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The Way of The Witch | Herbal healing guide & remedies

Herbal Healing

Quick Links: Herbal Reference Guide

   The practice of using plants to heal our bodies is as ancient as life itself. Throughout the ages human beings and animals alike have learned to harness the healing powers of the vegetative world. The Universe, being in such perfect order, has surely given us all that we need to be in a balanced state of health at all times. We only need to discover the gifts that lie hidden from us in plain sight!

  Through my years of herbal study, I have discovered that much of what our bodies need for optimal health and wellness can be found growing all around us, often in our own back yards. As so many amazing advancements have been made in the practice of western medicine, it has been easy to forget the wisdom of the crones, sages, shamans and wise-women of our past, and the simplicity of bringing our bodies into balance naturally. I believe that there is nothing more empowering than knowing we are capable of maintaining a positive state of health and effectively healing any issues that may arise. By gaining a basic understanding of the resources available to us, we take control of our own health and wellbeing by empowering ourselves with knowledge.

  Throughout the past 15 years I have had the privilege of helping many people discover how to use herbal medicine and be efficient in healing quickly when issues arise. This can often be attained by gaining just a basic understanding of herbal medicine. I have seen lives change as people have learned to use herbs  to enhance their healing process with issues ranging from acne to cancer, and have been fortunate to watch their transformations as they discover their ability to take greater control of their own lives.  I firmly believe that this is possible for everyone, not just a fortunate few.

   Whether you are suffering from illness, or simply looking to gain information to enhance your health, I invite you to navigate the following herbal reference chart. This chart contains basic information on easy to find herbs, their medicinal properties, and common uses.*  It is by no means a complete guide, but a beginning reference tool for those who are interested in learning to harness the healing powers of the plant world.

 

 
Herbal Reference Chart

Common name:
Aloe Vera
Latin name: Aloe Vera
Common uses:
Burns and sunburn, stretch marks, warts, wounds
Parts used: Leaves
Preparations: Juice, gel, tincture
Considerations: Do not use the bitter yellow juice from the base of the leaves on the skin. Do not take internally while pregnant or breast feeding. Do not use if suffering from hemorrhoids or kidney disease.

Common name:
Artichoke
Latin name: Cynara scolymus
Common uses:
Protects liver against toxins and infection, helps gallbladder problems, nausea, indigestion and abdominal distension. Lowers blood cholesterol levels, lowers blood sugar
Parts used: Flower heads, leaves, root
Preparations: Decoction, tincture, juice, powder, infusion
Considerations:---

Common name:
Ashwaganda
Latin name: Withania somnifera
Common uses:
Alzheimers, arthritis, anemia, autoimmune disorders, diminished sex drive, cancer, carpal tunnel syndrome, stress reduction, male fertility, rejuvenative tonic
Parts used: Leaves, root
Preparations: Capsules, decoction, infusion, powder
Considerations: Do not eat ashwaganda berries. Avoid this herb while taking tranquilizers or prescription medications for anxiety, insomnia or seizure disorders

Common name:
Astragalus, milk vetch, huang qi
Latin name: Astragalus membranaceus
Common uses:
Angina, atherosclerosis, bladder infections, colds, congestive heart failure, diabetes, cancer, energy tonic, heart attack, HIV/AIDS, infertility, immune stimulant, lupus, myasthenia gravis, rheumatoid arthritis
Parts used: Root
Preparations: Decoction, tincture, capsule, powder
Considerations: Do not take while suffering from skin disorders or while taking prescription blood thinning medications like Warfarin or beta-blockers such as Lopressor. Use with caution during immune-suppressive therapy or while suffering from an auto-immune disease


Common name:
Bilberry
Latin name: Vaccinium myrtillus
Common uses:
Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, peptic ulcer, prostatitis, eye disorders, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, capillary fragility
Parts used: Fruits, leaves
Preparations: Tablets, decoction, tincture, dried fruit, infusion
Considerations: Do not take during pregnancy or use for more than 3 weeks at a time. Do not use if you are suffering from a bleeding disorder or are taking anti-coagulants such as Warfarin. People with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar while taking this herb

Common name:
Butcher's broom
Latin name: Ruscus aculeatus
Common uses:  
Hemorrhoids, varicose veins, vertigo, circulation issues
Parts used: Aerial parts, rhizome
Preparations: Powder, tincture, decoction, infusion
Considerations:  Do not take if suffering from high blood pressure

Common name:
Calendula, pot marigold
Latin name: Calendula officinalis
Common uses:
Acne and boils, allergies, athlete's foot, bites and stings, bowel disease, breast tenderness, diaper rash, digestive infections, skin rash, varicose veins, wounds and bruises
Parts used: Flowers
Preparations: Infused oil, cream, ointment, tincture, infusion,
Considerations: Use calendula internally for no more than two weeks at a time with a six week break between courses

Common name:
Catnip
Latin name: Nepeta cataria
Common uses:  
Sedative, settles stomach, reduces fever. Helps treat colds and flu, indigestion and colic. Treats headache related to digestive problems. Used as an ointment to treat hemorrhoids
Parts used: Aerial parts
Preparations: Ointment, tincture, infusion
Considerations: ---

Common name:
Cayenne, chili
Latin name: Capsicum frutescens
Common uses:
Poor circulation, gas and colic, combating infection, sore throat
Parts used: Fruit
Preparations: Powder, capsule, tablets, tincture, ointment
Considerations: Follow dosing instructions carefully.  Do not take seeds on their own. Do not take if suffering from peptic ulcers or acid indigestion. Do not take medicinal doses while pregnant or breast feeding

Common name:
Cinnamon
Latin name: Cinnamomum verum
Common uses:
Colds, weak digestion, encouraging menstruation
Parts used: Inner bark
Preparations: Powder, tincture, essential oil, infusion, decoction
Considerations: Cinnamon can be toxic if taken in excess. Do not take this essential oil internally except under professional supervision. Do not take medicinally during pregnancy

Common name:
Clove
Latin name: Eugenia carophyllata
Common uses:
Acne, fever, fungal infections, neuralgia, toothache
Parts used: Flower buds
Preparations: Infusion, tincture, essential oil,
Considerations: External use may cause dermatitis. Do not take this essential oil internally except under professional supervision

Common name:
Comfrey, knitbone
Latin name: Symphytum officinale
Common uses:
Acne and boils, fractures, fungal infections, wound healing, skin rashes, stiff and aching joints
Parts used: Aerial parts, root
Preparations: Chopped leaves, cream, infused oil, ointment, salve
Considerations: Do not use on dirty wounds since rapid healing may trap dirt or pus inside. Do not take internally except under professional supervision

Common name:
Crampbark, guelder rose
Latin name: Viburnum opulus
Common uses:
Arthritis, back pain, breathing difficulties, cramps, menstrual pain, muscle relaxant, poor circulation in hands and feet, spastic constipation, stomach spasm
Parts used: Bark
Preparations: Decoction, lotion, tincture
Considerations: ---

Common name:
Cumin
Latin name: Cuminum cyminum
Common uses:
Relieves flatulence and bloating, stimulates digestion, reduces abdominal gas and distension, improves breast milk production. Helps insomnia, colds, fevers and scorpion stings (when mixed with onion juice)
Parts used: Seeds
Preparations: Powder, capsule, infusion, tincture
Considerations: ---

Common name:
Dandelion
Latin name: Taraxacum officinale
Common uses:
Acne and boils, constipation, detoxification for hangover, fluid retention, gallbladder problems
Parts used: Leaves, root
Preparations: Decoction, infusion, juice, tablets, tincture, salad
Considerations: Do not use this herb while taking antibiotics or if suffering from gallstones, stomach ulcers or biliary tract obstructions. Use with caution while taking diuretic drugs, insulin or medications that reduce blood-sugar levels

Common name:
Echinacea
Latin name: Echinacea angustifolia & E. Purpurea
Common uses:
Acne and boils, allergic rhinitis, bites and stings, canker sores, cold sores, coughs and bronchitis, earache, flu, sore throat, tonsillitis, asthma, urinary and fungal infections
Parts used: Flower and root
Preparations: Tincture, tablets, capsules, decoction, infusion
Considerations: Extremely heating, use with caution during fever

Common name:
Elder
Latin name: Sambucus nigra
Common uses:
Allergic rhinitis including hay fever, candidiasis, earache due to congestion, flu
Parts used: Flowers, berries
Preparations: Cream, infusion, tincture
Considerations: ---

Common name:
Evening primrose
Latin name: Oenothera biennis
Common uses:
Asthma, eczema, digestive problems, bloating, lowering blood pressure, whooping cough, sedative. May be useful for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, intermittent claudication and other problems relating to circulation
Parts used: Leaves, stem, bark, flowers, seed, oil
Preparations: Seed oil, tincture
Considerations: Do not take evening primrose oil if suffering from epilepsy  

Common name:
Eyebright
Latin name: Euphrasia
Common uses:
Allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, prevention of nosebleeds
Parts used: Aerial parts
Preparations: Decoction, tincture, infusion
Considerations: Although eyebright counters liquid congestion, it should be used guardedly when dry, stuffy congestion is present

Common name:
Fennel
Latin name: Foeniculum vulgare
Common uses:
Relieves bloating, settles stomach pain, stimulates appetite, and reduces abdominal distension. Treats kidney stones, sore throats, sore eyes and conjunctivitis. Soothes colic and teething, increases breast-milk production
Parts used: Seeds, essential oil
Preparations: Infusion, syrup, essential oil
Considerations: In large amounts, fennel seeds are potentially toxic. Follow recommended dosage guidelines when taking therapeutically. Do not take this essential oil internally

Common name:
Fennugreek
Latin name: Trigonella foenum-graecum
Common uses:
Encouraging weight gain especially in anorexia. Lowering fever, treating gastritis and gastric ulcers, inducing labor and increasing breast milk production. Thought to be anti-diabetic and to lower cholesterol levels. Externally used for abscesses, boils, ulcers and burns. Used as a douche for excessive vaginal discharge. Seeds also freshen breath and help restore a dulled sense of taste. Used in china to treat cervical cancer
Parts used: Seeds
Preparations: Decoction, tincture
Considerations: Do not take during pregnancy

Common name:
Feverfew
Latin name: Tanacetum parthenium
Common uses:
Arthritis, fevers, headaches and migraines
Parts used: Aerial parts
Preparations: Fresh leaves, capsules, tablets, tincture, infusion
Considerations: Eating fresh leaves may cause canker sores in some individuals. Do not take feverfew if you are taking blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin. Do not take during pregnancy

Common name:
Garlic
Latin name: Allium sativum
Common uses:
Acne, athlete's foot, colds  and flu, cold sores, coughs and bronchitis, digestive infections, earache, fungal infections, high blood pressure, tonsillitis, urinary infections
Parts used: Cloves
Preparations: Chopped cloves, capsules, tablets
Considerations: This is a heating herb; do not take with high fevers. People with very low blood pressure should use caution while taking garlic.

Common name:
German chamomile
Latin name: Chamomilla recutita
Common uses:
Bites and stings, colic, congestion, eczema, indigestion, insomnia, asthma, morning and motion sickness, stomachache
Parts used: Flowers
Preparations: Cream, essential oil, ointment, infusion, tincture,
Considerations: The fresh plant may cause dermatitis. Do not take this essential oil internally except under professional supervision. Do not use the oil during pregnancy  

Common name:
Ginger
Latin name: Zingiber officinale
Common uses:
Arteriosclerosis, colds, cold sores, colic, constipation, fever, flu, gas, high blood pressure, morning sickness, motion sickness and nausea
Parts used: Rhizome
Preparations: Capsules, essential oil, decoction, tincture
Considerations: Do not take ginger in medicinal doses if suffering from peptic ulcers. Do not take this essential oil internally except under professional supervision

Common name:
Grape
Latin name: Vitis vinifera
Common uses:
Leaves (especially red) are astringent and anti-inflammatory. Used to treat diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding, and uterine hemorrhage. Used as a wash for canker sores and a douche for vaginal discharge. Red leaves and grapes are useful in the treatment or varicose veins, hemorrhoids and capillary fragility. Sap from branches used as an eye wash. Grapes support the gastrointestinal tract and liver
Parts used: Leaves, fruit, sap
Preparations: Decoction, infusion, tincture, wine, wine vinegar
Considerations: Do not use preparations involving wine if you have liver disease

Common name:
Hawthorn
Latin name: Crataegus oxyacantha & C. monogyna
Common uses:
Heart tonic, blood pressure, enhancing memory
Parts used: Flowers, berries
Preparations: Tincture, decoction, tablets, infusion
Considerations: Children and pregnant women should use only under professional supervision

Common name:
Lavender
Latin name: Lavandula officinalis
Common uses:
Back pain, cites and sings, burns and sunburn, earache, headaches and migraine, insomnia, neuralgia, stiff and aching joints
Parts used: Flowers
Preparations: Tincture, essential oil, infusion, massage oil,
Considerations: Do not take this essential oil internally except under professional supervision

Common name:
Lemon balm
Latin name: Mellissa officinalis
Common uses:
Anxiety, depression, tension,  cold sores, chicken pox and shingles, flu, nausea due to emotional problems, stomachache
Parts used: Aerial parts
Preparations: Essential oil, tincture, infusion, lotion, juice, ointment
Considerations: Do not take this essential oil internally except under professional supervision

Common name:
Mullein
Latin name: Verbascum thapsus
Common uses:
Coughs, congestion, tracheitis and bronchitis. Reduces mucus formation and stimulates coughing up phlegm. Used externally as a wound healer. Infused oil is used for ear infections and hemorrhoids
Parts used:  Leaves, flowers
Preparations: Powder, tincture, infused oil, infusion
Considerations: Do not take if you are pregnant or nursing. Avoid mullein seeds as they are toxic

Common name:
Myrrh
Latin name: Commiphora molmol
Common uses:
Acne and boils, canker sores, gum problems, sore throats
Parts used: Gum resin
Preparations: Tincture, essential oil, powder, capsules, mouthwash.
Considerations: Do not use during pregnancy. Do not take this essential oil internally

Common name:
Nasturtium
Latin name: Tropaeolum majus
Common uses:
Antibiotic, leaves increase resistance to bacterial infection and clear nasal and bronchial passages. Leaves and flowers are high in vitamin C, seeds have purgative properties
Parts used: Flowers, leaves, seeds
Preparations: Tincture, salad, infusion
Considerations: ---

Common name:
Neem
Latin name: Azadirachta indica
Common uses:
Eczema, gum disease, hemorrhoids, lice, malaria, ulcers, intestinal worms, wound healing
Parts used: Bark, leaves, twigs, seeds, sap
Preparations: Infusion, infused oil, ointment, decoction
Considerations: Not to be taken internally by children, the elderly or the debilitated

Common name:
Nettle, stinging nettle
Latin name: Urtica dioca
Common uses:  
Allergic rhinitis including hay fever, anemia, asthma, bites and stings, diaper rash, diminished sex drive, hives, improved breast milk production, lupus, nosebleeds, prostate problems
Parts used: Aerial parts, root
Preparations: Capsules, decoction, infusion, ointment, soup
Considerations: Use this herb only in cooked form. Do not take while suffering from the flu, kidney disease or congestive heart failure.  Use with caution while taking prescription medications

Common name:
Pau d'arco, Lapacho
Latin name: Tabebuia
Common uses:
Fever, infections, inflammation, diabetes, parasitic infection, beneficial for certain types of cancer
Parts used: Inner bark
Preparations: Decoction, ointment, tincture
Considerations: Make sure to use the whole bark when using this herb and not just the isolated constituent lapachol. Do not use while pregnant or nursing

Common name:
Quaking aspen
Latin name: Populus tremuloids
Common uses:
Pain relief, arthritic and rheumatic headaches. Lowers fever, relieves diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infection
Parts used: Bark
Preparations: Decoction, tincture
Considerations: Do not take quaking aspen if allergic to aspirin

Common name:
Raspberry
Latin name: Rubus idaeus
Common uses:
Conjunctivitis, mouth-wash, ulcers, wound healing, treats excessive vaginal discharge and diarrhea. Use of leaves encourages easy labor by strengthening the uterus
Parts used: Leaves, fruit
Preparations: Tincture, powder, infusion
Consideration: Do not take medicinally during the early stages of pregnancy

Common name:
Red Clover
Latin name: Trifolium pratense
Common uses:
Treating skin conditions and menopausal complaints. Blood purifier and builder
Parts used: Flower heads
Preparations: Powder, tincture, infusion
Considerations: Use sparingly when trying to conceive as studies have shown the herb to have a contraceptive effect in sheep

Common name:
Rosemary
Latin name: Rosmarinus officinals
Common uses:
Migraines, premenstrual tension, sore throats, tired and aching muscles
Parts used: Leaves
Preparations: Tincture, essential oil, infusion
Considerations: Do not take this essential oil internally except under professional supervision

Common name:
Sage
Latin name: Salvia officianalis
Common uses:
Bites and stings, cancer sores, diarrhea, hot flashes and night sweats, sore throats
Parts used: Leaves
Preparations: Tincture, infusions, salves
Considerations: Do not take therapeutic doses during pregnancy or if epileptic

Common name:
Saw palmetto
Latin Name: Sabal serrulata
Common uses:
Impotence and premature ejaculation, HIV/AIDS, hormonal disorders, prostate infection and cancer
Parts used: Berries
Preparations: Tincture, infusion
Considerations: Do not take if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Do not use this herb while on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy

Common name:
Slippery elm
Latin name: Ulmus rubra
Common uses:
Acidity and indigestion, acne and boils, constipation in children, hemorrhoids
Parts used: Inner bark
Preparations: Capsules, poultice, powder, tablets, decoction
Considerations: Take slippery elm at least one-half hour before or after taking other medications as it may interfere with absorbency

Common name:
St. Johns wort
Latin name: Hypericum perforatum
Common uses:
Anxiety, depression, tension, back pain, bites and stings, cold sores, chickenpox and shingles, neuralgia, stiff and aching joints and muscles
Parts used: Flowers
Preparations: Cream, infused oil, infusion, tincture
Considerations: May cause sensitivity to sunlight

Common name:
Tea tree
Latin name: Melaleuca alternifolia
Common uses:  
Acne and boils, athlete's foot, dandruff, vaginal infections
Parts used: Leaves
Preparations: Cream, infusion, essential oil, suppositories
Considerations: Do not take this essential oil internally except under professional supervision

Common name:
Thyme, garden thyme
Latin name: Thymus vulgaris
Common uses:
Asthma, back pain, bites and stings, bronchitis, colds, congestion, coughs, earache, fungal infections, tired and aching muscles
Parts used: Aerial parts
Preparations: Essential oil, infusion, syrup, tincture
Considerations: Do not take this essential oil internally. Do not use essential oil externally during pregnancy

Common name:
Valerian
Latin name: Valeriana officinalis
Common uses:
Chronic anxiety, high blood pressure caused by stress and anxiety, insomnia, nervous exhaustion, premenstrual tension, sleeplessness due to tension
Parts used: Root and rhizome
Preparations: Decoction, tablets, tincture, powder
Considerations: May cause drowsiness. Do not take valerian if you are using other sleep-inducing medication

Common name:
White willow
Latin name: Salix alba
Common uses:
Arthritis and joint inflammation, back pain due to joint inflammation, hot flashes and night sweats
Parts used: Bark
Preparations: Tincture, decoction, tablets
Considerations: Avoid if allergic to aspirin

Common name:
Winter savory
Latin name: Satureja montana
Common uses:
Settles gas, helps alleviate flatulence, colic, chest infection and bronchitis. Essential oil is strongly antibacterial and may treat candidiasis and other fungal conditions
Parts used: Flowering tops, essential oil
Preparations: Tincture, essential oil, infusion
Considerations: Do not take this essential oil internally without professional supervision. Do not take during pregnancy

Common name:
Witch hazel
Latin name: Hamamelis virginiana
Common uses:
Bruises, wound cleansing, eczema, hemorrhoids, varicose veins
Parts used: Leaves and bark
Preparations: Tincture, ointment, infusion, distilled witch hazel, decoction
Considerations: Take internally only under professional supervision

Common name:
Yarrow
Latin name: Achillea millefolium
Common uses:
Wound cleansing, fever reduction, colds and flu, varicose veins, digestive infections
Parts used: Aerial parts
Preparations: Tincture, essential oil, infusion,
Considerations: In rare cases allergies may occur. Use this essential oil under professional supervision. Do not take during pregnancy

Common name:
Yellow dock, curled dock
Latin name: Rumex crispus
Common uses:
Acne, boils, constipation, eczema
Parts used: Root
Preparations: Decoction, tincture
Considerations: Do not take during pregnancy or while breast-feeding


*This information is not intended to take the place of your regular health care provider. Rather, it is presented to help empower and assist you with knowledge, and provide you with tools to help facilitate your healing process. First and foremost, remember that you are the best source of information when it comes to knowing what your body needs. Learning to listen to and trust your inner guidance is always the first step in remembering how to heal on every level of your being.

**Some information on this chart was partially adapted from the encyclopedia of medicinal plants.

 
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