Herbs List H – M

Horehound

HorehoundNow, how many of you remember having horehound candy for your coughs when you where younger! This herb has been growing in my garden for three years now, waiting for me to give it a shot at making the candy! One visitor to my page wrote me and said hers didn’t turn out like what she remembered the candy tasting like. So, if any of you have a tried and true recipe for horehound candy, please, share it with me, to be passed on to others. In the meantime, if you need a clear head, make a tea from it and have a cup or two. It is said to gaurd you from sorcery and is used as an exorcism herb, that when boiled in water in a sickroom, it releases all bad vibrations.

It was used long ago for a remedy to dog bites, and now-a-days for remedies to coughs and colds. It still can be made into a syrup by boiling 1 cup of horehound in 1 cup of water, strain, and add 1 cup of honey and 1 tabls. lemon juice. (Keep refrigerated) It was also used at the time of passover.

It has a ‘real’ name: Marrubium vulgare. It grows to be about 18-24″ tall, likes just about any type of soil, and full or partly shaded areas. It has a silvery grey , kinda hairy roundish leaf, and flowers in the second year. It should be clipped quite a bit in the spring to keep plant from becoming leggy. You want to harvest before flowering, and to harvest, hang them upside-down in a brown paper bag (keeps dust off) for about two weeks. The branches of horehound look nice in a vase of flowers since the leaves are such a different color! Leaves of the plant can be eaten to releive sore throats and coughs, and the tea can be use to get rid of intestinal worms, and to releive heartburn and indigestion.

Kava

KAVA

HISTORY

Kava has been widely used throughout the South Pacific civilizations for hundreds of years. The native peoples have used it primarily as a drink, made from the root. One researcher states that the plant induces an atmosphere of relaxation and easy sociability among drinkers. Kava Kava has also played an important role in religious ceremonies. Kava drinking is an important kind of ritual, usually involving the invocation of ancestral spirits. The root of the Kava plant is the part used for both traditional and modern pharmacological extract preparations. Kava has been cultivated, and has always been propagated by root division, not by seed. Growers have selected, for propagation, particular plants which were the most active. But the origins of the Kava plant (Piper methysticum) are still a matter of speculation. Through this selection process, the plant has become so far removed from its origins that it can no longer reproduce from seed, and its exact ancestry can no longer be determined. There are 67 known Kava cultivars in commerce. The highest quality Kava some agree is the “whole” mature root (minimum 4 year maturity), selected from particular cultivars. This definition is based upon analysis of Kava’s chemical components as well as study of Kava’s traditional use among indigenous people of the South Pacific Islands.

SOURCES:

Today Kava is fully integrated into the agricultural and economic life of the islands. Trade figures from the late 1980s show that total commercial Kava production in the South Pacific area totaled about 5,500 tons, generating revenues to the growers of around $40 million. Much of this is consumed locally. Kava is now also a focus of interest to a diverse and worldwide audience. As is stated in the recent book Kava: The Pacific Drug, published by Yale University Press:
“The plant attracts a wide range of contemporary interest. For prehistorians and linguists, its distribution provides traces of the migrations of Oceanic peoples. For anthropologists and sociologists, the compounds from the kava root facilitate social interaction. For theologians, Kava consumption is a religious act. For political scientists, Kava ritual today symbolizes new national identities and unity within the Pacific states. Botanists are intrigued by the problems of defining the species and by the sterility of its cultivars. Geneticists have begun to survey its zymotopes and chemotypes. Agronomists view the plant as an increasingly valuable cash crop suited to the traditional agricultural practices of subsistence farmers. National development officials in some Melanesian countries suggest that investments in Kava cultivation may generate desperately needed export earnings for newly independent Pacific Island nations. Pharmacologists search rain forests and folk medicinal systems for useful new therapies. And Kava drinkers themselves may want to know more about their daily dose.”

Add to this the current widespread use of Kava extract in European pharmaceutical preparations (as a relaxant and muscle relaxant), and the proliferation of interest in Kava in the United States, and we are looking at a plant which, though little known outside its region of origin until a few years ago, may be on the verge of becoming one of the most sought after botanical in the world. All writings and research on Kava indicate that it may be the cure for the great American disease of today’s baby boom generation: Stress.

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS:

A well prepared Kava potion, drunk in small quantities produces only pleasant changes in behavior. It is therefore a slightly stimulating drink which helps relieve great fatigue. It relaxes the body after strenuous efforts, clarifies the mind and sharpens the mental faculties. Kava soothes temperaments. (Kava researcher Lewin, 1884).

Unlike many medicinal herbs, the groundwork for the identification of the active principles in Kava was laid down about a hundred years ago when the first Kavalactone was identified and isolated in 1889. Today it is generally acknowledged that a group of compounds known as kavalactones or kavapyrones are primarily responsible for the activity of the plant. A total of fifteen kavalactones have been identified.

USES:

Much work has been done in the past 30 years towards isolating and identifying the effects of individual Kavalactones, but it is generally conceded that the beneficial effects of the plant are obtained through the use of root extracts containing the full spectrum of the naturally occurring constituents. Documented effects are as follows:

General relaxant:

Numerous tests with animals and humans have shown Kava to be an excellent general relaxant. ³ ,4 Kava is a sleep aid only in as much as it relaxes the user; it does not cause involuntary sleep (an important safety issue).5

b.Local anesthetic: This is of little interest to the modern user who generally consumes the product in the form of a capsule, but when Kava root is chewed it makes the mouth go numb.

Muscle relaxant and anti-convulsive effects:

Modern studies (done in the last 30 years) indicate that Kava is an excellent muscle relaxant comparable to the best synthetic products A German researcher (Kretzschmar, 1970) stated that Kavalactones have: ‘excellent psycho-pharmacological activity which produces emotional and muscular relaxation, stabilization of the feelings and stimulation of the ability to think and act.

To summarize, the primary activity of Kava of interest today is the same as its historical use: as a relaxant/muscle relaxant.

DOSAGE:

Kava extract as a high quality pharmaceutical type extract was pioneered by German researchers. Today Kava is widely used in Germany as an OTC pharmaceutical under Commission E status. All of the products sold in Europe under this category contain standardized amounts of kavalactones. The same is true for the higher quality products sold in the U.S. These Kava Extracts may be used alone, or in combination with other herbal ingredients. A typical OTC European product would be 200-250 mg of extract containing 30% Kavalactones (60-75mg total kavalactones). Usage would be 1-3 capsules.

SIDE EFFECTS

When considering the use of any relaxant which works, safety issues are a primary concern. Because of its widespread use for such a long period of time, Kava has a very extensive history of safe usage. The plant is non-addictive, and taken at normal doses has no long-term side-effects. Kava does not cause involuntary sleep or effects of drunkenness or undesirable intoxication.

Some studies have indicated that when consumed in very large quantities, over extended periods of time, that Kava may cause a mild skin rash. However these studies were done with Australian aboriginal populations who were heavy tobacco smokers and also consuming large quantities of alcohol. Usage of Kava was also very high, amounting to a daily consumption equivalent to dozens of the type of capsules that are typically available on the market today.

Modern, pharmaceutical grade Kava extracts, standardized for kavalactone content have been through the extensive safety and efficacy procedures required for drug registration in Germany. 

LEMON BALM

TLemon Balmhis is one of a MUST for any new or old herb gardener! When starting out growing herbs, your first attempts at using your herbs is usually in the kitchen, right? And lemon balm tea is always something to make that will compliment your beggining tries! I usualy make my normal orange pekoe tea by infusing tea bags under HOT TAP WATER ONLY!! and then adding in this case, lemon balm sprigs, about 4-5 6″ sprigs works well in a gallon of tea. (12 teabags used).
You can also chop up the cleaned leaves and add to the next summer fruit salad you make, and the leaves are great to decorate the side of any serving plate. Why not try placing a few sprigs into a quart of 5% acidity vinegar for something wonderful! Or you may want to make a gift of jelly! And if you are not into cooking, but only labor, take the leaves and rub on your furniture as a polish! (A mother-in-law job for sure!)

There is a lot of history behind lemon balm and a lot of folklore. (Isn’t the folklore of herbs fun?!) It is said that by soaking the leaves of the balm in vine for a few hours will influence love…(Maybe it is the vine, I mean wine.) It was also known to ensure success. The “LONDEN DISPENSARY” claims in 1696: “Balm, given every morning, will renew youth, strenghten the brain and releive languishing nature”. It is said by drinking lemon balm tea with honey for 50 years for breakfast, John Hussey, of Sydenham, England, lived to be 116 years old. It is still used today as an essential oil by aromatherapists for depression. Lemon Balm is also a strewing herb.

It’s ‘real’ name is Melissa Officinalis although, there again, is a variegated form called “variegata”. This is another herb that does well in the shadier area for the sun scorches the leaves. It is not to picky on soil, but does prefer it to be damp. It is best to start with a root division, being the seeds are slow to start. It is also good to replant every third year because it looses it nice moundy shape by then. It grows to be about a foot tall, and you can pick the leaves anytime. It does not do well in the southern states being it is to warm of a climate.It is good to plant this herb closer to the path in your herb garden so it can be brushed against while passing thru.

Medicinally, lemon balm can be placed directly onto insect bites or sores, made into teas for broncial problems, colds, or drank just to uplift tension.

Mint

MINT

Let’s start with a little history of mint! In the Middle Ages you would find mint in most monastery gardens. It was used to cure mouth sores, whiten teeth, heal dog bites and wasp stings and used in preventing milk from curdling. It repels mice and rats, too.

The Romans believed that by eating mint, you have have an increased intelligence level and have relief from headaches. They rubbed tabletops with mint for it symbolized hospitality.

The scent of mint was suppose to help relieve people from a bad temper. And in California the University there shows that it increases concentration! Some companies in Japan pipe mint oil through the ac system to invigorate workers-increasing productivity!

The ‘real’ name for mint is “Mentha” All mints are perennials and most need a moist soil with sun to partly shade-however, it grows in most shade too. Most mints produce seeds, but it may not be the same variety as you started with, so propogate by division, root cuttings or runners.

PLANT IT-FOR IT WILL GROW!! Most mints grow to be about 6-12″ tall. Garden Centers carry a variety of about 12 different common mints. Some varieties are:

Spearmint-(mentha x spicata) associated with chewing gum. It has been used in healing kidney inflamations.Curly Mint-a form of spearmint which has curly, bright green leaves which is used alot in mint sauces. Horsemint-menths alopecurioides

This mint grows to be 6-7 feet tall and is the earliest known mint to be used for medicinal purposes. It was simmered in vinagar to cure dandruff in Medieval Times. Watermint-Mentha aquatica-is a low growing mint found often in England. It needs semi-shade and was used in the Middle Ages as a strewing herb. It

grows to be about 39″ tall. Pennyroyal-also known as creeping mint-mentha saturelioides-This is a Native Australian mint used in repeling fleas and flies, and bed bugs. Forest Mint, Slender Mint and River Mint are also Native Australian Mints.

Other mints that are fairly common include: Round leaf mint, red mint, lemon mint, ginger mint, egyptian mint, corsican mint, camhore mint, peppermint, bergamont, lavendar mint, basil mint, vietnamese mint, white peppermint, black peppermint, pineapple mint, apple mint, and variegated apple mint.

The only problem mint may have in growing is rust. This is a reddish orange patch on leaves. It is caused by temperature flucuations. The plant will usually come out of it if it is only a small patch of it, but if a large patch appears, cut the plant back.

To control mint-move it once in a while to a new location. Or plant it in drain pipes buried in the ground or plant it every year in a above gound planter. Some people plant low growing mints as a ground cover or lawn.

When drying mint, you will notice some of the flavor is gone. Hang mint in bunches in a brown paper bag until leaves are dry enough to crumble. Fill an airtight jar and it will keep for 1 year. You can freeze mint by placing on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid-then place in a plastic bag and store in freezer for up to one year.

Try these recipes out!

MINT HONEY: Warm 8 oz. of honey and add 1 tablespoon mint leaves. Seal in a jar and place it where it is warm for three weeks. Heat the honey again to where it runs freely and strain out the mint leaves. This honey will last for years and it it should candy, just warm it up a bit again!

MINT FOOT POWDER: Combine 1 cup talcum powder, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1 tspn peppermint oil, and 1 tspn vinegar. Keep in sealed jar and use as a dusting powder for the foot!

MINT TEA FOR NAUSEA: 1 part each: chamomile, lemon balm, and fennel seed, 2 parts spearmint, and 12 parts peppermint. Let steep in hot water, and sip when needed. Not to be used by pregnant ladies