Monday, March 5, 2012

Some Vines, Ground Covers and Weeds with Medicinal Uses

Long before there were big pharmaceutical companies and drug store chains, medicines came from plants found in nature or cultivated in home gardens for that purpose. Those medicinal plants are all still here, if you know where to look. The list below includes just a few of the plants that have been used traditionally for medicine. How many are you familiar with? Perhaps this post will give you a new way to see and appreciate plants, including the weeds, you find around you. 
Note: The source for this post is "Natural Healing for Women" by Susan Curtis and Romy Fraser, 1991. A new edition of this book is available at Amazon. I am not offering this information as medical advice. See a naturopath or homeopath if you are interested in herbal treatments. 

Vines

Hops - Humulus lupulus
This herb is used primarily for stomach disorders, such as colitis and nervous stomach. Hops help the gut assimilate food and the body put on weight. They also have anti-bacterial properties and are used to treat pustular skin diseases, weeping eczema, acne and impetigo.

Jasmine - Jasminium officinale
The fragrance of jasmine oil has an effect on the emotions and is most effective when there is a clear link between psychological stress and physical discomfort. It is considered to be a classic aphrodisiac, used to treat both frigidity and impotency. It can help relieve depression and menstrual cramps.

Passionflower - Passiflora incarnata
Passionflower is a calming herb, useful to take when there is a build up of energy and thought that leads to insomnia. It has anti-spasmodic properties and is used to treat epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and neuralgia.

Ground Covers

Kinnickinnick - Arctostaphylos uva ursi
Kinnickinnick is a urinary antiseptic, used to treat chronic urinary tract infections. It also helps dissolve and pass kidney stones. It should not be used during pregnancy.

Ladies mantle - Alchemilla vulgaris
This is a warming herb used to treat cold and weak conditions. It is good for painful periods. It has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to treat mouth ulcers and as a gargle to relieve laryngitis.

Periwinkle - Vinca major
This herb contains an alkaloid called vincamine which has the effect of increasing oxygen to the brain. It is used when overwork causes giddiness, poor memory, headaches and vertigo. It is an astringent and aids in clotting blood. It is used for gut problems such as colitis and can be used to prevent nosebleeds.

St. John's Wort - Hypericum perforatum
St. John's wort is used when the body needs revitalizing; it is good for overspent people or those low in energy. It is an effective anti-depressant and can help poor memory. This herb stimulates cell respiration, soothes the pain of exposed or pinched nerves and aids healing.

Sweet Woodruff - Asperula odorata
This herb is good for the congested liver when there is constipation and irritability. It calms the nervous system, especially in cases of poor digestion and insomnia. As a dried herb, woodruff can be used by itself or with lavender as an insect repellant.

Thyme - Thymus vulgaris
Thyme has many medicinal uses. In the respiratory system, it has an antispasmodic effect on the lungs, as well as being an expectorant. It is useful in the treatment of respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, TB or emphysema. It can be taken for indigestion, and inflammation or infection in the digestive tract. It helps relieve diarrhea. Thyme is also anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral.

White deadnettle - Lamium album
Lamium has astringent and anti-spasmodic properties. It is good for balancing the female reproductive system and is beneficial for tired and debilitated women.

Weeds


Chickweed - Stellaria media
This is a cooling and moistening herb that can be used internally or externally. It is particularly good for the lungs, skin and joints. It is slightly diuretic which makes it cleansing of the whole system, thus good for treating rheumatism where joints are hot and tender. Chickweed calms the heart and can be given for palpitations. 


Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale
There are enzymes in the whole plant that activate kidney and liver secretions and functioning. Dandelion stimulates the general metabolism, aids cell respiration and is particularly good as a spring tonic. It is good for treating diabetes, because it helps the pancreas work more efficiently, and for rheumatoid arthritis, gout and kidney disorders.

Horsetail - Equisetum arvense
Horsetail has wide ranging actions. It contains saponins which make it diuretic. It strengthens the tone of the bladder and helps with difficult menstrual periods. It also contains silica which makes it good for the connective tissues of the body. It is used to strengthen weak joints and treat arthritis. An infusion of horsetail can be used as a hair-rinse for split ends. It can also be taken internally for weak and brittle nails.