Yerba Mansa

Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica)
Identification: Yerba mansa is a perennial herb with spinach-like leaves that arise from a stout aromatic rhizome (underground stem). It thrives in saline and alkaline soils that many plants find inhospitable. The stems are upright, up to 1-1/2 feet tall, woolly, bearing a terminal group of flowers, one large leaf on the stem and a few basal leaves. The basal leaves are elliptical to oblong, up to 6 inches long, rounded at the tip, heart-shaped at the base and somewhat hairy. The
flowers are few, terminal in spikes, surrounded by 4 to 8 white, petal-like bracts up to 1-1/2 inches long, the entire structure up to 3 inches across. You are not observing one flower but a whole group of flowers arranged in an elongated cluster that resembles an anemone flower. What look like petals are in fact white petaloid bracts (modified leaves). Each flower has 6 or 8 stamens and 3 fused pistils. The fruits are cone-like capsules, rusty colored, with numerous seeds.
Family: Saururaceae (Lizard’s Tail Family)
Other Names: Bearsweed, Consumptive Weed, Holy Herb, Mountain Balm, Swamp Root
Flowers: March – September
Parts Used: Roots.
Habitat: Wet meadows, marshes, swamps, and along streams; in alkaline soil. Southwestern United States and Mexico. It is found in areas of boggy swamps and marshes, along rivers like the Colorado and down into areas in Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico.
Constituents: Methyleugenol (antispasmodic), esdragole, thymol methylether, linalool, P-cymene, and asarinin.
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, diuretic and blood cleanser.
Main Uses: Yerba Mansa is receiving a lot of attention as an herbal medicine because it has similar antibiotic properties of Goldenseal. It can be used in similar ways and therefore is taking some of the pressure off of Goldenseal which is quickly approaching the endangered list of plants.
As an anti-inflammatory, it relieves irritated mucous membranes and helps to prevent tissue damage that may happen during inflammation. It can be useful for acute or chronic throat, lung, and sinus irritations. It helps colds, sore throats, periodontal disease (pyrrhea), colitis, Crohn’s disease, bladder and kidney infections, and it is also effective as a douche for yeast infections. It is also used to treat urinary tract infections, stomach and duodenal ulcers, wounds, bruises, diaper rash, skin inflammations, arthritis, aches and pains. It can be used as a sitz bath for pelvic infections, vaginal warts, fissures and hemorrhoids. Improves lymph drainage in mild colds, sore throats and sinus infections; also in subacute colitis and cystitis. It is also useful for arthritis because it stimulates the excretion of uric acid and has an anti-inflammatory effect. It is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, so it is useful for skin infections also.
Harvest: The roots are gathered in the fall and winter, when the foliage has died back. Wash them well and allow to dry for several weeks, then slice into sections and allow it to finish drying. When totally dry, grind into a powder.
Preparation and Dosages:
Tincture: [Fresh root, 1:2; Dry root, 1:5], 60% alcohol, 20 to 60 drops up to 5 times a day.
Cold Infusion: 2 to 4 ounces, up to 5 times a day.


Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima)

Identification: This low-growing deciduous shrub can grow up to 36 inches. The erect, unbranched woody stem bears leaves and flowers only on the upper portion. The leaves are usually divided into 3 to 5 leaflets, on long stalks, leaves cleft, toothed. The flowers are small, brownish purple in drooping racemes. The flowers have 5 petals, 2-lobed with gland like organs on a short claw. The fall leaf color
is yellow, bronze, and orange.
Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
Other Names: Poor Man’s Goldenseal
Flowers: April – May
Parts Used: Root
Habitat: Rich, damp woods along stream banks. From New York to Florida; Alabama to Kentucky. Yellowroot is most frequently found in streamside environments, where it thrives in the moist, cool alluvial soil and spreads quickly, forming dense thickets.
History: Yellowroot gets its name from its long, bright yellow root, which is a common ingredient in folk remedies. Historically, yellowroot has been used to treat everything from ring worm and dysentery to diabetes and high blood pressure, (hypertension).

American Indians used a tea for stomach disorders, colds, jaundice, cramps, sore mouth or throat, menstrual disorders, astringent; used externally for cancer and piles.

Yellowroot was formerly used as an adulterant to or substitute for Goldenseal, though 19th century physicians believed its medicinal action was quite different than that of Goldenseal.

Constituents: Berberine

Medicinal Properties:
Antinflammatory, Astringent, Hemostatic, Antimicrobial, Anticonvulsant, Immunostimulant (stimulates the immune system), Uterotonic.

The chemical constituent “Berberine” stimulates the secretion of bile and bilirubin and may by useful in correcting high tyramine levels in patients with liver cirrhosis.

The sticks of the root have been chewed to aid in quitting smoking and it is believed that yellowroot produces a transient drop in blood pressure.

Warning Warning! Yellowroot is potentially toxic, especially in large doses.

Yellow Jessamine

Yellow Jessamine (Gelsimium sempervirons)
Yellow jessamine is a perennial evergreen vine found in moist woodlands and thickets from Virginia to Texas and in Mexico and Central America. It is also cultivated elsewhere as an ornamental
vine. The slender, woody stems twine about trees and other objects, sometimes reaching a length of 20 feet and climbing from one tree to another. The opposite, lanceolate to ovate leaves are dark green above and pale beneath. The fragrant yellow, funnelform flowers are borne in axillary or terminal cymes from March to May. The fruit is an elliptical capsule containing many seeds.
Family: Loganiaceae (Logania family)
Other Names: Gelsemium, Wild jessamine, Woodbine, Yellow Jasmine
Flowers: March – May
Parts Used: Roots
Habitat: Thickets, dry woods, sandy areas. Southeastern Virginia; south to Florida; West to Texas and Arkansas.
Constituents: Gelsemine, gelsemoidine, sempervirene. (These alkaloids are highly concentrated in the flower nectar.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Nervine, Sedative, Antispasmodic, and Antiperiodic.

Main Uses: Yellow Jessamine was by the American Indians and is still used today, but with extremely careful administration.

It is an unrivalled febrifuge, possessing relaxing and antispasmodic properties. It is very effective in migraine and nervous headaches. It equalizes circulation, promotes perspiration and rectifies various secretions without causing nausea or vomiting. It has been used with great success in neuralgia, toothache, and insomnia.

Two Duke University researchers are studying the nervine’s active toxins. An overdose of the most active toxin results in death through failure of the respiratory tract, but in therapeutic amounts it stimulates the heart and respiration.

Preparation And Dosages:
Tincture: Fresh root (1:2), dry root (1:5), in 65% alcohol. Take 1 drop per 10 pounds of body weight no more than 3 times a day.

Warning Warning! Overdoses may be fatal.
Contact Dermatitis Can cause contact dermatitis.

Yellow Dock

Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)

Yellow dock is a perennial that grows from 1 to 5 feet in height. The leaves are large, lance-shaped; margins distinctly wavy. The flowers are green, on spikes; blooms May through September. The seeds are winged and heart-shaped.
Family: Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family)

Other Names: Curled dock, Narrow dock, Sour dock, Rumex,
Garden patience
Flowers: June – September
Parts Used: Root
Habitat: Waste ground, throughout the eastern U.S.
Constituents: Anthraquinone, glycosides, tannins, iron.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Astringent, Cholagogue, Tonic.

Main Uses: Chronic skin diseases, chronic enlarged lymph glands, skin sores, rheumatism, liver ailments, and sore throats. May cause or relieve diarrhea, depending on dose, harvest time, and concentrations of anthraquinones (laxative) and/or tannins (antidiarrheal). Anthraquinones can arrest growth of ringworm and other fungi. A compress can help soothe itchy skin. The plant’s high iron content makes it valuable for correcting anemia.

Preparation And Dosages:
1 teaspoon of the grated or crushed root to 1 cupful of boiling water; drink 3 to 4 cupfuls daily. A syrup may be made by boiling 1/2 pound of the crushed root in 1 pint of syrup; taken in teaspoonful doses three or four times a day.

Externally: Ulcers, hard tumors, eruptive skin diseases, etc., have been removed by the application of the bruised root in poultice form. (An ointment made with the root simmered in oil).

Decoctions have been used for ulcers, burns, and skin diseases. Fresh leaves have been used for foul wounds and ulcers, shingles or itching skin.

Tincture: Fresh root (1:2), dry root (1:5), in 50% alcohol. Take 30 to 75 drops up to 3 times a day.
Yellow Dock is also a wild food.


Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is an attractive 3-foot perennial covered with delicate hairs. Its feathery, fern-like leaves are divided into what seem like thousands of tiny leaflets, hence its names, thousandleaf and millefoil.
Yarrow’s numerous, tiny, white flowers develop in dense clusters on flat-topped, umbrella-like stalks in summer.
Family: Compositae (Sunflower family)
Other Names: Nosebleed, Millefoil, Thousandleaf
Flowers: May – October
Parts Used: Leaves and flower heads
Habitat: Fields, and roadsides throughout the area.
Constituents: Azulene, Borneol, Terpineol, Camphor, Cineole, Isoartemesia ketone, Thujone, Lactones, Flavonoids, Tannins, Coumarins, Saponins, Achilleine, Salicylic acid, Cyanidin.
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Antispasmodic, Astringent, Carminative, Cholagogue, Diaphoretic, Hemostatic, Tonic.Main Uses: Colds, flu, fevers, digestive tonic, wound healing, and skin cleanser.Yarrow is one of the best known herbal remedies for fevers. A hot infusion induces a therapeutic sweat which cools fevers and expels toxins. Like all sweat-inducing remedies, yarrow encourages blood flow to the skin and this helps to lower blood pressure, and action which is also die to the flavonoids in the plant which dilate the peripheral arteries. The flavonoids also help to clear blood clots. The alkaloid in yarrow has been reported to lower blood pressure; the cyanidin influences the vagus nerve, slowing the heart beat.Tannins in the plant are probably responsible for yarrow’s reputation as a wound healer, hence the name nosebleed. Yarrow is good for all kinds of bleeding, external and internal. Yarrow also has anti-inflammatory properties.
In China, yarrow is used fresh as a poultice for healing wounds. A decoction of the whole plant is prescribed for stomach ulcers, amenorrhoea, and abscesses.

Caution CAUTION: Taking yarrow internally may cause sensitivity to sunlight in some people.
Preparation And Dosages:
For wound treatment, press fresh leaves and flower tops into cuts and scrapes. For a possible tranquilizing infusion to help aid digestion or help treat menstrual cramps, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water. Steep 10 to 15 minutes. Drink up to 3 cups a day. Yarrow tastes tangy and bitter. To improve flavor, add honey, sugar, or lemon, or mix it with an herbal beverage blend. To help promote healing, apply it externally to clean wounds and inflammations.

Tincture: [FRESH 1:2, DRY 1:5, 50% alcohol] 10 to 40 drops. Standard Infusion, 2-4 ounces. ROOT. Fresh Root Tincture, topical to gums as needed.


Woundwort (Prunella vulgaris)

Woundwort is a low perennial that grows 1 to 3 feet. The leaves are oval to lance shaped; mostly smooth; opposite, on a weakly squared stem.

The flowers are crowded on a terminal head. Each flower consists of a two-lipped calyx, the upper lip very wide and flat, edged with three blunt teeth, the lower

lip much narrower and with long, pointed teeth. Both lips have red margins and carry hairs. The two-lipped corolla is of a deep purple hue, the upper lip strongly arched, on the top of the arch many hairs standing on end, and the lower lip of much the same length, spreading out into three holes.

The fruit is an ovoid, smooth, angled nutlet.

Family: Labiatae (Mint family)
Flowers: May – September
Parts Used: Whole plant
Other Names: Heal-all, all-heal, blue curls, brownwort, carpenter’s herb, self-heal, sicklewort
Habitat: Open woods, lawns, fields, and waste places in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Constituents: Ursolic acid, volatile oil, bitter principles

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Antispasmodic, astringent, bitter tonic, diuretic, styptic, vermifuge, vulnerary.

Main Uses: Woundwort is used in mouthwashes or gargles for sore throats. Also for fevers, and diarrhea; it is used externally as a wash for ulcers, wounds bruises and sores.

As a tea, it is beneficial for internal wounds.

Contains the antitumor and diuretic compound ursolic acid.

Preparation And Dosages:
Extract: Soak 1 teaspoon herb in 1 pint brandy or whiskey for a few days. Take 2 tablespoons a day or as needed.


Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Identification: This perennial plant grows from 2 to 4 feet high. The woody rootstock produces many bushy stems which are covered with fine silky hairs. The greenish-white leaves are about 3 inches long by 1-1/2 inches broad, cut deeply and repeatedly
(about three times pinnate), the segments being narrow andblunt. The leaf stalks are slightly winged at the margin. Numerous tiny, yellow-green, rayless flower heads grow in leafy panicles from July to October. The ripe fruits are not crowned by a tuft of hairs, or pappus, as in the majority of the Compositae family.

Habitat: Found in waste places and along roadsides from Newfoundland to Hudson Bay and south to Montana. Wormwood is a native plant in Europe, from where it was introduced into North America.

Family: Compositae (Sunflower family)

Other Names: Absinth, absinthe, absinthium, ajenjo, common wormwood, green ginger, old woman.

Flowers: July – October.

Parts Used: Leaves, flowering tops.

History: Historic references to wormwood go back as far as 1600 BC in Egypt. Legend has it that this plant first sprang up on the impressions marking the serpent’s tail as he slithered his way out of Eden.

It got its generic name from Artemis, the Greek name for Diana, because she discovered the plant’s virtues and gave them to mankind. Another story has it that it is named for Artemisia, Queen of Caria, who gave her name to the plant after she had benefited from its treatments. Wherever the name came from, it is one of the most bitter herbs known. Its common name comes from its ability to act as a wormer in children and animals. It was used in granaries to drive away weevils and insects, and was used as a strewing herb in spring to drive fleas away.

Absinthe is a bitter, aromatic, alcoholic drink that was very popular in Italy, France, and Switzerland during the 19th century. Because of the addictive nature of wormwood and the frequent side effects when absinthe was used to excess (dizziness, seizures, stupor, delirium, hallucinations, and even death) it has now been banned in nearly every country in the world.

Constituents: The chief constituent is a volatile oil, of which the herb yields in distillation from 0.5 to 1.0 per cent. It is usually dark green, or sometimes blue in color, and has a strong odor and bitter, acrid taste. The oil contains thujone (absinthol or tenacetone), thujyl alcohol (both free and combined with acetic, isovalerianic, auccine and malic acids), cadinene, phellandrene and pinene. The herb also contains the bitter glucoside absinthin, absinthic acid, together with tannin, resin, starch, nitrate of potash and other salts.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Anthelmintic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, cholagogue, febrifuge, narcotic, stimulant, stomachic, and tonic.

Main Uses: Wormwood is used for indigestion, gastric pain, and lack of appetite, as well as the related problems of heartburn and flatulence, fevers, dysentery, asthma, burns, and anemia. It is also said to be helpful for liver insufficiency by stimulating liver and gallbladder secretions. Wormwood is a cardiac stimulant and, when taken in proper doses, acts to improve blood circulation. Wormwood tea has been recommended to help relieve pain during labor. The powdered flowering tops have been used to expel intestinal worms and other parasites. A tea made of wormwood can be applied externally to irritations, bruises, or sprains and a wash of the tea will relieve itching from rashes. The oil acts as a local anesthetic when applied to relieve pains of rheumatism, neuralgia, lumbago, tuberculosis, and arthritis.

Wormwood also repels insects.The oil will drive away fleas, flies, gnats, moths, ants, worms, etc.

Preparation & Dosages: The leaves and tops are gathered in July and August when the plant is in flower and dried.

Infusion: Steep 2 teaspoons leaves or tops in 1 cup water. Take 1/2 cup per day, a teaspoon at a time.

Oil: A dose is from 2 to 5 drops, 2 to 3 times a day.

Tincture: Take 8 to 10 drops on a sugar cube, 1 to 3 times a day.

Powder: Take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, 1 to 3 times a day.

Warning: Pure wormwood oil is poisoning. Relatively small doses may cause nervous disorders, convulsions, insomnia, nightmares, and other symptoms. Flowers may induce allergic reactions. It has been approved as a food additive (flavoring) with thujon removed. Follow dosage closely and use under medical supervision. Do not take large doses.

If you are pregnant, do not use wormwood.

Wood Betony

Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis)
This perennial plant grows up to 16 inches. The leaves are alternate. Each leaf has many lobes or is finely divided (almost fernlike). These wild flowers often grow in large
colonies with foliage starting as a wine color in early spring turning green in the summer. The flowers are irregular in shape and about 1 inch long.
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort or Snapdragon family)
Other Names: Canadian Lousewort, Common Lousewort
Flowers: April- June
Parts Used: Whole plant
Habitat: Wood Betony wild flowers grow in acid soils on dry open woodlands, ridges, prairies, and along mossy slopes bordering streams; from Maine and Quebec to Manitoba, south to Florida, Texas, and Mexico.
History: Native Americans ate the leaves collected early in the season in soup or as a green like spinach and put the chopped root into the food they gave to their pony to fatten it and make it vicious to all but it’s owner. They considered the root a love charm. Sometimes young men would carry the root when they intended to make advances on a potential lover. It was secretly put in the food as an aphrodisiac.

The names come from the old world belief that livestock that grazed on this plant would get lice. They would get lice, but not from anything they ate.

Medicinal Properties:
A root tea was used by Native Americans for internal swellings and a root poultice for external swellings. Also used for digestive problems and in cough medicines. Early herbal healers considered the entire plant a tonic, sedative, and astringent.

Preparation and Dosages:
Standard Infusion: 4 to 8 ounces, up to three times a day.
Tincture: [Fresh Plant, 1:2, Dry Plant, 1:5, 50% alcohol] 1 to 2 teaspoons, up to three times a day.

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Deciduous shrub or small tree.
Leaves lobed, with uneven bases. 2-7″.
Buds hairy, stalked at base, without scales.
Leaves and twigs hairless.
Seed pods stubby, with 4 parts.
Flowers yellow,petals very narrow and randomly curved.
Height: 10-25′.
Other Names: American Witch Hazel, Hamamelis, Hamamelis Water, Hazel Nut, Snapping Hazel, Snapping Tobacco Wood, Spotted Alder, Striped Alder, Winter Bloom.
Flowers: It blooms after the leaves drop, September through December.
Family: Hamamelidaceae (Witch Hazel Family)
Habitat: Woods. Indigenous to North America and Canada.
Parts Used: Bark and leaves.
Harvest: The leaves can be gathered throughout the summer and dried quickly to ensure that they do not become discolored. The bark is gathered in the spring after sprouting.
Constituents: Leaves: Tannins, composed mainly of gallotannins with some condensed catechins and proanthocyanin, flavonoids; quercitin, kaempferol, astragalin, myricitrin, volatile oil containing hexenol.
Bark: Tannins, mainly the hamamelitannins, with some condensed tannins such asd-gallocatechin, l-epigallocatechin and l-epicatechin, saponins, volatile oil,resin.
Medicinal Properties: Astringent, anti-inflammatory.
Uses: In the treatment of varicose veins, it should be applied on a lint bandage, which must be constantly kept moist. A pad of Witch Hazel applied to a burst varicose vein will stop the bleeding.
It is used for eye inflammations, hemorrhoids, bites, stings and skin sores, diarrhea and dysentery, and many other conditions for which a plant high in tannins would produce relief by virtue of its astringency. Herbalists consider it one of the best plant medicines to check bleeding, both internally and externally. A tea made from the bark or leaves is given to stop internal bleeding. The same tea can be injected into the rectum to allay the pain and itching of hemorrhoids, which today comes to the consumer in the form of “pads” or ointments for hemorrhoid treatment. A poultice of the fresh leaves or bark is useful for relieving the pain and swelling of inflammations. Dipped in a cotton ball, witch hazel water is dabbed on insect bites to calm pain and relieve itching. It is especially soothing on chigger and tick bites, as well as mosquito bites, and poison ivy rash.
Preparations and Dosages: TWIGS AND LEAVES:. Tincture [Fresh Herb, 1:2] 10-60 drops as needed, and diluted for topical use.
BARK: Standard decoction topically.


Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
Leaves (Click To Enlarge)
Berries (Click To Enlarge)

Identification: Wintergreen is a native North American evergreen shrub; the creeping stems send up erect branches, 2-6 inches high, which bear alternate, oval, leathery leaves with serrate (and sometimes bristly) margins. Both the leaves and the solitary, nodding, white, bell-shaped, flowers grow in the axils of the leaves near the tops of the branches. Flowering time is from May to September. The edible fruit following the flowers is a dry, scarlet, berrylike capsule about 1/3 inch across. The whole plant is pungent in taste the spiciness being due to the volatile oil.

Habitat: Grows in woods and clearings, under large trees and shrubs, on sandy acid soils, from Newfoundland to Manitoba and south to Georgia, Michigan, and Indiana.

Family: Ericaceae (Heath family)

Other Names: Aromatic wintergreen, Boxberry, Canada tea, Checkerberry, Chink, Deerberry, Eastern Teaberry, Ground berry, Grouse berry, Hillberry, Ivory plum, Mountain tea, Partridge berry, Redberry tea, Red pollom, Spiceberry, Spicy wintergreen, Spring wintergreen, Wax cluster.

Flowers: May – September

Parts Used: Leaves

History: Used by Native American Indians to brew a tea. Mohawks, as well as Ojibwes, and others, knew the tea as medicinal as well as a healthful beverage. The leaves were widely used in the treatment of aches and pains and to help breathing while hunting or carrying heavy loads.

Constituents: Glycoside, gaultherin (which is comprised of about 99% methyl salicylate) an enzyme gaultherase, aldehyde 1 alcohol, 1 ester, tannin, wax and mucilage.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Analgesic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, stimulant, anodyne, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic, emmenagogue.

Main Uses: The medicinal virtues of wintergreen leaves reside essentially in the oil of wintergreen which can be obtained by steam distillation. The oil consists mostly of methyl salicylate, a close relative of aspirin. Not surprisingly, the leaves have long been used for headache and other aches and pains, inflammations, and rheumatism, rheumatic fever, dropsy, gonorrhea, scrofula, sciatica, lumbago. Recommended for urinary ailments and for colic and flatulence. Externally, a leaf tea can be used as a gargle for sore mouth and sore throat, as a douche for leukorrhea, and as a compress or poultice for skin diseases and inflammations. A cloth soaked with oil of wintergreen has been applied to relieve pain in joints, but the pure oil can cause irritation and must be used cautiously. Used as a poultice, good for boils, swellings, ulcers, felons, old sores.

Used as a flavoring for vermouth. Used to flavor toothpaste. It is one of the most commonly used ingredients, worldwide, in analgesic oils and balms. Essential oil (methyl salicylate) in leaves is synthetically produced for “wintergreen” flavor. Experimentally, small amounts have delayed the onset of tumors. Candy and chewing gum flavoring; perfume, liniments.
Preparation & Dosages: Collect leaves in the fall.
Infusion: steep 1 tsp. leaves in 1 cup water. Take 1 cup a day, a mouthful at a time.

Tincture: a dose is from 5-15 drops.

Warning: Pure oil of wintergreen can cause irritation and must be used cautiously. It is poisonous except in very small amounts. Essential oil is highly toxic; absorbed through skin, harms liver and kidneys.

Wintergreen should never be used during pregnancy.