Herb Guide

Ashwagandha

Practitioners have traditionally prescribed ashwagandha as a herbal remedy to strengthen the immune system after an illness. It acts mainly on the reproductive and nervous systems, having a rejuvenative effect on the body. It is also used to treat nervous exhaustion, debility, insomnia, wasting diseases, failure to thrive in children, impotence, infertility and multiple sclerosis.

It is well-known as a natural sedative and general stress reliever. The active compounds in ashwaghanda have anti-anxiety, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-arthritic properties that may be effective in reducing stress caused by physical and emotional fatigue; increasing mental alertness, focus and concentration; relieving nervous tension and anxiety; invigorating the body; decreasing inflammation and balancing out and leveling mood swings.

Bilberry

Bilberry contains anthocyanosides which are potent antioxidants which strengthen blood vessels and capillary walls, improve red blood cells, stabalize collagen tissues such as tendons, ligaments and cartilage and has cholesterol lowering effects. They also increase retinal pigments that allow the eye to tolerate light. In addition, it helps to maintain the flexibility of red blood cells, allowing them to pass through the capillaries and supply oxygen. The herb has been shown to be a vasodialator that opens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Since the eyes have a high concentration of capillaries, bilberry may be particularly helpful in improving eyesight. The herb has been shown to improve night vision, slow macular degeneration, prevent cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Scientific studies have shown improvement in the eyesight, circulation, angina, stroke and atherosclerosis. It is also used to improve varicose veins and has anti-aging effects on collagen structures. 

Brahmi

Brahmi has been used for more than 3000 years in traditional Indian medicine and is recognised the world over as a brain tonic, to promote intellect and comprehension, rejuvenate the brain and boost the memory. The Happy Herb Company’s founder, Ray Thorpe, describes it as a ‘miracle herb’: “I started using brahmi when I started my first Happy High Herb shop in Nimbin in 1996, and it allowed me not only take over the store successfully, but to learn all the accounting aspects of the business and to help several other stores with the running of their businesses. Brahmi helps compartmentalise information in the brain and provide clarity – and once you feel organised and on top of things, the stress just falls away as a wonderful side benefit.”

Brahmi is also extremely effective on blood circulation and for cleansing the blood – hence having positive effects on the function of the liver, lungs and kidneys. It has also been used to treat many other conditions, from bronchitis to arthritis, hair loss to threadworms, fevers to impotence.

Burdock

Burdock is one of the foremost detoxifying herbs in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. Burdock enhances the performance of many of the organs which purify the body and eliminate toxins or waste (like the kidneys, liver, colon, etc). This enhances overall health and helps correct disorders.

The dried root of one year old plants is the official herb, but the leaves and fruits can also be used. It is used to treat conditions caused by an ‘overload’ of toxins, such as throat and other infections, boils, rashes and other skin problems.

 

Historically, the seeds of the burdock plants were compressed to make a mixture that was effective in cleansing the bloodstream, easing pain from arthritis, and treating gout, rheumatism, ulcers, acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Its cancer-curing properties were also utilized in Russia and India.

The Chinese used it as an aphrodisiac, and found it effective in treating barrenness and impotence.

 

The root is thought to be particularly good at helping to eliminate heavy metals from the body. The plant is antibacterial, antifungal, carminative. It has soothing, mucilaginous properties and is said to be one of the most certain cures for many types of skin diseases, burns, bruises etc. It is used in the treatment of herpes, eczema, acne, impetigo, ringworm, boils, bites etc. The plant can be taken internally as an infusion, or used externally as a wash.

Burdock is easily obtainable as an ingredient in teas, ointments, or pills. It is a powerful diuretic, and is safe to be taken internally, externally, or as food. However, it is important to make sure that the herb is pure. Some reports have indicated that burdock could have toxic properties, since cases of illness were reported that involved burdock tea. However, further analysis showed that the negative effects were the result of impure burdock root. Some belladonna, which contains atropine, had contaminated the burdock root. It is important to look at the source and purity of burdock root before obtaining it. 

 Cacao 

Theobroma cacao also cacao tree and cocoa tree, (pronounced ka-kow)  are the seeds of an Amazonian fruiting tree and source of all chocolate and cocoa products. The pod contains 20 to 60 seeds, usually called “beans”, embedded in a white pulp. The seeds are the main ingredient of chocolate, while the pulp is used in some countries to prepare a refreshing juice.

Chocolate affects the brain by causing the release of certain neurotransmitters which can trigger emotions, one of which is euphoria. Did you know that chocolate and cacao are not the same? True, there is a clear distinction between commercial chocolate which has no health benefits and organic dark chocolate, ideally with no added sugar. Yet if you’re a chocolate lover, consider small amounts of raw cacao as a better option.

The Mexican Mayan kings drank up to 30 pure chocolate drinks a day to maintain their vigour and valued the bean so highly that it was used as money. Cacao is derived from Theobroma Cacao beans, which literally means “Food of the Gods”. Cacao contains over 300 compounds including: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Magnesium helps to build strong bones and is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness. Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps form strong nails and hair.

In addition, cacao also contains the chemicals phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide. PEA is an adrenal-related chemical that we create naturally when we’re excited. It also plays a role in feeling focused and alert because it causes your pulse rate to quicken, resulting in a similar feeling to when we are excited or fall in love! A key element found in cacao helps serotonin and other neurotransmitters to circulate longer in the brain. Monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors), a naturally occurring compound, help keep dopamine and anandamide available to the body.

PEA (Phenylethylamine) is also found in cacao beans. It may help lift depression. It is a member of group of plant-based stimulants called methylxanthines. (Caffeine is the most familiar methylxanthine.)

Is Cacao the best antioxidant on the market?

That all depends on what kind of cacao, where it is grown and how it has been treated. If it is certified as Organic Raw Cacao then it is an excellent source of antioxidants and if it is not then you are consuming a whole lot of chemicals from irradiation and spraying of chemicals which are standard practice in growing cacao beans.

Calea

 The smoking of Calea leaf is a viable alternative to cannabis, giving a dreamy effect. As a tea it may induce lucid dreaming, giving one a ‘trip’, but only while one is dreaming. The following day, some ‘dream trippers’ report feeling a wonderful sense of well-being and clarity of mind and senses. At least five grams of the herb is required to be really effective.

 

Catnip 

Potentiates herbs it is used with

Helps fevers and aches 

Mildly euphoric

 

Damiana

was used by the Aztecs for impotency and Mexican women were also known to use the fragrant leaves in a tea to stimulate love making. The Damiana plant is so important that it hasbeen classified in Mexico as a “national treasure” and now a prohibited export as a live plant.

Damiana affects the psyche, producing a mild emotional uplift that can last for up to one and a half hours. Some damiana before bed relaxes one for love-making and promotes pleasant dreams (quite possibly erotic within the first seven days)! Three-dimensional effects and colour appreciation may also heightened.

One teaspoon of Damiana herb in a pot of hot water makes quite a fragrant, pleasant-tasting tea that everyone will enjoy. The drinking of Damiana tea easily replaces alcohol for social occasions and many have reported that they desire less alcohol after drinking Damiana. All in all, used appropriately as a pleasant tea or as a smoking medium for an alternative high, Damiana is one of the most versatile, safe and effective herbs for general well being, health and enjoyment.

 

Gingko Bilabo

Ginkgo Biloba has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine, where the seed is most commonly used.

Its primary action is to increase blood circulation and have a tonic effect on the brain, reducing lethargy, improving memory and giving an improved sense of well-being. In saying this, there have been reports of Ginkgo greatly improving memory recall when being taken before exams, due to the increased blood flow in the brain.

Ginkgo Biloba also has a very powerful effect on the circulatory system so if you get cold hands, feet, and head, this is the herb for you.  It also assists the heart and helps prevent and treat strokes by preventing formation of blood clots.

Another useful effect of Gingko is that it can help cannabis smokers restore short-term memory by sending more oxygen to the brain.

Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the world and in an ideal world medical practitioners would recommend Ginkgo Biloba to all people over the age of 50 due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, allowing improved blood flow to the tissues and inhibiting the clumping of blood platelets which contribute to heart problems, strokes and artery conditions.

Ginkgo Biloba is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives and is one of the best-known examples of a living fossil. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by wind. The plant is not self-fertile. The leaves are best harvested in the late summer or early autumn just before they begin to change colour. They are dried for later use.

Gotu Kola 

Gotu kola has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years in India, China, and Indonesia. It was used to heal wounds, improve mental clarity, and treat skin conditions

Gotu kola is a mild adaptogen, is mildly antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcerogenic, anxiolytic, a cerebral tonic, a circulatory stimulant, a diuretic, nervine and vulnerary.

A legendary saying in reference to Gotu Kola is: ‘2 leaves a day keeps the doctor away‘ 

It has also been referred to as a ‘pharmacy in one herb’

It is one of the most important, rejuvinating herbs in Ayurvedic medicine particularly for: revitalising nerve and brain cells, promoting calmness and clarity, helping poor memory and lack of concentration, and to assist in balancing the left and right hemispeheres of the brain.

Gotu Kola is also renowned in helping alleviate the pain and symptoms assosciated with arthritis. Many success stories have been documented

It thrives in tropical and sub tropical climates. It is probably growing in your garden and you don’t even know it (But be sure you have the right one before eating it!)

You can have it dried but the best effects is if you eat it straight from the earth as the volatile oils can be lost during processing. I have 6 leaves daily.

Hops 

This close relative of cannabis is both a mellowing relaxant and a satisfying smoke. A great alleviator of nervous tension and indeed an all round nervine tonic, hops eases stress and tension. The flowers placed in a dream pillow will produce deep restful sleep, as well as relaxing the neck muscles!

Licorice Root

 This excellent herb supports the adrenals, reducing stress and exhaustion, and soothes digestive membranes in case of ulcers.

This is an ancient and revered adaptogen and aphrodisiac treasured by the Incans. Cultivated for  over 6,000 years, maca is known as a “superfood”, providing sustained physical energy. It is also famous because many claim it is nature’s answer to sexual impotence (nature’s Viagra). Maca is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, sterols, and alkaloids, which are essential to sustained energy and healthy bodies. Just 1-3 teaspoons a day is the recommended dose.

Maca is not a medicine. It is a food supplement that works as an adaptogen: it improves the ability of the body to adapt to stress. It supplements the specific needs of the body according to age and sex of the person taking maca. You could say that maca fills the empty shelves in our bodies.

Maca

Maca is no invention of modern science. It is a tuberous plant that grows high up in the Peruvian Andes. For thousands of years, the plant has been known for its healing and beneficial effects, but it is only in the past fifteen years that science has taken an interest in maca. Of course, scientific research has proven what the Indians of the Andes have known for thousands of years: it works!

Maca is a wonderful source of natural vital nutrients. The synergy of so many amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in their natural states may increase the assimilation, uptake, and utilization of them in the body. Consumers however, shouldn’t expect “miracle cures” with maca – its rather like taking a multi-vitamin supplement. Keep in mind that it is, in fact, a root vegetable and a main staple in the Andean indigenous diet (as beans, potatoes, and rice are elsewhere).

In Peruvian herbal medicine today, maca is reported to be used as an immunostimulant; for anemia, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, stomach cancer, sterility (and other reproductive and sexual disorders); and to enhance memory. Maca has been growing in world popularity over the last several years due to several large U.S. marketing campaigns touting its energizing, fertility enhancement, hormonal balancing, aphrodisiac, and, especially, enhanced sexual performance properties. Other (anecdotal) herbal medicine uses in the U.S. and abroad include increasing energy, stamina, and endurance in athletes, promoting mental clarity, treating male impotence, and helping with menstrual irregularities, female hormonal imbalances, menopause, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

It may well be that maca’s beneficial effects for sexual function and fertility can be explained simply by its high concentration of proteins and vital nutrients. Dried maca root contains about 10% protein – mostly derived from amino acids. Amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are required in the diet to drive many cellular functions in the body – including sexual and fertility functions. Amino acids are required to manufacture neurotransmitters such as dopamine and noradrenaline. These substances transmit signals in the nervous system and play a major role in the process of sexual arousal and physical performance during sex. The main amino acids that these neurotransmitters require include phenylalanine, tyrosine, and histidine (all three of which are found in good supply in maca).

Today, dried maca root is ground to powder and sold in capsules as a food supplement and marketed to increase stamina (sexual and athletic) and fertility. Consumers bombarded with these marketing claims of hormonal balancing, thyroid stimulation (and resulting weight loss), sexual and athletic performance, and others need note: the indigenous uses to which marketers refer are in dosages by the ounce and pound daily-not just a few grams.

Mugwort

Highly medicinal herb, good for soothing pain and enhancing dream vividness/recall, as well as being a great liver tonic and aid for menstrual problems

Mugwort was considered the ‘universal herb for protection and prophecy’ throughout the ancient world. Dedicated to Artemis and Diana, Mugwort was used for pain and healing, psychic powers and lucid dreaming. In ancient China and Japan, Mugwort was hung in open doorways to exorcise the spirits of disease. The ancient Europeans did the same to ward off evil spirits. These two separated cultures also believed that the supernatural powers of Mugwort were revealed by mermaids who came from the sea to present the herb for the good of humankind.   Also known as the ‘traveller’s herb for protection’, Roman soldiers placed Mugwort inside their sandals for endurance on long marches. One Roman general recorded that his men marched 10 miles further, as well as faster, when on Mugwort. Mugwort was once the staple ingredient in beer before Hops was introduced. It was also known as Sailor’s Tobacco, as it was used as an alternative when sailors ran out of tobacco at sea.   Mugwort tea was usually drunk before divination rituals and also burnt as a ‘transporting’ incense. Also known as the visionary herb, Mugwort is still used today for increasing psychic powers. Native Americans also burned Mugwort as a ‘smudge’ to purify the spiritual and physical environment. The herbal tea was, and is still used by women for late periods (and, as it relaxes the uterus, also for natural terminations without the trauma, pain or guilt – it was just a late period!). 

Mullein 

Great mullein is a commonly used domestic herbal remedy, valued for its efficacy in the treatment of pectoral complaints. It acts by reducing the formation of mucus and stimulating the coughing up of phlegm, and is a specific treatment for tracheitis and bronchitis.

The leaves and the flowers are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant and vulnerary. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of a wide range of chest complaints and also to treat diarrhoea. The Native American Indians smoked Mullein for sore throats and lung congestion.

An infusion of the flowers in olive oil is used as earache drops, or as a local application in the treatment of piles and other mucous membrane inflammations.

A decoction (a method of extraction by boiling) of the roots is said to alleviate toothache and also relieve cramps and convulsions as well as a poultice made from the seeds and leaves is used to draw out splinters.

A decoction of the seeds is used to soothe chilblains and chapped skin. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves to be used in the treatment of long-standing headaches.

An aromatic, slightly bitter tea can be made by infusing the dried leaves in boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes. A sweeter tea can be made by infusing the fresh or dried flowers.

Any preparation made from the leaves needs to be carefully strained in order to remove the small hairs which can be an irritant.

On top of all this, it has been proven to be beneficial for smokers’ lungs and can assist in weaning one off tobacco addiction. It has a calming effect on all inflamed and irritated nerves and this is why it works so well relieving coughs, cramps, and spasms

Olive Leaf

Olive leaf extract is incredible for fighting colds, flus and infections of all kinds. Due to the oleuropein in its leaves, the olive tree can resist attacks from all sorts of bacteria and parasites to live for over 100 years!

Passionflower

Contrary to its name, Passion Flower is a relaxant and nerve tonic which soothes the adrenal glands and also interacts with the nicotine receptors in the human brain, making it an excellent herb for assisting in combating nicotine cravings and withdrawal

 

Raspberry 

Highly recommended for the last trimester of pregnancy, raspberry leaf tea tones the uterus and eases discomfort associated with menstruation. It’s a rich source of many trace elements, micro-nutrients and vitamins. Raspberry leaf is also a lovely smooth addition to any smoking mix.

Rhodiola

 Rhodiola rosea is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance and eliminating fatigue.

Saint Mary’s Thistle

 

Saint Mary’s Thistle is one of the most effective liver herbs, aids in expelling liver toxins and boosts the production of new liver cells. It has also been used to treat depression, lower cholesterol, reduce the growth of certain types of cancer cells, and to increase breast milk production.

Slippery Elm

 

The inner bark of the slippery elm tree has been used as a herbal remedy for centuries. Native Americans traditionally used slippery elm in healing salves and poultices for wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, and skin inflammation.

Suma 

Suma, also known as Brazilian ginseng, is a South American root known by the Amazon Indians as ‘para todo’ – meaning ‘for everything’. Its uses over the last 300 years have ranged from aphrodisiac to calming agent, tonic and ulcer treatment.   While not related to panax ginseng in any way, it is called Brazilian ginseng due to its adaptogenic quality. Adaptogens are a diverse group of herbs that help the body adapt to a wide range of internal and external stress factors, including sickness, lack of sleep and overworking, while enhancing physical and mental performance, endurance and overall vitality.   Suma stimulates the immune response and can assist healing and recovery from chronic illness, including cancer and diabetes. Suma is a healthier way to stimulate, providing energy without taxing the adrenal glands.

Preparation: Use 3-6 grams simmered for 10 minutes, or add to smoothies, 1-3 x daily

 

Valerian Root

The root, once processed and dehydrated, is used as a medicinal herb with sedative, anxiolytic, and anti-insomnia effects in both tea and capsule form.

White Willow

 

Mother Nature’s aspirin, but with less side-effects! Good against pain, fever, and inflammation.

Yarrow

 Best herb for violent injury first aid – stops bleeding when applied to the wound. Also great for fevers, colds, and digestive complaints.

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