Herbal Medicines

This is a list of the medicinal herbs that I have purchased from Horizon Herbs. The image and text is THEIRS. I am just using it here to show you what I am planting this spring, 2012. When I get my own images I will be replacing these along with my own notes on the planting process, how they fared, the results from my use of them, how I harvested and prepared them for medicinal use. And I of course plan to add more!

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Herbaceous perennial native to the forest understory of the eastern hardwood forests, especially northern appalachia, with the gene center occurring probably in the mountains of West Virginia. Perfectly cold hardy and an excellent garden introduction which has actually been absorbed into the horticulture trade in Europe as an exotic ornamental. The plant prefers part shade and moist, rich soils. A good top dressing with organic compost and a finish with forest-derived mulch will produce monumental plants with multiple upright, white-flowering racemes. Black cohosh root, tinctured fresh, is one of the most effective treatments for menopausal symptoms. See “Growing At Risk Medicinal Herbs” for an entire chapter on this plant. Our black cohosh is nursery propagated and they are large individuals at least 3-years of age, in deep pots and very much ready to go.

Burdock, Ha Gobo (Arctium lappa), (Ha Gobo, Leaf Burdock)

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Biennial.  70 days to maturity.  Japanese version of Arctium lappa selected for the softly edible leaves.  We’ve tested them quite extensively as a steamed vegetable, in soups and stir-fry.  They are pretty bitter, but in terms of texture, chewy and luscious.  It’s an odd combination in a way–surprising, even, in a culinarily sense.   The roots are good to eat.  They are extremely long and thin (that’s a 12 inch ruler set next to them), medium crunchy, and we rate them as very good tasting when eaten fresh or steamed. The roots taste the same as Gobo.  Medicinally interchangeable. Plant does well in open garden situation.  Deep soils will encourage long, deep roots.  Very easy to grow by direct seeding, spring or fall.  Germ in 6 to 12 days.  Thin to 3 inches apart. Certified organically grown

Calendula, HoriSun Yellow (Calendula officinalis)

(Yellow Calendula)  Family: Aster  (Asteracea)  Annual.  40 to 50 days to maturity.  Native to southern Europe.  Calendula flowers are the premier antiseptic and healing agent when made into salve, succus, tincture, or simply masticated and applied to the injury.  Inhibits inflammation, promotes formation of granulation tissue in wounds, and one of the best ingredients for making herbal infused oils, salves and beauty products.  The flowers, when boiled, yield a bright yellow dye.  This yellow flowered cultivar is the most basic type that we use in herbal medicine, and is considered official by many medicine makers.   At a time when most seed companies are turning to hybrids, it is a little unusual to find a carefully selected “new” kind of open pollinated seed on the market.  We’ve been refining this strain since 1997 and although it still takes a little rogueing to remove the occasional orange flowered individual, we have cleaned up this line to the point where we believe it deserves a new name.  So we call it “HoriSun” yellow calendula.  We offer this variety up to gardeners and seed savers everywhere.  We declare it to be part of the public domain.  Nice resiny yellow flowers.  Tried and true for medicine and beauty.  Seed saver friendly.  Sow the seed directly in the garden in the spring, or grow as a container plant.  Space plants 6 inches apart.  Flowers to 18 inches tall.  50 seeds/pkt., Certified Organically Grown

Cancer Bush (Sutherlandia frutescens)

(Kankerbos)  With its deeply divided, gray-green leaves and large, showy, bright scarlet flowers and fascinating inflated seedpods, Cancer Bush is in high demand as a horticultural oddity and decorative garden plant. Plant is used as a bitter tonic and a general panacea.  Plant prefers full sun and dry soils.  Frankly I find them picky but it may well be that people living in a zone 8 dryland would find them—unstoppable.  I don’t know.  I do have good success growing them as a potted plant, and that’s what I’ve been doing with them for years, and that’s what I’m herein offering.  1 potted plant, organic

Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)

(High Bush Cranberry, Cramp Bark)  erennial deciduous bush native to cool bogs of North America, Europe and Asia. Used extensively in landscaping, cramp bark sports multiple upright branches bearing cream colored, platelike flowers and attractively shaped leaves that turn gloriously red in the fall. The bush prospers in full sun or part shade and prefers moist, nutrient rich soils. Allow plenty of space (at least 6 feet between individuals) as cramp bark can easily be as wide as it is tall. The tea or tincture is made of the spring-harvested root bark, which is removed in the spring when it slips easily. This is a superior antispasmodic for smooth muscles with a special affinity for the uterus, widely used to allay uterine cramps.

Chameleon Plant (Houttoynia cordata)

(Yu-xing-cao, Tsi) Family:  Saururaceae Hardiness:  -20 degrees F Creeping herbaceous perennial native to China.  Stolons and leaves used as an aromatic and tasty condiment.  This plant is very easily grown and will diversify any cuisine.  We recommend to market growers, connoisseurs, restaurant owners and inventive householders.  The medicine Yu-xing-cao is used to treat infections of the lungs and urinary tract and the herb is efficaciously used in anticancer therapies. This is one of the many plants used by the Chinese to diversify their diets and in so doing to avoid degenerative disease.   Plant prefers moist garden soil in the sun to partial shade.  We were able to make it thrive in an unheated greenhouse here in our zone 7 during February (brr.).  Easily grown in containers, the plant will spread in open fertile beds.  Sow seed in cool soils of early spring.  Mix small seed with sand and sprinkle on surface, then barely cover with soil, tamp down securely and keep evenly moist and in the light until germination, which can take 60 to 90 days.  Once seedlings have sized up, individuate to pots and grow out that way until they are large enough to transplant outdoors.

Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)

Ceratonia siliqua If planted outdoors, female trees will yield the sweetly aromatic, honeycombed pods that are relished by stock, wildlife and aging hippies. In Israel, the Carob pod makes a popular remedy for mouth sores and persistent cough. Plant prefers full sun and fast-draining soil.  Extremely tough in the medicinal landscape, but not very frost tolerant.  Scarify seeds right through the seedcoat until the white endosperm appears.  Drop in just-boiled water and let stand overnight, then plant in the morning in fast-draining mix.  If you do the same thing with an unscarified seed it probably won’t grow.  This then would be the basis for a good homeschool experiment, showing that a seed must imbibe water in order to grow.  And of course the lesson can go on from there…

Chamomile (three types: Dyer’s, German and Roman Chamomile)

These are three of the main types of chamomile used in tea making, medicine, and as dyestuffs. They all are best sown in the very early spring. It is probably best to direct-seed the german chamomile, and the dyer’s and the roman do well started first in pots and thenm transplanted. 3 full sized packets for $6.90 (a discount)

Cleavers (Galium aparine)

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Comfrey, True (Symphytum officinalis)

Family:  Boraginaceae Hardiness: -15 degrees F, -26.2 degrees C Herbaceous perennial native to Europe.  True Comfrey is the original medicinal herb as detailed in all the ancient literature. Optimal species for medicinal use, loaded with allantoin, low in pyrrolizidine alkaloids.  Plant prefers full sun and regular garden soil.  Good drainage is helpful (add sand and organic matter to clay-ey soil) and frequent watering is also helpful.  After the plant reaches the late flowering stage, simply cut it back and lay the leaves back down on the crown.  It will regrow through its own mulch.  Sow seed in spring.  Germ 10 days in warm conditions.  Pot up in increasingly larger pots and transplant to garden after the weather has mellowed.  Best not to try to keep in pots as it gets frustrated in time and will try to put its toes down into real dirt if you don’t transplant to the garden.  3 Organic potted plants

Dream Root, Xhosa

(Xhosa Dream Root, White Ways, White Path, African Dream Root, African Dream Herb) Family:  Pink (Caryophyllaceae) Hardy to 10 degrees F. Low-growing herbaceous perennial 1 to 2 feet tall, native to the cape of South Africa.   Softly spreading leafy rosette produces multiple stalks crowned by the pure white flower.  Unlike other members of the Silene genus, the calyx is elongated and not particularly inflated.  The plant is easy to grow as a wayside attraction, spreads healthily but not invasively, producing many handsome flowers that smell excellently of jasmine and clove.  The root of this plant is an “oneirogen,” that is a dream inducer.  A small piece of the fresh root, chewed at any time during the day or evening, will tend to stimulate vivid, even lucid, dreaming once one falls asleep.  This is an effect that the plant seems to produce without a lot of fanfare, and my experimentation seems to indicate that ingesting a small (1/2 inch or so) piece of the fresh root produces a fantastic dreamscape despite the complete lack of waking effect, and no adverse effects or aftereffects, mental or physical. The plant is considered to be on par with the more well-known oneirogen Calea zacatechichi.  The Xhosa people of South Africa use the plant to stimulate “prophetic” dreaming during shamanic episodes.  The plant prefers full sun and fast-draining soil but is not particularly picky and can be grown as a troublefree mounding plant in most gardens.  Sow the seed directly in the garden in the spring or sow anytime in the greenhouse.  Barely cover seed with soil, tamp firmly and keep evvenly moist and warm until germination, which takes 1 to 2 weeks.  Thin or transplant to 1 foot apart.  I consider effective harvest to be anytime the roots reach a reasonable size (1/8 inch diameter or so), although the literature does specify harvest in the second year.

Echinacea sanguinea  

Echinacea Sanguinea

Herbaceous perennial.  The most southerly ranging of all Echinacea species, E. sanguinea grows in acidic, sandy soils in the open fields and pine woods of the West Gulf Coastal Plain.  The plants are not very cold hardy in comparison to other species in the genus.   This species is similar to E. pallida, but shorter of stem and the flowers are smaller, finer, with very narrow rays.  The disk corolla of E. sanguinea is characteristically blood red in color, as are the seeds.

Fennel, Common (Grosfruchtiger) (Foeniculum vulgare)

Annual or biennial bulbing fennel that is excellent to eat in salads or to dip creamy and herb-laden dressings of your own making. Crisp and juicy white leaf stalks. Personal favorite. Raw foodists rave. Remarkably kind to the digestion.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Perennial, deciduous, dioecious tree native to eastern China. Darwin called it a “living fossil.” The trees are resilient, adaptable to the inner city or the farm, and they are perfectly cold hardy. They are also exceedingly beautiful, with lithe, humanoid trunks and deeply grooved, bi-lobed leaves. The leaves filter toxins out of the air. We sell 2-year-old, unsexed, potted individuals that may be male or female. For production of the very tasty nuts (which are actually the part used in traditional Chinese medicine—not the leaves) it is necessary to plant both male and female trees for successful pollination.

Gumweed (Grindelia)

(Grindelia) (Grindelia integrifolia)

Family:  Aster (Asteraceae) Hardy to 0 degrees F. Bushy herbaceous perennial to 3 feet tall.  Native to the mountains and deserts of western North America.  The several species are medicinally interchangeable.  This plant thrives roadside, in sandy areas seasonally flooded, in grasslands on dry slopes, in waste places, rock garden, or regualr garden soil outside the reach of sprinkler. Sand mulch for best results. In colder zones, may be grown as an annual, or may become perennial, dying back to the root.  If your zone is too cold to support overwintering, be reassured that this is a reasonably dependable self-seeder.  In warmer zones, the plant will produce a thick, rubbery, perennial stem that may be crowned by a rosette of green leaves, and gives rise, in season, to more stems, followed by bright golden yellow flowers, flattened, about the size of quarters, which give way to the soft green cauldron filled with balsamic oleo-gum-resin (as per photo).  This is the stage when the plant is at its highest medicinal activity, and the best medicines are made from these “buds”, picked when filled with resin, and carefully dried (although they will try to stick together), then extracted with strong alcohol, or made into a tea.  One of the better herbal treatments for asthma, the plant opens the bronchial passages, soothes tortured mucosa and slows and deepens the breathing.  The tincture can also be applied topically, helping alleviate the itch of poison oak/ivy and speeding the healing.  Plant prefers full sun and dryish, well-drained soils.  Sow seeds in spring.  Use fast-draining mix, or direct seed.  Sow barely below soil surface and tamp well, then keep warm, in the light and evenly moist until germination, which takes about three weeks, quicker or slower depending on soil temperature.  Individuate to pots and transplant, or thin to 1 to 2 feet apart.

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Family:  Mallow (Malvaceae) Hardiness:  All temperate zones. Herbaceous perennial native to Europe.  A premier healing agent, marshmallow root is nutritious, soothing to the digestion, stimulating to the immune system and helps prevent and repair ulcerations of the gastric mucosa and duodenum. Sow the seed in the spring. It is easy to grow in regular garden soil in the full sun or part shade. The plant prefers regular watering and makes a lot of biomass, both above the ground and below. Every part of the plant, including leaf, flower (and less useful, the stem) and especially the fresh or dried root, is useful in herbal medicine and is truly indespensable.

Mugwort, Common (Artemisia vulgaris)

Family: Asteraceae Hardiness:  All temperate zones. Herbaceous perennial, a vigorous spreader and self-seeder.Plant has soft leaves, pleasantly downy on the undersides.  The herb is used to make Moxa, burned over acupuncture points to quicken the blood.  Dream-inducer (dried leaf used to stuff pillows).  Prefers sun to part shade and will grow in gravel, waste places or regular garden soil.  Sow very tiny seeds on surface and tamp in securely.  Keep evenly moist until germination, which takes 1 to 3 weeks.  Plant 2 feet apart.  Grows 3 to 4 feet tall.  300 seeds/pkt, Certified Organically Grown

Oat (Avena sativa)

Oats (Avena sativa) Overwintering annual. Oats were probably first domesticated in pre-historic Europe. The fresh, green seed, harvested when in milk, is made into a tincture or tea that calms the nerves and is good for treating addictions. This is a large seed packet sufficient for a small raised bed or a bit of experimentation with growing oats, but if you’re interested in planting sufficient oats for a larger cover crop, it is best to purchase by the pound at this link http://www.horizonherbs.com/product.asp?specific=2487

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Family: Lamiaceae Hardiness: All zones Cultivated worldwide.  Classic peppermint taste in a classic peppermint plant.  They do run out, so keep in a pot if you don’t want a whole patch.  Makes excellent tea.  Plant prefers full sun to part shade and moist soils.  3 Organically grown potted plants

Skullcap, Baical (Scutellaria baicalensis)

Baical Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis ) (Skullcap, Baical) (Huang-qin) Family: Lamiaceae Herbaceous perennial. Native to the shores of Lake Baikal, Mongolia, Siberia, and the Chihli and Shantung provinces of China. The purple flowers are like schools of dolphin breaking through green waves in a summer sea. The part used in traditional Chinese medicine is the dried root, which has a bitter and cold energetic. Contains distinctive flavones, specifically baicalin and wogonin, which have antiallergic, diuretic, hypotensive, antibacterial, antiviral, tranquilizing and fever-reducing effects. In practical terms, it is one of the best agents for cooling an infection, and I recommend it especially for people who are travelling and may contract dysentery–it cures the shits.  This is one of the best Chinese plants to grow organically in America. Not only is it a very striking bedding plant, bearing one of the nicest flowers available from this catalog, but there is on-going demand for the root, which attains harvestable size after only 2 years. Cultivation: Easy. Sow seed in early spring. Germ. in ~24 days. Prefers well-drained soil in the full sun. Cold hardy. Space plants 12 inches apart. To 12 inches tall. As the plants age they become wider, much like humans in middle age, but unlike humans, the seed they produce becomes increasingly viable the older they get. Organically grown 50 seeds/pkt.   Note:  Actually, I’m pretty excited about Baical Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) for treatment of pandemic diseases such as avian flu.  My experience is that the root of this plant, which has been used in Chinese medicine for a very long time as the herb Huang-qin, is extremely effective for treating contagious flu-like maladies.  There is really no better anti-infection agent in herbalism, to my knowledge.  The herb is more effective if grown in poor, sandy soil.  Added advantages of Huang-qin are 1) lack of side-effects, 2) quick to germinate and easily grown throughout the temperate US 4) pretty 5) and can be harvested in the fall of first or (better) second year 6) no side effects.  Here’s a picture of the freshly harvested root–extremely potent as you can probably tell.   Germination Note:  I tested commercial seed I got from China against our organic seed and the chinese seed gave 30% germ and the organic seed gave 95% germ.  The organic seed came up in 10 days and the commercial seed came up in 12 days.  The organic seed was more vigorous than the commercial seed.  RAC

Text from a small article written by Richo that appeared in the AHA Quarterly:

The Chinese herb Baical Skullcap, known in Chinese as Huang-qin (Scutellaria baicalensis) has a history of medicinal usage dating back over 2,000 years. The bright yellow roots of this pretty perennial herb are used traditionally to abate diarrhea and dysentery and to enhance liver function in the treatment of hepatitis.  They are also an active antibacterial treatment for Staph (Staphylococcus aureus) infection, which is a major cause of secondary infections in hospitals in the US.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, practitioners use Huang-qin as frequently as Westerners use Goldenseal. Many Westerners have yet to appreciate Huang-qin to the extent that it deserves. An added bonus is that the herb is well suited to cultivation in the western states, thriving in gardens all the way from Washington down to Southern California.   Relatively easy to start from seed in the spring, the plants prefer a full sun position and deep, dry, well-drained soils.  The flowers appear for the first time in the fall of the first year, and after that the plant flowers copiously every summer, producing heady blue or purple blooms for as long as three months before the blossoms give way to the characteristically hooded seed capsules.  Baical skullcap is a low-lying bedding plant, excellent for high-use areas such as next to pathways.  After the third year of growth, the roots may be dug and dried for medicinal use. No fancy processing is necessary.  The roots can be sliced into sections while fresh and dried in the shade, then made into tincture or tea.  Good quality roots are bright yellow, not green or black.  Any herb that looks that good in the garden and treats the formidable adversaries hepatitis and staph deserves plenty of attention!

Valerian, Official (Valeriana officinalis)

Family:  Valerian (Valerianaceae) Herbaceous perennial.  Native to Europe and temperate Asia.  Hardy to -20 degrees F.  Probably the strongest herbal cerebral sedative, the plant makes one go to sleep.  All parts of the plant are active, but it is the spreading root and root crown, dug and used fresh, that is most commonly used, and the tincture of the fresh root is the most common dosage form.  However, I have gone to sleep after eating a salad that an unwitting apprentice had prepared using valerian leaves as an ingredient, and I’ve had multiple correspondences from folks that make tinctures out of the fresh flowers.  Regardless of how you make the potion, it is well-known that Valerian does not work on everybody.  Some folks are stimulated by it.  However, most of us go to sleep under her influence.  Valerian prefers full sun to part shade and moist but well-drained soils.  I have seen excellent clumps form, during a wet spring, on the peak of a pile of ground pumice.  However, regular garden soil amended with organic compost will do nicely.  The plant adapts rather well to a wide range of conditions.  Seed is short-lived and should  be sown within a year of receipt.  Light dependent germinator.  Sow in spring, tamped securely into surface, and keep evenly moist until germination, which occurs in 10 to 16 days.  Seedling leaves look very un-valerian at first and some folks are confused.  But have faith, in time the leaves will become divided and much more closely resemble the standard form of the plant. Space plants 1 to 2 feet apart.  Flowers white in the second year to a height of 5 feet or more.  Some companies are slinging varieties of Valerian that they claim are medicinally superior to the standard European strain (which is what we grow).  However, the standard strain is plenty good enough to do the job.

Wasabi (Wasabia japonica)

Family: Brassicaceae Hardy to 10 degrees F Herbaceous perennial native to mountain streams of Japan. Our variety is MAZUMA, which is one of the main types–beautiful, vigorous and HOT.   This is the true wasabi (much wasabi served with sushi is counterfeit) that provides the inspirationally taste-enhancing experience. Along with learning to cultivate this plant, we have also learned to appreciate its leaves as an ingredient in spring salads or picked at the patch and dipped into salad dressing and eaten on the spot.  Not overly spicy and very tasty.  Gourmet, even.  However, the roots of this plant are the part more commonly used.  They are green and hot. The best wasabi paste is made by finely grating the fresh root.  Large roots can be produced in a single year by starting early, keeping the bed protected from frost.  However, it is common to wait 2 or 3 years before harvest, when roots may reach 4 to 8 inches in length.  As a medicinal herb, the value of this plant is attributed largely to the sulfur compounds (isothiocyanates) that protect from fish poisoning (they kill bacteria) and also help protect from cancer.  Plant prefers part shade at the edge of cool running water or a shaded and misted garden bed.  We set our misters for 2 cycles daily, 10:00 and 2:00, for only 10 minutes each cycle.  The beds stay soaked.  Please take good care of the wasabi plant.  They are somewhat rare and we are attached to them! The wasabi potted plants that we sell tend to be quite large.  We may have to remove some of the larger leaves before sending.  But they regrow fast.

Yarrow, Coastal (Achillea millefolium L. var. litoralis)

Coast Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L. var. litoralis) (Oregon Coast Yarrow, Coastal Yarrow)

Native to the coast of Oregon and California, this is the largest flowered yarrow worldwide, with flattened heads that can reach 8 inches wide (see photo).  Furthermore, they are aromatic to the max, provide a heavenly retreat for native pollinators, are vigorous spreaders and protectors of coastal bluff and other lands threatened by erosion, and make a powerful tincture, tea or hot soak.  All the normal attibutes of yarrow, including its astringent, hemostatic and antibacterial properties are well represented in this valuable subspecies.  Plant prefers full sun and fast draining soils.  Sow seed in spring and transplant after the seedlings are big enough to thrive on their own.  100 seeds per packet, $2.95 open pollinated

Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)

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