Herbs to Combat Epilepsy
By Delia Howell
Valerian is currently one of the most popular antispasmodic medications in Russia and Germany. Its anti-convulsant action has proven useful in treating epilepsy. My experience with herbs has shown what is a treatment for a condition is quite often a preventative for the condition.
Valerian was used in World War I to prevent shell shock in front-line troops. In the Middle Ages it was used primarily as a cooking herb in soups and stews. By the 18th century, it was recommended for nervous disorders like fear, panic, and even fainting.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Valerian is the almost total lack of toxicity, even with long term use. Valerian is classified as a tonic herb and it can regulate and balance opposite extremes.Recent research has shown it to be a sedative but more research has reported it can also stimulate in a way as to improve coordination, increase concentration and energy.
Another way Valerian has been characterized by clinical studies is that it has neuro-tropic effects directly on higher centers of the central nervous system, therefore Valerian is considered to be a central nervous system relaxant and as such has been used as a calming sleep aid for over 2000 years.
This tonic nature of Valerian allows it to depress or stimulate where necessary, depending on the current needs of the nervous system. When taken in proper dosage, Valerian can induce restful sleep without the grogginess that occurs from taking prescription and even some over the counter drugs. It is much safer than over the counter or prescription sleep aids when used with alcohol being present, as it doesn’t magnify the effects of alcohol as do its prescription counterparts. It is widely used in Europe and is rapidly gaining popularity here in the States. Many people are turned off by the rather pungent odor of Valerian root, which occurs when it is dried. Fresh Valerian Root does not emit this odor.
The root can be distilled into oils and ointments, or dried and used in teas or capsules.
Valerian is contraindicated in pregnant and breast feeding women, but otherwise is a safe herb to use intermittently when needed for stress or sleep related problems. Overdose is unlikely, so experiment with dosages that work best for you.
The usual dose with oil is 1 teaspoon as needed, and with a tea or capsule, 1-2 cups or tablets as needed.
Valerian principally acts as a mild sedative and antispasmodic. Research has identified that the components in valerian root act very similar to that of Ativan, Valium and Xanax without the side effects.
Cautions for Using the Herb Valerian
Although Valerian is recommended for its very effective analgesic and tranquilizing effects, it is slightly narcotic; used excessively, it causes hallucinations, agitation and dizziness. It is not advised to use Valerian for more than two weeks at a time or at the same time as other sedatives and sleeping pills; those with liver problems should also avoid Valerian. It is recommended to exercise caution when using it as a herb; in use as an essential oil, it should also be used in moderation.
Panax Ginseng: perhaps the most famous medicinal plant of China, is considered a tonic to whole body and has folk use for this condition.
Other Common Names are Chinese Ginseng, Asiatic ginseng, Japanese Ginseng, Korean Red ginseng, Red Ginseng, Oriental ginseng.
Ginseng which literally means “root of man”, is one of the world’s best known herbal remedy, it has been used in Asia for more than 5,000 years as tonic and rejuvenator. It is one variety of ginseng that is most prized by the Chinese, the name “Panax” comes from the Greek word “panacea”, meaning “cure all”. The medicinal properties of Panax ginseng are found in both the leaf and its light tan root; which sometimes resemble a human body. A portion that looked like a man would command a higher price than an entire bale of nondescript roots.
The panax ginseng plant grows best in the cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere and reaches a height of about one foot. It has yellowish-green umbrella-shaped flowers that grow in a circle around a straight stem, with its five leaflets joined together at one point, it blooms in midsummer. The fruit is a bright crimson berry containing one to three wrinkled seeds the size of small peas. Wrinkles around the neck of the root tell how old the plant is; when the root is mature it is 2-4 inches long, 1 inch thick. The roots of the plants become forked when they mature after 5-7 years.
Ginseng is the most famous rejuvenator. It detoxifies the blood, feeds and stimulates the brain, nervous system, aids digestion, improves metabolism, normalizes glucose levels in the blood, help on assimilation of vitamins and minerals and helps in improving fertility in men. Saponius in Panax Ginseng protects the liver cells from damage when exposed to toxic chemicals. Ginseng also has beneficial effects on cellular growth, ginseng stimulate DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), protein and lipid synthesis. The stimulating effect of ginseng on the cells, glands and organs will only be up to normal, ginseng doesn’t have an over stimulation effect.
Epilepsy: The effect of ginseng in the treatment of epilepsy is not immediate, but continuous and prolonged use brings a complete cure. A case I’ve read was a young kid age 10 that had his first attack (idiopathic type of epilepsy) at age 9mos. EEG examination was positive. He was given conventional drugs used in the treatment of epilepsy like Phenobarbital. Seizure still recurred daily, twice or once a week. Ginseng was given as supplement at the age of 4years at a dose of 100mg. and attacks lessened, both in intensity and frequency after one year of intake. At age 6, convulsions disappeared completely. At the age of 7, after a year without attacks, EEG became normal. All medications were discontinued except ginseng. It was believed recovery would have been even faster if the dosage was increased as the child grew.
The cure was due to the rejuvenation of the brain cells. There is also proper formation of acetylcholine and choline-sterase. Acetylcholine stimulates the nerve cell to generate small electric charge which is transmitted to the next cell carrying messages back and forth from the brain. Choline-sterase enables the nerve cell to recuperate and recharge itself. Thus promotes the normal formation and transmission of impulses. There are also many instances where seizures stopped completely when only ginseng was given. No conventional drugs were used in the treatment of their epilepsy.
There is no available man made drug that can bring about a cure in epilepsy. Drugs such as Phenobarbital, phenytoin, carbamazephine, are only used to diminish the intensity, duration and frequency of attacks.
Adults with epilepsy may take 400mg to 600mg of Panax ginseng processed by modern methods, or you can follow the dosage of the product you purchase.
Ginseng may be given as a treatment in all types of disease especially those that are known to be incurable by modern medicine. It has no contraindications.
Don’t take ginseng with Vitamin C or fruit juices (citrus juices especially). Vitamin C destroy ginseng. Take your Vitamin C 4hours after you have taken ginseng.
Taking Ginseng with Golden Sage helps to prevent rheumatism, neuralgia, hemorrhages and improves teeth. It helps in the prevention of spasms and chills, colds and pleurisy. It is also found beneficial against migraines and headaches.
Royal Jelly and Ginseng is one of the most energizing and vitalizing combination, given that the nutritional values in each stimulate brain and nervous function and provide the muscles with vital energy. Both products work as adapters they help the body obtain stability in moments of stress and nervous tension.
Panax ginseng is considered an adaptogen” because of its unique ability to normalize whatever is out of balance in the body.
It works to stimulate and improve the working of the brain with it’s oxygenation properties. It is therefore beneficial in promoting physical and mental alertness.
It is believed to increase women’s level of hormones therefore recommended for menopausal symptoms.
It not only inhibits the production of cancer cells but actually converts the abnormal cells into normal ones.
Panax ginseng possesses a stimulatory effect on sexual function in males and females that is why ginseng has reputation for enhancing sexual desire.
It increases sperm production with a marked decrease in erectile dysfunction. It may be taken by mouth or applied topically, directly to the penis to treat erectile dysfunction in men.
Panax ginseng helps lower the blood alcohol content by reducing absorption from the stomach.
Panax ginseng decreases harmful LDL cholesterol and increases beneficial cholesterol HDL levels.
Panax ginseng stimulates weight and tissue growth and thereby enhances the body’s resistance to disease.
Safety: Panax ginseng is a mild herb and is considered safe. The recommended daily dose is small and large doses of ginseng are not recommended or necessary. Taking large doses of ginseng in combination with stimulants, including caffeine, is also not recommended.
Side Effects: Side effects associated with taking Panax ginseng are generally mild and temporary. They usually diminish after a few days and they may include: Blood pressure changes, Breast pain, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Headache, Heart rate changes, Insomnia, Itching, Loss of appetite, Mood changes, Nervousness.
Studies recommend that ginseng should not be used continuously for periods of time longer than three months. The recommended period of use is one month followed by a rest period of two months.
Ginseng is best avoided by those with high blood pressure or anxiety conditions and during pregnancy.
Panax ginseng has been shown to increase the time blood needs to clot. When it is taken with anti-platelet or anticoagulant drugs, the effect of the drug may be increased, possibly resulting in uncontrolled bleeding.
It is important to know that taking ginseng is not a substitute for other medical interventions. Always ask for your doctors approval if you are planning to take other herbal remedies.
There has been confusion about the toxicity of this herb but paying attention to the correct botanical and current safety warnings, the herb can safely be used.
From the Middle Ages to the last century, literature is filled with examples of different uses for mistletoe plants, especially among rural people. It was cut, tied in bunches, and hung in front of cottages to scare away passing demons. It was hung over doors of stables to protect horses and cattle against witchcraft. In Sweden, it was kept in houses to prevent fire. Swedish farmers hung mistletoe in the horse’s stall and the cow’s crib, to protect against evil trolls. They also used the wood to make divining rods. In Italy it was believed to be able to extinguish fire. It was widely held to be a universal healer. As a potion it would make barren animals conceive. Even Pliny had known it was a cure for epilepsy, and that it could be used to promote conception. It healed ulcers if chewed. In Wales, mistletoe gathered on Midsummer Eve was placed under the pillow at Yuletide to induce prophetic dreams. Norwegian peasants hung mistletoe from the rafters of their homes to protect against lightning. There are various customs in several countries that utilized mistletoe plants in rituals to find treasure. Collectively, these customs prove that mistletoe had a profound effect on people’s lives and imaginations since the remotest past of human history. Herbal medicine has used mistletoe for many centuries-the Druidic legends are perhaps the oldest recorded uses, but mistletoe has also been found in the stomachs of bog-bodies, implying that it was used as a medicine or perhaps, a ritual last meal.
Mistletoe has a historical use for epilepsy but no recent studies in the U.S.( that I know of), have focused on this condition. Hippocrates claimed it was highly effective remedy for the spleen and some modern European physicians believe treating the spleen may be beneficial in epilepsy. Sir John Colbatch, an English Physician in 1720 wrote a small publication titled The Treatment of Epilepsy by Mistletoe, in which he suggested, “that there must be something extraordinary about that uncommon beautiful plant, that the Almighty had designed it for further and more noble uses than barely to feed thrushes or to be hung up superstitiously”. He was experimenting with mistletoe as an epilepsy treatment, but he was just one of many mistletoe researchers throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. There was a lot of research going on in the German speaking parts of Europe, and it was there that Rudolf Steiner, in the 1920’s, predicted that the plant should have medicinal value against what was once a rare disease called Cancer.
The plant is currently being used in Europe to treat tumors. Iscador is an extract of the European mistletoe plant that is said to stimulate the immune system and kill cancer cells. It reportedly reduces the size of tumors and improves the quality of life. Iscador is one brand name of the mistletoe extract in Europe, and other brand names include Helixor and Eurixor.
Iscador may be injected before surgery for cancers of the cervix, ovary, breast, stomach, colon, and lung. Cancer treatments can take several months to several years. The treatment is given by subcutaneous injection, preferably near the tumor. Although Iscador may be injected into the tumor, especially tumors of the liver, cervix, or esophagus.
The dosage of Iscador varies according to the patient’s age, sex, physical condition, and type of cancer. The treatment usually is given in the morning three to seven days per week. As treatment continues, the dosage may be increased or adjusted.
European cancer research has been conducted since the 1960s, and most has involved European mistletoe. However, researchers believe there may be some similar active components in other species. In the United States, some cancer patients may qualify for participation in clinical trials of Iscador.
Advocates of Iscador believe it can stimulate the immune system, kill cancer cells, inhibit the formation of tumors, and extend the survival time of cancer patients. They maintain that mistletoe can help prevent cancer and serve as companion therapy for standard cancer treatments. They also feel that mistletoe could possibly repair the DNA that is decreased by chemotherapy and radiation.
Mistletoe extract has also been used to combat AIDS. In 1998 European studies, Iscador injections were used to improve the immune response. Experts reported from early results that when patients were given Iscador, no additional progression of HIV was seen. The combination of Iscador with standard therapy could be potentially beneficial, but more research is needed.
In 1996, the first United States patent was issued for T4GEN, a pharmaceutical version of the mistletoe extract. ABT Global Pharmaceutical of Irvine, California (the patent owner) has developed the synthetic version to be tested and potentially approved as a drug by the FDA. As of summer 2000, there have been no further announcements about T4GEN research. Personally, I’m of the school that says steer clear of synthetic versions of natural sources.
Mistletoe is known popularly as the plant sprig that people kiss beneath during the Christmas season. That custom dates back to pagan times when, according to legend, the plant was thought to inspire passion and increase fertility.
There are some differences among the species. American mistletoe is said to cause a rise in blood pressure, while its European counterpart is believed to lower blood pressure.
Although mistletoe appears to be a multipurpose remedy, there is disagreement among US medical experts about the safety and effectiveness of this herb.
In alternative medicine, the leaves, twigs, and sometimes the berries of mistletoe are used. In Europe, mistletoe remedies range from tea made from mistletoe leaves to injections of Iscador. While European research indicates that mistletoe is safe and effective, sources in the United States maintain that the berries are poisonous and that the herb can cause liver damage.
Since mistletoe has not been tested by the FDA, many experts urge caution until more research is completed. European research includes work completed by Germany’s Commission E, a governmental agency that studies herbal remedies for approval as over-the-counter drugs. An English version of the German Commission E monographs was published in 1997 and was the basis for the 1998 PDR (Physicians’ Desk Reference) for Herbal Medicines.
Mistletoe tea may be taken for high blood pressure, asthma, epilepsy, nervousness, diarrhea, hysteria, whooping cough, amenorrhea, vertiginous attacks, and chorea. The tea is prepared by adding 1 tsp of finely cut mistletoe to 1 cup of cold water. The solution is steeped at room temperature for 12 hours and then strained. Up to 12 cups of tea may be consumed each day.
Mistletoe wine is prepared by mixing 8 tsp of the herb into 34 oz of wine. After three days, the wine can be consumed. Three to four glasses of medicinal wine may be consumed each day.
Mistletoe must be stored away from light and kept above a drying agent.
Opinions are sharply divided on how safe and effective the herb is as a home remedy and in the treatment of conditions like cancer and AIDS. There is controversy about which parts of the plants are poisonous. Although the berries are classified as poisonous in the United States, some sources say that eating berries is only dangerous for babies, and only if handfuls are consumed. Pregnant or breast-feeding women, however, should not use the plant.
According to a report from the Hepatitis Foundation International, mistletoe is toxic to the liver. However, the PDR for Herbal Medicines advises that there are no health hazards when mistletoe is taken properly and in designated therapeutic dosages. Other sources state that mistletoe’s toxicity could cause cardiac arrest.
People considering mistletoe should consult with their doctor or practitioner. Until there is definitive proof otherwise, there is a risk that the herbal remedies will conflict with conventional treatment.
In 1998, the American Cancer Society stated that mistletoe does not cure cancer. The society cautioned that herbal remedies such as mistletoe should not take the place of conventional treatment in life-threatening diseases like cancer.
Herbal experts including Varro Tyler advise against using mistletoe as a beverage or home remedy until more definitive research is completed. Tyler, a respected pharmacognosist, is the co-author of the 1999 Tyler’s Honest Herbal.
Warning from the FDA: Mistletoe may be potentially toxic to the liver. For people diagnosed with hepatitis, use of an herb like mistletoe may cause additional liver damage. However, advocates of mistletoe point out that the herb has been tested in Europe. That research indicated less severe side effects.
Commercial mistletoe extracts may produce fewer side effects. The body temperature may rise and there may be flu-like symptoms. The patient may experience nausea, abdominal pain, and (if given the extract injection) inflammation around the injection sight. In a slight number of cases, allergy symptoms have resulted.
Mistletoe shouldn’t be used by people who take monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor antidepressants like Nardil. Potential reactions include a dangerous rise in blood pressure. Cancer patients considering mistletoe treatment should first consult with their doctor or practitioner.
The tincture has been recommended as a heart tonic in typhoid fever in place of Foxglove. It lessens reflex irritability and strengthens the heart’s beat, whilst raising the frequency of a slow pulse.
Besides the dried leaves being given powdered, or as an infusion, or made into a tincture with spirits of wine, a decoction may be made by boiling 2 OZ. of the bruised green plant with 1/2 pint of water, giving 1 tablespoonful for a dose several times a day. Ten to 60 grains of the powder may be taken as a dose, and homoeopathists give 5 to 10 drops of the tincture, with 1 or 2 tablespoonfuls of cold water. Mistletoe is also given, combined with Valerian Root and Vervain, for all kinds of nervous complaints, cayenne pods being added in cases of debility of the digestive organs.
Fluid extract: dose, 1/4 to 1 drachm.
Country people use the berries to cure severe stitches in the side. The birdlime of the berries is also employed by them as an application to ulcers and sores.
It is stated that in Sweden, persons afflicted with epilepsy carry about with them a knife having a handle of Oak Mistletoe to ward off attacks.
Motherwort was used to calm epileptics during the 17th century and now is used as a nerve tonic and sedative. Current evidence has confirmed its benefits as a cardio-tonic and hot-water extracts also show sedative and anti-epileptic effects in animals.
Motherwort is predominantly an alternative medicine for the female womb problems. It belongs to the mint family and is often called by the name Lion’s Ear. Motherwort is a hardy perennial that grows to 3 or 4 feet tall. It has squared and hollow stems, with serrated leaves and pretty pink or white flowers that come out between June to August.
Magical Properties and Lore: Motherwort is an excellent herb to use for protection, especially for women and children. Planted around the home, or hanging above the doorway, it is said to keep away evil spirits and other unwelcome guests. Used in a Witch Bottle it can be used to protect from or reverse a curse.
It is associated with Venus, the Moon, and Women’s Mysteries, and is an excellent herb to use during a lunar ritual, or to honor Goddesses of fertility and motherhood.
Also helpful to bring a sense of purpose to one who feels lost in their life, as well to attract joy and success.
Other Uses: An excellent plant to have in the garden as it will attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and it is also said to improve soil conditions in the garden.
Cultivating: Motherwort can be propagated by seed, or can be readily bought as a plant. If growing from seed, plant as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring, and when there is no threat of frost. If you are planting an already grown plant, that can be done anytime from spring to late summer.
It prefers well-drained soil, and to be planted in full sun to partial shade, about 12 inches from each other. Water as necessary, keeping the soil slightly moist.
Recommended not to harvest in the first year, so the plant can establish it self. When harvesting, collect the leaves and flowers by clipping the stalk, when the flowers are fully blooming, between early July to August. Be sure to leave enough flowers so has some seeds left over to re-sow itself.
This herb is also effective in the treatment of many other health disorders.
- It is a remedy for epilepsy.
- It is a treatment for heart complaints such as palpitations, irregular heartbeats and rapid heart rate.
- It is a sedative for insomnia, anxiety and nervousness.
- It eases PMS and symptoms of menopause.
- It lowers high blood pressure.
- It is a remedy for digestive problems such as cramps, gas and stomach pain.
- It is a treatment for respiratory passages congestion and shortness of breath.
- It is used topically to treat shingles and itching.
- It is used externally to improve eyesight.
Research has shown that Motherwort is able to calm palpitations and irregular heartbeat. It is used as a specific remedy for tachycardia caused by anxiety, and for all heart conditions that produce anxiety and tension. The glycosides in this herb have the short-term ability to lower blood pressure. Motherwort seeds are effective in stimulating a suppressed or delayed menstruation, and can ease dysmenorrhoea, especially when there is anxiety or tension involved. It has also been used to ease false labor pains, and when taken as an infusion after childbirth, helps restore the uterus and reduce the risk of postpartum bleeding. Motherwort is also helpful in reducing the effects of menopause. The seeds are also said to brighten vision, and a decoction of seeds is used to relieve conjunctivitis or sore and tired eyes. The aerial part of the plant is used to treat eczema and sores. An infusion or diluted Motherwort tincture can be used as a douche for vaginal infections and discharges.
Motherwort Dosage Information
To treat blood pressure, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and anxiety, Motherwort should be taken for several months for best results. This herb comes in various forms so it is important to read and follow product label directions for treating your condition.
Motherwort Safety & Interaction Information
Motherwort is a uterine stimulant and should be avoided during pregnancy, although it may be used during labor. There have been some incidents of dermatitis upon contact with the plant in susceptible individuals. It is suggested that those individuals with clotting disorders, high blood pressure, or heart disease refrain from using Motherwort.
Warnings: As with all herbs, one should make sure to be thoroughly informed before ingesting them, and is best to do so under the guidance of a qualified healer. Motherwort is reported to cause dermatitis by touching the plant for sensitive individuals, and ingesting the oil can cause photosensitivity. It is also cautioned that it may induce miscarriage during pregnancy.
Susun Weed in her book the Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year‘Limit the use of Motherwort if you begin to feel that you can’t get through the day without it, as this calming herb may be habit forming’ when using for sleeplessness.
Motherwort has been noted for its healing virtues by various cultures throughout history. In early Greece, it was given to mothers-to-be who were suffering from nervousness, which is possibly why the plant became known as ‘mother’s wort/herb’.
According to Herbalpedia the ancient Chinese used the herb to promote longevity, and in Europe it was first used as a treatment for ailments in cattle.
Today it is often recommended by herbalists for heart conditions, anxiety, sleeplessness, epilepsy, to ease childbirth, and is very helpful for menopausal women.
Mugwort also known as common artemisia, felon herb, St. John’s herb, chrysanthemum weed, sailor’s tobacco is a close relative of wormwood.
Mugwort’s name is from that of the Greek moon goddess Artemis, a patron of women. It has a long history of folk tradition and use. Anglo-Saxon tribes believed that the aromatic mugwort was one of the nine sacred herbs given to the world by the god Woden. It was used as a flavoring additive to beer before hops became widely used. Mugwort is considered a magickal herb, with special properties to protect road-weary travelers against exhaustion. The Romans planted it by roadsides where it would be available to passersby to put in their shoes to relieve aching feet. St. John the Baptist was said to have worn a girdle of mugwort when he set out into the wilderness. Some of the magic in is in its reputed ability to induce prophetic and vivid dreams when the herb is placed near the bed or under the sleeper’s pillow. In Pagan ceremony, a garland or belt of mugwort is worn while dancing around the fire during summer solstice celebrations. The herb is then thrown into the fire to ensure continued protection throughout the coming year. This herb has long been considered an herbal ally for women with particular benefit in regulating the menstrual cycle and easing the transition to menopause. Mugwort is a tall and hardy European native with stout, angular, slightly hairy stems tinged with a purple hue. Leaves, which may be as long as 4 in (10 cm), are deeply divided with numerous lance-shaped, pointed segments, which may be toothed or entire. They are arranged alternately along the erect, grooved stem and are a dark green on top and pale green with downy hairs on the underside. Mugwort has a pungent aroma when the leaves are crushed. In late summer the small reddish-yellow disk flowers cluster in long spikes at the top of the plant. Plants may reach to 6 ft (2 m) or more in height. This tenacious herb has naturalized throughout North America and may be found growing wild in rocky soils, along streams and embankments, and in rubble and other waste places, particularly in the eastern United States. In some areas, including North Carolina and Virginia, it is characterized as a noxious, alien weed. Mugwort root is about 8 in (20 cm) long with many thin rootlets. It spreads from stout and persistent rhizomes, particularly in the eastern United States.
Extracts of Mugwort have been injected into research subjects confirming its sedative effects so researchers conclude it is possible the herb could be beneficial for epilepsy. Mugwort has been used for this condition.
Mugwort leaf and stem are used medicinally. It acts as a bitter digestive tonic, uterine stimulant, nervine, menstrual regulator, and anti-rheumatic. The volatile oil includes thujone, linalool, borneol, pinene, and other constituents. The herb also contains hydroxycoumarins, lipohilic flavonoids, vulgarin, and triterpenes. Mugwort acts as an emmenagogue, an agent that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and stimulates menstruation. It is a useful remedy for painful and irregular menstruation. A compress of the herb has been used to help promote labor and assist with expulsion of the afterbirth. A mild infusion of mugwort is useful as a digestive stimulant. It is helpful in cases of mild depression and nervous tension. The herb also may stimulate the appetite. A weak infusion of mugwort has sedative properties that may quiet restlessness and anxiety. Its antispasmodic action may relieve persistent vomiting, and has been used in the treatment of epilepsy. Mugwort added to bath water is an aromatic and soothing treatment for relief of aches in the muscles and joints. In a clinical trial, crushed fresh mugwort leaves applied to the skin were shown to be effective in eradicating warts. Taken as an infusion, mugwort is helpful in ridding the system of pinworm infestation. Dried mugwort leaf also acts as a natural tinder, useful in holding a smoldering fire. The dried herb has also been smoked as a nicotine-free tobacco. A species of mugwort (A. douglasiana), common in the southwestern United States, was used by some western American Indians as a prevention for poison oak rash. The fresh mugwort leaf was rubbed over areas of exposed skin before walking into poison oak habitat. The two plants often grow near one another.
In Chinese medicine mugwort, known as Ai ye or Hao-shu is highly valued as the herb used in moxibustion, a method of heating specific acupuncture points on the body to treat physical conditions. In Chinese medicine, mugwort is ingested to stop excessive or inappropriate menstrual bleeding. Mugwort is carefully harvested, dried and aged, and then it is shaped into a cigar-like roll. This “moxa” is burned close to the skin to heat the specific pressure points. It has been used in this way to alleviate rheumatic pains aggravated by cold and damp circumstances. Mugwort has also been used in various size cones that are places on the skin directly or on top of an herb or some salt and burned. In Japan, some practitioners only use moxa for treatment.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on the successful use of moxibustion in reversing breech birth positions. The study found that 75% of 130 fetuses had reversed their position after moxibustion treatment of the mother. The technique is said to stimulate the acupuncture point known as BL67, located near the toenail of the fifth toe, stimulating circulation and energy flow and resulting in an increase in fetal movements.
Preparations–Mugwort is harvested just as the plant comes into flower, before the blossoms are fully open. The leaves are removed from the stalks and dried on paper-lined trays in a light, airy room, away from direct sunlight. The flower heads should be dried intact and the dried herb stored in clearly-labeled, tightly-sealed, dark glass containers.
For infusion, 1 oz of fresh mugwort leaf, less if dried, is placed in a warmed glass container. One pint of fresh, non-chlorinated boiling water is added to the herb. The mixture is covered to prevent loss of volatile oils. The tea should be infused for five to 10 minutes. A mild infusion is best. After straining, it is recommended to drink two cups of mugwort tea per day. Use should be discontinued after six days.
Four ounces of finely-cut fresh or powdered dry herb can be combined with 1 pt of brandy, gin, or vodka, in a glass container. The alcohol should be enough to cover the plant parts and have a 50/50 ratio of alcohol to water. The mixture should be kept in a dark place for about two weeks, shaking several times each day. It can then be strained and stored in a tightly capped, dark glass bottle. Dosage recommendations vary, with some herbalists cautioning against ingestion of mugwort in medicinal preparations.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the herb is burned slightly in a pan before simmering with other herbs to stop menstrual bleeding.
Precautions–Mugwort should be avoided during pregnancy. The herb is a uterine stimulant. Women should avoid its use during lactation as the chemical constituent thujone may be passed to the baby through the mother’s milk. Mugwort should not be ingested if uterine inflammation or pelvic infection is present.
Side effects–High doses of mugwort may cause liver damage, nausea, and convulsions.
Sage is famous throughout history in many different cultures as a miracle herb. There is currently research going on regarding the use of Sage to help combat epilepsy. A constituent in a Chinese variety Salvia militiorrhiza may become the source of a new tranquilizing agent but without the side-effects of Valium. Valium and Librium are benzodiazepines which are widely prescribed since 1960 to treat epilepsy. Benzodiazepines act on the central B2 receptors in the central nervous system. The herb compound also interacts with the central B2 receptors.
Skullcap is a Native N. American perennial herb, found from New York to West Virginia and southward to South Carolina, Alabama and Missouri. Growing in rich woods, thickets, bluffs and along roadsides.
Cultivation: Skullcap is easy to grow in a sunny position and any ordinary garden soil. Sow seed in early spring after danger of frost is past. The root is a creeping short rhizome, which sends up hairy, square stems, 6 to 18 inches high, branched, or, in small specimens, nearly simple, with opposite downy leaves, heart-shaped at the base, 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long, scalloped or toothed edges. Skullcap gets its name from its blue flowers, which have two “lips” and are reminiscent of the skullcaps worn in medieval times. All Skullcaps have this unique seed pod and distinctive hooded flowers. Skullcap leaf size and shapes vary widely amongst the species. Color of flowers range from red-violet to blue-violet often with white markings. Flowers bloom from May to August, gather above ground parts, in the summer as flowers bloom, dry and store for later herb use.
Well known among the Cherokee and other American Indian tribes, as a strong emmenagogue and female medicinal herb. Used in some tribes as a ceremonial plant to introduce young girls into womanhood. Once believed of use in the treatment of rabies and schizophrenia. Also used to induce visions.
None of skullcap’s folk uses have been scientifically verified. Limited research shows it has an anti-anxiety effect; one study involving subjects with induced epilepsy showed that skullcap suppressed seizures during the period of use. There have been a number of case reports of liver disease associated with skullcap products, and skullcap is sometimes claimed to be hepatotoxic. However, there is no evidence of this. Rather, material in commerce has often been contaminated with American germander (Teucrium canadense L., sometimes called pink skullcap), a similar-looking species which does contain hepatotoxic compounds. Since skullcap is commonly wild-collected rather than cultivated, accidental inclusion of germander in commercial products remains a serious potential risk if manufacturers do not take positive steps to avoid it. It has been used for delirium tremens, convulsions, seizures, hysterical states, lockjaw, tremors and epilepsy. It is often used as a herbal remedy to protect against rabies symptoms and relieve tension, lower blood pressure and much more.
Skullcap is a powerful medicinal herb, it is used in alternative medicine as an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, slightly astringent, emmenagogue, febrifuge, nervine, sedative and strongly tonic. Some valuable constituents found in the plant are Scutellarin, Catalpol, other Volatile oils, bitter iridoids and Tannins. Scientific studies are proving this to be a valuable plant in many areas for mental disorders. Skullcap is used in the treatment of a wide range of nervous conditions including epilepsy, insomnia, hysteria, anxiety, delerium tremens, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquilizers. A medicinal infusion of the plant is used to promote menstruation, it should not be given to pregnant women since it can induce a miscarriage, the infusion is also used in the treatment of throat infections. The infusion is given for nervous headaches, neuralgia and in headache arising from incessant coughing, pain, and inducing sleep when necessary, without any unpleasant symptoms. Skullcap is currently being used as an alternative medicine to treat ADD and a number of nerve disorders. Should be used with some caution since in overdose it causes giddiness, stupor, confusion and twitching.
“Medicinal” tea: To 1 oz. of the powdered herb add a pint of boiling water, steep 10 min. give in 1/2 teacup doses, every few hours.
Uses for Skullcap
Skullcap is sometimes called “mad dog,” in reference to its historical use in treating the symptoms of rabies, which can result from the bite of a rabid dog. Skullcap quiets nervous tension and eases muscle tension and spasms. Skullcap also induces sleep without strongly sedating or stupefying. Skullcap may help to lower elevated blood pressure.
Skullcap has been used for abnormally tense or twitching muscles, as occurs with rabies, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.
Skullcap has also been found to have an anti-inflammatory action. Studies have shown that skullcap also inhibits release of acetylcholine and histamine, two substances released by cells that cause inflammation.
Skullcap Preparations and Dosage
Skullcap’s leaves, collected in late spring and early summer when the small plant is in flower, and minuscule flowers can help calm — if taken correctly. Skullcap leaves and tiny flowers are dried for teas, tinctured, or powdered and encapsulated.
Skullcap Calming Tea
1 tablespoon skullcap
1 tablespoon passion flower
1 tablespoon chamomile
1 tablespoon lemongrass
Combine and steep in 4 cups of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain.
For severe anxiety, drink 3 to 6 cups a day for a day or two, reducing thereafter to 2 to 3 cups per day as needed. For less severe cases and long-term use, drink 1 to 3 cups a day. Prepare teas by infusing 1 tablespoon of skullcap in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes.
Tincture: Take 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of tincture, two to four times a day, depending on your response. Start with the low dose and increase as needed.
Capsules: Take 2 capsules, two to four times a day, as needed.
Skullcap Precautions and Warnings–None.
Side Effects of Skullcap
Rarely, cases of stomach cramping and diarrhea have been reported. There have also been rare reports of skullcap causing hepatitis, but many of these cases may have resulted from mistaken use of germander, a plant that resembles skullcap.
Side effects aside, skullcap can help reduce anxiety for those experiencing stress. With a fairly limited amount of side effects and suggested precautions, it may be worth a try.
Blue Vervain is also known as wild hyssop and simpler’s joy. The root and the herb are the medicinal parts used.
In Iroquois witchcraft medicine, cold infusion of smashed leaves used to make an obnoxious person leave. Vervain was considered a cure-all and sacred plant, helping to save those of the medieval plagues. The name Vervain is derived from the Celtic ferfaen, from fer (to drive away) and faen (a stone), as the plant was much used for affections of the bladder. Another derivation is given by some authors from Herba veneris, because of the aphrodisiac qualities attributed to it by the Ancients. Priests used it for sacrifices, and hence the name Herba Sacra. The name Verbena was the classical Roman name for ‘altar-plants’ in general, it was used in various rites and incantations, and employed by magicians and sorcerers.
Blue Vervain is another wonderful herb nervine used by many cultures all over the world. It is an American Indian remedy for several diseases including nervous afflictions. It is worth mentioning here after reading old American herb doctors tales of their successes with stubborn cases of epilepsy.
Vervain is tonic, expectorant, sudorific, and antispasmodic. It is serviceable in mismenstruation. It is an antidote to poke-poisoning. It expels worms, and is a capital agent for the cure of all diseases of the spleen and liver. If given in intermittent fever, in a warm infusion or powder, it never fails to affect a cure. In all cases of cold and obstinate menstruation it is a most complete and advantageous sudorific. When the circulation of the blood is weak and languid, it will increase it and restore it to its proper operation. The infusion, taken cold, forms a good tonic and will correct diseases of the stomach, help coughs, wheezing, and shortness of breath, etc., but its virtues are more wonderful still in the effect they produce upon epilepsy, or falling sickness, and fits.
This great — very great — medicinal value of this plant was brought to the attention of many herbalists by an accidental knowledge of the good it had affected in a long-standing case of epilepsy. Its effects in that case were of the most remarkable character. It was found, after close investigation and elaborate experiment, that, prepared in a certain way, and compounded with boneset, water-pepper, chamomile blossoms, and the best of whiskey, it has no equal for the cure of fits, or falling sickness, or anything like fits; also for indigestion, dyspepsia, and liver complaints of every grade. A more valuable plant is not found within the whole range of the herbal pharmacopoeia.
The following application is singularly effective in promoting the absorption of the blood, effusion in bruises, and allaying the attendant pain: Take equal parts of Vervain, Senna, and White Pepper and make a plaster by mixing with white of eggs.
Vervain had many uses in American Indian culture as food and medicine. The seeds are edible when roasted and ground into a powder and used as a piñole (an Indian flour).
As a medicinal poultice it is good in headache and rheumatism. An infusion of the plant is a good galactagogue (increases breast milk) and used for female obstructions, afterpains and taken as a female tonic.
Medicinal tea: To 1 tbsp. dry herb add 1 pint boiling water, steep 10 min. take 1 tbsp. up to six times a day and take ½ teacup (2 oz.) warm before bedtime.
Black Cohosh is so highly recommended in numerous respected publications. Like many of the herbs I have already mentioned it’s considered a sedative and antispasmodic and has been extensively used for epilepsy. This one would be a definite choice of mine. Black cohosh was also well-known as a “baby in a bottle.”
Herbs have a balancing effect on our systems allowing the use of these kind of relaxing herbs mentioned above, to be used during the day without excessive drowsiness. However, I would not take this herb before driving long distances on a road trip for example. I would be concerned it would make me feel too drowsy sitting hour after hour behind the wheel of a car. Black cohosh is a tall perennial plant in the buttercup family that grows in eastern and central areas of the United States. Black cohosh was used by Native Americans as a traditional folk remedy for women’s’ health conditions, such as menstrual cramps and hot flashes, arthritis, muscle pain, sore throat, cough and indigestion. The juice of the plant was used as an insect repellent and was made into a salve and applied to snake bites. Today, black cohosh is used primarily as a nutritional supplement for hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, vaginal dryness and other symptoms that can occur during menopause, as well as for menstrual cramps and bloating. The parts of the plant used medicinally are the fresh or dried roots and rhizomes (underground stems), which are available in health food stores, some drug stores and online in tea, capsule, tablet or liquid extract forms.
Side Effects and Safety Concerns
The safety of black cohosh in pregnant or breastfeeding women or children hasn’t been established. Black cohosh is sometimes used by nurse-midwives to induce labor, but it should never be used by a pregnant woman without supervision by a qualified healthcare provider because it could stimulate uterine contractions and result in miscarriage. People with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as cancer of the breast, prostate, ovaries or uterus, endometriosis or uterine fibroids, should avoid black cohosh until more is known about how it works and whether it has a hormonal effect.
Side effects of black cohosh may include:
- Heaviness in the legs
- Weight gain
- Low blood pressure
Excessive doses of black cohosh may cause seizures, visual disturbances and slow or irregular heartbeat. There have been a number of cases of liver damage suspected to be associated with black cohosh use. In most of the cases, there were other medical problems present and other medications used that may have contributed to the liver damage. Also, the quality and purity of the black cohosh products used isn’t known. Some black cohosh products, for instance, have been found to contain a Chinese cimicifuga instead of black cohosh.
In August 2006, Health Canada advised consumers of the possible link between black cohosh and liver damage. In June 2007, the United States Pharmacopeia proposed that black cohosh product labels contain a cautionary statement. The American Botanical Council has countered that there is insufficient evidence to warrant the proposed caution. Black cohosh should not be confused with the herb blue cohosh, white cohosh, bugbane, sheng ma or white baneberry. These species have different effects, and blue cohosh and white cohosh, in particular, can be toxic. There is a case report of neurological complications in a post-term baby after labor induction with an herbal blend of black cohosh and blue cohosh.
People with allergies to plants in the buttercup family should avoid black cohosh.
Black cohosh contains small amounts of salicylic acid, so people with allergies to aspirin or salicylates should avoid black cohosh. People with a history of blood clots or stroke, seizures, liver disease and those who are taking medications for high blood pressure should not use black cohosh.
Possible Drug Interactions
- Because it may act like the hormone estrogen in the body, black cohosh could interfere with hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives.
- Black cohosh may interfere with the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.
- Theoretically, black cohosh may interfere with the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives.
Little known facts
American Colonists would use black cohosh to treat yellow fever, malaria, fevers, and bronchitis. It’s Latin name, Cimicifuga means, “bug repellent.”
Since it was great for curing snake bites, Native Americans called this magick potion, “snakeroot.”
Medicine manufacturer, Lydia Pinkham made the herb famous when she marketed it as a vegetable herbal compound.
The herbal medicine effects such vital organs as the lungs, heart and stomach directly.
Black cohosh will lower your heart rate and raise your pulse. Black cohosh will equalize your blood circulation.
Black cohosh is especially good for getting rid of mucus in the bronchial tubes.
Being an excellent and safe sedative, black cohosh is great to treat epilepsy.
Black cohosh will help your kidneys, liver, spleen and lymphatic system in the secretion process.
Two more important notes: If you take too much black cohosh, you can get a headache in the base of your skull. While it is safe to take in the final weeks of pregnancy, black cohosh should not be taken in the beginning.
Passionflower is a hardy woody vine that grows up to 10 m long and puts off tendrils, enabling it to climb up and over other plants in the rainforest canopy. It bears striking, large white flowers with pink or purple centers. The flowers gave it the name passionflower (or flower of passion) because Spanish missionaries thought they represented some of the objects associated with the Crucification of Christ. The vine produces a delicious fruit which is about the size of a large lemon, wrinkling slightly when ripe. Passionflower, is indigenous to many tropical and semi-tropical areas – from South America to North America. There are over 200 species of passionflower vines.
TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES
Passion fruit is enjoyed by all rainforest inhabitants -humans and animals alike. Several species of Passiflora have been domesticated for the production of their edible fruit. The yellow, gelatinous pulp inside the fruit is eaten out of hand, as well as mixed with water and sugar to make drinks, sherbet, jams and jellies, and even salad dressings. Indigenous tribes throughout the Amazon have long used passionflower leaves for its sedative and pain-relieving properties; the fruit is used as a heart tonic and to calm coughs.
Passionflower was first “discovered” in Peru by a Spanish doctor named Monardes in 1569 who documented the indigenous uses and took it back to the Old World where it quickly became a favorite calming and sedative herb tea. Spanish conquerors of Mexico and South America also learned its use from the Aztec Indians and it eventually became widely cultivated in Europe. Since its introduction into European herbal medicine systems, passionflower has been widely used as a sedative, antispasmodic and nerve tonic. The leaf infusion was introduced in North American medicine in the mid 1800’s as a sedative through native and slave use in the South. It was also used for headaches, bruises and general pain; applying the bruised leaves topically to the affected area. In many countries in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, the use of passionflower leaves to tranquilize and settle edgy nerves has been documented for over 200 years. It was also employed for colic, diarrhea, dysentery, menstrual difficulties, insomnia, neuralgia, eye disorders, epilepsy and convulsions, and muscle spasms and pain.
Chemical analysis on passionflower indicates it contains three main groups of active chemicals: alkaloids, glycosides and flavonoids. Interestingly, when the glycosides and flavonoids are isolated and tested individually they have demonstrated the opposite effects for which the plant is commonly used for. Only when the two groups of chemicals are combined as a whole herb, do researchers observe the plant’s sedative effect. Passionflower also contains naturally occurring serotonin as well as a chemical called maltol which has documented sedative effects (and which might explain the natural calming properties of passionflower). A group of harmane alkaloids in passionflower have demonstrated antispasmodic activity and the ability to lower blood pressure. In addition, a flavonoid named chrysin has demonstrated significant antianxiety activity.
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH
Passionflower (as well as its harmane alkaloids), have been the subject of much scientific research. After almost 100 years of study the sedative, antispasmodic and analgesic effects of this tropical vine have been firmly established in science. The analgesic effects of passionflower were first clinically documented in 1897 while the sedative effects were first recorded in 1904. Antispasmodic, anti-anxiety and hypotensive actions of passionflower leaves were clinically validated in the early 1980’s. An extract of the fruit demonstrated anti-inflammatory and tranquilizing effects in animal studies. Also, a leaf extract has also shown to have diuretic activity in rats. Passionflower has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac and recent clinical studies with mice have verified this use as well. In a 2003 study, a leaf extract was reported to improve overall sexual function, increase sperm count, fertilization potential and litter size. Its traditional use for coughs has also been recently confirmed. In a 2002 study with mice a passionflower leaf extract was shown to be comparable to the cough suppressant action of codeine.
CURRENT PRACTICAL USES
Passionflower is widely employed by herbalists and natural health practitioners around the world today for its sedative, nervine, anti-spasmodic and analgesic effects. In the United States, P. incarnata is the species most used to treat insomnia, muscle cramps, hysteria, neuralgia, menstrual cramps and PMS, and as a pain reliever in various conditions. In Europe, it is employed for nervous disorders, insomnia, spasms, neuralgia, alcoholism, hyperactivity in children, rapid heart beat, headaches, and as a pain reliever and antispasmodic. In South America, P. edulis is the species most used as a sedative, diuretic, antispasmodic, for convulsions, alcoholism, headaches, insomnia, colic in infants, diarrhea, hysteria, neuralgia, menopausal symptoms and hypertension. In South America the fruit juice is also used as a natural remedy to calm hyperactive children, as well as for asthma, whopping cough, bronchitis and other tough coughs. In Peruvian traditional medicine today, passion-fruit juice is used for urinary infections and as a mild diuretic.
Passionflower leaves are classified as generally regarded as safe even for children and infants.
|HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS|
|Main Actions||Other Actions||Standard Dosage|
|relieves pain·||kills germs·||Leaves|
|reduces anxiety·||enhances libido·||Infusion: 1 cup 2-3 times daily|
|relieves depression·||increases urination·||Capsules: 1-3 g 2-3 times daily|
|reduces inflammation||lowers blood pressure·|
|stops convulsions·||expels worms·|
|PASSIONFLOWER PLANT SUMMARY|
|Main Preparation Method: infusion Main Actions (in order):
antidepressant, analgesic (pain-reliever), antispasmodic, sedative, central nervous system depressant Main Uses:for mood disorders (depression, anxiety, stress)for insomnia and sleep disordersfor headaches, migraines and general painfor stomach problems (colic, nervous stomach, indigestion, etc.)
to relieve menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
Cautions: It may cause drowsiness or have a tranquilizing effect.
Traditional Preparation: The leaves are typically prepared in standard infusions. Dosages are 1 cup 2-3 times daily. Two to three grams in tablets or capsules 2-3 times daily can be substituted if desired.
Contraindications: None reported
Drug Interactions: None reported.
**** The information provided in this post is meant for educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice.****
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