* Grains of Paradise
* Job’s Tears
** SEXUAL ENERGY
* Cohosh, Black
* Dragon’s Blood
* Palm, Date
The Baneful Herbs
Belladonna = Also known as deadly nightshade, Belladonna is a source of the poisonous drug atropine. In minute quantities, atropine, in the form of a sulfate, is used to dilate the pupils of the eye, to relieve pain, to diminish secretions, and to relieve spasms. In greater quantities, it was used to kill. Belladonna was believed to have been used in flying potions.
Cinquefoil = In folklore, cinquefoil was used in flying potions. Found in many old recipes & Grimores.
Deadly Nightshade = Deadly nightshade was ingested by those who wished to foresee the future.
Foxglove = Many of the common names of this plant pertain to its toxic nature (Witches’ glove, Dead Man’s Bells, Bloody Fingers). Foxglove belongs to the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) and the whole plant is toxic. It contains various cardiac glycosides. Foxglove also went by the names Goblin’s Gloves (in Wales), Throttle-wort, Thimble Flower, Finger Flower, Ireland it was also known as Fairy Cap, Lunsmore, and the Great Herb. Foxglove was also considered dear to faeries. If a plant was harmed, the faeries would bring retribution.
Hemlock= Hemlock is an extremely poisonous cousin of parsley. The juice from hemlock’s tiny white flowers was believed to be used to make men impotent. “The plant was an ingredient in many Witches’ Ointments…. According to German folk tradition, the hemlock was home to a toad, which lived beneath it and sucked up its poisons.
Hemp = Hemp was used in many old spells and Incense. I do not consider this plant poisonous, and believe it is quite a magical plant when the female flowers are smoked. Mother earth gave us this plant for a reason. Not to mention what we could do with the fibers and just about every other part of this plant. We could feed and cloth the world.(end rant).
Mandrake = Another plant with a narcotic effect, mandrake or the mandragore (Mandragora officinarum L.) was thought to be a potentially lethal herb to harvest from the earth. For this reason, great caution was used in gathering these magical roots. Many people believed that the mandrake shrieked when harvested and that anyone hearing the piercing cry would die. The root of the mandrake resembles a phallus or a human torso, and for this reason was believed to have occult powers. In some areas of Europe, possession of the root was punishable by death. The crushed root was purported to have caused hallucinations followed by a death-like trance and sleep. The root was also said to have caused insanity and was believed to have been used in flying potions Mandrake root makes a powerful addition to any “Binding spell” and works as a great “Witches” protector.
Tools Necessary for Herbalism
1) A Good mortar and Pestile, one of stone or metal is
prefered. If wood is used you will need two, one for
inedibles and one for edibles – make sure they do not
look identical, as you do not want to accidentally
2) Containers. Although you can buy dried herbs over the
counter in many places these days, do not store them
in the plastic bags they come in, as these are usually
neither reuseable nor perfectly airtight. Rubbermaid
style plastic containers are good, but expensive. I
have used glass coffee and spice jars/bottles to good
effect, as well as some medicine bottles. The more you
recycle the better ecologically, just make sure they
have been thoroughly washed and dried before placing
anything inside them.
3) Labels. This is vital! None of us in this day and age
can possibly recognize each herb in its various forms
simply by sight. Always label your containers as you
fill them, and if possible date them when they were
filled so you don’t keep spoiled stock on the shelf.
4) Tea Ball. A good metal teaball of the single cup
size can be very useful in the longrun when your are
experimenting, and when you are making single person
doses of teas and tonics.
5) CheeseCloth : Useful for straining a partially liquid
mixture and occasionnally for the making of sachets.
6) A Good sized teakettle. Preferably one that will hold
at least a quart of water.
7) A Good teapot for simmering mixtures. I use one from
a chinese import store that has done me well.
8) A good cutting board and a SHARP cutting knife for just
9) A notebook of some sort to record the information in
as you go, both successes and failures. Always record
anything new you try that may or may not work, and
also and research information you get from various
sources (like this echo!)
10) An eyedropper.
11) White linen-style bandages. Some ace bandages are also
useful in the long run.
12) A metal brazier of some sort, or a metal container
that can withstand heavy useage and heat from within
or without, useful for several things including the
making of your own incenses.
13) Reference sources. Shortly you should see a list of
books that I have read from in the past that I
consider useful, build from this as a starting point
to others and to your teachers help.
Thats it to start, you’ll pick the rest up as you go. Take your time studying, take lots of notes, compare your sources and your own personal results on each herb and on herbal mixtures of any kind.
* Bergamot, Orange
* Blue Flag
* Cascara Sagrada
* Golden Seal
* Grains of Paradise
* High John the Conqueror
* Horse Chestnut
* Irish Moss
* Lucky Hand
* May Apple
* Oak Oats
* Oregon Grape
* Rattlesnake Root
* Snakeroot, Black
Plant Kingdom Helps and Hints
The fresher a plant (or a plant preparation) is the better it responds to magical energy, unless you leave that item where it will receive constant charging.
Dry plants and plant parts are fine for convenience, but they don’t have the magical vitality fresh ones do because the vital oils (and life energy) are also “dry.” Mind you, there are cases when the dry quality may help your magic, such as when performing a good-weather spell!
The essential oil from a plant is a perfectly good substitute for fresh parts. Just be careful–these oils can be harsh on the skin, and some are toxic to pets.
Growing your own magical plants and harvesting them at a traditional tie (e.g., Midsummer’s Day) does seem to boost the magical energy within.
If you have to buy plants from a supplier, organic plants have the best magical potential (chemicals can obscure magical intention). Also, find a supplier you can trust. One green leafy thing looks a lot like another, and not all companies are honest in their packaging.
Along the same lines, as you collect plants for magical work make sure to carefully label everything both inside and outside the container. Always trust this rule: If you’re not sure what it is, don’t use it!
Any fresh Herbs can be dried. They should be picked and tied in small bunches. Hang them in the kitchen or a well-ventilated shed to dry. As soon as they are dried out, they should be crumbled into jars and stored in a dark place–they might look decorative hanging up, but will soon become dusty and begin to deteriorate.
A SIMPLE HERBAL LIST
I’ve compiled a short list of some very beneficial herbs to keep in your Witches’ Cupboard if you have one, or if you want to start one.
I’ve also listed “The Witches’ 3 X 3” – a list of nine healing herbs, indicated by an (***) sign.
Pain reliever, heals skin – lips, nose, burns. Sacred to the Godess, used in full moon rituals as an offering to the Goddess, purification, promotes celibacy, heightens physical energy.
treats colds, reduces fever, aids indigestion, curbs flatulence. Strengthens the psychic bond between humans and animals; for courage, true love, lasting happiness.
Very important first aid herb. Does not burn the skin or inner tissues, but feels hot. Helps coagulate blood, internally and externally. Can be sprinkled directly onto a bleeding cut. Good for heart disease.
Soothing to the body & mind, sedative before bed as a tea, mind pain reliever as a compress/ For good luck or changing your luck, prevents lightning strikes to your house or person, prosperity, meditation aid.
Eases toothache pain, calms stomach pain, relieves gas. Banishes hostility or negative energy, increases personal gain, clears a cloudy mind, increases friendship or love.
Pain relief, allergy & cough suppressant. Used in spells for wealth, prosperity & love.
Very nutritious. Sooths the stomach, heals sprains, strains, fractures, sores, arthritis. Used in protection spells and safety when travelling.
Aphrodisiac, improves digestion, relieves cough. Use in sex magick spells, for clairvoyance, divination.
Protection, luck, for a raise or new job; invisibility.
Aids digestion, can be chewed or brewed to tea for weight loss, gas relief, halitosis. Imparts strength & sexual virility. Prevents curses.
Cleanses system internaly. Take at the onset of colds or flu. Doubles money in gambling, use to win in court. Sex magick, hex breaking, aids psychic powers.
Good for hair, skin, digestion, lungs, blood health. Lowers cholesterol & blood pressure. Good for ear infections. Heals colds, flu. Tincture by steeping in olive oil. Use for magickal healing, protection, exorcism.
Relaxing stimulant! Use after large meals to settle stomach, induces perspiration while sweating out a fever, aids the liver. Powerful aphrodisiac when sprinkled in steeping raspberry leaf tea.
Rejuvenates & promotes longevity. Andi-depressant. Use with St. John’s Wort. Equalizes blood pressure & digestion. For use in love spells, beauty & healing spells.
All purpose healing. Gargle with cold brew for a sore throat, use as a poultice for cuts, abrasions, minor contusions. Use in spells for success in gambling.
Anti-spasmodic. Remedy for itchy-skin or mild hives. Apply fresh brew or tonic to skin. Sweetens breath. Attracts love. Use for dream work or divination.
HIGH JOHN THE CONQUEROR
To conquer any situation. To win at gambling, in court. For good luck, money, love, health, protection. To find lost items.
Calmes nervous tic, use as a poultice for snakebite. Attracts money & love. For use in divination, charging crystals, moon magick.
Powerful when used as an aphrodisiac. Potion to induce visions, use in astral travel work, for protection in travelling.
ALL PURPOSE. Stomach problems, nausea & vomiting (used as a tonic) healing, inner peace, peace of mind, anti-stress, finding love, money, protection, attracting good spirits & faeries, purification, peaceful sleep, headache relief, menstrual cramp relief (when inhaled).
~~POISONOUS – USE EXTREME CAUTION~~ FOR USE IN SMALL DOSES ONLY!
Anti-spasmodic, anti-convulsive for epileptic seizures or temper tantrums. Calms pain in small doses, muscle spasms, tension headaches, menstrual cramps. Helps to end addictions & sooth withdrawls symptons.
Appetite stimulant, digestive aid. Visions, dreams, clairvoyance, protection, strength in travelling. To consecrate divination tools, to add or boost power in tools of scrying.
Reverses spells, peacefully gets rid of trouble makers. Use in clairvoyance, divination, sex magick. Use to manifest & draw money.
~~CAUTION – USE IN SMALL DOSES ONLY~~
Repels insects, calms skin itch or nervous itch. Treats & soothes nausea, treats colds & flu. Use in consecration rituals, exorcism.
Soothes nausea & upset stomach, heartburn, colds, flu. Calming, good for motion sickness. Promotes peaceful sleep, visionary dreams. Boosts psychic abilities.
Blood detoxifier for treatment of poison ivy, snakebite, bee stings, mosquito bites, etc. Apply juice of crushed leaves to bites & stings. Reapply often, drink brew of leaves made into tea, eat & chew on fresh leaves.
for kidney strength, infections. Diarreah, nausea, colds and flu. Calming to the nerves as a tonic. Promotes peaceful sleep. Use for visionary work, protection, love spells.
Nerve stimulant, digestive aid. Aids memory, soothes headache, eases depression when inhaled. Use for protection, exorcisms, purification, healing, stimulate lust. Powerful fumitory.
Very nutritious, high in Vitamin C. Take for colds or flu, reduces fever. Mild laxative, good for acne. For spells concerning good luck, use to summon good spirits.
Use as an antiperspirant, healing to wounds. Aids digestion, relieves muscle and joint pain. Gargle to heal sores of the mouth & gums. Healing to colds & flu, reduces fever, preservative. For use in spells for wisdom, healing, money, protection, longevity, powerful fumitory for ritual.
Use a poultice for bruises & minor contusions, reduces fever. For use in clairvoyance & protection spells, purification, meditation. Burned in rituals, aids in magickal work, stimulates sexual urges, aids in healing spells.
Tranquilizer & anti-insomniatic. Sedative (mild to moderate) Eases nervous tension, drug & alcohol withdrawl symptoms, eases menstrual symdrome. Use for fidelity, commitment. Relieves anxiety. Promotes relaxation & peaceful feeling.
ST. JOHN’S WORT
Wound healing, immune system booster. Anti-insomniatic, headache relief, eases menstrual cramps. Powerful anti-depressant. Use for protection, exorcism, courage, divination rituals.
~~CAUTION! USE EXTERNALLY!~~
For guud luck, draws money, attracts material desires. Wish magick.
Calms nerves, sleep aid. Treats nervous conditions. Antispasmodic. Reduces blood pressure. Use in love magick, purification, divination, black magick.
For minor pains and headache, tooth ache, arthritis, other inflammations. For restful sleep, calming nerves. For protection, purification, consecration, potions for love, creativity.
Because so many herbs are potentially poisonous in various amounts, take extreme caution when dealing with a plant or herb you’re unsure of. Consult a physician, pharmacist or horticulturist before ingesting anything you are uncertain of!
Some spells & concoctions were writtern with out modern facts we have learned a great deal over the years. Though many of the old ways are superior to some new science. This list should be a help to you to discover how to protect yourself from some mistakes. This is not a complete list but a good start. I will add to it as the info comes my way. BEWARE! Aconite Ilex
Active ingredient is eugenol, same as cloves. Topical pain relief, tea and mouthwash.
Seven tsp. of seed to one quart water, boil down by half, add 4 tbsp. of honey, take two tsp to calm a cough. Drink tea for memory, aid digestion, and a wash for oily skin.
Lightly crushed seeds added to food is like natural gas-x.
ARROW ROOT POWDER
One tbsp in a cup of juice every few hours to relieve diarrhea. Poultice to soothe skin inflammations.
Buy the tincture in Indian shops. They add a drop to many dishes to relieve stomach pains (gas). Insect repellent. Topical use to heal ulcerated sores.
Boil in water and drink the water for kidney problems. Dissolves uric acid deposits and promotes urination.
Add fresh herb or seeds to boiled water to make tea for migraines and bed time restlessness. Douche for yeast infections, eliminates candida, gargle and mouthwash. Pregnant women should avoid medicinal use of basil.
Heat leaves in a little olive oil to make a bay oil salve for arthritis and aches.
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 4 tsp lightly crushed seeds. Simmer for 5 minutes, then steep 15 min. Drink with meals to prevent gas, even for infant colic. Promotes menstruation and relieves uterine cramping.
Digestive aid, eases gluten intolerance (celiac disease). Sprinkle powder on cereal.
Capsicum speeds metabolism. Capsicum cream and oils relieve arthritis and aches, not just by warming and stimulating blood flow, but also by blocking pain transmission by nerves. (blocks substance P) Prevents blood clots, heals ulcers. “Jewish” penicillin, cayenne and garlic in chicken soup really IS as effective as antibiotics after the onset of cold or flu. Cayenne dramatically drops blood sugar levels and should by avoided by hypoglycemics. Cayenne promotes excretion of cholesterol through the intestines. It increases energy levels and aura brilliance.
Sedative. Active ingredient thalide. Seed and stalk, reduces hypertension. Celery seed tea for the kidneys as a cleanser.
Steep in boiled water and apply with an eye cup for a wide range of eye complaints.
Liver cleanser, fat cleanser, dissolves gallstones. Prepare like coffee.
Leafy part of coriander plant. Food poisoning preventative.
Mouthwash, good for upset stomach. Simmer sticks with cloves for 3 min, add 2 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp honey, 2 tbsp whiskey – as cold medication. Cinnamon is good for yeast infection and athlete’s foot. A 2% solution will kill both of these conditions. Boil 8-10 sticks in 4 cups water, simmer 5 min, steep 45 min, then douche or apply to athlete’s foot. Cinnamon reduces cancer causing tendencies of many food additives.
Use oil for pain relief for sore gums and toothache. Add clove oil to neutral oils for topical pain relief of arthritis. Small amounts of clove in a tea for nausea. 3 cloves in two cups of boiled water, steeped for 20 minutes, as an antiseptic and mouthwash. Former alcoholics can suck on one or two cloves when the craving strikes to curb the desire.
Although not a spice, it is commonly available in the kitchen. The caffeine in coffee can be used to alleviate headaches (particularly those caused by caffeine withdrawal.) Coffee enemas with olive oil are used to cleanse the bowels and are one of the safest and most thoroughly cleansing enemas available. Caution and common sense must be used to avoid dependency. Hot black coffee sipped through a straw helps break up mucus congestion in the lungs.
Coriander tea can be used topically to remove unpleasant odors in the genital area for men and women. The tea can be held in the mouth to relieve the pain of a toothache. Can also be drank to relieve flatulence and indigestion.
Bring one pint of white wine almost to a boil, remove from heat and add 4 tsp of dill seeds, let steep 30 minutes and strain. Drink 1 ½ cups a half hour before retiring to sleep well. To the same directions, but substitute for the 4 tsp of dill, instead add 1 tsp each of anise, caraway, coriander and dill to stimulate the flow of breast milk in nursing mothers. Chewing dill seeds removes bad breath.
Chewing fennel seeds relieves bad breath. Fennel seed tea sweetens breast milk. Fennel tea relieves colic in infants.
Use as a tea as an excellent relief for colic and fever in children. 1 tbsp ground fenugreek seed taken in the diet daily can reduce cholesterol. 8 tsp of seed presoaked in 4 cups cold water for 4 hours, then boil for 2 minutes, strain and drink 1 cup a day to ease hay fever attacks.
Ultimate antibiotic. Useful even for sexually transmitted diseases. Strongly recommended for hypoglycemia, and diabetes. Destroys intestinal parasites. Reduces cholesterol. Repels insects, and reduces sting effects of insects and red ants.
Anti-nausea tea, blood thinner, substitute for coumadin. Boil 2/3 cup of freshly chopped root in 1 gallon water, wrapped in cheesecloth (or old nylon stocking) until the water is yellow. Then soak towel and lay on bruises and sprains while still hot, to ease them. Stimulates a delayed period. Warm ginger tea is good to break up congestion and fever. Ginger is one of the few herbs that easily passes the blood/brain membrane and is used in conjunction with other herbs that are meant to have an effect on the mind. Pregnant women should avoid medicinal concentrations of ginger.
Freshly dug root is added to a cold-pressed oil of choice (such as safflower or olive) to make a massage oil for muscle aches and to break up chest congestion. Grate fresh ginger and horseradish together and make a tea to stop post nasal drip.
½ cup dried leaves to 2 pints of water, simmer for 10 minutes, and sip to bring down fevers.
Tranquilizer. Balances nervous system, stimulates liver functions. Long term usage (over 3 months) could cause liver damage.
Steep root for 15 min in a cup of boiled water, drink after every meal to prevent flatulence.
MARJORAM AND OREGANO
Over 2 dozen related species. Use as a tea to help reduce fevers and break up bronchitis. Drink tea to relieve cramps and irregular menstruation. Eases suffering of childhood diseases like mumps and measles.
(Peppermint and spearmint)
Peppermint tea for migraines, nervousness, stomach disorders, heartburn, and abdominal cramps. Herpes sufferers can take 2 cups of tea a day to ease the symptoms when the virus is active. Mints are used to buffer the action of other herbs that have uncomfortable effects on the stomach and intestines. Can be used in any combination for flavor.
1 ½ cups of dry yellow mustard in a bathtub of water for sprained backs. Make a paste with water and apply to knee and elbow sprains till blisters appear! Mustard and ginger plaster for deep rattling coughs – 1 tsp each mustard and ginger powder mixed with 2 ½ tbsp of olive oil. Rub over chest and back and put on an old T-shirt (or cover with cloth diaper).
NUTMEG AND MACE
Gas, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and kidney problems – make a paste of powder with cold water and then add to boiled water. 1 tbsp of powdered nutmeg produces a floating euphoria for between 6 and 24 hours. Can cause near constant erections for men during that time. Side effects are bone and muscle aches, burning eyes, sinus drainage, and limited diarrhea.
Egyptians swore their oaths on onions; Grant refused to move his army until he got 3 railroad cars full of onions; interviews with hundreds of people who lived to 100 plus all indicated a heavy intake of onions in the diet. Onion is an excellent dressing for burns. Crush sliced onions with a little bit of salt and apply to burns. Apply sliced onion to bee and wasp stings. For asthma: puree an onion, cover it with brandy and let sit overnight, strain it, filter it through a coffee filter, and refrigerate. Take 2 tbsp 20 minutes before expected onset or before going to bed.
The purifier. Chew for halitosis. A few sprigs provide 2/3 the vitamin C of an orange, lots of vitamin A, and the important amino acid histidine, which is a tumor inhibitor. Parsley tea is good for kidney problems, painful urination, and kidney stones. One cup of parsley to 1 quart of water makes a strong tea. Two cups of parsley to 1 quart of water, steep an hour and drink warm, as an aphrodisiac. In Spain they have found that feeding parsley to sheep will bring them into heat at any time of year!
Pain relief from toothache, brings down a fever.
Flower tea for the breath. Boil water with rosemary in it to make it safe to drink. Diuretic and liver aid, increases bile flow. Two handfuls of flowering tips into 2 cups of good brandy, soak 10 days, strain and seal. Mouthful twice daily. Oil of rosemary is a natural anti-oxidant, and stress reliever; sniff for headaches. Chop a double handful of twigs and put in a pint of olive oil for one week, and use as a muscle liniment.
Chew a fresh leaf and put on insect bite to reduce sting and swelling. Sage tea for the throat. Two cups of sage tea a day for a week will dry up mother’s milk. For the itching of skin problems, steep a handful of freshly crushed leaves in a pint of boiled water for one hour, and bathe the area, then sprinkle with whole wheat flour. Sage tea prevents blood clots.
(the herb of love)
One quart boiled water, 3 ½ tbsp fenugreek seed, and steep for 5 minutes. Remove fenugreek and add 2 handfuls of savory leaves, steep 50 minutes and drink 2 cups, as an aphrodisiac.
1 ½ tsp cut dried herb in 1 ¾ cups boiled water, steep 40 minutes, drink warm for insomnia, hyperactivity, depression, or nervous exhaustion. (or anything “jittery”) For digestion steep a handful of dried leaves in a jar with apple cider vinegar, stand 7 hours, strain and seal. Take 1 tbsp before each meal.
Caffeine relieves migraines. Tea drinkers suffer less hardening of the arteries than coffee drinkers. Black tea kills dental plaque.
Antibiotic. A tsp in ½ cup boiled water to make a gargle or mouthwash, to prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and cold sores. Drink for cold, flu, fever, and allergy symptoms. As a bath for nail fungus and athlete’s foot, and also as a douche. Compress for bumps and bruises. Health liqueur – 6 sprigs of thyme in 1 ½ cups of brandy for 5 days, shaking daily. Take several times daily when you feel a cold coming on. Thyme is good for killing bacteria and for relaxing tense muscles. Relieves migraine headaches and stomach cramps.
Anti-oxidant. Powdered turmeric on any ulcerated skin condition or mix with enough lime juice to make a paste and put on herpes sores, mumps, chicken pox, etc. Dip a cloth in turmeric solution to wash away discharges from conjunctivitis and opthamalia. As an anti-inflammatory, turmeric’s properties are as good as 1 % hydrocortisone and phenylobutazone. Take ½ tsp in juice in the morning and evening to aid in removing fat around the liver. Turmeric, bay leaf, clove, and cinnamon all tripled insulin performance in metabolizing blood glucose in a test tube! Field tests proved to greatly enhance production of insulin by the pancreas. “Spicecaps” from Great American Natural Products have a pinch of cinnamon, 2 cloves, ½ bay leaf, and 1 tsp of turmeric per capsule.
Sexual stimulant. Soak a cotton ball with vanilla extract, squeeze it out, put it under the tongue and it will quickly calm hysteria.
Naturally brewed apple cider vinegar deserves a course all on it’s own. It is one of the finest blood cleansers and arthritis cures known. Take 1 tbsp per day of equal parts vinegar and honey in water to taste to cleanse the blood and reduce inflammation from arthritis. Be sure to use naturally brewed vinegar, as the white cheap stuff in the grocery store is actually acetic acid, a petroleum by-product, and pretty well useless. (except as a window cleaner!)
Although not an herb or a spice, this was sent in by OrichidTigress@aol.com, and is especially recommended for people who are allergic to MSG. Many people will use a meat tenderizer for bee stings, but it contains MSG which can cause some people to swell. Instead, make a paste and apply directly to the insect bite to reduce swelling. You can also mix 1 tsp with water and take for relief of indigestion.
CAUTIONS ABOUT HERBAL MEDICINE
by Camilla Cracchiolo
There is nothing about herbs that automatically makes them non-toxic just
because they are natural. Ever hear of deadly nightshade or poisonous mushrooms?
They are drugs, like other drugs and should be approached with the same caution.
This means, for example, that pregnant women should be as careful about
medicinal herbs as they are about conventional medicines. Some medicinal herbs
are clearly linked to birth defects. People on certain medications, like anti-
coagulants or psychiatric drugs, can have serious problems from interactions
between the herb and the medicine they’re taking. In the US, herb labels do not
list information about side effects, dangers and contraindications on the label
(which I think they should). Many physicians are not well informed about herbs,
and so you cannot always rely on your doctor to know about potential problems.
And if you have or suspect you have a serious illness, it is very important to
be under a doctor’s care. Self diagnosis is not always accurate and self
treatment doesn’t always work.
I believe it is vital for any person who wishes to try herbs to be very well
read before attempting them. I strongly recommend The Honest Herbal by Varro
Tyler to anyone who is considering or using herbal medicines. It is the one
herb book that I have ever found that relies solely on scientific studies
instead of anecdotes and which provides references. Tyler himself has
impressive credentials, being a tenured professor of pharmacognosy (the branch
of pharmacy that deals with herbal medicine) in the school of pharmacy at Purdue
University. The ISBN # is 1-56024-287-6 and it is published by the Haworth
Press, 10 Alice Street, Binghamton NY 13904-1580. It is in print, costs about
$20 and I got mine through a regular bookstore which special ordered it for me.
I personally regard herbal medicine as useful primarily in two situations:
* when a basically healthy person uses an herbal compound for a short, self
limiting condition such as a cold or the flu, where over-the-counter remedies
would normally be appropriate.
* in the case of serious illness, where no effective standard treatment exists
and where there is some evidence from the scientific literature that a
particular herbal compound may help.
An example of this would be the use of silymarin (an extract from milk thistle)
in the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis. In this kind of situation, I
regard it as extremely important that the person be under the close supervision
of a physician well versed in the disease in question and who has reviewed the
available studies on the herb to be used.
Herbal medicine has some very big problems. The most important is probably that
herbs often have not been subjected to thorough testing. Even when an herb has
many studies published about it, almost always the studies are on animals; human
studies are quite unusual. Studies to determine whether the compound can cause
birth defects are vanishingly rare, as are studies to determine whether the
compound can cause cancer. Relying on traditional folklore is not much help;
very obvious or dramatic adverse effects may be caught this way, but it doesn’t
tell us much about either long term effects or problems caused in only a small
percentage of people.
Another major problem is that the amount of pharmacologically active ingredient
available varies widely from plant to plant, so accurately regulating dosage is
difficult. The pharmacologically active ingredient may also occur in conjunction
with other toxic compounds. Examples of toxic agents often found in herbs
include pyrrolizadine alkaloids (very toxic to the liver and cause both benign
and malignant liver tumors); coumarins (which decrease the ability of the blood
to clot); and allergens. The latter can be quite important to people who are
allergic to ragweed; some herbs in the ragweed family (chamomile and yarrow are
examples) can cause severe allergic reactions in these folks.) Most companies
do not list the source of their herbs or how they were grown. Pesticide
contamination is a possibility and heavy metal contamination of some herbs has
been reported in the scientific literature.
Because of the problems mentioned above, I believe it is often better to rely on
an extracted and standardized compound (conventional drugs) when possible.
However, some of the active ingredients of herbs cannot be found in this form.
Yet another problem is with herb labeling. Very few herbal medicines marketed
in the US have both the Latin name of the herb and an expiration date marked on
the bottle. Often, this is deliberate: fraud is rampant among companies
marketing herbs. One brand that does have good labeling is Nature’s Way.
Alternatively, if you live in a city with a large Chinese, Japanese or Korean
population, you can try the herb sellers in that district. I’ve personally
found the herb sellers in Chinatown here in L.A. to be very honest and
knowledgeable (although language is often a problem, alas. Gotta learn to speak
Chinese one of these days.) 🙂
If you decide, after your research, to try herbal medicines, you may wish to
consult a trained herbalist. Unfortunately, in the US anyone can hang out a
shingle and call themselves an herbalist. Lots of these people have no idea what
they’re doing. I have found practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine to be
the best trained. I don’t accept the model that traditional Chinese
practitioners use to explain the effects of herbs (yin/yang, hot/cold, damp/dry,
etc.). I also have problems with the amount of unsupported anecdotal info mixed
in with scientific studies. But traditional Chinese doctors treat herbs with a
lot of respect and caution. They are well up on the side effects and
And finally, very few herb books contain dosage information. I have a lot of
problems with Michael Tierra’s herb books. I don’t accept the medical models he
endorses (traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda). I also don’t like the
fact that Tierra doesn’t distinguish between scientifically validated
information and folklore. But Tierra’s books are among the very few herbal
medicine books that discuss dosage. Just making up a weak tea is usually not
enough to get a pharmacologically effective dose. Tierra is the author of The
Way Of Herbs and Planetary Herbology.
Warning: Tierra’s books should be used as supplemental sources only and never as
your primary source of information on herbs. I have spotted several places
where he has left out important information on toxicity.
The Magick Of Herbs In the Kitchen
Just stop and think about the Magickal properties of cooking…The Goddess and God energy that is in your kitchen…Well..if you haven’t given it a thought let me see if I can change your perspective about the chore of cooking! Let us start in your kitchen cabinets…What can be found upon these shelves? Herbs of course!
Every herb has magickal, medicinal, and cooking uses…For example:
#2) Pepper…South…The Wand…Fire…Inspiration…
#3) Garlic…Exorcism…Clearing a space…Protection…
#5) Sage (my favorite) East…Wisdom…Smudge with this herb to cleanse the auric field…Healing herb for the stomach…Colon…Sinuses and nasal passages…
Olive oil……West…Used as a cooking oil…(although any ail used to excess is bad for you) …Can be used to make massage oils or annointing oils as a base (just add any of your favorite herbs!)…It also breaks down cholesterol rather than producing it….So as you can see Magick is all around us…Even in our kitchens!….
Dominating Compound X 163
Orris Root 1/2 Ounce
Sandalwood 1/2 Ounce
Talcum P]ain 2 Ounce
Color to suit — Yellow