so what is Herbal Energetics ? Warm Cold Moist Dry ?

so what is Herbal Energetics ?

In many of the individual medicinal plant profiles on this blog I often include a small section on the plant energetics. So exactly what is herbal energetics ?

Well, at the very basic level, it is how to best match a herb or selection of herbs to an individual patient rather than solely looking at the disease state.

Putting this in very simple terms. Lets make up a person called Joe Blog. Joe has painful joints. He is always cold. Joe never leaves the house without a jacket or warm layer, even in summer. He prefers summer and hates the winter. Joe needs warming herbs. He needs spices such as black pepper, ginger or even chilli to warm up those cold joints.

Our second made up person is Joan Blog. Joan also has painful joints. She likes the cool, fresh winter. Joan switches off the central heating after Joe has switched it on. She prefers the bedroom window open at night. Her painful joints are hot to touch and she describes them as burning. She needs cooler herbs like willow bark and comfrey.

Constitution

Whether a person is warm or cold, dry or moist is part of their constitution. Their vitality, strengthen and very nature are all important in correct herb selection. Equally the energy of the herbs chosen is important. In the example above black pepper and ginger are warming and chillies especially so!

There are several constitutional frameworks recognised worldwide. You may have heard of humoral medicine, Ayurvedic medicine or traditional Chinese medicine. They all have similarities and, of course, differences.

As a student herbalist we undertook a module on each of these three systems. We were very fortunate to have three incredible teachers. All medical herbalists and all experts in their chosen system. The following is a brief description of each of these.

Humoral Medicine

Relates to the four bodily humors – phlegm, black bile, blood and yellow bile. Phlegmatic constitution is moist and cold whereas Melancholic is dry and cold. Sanguine is moist and warm and Choleric dry and warm.

what is Herbal Energetics astrologySanguine relates to Air, Melancholic is Earth, Choleric is Fire and Phlegmatic naturally, is water. An individual may predominate in one constitution, although they may have elements of others.

This system is of Greek origin. It is the basis of Unani Medicine. Often astrological influences are incorporated.

If we look again at Joan Blog above Salix alba (willow bark) is a herb of the moon. Where does it grow? Frequently found growing by the water. Willow bark is cool and moist. The London herbalist Nicholas Culpeper followed this method. I have a personal preference for humoral medicine.

Ayurvedic Medicine

Whereas humoral medicine has four constitutions, Ayurvedic looks at three doshas and most importantly your prakruti. The three doshas are Pitta, Kapha and Vata. Your prakruti is the balance of these three doshas when you were born into the world.

This system is of Asian origin, popular in India. There are similarities with both humoral medicine and TCM. The Pitta constitution is warm, Vata is cold and dry and Kapha is moist.

If we look at ginger, black pepper and chilli, mentioned above for Joe, in Ayurvedic medicine they all reduce Vata and Kapha and increase Pitta.

Furthermore, if we incorporate preparation in more detail you can enhance specific qualities. For example dry ginger is hotter and drier than fresh ginger.

Going back to Joe. If he is slightly more Kapha than Vata and has fluid accumulation in the joints dried ginger would be preferred. However, if Joe is more Vata than Kapha, perhaps with dry scaling skin around the painful joints, he would fair better with fresh ginger root.

Ayurveda is probably the most popular method. Of the three here, I believe it is possibly the more straightforward and easiest to grasp.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

what is Herbal Energetics Yin YangTCM has a wider range of ‘constitutions’. Everyone has heard of Yin and Yang. Yin is cold whereas Yang is warm.

A Yin deficient person tends to prefer cold drinks, often complains of warm hands or feet. They are uncomfortable in a hot and dry environment. They don’t have enough cold. The menopause is often considered Yin deficient. I mention Yin deficiency in the red clover profile.

The Yang deficient person has a dislike for wind and cold. They have cold hands and feet. They don’t have enough warm. There are many more terms in TCM such as Qi stagnation and Qi deficient. Diseased states also have descriptions and may be described as due to wind heat or kidney Qi stagnation.

This method is naturally of Chinese origin. Although I find TCM fascinating it is the one I find most difficult to understand. I find it quite a complex system.

So what is herbal energetics ?

Often, I feel, we are bogged down by science. While it is interesting to know salicin, a constituent of willow bark, is pain relieving no individual constituent within a plant can give the full picture or true nature of that plant.

The above is simply a basic guideline in answer to so what is herbal energetics. If you are interested in learning a little more please do contact me. If this subject is of particular interest I offer a half day course looking at herbal energetics in a little more detail. Please feel free to contact me for further information.

We so do not need the knotweed… Fallopia japonica

Fallopia japonica or Reynoutria japonica or Polygonum cuspidatum

Family Name: Polygonaceae

French Name: Renouée du Japon

not need the knotweedThis plant is native to East Asia predominately Japan, Taiwan and northern China.

In its natural habitat it has predator plant louse to keep it under control. Unfortunately elsewhere it has earned the reputation as the world’s worst invasive species. More commonly known as Japanese Knotweed.

We so do not need the knotweed!

What’s the problem?

Well those little louse critters unfortunately, are also non-native to the rest of the world too. So Japanese knotweed is causing a whole host of problems. It is outcompeting native flora and a contributor to river bank erosion which increases the likelihood of flooding.

In the UK the plant has caused significant delays and cost to development and structural damage. In fact in some cases mortgages have been refused where it has been found in gardens. You can begin to see why we so do not need the knotweed!

Where can you find it?

It is now becoming common in urban areas, on waste land, railways, road sides and river banks. When back in Devon last September I was horrified to find it growing along an estuary where I often went herb walks. In the UK they are attempting to introduce the louse in the hopes of controlling the plant.

I have now found it growing on the riverbank here in France, some three kilometres from where I live. Apparently in the Parc de Saint Périer, Morigny-Champigny, Essonne (south of Paris) they are working with goats to control plant growth.

Medicinal Uses:

I remembered some years back it mentioned in a class or lecture that it did indeed have medicinal properties.

Use in TCM…

Known as Hu Zhang in China. The dried root and leaf are utilised. It apparently has a bitter taste. Energetically described cold and dry.

In traditional Chinese medicine it is utilised to eliminate damp heat and for pain relief. Some recommended conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, trauma injuries, bronchitis, pleurisy and other damp heat lung infections.

Use in Japan…

Wild foraged as a wild edible spring vegetable in Japan. Known as Itadori which apparently means ‘pain relieving’. In addition to use as a medicinal in some areas.

a bit of science…

Constituents include anthraquinones and anthraglycosides primarily emodin. In addition there are tannins and resveratrol. Emodin and resveratrol have shown anti-tumour activity in research.

… the future

In conclusion it seems highly unlikely Japanese knotweed will ever be eradicated. Resilient to cutting. Roots can be 10 feet down and some 23 feet across. Furthermore even the tiniest piece of root remaining can return.

For the moment we so do not need the knotweed. It is hoped a way of controlling this plant is discovered before it outcompetes some of our native medicinals. And causes other damage.

Hopefully a way of controlling growth will be discovered. Perhaps then it may well become a useful medicinal ally.

Finally, I would advise against use as a medicinal in countries where it is non native. It is probable there is contamination with pesticides in the role of control.

Linden Blossom or Lime Flower Tree though not a citrus…

Tilia sp.

Family:

Tilioideae (formally Tiliaceae) Tilioideae is a sub-family of Malvaceae.

French common name: Tilleul

Linden Blossom or Lime Flower Tree

linden blossom or lime flowerSo is it a linden blossom or lime flower tree? Both names appear to be used interchangeably. One thing for certain it is not a citrus tree and bears no edible lime-like fruit. It is however a very beautiful tree and definitely one of my favourites.

Scientifically there are several species. The small-leaved lime, Tilia cordata, grows up to a height of 30m. Tilia platyphyllos, or large-leaved lime, grows up to a height of 40m. Both Tilia x vulgaris and Tilia x europaea are found as scientific names for the common lime. The common lime is a naturally occurring hybrid between the small and large-leaved lime. All the above are used interchangeably medicinally.

In English you may find the common name written as large or small-leaved or common linden blossom or lime flower.

Mills (1993) advises there is a difference in leaf size between the species but no known differences in therapeutic activity.

The leaves are often described as heart-shaped although occasionally slightly asymmetrical at the base.

Linden blossom or lime flower – how to use and dosage

linden blossom or lime flowerThe dried flowers are used in an infusion with one teaspoon of the herb per cup of boiling water. Two to three spoonfuls are recommended in cases of fever (Hoffmann).

Mills (1993) recommends 1 to 4g of flowers three times a day.

Mills (1993) advises the tree is found throughout the temperate world growing in large parks, gardens and in the wild. He recommends drying the flowers quickly after picking as they spoil quite easily.

Barker notes bark is sometimes used though adds externally as an anti-inflammatory poultice. Fresh leaves can be eaten. He advises harvesting early in flowering for medicinal use.

A popular infusion in France and often found dried for sale at French markets. Trees frequently found in France in school playgrounds or village squares. Believed to be popular in these areas to promote relaxation.

This tea almost immediately makes me feel calm and very relaxed with a most pleasant, warm and comfortable feeling. I like the taste which I would describe as a combination of light, sweet, floral and with a subtle fruity, slightly astringent flavour.

Traditional Uses:

This wonderful tree has countless examples of traditional use.

The wood was used for detailed carvings. Supposedly easier to work with than other woods when minute detail is required. Traditionally popular for detailed carvings. Reputedly there are many lime wood carvings in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and in Windsor Castle. Apparently the lightest wood produced by any European tree and said to never get woodworm. Used for clogs and cuckoo clocks as well as musical instruments. Also used in sounding boards for organs and pianos.

A honey is produced from the flowers (Grieve).

Bartram advises once utilised to reduce severity of epileptic seizures. While Ward (1936) noted it a popular remedy for chronic catarrhal conditions following colds. Given for nervous headaches and hysterical tendencies. Recommended as an infusion of 1 drachm in 1 pint of boiling water or in bed-time baths, in equivalent strength, for those suffering from insomnia.

Modern Uses:

Mills (2001) indicates lime flowers for any acute infections particularly if accompanied by fever. These include common colds, bronchitis and influenza. Further described as being antispasmodic and relaxant and indicated for anxiety, intestinal colic, irritability, restlessness and sleeplessness and tension headaches and migraines.

Barker suggests combining with Elder for the common cold with fever. In addition, he recommends with Hawthorn and Yarrow for poor peripheral circulation. Furthermore, like Mills, he recommends for headaches and insomnia from nervous tension. Finally he combines with hawthorn for hypertension (high blood pressure). I have often combined hawthorn and lime flower in herbal prescriptions.

Hoffmann advises use as a prophylactic particularly for arteriosclerosis and recommends it specifically in the use of high blood pressure with arteriosclerosis. He recommends combining it with hops for nervous tension.

Mills (2001) describes lime flowers as a herbal aquaretic meaning the herb is a diuretic that excretes water from the body. He recommends its use as a decoction for hypertension. Herbal aquaretics are believed to benefit in replacing potassium lost through the use of modern diuretic prescriptions.

Recommended for phlebitis and varicose veins. Believed to have a restorative effect following auto-immune attacks such as arteritis, a condition involving inflammation of artery walls. One of the first herbs of choice, along with chamomile, for illness in babies and children (Mills, 1993).

Some science stuff…

Listed active ingredients, for medicinal purposes in phytotherapy, are flavonoids, volatile oil and mucilage components (Toker et al, 2001).

Mills (1993) advises lime flowers contain flavonoids, mucilage, saponins and tannins. The volatile oil includes farnesol. Flavonoids predominately work on the vascular system. However, they are usually diuretic and some may well be anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-spasmodic. Saponins will also work on the vascular system. He describes these two constituents as having a synergistic effect on the blood vessels.

Mucilage protects against infections and neutralises toxins while tannins astringe membranes making them less sensitive to bacteria. Some saponins also have an effect on the female hormone system and can regulate steroidal activity.

Farnesol in volatile oil is anti-inflammatory, bacteriostatic and deodorant (Clarke, 2002).

… and a bit of research…

Weiss (2001) describes a study conducted by two paediatricians on children with influenza type symptoms. The children on lime blossom tea and bed-rest recovered much more quickly and with fewer complications than those given orthodox medications.

I did read a review of scientific evidence sourced into linden blossom absolute on an aromatherapy site some years back. Essential oil of Tilia cordata, and two of its components benzaldehyde and benzyl alcohol, were tested in inhalation experiments.

T. cordata produced a significant decrease for traditional indications such as headaches, migraine and anxiety. It was concluded that this justified use in aroma-therapeutical applications. The quoted study was from 1992, Arch. Pharm. Apr. 325(4):247-8.

Herbal Energetics

Linden blossom or lime flower is described as having a warm temperament (Mills, 1993).

Holmes describes linden energetically as a bit pungent, sweet and astringent. In Ayurvedic energetics he describes it as decreasing Pitta and Kapha.

He finds it beneficial for several conditions. External wind heat includes fever and unrest. Other indications include lung wind heat which covers thirst, dry cough, red sore throat. Both lung wind heat and external wind heat cause irritability. Headache and nervous tension are kidney Qi stagnation.

Finally further reading including linden blossom or lime flower:

 

Natural Remedies to Help with Hot Flushes or Flashes

Natural Remedies to Help with Hot Flushes or Flashes

Whether you prefer to call them hot flushes or hot flashes they are a misery. Although an unfortunate natural reaction, some women find them embarrassing particularly when flushing in front of work colleagues. Also called vasomotor symptoms or VMS. They start suddenly with a heating sensation predominately in the head and neck and upper body including the back.

There is some suggestion that if flushing starts in the peri-menopausal period you will suffer longer and it can go on for several years. If the flushing commences after cessation of periods symptoms tend to last no more than 3 years.

Other suggestions include flushes last longer in smokers, anyone overweight or women suffering from stress or anxiety. However, no two women are identical in any menopausal symptoms. Duration, frequency and severity of hot flushes varies considerably in women.

Using Natural Remedies to Help with Hot Flushes

Aromatic Waters, Hydrosols or Hydrolats

Aromatic waters in a spray bottle are excellent on-the-go natural remedies for hot flushes. Easy to keep a spray bottle beside the bed, in your handbag or desk drawer and simply pull out and spray when you feel a hot flush coming on. I find them particularly refreshing on the face and pulse points of the wrist.

Three of the favoured ones for menopausal flushes are lavender, peppermint and rose. Each have slightly different benefits for menopausal symptoms. The descriptions below are a guideline to help you make the best choice.

Lavandula angustifolia – lavender

Using Natural Remedies to Help with Hot FlushesHot Flushes with accompanied anxiety, irritability, stress or poor sleep are often helped with Lavandula angustifolia or lavender aromatic water. Irritability, stress and poor sleep aggravate hot flushes.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine lavender is energetically considered cooling particularly for the liver.

You could also spray the lavender aromatic water on your pillow to aid sleep.

Mentha piperita – peppermint

Mentha piperita or peppermint has a somewhat contradictory warming and cooling effect on the body. In small amounts it has a cool, fresh feel on the skin making it ideal for hot flushes.

The clarity of peppermint also makes this a better choice for those with menopausal mental fog, lack of focus or concentration.

Rosa damascena – rose

Finally, Rosa damascena or rose aromatic water. This is one of my personal favourites. I find it immensely uplifting, yet cool and calming. Rose is described as a cooling astringent.

I would favour this aromatic water for women with acne rosacea and have prescribed the aromatic water, in combination with other herbs, for patients with acne rosacea. Acne rosacea can affect some women during menopause.

Rose is a traditional aphrodisiac so may also help with a low libido. I often add rose buds or petals to a herbal tea blend. In addition to the medicinal benefits, it makes a particularly aromatic and pretty tea.

Sourcing Aromatic Waters

Note: Please be sure to purchase pure aromatic waters, hydrosols or hydrolats for therapeutic use. Some products are simply a few drops of essential oil in water and alcohol. These are not aromatic waters and must not be taken internally.

The three discussed above will have a shelf life of at least 18 months, if stored correctly, and probably longer for rose.

Herbal Teas

My top choice for herbal tea natural remedies to help with hot flushes are sage and red clover. As mentioned above I also like rose added to a herbal blend.

Salvia officinalis – sage

Natural Remedies to Help with Hot FlushesFirst of all the wonderful Salvia officinalis, more commonly known as sage. This is a great herb to have growing on hand in the garden or in a pot as it has so many wonderful medicinal uses. However, in this post, we focus on its well deserved reputation for menopause.

It is probably the number one in my go to herb list of natural remedies to help with hot flushes and would be particularly suitable if additional problems with lack of concentration and focus or poor memory. Common symptoms of the menopause. The studies below highlight these qualities.

A clinical study by Bommer et al in 2011 found the mean total number of hot flushes per day decreased significantly each week over a period of 8 weeks in 71 women taking fresh sage.

Sage has also been reviewed quite extensively for its benefit on cognitive function. Miroddi et al in 2014 reviewed six of these studies and found Salvia officinalis enhanced cognitive performance in healthy subjects and patients with dementia or cognitive impairment.

Trifolium pratense – red clover

Red cloverNatural Remedies to Help with Hot Flushes is another beneficial herb for menopausal hot flushes. This would be a favourable choice with any associated skin problems. In addition a study below highlights its benefit in vaginal dryness another common menopausal symptom.

The Journal of Phytomedicine published a review early in 2017. Myers et al reviewed several studies of Trifolium pratense (red clover) in the treatment of menopausal hot flashes and found a clinically significant benefit.

In addition, a study from 2016 published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found symptoms of vaginal atrophy were significantly helped with Trifolium pratense (Ghazanfarpour et al).

Sourcing Dried Herbs

Many herbs are easily grown in the garden or in pots. Sage is one of these herbs. Use herbs from the garden fresh and dry some for use overwinter or alternatively make into a plant tincture.

Red clover is a common wildflower. Caution is advised on picking where there may have been pesticide use.

Should you wish to purchase and use dried herb there are several options. In the UK stores like Woodland Herbs and Neal’s Yard Remedies offer an online delivery service. You should also be able to source these herbs from your local medical herbalist. In France several dried herbs are available from stalls in many of the outdoor markets or in the bio (organic) food stores.

Other Suggestions…

Wearing layers is definitely best. Removing a layer at the onset of a flush can help the body adapt. Loose fitting clothes in breathable fabrics are also better.

As much as possible avoid stressful situations. This will aggravate flushes. Of course, this may not be easy if the stressful situation is work related.

The above are some of the more popular and easy to obtain natural remedies to help with hot flushes.

Purslane for a cooling, healing salad

Portulaca oleracea

Family:

Portulacaceae

Barker describes purslane as a creeping annual which can spread from 10-30 cm. The end of the stems are much leafier. Here you may find a few yellow flowers. The leaves are waxy and smooth.

It is often an escape of vineyards in France especially in the south and east. Easily tolerates poor soils and drought.

The name is believed to derive from the word ‘porcelain’.

Traditional Uses:

Culpeper advised it could be used as a salad herb. Good for cooling heat in the liver, blood and stomach. He described the seeds as more effective than the leaves particularly where there was heat and sharpness in the urine. The seeds he advised, should be bruised and boiled in wine and given to children to expel worms.

Purslane seemed also to be considered a contraceptive! Culpeper added it would extinguish the heat and virtue of natural procreation.

Bruised herb was applied to the forehead for any excessive heat hindering rest and sleep. Application to the eyes, or any wheals and pimples, reduced redness and inflammation. Bruised leaves mixed with honey and laid on the neck would take away pains and a crick!

The juice too was used. This Culpeper particularly recommended to stop vomiting or, mixed with a little honey, for an old, dry cough. Juice was advised for inflammations of secret parts of man or woman!

Finally he advised application on gout where it would ease pain so long as the gout was not caused by cold.

The leaves contain high amounts of Vitamin C. Used as a remedy against scurvy (Barker).

Holmes notes appreciated for millenniums and traditionally used in Europe for thickening soups and stews and hot-pots. He believes it the Western equivalent of okra, or lady’s fingers.

Holmes quotes two historical sources, Jean Fernel

“…it has the unique property of tempering and containing burning and flaming bile, resisting toxin to prevent its further spread”

Jean Fernel (1508)

and the Book of Experiences.

“It quenches thirst caused by stomach, heart, liver and kidney fire.”

Book of Experiences (1225)

Medicinal Uses:

Barker notes purslane is used as a salad herb around the world. He also describes it as cooling. As an emollient it has a vulnerary action on the skin. The leaves are mucilaginous and diuretic providing a soothing action on both digestive and urinary tracts. Like Culpeper, Barker too describes the seeds as vermifuge though gentle enough for children.

Holmes, like Barker, notes the Vitamin C content. He adds some minerals and omega-3 fatty acids.

Holmes lists several indications for purslane. He describes it a moist, cooling, demulcent herb.  His indications include painful boils, carbuncles, localised purulent infections, chronic loose stools with blood and pus, frequent burning bowel movements, intestinal parasites, burning urination and thirst.

As a vegetable he recommends eating raw, lightly steamed or pickled.

and some energetics…

Not surprisingly, due to the obvious cool nature of purslane, Culpeper ascribed it a herb of the Moon. He recommended purslane for all hot, choleric conditions.

Holmes discusses it energetically as clearing toxic heat, blood heat, intestinal damp heat and bladder damp heat.

Motherwort, not only a herb for women

Leonurus cardiaca

Family:

Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

motherwortCulpeper believed the name (motherwort) was chosen as women are joyful mothers and it settles their wombs. The Latin name ‘cardiaca‘, because it is very useful for a trembling heart and for fainting.

Leonurus‘ is thought from Greek meaning ‘lion tail’. Do you think it resembles the tail of a lion?

Bremness describes motherwort as found in northern temperate areas in woodland and along hedge banks. Barker describes the flowers as pinky-white.

Hoffmann suggests gathering aerial parts when flowering between early summer and early autumn. Barker recommends flowering tops used fresh suggesting it is better to make a tincture rather than drying for tea for use later in the year.

The images here are from my garden in the Aude. Taken late May/ early June.

Traditional Uses:

Leonurus cardiac motherwort flower and leafBone advises traditionally motherwort was used for female reproductive problems.

Culpeper suggested there was no better herb to strengthen and make the heart merry. He recommended motherwort for conditions needing warming and drying. Painful veins, painful joints, cramps and phlegm are included in his list of medicinal uses. He used motherwort for women with period pains and particularly for abnormal absence of periods (amenorrhoea).

Medicinal Uses:

Barker advises motherwort has long traditional use for anxiety in late stages of pregnancy and also in early stages of labour. He highlights use as a cardiac tonic specifically for simple tachycardia and useful in management of hypertension. In addition, he suggests use for nervous indigestion with symptoms of flatulence and/or distension.

Hoffmann agrees and utilises motherwort for over-rapid heartbeat particularly if preceded by anxiety. Describing motherwort as strengthening the heart without straining it and recommends for all heart conditions related to anxiety. Motherwort, in Hoffmann’s book, is under circulatory system and described as nervine.

He indicates for heart weakness, palpitations and angina pectoris describing motherwort as normalising heart activity. He also suggests motherwort be added to a prescription to strengthen the heart of a patient with a cough or for someone who has asthma attacks. These symptoms will cause strain on a weak heart. Nervine properties may also be worth considering with skin conditions brought about by stress and/or anxiety. Motherwort, he describes, invaluable for delayed menstruation and menopausal symptoms as an emotional and endocrine balancer.

Bone specifically indicates Leonurus for amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea and ovarian pain.

Weed describes motherwort as one of her ‘mint goddesses’. Describing motherwort a bitter ‘mint’ rather than an aromatic one. Like Barker, Weed recommends fresh preferably as tincture of fresh flowering tops. Motherwort tones the uterine muscle and will, after taking for four months, stop menstrual cramps. Weed describes it as healing the heart and as one of the best heart tonics.

… not only for the heart and female health…

Weed includes the tincture in her first aid kit and uses it for pain relief. She finds it will help any pain but notes those with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue respond particularly well to motherwort.

… some thoughts on taste…

Grieve, quoting a young unknown writer, advises a conserve of the fresh young tops is best. A decoction, or strong infusion, described as ‘very unpleasant’. Culpeper also recommended taking as a syrup or conserve.

I believe my first taste of this herb, as a herbal infusion, was as a student herbalist. The initial smell of the tea provided a nutty aroma. Although it had a bitter taste I did not find it lingering or particularly ‘unpleasant’.

However, I would certainly agree with Weed that it is a bitter, rather than aromatic, member of the mint/thyme family. Add a little honey to an infusion or include Leonurus in a herbal mix with other less bitter, more palatable herbs if you find it unpleasant. The tincture is certainly easier to take and perhaps a better choice for those with a dislike for bitters.

… and some science stuff…

Hoffmann lists Leonurus as containing bitter glycosides particularly leonurin and leonuridine and alkaloids such as leonuinine and stachydrene. Bartram included flavonoids, iridoids (rutin) and diterpenes in his list of constituents for Leonurus.

Pengelly advises flavonoids have a proven effect on the heart and circulatory system for strengthening the capillaries. They are anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. Diterpenes tend to be bitter tasting and are particularly abundant in the Lamiaceae family. Alkaloids have a more prominent effect on the nervous system.

… and a bit of research…

Bone mentions pharmacological research from 1976 and also 1988 on the alkaloid leonurine indicating this particular constituent to be a uterine tonic.

The alkaloids contribute to the activity of motherwort. In particular leonurine, possibly with the aid of stachydrine, is thought to produce the central nervous depressant and hypotensive effects (Blumenthal et al).

Pharmacological studies have confirmed its antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity, as well as its effects on the heart and the circulatory system. Sedative and hypotensive activities were demonstrated in clinical trials (Wojtyniak et al).

… and some energetics…

As mentioned Culpeper recommended motherwort for conditions needing warmed and dried up. Motherwort, he described, as herb of Venus in Leo. Tobyn describes Venus as calming and soothing.

Holmes indicates motherwort for Liver Yang rising. This includes palpitations, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, irritability and stress. He provides the following description of motherwort:

“… an important example of a plant that treats both the heart and uterus, tailor-made for women presenting PMS with anxiety, frustration, palpitations and insomnia.”

Holmes highlights the energetic connection between the heart and uterus. In particular, he notes ancient Chinese medical texts with pathology of the Heart-Uterus meridian, Greek medicine and ‘uterus rising’ and Rudolf Steiner discussing a close energetic relation between the two organs in his lectures.

Surely Leonurus, as Weed suggests, has well and truly earned her goddess reputation and her position in the herbal first aid kit!

Red Clover for hormones, skin and so much more

Trifolium pratense

Family:

Trifolium pratense aude franceLeguminosae (pea or bean family)

Bremness describes red clover as having red-purple flowers with leaves of three oval leaflets. Weed suggests it is bright pink rather than red. What do you think – red? purple? bright pink?

The veined oval leaflets often have a white mark on them (as can be seen from the photograph to right). The stipules are attached to the leaf stalk.

Bremness notes it prefers moist, grassy places in cultivated land found throughout Europe. Podlech advises flowering is between May and October. The images in this post were all taken in May in l’Haute-Vallée de l’Aude.

Traditional Uses:

Culpeper mentions different types of clover and it is not entirely clear when he is discussing red clover. He found clover to be good for wounds and to be useful if taken long-term for fainting ladies!

Bone lists chronic skin disease, bronchitis, whooping cough and cancer as traditional uses.

Medicinal Uses:

red clover flowers southern franceBone notes skin and respiratory conditions as modern uses too. In particular, he highlights Trifolium for skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis and ulcers and for respiratory conditions with a spasmodic cough. He does not specify whether the herb is better for dry, hot or weeping skin disorders.

Menzies-Trull describes the herb as promoting granulation tissue. He includes many of the traditional and modern day uses adding it supports oestrogen and progesterone balance indicating the herb for menopausal and hormonal imbalance.

Wild Flowers Aude FranceWeed describes red clover as one of the “most cherished fertility increasing plants”. The recommended preparation is an ounce of dried blossoms, placed in a jar and covered with boiling water. Screw the lid on tight and leave to steep for at least four hours although ideally overnight. She recommends up to four cups a day for several months.

Frawley finds it has an action on circulatory, respiratory and lymphatic systems. Ideal for cough, bronchitis, skin eruptions and infections. He is quite specific in preparation method. Advising the herb as a wash for dry, scaly skin conditions and a poultice for healing sores.

Mills describes red clover as an alterative with eliminative properties for use in most skin, connective tissue and joint disease. He suggests it is lymphatic and expectorant in its eliminative action.

some science stuff…

Barker lists the plant as containing flavonoids, salicylic acid, phenolic glycosides and a volatile oil. He suggests these provide mild anti-spasmodic and expectorant actions. However, he finds the key action to be dermatological.

and some more science from a bit of research…

Trifiolium pratense is rich in isoflavone (Dabkeviciene et al., 2012). Used to treat menopausal disorders (Beck et al., 2003).

and a bit of energetics…

Energetically, Holmes recommends Trifolium for a melancholic constitution suggesting the plant has neutral and moist qualities and is possibly more cooling.

He recommends Trifolium for damp cold skin conditions such as skin eruptions and rashes but he also recommends it for damp heat and chronic eczema where there is Yin or blood deficiency.

Deficient Yin is described as empty heat needing an increase in cold. The menopause is often considered a deficient Yin condition, supporting use for menopausal symptoms.