Gypsy Herbal Astringent Lotion.

This wonderful herbal astringent lotion has been hailed as the first herbal product ever produced and marketed. Legend has it that the early Gypsies formulated it and claimed it to be a cure-all. Whether or not it is I hardly know, but I do know that it is an excellent astringent for the face and a great rinse for dark hair.

This Gypsy herbal astringent lotion combines gentle common herbs in a masterful way, it’s easy to make, and it’s a versatile formula that serves many purposes. The Gypsies used it as a hair rinse, mouthwash, headache remedy, aftershave, footbath, and who knows what else! I have seen this formula sold in department stores in exotic little bottles for a fancy price. You can make it for the cost of a few herbs and a bottle of vinegar.

  • 6 parts lemon balm
  • 4 parts chamomile
  • 4 parts roses
  • 3 parts calendula
  • 3 parts comfrey leaf
  • 1 part lemon peel
  • 1 part rosemary
  • 1 part sage
  • Vinegar to cover (apple cider or wine vinegar)
  • Rose water or witch hazel extract
  • Essential oil of lavender or rose (optional)
  1. Place the herbs in a widemouthed jar. Fill the jar with enough vinegar that it rises an inch or two above the herb mixture. Cover tightly and let it sit in a warm spot for 2 to 3 weeks.
  2. Strain out the herbs. To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 2/3 to 1 cup of rose water or witch hazel. Add a drop or two of essential oil, if desired. Rebottle. This product does not need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely.
  3.  To use: Pour a small amount of the toner onto a clean cotton ball and rub over your scalp or massage lightly into your scalp after shampooing.

Marshmallow

Althaea Officinalis

Also, Known As:

  • Althaea
  • Marshmallow
  • Mortification Root
  • Sweetweed

Found growing in abundance in moist and wet places all over the world, marshmallow is a perennial aromatic herb that is sometimes found to grow up to four feet in height. While the herb can be found growing in plenty in the wild, it is also cultivated commercially for medicinal use. The root of the plant is white in color and tastes sweet similar to the parsnip (a long tapering cream-colored root cooked and consumed as a vegetable). However, unlike the parsnip, marshmallow roots contain plenty of mucilage (a gummy substance secreted by some plants containing protein and carbohydrates). The plant has numerous branchless stems that are wooly or covered with long, soft, white hairs. The marshmallow stems bear serrate (edged with indentations or with projections that resemble the teeth of a saw) and pubescent (covered with down or fine hair) leaves. The flowers of the herb are approximately two inches in width and they may be found in white, light red or royal purple colors.

Ointment or cream prepared with marshmallow leaves and elder flowers is an excellent remedy to cure facial aching, skin rashes or eruptions, leg ulcers and repulsive-looking wounds more rapidly. To prepare the useful ointment, first gently mash about one gallon of fresh marshmallow leaves and mature flowers each. Next, spread out the mashed leaves and flowers uniformly in a big roast pan and add approximately two-and-one-fourth cups of liquefied lard and one-and-a-half pounds of beeswax. Blend and beat the ingredients systematically with a wooden serving spoon, cover the pan and allow the ingredients to simmer or boil on an oven in 150° F. Continue simmering the ingredients until the herbs are reasonably crunchy and crush when touched. Then drain out the liquid mixture using a wire net strainer and keep on stirring the liquid with a wooden ladle till it is completely cold. Once the mixture has cooled, you may add half a cup of glycerin or 2/3 cup of pulverized slippery elm to preserve the ointment. Next, pour the ointment into clean jars or containers while it is still fairly warm and let it become firm to some extent. Seal the jars with air-tight lids and store the ointment in a cool and dry place till it is required for use.

Parts Used:

Root, leaves, flowers.

Uses:

Researchers over the years have shown that marshmallow has numerous medicinal benefits, particularly in safeguarding and soothing the mucous membranes. The roots of the herb are effective in counteracting additional stomach acid, peptic ulcers as well as gastritis. In addition, marshmallow has moderate laxative (a substance used to promote bowel movements) properties and hence is helpful in healing several problems of the intestines, including colitis, ileitis, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis. Ingesting warm infusion of marshmallow leaves is effectual in curing cystitis as well as frequent urination. The demulcent (soothing irritated or inflamed skin or mucous membranes) properties of marshmallow offer respite from dry coughs, bronchial asthma, bronchial congestion or jamming of the bronchioles and even pleurisy. One may apply crushed fresh marshmallow flowers or a warm infusion prepared from the herb’s flowers to comfort the inflammatory (irritating and swelled) skin. On the other hand, marshmallow roots form a crucial ingredient of an ointment or cream that effectually cures boils and abscesses. The roots are also used in mouthwash for treating inflammation. In addition, peeled fresh roots of marshmallow can be given as a chew stick to teething infants.

Other medical uses
  • Gastritis
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Wrinkles

Habitat of Marshmallow:

Although the marshmallow is indigenous to Europe, over the years, the herb has acclimatized itself in the Americas where it is now commercially cultivated for medical use. Usually, marshmallow grows best in marshy lands. The above-ground parts of the plants are collected in summer when they just begin to blossom. On the other hand, the marshmallow roots are dug out or harvested during the autumn.

Constituents:

Marshmallow root contains about 37% starch, 11% mucilage, 11% pectin, flavonoids,  phenol acids, sucrose, and asparagine.

Usual Dosage:

Marshmallow can be ingested in various ways. One may consume a tea prepared with marshmallow both hot or cold. In order to prepare tea with marshmallow, add the herb’s roots and/ or leaves to cold or hot water and allow it to steep for some time. You may drink the tea three to five times every day. Extracts of the herb are also available in capsule and tablet forms. One may use these tablets or capsules that provide five to six grams of marshmallow daily. As an alternative, it may also be ingested as a tincture. Taking five to fifteen ml of marshmallow tincture three times every day is effective to cure several disorders.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions:

Researchers over the years have not found any side-effects of marshmallow application. The herb has been reported safe for use.

How Marshmallow Works in the Body:

What the mucilage presents in the marshmallow is the primary component that not only safeguards the body tissues but also soothes them during inflammation. While it is an established fact that marshmallow is extremely useful in soothing inflammations in conditions such as bronchitis, pleurisy, even dry cough and other respiratory problems, since ages the herb has also been used to protect and heal the digestive system. It is particularly useful in curing digestive system disorders such as ulcers and gastric inflammation which often lead to tetchy bowel syndrome and other symptoms. Marshmallow and its extracts are used in the urinary system to comfort the aggravated tissues in urinary tract infections like cystitis. Poultice prepared with marshmallow leaves and roots may be applied externally to heal skin problems like ulcers and boils. In fact, the herb has a double action – it soothes the irritation as well as heals the disorder.

Applications:

Flowers:
SYRUP: Syrup prepared from the infusion of the marshmallow flower is beneficial in curing various types of coughs. It may be used as a cough expectorant.
Leaves:
INFUSION: An infusion prepared by boiling and then cooling the marshmallow leaves may be used to cure bronchial and urinary disorders.
Root:
DECOCTION: In order to cure inflammations like esophagitis and cystitis (an inflammation of the urinary bladder owing to infections). To prepare the decoction, add 25 g of marshmallow root to one liter of water and then boil it down to about 750 ml. In certain cases, the decoction may require some dilution by adding water.
TINCTURE: Tinctures prepared from the marshmallow roots may be used to cure swellings and irritations (inflammation) of the mucous membrane in the digestive and urinary systems.
POULTICE: To prepare a poultice of marshmallow, use the plant’s root or a paste prepared from the powdered root blended with water. This poultice is effectual in curing skin irritations and swellings (inflammation) as well as ulcers.
OINTMENT: Ointments or creams prepared from marshmallow or its extracts are highly effectual in healing injuries, skin ulcers and even to even pull out unwarranted particles from the skin. To prepare an ointment with marshmallow, liquefy 50 g of lanolin, 50 g beeswax and 300 g of soft paraffin (a white colored waxy solid combination of hydrocarbons acquired from petroleum) collectively. Next, heat 100 g of powdered marshmallow root in these liquid fats for an hour over a water bath and after it cools, blend 100 g of powdered slippery elm bark by stirring.

Marshmallow Face Mask –

The marshmallow face mask is also apt for sensitive skin and the ingredients required to prepare it to include:

  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 ml) of a potent decoction prepared with marshmallow root
  • Superior quality oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoonfuls (30 grams) of natural yogurt

Blend the marshmallow infusion and the yogurt and add the oatmeal. Stir the mixture thoroughly to prepare a paste. Apply this mixture uniformly and gently to your face.

Herbal Marshmallow Root Detangler.

marshmallow detanglerRecipe:
3 cups distilled water (purified will work in a pinch)
2 tablespoons marshmallow root
1 tablespoon horsetail
1 tablespoon oat straw
1 cup aloe vera juice (or so, read directions)
10-30 drops essential oil *optional

  1. Make an herbal decoction with the marshmallow root and water – Boil water and add marshmallow root then turn down to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Take off heat and remaining herbs. Let rest at least 15 more minutes.
  3. Strain through cheesecloth-lined sieve into the bottle when cool.
  4. Add aloe vera juice (if the infusion results in less than one cup, I just use equal parts aloe vera juice so its half infusion and half aloe).
  5. Spritz on comb or hair and get to work!

Eucalyptus {Eucalyptus globulus}

Also, Known As:

  • Blue Gum
  • Blue Gum Tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fever Tree

The familiar tree known as the eucalyptus is indigenous to Australia. This popular quick growth tree is now cultivated in many other countries. The tree is one of the quickest growing tree species around; it is also among the world’s biggest and tallest trees. The eucalyptus grows successfully in many places with varied soils and climate. When fully grown, some sub-species of this tree can cross two hundred fifty feet in height. The eucalyptus is an efficient dry land tree, putting out a vast network of roots underground to probe for water. The efficient ability of the eucalyptus at scrounging water from the soil has been applied to great effect in draining marshy and waterlogged areas in land reclamation programs. This characteristic of the tree has proven to be of the greatest help in the complete reclamation of water bogged malarial swamps in many countries with hot and humid climates. For example, the malarial swamps in the Central American country of Guatemala were largely reclaimed by planting a large number of eucalyptus trees in the marshy wastelands that acted as the breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Eucalyptus trees are characterized by the possession of bluish white colored bark, the bark easily peels off and many trees shed the bark. The tree bears green branchlets and foliage at the top. A white and waxy bloom coats the tender shoots and the leaves. The leaves of eucalyptus plants are dissimilar in shape and other characteristics, while the bluish green hue and sticky tender leaves tend to grow in opposite venation and are heart shaped, bluish-green, the mature green colored leaves grow in alternate venation, they are also lance-shaped and have a smooth texture. Eucalyptus has a peculiar pungent smell; this is due to the aromatic oil contained in the leaves and buds of the plant. This pungent scent is given off by crushed or bruised leaves.

Eucalyptus leaves are harvested and the aromatic oil is extracted for commercial purposes. For example, the essential ingredient in balms like the Vicks Vapo-Rub and other herbal remedies contains the aromatic eucalyptus oil. Vicks Vapo-Rub is a very popular over the counter mentholated herbal preparation and many millions of people have been using this remedy for many years to locally alleviate the symptoms of various respiratory disorders, particularly the symptoms of chronic asthma and bronchitis. The topical remedy is used by placing a small amount of the ointment on the chest of the affected person, following by a slow and gentle rub using the forefingers in a circular motion to spread out the soothing balm on the chest. A flannel cloth is at times laid over the skin rubbed with the Vapo-Rub – this results in warm stimulating and penetrating effect persisting for a longer time on the skin.

Among all native tree species in Australia, the Eucalyptus globulus species of tree is considered to be one of the most widely cultivated trees as far as commercial and non-commercial acreage is concerned. This tree species can be easily spotted at many of the parks and gardens in all Australian cities and urban centers. This tree has also been naturalized in many countries around the world. For example, Algeria on the North African coast, Brazil in South America, France, Spain, Portugal, and India all have fully naturalized and teeming populations of eucalyptus plants – the eucalyptus is almost cosmopolitan in distribution in the contemporary world and grows all over the world. Many Californians even regard the eucalyptus as a native species and are unaware that it is an introduced species due to its huge success there.

Eucalyptus is classified into four primary recognized sub-species – each of which differs from the other trees, in a range of physical or morphological characteristics that includes the type of bark, the habit and the arrangement of flowers when in bloom.

The Eucalyptus tree known as the “Tasmania blue gum” is botanically known as the – E. globulus tree. This sub-species of eucalyptus is found growing in the eastern and south-eastern parts of the island of Tasmania including a population in the islands of Bass Strait. This sub-species of eucalyptus can also be found in some areas in the southern part of the state of Victoria. This sub-species of eucalyptus is characterized by bearing flowers singly in the axils of the leaf. The bark of this sub-species is rough and most of the bark at the base of the tree trunk never peels off. The state of Tasmania uses the flowers of this subspecies of Eucalyptus as its floral emblem.

The subspecies of Eucalyptus called the “Maiden’s gum” is botanically called the-E.globulus maiden-tree. This sub-species of the eucalyptus can be found growing in Northeastern regions of the state of Victoria and in south-eastern New South Wales. The flowers of this sub-species of eucalyptus form into groups of seven along the axils of the leaf when in bloom. The bark at the base of the trunk normally peels away in this tree type.

The subspecies of Eucalyptus called “Gippsland blue gum” is known as the “E.globulus pseudolobules” to botanists. This sub-species of eucalyptus can be seen growing in southeastern New South Wales State, Flinders Island in the Bass Strait as well as in eastern and southern parts of the state of Victoria. This sub-species bears flowers primarily in floral groups of three attached along the axils of the leaves. The bark at the base of the trunk usually peels away leaving the tree base bare.

The subspecies of Eucalyptus called the “Southern blue gum” are known as the E.globulus bi costa ta to a botanist. This sub-species of eucalyptus is mainly found in a number of places along the Great Dividing Range in Australia, extending from the northern region of the state of New South Wales to the western region of the state of Victoria. This sub-species of eucalyptus tends to bear flowers primarily in groups of three in the leaf axils. This sub-species of eucalyptus possesses a rough bark that is usually retained at the base of the tree.

Eucalyptus is cultivated in many parts of the world and is a popular tree for cultivation and reforestation efforts as it is quick growing. The sub-species globulus is especially a popular tree for cultivation in many parts of the world. Some of its characteristics including the pretty and blue-grey – glaucous – juvenile foliage and its rapid growth make it ideal for land wasteland reclamation and reforestation efforts. This sub-species may not be suitable for all locales and places as it may be too big and demand too much space for average-sized suburban blocks. This sub-species of the eucalyptus also has a very robust and vigorous root system that fans out rapidly underground – the spreading roots can damage housing and underground pipes if the tree is not sited at a suitable location.

The globulus sub-species of the eucalyptus possess an open textured wood that is marked off by distinct growth rings – which can be used to identify the age of the tree. This wood of this sub-species is also hardy and strong as well as being durable; it, therefore, finds use in a variety of roles and manufactures, such as in the manufacture of railway sleepers, to make piles and planks, the paper industry, as well as a being a source of wood oil and in the manufacture of honey. Wood of this sub-species has also been used as a fuel and the tree coppices well. The quantity of volatile oil obtainable from this sub-species is relatively low compared to the other sub-species of eucalyptus. However, this sub-species still serves as a substantial source of volatile oil and commercial extraction of the oil from this sub-species species is carried out on an extensive scale in Spain and Portugal and on a lesser scale in other places. The soap making and perfumery industry utilizes this pale yellow volatile oil in the manufacture of a variety of products.

Parts Used:

Leaves, oil.

Uses:

The Australian aborigines traditionally used various herbal remedies made from different parts of the Eucalyptus to treat fevers and all kinds of infections. These days, remedies made from the eucalyptus are used by many people all over the world for the treatment of these types of complaints. The potent antiseptic and anti-viral power of the eucalyptus makes it very helpful to treat colds, flu, and it is often used as a gargle to treat sore throats.

The remedies made from the eucalyptus are effective in the treatment of chest infections of all kinds as the plant has strong expectorant action – disorders like bronchitis and pneumonia are often treated using this herbal eucalyptus remedy.

The essential oil of the eucalyptus is diluted and then used on the skin as a form of an herbal chest or sinus rub, this oil induces a warming and mildly anesthetic effect on the skin. The oil helps in relieving respiratory infections and complaints of all kinds. A similar effect can be induced by the use of a eucalyptus infusion or tincture as an herbal gargle to treat soreness in the throat. The essential oil can also be used in the diluted form to bring relief from the symptoms of rheumatic joints, symptoms like sudden aching pains and stiffness. The diluted essential oil is also useful for the treatment and alleviation of the symptoms of neuralgia, and to treat some kinds of skin infections caused by bacterial pathogens.

Other medical uses
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease ( COPD )
  • Herpes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tension headache
  • Viral infection

Habitat:

The eucalyptus is an indigenous Australian species, originally it was found only there. Due to the great popularity of the eucalyptus as a quick growth tree, it is now extensively cultivated in plantations around the world in countries that have a tropical, sub-tropical or temperate climatic regime. Eucalyptus trees are quick growing hardy species, however, it has been increasingly realized that planting the eucalyptus plants without planning can bring great ecological disruption and environmental problems to any area. One of the primary reasons is that these trees often absorb huge volumes of water from the ground and this can prevent the normal growth of native plant species – often endangering the local plant community. However, the water absorption capability of the eucalyptus species is considered very beneficial in some cases, especially when trees are planted to help dry up marshy areas – thus lowering the risk of malaria in an area. The leaves of cultivated trees are harvested and subjected to distillation to obtain the essential oil or they are dried and used for other purposes.

In cultivation, the ideal site to grow eucalyptus is in sites that have a good exposure to sunlight. The tree grows best in soils that are moderately fertile and are well drained. Eucalyptus also prefers moisture retentive and circumneutral soils and gives optimal growth in such soils. However, as already mentioned the eucalyptus is a hardy plant and can easily grow with success in most soil types. It is a strong plant and can tolerate even poor and very dry soils. The tree is tolerant of even those soils that are particularly low in essential mineral elements required by most other plant species. One eucalyptus has been grown on a site, the established mature trees become very tolerant to drought and prolonged dry periods. When planting the eucalyptus, it is best to avoid planting in frost pockets or along windy sites. Growing eucalyptus plants usually need a sheltered position; the young eucalyptus plants may not be able to tolerate extreme cold temperatures and will also not grow well if exposed to winds that are dry or desiccating during the crucial early growth stage. Eucalyptus plants are tolerant of moderate rainfall and are tolerate annual precipitation from 80 to about 160 cm. The species also tolerates fluctuations in annual temperature ranging from 16 to 20°C. As the eucalyptus is a sub-tropical species, it does not possess the deciduous habit of stopping growth in cold weather and trees will continue to grow until it turns too cold for any growth to occur. This factor makes the eucalyptus plants vulnerable to physical and tissue damage from the appearance of sudden cold conditions and frosts. Eucalyptus trees resist the cold better, when the fluctuation in the temperature is much more gradual such as in woodlands and sub-temperate areas, often stopping growth and becoming dormant – eucalyptus plants grown in such conditions or areas are much more cold resistant than plants grown in temperate or colder regions. The eucalyptus trees also survive much better and grow at an optimal rate if provided with a deep mulch in the site around the roots – this mulching prevents the freezing of the soil and aids the resistance of the trees to cold weather. The Genus Eucalyptus is nevertheless one of the most adaptable plant genus’s around and the trees are remarkably hardy in all kinds of weather conditions. The hardiness of each generation can undergo a dramatic as seeds from subsequent generations of plants grown in the temperate zones are planted – the tree adapts to the local conditions in a few generations. Among all the different eucalyptus sub-species, the “Tasmanian blue gum” with a total number covering about 800,000 ha in dozens of countries around the world is considered to the most extensively planted sub-species of eucalyptus. The Tasmanian blue gum is the eucalyptus species of choice in S. Europe and can commonly be seen there, particularly in countries such as Italy, Spain, and Portugal. This sub-species of eucalyptus is used as a source from commercial timber, as a tree for soil stabilization in degraded lands and as a source of the essential eucalyptus oil found in the leaf extract. Eucalyptus trees are also extensively planted in bogs and marshy areas to help lower the wetness of the land in land reclamation projects or to rid such areas of breeding mosquitoes – the high transpiration rate of eucalyptus plants is the reason for their efficiency in clearing excess water from bogs and marshes. Eucalyptus plants are shallow rooting during the early growth periods and have to be planted at the permanent sites while they are small to protect them from the danger of high winds. Eucalyptus saplings do not tolerate disturbance to the root system very well and are best grown in containers initially before they are taken for planting at permanent sites. Eucalyptus trees are also favored by apiarist as the nectar-rich flowers are a good source of nectar for bees. The typical balsamic eucalyptus aroma is given off by leaves when they are slightly bruised – a stand of eucalyptus trees can be identified by the presence of this peculiar aromatic smell.

Eucalyptus trees are propagated using stored seeds. The seeds are sown on the soil surface either in February or March, usually in seedbeds within greenhouse – sites with good exposure to incoming sunlight is preferred. The best method to grow seedlings of sub-species that are from high altitudes is to subject them to cold stratification for six or eight weeks. As soon as the second sets of seed leaves appear, the seedlings are placed into individual pots – this is done because it becomes difficult to successfully move or transplant the seedlings at a later stage. Early in the summer, seedlings are planted out into the permanent positions and at this stage, usually given them some protection from the cold during the winter of the first year of growth. Eucalyptus seeds are often sown in June as well, in such a case, the young trees are only planted at the permanent site late in the spring of the next year. Eucalyptus seeds are viable for long periods of time and can be stored for years on end.

Research:

There has been numerous and extensive research into the essential oil of the eucalyptus in the last half century. The essential oil has been shown to possess a distinct and potent antiseptic action as well as a power to dilate the bronchioles and respiratory passages in the pulmonary system. The main constituent of the oil is a compound called cineole, however, the potency of cineole, when used alone, is weaker compared to the whole essential oil – other compounds in the oil are also responsible for the beneficial effects in addition to the cineole.

Components:

The volatile oil contains about 70% eucalyptol (1, 8-cineole), as well as pinene, limonene, alpha-terpineol, and linalool. While it is similar to the oils of related species, this oil appears to be better tolerated by the skin.

Applications

Leaves:
HERBAL STEAM INHALATION – This steam remedy can be prepared by pouring scalding boiled water on a few eucalyptus leaves in a bowl, the vapors can be inhaled to alleviate chest infections and respiratory ailments.
Essential oil:
EUCALYPTUS COMPRESS – A herbal compress can be prepared from the oil to treat topical problems. Two ml of the oil dispersed in a hundred ml of water can be used to soak a compressed pad. The thoroughly soaked pad can be pressed on inflamed skin, rubbed on painful joints, and applied on skin burns and other topical complaints.ORAL GARGLE – Five drops of the eucalyptus oil mixed well and diluted in a glass of water can be used as a gargle for throat infections and as a general antiseptic mouthwash.

TOPICAL CHEST RUB – About 0.5 – 2 ml of the essential oil can be diluted in twenty-five ml of almond oil – this can be used as rubbing oil to relieve complaints like bronchitis, asthma, and the common cold. This oil is a good topical rub for influenza affected patients as well.

INHALATION – Some hot water can be used to dilute ten drops of the essential oil. The vapors given off can be inhaled to treat and relieve chest infections or pulmonary problems of all kinds.

HERBAL OIL – Two drops of the essential eucalyptus oil can be mixed with ten ml of sunflower oil or another herbal ointment base, this herbal oil can be applied to the skin to treat cold sores and other topical problems.

MASSAGE OIL – A herbal massage or rubbing oil can be made by mixing ten to twenty drops of the essential eucalyptus oil with ten to twenty drops of herbal rosemary oil, with the addition of twenty ml of infused bladder-wrack oil or some almond oil – this oil can be massaged on the joints to treat symptomatic rheumatic or arthritic pain in affected patients.