HerbNET....for everything herbal......


Medicinal Herb Facts O-P-Q Herbs



Contents of
this page

For even more information on specific herbs check out our Herbalpedia (TM) series


Okera (Atractylis ovata): The roots are used to treat indigestion, skin problems, diarrhea, fever, stomach disorders, and night blindness

Orach(e) (Atriplex hortensis, A. patula) Considered diuretic, emetic, and emollient, orache has been suggested as a folk remedy for plethora and lung ailments. Seeds mixed with wine are said to cure yellow jaundice. They also excite vomiting. Heated with vinegar, honey and salt, orache is used for gout. Fruits are purgative and emetic. Liniments and emollients prepared from the whole plant, like the juice of the plant, are said to be folk remedies for indurations and tumors, especially of the throat. Used as a spring tonic and stimulant and in infusions to treat tiredness or exhaustion.  A. patula’s  seeds are gathered when just ripe and a pound  (450 g) of them, bruised, is placed in three quarts (3.4 1) of moderate strength spirit. The whole is left to stand for six weeks, affording a light and not unpleasant tincture. A tablespoonful of the tincture, taken in a cup of water-gruel, has the same effect as a dose of Ipecacuanha, except that its operation is milder and it does not bind the bowels afterwards. After taking the dose, the patient should go to bed. A gentle sweat will follow, carrying off whatever offending matter the motions have dislodged, thus preventing long disease. As some stomachs are harder to move than others, a second tablespoonful may be taken if the first does not perform its office. Native Americans used poultices of the roots, stems and flowers for relieve of insect stings. Europeans used them to treat gout, jaundice and sore throats. 

Oregano, Syrian (Origanum syriacum):  Za’atar has a long history as a medicinal and flavoring herb.  Its thymol concentration is probably responsible for its effective applications in treating tooth decay, gum infections, and coughs; hyssop tea is drunk after meals to aid digestion. 

Orris (Iris x germanica var. florentina) Orris was formerly used in upper respiratory tract catarrh, coughs and for diarrhea in infants.  It was used to treat dropsy and has been used as a snuff for congestive headaches.  DRIED ROOT, preferably aged for at least 2 years. ½ to 1 teaspoon in warm water as suspended tea; the pressed "fingers" for teething infants to gum on.  Although sometimes a topical allergen, it is not so internally.

Osha (Ligusticum porteri )  American Indians used this herb to treat all manner of respiratory ailments: pneumonia, influenza, colds, bronchitis, tuberculosis, hay fever and asthma.  Oshas are emmenagogues.  Not recommended for pregnant women.  It is used to treat colds, flu, fevers, cough, cold phlegm diseases, indigestion, gas, delayed menses and rheumatic complaints.  This is one of the most important herbs of the Rocky Mountains, considered sacred by the Native Americans and widely esteemed by them for its broad and effective warm healing power.  Many tribes burned it as incense for purification, to ward off gross pathogenic factors and subtle negative influences. 

Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare  (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) ) Used for gastrointestinal, throat, skin, women’s circulatory and urinary concerns.  Make into infusions, tinctures, ointments, salves, foot soaks and as a bath herb. 

-P- Herbs

Parasol Tree, Chinese (Firmiana simplex): A decoction of the roots is used to reduce swellings and a lotion of the leaves is used in the treatment of carbuncles, hemorrhoids and sores. The seeds are used to treat abscesses in the mouth of children and skin problems.  The fruits are a tonic and coked with meat as tonic broth.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum, P. sativum) Medicinal Use:   Chew the leaf raw to freshen the breath and promote healthy skin. Infuse for a digestive tonic.  Bruised leaves have been used to treat tumors, insect bites, lice and skin parasites and contusions.  Parsley tea at one time was used to treat dysentery and gallstones.  Other traditional uses reported include the treatment of diseases of the prostate, liver and spleen, in the treatment of anemia, arthritis and cancers, and as an expectorant, antimicrobial, aphrodisiac, hypotensive, laxative and as a scalp lotion to stimulate hair growth.   Use in a poultice as an antiseptic dressing for sprains, wounds and insect bites.  Decoct the root for kidney troubles and as a mild laxative.  Apply juice to reduce swellings.  It also stimulates appetite and increases blood flow to digestive organs, as well as reducing fever. Another constituent, the flavonoid apigenin, reduces inflammation by inhibiting histamine and is also a free-radical scavenger.   The seed, when decocted, has been used for intermittent fevers.  It has also traditionally used as a carminative to decrease flatulence and colic pain.  The seeds have a much stronger diuretic action than the leaves and may be substituted for celery seeds in the treatment of gout, rheumatism and arthritis.  It is often included in "slimming" teas because of its diuretic action.   Oil of the seed (5-15 drops) has been used to bring on menstruation.  Avoid if weak kidneys. 

Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens)  Medicinal Uses: The Indians ate the berries and dined on a medicinal jelly when experiencing fever.  It has been used to promote easy labor and prevent miscarriage.  It is a nourishing and safe remedy for women from puberty through menopause, including during pregnancy and lactation, especially where there is a history of difficult pregnancy or a weak reproductive system.  In cases of chronic weakness or disease, it needs to be taken for 4-8 weeks before results may be seen.  It is a specific treatment for uterine hemorrhage and therefore it is indicated in menopausal flooding as well as heavy uterine blood loss of any kind after diagnosis by a health-care provider.  Partridge berry may also relieve painful periods.  The dose is limited to one cup of tea of the single herb per day or up to one-fourth part of a formula by weight, three standard cups per day.  Partridge berry herb does apparently contradictory things: it relaxes pregnant women while it tones up the uterine and pelvic muscles and it soothes nervous “jumpiness.” Its actions are astringent (for weak uterine tone, but it is not drying or constipating), diuretic, emmenagogue and parturient taken during the few weeks before birth.  A well-known early 20th century preparation, called Mother’s Cordial, combined it with cram bark, unicorn root, sassafras oil, brandy, and sugar.  It appeared in the US National Formulary from 1926 to 1947 for treating uterine problems.  It improves digestion and calms the nervous system.  At times it has been substituted for pipsissewa as a treatment for urinary tract infections.

Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris )  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, pulsatilla is used as an anti-inflammatory and is considered specific for amoebic and bacterial dysentery.  Externally, it is used as a douche for trichomonas. 
Western herbalists and homeopaths, on the other hand, use minute doses of pulsatilla as an important remedy for premenstrual syndrome.  Curiously, mainly fair and blue-eyed women are responsive to this remedy. It is generally used as an emmenagogue and to increase blood and energy circulation for both men and women.  It strengthens sexual sensitivity while lessening the tendency towards morbid preoccupation.  It is a good remedy to consider for disorders of the reproductive organs and the prostate, associated with nervous and emotional problems.  Characteristically, the symptoms treated are nervousness, restlessness and an active imagination or fear of impending danger or disease.  For menstrual irregularity or delayed menstruation, it is used to treat simple suppression due to atropy or shock.  It is also good for some cases of heart disease, again with strong mental symptoms.
Pulsatilla is used for various inflammatory conditions, but especially if accompanied by nervousness, despondency, sadness, unnatural fear, weepiness and depression.  It is used also for headache, insomnia, neuralgia in the anemic, thick tongue coating with a greasy taste, stomach disorders from over-indulgence in fats and pastries, various alternating and shifting signs such as diarrhea/constipation, amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea, pain from exposure to wind, toothache and styes.
In France, it has traditionally been used for treating coughs and as a sedative for sleep difficulties.  Pulsatilla is also used to treat eye problems such as cataracts. 

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)  The leaves of passion flower are an ingredient in many European pharmaceutical products to treat nervous disorders, such as heart palpitations, anxiety, convulsions, epilepsy and sometimes high blood pressure.  They have been shown to make a nonaddictive sedative that relaxes the nervous system. Passion flower seems especially helpful when physical or mental strain results in insomnia or stress.  While it is not a strong pain reliever and it may take a while for its effects to be noticed, it seems to have a lasting and refreshing effect on the nervous system.  It is used to prevent spasms from whooping cough, asthma, and other diseases.  The dried herb is also used for Parkinson’s disease, hysteria, and shingles.  The unusual fruit has been historically considered to be a sedative.  
           In Germany, passionflower is used as a component of prepared sedative (in combination with lemon balm and valerian root) and cardiotonic (in combination with hawthorn) nonprescription drugs in various dosage forms including coated tablets, tinctures, and infusions. It is also used in German homeopathic medicine to treat pain, insomnia related to neurasthenia, and nervous exhaustion. In German pediatric medicine, it is used as a component of Species nervinae pro infantibus (sedative tea for children), which contains 30% lemon balm leaf, 30% lavender flower, 30% passionflower herb, and 10% St. John's wort herb. It is also a component of a standard Commission E fixed formula "Sedative Tea," which contains 40% valerian root, 30% passionflower herb, and 30% lemon balm leaf. In the United States, passionflower is used as a sedative component of dietary supplement sleep aid formulations. It was official in the fourth (1916) and fifth (1926) United States National Formulary and removed in 1936. It was also an approved OTC sedative and sleep aid up until 1978.
         Very few pharmacological studies have been undertaken, though its central nervous system sedative properties have been documented, supporting its traditional indications for use. The approved modern therapeutic applications for passionflower are supportable based on its history of use in well established systems of traditional and conventional medicine, pharmacodynamic studies supporting its empirically acknowledged sedative and anxiolytic effects, and phytochemical investigations.
         German pharmacopeial grade passionflower must be composed of the whole or cut dried aerial parts, collected during the flowering and fruiting period, containing not less than 0.4% flavonoids calculated as hyperoside. Botanical identity must be confirmed by thin-layer chromatography (TLC) as well as by macroscopic and microscopic examinations and organoleptic evaluation. Purity tests are required for the absence of pith-containing stem fragments greater than 3 mm in diameter and also for the absence of other species. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia requires not less than 15% water-soluble extractive, among other quantitative standards. The French Pharmacopoeia requires not less than 0.8% total flavonoids calculated as vitexin by measuring the absorbance after reaction. The ESCOP monograph requires that the material comply with the French, German, or Swiss pharmacopeias.
             The herb was introduced into United States medicine in 1867 as a sedative and was listed in the National Formulary from 1916 until 1936.  A sedative passion flower chewing gum was even marketed in Romania in 1978.  In 1990, a marked increase in passion flower sales was assumed to be a result of consumer concern over using the amino acid L-tryptophan as a sedative and sleep inducer.  The Commission E approved the internal use of passionflower for nervous restlessness.  The British Herbal Compendium indicates its use for sleep disorders, restlessness, nervous stress, and anxiety. Other uses include neuralgia and nervous tachycardia. The German Standard License for passionflower tea indicates its use for nervous restlessness, mild disorders of sleeplessness, and gastrointestinal disorders of nervous origin. It is frequently used in combination with valerian and other sedative plants. ESCOP indicates its use for tenseness, restlessness, and irritability with difficulty in falling asleep.

Patchouli (Pogostemom patchouli)  In China, Japan and Malaysia the herb is used to treat colds, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain an halitosis.  In Japan and Malaysia it is used as an antidote to poisonous snakebites.

Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) The seeds have been used in folk medicine as an anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac and decoagulant. Peanuts play a small role in various folk pharmacopoeias. In China the nuts are considered demulcent, pectoral, and peptic; the oil aperient and emollient, taken internally in milk for treating gonorrhea, externally for treating rheumatism. In Zimbabwe the peanut is used in folk remedies for plantar warts. Hemostatic and vasoconstrictor activity are reported. The alcoholic extract is said to affect isolated smooth muscles and frog hearts like acetylcholine. The alcoholic lipoid fraction of the seed is said to prevent hemophiliac tendencies and for the treatment of some blood disorders (mucorrhagia and arthritic hemorrhages) in hemophilia.  The red papery skins are one of the best dietary sources of oligomeric procyanidins, which are compounds that decrease capillary fragility and permeability, helping to prevent and treat varicose veins.

Pellitory (Anacyclus pyrethrum) It treats fluid retention, stones and gravel, dropsy and other urinary complaints.  In European herbal medicine, it is regarded as having a restorative action on the kidneys, supporting and strengthening their function.  It has been prescribed for nephritis, pyelitis (inflammation of the kidney,” kidney stones, renal colic (pain caused by kidney stones), cystitis, and edema (fluid retention).  It is also occasionally taken as a laxative.  It combines well with parsley or wild carrot seed or root.  It counteracts mucus and is useful for chronic coughs. The leaves may be applied as poultices.

Pellitory of the Wall (Parietaria officinalis)  The pungent pellitory root is taken as a decoction or chewed to relieve toothache and increase saliva production.  The decoction may also be used as a gargle to soothe sore throats.  In Ayurvedic medicine, the root is considered tonic, and is used to treat paralysis and epilepsy.  The diluted essential oil is used in mouthwashes and to treat toothache.  It is an energetic local irritant and sialagogue, and acts as a rubefacient when applied externally. Its ethereal tincture relieves toothache. The root chewed has been found useful in some rheumatic and neuralgic affections of the head and face, and in palsy of the tongue. The decoction has been used as a gargle in relaxation of the uvula. Severe acronarcotic symptoms, with inflammation of the alimentary tract and bloody stools, were produced in a young child by less than a drachm of the tincture. The dose is from 30 to 60 grains as a masticatory. Oil of pellitory is made by evaporating the ethereal tincture.

Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium or Hedeoma puleioides) Pennyroyal’s main role is as an insect repellent. The crushed leaves or essential oil are rubbed on insect bites to reduce their itch and to ward off future attacks. The crushed green herb has been used to remove the marks of bruises and burns.   It has also been taken to relieve headaches, indigestion, congestion from colds, and menstrual pain.  Hot pennyroyal tea is one of the best herbs to produce sweating and reduce a fever.  Pennyroyal’s nature is to make intelligent choices and carry through clearly and without regret.  Pennyroyal is an ovarian tonic; it also eases cramps, eliminates gas, calms nausea and relieves nervous tension.  Pennyroyal encourages menses. Its oil is abortifacient and can be fatal.  The leaves of pennyroyal are nervine, diaphoretic, and antiseptic, used for colds, fevers, headaches, and sunstroke.  Pennyroyal is a renewing wash for itching, burning skin. 

Pennyroyal, Dwarf (Hedeoma nana): This true pennyroyal is a prime menstrual stimulant when menses are accompanied by a heavy sensation in the abdomen, or when the period is delayed and crampy following a cold, fever, or exposure to rain or snow. It sometimes is used as an abortive, but there is no proof that it is effective for this purpose.  As an effective diaphoretic to help break fevers.  The aromatic oil repels insects; and bundles of it are hung up indoors to control infestations of flies and bugs.  Simple tea, ½ cup up to 4 times a day. 

Pennyroyal, Hart's (Mentha cervina): : A tea made from the leaves of most mint species has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses.

Pennyroyal, Native (Mentha satureioides): When early European settlers found this plant growing in Australia they soon discovered it had similar properties to that of the European pennyroyal.  It was boiled in water and used to relieve menstrual irregularities.  A pungently aromatic, tonic, decongestant herb that improves the digestion, stimulates the uterus, and relieves spasms and pain.  Internally used for colds, excess mucus, indigestion, colic, and menstrual complaints.  Used as a substitute for both M. x piperita and M. pulegium. 

Pepper (Piper nigrum) Pepper has long been recognized as an ingredient for stimulating the appetite as well as being an aid in the relief of nausea and vertigo.  It was used to treat gastro-intestinal upsets, flatulence, fevers and congestive chills.  It is supposed to be of help in anal, rectal and urinary troubles.  In India it has been used as a medicine since time immemorial for the treatment of anything from paralysis to toothache. East Africans are said to believe that body odor produced after eating substantial amounts of pepper repels mosquitoes.  Black pepper contains four anti-osteoporosis compounds.  It is of singular importance as a metabolic stimulant in Ayurvedic medicine.  Black pepper has the ability to recirculate vital nutrients.  When fasting, grind seven peppercorns and take them mixed with a little honey each morning. 

Pepper, Japanese Black (Piper kadsura): This pepper is used as a stomachic, expectorant, and stimulant.

Perilla (Perilla frutescens (green); P.f. Atropurpurea (purple))  Perilla is effective to improve stomach functions. Perilla is also used for perspiration, fever and cough alleviation, pain removing and stomach function improvement in Oriental medicine.
        Perilla (Perilla frutescens Britt.), a traditional Chinese herb has recently received special attention because of its beneficial effects in the treatment of some kinds of allergic reactions without the side effects associated with some other used anti-allergy medicines. Experiments in vivo and in vitro found that among 18 kinds of vegetables, Perilla and ginger were the most active in reducing TNF production and its activity, which is linked with the allergy and inflammation.  It has also been found that Perilla seed oil is rich in n-3 fatty acid (a-linolenic acid) which also has some benefit in the treatment of allergy.  Reports trace back  the traditional use of Perilla leaf and seed for hundreds of years in the treatment of asthma and some symptoms associated with what is now known as allergy. Also, the traditional method of cooking crab or shellfish with Perilla leaves, in order to prevent so called "poisoning" existing in crab etc., might be re-evaluated as an effective way of preventing food allergy.
           Perilla leaf extract has been available as a "health product" rather than as a medicine. There are no published reports of controlled clinical trials. Even so, there are many reports of open (uncontrolled) studies from physicians and from patients-completed questionnaires, to support the beneficial use of Perilla leaf extract in the treatment of allergy. Rigorous double-blind placebo-controlled trials are doubtlessly needed before Perilla leaf extract can be accepted as an antiallergy medicine in the West.
         Open studies in the treatment of more than one hundred allergy cases of children with atopic dermatitis were made. After three months of therapy using a Perilla extract cream formulation, 80% of the patients showed varying degrees of improvement in the degree of itching, skin lesion, and eruption.  No side effects were observed in all the cases.   All these patients ceased other medicine while using the Perilla products.
         Although the precise mechanisms of Perilla treatment for allergy are not yet well elucidated, recent researches on the various phytochemicals and their pharmacological properties have also revealed some mechanisms of Perilla action in allergy.  Several active components contained in Perilla have been found to be linked with antiallergy and anti-inflammatory actions. These include elemicine, a-pinene, caryophyllene, myristicin, b-sitosterol, apigenin,phenylpropanoids and also some flavonoids which act as anti-inflammatory agents 
        Perilla seed, leaf and stem contain a total amount of essential oil about 0.5%. In addition to perillaldehyde, which was removed from the Perilla leaf extract products for its potential allergen property,  several other constituents contained in Perilla essential oil showed pharmacological activity. It was reported  that in animal experiments, one of the constituent in the essential oil, b-caryophyllene, showed relaxing action to the windpipe of guinea pig. Also it showed significantly suppressing action to citric acid or acrylaldehyde induced cough. It may partially explain the action of Perilla on anticough and antiasthma. Another constituent, l-menthol showed antiitching action thus making Perilla helpful in the treatment of some allergic skin diseases

Periwinkle (Vinca Major and V minor)  This plant is an excellent all round astringent which can be used internally or externally.  Its most common internal use is for treating excess menstrual flow.  It is useful as a douche for treating vaginal infection.  It is used for digestive problems such as inflammation of the colon or diarrhea.  The astringent action is also used in cases of nose bleed, bleeding gums, mouth ulcers and as a gargle for sore throats. Chewing the plant relieves toothache.  The tea is sedative and is beneficial for hysteria, fits, and nervous states.  Use two teaspoons per cup, steep for 20 minutes, and take a quarter-cup doses four times a day.  Make a poultice of the herb to relieve cramps in the limbs. The leaves are used in slaves for hemorrhoids and inflammations.  Use the tea as a gargle for sore throat and tonsillitis.  The fresh flowers are made into a syrup laxative, which is excellent for small children as well as adults.  To make a syrup, boil three pounds of Sucanat in one pint of water until you get a syrup consistency, and then steep the herbs in the hot liquid for 20 minutes, or simmer the herbs in honey or maple syrup for about 10 minutes, strain, and store in the refrigerator.  It combines well with Agrimony for astringent action to treat the digestive system and skin conditions.

Peruvian Balsam (Myroxlon pereirae) Balsam of Peru has been in the US Pharmacopeia since 1820 used for bronchitis, laryngitis, dysmenorrhea, diarrhea, dysentery and leucorrhea and has also been used as a food flavoring and fragrance material for its aromatic vanilla like-odor. Today it is used extensively in topical preparations for the treatment of wounds, ulcers, and scabies, and can be found in hair tonics, anti-dandruff preparations, feminine hygiene sprays and as a natural fragrance in soaps, detergents, creams, lotions and perfumes.
          Peruvian balsam is strongly antiseptic and stimulates repair of damaged tissue.  It is usually taken internally as an expectorant and decongestant to treat emphysema, bronchitis, and bronchial asthma.  It may also be taken to treat sore throats and diarrhea.  Externally, the balsam is applied to skin afflictions.  It also stimulates the heart, increases blood pressure and lessens mucus secretions.  Traditionally used for rheumatic pain and skin problems including scabies, diaper rash, bedsores, prurigo, eczema, sore nipples and wounds.  It also destroys the itch acarus and its eggs.

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata): An infusion of the plant has been used as a contraceptive

Picao Preto (Bidens pilosa)  The plant has a long history of use among the indigenous people of the Amazon.  The whole plant is uprooted and prepared in decoctions or infusions for internal use, and/or crushed into cataplasms for external use. It is reported to be used in the Peruvian Amazon for a number of ailments including angina, dysentery, and worms.  It is also used in Peru as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory, as well as to speed childbirth and as a treatment for hepatitis.  In Brazil it is used for hepatits and malaria. A juice made from the leaves is used to dress wounds and ulcers. A decoction of the leaves is anti-inflammatory, styptic and alterative.  The whole plant is antirheumatic.  It is also used in enemas to treat intestinal ailments. Substances isolated from the leaves are bactericidal and fungicidal, they are used in the treatment of thrush and candida.
            The plant was among 54 plant extracts tested in an experiment of antibacterial activity in South Africa.  Five types of bacteria were used in the study, including e-coli and two types of staphylococcus..  The bacteria were placed in sterile Petri dishes, the extracts were then introduced and the antibacterial activity was determined by the size of the zone of inhibition or clear space where the organism did not grow.  The Bidens pilosa extract was found to have some of the highest antibacterial activity against the staphylococcus strains, but no the e-coli

Pig Nut (Conopodium majus): The powdered roots have been recommended as a cough remedy. 

Pig's Ear (Cotyledon orbiculata): Excellent wart remedy, widely recommended even by medical doctors in South Africa.  Works on pets too.  Thick fleshy, grey-green leaves are sliced lengthwise and placed cut side on the wart for 8-12 hours daily.  The Southern Sotho use a dried leaf as a protective charm for an orphan child and as a plaything. In the Willowmore District, the heated leaf is used as a poultice for boils and other accessible inflammations, in particular, earache.  A single leaf is eaten as a vermifuge and the warmed juice can be used as drops for toothache or earache. The juice has been used to treat epilepsy.

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellate)   Pipsissewa was an important herb among Native Americans, who used it for various problems, including rheumatism.  It induced sweating.  The Pennsylvania Dutch used it as a tonic and diuretic for kidney complaints and rheumatism.  Internally used for urinary infections, prostates, urethritis, kidney stones, arthritis and rheumatism.  It is mainly used in an infusion for urinary tract problems such as cystitis and urethritis.  It has also been prescribed for more serious conditions such as gonorrhea and kidney stones.  By increasing urine flow, it stimulates the removal of waste products from the body and is therefore of benefit in treating rheumatism and gout.  It is also a lymphatic catalyst.  The fresh leaves may be applied externally to rheumatic joints or muscles, as well as to blisters, sores and swellings.  In tests on animals, pipsissewa leaves appear to lower blood sugar levels.  Solvent in diluted alcohol, boiling water.

Plantain (Plantago major  and P lanceolata): Common plantain quickly staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue.  It may be used instead of comfrey in treating bruises and broken bones.  An ointment or lotion may be used to treat hemorrhoids, fistulae and ulcers.  Taken internally, common plantain is diuretic, expectorant, and decongestant. It is commonly prescribed for gastritis, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome, respiratory congestion, loss of voice and urinary tract bleeding.   The seeds are closely related to psyllium seeds and can be used similarly, a tablespoon or two soaked in hot sweetened water or fruit juice until a mucilage is formed and the whole gruel drunk as a lubricating laxative.  The fresh juice can be made into a douche for vaginitis by combining two tablespoons and a pint of warm water with a pinch of table salt.  Proteolytic enzymes found in the fresh leaf and the fresh or dried root make plantain useful as a gentle internal vasoconstrictor for milk intestinal inflammation.  The fresh juice or dried leaves in tea can help bladder inflammations.  The fresh juice can be preserved with 25% vodka or 10% grain alcohol.  Take one teaspoon in warm water one hour before every meal for mild stomach ulcers.  For bed-wetting plantain leaf can be given as a beverage-strength tea throughout the day (but not right before bedtime).
Plantain roots are an old-time cure for toothaches.  Fresh, the roots used to be chewed, dried and powdered and placed in a hollow tooth as a painkiller.  The Chippewa used plantain leaves to draw out splinters from inflamed skin, and as vulnerary poultices.  They favored the fresh leaves, spreading the surface of these with bear grease before applying them and renewing the poultices when the leaves became dry or too heated.  Sometimes they replaced the bear grease with finely chopped fresh roots, or else applied the chopped roots directly to the wound.  For winter use, they greased fresh leaves and tightly wrapped stacks of them I leather.  The Iroquois used the fresh leaves to treat wounds, as well as coughs, colds, and bronchitis.  The Shoshone applied poultices made from the entire plant to battle bruises, while the Meskawaki treated fevers with a tea made from the root.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses plantain to treat urinary problems, dysentery, hepatitis and lung problems, especially asthma and bronchitis.  The seeds are used for bowel ailments.  Plantain is also found in African and southeast Asian folk medicine.  Research in India has shown its beneficial effects in treating coughs and colds.   

Pleurisy Root  (Asclepias tuberosa)  Although it has fallen into disuse, butterfly weed was a well-recognized remedy for all sorts of lung ailments, including bronchitis, consumption, typhoid fever, and pleurisy.  It is a lung tonic that relieves congestion, inflammation, and difficult breathing by increasing fluidity of mucus in the lungs and bronchial tubes.  It promotes the coughing up of phlegm, reduces inflammation and helps reduce fevers by stimulating perspiration.  A warm tea of butterfly weed relieves digestive disturbances, diarrhea and dysentery.  The settlers learned of its use from the Native Americans, who chewed the raw root to alleviate lung problems.  They also put the powdered roots on wounds to stop bleeding and pounded fresh roots into a poultice to place on bruises, rheumatism, inflammation, and lameness in the legs.  It has also been used to treat certain uterine problems and estrogenlike components have been reported. 

Ploughman’s Spikenard  (Inula conyza)     ---The older herbalists considered Ploughman's Spikenard a good wound herb, and it was frequently taken in decoction for bruises, ruptures, inward wounds, pains in the side and difficulty of breathing. It also had a reputation as an emmenagogue, and the juice of the while plant was applied externally to cure the itch. 

Poke (Phytolacca americana) The Lenape chopped the root, poured boiling water over it, and prepared a liniment to reduce swellings.  To reduce fever, they bound the fresh roots to the hands and feet.  Other tribes made a purge from the juice of the root.  The Delaware considered the roasted mashed root of Pokeweed an excellent blood purifier and stimulant.  They were aware of the toxic properties of poke root, and only very small doses were administered.  It was combined with bittersweet by other tribes and used as an ointment for chronic sores and the Pamunkey of Virginia treated rheumatism with preparations of the boiled berries.  The Mohegans of Connecticut ate the young shoots in the spring and used poultices of the mashed ripe berries to relieve sore breasts of nursing mothers.  The large root is a violent emetic and is sometimes used as a substitute for ipecac.  Pokeweed was listed officially in the United States Pharmacopeia for nearly one hundred years, from 1820 to 1916, and in the National Formulary from 1916 to 1947, where it was classed as a slow emetic, purgative and alterative. A fluid extract of the dried root was prescribed for a variety of ailments.  During the early 1900s, it was a major ingredient in a popular over-the-counter obesity remedy, Phytoline, taken six times a day, before and after each meal.  A “cancer cure” was prepared by mixing the juice of the leaves or root with gunpowder, and in the Ozark Mountains, Poke was a famous remedy for a variety of parasitic skin afflictions collectively known as “the itch.”  The root was boiled into a thick paste and reputed to work very well, but was quite painful when applied.  Investigators have reported finding a mitogenic substance in Pokeweed that may prove useful in cancer research and treatment.
Poke root treats constipation and glandular and lymphatic congestion.  In the latter conditions it may be taken in regular small internal doses of the tincture of the fresh root.  Take only 2-5 drops two or three times daily.  If it cases nausea, stop and begin again with even smaller doses.  Poke is one of the best blood and lymphatic purifying herbs.  It is excellent for the treatment of cancer, tumors, arthritis and degenerative diseases, but should be used with respect and preferably in combination with other herbs in a formula to offset its powerful detoxifying effects.  Do not take more than 1 gm. per day.  
As an external medicine, Poke root is used in a decoction as a wash or made into an ointment for various skin diseases such as eczema, ulcers, scabies, ringworm and other fungus infections. It has been used, in small doses, as an alterative to stimulate the metabolism and to help break up congestion in the alimentary canal, as well as in various organs including the lymph glands.  It has also been used to treat breast cancer, and the excessive swelling of breasts after childbirth which sometimes make nursing impossible.  It has often been a part of the formulas used in treating arthritis and rheumatism.

Pomegranate (Punica granatum)  Both the rind and bark of the pomegranate are considered to be specific remedies for tapeworm infestation.  The alkaloids present in the rind and bark (pelletierines) cause the worm to release its grip on the intestinal wall.  If a decoction of pomegranate rind or bark is immediately followed by a dose of a strong laxative or purgative, the worm will be voided.  The rind and bark are also strongly astringent and occasionally have been used to treat diarrhea.  In Spain, the juice of pomegranate fruit pulp is taken to comfort an upset stomach and as a remedy to relieve gas and flatulence.
The seeds are used in gargles and they are said to ease fevers and assist in counteracting diarrhea. They are widely used in Indian medicines.    The pulp is good for the heart and stomach.  The rind and the skin of the fruit are sun-dried, powdered and mixed with honey to cure diarrhea and dysentery.  Pomegranate juice is a natural face mask, its astringency and acidity being beneficial for oily skin.

Pongam Tree (Pongamia pinnata): The fruits and sprouts are used in folk remedies for abdominal tumors in India, the seeds for keloid tumors in Sri Lanka, and a powder derived from the plant for tumors in Vietnam. In sanskritic India, seeds were used for skin ailments. Today the oil is used as a liniment for rheumatism. Leaves are active against Micrococcus; their juice is used for colds, coughs, diarrhea, dyspepsia, flatulence, gonorrhea, and leprosy. Roots are used for cleaning gums, teeth, and ulcers. Bark is used internally for bleeding piles. Juices from the plant, as well as the oil, are antiseptic. It is said to be an excellent remedy for itch, herpes, and pityriasis versicolor. Powdered seeds are valued as a febrifuge, tonic and in bronchitis and whooping cough. Flowers are used for diabetes. Bark has been used for beriberi. Juice of the root is used for cleansing foul ulcers and closing fistulous sores. Young shoots have been recommended for rheumatism. Ayurvedic medicine described the root and bark as alexipharmic, anthelmintic, and useful in abdominal enlargement, ascites, biliousness, diseases of the eye, skin, and vagina, itch, piles, splenomegaly, tumors, ulcers, and wounds; the sprouts, considered alexeteric, anthelmintic, apertif, and stomachic, for inflammation, piles and skin diseases; the leaves, anthelmintic, digestive, and laxative, for inflammations, piles and wounds; the flowers for biliousness and diabetes; the fruit and seed for keratitis, piles, urinary discharges, and diseases of the brain, eye, head, and skin, the oil for biliousness, eye ailments, itch, leucoderma, rheumatism, skin diseases, worms, and wounds. Yunani use the ash to strengthen the teeth, the seed, carminative and depurative, for chest complaints, chronic fevers, earache, hydrocele, and lumbago; the oil, styptic and vermifuge, for fever, hepatalgia, leprosy, lumbago, piles, scabies, and ulcers.

Poppy (Papaver somniferum)  In folk medicine poppy heads were used in poultices to cure earache and toothache and a remedy for facial neuralgia was to lay the warmed leaves on the skin.  Medieval doctors pounded the seeds with those of sea holly and mixed them with wine to make a lotion for washing the ears, eyes and nostrils of those suffering from insomnia.  Another cure was to mingle the juice with milk and other agents and make them into sleeping pills.  An infusion made from the powdered capsules of poppy was once applied externally to sprains and bruises and a poppy flower poultice applied to excessive redness of the skin.  A flower compress reduced inflammation and helped watering eyes and also helped to banish dark circles around the eyes.  Morphine, heroin, codeine and papaverine are all derived from the milk juice of the opium poppy.  One poppy product, laudanum, an addictive tincture of opium, was a universal cure-all, widely prescribed by doctors in the 19th century-its abuse celebrated by De Quincey, Coleridge and Baudelaire, among others. It was frequently administered to relieve pain and calm excitement, and was also used in bad cases of diarrhea and dysentery.  It has both hypnotic and sedative effects.  Opium tincture and extract may be used internally to treat depression.
TCM:  Contains the leakage of Lung qi: for chronic coughs; binds up the intestines: for chronic diarrhea and dysenteric disorders; Stabilizes the lower burner: for polyuria, spermatorrhea or vaginal discharge; Alleviates pain: for any kind of pain, especially that of the sinews, bones or epigastrium.

Pharmacological Effects: Morphine is a very strong analgesic; in fact, it is the standard by which all other analgesics are judged.  It raises the pain threshold and also reduces the pain reflex.  That is, even though the pain sensation is still perceived, it is no longer regarded as particularly uncomfortable.  Codeine has approximately 1/4 the analgesic effect of morphine.  Morphine and codeine are both hypnotics, but they induce only a light and restless sleep.  Morphine is a strong and highly selective respiratory depressant.  The dosage that acts in this manner is lower than an analgesic dosage.  Codeine's effect on respiration is much weaker than that of morphine.  Also a strong cough suppressant.  Morphine causes peripheral vasodilation and histamine release, which can lead to orthostatic hypotension.  Morphine in very low doses causes constipation by increasing the resting tone and markedly decreasing propulsive contractions in the wall of the gut, while decreasing the secretion of digestive juices.  The constipating effect of opium is only really noticeable at the start of the treatment.  It soon diminishes and can if necessary be corrected with small doses of rhubarb or the like. 

Poppy, Iranian (Papaver bracteatum): The roots are used medicinally.  Their constituents include thebaine.  It is possible to derive codeine and other pain-killing substances from thebaine.  Unlike opium alkaloids, thebaine does not have additive narcotic properties, it cannot be used directly and it thus poses no dancer of drug addiction: morphine, the precursor of the addictive-drug heroin, can be obtained only with great difficulty from it.  For pharmaceutical purposes, therefore, there may be considerable social and economic benefits in introducing this poppy into cultivation in place of Opium Poppy.  Crop scientists have discovered that Iranian Poppy can provide up to 37 kg of codeine per hectare compared with Opium Poppy’s much lower yield of 3 kg per hectare.

Privet, Chinese (Ligustrum lucidum): Was first mentioned in traditional Chinese medicine in a text that was probably written before AD1000.  The plant increases the white blood cell count and in recent years it has been increasingly used to prevent bone marrow loss in cancer chemotherapy patients and it has potential in the treatment of AIDS.  Chinese research has also shown good results in the treatment of respiratory tract infections, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease and hepatitis.  Acts as a tonic for the kidneys and liver. 

Psyllium (Plantago psyllium)  :  Psyllium is a well-known laxative.  It is prescribed in conventional as well as herbal medicine for constipation, especially when the condition is resulting from an overtensed or overrelaxed bowel.  Both husks and seeds contain high levels of fiber (the mucilage) and expand, becoming highly gelatinous when soaked in water.  By maintaining a high water content within the large bowel, they increase the bulk of the stool, easing its passage.  It is a useful remedy for diarrhea and also an effective treatment for many other bowel problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.  In India, psyllium is commonly used to treat dysentery.  It is valuable for hemorrhoids, helping to soften the stool and to reduce irritation of the distended vein.  The jellylike mucilage produced when psyllium is soaked in water has the ability to absorb toxins within the large bowel.  It is commonly taken to reduce autotoxicity.  The soothing, protective effect imparted by the mucilage-rich husks and seeds benefits the whole gastrointestinal tract.  Psyllium is taken for stomach and duodenal ulcers, and for acid indigestion.  The demulcent action of psyllium extends to the urinary tract.  In India, an infusion of the seeds is given for urethritis.  In China, related species are used to treat bloody urine, coughing and high blood pressure.   When psyllium husks are soaked in an infusion of calendula, they make an effective poultice for external use, drawing out infection for boils, abscesses, and whitlows.  Psyllium is proving beneficial and practical for many individuals who suffer from chronic yeast infections because it can be employed to prevent the systemic absorption of the yeast’s metabolic wastes that many individuals are sensitive to.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), The sticky, broken leaves of fresh purslane sooth burns, stings and swellings.  The juice was once used for treating earaches and to “fasten” teeth and soothe sore gums.  Purslane has been considered valuable in the treatment of urinary and digestive problems.  The diuretic effect of the juice makes it useful in the alleviation of bladder ailments-for example, difficulty in passing urine. The plant’s mucilaginous properties also make it a soothing remedy for gastrointestinal problems such as dysentery and diarrhea.  In Chinese herbal medicine, purslane is employed for similar problems and for appendicitis.  The Chinese also use the plant as an antidote for wasp stings and snake bite.  Clinical trials in China indicate that purslane has a mild antibiotic effect.  In one study, the juice was shown to be effective in treating hookworms.  Other studies suggest that it is valuable against bacillary dysentery.  When injected, extracts of the herb induce powerful contractions of the uterus.  Taken orally, purslane juice weakens uterine contractions.    In Europe it’s been turned into a cough syrup for sore throats.  Purslane is the richest known plant source of Omega-3 acids, found mostly in fish oils.  These fatty acids reduce blood cholesterol and pressure, clotting, and inflammation and may increase immunity.   Recommended medicinal dosage is 15-30 grams.   Use for scours in goats. 





The Herb Growing & Marketing Network
Maureen Rogers, Director
PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245
717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261