Herbs List C – D

CHAMOMILE

Have you noticed how this herb is spelled in two different ways? CHAMOMILE and CAMOMILE) There are two main varieties of chamomile: GERMAN and ROMAN. The German chamomile is also known as wild chamomile or scented mayweed. This variety is an annual, wih soft spiney fern-like leaves with white with yellow centered daisy-like flowers. It grows to be about 6-8″ tall with a real name of: chamomilla recutita. The real name for Roman Chamomile is: chamaemelum nobile. This variety is a perennial, looks very simuliar to the german variety, but is the one used for most medicinal purposes. The flowerheads are what is used for medicinal purposes.

Medicinal Purposes

Chamomile is known for the medicinal purposes it can provide! It is one of the first herbs new herbalists learn about for the use of medicine! It has been used for what seems like forever in treating the un-calm. A tea made form the flowers of the Roman chamomile are brewed into a tea and served as a soothing tonic which helps those who suffer from insomnia. It stimulates a flagging appetite, improves digestion, helps with urination, helps relieve colitis and hemorrhoids, and has been found to be a beneficial treatment for bursitis, arthritis, headaches, muscle cramps, and pain. It has anti-inflamatory properties in it which helps especially with arthritis! My sister suffers from arthritis to the point of seeing a doctor who gave her some pills that made her “feel funny”. I suggested drinking chamomile tea, she did, 3 cups a day, QUIT taking the prescribed medicine and continues drinking the tea with no side effects and no painful symptoms of arthritis!

The tea has a somewhat apple flavor. Some like it, some don’t. But don’t let the flavor stop you from using this for helping with inflamation. There are plenty of places out there that will sell you capsulated chamomile! I really don’t care for the taste of this tea by itself, so I add honey to it.

There are traces of Vitamin A, a high level of calcium and magnesium, potassium, iron, maganese, and zinc. This herb is not only good for the anti-inflammatory properties, it has also been used in the treatments of painful menstruation, insomnia, gas, fever,and nausea. It is a good brew for those with a hangover! A tea made form chamomile is made by brewing 1 tablespoon of the dried flowers into a 8 oz. cup of very hot water. (I NEVER boil my tea water!) Let this set for 5 or so minutes before drinking. To soothe sore, painful muscles and joints, make a poultice and soak a towel in it and wrap painful joint area. Chamomile also makes for a good hair rinse for blondes-it brightens and lightens the hair! Or you can make herbal bath bags which you added chamomile, thyme, rosemary, and rose petals, too. Give a hyper-active child a chamomile bath–to calm him. Also, if you are pregnant, a herbal practitioner: William La Sassier feels it produces babies who don’t whine!

Both varieties have been planted in their own spot in the garden because it will spread! Some have planted the whole yard in chamomile! And then when walked on, it provides a wonder aroma!

 

Catnip (Nepeta Cataria)

Catnip is in the mint family. To many people’s surprise, it is an edible herb for humans as well as a fragrant herb for cats. Have a cup of tea to relax and unwind when you come home from work, and while your at it, throw some to your cat.

Medicinal ValueFor Humans:

Catnip is known to be a relaxing herb to take in a tea. Tea made from Catnip also helps to calm ailments associated with the digestive system. Included in these are upset stomachs, flatulancy, stomach acid, and stomach spasums. Use Catnip as a sleeping aid if you have insomnia. It is an antispasmodic, astringent, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, and an anodyne. Use it to help promote mensturation and to lessen menstural cramps. Catnip is good for those with an anema, and can also help with diarrhea and chronic broncitus. A weak tea can be given to babies to treat infant colic.

For Felines:

For our purrring pals, Catnip (hence the name) is an aphrodisiac. About 10% of cats do not respond to it, and whether or not your cat will respond has to do with her/his genetics. The cats respond from smelling the herb, though you’ll notice that some chew on it. This is not because they receive more of a reaction to it by taste, it is because breaking the leaves releases more of the scent.

Folk History

Some folk names for Catnip include: Catmint, Catnep, Field Balm. At one time Catnip was thought to help with Scarlet Fever. Some people have made claims of a hallucinogenic property to it, but this is entirely false. Catnip contains no chemicals that can cause this state of mind.

Magical Uses

Catnip is a love herb, and it is good to use a pinch in sachets or incense with other love herbs (especially good when used in combination with rose petals). It’s element is water and it’s planet is Venus. The deity associated with Catnip is Bast (big surprise), and the magical use of the herb is love, animal contacts, happiness, and beauty. Many magic users use the dryed leaves of a Catnip plant as bookmarks for their book of shadows or personal magical books. When you give the herb to your cat, it creates a psychic bond between you. If it is grown near or around your home it attracts good luck. Use Catnip in spells to bring about more beauty to your life or your personal appearance.

Harvesting and Growing

Catnip is a Perinneal and in the mint family. It grows from 3 to 5 feet high. It flowers from mid-summer until the first month of autumn, and it is not necessarily true that the plant dies after it flowers, as opposed to it’s near cousins, the mint plants. Cuttings are easy to grow from, stick a 4″ long stem cutting into moist, fertile soil. This method takes approximately a week to root. Harvest the leaves and tops of this plant in the late summer and early fall. Dry the leaves, but make sure that you do not use the stems.

Dosage

 For human consumption internally, make an infusion with 1teaspoon Catnip to 1 cup of water, drink up to three cups a day. A tincture can be taken 1/2 to 1 teaspoon a day. Make a quick astringent from Catnip by pressing the crushed leaves into a minor cut until you are able to receive medical treatment.

Warnings:

Due to properties of this herb which promote mensturation, pregnant women are advised not to use it during pregnancy.

Chives

   This one of the most common herbs that is grown in every herb garden! They are more pleasing in taste (they actually have a taste) when they are used fresh! The leaves can be snipped anytime after the plant is about 6″ tall-cutting close to the ground-leaving about 2″. I found the best way to store chives is by freezing the chopped pieces flat on a cookie sheet. After completely frozen, scoop them up into a plastic zip-type bag. Doing it this way gives you the ability to use as needed. It also retains the flavor. Chives do not need alot of care. You may want to divide up the clumps every couple of years to share with your friends. It’s a great way to start a friends herb garden! You can let chives go into bloom-collecting the blue flowers for salads and vinegars. You can bring a pot of chives into the kitchen for “winter harvesting”-wonderful on those baked potatoes! Chives are in the Liliaceae family. Other varieties of chives include garlic chives, which flavors like a mild garlic and society garlic chives, which, I am told will give me s spiral curly-q thing that I will be able to use in my dried flower arrangements. I haven’t gotten that far with this plant yet, I will see at the end of this summer, for my plant will then be at the end of it’s first complete year in its spot. They are mainly used for culinary purposes, however, they are a great blood cleanser. They’re not used in aromatherapy due to the odor but are used in some medical preparations for colds and coughs. 

 

Coriander

This herb is also known as CILANTRO and CHINESE PARSLEY. Its folklore includes being put into love potions, and spells, and when added to wine-it was thought of as being a great lust potion. It was thought that when an expecting lady eats coriander, the child to be will be a genious.

Coriander has lacy-fern-like leaves with little white flowers. When starting coriander, remember that it doesn’t like to be transplanted. It grows to be about 24″ tall with spindley stems. It is a good herb to grow with other plants around it to help hold it up in the winds. It is a easy to grow annual, that likes lots of water. All parts of the plants are used for culinary purposes. The seeds are used in flavoring many dishes, the leaves are added to salads, and the roots are cooked like a vegetable. Coriander is one of the most common herbs in the Middle East and also in Mexico, for all the flavored dishes served there. The plant and flowers have an awful scent to them until they are dried. Then the seeds have a lemon-scented smell with seeds that look like peppercorns. It is a plant that needs full sun, moist soil and needs a little fertilization when planted.

The plant itself is quite interesting for as it grows, there are wide leaflets on the bottom and then smaller ferny leaves towards the top of the stem. The seeds are used in making teas used as a digestive aid, and it also has a sedative effect on some. The oil from the seeds is used to disguise the flavors of other medicines and the oil is also used in oinments for painful rheumatic joints and muscles.

DILL

 You wouldn’t think of dill being a medicinal herb-but it is! It is used to relieve flatulence and upset stomachs. It helps increase mother’s milk and helps with breast congestion which sometimes comes with breatfeeding. It stimulates the appetite and is generally beneficial to the stomach. Drink a tea made from dill seed or weed several times a day for the treatment of these ailments, and feed a little to your colic baby for gentle relief!

The folklore that surrounds dill includes the protective properties it holds. It was placed in the baby’s cradle and over door jams for this protection it serves. It was used in money spells, added to baths to make bathers irresistable, and smelled to cure hiccups.

Dill is native to the Mediterranean and Russia and aslo in Spain. The plant is grown in the herb garden towards the back for it grows to be about 2-3 feet with ferny type leaves which makes for a pretty background to other herbs. It is an annual plant grown mostly from seed which produces heads of tiny yellow flowers. It does prefer full sun and will re-seed itself if you let the flowers go to seed in the fall. Thin out dill plants to about 10″ apart. Dill is sometimes staked to keep the top heavy plants from falling over. Be patient for dill seed to come up for it takes up to 25 days for the seeds to germinate. Also, do not grow this herb next to fennel because the seeds will cross-polinate, giving you something weird to grow!

Dill is used in an assortment of cooking ways. From breads, to dips, to soups, pickles, meats and salads. Dill also makes a pretty backdrop to flower arrangements and pressed flower pictures and added as backdrops to pressed flower candles. These craft items will be covered in Kathie’s Herb Page over a period of time.