integumentary

Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva)

Slippery elm bark is high in nutritious mucilage. It's great for treating all kinds of inflammation both inside and out. Internally, it can be used for conditions like...

Chickweed (Stellaria medica)

Chickweed-cover.jpg

Chickweed Summary

Chickweed is a small herbaceous plant found growing throughout North America and Europe. It has naturalized on nearly every continent and thrives in colder climates.

Although there is not much modern research involving chickweed, it has a rich history in traditional medicine.

Chickweed was used internally for lung infections and irritations, and topically for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

The herb was mainly used as a Msuccas, or consumed whole in fresh form.

 

+ Indications

  • Constipation
  • Asthma
  • Lung disease
  • Obesity
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Skin ulcers
  • Insect bites
  • Gout

+ Contraindications

  • Skin irritation and allergies may occur from topical application.

Herbal Actions:

  • Demulcent
  • Refrigerant
  • Emollient
  • Antibacterial
  • Antitussive
  • Expectorant
 

How Is Chickweed Used?

Chickweed is used internally for lung conditions, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, or asthma. Topically, it's made into creams and salves for skin irritations. This can include psoriasis, eczema, skin ulcers, or rashes. It's also consumed as a food in many Northern climates where it grows naturally.

 

Herb Details: Chickweed

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Aerial Parts

Family Name

  • Caryophyllaceae

Distribution

  • Found on every continent on earth except Antarctica

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Constituents of Interest

  • Carotenoids
  • Linalool
  • Caryophyllene
  • Borneol

Common Names

  • Chickweed
  • Starweed
  • Alsine Media
  • Passerina
  • Mouse Ear Star
  • Satinflower
  • Starwort
  • Stellaria
  • Winterweed

CYP450

  • Unknown

Quality

  • Cold

Pregnancy

  • No adverse effects expected.

Taste

  • Unknown

Duration of Use

  • May be used long term.
 

Botanical Information

Chickweed is known for its creeping nature, and ability to grow in very cold weather. It's even been found growing underneath the snow in mountainous regions of North America.

Chickweed is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family, which contains as many as 2625 species distributed into 81 genera.

The Stellaria genera itself contains between 90 and 120 different species.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Chickweed

There is little research on chickweed — however, it was shown to have high levels of carotenoids and a handful of antibacterial compounds like caryophyllene, menthol, and linalool.

Chickweed also contains saponins — which are thought to have a soothing effect on the skin. This is likely the mechanisms behind chickweeds popularity as an ointment for skin inflammation and infection.

For this application, chickweed is generally used as a fresh succas or made into salves, oils, and creams.

The traditional use for lung conditions is thought to be due to the saponin content, which is well known to have mucus membrane irritant effects, promoting the excretion of mucus.

 

Cautions:

None noted.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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Iris (Iris versicolor)

iris-versicolor.jpg

Iris Summary

Iris is a misunderstood herb in many circles. It contains a set of constituents that are known to trigger nausea and vomiting — however, somewhat ironically, iris is also considered useful for treating nausea.

This herb has mild laxative qualities — thought to be due to a combination between its potent bitter constituents stimulating the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder, and an ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. It's especially active on the liver, where it's used to treat poor digestion, liver dysfunction, and to treat skin conditions.

Other species sometimes used includes Iris caroliniana & Iris virginica.

 

+ Indications

  • Diabetes
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Eczema
  • Endometriosis
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Pancreatic dysfunctions
  • Poor digestion
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Skin conditions
  • Supporting weight loss
  • Urinary tract infections

+ Contraindications

  • Avoid high doses
  • Mucus membrane irritation (IBS, IBD, etc)
  • Diarrhea

+ Mechanisms

  • Thought to stimulate parasympathetic nervous system
  • Iridin thought to induce laxative action due to irritating properties on mucus membranes

Herbal Actions:

  • Bitter
  • Pancreatic trophorestorative
  • Alterative
  • Antinflammatory
  • Astringent
  • Lymphatic
  • Hepatic
  • Laxative (mild)
  • Diuretic
  • Choleretic
  • Cholagogue
 

What is Iris Used For?

Iris is used to treat skin conditions through the liver by improving elimination pathways and preventing excessive elimination and irritation through the skin. It's useful for acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rashes.

Other common uses of iris is for urinary tract infection, hypothyroidism, lymphadenopathy, and menstrual irregularities.

 

Herb Details: Iris

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Root/Rhizomee

Family Name

  • Iridaceae

Distribution

  • North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Furfural
  • Irisin
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Oleo-resin, beta-sitosterols
  • Beta-sitosterols

Common Names

  • Iris
  • Blue Flag
  • Sweet Flag
  • Poison Flag
  • Harlequin Blueflag

Pregnancy

Avoid using iris while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Duration of Use

  • Avoid long-term use in therapeutic doses.
 

Botanical Info:

Iris is native to North America and is common around marshes, streams, and lakes.

The Iridaceae family is named after the irises and refers to the rainbow due to the many colors of iris flowers. This family contains 66 different genera and approximately 2244 different species. Some of the other famous members of this family include Crocus spp. and Gladioli spp.

 

Clinical Applications of Iris

Iris has recently seen a peak in interest in the past few years, however, is still not a commonly used herb due to the presence of significant side effects. Iris is contraindicated in anything but small doses due to the mucous membrane irritant and nauseating side effects.

In small doses iris is useful for stimulating bile secretion, promoting movement in the bowels, stimulating the pancreas, and treating skin conditions arising from liver congestion.

 

Cautions:

Some of the constituents in fresh iris root can cause a burning sensation in the mouth and throat along with diarrhea and abdominal burning. It's considered an emetic, and mucus membrane irritant in higher doses. Use cautiously and only in smaller doses.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

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Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

lavender lavandula angustifolia

Lavender Summary

Lavender is one of the most famous herbs known to man. It's cultivated on a massive scale throughout Europe and North America and is a popular flavoring and aromatic agent for household products.

Medicinally lavender is best known for its ability to promote sleep. It's often sold as aromatherapy, in salves and creams, and incense for this purpose. Lavender is also great for internal use, where it interacts with the GABA system to produce relaxation and sleep.

Lavender essential oil can be used as a topical agent for insect bites, rashes, and infection.

 

+ Indications

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Anxiety
  • Bacterial infections
  • Bloating
  • Cognitive dysfunciton
  • Colic
  • Depression mild
  • Dysbiosis
  • Dysmenorrhoea
  • Fungal infection
  • Headaches
  • Insect bites
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome IBS
  • Pain management
  • Parasitic infection
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Rheumatism
  • Sympathetic nervous dominance

+ Contraindications

  • Pharmaceutical sedatives

Herbal Actions:

  • Analgesic (mild)
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Antidepressant
  • Antifungal
  • Antioxidant
  • Anxiolytic
  • Antiparasitic
  • Carminative
  • Nervine Relaxant
  • Neuroprotective
  • Antispasmodic
 

What is Lavander Used For?

Lavender is mainly used in topical applications for rashes, skin irritations, mild infections, sunburn, and insect bites. Internally it's mainly used for anxiety-related conditions, GIT inflammation and discomfort, and insomnia.

 

Herb Details: Lavender

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves and flowers

Family Name

  • Lamiaceae

Distribution

  • Mediterranean and Southern Europe
    Northern and Eastern Africa

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Constituents of Interest

  • Monoterpene Alcohols
  • Athocyanins

Common Names

  • Lavender
  • Laventelit (Finland)
  • English Lavender

Pregnancy

No adverse reactions expected.

Duration of Use

  • This herb is generally regarded as safe for long term use.
 

Botanical Information

Lavender is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). In the genus Lavandula, there are approximately 47 species — most of which are perennials, or small shrubs.

There are a number of lavenders used medicinally

  • Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender)
  • Lavandula stoechas (French Lavender)
  • Lavendula dentata (Spanish Lavender)

This list is disputed by many taxonomists, suggesting that French lavender may be Lavandula stoechas or Lavandula dentata, and that Spanish lavender could be either Lavandula dentata, or Lavandula lanata, or Lavandula dentata.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Lavender:

Lavender is useful topically for female conditions including dysmenorrhoea and PMS due to it's antispasmodic and analgesic effects. It's also useful topically for its antifungal and antibacterial effects. Internally lavender can be used for gastrointestinal complaints, including bloating, flatulence, and colic.

Lavender is a reliable nervine for its GABAergic activity. Additionally it has been shown to reverse the stimulating effects induced by caffeine, and inhibits acetylcholine release.

 

Cautions:

Lavender has been proven to be a very safe herb with a low incidence of adverse effects.

Avoid use with pharmaceutical sedatives due to the possibility of agonistic synergy.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

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