Chamomile is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs. There are two types of chamomile -German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis).
The Egyptians used chamomile as a cure for a condition called ‘agu’, which is a form of malaria. The Egyptians dedicated chamomile to their sun gods since the flower reminded them of the sun. It was associated with the god Ra for its healing powers.
The Romans also dedicated chamomile to their gods. Chamomile was also used by India’s ancient Ayurvedic physicians. The Vikings added chamomile to hair shampoos to aid the lightening of blond hair.
Chamomile was used by the ancient Egyptians and the Moors, and it was one of the Saxons’ nine sacred herbs, which they called ‘Maythen.’
Egyptians recorded the use of chamomile tea, in a papyrus that dates from 1550 BC. It was known to the Romans as well as the Celts and Egyptians, and is still regarded as one of the most basic herbal teas to have in a modern larder.
Why to have a herbal garden?
The idea of herbal garden is to have small plants or herbs, which have medicinal values. We do not require lots of spaces to nurture herbal plants and the advantage is twofold, we get some greenery around us, and are more likely to be benefited from these as these are readily available and we are not required to make extra effort to obtain these. Best thing which I like about herbs is that they don’t have any expiration date like any other medicine and also they have no side effects. I will be detailing about more herbs later in my posts, following is some information on Camomile:
Properties and uses of Camomile
– It has a sweet fruity fragrance.
– It is widely used for aromatherapy because of its soothing and calming effect.
– It is used to end stress and aid sleep.
– It can also be used in toothache or ear ache.
– Effective in treatment of diarrhoea for children.
– It is used in cardiovascular conditions.
– Effective in Eczema.
A cup of chamomile tea can calm nervous tension and relieve stress. It soothes an upset stomach in adults and children, and its mild sweet taste and beneficial qualities make it ever popular. Also, this is found to be effective in common cold. This herb is traditionally used in over 100 conditions.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered a calming herb. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic).
Early herbalists and writers praised lemon balm for its medicinal and uplifting qualities. Eleventh century Persian physician and philosopher Avicenna was an early advocate for the use of lemon balm in treating depression/melancholy. According to an old Arabian proverb, “Balm makes the heart merry and joyful.”
Medicinal uses of Lemon Balm
This plant has a very nice lemon minty scent. Crushed leaves can be used externally as well.
As a mosquito repellent.
To treat insect bites.
To treat soars.
Infusion of leaves with water are used to treat
indigestion due to nervous tension.
digestive upset in children.
Several studies show that lemon balm combined with other calming herbs (such as valerian, hops, and chamomile) helps reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Some studies suggest that topical ointments containing lemon balm may help heal cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
First century Greek physician Dioscorides wrote that lemon balm would promote menstruation, improve gout, remedy toothaches and if mixed with wine, could be used to treat scorpion stings and dog bites. Later English herbalists John Gerard and Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) shared
Dioscorides’ beliefs on many of lemon balm’s uses. Gerard wrote that, “Bawme drunken in wine is good against the bitings of venomous beasts, comforts the heart, and driveth away all melancholy and sadness.
Lemon balm is a surprisingly versatile culinary herb which can be used to flavor many different types of dishes, from beverages, to appetizers, main courses and desserts. It can be added to salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, butters, cheeses, fish, stuffings for poultry, pork and veal, egg dishes, vegetables, fruit cups, jams, jellies, sauces, marinades, dressings, herb vinegar, wine, punch, cakes, custards, tarts, sorbets, ice cream, cookies, crepes, pies and cheesecakes.
The word “feverfew” derives from the Latin word febrifugia, meaning “fever reducer.” This herb is one of the useful herbs. The first use of this plant is documented as early as first century. Though the plant has been used as a herbal treatment to reduce fever and to treat headaches, arthritis and digestive problems, this is not supported by scientific findings.
Normally used parts of this herb are Bark, dried flowers, and leaves.
It is used in prevention of headache and migraine, it treats the cause of headache rather then simply the pain.
It is used in relieving the pain and inflammation in arthritis.
It helps to lessen stomach irritation.
It helps to ease menstrual cramps.
It can be applied externally as tincture, and is used to treat bruises.
It help to relieve fever.
It stimulate appetite.
Improves digestion and kidney function.
Legends and myths surrounding herbs – Feverfew
There is a legend about feverfew, that this herb saved the life of a person who fell off the famous temple in ancient Greece, the Parthenon. Hence, the name parthenium.
The Greek herbalist Dioscorides is believed to have treated arthritis with the herb feverfew. In 1649, Culpeper recommended feverfew for headaches and to strengthen women’s wombs. In 1772, another famous herbalist, John Hill, treated headaches. He also stated “this herb exceeds whatever else is known.”
In 1985, it was reported that extracts of feverfew inhibited the release of 2 inflammatory substances; serotonin from platelets and prostaglandin from white blood cells. Both are thought to contribute to the onset of migraine attacks and perhaps even to play a role in rheumatoid arthritis.
Nature has got a number of herbs, which help humans and animals. Feverfew is one of those herbs, which are useful to mankind.
One of the important herbs from ancient times – Great Burdock
The herb Burdock’s root is a taproot of greater burdock plant, used as a vegetable and medicinal herb. The plant is a short biennial, which believed to be native to Northern Europe and Siberia. In Japan, popular as gobo, it is cultivated as a major root herb since ancient times. However, burdock grows as a wild, easy growing hardy plant almost in any parts of the planet.
This common weed was prized by the Celts, who cooked its roots for medicinal use. They considered burdock a detoxifying herb and consumed it freely to cleanse the internal system. They gave it to the elderly to treat ailments like arthritis and to teens to heal acne.
Folk herbalists consider dried burdock to be a diuretic, diaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent. Various parts are used to prevent baldness and to treat rheumatoid arthritis, skin infections, acne, boils, bites, eczema, herpes, impetigo, rashes, ringworm, sore throat, sciatica, poison ivy and poison oak, as a tonic, diuretic and mild laxative, to stimulate bile production and to induce sweating.
Once widely used in cleansing remedies, burdock is familiar for its hooked burrs, which readily attach themselves to clothing. This property is reflected in the herb’s botanical name, from the Greek arktos, or bear, suggesting rough-coated fruits, and lappa, to seize. Burdock was a traditional blood purifier, often combined in fold brews such as dandelion and burdock wine, and it was once popular for indigestion. In China, the seeds, niu bang zi, are used to dispel “wind and heat evils”; they also lower blood sugar levels.
Sometimes planted in Japan, where it has been improved by cultivation for its enlarged parsnip-like roots, which are eaten as a boiled vegetable. Burdock is a common European weed; was brought to America as a medicinal plant. It soon became widely scattered, because the burdock seeds attached themselves to colonists’ breeches, clothes and the fur of animals. Millspaugh wrote, “the herb is so rank that man, the jackass, and the caterpillar are the only animals that will eat it.”
-It grows well in fresh, worked soil rich in humus, and should be positioned in direct sunlight.
Dioscorides, a first century Greek physician, gave milk thistlethe name Silybum marianum. Silybum relates to a number of edible thistles and marianumhonors the symbolic associations to the Virgin Mary. This is one of the important herbs which nature has provided to us. This is one of the herbs, which is used widely in liver disorders. The liver-protective effects were known and written about in ancient times, leading to the active chemical, pharmacological, and safety research beginning in Germany in the 1950s. Clinical use for a variety of liver ailments, such as hepatitis, has also prospered throughout many parts of the world.
The part of the plant used in modern day herbal medicine is the seeds. Good quality seeds are black and shiny. For many centuries extract of this herb is used as a liver tonic. They are taken internally to treat the following:
Liver and gall bladder disease.
Hepatitis (liver inflammation).
High cholesterol levels.
Insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have cirrhosis.
The growth of cancer cells in breast, cervical, and prostate cancers.
Effects of a hangover.
Useful herbs – legend around Milk thistle
Legend has it that the white mottling of the leaves of milk thistle was caused by a drop of the Virgin Mary’s milk. The plant was traditionally used to stimulate milk production. Its scientific name is Silybum marianumwas a name given to some edible thistles in the first century by a Greek physician, and marianum is a reference to the Virgin Mary legend.
Originating in Kashmir, India milk thistle found its way to Europe during the Middle Ages. Milk thistle was cultivated in European gardens as a vegetable until the end of the 19th century. All parts of the plant were consumed.
Aloe Vera – One of the important herbs provided by nature
Aloe vera is one of the most useful herbs which is helpful in various conditions.
History of Aloe Vera
The generations of past mention the healing methods of Aloe vera plants being handed down through the centuries by word of mouth. We find that the use of Aloe vera appears throughout history with many testimonials of its medicinal values. The earliest record of Aloe vera use comes from the Egyptians. There are records of the Egyptians drawing pictures of Aloe vera plants on the walls of the temples. Many cultures such as the Egyptians would have even elevated the plant to a ‘god-like’ status. The healing properties of the Aloe vera were utilized for centuries earning the name “Plant of Immortality”.
Aloe vera grows well under the sun with well drained dry soil. The sap from aloe vera is extremely useful to speed up the healing and reducing the risk of infections for :
– reducing inflammation
– Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera is also taken internally in the treatment of :
– chronic constipation
– poor appetite
– digestive problems
Aloe vera is used in natural and processed form both. In Africa today, people still pack whole Aloe leaves around their wounds, and in South America, mothers coat the arms and legs of children to keep biting insects away. In India, aloe vera juice is sold by various manufacturers targeting a large user group.
Legends around Aloe Vera – one of the useful herbs
There are many legends about Aloe. It is said that Aristotle advised Alexander the Great to conquer the Island of Socotra to secure its Aloe harvest for his troops medical needs. Another legend tells us Queen Cleopatra used Aloe to keep her skin soft and beautiful. We don’t know if the story is true, of course, but recent scientific findings confirm this.