(Crataegus douglasii Lindl.)
(C. chrysocarpa Ashe)
(C. rotundifolia Moench p.p. non Lamb)
(C. columbiana var. chrysocarpa [Ashe] Dorn)
(C. succulenta Schrad ex Link)
(C. erythropoda Ashe.)
(C. cerronis Nels.)
(C. pinnatifida Bunge)
(C. pinnatifida var. major [NEBr.] W. Lee)
You are the Hawthorn bush;
in spring you clothe yourself in white,
at harvest time you dress in blood red.
You rip the fleeces of sheep which pass beneath you.
In the same way you pluck any evil,
impurity or wrath of the gods from this initiate,
who walks through the gate of your hedge.
A fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at the break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree
Will ever after handsome be.
A thievish clown by cruel thorns opprest
Shows in the moon that honesty pays best.
The Hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whispering lovers made.
The risen cream of all the milkiness of May-time.
H. E. BATES
Crataegus is from Greek KRATOS, meaning strength, mainly due to strong nature of the wood. Words ending in Cracy, like democracy, and aristocracy, stem from the same root.
AGOS is from the Greek, and means bringing. Krataigos, the name given by Theophrastus, a Greek botanist of 3rd century BC means, “bringing strength”. Or, Aegus may stem from the Greek AKIS, meaning thorn, or AKE, sharp point. Then, Krataigos means strong point or thorn, also a good description of the thorny tree.
The first century BC pharmacologist, Crateuas was honored with the nickname of Rizotomos. This refers to traditional herbalists known as Rizotomoi, or root cutters.
The common name Hawthorn is from Anglo-Saxon HAGUTHORN, meaning a fence with thorns, from early use as a hedge. Black is from the blackish-purple colour of the fruit when ripe.
Douglasii is named for David Douglas, Scottish botanist and explorer, who made several trips to explore British Columbia and Oregon in the early 1800s. He has numerous plants (Douglas Fir) named in his honor.
He returned to North America in 1830, traveled in California, made botanical trips in British Columbia, wrecking his canoe on the Fraser River and losing his journals and collections of plants. He visited Hawaii in 1834, accidentally fell into a pit trap, and was gored to death by a wild bull.
In ancient Greece, a spring bride would wear a corona of hawthorn flowers, while her daidouchos, or torchbearer, carried a wedding torch of hawthorn wood smeared with pine resin. Hawthorn was dedicated to Hymen, the god of marriage, as a symbol of hope.
In Turkey, the gift of a hawthorn branch implies a kiss is expected.
This was the May tree, and in England a hawthorn wreath served as the female symbol surrounding the phallic pole. The gathering of hawthorn blossoms was known as “going a-Maying”. Traditional May Day festivities are times of courtship, dancing and love-making in the woods.
Some authors suggest the flower’s heavy scent is somewhat erotic, and reminiscent of female sexual secretions, but I believe that is overstated.
The strange burnt rubber smell was believed to carry the Great Plague, according to some sources. In the 19th century, the sickly scent of hawthorn was identified with sickrooms and death. Today, there are many people that will not permit the flowers in their home. The scent of Hawthorn blossoms is due in part to trimethylamine, a by-product of tissue decay. Trimethylamine scent stimulates the pulse rate slightly and has a peripheral vasoconstrictor effect.
It is said that bringing a flowering branch into the house gives one year of bad luck.
Other legends say it grew from a branch of the Holy Thorn, brought to England from the Holy Land by Joseph of Arimathea. He thrust his staff into the ground, and it took root and leafed. It is said to bloom twice a year, once in spring, and at midnight on January 6th, the Orthodox date of Christmas. The tree is the biflora variety of C. monogyna that in fact does bloom winter and spring. A slip of the tree now grows on the grounds of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.
In the Druid tree alphabet it represents the letter H (uath), fertility, and the 23rd Nordic Rune, Odal.
An old English name for hawthorn buds, when just expanding, was Lady’s Meat. King Henry VII, the first of the Tudor dynasty, named the Hawthorn shrub his badge of honour.
Superstitious Roman mothers stuck hawthorn leaves in baby’s cradles to ward off evil. The tree was sacred and related to Cardea, the goddess of childbirth, and guardian of the threshold between the past and future.
The Irish called the trees Fairy Thorns, a place for wee folk to meet. Hawthorn was considered, in medieval Europe, to be a witch’s favourite, especially on Walpurgis Night.
One of the first hawthorn goddesses was Olwen, daughter of Yspaddaden Pencawr to Celts of Wales. She was the virginal aspect of the White Goddess, and it was said that white trefoils (clover?) grew where she walked. The Welsh goddess Blodeuwedd was associated as well, and formed from nine types of flowers for the Celtic Sun God.
In Brittany, Viviane enchanted Merlin to sleep under the tree until he re-awakened in another age. In the Mabinogion, Culhwych,
the nephew to King Arthur, has to fulfill 39 tasks set by the Giant Hawthorn, to marry his daughter Olwen—“She of the White Trace”.
In Iceland, hawthorn is known as SVEFNTHORN, or sleep thorn. Odin used a thorn to send Brunhilde into a magical sleep.
The Christians, of course, counteracted the sexual significance by having Jesus wear the crown of thorns from hawthorn. Some beautiful woodcarvings of hawthorn leaves and flowers can be found in churches.
Before 1899, only 65 species were known, but today there are more than a thousand. Red Hawthorn is the official state flower of Missouri, C. monogyna, the official emblem of Estonia.
Boiled hawthorn roots have been used in many cultures for back pain, by helping “bring strength” to the spine. In the Doctrine of Signatures, a spine from a plant must indicate support for our spine.
Spines of Black Hawthorn were used by Native americans to pierce ears, pop boils, lance splinters, make fish hooks and game pieces.
The wood is very hard grained and durable, for tool handles and weapons. Digging sticks were sharpened into a chisel point at one end and fire hardened to temper.
Black Hawthorn was known to the Cheyenne of Montana as bear branch berry. They were gathered when ripe and dried for winter use.
In fact, one Haida name for the thorns, STLII.N, means literally spine, thorn or quill of a porcupine.
Hawthorn and other members of rose family contain proanthocyanidins discussed below. When tent caterpillars, for example, attack one side of a grove, eggs laid on the other side when hatched were denied a source of food by inedible anthocyanidins excreted at the other side. This helps prevent total foliage destruction, another example of plant’s protecting themselves.
An interesting genetic experiment was conducted with gypsy moths in 1966. The colony was about to die from in-breeding and a diet of alder leaves, and made a complete recovery when fed hawthorn leaves, becoming stronger and larger.
The Cree named the relatively rare round-leaved Hawthorn MISIKAMIN-AKASKOSE meaning “large thorn plant”.
The Nlaka’pamux or Thompson, used the fruit, and bark decoctions for relieving diarrhea; making sure the bark was collected from the side facing the rising sun. They made a decoction of sap, bark, wood or root as a stomach medicine; the bark or cambium layers, inner side down, for chest pains.
Other tribes used root tea for backaches, and soaked the flowers and leaves in boiling water for cough medicine.
Red or gold-fruited Hawthorn comes about because the fruit is either red or yellow orange in colour, sometimes both on the same tree.
The Blackfoot know C. chrysocarpa as Foot Blister Berries or Fire Berry, as well as L’KAASI’MIIN.
The Kwakiutl chewed the leaves, and applied them to swellings. The Bella Coola believed that eating too many berries would attract visitations from supernatural beings.
Further east, the Chippewa gathered the ripe haws of MINE’SAGA’WUNJ and squeezed them together into cakes without cooking. The cakes were dried on birch bark and then stored for winter cooking. A decoction of roots of C. aestivalis was used for back pain, up to a quart daily.
The Forest Potawatomi used the fruit to cure stomach complaints. They call it thorn bush or MINESAGA’WIC.
The Meskawi used un-ripe fruit to treat bladder conditions.
The Mohawk used C. punctata wood chips with Malus species shoots and bark as a hypotensive remedy to stop menstrual bleeding.
The Cayunga peoples used C. submollis with pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) as magical antidote for the lovelorn, according to Diana Beresford-Kroeger. The leaves were dried and smoked, or flavored with fruit juices and dried again for a more pleasant pipe.
The pips or nutlets inside the fruit were dried and ground to make a coffee-like beverage. Diana Beresford-Kroeger, in The Global Forest, suggests these nutlets contain high amounts of caffeine. The seeds may be roasted for additional flavour.
The first recorded, written use of hawthorn was for gout by Petrus de Crescentis in 1305. From then, until the 1890s, Hawthorn was used mainly for dropsy, kidney stones and as a digestive aid.
An Irish physician, Dr. Green, first used a tincture of the fresh berries for cardiac problems. In Devon and the Isle of Man, flowers and berries were used as a heart tonic. In the Scottish Highlands, hawthorn tea was taken to balance blood pressure. One report from East Anglia indicated leaf decoctions ease labour pain, in the manner of raspberry leaf. In Ireland, the dried bark is steeped in black tea as a toothache cure.
In 1917, the famous Eclectic herbalist John Uri Lloyd published a Treatise on Crataegus. He and his brother prepared tinctures from an American species they never identified, but declared it superior to any others. This followed the work of Dr. Jennings in 1896, and Dr. Ellingwood in 1907.
Under outer bark is a layer of white inner bark suitable for cords, and ropes. Fishing nets made of interwoven hawthorn bark are strong and rot resistant.
The young leaves are edible raw, and can be added to salads, or cooked as greens. In Germany, the leaves are dried and made into a tea that is considered as pleasing as Chinese Green Tea. Sometimes the leaves are mixed with those of Black Currant as a refreshing infused hot beverage.
The green buds can be added to salads, especially good in new potato salad. In England, the buds are used to make a suet pudding, with a light crust rolled out long and thin and the surface dotted with the buds and thin strips of bacon. This is rolled up, sealed and steamed for an hour or more.
The young flowers have an unusual smell, and can be added to desserts and drinks, including a delicate wine. In England, it was believed that hawthorn flowers preserved the stench of London during the Black Plague. Others consider the smell sexy, and hence its association with spring and weddings.
The scent is actually caused to attract fertilization by carrion insects. They are attracted by its perfume, and later hatch their larvae in decaying matter.
The fruit was an important food for various tribes. They would dry and grind them into a meal that could be mixed with flour to make a mush, or with animal fat to make pemmican. A jelly made from equal parts of mountain ash berry and haw berry is quite tart and tasty.
In Europe, a liqueur is made from the berries. When collecting berry clusters, a convenient spine is usually left on the stem, making it easy to tack them to a cork or cardboard base.
An old weather proverb says, “Many Haws, Many Sloes, cold toes.” If the berries are thick on the hawthorn, you had better get ready for a cold winter.
Hawthorn, as a cardiovascular tonic, is helpful for racehorses and working dogs under blood pressure stress.
Later in life, of course, it can be used for support of older animals with congestive heart failure, damage from heartworm, or various viral and bacterial infections.
Hawthorn tincture made from fresh berries can be given to livestock to prevent miscarriage.
Hawthorn bark has an interesting property, useful for survival skills. The bark is peeled off the tree when wet and allowed to dry. When needed, the bark is moistened and placed by a fire to absorb heat.
When warmed, the fibre can be stretched, making it pliable and easy to work. It can then be applied to areas of fracture after the bones are set, and as the bark cools it shrinks and forms a durable cast.
Hawthorn wood makes excellent fuel, producing the hottest wood fire known. It is more desirable than oak for oven heating, and the charcoal made from wood is said to melt pig iron without the aid of a blast furnace.
The leaves contain hormones that influence growth and development of caterpillars, as well as bio-chemicals that produce adenosine triphosphate or ATP.
The substance RN 30/9 stimulates growth hormone in caterpillars, helping them grow into a stronger butterflies for migration.
Cosmetic and hair care products containing hawthorn extracts are used for anti-seborrheic and anti-inflammatory activity, and to increase hydration and elasticity of skin. This is based, in part, on a study conducted by Longhi et al, Fitoterapia 1984 55:2.
Hawthorn extracts are often made from the stems, with a pH of 5-7. In one study of twenty male teens, prone to acne and oily skin, the group was divided in two. One group of ten applied ethanol/ water extract twice daily for four days; while the others used a 20% hawthorn extract. The latter group showed a 35% decrease in total acne lesions, with a 69% decrease in P. acnes bacteria on skin.
UV-induced erythema was reduced 25% in another study.
The introduced Asian Hawthorn (C. pinnatifida) is fully hardy to the prairies, with a hardiness rating of 10 from Morden Research Centre. The large fruit variety, major, is especially interesting.
The fruit is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for circulatory issues, and digestive complaints. Known as SHAN ZHA, the un- cooked fruit is used for postpartum abdominal pain due to blood stasis with retention of the lochia, the uterus not returning to normal position after birthing; amenorrhea due to blood stasis, inguinal hernia, or swelling of the scrotum or testicles associated with Qi stagnation.
The stir-fried fruit is warmer and more astringent, and used for food stagnation, loss of appetite; combining well with stir-fried radish seed and germinated barley. The fruit is used locally in soft drinks.
High-end restaurants in New York and Paris are adding hawthorn berries to their menus.
Two common, spineless cultivars, Toba and Snowbird, were developed years ago at Morden, crossing English Hawthorn (C. laevigata), and our native C. succulenta.
The latter is highly susceptible to cedar apple rust, which can co-host with apple trees. The hybrid is very resistant to this rust and is called C. x mordenensis.
Other hardy species are C. crus-galli, C. chrysocarpa, C. chlorosarca, C. cerronis, C. arnoldiana and C. mollis.
Chocolate Hawthorn is a small native tree that derives its name from the fruit colour, not its flavour. Unfortunately!
CONSTITUENTS - flavonoids, including vitexin 4’-xyloside and other C-glycosyl flavones, 1-3% oligomeric procyanidins or pycnogenols, including 1-epicatechol, procyanidin B2 and C1, various triterpene acids including oleanolic, ursolic and crataegolic acids, purines, cholines, acetylcholines, sterols tri-methylamine, chlorogenic acid, as well as Vitamin C, sugars, rutin.
Bark- esculin (6-glucoside of esculetin)
Leaves- cratemons, amygdalin, luteolin-7-0-glucosides, hyperoside, hyperin, rutin and other flavonoids, including highest source of vitexin, as well as isovitexin, orientin and isoorientin.
Flowers- hyperosides, 2-0-rhamnosylvitexin (a flavone C-glycoside)
C. monogyna- seed- 85.7% alpha tocotrienol.
Hawthorn berry, leaf and flower are all heart tonics, slow and gentle in action, but strengthening the heart function overtime. The herb is a mild vasodilator, increasing the supply of blood to heart muscles, thus reducing the chance of spasms, angina and shortness of breath in the elderly. Studies have shown berry extracts help decrease lactic acid during angina attacks.
Many stage one patients of cardiovascular risk have no symptoms at rest, but experience shortness of breath with exercise. These individuals will find much benefit from daily hawthorn preparations.
In moderate hypertension, when pulse and blood pressure are slow to return to normal after workouts, snow shoveling, or walking up flights of stairs, hawthorn will help.
It will gradually lower the diastolic (the lower of the two numbers) pressure and calm the pulse, and soothe arrhythmia associated with functional weakness. Tachycardia, or episodes of rapidly beating heart are well suited to daily administration of hawthorn.
Its greatest use is in slowing down and preventing degenerative heart disorders in a safe and gradual manner. It enhances myocardial contractibility, and yet dilates coronary arteries.
It does possess beta blocking activity, and ACE inhibition, both of which are of real value in cardio-protection.
Hawthorn widens coronary arteries by increasing nitric oxide production, perhaps due in part to the procyanidin content.
One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 72 patients with exercise induced cardiac disturbance, was conducted for eight weeks. Oxygen uptake and anaerobic threshold increased compared to controls. In another trial, 600 mg of extract daily for 4-8 weeks, taken by 78 patients showed significant improvement. Another study of 85 patients taking only 300 mg daily showed no statistical difference, suggesting the range of effective therapy.
Trimethylene, ethanolamine and ethylamine open urinary circulation and secretion of ACE, while coumarins produce urination, hypotension and reduced anxiety.
This is of use in obesity with hyperlipidemia and menopause, when excessive sweats, lack of sleep, and aches, pains and weight gain are problem.
In Parkinson’s tremor, hawthorn helps calm anxiety and gives support for a vegetative parasympathetic activity to reduce muscular spasms. It is worth a trial with multiple sclerosis, due to its muscular and circulatory influence.
The flavonoids dilate coronary and external arteries, and like other members of the rose family, hawthorn is astringent and useful in diarrhea and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Procyanidins, most prevalent in August leaves, slow the heart beat and are antibiotic. Bersin et al, 1955. These are similar to the procyanidins in grape seed extracts.
Crataegus is a natural calcium-channel blocker due to phosphodiesterase inhibition. The increased intracellular calcium levels lead to sustained myocardial contractibility. Early work suggested a mechanism known as phosphodiesterase 3 inhibition. PDE-3 breaks down cAMP, and you can slow its breakdown by inhibiting the PDE-3 that disables it. This is the mechanism in heart drugs such as Primacor and Inocor. In the heart, cAMP allows calcium stored there to be released and increase active calcium concentrations inside heart muscle cells. This causes them to contract, and pump blood more forcefully. In blood vessels, increased cAMP relaxes muscles and allows the blood to flow more easily and blood pressure drops.
New evidence suggests that hawthorn may block the flow of potassium ions in the heart and is therefore a potassium channel blocker.
Calcium, sodium and potassium ions are all involved in heart rhythm regulation. Hawthorn may delay the recharging action of potassium ions like a type III anti-arrhythmic drug. The heart takes longer to recharge, preventing abnormal, fast arrhythmias of the heart.
Matthew Wood relates a story in his book The Earthwise Herbal about Jennifer Tucker, an herbalist in Pennsylvania. A woman came to her with a 4-5 month old boy with a small aorta that needed surgery. She gave the baby hawthorn and at the next checkup the doctor exclaimed, “what did you do to this baby?” He quickly explained the artery was now normal in size.
Recent work on leaf and flower extracts suggests inhibition of extracellular calcium entry into calcium-depleted neutrophils. Dalli et al, Pharmacol Res 2008 May 8.
Work by Rodriguez et al, J Med Food 2008 11:4 examined the influence of berry, leaf and flower extracts versus berry only, on rat cardiomyocytes. The former showed initiation of robust calcium transients and overload, whereas the fruit only increased calcium sparking, initiation of calcium transients and increased beating rate with no calcium overload. The implication for humans is uncertain, but suggestive.
A meta-analysis of eight double-blind trials on 632 patients with chronic heart failure concluded hawthorn significantly improved the heart’s “maximum workload” as well as heart rate, blood pressure, dyspnea and fatigue. Pittler et al, Am J Med 2003 114:8.
Hawthorn may modify left ventricle remodeling. Huang et al, Cardiovas Drug Ther 2008 22:1.
Both beta-phenethylamine and O-methoxy beta phenethylamine are alkaloids that provide sedative action on the CNS. This makes it valuable for patients who fear flying, agoraphobia, or individuals with fear of death.
A study by Della Loggia et al, Rivista di Neurologia 1981 suggests hawthorn may help Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyper- activity Disorder (ADD/ADHD). Hawthorn extracts relieve anxiety, restlessness and acting out in children.
The herb not only increases circulation to the brain, but stops the inflammation caused by allergies; which give the brain more information than its can process efficiently.
Hawthorn and Green Flowering Oats are a good combination for mood swings associated with menopause, as well as some bipolar conditions.
It combines well with rose hips for varicose vein weakness associated with cardiovascular weakness.
Hawthorn berry combines well with Lobelia for recovering heroin or alkaloid addicts; and with yarrow and linden flowers for those suffering hypertension, associated with atherosclerosis and plaque in arteries.
Combine with Prickly Ash bark to treat poor peripheral circulation and exhaustion, and with cedar (Thuja) for cardiac weakness associated with chronic bronchitis.
It should be noted that the berries help lower blood pressure, while the flowers increase circulation but can be used safely in those suffering low blood pressure. It should be noted hawthorn may be useful in hypotension, if the picture pattern fits.
The leaves contain amygdalin, that is sedative and increases the parasympathetic tone of the heart.
Berry syrup can strengthen connective tissue that is weakened by excessive inflammatory response. The high levels of flavonoids are probably responsible for reduction of chronic inflammation, and stabilization of collagen in cartilage, reducing joint damage. Collagen is the principal protein in bone, suggesting use to prevent or repair fractures.
Combine with horsetail and cattail pollen for bone and joint problems and with gravel root, marshmallow root and oak bark for ligaments, tendons and other degenerative connective tissues.
Flower extracts prevent the formation of thromboxane A2, a hormone involved in inflammation.
Hawthorn berry contains a bioflavonoid, procyanadin B2, which helps stabilize connective tissue, and prevent capillary fragility. Collagen strands in connective tissue are bridged by procyanadin B2, which preferentially interacts with blood vessels.
Both leaves and berries are heat sensitive, so boiling probably reduces their effectiveness. Bladder infections and kidney disturbances are helped with dried flower or fruit teas. The saponins in fruit cause reduction of bowel surface tension and improved transport of nutrients. The high emulsifying effect improves excretion of uric acid, one-third of which is broken down in the bowel.
Hawthorn combines well with goldenrod in the treatment of kidney failure, by improving blood circulation through renal arteries, without increasing blood pressure.
I formerly did some work with New Era Nutrition for a nutraceutical company, Prairie Sun. We developed a hawthorn berry-rich food bar, and hot cereal designed for cardiovascular health. It never made it to market.
Crataegus is probably a general cell stimulant. Dr. E. Holtzem, Pharmacological Institute of Bonn University Germany, checked feeding experiments with the fruit fly and hawthorn leaves. Compared with the control group, he found in a group of five generations, a distinct increase in offspring. Feedings with pure oleander acid, one of the triterpene acids of hawthorn, produced the same result.
Oleandrin, also present in Oleander leaves, is an aglycone closely related to the digitoxin of foxglove. It is toxic in large amounts.
Fourteen clinical studies on therapeutic efficacy of hawthorn in 808 heart patients were published between 1981 and 1994. Almost all of the studies showed improvement in clinical symptoms, even in doses less than 300 mg/day.
A Cochrane review of 14 studies showed it worked significantly better than placebo with mild or no side-effects. Pittler et al, Cochrane Databases of Systemic Reviews 2008:1.
A meta-analysis by researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, England, looked at 8 trials with 632 patients suffering chronic heart failure, and found hawthorn significantly better than placebo.
A recent placebo-controlled study of 143 men and women with average age 64, and mild congestive heart failure, looked at fresh hawthorn berry extracts or placebo, three times daily for eight weeks.
Significant exercise tolerance was realized by hawthorn patients versus those taking placebo. Phytomedicine 2003 10.
A two-year German study of 952 patients revealed palpitations, stress dyspnea and fatigue reduced by hawthorn extract.
Hawthorn combines well with Valerian root for high blood pressure, or as a sedative for nervous heart conditions.
Hawthorn extracts may protect the heart, liver, and pancreas from effects of a glucocorticoid drug, Isoproterenol sulphate, commonly prescribed for asthma. It may help reverse tissue damage in asthma patients caused by hydrocortisone and steroid drugs. Ciplea et al, Arzneimittel-Forschung November 1988.
In fact, Hawthorn inhibits the enzyme, histadine decarboxylase, that transforms histidine to histamine; giving an anti-histamine effect.
Small amounts, say 30 drops of tincture, can be tried instead of an inhaler, helping patients reduce or eliminate their use in episodes of chest tightness, or dyspnea.
Ethanol extracts of berries exhibit anti-inflammatory, gastro-protective, free radical scavenging and anti-microbial activity. Tadic et al, J Ag Food Chem 2008 56.
Moderate activity was noted against gram-positive bacteria such as
Micrococcus flavus, Bacillus subtilis, and Lysteria monocytogenes.
Lipase, crataegolic acid and saponins help increase gastric activity and digest fats. Austrian researchers found decreased free fatty acids and lactic acid in the body. Oriental herbalists use hawthorn berry for food stagnation, as well as nourishing the heart and spirit.
The leaf paste or poultice can be applied to injuries, skin cancers, rashes, ulcers and tumours, helping reduce pain and swelling.
Hawthorn berry infusions make a great gargle for sore throat, and vaginal douche when needed.
Hawthorn, like Echinacea, inhibits hyaluronidase, decreasing the ability of viruses to spread.
Hawthorn appears to strengthen endothelial surface layer resistance, explaining in part, the benefit to tissue health. Peters W et al, PLoS One 2012 7:1.
Hawthorn contains compounds that de-activate plasmin, a chemical in the body that allows cancerous tumours to spread. In one study, hawthorn aerial extracts stopped 93% growth of human larynx cancer cells. Saenz et al, J of BioSciences 1997 52:1-2.
Hawthorn leaves, as a hot water extract, lower blood sugar levels in STZ rats. Jwad et al, J Herb Pharm 2003 3:2.
Both mistletoe and non-infected aerial parts demonstrated significant cytotoxic activity that was more potent than 6-mercaptopurine solution.
Hawthorn contains rutin that kills leukemia and Burkitt’s lymphoma cells, and compounds that deactivate plasmin that allows cancer cells to spread through the body.
Work by Thirupurasundari et al, J Med Food 8:3 found Hawthorn tincture protected myocardial infarcted rats, and improved liver health as well.
The leaf contains various flavonoids with strong alpha glucosidase activity. Li et al, J Am Soc Mass Spectrom 2009 20:8. Application to blood sugar levels is unclear.
Hyperoside, found in hawthorn leaf and St. John’s wort, may be beneficial in atherosclerosis and inflammatory conditions associated with high blood sugar levels. Ku SK et al, Inflammation 2014 March 9.
In Russia, both the dried flowers and fruit are used medicinally, while in Switzerland, the dried leaves are preferred. I like them all!
Leaf extracts of related C. pinnatifida show potent inhibitory activity against HIV-1 protease at a concentration of 100 mcg/ml. Two active compounds, uvaol and ursolic acid, were found active at 5.5 and 8 microM, respectively. Min Byung Sun et al, Planta Medica 1999 65:4.
The leaves contain eriodectyol, that inhibits production of thrombus. Song SJ et al, Planta Medica 2012 78:18 1967-71.
The berries are soothing to Vata types, neutral to Pitta and aggravating to Kapha types in the Ayurvedic tradition.
The ripe berries are used for abdominal distention and pain, associated with digestive complaints. The unripe fruit relieves diarrhea, the charred fruit stops abnormal bleeding and dysentery.Work by Erl
Shyl Kao et al, J Ag Food Chem 2005 53 found the dried fruit reveals significant anti-inflammatory potential.
Kao et al, Food Chem Tox 45:10 found potential in fruit as cancer chemo-protective agent against tumor formation.
The bark contains esculin, the same constituent found in bark of horse chestnut. It has been found to inhibit chemical-induced carcinogenic action, and bacteria Bacillus subtilis. The bark can be collected, even in winter, and made into a hot decoction to reduce fevers.
The bark of C. oxyacantha has been shown to regulate procyanidin- mediated anti-oxidant/detoxifying effects in healthy hepatocytes, suggesting the Nrf2/ARE pathway may be important in liver protection and anti-carcinogenic activity. Krajka-Kuzniak et al, Phytother Res 2014 28(4):593-602.
Crataegus (Hawthorn berry) produces giddiness, lowered pulse, air hunger and reduction in blood pressure. It acts on the muscle of the heart and is a heart tonic. It has no influence on the endocardium.It is used for myocarditis, failing compensation, and irregularity of heart.
It relieves insomnia of aortic sufferers, anemia, edema, high arterial tension, and cold extremities. It acts sedative in cross, irritable patients with cardiac symptoms.
There may be painful sensation of pressure in the left side of chest below the clavicle; and is said to be a solvent of crustaceous and calcareous deposits in arteries.
The patient may be very nervous and irritable, with pain in the back of the head and neck. It is useful when there is sugar in the urine, especially in children.
It is mainly for the heart, in cardiac dropsy, fatty degeneration, and aortic disease. The heart muscles seem flabby and worn out. The pulse is accelerated, irregular, feeble and intermittent. Angina pectoris, and valvular murmurs may be present.
The circulation is poor, with blueness of the fingers and toes, all aggravated by exertion or excitement. Hawthorn sustains the heart through viral infections. The patients symptoms are made worse by a warm room, better from fresh air, quiet and rest.
DOSE- Mother tincture to 30C. Take 1-15 drops of MT. Must be used for some time in order to obtain good results. The mother tincture is prepared from the fresh, ripe fruit at 1:10 ratio. First proving by Cowperthwaite and Brown with 14 provers and tincture in 1900. Proving by Hinsdale with three provers and tincture in 1910. Proving by Assmann with nine provers with tincture, 1x, 3x in 1930. Proving by Monika Stoschitzky with six provers at 30c in 1992-93, and proving by Chetna Shukla with three females at 30c in 2003.
The young shoots of Hawthorn have a bypass type action. In cases of hypertension, it lowers blood pressure, acting as a blood pressure regulator. It also gently works to moderate low blood pressure.
DOSE- 50 drops of the 1D macerated glycerite of the young shoots of various Hawthorn species, including C. oxyacantha.
The seeds from the hawthorn berry contain 9.63% oil with a pleasant scent, and a yellow to orange yellow colour. It is composed mainly (81%) of oleic acids, with minor amounts of linoleic, linolenic, palmitic and stearic acids.
It has a specific gravity of 0.9161, a saponification value of 172.8 and iodine value of 152.8.
On exposure to air, at a temperature of 50° C, the oil dries after seven hours to a hard, almost colour-less skin. At ordinary room temperature, it thickens after seven days, and dries after ten days.
Hawthorn blossoms have an unusual odour similar to that of Mountain Ash. An “essential oil” of Hawthorn is on the market, but is almost certainly the synthetic chemical anisic aldehyde.
CONSTITUENTS- linalool 45%, dimethyl sulphide 42%, terpinen-4-ol 3%, and some minor constituents.
The distilled water of the flowers stay the lask. If clothes or sponges be wet in the distilled water, and applied to any place wherein thorns and splinters, or the like, do abide in the flesh, it will notably draw them forth. CULPEPPER
Viaud suggests the hydrolat is useful for calming the heart, a muscle regenerator and as an anti-depressive. VIAUD
Holly Thorn (Crataegus sp.) flower essence opens our hearts to love and the acceptance of ourselves, and others allowing intimacy and the expression of our truth and creativity.
It is indicated whenever there is blocked self-expression and creativity, withholding of one-self, lack of involvement, creating of barriers to friendship, fear of rejection or repression of the true self.
As a flower essence, Hawthorn protects the heart in times of extreme stress, pain, or grief. It stimulates the healing power of love and cleanses the heart of negativity to restore hope, trust and forgiveness. Use this extract to free the spirit and follow you own path in life.
Hawthorn flower essence is very physical in its effects. It eases the spread of cancer, especially tumours. But it is not very effective against leukemia or bone cancer. In cancerous tumours, it eases the thickening of the cellular structure and its spread.
Precancerous emotional states such as extreme stress or grief over the death of a loved companion can be treated with this remedy.
Hawthorn has the ability to create greater attunement to the choices of life, and is one of its most important spiritual characteristics. And it has the ability to assist individuals in understanding how they manifest God in their lives. The way some of these properties are transferred naturally leads to a greater focus of energy on the heart center.
What occurs as a result of this is that an energy is formed in the heart that can be quite warming and remains long after the herb has been used or has fulfilled its function of aiding the blood or the heart.
The etheric signature of the plant appears to have a pulsation that is close to the tempo of a heartbeat. Before taking hawthorn, it is wise to tune into your heartbeat for a few minutes to activate its spiritual properties.
The ability to let go is greatly enhanced with hawthorn. Negative thought forms lodged in a person’s own aura may be dislodged or even utterly destroyed. Therefore, there is some benefit in using this herb.
This implies forgiveness, but it is not quite so; it is more forgiving yourself than anyone else.
In Lemuria, the plant was often used as a symbol; the fruit or berry was used as a decoration or gift and a way of sharing. In Atlantis, one gave hawthorn to a friend just as one might today give someone a quartz crystal. Love was imbued deeply by the Lemurians into this plant. The devic order was gradually affected by this. This was not the more conscious direction of energy, but one that developed alongside the civilization. This is why the energy of hawthorn today is relatively subtle, yet is may have a powerful effect with certain individuals very attuned to Lemuria. The karmic lesson here is to again allow this energy into the Earth, if people wish to choose it.
The heart chakra is energized. The pericardium meridian is energized, and the etheric and emotional bodies are cleansed. It is sometimes wise to give hawthorn to an animal when the animal has done something wrong. GURUDAS
Crataegus is indicated any time there is stress that has the potential to cause the patient to close down emotionally, for example, in times of betrayal or terrible loss, divorce, death of loved ones, trauma or abuse. In these cases, Crataegus can help to keep the heart open, yet protected both emotionally and physically.
Crataegus can be of help in alleviating the pain of grief, not blocking the feelings, but rather enhancing the flow of feeling such that the patient does not get stuck or overwhelmed by the grief process.
Patients who are out of touch with their feelings and wanting to connect more deeply with their emotions may find Crataegus a helpful ally. It can be helpful for patients who find it hard to be receptive, or trust. DEBORAH FRANCES ND
As the twilight descends I come upon the Thorn Apple covered with pomes and I notice a flickering of light beneath the tree. I look to see what could be reflecting light but find nothing. As I get closer the light disappears but around the base of the tree is a circle beaten down as if someone were dancing under the tree…
The spirit of Hawthorn can bring balance to the heart organ, the official of the fire element within the Five Element modality, and can also clear the heart chakra.
But the most important use of Hawthorn in Plant Spirit Healing is the ability to put the heart back in its rightful place as the pilot, allowing the mind to serve as the copilot. MONTGOMERY
Hawthorn, also called the May tree, represented the White Goddess Maia, who was the mother of both Hermes and Buddha, as distinct versions of the Enlightened One.
She was the Goddess of love and death; representing the young virgin giving birth to a god, or the Grandmother helping him age gracefully.
She was therefore, the tree associated with both female sexuality and destructive spells.
In England, the blossoms were gathered and place around the Maypole on the first day of May, the wreath the female symbol surrounding the phallic pole.
According to Celtic tradition, the tree was sacred to Olwen; and represented fertility in the Druid alphabet, or the letter H, uath. WALKER
The Maypole...is a happy, innocent amusement, a symbol of the joy of spring; but few recognize that the Maypole and its dance is one of the oldest and most sexual of public ceremonies involving the Tree of Life.
It was to Earth Mother that people prayed for good crops, human and animal fertility. If Earth Mother was with child, so would be the fields. But gods were forgetful and had to be reminded annually of their responsibilities to the faithful.
Decked with flowers, the tree was ritually worshipped with dances that included sexual orgies…and thus not accepted in Judeo-Christianity.
The spring ritual began in Rome on March 22. The music of cymbals, drums and flutes became wilder as the day progressed. Frenzied by the dance, participants lacerated themselves and dripped their blood upon Diana’s epiphany. The dance culminated in self-emasculation of young men wishing to become Diana’s priests. The excised organs were thrown at the tree to hasten the resurrection of the earth and its impending fertilization.
With minor variations, the festival was similar throughout Europe. A May Queen was selected, and she and the King of the Woods- called Green George, Father May, Bark King, Grass Lord, or Leaf Man- presided over the dancing. As night fell, the queen and king mated in the fields, and this act was affirmed by the faithful.
The Morris dances of England were May dances, and May Queen Mary only later became Robin Hood’s Maid Marion.
One is struck by the universality of concepts which flow around the Tree of Life. Life, death, and the perils of everyday existence must somehow be understood...Carl Jung seized upon this as one of the arguments to support his theory of the collective unconscious, an attempt to integrate the universal symbols humans use to relate themselves to their environment. R KLEIN
The Hawthorn personality is melancholic, pessimistic, irritable and frequently ill tempered. They feel worse in a warm room and improve in fresh air. BIANCHI
Red Haws are associated with the “Monster Woman of the Woods”. She lives in a hawthorn grove, and it was she who created the red haws.
If anyone even so much as tastes of their fruit, they come under her spell and are drawn into the grove…
If a person dreams of her, he turns crazy. A dying man will hear her cry from the top of a mountain, “He! he! he!”.
If a person passes a hawthorn or enters a hawthorn grove, he must immediately cry out: “Thou are Asin, thou shalt always live in the woods, thou art nothing.” Then he may go on his way unharmed. GUILLET
The heart of the hawthorn person may be broken from grief, sorrow, or long-sufferings. Despair and fragility are keynotes. The individual may develop strategies for keeping people at arm’s length, just as the plant itself maintains boundaries with its sharp thorns.
The person with chronic heart afflictions tends to close down from a painful world and desires to keep completely quiet, yet even this shows a resistance between the self and a threatening world. This
resistance sets up a tension between the flow of blood and the walls of the vessels that contain it. When the walls of the blood vessels are too constricting, the result is hypertension. Hawthorn strengthens the heart muscles, clears the arteries, and makes the blood vessels more elastic in order to withstand heart irregularity. CLARE GOODRICK-CLARKE
Hawthorn’s keyword is courage, especially good for those undertaking a difficult or daunting task. Hawthorn is the keeper of vital energy. MULDERS
Mangialavori…observed Crataegus patient to have a ‘double face’ in terms of having an undeveloped, immature side combined with difficulties to ‘develop a mature and adult side’.
This immature side enables them to play with kids and to have a strong relationship with children. In addition there is an attitude of service, a duty to help others. It is interesting to note that Janus originally was pictured with one clean-shaven and one bearded face, representing the middle ground between youth and adulthood. He was frequently used to symbolize the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, of the growing up of young people. Hence, he was worshipped at marriages, births and other beginnings. VERMEULEN
A cunning stepmother wanted to get rid of her husband’s son.
She prepared lunch with half cooked rice, hoping he would die of indigestion. After a few weeks, the child began complaining of indigestion and losing weight.
One day, the child found a tree with plenty of berries, which he picked and found delicious. He began to feel better and ate them every day, gradually putting on weight.
The stepmother thought what is happening, maybe God is protecting the child? She stopped making lunches with half cooked rice and when the husband returned he found out about the berries from his son and decided to market them to herbalists in town. HENRY C. LU
Roman goddess Cardea is often considered identical with Carna. Cardea refers to Latin CARDO a hinge, with a suggestion of Greek KARDIA heart, the protector of well-being. She presides over door hinges and also over house, family and physical well-being. She was originally an elusive nymph dedicated to virginity.
She would trick any amorous pursuer by sending him ahead of her into a shady cave, under the promise to enjoy the delights of love with him there, meanwhile taking to her heels and hiding in the forest. The trick always worked, except at one time with Janus, the god with one face looking forward and one backwards. She couldn’t fool him, so that he had his way with her and in return as a reward for her favours, appointed her the protector of door hinges, giving her a branch of flowering hawthorn to keep out all evil spirits.
Consequently Cardea or Carna is closely allied to Janus’s task of presiding over all beginnings, which the Romans believed crucial to the success of any undertaking. This is the reason that the name of the first month of the year is January.
Cardea’s alternative name Carna comes from Latin carnis, flesh. Combining her influence over beginnings and flesh, she especially protected newly incarnated souls, infants in their cradle, life’s beginnings embodied, from striges sucking their blood at night. Striges are described as nocturnal vampire-like birds of ill omen. To assist her, hawthorn leaves were laid in the cradle. VERMEULEN
The sun warms, relaxes, releases, and stimulates growth. It powerfully affirms all life, and, as the most generous being in our solar system, it unceasingly spends itself for the benefit of living things. In alchemical imagery, the heart is the sun of the body. The heart must be warm in order to relax and to release tension. It can stimulate spiritual growth by opening to love and compassion—for the suffering self as well as for others. When we describe someone as open or warmhearted, we contrast this with the closed, coldhearted person. These warmhearted people are approachable, life-affirming, loving, and giving. They too may have suffered grief and sorrow, but their “sun” remains open and giving.
Just as the hawthorn has a thorny side, Mars, associated with aggressive behavior and suppressed anger, can be an important factor in heart arrhythmias. Nevertheless, in the Greek myth, Mars is disarmed by love. CLARE GOODRICK-CLARKE
Several species of birds called shrikes use hawthorns as killing spikes. The loggerhead shrike snatches large insects on the wing.
If the bird finds its new acquired dainty to be a hard chew, for example, a plump beetle with a chitinous exoskeleton, the enterprising shrike finds a hawthorn bush, and impales the wriggling victim on a long, sharp thorn. Then? Yum yum!
Shrikes also impale mice and smaller birds on hawthorns. In spite of their facial mask markings, which give them a gruesome mien, shrikes are highly beneficial birds, helping rid large parts of their range of vermin and insect pests. CASSELMAN
When De Lorean set up his car factory in Ireland, there was a lone hawthorn standing in the centre of the site the builders had refused to destroy. Apparently De Lorean finally bulldozed it to the ground himself, and there was little surprise among his workers when the car plant turned out to be a total disaster. GIFFORD
The Hawthorn is a lovely tree
And of its uses all agree
From China to the Eiffel Tower
Its berry, leaf and its flower
All agree it’s with the heart
That Hawthorn really plays its part
A cardiac tonic quite renown
Helps to bring blood pressure down
For congestive failure, palpitation
It can improve the circulation
Decrease cholesterol as well
And angina it might quell
It can depress or stimulate
It normalizes any state
Helps the heart to perform
Where it’s ailing, here’s reform
Collect the berries in the Fall
When the Frost has covered all
A tincture of the leaf and flower
Also has the healing power
When you consider Hawthorn’s gift
Think of the heart that needs a shift!
FRESH PLANT TINCTURE- 15-30 drops. A fresh plant tincture of the flowering tops, twigs, leaves and spines is made of a 1:2 ratio of 60% alcohol in early summer. The fresh berry tincture is made with ripe berries in fall using the same ratio. Combine. The leaf procyanidins are richest in August. Flower polysaccharides are maximal at 15% ethanol. The lower the alcohol content, the more precipitation later.
The flavonoid content of the leaves and flowers is 1%; while only 0.1% for the berries. Standardized leaf and flower products contain 2.2% flavonoids, or 18.75% oligomeric procyanidins. Hawthorn berry was originally used, but higher concentrations of the flavonoids have been found in the flowers and leaves when in full bloom. White blooming hawthorns are medicinal, while the red blossomed trees have not been studied well enough to recommend. One study, by Costa et al in 1986, found young spring shoots the most active. Hawthorn tincture is very safe, and one would have to consume over one gallon at a time to experience acute side effects.
GOLD DROPS- Combine 3 parts Hawthorn, 2 parts Valerian root, and 1 part Squill. Take for heart attack symptoms such as acute chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating and irregular pulse; 20 drops every two hours until symptoms stabilize. Later take 20 drops after meals three times daily as lifestyle is improved.
DRY PLANT TINCTURE- 10-20 drops. A dry herb tincture is made with 1:5 of a 50% alcohol using the previously dried leaf and flowers and/or dried berries.
INFUSION- Use a teaspoon of dried flowers and leaves, and/or berries to one cup of hot water. Steep for half hour.
Take three cups daily for a few weeks, and then decrease to twice daily morning and evening.
Standardized extracts in a range of 300-600 mg daily are considered a therapeutic and clinical dosage of hawthorn. It is extremely useful where digitalis is not tolerated, or where chronic poisoning has resulted from long-term usage. It may potentiate the effects of digoxin type glycosides but appears to be safely taken together. Tankanow R et al, J Clin Pharmacol 2003 43 637-42.
It has been used clinically as an intermittent with digitalis (Van Hellemont 1985). Hawthorn preparations may increase side effects of beta-blockers. Maybe.
CAUTION- the seeds, just before germination, release large amounts of cyanogenic glycosides (HCN), or plant cyanide. This poison helps protect the seeds from attack by insects, and stimulates growth and energizes chlorophyll production. Eaten in large quantities, a toxic reaction can occur germinating berries. Always use fresh from the tree, or sun-dried fruit. Boiling will also dispel the cyanide.
Researchers have calculated the toxic dose of Crataegus to be 500- 1000 times the therapeutic dose in humans. Hawthorn potentiates the action of barbituates.
(Equisteum arvense L.)
(E. hyemale L.)
(E. fluviatile L.)
(E. sylvaticum L.)
(E. pratense Ehrh.)
(E. palustre L.)
(E. scirpoides Michx.)
(E. variegatum Schleich. Ex F. Weber & D.M.H. Mohr)
(Hippochaete variegata Schleich. ex F. Weber & D. M.H. Mohr [Bruhin])
(E. laevigatum A. Braun)
It’s like living inside a pearl
Where the light is so fantastic and all the beauty of the world
I’m talking about the Horsetail
Truly a gracious thing in all creation
Humble too like some blind man with a tin cup whispering in the rain.
EQUUS is from the Latin for horse; and SETUS means, bristle or tail. ARVENSE is from Latin for field or land.
Horsetail reminds one of the days of dinosaurs and swamps, as these prehistoric plants have been around for some 300 million years.
In the rainforest of Panama I have seen horsetail (H. myriochaetum) over thirty feet tall. It is found everywhere in the world save for Australia and Antarctica.
Field Horsetail is a perennial, while Meadow Horsetail is an annual.
The first sign of Field Horsetail growth in spring is a fertile, light brown spore bearer that only lasts two to four days.
The green-spiked plants soon follow, with their inverted upward stems the sign for medicinal gathering. After they begin to droop, they not only lose health benefit, but are harsh on the kidneys. Once the top part of horsetail is formed, the need for silica in solution in the plant is low, so pick in late spring or early summer.
The ancient Romans boiled the young fertile stems like asparagus. In Japan today, the stems are boiled, salted, pickled in vinegar or simmered with soy sauce and sugar. It is known as TSUKUSHI.
It is associated with Saturn, the planet that symbolizes contraction and hardening, and the power of giving form, abstraction and minimalism.
Horsetail has an affinity to gold and concentrates it more than most plants (0.03-0.075 ppm). Dr. James Duke suggests horsetail be used to mine gold from sewage sludge experimentally (yielding about 125 grams per fresh ton).
Silica and calcium oxide grit, from plant, has been utilized by wood and metal polishers throughout history.
The controlled, gentle abrasiveness of horsetail is prized by campers and backpackers for scrubbing pots and pans. Combine it with the acidity of high bush cranberries, for polishing your great aunt’s tarnished silver. Today, scouring rush (E. hyemale) is used commercially to file wind instrument reeds.
It was said music from whistles made from the stem calls snakes. Who’s to say?
Because of its rich minerals, horsetail has been used by many cultures in fertility mixtures. In Guatemala, horsetail is used in treating bone cancer.
Rudolph Steiner prepared various biodynamic plant sprays for crop protection. Horsetail spray can be used against all fungal disease like rust, mildew, monilia and scab, as well as athlete’s foot and toenail fungus in humans.
The Cree call Field Horsetail OKOCAKAN-ASKOS and prepare it for menstrual irregularity. I have heard it called MISTATIMOSOY, horse’s tail, and KIYCHIWIYKUSK, squeaky plant.
Natives of Alberta used the tuberous spring roots as the first “berry” of spring; eating them raw or with bear grease. The Gwich’in from the Mackenzie delta ate the raw roots, and in the Teetl’it dialect called the roots, Mouse Food, or DAZHO ZHII.
The sterile green stems, KHEH DYE’, were steamed for nasal congestion, colds and stomach ailments. Numerous tribes used the roots in basketry.
The Blackfoot call it SA-PO-TUN-A-KIO-TOI-YIS or joint grass (E. hyemale). They boiled and fed the liquid to their sick horses, particularly for coughs. The roots of the fertile stems of E. arvense were infused and given to humans either as a diuretic or laxative tea.
The Slave called various species HAHDO, meaning Geese Eat. The Gitksan of northern BC used the liquid from E. hyemale stems for water retention. It is called MAAWIN, and is said to increase in juice content if cut and left for a few days.
Sophie Thomas, Sai’Kuz healer knows this horsetail as KL’UKWUSZIH, and a tea prepared is known as “men’s medicine”.
The stems are boiled for prostate problems, colds and colic, increasing urination.
The Haida ate the young buds of E. arvense and Giant Horsetail (E. telmateia), and possibly the rhizome buds. Various names included Fog Medicine, Beach Knife, Rain Liquid, or SK’IN meaning Sandpaper. The Dena’ina of Alaska refer to the plant as goose or duck food, as well as NILGHULGHIGI meaning, “joined together”. The small tubers were eaten like berries; one name for them TAHGIGA translates as underwater berry. They are sweet and juicy very early in spring, but later hard and dry.
The root is placed on toothaches, while the stem and branches are burned and the ash applied to sores.
The Iroquois, further east, infused the roots with hazel branch tips for soothing teething in infants, while the Ojibwa used stem decoctions of AIANKOSING for dropsy or dysuria. Other Ojibwemowin or Anishinaabemowin names include CINGWAKO’NS, little pine, and GIJIB’INÛSKON’ meaning, “it is round”.
The Meskwaki fed the plant to captive geese. Field Horsetail was said to fatten them up in about a week.
The Lacandon Natives made a tea from the fresh segments as an aphrodisiac; believing the power with which the plant shoots up is transferred to the penis.
Horsetail powder has a thickening texture and is used in numerous cosmetic and shampoo products. One example is Freeman Botanicals Hair Thickening Shampoo.
The rhizome buds of Marsh and Woodland Horsetail begin to swell in late fall, and can be steamed or boiled. The buds attain a soft, floury texture with a taste between potato and hazelnut.
Woodland Horsetail has been used various native tribes for medicine. The burned ashes help heal running sores, while the roots are mixed with other plants as a wash for skin disease. The root is heated and applied to toothaches. When decocted, the root tea is used as a diuretic and for stomachache.
The Ojibwa made a tea from the whole plant for dropsy and kidney trouble.
Meadow horsetail was used along with wild bergamot for stomach trouble, while E. hyemale stems were burned to a powder for disinfecting wounds, and burns.
In British Columbia, the Thompson used Scouring Rush shoots in decoction for repressed urination, removing afterbirth, or for delayed labor in childbirth.
Stem decoctions were used as eyewash or sore, itchy eyes and to remove cataracts. The liquid inside fresh spring horsetail is collected, and kept in the fridge for above when needed.
Dwarf Scouring Rush is used by the Cree of northern Saskatchewan as part of a mixture for treating cancer. One reference cites that “during the cold months the elders would smoke horsetail grass tobacco around the lodge fires.”
Variegated Horsetail was dried and the hollow stems thrown into the fire by shaman to cause a small explosion as part of ceremonial cures.
Horsetail (E. laevigatum) aerial parts were boiled and used by native healers of California to control bladder infections. In the Himalayas, horsetail root is used internally for gonorrhea.
Stinging pain caused by nettle is eased by pulling stem apart for the soothing water.
The Thompson splashed this liquid on weeds as a natural herbicide.
A number of patents, including the production of sodium silicates, silicon carbide, elastomer strengtheners, absorbents for toxic industrial effluent, heat insulating materials, polymers for boat hull paints, finger nail polish and toothpaste have been filed for uses from horsetail.
Patents exist for various horsetail extracts in bath, hair and cosmetic products.
Veterinary uses include nasal hemorrhage, intestinal ulcers, uro- genital inflammation, and enlarged anal glands. Biogenetic silica in an amorphous state has been used to absorb hazardous liquid chemicals and radioactive wastes.
CONSTITUENTS- E. arvense- apigenin, luteolin, naringenin, aromadnedrin, taxifolin, numerous flavonoids including isoquercitrin (main flavonoid), flavone 5-glycosides, 6-chloroapigenin, proto-genkwanin, naringenin, aconitic acid, gossypitrin, saponaretin, methyl esters of protocatechuic and caffeic acids; brassinosteroids, indanone, nicotine (0.00004%), palustrine, silica (8%-present as amorphous colloidal silica and monosilicic acid), and equisetonin ( 5%) amixture of various sugars; sterols composed of beta-sitosterol (60%), campesterol (32.9%), isofucosterol (5.9%), and trace cholesterol; equisitonin (saponin), dimethylsulphone, thiaminase, thiamin, ferulic acid, and vitamin C (0.7%). The ash contains up to 70% silica. Di-E-caffeoyl-meso-tartaric acid is a marker compound found in higher concentrations in spring, specific to this species.
The North American chemotype contains apigenin and luteolin 5 glucosides and their malonl esters, while the European does not. Only the European chemotype contains quercitin 3-0-sophoroside and genkwanin.
fertile stem- styrylpyrone glucoside.
rhizome- stryrlpyrone glucosides, including 3’-deoxyequisetumppyrone and 4’-0-methylequistumpyrone.
E. hyemale- thymine, dimethyl sulfone, diaclyglyceroltrimethyl-homoserine; aconitic, caffeic, ferulic acid, silica, nicotine, palustrine, and flavones including kaempferol, kaempferol-3,7-diglycoside, kaempferol-3-diglucoside, hippochaete, herbacetrin, gossypetin, herbacetin-3-beta-D-glucopyranosides, and various trace minerals. The knob and thin layer below the cuticula is almost pure amorphous hydrated silica.
Louis Pasteur predicted over 100 years ago, that silica would play an important role in health. His insight has come true.
Field Horsetail is rich in trace minerals, but especially calcium and silica. Its main herbal action is a urinary astringent and diuretic. That is, it will tighten the inflamed epithelial tissue of the kidneys, as well as exert an anti-spasmodic action on the smooth muscles irritated by urinary infection.
It is not vaso-constricting, but acts as a hemostat, combining well with shepherd’s purse for blood in the urine; and green oats for renal exhaustion. Combine with nettle root for prostatitis and benign enlargement of prostate.
For gravel and stones of the urinary tract, use the root tincture for greater benefit. It is a nourishing diuretic that does not alter electrolyte balance in the body.
In a double-blind, randomized clinical trial of 36 healthy males, the dried horsetail extract produced diuretic effect equivalent to hydrochlorothiazide, without loss of electrolytes. Cameiro DM et al, Evid Based Complement Altern Med 2014 Mar 4.
The lungs are influenced favorably by horsetail, combining well with petasites, lungwort, nettles and plantain in respiratory mixtures.
Field Horsetail candy, called Tsukushi Ame, is now marketed in Japan for relief of pollen allergies. One spring day 1998, Koichi Shimakata, dean at Nihon University was walking to work. He suffered hay fever and when he collected field horsetail and cooked them for a meal, his allergy symptoms disappeared almost immediately. Researchers followed up in 2000 and confirmed presence of an anti-allergy substance, now manufactured into a functional candy. A bag of 20 candies sells for 2,000 yen, about a buck each.
Allergy symptoms were relieved in about 60% of more than 100 university employees that tried the candy, with effect lasting from 15 minutes to several hours.
It possesses anti-bacterial properties that inhibit both Streptococcus and Staphylococcus infection. One Japanese patent filed in 1990, lipopolysaccarides (LPS) from horsetail, was for the treatment of toxoplasmosis infection (0.1mgLPS/0.5g tablet)
Fresh Horsetail juice has a very favorable effect on nasal polyps. The fresh juice is good for anemia caused by internally bleeding of stomach ulcers. The hemostatic activity is due to fatty acids and phytosterols. Expressed juice extracts show activity against mycobacterium, and the silica content helps stabilize scar tissue. It combines well with plantain juice for chronic bronchitis and catarrh. But perhaps its most valuable contribution is organic silica; and maintaining health of connective and elastic tissue in the body.
Matthew Wood notes “Horsetail has the ‘intelligence’ to deal with silica and share this ‘knowledge’ with the organism in need of the substance.”
Weakness in the joints and bones, accompanied by pain in the right kidney, and continuous desire to urinate, is specific to horsetail. The Russians use horsetail as a diuretic for cardiac edema, liver conditions, including “smoothing the liver” (spasmophilia), and chelating lead from body.
Childhood bedwetting, of a physical nature, often responds well to horsetail, St. John’s wort and goldenrod tea.
Pink eye, and swelling eyelids are relieved by cool, filtered horsetail decoctions in an eyecup application.
As silica levels decline in the body, the tissues lose tone. Dr. Kervran, in his brilliant book, Biological Transmutation, showed that the body may change organic silica into calcium as required.
In one experiment, rats were divided into groups. Their legs were broken, and x-rays monitored the healing process. In the control group, a normal diet with generous amounts of calcium was given; and in the other horsetail extract was added. The horsetail group healed in one- third the control group’s time.
High amounts of organic silica help strengthen, not just bones and connective tissue but hair, skin, nails and lymph nodes. For these conditions, consider adding agrimony in equal parts.
Organic silica is absorbed as orthosilicic acid (OSA), which has been shown to stimulate the synthesis of collagen type 1, as found in bone matrix; and to induce osteoblast enzymes in osteoblast-like cells. Tucker et al, Curr Pharm Des 2003 9:32.
A recent study led by Dr. Tim Spector, Saint Thomas Hospital, London found the addition of orthosilicic acid to calcium and D improved markers on bone formation. The researchers suggest the addition of OSA has benefit on bone turnover, especially bone collagen, and possibly femoral BMD. Tuberculosis patients have been found to have up to 50% lower silica levels than necessary for optimal health. Silica added to diets showed the tuberculin sites encapsulated much faster. And certain types of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women showed bones containing absolutely no silica. It is therefore indicated in osteoporosis, and Paget’s disease. As a diuretic, it is useful for nephritic syndromes, edema and night sweats due to weak adrenals in menopausal women. A small study by Strause et al, J Nutrition 1994 24:7 found women taking silica had significantly increased bone mineral density of the femur. Work by Costa-Rodrigues et al, Cell Prolif 2012 45:6 found increased osteoclast activity from alcohol/water mixtures.
Research today shows that organic silica acts on degenerating albumins in cancer patients. Cancer of the mouth responds well to horsetail gargles.
Horsetail is a white blood cell stimulator, adding to its value. Horsetail should, perhaps, be avoided in active prostate cancer due to the high content of beta sitosterol that may or may not encourage growth of prostate cancer cells.
Organic silica plays an important role in arteriosclerosis. Studies in Finland, over a 25 year period, reveals a death rate nearly double in areas with low silica content in water.
This may be due to the silica re-establishing elasticity of the arterial walls, something essential for absorbing blood pressure variation. It also affects lipid metabolism, dissolving fats that deposit on arteries, combining well with linden flower.
Silica may not be the only factor in the efficacy of horsetail. Work by Bye et al, J Herbs Spices & Med Plants 16:2 found water extracts only release a maximum of 0.3% silica and suggest other compounds may be responsible for health benefits. Agreed.
Horsetail sitz baths, combined with oatstraw, are good for rheumatic and neuralgic pains, as well as eczema and various neuro-dermatitis conditions. For dry eczema, combine with internal use. Peripheral vascular disorders, leg pains, and chilblains likewise benefit from daily baths.
Husson et al, Ann Pharm Fr 1986 44 41-8 showed anti-viral effect from silica extracts. Methanol extracts of E. arvense given orally to lab rats show significant anti-diabetic activity. Soleimani et al, Pak J Biol Sci 2007 10:23.
Brassinosteroids, isolated from E. arvense strobilus, are a growth hormonal steroid. More research into this would be useful.
There are apparently two chemotypes of E. arvense with different flavonoid composition. In either case, the highest quercitin content is found in the new spring growth, up to 50% of total flavonoid content. This decreases throughout summer.
Work by Graefe et al, Phytomedicine 1999 6:4 found hippuric acid, the glycine conjugate of benzoic acid, increased twofold after ingesting horsetail tea.
Field Horsetail has been found to possess anticonvulsant and sedative effects in a water alcohol extract. Santos et al, Fitoterapia 76:6.
Anti-anxiety benefit, superior to diazepam, was noted from ethanol extracts of horsetail stem in lab animals. Singh et al, Ind J Exp Biol 2011 49:5.
Marsh Horsetail (E. palustris) 80% ethanol extract possesses significant anti-ulcerogenic activity. Gurbuz et al, J Ethnopharm 121:3.
The closely related Giant Horsetail (E. gigantheum) has been found to contain a nerve growth factor. Li et al, conducted this work at Tohoku University, Japan in July of 1999.
Giant Horsetail reduces inflammation, and has an immunomodulating effect on both B and T lymphocytes. Farinon M et al, Open Rheumatol Journal 2013 30:7 29-33.
Swamp Horsetail (E. fluviatile) extracts show activity against both gram positive and negative bacteria.
Woodland Horsetail (E. sylvaticum) shows activity against Staphylococcus aureus. Borchardt et al, J Med Plants Res 2008 2:5.
The Chinese have used Scouring Rush (E. hyemale) for centuries, to remove film from eyes, and other superficial visual obstructions, including corneal opacity. This species is more hemostatic than E. arvense, making it useful in bleeding hemorrhoids, and functional bleeding problems.
Dr. Eli Jones, the Eclectic physician used it as a specific for bladder cancer, with urinary distress, severe pain after voiding, and extreme and frequent urination.
The herb is sweet with a mildly bitter flavour and neutral properties; with its main activity on the lung, liver and gall bladder meridians.
Scouring Rush is known as MU ZEI in Mandarin, and MAAN CHOK in Cantonese. It is usually combined with Chrysanthemum, for various eye afflictions, including excessive tearing.
Studies by Xu et al, Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi 1993 18:1 showed rats fed E. hyemale and high fatty foods had reduced levels of both triglyceride and cholesterol.
Work conducted in 1993, has shown some in vitro evidence of activity against tumours of the stomach, tongue and liver.
The herb possesses appetite-stimulating effect, proven experimentally.
It possesses mild anti-inflammatory, diuretic, sedative and anti-platelet activity. Zhong Yao Xue 1998 109:110; and Yi Xue Xue Bao 1980 15:6321.
The plant showed activity against Streptococcus mutans and other pathogenic oral bacteria. Ferrazzano GF et al, Evid Based Complement Altern Med 2013 Nov 4.
Extracts inhibit leukemia L1210 cancer cells through apoptosis and by inducing G2/M arrest. Li H et al, J Ethnopharm 2012 144(2): 322-7.
The ash of burned horsetail is up to 80% silica, and was recommended for sour stomach, and dyspepsia taken at 5 grains two to three times daily. The ashes were sprinkled on wounds and burns by various native tribes, sometimes mixed with animal fats.
Aerial parts of the related E. myriochaetum of Mexico possess significant hypoglycemic activity in a study on 11 type 2 diabetics. Significant changes in insulin levels and blood sugar were noted within 90 minutes of intake, compared to controls. Revilla et al, J of Ethnopharmacology 83:1.
The related E. telmateia shows huge free radical scavenging ability (98.9%) based on work by Stajner et al, Phytother Res 2009 23:4.
Field Horsetail acts principally on the bladder. It relieves the severe dull pain and fullness in bladder that does not go away with urination.
At times, the severe pain is at the end of urination that comes out one drop at a time. After childbirth, some women suffer cystitis that is soothed with this remedy. For bedwetting, it is indicated after the primary emotional stress is dealt with.
Then, children may wet out of habit, and complain of dull pain in bladder. Older women who pass urine when they sneeze, or exercise, will find relief from equisetum.
DOSE- Tincture to the sixth potency. Hot decoctions or tincture in hot water is better. Mother tincture is from the fresh, sterile shoots in late summer. A more recent proving by Peter Zillmer has been done, but is only available in German (SORRY).
Equisetum hyemale is for chronic cystitis, where there is abundant clear urine, and pain in the right kidney region. Wet, damp conditions aggravate the condition, and it should be considered when E. arvense does not work completely.
DOSE- same as above. Mother tincture is produced from the whole fresh plant.
Hydro-distillation of horsetail has led to extraction of leaf odors that are employed in the perfumery and frozen food flavour industry. The yield is about 1.0 % and contains cis-3-hexenal, and trans-2-hexenal, hexahydrofarnesyl acetone 18%, cis geranyl acetone 13.7%, thymol 12%, and trans phytol 10%.
The essential oil was widely used in the 1970s, but less so at present time.
A 1991 Japanese patent exists for essential oils or plant extracts for bath preparations.
The stem odour constituents have been used as a repellent for dogs, cats, crows, and rats, and as a biocide.
Work by Radulovic found the essential oil at 1:10 dilution strongly anti-microbial against a variety of bacteria and fungi. Phytother Res 20:1.
CONSTITUENTS- linalool 53%, dimethyl sulphide 26%, as well as alpha terpineol, terpinen-4-ol, carvone, geraniol, camphor, eucalyptol, bornyl acetate, nerol, endo borneol, and other compounds.
The hydrolat is composed of nearly two-thirds alcohol with anti-microbial, stimulating and decongesting properties.
The distilled water of horsetail is good for blood spitting, and heals injured intestines, liver, kidneys and bladder. It stops over-flowings of the menses, and is serviceable for all sorts of ruptures, dysenteries, and diarrhea, provided 4-5 spoonfuls of it are drunk each morning and evening. This water will also heal putrid wounds and injuries, especially in the privates, provided you wet a small piece of cloth with it and then apply this as a warm dressing. SAUER
Horsetail water is distilled in spring. It relieves piles when applied externally and when warmed as hot as can be suffered it is used to saturate a cloth that is wrapped around swollen testicles. It is cold to the first degree, and eases spitting blood, menses, strangury, erysipelas, stone and flood in the nose, for which it is snuffed up. BRUNSCHWIG
Horsetail (E. arvense) essence is for strength and regenerative powers. MIRIANA
Horsetail (E. arvense) is for connectedness; the flower essence opens and expands the internal communication between both sides of the brain. It helps release old patterns of isolation and limitation. ALASKA
Field Horsetail (E. arvense) essence helps create a relaxed and peaceful mind, calms the nervous system and witness consciousness. It helps release obsessive thoughts, worries, tension and nervousness. ICELANDIC
Horsetail (E. hyemale) is a mild tonic for the meridians after slight shock or trauma. PEGASUS
Horsetail (E. fluviatile) flower essence is about hidden paths- and reconnection to parts of the unconscious. It is an opening to the many intricate parts of oneself, bringing integration, step by step growth and understanding. Every level must be completed for wholeness. CANADIAN
Horsetail (E. hyemale) essence is for people who are experiencing fragmentation or a sense of too many life changes without any clear continuity and a deep lack of flow within events within a person’s soul experience. HIGH SIERRA
The horsetail person is droopy, with thin, weak hair and nails. They have a history of poor teeth with many dental fillings. They may bite or chew their fingernails. Broken bones heal slowly, or result in calcified spurs or lumpy growths. They tend to favour this “weak area” the rest of their lives.
Silica is stored in the nerve sheath, the insulator. With enough silica, there is plenty of energy. In personality, these people are communicators (silica chips?). They speak and think rapidly; always in danger of mental exhaustion.
In the negative mood, the posture slumps, the nervous system becomes tired and energy is exhausted. As the back stoops, the spine puts pressure on the kidneys, via the lumbar. Accidents and falls are more frequent.
The nervous tension increases and the individual takes longer to recover mentally.
Calcium metabolism, kidney stones, lower back pain, osteoporosis, and poor hair and skin are all consequences.
The positive and silica rich individuals have a great interest in life. They are patient with those mentally slower. They are also capable of turning off their brain for a rest.
It is interesting to note that Horse named herbs suit the Sagittarians. Horsetail, horse chestnut, and horseradish all fit this astrological picture.
Even the lumbar spine is the position of Caudi equini, or “horse’s tail”!
When you first take horsetail, there may be nervy, tingling sensations in the area, as the herb begins its eliminating and strengthening action. DOROTHY HALL
Equisetum clears blockages on all levels, strengthens the will and gives structure and organization to life. Pain in the limbs, the lower part of the body, and persistent headaches are a continual reminder of the frailty of the material body…
These people can be fearful of life and what it asks of the individual. Just as the plant itself is not highly evolved, the horsetail individual has trouble evolving, or moving on. Horsetail will assist in transmuting the inner qualities of self into the higher spiritual virtues. CLARE GOODRICK-CLARKE
Horsetail can be used externally as a poultice for bruises, contusions, and other injuries where the skin is not broken. Boil the plant to make the poultice, which should include some of the plant itself along with the water in which it was boiled.
It can also be used for the spiritual purpose of balancing the mental, emotional and physical bodies. In this case, the poultice is placed warm over the third eye, while lying still on one’s back. HILARION
In the Himalayas, horsetail is used in psycho-medicine by the local people. A plant with 21 nodes is said to destroy the curse of the Goddess Kali.
Horsetail herb’s regulating effect is caused by the bio-energy aluminum.
Although the plant actually contains some aluminum, the quantity present is unrelated to its effectiveness as a bio-energy on the energetic level. While harmonizing and enabling the work of silica and calcium energies, aluminum’s effect are clear from Horsetail’s excellent resolvent action with hard deposits and detoxicant action in conditions of metabolic toxicosis such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and chronic eczema. The way it adjusts sweating and urinary functions, and infact all eliminative processes, is another example of its fundamental regulating character. HOLMES
The presence of silica in the horsetail plant structure is significant. Remember that crystal consciousness within the life-form of the Horsetail is a lot more powerful than it would appear to be. This is not a plant to be underestimated.
Every spring and early summer I wage a losing battle with horsetail weeds in my rock garden. After a little rain they pop up with a vengeance, spreading underground rhizomes and sprouting shoots everywhere that demand space from my flowers. I pull at their jointed stems, but it does little good, as they just break off at the soil level and continue to proliferate underground.
In the Middle Ages, it was used as an abrasive by cabinetmakers to clean pewter, brass and copper, and for scouring wood containers and milk pans.
Irritating, abrasive, stubborn and intrusive. These nicely describe horsetail in my mind. Unfortunately, they also apply to a few individuals that I’ve met. The kind of people who just rub me the wrong way, but whom I can’t seem to get away from completely.
Of course, viewed from another angle, I probably seem exactly the same to some folks.
Now, in my own case, I’d like to be given the benefit of the doubt, so it’s only fair that I should do the same for another. After all, we just might find something to appreciate in each other. G. MOHAMMED
Horsetail individuals are eternally misunderstood, too vulnerable in defending themselves. They have a constant sense of injustice.
Horsetail can help them be more adaptable and capable of taking an objective look at life. BORREL
Saturn rules the bones, teeth and joints. In addition, the spinal column, with its ligaments and its alignment, comes under this planet’s governance. Saturn also relates to Cronos, the god of time, so many
of horsetail’s therapeutic effects are for those of late middle age. The Saturn aging cycle begins in the late fifties, a time when bones weaken and joints stiffen; when uric acid may build up in the extremities, causing gout; and kidney energy begins to fail.
Saturn brings in responsibility, order, integrity, and endurance.
Beginning in the late fifties, the Saturnian phase of life is a time of consolidation of patterns that were established in youth—but these can go too far. Rigidity, fixed ideas, and closed thinking can begin to dominate. Life’s opportunities may begin to contract. With bones and joint mobility weakened, this time of life can be the beginning of restriction and limitation. Steps must be taken to remain flexible, outgoing, and ready for new adventures in life. It is important for such an individual to remain connected to the present, to keep active and interested in his own affairs, and not to accept decline and limitation.
We have a legend that tells of Maawin as our only liquid before water came to the world. Botanists tell us that the horsetail is one of the most primitive and ancient forms of plant life. It is interesting that our legends name this primeval plant as the earliest source of water. GITKSAN MYTH
Field Horsetail is called KISI’BANUSK [squeaky noise weed]. This last name arose as the result of an experience of Mana’bozo. One time he heard the squeaky noise, as he walked along a forest path. On putting his ear close to the ground to find out the cause of the noise, the Horsetail seemed to say “they always eat me. They always eat me”. So he agreed and ate a piece of the stem. As he proceeded along, he was startled by a sudden explosion noise behind him, like ‘poh’.
Facing about suddenly he was unable to discover the cause. This happened several times, until it became continuous with every step he took.
He had to come to the conclusion that he himself was the cause of these peculiar noises, which were the outcome of eating the Field Horsetail. HURON H. SMITH
Here is Horsetail, Scouring Rush
Looking like a fat paint brush
Of Silica, it’s got a lot
Enough to scour out a pot
Pick it when the plant is young
Helps control a bleeding wound It’s a useful diuretic
With properties that are astringent
Rheumatism it may ease
Make a poultice for your knees
Caution not to overdo
Horsetail may not be for you
Not pregnancy nor heart disease
And used too long, it can deplete
Be sure to get the species straight
Not all Equisetum is safe
But if your prostate’s getting big
Equisetum Arvense improves your gig
For internal irrigation
Make a tincture, put in your bath
Horsetail get you back on path.
INFUSION- 2-4 oz. 4X daily
DECOCTION- One tablespoon of dried herb to each cup of water. Simmer slowly for three hours. One ounce every 2 hours. Adding a small amount of sugar helps extract the silica and makes a more pleasant tea.
FRESH JUICE- Juice yourself or buy commercially. To make the juice yourself, collect in early morning, wash in cold water, pour boiling water over herb and juice in blender.
Filter, and bring the juice to a boil over low heat for few minutes. Store in fridge up to one week.
One tablespoon four times daily diluted in six parts of water.
TINCTURE- 2-4 ml 3X daily. The best tincture is made by decocting the fresh spring herb as above and adding an equal quantity of vodka (40%). Or prepare the fresh tops at a 1:2 ratio and 40% alcohol. Then burn the marc to a dry ash and add it back to formula.
The tincture of E. hyemale is used for bladder cancer at the rate of 15 drops every two hours.
VINEGAR- Cover one part fresh horsetail with three parts apple cider vinegar. Shake daily in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks. Strain. Take one tablespoon daily for rich source of calcium (150 mg).
ROOT TINCTURE- Use 10 drops every 15 minutes for the pain of kidney or bladder stones. Reduce to 5 drops 6-8 times daily for up to two weeks.
SITZ BATH- Four oz. of dried horsetail is steeped in cold water overnight. The next day bring to a boil, and add to bath water.
Submerge to cover kidneys. After bathing , cover up and keep warm.
POULTICE- Place a handful of horsetail -fresh or dry- in a sieve and hang it in boiling water. When hot and soft, wrap in linen and apply to affected area. Keep warm.
CLEANING SOLUTION-Soak one part horsetail stems in two parts water overnight. Strain and use to soak out stains and build up gunk on hard to clean items.
HORSETAIL TEA- PREPARATION 508- Four oz. of dried herb per gallon of water, simmered for 20 minutes. Or if used in season, the green plant extract is made by covering the fresh plants with water and letting them ferment for ten days.
Simple Horsetail decoctions can be sprayed on tomatoes with blight, and roses and berry bushes with powdery mildew.
CAUTION- Horsetail is contraindicated in patients with edema due to impaired heart and kidney function. It may also change the flavour of breast milk.
Horsetail use can drain B vitamins, especially B1, or thiamine from the body. Horsetail can be mildly irritating on its own and is best combined with a demulcent herb. The HPB in Canada currently only allows the sale of horsetail in forms with proven thiaminase in-activity.
A study conducted by Fabre et al, 1993 showed thiaminase activity was in-activated at 80 degrees Celsius and is not present in alcohol extracts of the dried aerial parts.
Other plants with anti-thiamine activity include mung beans, flax seed, blueberries, black currants, beets, brussel sprouts, red cabbage and methyl sinapate from the seed of indian mustard (Brassica juncea).
Articulatin, a substance soluble in both alcohol and hot water is the thermostable component of thiamine decomposing factors. Exact chemical nature is unknown.
And despite its name, the plant can be poisonous to horses and cattle, causing equisetosis, especially in dried hay mixtures with over 20% content.
Contamination of horsetail with E. palustre is problematic, as the latter contains the toxic alkaloid palustrine; and although not proven toxic to man, is probably responsible for some horse poisoning. The issue is anti-thiamine factors, as horses are particularly susceptible to vitamin B1 deficiency, as unlike ruminants, it is an essential exogenic factor for them. Symptoms are referred to as staggers, with twitching of muscles, falling over and dying of exhaustion. In cows decreased levels of milk, loss of weight, diarrhea and in some acute cases, paralysis and death.
It is different from common horsetail as all of its shoots are green and the branch segment is shorter than the stem sheath; in common horsetail it is longer. A test for contamination of horsetail with E. palustre is the presence of a specific flavonoid, kaempferol-3-0-rutinosyl-7-0-glyco-side. E. arvense is the only horsetail contains large amounts of dicaffeoyl-meso-tartaric acid, and this can be used as a marker or indicator of species.
Scouring Rush (E. hyemale), or Mu Zei in the Chinese tradition, is contra-indicated in pregnancy, liver yang rising (red eyes), or for long term.
Otherwise, it follows many of the uses listed above for horsetail.
One case of allergic reaction has been reported with passive inhalation and sensitivity to nicotine, combined with exposure to the fresh plant, resulting in dermatitis of hands and face. Various studies have shown that ultrasonic extraction of silica yields twice the amount in forty minutes, as that obtained by boiling in water for four hours. Vilarem et al, Economic Botany 1992 42.
Silica is optimally extracted by placing the fresh herb in water at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with 10% glucose or sucrose for six hours. It extracts four times faster from the fresh rather than dried material.
Do not gather horsetail in regions suspected of inorganic nitrogen fertilizer drainage. Horsetail will bio-accumulate and create a toxic nitrate product.
This is not harmful to adults, but infants under four months are prone to nitrite conversion and methemoglobinemia. But what good herbalist would give an infant horsetail tea?
Use spring horsetail, not just for optimal quercitin content, but to help reduce content of calcium oxalates.
(Leonurus cardiaca L.)
(L. sibiricus L.)
(L. artemisia [Lour.] S. Y. Hu)
(L. japonicus Houtt.)
(L. heterophyllus Sweet.)
In the midst of the valley is Tui-(Motherwort)
All withered and dry.
A girl on her own,
Bitterly she sobs,
Bitterly she sobs,
Faced with man’s unkindness.
Drink Motherwort tea and live to be a source of continuous astonishment and frustration to waiting heir.
Leonurus means lion tail, and cardiaca, of the heart. Motherwort suggests its use in conditions of the womb.
Motherwort is an introduced perennial that has sporadically established itself throughout the Canadian prairies. It thrives in well- drained, alkaline and sandy soil, It is a member of the Mint family, with the familiar square stem, opposite leaves, and flowers in the upper leaf axils. The flowers are white to pink, with purple spots. The pink lips of the flower, according to the Doctrine of Signatures, look like a vagina, and hence are useful for menstrual problems.
It does not, however, have any mint odour, but a mildly unpleasant scent that only bees appear to appreciate. The leaves are large, toothed and palmate, most un-mint like.
Various native tribes integrated Motherwort into their repertory including the Cherokee. It was given as a stimulating tea, and for nervous and hysterical affections, including fainting and nervous stomach unease.
They believed the plant a gift from the Iroquois and called it E TSI, meaning mother, using it for “cramp and weak hearts of women.”
The Mohegan, Mi’kmaq, and Delaware all used the plant for female conditions, including amenorrhea, and uterine spasms.
The ancient Greeks valued the herb not only for heart problems, but to relieve pain during childbirth, or help those suffering anxiety during pregnancy.
An ancient tale tells of a town where the water source came from a stream surrounded by banks of motherwort. It is said that many in the town lived to be 130 years old, or more.
Culpepper said. “Venus owns this herb and it is under Leo. There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapors from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry.” To translate, motherwort is for women and the heart.
John Gerard, the 16th century English herbalist said many “commend it against the infirmities of the heart: it is judged to be so forceable that it is thought it took this name Cardiaca, of the effect.”
Herbalists of the time such as Leonhart Fuchs wrote, “motherwort is excellent for the beating of the heart.” Adamus Lonicerus added, “with its root crushed and laid upon the chest, it removes constraint of the heart. And used thus, it makes the breast roomy.”
Various Eclectic physicians, including Dr. Cook appreciated motherwort. “The nerves receive the most benefit of its influence, whence it is called as a nervine tonic and antispasmodic. In warm preparations it maintains a gentle outward circulation, and promotes the menstrual and lochial flow; and in this form proves of value in recent suppression...painful menstruation, and hysterical forms of nervousness and palpitation.
In cold preparations, it promotes appetite and digestion, strengthens the uterus.”
Asian Motherwort (L. artemisia) is an annual, or sometime biennial, that grows well on the prairies. The plant prefers rich, warm, moist sandy loam, but I have seen it growing on dry and extremely poor alkaline soil.
The Japanese traditionally drank a beverage of YAKUMOSO flowers to ensure long life. This species (L. sibiricus) is an Herb of Life, and has its own festival.
On the ninth day of the ninth month, KIKOUSOUKI, meaning Month of the Motherwort Flowers, a celebration is held. The flowers eaten with rice, stirred in saki cups, and blessings for a long life are exchanged.
Siberian Motherwort is mentioned in the ancient Book of Songs, the Chinese Shih Ching written ca. 1000-500 BC. It was called T’UEI.
Asian Motherwort is known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as YI MU CAO meaning, “good for mother”, or CHONG WEI, “full and flourishing” because the stem, leaf and fruit are thick and abundant. At one time, the seeds, CHONG WEI ZI, were eaten as a substitute for sesame seeds. One common name is Benefit Mother Weed, another Bloody Mother Herb.
In Vietnam and Japan, the plant is used to promote menses, while in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam it invigorates the flow of blood.
The dried leaf of L. sibiricus can be rolled as smoked as a hemp-like substitute. In Mexico, it is known as MARIJUANILLO, meaning Little Marijuana. It is popular in Malaysia as a substitute smoke.
In Vera Cruz, the herb is used in folk magic to make the groom return to the marriage.
It is believed that the true Asian Motherwort is L. artemisia, and that L. sibiricus is a separate, clearly defined species. Other authors believe they are variations of the same species.
Motherwort seed germinates within 10-14 days, and can be thinned to 8 inch spacing after developing four or five leaves.
The whole herb is harvested in early fall in full flower, and dried in partial shade with good ventilation. The full flower herb is richest in active ingredients, with a significant lack of benzoic acid and other constituents, before blooming, and after seed formation.
Seeds are harvested when ripe.
Motherwort is hardy to zone 3, and will easily self-sow when established. It prefers a well-drained soil with a pH of 7.7, with lots of sun. Germination takes 2-3 weeks, with high variability and low germination rates.
Seed seven to eight pounds of seed per acre, with up to 1000 pounds of dry leaf and flowers expected at end of first year. Subsequent years can double or triple in production.
In one Romanian trial, seeds were sown in November, mid-March, mid-April and late April. The highest yields were obtained from sowing in fall or early spring at over 2000 kg/ha, and seed yields of 217 kg/ha from sowing in fall.
The addition of manganese, iodine, cobalt and copper, stimulate the formation of compounds connected with cardio-vascular and sedative activities in Motherwort. Dranitsyna et al, Biol Aktivn 1975.
Motherwort has been investigated for veterinary use. Work by Nikolaenko, Veterinariya Moskva 1990 4 looked at the protective effect of plant infusions during vaccination of chicken broilers.
CONSTITUENTS- L. cardiaca- a number of alkaloids including leonurine (0.0068%), leonurinine, leonurine A&B, stachydrine (a pyrrolidine type alkaloid), betaine, betonicine and turicin, iridoid monoterpenes like leonuride (ajugoside and ajugol), galiridoside, and reptoside; various bitter glycosides ; alpha humulene, furanic labdane diterpenes (20-70 mcg/g fresh wt) leocardin, leosibirin, preleosibirin, and isoballotenol acetate; bufenolide glycosides, tannins (9.5-10%), leonurin, stachyose, choline, lavandulifolioside, malic acid, calcium chloride, trace minerals, resins, essential oils, lauric acid, citric acid, malic acid, oleic acid, ursolic acid, caffeic acid 4-rutinoside.
Also contains a number of flavonoids including rutin, quinqueloside, genkwanin, quercitin, quercetrin, isoquercitrin, hyperoside; as well as apigenin and kaempferol glucosides.
seeds- a Cad-specific lectin; 22% protein; 30% fat; root- stachyose
L. sibiricus- sibiricinones, three diterpenes, leosibiricine, leosibirine, and isoleosibiricine, 15-epi-sibiricinones, genkwanin (flavone), rutin, four quanidine derivatives (4-guanidinobutanol, arginine, 4-guanidine butyric acid and leonurine), l-stachydrine, syringic acid, rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid depsides, various alkaloids including stachydrine, leonuridine, leonurinine, and leonurine; various acids, including benzoic, lauric, linoleic and oleic; phytosterols, arginine, 4-guanidino-1- butanol, 4-guanidinobutyric acid, stachyose, flavonoids, bitter glycosides, tannins, stachyose, potassium chloride, trace minerals, vitamin A, and a variety of flavonoids including rutin, kaempferol, hyperoside, quercitrin and quercitin.
plant- 0.01-0.04% leonurine, stachydrine, prehispanolone, apigenin, genkwanin, isoquercitrin.
Motherwort is used worldwide for treating the heart and uterus. The herb is most reliable in cases of PMS associated with frustration, irritability, depression, heart palpitations and insomnia. Delayed or suppressed menstruation, associated with anxiety, tension, or cold is relieved, combining well with vervain as a relaxing nervine. It helps relieve smooth muscle parasympathetic cramping. In China, it is used to relax muscle tension associated with painful and frustrating vaginismus.
It is a mint with bitter acrid taste, calming to the sympathetic nervous system.
Menstrual cramps with little or no bleeding are relieved. Taken over time, motherwort encourages strong uterine contractions, by strengthening tissue. As the uterus is more toned, less cramping occurs in the future.
Motherwort may reduce endogenous inflammatory mediators by enhancing the synthesis of prostaglandins via prostaglandin E9-ketoreductase that is important in synthesis of useful PGE2 prostaglandins. Hsieh et al, Proc Nat Sci Council Repub China 1985 9:3.
The herb brings more blood to the pelvic region and thickens the bladder, uterus and vaginal tissue, increasing tone and elasticity. It possesses beta-blocking activity with specific affinity to the uterus and vascular tissue.
It contains some of the same constituents as wood betony, and shares both nervine and uterine stimulating properties. The plant is warming in nature, with a bitter or acrid bent, similar to valerian root.
Clymer suggests small amounts can be taken prenatally for preventing toxemia. I have no experience with using the herb in this way, but I would exercise caution, due to the oxytocic effects. For painful dysmenorrhea, delayed labour and as a hemostat for postpartum hemorrhage, the herb is most effective.
Stachydrine, for example, possesses oxytocic activity. Dosage is important, as too much of the herb before the uterus has clamped down, may precipitate bleeding. Small amounts assist the uterus in contract after delivery, in a manner more effective than ergot.
Leonurine induces uterine contractions at low concentrations, but inhibits at higher, in test tube studies. These seemingly opposite results may explain how motherwort can induce labour and menstruation, as well as relax the uterus after childbirth. Yeung et al, Planta Medica 1977 31; Kong et al, Am J Chin Med 1976 4.
Taken once or twice daily for a week, beginning the day after giving birth, can help ease tension in the new mother, and prevent uterine infection. Sitz baths with uva ursi will also help. If it causes increased flooding, replace the herb with bugleweed, according to Michael Moore.
Taken immediately after birth may increase bleeding so use caution, but it will stimulated suppressed lochia and help promote postpartum uterine drainage. It will not increase post birthing uterine contractions induced by nursing.
Ellingwood writes, “Professor John King regarded motherwort as superior to all other remedies in suppression of the lochia, giving it internally and applying a fomentation of the herb over the lower abdominal region.”
For fibroids, it combines well with black cohosh. Add cramp bark to these two herbs as a combination for painful dysmenorrhea, but do not use when bleeding is heavy. For amenorrhea, combine with thuja or yarrow to promote menstruation.
Lectins from seeds affect red blood cell agglutination and believed part of blood flow enhancement. Bird et al, Clin Lab Haematol 1979 1:1.
Motherwort helps relieve stress affecting the heart, such as in hyperthyroid conditions; combining well with bugleweed.
Various glycosides are cardiotonic and anti-spasmodic, which are of cumulative benefit over time, helping ease palpitations and tachycardia.
Motherwort, combined with hawthorn, will slow the heartbeat, lower blood pressure, and give a steady, strengthened pulse. Both contain organic sources of calcium chloride that supports and nourishes cardiac muscle.
Work by Ritter et al, Planta Medica 2010 76:6 572-82 suggests various pathways related to improving cardiac function.
It exerts calcium antagonistic activity by I blockade, reduces the repolarising current I, and prolongs AP duration. I is not affected. k.r na
It therefore works on multiple electrophysiological targets at whole organ and single cell levels.
Michael Moore put it well. “I am not referring to thyroid disease here but the tendency for a certain subset of folks to increase thyroid levels under stress (and decrease them under depression), rather than the more common use of flight or fright responses (adrenergic stress) or increasing blood mass from anabolic stress (the hibernating bear syndrome). If the primary symptoms of thyroid stress (not disease) are sweating, rapid gut transit time, and nervous lethargy, Bugleweed is the preferred herbal approach. If the primary symptoms are tachycardia and palpitations, Motherwort is better. If in doubt, use both; they are complementary.”
It is a hypotensive nervine that will help headache, insomnia and vertigo.
For intermittent claudication, relaxing the smooth muscles will help improve blood flow. For this combine motherwort with cramp bark, scullcap and valerian. To slowly dissolve the arterial plaque, add linden blossom.
Work by Milkowska et al, J Ethnopharm 2002 80 identified lavandulifolioside, and found it reduced the heart rate and blood flow in rats. It induced widening of the QRS and prolonged Q-T interval. The authors suggest the compound is akin to quinidine, and has different activity than various cardiac glycosides in the herb.
This makes it a good choice for women suffering night sweats and hot flashes associated with the menopausal transition. Motherwort helps lessen the severity, frequency and duration of hot flashes, even after they have begun.
It alleviates the shortness of breath and respiratory congestion associated with menopause. Insomnia and night sweats, as well as disturbed dreams and nightmares suffered by some women, are likewise relieved.
Women who are nervous, and quick in thoughts and actions can benefit.
As well, it helps relieve muscle twitching and spasms, especially in cases of restlessness and nervous debility. It will relieve the irritation of herpes and shingle pain.
It combines well with elecampane in the treatment of tachycardia associated with symptoms of Grave’s disease.
Taken hot, motherwort tea promotes diaphoretic activity, and can be used in fevers, colds, and even chronic bronchitis, relaxing spasms and removing toxins via the skin. As a calming expectorant for bronchitis, it is similar in activity to ground ivy.
Dr. Christopher mentions that motherwort can be used “as a healing tonic in recovery from debilitating fever where other tonics are in- admissible.”
At body temperature, the herb has more direct action on the kidneys, and may be useful in both acute or chronic nephritis, water retention and edema of the lower limbs associated with kidney stagnation, cardiac weakness, and scanty urination. Motherwort appears to help clear protein and blood from the urine, including that caused by renal calculi.
Motherwort may be useful in early stages of prostate enlargement, combining well with nettle root.
Likewise, skin conditions, such as eczema respond, if taken over time at a cooler temperature, and combined with goldenrod, nettle leaf and such.
Herpes and shingle irritation may be somewhat relieved, and well as neuralgia, according to Michael Moore. Motherwort helps relieve
headaches, vertigo and peripheral circulatory deficiencies. In clinical trials, it showed impressive results for treating numbness of the limbs, dizziness, and insomnia.
Motherwort can be useful in exhaustion and cardiac stress associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, panic attacks, anxiety and bipolar disorders.
Matthew Wood reports on an unusual constitutional indication given by William LeSassier. “He associated it with a hollow, caved-in chest, odd shapes in the sternum, and scoliosis.”
Small doses of the herb help relieve gas and flatulence, as well as improve digestion and encourage regular bowel elimination.
A small amount may be useful for children on their first day to school, or when introduced to new school environment.
Motherwort taken within 10 days of a tick bite may help to prevent secondary viral infections, such as Lyme disease.
Water extracts of motherwort were tested against tick borne encephalitis virus, in vitro, and almost completely inactivated the virus. Other herbs with similar activity, in this study by Fokina et al, Voprosy Virusologii 1991 36:1, were labrador tea (R. palustre), greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), bog cranberry (V. vitis-idaea), bilberry (V. myrtillus) and black currant (Ribes nigrum).
Ursolic acid is anti-viral, and inhibits the Epstein Barr virus in vitro. Ursolic acid, in vitro, is cytotoxic to lymphatic leukemia P388 and
L-1210, human lung carcinoma A-549, KB cells, human colon HCT-8, and mammary tumour MCF-7. Li et al, World J Gastroenterology 2002 8:3.
Ursolic acid inhibits tumour production in a manner comparable to retinoic acid.
The herb possesses significant anti-oxidant activity in work by Matkowski et al, J Med Plants Res 2:11. This was confirmed by Bernatoniene et al, Acta Pol Pharm 2009 66:4 415-9. He noted the anti-oxidant benefit was higher than ginkgo biloba or hawthorn.
Motherwort could be useful remedyto protect cardiac muscles from pathogenic process, due to partial uncoupling of mitochondria, respiratory inhibition and decreased ROS production.
A review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology was published by Wojtyniak K et al, Phytother Res 2013 27:8 1115-20.
The closely related Asian Motherwort (L. artemisia) is nearly identical in action, and is widely used in China after delivery to help the uterus contract, reduce pain and stop bleeding. Studies have shown decoctions of the herb as effective as the drug ergotamine in contracting the uterus after delivery.
Modern research suggests it is similar in effect to posterior pituitary hormone.
For dysmenorrhea, retention of lochia, and placenta, the wine mix- fried herb is preferred.
For amenorrhea it combines with red peony root.
The uncooked herb is often combined with dandelion root, violet leaves, and forsythia fruit for skin inflammations and erysipelas due to heat toxins. For edema and water retention it is combined with plantain seed that is salt-processed.
Experiments on this species have found it decreases blood viscosity and reduces platelet aggregation rates. Intravenous drips of asian motherwort herb have been used in China since 1978 for treatment of coronary myocardial ischemia in several hospitals.
One recent clinical study from Shanghai looked at 100 patients with heart disease. All had symptoms of angina pectoris, palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
The patients were divided into the five Traditional Chinese Medicine syndromes including 41 cases of chest yang, 22 cases of heart blood qi and yin deficiency, 9 cases of kidney yang deficiency, and 17 with lung/phlegm congestion.
The latter two divisions did not respond well to Asian Motherwort. The first two had great success with 45% showing marked improvement, 39% moderate improvement, for total of 84% efficacy.
Other studies have shown Motherwort extracts help activate blood circulation and remove blood stagnation, relieve chest pain and palpitations. Increased blood flow in the coronary artery and PAF, platelet activating factor, inhibition was noted.
Work by Pang et al, Japan J Pharmacology 2001 86:2 found an un-named compound showed vaso-constrictive activity similar to nitro-L-arginine methy-ester, an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase.
Early work by Zou et al, Am J Chinese Med 1989 17:1-2 examined blood hyper-viscosity in 105 patients.
Given intravenously, over a 15 day period, produced clinical benefit in reduced blood mammary viscosity, fibrinogen volume, as well as increases in deformability of RBC, and enhanced anti-platelet aggregation.
It may have therapeutic possibilities with stroke. Loh et al, J Ethnopharm 2009 June 1.
Stephen Buhner mentions the use of Asian motherwort for mitochondrial protection and support. He is much better writer than me, so let us read what he has to share in his new book on Healing Lyme Disease Coinfections.
“Motherwort has been found to be strongly neuroprotective, especially in ischemia-reperfusion-induced mitochondrial dysfunctions in the brain, including the cerebral cortex. It significantly improves neurological outcomes and reduces ischemia-reperfusion impacts in the brain.
It decreases reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in the brain mitochondria and, importantly, reduces mitochondrial swelling and restores mitochondrial membrane potential. Motherwort decreases the expression of a protein, B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), in the brain.
Increased Bcl-2 levels in the body have been implicated in the generation of various cancers including prostate, as well as various psychiatric disorders of the CNS and autoimmunity problems, all part of the mycoplasma symptom range. Part of the function of the protein is interfering with apoptosis, that is, cell death.”
He continues. “Motherwort decreases its expression and increases the levels of Bax. Bax is a protein, closely related to Bcl-2, that acts to increase apoptosis in cells. Bcl-2 and Bax normally exist in a modulated balance and their expression is controlled by a protein, p53. This protein is intimately involved in controlling the emergence of cancers in the body as well as protecting the genome from damage.” Reishi mushroom regulates this gateway as well.
Leonurus sibiricus contains diterpenoids which show strong inhibition of estrogen sulfotransferase comparable to meclofenamic acid. Narukawa et al, J Nat Med 2014 68:1.
In China, it is being tested experimentally, as a morning after contraceptive. It is an energetic uterine stimulant, and the fresh herb juice is often used in difficult childbirth situation. For poor blood circulation in the mother after childbirth, a cup of the fresh juice is often prescribed.
Tao et al, J Ethnopharm 122:2 found water extracts of chinese motherwort inhibit proliferation of breast cancer cells through cytotoxicity and cell cycle arrest. It was non-apoptotic and ER independent.
Chinwala et al, J Altern Comp Med 2003 9 identified activity via apoptosis against several cancer cell lines.
Asian Motherwort is used alone for treating acute nephritis, a derivation from the often complex combinations used in TCM. Clinical studies show the herb useful in treating acute glomerulonephritis, and edema associated with acute or chronic nephritis. Lin P S, J Trad Chin Med 1959 6:18.
In another study of acute nephritis, the fresh herb decoction was more effective than dried, but both reduced edema. Yunan J Chin Med 1984 2:48.
Isoquercitrin, isolated from L. heterophyllus, shows activity against leukemia K562 cancer cell lines. Cong et al, Zhong guo Zhong Yao Za Zhi 2009 34:14.
Work by Nagasawa et al, Anticancer Research 1992 12:1 found both absorbed and un-absorbed motherwort fractions suppressed the incidence and growth of mammary tumours in mice. An earlier study by the same author found adding just 0.5% methanol extract of the herb to drinking water suppressed mammary cancers.
Siberian Motherwort is known as a heart herb, in that part of the world, and used for cardiac neurosis, epilepsy, insomnia and various menstrual conditions.
Extracts enhance insulin secretion and/or foster cell proliferation, suggesting one mechanism for the traditional use in diabetes mellitus. Schmidt S et al, J Ethnopharm 2013 150:1 85-94.
Asian Motherwort seeds, CHONG WEI ZI, are hypotensive. They are traditionally used to increase sperm count, vitality, enhance vision problems including nebula, due in part, to their large vitamin A content.
The seeds are sweet and mildly cold, and used especially for menorrhagia and continuous hemorrhage conditions.
They help break up congealed blood, astringe and tone the uterus. The seeds cool the liver, and are used in heat conditions with red, painful, swollen eyes.
Both water and alcohol extracts help decrease blood pressure, according to pharmacological studies.
The stalks are used to treat addictive itching papules, or to bathe newborns and prevent skin irritation. Another name is YI MU, meaning Mother Booster, or YI MING, meaning Brightness Booster.
Motherwort influences pelvic organs, allays spasms and nervous irritability, promotes secretion and reduces febrile excitement. Valuable in suppressed menses and lochia, dysentery, vomiting, frightful pain in abdomen, violent thirst, tongue dry and cracked.
Tinnitus, ringing in ears, and teeth sensitive to sugar are symptoms to observe. Burning in urethra during urination. Loss of ambition, indifference, dissatisfied with everything, needs a change.
Disconnected, need stimulation. Irritable, annoyed by needs of others, with feelings of contempt, yelling, cursing.
DOSE- Tincture and lower potencies. The mother tincture is prepared from the fresh plant above ground as it comes into flower. This was based on an involuntary proving by Clarence Bartlett in 1888. A more recent proving by Joy Lucas on 8 females and 2 males at LM1, 6c, 12c, 30c, and 200c in 2006, showed many mental and emotional patterns.
The essential oil of L. cardiaca is diuretic and relaxant, according to Bezanger-Beauquesne et al, Plantes Medicinales des Regions Temperees, 2nd Edition, Paris: Maloine 1990. It is lemon scented and may create photosensitivity or dermatitis is sensitive individuals.
It is composed of 49 compounds that comprise 84% of the oil; 26-35% germacrene D.
The essential oil of L. sibiricus contains three diterpenes with psychoactive properties.
The plant oil was used in a trial of patients with arterial hypertension, accompanied by anxiety and sleep disorders. Fifty patients were treated for 28 days with 1200 mg of oil extract per day. Significant improvement was observed in 32%, moderate improvement in 48% and weak effect in 8%. The authors conclude that the oil extract may have potential in treating patients with arterial hypertension with concurrent psycho-neurological disorders. Shikov AN et al, Phytother Res 2011 25:4 540-3.
Motherwort water is distilled from all parts of the plant. It can be put into wine that is unclean and turbulent for clarifying.
Motherwort water is for sharp wit, good understanding and good memory. It helps promote good minds and amiable color, and dissipates anger. It prevents grey hair, taken both internally and applied to head. It helps trembling and palsy, mouth abscess including gum and tooth pain, and bad breath. It improves appetite and digestive power, and relieves dropsy, melancholy, comforts the heart, and thoughts of fear.
It is used for scrofula, quarternary fevers, melancholic and phlegmatic temperaments, scabs and abscesses of skin. It is also an effective spray for flies. BRUNSCHWIG
Motherwort flower essence improves the communication with all devic spirits, particularly of the water. A greater understanding of relationships to plants, animals and the land is enhanced. Finer attunements to geopathic zones are noticed.
It improves ability in landscaping, and for those who work with numbers it will be balancing. The flower essence is for accountants. PEGASUS
Motherwort essence helps heal energies that surround auto-immune illness such as Lou Gehrig’s and Parkinson’s Disease. It heals the energies surrounding brain aneurysms, scar tissue, heart murmur and muscle apathy. AVENSARO
Motherwort flower essence teaches about and heals an aspect of the psyche that deals with hardness and softness. A person needing Motherwort can also have difficulty setting boundaries in some situations, allowing themselves to be used or mistreated, especially by people they have developed some trust with.
Use Motherwort in many stages of psychotherapy where the individual is learning constructive, assertive behavior to set appropriate boundaries. DALTON
Motherwort essence is female (yin) energy and works on the intuitive crown to heart charkas, helping to eliminate negative cords and behavior taught by your mother. Perfect for those with mothering issues, the essence brings a better balance in relationships, especially for an overprotective mother. It rebalances mind and body, creating peace and understanding. It may also help with hormonal imbalances, PMS, and birthing issues. OLIVE
Motherwort flower essence works on family patterns. Helps those who don’t feel at home in their family and on the earth. For lack of warmth and love in the family, resulting in becoming hardened, rigid and feeling like a stranger on the earth.
Motherwort essence helps you reconnect to your heart’s life force, and helps us remember that we are integral to the web of Life.
Motherwort helps re-integrate a wobbly energy in body. It is for the mothering figure who clings rather than lets go.
In calling on the spirit of the plant, a vision appears of many spirits playing their trumpets as they await for a special being to join them. They announce her entrance with the songs of the heavens and upon their last note, a regal being appears with all her glory. She is a queen in the spirit world. She know exactly what her purpose and mission is and is ready and willing to perform her duties…When one uses the plant for medicinal purposes, know that you are receiving the energy of the miracle that was performed by this noble spirit. AVENSARO
In the first period after the influx of Leonurus sibiricus smoked, little happened apart from the fact that I got into a basic meditative state in which all material things appeared to increase in depth and importance. FELIX HASLER
Motherwort helps us to enjoy freedom in new thought. Motherwort is in the realm of communication. It allows the transmission of knowledge, of ancient wisdom, of the joining of the intuitive with the scientific. EVELYN MULDERS
Motherwort…best fits women who are underweight and emotionally unbalanced largely because of external life stresses.
If sleep is problematic, and there is anxiety and restless, particularly in the days preceding the onset of menses, Motherwort will prove relaxing. If is specific for women with long cycles, who have breast tenderness, painful or sluggish onset of menses, and possible heart palpitations during this time of month. CHARLES W. KANE
Unlike other members of the mint family, which are usually more soft and inviting, Leonurus presents as a bit more tough and prickly, perhaps a good doctrine of signatures to encourage women to be a bit prickly if that is what it takes to get their need met before getting frazzled. DEBORAH FRANCES RN ND
This European and Asiatic plant…intermingles leaf and flower formation, drawing the inflorescence down into the region of leaf rhythm; it is divided and arranged in triangular lappets.
The plant is only faintly aromatic, with a musty and a slightly repellent scents, and the taste is very bitter. Corresponding to the nature thus expressed, the medicinal action has largely shifted from the metabolic to the rhythmic action.
Amenorrhea, dysmenorrheal, sterility and climacteric symptoms do also benefit, but the accent lies on the help this plant gives with palpitations, anxiety, dyspnoea, weak cardiac function with intermittent pulse, angina pectoris; oppression of the heart from the metabolism, Roemheld’s syndrome. WILHELM PELIKAN
A mother was living with her ten-year old son. She had been ill since giving birth with abdominal pain, and menstrual irregularity.
The son wanted to help her and so went to an herbalist. He bought an herb and decocted it for his mother. She took it and felt better. The son went back to herbalist and asked if he could cure his mother. He said yes, but it would cost him 500 pounds of rice.
He could not afford this, but suddenly had an idea and asked if he could pay after his mother was cured. The herbalist agreed.
At midnight, the son followed the herbalist into the mountains and watched him dig herbs. He waited for the herbalist to leave and then picked them himself.
The next day, the herbalist came to the house, but the son said he could not come up with the rice and was sorry. The herbalist left. The mother was cured by the herb and has been called “good-for-mother” ever since. HENRY LU
If your heart is ticking fast
You tend to be the nervous sort
Your friends describe you as high strung
You just might need some Motherwort
Leaves and flowers, not the stem
A tonic for a nervous heart
And if menstruation is delayed
This herb can help your cycle start
Stimulates the uterus
Helps promote the circulation
Leonurus Cardiaca, a bitter mint
Take it for your palpitation
Ease a spasm or a cramp
Or if you can not sleep at night
Menopause has set you off
Motherwort might set you right.
INFUSION- 20-40 grams
TINCTURE- 30-60 drops as needed. The recently dried plant is tinctured 1:5 at 45%; the fresh plant at 1:2 and 60% alcohol.
A Russian recipe is two parts fresh plant juice to three parts vodka (strength not mentioned, maybe 40%).
POWDER- dry powder, according to the European Pharmacopoeia 7th ed, should have a minimum of 0.2% flavonoids, expressed as hyperoside. Odd.
SEED DECOCTION- 4-10 grams for less than five minutes.
CONVACARD- enteric coated tablet available in Europe.
ASIAN MOTHERWORT DECOCTION FOR ACUTE NEPRHITIS- Take 250 grams of fresh herb or one half of dried and decoct in 700 ml of water down to 200 ml. Divide and drink throughout day.
CAUTION- Do not use in patients with pupil dilation.
(Symphytum officinale L.)
(S. asperum Lepech.)
(S. X uplandicum)
(S. peregrinum Ledeb.)
Miss Comfrey rejuvenates blood and new skin;
Helping inside and out, she’s a real gem.
She clears inflammation, works alone or with more
To mend bleeding and burns, broken bones to the core.
The heart should rejoice and the bones flourish like an herb. ISAIAH
Symphytum is from the Greek SUMPHEIN meaning “to grow together”, or SYMPHYTO “to unite”, in reference to the healing of wounds.
Comfrey is derived through the French and Medieval Latin, CONFERVA, to boil together and hence confirmare, which means “to grow together”. Comfrey comes down from the Middle English, CUMFIRIE, and in turn from the French, FEGIER, “to cause coagulation of wounds”.
Or, it comes directly from the Latin CON FIRMA, meaning “with strength”, as in confirmed, or chronic, as in disease.
Dioscorides called the plant SUMPHUO and wrote that the roots “beaten small and drunk are good for the blood spitters and ruptures, and being applied they close up new wounds. And being sodden with them they join pieces of flesh together”.
Comfrey is native to Europe, but naturalized here for several hundred years. It will grow to three feet tall, and quickly fill in with prickly dark green leaves. The flowers have a white to pink/blue appearance that reminds you that comfrey is in the same family as Borage. Russian Comfrey flowers are only purple. They unfurl from bottom to top on one side of the raceme in an arrangement called scorpoid, due to its resemblance to a scorpion’s tail.
In magic, the herb is associated with Capricorn and Saturn.
In fact, the Germans jokingly refer to East Prussians as Comfrey eaters, due to their culinary choice. The physician to King Henry II of France recommended comfrey to doctors in treating fractures, traumas, and to speed up healing after surgery.
In 1694, John Pechey recommended boiling the flowers in red wine to “unite broken bones”.
Gerard had earlier written about Comfrey, that the “slimy substance of the root made into a posset of ale, and given to drink against the pain in the back gotten by overmuch use of women, doth in four or five days cure the same”.
In France, nursemaids would cure cracked nipples by inserting a hollow section of the fresh root over the sore area.
Comfrey leaves were popular additions to toast and dessert pancakes, as well as valuable fodder for farm animals.
When I lived near Joussard, on Lesser Slave Lake, I raised rabbits. Fresh comfrey leaves in summer, and dried forage in winter was a treat quickly polished off. Comfrey is believed to prevent hoof and mouth disease, if fed regularly to livestock. Pigs, cows, chickens and horses are less sensitive to pyrrolizidine alkaloids than rats, rabbits, goats and sheep. Purified PA studies were conducted on rats. More about this later.
Upon its introduction to North America, the Cherokee began using the plant. They named it O SE E O SE, and used it in a tonic formula for ceremony and for “little wars”, or ball playing. One elder said comfrey was used “for women who had bad dreams”.
A recent Swiss study by Bee et al, compared pigs with a finishing diet consisting of 10% comfrey, or without. Animals fed comfrey had lower stearic and palmitic acid in the back fat, but higher oleic and linolenic acid. Taste panels could not detect any difference in taste.
Tests on crude protein digestibility for comfrey hay show 45.5%, with digestible energy at 2202 kcal/kg. Wheat bran rates are 2928 kcal/kg, or some 25% higher.
In a Russian study by Beloborodov, comfrey silage, replaced clover and timothy silage in milk cows.
There was no difference for milk colour, odour or consistency, including vitamin and mineral content. Milk fat was 3.33% for clover/ timothy and 3.30% for comfrey. Allantoin is believed useful for maintaining a healthy digestion in cattle.
Comfrey is good for racehorses, and helps cure laminitis, and septic sores.
Comfrey adds much needed lysine and alanine to animal feed, two amino acids missing from alfalfa.
Comfrey is a rich addition to compost piles, helping increase mineral content and speeding up fermentation. See liquid manure below.
Comfrey is a semi-sterile plant, so it is best to propagate spring or fall by root division. Once planted, you have it for life, the taproot going down six feet. Plant the cuttings two to three feet apart, and they quickly fill the space.
Although it will grow in soil pH from 5.5-8.7, it does best around neutral.
Harvest the leaves as the flowers begin to bud (less than 10% flowers) and then every 7-10 days throughout the summer. Each cutting from a quarter acre plot will yield 60-80 pounds of dried leaf. The plant is hardy to -40°C, and will grow anywhere on the prairies.
An interesting article by Gary Steuart appeared in The Herb, Spice and Medicinal Plant Digest 1987 5 4-9 on Growing Alkaloid Free Comfrey.
He suggests that alkaloid development in the leaf is affected by time of harvest. The first spring cutting showed 0.026% PAs; while harvest later in season showed only 5 ppm; confirming that the first leaf harvest is best for compost or mulch.
The Henry Doubleday Research Association, of which I was once a member, was formed in 1954 to honour the American farmer and Quaker minister who worked to develop comfrey into a major agricultural crop. Henry Doubleday used comfrey mucilage for stamp glue, in place of the hard to get gum arabic. His work was continued by Lawrence D. Hills, one of the fathers of organic gardening in UK.
One of his hybrid strains Bocking 14 produced yields of forty tons per acre.
Comfrey was tested for pesticide potential by Mansingh and Williams at the U of the West Indies, Jamaica and showed a mortality rate of 99, as compared to Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) at 95 and castor plant at on 82.
Other work showed comfrey leaf extracts inhibit pathogenic fungi and greatly diminish the growth of powdery mildew in both greenhouse and field trialed wheat seedlings.
The leaves must be dried in the shade or will turn black. Leaf extracts are used in the personal care industry for hair shampoos and conditioners, including brands by Paul Mitchell, Aussie, Salon Selectives, as well as Village Naturals Bubble Bath liquid.
The root is dried at 40-50º C to ensure maximum content of allantoin, tannins and mucilage; with good air circulation. Scientists at the University of Minnesota have reported growing comfrey with no detectable pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
Work is ongoing, but no definitive success as yet. Adequate levels of cobalt in soil are necessary for B12 levels in comfrey.
CONSTITUENTS- S. officinale leaf- various unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids, including minor amounts of echimidine, and symphatine; allantoin (0.3-0.46%), consolidin, caffeic acid, carotene, rosmarinic acid (0.5%), tannins, steroidal saponins, fatty acids (18:3 n-3 54.5%), up to 35% protein, mucilage, zinc, B12 (0.07 mg/100 g in fresh leaf; 0.24 in dried) , gums; germanium 0.1 ppm; iron 1200 ppm, manganese 100 ppm. Leaf is approx. 82% moisture. Leaves contain 1.2% GLA (gamma linolenic acid).
root- various unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids, with symphatine at 0.38% and lasiocarpine at 0.0058%; echimidine; symlandine. Various saturated PAs including sarrecind and platyphylline; allantoin (up to 2.55%), caffeic acid, carotene (0.63%), rosmarinic acid, pyrocatechol tannins (2.4%), triterpenoids such as isobauerenol; beta sitosterol, phytosterols and steroidal saponins; fatty acids (18:3 n-3 3.8%), mucilage (29%), composed of polysaccharides of glucose and fructose triterpenoids (isobauerenol); asparagine (1-3%), choline, volatile oil, and gums (5-10%) such as xytol, rhamnnose, arabinose, mannose, galactose, and xylose; chlorogenic and glycuronic acid ; lithospermic acid steroidal saponins, germanium 2 ppb; B12 ( 2.5 nanog/g in fresh root; none in dried). Shoots and roots contain from 12-16% GLA. Root is 86% water.
seed- gamma linolenic acid (27%) in mature seed; 7.6% in green immature seed 3 weeks after flowering, and 19% six weeks after bloom.
S. uplandicum- all above as well as uplandicine and other alkaloids. Total alkaloid levels are 0.003% in largest leaves, 0.049% in smallest. In spring the small leaves have 0.115%; the fall small leaves only 0.019%.
It should be noted that the PA content in fresh root is about 10 times higher than fresh leaves. The fresh young spring leaves contain 0.22% PA, while young fall leaves are only 0.05% PA, and mature leaves just 0.03%.
Two investigations of dried leaves, showed no PA at all. Roitman, Lancet, 1981 1944.
S. asperum root- glucofructans
leaf- hydroxycinnamate derived polymer
Comfrey has a long and well-earned reputation for wound healing. Perhaps the most important herb compound, along with mucilage and silicic acid, is allantoin, a known proliferator of new cells.
Allantoin is also found in the seeds of corn, barley, peas, wheat, bearberry, borage, clover, plantain, horse chestnut bark, the root of Brassica napus, as well as an oxidation of uric acid from maggots, and the urine of dogs.
The root is much richer in allantoin, than the leaf, but each has their place.
For one thing, the leaves grow thick and aggressively, and weekly cuts do the plant no harm.
The leaves contain more tannins, or pyrocatechins and are much more astringent. This helps wounds to close and constrict more quickly, to stop oozing and bleeding. Silica and allantoin are a good combination for wounds with tissue loss.
To summarize. The allantoin repairs, the mucilage soothes, protects and absorbs acid, while the tannins tighten mucous membranes and tissue.
Specifically, it binds cornified layers together, moistens and prevents drying and has a positive effect on keratin and skin in general by holding moisture. It increases epithelial skin tissue growth, increases leukocyte infiltration and reduces growth of necrotic tissue. Allantoin increases granulation tissue in wounds and reduces inflammation.
It is best to combine an anti-bacterial herb such as Oregon grape root, St. John’s wort or usnea with comfrey in treating open wounds. If sealed too quickly, especially in burns, there is a danger of sealing in bacterial infection.
Midwives make great use of comfrey to quickly heal vaginal tears from birthing. In some cultures, the hymen was reputed to repair from repeated use of comfrey leaf bolus.
The high mucilage content helps soften, soothe and protect irritated skin and mucous membranes. Comfrey paste will harden like plaster, and has been used traditionally as a temporary cast to immobilize fractured limbs.
Matthew Wood issues a warning about comfrey related to its exuberant growth. Unlike yarrow, plantain or calendula that heal from the inside up, comfrey causes growth from the top down.
In The Earthwise Herbal he cites two instances where the vaginal lips of infant girls grew together when comfrey was used for diaper rash, requiring surgery to release.
It can cause an overgrowth or callus when used to heal bone or skin. Care is advised.
Comfrey is especially important in the cases of chronic coughs, with bloody sputum; or intestinal inflammation with bloody stools. For the latter, combine with burdock root for additional support.
As a lung support, combine comfrey root with elecampane root, ground ivy, and boneset. Drink warm. In cases of pleurisy or pneumonia, combine with pleurisy root, vervain and Petasites.
Krasnoborov and Kaznacheev, in Herbs of Siberia Used for Cardiovascular Diseases, mention that comfrey can treat hypertension and improve respiratory health.
Ridker et al, Gastroenterology 1985 88 found comfrey to possess anti-inflammatory properties. This has been since confirmed by in vivo and in vitro in studies by Gracza et al, Arch Pharm 1985 312 12, and Mascolo et al, Phytotherapy Res 1987 1:1.
Other, older studies have shown comfrey inhibits prostaglandins, which can cause inflammation. Furuya and Asaki, Chem Pharm Bulletin 1968 16:12.
This may be due, in part, to the presence of rosmarinic acid; which possesses anti-inflammatory activity, and inhibits micro-vascular lung injury, according to a study by Gracza et al, Archiv der Pharmazie 1985 318. Herbal infusions also stimulate the release of a prostaglandin-like material from gastric mucosa, explaining its use as a gastric sedative and regenerator.
Caffeic acid and GABA also provide neuropeptide linkage and help increase production of endorphins; thus aiding in pain relief.
Allantoin, taken internally, increases the number of circulating neutrophils.
Other studies by Ridker and McDermott, Lancet 1989:1 found long-term use of comfrey led to hepato-occlusive disease, in which the liver vein drainage is blocked due to clotting. Investigations on pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) show that over 200 different types occur in about 3% of the world’s plants, including Comfrey.
The highest content of alkaloids in the root is found during flowering; highest in the central root and lower in lateral branches.
All PAs are potentially toxic to the liver, but not all pyrrolizidines are equally dangerous, and of course, different concentrations are in different part of the plant.
From most toxic to least of PAs is macrocyclic diesters>retronecine and heliotridine diesters>heliotridine monoesters>retroecine monoesters. Comfrey PAs are retronicene mono- and diesters. Symphytine and echimidine are derivatives of retronecine. The most toxic is echimidine. Only minute amounts are found in
S. officinale, but large amounts in Russian Comfrey and Prickly Comfrey leaves. It is believed by some taxonomists that Russian Comfrey is a hybrid of the other two. Symphytine (7-tiglylretronecine viridiflorate) is the major alkaloid of S. officinale.
Lasiocarpine has only been found in studies of Comfrey root in Poland, and in leaves of Russian grown S. officinale. Lasiocarpine has been shown to be strongly mutagenic and carcinogenic in rat studies.
However, the accuracy of identification by TLC has been called into question by some scientists, since it is a derivation of heliotridine and ALL other alkaloids in comfrey are derivatives of retronecine; which itself is not hepatotoxic.
Note also that saturated PAs such as sarrecind and platyphylline help reduce stomach ulcers as well as spasms and irritation.
Echimidine in fresh comfrey has been misidentified in TLC. One study of different ploidy races of S. officinale shows echimidine content depends on the cytotype.
When 2n=24 or 40, echimidine is frequently absent, but at 2n=48 or higher it is almost always present.
Echimidine containing products are banned in Canada; while England, France, and Germany restrict comfrey use to external application for 4-6 weeks.
In one rat study, in which 33% of the diet was comfrey over long term, liver cancer developed in some animals. Hirono et al, J of Nat Cancer Institute 1979:62.
Another rat study in Japan, by Hikino et al, found that unspecified comfrey leaf or root at 8% of diet, created liver tumours within six months.
Ironically, a study by Furuya & Araki, Chem Pharm Bull 1968:16, found echimidine slightly inhibitory to Ehrlich ascites tumour and sarcoma 180.
In humans, only four possible cases of comfrey poisoning have been reported, since the mid 1980s.
The National Institute of Medical Herbalists in the UK take exception to the lab research on comfrey.
There are “two insupportable assumptions. First, that the naturally occurring complex in the plant...can be regarded as a mere physical dilution of alkaloids; and secondly that the human metabolism is identical with that of the rat which is susceptible to these alkaloids, and not with the sheep which is resistant to them”.
Margaret Whitelegg, director of research with NIMH writes. “Tea, almonds, apples, pears, mustard, radishes, and hops, to list only a few items, all contain substances which, if extracted, can be shown to be poisonous when tested under conditions similar to those used in the comfrey experiments. Must we then ignore our experience of the usefulness and wholesomeness of these foods because controlled trials and scientific evidence have not been published to establish their safety?”
The “comfrey eaters” of Prussia, are a large group of humans who have been exposed to the supposed carcinogenic potential of comfrey for a long time. It is interesting to note that there is no epidemiological evidence of increased cancer in human or animal consumers of comfrey. Liver function tests in 29 chronic comfrey users, showed no abnormalities. They consumed from 1-10 mg PAs daily for one to 30 years (21 for 10 years or less) and showed normal liver function tests including GGT and alpha-feto protein. Anderson et al, Human Toxicol 1989 8.
Furthermore, primary hepatocellular carcinoma, independent of liver cirrhosis is extremely rare in European populations.
As mentioned, not all PAs are hepatotoxic. Both sarracine and platyphylline have been used, in clinical studies, to treat peptic ulceration and gastrointestinal hyper-motility.
To help keep things in perspective, research shows that a cup of comfrey tea possesses about one hundredth less cancer causing potential than a can of beer.
Work by Dr. Ames at the U of California, Berkeley estimated one cup of comfrey tea has the same cancer risk as one peanut butter sandwich, and one-third the risk of eating one raw button mushroom.
In Germany, the amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids is limited internally, to 10 micrograms daily of comfrey tea.
In one case, often cited, a thirteen year-old boy from the U.K. ate it regularly for about three years, but researchers cautioned that he “may have been more susceptible...because of his underlying IBS (inflammatory bowel disease)”.
One study by Taylor and Taylor, Proc Soc Exp Biol Medicine 1965 114 found that water extracts of the leaves actually decreased tumour growth and survival time in cancer patients. In fact, the Ames test for toxicity showed comfrey produced less mutants than the control, suggesting it may have anti-cancer activity.
Comfrey is active against Lewis lung carcinoma, adenocarcinoma 755 and Walker carcinoma cell lines. Yeong et al, Pathology 1991 23; Awang et al, Can Pharm J 1987 120.
Goldman et al, demonstrated that comfrey extracts, when applied to an open wound, caused significant increase in the number of blood vessels around the wound at day 7, and followed by significant decrease by day 14. This suggests that the damaged tissue is provided with nutrients and oxygen more efficiently when treated with comfrey.
In this same study, the analgesic effect of oral comfrey supplementation was studied, and found to be 65% of a reference drug in a pain threshold test.
Work by van den Dungen et al, Planta Medica 1991 57 showed 30% alcohol root extracts strongly inhibited C3 and C4 of the complement pathway involved with immuno-regulatory effects during wound healing.
Used externally, comfrey is very popular in skin creams and ointments for rashes, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. Susun Weed mentions that comfrey ointment helps give skin more flexible strength. “Rub in morning and evening and use as a lubricant for love play. The vulva will be noticeably plumper and moister within three weeks”.
Comfrey salve can be used for scar pain, phantom pain, athlete’s foot, heel pain, and nail bed infections.
Parasitic eczema of hand and feet, with cracks, showed 90% improvement in 24 weeks. HPV of the hand showed a 25% improvement, as reported by Godrey and Saunders.
The leaves possess anti-fungal activity. Karavaev et al, Akad Nauk Ser Biol 2001.
Comfrey root sitz baths also help keep vaginal tissue flexible, strong and soft in menopausal women.
In one study both a 0.4% allantoin solution and a 2% allantoin ointment applied locally helped heal crushing injuries, burns, chronic skin ulcers, osteomyelitis and radiation burns. Greenbaum, Amer J
of Pharmacy 1940 112. Several prescription medications, including Herpecin and Vagimide Cream contain allantoin.
In one study 69% of psoriasis patients had complete disappearance when applied externally, and 12% relapse rate within six months. Only 5% got worse.
A DB randomized, controlled study of 108 children aged 3-8 with skin abrasions found a 10% comfrey ointment called Traumaplant significantly sped up healing. Barna et al, Arzneimittel Forschung 2012 62:6 285-9.
Forty-one patients were treated topically for musculoskeletal rheumatism with a PA free ointment or placebo. Patients with epicondylitis and tendovaginitis reported improvement compared to control. Peterson et al, Planta Med 1993 59.
Koll et al, Zeitschrift-fur-Phytotherapie 2000 21:3, in a double-blind, multi-centre, randomized, placebo-controlled study found statistically significant differences between comfrey extract ointment on ankle sprains and placebo.
A follow-up study in Phytomed 2004 11:6 on 142 patients with acute ankle sprains showed significant improvement in pain reduction, ankle mobility, and global efficacy in treated patients, with no adverse reactions.
A concentrated topical cream ameliorated pain on active motion, at rest and pain on palpation in myalgia patients. Kucera et al, Ad Ther 2005 22:6.
Work by Grube et al, J Phytomed 2007 14:1 looked at comfrey ointment and its effect on osteoarthritis of the knee in 220 patients in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. The ointment was found to reduce pain, improve mobility and increase quality of life in patients using the comfrey.
Comfrey root extracts, in an external ointment were tested against placebo in a double-blind, multi-centered, randomized and parallel trial for acute back pain in 120 patients. The ointment or placebo was applied three times daily with improvement in 95.2% of comfrey users and only 37.8% in placebo patients. Giannetti et al, Br J Sports Med 2009 May 21.
Taken internally, the herb helps heal both peptic and duodenal ulcers as well as colitis; and is considered very useful in helping heal broken bones. Chronic bone conditions such as Paget’s disease are an example of considered benefit/risk.
Various practitioners, including chiropractors, have noted the benefit of comfrey in decreased bone density in the lower lumbar, or in chronic lumbo-sacral instability and particularly soreness of the fourth and fifth lumbar process.
Comfrey is not the only source of allantoin. In fact, humans convert uric acid, from cell metabolism into allantoin. This conversion happens when uric acid traps free radicals, indicating that high levels of allantoin in the body suggest high levels of oxidative stress.
Comfrey appears to assist the body in removing lead from tissue, combining well with houseleek and marshmallow root.
For inflamed kidneys, combine comfrey and gravel root as a warm decoction. Allantoin helps stop the movement of white blood cells into the lining of reproductive organs, thereby limiting inflammation. Shipochliev et al, Veter Medin Nauki 1981 18:6. This suggests use in pelvic inflammatory disease.
We have found comfrey gel, which we purchase from Oregon, is a very valuable product for all manner of skin conditions. The viscosity and hydration of the product is a perfect medium for essential oils and their application for assorted skin, bone and tendon problems.
The B12 content of comfrey, long toted for vegetarians, was found to be very low in a 1977 report in the British Medical Journal. But it was present.
The root of S. asperum contains a crude gluco-fructan with strong anti- complementary and anti-oxidative activity. Barbakadze et al, Trans Causasian J Immunology 1999 1.
The leaf contains a water soluble dihydroxy-cinnamate derived polymer with strong ability to inhibit lipid peroxidation. Barbakazde, Mendeleev Commun 2000:4.
Moreover, it is a potent anti-inflammatory and vaso-protective agent.
Prickly Comfrey root contains the highest level of allantoin.
At concentrations of 0-200 micrograms per millilitre, there was no observed cytotoxicity on normal human fibroblasts and neither proliferation activation, nor anti-proliferative effects on neoplastic cells.
Lithospermic acid has anti-gonadotrophic activity. See Gromwell under Reproductive System. Wagner et al, Arzne Forschung 1970 20.
Symphytum (Comfrey-Knitbone) is of great use in wounds penetrating to the perineum and bones, and in non-union of fractures. It also helps the phantom pain of amputated limbs, in some cases.
In tincture form it may help in the treatment of gastric or duodenal ulcers, and externally in anal pruritis. For joints and injuries to tendons, ligaments and sinews, it can be helpful.
It also is used for pain in the occiput, top and forehead; or pain coming down the nose. Inflammation of the inferior maxillary bone, with red, hard swelling will also be afforded relief.
Symphytum promotes callus formation, as does Calc Phos cell salt.
Traumatic injuries to the eye also benefit from this remedy. Sexual excess that leads to backache will be helped.
There are a number of issues associated with the mind from recent proving.
Aliments from reverse of fortune, anger, remorse, domination, aversion to males in females, delusions of being newly born into the world, acting like child, indifference to business, opinions of other, irritability after coffee, trifles, work.
DOSE- Tincture and lower potencies. The mother tincture is prepared from the fresh root, gathered before flowering. First proving by Macfarlan with 5c and 15c in 1890s, and more recently by Peter Friedrich proved by ten females and three males at LM 30 in 1998.
Its traditional use as a vulnerary reported by Hering, Boericke, Allen, Tyler and others.
Use lower potencies internal, and diluted tincture (1-5) in warm water for compresses for dressing sores, ulcers and pruritis ani.
Comfrey 6CH has been found to promote bone density around titanium implants in animal studies. Sakakua et al, Clin Oral Implant 2008 19:6.
A gel containing homeopathic comfrey, poison ivy and labrador tea was found as effective as piroxicam gel in a Cochrane review of a randomized, controlled trial. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005:3.
The distilled water of comfrey root is good for healing all internal and external injuries, ruptures, and sprains. It also checks blood-spitting, consumption, all manner of fluxes of the belly, pissing blood, and bloody flux. The dosage for these conditions is one half gill (two ounces) taken frequently. If a cloth is moistened with this water and laid over the affected place, it will heal wounds, abscesses, chapped lips, cracked nipples, and cracked skin on the hands and feet. SAUER
The water of Comfrey solders broken bones, being drank, helps ruptures, outwardly it stops the bleeding of wounds, they being washed with it. CULPEPPER
Comfrey root water is good for healing cleft palate in young babies, applied frequently. It is combined with wine for gout, wild fire in the forehead, and broken leg or bones. It is also good for eating sores on privates of women. BRUNSCHWIG
Comfrey flower essence is a toner for nerves, and helps heal nerve mis-function. It also helps heal traumas from present or past lifetimes. It is a master healer and powerful grounding force. RUNNING FOX FARM
Comfrey is a powerful tonic for the nervous system. It increases neurological response, and it invigorates the activity of the synapses between nerve cells.
Any disease such as shingles, can be treated with comfrey. If a person is trying to regain use of the nervous system after it has been in an atrophied state from, for instance, muscular degeneration or being in a wheelchair from an accident, this would be a powerful remedy to re- educate the body. Comfrey eases phantom limb pain because it heals nerve endings.
Comfrey can also be used when brain tissue has been damaged or destroyed. Comfrey does not rejuvenate brain tissue, but it allows dormant or atrophied portions of the brain to be used.
Comfrey helps re-channel brain messages. In balancing the left and right brain, it increases physical coordination. It enables one to gain better control over the body processes. GURUDAS
Comfrey flower essence is for those individuals having difficulty putting life’s circumstances in their place and integrating with the whole; or those who resist making personal sacrifices even when they know it is for the highest good of all involved. LIVING FLOWER
Comfrey flower essence repairs the nervous system, and problems of memory, coordination, reflex response, biofeedback shut down due to repression. Comfrey heals neural pathways that are shutdown, assisting one in gaining access to these memories. With the release of memories, feelings and information in the conscious mind, the individual is able to process and release the pain associated with the experience. DALTON
Comfrey (S. asperum) essence is for knowing that everything happens at the right time – and that where we are now, and how we are is precisely where we need to be for our continuing understanding and growth. LIGHT HEART
Comfrey essence helps one speak their truth and brings out assertiveness. CHOMING
Comfrey has a tendency to segment the individual, so that various aspects of the inner being that you wish to know better may be temporarily compartmentalized and then integrated.
For instance, if in meditative states one sees difficulty, one can separate this from the states in which one is dreaming or imagining or when wishful thinking is going on.
Ultimately, the focus on meditation is enhanced, and when combined with states of reverie, dreams and astral travel, these things are seen in their true light and are integrated in a constructive manner.
Comfrey assists in releasing things that stand in the way of developing any psychic ability.
The gonorrhea miasm is eased, and for those particularly associated with the tenth and 11th rays, there is some benefit. Comfrey is quite useful for most animals that get worms or many physical complaints. In working with your pets, if comfrey is to be used, look for behavioral properties and it may assist. GURUDAS
Comfrey’s key word is integration. Comfrey is a powerful integrator as it knits broken tissue, broken emotions and broken thoughts. It helps to connect human consciousness with the divine. EVELYN MULDERS
Comfrey is a spiritual medicine that does not require ingestion. This plant is capable of healing through the vibration of sound, but you have to slow down if you want to hear it… Comfrey so loves the ground in which she grows that she holds open a door for us, a green healing door, into the deeper truths of who we really are. THEA SUMMER DEER
The division of the sepal, the striking division of the flower’s unique segments, and the structure of the leaves’ veins represent proficiency for putting things into perspective; while acknowledging integration and harmony of the whole.
The tubular, clustered flowers droop toward the ground and are protected by the plant’s leaves, making a statement of protection, surrender and service for the highest good.
The lavender colour of the flowers represents the sixth chakra of comfrey’s spiritual vision, wisdom and clairvoyant perceptions that are especially needed during times of sacrifice for the greater good.
The rough, prickly underside and the soft, fuzzy topside of the leaves symbolize the coming together of opposites, building a bridge of healing from within to without, transcending emotional barriers with spiritual guidance.
The protruding tongue-like center of the pistil emerging from the core of the flower symbolizes our inner voice and the taste and expression of our sweet essence that comes from deep within; this signature guides us to access prayer and meditation to help us speak our spiritual truths, and to communicate sensitively with others. PALLAS DOWNEY
In the case of comfrey, the leaf bases seem to flow into a stem, suggesting that broken bones could be flowed together again.
Comfrey heals the skin
Demulsifies and soothes
The queen of muciligen
Apply to sores and wounds
The controversy there
To take or not to take
Some say you must beware
Your liver don’t forsake
Certain harmful alkaloids
Can cause you ill effect
Topically, no concern Internal use, suspect
Comfrey helps the bones
Heals wounds and ulcers too
Promotes cell proliferation
But do not overdo
With Foxglove we confuse
The leaves are very similar
Guess wrong and you shall lose
Comfrey is a gem
For those who know it well
Its roots, oils and teas
Wisely used are swell!
INFUSION- One part dried leaf to 16 parts of boiled water. Drink warm, not hot for internal problems. Start with one cup several times daily.
DECOCTION- One part root to 32 parts water. Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes, strain and take up to four ounces four times daily.
TINCTURE- Make a 1:5 at 35% of the dried root or leaf. Dosage is 2-4 ml several times daily. The fresh leaf is very high moisture content so takes a long time to dry well.
No advantage to fresh tincture of either root or leaf. Remember that PAs are alcohol soluble, and water extracts should be used when possible to minimize exposure. Limit tincture use to two weeks or less.
Fatal dose for humans would theoretically be two leaves per day for two years. Maybe.
DRENCH FOR CATTLE- Take one pound of comfrey leaves, and boil slowly in two litres of water for one hour. Add handful of ground ivy and two ounces of wild licorice root, and simmer for one more hour. Give eight ounces up to three times daily. For internal ulcers, add one tbsp. of molasses to equal parts of above and raw skin milk.
LIQUID MANURE- Put 14 pounds of fresh cut comfrey leaf in a 20 gallon tapped fibre glass barrel. Fill with rainwater, and cover with lid. In one month, a clear liquid, rich in potassium and other nutrients, can be drawn off, for tomatoes, onions, gooseberries, and beans.
Or take a plastic container and punch a small hole near bottom. Fill with fresh comfrey leaves and weigh down with bricks. Cover and in 2-4 weeks, depending upon weather, a thick black liquid will begin dripping out of hole into small container. Dilute 1:40 parts water. Both of these methods are odiferous, so place accordingly.
CAUTION- Do not use comfrey in cases of lung edema. Comfrey root contains unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids that may cause liver toxicity. Avoid taking it with any medications that may interfere with liver enzyme action.
Petasites, Inula and Echinacea species contain saturated PAs, which are considered safe by many authors.
(Asarum canadense L.)
(A. acuminatum [Ashe] E.P. Bicknell)
(A. caudatum Lindl.)
(A. europaeum L.)
Asarum is from the Greek ASARON, which in turn means Hazelwort. Pliny writes it is one of the plants not permitted in garlands and laudatory crowns. He attributed the name to “the wild foals foot or wild spikenard”.
Ginger traces back to the Old English ZINGIBER, and in turn from the Latin, GINGIBER. This in turn is traced to Sanskrit SRNGAVERA, meaning horn body; referring to the shape, colour, and texture of commercial ginger root.
Caudatum is from the Latin CAUDA, meaning tail, referring to the long tails, or calyx lobes on the sepal tips. Canadense is obvious.
Asarabacca is derived from the Greek ASE, meaning “disgust”, and SARAO, for “dirty”. Bacca is “berry”.
Western Wild Ginger is found in British Columbia, while the Eastern variety can be found into Manitoba and southeast. The leaves can be crushed, and smell like lemon ginger. The eastern species grows up to a foot tall, with large heart-shaped leaves. The Western has long whip-like ends on the three purple sepals, and is lower to the ground.
The European Wild Ginger (A. europaeum) grows well on the prairies, from either seed or root.
The root smells and tastes a lot like commercial ginger, perhaps milder, and yet quite peppery. Both are warm, sweet and pungent, but the wild is more acrid and less mucilaginous. The leaves and flowers have a camphor scent not appreciated by all.
Various native tribes, including the Pomo, used wild ginger root for contraception, after a slow decoction. The Nez Perce made an oral contraceptive from the dried powdered root by cooking it slowly until it formed a thick liquid. This was then taken, in mouthful doses during the first seven days following a new moon. This was said to be spermicidal.
Some Eastern tribes drank infusions to relieve heart pain and arrhythmia, while others like the Rappahannock infused it for typhoid fever. The Meskwaki used the root for sore throats, earaches and stomach cramps; while the Abenaki combined the root with Goldthread (Coptis trifolia) for treating colds.
The Thompson added wild ginger to the bedding of sick or restless babies, believing it helped make them quiet and well. A root decoction was used for colic and indigestion in adults.
They rubbed the dried, powdered gingery smelling leaves on the hands as a deodorant. The leaves are anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, and have been used in poultices and on cuts and sprains. It is known as KI’RIKA’TCES, or “little wide leaves”.
Many used the strong flavoured root to disguise spoiled meat, muddy tasting bottom-feeding fish, and prevent ptomaine poisoning.
Tribes that fished would chew the root and spit on their bait, as an attractant.
Various tribes, including the Ojibwa mixed wild ginger with their food to prevent witchcraft effects. The Iroquois used the Eastern Wild Ginger root for bad dreams, headaches and fevers. More specifically, it was used to “prevent bad dreams caused by the dead”, and “when babies cry until they hold their breath”.
They used it for coughs, measles, urinary disorders, and as a spring tonic for the elderly. The Ojibwa living near Lake Huron call it PEGAMAGABOW.
The Chippewa used the root for digestive disorders, and called it NAME’PIN, meaning Sturgeon Plant, probably because the fish is dark olive above and reddish below, the same colour combination as the plant. The plant is called Sturgeon Potato, suggesting the spicy root was used in flavouring fish dishes.
Gary Raven, a traditional healer from Manitoba, suggests the dried root as a tea to treat cardiac arrhythmia. The root is only boiled for 2-3 minutes. A cold infusion may be even better (author’s note).
The Montagnais of Newfoundland called the plant by a name that translates as “beaver his food”. The Illinois natives used the root to relieve childbirth pain.
They call it AKISKIOUARAOUI, meaning herb of the rattlesnake, using the chewed root on bites.
John Quincy, in the early 1700s said that wild ginger “is very brisk and therefore recommended in constitutions that are moist and cold.” This, of course, is the phlegmatic type body, which is more susceptible to respiratory infections, nasal congestion, and chronic bronchial conditions.
Frederick Pursh in Flora Americana 1814 wrote “The root is highly aromatic, and known by the inhabitants under the name of Wild Ginger. It is said to be made use of by the Indian females to prevent impregnation.”
Dr. Williams considered the root a warm stimulant, similar to Virginia Snakeroot, and useful for low-grade fevers, nervous conditions, and palpitations.
One doctor claimed to have cured tetanus with a root decoction.
A snuff from the powdered root was used for head and eye complaints.
A tea from the root is taken as a stomach tonic, and remedy for indigestion and colic. The roots can be eaten raw, or used as a ginger substitute in various baking recipes. They can be candied, like angelica and calamus root. My good friend Patrick Tackaberry makes a great wild ginger beer!
The plant can be propagated by seeds, which appears about 6 weeks after flowering, and are found close to the ground. They require a moist, cold period before germination.
The roots can be divided in spring or fall for quicker propagation. Wild ginger likes a moist, rich forest soil with plenty of humus, 75% shade, and pH of 4.5-6.
In fall, as the plant withers, you can slice a section of rhizome, without killing it.
The plant is relatively rare in the west, and should not be overly harvested.
When the wild ginger grows in areas favorable to slugs, it produces in its leaves a poisonous chemical. The leaves of plants in these areas can be dried crushed and used as a toxin-free slug pesticide.
When it grows in areas without slugs, these chemicals are not present.
This is interesting because the Yurok removed a large snail from its shell, crushed it and put it inside western wild ginger leaf. This was steamed and placed on the umbilical cord with twine. The cord would fall off and heal.
Work by Angela Muir, at Carleton University, has shown that seed formation by A. canadense has an energy cost that diverts from growth and storage. Asexual reproduction is neither a net gain nor cost, and preferred by the plant.
CONSTITUENTS- A. canadense root- antibiotic substances A&B, resins, volatile oils, beta asarone, asarin, methyl eugenol, ellagic acid, alpha terpineol, aristolone, beta sitosterol, bornyl acetate, myristicin, elemicin, zerumbone, aristolochic acid
aerial- aristolochic acid
A. europaeum root- allantain, asarone, trans-iosasarone, trans-aconitic acid, essential oils, caffeic acid, chlorogenic and isochlorogenic acid, flavonoids.
Wild Ginger is a stimulant, carminative, tonic, diuretic and diaphoretic.
This diaphoretic action is not only from the skin, but will make you secrete from tear ducts, sinus, mouth and stomach.
The root decoction or cold infusion is used to relieve colds, colic, stomach pain, amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea. Delayed menstruation, especially related to cold chills, nervous tension and uterine stagnation are all relieved by increased estrogenic activity. It combines well with cramp bark, prickly ash and valerian root for painful cramping before or during menstruation.
For slow onset and cramped, clotty period, the root tea will stimulate and thin secretions of the uterus. In cases of birthing and labour, the root tea will help ease labour and produce more efficient contractions. In phlegmatic constitutions, it works well with blue cohosh root in promoting the onset of labour.
In the case of a head cold, or in a hot and dry bronchitis, it will encourage sweating, especially if the tincture is taken in hot water. It combine well with wild mint for stuffy nose and rhinitis with a clear nasal discharge, or with elecampane for sinus congestion, and headaches associated with sinus pain.
The root works well for colic in children, with one or two drops in juice or water. The ability of wild ginger as an anti-spasmodic also extends to asthma, and even whooping cough, combining well with sundew. For cough, and profuse watery sputum combine with schisandra berry.
In the case of nasal congestion, or even nasal polyps, snuff the dried powdered root. Use the fresh root juice directly on burns, reducing pain, blistering, infection and speeding healing.
Wild ginger will help resolve and stimulate the eruptions of childhood diseases like measles, chicken pox, etc.
In the case of chills, or when a fever is beginning and you cannot begin to sweat from taking aspirin or other suppressive medications, then wild ginger may help initiate the fever stage.
As a stimulating diaphoretic, it brings warmth to the body tissue and extremities. Taken in small amounts before meals, it will stimulate appetite and digestion, relieving various cold conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. The root tea will promote urination, and help drain fluid in cases of edema. However, the herb should be avoided in cases of organic kidney disease, as it may irritate already damaged tissue, and in hot, dry skin conditions.
Dr. Cook suggests, “its influence is expended largely through the circulation and nerves, both of which it arouses and sustains.
Through these channels it warms and invigorates the surface, and secures a favorable perspiration in languid conditions.”
Dr. Dodd used an infusion, in small and frequent doses, for all uterine hemorrhages of a passive character, including menorrhagia.
Lise Wolff, professional member of the AHG, says the root is well suited to back spasms associated with cold and chronic conditions.
Asian wild ginger possesses anti-allergenic and immune regulating properties that may or may not be present in the North American species. Only more research will tell.
Bergeron et al, have examined the biological activity of wild ginger leaves and roots. Alcoholic extracts of both were effective against E. coli. Int J of Pharmacognosy 1996 34:4. Studies have found A. canadense active against PRV and herpes simplex virus-1.
The leaf tea will stimulate and increase perspiration as well as secretions from the eyes, mouth, stomach, uterus and sinuses.
The roots are fungicidal against Candida albicans, Cladosporium, as well as both gram-negative and positive bacteria such as E. coli, Bacillus subtilis. This substantiates the early findings of Dr. Claus, who reported two antibiotic substances, one of which is “very active against gram positive pus-forming bacteria.”
Leaf extracts of A. canadense exhibit activity against gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Borchardt et al, J Med Plants Res 2008 2:5.
Calvallito and Bailey isolated two compounds from 95% ethanol extract of the fresh leaf and stem. One compound showed inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus at one-hundredth the strength of penicillin
G. Other testing showed activity against S. aureus at dilution of 1:400,000. For intestinal infections of Salmonella, E. coli and Candida albicans, a fresh root tincture can be taken for 5-7 days.
This tincture will relieve symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome due to analgesic effect.
According to Darcy Williamson, a combination of wild ginger root, yarrow flower and leaf and alder cones has been found useful for malaria, lyme disease and giardia. All plant parts are tinctured fresh and combined in ratio of 2:1:1.
Wild Ginger root combines well with gumweed, lomatium and balsam root for viral infections.
Work by McCutcheon et al, J Ethnopharm 1992 37 and 1994 44 looked at anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity of western wild ginger. In the former, mild activity against Mycobacter phlei and MRSA was noted.
In study of anti-fungals, activity was found in all nine species tested, with significant inhibition of Microsporum cookerii and M. gypseum, equal to the control nystatin.
Aristolochic acid has been found to possess good anti-inflammatory activity. Rosenthal 1989, and venom inhibition, Tsai et al 1980.
Experiments with aristolochic acid have shown it reduces recurrence of herpes lesions. It competes with toxic chemicals to inhibit lymphocytic surface receptors, thus protecting cells. The acid is anti- fertility, anti-viral and antibiotic in nature.
Tablets of aristolochic acid (KC-2) enhance phagocytosis of leucocytes and macrophages, and are considered immune stimulating. In vitro tests show the compound inhibits tumours.
However, isolated aristolochic acid is a carcinogen and mutagen, and should be used with caution due to a variety of side effects.
Artistolochia is from the Greek meaning “better labour”. Beta asarone is also a potential carcinogen.
Aristolochic acid residue has been found in rats, nine months after a single dose was administered.
In the early 1990s, several deaths and severe kidney toxicity occurred due to a commercial herbal dietary product adulterated with Aristolochia species from China. Although the people injured were taking several other drugs at the same time, and exact cause of death undetermined, the use of aristolochic acid containing plants was banned in Britain, Belgium, Canada and other jurisdictions.
Wild Ginger products should not be used for any long term, and perhaps not used internally at all. Wild Ginger was official in the US Pharmacopoeia from 1820-1873 and NF from 1916-1947.
European Wild Ginger root is an expectorant and bronchial anti- spasmodic.
This is confirmed by the work of Graza et al, Phytomedicine 1981 42:2.
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 30 patients with acute bronchitis, 30 with chronic bronchitis, and 30 with bronchial asthma were tested.
Those patients with acute bronchitis were cured or improved in 80% of cases; chronic bronchitis showed a 58% improvement, and 68% of bronchial asthma cases were cured or showed improvement in subjective and objective states. The contrast with placebo was significant.
In Europe, the herb is standardized to tablet containing 5 milligrams of trans-isoasarone.
Hazelwort, or European Wild ginger (A. europaeum) is for the patient with hyper-sensitivity of the auditory nerves. The sound of scratching on silk or blackboard is unbearable. There is a feeling of lightness; the patient thinks they are hovering in air.
Hot flushes, and a shivery sensation are also noted.
Stabbing pains after eye surgery respond well to Asarum. It also decreases, like calamus, the desire for alcohol.
The symptom of cold hands and feet, with the sensation of heat in rest of body is one good indication. The patient feels better in fresh air.
Hay fever with violent itching of the nose is combined with the unsuccessful urge to sneeze. With catarrh of the trachea, there is a sensation in the throat as if it were laced up tight, and only short, jerky breaths can be taken.
This may be accompanied by cutting pain in the left lung, while in the right, a hard, pulsating pressure is present.
Asarum is called for in retching with nausea and shuddering, pressing pain in the stomach and intestinal colic. This may be associated with the passing of small quantities of dry, hard stool after cutting abdominal pains.
Mental breakdown from stress, aversion to coition, excessive nervousness and wringing of hands, easily startled
DOSE - Third to sixth potency. The mother tincture is prepared from the fresh rootstock of A. europaeum. Original proving by Hahnemann, on five males in 1817. Additional provings by Mezger, on 18 provers at 1x, 3x, and 6x in 1950. Clinical observations by Hering, Vithoulkas and Mangialavori have been recorded.
Wild Ginger (A. canadense) is indicated in colds, especially when followed by lack of periods or gastro-enteritis. Suppressed colds, where the symptoms linger for a long time also call for Wild Ginger.
Excessive nervousness, self doubt, feeling defeated, humiliation, domination and dreams of being chased.
Twitching and cramping of body, extreme restlessness at night, tossing and turning, unable to rest.
Tightness in eyes and ears.
DOSE - Third to sixth potency. The mother tincture is prepared from the fresh rootstock of A. canadense. Initial provings were from Hale based on folk medicine use. Winterburn did a fragmentary proving on females in 1880 taking tincture in various doses for two months. Jane Cicchetti did a dream and meditation proving on eight females and one male with flowers, rhizome and leaves of plants in 2005.
CONSTITUENTS - alpha pinene, d-linalool, l-borneol, limonene, alpha and gamma terpineol, linalyl acetate (28%), bornyl acetate, geraniol, methyl eugenol (37%), elemicin, asarol, 3,4-dimethoxy-cinnam-aldehyde, 2,3,4,5- tetramethoxy-allyl-benzene, a lactone, an azulene compound, aristolone and zerumbone; as well as fatty acids.
A. canadense root yields about 3.5-4.5% of a gingery and woody- spicy essential oil that has long been used in perfumery. The oil is yellow to yellowish-brown; and blends well with orrisroot, adding a minty-patchouli-gingery effect, or with pine needle and oak moss. Wild ginger root oil is an excellent blender with coriander, hops and other herbaceous odors.
Prior to distillation, the root must be ground into a powder; or soaked in water for 12 hours. The oil has valuable anti-spasmodic qualities that could be put to use in period or digestive pain. It is antibacterial, especially against gram positive and pus forming bacteria, according to Steven Foster.
The specific gravity is 0.947-0.998, with a saponification number of 92-144 (and occasionally as low as 47.5) and acid number of 1.9-7.5. Solubility 1:1.5-2.5 and more in 70% ethanol.
Industrially, the oil is used up to 8 ppm in flavouring to impart a spicy note to condiments, candy, ice cream, beverages and other food products.
It is used in the perfumery industry, often with orris root for special effect, imparting special tones to eau-de-cologne. Methyl eugenol is fast acting anodyne used in dentistry. Geraniol inhibits pancreatic tumour growth in animals. Burke et al, 1997.
The European Wild Ginger (A. europaeum) contains asarones (see Calamus) and should not be used as a substitute for either A. canadense or A. caudatum.
Wild Ginger (A. canadense) hydrosol is faintly sweet and spicy, but with a cooling note, due perhaps to the methyl eugenol component of the oil that has found its way into the water. The pH is 5.4; making one think short shelf life, but Suzanne Catty has one batch still stable after 30 months.
She has found the hydrosol using in calming and balancing those prone to anxiety attacks and the type A personality.
One woman claimed the hydrosol cleared up a respiratory infection in three days.
Otto Brunfels, in the early 16th century, suggested Asarum “ejects the menses and a fetus, and a drink of aqua asarum (distilled) or decocted asarum expels the fetus, whether alive or dead.”
Brunschwig, in his Book of Distillation, wrote, “the root water is for all diseases of the breast, it largeth the breast and comforts it. It also comforts lungs and coughs, as well as hoarseness of the voice.”
Wild Ginger (A. caudatum) flower essence is related to issues of sexuality. It is for healing sexual shame, or negative imprinting from early experiences. It helps one uncover the roots of sexual abuse trauma. It helps to recover the joy of sacred sexual touch, to release fear/frigidity and impotence. It gives courage to heal in connection with the spiritual path. On a physical level, it also helps to heal herpes where the karmic source is sexual shame. HUMMINGBIRD
Wild Ginger restores reverence for life, especially related to sacral chakra. From this creative centre, we can allow life and grace to move outward through us. Can be helpful in cases of sexual abuse. Stimulates flow, warms cool places. When we are stymied, it gives us release. NETTLES AND MORE
Wild Ginger (A. canadense) is a simple, ancient guide inviting you to rekindle your connection with nature, the forest, and all beings, and reminding you that this is your birthright. It brings a sense of being grounded and rooted. WOODLANDS
Wild Ginger (A. canadense) flower essence opens you to understanding the vibrant serenity of the wilderness, especially the forest floor. It helps you release worldly concerns and be quietly content with your own light. RUNNING FOX FARM
Wild Ginger essence reduces apathy, promotes clarity of judgment and perseverance, penetrating action towards clearly defined goals. LIGHT MOUNTAIN
Out East in the corner of the world, a maiden lived all alone. She saw no one, but for some reason she became pregnant. She thought, “ Where is it from that this baby has come?”
Eventually, it was time to begin birthing. She delivered the baby, but when she went to pick it up, it ran away from her. Finally, it tumbled down from the sky, and toward the west, getting so close it seemed about the fall into the water. But close to the beach it stopped near a plant, and when it did, the herb became medicine. Then the mother came to the baby and broke off the medicine. With it she picked him up, and returned to the east. She took the medicine with her and steamed the baby, and he grew fast and healthy. BUHNER
FRESH ROOT TINCTURE - 20-50 drops as needed. Tincture of fresh root is 1:2 ratio; dried root 1:5 at 60% alcohol.
COLD INFUSION - 2-5 grams. Let root sit overnight in water, and briefly warm in morning as for Calamus root. Short decoctions can be used when time is of the essence. Infusion are taken hot for colds, amenorrhea and promoting labour; while a warm infusion is better as a digestive carminative and antispasmodic.
LEAF INFUSION - One to two cups hot as needed.
EUROPEAN WILD GINGER CAPS- standardized to 5 mg trans- isoasarone. Adult dosage is two tablets three times daily for total of 30 mg. Children 2-12 are half dosage.
CAUTION - Avoid during pregnancy, and stomach/intestinal inflammation. Do not use over long time due to its toxic and potentially carcinogenicity. It may be used safely a few days before due date to prepare the uterus for labour. Do not use in cases of organic kidney disease.
(Apocynum cannabinum L.)
(A. sibericum Jacq.)
(A. suksdorfii Greene.)
(A. hypericifolium Aiton.)
(A. pubescens Mitch ex R. Br.)
(A. androsaemifolium L.)
(A. pumilum [A. Gray] Greene)
(A. ambigens Greene.)
(A. scopulorum Greene ex Rydb.)
(A. x medium Greene)
(A. x floribundum Greene)
Bird songs lessen after the dogbane leaves turned yellow in autumn.
Apocynum is derived from Greek APO meaning away, and KUON for dog.
Androsaemifolium is Latin meaning “man’s blood-colored flower”.
Cannibinum means cannabis or Hemp.
Spreading dogbane is a tiny, inconspicuous shrub with beautiful, pink, fragrant flowers. All parts of the plant release a latex sap if bruised. This milky sap resembling mother’s milk led to an early plant signature for promoting lactation.
Canadian Hemp has white flowers, with stems that become bright red in fall. Both plants initially look similar.
The flowers have been collected and used as part of love mixtures. They secrete a sweet liquid that is very attractive to flies.
The floss can be used as a cotton substitute or stuffing. The dried latex from the plant makes a very flammable gum elastic.
The outer bark is peeled just before the fruit has ripened and is processed and braided together to produce a thread finer and stronger than cotton. Three strands together make a bowstring.
Netting, twine, fishing line and even a coarse cloth can be made from the bark fibre.
Rabbit nets as long as 1.5 kilometers were used in communal hunts. A net drawstring has been found in Danger Cave, Utah dating over 5000 years old.
Peter Kalm observed that the Swedes around the Delaware River would obtain from the natives “fourteen yards (of dogbane rope) for a piece of bread.”
The boiled leaves were rubbed over sores from poison ivy, clearing up the sores in two or three days.
The Woods Cree of Saskatchewan call Spreading Dogbane TOTOSAPOWASK or milk plant, and used decoctions to increase lactation in nursing mothers, based on the doctrine of signatures.
The Forest Potawtomi boiled the green fruit and drank it for dropsy and kidney problems. They call it DODOCA’BOWÛNG or woman’s breast weed. The root was used as a diuretic and urinary medicine.
Root decoctions (one inch long) were prepared by Chippewa, for external use in sore ears or eyes. They consider the plant a bear medicine. The roots of Bear Medicine were cut into two inch pieces and strung on a cord, resembling a bear claw necklace.
They called Indian Hemp, Bear Root, and the Spreading Dogbane, Bear Entrails Root, or MAKWONAGIC ODJIBIK. The former was used more for coughs, and the latter for heart palpitations, headaches, and as a very weak decoction for baby’s colds.
The preferred part of dogbane is the elbow of the root. It is worth noting that just about all dogbane roots run true north and south.
Hemorrhage of the nose can be treated by inserted the plant floss moistened with the same decoction.
The Blackfoot call Canada Hemp, NUXAPIST, or Little Blanket as well as Many Spears. They used decoctions to prevent losing hair, smoked the leaves, and decocted the roots as a laxative.
Decoctions stimulate hair growth through vaso-dilation and mild irritation of the hair follicles. It was used as a final rinse after cleansing the scalp. The plant juice was a hair tonic, and a cleansing agent for buckskin.
The boiled root was taken once weekly as a temporary contraceptive, by both men and women, while the boiled green roots were used in heart and kidney ailments.
The dried and powdered roots were placed on hot rocks, and the fumes inhaled by headache sufferers.
The Cree poulticed the chewed leaves and bark and applied it to wounds.
The Penobscot and Mi’kmaq called A. cannabinum “worm root”, steeping that part in hot water and then drinking to expel intestinal parasites.
Another variation for more serious headache was applying the powdered root moistened with water to incised temples.
A third method involved the snuffing of dried powder directly up the nostrils.
Heart palpitations were treated with an eight-inch root in one quart of water decocted for several minutes. Severe convulsions called for dogbane. About one foot of root was combined with one inch of Wild Pea root (Lathyrus venosus), decocted and then forced down the patient’s mouth. It would be sprinkled on the chest or applied to palms of the hands and soles of feet.
The fresh root was considered a specific for syphilis by several tribes in attempts to deal with this dreadful disease. Dr. Jones collected a mixture of the rind of spreading dogbane together with the wood of sugar maple, angelica stem, crab apple bark, swamp dock root, and the flower base of blue-eyed grass. The latter was used by Meskwaki women as a tea for injured womb.
The Cherokee used the roots of Indian Hemp, or Bowman’s root, to treat uterine problems, and female depression and nervousness. The Paiute used the fine, yellow stem silk for fibre. Long nets for rabbit drives were made from the twine. After rabbits were captured and skinned, the cordage was used to sew rabbit skin blankets.
It is said that in the northern Great Basin, the bark was mixed with tobacco for smoking.
The Shoshone name for the plant, WANA, is similar to WASN, their name for string or net. The Chumash of California used the thread for buckskin bags, bowstrings, and any kind of fishing equipment.
The water apparently hardens it. Dragnets and river nets for catching salmon were made with the twine.
Algonquin women carried the seed with them upon marrying, to ensure plantings near their new residence.
The milky sap of both could well have been used as an arrow poison, due to cardiac glycoside content. The toxicity of the plant for horses and cows has been greatly exaggerated. A 1922 publication, from the New Mexico Agriculture Station, confused dogbane and the deadly oleander. Oops!
Although the monarch butterfly caterpillar prefers eating Milkweed, it will in some cases, resort to Dogbane foliage for sustenance. The Dogbane Leaf Beetle (Chrysochus auratus) spends most of its life on the plant, eating the leaves and laying its yellow eggs.
Flies are sometimes trapped in the flowers and held captive until death.
The two species sometimes interbreed and form a hybrid called A. x floribundum. It was formerly called A. medium, in the middle of the two species.
Research at University of Pennsylvania found A. cannabium plants, touched by humans were eaten by insects, while untouched plants remained healthy. They suspect the plant may release a chemical that protects it from humans (or browsers like deer), but attracts insects. Other plants, such as sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta) and toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) have the opposite reaction and appear to thrive from human touch.
The leaves of the closely related A. venetum (Trachomitum venetum) are used in North China and Japan to make an herbal beverage. It is introduced and hardy to zone four.
CONSTITUENTS - A. androsaemifolium root - acetovanillone, apocynein, apocynin, apobioside, apocymarin (stropanthidin), K-strophanthoside, traces of ipuranil, and essential oil containing acetovanillin (160 ppm).
Aerial parts- androsterol, apocymamarin, caoutchouc, cymarin, homoandrosterol.
A. cannabinum- tannins, saponins, resins, cymarin, K-strophanthin, apocannoside, cynocannoside, alpha-amyrin, lupeol, oleanolic acid, androsterol, homo-androsterol, harmalol, 4-hydroxyacetophenone; acetovanillone, p-hydroxyacetophenone, and an unidentified phenol (m.p. 192-196).
Seeds- 30% protein, 23% fat
A. venetum leaf- various flavonoids including rutin, quercetin, isoquercitin, neoisorutin, hyperin and hyperoside.
Root- cymarin, strophantidin, K-strophanthin-B.
Dogbane is good therapy for chronic constipation, where there is chronic liver disability.
It acts upon the gall duct, discharging bile and small gallstones. It combines well in decoctions with yellow dock root in 1:2 ratio, but in very small doses.
Nervous headaches, and other head pains due to sluggish venous capillary circulation in the brain indicate the use of dogbane. Facial neuralgia is relieved by fomentation of the decocted root, and combines well with cow parsnip seed for this purpose.
For edema and fluid retention, use a mild dried root infusion taken cold, or a tincture in water before meals. The powdered root is a sweat-inducing counter-irritant.
Grieve, in her book, called it a “Vegetable Tocar” or drainer, in reference to the plants ability to reduce fluid accumulation in liver cirrhosis.
Herbalists like Samuel Thomson used Dogbane as “one of the greatest correctors of the bile.” Dr. Cook suggested it increases excretion of bile, not stimulates more manufacture.
“By its action on the biliary passages, it secures a free discharge of the bile, thus unloading the gall-cyst and relieving turgescence of the liver… It is best fitted for sluggish cases, where the pulse and the sensibilities are below normal.
Stools following the use are a trifle soft, and may even be made thin by large doses…It is best given in dry feces and muscular torpor, with bilious symptoms, when the system is sluggish; but is not suitable for sensitive and irritable conditions, nor is it best when piles are present.”
The root is safe in proper dosage as Michael Moore explains. “Small doses of dogbane act as a vasoconstrictor, slowing and strengthening the heartbeat and raising the blood pressure. It is a strong diuretic, useful in cardiac dropsy and the like, but authorities differ whether it increases urine by irritation of the kidneys or dilation of the renal artery or both. In fact, one of the reasons preventing its more frequent use in medicine is the variability of absorption, metabolization, effects and pharmacology.
A safe and reliable dose is a single “0” capsule of the powdered root a day…One cardinal sign for the use of Dogbane is the adrenalin- stress individual who for years has had little daytime urination, instead urinating frequently in the evening and nighttime—the effect of daytime adrenergic stress constricting the renal artery and slowing down diuresis; this resumes when the person can relax.
This person, finally, usually in the fourth decade, starts to urinate less after relaxation and begins to notice water retention, poorly fitting shoes, and puffy ankles at night, perhaps first observed after a few very hot days or after flying to a very different climate. Dogbane capsules will relax the renal arteries and even postpone for a few years any potential kidney disease.”
The root tea helps reduce the water retentive ascites associated with liver dysfunction including cases of hepatitis and cancer.
For alcohol withdrawal use dried root infusion and sip throughout day. Combine with the flower essence for maximum benefit.
Ether, acetone and benzene extracts of the plant show strong inhibition of E. coli. Bishop & MacDonald, Can J Botany 1951 29.
More recent work by Borchardt et al, J Med Plants Res 2008 2:5 found leaf and stem active against Staphylococcus aureus.
The plant was officially listed in the US Pharmacopoeia until 1952.
Canadian Hemp root is used as a diuretic, kidney and cardiac tonic, but should not be used in cases of organic kidney damage. The Cherokee used it for kidney failure. At one time it was used externally for venereal warts and to promote hair growth.
The root is a mild cardiac stimulant. In small doses, it acts as a vasoconstrictor, slowing and strengthening the heart, and raising blood pressure. Cymarin, one constituent, has the action of lowering pulse rate and increasing blood pressure.
It is a strong diuretic and is used for water retention. Authorities cannot agree whether this is due to kidney irritation, or dilation of the renal artery, or both. Urine output is greatly increased, but the solids in urine are not.
Small amounts, up to five drops at a time, help increase heart contractability while decreasing the pulse rate.
When US President Benjamin Harrison had heart problems that would not respond to digitalis, his physicians gave him Canadian Hemp root and saved his life. He lived for many more years.
The fresh juice from Canadian Hemp is used in the external treatment of warts including genital and anal varieties.
Dr. Eli Jones, one of the great medical Eclectics, used Canadian Hemp root for growths in the breasts where there are small bunches, movable and hard like a rubber ball. Seven grams of powder are added to ounce of lanolin, and rubbed into the breast three times daily.
Apocynin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that reduces the production of superoxide from activated neutrophils and macrophages, while phagocytosis is unchanged. Mediators Inflam 2008 106507.
Dr. William Cook recommended the fresh root be applied to rattlesnake bites, with a 1:16 infused tea drunk 2-3 ounces every hour.
Chinese research into medical uses of dogbane (A.venetum) showed it has cardiac toning effect. The plant is known as ZE QI MA, for Mandarin, or LO BOU MA YE, in Cantonese. Other names include Marsh Lacquer Herb, ZE QI CAO, Lucky Lucky Hemp, JI JI MA, and CHA YE HUA meaning Tea Leaf flower. The leaf tea has been used in Mongolia for centuries.
The plant leaf shows hypotensive activity and a good draining diuretic, useful in cardiac deficiency, heart disease, edema, hepatitis, and nephritis.
Infusions of the plant leaf showed blood pressure lowering effect in humans of 10% when taken daily for four weeks, 13% when taken for eight weeks. The root is decocted as an 8% decoction, and 100 ml twice daily are taken until heart rate slows to 70-80 beats per minute. A daily maintenance of 50 ml leaf infusions has a similar benefit.
HDL, or “good cholesterol” as it is known, rose by 24% and heart performance was observed to improve. Chinese J of Integrated Med 1989 9:6.
PosinolTM, an extract from A. venetum, contains 4% flavonoid glycosides isoquercitrin and hypersoide; the latter shown to aid in mental relaxation. Marketed by Optipure, the product is said to be an alternative for those individuals concerned about the safety of St.
John’s Wort, and its content of hyperforin. One small animal study showed PosinolTM shortened immobility time, indicating possible anti-depressant activity similar to 20mg/kg of imipramine. More conclusive, human studies are needed.
A few case studies suggest 50 mg capsules helped patients with insomnia, improved concentration, stress reduction and decreased fatigue.
The studies varied from two weeks to 3.5 years, but not under very robust controls.
A recent study by Kessler et al, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2005, which was double-blind, randomized, and parallel, involved men and women from 18-65 years of age with mild depression as rated by the Hamilton Rating Scale. Forty-seven patients were chosen, with 27 in the PosinolTM group for eight weeks.
An overall reduction in HAM-D score was 47.3 in the PosinolTM group. More than 50% of this group showed a score decrease of 50% or more. Blood analysis revealed that 50% of subjects in the PosinolTM group showed increased serotonin levels, and no adverse reactions were noted.
Cymene has a similar effect to the glycoside strophantine, but is generally weaker. It has a stronger diuretic effect in edema, and is less cumulative.
The leaves can be dried and rolled in a cigarette, to smoke in cases of chronic bronchitis with cough and wheezing. The dried leaves are made into an herbal beverage in North China and Japan. Studies by Xiong Quang Bo et al, Planta Medica 2000 66:2 indicate the leaf flavonoids have hepato-protective effects.
The leaf is sweet, bitter and cooling, and infused for daily use to clear heat, prevent dizziness and improve cardiac function. It helps lower blood pressure and reduce edema, and is highly regarded by the elderly for health maintenance. The leaves have little toxicity, and delay the aging process.
The modern Chinese physician, Wang Zhen-Qin noted that the herb “is sweet, bland and slightly cold in nature, and prevents and treats hypertension in the elderly, the common cold, and bronchitis. It has a definite ability to enhance the immunity of the body, and is a herb that extends age and augments longevity.”
Known as Luobuma Tea, the leaf infusions have been found to strongly inhibit glycation, a complication associated with diabetes and heart disease. Yokozawa et al, Food Chem Tox 2004:42.
For edema and reduced urination, combine the leaf with plantain seed, water plantain rhizome and umbrella polypore (Polyporus umbellatus) mushroom. The latter is one of my wife’s favorite edibles, which I find in our river valley every summer.
It has been used in stubborn edema related to pregnancy, but attention to potassium levels is needed. The root contains cardiac glycosides and is a different medicine. Do not confuse the two.
The dried leaf may be combined with self heal or chrysanthemum flowers for hypertension or liver heat associated with headache, dizziness, restlessness and insomnia.
Research on Spreading Dogbane leaves may reveal similar profile of flavonoids.
Harmalol is an MAO-inhibiting beta carboline, similar to compounds found in buffalo berry and wolf willow.
In studies involving the anti-viral activities of plants in North America, spreading dogbane showed inhibition of the polio, cowpox, measles and PRV virus.
The fruit, flowers leaves, stems and roots have been investigated and found active against various gram-positive, gram-negative and mycobacterium.
Further research is warranted on our local plants. One patent exists from the former U.S.S.R. with regards to apobioside from spreading dogbane for cardiovascular concerns.
Patents on A. cannabinum from the early 1900s exist for purified medicinal preparation. In 1965, a German patent for extraction of cymarin was granted. In 1979, a patent for the extraction of rubber and rubber-like substances from the latex was applied for and granted.
Work by Belkin et al, Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1952 13 found that alcoholic extracts at sub-toxic doses showed damage to transplanted tumours in mice. Work by Kupchan et al, Journal Med Chem 1964 7 803 found cymarin and apocannoside to possess anti- tumour activity.
Matthew Wood suggests that dogbane in flower essence or homeopathic form is helpful in a variety of cortisone dependence problems and collagen disease.
Dr. William Mitchell, Junior mentions its use in stubborn intractable cases of sciatica, a tip he learned from his mentor Dr. Bastyr.
Spreading Dogbane (A. androsaemifolium) symptoms for use include rheumatic pains that wander, with lots of tightening and stiffness. Swollen sensations are accompanied by trembling and fatigue.
There may be pain in all the joints, as well as the toes and soles of feet. There may be profuse sweating, excessive heat in feet, accompanied by tingling pain and cramping. It is used especially in cases of pains in all joints, pain in toes and soles, and swelling of hands and feet.
Matthew Wood, in his foreword to Healing Lyme Disease Naturally by Wolf D. Storl writes, “I recommend Apocynum androsaemifolium homeopathic 6X for high impact cases that knock a person off the horse or the chair with their intensity.”
A peculiar symptom that helps identify its use is that the patient thinks everything smells and tastes like honey.
DOSE - Tincture to the 6th potency. The mother tincture is made from the fresh rootstock.
Indian Hemp (A. cannabinum) is used for some of the above, but with exceptions. This Dogbane is one of the most efficient remedies in dropsy, liver ascites and various urinary problems including suppressed urination and strangury.
In Bright’s disease, it helps the digestive complaints of nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and difficult breath. The dropsy is often accompanied by great thirst and gastric irritability.
Dogbane is used by homeopaths in the treatment of alcoholism. It greatly aids the withdrawal symptoms, but is recommended this not be used more than a week.
Dogbane also relieves long continued sneezing, and chronic nasal catarrh, dull headaches and poor memory.
The heartbeat is rapid and feeble, with low arterial tension, pulsating jugular vein, and irregularity. There is great restlessness and little sleep.
Symptoms are worse in cold weather and from cold drinks, better from warmth.
DOSE - Tincture (1-2 drops 3xdaily). In acute alcoholism take one dram of decoction in four ounces of water. The mother tincture is prepared from the fresh rootstock.
Cymarin- an active principle of dogbane- lowers pulse rate, and increases blood pressure.
The rhizome of dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) yields about 0.016% of an essential oil. It contains furfurol, and aceto-vanillone, which results from the breakdown of a glucoside, androsin.
Indian Hemp (Acocynum cannabinum) seeds contain up to 23% oil, the whole plant 4.5%, and the leaves and flowers 1.6%. Rubber latex of the whole plant is 1.16% of dry weight.
Suppose a fly falls upon this innocent looking blossom. His short tongue, as well as the butterfly’s, is guided into one of the V-shaped cavities after he has sipped; but getting wedged between the trap’s horny teeth, the poor victim is held prisoner there until he slowly dies of starvation in the sight of plenty. The dogbane…ruthlessly destroys all poachers that are not big enough or strong enough to jerk away from its vice-like grasp. To be killed by slow torture and dangled like a scarecrow simply for pilfering a drop of nectar is surely an execution of justice medieval in its severity. NELTJE BLANCHAN
[Apocynum] are waterlogged and overweight, swollen with water everywhere, especially swollen pitting ankles, and urinary troubles. They have reduced urine and sweat and feel that if they could sweat they could be well. The dropsy is accompanied by increased thirst. The further consequences are heart complaints caused by a waterlogged heart with arrhythmia, mitral and tricuspid value regurgitation and prolapsed. They develop a weakness from the lack of heart efficiency. PETER CHAPPELL
I would like to thank Matthew Wood, a good friend, great herbalist, and fellow member of the American Herbalist Guild for the following insights into dogbane or werewolf root as he knows it.
“The T square-like root, and the pincer like seedpods are also the symbols of Free Masonry, an analogue to the Grand Medicine Lodge in white society.
Nature is better represented by the circle, a symbol of wholeness and harmony, while mankind is represented by the square and pincers, symbols of conscious artifice. The right angle indicates the appearance of a kind of consciousness which is at right angles to Nature. It represents the conscious mind, the ego. The pincers represent the focusing, limiting and ultimately egocentric fixation of the mind.
As a medicine, it addresses problems which arise from the juxtaposition of the ego and spirit. It is for those individuals who are losing the battle to remain a separate, conscious individual. There are times when nothing will do except total transformation.
Going further, Werewolf root is a shape-shifting medicine. It is more a matter of seeing the world in a radical, new way.
The motto of the plant is ‘I will never be the same again’.” MATTHEW WOOD
Dogbane or Werewolf flower essence is for the emotional and spiritual issues revolving around alcoholism. It helps on several levels, the first being the awareness of addiction and attraction. It eases the pain associated with the loss or separation of “friendships” that is so necessary for the healing process to begin. Drinking buddies are only there, as long as you are one of them!
And it helps on the physical plane, by detoxifying the liver more quickly, and reducing trembling and sweating.
Dogbane essence helps us to access the courage to follow our rebellious instincts, which is an important part of growth and change. DESERT ALCHEMY
Coyote’s son was traveling in the sky country, when he came up to an old man, actually Spider, who was spinning Dogbane.
Grandfather Spider helps the son of Coyote, by spinning coils of rope to lower him to earth. In return for this favour, Coyote’s son makes Dogbane much more accessible to Spider. He plucks four hairs from his lower abdomen and throws them to the ground, which sprang into 3-4 acres of Dogbane. Spider is able to finish the rope and to lower Coyote’s son back to earth.
In Lillooet mythology, the Transformers crossed Lillooet Lake, where they pulled hairs from their legs and threw them on the ground to create Indian Hemp plants; they then showed man and wife how to harvest, prepare it, and make dip nets for fishing with it. TEIT
In more primitive and ancient thought, the dog was associated almost universally with the underworld in which it acted as both guide and guardian. Their companionship in life and their supposed knowledge of the spirit world suggested dogs as suitable guides to the afterlife. They play this role even in Central America where they carried Mayan souls across the river of death. Xoltl, the Aztec dog god, led the sun through the nocturnal underworld and was reborn with it at dawn.
Coyote went to SITOKTO’K and bought a great load of TOK (Indian Hemp). By his magic power he was able to put it all into his carrying net and bring it all home at once…Next morning Coyote began to work with the TOK. He worked very fast, twisting it on the machine that he had: his thigh. Coyote twisted the TOK into string and made fish lines for all the important people of the village. TIMBROOK
INFUSION - Steep one tsp of dried root in one pint of boiling water. Take one teaspoon to one-quarter ounce daily. The leaves of A. venetum are gathered before flowering and dried in shade. They may be steamed and dry-fried for use in infusions.
DRY ROOT TINCTURE - 1:5 tincture at 50% alcohol. Five drops in water before meals, and up to 4-5 times daily if needed. For the fresh root, make a 1:8 at 76%.
CAUTION: According to the PDR for Herbal Medicines, serious poisoning is hardly to be expected from oral administration, due to the low resorption rate. Signs of intoxication are nausea, vomiting and a slow heartbeat.
NOTE - 0.1 grams of root possesses the potency of 2 USP digitalis units. The high content of cardenolide glycosides causes bradycardia and increased contraction of the heart. Blood pressure is lowered and a rebound vagotonic hypertension can occur. It has a lower therapeutic effect on atrial fibrillation than digitalis.
POWDERED ROOT - one “O” capsule (5-10 grains) daily, or use topically. The root is collected after the plant has gone to seed. Mint tea will help any griping pain.
TWINE - Make the twine by collecting the stalks just about the time the pods are green. Cut them down and remove the branches and leaves. Flatten the stems by pulling them over a round pole. Then split open the stems from bottom to top with a knife or sharp stick and peel off the outer bark. Then twist the stems to make braids of the bark. You can then boil in hot water. This makes the fibres separate more and strengthens them. The thread is very tough.
Or when dried, the final step is to form the fibres into twine by rolling them with dampened hands on bare thigh or on a piece of buckskin over the knee. The fibre is joined for length by splitting the thick end of one piece and then thin end of another, inserting and intertwining. This splicing process can be continued indefinitely.
Finer twice is produced by splitting the stems in two; stronger ropes by plaiting two or more threads together. Stored properly, it will last for years. For garments, the twine can be spun with deer hair.
Fishing lines, at least in the BC Interior, were treated with lodge pole pine pitch and black bear grease, to prevent them from kinking.
(Fragaria virginiana Duschene)
(F. virginiana Mill.)
(F. glauca [S. Wats.] Rydb)
(F. vesca L.)
(Potentilla vesca [L.] Scop.)
(F. x ananassa)
(Duchesna indica [Turcz] Baill.)
I had rather have one pint of wild strawberries than a gallon of tame ones.
Then sit on a cushion, and sew up a seam:
And thou shalt have Strawberries, sugar and cream.
Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.
Wife, into the garden and set me a plot
With strawberry roots, the best to be got.
Such growing abroad among thorns in the wood,
Well chosen and picked, prove excellent good.
Fragaria is from Latin FRAGRANS for fragrant, an obvious reference to the sweet smelling fruit. From the French FRAISE came the word FRASIER, a strawberry grower. This name arrived in Scotland and became the surname FRASER, whose family has seven strawberry leaves in their coat of arms. An English Marquis’s coronet has four leaves, and an Earl eight smaller ones. Another derivation involves the French explorer Francois Amedee Frezier, who brought back to his native country the Chilean strawberry.
Or it may stem from Latin FRANGO meaning, I break, from which fragile is derived. This may relate to the ripe berry breaking easily from the stem, or the exposed seeds as signature of stone breaking. The Greeks called it KOMAROS, meaning a mouthful.
Strawberry is from Anglo-Saxon STRAUBERIGE or STREOWBERIE for the dried runners strewn on the ground. Strewberry became strawberry.
In medieval times, the berries were placed on straw to be sold in the market. VESCA means little or weak, while ananassa is named after the genus for pineapple, due to aromatic properties of cultivated fruit.
Duchesnea is named for Antoine Nicolas Duchesne (1747-1827), a French horticulturalist who published a book on the history of strawberries, and worked at hybridizing and improving cultivated strains. Ironically, the Indian or Mock Strawberry is tasteless. It has recently been classified in the genus Potentilla.
The edible part of Strawberry is actually the flesh while the achene or tiny seeds are actually the fruits appearing as tiny dots on the surface of the flesh. However, we will use berry or fruit to describe this tasty portion to avoid confusion.
Certainly the wild berry is not weak in taste, but vastly superior to today’s cultivated hybrids. The common cultivar of today, F. x ananasa is an offspring of the wild strawberry (F. virginiana), and the beach strawberry (F. chiloensis) from accidental hybridization in 1750s Holland.
A French military engineer, Amedee Frezier, was spying on spanish troop numbers in Chile in 1714. He found the beach strawberry, “as big as a walnut, and sometimes as a hen’s egg, of a whitish red, and somewhat less delicious of taste than our wood strawberrie”. He brought five plants back to France, and although they produced no fruit, their flowers allowed cross-pollination.
The Wild Strawberry is prized, not only by humans, but bears, foxes and small mammals. Only chipmunks appear to eat the seeds, leaving the fleshy parts behind.
Besides jams, preserves, and multitude of uses for the fresh berry, the strawberry has other virtues. The berry has the same pH as our skin, making it a great facial and cosmetic cleanser. The fresh fruit will quickly dispel sunburn. And left to set for five minutes on the teeth, it will clean the tartar. Rinse with a pinch of bicarbonate in warm water to complete the cleaning.
An early report by Horace finds reference to the strawberry collected by the lady of the stinking husband. This may be Faun or Pan.
In middle ages, the strawberry was believed to “destroy the web in one’s eye”; and today the fruit is used for eye inflammation and treat infections.
Historically, the plant was viewed with opposing points of view. The religious artist saw its purity and righteousness; while the medieval artist saw the sensuality, all naked and naughty.
The Garden of Delights, for example, by Hieronymus Bosch showed naked revelers savoring giant strawberries. Denis Diderot, the 18th century French man of letters, compared wild strawberries to “the tips of wet nurse’s breasts”. It is all in the imagination!
Madame Tallien, in court of Napoleon, was famous for strawberry baths using up to 10 kilograms of fresh fruit each time.
German legend dedicates fruit to the Virgin who went a-berrying with young children on St. John’s morning. No mother that has lost a young child will taste the delicacy, and strawberry has come to symbolize little children who have died young. Early Germanic peoples dedicated the fruit to their love goddess, Freya.
Christian interpretations include the fruit as a symbol of virtuosity in those who accomplish good deeds with humility; the white flowers for purity and chastity, and the three leaflets, the holy trinity. It became the symbol of the incarnation of Christ, and the small white flowers represented Mary’s innocence.
Going hunting strawberry leaves is a 19th century term for a fortune hunter.
Dr. Corner, a Cambridge botanist, has found DNA evidence strawberry is an herbaceous descendant of tall tropical pachycaulus forest trees. As they moved further north, they became smaller and smaller indeed.
Recent molecular evidence shows the Fragaria genus should be merged with Potentilla. It was traditionally differentiated on the basis of the receptacle becoming fleshy and brightly colored in fruit.
The Cree call it OTIYIHIMINA, or heart berry. They boiled the roots and those of yarrow together, and drank it cool to help cure “insanity”.
The leaves or roots are decocted for 45 minutes, and the tea is allowed to cool for treating heart conditions.
The roots, leaves and runners are all boiled and taken for diarrhea, sometimes combined with yarrow.
An ash made by burning the roots can be mixed into a paste for healing open sores.
To the Blackfoot it was OTSISTISNI. They boiled the roots to relieve diarrhea, and the leaf for eye inflammation. The Hand Hills were originally called OHI-TCHIS-TCHISor Strawberry Hills by the Blackfoot.
The Chippewa used the root tea for settling upset stomach in children, and use the almost identical name O DA E MIN, as the Cree.
Tanner wrote that the Chippewa dream of going to the other world, but when they get to “the great strawberry, at which the (spirits of the dead) repast themselves on their journey, and takes up the spoon to separate part of it, he finds it turned to rock”.
The Carrier Tribe of B.C. made decoctions of the stems only, for bleeding in the stomach. The strong, twining plant runners were used for plaiting belts, or headbands, like silverweed.
When roots were pit-cooked, the fresh flowers and stems were sometimes thrown in for additional flavour.
They know the plant as INDZI, and used root or runner decoctions for heart problems or those who have suffering heart attacks.
For many Métis and native people, the wild strawberry is considered the first fruit of the womb of Turtle Mother, and is a spiritual and healing entity.
It is womb shaped. You will often see this native symbol of fertility and sacred renewal represented in baskets, quill work, moose hair tufting, beadwork and wood carvings.
The Northern Chipewyan call the berry IDZIAZE,or “little heart”.
The leaves are infused for post partum night sweats and to build up the blood. Externally the leaf infusion is used for eczema and psoriasis.
The Slave of the Territories dried and burned the roots into an ash that was combined with a little water and applied to open sores.
Other First Nations healers used strawberry flower tea as a nervous system tonic. The leaf tea also reduces stress.
One Native myth suggests that eating strawberries in the afterlife symbolizes the end of any chance in returning to the land of the living.
The Dakota call the month of June WAZUSTE CASA WI, meaning “the moon when the strawberry is red”.
The plant is circumpolar and is plentiful in countries like Finland. The reindeer herders mix the berries with their animal’s cream and dry it into a type of sausage called Kappatialmas, a plum pudding of the Arctic region.
Portage La Prairie, Manitoba claims the title of Strawberry Capital of Canada. Oxnard, California proclaims itself the World Capital.
Throughout history, but especially in Europe, the leaves have been used for anemia, bleeding, and kidney/bladder problems. Root infusions have been used in England for increasing urination and treating gonorrhea. Various nobles and royalty praised strawberry leaves, and drew them with gold on their coronets and family signs.
In Ireland, the garden strawberry leaf tea was given to cool excessive ardour. The Greek name KAMAROS, means a mouthful, in reference to the compact size of the fruit.
Stewed strawberries or their jam is often served in Germany with roasted meats, to help promote urine flow and uric acid produced by protein breakdown.
In China, the strawberry (Cao Mei) is valued for moistening the lungs, and promoting the secretion of saliva and other bodily fluids. It is used to relieve the effects of alcohol hangover, and relieve fevers, sore throats and lack of appetite.
The fresh juice is valuable in painful, dark-coloured urine; and added to equal parts of wine for weakness after an illness, where the patient is fragile and in need of nourishment.
The dried leaves make a fragrant addition to natural potpourri. It is not difficult to arrange with a pick-your-own market gardener to obtain the dried leaves in the fall.
For those with livestock, feed the foliage to race-horses, or as a tonic to any backward or nervous animals. Of course, ensure that no chemical sprays have been used.
It is said that the occasional borage plant amongst strawberries helps produce larger fruit. Try it!
Otto Renner, a German scientist, showed that garden snails avoid the hairy leaves of wild strawberry and Potentilla, a good protective mechanism for young, succulent leaves. As the leaves mature, the hairs fall off.
Compost can significantly enhance levels of glutathione and ascorbic acid, as well as organic acids, and sugars in fruit. Wang and Lin, J Ag Food Chem 2003 51:23.
Sinapic acid helps enhance most the colour of strawberry juice, according to work done in Finland by Rein and Heinonen.
Wild strawberry was one of the first plants to colonize Mt. St. Helens, after its 1980 explosion. The fresh leaf can be inserted between sore and inflamed gums and dentures.
The leaf is a strong anti-oxidant that may be useful for stabilizing fish oil. Raudoniute et al, Int J Food Sci Tech 2011 46:5.
A word of warning. Like asparagus, eating strawberries may give a violet like aroma to the urine. Not unpleasant, but it can catch you by surprise. Strawberries stimulate histamine production by the immune system, causing a false food allergy or response in some people, including hives, and asthma. This pseudo-allergy does not involve formation of specific antibodies and is therefore not a real allergy.
False Strawberry (Duchesnea indica) is cultivated as a hardy, dense ground cover, especially beneath shrubs. It has decorative yellow flowers, that later develop red strawberry-like fruit.
In China, the herb is known as SHE-MEI, and serves as a snake nest from which it derives the name.
It has a number of interesting synonyms including TI CHIN,ground tapestry, SAN HSIEN TS’AO, three fairy grass, WU CHAO LUNG, five claw dragon, SHE PAO TS’AO, snake bubble grass; and WU CHIH HU, meaning five fingered Tiger.
Natives of Argentina call it “Frutilla sylvestre”, and prefer to eat the berries with sauce or oil.
CONSTITUENTS - strawberry leaves- catechin, leucoanthocyanin, malic acid, vit C, essential oils, ellagitannins including pedunculagin and agrimoniin condensed tannins, rutin, quercitin, imperatorin, flavonoids and leuco- anthocyans, oligomeric proantho-cyanidins.
flesh- cisso-tannic acid, malic, ellagic( up to 21,000 ppm, and citric acid (8,000 ppm) iron, sugar, mucilage and volatile oils. Glutamic acid (up to 10,676 ppm), and phytosterols (up to 1,423 ppm). An anthocyanidin, pelargonidin 3- monoglucoside is responsible for the bright red colour of the fruit. High folate content at 600 mcg/kg of fresh fruit. The berry is 87-91% water. Also contains small amounts of trans-resveratrol, cinnamic acid, p-coumaric acid and morin, a flavonol.
seed- pectin, soluble fibre, up to 21,650 ppm ellagic acid.
root- fragarianine (a type of quinotannic acid); and water soluble proanthocyanidins produced after fermentation consisting of procyanidins B1, B2, and B5, (+)-catechin and (-)-epicatechin.
D. indica leaves- ellagic glycosides (ducheside A and B); and four glucopyranosides.
whole plant- emodin, chrysophanic acid, phytosterol, calcium, volatile oil.
Like raspberry, the leaves of strawberry help settle morning sickness and prevent miscarriage. The iron-rich leaves help those with tendency to anemia, without creating constipation. The leaf tea stimulates breast milk production in nursing mothers, and helps regulate the menstrual cycle. The root, however, will reduce breast milk flow.
Thomas Bartram mentions leaf tea for reducing excessively enlarged breasts.
Like raspberry leaf, it helps to reduce severity of menstrual cramps, and flow.
The leaf tea neutralizes stomach acidity; and a mouth wash helps periodontal disease, spongy gums, loose teeth, and bad breath.
The leaves are cooling and refrigerant, and useful for conditions of heat, redness, dryness, and swelling around the eyes, according to Matthew Wood.
He relates a story in the Earthwise Herbal of a woman with severe mold allergies with above symptoms who was “deeply soothed, cooled and relieved” by strawberry leaf.
Leaf and stem tea is gargled for sore throats, or relieves the itch of vaginitis, yeast infections, and hemorrhoids with external bathing.
The leaf is often used in combinations for liver disease, jaundice, respiratory congestion, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and kidney complaints involving stones or gravel. The leaf tea acidifies urine and may help urinary tract infections associated with alkalinity.
The leaf relieves irritable bowel and colitis, when taken as a cooled infusion. The root is stronger, but needs decoction. Both stomach and intestinal hyperacidity are relieved.
Infused root tea is taken to dry up breast milk in women trying to wean babies. It diminishes the size of breasts and dries up milk.
The liver is assisted by increased protein breakdown, which in turn helps alleviate allergies.
Strawberry leaf, by itself, or combined with burdock root, is a good blood cleanser for acne, pimples, and other skin breakouts. The fresh leaf placed under dentures gives relief to sore, inflamed gums.
It is combined with grape leaves in the Weleda product, Hepadorn, for liver complaints.
A root and leaf infusion helps diarrhea and summer complaint in children. A fluid extract commercial product, originally produced from root by Dr. Fowler, is still widely sold.
The root is very astringent and holding it in the mouth will help stop nosebleeds.
The fresh berry juice is refrigerant; useful in treating fevers, and sunstroke. Catechins, a leaf constituent, help precipitate protein, and aid inhibition of histamine action.
Ironically, some individuals react to an over consumption of the seasonal fruit with hives, a histamine response (see below for antidote). The leaf tea appears to enhance the action of commercial anti-histamine drugs.
The fruit is useful for diabetes, gouty arthritis, and those prone to kidney stone formation, and uric acid buildup. Linnaeus believed he cured his gout by eating only the berries for several days. Combine strawberry and raspberry juices and take in small amounts daily for acne, boils, and skin conditions in general.
One part fruit and two parts stinging nettle are combined in honey as an anthroposophic medicine for blood formation. Steiner praised the rich iron content of the berries for liver health.
Because strawberries increase urinary oxalate levels, they may, like rhubarb and spinach, aggravate kidney stone formation. Maybe. I believe the appearance of oxalates in blood and the urine are actually signs of removal, not precipitation.
Strawberries are rich in boron, a mineral that appears to play a key role in the retention of estrogen, and prevention/treatment of osteoporosis.
The fruit favorably influences age-related neurological effects, including central nervous system decline.
The roots have a mild, but noticeable diuretic effect that tends to acidify urine, and therefore useful in bladder infections by organisms that prefer alkaline environments.
A good diuretic for this purpose might combine strawberry root with equal parts of marshmallow, asparagus, couch grass and licorice root.
Chewing a small piece of the dried or fresh root relieves sore gums, or will help shrink painful burst gumboils.
Sitz baths with strawberry leaves and roots decocted, and strained, will help shrink and relieve hemorrhoid pain.
Canadian studies have shown liquid or juiced strawberries destroy viruses, including the herpes and polio virus in vitro. Perhaps this anti-viral activity is why it has shown reduction of enlarged spleen in some patients. Work by Che et al, 1991 have shown wild strawberries to inhibit polio, influenza, herpes and coxsackie viruses. The latter is implicated in myocardium inflammation and disease.
Eating strawberries may reduce the risk of esophageal cancer. Carcinogenesis 2001 22:3.
Leaf tinctures have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in rats.
McCutcheon et al, J Ethnopharm 1992 37 found wild strawberry leaves contain antibiotic activity against seven of eleven bacterial strains, including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and P. aeruginosa. Activity against E. coli was equal to gentamycin. The leaf showed moderate anti-fungal activity on 7 of 9 species. J Ethnopharm1994 44.
Work by Webster et al, J Ethnopharm 2008 115:1 found F. virginiana possessed strong anti-fungal activity against all 23 human attacking organisms tested.
Water extracts from leaves and roots of F. vesca reveal activity against gram positive and negative bacteria.
Imperatorin is present in the leaves, and also found in roots and seeds of angelica, parsnip and cow parsnip species. It possesses anti- mutagenic activity, and a weak action against HeLa cell proliferation.
Water-soluble procyanadins from fermented strawberry leaves possess anti-ulcer properties, and increase the water solubility of cimetidine. This may help prevent undesirable nitrosamine formation in the stomach as they block the cyanamide function. Strawberry leaves contain trypsin enzyme inhibitors, explaining part of the picture.
A study of over 1200 residents of New Jersey found those eating strawberries were three times less likely to develop cancer than those eating few or none. One reason may be the ellagic acid content that inhibits mutagenesis and cancer growth. Ellagic acid is especially useful at neutralizing the carcinogen, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) found in cigarette smoke, and is similar to the ellagotannins found in black tea.
Ellagic acid is present at 95% in the pulp of the fruit, or about 9 mg per cup serving. The achenes, or seeds contribute up to 14% of total phenolics of strawberry but comprise only one percent of weight.
In addition to ellagic acid, two anthocyanins with anti-oxidant activity are present- pelargonidin and cyanidin.
After digestion, these compounds modify enzyme activity, receptor sensitivity or gene activation.
The work of Dr. Gary Stoner, and John Mas found purified ellagic acid, used to slow blood-clotting medically, appears effective in neutralizing PHA, nitrosamines, aflatoxins and aromatic amines.
Recent work by Dr. Beliveau and colleagues in Quebec, found ellagic acid is a powerful inhibitor of VEGF and PDGF, two proteins essential for tumour growth and vascularization. The formation of new blood vessel network in tumours is known as angiogenesis and ellagic acid appears to prevent this blood vessel growth.
Both the flesh and leaves contain ellagic acid, but considerably more is present in the leaves. Among 36 varieties tested, Tribute and Delite showed the highest levels of ellagic acid. A new variety, Authentique Orleans, developed in Canada contains very high levels of ellagic acid.
Ellagic acid helps reduce blood pressure, is sedative, inhibits glutathione transferase, and as mentioned above, inhibits thromboxane B2 synthesis. It is a potent inhibitor of gastric acid and occurence of gastric lesions.
Ellagic acid is gaining interest as a regulator of the plant hormone indole acetic acid, as an insect deterrent, and blood clotting agent.
Work by Papoutsi et al, J Ag Food Chem 2005 53 found ellagic acid from strawberry to be a selective estrogen receptor modulator, and therefore play a role in cancer, inflammation, heart disease and osteoporosis. Strawberries have been shown to inhibit COX enzymes, in vitro, suggesting a mode of anti-inflammatory process.
Freeze-dried strawberry relaxes aorta tissue via endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), suggestive of cardiovascular benefit.
Edirisinghe et al, J Ag Food Chem 2008 56:20.
Work by Navindra et al, in same journal 2006 54 found strawberry the most significant berry extract stimulating apoptosis against COX-2 expressing colon cancer cell line HT-29.
Strawberry fruit contains high levels of anti-oxidants, in the form of phenolics, flavonoids and anthocyanins. Work by Meyers et al, J Agric Food Chem 2003 51 found proliferation of HepG2 human liver cancer cells significantly inhibited by fruit extracts.
Work by Wedge et al, J Med Food 4:1 found freeze-dried fruit inhibited the growth of cervical and breast cancer cell lines. The fruit activates apoptosis by activating p73 in breast cancer cells when tumor suppressor gene p53 is mutated. Somasagara et al, PLoS One 2012 7:10.
Daily consumption of freeze-dried strawberries by 36 patients for six months showed a decrease in 29 of pre-cancerous esophageal lesions. This cancer is the third most common gastrointestinal cancer and the sixth most frequent cause of cancer death in the world.
Strawberries appear to slow the progression of precancerous lesions turning into cancer. This study was led by Dr. Tong Chen and other researchers at Ohio State University and presented on April 6 2011 at 102nd meeting of Am Ass Cancer Res in Orlando, Florida.
The fruit inhibits alpha-amylase, and alpha-glucosidase, both beneficial in type two diabetes, as well as angiotensin 1 converting enzyme (ACE) used for cardiovascular health. Cheplick et al, Bioresour Tech 2009 August 18.
In a randomized, single-blind, placebo-control 12 week crossover trial of 24 women, adding strawberries to the diet significantly lowered lipids in blood. Burton-Freeman et al, Am J Coll Nutr 2010 29:1. Freeze-dried strawberries given to 27 obese subjects with metabolic syndrome, showed a reduction of atherosclerotic risk factors, dyslipidemia, and adhesion of platelets. Basu et al, Nutr Res 2010 30:7.
Work by Xue et al, Carcinogenesis 2001 22 found methanol extracts of the berry displayed chemopreventative activity against benzopyrene, either by interfering with the uptake, activation, and detoxification of carcinogen; or by intervention of DNA binding and repair.Strawberry extracts reduce the growth of human oral, colon and prostate cancer cell lines. Zhang et al, J Ag Food Chem 2008 56:3.
Lupeol, also found in birch, blocks NFkappa B and may be useful in malignancies of the head, neck and throat. Yuen et al, Cancer Research.
A study at the Nutrition and Health Research Centre in America, 2002, found people eating a daily serving of eight strawberries had significantly higher levels of folate, and decreased systolic blood pressure.
Strawberries help reduce oxidative stress to LDL, our healthy cholesterol. Jenkins et al, Metab 2008 57:12.
Work by Hannum in Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2004 44:1-17 suggests benefit to the aging brain.
A new, natural, edible coating for fresh strawberries has been developed by Taikang Food Tech Company of China. With this coating, strawberries remain fresh for 15 days in cool storage, and for 7 days at room temperature.
Pelargonidin, which gives strawberry fruit its bright red color is anti- viral. In the 3-rutinoside form, it is found in Snapdragon, and as 3- lathyroside, a part of Sweet Pea petals.
Research by Davidov et al (1995) focused on a herbal infusion of nettle leaf, Saint John’s wort, chamomile, plantain leaves, yarrow, birch leaves, mugwort and strawberry leaves. This was used for continuous irrigation of the bladder after prostatic adenomectomy. In the 22 patients trialed, the infusion reduced post-operative blood loss, bacterial infection, and prevented the hemorrhagic and purulent inflammation that often follows this surgery.
The leaves contain so much vitamin C, that Johns Hopkins University initially accused the late wild food forager, Euell Gibbons, of faking test results. In fact, the wild leaves contain more Vitamin C than the fruit, as well as ellagic acid.
Wild strawberry leaves have been shown in laboratory studies to be anti-inflammatory in action. Work by Mudnic et al, Phytomed2009 Jan 6 found water extracts of wild strawberry leaves show direct endothelium dependent vasodilation and potency comparable to hawthorn.
The lipids of leaves, fruit and pollen inhibit PAF, or platelet activating factor. Calligerou et al, Photochemistry 1996 41:1.
Allergic reaction or sensitivity to strawberries may indicate the individual carries the C3F gene. It is estimated that approximately 35% of the Caucasian population carry this variant, which is associated with hyperactivity of the immune system, and inflammation of the heart and blood vessels.
Individuals with this gene appear to escape the risk of infectious disease, but are more prone to auto-immunity, and conditions such as arthritis.
The inability of an immune system to dislodge pathogens can result in adverse reactivity. A small number of children, for example, who cannot rid themselves entirely of Salmonella bacteria, go on to develop juvenile arthritis.
Over 100 research studies on strawberry were conducted in the year 2008 alone.
False Strawberry, like strawberry, black currant, and red raspberry, contains ellagic acid, an anti-carcinogenic compound.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the whole dried plant is used for its sweet bitter flavour, cold properties and somewhat poisonous nature.
It helps dispel heat, cools the blood, disperses swelling and helps remove toxins.
False Strawberry is used in fever states, epilepsy, coughs, laryngitis, dysentery, furuncles, burns, scalds and insect bites.
In TCM, it is called SHE MEI, or TI CHIN, which means Ground Tapestry. The whole plant is used for boils and abscesses, weeping eczema, and ringworm externally. For laryngitis and tonsillitis the decoction is gargled and swallowed.
Research conducted by Lee and Lin, 1988 in Taiwan, showed false strawberry water decoctions (two hour) have moderate anti- mutagenic activity.
In the same year, Zhang and Bo found false strawberry has effect on extracorporeal esophageal cancer cells.
The plant inhibits sarcoma 180, Ehrlich ascites cells, and treats thyroid cancer and hepatoma cancer cell lines.
Work by Peng et al, Gynecol Oncol 2008 108:1 found phenolic fractions of the herb cytotoxic against ovarian cancer SKOV-3 cell lines, via apoptosis and arresting cell cycle in the S phase.
Peng et al, Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2009 234:1 found the plant to possess anti-cancer activity.
The related D. chrysantha, combined with Reishi mushroom, was found to enhance apoptosis and overall cell death against human leukemia cells, when combined with radiation. Kim et al, Int J Mol Medicine 2008 21:4.
The plant possesses anti-inflammatory properties, suppressing proliferation of cytokines and blocking NFkappaB activation. Zhao et al, Immunol Invest 2008 37:4.
Strawberry acts on the digestive and supporting abdominal walls. It helps prevent the formation of calculi in the kidneys, and prevents attacks of gout.
The tongue may appear swollen; hence the name Strawberry Tongue. There may be painful itching and swelling over the entire body. Skin urticaria-like swellings.
They are unwilling to make compromises. Like to dress in red colors, alternating moods like Pulsatilla. Craving for chocolate, pretzels. Sensation of saw dust or dust in eyes.
DOSE - Tincture. Use the 200th potency as a rash antidote, or for those with excessively acidic systems that overeat the fruit and have hives. Mostly based on clinical observations and effects of eating strawberries. One proving by Olaf Schramm with six provers at 30c and 200c was conducted in 2003.
Essential oil has been steam-distilled from strawberry leaves. Thirty- seven compounds have been detected, and sixteen positively identified. The major constituent is linalool (16-18%), and nonanal (6-16%). Khanizadeh et al, Hort Sci 1993 28.
When headspace volatiles were collected at different growing stages, the compositions varied greatly. In spring flowering stage, the leaves contained large amounts of (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate. This decreased with time with increases in germacrene D, and beta ocimene.
Eighty-seven compounds have been found and isolated in the fruit of wild strawberries; 2,5-dimethyl-4-methoxy-3 (2H)-furanone being the most prevalent and important.Others include 3-methyl-2-butenylacetate, methyl nicotinate, carveyl acetate, methyl anthranilate, methyl N-formylanthranilate, verbenone, citronellol, myrtenol, 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-ol, eugenol, vanillin, 2-methoxy-4- vinylphenol, and 4-vinlyphenol.
Over 200 compounds have been found in the cultivated berries. The main components are octyl butanoate, octyl 2-methylbutanoate, octyl hexanoate, gamma dodecalactone, 1,2-di-hydro-1,1,6-trimethylnaphthalene, and the most important aromatic constituent, 2,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3(2H)-furanone.
The flowers have been analyzed by headspace, and contain some of the compounds produced by the leaves, especially lipoxygenase products. Alpha muurollene, a sesquiterpene, is found in the flowers, but not the leaves. Anisaldehyde, another component, has an aroma reminiscent of strawberry flowers. Only 0.1 ppm of essential oil is present in the flowers, whereas 3 ppm is obtained from leaves. This is the reverse of most plants; and both are not commercially viable.
Domestic strawberry leaves are not very fragrant, but the wild leaves release a musky scent while drying, taking on the undertone of Russian leather. Francis Bacon called it the “best of all scents”.
The oil from leaves and fruit is used in the cosmetic industry for facial formulations.
From the strawberry seed, fatty oil (Anarin) is produced with a specific gravity of 0.974 and an iodine value of 191-193. It is a drying oil with properties similar to linseed and walnut, and yields over 19%. It consists mainly linoleic (81%) and linolenic and oleic acids (10.5%).
The press cake is rich in ellagic acid.
False Strawberry seed fatty acids are mainly composed of oleic acid and beta- sitosterol.
Wild strawberry flower essence helps mother after birth, when all her energy is gone. NEW ZEALAND
Strawberry flower essence activates the psycho-spiritual dynamics stored in the heart chakra. It stimulates visions, and eases mental rigidity. It can be for basically healthy people who need a quickening of their mental insights. PEGASUS
Strawberry flower essence is for the guilt-ridden, and self-blaming individual that often times feels unworthy or undeserving. The flower essence helps restore a strong, quiet sense of self and self- worth, as well as leaving behind a dysfunctional childhood past. It helps bring dignity, poise and grace to the user. MASTER
Strawberry essence helps men to move feelings into awareness. MIRIANA
Fragaria (F. vesca) flower essence is for individuals that have a difficulty in sharing their experiences with others and live in their own inner world. They are usually very creative, however they keep it all for themselves because of fear of not being accepted by others. Fragaria flower essence is particularly indicated for autism. FLORIAS DE MINAS
Woodland Strawberry flower essence helps to clear negative thinking and aligns your feelings and thoughts. It creates a sense of ease by separating thoughts from feelings so they can pass through your mind freely without turning into sticky emotions.
Strawberry helps you to separate your thoughts and feelings, which stops the emotionally charged tape loop. This allows the emotional center at the heart chakra to operate independently from the brain, which in turn, supports the processes of clear thinking and authentic feelings. RAVENWORKS
The distilled water of strawberry leaves is a powerful opener of blockages of the liver and spleen. It takes away jaundice and cleanses the kidneys, urinary passages and bladder. It also breaks up gravel and kidney stones and removes them; and protects against excessive sweating, when four or five tablespoons are taken in every morning and evening.
The distilled water drunke with white wine is good against the passion of the heart, reviving spirits, and making the heart merry. GERARD
The water of strawberries is a valuable thing for easing and strengthening a heart weakened by heat.
Furthermore, it quenches thirst, cools an inflamed liver, serves well in cases of ardent fever…If the face is washed often with strawberry water, it will get rid of measle rashes and red and inflamed scabs of the same. If it is gargle, it will heal abscesses as well as scurvy of the mouth. SAUER
The water of the fruit reduces thirst, relieves sweat on the back, liver and jaundice troubles, unclean scabs and bloody skin, to enlarge breasts, comforts the heart, purifies the menses and removes stone. The water from the herb is also good for all above as well as cleaning the eyes. BRUNSCHWIG
Strawberries help the individual return to the joyousness that they have received in being on the Earth in past lives. This is especially true of the leaves, which speed up the release of karma faster than regression.
There is an enhancement of the willingness to accept past lives; as well as improve memory of them. Today, when you take on a physical body through birth, you have erected many filters to block remembrance of past lives. They filter out behaviour patterns and overload the information that may bring on guilt and difficulties.
When strawberry is eaten, the effects of Venus are clearly felt in your life. GURUDAS
Strawberry’s key word is compassion. Strawberry is the most female of the herbs and is an expression of fullness or pregnancy.
Strawberry facilitates bringing things to fruition and helps us embrace life with firmness in a no nonsense style of attitude.
Strawberry helps both sexes to tune into the feminine vibration. MULDERS
The “baby” of the rose family is the strawberry. Its German name ERDBEERE- earth berry- is appropriate.
Everyone knows that it is only the outer layers of the strawberry fruit that have the delicious flavour that we so appreciate. Very large fruit can be most disappointing since the inner flesh, which is pale and spongy, is much less aromatic. The fruit repeats what the whole plant does. The fruiting process is pushed to the surface. This tendency is maintained even in the human organism. The strawberry has properties of encouraging the formation of blood. Anemic children can benefit greatly from eating strawberries if they have not developed immunity by excessive consumption.
The blood-forming property works through the organism to the periphery. Normally one does not notice this, but in certain cases it can become very disagreeable when it produces a strawberry rash. VERMUELEN
Strawberry is especially helpful during times of transition, for these are the times when we are more likely to doubt ourselves. We may merely need to adjust to specific changes in our bodies or environments: puberty, mid-life crisis, or menopause. Strawberry is also helpful during the dissolution of relationships; for the person who is left; and for the child dealing with a divorce.
Strawberry-like self worth issues are imprinted by parents, on their children. Children, in turn reaching adulthood, recreate these patterns, possibly perpetuating generations of unhealthy family patterning…Strawberry is an excellent remedy for freeing us from these deeply ingrained, hurtful patterns. LILA DEVI
Strawberries…open without reserve to their surroundings. Their red fruits are the product of the adnation of the ovaries growing together, and the many tiny seeds are deeply embedded in the juicy, full receptacle. This little berry with its appealing fragrance and its cheery red makes a friendly and modest impression. HAUSCHKA
There is a Cherokee story about a woman and man having a conflict. She leaves and he follows, but he is not able to find her. He sees the strawberries that she leaves, and they come back together to enjoy strawberry eating and “clearing-way” discussions. J.T. GARRETT
According to one legend, women mourning the death of a child were not allowed to eat strawberries before Midsummer’s Day. On that day, the Mother of God would take the children in heaven strawberry picking—and those children whose mothers had already eaten the fruit would not find any more strawberries left for them.
A legend that emerged among the mountain people of Saxony, Bohemia and Bavaria tells of how a peasant child traveling in the area went into the forest to gather strawberries and saw a woman covered with golden moss. When the woman asked the child for some of the strawberries, the child gave them to her, and she ate them and went on her way. When the child got home, she witnessed a miracle—the precious strawberries she had gathered from the forest had turned to gold.
INFUSION - Take one ounce of dried herb to one pint of water. Steep 20 minutes. Drink warm. Let it cool and strain well for eye inflammation, styes; or as a gargle for sore throats and mouth ulcers.
FERMENTED AND ROASTED LEAVES - good black tea substitute. The dried leaves must be very well-dried with no accumulation of mold.
FLUID EXTRACT - can be bought commercially.
TINCTURE- FRUIT or LEAVES - two to four mls several times daily. The tincture is prepared from fruit at 1:4 and 40%; the leaf dry at 1:5 and 25% alcohol.
FRESH FRUIT IN WINE - One to two ounces daily as needed. The commercial fruit is full of pesticides and herbicides and a decided cancer risk. Use only organic or wild fruit and leaves for recipes.
CAUTION - Strawberries contain oxalic acid that may aggravate stone formation in those prone to kidney stones. Maybe.
DECOCTION - False Strawberry- 9-15 grams as needed.
CULTIVATION - Work by Loughrin and Kasperbauer in the Journal of Agric Food Chemistry 2002 50 found that the growth, aroma and taste of fresh strawberries is greatly enhanced by ripening over red vs. black plastic mulch. It is speculated that the reflected red and far red light stimulated the plant to put more energy into the fruit. Other red fruit, such as tomatoes, showed increased yields as well.