Medicinal Uses For Common Culinary Spices

Medicinal Uses For Common Culinary Spices

by Lord Riekin

Please see a doctor if conditions persist or worsen

ALLSPICE

Active ingredient is eugenol, same as cloves. Topical pain relief, tea and mouthwash.

ANISE

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.

ANNATO

(Lipstick tree)
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.

ASAFOETIDA

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.

ASPARAGUS

Boil in water and drink the water for kidney problems. Dissolves uric acid deposits and promotes urination.

BASIL

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.

BAY LAUREL

Heat leaves in a little olive oil to make a bay oil salve for arthritis and aches.

CARAWAY

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.

CARDAMON

Digestive aid, eases gluten intolerance (celiac disease). Sprinkle powder on cereal.

CAYENNE PEPPER

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.

CELERY

Sedative. Active ingredient thalide. Seed and stalk, reduces hypertension. Celery seed tea for the kidneys as a cleanser.

CHERVIL

Steep in boiled water and apply with an eye cup for a wide range of eye complaints.

CHICORY

Liver cleanser, fat cleanser, dissolves gallstones. Prepare like coffee.

CILANTRO

Leafy part of coriander plant. Food poisoning preventative.

CINNAMON

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.

CLOVE

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.

COFFEE

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

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.

DILL

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.

FENNEL

Chewing fennel seeds relieves bad breath. Fennel seed tea sweetens breast milk. Fennel tea relieves colic in infants.

FENUGREEK

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.

GARLIC

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.

GINGER

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.

HORSERADISH

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.

LEMONGRASS

½ cup dried leaves to 2 pints of water, simmer for 10 minutes, and sip to bring down fevers.

LICORICE
Tranquilizer. Balances nervous system, stimulates liver functions. Long term usage (over 3 months) could cause liver damage.

LOVAGE

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.

MINT

(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.

MUSTARD

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.

ONION

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

PARSLEY

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!

PEPPER (black)
Pain relief from toothache, brings down a fever.

ROSEMARY

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.

SAGE

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.

SAVORY

(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.

TARRAGON

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.

TEA

Caffeine relieves migraines. Tea drinkers suffer less hardening of the arteries than coffee drinkers. Black tea kills dental plaque.

THYME

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.

TUMERIC

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 capsules.

VANILLA

Sexual stimulant. Soak a cotton ball with vanilla extract, squeeze it out, put it under the tongue and it will quickly calm hysteria.

VINEGAR

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!)

BAKING SODA

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.

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Confessions of a Dirt Worshipper

Confessions of a Dirt Worshipper

Author:   Diotima Mantineia   
 
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It
is the source of all art and science. He to whom this emotion is a
stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as
good as dead; his eyes are closed. 
    – Albert Einstein

In the early 1980s, I was initiated into an arcane order of alchemists who refer to themselves as “soil scientists”; practitioners of a discipline called Agronomy, or the study of crops and soils.  This initiation was marked by the presentation of a Bachelor of Science degree (I requested Spinster of Science, but was turned down), and my entrance into graduate school at the University of Maryland’s Agronomy Department.

I suspect the designation of Alchemist would distress many of the good men and women who taught me the mysteries of this discipline, for they all were all careful, dedicated scientists, who would shy away from anything quite so…well, magical. But anyone who works with the soil for long knows that at some point, science breaks down under the weight of too many variables and unknowns, and gives way to art. The truly successful farmer or grower has, along with scientific knowledge, an instinctive, artistic, often magical relationship with the soil they nurture.

The professor who introduced me to the workings and wonders of the Earth’s mantle communicated his enthusiasm and deep respect for the ways of Nature to his students, and my Pagan soul found magic in both field and laboratory. Science led me to art, art led to magic, and one morning I woke up and realized I had become that bane of conservative Christian Republicans, a bona fide tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping Pagan.

Like most Pagans, I love to be connected, both physically and psychically, with the Earth. Rituals and meditations that allow us to blend our consciousness with that of trees, plants and animals, and honor the changing of the seasons, give Pagans a relationship to the land that few who have not learned this way of being can know. Magical training in visualization and journeying, meditation and trained awareness gives an expanded understanding of the world around us.  Journeys into the world of Spirit open our spirits to the vastness and variety of creation, and assure us of our inalienable place within the world, while reminding us that we will never fully grasp the totality of All That Is. We learn humility and the necessity of right relationship. Rediscovering our connection with the Earth and the Web of Life, we develop ceremonies to reflect that connection and build the appropriate relationships and energetic bonds.

Ritual and the Soil

Many in our community go outdoors as often as they can to do ritual, make magic and/or do spirit journeys and meditations on whatever piece of land they nurture. Even city-bound Pagans usually find a small patch of ground, in a park, or outside the city limits, where they go to connect with Nature, leave offerings both energetic and physical, and thank the land for its bounty. Others find a small bit of land to tend for vegetables and flowers, some visit the wildlands, while some of us are fortunate enough to have some acreage under our care. But whether it is through a flower pot or a working farm, most Pagans make an effort to tend to, bless and connect with the Earth.

What I often find overlooked in Pagan ritual, however, is an awareness of the complex ecosystem of the soil itself. Pagans are more aware of the soil’s value than most people, and Pagan altars frequently are graced with a cauldron full of soil, but the focus seems to be on the plants and animals that live on top of the ground, with little or no attention given to the rich and complex ecosystem that exists under our feet. So before you go out and do your blessings, spirit journeys and other magic in your garden this year, or return to that special place in Nature where you go to reconnect, let me introduce you to some of the beings — mineral, vegetable and animal — that inhabit the soil that makes life on Earth possible. Then we’ll look at how science and magic can meet on the land.

Were you to go and sit in your garden, or somewhere in a forest, or on a grassy plain, and sink your consciousness into the land, your awareness, flowing like water, would burrow under the leaves, mulch or other organic detritus that covers the soil (or should!) and find, in a healthy soil, almost as much empty space as matter. Particles of sand, silt or clay, the three mineral constituents of soil, and particles of organic matter in various stages of decomposition, are surrounded and held together in discrete clumps by both the electrostatic properties of the clay particles and by various glue-like organic substances that result from the process of decomposition or are exuded from the bodies of organisms such as plant roots, fungi, bacteria and earthworms. Unless a soil is badly compacted (by heavy equipment, for instance) these clumps are arranged in a loose structure in which the spaces between may take up as much volume as the clumps themselves. This structure allows gases and water to diffuse through the soil, where they are utilized by plant roots and the many living creatures that make their homes in the earth.

A healthy soil has a thriving population of various critters, from the microscopic — fungi, actinomycetes, bacteria (almost as many in a gram of good soil as there are humans on the Earth), rotifers, protozoa and nematodes — to a wide variety of insects, the occasional reptile, and mammals such as moles and gophers. Some of these organisms feed on dead organic matter, transforming it into carbon dioxide, and breakdown products that feed plants and other organisms. Others feed on living matter, everything from microbes on up serving as a food source for another organism.

The area directly adjacent to plant roots has such a rich and diverse ecosystem it is given its own name: the rhizosphere. Miles of root tips move inexorably through the soil, secreting a gelatinous substance to ease their way, and growing fine root hairs to absorb water. The roots also can exude substances that inhibit or encourage life; some give off chemicals that inhibit growth of nearby plant roots, most form a symbiotic relationship with fungi that nourishes both plant and fungus, and the nitrogen-fixing plants, such as peas and clover, form nodules on their roots containing bacteria that claim nitrogen from the air, transform it at the molecular level, and then feed it to the plant.

This incredibly diverse, complex and sustainable life cycle comes to a crashing halt under current, “factory-farm”, methods of agriculture. The earthworm population is devastated by nitrogenous fertilizers, useful microorganisms and insects are eliminated along with the destructive ones by broad-spectrum pesticides, and the critters that live higher on the food chain decamp as soon as their food source dies off. Because of the reliance on chemical fertilizers, organic matter is not carefully managed, and the soil of the average modern farm becomes almost a dead zone. The dearth of life and organic matter leads to more erosion and fertilizer runoff, filling our waterways with pollution, and with the top layer of soil, which took eons to form.  The prevailing views of the scientific community are only just beginning to catch up with what spiritual stewards of the land have known for centuries: that Mother Nature will work with us, but only if we work with Her. Wholesale destruction of the Web of Life can never, in the long run, result in a higher quality of life for any one part of that Web. Those of us who work and commune with the spirits of nature know this beyond a doubt.

Question Authority

My interest in organic agriculture began even before I started college, when organic methods were still considered pretty far out in left field. Now, when even the most mainstream of scientists must admit that much of what they scorned about organic methods decades ago has turned out to be valid, my interests and investigations have taken me even further afield into the truly alchemical realm of Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic agriculture, the effect of sound and chanting on plant growth, the effect of magic and intent on plant and soil health, and work with the Devic and Faery realms.  Of course, none of the above methods of working with plants and the soil would be considered scientifically valid – they would, in fact, be looked on as anything from wishful thinking to outright delusion. But the logic behind these methods seemed clear to me once I seriously considered the possibility of a Universe birthed from Consciousness, instead of one in which consciousness arose simply from chance and the laws of physics.

I had not come to this concept of a Consciousness-based reality quickly or easily; in fact, I spent many years attempting to reconcile my interest in science and my interest in religion, metaphysics, magic, and what is commonly known as “the occult” before this connection became clear to me.

Magic does not require an unquestioning belief in anything – quite the opposite.  Questions and careful observance are part of the work, but there is a need to suspend restrictive judgments about what can and cannot be, what is and is not possible, and to allow pure experience to bring the answers to questions that can be answered in no other way.

The basis of most metaphysical, magical and “occult” disciplines lies in the concept of a form of life energy called, variously, chi, prana, orgone, life energy. Mainstream science says this energy doesn’t exist. Those who work with it – who experience it – believe it simply has not yet been measured or quantified. The use of this life energy, and the mind’s direction of it, is the framing of magic. Learning to use it, learning magic, requires an openness to the possibility of the existence of this life energy.

When I began my formal training in Witchcraft in the mid-1980s, I knew I had to find a way to blend my understanding of science with my growing knowledge of magical principles, because I knew instinctively that there must be an underlying basis to reality that tied the two together. I certainly didn’t spurn the Western scientific way of thinking, but I learned that it was only one way of approaching and understanding reality.

Sitting at my altar, or walking in the woods, I worked hard to learn to sense and shape energy, training my mind to focus and shape or diffuse the energy I sensed. I dug deeply into my psyche to discover how my thoughts, beliefs and emotions shape the energy I surround myself with – that energy with which we all meet the world — and how to change and control that energy by working with and changing my thoughts, beliefs and emotions.

I cast spells, and used divinatory techniques. I meditated, studied martial arts, and participated in many rituals, all as part of my magical training. I read voraciously in psychology, science, mythology, magic, philosophy and comparative religion. My life began to change…

The proverbial dark night of the soul came, and, on the other side of it I found myself living my dream. I now felt certain that magic was a valid, useful way of interacting with the world. My life continued to change in the direction of my dreams, as I continued to use applied techniques that seemed to shift reality without any specific, physical effort on my part.  The fact that many would think me at least slightly mad bothered me not at all. My beliefs and interests now made my lifelong interest in organic agriculture seem tame by comparison.

Which still left me looking for the connection I knew was there but could not trace. Finally, the basic dichotomy became clear to me. The primary difference between reductionist scientific thinking and the world of the Witch is that the Witch – like most other religious people – believes that the physical universe is created from consciousness. The reductionists, on the other hand, cling to the increasingly less credible idea that consciousness is nothing but an epiphenomenon of the brain. I realized from all the reading I had been absorbing on modern physics that science, on its bleeding edge, was walking a path towards First Cause that took it closer and closer to an understanding of the primacy of Consciousness.

Most Pagans believe that Consciousness is primary and that the energetic nature of the Universe can be influenced by the human mind, will and emotions. This does not make us “wacky” or unscientific, and the prejudices of mainstream science should not discourage us from approaching the use of our unconventional methods with an attitude of “Does it grow corn?” (or tomatoes, or lilacs, or oak trees). The scientific method is valid in any area of endeavor-the primary difficulty with approaching Reiki healing, sacred geometry or the influence of the Devas through the scientific method is always identifying and controlling for the variables. Replication is basic to the scientific method, and it’s darned hard to replicate something when you don’t know what all the influences are!

So if your intuitive feelings or mystical observations of the natural world lead you to sing to your plants , ask the advice and help of various spirits, or magically transfer and pattern Earth energies , do not feel as though you are being inherently unscientific. I’ve found that Pagans can be reluctant to look for the reasons behind the effects of the magic and rituals we perform. There is a fear that the magic will disappear under the “cold light of science”, and we may find that we are deluding ourselves. But both valid science and valid magic require an unflinching willingness and ability to look for the underlying truth.  While magic may seem to disappear under the scrutiny of a poorly-designed experiment, the true light of science is not a strobe, under which things appear to be other than they are, but is the steady, warm and illuminating light of the Sun.

What we call magic does not disappear in the light of day, and science will eventually expand to encompass and confirm any truth we may find in our mystical explorations, even if the methods of science sometimes fall short in explaining the reasons behind those truths. Real science, and real magic, will expand along with our growing understanding of the nature of reality. Those who try to force reality to fit their fears, prejudices, and pre-conceived notions, whether in magic or science, will find their path both destructive and ultimately futile.

While I am a firm believer in the scientific method, I also know that it can be and regularly is misused, either deliberately or unconsciously, in the service of human greed and fear. Quantum physics is questioning whether or not true objectivity is possible, but any student of human nature knows that, even if possible, it is rarely achieved. The litany of scientific error is long – which, in itself, is not a bad thing. Science is a process, an ongoing investigation, and if we are unwilling to make errors -even spectacular ones – we limit ourselves, for trial and error is at the heart of scientific experimentation. What is problematic in science is the all-too-common unwillingness to change, to admit error, to see past truths as being superseded by more current discoveries, or worse, to see the error, but actively suppress truth for reasons of simple greed and fear.

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, of an Agronomy professor at a Midwestern university who, speaking to an editor of Acres magazine about the realities of agricultural research said, “Give us a $100,000 grant, and we’ll prove anything you want.” While I persist in thinking that such a level of corruption within academia is not common, nonetheless, it is a fact that much agricultural research is funded by corporate agri-business. Clearly, it is a challenge for a scientist whose livelihood is in the hands of a large corporation to be entirely objective, and the research that supports the continuing use of poisons and petroleum-dependent fertilizers and unregulated genetic manipulation reflects, at best, a blindered view of the agricultural process, at worst, an extraordinary level of venality and corruption, the consequences of which are tragic, and will take generations to overcome.

Science, however, is not solely in the hands of those who have the correct letters after their names. Anyone with a bit of land or even a few pots can learn the basic principles of scientific experimentation and observation, and apply them to various methods and techniques that are regularly ignored or scorned by mainstream science. You can take that piece of land you nurture and learn through careful observation what the land needs to create and maintain the Web of Life. If your experiments are carefully thought out and executed, you will add to a body of general knowledge and experience that can be discussed and built on by yourself and others. Don’t be afraid of doing it “wrong”, or of what you might find out. The gods and spirits are not dead, and investigative science does not have the power to kill them. Just keep an open mind, observant eyes, and good records. If this type of research interests you, learn what you can (see the resources section below) of experimental design, and use it to test any questions that may come to you when you are working with the land, or with the spirits of the land.

An excellent example of this attitude can be found in Sandra Ingerman’s book “Medicine for the Earth”, which details her work with spirits to alleviate water pollution, and the encouraging results of her experiments. Hopefully, the results of these preliminary experiments will encourage some professional scientists to develop more sophisticated research and establish a baseline of data from which we can work to develop replicable methods of spiritual, energetic healing that will help reverse the effects of pollution. Who knows, perhaps they will even be able to find funding for it.

Everyone who can identify with the label “dirt worshipper” has a job they can do to help in reclaiming the Earth. Magical workings, tending whatever spot of Earth you can, and donating time and money to environmental causes are all valid and much needed responses to the current crisis. Whether you are interested in working from a scientific perspective, or prefer to work with the land in an instinctive, magical way (or both!) your attention and energy are needed. Those of us who work with other levels of consciousness, who honor the mysteries of both life and death, must continue to do the work that will strengthen the Web of Life on this planet.

The work begins with honoring and attending to the planet and the land we have been given to care for, observing and understanding the cycles, and the complex and beautifully balanced interactions of the ecosystems around us. It continues by expanding our minds to encompass influences and forces which we may not fully understand.

Standard scientific research and knowledge will play a large part in rebalancing the Earth’s cycles, but standard scientific research cannot account for things it does not know or will not acknowledge. Those of us who work with other levels of consciousness and energy are pioneers. A strength and certainty of vision is needed to do the work that must be done, though it will often be done in the face of scorn and fundamental skepticism. Know that when you do this work, you are not alone.

Resources:

Web sites:

Natural Resources Conservation Service: “Helping People Understand Soils” http://soils.usda.gov/

The Rodale Institute http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/

Community Supported Agriculture: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa/

Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association http://www.biodynamics.com/

Sustainable Agriculture Network http://www.sare.org

Perelandra http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa/

Findhorn http://www.findhorn.org/

Recommended reading, in no particular order:

The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry. ISBN: 0871568772

The Nature and Properties of Soil by Nyle C. Brady and Ray R. Weil. ISBN: 0130167630

The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena by Dean Radin. ISBN: 0062515020

Medicine for the Earth: How to Transform Personal and Environmental Toxins by Sandra Ingerman ISBN: 0609805177

Earth Light: The Ancient Path to Transformation Rediscovering the Wisdom of Celtic & Faery Lore by R.J. Stewart ISBN: 1892137011

The Faery Teachings by Orion Foxwood ISBN: 1-89213-704-5

Secrets of the Soil: New Solutions for Restoring Our Planet by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. ISBN: 1890693243

An Introduction to Scientific Research by E. Bright Wilson ISBN: 0486665453

Calendar of the Moon for October 24th

Calendar of the Moon

24 Gort/Puanepsion

Apaturia Day 3: Koureotis

Color: White
Element: Air
Altar: Upon a white cloth set the carved root of a tree, the leafy branch of a tree, scattered seeds, a bowl of water, a loaf of bread, and either fresh milk or nourishing herbal tea.
Offerings: Oneself, to the Order.
Daily Meal: A feast of any correct foods of the harvest, prepared for all.

Koureotis Invocation

Hail to those who have come together today!
Hail to those who live outside the Houses,
Yet follow the Rule as best they can,
Spreading the seeds of our Light beyond our walls.
(One comes forth with a handful of seeds, and gives them out to the lay members who have come to the House on this day, and says, “Take these with you, and plant them well.”)
Hail to those who are like the branches of a tree,
Reaching for the light, seeking for grace,
Who come to us like birds alighting,
Perhaps to stay and nest, perhaps to fly away.
Hail to you, and may you touch that Light
With your outstretched arms.
(The tree branch is carried around, and all Branch members brushed with the water.)
Hail to those who are rooted here,
Flesh and bone, heart and soul,
Giving up their lives for this our Life.
Hail to those who are the ground beneath our feet,
The stone beneath the field, the mountain
Beneath the path that climbs. Hail!
(The carved root is carried around, and all Root members are touched with water via the root.)
Bring forth those who would enter,
Who would come further, who would go deeper!
Bring them forth and hear their vows!
(All cry, “Bring them forth!” and those who would enter the Order as lay members are brought forward, and then those who would enter the Houses as Branch members, and then those who would take Root vows. Each in turn makes their vows before all.)

Song: Blessing Song

 

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Calendar of the Moon for November 7th

Calendar of the Moon

24 Gort/Puanepsion

Apaturia Day 3: Koureotis

Color: White
Element: Air
Altar: Upon a white cloth set the carved root of a tree, the leafy branch of a tree, scattered seeds, a bowl of water, a loaf of bread, and either fresh milk or nourishing herbal tea.
Offerings: Oneself, to the Order.
Daily Meal: A feast of any correct foods of the harvest, prepared for all.

Koureotis Invocation

Hail to those who have come together today!
Hail to those who live outside the Houses,
Yet follow the Rule as best they can,
Spreading the seeds of our Light beyond our walls.
(One comes forth with a handful of seeds, and gives them out to the lay members who have come to the House on this day, and says, “Take these with you, and plant them well.”)
Hail to those who are like the branches of a tree,
Reaching for the light, seeking for grace,
Who come to us like birds alighting,
Perhaps to stay and nest, perhaps to fly away.
Hail to you, and may you touch that Light
With your outstretched arms.
(The tree branch is carried around, and all Branch members brushed with the water.)
Hail to those who are rooted here,
Flesh and bone, heart and soul,
Giving up their lives for this our Life.
Hail to those who are the ground beneath our feet,
The stone beneath the field, the mountain
Beneath the path that climbs. Hail!
(The carved root is carried around, and all Root members are touched with water via the root.)
Bring forth those who would enter,
Who would come further, who would go deeper!
Bring them forth and hear their vows!
(All cry, “Bring them forth!” and those who would enter the Order as lay members are brought forward, and then those who would enter the Houses as Branch members, and then those who would take Root vows. Each in turn makes their vows before all.)

Song: Blessing Song

 

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Today’s Chakra Levels for August 27

The Chakras represent the seven primary energy hubs in the body. Life force energy is constantly flowing in and out of these centers. Just as the cosmos is constantly changing, so too are the levels of energy absorbed and radiated by our Chakra centers.  The graph below is a representation of the quantities of Chakra energies available today.

Sahasrara:
32%

 Anja

91%
Vishuddha:
28%
Anahata:
74%
Manipura:
98%
Svadhisthana:
28%
Muladhara:
64%

Legend: Sahasrara – The Crown Chakra represents energies associated with cosmic consciousness, spirituality, knowledge, wisdom and inner peace.

Ajna – The Third Eye Chakra represents energies focused on both physical and spiritual vision. Psychic powers resonate from the Ajna Chakra, as well as your image of the Cosmos as a whole (the big picture) and the many nuances that make your journey unique.

Vishuddha – Throat Chakra is the energy center associated with communication and creativity. Your energy to express yourself verbally and creatively are derived from the Vishuddha Chakra.

Anahata – The Heart Chakra’s energy is concentrated on issues concerning your emotions. This energy fuels your power to love, feel compassion and maintain balance between disparate aspects of your being.

Manipura – The Power Chakra provides the energy that fuels our strength of will, individuality and sense of self-worth.

Svadhisthana – The Spleen or Sacral Chakra supplies the energy we use emotionally and sexually. This is the energy used to connect to others.

Muladhara – The Root or Base Chakra furnishes the energy used to create and maintain our foundation. This is the energy that keeps us on firm ground and provides us with the basic skills to uphold a place in the world.

Daily Chakra Levels for August 23

The Chakras represent the seven primary energy hubs in the body. Life force energy is constantly flowing in and out of these centers. Just as the cosmos is constantly changing, so too are the levels of energy absorbed and radiated by our Chakra centers.  The graph below is a representation of the quantities of Chakra energies available today.

Sahasrara:
94%

Ajna

100%
Vishuddha:
11%
Anahata:
70%
Manipura:
84%
Svadhisthana:
32%
Muladhara:
98%

Legend:

Sahasrara – The Crown Chakra represents energies associated with cosmic consciousness, spirituality, knowledge, wisdom and inner peace.

Ajna – The Third Eye Chakra represents energies focused on both physical and spiritual vision. Psychic powers resonate from the Ajna Chakra, as well as your image of the Cosmos as a whole (the big picture) and the many nuances that make your journey unique.

Vishuddha – Throat Chakra is the energy center associated with communication and creativity. Your energy to express yourself verbally and creatively are derived from the Vishuddha Chakra.

Anahata – The Heart Chakra’s energy is concentrated on issues concerning your emotions. This energy fuels your power to love, feel compassion and maintain balance between disparate aspects of your being.

Manipura – The Power Chakra provides the energy that fuels our strength of will, individuality and sense of self-worth.

Svadhisthana – The Spleen or Sacral Chakra supplies the energy we use emotionally and sexually. This is the energy used to connect to others.

Muladhara – The Root or Base Chakra furnishes the energy used to create and maintain our foundation. This is the energy that keeps us on firm ground and provides us with the basic skills to uphold a place in the world.

Your Daily Chakra Levels for August 12

The Chakras represent the seven primary energy hubs in the body. Life force energy is constantly flowing in and out of these centers. Just as the cosmos is constantly changing, so too are the levels of energy absorbed and radiated by our Chakra centers.  The graph below is a representation of the quantities of Chakra energies available today.
Sahasrara:
92%
 Anja
10%
Vishuddha:
78%
Anahata:
68%
Manipura:
73%
Svadhisthana:
8%
Muladhara:
89%
 
Legend:
 
Sahasrara – The Crown Chakra represents energies associated with cosmic consciousness, spirituality, knowledge, wisdom and inner peace.
 
Ajna – The Third Eye Chakra represents energies focused on both physical and spiritual vision. Psychic powers resonate from the Ajna Chakra, as well as your image of the Cosmos as a whole (the big picture) and the many nuances that make your journey unique.
 
Vishuddha – Throat Chakra is the energy center associated with communication and creativity. Your energy to express yourself verbally and creatively are derived from the Vishuddha Chakra.
 
Anahata – The Heart Chakra’s energy is concentrated on issues concerning your emotions. This energy fuels your power to love, feel compassion and maintain balance between disparate aspects of your being.
 
Manipura – The Power Chakra provides the energy that fuels our strength of will, individuality and sense of self-worth.
 
Svadhisthana – The Spleen or Sacral Chakra supplies the energy we use emotionally and sexually. This is the energy used to connect to others.
 
Muladhara – The Root or Base Chakra furnishes the energy used to create and maintain our foundation. This is the energy that keeps us on firm ground and provides us with the basic skills to uphold a place in the world.

Today’s Chakra Levels for Sunday, August 12

The Chakras represent the seven primary energy hubs in the body. Life force energy is constantly flowing in and out of these centers. Just as the cosmos is constantly changing, so too are the levels of energy absorbed and radiated by our Chakra centers.  The graph below is a representation of the quantities of Chakra energies available today.

Sahasrara:
72%
 Ajna
60%
Vishuddha:
43%
Anahata:
66%
Manipura:
15%
Svadhisthana:
56%
Muladhara:
44%

Legend:

Sahasrara – The Crown Chakra represents energies associated with cosmic consciousness, spirituality, knowledge, wisdom and inner peace.

Ajna – The Third Eye Chakra represents energies focused on both physical and spiritual vision. Psychic powers resonate from the Ajna Chakra, as well as your image of the Cosmos as a whole (the big picture) and the many nuances that make your journey unique.

Vishuddha – Throat Chakra is the energy center associated with communication and creativity. Your energy to express yourself verbally and creatively are derived from the Vishuddha Chakra.

Anahata – The Heart Chakra’s energy is concentrated on issues concerning your emotions. This energy fuels your power to love, feel compassion and maintain balance between disparate aspects of your being.

Manipura – The Power Chakra provides the energy that fuels our strength of will, individuality and sense of self-worth.

Svadhisthana – The Spleen or Sacral Chakra supplies the energy we use emotionally and sexually. This is the energy used to connect to others.

Muladhara – The Root or Base Chakra furnishes the energy used to create and maintain our foundation. This is the energy that keeps us on firm ground and provides us with the basic skills to uphold a place in the world.

Crystal of the Day for Aug. 9th – Leopardskin Jasper (Orbicular)

Crystal of the Day  – Leopardskin Jasper (Orbicular)
  Colours: Green or Orange bi-colouredChakra: Root

Planet: Mercury

Energy: Projective

Element: Earth

Spiritual Uses: Redresses the balance between light and dark, teaching how to recognize dark as a complement to light rather than its opposite. Clarity, seeing things for as they really are.

Emotional Uses: Heals the emotional body and strengthens sense of self. Overcomes guilt, fear and stress.

Physical Uses: Fortifies the body’s natural resistance, assists in maintaining wellbeing.

Magickal Properties: Animal Bonds, Healing, Strongly Protective, Vision

Folklore: Shamanic shape-shifters stone, helpful with putting you in touch with Jaguar, Cougar, Leopard and Panther spirits.

Herb of the Day for August 9th: Nightshade, Deadly

Nightshade, Deadly

POISON!

Botanical: Atropa belladonna (LINN.) Family: N.O. Solanacea

—Synonyms—Belladonna. Devil’s Cherries. Naughty Man’s Cherries. Divale. Black Cherry. Devil’s Herb. Great Morel. Dwayberry.

—Parts Used—Root, leaves, tops.

—Habitat—Widely distributed over Central and Southern Europe, South-west Asia and Algeria; cultivated in England, France and North America.


Though widely distributed over Central and Southern Europe, the plant is not common in England, and has become rarer of late years. Although chiefly a native of the southern counties, being almost confined to calcareous soils, it has been sparingly found in twenty-eight British counties, mostly in waste places, quarries and near old ruins. In Scotland it is rare. Under the shade of trees, on wooded hills, on chalk or limestone, it will grow most luxuriantly, forming bushy plants several feet high, but specimens growing in places exposed to the sun are apt to be dwarfed, consequently it rarely attains such a large size when cultivated in the open, and is more subject to the attacks of insects than when growing wild under natural conditions.

 

—Description—The root is thick, fleshy and whitish, about 6 inches long, or more, and branching. It is perennial. The purplishcoloured stem is annual and herbaceous. It is stout, 2 to 4 feet high, undivided at the base, but dividing a little above the ground into three – more rarely two or four branches, each of which again branches freely.

The leaves are dull, darkish green in colour and of unequal size, 3 to 10 inches long, the lower leaves solitary, the upper ones in pairs alternately from opposite sides of the stem, one leaf of each pair much larger than the other, oval in shape, acute at the apex, entire and attenuated into short petioles.

First-year plants grow only about 1 1/2 feet in height. Their leaves are often larger than in full-grown plants and grow on the stem immediately above the ground. Older plants attain a height of 3 to 5 feet, occasionally even 6 feet, the leaves growing about 1 to 2 feet from the ground.

The whole plant is glabrous, or nearly so, though soft, downy hairs may occur on the young stems and the leaves when quite young. The veins of the leaves are prominent on the under surface, especially the midrib, which is depressed on the upper surface of the leaf.

The fresh plant, when crushed, exhales a disagreeable odour, almost disappearing on drying, and the leaves have a bitter taste, when both fresh and dry.

The flowers, which appear in June and July, singly, in the axils of the leaves, and continue blooming until early September, are of a dark and dingy purplish colour, tinged with green, large (about an inch long), pendent, bell-shaped, furrowed, the corolla with five large teeth or lobes, slightly reflexed. The five-cleft calyx spreads round the base of the smooth berry, which ripens in September, when it acquires a shining black colour and is in size like a small cherry. It contains several seeds. The berries are full of a dark, inky juice, and are intensely sweet, and their attraction to children on that account, has from their poisonous properties, been attended with fatal results. Lyte urges growers ‘to be carefull to see to it and to close it in, that no body enter into the place where it groweth, that wilbe enticed with the beautie of the fruite to eate thereof.’ And Gerard, writing twenty years later, after recounting three cases of poisoning from eating the berries, exhorts us to ‘banish therefore these pernicious plants out of your gardens and all places neare to your houses where children do resort.’ In September, 1916, three children were admitted to a London hospital suffering from Belladonna poisoning, caused, it was ascertained, from having eaten berries from large fruiting plants of Atropa Belladonnagrowing in a neighbouring public garden, the gardener being unaware of their dangerous nature, and again in 1921 the Norwich Coroner, commenting on the death of achild from the same cause, said that he had had four not dissimilar cases previously.

It is said that when taken by accident, the poisonous effects of Belladonna berries may be prevented by swallowing as soon as possible an emetic, such as a large glass of warm vinegar or mustard and water. In undoubted cases of this poisoning, emetics and the stomach-pump are resorted to at once, followed by a dose of magnesia, stimulants and strong coffee, the patient being kept very warm and artificial respiration being applied if necessary. A peculiar symptom in those poisoned by Belladonna is the complete loss of voice, together with frequent bending forward of the trunk and continual movements of the hands and fingers, the pupils of the eye becoming much dilated.

 

—History—The plant in Chaucer’s days was known as Dwale, which Dr. J. A. H. Murray considers was probably derived from the Scandinavian dool, meaning delay or sleep. Other authorities have derived the word from the French deuil(grief), a reference to its fatal properties.

Its deadly character is due to the presence of an alkaloid, Atropine, 1/10 grain of which swallowed by a man has occasioned symptoms of poisoning. As every part of the plant is extremely poisonous, neither leaves, berries, nor root should be handled if there are any cuts or abrasions on the hands. The root is the most poisonous, the leaves and flowers less so, and the berries, except to children, least of all. It is said that an adult may eat two or three berries without injury, but dangerous symptoms appear if more are taken, and it is wiser not to attempt the experiment. Though so powerful in its action on the human body, the plant seems to affect some of the lower animals but little. Eight pounds of the herb are said to have been eaten by a horse without causing any injury, and an ass swallowed 1 lb. of the ripe berries without any bad results following. Rabbits, sheep, goats and swine eat the leaves with impunity, and birds often eat the seeds without any apparent effect, but cats and dogs are very susceptible to the poison.

Belladonna is supposed to have been the plant that poisoned the troops of Marcus Antonius during the Parthian wars. Plutarch gives a graphic account of the strange effects that followed its use.

Buchanan relates in his History of Scotland(1582) a tradition that when Duncan I was King of Scotland, the soldiers of Macbeth poisoned a whole army of invading Danes by a liquor mixed with an infusion of Dwale supplied to them during a truce. Suspecting nothing, the invaders drank deeply and were easily overpowered and murdered in their sleep by the Scots.

According to old legends, the plant belongs to the devil who goes about trimming and tending it in his leisure, and can only be diverted from its care on one night in the year, that is on Walpurgis, when he is preparing for the witches’ sabbath. The apples of Sodom are held to be related to this plant, and the name Belladonna is said to record an old superstition that at certain times it takes the form of an enchantress of exceeding loveliness, whom it is dangerous to look upon, though a more generally accepted view is that the name was bestowed on it because its juice was used by the Italian ladies to give their eyes greater brilliancy, the smallest quantity having the effect of dilating the pupils of the eye.

Another derivation is founded on the old tradition that the priests used to drink an infusion before they worshipped and invoked the aid of Bellona, the Goddess of War.

The generic name of the plant, Atropa, is derived from the Greek Atropos, one of the Fates who held the shears to cut the thread of human life – a reference to its deadly, poisonous nature.

Thomas Lupton (1585) says: ‘Dwale makes one to sleep while he is cut or burnt by cauterizing.’ Gerard (1597) calls the plant the Sleeping Nightshade, and says the leaves moistened in wine vinegar and laid on the head induce sleep.

Mandrake, a foreign species of Atropa (A. Mandragora), was used in Pliny’s day as an anaesthetic for operations. Its root contains an alkaloid, Mandragorine. The sleeping potion of Juliet was a preparation from this plant – perhaps also the Mandrake wine of the Ancients. It was called Circaeon, being the wine of Circe.

Belladonna is often confused in the public mind with dulcamara (Bittersweet), possibly because it bears the popular name of woody nightshade. The cultivation of Belladonna in England dates at least from the sixteenth century, for Lyte says, in the Niewe Herball, 1578: ‘This herbe is found in some places of this Countrie, in woods and hedges and in the gardens of some Herboristes.’ Though not, however, much cultivated, it was evidently growing wild in many parts of the country when our great Herbals were written. Gerard mentions it as freely growing at Highgate, also at Wisbech and in Lincolnshire, and it gave a name to a Lancashire valley. Under the name of Solanum lethale, the plant was included in our early Pharmacopoeias, but it was dropped in 1788 and reintroduced in 1809 as Belladonna folia. Gerard was the first English writer to adopt the Italian name, of which he makes two words. The root was not used in medicine here until 1860, when Peter Squire recommended it as the basis of an anodyne liniment.

Before the War, the bulk of the world’s supply of Belladonna was derived from plants growing wild on waste, stony places in Southern Europe. The industry was an important one in Croatia and Slavonia in South Hungary, the chief centre for foreign Belladonna, the annual crop in those provinces having been estimated at 60 to 100 tons of dry leaves and 150 to 200 tons of dry root. In 1908 the largest exporter in Slavonia is said to have sent out 29,880 lb. of dry Belladonna root.

The Balkan War of 1912-13 interrupted the continuity of Belladonna exports from South Hungary. Stocks of roots and leaves made shorter supplies last out until 1914, when prices rose, owing to increasing scarcity roots which realized 45s. per cwt. in January, 1914, selling for 65s. in June, 1914. With the outbreak of the Great War and the consequent entire stoppage of supplies, the price immediately rose to 100s. per cwt., and soon after, from 300s. to 480s. per cwt. or more. The dried leaves, from abroad, which in normal times sold at 45s. to 50s. per cwt., rose to 250s. to 350s. or more, per cwt. In August, 1916, the drug Atropine derived from the plant had risen from 10s. 6d. per oz. before the War to L. 7 (pounds sterling) per OZ.

 

—Cultivation—Belladonna herb and root are sold by analysis, the value depending upon the percentage of alkaloid contained. A wide variation occurs in the amount of alkaloid present. It is important, therefore, to grow the crop under such conditions of soil and temperature as are likely to develop the highest percentage of the active principle.

In connexion with specimens of the wild plant, it is most difficult to trace the conditions which determine the variations, but it has been ascertained that a light, permeable and chalky soil is the most suitable for this crop. This, joined to a south-west aspect on the slope of a hill, gives specially good results as regards a high percentage of alkaloids. The limits of growth of Belladonna are between 50 degrees and 55 degrees N. Lat. and an altitude of 300 to 600 feet, though it may descend to sealevel where the soil is calcareous, especially where the drainage is good and the necessary amount of shade is found. The question of suitability of soil is especially important. Although the cultivated plant contains less alkaloid than that which grows wild, this in reality is only true of plants transported to a soil unsuited to them. It has been found, on the contrary, that artificial aids, such as the judicious selection of manure, the cleansing and preparation of the soil, destruction of weeds, etc., in accordance with the latest scientific practice, have improved the plants in every respect, not only in bulk, but even in percentage weight of alkaloidal contents.

Authorities differ on the question of manuring. Some English growers manure little if the plants are strong, but if the soil is really poor, or the plants are weak, the crop may be appreciably increased by the use of farmyard manure, or a mixture of nitrate of soda, basic slag and kainit. Excellent results have been obtained in experiments, by treating with basic slag, a soil already slightly manured and naturally suited to the plant, the percentage of total alkaloid in dry leaf and stem from third-year plants amounting to 0.84. In this case, the season was, however, an exceptionally favourable one, and, moreover, the soil being naturally suited to the plant, the percentage of alkaloid obtained without added fertilizer was already high. Speaking from the writer’s own experience, Belladonna grows in her garden at Chalfont St. Peter. The soil is gravelly even stony in some parts, with a chalk subsoil – the conditions similar to those that the plant enjoys in its wild state. This neighbourhood, in her opinion, is a suitable one for growing fields of Belladonna as crops for medicinal purposes.

Notes and statistics taken from season to season, extending over nine years, have shown that atmospheric conditions have a marked influence on the alkaloidal contents of Belladonna, the highest percentage of alkaloid being yielded in plants grown in sunny and dry seasons. The highest percentage of alkaloid, viz. 0.68 per cent, was obtained from the Belladonna crop of 1912, a year in which the months May and June were unusually dry and sunny; the lowest, just half, 0.34 was obtained on the same ground in 1907, when the period May and June was particularly lacking in sunshine. In 1905, August and September proving a very wet season, specimens analysed showed the low percentages of 0.38 and 0.35, whereas in July and October, 1906, the intervening period being very fine and dry, specimens analysed in those months showed a percentage of 0.54 and 0.64 respectively.

There appears to be no marked variation in alkaloidal contents due to different stages of growth from June to September, except when the plant begins to fade, when there is rapid loss, hence the leaves may be gathered any time from June until the fading of the leaves and shoots set in.

In sowing Belladonna seed, 2 to 3 lb. should be reckoned to the acre. Autumn sown seeds do not always germinate, it is therefore more satisfactory to sow in boxes in a cool house, or frame, in early March, soaking the soil in the seed-boxes first, with boiling water, or baking it in an oven, to destroy the embryo of a small snail which is apt, as well as slugs and various insects, to attack the seedlings later. Pieces of chalk or lime can be placed among the drainage rubble at the bottom of the boxes. Belladonna seed is very slow in germinating, taking four to six weeks, or even longer, and as a rule not more than 70 per cent can be relied on to germinate. On account of the seeds being so prone to attack by insect pests, if sown in the open, the seed-beds should first be prepared carefully. First of all, rubbish should be burnt on the ground, the soil earthed up and fired all over, all sorts of burnt vegetable rubbish being worked in. Then thoroughly stir up the ground and leave it rough for a few days so that air and sun permeate it well. Then level and rake the bed fine and finally give it a thorough drenching with boiling water. Let it stand till dry and friable, add sharp grit sand on the surface, rake fine again and then sow the seed very thinly.

Considerable moisture is needed during germination. The seedlings should be ready for planting out in May, when there is no longer any fear of frost. They will then be about 1 1/2 inch high. Put them in after rain, or if the weather be dry, the ground should be well watered first, the seedlings puddled in and shaded from the sun with inverted flower-pots for several days. About 5,000 plants will be needed to the acre. If they are to remain where first planted, they may be planted 18 inches apart. A reserve of plants should be grown to fill in gaps.

The seedlings are liable to injury by late frosts and a light top dressing of farmyard manure or leaf-mould serves to preserve young shoots from injury during sudden and dangerous changes of temperature. They do best in shade. In America, difficulties in the cultivation of Belladonna have been overcome by interspersing plants with rows of scarlet runners, which, shading the herb, cause it to grow rapidly. Healthy young plants soon become re-established when transplanted, but require watering in dry weather. Great care must be taken to keep the crop clean from weeds and handpicking is to be recommended.

By September, the single stem will be 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet high. A gathering of leaves may then be made, if the plants are strong; ‘leaves’ include the broken-off tops of the plants, but the coarser stems are left on the plant and all discoloured portions rejected, and the plants should not be entirely denuded of leaves.

Before the approach of winter, plants must be thinned to 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart, or overcrowding will result in the second year, in which the plant will bear one or two strong stems.

The writer finds that the green tips and cuttings from side branches root well and easily in early summer, and that buds with a piece of the root attached can be taken off the bigger roots in April, this being a very successful way of rapid propagation to get big, strong plants.

In the second year, in June, the crop is cut a few inches above the ground, while flowering, and delivered to the wholesale buyer the same day it is cut.

The average crop of fresh herb in the second and third years is 5 to 6 tons per acre, and 5 tons of fresh leaves and tops yield 1 ton of dried herb. A second crop is obtained in September in good seasons.

The yield per acre in the first year of growth should average about 6 cwt. of dry leaves.

The greatest loss of plants is in wet winters. Young seedling plants unless protected by dead leaves during the winter often perish. On the lighter soils there is less danger from winter loss, but the plants are more liable to damage from drought in summer.

One of the principal insect pests that attack Belladonna leaves is the so-called ‘fleabeetle.’ It perforates the leaves to such an extent as to make them unfit for sale in a dried state. It is when the plants are exposed to too much sunlight in open spots that the attacks of the beetle are worst, its natural habitat being well-drained slopes, partly under trees. If therefore the ground around the plants is covered with a thick mulch of leaves, they are not so likely to be attacked. The caterpillars from which the beetles come feed on the ground, and as they dislike moisture, the damp leaves keep them away. If napthalene is scattered on the soil, the vapour will probably help to keep the beetles off. The only way to catch them is to spread greased sheets of paper below the plants, and whenever the plants are disturbed a number of beetles will jump off like fleas and be caught on the papers. This at best only lessens the total quantity, however, and the other methods of precaution are the best.

The plant is dug or ploughed up during the autumn in the fourth year and the root collected, washed and dried, 3 to 4 tons of fresh root yielding a little over 1 ton of dry root. In time of great scarcity, it would probably pay to dig the root in the third year.

Old roots must be replaced by a planting of young ones or offsets, and if wireworm is observed, soot should be dug in with replacements.

Although Belladonna is not a plant that can be successfully grown in every small garden, yet in a chalky garden a few plants might be grown in a shady corner for the sake of the seed, for which there is a demand for propagation. Those, also, who know the haunts of the plant in its wild state might profitably collect the ripe berries, which should then be put into thin cotton bags and the juice squeezed out in running water. When the water is no longer stained, wring the bag well and turn out the seeds on to blotting paper and dry in the sun, or in a warm room near a stove. Sieve them finally, when dry, to remove all portions of the berry skin, etc.

Belladonna has been successfully cultivated in the neighbourhood of Leningrad since 1914, and already good crops have been obtained, the richness of the stems in alkaloids being noteworthy. It is stated that in consequence of the success that has attended the cultivation of Belladonna in Russia, it will no longer be needful to employ German drugs in the preparation of certain alkaloids. Much is also being collected wild in the Caucasus and in the Crimea.

It is hoped that if sufficient stocks can be raised in Britain, not only will it be unnecessary to import Belladonna, but that it may be possible to export it to those of our Dominions where the climate and local conditions prevent its successful culture, though at present it is still included among the medicinal plants of which the exportation is forbidden.

     The following note on the growth and cultivation of Belladonna is from the Chemist and Druggist, of February 26, 1921:
  ‘Belladonna is a perennial, but for horticultural purposes it is treated as a biennial, or triennial plant. The root in 3 years has attained very large dimensions around Edinburgh; in fact, often so large as to make the lifting a very heavy, and therefore costly, matter, and in consequence 2 years’ growth is quite sufficient. One-year-old roots are just as active as the three-year-old stocks, and to the grower it is merely a matter of expediency which crop he chooses to dig up. The aerial growth is very heavy, twoyear-old plants making 5 to 6 feet in the season if not cut for first crop, and if cut in July they make a second growth of 2 to 3 feet by September. To obtain a supply of seeds certain plantations must be left uncut, so as to get a crop of seeds for the next season. Moisture is, from a practical point of view, a very important matter. A sample, apparently dry to the touch, but not crisp, may have 15 per cent to 20 per cent of moisture present. Therefore if a pharmacist was to use a sample of such Belladonna leaves, although assayed to contain 0.03 per cent of alkaloids, he would produce a weaker tincture than if he had used leaves with, say, only 5 per cent of water present. The alkaloidal factor of this drug is the index to its value. Both the British and the United States Pharmacopoeias adopt the same standard of alkaloidal value for the leaves, but the British Pharmacopceia does not require a standard for the root, which is one of those subtle conundrums which this quaint book frequently presents! Plants grown in a hard climate, such as Scotland, give a good alkaloidal figure, which compares favourably with any others. For roots, the British Pharmacopoeia as just stated, requires no standard, but United States Pharmacopceia standard is 0.45 per cent, and Scottish roots yielded 0.78 per cent and 0.72 per cent. There is not a great deal of alkaloidal value in the stalks. About 0.08 in the autumn.’

 

—Constituents—The medicinal properties of Belladonna depend on the presence of Hyoscyamine and Atropine. The root is the basis of the principal preparations of Belladonna.

The total alkaloid present in the rootvaries between 0.4 and 0.6 per cent, but as much as 1 per cent has been found, consisting of Hyoscyamine and its isomer Atropine, 0.1 to 0.6 per cent; Belladonnine and occasionally, Atropamine. Starch and Atrosin, a red colouring principle, are also present in the root. Scopolamine (hyoscine) is also found in traces, as is a fluorescent principle similar to that found in horse-chestnut bark and widely distributed through the natural order Solanaceae. The greater portion of the alkaloidal matter consists of Hyoscyamine, and it is possible that any Atropine found is produced during extraction.

The amount of alkaloids present in the leavesvaries somewhat in wild or cultivated plants, and according to the methods of drying and storing adopted, as well as on the conditions of growth, soil, weather, etc.

The proportion of the total alkaloid present in the dried leaves varies from 0.3 to 0.7per cent. The greater proportion consists of Hyoscyamine, the Atropine being produced during extraction, as in the root. Belladonnine and Apoatropine may also be formed during extraction from the drug. The leaves contain also a trace of Scopolamine, Atrosin and starch.

The British Pharmacopoeia directs that the leaves should not contain less than 0.3 per cent of alkaloids and the root not less than 0.45 per cent.

A standardized liquid extract is prepared, from which the official plaster, alcoholic extract, liniment, suppository, tincture and ointment are made. The green extract is prepared from the fresh leaves.

 

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Narcotic, diuretic, sedative, antispasmodic, mydriatic. Belladonna is a most valuable plant in the treatment of eye diseases, Atropine, obtained during extraction, being its most important constituent on account of its power of dilating the pupil. Atropine will have this effect in whatever way used, whether internally, or injected under the skin, but when dropped into the eye, a much smaller quantity suffices, the tiny discs oculists using for this purpose, before testing their patient’s sight for glasses, being made of gelatine with 1/50000 grain of Atropine in each, the entire disk only weighing 1/50 grain. Scarcely any operation on the eye can safely be performed without the aid of this valuable drug. It is a strong poison, the amount given internally being very minute, 1/200 to 1/100 grain. As an antidote to Opium, Atropine may be injected subcutaneously, and it has also been used in poisoning by Calabar bean and in Chloroform poisoning. It has no action on the voluntary muscles, but the nerve endings in involuntary muscles are paralysed by large doses, the paralysis finally affecting the central nervous system, causing excitement and delirium.

The various preparations of Belladonna have many uses. Locally applied, it lessens irritability and pain, and is used as a lotion, plaster or liniment in cases of neuralgia, gout, rheumatism and sciatica. As a drug, it specially affects the brain and the bladder. It is used to check excessive secretions and to allay inflammation and to check the sweating of phthisis and other exhausting diseases.

Small doses allay cardiac palpitation, and the plaster is applied to the cardiac region for the same purpose, removing pain and distress.

It is a powerful antispasmodic in intestinal colic and spasmodic asthma. Occasionally the leaves are employed as an ingredient of cigarettes for relieving the latter. It is well borne by children, and is given in large doses in whooping cough and false croup.

For its action on the circulation, it is given in the collapse of pneumonia, typhoid fever and other acute diseases. It increases the rate of the heart by some 20 to 40 beats per minute, without diminishing its force.

It is of value in acute sore throat, and relieves local inflammation and congestion.

Hahnemann proved that tincture of Belladonna given in very small doses will protect from the infection of scarlet fever, and at one time Belladonnna leaves were held to be curative of cancer, when applied externally as a poultice, either fresh or dried and powdered.

Belladonna plasters are often applied, after a fall, to the injured or sprained part. A mixture of Belladonna plaster, Salicylic acid and Lead plaster is recommended as an application for corns and bunions.

—Preparations and Dosages—Powdered leaves, 1 to 2 grains. Powdered root, 1 to 5 grains. Fluid extract leaves, 1 to 3 drops. Fluid extract root, B.P., 1/4 to 1 drop. Tincture, B.P., 5 to 15 drops. Alkaloid Atropine, Alcoholic extract, B.P., 1/4 to 1 grain. Green extract, B.P., 1/4 to 1 grain. Juice, B.P., 5 to 15 drops. Liniment, B.P. Plaster, B.P. and U.S.P. Ointment, B.P.