Tag Archives: herb blurb

Herb Blurb – Wormwood

Artemisia absinthium (Wormwood, Absinthe)

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Native to temperate regions of Eurasia and Northern Africa, it is grown as an ornamental plant and is used as an ingredient in the spirit absinthe as well as some other alcoholic drinks.Wormwood is traditionally used medicinally in Europe, and is believed to stimulate the appetite and relieve indigestion. Wormwood is mentioned several times in the Bible in the different versions as well as the Jewish Bible, and usually refers to bitterness, or bitter.

Suggested uses

Wormwood has been used for various digestion problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms. Wormwood has also been used to treat fever, liver disease, and worm infections; to increase sexual desire; as a tonic; and to stimulate sweating.Some people apply wormwood directly to theskin for healing wounds andinsect bites. Wormwood oil is used as a counterirritant to reduce pain. In manufacturing, wormwood oil is used as a fragrance component in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes and it is also used as an insecticide. Wormwood extract is used in many alcoholic beverages such as vermouth and absinth which is illegal in many countries including the US due to the chemical compound thujone which is poisonous in large quantities. It is also said that the thujone is what gives absinth the hallucinogenic properties. Wormwood is said to counteract the effects of poisoning by hemlock, toadstools and the biting of the seadragon. Wormwood is the bitterest herb known, but it is very wholesome and used to be in much request by brewers for use instead of hops.

Parts to use

Everything that grows above the ground.

How to use

Raw – Placed in homes and among stuffs and furs to keep away moths and insects

Tea – Wormwood Tea, made from 1 OZ. of the herb, infused for 10 to 12 minutes in 1 pint of boiling water, and taken in wineglassful doses, will relieve melancholia and help to dispel the yellow hue of jaundice from the skin, as well as being a good stomachic, and with the addition of fixed alkaline salt, produced from the burnt plant, is a powerful diuretic in some dropsical cases.

Infusion – The essential oil of the herb is used as a worm-expeller, the spirituous extract being preferable to that distilled in water. The leaves give out nearly the whole of their smell and taste both to alcohol and water, but the cold water infusions are the least bitter.

Growing

Wormwood likes a shady situation, and is easily propagated by division of roots in the autumn, by cuttings, or by seeds sown in the autumn soon after they are ripe. No further care is needed than to keep free from weeds. Plant about 2 feet apart each way.

Storage

Light is the enemy of medicinal herbs. Dried leaves and flowers should be stored in an air tight bag/jar protected from light. Sunlight is the worst as the UV will break down the compounds that are beneficial. Teas and tonics should be prepared fresh and discard any unused portions. Once dried wormwood should be sealed into the storage container as it will reabsorb moisture when left in the open.

wormwood

Herb Blurb – Yarrow

Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow)

Yarrow Diagram
Click for larger view

 

Yarrow, also called Soldiers Wound Wort has been in use since ancient Greece. Its name derives from Achilles who was rumored to use it on his soldiers to stop bleeding on the battlefield.  Yarrow was also used on the battlefield during the Civil War especially when supplies were sparse. Yarrow comes in a variety of colors including, white, yellow, red, pink and orange. Yarrow was used by Native Americans for a variety of issues all across the US.

Suggested uses

A tea made with yarrow is good to tread common colds and is said to help expel wastes through the pores. Mainly given as a blood purifier. Macerated and applied to wounds it can stop bleeding, and act as an antibacterial agent. Yarrow has been used for fever, common cold, hay fever, absence of menstruation, dysentery, diarrhea, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal (GI) tract discomfort, and to induce sweating.

https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/y/yarrow02.html

Parts to use

Stems, leaves and flowers, collected in the wild state, in August, when in flower.

yarrow
Click for larger view

How to use

Raw – Some people have found chewing the leaves will help alleviate a toothache. The flowers and young leaves can be added to salads.

Tea – Yarrow as a tea can help purify the blood and expel wastes through the pores.

Salve -Ointment – Highlanders of Scotland use a yarrow ointment on sheep for wound care

Macerated – taken in the field, macerate (chew, crush, grind) the leaves and apply directly on wounds to stop bleeding and reduce infection.

Bath – To stop bleeding of hemorrhoids, wounds, to alleviate cramps a bath using the macerated leaves or tincture from leaves.

Flavor additive – prior to using hops, yarrow was used to flavor beer. It was said that yarrow made the beer more potent.

Tincture – Alcohol (vodka) a tincture can be made to extract essential oils rather than drying the herb for later use.

Growing

Yarrow is a perennial here in the Midwest. It will self seed if allowed to. It prefers full sun and well drained soil but does well in many unfavorable conditions. It is a drought tolerant plant. Yarrow is a good companion plant as it attracts predatory wasps who prey on other pest insects as well as it attracts ladybugs and hoverflies.

Storage

Light is the enemy of medicinal herbs. Dried leaves, stems, and flowers should be stored in paper bag out of light. Tinctures should be stored in a dark glass container away from light. Sunlight is the worst as the UV will break down the compounds that are beneficial

Want to learn more come check out our herb class on August 23

Learn about more herbs

 

 

Herb Blurb – Comfrey

With all of the talk about comfrey in the podcast (2 Midwest Guys.com), in the tour, in classes, on the blogs, on Facebook, I think it is about time we added comfrey to the Herb Blurb.

Comfrey 1

Comfrey as a permaculture plant

Comfrey is a great and almost necessary plant in permaculture. It has deep tap roots that can go down 12 feet or more into the soil to m in minerals out. You will almost always find comfrey in any permaculture designers tool box of go to plants. Typically they are planted around fruit or nut trees. When the trees are just planted and establishing themselves, a ring of comfrey around the tree can boost tree growth. It is extremely fast growing. You can harvest the leaves several times over the season. Here in the Midwest comfrey will die back to the ground during winter. The leaves can be added to compost as a nutrient booster. You can make comfrey tea as a fertilizer for plants. You can feed it to livestock. I can say that our chickens completely devoured a comfrey plant when we first got them. The additional minerals found in the leaves benefit, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, cows, pigs. We haven’t seen any of our pets eating it yet, that being the dog and cats. I mentioned harvesting several times a season. Harvesting consists of cutting the leaves back, and you use the leave portions for teas, compost, or feed.

We haven’t had much luck with starting comfrey from seeds. The best way to spread it is through root cuttings. After 2-3 years the plants are well established and you can split them. Much like you would split a hosta. Taking a spade you can divide the root mass into several clumps. Only 1 inch of root is necessary to propagate. The Russian variety do not spread by themselves. Be warned, once you introduce comfrey into an area it can be difficult to remove, since it can regrow from only 1” of root. It is best to cut back all leaves when propagating and allow the plant to send out new shoots from the crown and/or roots.

Comfrey can survive in just about any soil and condition. It does prefer partial to full sun. When on a tour at Brambleberry farm we were told that if you do not expand and move the ring of comfrey around your tree to keep it roughly with the drip line, the tree will shade them out and the comfrey will die out. I believe it is a combination of root competition with the tree and the shade that does it in. The one nice thing about it is as it grows it chokes out all the other plants around the tree, and if you plant in a ring, you have a nice little circle to mow around…if you mow. Throw in some garlic, and you have a good pest deterrent. Add an annual climbing pole bean once the tree is established (2-3 years and 4-6’ tall) and you have the makings of a nice little plant guild. The beans fix nitrogen, the tree is the pole to climb for the beans. The garlic deters moles and other rodents from eating at the tree. Comfrey mines minerals, and all of its other functions.

Bees love the purple flowers that come out in the spring for a mature plant. In the 3 years we have grown comfrey the bees, honey bees, bumblebees, mason bees, and even butterflies have been seen on the purple flowers. We have never observed any insect damage to the comfrey plants. No caterpillars, no Japanese beetles, no aphids and no real leaf damage whatsoever.

Comfrey ad a medicinal herb

As if all the above reasons are not enough to make you want some comfrey. It also has many medicinal properties. While the FDA says it is a plant that has toxic effects, a person would have to consume insane amounts of the plant to reach the levels they say are harmful. Let us not forget, these are the same people that say fluoride, GMO, and thousands of other chemicals are safe. I used to deal with these people on a regular basis for 16 years. My confidence in their ability to determine what is and is not save is absolutely zero.

Comfrey a great first aid for external treatment for wounds and to reduce inflammation associated with sprains and broken bones. Keep this herb growing in the garden so it is readily available for external salves and poultices to help broken bones heal faster.

From WebMD: Comfrey is used as a tea for upset stomach, ulcers, heavy menstrual periods, diarrhea, bloody urine, persistent cough, painful breathing (pleuritis), bronchitis, cancer, and chest pain (angina). It is also used as a gargle for gum disease and sore throat.

Comfrey is applied to the skin for ulcers, wounds, joint inflammation, bruises, rheumatoid arthritis, swollen veins (phlebitis), gout, and fractures.

WebMD also states that it is Unsafe to take by mouth, however many people have done it for years

I can speak from personal experience that I have used comfrey on swollen and sore joints due to arthritis, my wife has used if for deep and severe bruises and sprains (she is a kick boxer). We have used in when I am so accident prone and had cuts, scrapes, deep bruises due to my own clumsiness. We have a athlete who has injured ankles and applied it. In all cases the healing process seems to go much faster than not using it.

Purdue researched comfrey as a feed crop to animals and in the 70-80’s it was used as a feed crop. Here is an article on comfrey as an alternative feed for livestock. https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/comfrey.html

Brambleberry farm has comfrey for sale, and if you are interested in a tour we are heading out June 7th for a plant sale and tour of their property. Details on the tour are below. The cost is $10/person paid to Darren and his wife Espri.

Brambleberry tour

Comfrey in our garden
Comfrey in our garden
Comfrey crown 2 weeks old from bare root.
Comfrey crown 2 weeks old from bare root.
Comfrey crown sprouting
Comfrey crown sprouting

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