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Witch hazel, Evening primrose oil, Elderberry, and Mugwort

Witch hazel, Evening primrose oil, Elderberry, and Mugwort

Witch hazel is a native plant to north america however both Japan and China have a species native to their areas. If you have ever seen a yellow or red shrub that flowers through the winter then it’s a good chance that it was witch hazel.

The “witch” part of the common name may come from twigs being used as divining rods in the past.

The shrub has been a common garden plant for it’s colorful flowers that are seen at a time when nothing else is growing.

In addition it is useful for stopping bleeding and treating hemorrhoids. It can also reduce swelling, bruising, improve vaginal healing after birth and reduce itching temporarily. The witch hazel are deciduous and grow between 3 and 8 meters in height. Witch Hazel from the drug store can be used as a natural option for eczema, psoriasis, ingrown nails, and varicose veins.

Uses:

Not for use in vapour therapy. Topical only.

Can be applied for minor cuts and scrapes to disinfect and stem bleeding. Bruises and swelling, vaginal healing after childbirth, and hemorrhoids. Improves acne and overall tone of skin.

Cautions:

Can cause irritation in some individuals or with prolonged use, so always do a patch test before using on the face.

No specific cautions found for pregnancy, breastfeeding, young children, or babies.

First aid:

If gotten in the eyes allow to water freely, if irritation persists for more than 30 minutes go to the emergency room.

If contact rash or burn occurs use flour or cornstarch to absorb excess.

If someone has ingested witch hazel contact emergency services and watch for nausea, vomiting, or constipation, additionally hepatic (chemically based liver damage) damage may occur if the tannins are absorbed to an appreciable extent.

If a child is suspected to have ingested witch hazel or may have inhaled or gotten in the eyes please call emergency services immediately. Contact with the mucus membranes allows the potential of direct absorption to the blood stream.

Evening primrose is a family of 145 species. They are not closely related to true primrose. The plants are native to the Americas and can be seen often by the road side.

The different species can vary in size from 3 meters to 10 centimeters and the flowers of many species open in the evening, hence the common name.

Some species have been introduced to Europe for gardens and have since escaped and naturalized. There is research being done on evening primrose oil for chronic headaches, acne, PMS, menopause, MS, heart disease and more. The primary focus is on prevention rather than treatment in most cases. The oil is currently one of the highest natural sources of the essential fatty acid known as GLA which helps reduce inflammation in the body.

Other essential fatty acids found in the oil also help improve the skin, protect against ageing visually and protect your brain from ageing too.

Uses:

Internally; reduces PMS, menstruation pain, inflammation of the pelvic region. Reduces inflammation overall and helps with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as preventing nerve damage from diabetes.

Cautions:

Not safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Possible drug interactions include diabetes medications, blood thinning medications, antiplatelet drugs, and NSAID’s such as naproxen or ibuprofen.

380 total drug interactions, please check drugs.com for full list.

First aid:

All drug interactions are listed as mild however call your doctor if you suspect a drug interaction.

There are 5 to 30 species within the sambucus family. The genus prefers subtropical regions and is more widespread in the northern hemisphere. Many varieties are grown for their ornamental qualities. Black elderberry is generally the only variety used for medicinal purposes with other colour berries being edible depending on how they are prepared.

The flowers of elder species are also used for making medicine and wine.

The fruit are also rich in vitamins and minerals. The hollowed out stems were once used as stiles for tapping maple trees for syrup.

As medicine the fruit are used to make elderberry syrup which is being shown in research to have antiviral, antioxidant, anti allergy, and immunomodulating effects.

Uses:

Internally to boost immune function during sickness and shorten duration of illness.

Cautions:

Possible drug interactions include diuretics such as;

Hydrochlorothiazide, Bumetanide (Burinex). Furosemide (Lasix), Amiloride (Midamor), Metolazone (Zaroxolyn).

Diabetes medications, laxatives, chemotherapy and immune suppressing drugs. Theophylline (TheoDur).

First aid:

If a suspected drug interaction has occurred call emergency services.

There are multiple plants that may be called mugwort and most if not all are within the Artemisia family. Here I am speaking of European mugwort (artemisia vulgaris).

Visually the plant is actually very attractive and could easily be part of a ornamental border in the garden. The leaves are dark green on top and much paler underneath, the flower spikes look similar to mint in bloom.

The leaves have been used as medicine for a very long time but also as a bitter flavouring for beer before hops were used and in cooking fatty foods. Bitter flavours cause bile to be secreted which allows us to break down fats and use them.

In the medieval ages it was used as a magical protection against possession and to repel insects, particularly moths. Mugwort pollen is actually a heavy culprit in seasonal allergies, however the pollen only travels about 2000 meters (1.2 miles or 1.9 kilometers).

Mugwort will happily grow in ditches and on roadsides and can reach 3ft or more in height.

Uses:

Topically; As a wash for all types of skin rashes and conditions to prevent and reduce infections. Inhaling the steam from the tea can open the lungs and clear congestion.

Internally; For stimulating menstruation and/or easing the pain associated with menstruation. Reduces Inflammatory conditions. Fever reduction.

Cautions:

Risk of inducing a miscarriage due to emmenagogue properties.

Generally advised to avoid while breastfeeding.

Drug interactions; Anticoagulants (blood thinners), antiplatelet drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s)

First aid:

Basic first aid for hot liquids applies.

If a suspected drug interaction or a pregnant woman has taken mugwort internally call your care provider and explain. If bleeding cannot be stopped even from a small wound head to the emergency room and explain that mugwort is an anticoagulant.

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