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Dill weed, Lemon balm, Catnip, and Chamomile

Dill weed, Lemon balm, Catnip, and Chamomile herbs

If you have never seen dill in person you might be surprised at how tall the plant can get, averaging 16 – 24 inches, however I have seen the plants upwards of 4 feet tall regularly. The plant is an annual, but self seeds easily. The name “dill” comes from Old English dile, a West Germanic word of unknown origin.

Dill is used widely throughout Europe as a culinary herb, like caraway, the fernlike leaves of dill are aromatic and are used to flavor many foods such as fish dishes, pickles, and soups.

Nutritionally the herb has robust levels of Vit A (154%), Vit C (102%), as well as many others. Percentages are based off of a 100g serving and daily allowance levels.

Topically it is useful for the healing of wounds and it’s antimicrobial properties. The oil has shown good anticancer properties.

Uses:

Topical; In the bath or massage oil it aids proper digestion, easing flatulence, as well as constipation and hiccups. It can also be a very powerful healing aid for wounds.

Moreover the oil aids milk production for breastfeeding mothers.

Internally (herb): aids digestion for all ages as tea or added to food.

Cautions:

The oil cannot be used in place of fresh for gripe water because it is simply too strong.

Possibly affects lithium drugs due to diuretic qualities.

Some studies show good reason for caution with medicinal levels of dill taken internally for pregnancy or attempting to conceive.

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First aid:

If a drug interaction is suspected monitor for complications such as dehydration.

Lemon balm is a common garden plant and a member of the mint family. The plant is originally native to Europe, Central Asia, and Iran but now grows wild all over the world.

The leaves are used in sweets and for tea, it is the key ingredient in lemon balm pesto and pairs well with fish.

The plant grows 29 – 59 inches tall and like other mints will invade your entire garden if given the opportunity. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent and the small white flowers provide plenty of nectar for bees.

Internal use is good for digestive issues and also helps with anxiety. Topical application of the essential oil has been shown to improve mental clarity, memory, and focus. Daily use of the tea is excellent for overall reduction of damage from oxidative stress, and the crushed leaves can be rubbed on the skin for repelling mosquitoes.

In ancient lore the plant was dedicated to the goddess Diana who governed the hunt, the moon, and nature. She is almost always surrounded by animals or in the forest with her bow and quiver of arrows. She was also the virgin goddess of childbirth and women.

Uses:

Internally for headaches, PMS and cramps, digestive issues, anxiety, increasing mental clarity, and viral infections.

Topically as a balm or tea to shorten duration of herpes sores.

Cautions:

Lowers thyroid hormone production. Should not be used during pregnancy. May exaggerate the effects of pharmaceutical sleep aids. Should not be taken if individual has glaucoma because it can increase pressure in the eyes.

May interact with HIV medications, sedatives, and thyroid medications.

If taken with other sedatives (herbal or pharmaceutical) do not operate any machinery because of excessive drowsiness, this includes driving.

First aid:

If a drug interaction is suspected call care provider and explain.

If a pregnant woman has taken the herb watching closely for signs of miscarriage.

Nepeta cataria is known for it’s ability to excite many cats, however most cat owners have no idea of the medicinal benefits for humans.Catnip is a member of the mint family, originally native to the Middle East, China, Central Asia, southern and eastern Europe. It has been introduced and naturalised across a much larger area of the globe.This short lived perennial can grow to 20-39 inches tall and wide, it will bloom from late spring until fall. The flowers are white or white with tiny purple spots, additionally they are fragrant and loved by bees.Catnip EO (QRDS pending) can be used for insect repellent while the plant itself helps with pest control in the garden.Medicinally the dried herb can be brewed into a tea for anxiety, digestive aid, and brewed more strongly for fevers. If there is trouble with menstruation starting it may also be helpful.

Uses:

Tea; colds, fever, colic, sleep aid, headaches, constipation, diarrhoea, rheumatism, headaches, restlessness, nervousness, anxiety, flatulence.

Topically; Bruised leaves in ointment for haemorrhoids.

Cautions:

Very high doses (10% of diet) can have amphetamine type effects.

Pregnant women cannot use the herb because it can cause miscarriage.

First aid:

If a pregnant women has taken the tea watch for ANY cramping and call your care provider at the slightest sign. If cramping is strong call emergency services immediately.

Any other first aid measure are as applies to any hot liquid.

Matricaria chamomilla (German chamomile) is the most widely used species followed by Chamaemelum nobile (roman chamomile) closely behind. Both belong to the daisy family and have no discernible differences medicinally.As a medicine it was known in ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. Originally native throughout Europe and cultivated in many places, each type requires different growing conditions. German chamomile is a perennial that grows up to 3 feet tall and Roman chamomile grows low to the ground.The flowers are the part used for both medicine and casual tea consumption.

Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future

Is a paper written and published in the Nov 2010 edition of Mol Med Report that examines some of the scientific research that focuses on the traditionally ascribed properties. For example on the anti-inflammatory properties they say;

“The flowers of chamomile contain 1–2% volatile oils including alpha-bisabolol, alpha-bisabolol oxides A & B, and matricin (usually converted to chamazulene and other flavonoids which possess anti-inflammatory and antiphlogistic properties (12, 19, 35, 36). A study in human volunteers demonstrated that chamomile flavonoids and essential oils penetrate below the skin surface into the deeper skin layers (37). This is important for their use as topical antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory) agents. One of chamomile’s anti-inflammatory activities involve the inhibition of LPS-induced prostaglandin E(2) release and attenuation of cyclooxygenase (COX-2) enzyme activity without affecting the constitutive form, COX-1 (38).”

Translation: Some of the compounds actually do have anti-inflammatory properties and the oil can get to the deeper layers of the skin. We know these specific cellular interactions are likely involved.

Chamomile is also traditionally used for digestion and is considered gentle enough to be used even in very young children.

“An apple pectin-chamomile extract may help shorten the course of diarrhea in children as well as relieve symptoms associated with the condition (47). Two clinical trials have evaluated the efficacy of chamomile for the treatment of colic in children. Chamomile tea was combined with other herbs (German chamomile, vervain, licorice, fennel, balm mint) for administration. In a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 68 healthy term infants who had colic (2 to 8 weeks old) received either herbal tea or placebo (glucose, flavoring). Each infant was offered treatment with every bout of colic, up to 150 mL/dose, no more than three times a day. After 7 days of treatment, parents reported that the tea eliminated the colic in 57% of the infants, whereas placebo was helpful in only 26% (P<0.01). No adverse effects with regard to the number of nighttime awakenings were noted in either group (48). Another study examined the effects of a chamomile extract and apple pectin preparation in 79 children (age 0.5–5.5 y) with acute, non-complicated diarrhea who received either the chamomile/pectin preparation (n = 39) or a placebo (n = 40) for 3 days. Diarrhea ended sooner in children treated with chamomile and pectin (85%), than in the placebo group (58%) (49). These results provide evidence that chamomile can be used safely to treat infant colic disorders.”

So what are the medicinal uses for chamomile?

Uses:

Tea;

calming anxiety, soothing digestion, as a mouth wash for gingivitis and abscesses.E

Cautions:

Avoid if pregnant due to a risk of miscarriage.

May also make asthma worse.

Risk of allergy if user is already allergic to another member of the daisy family.

Potential drug interactions;

Sedatives

Blood thinning medications.

Benzodiazepines

Insomnia drugs like zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and ramelteon (Rozerem)

Anti-seizure medications

Tricyclic antidepressants

Alcohol

Hormone therapies

Blood pressure medications

Diabetes medications

Any other drugs that are broken down in the liver.

First aid:

If a miscarriage or drug interaction is suspected call emergency services immediately.

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