Easy Herbal Oils, Salves, and Syrups

Soothe injuries and boost your immune system with these simple, plant-based recipes.

herbal-infusionsInfused Herbal Oils

Herbal oils are convenient and easy to use. These are made by extracting ground-up herbs with organic olive oil. You can apply this herb-laden oil directly to your skin, where it will exert its healing influence through absorption, or you can use the oil as a base for making a salve or lip balm. Infused oils aren’t the same as essential oils, which are composed of concentrated, steam-distilled volatile oils of a plant. Infused herbal oils may be made from dried arnica flowers, bergamot leaves and flowers, calendula flowers, cayenne peppers, cannabis leaves and flowers, chickweed leaves and flowers, comfrey leaves, ginger roots, helichrysum flowers, mullein leaves, turmeric roots, and virtually any herb containing essential oils {such as rosemary, thyme, and lavender}. All will extract well in warm oil.

Fresh garlic cloves, cottonwood buds, elderberry leaves, horse chestnut buds, mullein flowers, and especially flowering Saint John’s wort also extract very nicely in warm olive oil.

st-johns-wort-oil

To make Saint John’s wort oil, grind fresh Saint John’s wort flowers and leaves into a mash and add 1 part of this fresh herb mash to 3 parts olive oil. Stir thoroughly, and then pour the mass into a gallon jar, capped with cheesecloth held in place with a rubber band. {The cheesecloth will allow excess moisture to escape.} Set the jar in the sun for 2 weeks, stirring daily. The oil will eventually take on the ruby-red color of its active constituent, hypericin. After 2 weeks, squeeze the contents through 4 layers of cheesecloth into a clean bowl, pour the oil into a clean gallon jar, and allow it to settle overnight. Then, excluding the watery sludge, pour the bright-red oil into clean containers for storage, and use as needed.

To make an infused oil of dried herbs, first, grind the herbs to a medium-fine consistency. In a crockpot, stainless steel pan, or gallon jar, combine 1 part herbs with 5 parts organic olive oil {for 1 ounce of herb, use 5 ounces of oil}. Or, simply put the dried herbs into the vessel and add sufficient olive oil to make a thick mash that you can just stir with a spoon. Stir daily to encourage extraction, and keep the oil very warm {110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit}. Some folks set the macerating oil close to a woodstove or in the sun to stay warm. In any case, never heat the oil directly on a stovetop-temperatures in excess of 150 degrees will denature the oil. After 1 week, pour the warm mass through 4 layers of cheesecloth draped over a bowl. Lift the corners, gather them together, and squeeze and squeeze, allowing the clear oil to flow into the bowl. Alternatively, you can use a tincture press, which is certainly more efficient. Collect the infused oil in a jar and allow it to settle overnight. Then, being careful to exclude the sludge that will have formed on the bottom of the jar, pour off the clear oil into amber glass jars for storage. Store in a cool, dark place. The shelf life of infused herbal oils is 1 year.

salvemaking-4754

Salves and Balms

Homemade salves and lip balms call for beeswax and oil, which mix only if heated to 150 degrees. You won’t need to use a thermometer; simply pour an infused oil into a heat-resistant glass beaker, set it into a saucepan half-filled with water, and bring the water bath to a gentle simmer on the stovetop.

To make a soft salve, use 0.6 ounces of wax for every cup of oil. Grate the beeswax with a cheese grater, mix the grated wax into the oil, and gently heat the mixture until the beeswax melts, stirring constantly with a chopstick or wooden spoon. After the wax incorporates perfectly into the oil, immediately remove it from the heat and pour the liquid salve into suitable containers. It will harden as it cools.

Lip balm is made in the same way, except you’ll need to increase the concentration of beeswax to 2 ounces of wax for every 1 cup of oil. This will make a harder product that won’t melt in your pocket or purse, but will still protect and heal chapped lips. You can use the infused oil of calendula flowers or chickweed to make a very pleasant lip balm. For additional flavor, per 1 cup of lip balm, stir in 1 drop of mint essential oil, 3 drops of vanilla extract, or both.

 

lip-balm-tin-beeswaxTo make lip balm, first make herbal oil by combining equal parts dried chickweed leaves or flowers and dried calendula flowers {follow my earlier instructions for making infused herbal oils}. Combine 1 cup of this oil with 2 ounces of beeswax. Stirring constantly, gently heat the oil/beeswax mixture in a hot water bath until the beeswax melts. Pour the liquid lip balm into small, flat salve containers or empty lip balm dispensers-this recipe will yield eleven 1-ounce tins. As it cools, it will harden.

While some balms are suited to everyday use, occasionally you’ll need a stronger salve for soothing specific ailments.

Trauma Oil is traditionally made by combining the infused oils of 3 powerful herbs: calendula, arnica, and Saint John’s wort. You can make the oils separately and then combine them in equal parts to make the trauma oil. Heat the oil and mix with beeswax to make trauma salve, and then store the mixture in a flat tin. To use, rub the salve as needed into an afflicted area. I’ve seen this remedy used as-is to reduce inflammation and pain in a swollen finger, a twisted ankle, and an inflamed tendon.

Healing Syrups and Teas

Herbal syrups are the most universally accepted ways to ingest herbs. I find them to be particularly well-suited for children, who may disagree with the strange and bitter tastes of many herbs but actually look forward to their daily spoonful of syrup. Syrups may be administered by the loving hand of a parent who has the foresight to fortify their child against common colds and flu.

 

elderberry-syrupBlack elderberry syrup packs a powerful immune-enhancing punch. To reconstitute dried berries, simply cover them with boiling water in a jar overnight and allow them to plump up. To make syrup from reconstituted dried berries or from fresh berries, place the berries in a saucepan with a little water and set on low heat. Stirring frequently, cook until the berries are thoroughly softened, and then remove from the heat and allow them to cool enough to be handled. Press out the juice in a tincture press or through a large sieve, thereby excluding the skins and seeds. Return the clear purple juice to the saucepan and set on low heat, stirring frequently. Reduce to 1/4 the original volume, producing a very thick product. This will take about 1 hour. Measure the liquid, and then add an equal volume of vegetable glycerin or honey. Pour into 4-ounce amber dropper bottles or small jars. A child’s dose is 1 teaspoon up to 3 times per day. An adult dose is 1 tablespoon up to 3 times per day.

A decoction is a concentrated herbal tea, often used to extract the essence of roots, barks, and seeds that don’t readily relinquish their properties in a simple tea.

Strong decoctions are double-strength and may easily be made into herbal syrup. Combine 1 part strong decoction with 2 parts vegetable glycerin or honey. Stir until thoroughly incorporated, and then store in 4-ounce amber dropper bottles or small jars. The shelf life of syrups made in this manner is about 6 months and may be extended by refrigerating the syrup. If mold appears on the surface, discard.

To make, use 2 handfuls {about 2 ounces} of sliced or coarsely ground herbs in 4 cups of water. Combine in a stainless steel saucepan, cover, and leave overnight to soak. In the morning, stir the contents with a wooden spoon and heat on a low burner, simmering for 15 minutes. Then, strain out the root pieces and return the liquid to the stovetop. Stirring frequently, reduce the volume by half.

allergy-teaMany kinds of roots, barks, and seeds can be made into strong decoctions and then combined with honey or glycerin to produce herbal syrups or cough syrup. Astragalus roots, cascara sagrada bark, elecampane roots, hawthorn berries, motherwort herb, turkey rhubarb roots, self-heal flowers, spikenard roots, yellow dock roots, violet flowers, licorice roots, and fennel seeds all make good herbal syrups.

Creative Organic Green ~ Detox For Your Home

Summer is the time of year that we start eating lighter and detoxing. It’s time for summer cleaning of body, mind, and home! While there is a lot of focus on what we eat, often not enough attention is paid to how we clean our homes… Making sure that all of your household cleaning products are naturally-derived is extremely important – especially if you have children. The products we use every day may give off toxins that we then breathe in or absorb through our skin. They may also pollute the air in our environment. Studies have shown that environmental toxicity is a contributor to many conditions such as autoimmune disease, heart disease and even cancer(1). The chemicals found in many common household cleaners are carcinogens which mean that they can cause cancer. Bleach and ammonia are highly toxic and, when mixed together, they are a lethal combination(2).  Other chemicals which are hormone and endocrine disruptors are glycol ethers and phthalates (3) so it’s important to be able to identify every ingredient on a label that you are using in your home. If you can’t identify it, don’t use it. With just a few simple ingredients, including some wonderfully fragrant essential oils, you can disinfect and clean, as well as rid your home of bacteria, mold, viruses, unpleasant odors, and dust mites.

As a caution, when you buy essential oils you should beware of anything that says “fragrance added.” If it does not say “100% (pure) essential oils” then the ingredient is synthetic. Most of the fragrance used in household cleaning products and deodorizers are synthetic. There is nothing natural about them and they are harmful to your health. Essential oils are great for the home since they are non-toxic and they possess many therapeutic properties that will benefit you for a clean healthy home. They are antiseptic, disinfectant, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal – and of course, they smell great.

These are some recipes I created to get you through all your spring cleaning. I use sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) in all three recipes so you don’t have to go out and buy too many essential oils; however, I am also giving you a list of essential oils you can substitute.The citrus oils are all antiseptic, disinfectant, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal so you can replace orange oil with lemon (Citrus limon), grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) or lime (Citrus aurantifolia) essential oil.

It’s also fun to experiment and mix scents that you like. It might even make you enjoy cleaning!

General All-purpose Cleaner

Lemon (Citrus limon)

Lemon is one of the most popular citrus fruits in the world. It is extracted from the rind of the fruit. It is antiseptic, a disinfectant, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, making it a great all-purpose household cleaner. It was even used during World War I as a disinfectant in hospitals. Lemon essential oil is calming but it is also refreshing to the mind, as it helps lift negative emotions. It is believed that inhaling lemon essential oil helps to increase concentration and alertness; therefore, it can be a great room freshener in offices.

 

Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

Orange Sweet is a citrus essential oil that is extracted from the rind of the orange. It is antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-microbial. It is also very uplifting for your mood, making it a good scent to have in any home. Sweet orange essential oil is an excellent degreaser and cleaner due to an ingredient called, d-Limonene. A study conducted by The University of Arkansas and Colorado State University found that Valencia orange (Citrus sinensis var. valencia) essential oil inhibited E. Coli and Salmonella during the refrigeration process of beef(3). It also inhibited Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is a deadly staph infection(4).

 

Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita)

Peppermint essential oil is extracted from the leaves of a herb. It is a hybrid of spearmint (Mentha spicata) and water mint (Mentha aquatica). It is antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic. Bugs tend not to like it, so it is a good choice to add to an all-purpose aromatherapy blend around the house.

 

White Distilled Vinegar

White Distilled Vinegar is one of the best cleaning ingredients for the home since it is a natural disinfectant. It can help to kill mold, bacteria, and viruses. In addition, it is very inexpensive.

 

Directions for Use:

You will need a sixteen-ounce size spray bottle.

 

Essential Oils:

20 drops Lemon (Citrus limon)

30 drops Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

15 drops Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita)

White Distilled Vinegar*

Distilled Water*

*Fill the remaining bottle with a 50/50 combination of white vinegar and distilled water.  I prefer distilled water but if you don’t have distilled water, use filtered water. Once you have all of the ingredients in the bottle, shake it prior to every use because the essential oils and water will separate. If you want to change the scent, from time to time you can substitute with lime, grapefruit, eucalyptus (Eucaplyptusspp.), clove bud (Syzygium aromaticum) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).

You can use this blend as a general cleaner for your kitchen, especially for the counter tops, refrigerator, cabinets and even wood surfaces.

Window Cleaner

I like using an eight-ounce size bottle since it’s smaller and easier to handle and it will fit in any cabinet. If you want to make a sixteen-ounce bottle, just double up the recipe.

 

Essential Oils:

3 drops Lemon (Citrus limon)

3 drops Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita)

White Distilled Vinegar*

Distilled Water*

*Fill the remaining bottle with a 50/50 combination of white vinegar and distilled water. I prefer distilled water but if you don’t have distilled water, you can use filtered water. Once you have all of the ingredients in the bottle, shake it prior to every use because the essential oils and water will separate. If you want to change the scent from time to time, you can substitute lemon with lime, grapefruit or orange.

Bath and Sink Scrub

Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)

Clove essential oil is extracted from the buds of the clove plant. It is antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, antiseptic and antiviral, making it a great choice for cleaning tubs and sinks.

 

Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

See above description under General All-purpose Cleaner

 

Pure Liquid Castile Soap

Make sure that your soap is pure Castile. I use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap because for over 150 years it has been a family-run business and the quality of the product is never comprised for profit. The soap is pure and organic, with no dyes, whiteners or synthetic fragrances. The bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic so you are doing something good for the environment. They are available in different scents such as orange, sweet almond (Prunis Dulcis), eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint and lemon, and the soap blends perfectly with essential oils. You should have this product in your home as it has so many uses and can replace many products. I also use it as a hand and body wash, and shampoo – and you can even wash floors and clothes with it.

 

Baking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate)

Baking soda is right up there with vinegar as a cleaning superstar! It is non-toxic, absorbs odor, and it is great for sinks and tubs due to its abrasive texture. It has many uses in the home – from brushing your teeth to shining silver. I never use toxic oven cleaners. Instead, I mix baking soda and water to get rid of spills in my oven. You can rub it on with a soft cloth or leave some on the spills overnight and then wash it the next day.

Use a twelve-ounce glass jar with an airtight clamp lid or a screw top.

 

Essential Oils:

5 drops Clove bud (Syzygium aromaticum)

5 drops Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

½ cup Pure Liquid Castile Soap*

½ cup Baking Soda*

*I mix equal parts of baking soda and castile soap to make a paste. If you want to make a bigger batch just double-up the recipe. Add the baking soda and castile soap to the jar, then add the essential oils. Once you have all of the ingredients in the jar, mix it together with a spoon or spatula. You can apply a small amount to a cloth or sponge to clean.

As the seasons change, or you just want to try a different aroma, you can use ten drops of any of the following essential oils, or just mix two essential oils together. They all have antiseptic, disinfectant, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.

 

• Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

• Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus globulus)

• Rosemary ct. cineole (Rosmarinus officinalis)

• Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita)

• Lemon (Citrus limon)

• Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

 

Wood Cleaner

Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

See above description under General All-purpose Cleaner

Olive Oil (Olea europaea)

Olive oil moisturizes dry wood and gives it a shine.

White Distilled Vinegar

See above description under General All-purpose Cleaner

You will need a two-ounce flip top bottle.

 

Essential Oil:

15 drops Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

½ ounce of White Distilled Vinegar

Olive Oil (Olea europaea)*

*Fill the remaining bottle with olive oil. Once you have all of the ingredients in the bottle, shake it prior to every use. Put about a tablespoon on a soft cloth and wipe down the wood. Apply more as needed.

Pruning, Fertilization, Problems, July Plants

PRUNING

Pruning should be done to maintain plant health (remove dead, damaged or diseased portions, cross branching, etc.), to highlight the “natural” shape of the plant, to train a young plant, and to eliminate hazards. Excessive or heavy pruning causes significant stress to trees and shrubs.

The best practices are to prune the least amount necessary and prune for legitimate reasons. How much to prune depends on the size, species, age, as well as your intentions.

Two good principles to remember–a tree or shrub can recover from several small pruning wounds faster than from a single large wound and never remove more than 25% of the canopy in a year. For more information register for a Garden class on pruning that will teach you the proper pruning techniques for trees and shrubs or visit http://www.treesaregood.org for information on proper pruning of young and mature trees.

Lightly prune native and desert-adapted trees to avoid breakage during the summer thunderstorms in July and August if needed. Do not prune excessively as this will expose the tree trunk to the blazing sun causing it to sunburn.

Pruning newly planted trees is not recommended and in fact, can be detrimental. However, at planting time prune broken or torn and diseased branches. Save other pruning actions for the second or third year. For more information on developing a healthy tree visit www.treesaregood.org.

Prune your cacti if necessary to maintain size, for propagation or to remove a damaged or diseased stem; prune at joint or segment. Use a sharp, clean pruning tool and spray tool periodically with a 70% alcohol solution to prevent infection.

If the pruned stem is to be used for propagation, allow the cutting to dry out for a week before planting.

Continue to prune old flowering stalks from Hesperaloes (Hesperaloe spp.), Agaves (Agave spp.), Yuccas (Yucca spp), and Aloes (Aloe spp.).

To encourage continued flowering, deadhead herbaceous perennials such as Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata), Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata), Texas Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), Red Sage (Salvia coccinea), Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis), Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea), and Tickseeds (Coreopsis spp.).

FERTILIZATION

Most native and desert-adapted plants in the landscape do not generally require fertilizer as they are adapted to our soil conditions.  In most cases, fertilizers are generally applied to prevent deficiencies.  If fertilizers are needed, one application for the year is usually sufficient. The best time to fertilize landscape plants are in March, April or the early part of May.

We do not recommend fertilizing your desert-adapted landscape plants during the summer months.  Fertilizing will cause excessive, luxuriant growth that requires more water and new growth is too tender to take the excessive heat and sun exposure.  Wait until next spring to fertilize, if needed.

Periodic fertilizing may be needed for plants in containers as nutrients in the soil will have diminished over time.  Always follow directions on the label.

Continue to fertilize your warm-season annuals and herbaceous and woody perennials in containers if necessary.

Cacti and warm-season succulents in containers should be fertilized at least once during the month depending on the type of fertilizer used.  If using a slow-release granular fertilizer for your cacti and succulents in containers, fertilize in late March and again in July or early August.

Do not fertilize any winter-growing succulents such as Succulent Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), Iceplants (Malephora spp., Drosanthemum spp.,Cephalophyllum spp.), Living Stones (Lithops spp.) and crassulaceous plants (Kalanchoe, Cotyledon, Echeveria, Dudleya) as they are summer dormant.

Continue to water and fertilize your Karoo Roses (Adenium spp.) to promote bloom through the warm season.

Continue to fertilize your vegetable and herb garden as needed.

PROBLEMS

Mosquitoes are now commonplace throughout the Valley particularly after rain events. Be sure to empty any containers, buckets, bowls, etc. that might catch rainwater as the larvae require water in which to mature.

Ants and termites are swarming and if you see the mud tunnels of termites crawling up your plant stems, just wash them off. They are not harming the plants.

Defoliation of many landscape plants can occur with the appearance of a high infestation of grasshoppers. Population size varies year to year and they are a difficult insect to control in the garden. When population numbers are low, hand-pick and remove. If infestation is high, use a protective cloth or floating row cover to protect your plants. Allow natural predators such as birds, lizards and spiders to help keep the population under control.

Whiteflies are small, sucking insects that are often found on many ornamental and vegetable plants. Plants infested with whiteflies show symptoms of sticky, yellowing leaves and when the plant is disturbed the small insects will fly generating a white “blur”.  There are many species of whiteflies and they are abundant at different times of the year.  Whiteflies are difficult to manage and insecticides are not recommended as it can disrupt and destroy their natural enemies. If you choose to use an insecticide, use an insecticidal soap or oil to help control populations.

Large, green caterpillars may be appearing on tomatoes, eggplant and even the Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii). They can either be the tobacco or tomato hornworm feeding on the leaves, flowers and stems. After three to four weeks of feeding, the larva will burrow into the soil to pupate.  In about two months, the large adult moth will appear and are often mistakenly identified as hummingbirds.

These moths are important pollinators for many nighttime flowering plants including the Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii), Fragrant Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa), and the Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii). No method to control is necessary. If infestation is high, hand-pick caterpillars off your plants or allow naturally occurring parasites to help control the population.

A white, cottony mass may appear on ornamental and edible plants and is sometimes confused with cochineal scale because they too produce a waxy, white cottony substance but it is most likely mealy bugs. Both insects feed on plant juices, however, cochineal scale feed exclusively on cacti such as Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.), Nopalea spp. and Chollas (Cylindropuntia spp.).

Mealy bugs are often difficult to control and systemic insecticides may be used, but are not always effective. However, usually dipping a cotton swab with a 50-50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water solution and then wiping on these insects can help manage the population. Mealy bugs are also a common problem for many cacti and succulents grown indoors or in greenhouses and are often found either on the stems or roots.

Take the infested plant(s) outdoors during the summertime as this seems to help get rid of these pests. It takes constant vigilance to keep them under control.

The male cicadas’ mating calls are a cacophony of sound that permeates the desert air and often heralds to the gardener that summer has arrived. The Apache cicada is common to low-desert regions and the adult has a mostly black body with a pale band behind its head. The nymphs spend almost their entire life underground feeding on the roots of many desert trees, shrubs and other ornamentals.

As the nymph becomes an adult, it will then surface from the soil and undergoes one last shedding of its exoskeleton. The adult cicada will feed on the plant sap of many trees or shrubs. After mating, females will make small “hatch” marks on the slender tips of trees or shrubs to lay their eggs. This physical damage can cause the tips to “die” back, but is not detrimental to the plant and is often thought of as “natural pruning”.

There is no need to control cicadas as they are part of the desert ecology. Allow natural predators to control the population as many birds and lizards find the cicada nymph and adult to be a tasty treat.

If it has been a dry season, rabbits may be nibbling on plants that they may not have eaten before. Most mature plants can handle rabbit sampling, but newly planted plants should be protected until they have attained a larger size.  Protect plants with a wire cage or spray Liquid Fence TM to help deter these animals. Allow mesquite pods to fall and remain on the ground for rabbits to eat as they are a vital food resource for many desert animals. It might even help distract them from eating your most prized plants.

Cochineal scale, the cottony, white substance on your Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.) and Chollas (Cylindropunita spp.) may be active now. Remove by using a fast stream of water or spray insecticidal soap.

Adult ocotillo borers are now active in search of stressed or recently planted ocotillos in which to lay their eggs. The eggs are laid in the bark and the larvae or grubs excavate into the stems causing a hasty decline of the plant. Look for signs of borers by watering the ocotillo during the warm season. If the stems do not leaf out, examine for grubs and remove any infected stems by pruning back to base of the plant.

The large, black-brown beetle bumbling onto your porch during the sweltering summer nights is the Palo Verde Beetle. It has just emerged from its subterranean home looking for a mate.  For the past two to four years it has lived underground as a grub or larva feeding on the roots of many native and non-native plants, not just Palo Verde trees as the common name suggests.

When the grubs become adults they will ascend and can be seen in late June, July, August and September particularly after rainfall.  Once the female adults mate, they lay their eggs and die soon after making their life span about one month. Using pesticides is not recommended as the beetle is already gone by the time you notice any damage.

To prevent root borers keep your plants healthy as possible as they will be less vulnerable to an attack.  There are many natural predators of the adult beetle including roadrunners, coyotes, owls and even bobcats. Grubs are eaten by skunks.

 

What to Plant in July

We recommend most plants be planted in the fall or spring.  However, if you must plant during the summer months watering may need to be more frequent and you must be diligent about observing your newly planted plants for signs of water stress.

Many cacti and warm-season succulents can still be planted in the summer. When transplanting cacti and succulents, mark either the south or west side and plant facing the orientation you marked to avoid the burning of tender tissues. Most nurseries will mark the side of the container to help you determine proper planting orientation.

However, if the original orientation is not known, newly planted cacti and succulents need to be covered with shade cloth if the plant surface appears to yellow or pale suddenly. Use a shade cloth rated between 30-60% as anything higher will block most of the sunlight and will not be suitable for your cacti and succulents. You may need to keep the shade cloth on the plant for the duration of the summer to prevent sunburn.

 

PLANT CACTI AND WARM-SEASON SUCCULENTS INCLUDING:
• Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.)
• Barrel cacti (Ferocactus spp.)
• Hedgehogs (Echinocereus spp.)
• Easter Lilies (Echinopsis spp.)
• Pincushions (Mammillaria spp.)
• Chollas (Cylindropuntia spp.)
• Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)
• Senita (Pachycereus schottii)
• Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi)
• Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marginatus)
• Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii)
• Old Man of the Andes (Oreocereus celsianus)
• Agaves (Agave spp.)
• Aloes (Aloe spp.)
• Red-yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
• Giant Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera)
• Burseras, Elephant Trees (Bursera spp.)
• Pencil Tree (Euphorbia tirucalli)
• Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica)
• Carrion Flowers (Stapelia spp.)
• Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
• Madagascar-palm (Pachypodium lamerei)
• Elephant Food (Portulacaria afra)
• Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Desert-adapted trees can be planted during the summer months if you follow the guidelines in the Watering Section above. When planting native and desert-adapted plants, it is usually unnecessary to back-fill with soil amendments and vitamins or to add rooting hormones. Remember to remove nursery stakes from trees after planting.
TREES TO BE PLANTED INCLUDE:
• Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
• Mesquites (Prosopis spp.)
• Palo Verdes (Parkinsonia spp.)
• Texas-olive (Cordia boissieri)
• Anacacho Orchid-tree (Bauhinia lunarioides)
• Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)
• Palo Blanco (Mariosousa willardiana syn. Acacia willardiana)
• Golden Leadball Tree (Leucaena retusa)
• Ironwood Tree (Olneya tesota)
• Catclaw Acacia (Senegalia greggii syn. Acacia greggii)
• Palo Brasil (Haematoxylon brasiletto)
• Mexican Ebony (Havardia mexicana)
• Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia orthocarpa)
• Desert Fern (Lysiloma watsonii)
Shrubs should be planted in fall or spring.

Herbaceous perennials and groundcovers should be planted in fall or spring. However, many warm-season vines can be planted during the summer months. Water immediately after planting and monitor the moisture for the next few days to keep the root ball from drying out. Water newly planted native and desert-adapted vines twice to three times weekly to a depth of at least a foot. Gradually extend the time between watering and monitor plants regularly for signs of water stress.

VINES TO BE PLANTED INCLUDE:
• Yellow Orchid-vine (Callaeum macropterum)
• Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus)
• Arizona Grape-ivy (Cissus trifoliata)
• Old Man’s Beard (Clematis drummondii)
• Purple Bushbean (Macroptilium atropurpureum)
• Yellow Morning Glory-vine, Yuca (Merremia aurea)
• Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.)
• Slender Janusia (Janusia gracilis)
• Arizona Canyon Grape (Vitis arizonica)
Planting of cacti seed can continue. Seed can be soaked overnight in water to help begin the germination process.  Place seed in a well-draining soil mix (½ quality potting soil and ½ perlite or pumice) and lightly cover. Keep soil moist until germination occurs.
VEGETABLE SEEDS TO SOW INCLUDE:
• Armenian cucumbers
• pinto beans
• black-eyed peas
• tepary beans
• snap beans
• muskmelons
• cantaloupes
• pumpkins
• winter squash
• sweet corn
Pepper and tomato seed may be planted indoors and transplanted in August or September for a fall harvest.

Wait until fall or spring to plant most herbs.

Watering In July

Proper irrigation to your plants during the summer months is crucial. As the temperatures rise, plant watering needs will also increase. However, adjust your watering schedule if your garden receives a deep, substantial rain event.

Observe plants regularly for signs of water stress. Some signs to look for include:  wilting, curling leaves, yellowing or falling of older leaves, and dead stems or branches. Some plants with larger leaves like Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) and Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus) will often wilt during the hottest part of the day, but by next morning they usually recover. However, if they do not recover by the following morning, it is a good indication they need to be watered.

The amount of water and watering frequency depends on many factors. These include:  soil type, weather (temperature, humidity, rainfall, etc.), microclimates, cultural practices, plant size and species, and whether newly planted or established in the landscape (two years or more).

Below are general guidelines to help you determine how much and how often to water your landscape and container plantings to keep them healthy when rainfall is lacking. Native and desert-adapted plants that were newly planted and those that are not established in the landscape need to be watered until they become established in the landscape and can then survive with natural rainfall.

Even established plantings will need an occasional supplemental watering during long periods of drought to keep them healthy and stress-free.

Established native or desert-adapted trees should be watered at least once a month if no rainfall. If the temperature is over 108 degrees, water your native or desert-adapted trees at least twice during the month. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle. Water at least 3 feet deep for your trees.

Established native or desert-adapted shrubs should be watered every two to three weeks. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle. Water at least 2 feet deep for your shrubs.

Natural rainfall may be adequate for most well-established cacti and succulents. However, if rainfall is insufficient, water may be needed at least once for cactus and twice for succulents during the month of July. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle. Water your cacti and succulents to a depth of at least 8-12 inches.

With increased humidity and higher temperatures, careful watering of non-native succulents during this time is a must.

Established native or desert-adapted herbaceous perennials, groundcovers and vines should be watered every 2 weeks and at least to a depth of 1 foot. Always allow soil to dry out between each irrigation cycle.

During the summer native and desert-adapted trees can be planted. See What to Plant section for more details. After planting your trees, they should be watered immediately and the moisture monitored for the next few days to keep the root ball from drying out. Newly planted native and desert-adapted trees may need to be watered more frequently until established. It can take up to 3-5 years for trees to become established in the landscape.

Recently planted native or desert-adapted trees should be watered once a week if temperatures are over 100 degrees. If temperatures are over 108 degrees water every 2-3 days. Unestablished trees that have been in the ground for 2 to 5 years water every 10 days.

Shrubs should be watered once a week if temperatures are over 100 degrees during their first year in the ground; over 108 degrees water every other day. Water your shrubs during the second year every 10 days if temperatures are over 100 degrees; every 3 days if over 108 degrees. Water your shrubs to a depth of at least 2 feet. It can take up to two years for your shrubs to become established in the landscape.

During the summer cacti and other warm-season succulents can continue to be planted. See What to Plant section for more details. When planting cacti and succulents, it is imperative to wait a week before watering to minimize the chance of rot. After the initial irrigation of your succulents, allow the soil to dry out and water every 10-14 days. Cacti need to be watered once more after initial watering, but allow the soil to dry out between watering. Cacti and succulents can take about a year to become established in the landscape.

Unestablished native or desert-adapted herbaceous perennials, groundcovers and vines should be watered once to twice weekly if temperatures are over 100 degrees; if over 108 degrees water every other day and water to a depth of at least 1 foot.  Herbaceous perennials, groundcovers and vines usually take about a year to become established in the landscape.

Herbs may need to be watered twice weekly and vegetables may need to be watered every 2-3 days. For most vegetables it is important to keep the soil moist around the root zone during its growing season. Don’t allow the soil to dry up too much as this can affect the growth of the plant and quality of the fruit. Provide shade and apply mulch to your herbs and vegetables if needed.

Agaves and other succulents (Aloe spp., Madagascar Palm [Pachypodium lamerei], Ponytail Palm [Beaucarnea recurvata], Slipper Plant [Pedilanthus macrocarpus], Euphorbia spp., Haworthia spp.) in large containers should be watered at least once to twice this month. Cacti in containers should be watered at least once this month. However, cacti and succulents in smaller containers may need to be watered more often especially cacti and succulent seedlings.

Many winter-growing succulents including Succulent Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), Iceplants (Malephora spp., Drosanthemum spp.,Cephalophyllum spp.), Living Stones (Lithops spp.) and crassulaceous plants (Kalanchoe spp., Cotyledon spp., Echeveria spp, Dudleya spp.) have become inactive. These summer-dormant succulents need to be watered less during the summer months. Water carefully and allow the soil to dry out between watering.

Keep an eye on your warm-season annuals and herbaceous perennials in containers. Water them at least two to three times weekly particularly if they are planted in smaller containers.

JULY IN THE LOW DESERT

If we are fortunate the arrival of summer rains will materialize this month, bringing much relief to plants and animals. However, you may notice many non-native succulent plants are succumbing to high nighttime temperatures. When the night temperatures stay at 90º F or above and the humidity is high, most succulent plants can’t breathe. After several nights in a row, chances are many of them will rot. Other than careful watering, there is nothing that can be done.

Native summer annuals can be planted from seed such as Arizona Poppy (Kallstroemia grandiflora), Chinchweed (Pectis papposa) and Devil’s Claw (Proboscidea parviflora). These annuals can be difficult to germinate, but soaking the seed overnight in water may help initiate the germination process.

The fruits of many desert plants are continuing to ripen such as Prickly-pears (Opuntia spp.), Organ Pipes (Stenocereus thurberi), Ironwood (Olneya tesota), Palo Verdes (Parkinsonia spp.), Mesquites (Prosopis spp.) and many others. You may notice tiny holes on the outside surface of the Mesquite and Palo Verde fruits. These holes are caused by bruchid beetles that are predators that feed on the fruits and seeds.

With increased winds and storms, check your tree staking and readjust if necessary. Remember staking is a temporary solution to allow the tree to establish its root system. Tree staking should be done only when necessary and stakes should be removed after one or two growing seasons.

With proper plant selection, you can provide your garden with color as there are many native and desert-adapted plants that will continue to flower through the summer and into the fall.

BLOOMING HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS, GROUND-COVERS, BULBS, AND VINES CAN INCLUDE:
• Rain lilies (Zephyranthes spp.)
• Mexican Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)
• Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)
• Desert Rosemallow (Hibiscus coulteri)
• Arizona Rosemallow (Hibiscus biseptus)
• Dyssodia (Thymophylla pentachaeta)
• Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)
• Katie Ruellia (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’)
• Desert Senna (Senna covesii)
• Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii)
• Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)
• Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)
• Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi)
• Desert Zinnia (Zinnia acerosa)
• Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)
• Blue Mist (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Dark Knight’)
• Desert Foldwing (Dicliptera resupinata)
• Butterfly Mist (Ageratum corymbosum)
• Bloodflower (Asclepias curassavica)
• Marvel of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa)
• Red Sage (Salvia coccinea)
• Pink Sage (Salvia coccinea ‘Brenthurst’)
• Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera)
• Desert Four O’Clock (Mirabilis multiflora)
• Mist Flower (Conoclinium dissectum)
• Desert Plumbago (Plumbago scandens)
• Wine Cups (Callirhoe involucrata)
• Baja Bush Snapdragon (Galvezia juncea)
• Yellow Dots (Sphagneticola trilobata)
• White Woolly Twintip (Stemodia durantifolia)
• Rock Penstemon (Penstemon baccharifolius)
• Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
• Rough Menodora (Menodora scabra)
• Showy Menodora (Menodora longiflora)
• Texas Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella)
• Hummingbird Trumpet (Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium)
• Rock Verbena (Glandularia pulchella)
• Arizona Blue-eyes (Evolvulus arizonicus)
BLOOMING VINES CAN INCLUDE:
• Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus)
• Yellow Orchid-vine (Callaeum macropterum)
• Yellow Morning Glory-vine, Yuca (Merremia aurea)
• Lavender Trumpet Vine (Clytostoma callistegioides)
• Wait a Minute Vine (Merremia dissecta)
• Pringle’s Clustervine (Jacquemontia pringlei)
• Passionflowers (Passiflora spp.)
• Arizona Grape Ivy (Cissus trifoliata)
• Slender Janusia (Janusia gracilis)
• Purple Bushbean (Macroptilium atropurpureum)
BLOOMING SHRUBS CAN INCLUDE:
• Mexican Oregano (Poliomintha maderensis)
• Tree Ocotillo (Fouquieria macdougalii)
• Little-leaf Cordia (Cordia parvifolia)
• Woolly Butterfly Bush (Buddleja marrubiifolia)
• Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
• Blue Emu Bush (Eremophila hygrophana)
• Mexican-honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)
• Flame Anisacanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)
• Lantana (Lantana camara)
• Desert Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis)
• Velvet-pod Mimosa (Mimosa dysocarpa)
• Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
• Prairie Acacia (Acaciella angustissima syn. Acacia angustissima)
• Yellow Bells (Tecoma spp.)
• Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)
• Heavenly Cloud Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum x ‘Heavenly Cloud’)
• Guayacán (Guaiacum coulteri)
• Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)
• Rio Bravo Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’™)
• Cimarron Texas Ranger (Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’®)
• Silver Nightshade (Solanum hindsianum)
• Bee Brush (Aloysia gratissima)
• Mexican-oregano (Lippia graveolens)
• Velvet-leaf Senna (Senna lindheimeriana)
• Desert Cotton (Gossypium thurberi)
• San Marcos Hibiscus (Gossypium harknessii)
• Chihuahuan Honeysuckle (Anisacanthus puberulus)
• Coral Fountain (Russelia equisetiformis)
• Sky Flower (Duranta erecta)
• Indigo Bush (Dalea bicolor var. argyrea)
• Skeletonleaf Goldeneye (Viguiera stenoloba)
• Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)
BLOOMING TREES CAN INCLUDE:
• Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
• Texas-olive (Cordia boissieri)
• Golden Leadball Tree (Leucaena retusa)
• Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis ebano)
• Chanar (Geoffroea decorticans)
• Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens)
BLOOMING CACTI AND SUCCULENTS CAN INCLUDE:
• Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii)
• Chain Fruit Cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida)
• Coville’s Barrel (Ferocactus emoryi)
• Compass Barrel (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
• Fishhook Barrel (Ferocactus wislizeni)
• Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi)
• Diamond Cholla (Cylindropuntia ramosissima)
• Midnight Lady (Harrisia pomanensis)
• Rose Cactus (Pereskia aculeata)
• Guyapa (Pereskia sacharosa)
• Easter Lilies (Echinopsis spp.)
• Red Torch (Echinopsis huascha)
• Slipper Plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
• Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
• Giant Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera)
• Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla)
• Woolly Aloe (Aloe tomentosa)

Chamomile

  • German Chamomile – Matricaria chamomilla
  • Roman Chamomile – Anthemis nobilis

The chamomile herb is another well known plant, used in making effective herbal remedies for the treatment of a variety of illnesses. The herb has a great relaxant action on the nervous system and the digestive system. The herbal remedies made from this plant are considered to be a perfect remedy for the treatment of disorders affecting babies and children. The main action of the chamomile is that it brings about relaxation in all the smooth muscles throughout the body of an individual. The herb acts on the digestive tract and rapidly brings relief from any muscular tension and spasms, it alleviates disorders such as colic, and it can reduce the amount of abdominal pain, and remedy excess production of wind and abdominal distension in patients.

The other major affect of the herb lies in its ability to regulate peristalsis along the esophagus, resulting in the treatment of both diarrhea and persistent constipation in a patient. The chamomile is well known for its ability to soothe all types of problems related to the digestive system, particularly when these are specifically related to persistent stress and tension affecting the person. The flow of bile is stimulated by the bitters, at the same time, the chamomile also affects the secretion of digestive juices in the body, as a result it enhances the general appetite and this leads to an improvement in the sluggish digestion of the patient. When used internally and as a topical medication, the volatile oil is known to prevent ulceration’s and is also observed to be capable of speeding up the healing process in areas of the skin affected by ulcers, this ability makes chamomile an excellent remedy for the treatment of gastritis, and in the treatment of peptic ulcers along with varicose ulcers affecting the legs of the patient.

The potent antiseptic action of the chamomile is also very valuable, the herb is very active against all infections arising from bacteria, and it can be used in the treatment of various illnesses, including common thrush – caused by the Candida albicans. Herbal chamomile tea is also another way to use the herb, and this tea helps in lowering the temperature of the body during a persistent fever and furthermore, the herbal tea is also effective against colds, flu, common sore throats, persistent coughs, and against all kinds of digestive infections such as the common gastroenteritis which affects a lot of patients annually. Inflammation in the bladder and cases of cystitis are soothed easily by the antiseptic oils in the chamomile – leading to effective and rapid relief from the condition.

Herbal remedies made from the chamomile also helps in relieving persistent nausea and sickness felt by a women during the term of her pregnancy, the herbal remedy can also help bring relaxation from uterine spasms and aids in relieving painful periods, it also helps in reducing painful menopausal symptoms, the remedy can also be used to bring relief from mastitis, it is effective against premenstrual headaches and migraines. In addition, the remedy is also used in the treatment of absent flows during menstrual period – if the condition is due to the presence of stress felt by the women. The pain felt during the contractions of labor can be relieved by drinking herbal chamomile tea; the tea can also be drunk throughout the process of childbirth to help relax the tension in the muscles. The herbal remedies made from the chamomile also function as an effective general pain reliever, thus the chamomile can be taken to treat persistent and painful headaches, it can be used in the treatment of migraines, it can be used to treat neuralgia, and it can also be used to relieve a toothache, an earache, or the achiness which occurs during flu, it is effective against muscular cramps, it can be used to treat rheumatic and gout pains in the body. Inflammation in arthritic joints can also be effectively relieved by consuming herbal remedies made from the chamomile.

The property of the chamomile in the role of a natural anti-histamine has also been observed during recent researches conducted the chamomile herb – thus there is a possibility that the herb can be used in this role. Herbal remedies made from the chamomile are also used in the treatment of asthma and to treat hay fever and the herb is used externally as a topical remedy against skin disorders such as eczema. As an antiseptic remedy, the chamomile has been used topically in the treatment of all kinds of wounds, it has been used in the treatment of different types of ulcers, it can be used to treat sores, and to treat burns as well as scalded skin.

Chamomile in the form of steam inhalations can effectively aid in bringing relief from asthma, it can ward off hay fever, and it can also alleviate catarrh and sinusitis in patients. Topical chamomile cream has also been used to treat sore nipples and this cream is also used as a vaginal douche for the treatment of all kinds of vaginal infections in women. Soothing relief from cystitis and hemorrhoids can be had by sitting on a bowl of chamomile herbal tea. The anti-septic actions of the chamomile herb is also excellent in the role of an antiseptic eyewash to treat sore and inflamed eyes and it can also be used as a lotion for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions including eczema and common fungal infections such as ringworm.

Chamomile herbal remedies must be considered by anyone who has ever suffered from an occasional migraine headache and this remedy is also effective in treating hyperactive children, the famous French herbalist, Maurice Messegue, had great success with herbal remedies made from the chamomile in treating such ailments. In one example, a man affected by debilitating migraine attacks was cured after just 14 days of intensive treatment using herbal remedies made from the chamomile herb – such is the power of this plant. Herbal teas made from the chamomile can be very relaxing to the body, preparation of such teas involve relatively simple steps, just steep about 2 tablespoons of some fresh or dried chamomile flowers in a pint of water, boil the water for about 40 minutes. After removing the pot, cool down the broth and strain the liquid, it can then be sweetened using some pure maple syrup and this herbal tea can be drunk in doses of 1-2 cups at a time on a regular basis for long term treatment of headaches.

The chamomile has also been frequently praised for its properties by many European herbalists, who have often raved about its big cosmetic benefits – especially when used as a topical herbal application. A healthier and softer glow can be detected for example, when the face is washed several times every week, with the herbal tea made from the chamomile. At the same time, this tea also has other uses, it is considered to be a wonderful hair conditioner and has great benefits, and particularly when treating blond hair, the herbal tea makes hair more manageable and induces a shinier surface on the hair. This herbal tea can be prepared by bringing one pint of water to a boil, once the boiled water has been removed from the heat, immediately add 2 tsp. of dried chamomile flowers.

Now cover the pot and let the herbal essences steep into the water for about 45 minutes. After this infusion process, the water can be strained and the resulting tea can be used while still lukewarm or when fully cooled down.

chamomile_tea

All external conditions of the body, including inflammation in the skin can be treated using the chamomile as an herbal compress or in the form of an herbal wash; the herbal oil can also be rubbed into affected areas of the body to treat muscular stiffness and to alleviate temporary cases of paralysis in the limbs. Prepare a consumable herbal tea from the chamomile – which can also be used as a wash – by bringing about 1-2 pints of water to a boil, to this boiling water add 2 heaped teaspoons of dried or fresh chamomile flowers. The pot containing the water must then be removing from the heat at once and the herb can then be allowed to steep into the water for about 20 minutes or so-it can then be cooled and strained to get the tea. This herbal tea made from the chamomile can be drunk one cup at a time about 2-3 times every day and the tea can also be used as a herbal wash to treat inflamed areas of the skin, by applying it on the affected area several times per day. Paralysis and stiffness in the limbs can also be treated using a chamomile massage oil, this oil can be topical used to treat all aches such as lower backaches, prepare this herbal oil solution by filling a small bottle with some fresh chamomile flowers and pour some olive oil until it completely covers the flowers inside the bottle. Once the oil and the flowers are sealed into the bottle, place a tight lid over the mouth of the bottle and place the bottle under direct sunlight for two weeks at a stretch, during this time, the herbal essences from the flowers will seep into the olive oil and the remedy is ready, it can then be stored in the refrigerator and used as a topical healing oil whenever necessary. Any oil that is going to be externally applied on the skin must always be warmed before it is massaged into the affected areas of the skin. To gain immediate and incredible relief, and to help you soothe your tired or irritated eyes, soak some chamomile tea bags in some ice water for a little while, this solution can then be used as an application on the eyelids for rapid relief from the tiredness and irritation. The particular topical eyewash is an especially good idea during allergy season when eyes are typically affected because of irritants such as pollen in the air.

chamomile herbA chemical compound known as azulene is one of the chief chemical components in all species of chamomiles, and particularly so, in the German variety of the herb. This particular chemical compound is a very potent anti-allergen and has been recorded as helping in the prevention of allergic seizures, up to an hour following its administration even in experimental guinea pigs. A possible cure to hay fever might lie in careful use and administration of the azulene. In little children as well as in adults, the herbal remedies made from the chamomile are effective in relieving sudden asthmatic attacks – this is another very important ability of the herb. In a majority of health stores, a very effective chamomile throat spray is marketed under the name CamoCare, this spray has been used to relieve the distress and blockage during an asthma attack. Patients suffering from asthma can benefit from this herbal spray by spraying some of this chamomile concentrate into the mouth right at the very back of the throat, the spray will aid in relieving the sudden choking sensations during an attack and it will also help in facilitating respiration during the attack. During allergy season, vulnerable adults are advised to drink 3-4 cups of warm chamomile tea on a daily basis, young children can also benefit by taking 1-2 cups per day during this time, concurrently such vulnerable individuals are advised to inhale the warmed herbal vapors while keeping their heads covered using a heavy bath towel and they should do this while holding the face 8-10 inches above the pan which has some freshly made chamomile tea, inhalation must lasts for 12-15 minutes every sitting for beneficial results.

The ability to inducing regeneration in the body is a property possessed by only a very few herbs in the plant kingdom, such abilities as producing brand new liver tissue belong to very few herbs. German chamomile possesses this unique property, and so does the common tomato juice among herbs. The chemical compounds azulene and guaiazulene present in herbs were identified as being able to initiate the growth of new tissues in experimental rats which had a portion of their livers surgically removed, this experimental results were obtained in one research recorded in Vol. 15 of Food & Cosmetics Toxicology published in the year 1977. Patients with wasted liver tissues are advised to take up to 6 cups of the herbal chamomile tea every other day or in an average dosage amount of 3-4 cups every day – this regimen is ideal for encouraging the regeneration of liver tissues in the body of the patient. Compared to the powdered capsules, for example, it is known that the herbal tea works much better and is a more efficient way of treatment over the long term. In the treatment of patients, and especially patients already suffering from some severe degenerative liver diseases such as infectious hepatitis or the complications due to the AIDS virus, the consumption of this remedy will prove to be extremely beneficial in the long term.

Chamomile hair rinse

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers

Boil together for 5 minutes. Strain. Apply to the hair after washing.

Herbal shampoo with chamomile

  • 2 Tbs. dried chamomile flowers
  • 2 Tbs. dried rosemary
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. borax
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup dried mint leaves, crushed
  • 2 cups no detergent shampoo

Pour boiling water over the herbs in a medium bowl, cover, and allow the herbs to steep for 1 hour. Remove the herbs.
Beat the egg until frothy, and beat into the shampoo, along with the borax. Combine with the herbal infusion. Bottle, and keep stored in the refrigerator. It will keep about 1 month. Use as regular shampoo.

Chamomile cleansing milk

Chamomile cleansing milk is excellent for people having dry skin. The ingredients used to prepare this herbal cleanser include:

  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 ml) of chamomile flowers
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) of milk containing full fat

To prepare this cleansing recipe, you should first gently heat the two ingredients together in a double boiler for about 30 minutes. However, be careful not to allow the mixture to boil. Allow the mixture to cool down for two hours, filter it and store the preparation in a refrigerator. This herbal cleanser ought to be used within seven days of preparation.

Wild Thyme {Thymus serpyllum}

Also, Known As:

  • Creeping Thyme
  • Mother-of-thyme
  • Wild Thyme

The wild thyme is native to the larger parts of Europe where the land is dry. The wild thyme is rare compared to the common thyme’s and is farmed extensively. Normally, wild thyme is found growing up to a certain altitude on the Alps, on high plateaus, in valleys, alongside trenches, roads, on rocks and also in infertile and dry soil. Wild thyme may also be found growing in moisture-laden clay soil that is improvised of chalk. Wild thyme’s can also be found in old rocky, deserted grounds, dried-up grass turfs and also on open lands. Particularly in England, wild thyme’s grow normally on moorlands and rocky terrains. Wild thyme is frequently cultivated as garden borders, in rock gardens or on the sunlit banks of rivulets and streams.

Wild thyme is a perennial herb. The herb’s sulky wooded stems grow up to a height of one foot and the leaves of the plant are converse, slender and oblong or oval shaped. The leaves of wild thyme are rarely longer than 12 inches and give off a lemon-like scent. Similar to its other thyme family members, wild thyme is full of thymol which is used by most druggists as a powerful antiseptic. It is an active element in all disinfectants, mouthwashes, and even gargles. As pharmacists are well aware of wild thyme’s lemony odor, it is also used in toiletry items. In fact, it was the ancient men of Athens who first discovered the lemon scent of wild thyme’s and massaged a lotion prepared from the herb on their chests after bathing to make them appear graceful. Wherever, the wild thyme grows, it indicates a serene ambiance and in ancient days, it was believed that the herb helped to cheer up the mental spirits by disseminating a wonderful lemon-like scent in the air. In fact, the Romans used the wild thyme as an independent medication to heal depressions.

Although wild thyme’s have less distinct in taste than the cultivated variety, it can always be used as a replacement of its aromatic features in stews, soups, stuffing as well as poultry and mutton preparations. It is said that the meat of sheep that grazes on wild thyme’s are of exceptional taste.

Wild thyme grows perennially as is thicker than the garden variety of the herb. The herb has a number of varieties depending on the neighborhood where it grows. When it grows in natural conditions like dry and exposed downhill, wild thyme is normally small and found to be lying on the ground. In such conditions, wild thyme is frequently found to be forming cushions. But when it grows along with furze, a prickly plant with yellow flowers that grows in the forests, or other plants that provide it with some kind of refuge, the herb grows up to a foot length giving it a completely unusual look. Wild thyme derives its specific name ‘serpyllum’ from the Greek term that means a creeper. The herb has obtained this name owing to its nature of lying prostate on the ground and as a trailer.

The wild thyme has woody and fibrous roots while the plant bears many stems that are firm, divided and lying prostate on the ground. The stems of the wild thyme’s are normally colored reddish-brown. The herb has bright green leaves that get thinner at the bottom into very short foot-stalks that are soft and include many small glands. The leaves of the plant are bordered with hairs at the base and contain major veins on the lower surface. Unlike in the garden thyme’s, the edges of the leaves of wild thyme’s are not recurved, but like all other plants in the Labiatae classification (all thyme’s belong to this category), wild thyme’s bear leaves in pairs on the stems. Normally, the plant bears flowers from the end of May to early June and continues till the onset of autumn. Like in the case of garden thyme’s, the flowers of wild thyme are purple in color and blossom in a circular arrangement of three or more flowers at one node of the stems.

Interestingly wild thyme’s have numerous attractions and features. While the bees especially love the thyme flowers for the nectar they can extract from them, in some parts of the world it was traditional for young girls to wear garlands made of thyme leaves, lavender, and mint with the aim of attracting their beloved ones. Particularly in Wales, the wild thyme is also related to death. While the thyme flowers were placed on the graves in Wales, till date the Order of Old fellows still carry garlands made of wild thyme to the funerals of their beloved ones and throw them on the graves. Most significantly, there is an ancient adage that says that wild thyme comprised one of the herbs that formed the perfumed bed of the Virgin Mary.

Plant Part Used:

Flowering tops.

Medicinal Use:

Like most of the other medicinal herbs, wild thyme too has numerous benefits and is useful in healing a number of problems. Wild thyme extracts may be taken in both as syrups and infusion. Normally wild thyme syrup or infusions are used to heal sore throats, flu and colds, whooping cough,coughs, bronchitis, and chest infections. As wild thyme contains decongestant properties, it is very useful in shrinking swollen nasal tissues,sinusitis, and clogging of the ear as well as all other associated problems. Many herbal practitioners use wild thyme to throw out roundworms and threadworms from the children’s body and in infants, it is also used to heal gas and colic. Wild thyme is antispasmodic and helps in relieving pains occurring from cramps and spasms. A paste prepared from wild thyme may be applied externally as a poultice or soft, moist mass of the skin to provide heat and moisture. This is largely beneficial in healing mastitis, a swelling of the breast while an infusion prepared from the wild thyme is applied as a wash to treat wounds, cuts, and ulcers. It may be noted here that wild thyme also finds extensive use in pillows and herbal baths.

Folk healers or herbal medicinal practitioners who pass on their knowledge to their assistants often recommended wild thyme as tranquilizers, antiseptics against bacteria, diuretics to increase urine flow, expectorants to increase bronchial secretions and also carminatives to prevent the formation of intestinal gas as well as relieve the body of it. Pharmacologists have already authenticated the use of wild thyme as antiseptics, expectorants, antispasmodic and carminative. In medical science, wild thyme also known as serpolet has the same qualities as the common thyme but is of a lower grade than the common variety of the herb. In brief, wild thyme is useful as an aromatic, antiseptic, and refreshment tonic, antispasmodic, diuretic as well as emmenagogue that promotes and regulates menstruation.

Wild thyme is also useful to cure chest ailments and for those suffering from weak digestion. In both cases, herbal practitioners recommend the use of an infusion prepared from the wild thyme. In addition, the wild thyme infusion is also a useful medicine to cure flatulence or excessive gas formation in stomach or intestine. When administered to people suffering from convulsive coughs, wild thyme extracts are known to have shown excellent results. Normally, an infusion made by adding one ounce of dried out wild thyme in one pint of boiling water is beneficial to heal the above-mentioned disorders. The infusion is normally sweetened by mixing sugar or honey and smoothed or made demulcent by adding acacia or linseed to it. The dosage is simple. For effective action, it is taken one or more tablespoonfuls several times in a day.

The concoction prepared with wild thyme is also extremely beneficial for treating cases of drunkenness or alcoholism and, according to herbalist Culpepper, the herb is also an effective medicine in healing complaints of nightmares. He has said that when a preparation of wild thyme vinegar made on the lines of rose vinegar and applied on the head, it immediately relieves people of all pains. The infusion of the herb is also recommended for healing both states of violent mental agitation as well as lethargy or stupor. Similarly, tea prepared with wild thyme is also a useful medication for a headache and any kind of nervous problems. The wild thyme tea may be taken directly or mixed with other herb extracts like rosemary and others.

Habitat of Wild Thyme:

Reasonably acidic to the neutral soil is best for the wild thyme to grow. In addition, less fertile soil and bright sunlight help the herb to flourish better. It can also grow on organic soils provided there is a superb drainage system. Though it grows best under full sun, wild thyme can also be cultivated in partial shade and the herb is capable of thriving even in drought conditions. While wild thyme plants grow well in temperate and arid places, development of the herb is sluggish to reasonable in superior conditions. Although snails and slugs (gastropod mollusks without shells) often cause harm to wild thyme plants, they are normally free from other kinds of pest problems. As far as diseases to the plant are concerned, the leaves of wild thyme face disfigurement or stains (leaf blight) appear on them during cold and rainy seasons, particularly during the winters.

Components of Wild Thyme:

Large quantities of wild thyme are required to derive substantial amounts of the herb’s extracts. When 100 kilograms (about 225 pounds) of dehydrated wild thyme is distilled it only produces about 150 (five or six ounces) grams of the herb concentrate. The concentrate is a yellow liquid, also known as serpolet oil that has a less intensive aroma than the oil of thyme derived from T.vulgaris. The distilled concentrate from dried wild thyme has 30 to 70 percent of phenols, including thymol, carvacrol and others. Blended with the oil extracted from common thyme, wild thyme concentrate is transformed into artificial oil. In the perfumery industry, the oil of serpolet is mainly used in the manufacture of aromatic as well as antiseptic soaps.

Life Root

Senecio aureus

Also, Known As:

  • Cocashweed
  • Coughweed
  • False Valerian
  • Golden Ragwort
  • Golden Senecio
  • Liferoot

The herb known as the life root is a perennial wild flower species of the daisy family of plants – Asteraceae; it reaches about half to two m in height. A small rosette of basal leaves approximately six to eight inches across is found at the base of each plant. The basal leaves have blades that are normally two inches in length and two inch wide. The leaves are cordate orbicular in shape, possessing crenate, dentate edges without any hair on the surface. The length of the blades is matched by the length of the slender petioles of the basal leaves. Each rosette develops a flowering stalk from its center which grows up. Usually two to three alternate leaves are borne along this flowering stalk. The size of the alternate leaves is smaller compared to the size of the basal leaves. During the blooming period and the time following the bloom, the alternate leaves as well as the stalk are devoid of hairs. The flowering stalk bears a flat headed panicle or corymb of flower heads at its tip. The panicle bears slender and hair free branches. The floral heads resemble a daisy; each is about half an inch to one inch wide. Numerous golden yellow disk florets can be seen in the center of each floral head, each of these disks are surrounded by six to sixteen yellow colored ray florets. The florets on the disk and the ray florets are fertile and take part in the sexual cycle of the plant. Many linear green colored bracts in a single series surround the base of the floral head. Life root flowers bloom from middle to late spring, floral blooms typically lasts for three weeks in a season. A bullet shaped achene with white tuffs of hair or fruit will replace each floret. Wind action results in the distribution of the achene and the plants are normally propagated through the agency of wind in the wild. Life root is also characterized by possessing a short root-stock with spreading fibrous roots that produces rhizomes or stolons at ground level. At favorable sites, the plant may produce vegetative colonies of plants.

The daisy family forms one of the largest genera of flowering plants in the plant kingdom. The botanist Senecio includes two thousand and more species in this genus – many of these plant are commonly met with in herbal dispensaries or in garden as an ornamental. The life root is a native North American species of the daisy family, with a long historical and herbal use as a treatment for an assortment of gynecological disorders. The remedy made from the life root was found to be of great use by Indian women facing the pains of childbirth, it was traditionally used to speed up a protracted labor and to ease the pain. The early colonists made similar use of the plant, and many herbalists in 19th-century America placed great faith in the life root as a remedial “female regulator.” These herbalists employed the plant to treat many types of common as well as rare disorders including leucorrhea – excessive vaginal discharge – as well as all kinds of menstrual problems; it was also used to treat different types of irregularities associated with menopause. Life root was used as a remedy for TB, much before the introduction of chemical compounds used in modern treatment for TB. In the old days, a person down with tuberculosis was almost certainly going to die as medications simply did not exists, at this time, the early stages of the disease was relieved symptomatically using the life root as a herbal remedy. Tuberculosis patients in colonial times would be given a teaspoonful of the fluid extract of life root mixed in a little water; this was believed to induce a tonic effect on the body of the patients. The treatment of urinary tract infections and disorders was also treated using the life root remedy by traditional herbalists; these herbalists also treated kidney stones using the remedy.

The life root herb is also called by other names including, “golden senecio,” the “ragwort,” the “false valerian,” and the “squaw weed.” The herb is characterized by the bearing bright yellow floral heads in full bloom. It is a member of the family Asteraceae or the daisy family of plants. The habitat types in which the life root can be found growing includes swampy grounds and places covered by moist thickets that are seen along the eastern and central United States of America. Herbalist, traditionally prepared the medication using the entire dried plant and not just the root as is commonly assumed. The life root had great popularity even up to the year 1979, when it was still among the principal herbal ingredients in the famous old proprietary folk remedy known as Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound – which was sold at so many places. On chemical analysis of the life root, small but detectable quantities of the toxic alkaloid senecionine have been found at concentrations of about 0.006 per cent of dry weight. The principal chemical compound found in the plant, senecionine is a member of the group of hepatotoxic -liver poisons – pyrrolizidine alkaloids, this chemical when given in a few doses can induce chronic disease of the liver in laboratory rats. Human liver diseases and their originators have been analyzed and a strong possibility exists that it is such alkaloids that are involved in some way; this includes the onset of primary liver cancer in many people. The presence of this chemical alkaloid makes all discussion of life root as a potential remedy irrelevant. There are no distinct therapeutic benefits and self medication is not desirable for any condition. The safety of the medication is seriously compromised due to the presence of the alkaloid compound senecionine. The use of this medication has been discontinued in conventional medications many years ago and its present limited employment in herbal medicine must also be discontinued as it is a risky medication.

Plant Part Used:

Dried aerial parts.

Herbal Medicine Use:

There are still some instances in which the life root is used in herbal medicine, it is still used as a uterine tonic quite safely – the remedy strengthens and aids the uterine lining. Remedies made from the life root are particularly useful in dealing with different types of disorders affecting menopause in women. The remedy made from the life root may also be useful in dealing with case of delayed or suppressed menstruation. The topical remedy made from the life root can be used as a douche in treating leucorrhoea. The remedy made from life root is also used to have a great reputation and functioned as a general tonic to treat tuberculosis and other debilitated states affecting the human body.

The whole herb is medicinal and is sold along with the roots in the commercial herbal market. Herbalists in England traditionally made use of the European sub-species Vulgaris, locally called the “groundsel,” this herb was very popular in England for several centuries and was a fixture in herbal medicine. The early English colonialists in the new world made use of the American sub-species; the New England colonists in the earliest settlements used the herb in many remedial preparations. The remedy made from life root tends to act moderately on the body with a persistent action; it is a blend of relaxing and stimulating effects. The life root remedy has a sharp and bitter taste, often inducing a full tonic impression on the stomach, the nervous system, as well as the uterine lining. Life root is principally used as a nervine tonic to treat female weaknesses and problems with the uterus; it has a mild but prompt soothing effect on the menstrual cycle. The remedy made from life root was also used extensively to treat problems including neuralgia and rheumatism affecting the womb in women, it was used in alleviating the aches and cramps incident in the gestation period in women under a term of pregnancy. The remedy made from life root is especially helpful in the treatment of mild cases of leucorrhea and prolapsus; it is also used in treating uterine hysteria. Life root remedy is used in boosting feeble appetite and to alleviate aches of the back – that affects so many women. The life root remedy may also possibly be beneficial for disorders affecting the kidneys and in treating urinary problems. The tonic actions of the life root remedy is the principal reason for its effectiveness at promoting proper menstruation and in enlivening a languid and partially a tonic amenorrhea in women. The life root remedy cannot be considered to be a forcing emmenagogue; it is more of an aid in cases of passive menorrhagia as it induces a toning effect on the uterine lining. When life root is taken in the form of a warm herbal infusion, it helps expedite the process of parturition in cases of uterine and nervous fatigue affecting a woman. Women experiencing disorders in the kidney due to the problems affecting the uterus feel the influence of this remedy moderately well – the remedy being effective in treating female specific renal disorders. The use of the life root remedy is especially beneficial for the lungs, while claims about its potential to cure tubercular consumption are clearly false; the remedy is unquestionably effective in treating debilitating coughs in patients. The lifer root remedy’s ability to effectively treat sub-acute and chronic dysentery has been given great value by some physicians; they prefer using the life root remedy in place of hydrastis as a tonic to treat just such disorders. The true character and nature of the life root remedy in these disorders can only be understood well by remembering its effective tonic and nervine effect.

Growing Life Root:

The life root is found all over eastern North America. Habitats in which the plant may be seen include damp grounds and marshes, and riparian habitats. The remedy is prepared from aerial parts of the plant that are harvested during the summer season.

Components:

Life root contains a volatile oil, pyrrolizidine alkaloids (including senecine, senecionine, and otosenine), tannins, and resin. In isolation, the pyrrolizidine alkaloids are highly toxic to the liver.

Infusion, Tincture:

Infusion: the infusion of the life root can be prepared by pouring a cup of boiling water over one to three teaspoonfuls of the dried herb kept in a pan. The herb must be left to infuse and steep in the hot water for ten to fifteen minutes before it is cooled, strained and drank. This remedy may be taken three times daily to treat various disorders or as indicated by an herbalist.
Tincture: the life root tincture can be taken at doses of one to four ml three times daily to treat various disorders.

 Harvesting Life Root:

The best time to collect the herb is just before the flowers open up in the summer months.

Combinations:

The remedy made from the life root can also be combined with other helpful and beneficial herbs such as the St. John’s wort, the oats or the pasque flower and used in treating menopausal problems and disorders.