Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Asparagus Identification: Asparagus is a perennial plant with short, horizontal rootstock having long, thick roots and sending up the young shoots that we eat as vegetables (see Wild Asparagus
Foods For Survival).
Stems – Up to 6 feet tall, herbaceous, erect, much branched, glabrous, from rhizomes. Branches thin and drooping.
Leaves – Fernlike (actually branches functioning as leaves). They appear somewhat like pine needles.
Flowers – Seldom noticed; whitish-green; stamens 6; anthers orange; appear from May – June.
Family: Liliaceae (Lily Family)
Other Names: Asperge, Garden Asparagus, Sparrowgrass,
Tien Men Tong, and Shatavari.
Habitat: Pastures, fencerows, old cultivated fields, disturbed sites, open woods, roadsides, railroads. Escaped from cultivation. Native to Europe.
Parts Used: Root, shoots, and seeds.
Constituents: Asparagus stems are rich in the amino acids asparagine, tyrosone and arginine, plus succinic acid and a methylsulfonium derivative of methionine. Other constituents of asparagus include essential oil, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercitin, rutin), resin, and tannin.Two sulfur-bearing mercaptans, S-methylthioacrylate and S-methyl 3-(methylthio) thiopropionate accounts for the distinctive odor of your urine shortly after consuming a mass of the stems.
Medicinal Properties: The roots considered diuretic, laxative, induce sweating, and are recommended for gout, dropsy, and rheumatism. Chinese studies report that the roots can also lower blood pressure. The powdered seeds have antibiotic properties and help to relieve nausea while calming the stomach. Japanese studies report that green Asparagus aids protein conversion into amino acids. Because Asparagus helps to dissolve uric and oxalic acid, it benefits arthritic conditions and kidney stones. Due to its high folic acid content, eating young Asparagus shoots and seeds will help in the production of new red blood cells.
Preparations and Dosages: 1-1/2 ounces to 2-2/3 ounces of the chopped stem and roots.

Caution: May cause contact dermatitis.

Asparagus is also a wild food.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha Identification: A low-lying, perennial shrub reaching only 1 to 2 feet, but occasionally reaching 6 feet. The small flowers are greenish yellow. The seeds are enclosed in deep orange-red papery husks. The plant and fruits resemble its Ashwagandha Flowers
relatives the ground cherry and chinese lantern.
Habitat: Widely cultivated in India and the Middle East for its medicinal properties. It has also been found in parts of Africa. The plant does well in warm and/or arid climates, although water should be provided through long dry spells. Can be grown in a container. Hardy to temperatures in the mid 30s (F). Propagation by seed.

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade family)
Other Names: Indian ginseng, winter cherry, withania root.
Parts Used: Root.
History: Ashwagandha has been used in India for over 4000 years. It is an important herb in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine. It was used for tumors,
inflammation (including arthritis), and a wide range of infectious diseases. Traditional uses of Ashwagandha among tribal people in Africa included fevers and inflammatory conditions. The name Ashwagandha comes from the peculiar odor of this herb, somewhat like a sweaty horse. As its name “somnifera” suggests, it is also sometimes said to produce mild sedation.
Constituents: Somniferine, somnine, somniferinine, withananine, pseudo-
withanine, tropino, pseudotropine, choline, cuscohygrine, isolettetierine, anaferine, anahydrine, 3-alpha-gloyloxy tropane, etc.
The compounds known as withanolides are believed to account for the multiple medicinal applications of ashwagandha. These molecules are steroidal and bear a resemblance, both in their action and appearance, to the active constituents of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) known as ginsenoside,. hence the name Indian ginseng.
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Alterative, aphrodisiac, astringent, nervine, rejuvenative, sedative, and tonic.
Main Uses:
Immune System – Generally, ashwagandha stimulates the immune system. It has also been shown to inhibit inflammation and improve memory. These actions support the traditional reputation of ashwagandha as a tonic or adaptogen. It counteracts the effects of stress and generally promotes wellness.
Cancer / Arthritis – Ashwagandha is helpful in putting cancer tumors into regression (used as an alcoholic root extract) and in reducing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. The plant’s high steroid content was found to be more potent than hydrocortisone in animal and human arthritis. The compounds known as withanolides are believed to account for the multiple medicinal applications of this herb.
Endurance / Stamina – Traditionally, ashwagandha has been used in many ways–as a sedative, a diuretic, a rejuvenating tonic, an anti-inflammatory agent, and as an “adaptogen” (endurance enhancer). Many Western herbalists refer to this herb as “Ayurvedic ginseng” because of its reputation for increasing energy, strength, and stamina, and for its ability to relieve stress.
Alzheimer’s Disease – Because ashwagandha has traditionally been used to treat various diseases associated with nerve tissue damage related to the destructive molecules known as free-radicals, some researchers speculate that the herb may have antioxidant properties. Free-radical damage plays a role in normal aging, and in such neurological conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Boost Sexual Performance – In one study, 101 normal healthy male volunteers aged 50 to 59 took 3 grams of powdered ashwagandha daily for three months. All showed significantly increased red blood cell counts, and 71% of the volunteers reported improved sexual performance. Although ashwagandha is not considered an aphrodisiac, this rejuvenating effect may be related to the improved endurance shown in animal stress tests.
Preparations and Dosages:
Decoction: Boil the roots for 15 minutes and cool. Drink 1 cup (750 ml) three times a day.
For arthritis, stress, antioxidant protection, immunity, relaxation, and sexual performance, take 100 to 200 mg standardized extract or 1 to 2 teaspoons liquid extract twice a day.
Note: Take ashwagandha with a meal or a full glass of water.

Caution! Ashwagandha may increase the effect of other herbs or medications. It is important to review with your health-care provider any other herbs or any drugs you are taking before adding ashwagandha.

Because it may have sedative qualities, be sure you understand how ashwagandha affects you before using it.

Asafetida (Ferula foetida)

Identification: Asafetida is the gummy dried juice of a large Asiatic perennial plant. The large fleshy root is covered with bristly fibers and produces a stem reaching up to 10 feet high. The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound on wide, sheathing petioles. The flowers are pale greenish-yellow. They grow at the top of the stem in clusters of compound, many-rayed umbels. The fruit is oval, flat, thin, and reddish brown.

Habitat: Grows wild in huge natural forests. Indigenous to Iran, Afghanistan and in the north of India. Also found in central United States.

Family: Umbelliferae (Parsley Family)

Other Names: A wei (Chinese name), Devil’s Dung, Ferula, Food of the Gods, Hing (Sanskrit name).

Parts Used: Milky juice from roots of 4-year-old plants.

History: Asafetida gets its name from the Persian aza, for mastic or resin, and the Latin foetidus, for stinking. Early records mention that Alexander the Great carries this “stink finger” west in 4 BC. It was used as a spice in ancient Rome, and although not native to India, it has been used in Indian medicine and cooking for ages. It was believed that asafetida enhanced singers voices. In the days of the Mughal aristocracy, the court singers of Agra and Delhi would eat a spoonful of asafetida with butter and practice on the banks of the river Yamuna. Afghan people would rub small chunks of asafetida over their boots to keep away deadly snakes or vipers.

As the name suggests, asafetida has a fetid smell and a nauseating taste; characteristics that also burdened it with the name Devil’s Dung. In the Middle Ages, a small piece of the gum was worn around the neck to ward off disease. This was probably due to the stinky smell rather than any medicinal property.

Constituents: Essential oil, resin ferulic acid, glue, sec-butyl-propenyl, disulfide, farnesiferol, bassorin, sulphate of lime, carbonate of lime, oxide of iron, alumina, and malate of lime.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Analgesic, anthelmintic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, expectorant, laxative, sedative, nervine.

Main Uses: It stimulates the circulation by raising the arterial tension, increasing the power of the cardiac motor ganglia. It also stimulates the brain, even to a very pleasant intoxication, and produces a subjective sensation of warmth without any rise of the body temperature. It stimulates the secretions and excretions, the general nervous system, the menstrual flow and the sexual drive. In Asia it is used as a condiment with food, and though extremely nauseous at first to most people, a taste for it may be acquired.

Asafetida is a useful antidote for flatulence. It is also claimed to be useful for the treatment of bronchitis and hysteria. It is used for stomach pains and as a headache remedy.

Asafetida prevents insect bites: It repels mosquitoes, gnats, and other insect. It is described as the ultimate insect repellant. (Even more effective if you add some garlic to the mixture.)

Preparation & Dosages: In June the roots of the 4-year-old plants which have not flowered, are cut to collect the milky juice. This dries to a brownish, gummy substance which is divided into lumps or powdered.

Powder: Because of the nauseating taste, it is usually taken in pills.

Tincture: Put 2 oz of the root powder in 6 oz alcohol; let stand for 2 weeks and shake once daily. Strain and pour the liquid into another bottle suitable for storage. Use 15 to 20 drops in 6 fluid oz water or other liquid for severe pains and similar gastrointestinal distresses.

Arrowhead (Broad-Leaved) (Sagittaria latifolia)

Identification: Aquatic perennial. Leaves arrow-shaped; lobes 1/2 to as long as main part of leaf. Flowers white; petals 3, rounded; filaments of 7 to 10 stamens smooth. The bracts beneath the flowers are blunt-tipped, thin, and papery. The beak of the mature fruit (achene) projects at a right angle from the main part of the fruit. Height 1 to 4 feet.

The mature plant sends out underground runners at the end of which, maybe 15 inches (40 cm) from the plant’s base, you find either a new plant sprouting, or a “duck potato.” This tuber is white, somewhat egg-shaped, and about the size of a golf ball.

Family: Alismataceae (Water Plantain Family)

Flowers: June – September.

Other Names: Duck Potato, Wapato

Habitat: Wet sites or shallow water along lake and stream margins, marshes and swamps.

Parts Used: Roots and leaves.

Constituents: Sagittariol, Daucosterol, Sagittifolia

Medicinal Properties: American Indians used the edible tubers in tea for indigestion; poulticed them for wounds and sores. Leaf tea was used for rheumatism and to wash babies with fever. Leaves were poulticed to stop milk production. Roots were eaten like potatoes (see Wild Foods).

Warning: Arrowheads (not necessarily this species) may cause contact dermatitis. Do not confuse with Wild Calla or Water-arum (Calla palustris).

Arrowhead is also a wild food.

Arnica (Arnica chamissonic)

A perennial plant whose brown rootstock produces a slightly hairy, branched stem; the stem can reach from 1 to 2 feet in height. Arnica grows 1 to 3 pairs of oblong, ovate basal leaves. The upper stem leaves are smaller and

sessile; all leaves are bright green and pubescent on the upper surface. The stem terminates by branching into 1 to 3 peduncles, each bearing a flower which is present from June to August. The flowers are bright yellow and daisy-like, with strongly-scented foliage. The root is dark brown, cylindrical, usually curved, and bears brittle wiry rootlets on the under surface.

Arnica chamissonic is very similar to the more well known Arnica montana, but is hardier and easier to grow. It has more blossoms and somewhat larger, hairy leaves. It will bloom from June until August if spent blossoms are removed.
Family: Compositae (Sunflower Family)
Other Names: Arnica flowers, Arnica root, Leopard’s bane, Mountain arnica, Mountain tobacco, Wolfsbane
Flowers: June – August
Parts Used: Flowers
Habitat: Moist, sandy soil; full sun. Northern mountain areas of Canada and America.
Constituents: Arnicin (a bitter yellow crystalline principle), carotenoids, flavonoids, inulin, phulin, sesquiterpene lactones, tannin, and thymol.
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Anti-inflammatory, cardiac, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, hemostat, nervine, stimulant, vulnerary.
Main Uses: Abdominal pains, arthritis, bleeding, bruises, burns, cancer, fractured bones, fever, headaches, internal bleeding, irritation, mouth inflammation, pain, sore throat, sprains, swelling, and wounds.
The active components in Arnica are sesquiterpene lactones, which are known to reduce inflammation and decrease pain. Arnica works by stimulating the activity of white blood cells that perform much of the digestion of congested blood, and by dispersing trapped, disorganized fluids from bumped and bruised tissue, joints and muscles.
Arnica is known to stimulate blood circulation and can raise blood pressure, especially in the coronary arteries.
Preparation and Dosages:
Infusion: Put 2 teaspoonfuls of the flowers to 1 cup boiling water; simmer for 10 minutes; cool. Use externally as needed. 3 to 10 drops internally.
Tincture: Fresh plant, flower or root tincture [1:2], dry flowers or herb tincture,
[1:5, 50% alcohol] and dry root tincture [1:5, 60% alcohol].
External: Dilute with one or two parts of water, applied as needed.
Salve: Heat 1 ounce of flowers with 1 ounce of cold pressed Arnica oil for a few hours. This is useful for bruises, chapped lips, inflamed nostrils, joint pain, skin rash, sprains, and acne.
Warning Warning! Some people are particularly sensitive to this plant and many cases of poisoning have resulted from its use. It can cause vomiting, weakness, increased heart rate and nervous disturbances.

Anise (Pinpinella anisum)

Identification: A dainty annual about 18 inches high. The roots are thin, spindle-shaped, and woody. The lower leaves of the round, grooved, branched stem are round-cordate and long-petioled. The middle leaves are pinnate, and the top leaves are incised into narrow lobes. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. The plant is self-fertile. The small white flowers appear during July and August. The grayish-brown fruit consists of two united carpels each containing an anise seed. The seed is small and curved, about 0.5 cm long and usually contains hair-like protrusions from each end. The seeds ripen during August and September. The whole plant has a fragrant odor, and the seeds taste like licorice.
Family: Umbelliferae (Parsley family)
Other Names: Anise plant, Aniseed, Anise seed, Common Anise, Sweet Cumin, Hua-hsian (China).
Flowers: July – August
Parts Used: Seeds
Habitat: It is a native of Egypt, Greece, Crete, and Asia Minor, but it is widely cultivated.
History: Anise has been used for many centuries. It is well known to the Greeks, being mentioned by Dioscorides and Pliny and was cultivated in Tuscany in Roman times. In the Middle Ages its cultivation spread to Central Europe, but the seeds ripen here only in very warm summers, and it is grown chiefly in warmer districts such as Southern Russia, Bulgaria, Germany, Malta, Spain, Italy, North Africa and Greece who produce large quantities. It has also been introduced into India and South America. The cultivated plant attains a considerably larger size than the wild one.

The ancient Greeks, including Hippocrates, prescribed anise for coughs. Ancient Romans used Anise in a special cake served at the end of enormous feasts. Historically, the herb was used because of its flavor (licorice), as an aid for digestion, as an aphrodisiac, for colic and to combat nausea.

Ancient Chinese physicians used anise as a digestive aid, flatulence remedy, and breath freshener. Early English herbalists recommended the herb for hiccups, for promoting milk production for nursing mothers, for treatment of water retention, headache, asthma, bronchitis, insomnia, nausea, lice, infant colic, cholera, and even cancer.

Constituents: Volatile oil, (1-4%), consisting largely of trans-anethole (70-90%), with estragole (methylchavicol), anisic acid, b-caryophylline, anisaldehyde, linalool, anise ketone (methoxyphenylacetone); the polymers of anethole, dianethole and photoanethole; an Egyptian variety carvene, carvone, and alpha-zingiberene.

Coumarins: Bergapten, umbelliferone, and scopoletin.

Flavonoid glycosides: Rutin, isovitexin, quercetin, luteolin, and apigenin glycosides.

Phenylpropanoids, including 1-propenyl-2-hydroxy-5-methoxy-benzene-2- (2- methyl-butyrate).

Miscellaneous: Lipids, fatty acids, sterols, proteins and carbohydrates.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Antispasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic.

Main Uses: The volatile oil in Aniseed provides the basis for its internal use to ease griping, intestinal colic and flatulence. It also has an expectorant and antispasmodic action and may be used in bronchitis, in tracheitis where there is persistent irritable coughing, and in whooping cough. Externally, the oil may be used in an ointment base for the treatment of scabies. The oil by itself will help in the control of lice. Aniseed has been demonstrated to increase mucociliary transport and so supporting its use as an expectorant. It has milk estrogenic effects, thought to be due to the presence of dianethole and photoanethole, which explains the use of this plant in folk medicine to increase milk secretion, facilitate birth and increase libido.

Anise is a stimulant and carminative; used in cases of flatulence, flatulent colic of infants, and to remove nausea. Sometimes added to other medicines to improve their flavor, correct griping and other disagreeable effects. It is very effective as a carminative (to relieve gas pains).

It is used for relieving menopausal discomforts and in treating some form of prostate cancer in men. It may have potential in treating hepatitis and cirrhosis, although tests are being conducted on this.

Anisette, sold in most liquor stores, has volatile oil of anise as part of the preparation. Anisette is reputedly helpful for bronchitis and spasmodic asthma. Taken in hot water, anisette is said to be an immediate palliative.

Preparation & Dosages: As the seeds ripen, turning from green to gray-brown, harvest them. Alcohol extracts the medicinal properties of anise more effectively than water.

Infusion: Use 1 teaspoon crushed seed to 1/2 or 1 cup boiling water. Steep 10 minutes and strain. Take 1 to 1-1/2 cups during the day, a mouthful at a time.

Tincture: Add 2 oz of crushed seed to 1/2 quart brandy. Add some clean lemon peels and let it stand for 20 days, then strain. Take 1 teaspoon at a time.

Cough Syrup: Add 7 teaspoons crushed seeds to 1 quart of boiling water and then simmer the contents down to 1-1/2 pints. Strain and add 4 teaspoons each of honey and glycerin (as a preservative). Take 2 teaspoons of this syrup every few hours to relieve hacking coughs.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica)

Angelica Identification:
This large variety is also known as Archangelica officianalis. The roots are long and spindle-shaped, thick and fleshy and have many long, descending rootlets. The stems grow 4 to 6 feet high and are hollow. The leaves are bright green and the edges are finely toothed or serrated. The flowers are small and numerous, yellowish or greenish in color, are grouped into large, globular

umbels. After blooming, they are succeeded by pale yellow, oblong fruits, 1/6 to 1/4 inch in length when ripe. Both the odor and taste of the fruits are similar to honey.

Family: Umbelliferae (Parsley family)

Cultivation: Although angelica is naturally biennial, the plants are perennial if they are prevented from setting seed. It will flower in its second year and then die off.
Seeds should be sown as soon as possible after removing them from the plant. Directly sow the seeds outdoors or start seeds indoors. If they must be stored, seal them in a plastic container, and store the container in the refrigerator.
Plant angelica in the coolest part of the garden. The soil should be deep, rich, moist and slightly acid. Soggy soil will cause the plants to die. Transplant seedlings when they have four to six leaves. They have long taproots, so don’t delay transplanting too long. Mulch and water well if the weather gets hot and dry. Fertilize in spring and midsummer.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Appetizer, carminative, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, tonic. The seeds are also said to be diaphoretic and diuretic.
Main Uses: Angelica has recently become a very popular herb in the United States, and is often recommended by herbalists as a treatment for flatulence and stomach pains, and as a stimulant to invigorate circulation and warm the body. The most common use of angelica is as an emmenagogue to promote menstrual flow and help regulate irregular menstrual cycles.
Angelica has also been used for bronchitis, coughs, colds, lungs and chest, heartburn, gas, rheumatic complaints (especially the legs), sluggish liver and spleen, pleurisy, and strengthening the heart.
Take angelica tea or tincture to stimulate appetite, to relieve flatulence and muscle spasms, and to stimulate kidney action. It is useful for all sorts of stomach and intestinal difficulties, including ulcers and vomiting with stomach cramps. It can also by used for intermittent fever, nervous headache, colic, and general weakness. Externally, angelica salve can be used as a beneficial skin lotion and also to help relieve rheumatic pains. As a bath additive, angelica is said to be good for the nerves. A decoction of the root can be applied to the skin for scabies or itching and also to wounds. As a compress it can by used for gout.

Preparation And Dosages:
NOTE: The rootstock and roots of angelica are gathered in the second year.
Tincture: Fresh root (1:2), Dry root (1:5), 65% alcohol. Take 30 to 60 drops up to 4 times a day.
Decoction: Use 1 teaspoon root and rootstock with 3/4 cup cold water. Bring to a boil, then let steep 5 minutes. Take the 3/4 cup in two equal parts during the day.
Infusion: Use 1 teaspoon crushed seeds with 1/2 cup boiling water. Take as needed.
Bath Additive: Use a decoction from 7 ounces of root and rootstock.
Cold Extract: Use 1 teaspoon dried root and rootstock with 3/4 cup water. Let stand 8 to 10 hours, then strain. Take 1 to 1-1/2 cups a day.
Powder: Take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon three times a day.

CAUTION: All members of this genus contain furocoumarins, which increase skin sensitivity to sunlight. May cause contact dermatitis.

Contraindications: May cause spotting in pregnancy.

American Ephedra (Ephedra nevadensis)

Identification: Ephedra is an evergreen shrub growing 2 to 3 feet high with no leaves. Stems are green, smooth, woody, branching, and very jointed. Small yellow-green buds appear in the joints when in bloom. Ephedra Flowers

Family: Ephedraceae.
Other Names: Brigham Tea, Mormon tea, Ephedra, Nevada Joint-fir, American Ma Huang, Mexican tea, Desert Ephedra, Desert tea.
Habitat: Southwestern North America, found growing on dry slopes and hills, sandy plains, canyons, sandy and rocky places, deserts. Ephedra may be found further east in dry areas where it has escaped cultivation. Cultivation requires some effort, prefers light (sandy) dry, acid, soil in sunny position, cannot grow in the shade and not self-fertile, both male and female plants must be grown if seed is desired.
Parts Used: Twigs. Gather stems anytime and dry for later use.
History: Ephedra was found buried in a Middle Eastern neolithic grave, indicating that it was used as a medicine over 60,000 years ago. It is believed that the roots of the plant have the opposite effect of the stems, this is unproven. An infusion of the dried stems has been used in the treatment of venereal diseases. The pulverized or boiled stems were also used for delayed or difficult menstruation or applied externally as a poultice on syphilitic and other sores by some native North American Indians. Ephedra was also used as a ceremonial drug to improve the alertness of the hunter and the wood of the plant is considered the best charcoal for tattooing.
Constituents: Alkaloid ephedrine, methylephedrine, methylpseudoephedrine. Other plant constituents in Ephedra are calcium, phosphorus, protein, flavone, saponin, tannins, and volatile oil.
Medicinal Properties: Anti-viral, antidote, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, blood purifier, diuretic, pectoral, febrifuge, vasodilator, stimulant, and tonic.
Uses: Ephedrine acts quickly to reduce swellings of the mucous membranes, dilates the bronchial vessels and has antispasmodic properties. Because of this scientifically proven action on the respiratory system it is known to have saved many lives, while Ephedra does not cure asthma it is very effective in treating the symptoms and making life somewhat easier for the sufferer. Used for centuries in Chinese medicine Ma Huang or Chinese Ephedra is well known and exported all over the world for use in pharmaceuticals to treat asthma, hay fever, allergic complaints, stimulating the heart and central nervous system, and kidney problems. While the chemical constituents in the American Ephedra plant is said to be less concentrated, it is still used for the same medicinal purposes and said to have fewer side effects.
Caution is advised as an overdose can be fatal, causing high blood pressure, racing of the heart, confusion, nervous stupor, twitching, convolutions and death. Ephedrine is seen as a performance-boosting herb and is a forbidden substance in many sporting events such as athletics. This herb should not be used by people who are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or suffering from high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism or glaucoma. However the bad reputation this herb has received stems from the use or misuse of the synthesized form of its main constituent ephedrine.
Preparations and Dosages: Standard Infusion, as needed. To 1/2 ounce of dried herb add 1 pint boiling water steep for 20 minutes. Strain and sweeten, drink throughout the day for cold and flu or sinusitis.

American Elder (Sambucus canadensis)

Identification: American Elder is a native American shrub, growing 5 to 12 feet high. The stems are covered with rough, yellowish-gray bark. The leaves are opposite (paired), compound, with 5 to 11 Elder Flowers

elliptical to lance-shaped leaflets; sharply toothed. Numerous small, white, fragrant flowers appear in flat, umbrella-like clusters from May to July. The fruit is a dark purple berry appearing from June to September. The European Elder (Sambucus nigra), though larger than the American Elder has similar characteristics and similar properties.
Habitat: Damp areas and waste places, particularly in the central and eastern United States. Nova Scotia to Georgia; Texas to Manitoba.
Family: Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle family)
Other Names: Black Elder, Common Elder, Elderberry, Rob Elder, Sweet Elder
Flowers: May – July
Parts Used: Flowers, berries, inner bark, and leaves.
History: Elder has a long history dating beyond the stone ages. Egyptians discovered that applying its flowers improved the complexion and healed burns. Many early Indian tribes used elderberry in teas and other beverages. In the 19th century the British often drank home made wine that was thought to prolong life and cure the common cold.
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, purgative, and stimulant.
Constituents: Elder leaves contain the flavonoids rutin and quercertin, alkaloids, vitamin C and sambunigrin, a cyanogenic glucoside. Fresh elder leaves also contain hydrocyanic acid, cane sugar, invertin, betulin, free fatty acids, and a considerable quantity of potassium nitrate.
Main Uses: The leaves and flowers are a common ingredient in ointments and poultices for burns and scalds, swelling, cuts and scrapes. An infusion of leaves and flowers or a decoction of bark serves as an antiseptic wash for skin problems, wounds, and inflammations. The flowers are a mild astringent and are used in skin washes to refine the complexion and help relieve eczema, acne and psoriasis. Flower tea taken warm is said to stimulate and to induce sweating; it can also be taken for headaches due to colds and for rheumatism. A tea is also used to sooth sore throats, speed recovery from cold and flu and relieve respiratory distress. Taken cold, it has diuretic properties. Warm elderberry wine is a remedy for sore throat, influenza and induces perspiration to reverse the effects of a chill. The juice from the berries is an old fashioned cure for colds, and is also said to relieve asthma and bronchitis. Infusions of the fruit are beneficial for nerve disorders, back pain, and have been used to reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder. An infusion of the leaf buds is strongly purgative. Fresh berry juice, evaporated into a syrup, is moderately purgative.

CAUTION! Bark, root, leaves and unripe berries of elder are toxic; said to cause cyanide poisoning, severe diarrhea. Berries edible when cooked. Flowers not thought to be toxic.

Preparation and Dosages:
Infusion: Use 1 teaspoon plant parts with 1 cup water. 2 to 4 ounces up to 3 times a day.
Cold Infusion: 1 to 2 ounces up to 3 times a day.
Tincture: Take 20 to 40 drops in water, three to four times a day.

American Elder is also a wild food.

Alder Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)

Alder Buckthorn Identification: The bark is grey-black, quite smooth with very characteristic vertical white dots and stripes. These white dots and stripes are known as lenticels and are breathing pores. When the bark is scraped, it shows a crimson layer above the yellow- brown bark. The youn branches and twigs are greenish at first, then turning grey brown and are red-brown to dark violet at the tips. The older bark turns into a dark brownish roughened bark and has an orange inner surface.

The leaves have stalks and appear alternately left and right on the branches. They are 3-7 cm long, oval shaped with a pointed end. The leaves are feather veined with 6-10 pairs of side-veins, which curve upwards and inwards to form an arched loop with the vein above near the edge. These pairs of side-veins are alternate, rather than opposite, but the space between a pair of veins is markedly smaller than the space between the different pairs. The leaves do not have teeth and have a shiny green surface above. They can be brownish and velvety underneath when still young. In the autumn they turn a warm yellow with shades of red.

The alder buckthorn tree blooms in May and has green-white bisexual flowers. These flowers are very small and appear in small clusters, pairs or solitary at the tips of the branches. They are bell-shaped with a five petalled star-like opening. The calyx is also 5 lobed and there are 5 stamens. The flowers give way to round fleshy fruits, the size of a pea, which turn from green to cherry-red to a black-brown-purple-bluish color in September/October. The flesh is just a thin layer and inside there are 2 or 3 seeds.

Habitat: Alder buckthorn grows mostly on damp and peaty soil, near bogs, in marshes, damp moorland and open woodland. Widely distributed over Europe and northern Asia, and found in woods and thickets throughout England, though rare in Scotland.
Family: Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn family)
Other Names: Alder buckthorn, alder dogwood, arrowwood, black alder dogwood, black alder tree, black dogwood, European black alder, European buckthorn, Persian berries.
Flowers: May
Parts Used: Bark. The dried bark collected from the young trunk and moderately-sized branches in early summer and kept at least one year before being used. It is stripped from the branches and dried either on sunny days, out of doors, in halfshade, or by artificial heat, on shelves or trays, in a warm, well-ventilated room.
Constituents: Antraquinone glycosides, comprising frangulin ‘a’ and ‘b’ (produced during drying and storage), frangula emodin, glucograngulin ‘a’ and ‘b’, chrysophanic acid, and iso-emodin. All these substances play a role in the purgative action of the bark.
Also: Flavonoids, bitter principles, tannins, volatile oil, resins, mucilage.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Tonic, laxative, cathartic.
Main Uses: A gentle to medium purgative action, which occurs about 6-12 hours after taking the remedy. It works by stimulating the peristaltic movements of the large intestine.

Cholagogue, which means it increases the amount of bile secreted by the liver. This helps to cleanse the liver, and aids digestive processes, particularly of fats. Bile is also a natural laxative and therefore cleansing to the whole of the digestive system.

Tonic. The above properties enhanced by the bitter components (which stimulate digestive secretions and tone the gastro-intestinal tract) give the bark a toning, cleansing action which can help to rejuvenate and enliven the whole system.

Anti-parasitic. Externally used for lice infestations. Also used as a rinse to kill germs in a sore throat or elsewhere in the mouth.

Preparation & Dosages:
Decoction: Use 1 teaspoon bark with 1/2 cup cold water. Bring to a boil. Drink before going to bed. Use no more than 1/2 oz. of bark per day.
Cold Extract: Use 1 tsp. bark with 1/2 cup cold water. Let stand for 12 hours. Drink in the evening.
Tincture: A dose is from 5 to 20 drops.

Alder buckthorn may turn the urine dark yellow or red, but this is harmless. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and children

under the age of 12 should not use alder buckthorn without the advice of a physician. Those with an intestinal obstruction, Crohn’s disease or any other acute inflammatory problem in the intestines, diarrhea, appendicitis, or abdominal pain should not use this herb. Use or abuse of alder buckthorn for more than ten days consecutively may cause a loss of electrolytes (especially the mineral potassium) or may weaken the colon. Long-term use can also cause kidney damage.

The berries and the fresh bark are poisonous to people.