Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infections and Cystitis

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) (usually called cystitis in the UK)  is a painful reminder that when nature’s system of excreting liquid from our body goes awry, it makes everyone very uncomfortable.

UTIs happen when pathogens (usually E.coli bacteria) get into the urethra (the tube along which urine passes out of the body from the bladder). There are various ways this infection can occur, but whatever the cause the result is the same – pain and misery.

The bacteria attach to the walls of the urethra and bladder. Left untreated the infection may travel farther up the urinary system all the way to the kidneys, so it is very important to treat UTIs promptly.

Cranberry Juice:

BNA-5144For decades it has been well known that drinking cranberry juice is a surefire way to relieve UTI symptoms because sufferers have noticed that it works far better and more quickly than anything prescribed by conventional doctors.

Unsurprisingly, Big Pharma has fought back to protect their interests, publishing studies in the Journal of American Family Physicians in 2013 explaining that the connection between cranberry juice and relief from UTI is “tenuous at best”.

My advice is to try it for yourself. If you still need something else afterwards, here is another home remedy for UTI, though I’ve never tried it myself, as the cranberry works for me every time.

Quebra Pedra:

Quebra PedraThis is a remedy from the Amazon rainforest which has been used for generations to treat genito-urinary system disorders. It’s also helpful for stomach and kidney problems. Available in tea bags or capsules.

These Home Remedies for UTI, are for short term relief of the symptoms. If you get no relief in 48-72 hours, please consult your physician.

Plantain health benefits: for wounds and bronchitis

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Plantain is a well known weed

Plantain is a well known weed

The plantain, Plantago major (syn. P. borysthenica, P. dregeana, P. latifolia and P. sinuata), is a weed in many places around the world. It is not related to the cooking plantain, a type of banana. Other names by which it is known include broadleaf plantain, common plantain, greater plantain and large plantain.

Plantain is one of the nine sacred herbs of Wicca.

Plantain is a well known weed, often found in lawns. It’s a hardy perennial which can reach a height of anything from 15-75cm (6-30″) including the flower spikes, flowering in every season apart from Winter. Ripe seeds can be harvested from July to October. It is attractive to wildlife.

Don’t exceed the stated dose: excess amounts may cause a drop in blood pressure, or diarrhea. Susceptible people might experience contact dermatitis, so wear gloves when handling unless you know you’re ok. Plantain should not be used by people suffering from intestinal obstruction or abdominal pain.

Make a standard infusion using 30g (1 ounce) dried or three handfuls of fresh chopped leaves to 560ml (1 UK pint, 2.5 US cups) boiling water. Leave to steep for 3-4 hours, then strain off the leaves and discard. Take up to 1 cup a day, which may be split into 3 doses.

You can heat up fresh plantain leaves in hot water and apply direct to make a useful treatment for swellings and wounds, which stops bleeding and also encourages tissue repair. A standard infusion of leaves can be used internally to treat asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, cystitis, diarrhea, gastritis, hemorrhage, hemorrhoids, (“piles“), hay fever, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers and sinusitis, as a diuretic and to reduce fevers, or applied externally for cuts, external ulcers, inflammation of the skin and stings.

Plantain seeds are used to treat internal parasites and as a laxative.

A treatment for rattlesnake bite uses 50:50 plantain and horehound. However, it is best to get straight to a qualified medical practitioner, or preferably your local emergency clinic, in cases of snake bite.

Though you may not need to cultivate plantains, if you decide to do so, please remember that it’s important to use organic growing methods to avoid contaminating your remedies with noxious chemicals. To find out more about growing organic herbs visit the Gardenzone.

Queen Anne’s Lace health benefits: for genito-urinary conditions

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Queen Anne's lace or wild carrot

Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot

Queen Anne’s lace or QAL, Daucus carota (syn. D. abyssinicus, D. aegyptiacus, D. azoricus, D. bocconei, D. gingidium, D. glaberrimus, D. gummifer, D. halophilus, D. hispanicus, D. hispidus, D. maritimus, D. mauritanicus, D. maximus, D. micranthus, D. parviflorus, D. polygamus and D. rupestris!), is also known as eastern carrot, hu luo bo, Mediterranean carrot, Queen’s lace, salosi, sea carrot and wild carrot. Although it is extremely pretty in its second year when it flowers, it should never be collected from the wild, because like all umbelliferous plants (family Apiaceae) it is easy to mistake for hemlock, which is very poisonous.

The name Queen Anne’s lace is also used for Bishop’s weed, which is in the same family but not closely related.

QAL is a hardy biennial but is almost always treated as an annual. It can reach a height of 1m (3′) and a spread of 30cm (1′). It requires full sun, and should be sown in rich soil fertilized for the previous crop. Sow direct very thinly in v-shaped trenches any time from early Spring to mid-Fall. An alternative method is station sowing (sowing 2 or 3 seeds at the desired final spacing). Final spacing is 10cm (4″) x 15cm (6″). Keep well weeded and thin to a single plant per station (or thin to final spacing). Foliar feed twice a week with half-strength seaweed fertilizer for the best results.

Avoid growing at the same time as other Apiaceae grown for seed production, eg. fennel, dill, coriander. If you don’t want seed, the flowers should be removed. I guess you could use them for flower arrangements, but I don’t know how long they keep in water.

Cut one or two leaves per plant as required for medicinal use. Pull up whole plants for dye 4-5 months after sowing, or in July for remedies. Can be dried for later use.

NB: Queen Anne’s lace may cause allergic reactions and sap may cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people. Handling carrot leaves, especially when wet, can cause irritation or even blisters. According to Plants for a Future, “sensitized photosensitive persons may get an exact reproduction of the leaf on the skin by placing [it] on the skin for awhile, followed by exposure to sunshine.”

The roots can be cooked, but don’t come close to cultivated carrots either for tenderness or size. Deep fried flowerheads apparently produce a gourmet’s delight. The seed can be used as a flavoring for soups and stews. Dried powdered roots have been used as a coffee substitute.

NB: Queen Anne’s lace is not a suitable remedy during pregnancy or for anyone trying for a baby.

Make a standard infusion using 30 g (1 ounce) dried whole plant or leaves/3 handfuls of fresh whole plant or leaves/1 ounce of seeds (not from a packet, as these are usually treated with fungicide) to 500ml (2 US cups, 16 fl oz) water. The dosage is up to 250ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz).

Queen Anne’s lace is a diuretic and cleansing medicine which soothes the digestive tract and stimulates the uterus. It supports the liver and stimulates the genito-urinary system.

An infusion of the whole plant is used as a diuretic, to clear obstructions and treat digestive disorders, edema (oedema), eye complaints, flatulence (“gas” or “wind“), kidney and bladder disorders and to promote milk flow in nursing mothers.

An infusion of the leaves has been used to help prevent kidney stone formation, to reduce existing stones, to stimulate the pituitary gland (and increase sex hormone levels) and for cystitis.

Grated raw root (also grated cultivated carrot) is used to expel threadworms and to induce menstruation and uterine contractions.

A root infusion is diuretic and can be used to treat kidney stones.

The seeds are diuretic and can be used to treat flatulence, promote menstruation and expel parasites. An infusion of seeds can be used to treat edema, indigestion and menstrual problems.

Carrot seed blocks progesterone synthesis. Carrot seed tincture and carrot flower tincture (3 doses consisting of 15 drops of each every 8 hours) have been tested as a contraceptive. Although only around 95% effective, this may well be helpful in the absence of any other method, for example for preppers. There was no reduction in fertility after the trial was completed.

As with all plants grown for medicinal use, it’s important that organic growing methods re used, to avoid the active constituents from being destroyed or adulterated by foreign chemicals. To find out more about organic gardening, visit the Gardenzone.


The essential oil is extracted from the seed and is usually labeled Carrot or Wild Carrot. NB: Carrot seed essential oil is not suitable for use during pregnancy. A single drop taken by mouth once a day is sometimes prescribed to aid liver regeneration. Apart from this and similar specific recommendations no essential oil product should be used internally.

Carrot seed oil is mainly used for skin rejuvenation and for dry and mature skin. It is also said to relieve fatigue. It is used commercially in anti-wrinkle creams, in perfumery and as flavoring.

As with all essential oils, carrot seed essential oil should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

This post is a slightly adapted extract from “Healing Herbs for the Ornamental Garden”, which is a Kindle book. If you’d like to buy a copy (or borrow it free if you’re an Amazon Prime member) please go to Healing Herbs for the Ornamental Garden or search for it by putting B00A9HJ3QQ in your local Amazon’s search box.

Sandalwood essential oils, benefits and uses

Santalum album is now a protected species

Santalum album is now a protected species

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Traditionally, sandalwood essential oil, also sometimes called sandalwood Mysore, is extracted from the heartwood of East Indian sandalwood trees (Santalum album). The oil is present in trees of 10 years and older, but the trees are only regarded as mature between the ages of 40 and 80 years.

The tree is a native of India and Indonesia, but unfortunately has been harvested at unsustainable levels in its natural habitat and is a protected species. However, as sandalwood oil is so popular, not just for aromatherapy, but also for Ayurvedic medicine and sacred uses, other areas have established Santalum sp. plantations, including Australia and many parts of Southeast Asia.

As with all essential oils, sandalwood oils should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

Three varieties of sandalwood are now used for extracting oil, Santalum austrocaledonicum (Sandalwood Vanuatu), Santalum ellipticum (the Hawaiian sandalwood), which are both regarded as high quality, and Santalum spicatum (the Australian sandalwood), which is not. There is also another oil which is sometimes labelled Sandalwood AmyrisAmyris balsamifera, which is unrelated.

Sandalwood oil has a nutty or woody fragrance which is popular with men, even though it has sweet overtones. It is often used commercially as an ingredient in aftershave. The color of the oil ranges from pale yellow to pale gold.

Shavings of sandalwood are sometimes used as incense for calming the mind during meditation, amongst other purposes. You can also use the oil in a burner to achieve the same effect.

Sandalwood essential oil should never be used undiluted. It is not suitable for use on children under 12 years or anyone with a kidney disorder. It may reduce the ability to concentrate.

Sandalwood oil is regarded as soothing, calming and grounding. It is used in aromatherapy for anxiety, burnout, confusion, cynicism, depression, recurring dreams, exhaustion, failure, fatigue, fear, grief, insecurity, irritability, listlessness, stress, worry and to promote happiness, intuition and perseverance; for skin care, including dry eczema, blemished, scarred and sensitive skin; to treat tinnitis, sinusitis, chest and urinary tract infections, sore throat, laryngitis and as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, emollient and insect repellent. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine for itching and gastritis.

Sandalwood Amyris, or simply Amyris, has antiseptic and sedative properties. It is not suitable for use during pregnancy.

I offer sandalwood essential oil and sandalwood amyris essential oil in my online shop.

It’s always important to ensure that any oil you purchase is 100% pure essential oil, but this is even more vital with rarer oils and those which are in danger of extinction because of over-harvesting. Disreputable suppliers are often tempted to adulterate with potentially dangerous fake chemically-derived products in the name of the quick buck. Make sure that you choose a reputable supplier to be sure that you are getting what you pay for.

Goosegrass (Cleavers) health benefits: for dandruff, glandular fever and ME

Goosegrass clings to everything it touches

Goosegrass clings to everything it touches

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Goosegrass, Galium aparine, is also known by many other names including bedstraw (which is also sometimes used for the closely related lady’s bedstraw), catchweed, cleavers, cleaverwort, clivers, coachweed, gosling weed, hedge-burs, loveman, robin-run-the-hedge, stickaback, stickyleaf, stickyweed, sticky willy and sweethearts. It is quite definitely a weed, and will almost certainly be familiar to you if you live in Europe, and my guess is that it will be just as familiar to my American readers. It’s a close relative of sweet woodruff.

Many of the names given to this plant refer to its ability to stick fast to your legs or whatever other portion of your anatomy comes into contact with it – leading to the evident joy that the young and not-so-young gain from throwing it at each other! This is its tactic for spreading from places where it’s already well-established to other areas.

According to most of the literature, this plant is tall, reaching 4 feet in height, though I’ve only really noticed it as a ground hugging plant. Perhaps it grows better where it’s left alone, and hugs the ground in places where it’s unwelcome and frequently removed – my garden, for instance. Whatever the case, it is inadvisable, in my view, for anyone to try and cultivate it, as it will just take over. You won’t likely have any difficulty sourcing plenty of material to use for medicine should you decide to do so, without running this risk. Look for it in moist grassy areas and on riverbanks if you don’t find it right away. Just try and avoid gathering it in areas right next to a main road, of course. The correct time for this is May or June, as the plant comes into flower, and you can dry it for later use by laying it out in a thin layer on trays somewhere airy and out of the sun, turning regularly until it is ready for storage.

Despite its weedy nature, goosegrass is amazingly useful.

The young shoots can be used as a potherb, the seeds as a coffee substitute, and the whole dried plant as a tea substitute. A thick (3 to 4 inch) layer of the herb in a sieve can be used to filter liquids, and a red dye can be made from the roots.

Turning to medicinal uses, a standard infusion is made by using just 2 handfuls of freshly chopped herb to a pint of boiling water, leaving it to stand for 15 minutes to 4 hours before straining off the solid matter and disposing of it.

A poultice is made by mixing chopped fresh or dried herb with hot water and wrapping in medical gauze, then applying to the area to be treated (refreshing with more hot water as required).

You can also make a salve by mixing freshly squeezed juice with butter, according to John Lust. However, sensitive people may find that contact with the juice causes dermatitis, so be careful until/unless you know that you are not one of them.

Goosegrass infusion is used externally to treat dandruff and other types of seborrhea, eczema, psoriasis and skin cancer. It is also used internally to treat the same conditions, as well as cystitis, glandular fever, hepatitis, ME and tonsillitis. It’s also useful as a diuretic and to lower temperature in feverish conditions. As a poultice it is used to treat wounds, external ulcers and other skin problems, and the salve is also used to treat skin conditions.

Not bad for an annoying weed, eh? On top of which, if you get tar on yourself, you can get rid of it, apparently, by rubbing it with some of the fresh herb. Not something I’ve tried, but I guess it may come in useful in some parts. Does it grow in Louisiana? I have no idea.

Since I don’t recommend growing it deliberately, I won’t bother telling you about the necessity of growing medicinal herbs organically, which in my view pretty much goes without saying anyway. But when you’re gathering it, try and avoid areas where it may have been polluted by traffic fumes or agricultural chemicals.

Gravel Root health benefits: for kidney and urinary problems

Gravel root lives up to one of its other names, Queen of the meadow

Gravel root lives up to one of its other names, Queen of the meadow

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Gravel root’s latin name is Eutrochium purpureum, though you are more likely to find it labeled Eupatorium purpureum, which is one of its synonyms; the other is Eupatoriadelphus purpureus. It is also known as Joe-Pye weed, kidney root, purple boneset, Queen of the meadow, sweet Joe-Pye weed, sweet-scented Joe-Pie weed and trumpet weed. It is closely related to thoroughwort, which is also sometimes called boneset.

The name “Joe Pye” was given to the plant after a New England native American of that name who apparently used it to cure typhus fever.

Gravel root is native to the Eastern United States, and is a large plant which can reach a height of 10 feet (3m) if happy. A large plant looks stately and quite magnificent, living up to its alternative name Queen of the Meadow. It requires moist, well drained soil but is otherwise unfussy as to type. It will grow anywhere not in full shade. Propagation is by seed sown in spring or division of existing plants in spring or fall. Harvest flower buds and leaves in spring, roots in fall and dry for later use.

The part usually used is the rootstock, though the above ground parts also have medicinal properties, instructions for preparation follow. The dosage in both cases is up to 240 ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) a day, split into 3 doses.

Use the root to make a decoction by adding 15g of dried root to 600ml (2.5 US cups, 1 UK pint) cold water, then bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half and strain off and discard the root.

You can also make a standard infusion using 3 handfuls of fresh herb or 30g (1 ounce) of dried to a pint of boiling water. Leave to stand for between 15 minutes and 4 hours, then strain off the herb and discard.

Gravel root is useful for cystitis, gout, kidney stones and other kidney problems, rheumatoid arthritis, urethritis and other urinary disorders, and as a diuretic and general tonic. It was an important native American treatment to reduce fevers.

As with all medicinal plants, gravel root must be grown organically to avoid corruption of its essential ingredients by foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic gravel root visit the Gardenzone, where it’s called Sweet Joe Pye weed.

Marsh Mallow health benefits: for open sores and external ulcers

Marsh mallow, ancient medicine and sweetmeat

Marsh mallow, ancient medicine and sweetmeat

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

The marsh mallow or marshmallow, Althaea officinalis, is also called althea, common marshmallow, mortification root, sweet weed and wymote. It is in the same family (Malvaceae) as musk mallow and hollyhock.

The name “mortification root” refers to the use of the root as a poultice for infected wounds; it is said to heal the most stubborn infections, and thus prevent gangrene. I have not been able to find any explanation for the name wymote.

Marshmallow the herb is the origin of the sweet of the same name, although the stuff you buy in sweet shops nowadays never gets a sniff of the plant. Marshmallow the sweet was once made by drying and powdering the roots, then making the powder into a paste and roasting it.

Marsh mallow is a hardy perennial reaching about 4 feet (1.2m) in height by 2’6″ (75cm) across, a native of Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. It is not fussy as to soil, and can even grow in saline conditions, but prefers a moist situation. It will not grow in shade. It’s an attractive plant, worthy of a place in any ornamental or herb garden and could also be used in a sensory garden because of its downy leaves..

In many parts of the world, marshmallow roots are used as food, particularly during food shortages. All parts of the plant are edible, though all are also mucilaginous (you might say slimy) when cooked, and although the leaves can be used in salads, because they are fibrous and downy, they need to be finely chopped to be palatable. The water used for cooking marsh mallow can be reduced (by boiling) until it has a similar consistency to egg whites, and used as a substitute after cooling – even for things like meringues. This is obviously of most interest to people who are allergic to eggs, and to vegans. The flowers can also be used for tea.

Marshmallow has been used medicinally for centuries. All parts of the plant are active, in particular the roots.

A standard infusion of leaves uses 30g (1 ounce) of dried leaves or 3 handfuls of fresh to 500ml (2 US cups, 16 fl oz) boiling water. Allow to stand for 15 minutes to 4 hours (the longer it infuses, the longer it can be kept in a refrigerator), strain and take up to 3 cups a day, sweetened with honey if liked. It can also be used externally when cool.

The least slimy of the medicinal preparations is the cold extract, which is made by steeping 1-2 tbsp chopped root or whole plant in 240ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) of cold water for 8 hours, after which it is strained. The dosage is 1 cup a day (which can be split into 3 doses).

A decoction is made by adding 1 tsp of chopped root to 1 cup cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for 15-30 minutes, then strain. Use the same dosage as for cold extract.

A poultice is made by mixing chopped root with honey and wrapping in a closely woven bandage. Apply to the area to be treated for 2-3 hours, then replace with a new one as required.

Internally, use the cold extract, standard infusion or decoction to treat chest infections, pleurisy, tickly coughs and catarrh, cystitis or urinary tract infections. Use externally to treat gum disease, as an eye bath for sore and infected eyes, and as a vaginal douche for bacterial vaginitis (bv). Use a poultice to treat boils and similar skin eruptions, splinters, open sores and ulcers, insect bites and gangrene. Give a piece of peeled root to teething infants to chew on.

As I always recommend with plants destined for the medicine chest, marsh mallow should be grown organically to avoid corruption or elimination of the active constituents by the presence of foreign chemicals.

To find out more about growing organic herbs visit the Gardenzone.

Hollyhock health benefits: for cystitis and for sore mouth and throat

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Hollyhocks come in many colors including black

Hollyhocks come in many colors including black

The hollyhock, Alcea rosea (syn. Althaea chinensis, Althaea ficifolia and Althaea rosea), was a favorite of Victorian gardeners. The name hollyhock is derived from the Old English holy hoc – the old word hoc meaning mallow. Other names by which this plant is known include Althaea rose, malva flowers and rose mallow (a name which is also used for the related musk mallow). It is not related to the rose.

It’s believed that the hollyhock, a native of the Middle East, was introduced by returning Crusaders, which may explain how it came by the name “holy hoc”. They look great thrusting towards the sky in the flower garden, and come in very many different colors, in both single and double flowered forms.

Hollyhocks are usually treated as biennials – plants which take 2 years to reach flowering stage, although they are in fact short-lived perennials. However, if you want to be sure to have them in the garden every year, it will be best to sow 2 years in a row, after which you may well find that self seeding has occurred.

The hollyhock is a tall thin plant, and can reach a height of 8 feet (2.5m), though 6-7 feet is more usual. I like them scattered about in the middle of smaller plants as they are thin enough not to block the view of other plants behind them, but if you prefer your plantings graded by height, put them near the back.

All parts of the hollyhock are edible, though the leaves are not very palatable. Flowers, flowerbuds and peeled stems can be used in salads, and tea made from petals. The roots can be used as a starchy vegetable.

Hollyhocks are also very useful medicinally, although often overlooked in favor of the related marsh mallow, which has similar properties.  However, as this is a plant often grown just because it is so different, for ornamental purposes, it’s worth including – personally I prefer it to the true marsh mallow in the flower garden, and I expect others agree with me in this. There’s just something about a hollyhock in flower that brings a smile to one’s lips and lightens the heart, rather like enormous sunflowers – is it to do with height? Perhaps they make us feel like children again, who knows.

Flowers, collected when open, shoots, roots and seeds are all used medicinally for various purposes.

Flowers can be used to make:

a standard infusion
Add 30g of dried flowers or 3 handfuls of fresh to 600ml (2.5 US cups, 1 UK pint) boiling water, stand for 15 minutes to 4 hours, then strain.
a decoction
Add 30g of dried flowers to 600ml (2.5 US cups, 1 UK pint) cold water, bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, then strain.

Make a standard infusion of seeds using 2 tsp to 240ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz), boiling water. Stand for 15 minutes to 4 hours and strain.

Finally a poultice can be made using crushed roots or a mixture of crushed roots and flowers mixed with boiling water and wrapped in a closely woven bandage (wrung out), which is applied to the area to be treated. Keep the liquid on the heat and refresh the bandage by dipping it into the liquid and squeezing out excess liquid and reapplying.

Use a standard infusion of flowers to treat chest complaints and topically to reduce inflammations of the mouth and throat (swish the liquid around the mouth, or gargle with it, as appropriate), cystitis and gastritis. Use a decoction of flowers to treat painful periods, constipation and poor circulation.

Shoots are supposed to be helpful as a birthing aid, but how to use them I have no idea – perhaps an infusion.

A standard infusion of seeds is used as a diuretic and to reduce fevers.

The poultice is used to treat open sores and external ulcers.

As you can see, hollyhocks are a useful remedy, but as with all medicinal plants, they must be grown organically to ensure that their constituents are not corrupted or entirely eliminated by foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic hollyhocks visit the Gardenzone.

Goldenrod health benefits: for candida and cystitis

European goldenrod is a useful anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal herb

European goldenrod is a useful anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal herb

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Goldenrod, Solidago virgaurea (not to be confused with S. virgaurea asiatica, which is an old name for S. japonica, a species of little medicinal value), is also known as Aaron’s rod, Blue Mountain tea, European goldenrod, wound weed and woundwort. The latin name is sometimes mistakenly cited as a synonym for Solidago canadensis (the Canada goldenrod), which is incorrect. It is the most medicinally active of the goldenrod genus, which also includes the sweet goldenrod native to the USA and the Canada goldenrod, both of which are sometimes called just goldenrod, amongst others. It is not related to rose root (also sometimes called Aaron’s rod), tea (Camellia sinensis) or to lambs’ ears (also sometimes called woundwort).

Goldenrod is a hardy perennial which reaches a height of around 2 feet (60cm). It will grow in any soil, even heavy clay, but will not survive in full shade. It is propagated by seed sown in Spring or division in Spring or Fall.

Make a standard infusion using 30g (1 ounce) of flowering tops to 480ml (2 US cups, 16 fl oz) boiling water, leaving it to stand for at least 15 minutes (up to 4 hours) before straining for use. The dosage is up to 240ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) a day, split into 3 doses. It can be used internally as an anti-fungal, which works well with candida and both vaginal and oral thrush, as an anti-inflammatory, for urinary tract disorders including cystitis, nephritis, stones in kidney or bladder, and for nasal congestion, whooping cough and influenza. Goldenrod is a safe treatment for diarrhea in children. Externally it is a useful wound herb, acting both to staunch bleeding and disinfect the wound, and can also be used for skin infections, as well as treating thrush by douche or mouthwash as appropriate.

If you’re a regular reader, you will not be surprised that I recommend that goldenrod is grown organically to avoid corruption of its active constituents. To find out more about growing organic goldenrod visit the Gardenzone.

Field Eryngo health benefits: for coughs and urinary disorders

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Field eryngo looks like a thistle

Field eryngo looks like a thistle

Field Eryngo, Eryngium campestre, is a close relative of the sea holly, with which it is sometimes confused. It is a perennial which reaches a height and spread of around 18 inches (45cm). Because the roots can reach down to a depth of a meter or more and spread similarly, it can be difficult to eradicate once established in a garden.

Many people, myself included, think that the field eryngo is a very attractive plant, and this is enhanced when it is in flower, from July to August. Although it is a member of the Umbelliferae, the flowers (like those of the sea holly) are very un-Umbellifer-like – being much more like thistles (which are members of Compositae). There are many cultivars which have been developed for ornamental use.

Field eryngo is mainly found in dry grasslands and beside paths, sometimes by the coast. As you can no doubt tell from this habitat, it likes well drained soil, from medium loam to almost pure sand, tolerates pH balances ranging from acidic to very alkaline, and even saline soils, and is capable of growing in soil with very low nutrition. It cannot grow in the shade. The roots (harvested in Autumn from plants at least 2 years old) are the part used in herbal medicine.

A decoction of roots made from 1-2 teaspoonfuls of root added to a saucepan containing 250ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) of cold water, brought to a boil and simmered for 10 minutes is used to treat nervous tension, liver and kidney disorders, cystitis, urethritis, and as a diuretic. It’s also useful to stop the production of milk in nursing mothers and is strongly expectorant, useful for chronic coughs.

When grown for use in herbal remedies, it is important that field eryngo is grown organically to avoid its remedial proterties being obliterated by foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic field eryngo visit the Gardenzone.