to an object representing the person or thing) people were of the view that the white spots on the oval leaves of P. Officinalis were a sign of unhealthy lungs affected by ulcers. Consequently, they widely used the lungwort or medicines prepared from its derivatives to treat all pulmonary diseases. Significantly, owing to its properties to heal pulmonary diseases or infections of the lungs, the plant’s name in many languages refers to the lungs.

For instance, in English, it is known as ‘lungwort’, while in German it is called ‘Lungenkraut’. On the other hand, in some languages in Eastern Europe, the plant derives its common name from a word of ‘honey’. Like in Russian it is known as ‘medunitza’, while the Polish call it ‘miodunka plamista’ – both terms meaning ‘honey’ in the respective languages. In addition, in English lungwort also has many colloquial or idiomatic names – Soldiers and Sailors, Spotted Dog, Joseph and Mary, Jerusalem, Cowslip and Bethlehem Sage.

Plant Part Used

Leaves.

Herbal Remedy Use

The mucilage (a gummy substance secreted by some plants) properties of lungwort make it immensely helpful in treating chest problems, especially chronic bronchitis. In addition, lungwort may be blended with other herbs like coltsfoot for an effectual remedy for chronic coughs and also be administered for alleviating asthma. A combination of lungwort and coltsfoot is particularly effective in curing whooping cough. In addition, lungwort may also be used in curing ailments like a sore throat as well as jamming. Years ago, physicians applied lungwort for coughing up blood released owing to tubercular contagion. It may be mentioned here that leaves of lungwort plant are astringent (a substance that draws tissue together) in nature and are frequently used to impede bleeding.

The leaves, as well as the flowering shoots of lungwort, possess diuretic, astringent, demulcent (soothing), a little expectorant, emollient (relaxing) and resolvent (solvent) attributes. These parts of the herb are frequently employed for their curative impact when an individual is suffering from pulmonary ailments and their mucilaginous character makes these parts useful in the treatment of sore throats. The leaves as well as the flowering stems of lungwort are harvested during the spring and dried up for use when necessary afterward. Distilled water prepared from this herb is known to be effectual eyewash for healing tired eyes. In addition, a homeopathic remedy is also prepared using this herb. This homeopathic medication is employed to cure coughs, bronchitis as well as diarrhea.

Culinary 

The leaves of the herb lungwort also have culinary uses and they can be consumed either raw or after being cooked. The leaves may also be included in salads or employed in the form of a potherb. The leaves of lungwort have a rather insipid taste, but they have low fiber content and are favourable for being added into salads, despite their somewhat hairy and mucilaginous texture. However, the leaves of this herb are less acceptable for consumption on their own owing to these attributes. When cooked, the tender leaves of lungwort make a delicious vegetable. Nevertheless, the texture of the leaves has been found to be slightly oily. It may be noted that lungwort forms an element of the beverage known as Vermouth.

Habitat

Having its origin in Europe and the Caucasus, lungwort grows best in meadows at the foot of mountains and in humid locations. The leaves of lungwort are normally harvested in the latter part of spring.

The herb lungwort thrives well in any type of reasonably good soil, counting heavy clay soils. This herb has a preference for partial shade in a damp soil rich in humus content. Lungwort thrives well in shady places, especially beside tall buildings. The lungwort plants cultivated in shady locales are able to endure drought provided the soil has rich humus content. The leaves of this herb have a tendency to wither during hot weather in places where the herb is cultivated in full sunlight. The plants are resilient up to approximately 20ºC. Plants belonging to this genus are seldom if ever, bothered by rabbits and deer. Lungwort plants are a precious early on resource of nectar, especially for bees. This species has numerous named varieties, and are chosen for their decorative worth. Lungwort easily hybridizes with other plants belonging to the same genus.

Lungwort is generally propagated by its seeds, which are sown in a greenhouse during the spring. When the seedlings have grown adequately big to be handled, prick them out independently and plant them in separate containers. The young plants need to be grown in a greenhouse during the first year of their existence. The plants may be transplanted outdoors into the permanent locations during the later part of spring or early summer when the last anticipated frost has passed.

Alternately, lungwort may also be propagated by means of root division done either during the spring or in autumn. In case the soil is not very arid, the root division may also be undertaken during the early part of summer following the flowering season of the plants. Propagating lungwort through root division is extremely simple and you may directly plant the larger divisions outdoors into their permanent locations. It has, however, been found that it is better to grow the smaller divisions initially in pots in a cold frame in a slightly shady location. When these are properly established, they may be planted outdoors in their permanent positions during the later part of spring or in early summer.

Constituents

Chemical analysis of lungwort has shown that the herb encloses tannins, flavonoids, saponins, vitamin C. However, dissimilar to many other members of the borage family, lungwort does not comprise pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

Infusions and Tinctures

Lungwort can be ingested both as an infusion as well as a tincture. To prepare an infusion of the herb, add one to two teaspoons of dried up lungwort in a cup of boiling water and leave it to permeate for around 10 to 15 minutes. An individual should drink the infusion prepared from lungwort thrice daily. In the case of your favor lungwort tincture, ingest 1 ml to 4 ml of the herbal tincture daily.

Goldthread

Health Benefits of Goldthread

Goldthread, also known as coptis or canker root, is a genus of perennial herbs that have been part of Asian and North American traditional medicine for hundreds of years. The roots of the plant look like a tangled mass of gold thread, hence its name. Herbal goldthread is actually the powdered rhizome, or underground stem, of the goldthread plant.

goldthread-roots-1Traditional Uses for Goldthread

Goldthread is an important herb in both Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine. Starting in the Tang dynasty, goldthread was used to make a medicine called Huang-Lian-Jie-Du Decoction (HLJDD), which is still used today. Herbalist relies on HLJDD to address a variety of ailments, including soothing irritation, promoting normal blood sugar, and supporting gastrointestinal health.

Native Americans used the herb as a digestive aid and to remedy infections and mouth sores. It’s from this that goldthread got the nickname “canker root.” The practical value of goldthread wasn’t limited to therapeutic applications; because of its bright gold color, Indigenous Americans also used goldthread to produce a yellow dye and to flavor beer.

Health Benefits of Goldthread

The healing properties of goldthread aren’t simply folkloric in nature. Modern medicine has started to examine the potential health benefits of this herb. Animal testing confirms that goldthread can soothe redness, swelling, and irritation. Studies have found that goldthread can promote normal blood sugar and even support brain health.

Goldthread owes its healing abilities to high concentrations of several potent alkaloid compounds. Of these, berberine is most commonly associated with goldthread’s benefits. Berberine has dozens of therapeutic applications. It can protect against some types of harmful organisms and soothe irritated tissue. It promotes normal lipid profiles and is even known to boost the immune system. Multiple studies suggest that berberine may be of benefit for those suffering from obesity. Berberine promotes heart health, bone and joint health, brain health, digestive health, liver health, and is beneficial for the respiratory system. Perhaps most intriguing of all, berberine has been evaluated for activity against cancer but further research is necessary to fully understand its potential or draw conclusions.

Berberine isn’t goldthread’s only beneficial compound, though. Other alkaloids present in goldthread include palmatine, epi berberine, jatrorrhizine, columbamine, and coptisine. Coptisine, in particular, has received attention from researchers recently. It’s currently being examined for its ability to promote brain health. Among its other positive attributes, coptisine may help a fever, relieve discomfort, support heart health, and it’s a strong antioxidant. Additionally, it encourages normal cellular respiration.

Where to Find Goldthread

Many varieties of goldthread are native to Asia and North America and some are actually critically endangered. There are two reasons for this—one is genetic and one is man-made. The genetic cause is a random mutation that results in low pollen and seed production in certain species of goldthread. This mutation affects up to 80% of Coptis teeta, a type of goldthread from the eastern Himalayas. The second cause is overexploitation by humans. Goldthread is a victim of its own success. It’s desirable properties as a therapeutic herb has led to widespread overharvesting.

Finding a substitute for goldthread may be tricky. Goldenseal is a herb that also contains berberine. But, like goldthread, goldenseal has been severely over-harvested. You can find goldenseal in most drug stores, but the quality is dubious. Oregon grape root may be a better alternative than goldenseal. Although it has a lower berberine concentration, Oregon grape root is more sustainable and readily available. In fact, the plant is so common that it’s often considered an invasive species outside its native habitat.

While several varieties of goldthread are endangered and in need of protection, other species remain plentiful. Populations of some formerly threatened species, like the North American coptis trifolia, are recovering. If you’re careful about your source, goldthread itself is still a good option. You can find goldthread in supplements, both by itself and blended with other herbs.

Elecampane

Inula helenium

Also, Known As

  • Elecampane
  • Horseheal
  • Scabwort

Elecampane (botanical name Inula helenium) is a tall, bristly perennial plant that is native to south-eastern Europe and western Asia. This herb, which bears yellow flowers resembling the daisy, has been naturalized in North America and is found growing in abundance in the moist meadows, fields and along the roads in the central and eastern regions of the United States and neighboring Canada. Elecampane belongs to the Asteraceae family and grows up to a height of four to six feet. The herb has a heavy branching stem that emerges from a basal rosette (a circular arrangement of leaves at the base) with leaves that are large, oval-shaped and pointed at the end. The herb bears vivid yellow flower heads during the period between the middle to the end of the summer. The flower heads of elecampane are generally four inches in diameter and appear like diminutive sunflowers. The root of this herb is large, weighty and elongated. While the exterior of the root is yellowish, the color changes to white inside. The roots of elecampane are medicinally useful and release an aroma akin to violets in blossom.

The elecampane herb is also commonly known as ‘Horseheal’ and ‘Scabwort’ – both names derived from the plant’s original medical use. The herb was used to treat horses and, hence, the name ‘Horseheal’. In ancient time, veterinary practitioners used the herb to treat pulmonary ailments in horses. On the other hand, the plant’s usefulness in healing scabs on sheep gave it the name ‘Scabwort’. The Latin classical name for elecampane is Inula.

Elecampane is an attractive herb with leaves bearing a resemblance to those of the mullein herb, while the blooms appear as petite sunflowers. The herb grows naturally all over Europe and in the temperate climatic regions of Asia and can be found in an area extending in so far as north-western India and southern Siberia. In North America, the herb is found growing in the wild in a region extending from Nova Scotia to North Carolina and again towards the west to Missouri. This is one of the tall herbs that may grow up to a maximum height of six feet.

The stem of elecampane plant is heavy having deep grooves and it branches out at the top. The base of the herb is covered with a rosette of big, oval-shaped leaves that grow up to one to 1 ½ feet long and four inches in width. The leaves comprising the rosette at the base of the elecampane herb are soft and silky with jagged borders. On the other hand, the elecampane leaves that grow on the plant’s stem are comparatively shorter and wider and usually hold on to the stem. The plant bears vivid yellow flowers appearing on outsized terminal heads. The flowers have a diameter varying from three to four inches. The root of the herb resembles a rhizome. These tuber-like roots of elecampane are large, juicy and branch out. The roots release an aroma resembling violets in bloom (as mentioned before).

Propagating the herb from its offshoots and/ or root cuttings is the best way to grow elecampane. The root cuttings, which should be ideally two inches in length, are usually done from mature plants during autumn. The root cuttings need to be covered with somewhat damp, sandy soil and preserved in a room having a steady temperature around 50°F and 60°F during the winter months. By the time it is spring, the root cuttings will develop new shoots and they may be planted in their permanent positions outdoors once the threat of frosting is over. For ideal growth of the plants, the root cuttings with shoots need to be positioned in spaced out rows three feet from one another and there ought to be an approximate distance of 18 inches between two plants. Alternately, elecampane may also be propagated from its seeds without much trouble. Growing elecampane from its roots is best for indoors and in a cold frame during the early phase of spring. Even when the plants are grown from seeds indoors, they need to be transplanted outdoors once the risk of frosting is over. Generally, the elecampane herbs have a preference for a clay loam that is damp and also in damp soils with a good drainage system. The plants also have the aptitude to grow in partial shades.

elecampane-root

Of all the parts of the elecampane, its roots are used for treating various conditions. As mentioned earlier, the roots of the herb are collected during the second autumn of the plant’s existence – precisely after it has withered two frosting seasons. In fact, the roots of the herb are regarded to be effective for remedial purposes only in the second year of their growth. In primordial Rome, people used the medication prepared with elecampane roots to treat indigestion following a sumptuous meal in a banquet. The herb became a part of traditional medication when the people of ancient Rome and Greece used it as a remedy for cold, as they believed that it helped perspiration and also to be effective in drawing out phlegm. During the 19 the century, people boiled the elecampane roots in a sugar solution to prepare cough syrups and lozenges to cure asthma. Some people consumed these sugary roots simply as candy.

The roots of elecampane initially taste slightly sticky, but subsequently, it becomes aromatic after chewing them for some time. In addition, the roots are also somewhat bitter and overpowering and possess a pleasant scent something like the odor of camphoraceous orris.

People in earlier days also considered the elecampane roots to be beneficial for the stomach. In fact, the Romans used it regularly to overcome indigestion. Later on, elecampane became the principal herbal element in a digestive wine prepared during the medieval period known as potio Paulina or the ‘drink of Paul’. In fact, ‘drink of Paul’ referred to St. Paul’s instructions recorded in the Bible regarding the use of a small amount of wine for the health of the stomach – ‘use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake’.

Apart from the herb being beneficial for the stomach, the bright yellow blooms of the elecampane made it an attractive garden plant. However, the early European settlers in North America did not cultivate the plant for either of these virtues. On the contrary, they grew the plant for its remedial value in treating skin ailments, especially on horses and sheep. The roots of the herb were widely popular for treating pulmonary diseases in horses and scabs on sheep. Such veterinary use of the herb gave it its common names – ‘Horseheal’ and ‘Scabwort’. In addition, the roots of elecampane were also used to treat humans, especially respiratory ailments. Interesting enough, this is one reason why the herb was once cataloged in the United States Pharmacopeia.

Plant Parts Used

Root, flowers.

Remedial Properties

Since time immemorial elecampane has been regarded as an effective remedy against respiratory disease and as a stimulating herb for the respiratory system. The herb has a warming impact on the lungs along with its aptitude to tenderly invigorate coughing up or drawing out phlegm (clearing the chest of mucus accumulation) rendered elecampane a harmless medication for the young as well as the old. The herb may be utilized for nearly all chest problems and is highly effective when the patient is weak or incapacitated.

The remedial properties of elecampane have resulted in its specific use for curing chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma. The herb is especially effective in these conditions since it not only relieves the linings of the bronchial tube but is also a useful expectorant. Besides these virtues, elecampane has a somewhat bitter flavor that facilitates recuperation by perking up the digestive system as well as in the absorption of ingested nourishments by the body.

For ages, people have been taking preparations made with elecampane roots to stimulate the digestive process. The herb promotes appetite and, at the same time alleviates dyspepsia (stomach upset). In addition, the herb is also effective to treat and flush out worms from the body.

Long back, practitioners of herbal medicine prescribed formulations prepared with the elecampane root to treat tuberculosis. Elecampane has the aptitude to blend suitably with further antiseptic herbs and, hence, it is still used to cure contagions like flu and tonsillitis. The herb has curative properties, while its tonic action harmonizes with elecampane’s capability to offset infections.

Habitat and Growing Elecampane

Elecampane is indigenous to Eurasia, especially south-eastern Europe, and western Asia, but now has been naturalized in various temperate climatic zones, which includes several regions of North America, particularly the United States. Apart from the naturally growing elecampane, the plant is also cultivated for its remedial properties. Elecampane may be propagated by root division or from its seeds during spring. This herb has a preference for damp and well-drained soil. The root of the herb, which actually possesses all the medicinal properties of the plant, is harvested in autumn, sliced into pieces and dehydrated at high temperatures. While the herb is no longer popular in England and largely not cultivated there, people in other countries of the continent, such as Germany, Holland, and Switzerland still continue to cultivate elecampane for its medicinal properties. In fact, the herb is still cultivated extensively close to the German township of Collada, which is near Leipzig.

The elecampane herb thrives well in locations that are damp and shady and also grows well in the common garden soil. However, the plant thrives best when the soil is rich and loamy with the ground being moist, but having a proper drainage system.

It takes little effort to grow the elecampane plants. If you are propagating the plant with its seeds, it is best to sow the mature seeds in cold frames or outdoors during the spring. Nevertheless, the best way to propagate elecampane is to use root cuttings from mature plants with an eye or bud. The root cuttings are normally done during autumn. Each root cutting should be approximately two inches in length and they need to be covered with somewhat moist sandy soils immediately after harvesting. During the winter months, the root cutting should be preserved in a room under a consistent temperature ranging between 50°F and 60°F. These roots grow roots quite easily and develop new shoots by the next spring. Once the frosting period is over, these root cuttings with new shoots may be planted in their permanent positions outdoors. The root cutting need to be planted in rows about three feet apart and the plants should have a distance of about 12 inches to 18 inches from one another. After placing the root cuttings in their permanent position, it is necessary to keep the ground free of weeds. The soil around the plantation should be dug up a little during the following summer with a view to augment the root growth. Usually, the roots are ready for use during the second autumn of their existence. It may be noted here that elecampane roots are medically viable only when they are two years old.

A good stock of elecampane plants may also be obtained by slicing the roots into small sections, each measuring two inches long, and covering them with luxuriant, light, sandy soil and preserving them in mild temperatures during the winter month. The elecampane plants cannot withstand frosting and, hence, care should be taken to protect them during this season. In fact, even after they are planted outdoors, they may require protection from frosts during the first year of their existence.

Research

Way back in 1804, scientists were able to segregate inulin from elecampane for the first time and the substance derived its name from the herb. Inulin has been found to possess the property of secreting mucous (mucilaginous) and this aspect of the substance facilitates in soothing the linings of the bronchial tubes.

Alantolactone: Alantolactone found in elecampane is believed to possess anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, this element inhibits the secretion of mucous and invigorates the immune system.

In general, elecampane possesses a tonic, expectorant impact and stimulates drawing out a cough formed by the mucous secretions from the lungs. The tonic and expectorant properties of elecampane are attributed to the volatile oil enclosed by the herb as well as the antiseptic aspects of the herb.

In fact, in 1804, Valentine Rose of Berlin found that elecampane encloses plenty of the substance known as inulin. While Valentine names the substance Alantin derived from the plant’s German name Alantwurzel and French name Aunée, by and large, the name inulin proposed by botanist Thompson was accepted. The chemical composition of inulin is similar to that of starch, but to some degree, it is also opposite of starch. In effect, inulin replaces starch in the root system of Compositae (plants with heads made up of several florets). While the plant is living, inulin easily disbands in the diluted sap and when the plants are dead and dried, this substance accumulates in the cells as shapeless heaps that are inactive in polarized light. Although inulin and starch appear to be alike, the former differs from starch as it releases a yellow color, rather than blue, when it interacts with iodine. In addition, inulin also differs from starch in a number of ways – when it dissolves in boiling water, it does not form any paste, as in the case of starch, and it remains unchanged when it sediments after the water solution cools down. Moreover, unlike starch, inula does not produce any volatile compound when it interacts with nitric acid. However, when inula is heated for a long period or reacts with watered down acids, it first transforms into inulin and then to levulin eventually changing to levulose. Inula somewhat transforms into sugar when it is fermented.

In 1864, Julius von Sachs demonstrated that it is possible to hasten the extraction of inulin in the globular mass of needle-shaped crystalline form by submerging the elecampane roots either in alcohol or glycerine.

In fact, the quantity of inulin present in elecampane differs depending on the season but is found in maximum amount during autumn. Hence, the plant is harvested during autumn. In 1870, Hans Drangendorff made inulin a subject of a highly comprehensive dissertation. He, however, acquired the root of elecampane during October and hence, it had approximately 44 percent of the substance. In spring, the herb contains a mere 19 per cent of inulin as much of it is substituted by or transformed into levulin, mucilage, sugar and different glucosides. It has been found that inulin is extensively dispersed in the perennial roots of Compositae and is naturally present in Goodeniaceae, Campanulaceae, Stylidiaceae, and Lobeliaceae. In addition, the substance is also found occurring naturally in the root of the White Ipecacuanha, belonging to the class of Violaceae, mostly found in Brazil.

It has been found that inulin is intimately related to inulenin in elecampane. Inulin may be obtained in the form of microscopic needles that have an aptitude to dissolve in cold water and diluted alcohol, while pseudo-inulin that is found in the form of uneven grains and are highly soluble in hot water. Pseudo-inulin also dissolves in diluted and warm alcohol but does not dissolve in chilled alcohol.

In early 1660, Le Febre noticed when the elecampane roots are exposed to refinement using water, it formed a substance that could be turned into crystals at the top of the receiver and comparable crystals could be detected when thin segments of the herb’s roots are heated watchfully; Le Febre also observed that the crystals were formed like natural blooming on the exterior of the roots that have been left unattended for prolonged periods. The efflorescence formed on the outer side of the roots was believed to be a separate body called helenin or elecampane camphor. However, studies undertaken by Kallen in 1874 demonstrated that the efflorescence could be identified as two different substances that had the aptitude to form crystals. Kallen named these two different crystallizable substances as Helenin, a mass having no essence or hue, and Alantcamphor, which possessed a flavor and scent similar to peppermint. Further research on the subject, discovered that the crystalline substance formed by elecampane roots the following distillation with water in the ratio of 1:2 per cent and related with approximately 1 percent of the unstable oil enclosed by the herb, actually comprises alantolactone, iso-alantolactone as well as alantolic acid. All these substances are crystalline in form, having a near monochrome, but possess a slight scent and essence. The oily part of the distillate known as alantol is a dull fluid possessing a scent similar to peppermint.

Constituents

  • Inulin (up to 44%)
  • Volatile oil (up to 4%), containing alantol and sesquiterpene lactones (including alantolactone)
  • Triterpene saponins ( dammarane dienol)

Remedial Application

As discussed earlier, of all its parts, only the tuber roots and sometimes the petite yellow flowers of elecampane are used for remedial purposes. Several preparations made with the elecampane roots, such as tincture, decoction, syrup, and wash, are used to treat different conditions. On the other hand, the flowers of the herb are only used to prepare a decoction.

Root:
The root of elecampane possesses several medicinal properties, including diuretic, stimulant, diaphoretic (a medication that promotes sweating), expectorant (a medication that promotes discharge of phlegm), and antiseptic, acerbic and mild tonic. In ancient times, medications prepared with elecampane roots were used by herbalists to cure certain ailments in women, edema or excess fluid accumulation in the body tissues as well as skin infections.
DECOCTION – A decoction prepared with the roots of elecampane is used to treat conditions like asthma, bronchitis, problems of the upper respiratory system as well as relieve the symptoms of hay fever. The decoction should be consumed on a regular basis as a common stimulant or to cure venerable chronic respiratory problems. The decoction also serves as a digestive stimulant and refreshment for the liver.
TINCTURE – The tincture prepared with the roots of elecampane is taken to cure weakness as well as chronic respiratory problems.
WASH – The decoction prepared with elecampane roots or the watered down tincture made from the herb’s roots may be used as a wash to cure eczema (inflammation of the skin), rashes and also varicose ulcers.
SYRUP – Prepare elecampane syrup by boiling sliced roots of the herb in a sugar solution. Alternately, the syrup may also be prepared with elecampane decoction. Take the syrup at regular intervals to alleviate a cough.
Flowers:
In addition to the tuberous roots, the bright yellow flowers of elecampane enclose certain medicinal properties and, hence, they are used to prepare decoction along with other herbs and organic substances for treating a number of conditions. In addition, the flowers of the herb are also used to prepare the medicinal syrup.
DECOCTION – Decoction prepared with elecampane flowers may be taken to relieve queasiness, vomiting or coughs with profuse phlegm. On the other hand, prepare a formulation blending 10 g of elecampane flowers with 10 g freshly cut ginger root, 5 ml of licorice root and 10 ml of ban xi and take it on a regular basis to cure an overload of phlegm in the stomach accompanied with queasiness or nausea, flatulence, swollenness of the abdominal region and vomiting of mucus.
SYRUP – Syrup prepared by boiling the elecampane flower decoction with sugar may be taken in dosages of 10 ml to 20 ml for treating coughs.

Vermifuge wine

A wine prepared with elecampane roots and other ingredients, especially alcoholic beverages, is useful in expelling worms and other parasites from the intestines. The following ingredients are required to prepare this vermifuge wine:

  • Seven ounces (200 g) fresh or dried finely chopped elecampane root
  • One cup (250 ml) gin or vodka
  • One-fourth cup (75 g) sugar cane
  • Four cups (one liter) red wine

Soak the chopped elecampane root in alcohol for about a week in an amber-hued jar and store it in a dark place. After a week of maceration, add the red wine and sugar to the solution and leave the solution for about a month, shaking the jar at regular intervals. After a month has passed, filter the solution and store it in a clean glass jar. The herbal wine prepared is aromatic and possesses aperients (mildly laxative), digestive and stimulant properties. Take the wine in a dosage of one ounce (25 ml) in a liqueur glass prior to meals for three successive days. After taking the wine for three days, give a break for 10 days and continue taking it for another three consecutive days. Repeat this treatment thrice. Here is a word of caution – it is advisable not to drink this preparation if you have an ulcer, are suffering from diarrhea or are in the initial stage of pregnancy it may cause undesirable side effects.

Mexican Mint Marigold

This very ancient herb goes by a variety of common, but somewhat confusing names. ‘Mexican mint’ marigold is the most common, but you’ll also find it listed as ‘Texas’ tarragon, ‘Mexican’ tarragon, cloud plant, coronilla, winter tarragon, sweet mace, sweet marigold and ‘Spanish’ tarragon. It isn’t, however, related to ‘French’ tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus ‘Sativa’) at all.

Don’t confuse ‘French’ tarragon, which is used for cooking, with false or ‘Russian’ tarragon, A. dracunculoides, because it is somewhat invasive, grows well in hotter climates, and is grown from seed.

The Latin name, Tagetes Lucida, refers to its other Tagetes relatives, the marigolds. ‘Mint’ marigold is a perennial, native to Central and South America and has been used as a seasoning herb, tea plant and medicinal in native cultures for more than a thousand years.

The flavor is anise-like, a bit sweeter than ‘French’ tarragon, but used in some of the same ways as that herb. Dried leaves are used in soups, sauces, and main dishes. Unlike ‘French’ tarragon, it doesn’t retain its best flavor when dried, ‘mint’ marigold dries quite well. However, its best flavor is from the fresh leaves, chopped and used in dishes such as chicken salad, tossed green salads and even fresh pesto sauces over tacos.

mexican-mint-marigold-tagetes-lucida_2

Medicinal uses include treatment for upset stomach, for stimulating the appetite, as a diuretic and stimulating beverage. There are reports from various parts of Mexico and the southern United States of message-carrying long-distance runners using especially strong mint marigold tea to give them strength and stamina; the robust tea acting similar to the caffeine in strong coffee. Traditionally, the leaves were an important flavoring for chocolatl, the foamy, stimulating cocoa drink of the ancient Aztecs.

‘Mexican mint’ marigold does well in regions where ‘French’ tarragon struggles. For example, ‘French’ tarragon doesn’t thrive in the hotter southern states. Even in the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks, ‘French’ tarragon suffers from the heat, but ‘Mexican mint’ marigold thrives in hot climates.

You can grow ‘Mexican mint’ marigold in any average garden soil. Depending on your climate, you may grow it as a perennial or an annual. While ‘Mexican mint’ marigold is said to be hardy in Zones 8 to 11, from my own experience it will grow easily in Zones 6 and 7, if mulched well in the fall. The plant expands into a small clump in the second year and can withstand temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit, provided it has 6 to 12 inches of straw mulch piled on the plant after the first frost in the fall.

Sow the ‘Mexican mint’ marigold seed in early spring indoors and transplant into the garden after danger of frost, or direct sow in the garden; you can also grow it in a patio container. Seed germination takes 5 to 15 days. The plant requires all-day sunshine and will grow anywhere tomatoes, peppers or basil will grow. If grown as an annual, you will likely not see it flower since it requires a long growing season. (In my own garden, where we sometimes don’t have a killing frost before the first of November, I have some early flowering). The plant reaches 15 to 20 inches in height and about as broad. It is somewhat drought tolerant, but you will get better growth and fuller plants by watering occasionally.

Begin harvesting leaves when the plant has reached about 12 inches in height, clipping sprigs or individual leaves for tea or seasoning. If the plant does flower, the small, bright yellow flowers are good additions to salads, as a garnish and for weavers; the flowers can produce a nice yellow dye.

‘Mexican mint’ marigold is an attractive plant in the landscape, as well. With shiny, dark green leaves, it works well with roses and perennials in border areas and requires little maintenance. The plant has no persistent insect pests (an occasional grasshopper will taste a leaf) and when in flower, butterflies visit. Otherwise, it’s trouble-free.

Try your favorite brownie recipe and add 3 tablespoons of freshly chopped ‘Mexican mint’ marigold leaves. You may be surprised how well the herb blends with chocolate (or maybe not, since the ancient Aztecs regularly used it with their ‘chocolatl’ drink).

Make a pleasant-tasting cup of tea by using 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped ‘Mexican mint’ marigold leaves and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them in a cup. Cover the cup with a saucer to hold in the steam while the hot water extracts the flavor. Sweeten, or not, and enjoy the flavor of this ancient herb.

Honeysuckle {Lonicera caprifolium / Lonicera japonica}

Also, Known As

  • Honeysuckle
  • Jin Yin Hua

The herbal plant called the honeysuckle is a climbing plant that can grow to twelve ft – four meters – in length. The plant comes in several varieties, and some varieties are deciduous – example, the L. caprifolium variety – while some are semi evergreen – the Asian honeysuckle or jin yin hua, L. japonica. The plant bears oval shaped leaves that come in pairs on the branches. The tubular shaped flowers of the plants come in a variety of colors, the yellow-orange flowers of the European variety or the yellow-white colored ones of the jin yin hua. The European honeysuckle variety bears red colored berries and while the berries of the jin yin hua variety is black in color.

The European honeysuckle or “woodbine” – the L. periclymenum to botanists – was at one time employed widely as an herbal remedy for problems like asthma, all kinds of urinary disorders, and as an aid to soothe labor pains in women giving birth. The ancient Roman writer Pliny suggested the use of the honeysuckle mixed with wine for disorders of the spleen. The variety of honeysuckle most likely to be used in herbal medicine is the “jin yin” or Chinese honeysuckle – L. japonica to botanists – rather than the woodbine. The properties of this variety of honeysuckle were recorded in the Chinese medical book called the “Tang Ben Cao,” that was written in A.D. 659. This herb remains as one of the most potent Chinese herbs used for eliminating heat and accumulated toxins from the human body.

The traditional use of the honeysuckle in European herbal medicine was as a remedy for asthma and related respiratory disorders that affected the chest. The Bach Flower Remedies lists the honeysuckle as one of the beneficial herbal plants. In this system of herbal cures, the woodbine is said to suppress feelings of nostalgia and to quell homesickness in a person. The use of the “jin yin hua” in Chinese medicine has a long history, and the herb was used as an agent to “clear heat and relieve toxicity,” besides other uses.

Plant Parts Used:

Flowers, leaves, bark.

Herbal Use:

Contemporary herbalists in the Western world make very rare use of the honeysuckle herb. Honeysuckle was a part of the traditional herbal repertoire, and the historical uses of this plant in herbal medicine were many. Traditionally, European herbalists used to employ different parts of the honeysuckle plant for different therapeutic purposes as they believed that different parts of the herb had different remedial effects on the human body. Honeysuckle bark contains compounds that induce a diuretic effect in the body; a remedy made from the bark is used to bring relief from problems such as gout, from kidney stones, and is also used in treating liver problems of all kinds. Honeysuckle leaves have the astringent properties and are made into an infusion used as an oral gargle and general mouthwash – this remedy is excellent in alleviating sore throats and canker sores or other oral complaints. The remedies made from the flowers of the honeysuckle have an anti-spasmodic effect, this brings relief from chroniccoughs and was traditionally used as a treatment for asthma and related respiratory disorders. In the Chinese system of herbal medicine, the “jin yin hua” remedy is extensively prescribed for a very wide range of diseases. Remedies made from the jin yin hua are mainly utilized in countering “hot” infectious disorders including abscesses, sores, and inflammation affecting the breasts, as well as dysentery. The remedy made from the jin yin hua plant is also used to bring down elevated temperatures in a body wracked by fever. This remedy is also used in treating problems affecting the oral cavity.

Other medical uses

  • Viral infection

Habitat:

The European honeysuckle or “woodbine” is indigenous to southern Europe and the region of the Caucasus, though plants can be seen all over Europe except in the far north. The Asian variety, the “Jin yin hua” is native to the Chinese mainland and the island of Japan – it is cultivated as an herbal plant in both countries. The usual site where both varieties of plants can be seen growing are along walls, on trees, and in hedges. Harvest of honeysuckle is usually done in the summer months, flowers and leaves are normally gathered in the summer immediately before the onset of the floral bloom.

Research:

Research carried out on the properties inherent in the “jin yin hua” suggests that active compounds in the herb can help inhibit the growth of the tuberculosis bacillus and can help counteract infection of this dangerous pathogen. The Chinese also investigated other known properties of the herb, during one clinical trial, the jin yin hua was used in combination with the ju hua herb – this herbal mixture was found to be very effective in reducing the elevated blood pressure in individuals affected by hypertension. The European honeysuckle may also prove to be very useful in counteracting infection as it is very similar to the “jin yin hua” herb.

Constituents:

Honeysuckle’s constituents include a volatile oil, tannins, and salicylic acid.
Honeysuckle contains a volatile oil (which includes linalool and jasmone), tannins, luteolin, and inositol.

How Honeysuckle Works in the Body:

The use of remedies made from the honeysuckle – Lonicera caprifolium – in the Western world is based on the knowledge gleaned from its age old usage and herbal lore. Some of the ways in which the honeysuckle is used in the West include the preparation of an herbal gargle or mouthwash from the leaves for use as a treatment for sore throats and gum or other general oral problems. The remedies made from the honeysuckle flowers are commonly employed in the treatment of asthma and related respiratory disorders – the herbal remedy helps soothe and relax the irritated respiratory passages. The traditionally use of the Lonicera japonica – variety of honeysuckle in China, or the “Jin Yin Hua’ as it is known is much more extensive. Clinical studies carried out in China have shown that the herb possesses distinct bactericidal action against both the streptococcus and staphylococcus strains of bacteria. During the laboratory experiments carried out on human subjects, the herb was demonstrated to induce some very potent protective effects on the tissues of the lungs in tuberculosis affected patients. The traditional uses of the herb in the Chinese system of medicine includes the treatment of abscesses or swellings in the body, the herbal remedy was particularly used in treating disorders affecting the breast, the throat, the eyes, and used extensively as an internal medication. The remedies made from the honeysuckle are also employed during the early stages of many diseases that come with fever. The herbal remedy is used to treat individuals with sensitivity to wind, they are used in treating chronic soreness in the throat, and to alleviate persistent or chronic headache. The herbal honeysuckle remedy is also employed as a remedy in treating cases of damp or heat dysenteric disorders in patients; it is also used in treating urinary dysfunction accompanied by pain. The property of being both “sweet and cold” is the alluded to this remedy in the Chinese system of medicine.

Applications:

Flowers:
HERBAL INFUSION – the honeysuckle flowers can be combined in a remedy with many other expectorant herbal flowers, including flowers of herbs such as the cowslip, the elecampane, or the mulberry, this remedy is excellent for treating problems such as chronic coughs and in mild forms of asthma and some respiratory disorders.
SYRUP – the syrup made from the honeysuckle flowers can be used along with the floral infusion for treating coughs -particularly if they are chronic. The syrup may be used as a combination therapy with other herbal flowers, including expectorant herbs such as the mullein or the marshmallow herb.
Flower buds:
HERBAL DECOCTION – this form of the remedy can be used in the early stages of getting a feverish cold that is accompanied by some characteristic symptoms including persistent headache, great thirst, and soreness in the throat. The dosage to use is ten to fifteen g of the dried honeysuckle floral buds mixed in six hundred ml of water as one dose. If the cold is accompanied by very high fevers, than the huang lian and huang qin herbs can be added to the remedy.
HERBAL TINCTURE – the tincture prepared from the honeysuckle is used for the treatment of different digestive disorders, including persistent diarrhea or chronic gastroenteritis that accompanies food poisoning and related complaints.
Stems:
HERBAL DECOCTION – the decoction can be prepared by steeping fifteen to thirty g of dried honeysuckle stems in six hundred ml of water. The use of the stem decoction is similar to the way in which the flower bud decoction is used. This remedy is excellent particularly for chronic pain in the joints, as well as in the treatment of influenza and other infections. This herbal remedy can be combined with the use of other cooling herbs, including the Chinese “luo shi teng” or “shi hu,” particularly when intending to treat inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and related problems.

Wild Strawberries

Fragaria vesca

Also, Known As:

  • Alpine Strawberry
  • Common Strawberry
  • Mountain Strawberry
  • Pineapple Strawberry
  • Wild Strawberries
  • Wood Strawberry
  • Woodland Strawberry

Wild strawberry plants are perennially growing and usually grow up to a height of one foot (0.3 meters). Plants of these species have the aptitude to endure frosts. While they blossom during the period between April and May, the seeds of the wild strawberry plants mature during June-July. The flowers borne by this species have both the male as well as the female sex organs (hermaphrodite) and they are insect-pollinated.

The wild strawberry, also known as alpine strawberry, was once very popular as a therapeutic herb. In fact, all parts of the plant, including the leaves, roots, stems and fruits, were used to treat various disorders. While the roots of the strawberry plant were a common medication for diarrhea, the stem was useful for treating wounds. On the other hand, the berries were regarded as a calming medication. According to herbalist Gerard, the strawberries not only satiated thirst and cool the heat in the stomach but also cures the inflammation of the liver. However, he had warned that consuming strawberries during the winter or on ‘cold stomach’ was a hazard as it could lead to a cough and digestive disorders.

It may be mentioned here that during the summers, hikers often break their journeys to taste the wild strawberries that have a fragrance that reminds one of the roses. In the past, herbalists as well as pharmacists valued the strawberries highly for their therapeutic properties and suggested their use to treat a number of disorders. According to a herbalist of the 17th century, the strawberries caused a calming effect on the liver, spleen and blood and even the irritating stomach. At the same time, the berries satiated thirst as well as stimulated and soothed the fainting spirits. He further said that the strawberries were effective to cure inflammations, but advised people to avoid using them during fevers as they might cause acidity in the stomach and give rise to hysterics.

Another botanist and a physician of the 18th century, Carolus Linnaeus is said to have consumed plenty of strawberries regularly with a view to keeping himself free from gout. Although the berries are still recommended for curing the disorder, there is no scientific evidence that suggests their effectiveness in such cases. In the 20th-century strawberry tea was in vogue as a tonic. As the tea was somewhat caustic to taste, it was used to treat diarrhea and also in the form of gargle for an aching throat. Many herbal medicine practitioners also prescribe eating the fresh strawberry fruits to promote bowel movements.

Parts Used in Herbal Medicine

Leaves, fruit, root.

Use Of Wild Strawberry

The leaves of the wild strawberry plant are gently astringent in nature and hence are used as a diuretic to enhance the outflow of urine. Although the strawberry plant is hardly in use these days as a therapeutic herb, one may still use it to cure stomach disorders like diarrhea and dysentery. While the leaves are boiled in water and used as a gargle to treat aching throat, they also form an important ingredient in some lotions used to treat burns and scrape or scratches on the skin. Many herbalists in Europe still use the leaves of the strawberry plant as a diuretic and often recommend them as dietary supplements to cure disorders such as tuberculosis, arthritis, gout, and rheumatism or joint pain.

The fruits or berries of this plant are consumed fresh and possess an excellent flavor akin to strawberry wine. In fact, the berries of wild strawberry are further delicate compared to the common strawberry. The berries of this plant are said to possess antioxidant attributes while some people claiming that they are also useful in combating cancer. The juice extracts of wild strawberry fruits also possess therapeutic properties and are employed in treating gastritis. As the fruits possess antibacterial properties, there was a time when herbalists used their juice to treat typhoid.

In the past, leaves of the wild strawberry plants were also used for preparing an herbal tea that was taken to cure diarrhea, suppress stomach disorders as well as to augment appetites. In fact, the leaves of this plant are appetizing and enclose vitamin C. It may be mentioned here that the leaves of the alpine strawberries are said to possess natural bleaching attributes. The juice extracted from the leaves of alpine strawberry may possibly be employed to make the teeth whiter and when this juice is applied externally, it bleaches the skin.

Culinary uses

Habitually, strawberries are consumed raw in the form of a fresh fruit. In addition, they are also consumed in strawberry shortcake in particular and processed to make ice creams, mousses, fruit juice, jams as well as jelly, candies, and an assortment of baked items. Some people also ferment strawberries to produce liqueur (for instance, the Italian fragoli) or wine.

Habitat and Growing Wild Strawberry

Wild strawberries are indigenous to all parts of Europe and the temperate climatic zones in the Asian continent. The leaves and fruits of the plant, which possess high medicinal value, are harvested during early summer.

Wild strawberries are generally propagated by their seeds, which are sown in a greenhouse during the beginning of spring. Generally, it takes about four weeks or a little longer for the seeds to germinate. Initially, the seedlings are extremely small and have a sluggish growth, but soon they begin to grow very fast. When the plantlets have grown sufficiently big to be handled, prick them individually and transplant them in their permanent locations outdoors in summer. Alternately, wild strawberries may also be propagated by division of their runners, if possible, undertaken during the period between July and August with a view to enabling the new plants to establish as a crop for the ensuing year. If required, the young seedlings can also be transplanted outdoors in the next spring. However, in this case, they should not be permitted to bear fruits in the first year of their existence. You may also plant the runners of wild strawberries outdoors directly into their permanent positions.

It is worth mentioning here that wild strawberries are vulnerable to some diseases caused by fungal infections, counting leaf spots, anthracnose, withering, decomposition’s, blights and powdery mildew. Insects that invade this plant include aphids as well as spider mites. When the climatic conditions are extremely hot, it may also result in the scorching of the leaves.

Constituents

  • fruit acids
  • minerals
  • mucilage
  • salicylates
  • sugars
  • tannins
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin B

Applications

Wild strawberries have multiple therapeutic advantages and different parts of the herb may be applied in different forms. While the leaves of wild strawberry may be used to prepare an infusion, the fruits may be eaten fresh or applied as a poultice and also taken as tonic wine.

Leaves:
INFUSION: Infusion prepared with the leaves of wild strawberry may be taken to cure diarrhea, inflammation in the gastric tract, infection as well as jaundice. This infusion is also effective to invigorate the appetite. Blended with other herbs like meadowsweet and St. John’s wort, the infusion may also be taken to treat arthritic pains. When combined with celery seeds, the infusion may be used to cure gout.
Fruit:
FRESH: Eating fresh strawberries acts as a tonic for the liver and is also beneficial for curing gastritis. Strawberries are also effective for speedy convalescence or recuperation after a bout of hepatitis. In addition, these fruits provide a calming effect during feverish situations and do not lead to fermentation in the stomach.
POULTICE: Crushed strawberries may be applied to the skin affected by sunburn. It is also helpful in treating skin irritations.
TONIC WINE: Permeate strawberries in wine to prepare a conventional medication to ‘revive the spirits and make the heart merrier’.

Homeopathy Helleborus

Black Hellebore / Christmas Rose

Helleborus niger

The homeopathic remedy Helleborus is prepared organically from the plant called Helleborus niger (common names Christmas rose or black hellebore). This evergreen plant produces dark-hued, rubbery, palmately parted leaves that appear on stems which grow up to a height of 9 inches to 12 inches (23 cm to 30 cm). This plant belongs to the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, and is known to be toxic. The short flowering stems of Helleborus niger bear big, plane flowers that bloom during the period between the middle of winter to the beginning of spring. These flowers are usually white in color, but sometimes have a pinkish hue.

Helleborus has two sub-species – Helleborus niger subsp. niger and Helleborus niger subsp. macranthus. The second sub-species bear comparatively larger flowers that measure about 3.75 inches (9 cm) in diameter. The subspecies H. niger subsp. niger is found to be growing naturally in rocky terrains, over a vast area stretching from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia to the northern regions of Italy. On the other hand, the subspecies Helleborus niger subsp. macranthus only grows in northern Italy and perhaps also the neighboring regions of Slovenia.

It may be noted that way back in 1400 BCE, Pliny, the famous Roman natural historian, had documented the use of black hellebore for treating mental problems. Even the ancient Roman and Greek philosophers used to drink an infusion prepared from this plant to augment their concentration prior to any long-drawn-out debate. However, as mentioned earlier, this plant is extremely poisonous and is currently only employed by homeopathy. Other herbalists are of the view that this herb is extremely potent and toxic to be employed in a safe manner. Noted German physician and the founder of the alternative medicine homeopathy Samuel Hahnemann proved the remedy Helleborus and published the findings of his research with the medicine in his Materia Medica Pura (1821-34).

Individuals who receive maximum benefit from the homeopathic remedy Helleborus are typically uninteresting as well as lethargic. The homeopathic remedy is most appropriate for people who are generally confused and their mental process is quite slow. Usually, such people suffer from grief, lack of concern, tetchiness and depression. Very often, such individuals have a feeling as if their brain is in confusion and they are unable to comprehend what is happening around them. While such individuals may sometimes ask for assistance, usually it is difficult to console them. It has been found that the physical symptoms of such people usually deteriorate in the evening between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. On the other hand, they feel better when there is warmth and while they are lying down all covered up.

Precisely speaking, homeopaths normally prescribe Helleborus to treat mental conditions that are marked by lethargy and confusion. Using this homeopathic remedy may be effective in treating any severe inflammatory condition of the nerves. In addition, Helleborus may also be useful for easing headaches, depression as well as digestive disorders. These symptoms may generally occur owing to any injury to the brain or the spinal cord; a brain surgery or an attack of encephalitis or meningitis.

The homeopathic remedy Helleborus is mainly used to treat depression. Patients who require this medication are extremely ill-tempered and become angry very easily. They prefer to be left alone and not disturbed by anyone. Such patients are extremely gloomy, desolate, mournful, silent or tremendously tormented. Helleborus, as a homeopathic remedy, is particularly apt for girls during puberty or at time when they do not have menstruation periods after having them for once or a few times. In effect, many women take this homeopathic remedy on a regular basis with a view to regulate their menstrual periods as well as for aborting unwanted pregnancy.

The symptoms of the patients who require the homeopathic remedy Helleborus most deteriorate when they are consoled. Such individuals are also insensible as well as dull when they are questioned and usually answer very at a snail’s pace. Helleborus is also effective in treating homesickness.

This homeopathic remedy is prepared using the leaves, roots as well as the rhizomes of the herb Helleborus niger. However, it is cautioned that while preparing this homeopathic remedy, one should not get baffled and mistake black hellebore with white hellebore.

Notwithstanding the concerns related to its safe use, many people are found to take black hellebore to treat kidney infections, nausea, constipation, queasiness and expel worms from their body.

Plant Parts Used:

Leaves, root.

Homeopathic Remedy Use:

The homeopathic remedy Helleborus is widely used for disorders related to the nervous system, including confusion and insipidness and perhaps is also effective in treating conditions wherein the patients seem to show inanity or mental disorders. People who require this medication are usually very slow in answering questions and need tremendous efforts to respond to any query. Their body has a numb sensation, while the brain does not have any control over the muscles, as a result of which objects held by them drops easily from their hand. They are also absentminded and have poor attentiveness, commonly accompanied by a condition where the memory becoming completely vacant.

In severe conditions, the patients may also develop symptoms that are related to Alzheimer’s disease, counting nervousness, losing their memory as well as stupefaction. Depending on the homeopathic remedy Helleborus is also likely to facilitate in reinstating some of the lost focus by the patients as well as their helplessness in concentrating. Such people are generally not able to memorize much and they habitually drop items from their hands or suddenly become blank, without any forewarning. Some of the condition-specific uses of Helleborus are discussed briefly below:

Brain inflammation
Helleborus as a homeopathic remedy is very effective for brain inflammation, especially where the tissues of the brain are distended, perhaps owing to meningitis or encephalitis. The symptoms of this condition normally include seizures accompanied by an inclination of a sensation of hotness of the head and chilliness of the body. In such situations, the patients have a sensation as if they are in a trance and feel very lethargic. Turning to the homeopathic remedy Helleborus in such cases may act to assist the body to naturally lessen the swelling of the brain tissues. In addition, it may be useful in easing the other symptoms like feeling extremely hot in the head and cold in the body as well as the semi-comatose condition.
Headaches
People who suffer from headaches or migraine accompanied by mental insipidness, perhaps following any injury or surgery, may find Helleborus beneficial as a homeopathic remedy. Frequently, such headaches start on in the back side of the head or in the neck. In such cases the sufferer may have a compulsion to pull down the head towards his/ her body for relief. The pain caused by the headache or migraine may be accompanied by vertigo and light-headedness that may result in vomiting.
Digestive disorder
As a homeopathic remedy, Helleborus is often prescribed for digestive disorders, wherein the patient experiences aching bowel impulses accompanied by watery diarrhea as well as mucus. In such conditions, the movements of bowel are so irregular and slow that the patient may even suffer from constipation. Generally, the patients do not experience thirst for any fluid and have a dry mouth.
Depression
People suffering from depression and requiring this homeopathic remedy usually have blank gazes, instinctive sighs and bad moods, particularly in the period between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. They may also be found to be fiddling with their lips and clothes.

Although black hellebore has been widely used in ancient times as a medicine, in present time it is not used much, except in the form of a homeopathic remedy. In earlier times, herbalists recommended this herb to patients for enhancing their concentration, but afterwards it was considered to be extremely potent for internal use.

Despite being neglected as a herbal medicine, the use of Helleborus has never ceased to increase as well as evolve in the world of homeopathy. This is primarily owing to the fact that despite several toxic and other substances being used to prepare homeopathic remedies, they do not retain even the slightest trace of the original substance they are prepared from. Hence, the discovery of the therapeutic attributes of Helleborus is very significant considering the fact that today it has proved to have sweeping effects.

Before concluding the discussion, it may once again be noted that the homeopathic remedy Helleborus is prepared from the plant Helleborus niger and it has been an extremely popular medication for several years. The tincture is prepared from the freshly obtained root of the plant that is unearthed during the winter. After digging up the root, it is cleaned, sliced into small pieces and permeated in alcohol. Subsequently, the resultant liquid is strained and succussed (shaken). The final product is the homeopathic remedy Helleborus that practically does not retain even the slightest trace of the plant.

As a homeopathic remedy, Helleborus works excellently for people who are characteristically inclined to be dreary and slow in temperament. Even people who usually have a very slow overall mental process also respond well to this remedy. Such people have a propensity to be nervous, suffer from depression as well as agony regarding their medical condition and also owing to their helplessness to concentrate. Such people may be very inconsolable when life becomes really hard for them.

Source

The herb Helleborus niger, which forms the basis of the homeopathic remedy Helleborus, is found growing in the wild on the mountainous or rocky terrains in Europe. This plant blooms during the period between mid-winter to early spring and is cultivated extensively in the form of a well-accepted garden plant.

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.