astringent

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...

Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium)

manuka-Leptospermum-scoparium-cover.jpg

Manuka Summary

In New Zealand, where manuka trees grow, the Maori consider male tea tree plants "Kanuka" and the female plants "Manuka". The plant is regarded very highly in this culture as a medicinal species.

The most well-known form of manuka is in manuka honey. This is a honey made by bees feasting primarily on manuka bushes. The honey has an impressive antibacterial profile when made from these plants. This is also reflected in the herb itself, which has been shown to have potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity.

Most of the medicinal benefits of the plant come from its essential oil content, which can vary a lot depending on the region the plant was grown in.

 

+ Indications

Internally

  • Anxiety
  • Candida
  • Cold/Flu
  • Colic
  • Coughs
  • Diarrhea
  • Dysentery
  • Dyspepsia
  • Eczema
  • Fatigue
  • Fevers
  • Gingivitis Mouthwash
  • Indigestion
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS
  • Lethargy
  • Menorrhagia
  • Psoriasis
  • Upper respiratory tract infection

Topically

  • Anal fissures
  • Bacterial infection
  • Burns
  • Eczema
  • Fluid retention
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Impetigo
  • Muscle sprains
  • Slow healing ulcers
  • Wounds

+ Contraindications

Avoid long-term use alongside food. Tannins may impede mineral absorption.

Herbal Actions:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Antispasmodic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Diaphoretic
  • Diuretic
  • Febrifuge
  • Sedative
  • Astringent
 

How Is Manuka Used?

Internally, manuka is used to treat gastrointestinal conditions like diarrhea, colic, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and dysentery. It's also used for urinary tract infection, anxiety, and cold/flu infections.

Manuka is used topically for its antibacterial, and vulnerary actions. It's used to treat slow healing skin and bone injuries, bacterial infections, candida, and eczema. It can be gargled for gingivitis, or for general oral hygiene.

Manuka honey is another common form of the plant. It's become so popular worldwide, it's been standardised by the phenol content. This is expressed as a unique manuka factor (UMF) value set by the Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA). Anything over UMF 5 is considered strong enough to kill MRSA.

 

Technical Details: Manuka

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves, Flowers, Bark

Family Name

  • Myrtaceae

Distribution

  • New Zealand

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Constituents of Interest

  • Leptospermone
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Tannins
  • Citronellal

Common Names

  • Manuka
  • Tea Tree
  • New Zealand Tea Tree

Quality

  • Neutral-Warm

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Spicy

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable, but should be taken away from food.
 

Botanical Information

Manuka is a member of the Myrtaceae family of plants. This family contains as many as 133 different genera, and around 3800 different species, many of which are medicinally relevant.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research

 

Clinical Applications Of Manuka:

Manuka is useful both internally and topically. It's been shown to be an effective antibacterial agent for various forms of bacteria (including Staphylococcus). It's also an effective antifungal and antiviral (including HSV). The antibacterial effects were the most noteable, with only some chemotypes of Manuka showing potent antifungal benefits.

Manuka can be used for nearly any form of bacterial infections both topically and internally, as well as wounds, ulcers, and gastrointestinal inflammation or infection. It's also useful for skin inflammation like eczema or psoriasis. The muscle relaxant effects make it useful for injuries, muscle tension, colic, and insomnia.

 

Cautions:

Tannin content may bind to minerals in the gut and prevent absorption.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

mullein-verbascum-thapsus-cover.jpg

Mullein

Mullein is considered a staple in herbal medicine. It wasn't native to North America and was brought over by European settlers. Despite the new introduction of the herb, it was quickly adopted into use by the local native Americans and is even referred to commonly as Indian Tobacco.

Mullein is a very safe herb and offers benefits to a number of different systems in the body.

Out of all systems, mullein is most commonly used for respiratory and digestive system conditions. It's popular as an anticatarrhal and for both soothing dry coughs, and eliminating catarrh with productive coughs. Although the entire plant can be used for either one, the leaves are generally preferred for dry coughs and the roots for productive coughs.

Mullein is as useful topically as it is internally for inflammation, muscle spasms, and infection.

 

+ Indications

  • Arthritis (Topical)
  • Bed wetting
  • Desentery
  • Dry coughs
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS)
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Lower respiratory tract infection
  • Muscle aches (Topical)
  • Otitis media (Topical)
  • Parasites
  • Skin irritations
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Water retention
  • Wet coughs

+ Contraindications

  • The fresh leaves can be irritating to the skin.
  • In general, this is a very safe herb, and there are rarely any reports of adverse reaction, even at high doses.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Anthelmintic
  • Anti-catarrhal
  • Antispasmodic
  • Astringent
  • Expectorant
  • Lymphatic
  • Antibacterial
 

What Is Mullein Used For?

Mullein is mainly used for treating respiratory infections and persistent coughs. Somewhat ironically, it's often smoked for its soothing effect on the lungs. It tends to increase moisture of the lungs, especially the leaves, making it especially useful for unproductive, dry coughs.

It's also used for gastrointestinal inflammation, parasitic infection, and muscle aches. It tends to have a humidifying effect thoughout the body, providing a soothing effect, especially with dryness.

One of the most well-known uses for the herb is in the form of an infused oil for ear infections.

 

Technical Details: Mullein

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaf, root, and flower

Family Name

  • Scrophulariaceae

Distribution

  • Originates from Europe around the Mediterranean, but has spread all around Europe & North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Iridoid glycosides

Common Names

  • Mullein
  • Lady's Flannel
  • Gordolobo
  • Punchón
  • Candelaria

Quality

  • Root: Neutral, drying
    Leaf: Cool, moistening
    Flower: Cool

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Salty

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable.
 

Botanical Information

Mullein belongs to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) — a family consisting or roughly 65 different genera and 1800 species.

The Verbascum genus itself contains around 250 different species.

Verbascum is a popular garden plant for its ability to thrive in dry, nutrient-poor soils, and for their incredibly long flower duration.

The herb is biennial — the first season growing in a rosette leaf pattern, the second with a large velvety flower spike. Some mullein plants can grow up to three meters tall.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Mullein:

Although there are many ways to use mullein, it excels with treating respiratory tract conditions. The leaves are excellent for treating dry coughs, while the root is much better for productive wet coughs.

Mullein is useful as a topical treatment for skin irritations, and as an oil for ear infections, especially the more drying flower of the plant.

Mullein also makes for an excellent lymphatic, both internally and externally.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised when working with the fresh leaf of this plant, as it can cause contact dermatitis in some individuals.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre)

gymnema.jpg

Gymnema Summary

Gymnema is known as "the sugar destroyer" because of its unique ability to inhibit our ability to taste sweet foods.

This quality is used to combat sugar cravings in diabetics to control blood sugar levels.

It's been used for thousands of years in India for treating conditions involving "sweet urine." This is a common symptom of diabetes as sugar diffuses into the urinary tract. Old methods of diagnosis involved tasting the urine to identify a sweet taste.

Gymnema offers a variety of unique benefits towards conditions like diabetes, including changes to the pancreatic beta-cells, responsible for releasing insulin into the blood.

Gymnema is also a diuretic, helping to clear glucose from the blood through urine (in combination with plenty of water of course).

Finally, gymnema leaves inhibit the sweet sensation on the taste buds, making food taste bland and dull, which can be used to reduce the cravings for sweet (high sugar) foods responsible for maintaining the pathophysiology of diabetes and metabolic syndromes.

 

+ Indications

  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Tooth infection
  • PCOS
  • Hypertriglyceridemia

+ Contraindications

  • Caution advised with hypoglycemic drugs

+ Mechanisms

  • Inreases the number of insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas
  • Decreases the perception of sweet taste on the taste buds
  • Inhibits peripheral utilization of glucose by somatotrophin and corticotrophin.

Herbal Actions:

  • Antidiabetic
  • Hypocholesterolemic
  • Suppresses Sweet Taste
  • Diuretic
  • Refridgerant
  • Astringent
 

How Do I Use Gymnema?

Gymnema is mainly used to treat metabolic conditions like diabetes, PCOS, and metabolic syndrome. It's also used for dental carries, and poor digestion.

 

Herb Details: Gymnema

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves

Family Name

  • Apocynaceae

Distribution

  • Southeast Asia

Constituents of Interest

  • Gymnemic acids
  • Gymnemasaponins
  • Gurmarin
  • Betaine

Common Names

  • Gymnema
  • The Sugar Destroyer
  • Gurmar

CYP450

  • CYP3A4
  • CYP2C9
  • CYP1A2
  • CYP2D6

Quality

  • Unknown

Pregnancy

  • No adverse effects expected.

Taste

  • Dull (Blocks sweet receptors on the tongue)

Duration of Use

  • Suitable for long term use.
 

Botanical Information

Gymnema is a member of the Apocynaceae (dogbane) family of plants.

In the past, gymnema was included in the milkweed (Asclepiadaceae) family — but has since been changed to a subfamily category.

The Apocynaceae family now contains 5 subfamilies (Apocynoideae, Asclepiadoideae, Periplocoideae, Rauvolfioideae, and Secamonoideae).

It contains 5100 species and 366 genera. There are roughly 50 different species of Gymnema — many of which are used interchangeably.

Many plants in the Apocynaceae family are trees preferring tropical environments — except for a handful of species that prefer to grow in deserts.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Gymnema:

Gymnema is mainly used for metabolic conditions including hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, hypertriglyceridemia, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It's diuretic and increases the number of pancreatic beta cells.

One of the more unique effects of gymnema is its ability to inhibit sweet flavor. By simply chewing on the leaves, our ability to perceive sweet flavors gradually fades away — helping to prevent excessive sugar intake in habituated individuals.

 

Cautions:

High saponins may cause gastrointestinal upset, caution advised with high doses.

Caution advised if taking hypoglyemic medication due to agonistic interaction.

 

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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Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

horse chestnut leaf and seed

Horse Chestnut Summary

Horse chestnut is a large tree with a long history of use for treating vascular conditions like varicose veins and other forms of poor vascular tone.

Its common name originated from a belief that horse chestnut seeds were able to relieve panting horses.

 

+ Indications

  • Poor vascular tone
  • Vericose veins
  • Burst blod vessels
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Phelbitis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Frostbite
  • Leg ulcers
  • Chronic venous insufficiency

+ Contraindications

  • Pregnancy
  • Breast feeding
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Anticoagulant medication use

Herbal Actions:

  • Astringent
  • Antinflammatory
  • Decongestant
  • Antioxidant
  • Antirheumatic
  • Analgesic
  • Expectorant
  • Vasoprotective
 

What is Horse Chestnut Used For?

Horse chestnut is mainly used for its astringent and anti-inflammatory activity specific to the vascular system. It's also used for fluid accumulation, chest pain, rheumatism, neuralgia, hemorrhoids, and sinus congestion.

 

Herb Details: Horse Chestnut

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Seeds

Family Name

  • Sapindaceae

Distribution

  • Europe & North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Aescin

Common Names

  • Horsechestnut
  • Conker Tree
  • Atkestanesi
  • Buckeye
  • Eschilo

Duration of Use

  • Long term use of horse chestnut is acceptable.
 

Botanical Information

The Sapindaceae family of plants contains 138 genera, and 1858 different species. The Aesculus genus contains 13-19 different species. Other famous members of the Sapindacea family include maple (Acer spp.), lychee (Litchi chinensis), longan (Dimocarpus longan), Guarana (Paulinia cupana) Ackee (Blighia sapida).

 

Research Overview:

still compiling research

 

Clinical Applications Of Horse Chestnut:

Horsechestnut is a reliable vascular tonic, suitable for most forms of vascular insufficiency or fluid retention. Varicose veins, spider veins, burst blood vessels, and peripheral vascular and arterial insufficiency are all indicated for use wth horsechestnut internally.

 

Cautions:

The esculin may be toxic in higher doses. Many horsechestnut extracts will remove this component to improve safety.

Do not use horsechestnut in combination with pregnancy or breastfeeding.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

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