Properties and Uses of Herb
(S Thru Y)
SANDALWOOD – Santalum album (Santalaceae) ,br>Native to eastern India, sandalwood is cultivated in South-East Asia for the extraction of wood and essential oil. Sandalwood’s aroma as been highly esteemed in China and India for thousands of year. The heartwood is most often used in perfumery, but it has also been taken as a remedy in China since around AD 500. Sandalwood and its essential oil are used for their antiseptic properties in treating genito-urinary conditions such as cystitis and gonorrhea. In India, a paste of the wood is used to soothe rashes and itchy skin. In China, sandalwood is held to be useful for chest and abdominal pain.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, aromatic.
SARSAPARILLA – Smilax spp. (Liliaceae)
Sarsaparilla is found in the tropical forest of the world, especially in Mexico, Peru and Brazil. There are more than 200 known species. Brought from the New World to Spain in 1563, sarsaparilla was heralded as a cure for syphilis. In Mexico, the herb has traditionally been used to treat a variety of skin problems. Sarsaparilla is anti-inflammatory and cleansing, and can bring relief to skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis and general itchiness, and help treat rheumatism, rheumatoid, arthritis and gout. Sarsaparilla also has a progesterogenic action, making it beneficial in pre-menstrual problems, and menopausal conditions such as debility and depression. In Mexico the root is still frequently consumed for its reputed tonic and aphrodisiac properties. Native Amazonian peoples take sarsaparilla to improve virility and to treat menopausal problems.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic.
SCOTS PINE – Pinus sylvestris (Pinaceae)
Native to the mountainous regions of Europe and north and west Asia. Its oil, extracted from the leaves, is added to disinfectants and other preparations. Scots pine leaves, taken internally, have a mildly antiseptic effect within the chest, and may also be used for arthritic and rheumatic problems. Essential oil from the leaves may be taken for asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory infections, and for digestive disorders such as wind. Scots pine branches and stems yield a thick resin, which is also antiseptic within the respiratory tract. The seeds yield an essential oil with diuretic and respiratory-stimulant properties.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, diuretic and anti-rheumatic.
SESAME – Sesamum indicum (Pedaliaceae)
Native to Africa, sesame is now cultivated in many tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. In ancient Egypt, the seeds were eaten and also pressed to yield oil, which was burned in lamps and used to make ointments. Sesame is used in China to redress afflictions of the liver and kidneys. The seeds are prescribed for problems such as dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and blurred vision. Owing to their lubricating effect within the digestive tract, the seeds are also considered a remedy for constipation. Sesame seed oil benefits the skin and is used as a base for cosmetics. A decoction of the root is used in various traditions to treat coughs and asthma.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Digestive, aromatic, antispasmodic.
ST JOHN’S WORT – Hypericum perforatum (Guttiferae)
The plant is native to Europe but is widely cultivated elsewhere. St. John’s wort flowers at the time of the summer solstice, and in medieval Europe it was considered to have powerful magical properties that enabled it to repel evil. The most well-known action of St. John’s wort is in repairing nerve damage and reducing pain and inflammation. It is taken to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps, sciatica and arthritis. Th oils is applied to inflammations, sprains, bruises and varicose veins. St. John’s wort is also used to treat circulation problems, bronchitis and gout.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Antidepressant, antispasmodic, astringent, sedative, relieves pain, anti-viral.
TARRAGON – Artemisia dracunculus (Compositae)
Tarragon is probably native of southern Europe or the steppes of Asia. Historians believe that tarragon reached Europe brought into Spain by invading Mongols. Tarragon is widely used as a herb in cooking. In French, it is sometimes known as herbe au dragon, because of its reputed ability to cure serpent bites. While tarragon stimulates the digestion, it is reputed to be a mild sedative and has been taken to aid sleep. With its mild menstruation-inducing properties, it is taken if periods are delayed. The root has traditionally been applied to aching teeth.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Anti-inflammatory, digestive.
TEA TREE – Malaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae)
Tea tree is native to Australia and is now cultivated extensively. Tea tree, and in particular its essential oil, is one of the most important natural antiseptics. Useful for stings, burns, wounds and skin infections of all kinds, the herb merits a place in every medicine chest. Its therapeutic properties were first researched during the 1920s and it is now widely used in Europe and the US, as well as in Australia.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral.
THYME – Thymus vulgaris (Labiatae)
Thyme occurs in the west Mediterranean to the southwest Italy. The herb was known to the Sumerians, used by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Thyme was praised by the herbalist Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) as “a notable strengthener of the lungs”. Its main medicinal application is in treating coughs and clearing congestion. Many current formulas for mouth washes and vapor rubs contain thymol, one of the constituents found in thyme. It also improves digestion, destroys intestinal parasites and is an excellent antiseptic and tonic.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, tonic, relieves muscle spasm, expectorant.
TURMERIC – Curcuma longa syn. C. domestica (Zingiberaceae)
Turmeric is native to India and southern Asia where it is extensively cultivated. Best known for its bright yellow color and spicy taste to lovers of Indian food, its medicinal value is not so well known. However, recent research has confirmed the effects traditionally associated in ancient practices in the treatment of digestive and liver problems. The herb has also been shown to inhibit blood-clotting, relieve inflammatory conditions and help lower cholesterol levels.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Stimulates secretion of bile, anti-inflammatory, eases stomach pain, antioxidant, antibacterial.
VALERIAN – Valeriana officinalis (Valerianaceae)
Valerian is native to Europe and western Asia. The medicinal properties of valerian were well known at least since Roman times. Valerian root is a general tranquilizer used for relieving nervous tension, insomnia and headaches. Valerian decreases muscular spasm, being useful in cases of nervous digestion, bowel syndrome, stomach and menstrual cramps. Valerian helps relieve stress and has become an increasingly popular remedy in recent decades. It is a safe, non-addictive relaxant that reduces nervous tension and anxiety and promotes restful sleep.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Sedative, relaxant, relieves muscle spasm, relieves anxiety, lowers blood pressure.
VERBENA – Verbena officinalis (Verbenaceae)
Native of Europe, verbena is extensively cultivated in other countries. Verbena has long been credited with magical properties and was used in ceremonies by the Romans, Druids of ancient Britain and Gaul. It is a traditional herbal medicine in both China and Europe. Verbena is used in mouth washes for infected gums and as a poultice for hemorrhoids. A tea has been used as a nerve tonic, to treat insomnia and to help digestion. D It has tonic, restorative properties, and is used to relieve stress and anxiety, and to improve digestive function.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Nervine, tonic, mild sedative, stimulates bile secretion, mild bitter.
WHITE WILLOW – Salix alba (Salicaceae)
White willow is native to Europe but is also found in North Africa and Asia. White willow is an excellent remedy for arthritic and rheumatic pain, affecting the joints like knees and hips. Famous as the original source of salicylic acid, first isolated in 1838 and synthetically produced in the laboratory in 1899, white willow and closely related species have been used for thousands of years in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America to relieve joint pain and manage fevers. The Greek physician Discorides in the 1st century AD, suggested taking “willow leaves, mashed with a little pepper and drunk with wine” to relieve lower back pain.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, reduces fever, anti-rheumatic, astringent.
WORMWOOD – Artemisia absinthium (Compositae)
Native to Europe, wormwood was called absintium by the Romans, what means “bitter”. Wormwood leave’s primary uses is to stimulate the gallbladder, help prevent and release stones, and to adjust digestive malfunctions. It also increases bile secretion and is useful in expelling intestinal worms. It is taken in small doses and sipped, the intensely bitter taste playing an important part in its therapeutic effect. In the past, wormwood was one of the main flavorings of vermouth (whose name derives from the German for wormwood).
HEALING PROPERTIES: Aromatic bitter, stimulates secretion of bile, anti-inflammatory, eliminates worms, eases stomach pains, mild antidepressant.
WILD THYME – Thymus serpyllum (Labiatae)
Thyme is native to the west Mediterranean to southwest Italy. Like its close relative thyme (Thymus vulgaris), wild thyme is strongly antiseptic and anti-fungal. It may be taken as an infusion or syrup to treat flu and colds, sore throats, coughs, whooping cough, chest infections, and bronchitis. Wild thyme has anti-catarrhal properties and helps clear a stuffy nose, sinusitis, ear congestion and related complaints. It has been used to expel thread worms and roundworms in children, and is used to settle wind and colic. Wild thyme’s antispasmodic action makes it useful and is used to settle wind and colic. Wild thyme is also used in herbal baths and pillows.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, anti-fungal, antispasmodic.
YARROW – Achillea millefolium (Compositae)
Yarrow is a native European plant, with a long history as a wound healer. In classical times, it was known as herba militaris, being used to staunch war wounds. It has long been taken as a strengthening bitter tonic and all kinds of bitter drinks have been made from it. Yarrow helps recovery from colds and flu and is beneficial for hay fever. It is also helpful for menstrual problems and circulatory disorders.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Antispasmodic, astringent, bitter tonic, increases sweating, lowers blood pressure, reduces fever, mild diuretic and urinary antiseptic.
YLANG -YLANG – Canananga odorata syn. Canangium odoratum (Annonaceae)
Ylang-ylang is native to Indonesia and the Philippines. The flowers are a traditional adornment in the Far East. Their scent is thought to have aphrodisiac qualities. The flowers and essential oil are sedative and antiseptic. The oil has a soothing effect, and its main therapeutic uses are to slow an excessively fast heart rate and to lower blood pressure. With its reputation as an aphrodisiac, ylang-ylang may be helpful in treating impotence.
HEALING PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, aromatic, regulates blood pressure