Herbal Remedies

Definitions & Making Herbal Preparations

Definitions & Making Herbal Preparations


Compress
Soak a soft cloth in a hot infusion, decoction, or 5-20 ml tincture in 500 ml hot water. Squeeze out excess water and hold pad against affected area.

Cream
A mixture of fats and water that blends with the skin to strengthen and smooth it. Use 30 g lanolin, 15 oz beeswax, 100 g. vegetable or fruit oil, and 30 ml herb water. Melt the lanolin and beeswax in a double boiler, gently stirring in the oil. Remove from heat and whisk in the herb water. Keep stirring as it cools. Store in wide mouth jars.

Decoction
Made by simmering larger pieces of the herb, such as bark, roots, or twigs. Use 30 g. dried or 60 g. fresh herb to 750 ml water; simmer until the water is reduced to 500 ml. Drink 1/2 cup three times a day.

Infused oils
–Hot infusion: 250 g. dried or 500 g. fresh herb to 750 ml Olive or Vegetable Oil. Heat gently in a double boiler for 3 hours. Strain through cheesecloth into dark bottles.

–Cold infusion: Pack a large jar with the herb. Cover it with cold-pressed oil and put the lid on. Let stand in a sunny window sill for 2-3 weeks. Squeeze the oil through a jelly bag and repeat the process. Store in dark glass bottles.

Infusion
A tea made by pouring boiled (not actively boiling) water over fresh or dried herbs. Use approximately 30 g. dried or 75 g. fresh herbs to 500 ml water. Drink 1/2 cup three times a day.

Macerate
To make, pour 500ml of cold water over 25g of herb and leave to stand overnight. Then strain and use as you would a decoction.

Massage Oils
Use 5 drops essential oil to 20 ml carrier oil. Sweet almond, jojoba, avocado or grapeseed make good carrier oils. You can also used infused oils.

Ointment
A mixture of oils and fats that forms a protective layer over the skin. Melt 500 g. petroleum jelly or soft paraffin wax in a double boiler. Add 60 g. dried herb and simmer gently for 2 hours. Strain through a jelly bag and pour into jars while still hot.

Plaster
Wrap the chopped or boiled herbs, or a paste made from them, in cheesecloth or muslin before applying to the affected area. This is good for herbs that might irritate the skin, such as mustard.

Poultice
Boil herbs in a little water for a hot poultice, or bruise or chop slightly for a cold one. Smooth a little oil on the skin to keep the herbs from sticking, apply the herb, and wrap with muslin or gauze strips.

Steam Inhalants
Place a few tablespoons of the dried herb in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Drape a towel over your head and breathe in the steam.

Syrup
An infusion or decoction preserved by adding sugar or honey. Use 500 ml infusion to 500 g sugar or honey; heat gently until the sweetener has dissolved. Store in dark glass bottles with cork tops; screw top bottles may explode if the mixture ferments.

Tincture
Steep the fresh or dried herb in a 25% mixture of alcohol and water. Do not use methyl, grain, or rubbing alcohol as they are toxic. Vodka is ideal; rum has the added benefit of covering unpleasant flavors. Use 200 g. dried or 600 g. fresh herb to 1 liter alcohol and water. Place in a sealed jar in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and store in a dark glass bottle. Take 5 ml three times a day, diluted in a little fruit juice or water.

Tonic Wine
Pour 2 liters good quality wine, preferably red, over 500 g. dried herb, making sure all the herb is covered by the wine. Cover and leave for 2 weeks. Strain and take in 1/3 cup doses.

Wash
A tea or infusion meant only for external use. A mild form of a wash would be 1/4 ounce of herb to one pint of boiling water, steeped until lukewarm, then applied.

 

wicca.com

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The Herbal First Aid Kit

The Herbal First Aid Kit


Please remember that when dealing with potentially serious injuries, first aid is a stop gap measure until adequate medical attention can be found! Follow up on any serious injuries with a qualified physician!

Aloe
Break off an aloe leaf and scrape the gel to soothe minor burns, scalds, and sunburns. Aloe has tissue regenerative properties and will help heal all wounds.
Arnica
Arnica cream or oil can be used on bruises or sprains where the skin is not broken. Caution should be used with Arnica however since it can become toxic in high doses. 

Calendula Cream
Homemade or storebought, this is antispetic and antifungal. If you make it, try adding comfrey to the cream; it will help speed the healing process. 

Clove Oil
Clove oil is an excellent antispetic for cuts and is also useful for treating toothaches. It should be cut with a carrier oil when used on the skin since severe irritation can occur. 

Compresses
Keep squares of gauze or cheesecloth on hand to make compresses. Use comfrey, witch hazel, or arnica for sprains; St. John’s Wort for deep cuts; comfrey or witch hazel for burns. 

Crystallized Ginger
Chew for motion sickness or morning sickness. 

Eucalyptus Oil
This is a good inhalant for colds, coughs, and respiratory infections. 

Rescue Remedy
This combination of 5 of the Bach Flower Remedies is effective for shocks and emotional upsets, especially in children. 

St. John’s Wort Infused Oil
Excellent for minor burns and sunburn. 

Slippery Elm
Slippery elm powder is used to make poultices for drawing out splinters and bringing boils to a head. 

Tea Tree Oil
Antispetic and antifungal. Useful for cleansing wounds. 

Witch Hazel Extract
Use it to treat minor burns, sunburn, and insect bites. Apply to nasal passages to stop nosebleeds. Wash cuts with it to help cleanse them.
Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Herbal Remedies, Herbs | Leave a comment

The Healthy Witch – A Tea for the Cold


Witchy Comments
A Tea for the Cold

Blend two parts dried stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) to one part dried licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and one part dried rose hips (Rosaceae). The nettle is loaded with vitamins and minerals, licorice root sweetens the tea and aids with sore throats and coughs, and rose hips are a good source of vitamin C. Drink as needed.

Another tea you can rely on to help you through a cold would be yarrow (Achillea millefolium). It’s
useful in offering relief for cold and flu symptoms, fevers, and respiratory infections. Yarrow grows abundantly just about anywhere, so it’s easy to gather in fields or grow in your own garden. Use the dried flowering tops and dried leaves off the top ⅓ of the plant. You can prepare a standard tea and drink 2 to 4 ounces at a time up to 5 times daily. If you prefer, you can take it as a tincture, 10 to 40 drops, up to 5 times a day.

Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose
Diane Kidman

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The Healthy Witch – Elderberry Syrup


Unicorn Comments & Graphics

The Healthy Witch – Elderberry Syrup

 

For a decadent remedy to take at the onset of colds and flu, you can try this elderberry syrup. I’m considering planting elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in my yard just so I can harvest the berries to make a new batch each year.

Collect the berries (no exact measuring required here, but about a cup is a good place to start), place them in a pan, and smash them well. Simmer on very low heat and continue to smash so you can release as much juice as possible. Once you’ve released the juice, strain out the crushed berry material and measure the juice. Add an equal amount of honey to the juice, along with a pinch of cinnamon, clove, or ginger (according to your tastes). Add a few drops of lemon and 20% alcohol. For instance, if you have 10 ounces of juice, you’d want to add 2 ounces of alcohol. Something like vodka would work just fine. You can take this syrup liberally as soon as you feel the symptoms of cold or flu sneaking up. Take it often. This is one time you won’t mind taking your medicine.

If you enjoy the heat of a spicy pepper, you’ll be happy to hear it’s good for you. Cayenne (Capsicum spp.) taken at the beginning of a cold will help you build up resistance, making it easier to fight the virus. Add fresh cayenne to your dinner or sprinkle dried cayenne on just about anything, or if you’re really brave, just eat the darned thing whole. Don’t overdo it, of course. You don’t want a burning stomach in place of the cold symptoms.

Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose
Diane Kidman

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Herbs For Children

Herbs For Children

 

There are many herbal treatments that are safe and effective for use with children of all ages. Here I will deal with the childhood illnesses and problems I am most often asked about. The most important factor in dealing with any illness, whether acute or chronic, is diet. A proper diet goes a long way to alleviating problems and illnesses that stem from inadequate nutrition. Were you aware that medical studies are proving that diet can profoundly affect illness in children? It has also been proven that a lot of dietary factors are responsible for worsening such problems as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), hyperactivity, asthma, and others. A child who is getting what his or her body needs through good nutrition is going to develop more normally, be less prone to illness, and the duration of common illnesses is shortened.

Remember too that our children today are under a lot of stress, just as us adults are. Peer pressures, pressures in the classroom, dealing with separation anxieties and broken marriages are just some of the things creating stressful situations for our youngsters. This stress can manifest itself in many mysterious physical and mental ailments. Teaching your children when young how to meditate and relax is an important building block for their young lives, and is a useful tool that they will carry with them through adulthood.

ANXIETY, STRESS, EXCITABILITY
Externally, these problems can be alleviated with a warm herbal bath at bedtime. Combine a handful of lavendar and a handful of chamomile in one quart of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, then add the liquid to a warm bath for the child. This is good for colicky infants as well. Allow the child to bathe and relax in the warm water. Internally, a cup of the infusion of chamomile and/or scullcap can be very beneficial and calming.

CHICKENPOX
Chickenpox usually strikes in young children, but older ones do get it as well. To relieve the itching that usually makes the pox so unbearable, you can make a decoction of chickweed, comfrey, and rosemary. Apply the warm mixture with a clean cloth. Don’t rub, as this will irritate the sores and can cause them to leave scars, but gently pat the solution on. Allow to air dry. This can be applied several times per day to relieve the itching. Internally, the child may benefit from a mild infusion of echinacea, catnip, chickweed, and yarrow. After the illness, and after any illness, the child’s digestive system will benefit from acidophilus, or a cup of yogurt, to aid getting the beneficial bacteria in the digestive system back in balance.

COLDS
Most of the same herbs used to treat colds in adults can also treat colds in children. You will want to reduce the dosages, however, or make milder infusions than normal. Steam or inhalant therapy can also help, using essential oils of lavendar, tea tree, eucalyptus, and/or peppermint. Make sure the child is getting plenty of vitamin C in their daily diet for the duration of the cold.

COLIC
Colic is torture for the baby and the parent. There are easy ways to alleviate the problem, however. Give the baby a small amount of peppermint, chamomile, or catnip infusion in a bottle at the first sign of distress. It also helps to give the baby a warm bath that has lavendar essential oil added. The vapors have a calming, soothing affect on baby and parent. Breastfeeding mothers will want to add some fennel to their diet for a couple of days to help alleviate the colic.

COUGH
Coughs in children are common, and usually accompany many of the normal childhood illnesses. A cough that continues for several days, or increases in severity, should be immediately checked by a physician to rule out other diseases. A mild infusion of mullein and coltsfoot usually helps the mild cough. Horehound and/or ginger can be added if a stronger combination is needed for older children. The child can also benefit from chest rubs of tea tree oil or peppermint oil. Both should be diluted in olive or sesame oil, and remember to do a patch test first to determine sensitivity. Inhaling the vapors of the essential oil of lavendar, and/or a warm bath that includes lavendar oil, can also help clear a cough. Cut back or eliminate dairy products in children that have a lot of mucous with their coughs, as dairy often adds to the production of mucous.

CRADLE CAP
Cradle cap usually appears in the first month of an infant’s life. Make a decoction of calendula and comfrey root. Rinse the baby’s head with the warm solution each night, allowing it to air dry on the scalp. It may take a few days for this to clear up the problem. You can also massage olive oil into the scalp each night, washing it away thoroughly with a mild soap and water each morning. Leaving the oil on the scalp continually can actually increase the problem.

DIAPER RASH
This is a common problem that is easy to deal with. It is usually caused by irritating diapers, prolonged contact with wet or dirty diapers, or even a reaction to the soap used to wash cotton diapers. Some foods and juices ingested by the infant can raise acid levels in the urine and stool, causing a skin reaction. Wash the baby thoroughly and dry thoroughly at each diaper change. Use plain mild soap and water, as some of those baby wipes can irritate, due to the chemicals in them. Leaving the diaper off for a while each change can also help clear up the rash. You can apply a cream made of calendula and/or aloe vera. You can also add to that mixture comfrey and/or chickweed. Remember that problem will not go away with herbs alone. You also need to determine the cause and eliminate it.

DIARRHEA
Diarrhea can cause dehydration rapidly in small infants and very young children. It can be treated with a mild infusion of meadowsweet, rosemary, and/or red raspberry. If diarrhea continues for more than three days, or is accompanied by blood in the stool, or severe cramping, seek emergency medical care immediately.

HYPERACTIVITY, ADD
There is strong evidence that chemicals such as heavy metal pollutants, dietary allergies such as to wheat, corn, dairy, etc., and artificial colorings, preservatives, or flavorings, play a role in these problems. As such, you will want to treat by supporting both the nervous system and the liver, aiding in detoxification. A treatment plan should consist of chamomile, gotu kola, scullcap, red clover, milk thistle, and gingko biloba. A daily supplement of flax seed and/or grape seed oil has also shown to be beneficial. The herbal bath above can help, as well as inhaling or massaging with a calming essential oil such as lavendar. And most important, look at changing the diet to one that supports the body. Natural diet is best. Eliminate foods that could cause an allergic reaction, and add them back to the diet one at a time, watching for any changes in the child’s behavior. Be sure the child gets adequate amounts of zinc and B-complex vitamins as well.

IMPETIGO
Internally give a combination of echinacea, chickweed, and astragalus 3 to 4 times per day. Reduce the child’s intake of dairy, red meats, and peanut butter, as all have been shown to irritate this illness. Wash the sores carefully with an infusion made of calendula several times per day.

INFLUENZA
Flu can be treated internally with boneset, fenugreek, peppermint, echinacea, and mullein. Eucalyptus or tea tree oil can be inhaled to open blocked sinus passages, or rubbed on the chest to help open the bronchial tubes. Additional vitamin C and zinc are also beneficial.

LICE
Lice can be treated by placing drops of tea tree oil on a fine toothed comb, and comb the hair thoroughly every day for two weeks. Wash the hair nightly with a mild shampoo that has oil of thyme and tea tree oil added. Alternatively, you can mix together 4 cups of apple cider vinegar, 4 cups of water, 1/2 ounce oil of thyme; use nightly as a shampoo.

MEASLES
Measles is usually treated herbally in the same manner as chicken pox. Eye strain and discomfort is common with the measles, so keep the child in a darkened room. A mild infusion of eyebright may be used to ease discomfort in the eyes. This can be used as a wash for the older child, or for young children you can soak a clean cloth in the eyebright infusion and apply as an external compress over the eyes.

MUMPS
Mumps can be treated internally with a combination of echinacea, clover, chamomile, and peppermint. Externally, fresh chopped ginger applied as a compress can alleviate the pain of the swelling. Gentle massage of the swollen areas with chamomile oil is also beneficial. Inhaling eucalyptus oil also helps.

TEETHING
Teething pain can be soothed by giving a chamomile and/or lemon balm infusion internally. Mix a teaspoon of powdered slippery elm bark with a little water to make a paste, and rub it gently on the gums.

TONSILLITIS
Tonsillitis can be treated with echinacea, mullein, chamomile, and sage internally. A gargle of salt water, honey and lemon (if the child is over the age of three), or sage infusion can greatly ease the discomfort.

 

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Forms of Herbal Remedies

Forms of Herbal Remedies

INFUSIONS
Infusions are a simple way of extracting the active principles of herbs through the action of hot water. The preparation of infusions is similar to way we prepare tea. This method is used to extract the volatile components of the dried or green aerial parts of herbs and plants like flowers and leaves. Infusions may use single herbs or a blend and are drunk hot or cold. Certainly this is the most common and cheap method of extracting the medicinal compounds of herbs.

DECOCTIONS
Roots, barks and fruits being thicker and less permeable than the aerial parts of medicinal plants, do not liberate their active principles by simple infusion. It is necessary to simmer these parts in boiling water in order to extract their medicinal constituents. The material should be cut or broken into small pieces. In order to avoid loosing volatile constituents, use a lid over the simmering pan. After cooling down and separating the solid from the liquid, decoctions can be taken hot or cold.

TINCTURES
Most of the volatile components of medicinal plants and herbs are soluble in alcohol. By immersing dried or fresh parts of plants in alcohol, the active principles are easily extracted at concentrations that exceed those that can be achieved by infusion or decoction. Highly concentrate solutions that will last for one to two years are a convenient way to store and use medicinal plants constituents. Ideally tinctures should be made using pure ethyl alcohol distilled from cereals. However, since this product is not available to the public, good Vodka with 45-35% alcohol can be used. The extraction is fairly quick. A 50% mixture of herbs and alcohol kept in a tightly closed jar will held a tincture ready for use at the prescribed dosage. Never use methyl alcohol, methylated spirits, isopropyl alcohol or any other kind of unknown spirit to make tinctures.

SYRUPS
With some rare exceptions, like peppermint that is a familiar flavoring agent in toot paste and chewing gum, infused or decocted herbs are not palatable, specially for children. In order to disguise their taste, infusion and decoctions can be mixed with honey or unrefined sugar from cane. These syrups combine the soothing action of these solvents to the medicinal properties of the infusions and decoctions resulting in additional benefits specially for treating cough and sore throats.

INFUSED OILS
Pure vegetable oils like sunflower, almond and olive oil are easily found at grocer stores. They have the property of dissolving the active, fat-soluble active principles of medicinal plants and herbs. This process is called infusion and can be carried out at room temperature or higher. Infusion is a slower process than alcohol extraction but has the advantage of resulting in an oil based solution of medicinal constituents that can easily be used to make creams and ointments. Hot infusion is recommended for the harder parts of the plants while cold infusion is more suitable for flowers and leaves.

ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils are the volatile oily components of aromatic plants, trees and grasses. They are found in tiny glands located in the flowers (neroli), leaves (eucalyptus), roots (calamus), wood (sandal) and resins (frankincense). Essential oils are extracted by four main methods: steam distillation, expression, solvent extraction and efleurage. In the first method the oil is extracted by the action of hot steam and then selectively condensed with water from which it is separated. In the second method the oil is extracted by pressure or centrifugation. In the third method the oil is dissolved in a volatile solvent that when evaporated leaves a heavily natural wax substance called concrete. When separated from the wax, the resulting liquid is called an absolute, the most concentrated from of aroma available. Efleurage is a longer process involving the dissolution of the oils in animal fat and its separation using alcohol. Although essential oils main usage is in cosmetics and perfumery, many of them do have proved therapeutic properties.

OINTMENTS
Ointments are prepared like hot infused oils, the difference being that herbs are simmered in waxes or fats containing no water. After separating the simmered herbs by squeezing and cooling, the result is a solid mixture of the wax or fat with the medicinal constituents of the plant. Petroleum jelly, soft paraffin wax and bee’s wax are some common bases used. Ointments form a oily barrier on the surface of injuries and carry the active principles to the affected area.

CREAMS
Creams are mixtures of oils or fats with water. Since water and oils are not miscible, it is necessary to add an emulsifying agent that avoids their separation. Creams are therefore stable emulsions of oils or fats. Medicinal properties are added to creams when they use or are made with tinctures, infusions, oil infusions, essential oils or decoctions. Creams are permeable allowing the skin to breathe and sweat. Their water content and some additional hydrophobic agent like Glycerin promotes the hydration and cooling of the skin.

 

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Before You Make Herbal Remedies

Witchy Comments & Graphics

Before You Make Herbal Remedies

Make sure the herb you have is the herb that you want.

 

Although you may not wish to pop out into the woods to wildcraft your own herbs right now, you may wish to do so at another time. Wildcrafting is a term you may have already come across, it means collecting plants in the wild. In case you are a reader who has the opportunity to collect their herbs in the wild it is essential that you are able to identify the plants correctly. If there is any doubt at all leave it where it is. Many times poisoning has occurred due to the misidentification of plants. Better safe than sorry. Also, when collecting in the wild you should be aware of chemicals that have been used in the area which may have settled on your plants. Lastly, please leave endangered species alone. We are trying to preserve the old ways not extinguish the natural resources necessary to do so.

MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS CLEAN – Sterilize all utensils. You can boil some for 15 minutes or you can sterilize in the oven. Also handy is a sanitising solution which is used to sterilise baby bottles. All you do is keep the equipment in the sterilizing liquid for 30 mins, then rinse with boiled water. It is important to maintain hygiene to prevent the remedies, especially creams and syrups, from turning mouldy.

STORE PREPARATIONS CORRECTLY – Different preparations have different life expectancies before they lose their medicinal properties. Infusions should be made fresh every day. Decoctions

can be kept up to 48 hours in the fridge. Tinctures, syrups and essential oils can last for months and even years if stored in dark glass bottles and kept in a cool place away from the sunlight. Ointments, creams and capsules are best kept in dark glass jars, but you can use plastic containers. Sometimes fresh creams need to be stored in the fridge if you wish them to last longer.

 
Making Herbal Remedies (Herbology At Home)
Anke Bialas
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Natures Therapy

Natures Therapy

Most medicinal herbs contain many natural compounds that play off one another, producing a wide variety of results. Even medical science does not always understand how the compounds work together, or even exactly what they all are. As botanist Walter Lewis, Ph.D., and microbiologist Memory Elvin-Lewis, Ph.D., put it in their book Medical Botany: “Nature is still mankind’s greatest chemist, and many compounds that remain undiscovered in plants are beyond the imagination of even our best scientists.”

Some herbs that regulate the body almost seem to have an inner intelligence, with the ability to perform many different functions, depending upon what the individual needs. For example, ginger can raise or lower blood pressure, depending on what needs to happen to bring an individual’s blood pressure to a healthy level. And tonic herbs do more than clear up immediate, acute symptoms-they have the more general effect of renewing strength and vitality. Marshmallow, for instance, strengthens your digestive system and improves the functioning of your immune system while relieving your stomach distress.

Although 80 percent of pharmaceutical drugs are based on herbs, these drugs are generally based not on the whole herb but on one “active ingredient” derived from a plant. Modern medicine has become captivated by what it calls a “magic 0bullet”-a single substance that zeros in and destroys a germ or relieves a symptom. Whenever possible, the chemical structure of the active component found in an herb is duplicated in the laboratory and produced synthetically. This enables a drug company to produce formulas of consistent quality and strength and avoid the hassle and expense of collecting plants in the wild. (Not incidentally, it also enables them to patent the remedy and charge more money for it.)

These magic bullet drugs have several problems. First, they treat only specific problems. Well-known plant researcher and botanist James Duke, Ph.D., points out that “the solitary synthetic bullet offers no alternatives if the doctor has misdiagnosed the ailment or if one or more ailments require more than one compound.” Herbs, on the other hand, can cover many bases at once.

Also, magic bullets don’t give the body a chance to find its own solution. Dr. Duke theorizes that our bodies take fuller advantage than we realize of the complex chemistry in medicinal herbs. He believes that each herb contains hundreds of active compounds, many of which act “synergistically.” That means that all these compounds somehow combine to produce a greater effect than each has alone, and that the body extracts the compounds it needs and discards the others. One possible reason that scientific studies sometimes fail to confirm an herb’s traditional use in healing is that the studies often focus only on the isolated compound, not on the whole plant.0

Years ago, researchers extracted an active compound called silymarin from the herb;milk thistle and turned it into a pharmaceutical drug to treat liver damage. Only later did German scientists discover yet another compound in milk thistle betaine hydrochloride-that may be equally important.

The popular immunity-enhancing herb Echinacea has a similar story. For years, complex carbohydrates from Echinacea were thought to be its sole active ingredient and were extracted to produce a drug. But then a team of German researchers headed by Dr. Wagner discovered that;echinacea contains other compounds that enhance immunity.

In the case of the sedative herb valerian, medical researchers found that two compounds-valeric acid and essential oils-caused its calming effects, but for some time they remained unaware of still a third set of highly sedative compounds called valepotriates. And ginkgo, which is used to boost brain functions and circulation, has been found to be more effective when used in its whole form instead of its isolated active compounds.

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