• Materia Medica: Spiral Ginger

    Insulin plant (Costus pictus) is the subject of numerous studies from the National Institute of Health for its effects on – you guessed it – hyperglycemia and diabetes. It has a history of use in India and other countries, as well as a lot of modern trials confirming its medicinal use to balance blood sugar. Please note, there are at least two other species of Costus used in similar but distinct ways, and all may be referred to as Insulin Plant. Be sure you are working with the precise species you are intending to! Cross reference for safety.

  • Materia Medica: Loquat

    Loquat Fruit Tree Eriobotrya japonica Also know as Chinese Plum, this cold hardy fruit tree is widely grown as a garden ornamental and commercial fruit and herbal medicine. Generous annual fruit production, plus many valuable Traditional Chinese Medicine remedies using the fruit and leaves for the throat and respiratory system. Thrives in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil.

  • Materia Medica: Arrowroot

    Maranta arundinaceae, commonly known as Arrowroot, is a beautiful herbal ally to grow here in sunny Central Florida. It loves our tropical weather and thrives in humid environments. The rhizomes of this plant have been used across the world as a thickening agent in foods and medicines as well as a carrier powder for pigments in makeups. The common name, Arrowroot, comes from the long history of the rhizomes being used as an antidotal poultice for poison arrows in the jungles of South America! This nourishing herb can be really helpful with upset stomachs, sunburns, and even wounds. Margaret Grieve of A Modern Herbal has a great materia medica on…

  • Materia Medica: Elder

    Plants that bring forth pollinators, grow in abundance, and provide food and medicine, are our favorite additions to a garden. One in particular comes to mind and that is Sambucus nigra, commonly known as Elderberry. This small (6-10ft) running tree is quite the eye catcher when it is in full bloom, with its bursts of white flowers and bunches of black berries that makes the branches hang heavy.   The flowers and berries are known to aid in easing the common cold and fevers and an oil infused with the leaves can be amazing in a salve for wounds and bruises. The medicine of this plant is extensive and abounding.…

  • Materia Medica: Aloe

    Summertime and the livin’ is easy, that is until you get an awful sunburn from the scorching Florida sun! One of our favorite herbs to help ease the sting of a sunburn is Aloe vera. Not only does Aloe grow really well here but it will multiply for years to come. This plant is special because has adapted to a variety of climates and terrains. It can grow almost anywhere! (It sure does love Florida though.)   This amazing mucilaginous plant calms down any sort of heat in the body. But isn’t just for burns; the glorious goo of this plant can condition hair, ease bug bites, and soothe upset…

  • Materia Medica: Anamu

    Anamu Petiveria alliacea is an herbaceous perennial that grows up to 1m in height. Indigenous to the Amazon rainforest and tropical areas of Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. Anamu, aka Guinea Hen Weed, has a long history in herbal medicine in all of the tropical countries where it grows. Anamu grows in full sun to share, and prefers well drained soil. It is a cold-hardy tropical, that has colonized as far north at Hawthorn and Alachua, Florida. Medicinally speaking, Anamu is used for treating infectious pathogens and respiratory congestion. It’s spicy leaves have also be used in small quantities for flavoring. Anamu is commonly used for spiritual…

  • Materia Medica: Yarrow

    Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a well-known plant ally throughout the United States and Europe. Yarrow is a flowering perennial, common in North America but also native to Europe and Asia. Its leaves are soft and highly segmented with a characteristic appearance that is almost feather-like. Yarrow grows stalks during the summer months, with a height that is dependent upon the seasonal rainfall. During dry years, these stalks may only grow a foot or two, preserving energy in its roots. Clusters of tiny white flowers grow atop the stalks, emitting a distinctive and characteristic aroma. Yarrow received its Latin name Achillea from the legendary Greek hero Achilles. According to the common…

  • Materia Medica: Vetiver

    Vetiver grass is used both as a hedge against erosion in permaculture colonies, and also a medicinal herb! It forms narrow, dense hedges when planted along the contours of sloping land, slowing down run-off and helping the water soak into the soil rather than washing off the slope. The stiff foliage also blocks the passage of soil and debris which gradually builds up a soil terrace. It’s roots yield an aromatic and medicinal essential oil, it sequesters excess atmospheric carbon, and Vetiver mulch is mycorrhizal-rich. Check out this amazing article about how Vetiver is used around the world to restore the land. Here is an entire podcast devoted to the…

  • Materia Medica: Camphor Basil or Kilimanjaro Basil

    Camphor basil or Kilimanjaro Basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum) is a heat-hardy, perennial basil. It has a rich flavor and aroma, and attracts pollinators. Unlike many annual basils, this plant will grow incredibly tall and fast. It is an anti-inflammatory herb that can be used in food or prepared as tea. Kilimanjaro Basil grows long flowers spikes with small white to pale pink flowers and oval, pubescent leaves with a strong camphor fragrance. The leaves of Ocimum kilimandscharicum are acrid, thermogenic, aromatic, anti-bacterial, insecticidal, antiviral, appetizing, ophthalmic and deodorant. The plant loves rich, well drained soil in an always sunny spot.

  • Materia Medica: Black Cohosh

    In this week’s blog post we take a visit to Rosemary Gladstar’s Sage Mountain Herbal Center in Vermont from Summer 2015 and visit one of our northern plant allies, Black Cohosh (Cimcifuga racemosa)   More info on Black Cohosh can be found at this Materia Medica monograph from David Hoffmann.   How have you used Black Cohosh? Let us know in the comments below.