Posted by admin | Posted in Parsley | Posted on 25-10-2010

Eat the garnish!!  Parsley (Petroselinum crispum and Petroselinum crispum var neapolitanum (flat leaf))  of the Umbelliferae family is hardly just a garnish.

Description: Soft, rounded, leafy mound. Height 2-3 feet; width 10 inches. Flowers are green-yellow in umbels. Leaves are divided, feathery with strong aroma. Fruit is oval and compressed. The long taproot is spindly, thick and resembles small parsnips. Blooms in the second summer.

Cultivation: Two types: curly and Italian (flat leaf) A biennial hardy to Zone 3. Germination is from 2-3 weeks but can sometimes take 2 months. Presoak to hasten. Space 6-10 inches. Soil should be fairly rich, moist, and well drained especially in winter with a pH of 6-8 and soil temperature of 70o. Full sun or partial shade. Parsley is a slow germinator. It’s been said that it goes to the devil nine times and back before it sprouts and that a pregnant woman planting it speeds germination. Propagate by seed which can be planted 2 weeks before the last frost. Fertilize the seed row where you intend to raise the parsley. Mark the row to a depth of 1/2 inch and sow the seed (without presoaking) at 1/2 inch intervals. Cover the furrow with sand, then moisten thoroughly. Now cut a 1-inch x 6-inch wood plank to the length of the row and thoroughly soak the board. Cover the row with the wet board, which will keep the seed moist and in place, at the same time preventing weeds from taking hold and keeping the ground from cooling too much at night. After the first two weeks, lift up the board every day to water, if necessary. As soon as seedlings appear, remove the board. Difficult to transplant unless small. Seedlings can tolerate a light frost. In the second year, parsley produces broad flower clusters. Cut these as soon as they begin to form to get more leaf production. “Parsleyworm” may be treated with bacillus thuringiensis; spider mites and aphids may be treated with insecticidal soap. Good companion to tomatoes and roses. Occasional light feedings of fish emulsion or manure; compost mulch especially during the winter and summer.

Dry quickly in order to prevent leaves from yellowing. Take leaves off the stems and spread on a cookie sheet and place in a 400F oven. Do not close the door completely and turn them every 5 minutes. In about 15 minutes the majority will be crisp. When cooled thoroughly pack into jars. Do not just hang dry as it simply yellows. Parsley ice cubes are made by packing a 2 cup container with destemmed leaves. Fill the cup with water, about 1½ cups, and place in the blender. Whirl it till you have a green puree. Pour into an empty ice cube tray, replace the divider and freeze in refrigerator or freezer. When hard remove and put cubes in a plastic bag or freezer container. Label them before storing.

The root was dug up, washed, split lengthwise and dried at temperatures up to 72F. It has a distinctive aromatic smell and initially sweet, but later bitter taste. To extract the fruits the umbels are cut off shortly before they ripen, bundled, and hung up to ripen. They smell spicy and have an aromatic burning taste.

History: Held in high esteem by the Greeks, parsley was used to crown victors at the Isthmian Games and to decorate tombs, being linked with Archemorus, the herald of death. The Greeks also planted parsley and rue along the edges of herb beds, thereby instigating the expression “being at the parsley and rue,” meaning to be at the start of an enterprise. Although the Greeks used parsley medicinally, and Homer recorded that warriors fed parsley to their horses, it appears that the Romans were the first to use it as a food. They consumed parsley in quantity and made garlands for banquet guests to discourage intoxication and to counter strong odors. Petros selinon (rock celery) which could refer to parsley’s ability to relieve kidney and bladder stones.

Parsley is one of the first herbs to appear in spring and has been used for centuries in the Seder, the ritual Jewish Passover meal, as a symbol of new beginnings.

In European folklore, parsley’s notoriously slow germination period gave rise to the superstition that its roots went down to the devil seven times before the plant would grow.

Constituents: Parsley oil comprises about 0.1% of the root, about 0.3% of the leaf and 2%-7% of the fruit. Essential oil includes apiol, apiolin, myristicin, pinene; flavonoids (apigenin); glycoside; vitamins A,C; minerals (iron, manganese, calcium, phosphorus); protein. Parsley contains psoralen and related compounds that can induce photosensitivity; these include ficusin, bergapten, majudin and heraclin.

Properties: diuretic, carminative, anthelmintic, stimulant, emmenagogue (especially the seeds), expectorant

Energetics: sweet, bland, neutral

Meridians/Organs affected: lung, stomach, bladder, liver

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.

Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water on 1-2 tsp of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes in a closed container. Drink 3 times a day
Tincture: Take 2-4ml 3 times a day

HOMEOPATHIC USES: Used for very itchy hemorrhoids, as well as for urinary complaints such as a deep itch in the urinary tract, and gonorrhea with a sudden urge to urinate and a milky discharge.

Toxicity: Do not use during pregnancy in medicinal dosage

Aromatherapy Uses:
EXTRACTION: essential oil by steam distillation from the seed and the herb. An essential oil is occasionally extracted from the roots; an oleoresin is also produced by solvent extraction from the seeds.
CHARACTERISTICS: A yellow, amber or brownish liquid with a warm woody-spicy herbaceous odor. A pale yellow or greenish liquid with a heavy, warm, spicy-sweet odor, reminiscent of the herb.
BLENDS WELL WITH: rose, orange blossom, cananga, tea tree, oakmoss, clary sage and spice oils
ACTIONS: antimicrobial, antirheumatic, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, drpurative, emmenagogoue, febrifuge, hypotensive, laxative, stimulant (mild), stomachic, tonic (uterine)
CONSTITUENTS: Seed: mainly apiol, with myristicin, tetramethoxyally-benzene, pinene and volatile fatty acids. Herb: Mainly myristicin with phellandrene, myrcene, apiol, terpenolene, menthatriene, pinene and carotel, among others.
Circulation, Muscles and Joints: accumulation of toxins, arthritis, broken blood vess4els, cellulites, rheumatism, sciatica
Digestive System: colic, flatulence, indigestion, hemorrhoids
Genito-urinary system: amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, to aid labor, cystitis, urinary infections.
Other uses: used in some carminative and digestive remedies, such as ‘gripe waters’. The seed oil is used in soaps, detergents, colognes, cosmetics and perfumes, especially men’s fragrances. The herb and seed oil as well as the oleoresin are used extensively in many types of food flavorings, especially meats, pickles and sauces, as well as alcoholic and soft drinks.

Ritual Uses: Used in funeral rites and celebrations of victory by the Greeks; held sacred to Persephone. Used in baby blessing rites. It was once believed that the mere tossing of fresh parsley into a pond would heal fish. Sacred to Venus and to Aphrodite, parsley used for success and romance should be gathered on a Friday beneath a waxing Moon. For magickal purposes the dried, powdered greens may be used and the root may also be harvested. When used as a bathing herbe, Parsley brings communion with the second aspect of the Goddess, that of the loving mother of the universe. This procedure is highly recommended for a woman who is with child and desires a healthy pregnancy. The Greeks and Romans believed that parsley would improve the agility and speed of their horses. Parsley may be fed to one’s horses today to bring them good fortune and success.

Language of Flowers: feast; banquet; festivity; joy; victory; “The woman of the house is boss.”

Cosmetic Use: Infuse the leaf as a hair tonic and conditioner. Add to facial steam and lotion for dry skin and to minimize freckles. Use infusion as a soothing eyebath. The essence from the seeds is used in the manufacture of certain strong, masculine scents.

Elderflower and Parsley Lotion:
Handful of elderflower blossoms
3-4 sprigs of parsley
½ pint soft water
Wash the elderflower blooms and parsley and place in a clean bowl. Cover with half a pint of boiling water and allow to infuse for three to four hours. Strain, bottle, label and refrigerate. Apply to freckles with cotton ball.

Other Uses:
Dye: 4 bunches parsley
¼ lb alum mordanted wool
1 ½ gal water
Cover the parsley with water and boil for ¾ hour. Strain out the plant material and add enough water to make about 1 ½ gallons. Enter the wet premordanted wool and raise the temperature to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour Cool and rinse till the water runs clear. Color: soft yellow

Culinary Use: It has a faint peppery tang with a green apple aftertaste. A prime ingredient in French fines herbes along with chervil, tarragon and chives. Add raw to salads. Finely chop and sprinkle over sandwiches, egg dishes, vegetable soups, fish and boiled potatoes. Add to mayonnaise and many sauces. When cooked, parsley enhances other flavors, but add towards end of cooking time. Use in bouquet garni. Use the root of Hamburg parsley in soups and stews. Boil as a root vegetable. Grate raw into salads. Add it to baby carrots that have been candied in unsalted butter, brown sugar and fresh ginger. Add it to pasta dough, biscuit dough, crepe batter, dumpling batter or bread dough. Add parsley and chopped scallions to mashed potatoes or rice or orzo. Mix it with soft cheeses, such as ricotta or cottage cheese. If adding parsley to long cooking soups and stews, add the stems first and the chopped leaves at the end. If left in a sauce too long, the sauce will turn green.
Be sure to wash parsley thoroughly because grit and soil hide easily.


Fresh Mushroom, Parsley, and Radish Salad
1 garlic clove, pressed
8 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and fresh ground pepper
6 cups mixed salad greens: arugula, chicory, oak leaf lettuce, Bibb lettuce
1/3 cup finely chopped radishes
Place the garlic, mushrooms, parsley, lemon juice, and oil in a glass bowl and toss with the basil. Salt and pepper to taste. Marinate at least 30 minutes. Add the greens and toss. Sprinkle with the radishes and serve. (Herbal Salads)

Ella’s Parsley Soup
2 medium potatoes, cubed
3 cups stock
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup minced parsley
In a medium saucepan cook the potatoes in stock until tender, about 20 minutes. In a frying pan over low heat, cook the onions in butter until they are tender. Add onions and parsley to potatoes. If desired, pureé part or all of the soup. (Cooking with the Healthful Herbs)

Sweet Potato and Parsley Salad
6 cooked sweet potatoes, about 2 1/2 lbs
1 small onion, diced fine
1 medium celery rib, diced fine
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup coarse-chopped parsley
leaves from 4 or 5 marjoram sprigs, chopped or 1 tsp crumbled dried marjoram
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly toasted cashew nuts, optional
Peel the sweet potatoes, then cut them into 1/2 inch dice. Place them in a large bowl with the onion and celery. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Stir in the parsley and marjoram. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Toss it with the sweet potatoes and adjust the seasoning. Just before serving, sprinkle the salad with the toasted cashew nuts. The salad may be served warm or at room temperature. (Herbs in the Kitchen)

Blended Beauty, Philip B., Ten Speed Press; 1995; ISBN: 0-89815-742-0
The Complete Book of Herbs, Lesley Bremness; Viking; 1988; ISBN: 0-670-81894-1
The Complete Book of Herbs, Andi Clevely & Katherine Richmond, Amness Publishing 1995; ISBN: 0-8317-1164-7
Cooking with the Healthful Herbs, Jean Rogers, Rodale, 1983; ISBN: 0-87857-486-7
A Druid’s Herbal, Ellen Evert Hopman; Destiny Books; 1995; ISBN: 0-89281-501-9
Dyeing the Natural Way, Frances E. Mustard, 1977; ISBN: 0-915498-68-5
Growing 101 Herbs That Heal, Tammi Hartung, Storey Books, 2000; ISBN: 1-58017-215-6
The Herb Garden Cookbook, Lucinda Hutson, Texas Monthly Press; 0987
Herbs in the Kitchen, Carolyn Dille & Susan Belsinger, Interweave Press, 1992; ISBN: 0-934026-73-4
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils; Julia Lawless, Element Books, 1995; ISBN: 1-56619-990-5
Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991; ISBN: 0-7924-5307-7
Kitchen Herbs, Sal Gilbertie; Bantam; 1988; ISBN: 0-553-05265-9
The Natural Beauty Book, Anita Guyton, Thorsons; 1991; ISBN: 0-7225-2498-6
Park’s Success with Herbs, Gertrude B. Foster and Rosemary F. Louden; Geo W. Park Seed Co., 1980
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Herbs and Spices, Stanley Schuler editor; Fireside Books; 1990; ISBN: 0-671-73489-X

HERBALPEDIA™ is brought to you by The Herb Growing & Marketing Network, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245; 717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261; email: URL: Editor: Maureen Rogers. Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. Material herein is derived from journals, textbooks, etc. THGMN cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information contained in any reference noted herein, for the misuse of information or any adverse effects by use of any stated material presented

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Posted by admin | Posted in Olive | Posted on 20-10-2010

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Not just your little round addition to a drink. Olea europaea is of the family Oleaceae.

Description: It’s a slow-growing evergreen tree with gnarled trunk and slender gray, fissured branches, to 30 feet. The leaves are dark green, scaly and gray beneath, narrow oblong or pointed. White, fragrant flowers in panicles in summer are followed by hard ovoid fruits, green at first but later purple-black, with a single hard stone. Thorny wild form grows on stony hillsides in Mediterranean regions, cultivated forms widely grown in groves. It is hardy to zone 8. It is in leaf all year, in flower from August to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by the wind. The plant is self-fertile.

Cultivation: Trees only grow well away from frost and tropical heat. Easily grown in a loamy soil and tolerating infertile soils, it prefers a well-drained deep fertile soil. A drought resistant plant once established, it succeeds in dry soils and requires a sunny position. Tolerate of salty air, the plants are slow-growing and very long-lived. The olive is very commonly cultivated in Mediterranean climates for its edible seed. Trees can produce a crop when they are 6 years old and continue producing a commercial yield for the next 50 years – many trees continue to give good yields for hundreds of years, even when their trunk is hollow. Generally, older trees are hardy to about 22°F. At least some cultivars are self-fertile. Flower production depends on a 12 – 15 week period of diurnally fluctuating temperatures with at least 2 months averaging below 22°F. Pruning can encourage non-fruiting water-shoots. Weighing down or arching the branches can encourage fruiting. The plants fruit best on wood that is one year old so any pruning should take this into account. Plants have male flowers and bisexual flowers. Seed – sow late winter in a shady position in a greenhouse. Home produced seed should be given a period of cold stratification first. Where possible, it is best to sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse in the autumn. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, perhaps for their first 2 – 3 winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give them some protection from winter cold for at least their first winter outdoors. The leaves are picked any time. The fruits picked when green, pink or red, or fully ripe, sometimes cracked, fermented and soaked in brine, or pressed for oil.

History: Since ancient times the principal source of edible oil in the eastern Mediterranean area. The olive has been cultivated for over 3000 years and its Latin name Olea, is the origin of the word oil. The tree was sacred to Athena, and sprang out of the ground when the city of Athens was founded. The olive is a symbol of plenty and its branch a Biblical symbol of peace. According to the Old Testament, Moses decreed that those who tended the olive groves were excused from military service. An olive wreath was given to victors in the Olympic Games. The leaves have been employed since at least that time as a means to clean wounds. The oil has been used for ritual anointing in some religions.

Properties: antiseptic, astringent, lowers fever and blood pressure, laxative and emollient

Medicinal Uses: Olive oil has a laxative action and is reputed to lower blood cholesterol levels. The leaves lower blood pressure and help to improve the function of the circulatory system. They are also mildly diuretic and may be used to treat conditions such as cystitis. Possessing some ability to lower blood sugar levels, the leaves have been taken for diabetes. Externally, warm olive oil dropped in the ear helps to relive earache, and makes a soothing massage for aching muscles. The oil is nourishing and improves the balance of fats within the blood. It is traditionally taken with lemon juice in teaspoonful doses to treat gallstones. The oil has a generally protective action on the digestive tract and is useful for dry skin. It reduces gastric secretions, which is of benefit to patients suffering from hyperacidity. In folk medicine, a strong infusion of the astringent leaves served as an antiseptic for wounds, and was also taken for fevers. The oil from the pericarp is cholagogue, a nourishing demulcent, emollient and laxative. Eating the oil reduces gastric secretions and is therefore of benefit to patients suffering from hyperacidity. The oil is also used internally as a laxative and to treat peptic ulcers. It is used externally to treat pruritis, the effects of stings or burns and as a vehicle for liniments. Used with alcohol it is a good hair tonic and used with oil of rosemary it is a good treatment for dandruff. The oil is also commonly used as a base for liniments and ointments. The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, febrifuge and sedative. A decoction is used in treating obstinate fevers, they also have a tranquilizing effect on nervous tension and hypertension. Experimentally, they have been shown to decrease blood sugar levels by 17 – 23%. Externally, they are applied to abrasions. The bark is astringent, bitter and febrifuge. It is said to be a substitute for quinine in the treatment of malaria. In warm countries the bark exudes a gum-like substance that has been used as a vulnerary.

Flower Essences: For those with complete exhaustion after a long struggle. Olive is helpful for many related, but lesser states of transformation—any time the physical body experiences utter fatigue and breakdown and the individual needs to reach to a higher place for its revitalization. Olive helps bring the awareness that the physical self is profoundly connected with higher states of soul-spiritual consciousness.

Cosmetic Uses: Massage olive oil into the skin to maintain the body in top condition. It guards against dry skin. The oil mixed with alcohol is a valuable tonic for the hair when massaged into the scalp and it is included in many facial creams. For dry, damaged hair, try rubbing in olive oil and leave it on overnight.

Lip Salve: To 2 tsp of olive oil, add enough beeswax to fill a eggcup, place into a small saucepan. Add a handful of tips of young rosemary shoots and simmer for 30 minutes. Then add a cupful of rose water for fragrance and while still warm, strain into screw-top face cream jars and allow to set. Apply to the lips when sore or as a base before using a lipstick.

Culinary Uses: Not only the fruits but also the leaves are edible. Olive fruits are widely used, especially in the Mediterranean, as a relish and flavoring for foods. The fruit is usually pickled or cured with water, brine, oil, salt or lye. They can also be dried in the sun and eaten without curing when they are called ‘fachouilles’. The cured fruits are eaten as a relish, stuffed with pimentos or almonds, or used in breads, soups, salads etc. ‘Olives schiacciate’ are olives picked green, crushed, cured in oil and used as a salad. The fruit contains 20 – 50µ vitamin D per 100g. The seed is rich in an edible non-drying oil, this is used in salads and cooking and, because of its distinct flavor, is considered a condiment. There are various grades of the oil, the finest (known as ‘Extra Virgin’) is produced by cold pressing the seeds without using heat or chemical solvents. The seed of unpalatable varieties is normally used and this oil has the lowest percentage of acidity and therefore the best flavor. Other grades of the oil come from seeds that are heated (which enables more oil to be expressed but has a deleterious effect on the quality) or from using chemical solvents on seed that has already been pressed for higher grades of oil. Olive oil is mono-unsaturated and regular consumption is thought to reduce the risk of circulatory diseases. The seed contains albumen, it is the only seed known to do this. An edible manna is obtained from the tree.

Other Uses: The non-drying oil obtained from the seed is also used for soap making, lighting and as a lubricant. The oil is a good hair tonic and dandruff treatment. Maroon and purple dyes are obtained from the whole fresh ripe fruits. Blue and black dyes are obtained from the skins of fresh ripe fruits.

A yellow/green dye is obtained from the leaves. Plants are used to stabilize dry dusty hillsides. Wood – very hard, heavy, beautifully grained, takes a fine polish and is slightly fragrant. It is used in turnery and cabinet making, being much valued by woodworkers. Oil is added to liniments, ointments, skin and hair preparations and soap.

Black Olive Soup

3 cups chicken stock
1 cup pitted black olives
1 green onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 eggs
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 cup half and half
Combine first 7 ingredients in blender container. Process for 1 minute. Pour into saucepan. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Stir in half and half. Serve hot or chilled. (Hilton Head Entertains)

Turkish Kebabs with Tomato and Olive Salsa
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 dried red chili, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 ¼ lb lean lamb, cut into 1 ½ in cubes
8 bay leaves
salt and ground black pepper

Tomato and Olive Salsa

1 ½ cups mixed pitted green and black olives, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 plum tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
Mix the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, chili, cumin and coriander in a large shallow dish. Add the lamb cubes, with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Cover and marinate in a cool place for 2 hours. Make the salsa. Put the olives, onion, tomatoes, chili and olive oil in a bowl. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, cover and set aside. Remove the lamb from the marinade and divide the cubes among four skewers, adding the bay leaves at intervals. Broil over a barbecue, on a ridged iron broiling pan or under a hot broiler, turning occasionally for 10 minutes, until the lamb is browned and crisp on the outside and pink and juice inside. Serve with the salsa. (Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices)

Cosmetics from the Earth, Roy Genders, Alfred van der Marck Editions, 1985; ISBN: 0-912383-20-8
Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices, Linda Fraser (editor); Anness Publishing, 1997; ISBN: 1-901289-06-0
Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses, Deni Bown

Flower Essence Repertory, Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz, The Flower Essence Society, 1994; ISBN: 0-9631306-1-7
The Herbal Grove, Mary Forsell and Tony Cenicola, 1995; Villard Books; ISBN: 0-679-40841-X
The Herbal Palate Cookbook, Maggie Oster & Sal Gilbertie, Storey Publishing, 1996; ISBN: 0-88266-915-C
Hilton Head Entertains, Nancy Pruitt, Editor, Hilton Head Preparatory School; 1991; ISBN: 0-87197-320-0
Plants for a Future Database

HERBALPEDIA™ is brought to you by The Herb Growing & Marketing Network, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245; 717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261; email: URL: Editor: Maureen Rogers. Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. Material herein is derived from journals, textbooks, etc. THGMN cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information contained in any reference noted herein, for the misuse of information or any adverse effects by use of any stated material presented.

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Posted by admin | Posted in Nigella | Posted on 13-10-2010

Nigella is more than a garden flower.  Nigella sativa is from the family Ranunculaceae.  Named black cumin, black seed, black caraway, devil-in-the-bush, fitch,  fennel flower, gith, melanthion, nutmeg flower and more.   There are other plants with the same name so using the Latin is the best.

Description: Nigella is an annual herbaceous plant, up to 20 inches high, with a delicate erect stem with pinnatisect leaves and laciniate leaflets.  The solitary flowers, with five black-spotted blue petals, are unmistakable because they are surrounded by an involucre with deeply laciniate, lacy bracts. The fruit is formed of five swollen follicles that contain four tetrahedral black seeds that constitute the spice.  The seeds of nigella are 1/8 inch long and jet black with a matte finish.  They closely resemble tiny chips of coal and have five distinct points.  Nigella has a faint nutty, but bitter taste due to the presence of nigellin and gives out a faint scent of strawberries.  This results in it being used for flavoring confectionery and liquors.  Nigella damascena should not be substituted for black cumin seeds.

Cultivation: Plants prefer rich, well-drained, medium-textured soil. The pH range tolerated is 5.0-8.2.  Prefers warm conditions.  It should be given full sun, but will tolerate slight shade and is ready to harvest about 4 months after planting.  Sow seeds in the open in the late spring in drills 18 inches apart.  Thin out the young plants to 12 inches.  Can also be started indoors and as they don’t transplant well, it is advisable to use fiber pots that can be planted directly into the round.  The plants flower from summer to spring and the seed capsules are collected as they ripen.  They are then dried, crushed whole and sieved to separate the seeds. It adapts well to poor soils and can be sown in open ground, merely requiring some weed control.

History: The seeds account for the generic name, from Latin, niger, black, and the specific name alludes to Damascus, the region where the plant originated.  The Sanskrit names indicate that black cumin was used in India at a very early date.  It was also known to the ancient Hebrews, Greeks and Romans.  The seeds preceded black pepper as a major spice of the Near East.  The seeds of black cumin are thought to be the “fitches” mentioned by Isaiah XXVIII: 25-27 in the King James Bible.  The Roman surgeon and herbalist Dioscorides thought that black cumin mixed with vinegar cured dog and crocodile bites. He also recorded that they were taken to treat headaches, nasal congestion, toothache and intestinal worms and, in large quantities, as a diuretic, a promoter of menstruation and to increase breast-milk production.  Black cumin was popular in Arabic and Turkish cultures as an ingredient of foods designed to fatten women. The Prophet Muhammad encouraged the use of nigella as a cure for all diseases.

Constituents: The whole seeds contain 30-35% oil of which over 60% is linoleic acid, with oleic acid next in predominance.

Medicinal Uses: Nigella is considered carminative, a stimulant, and diuretic.  A paste of the seeds is applied for skin eruptions and is sure to relieve scorpion stings.  The seeds are antiseptic and used to treat intestinal worms, especially in children.  The seeds are much used in India to increase breast milk. The seeds are often scattered between folds of clothes  as an effective insect repellent.  Alcoholic extracts of the seeds are used as stabilizing agents for some edible fats.  In India, the seeds are also considered as stimulant, diaphoretic and emmenagogue. Some of the conditions nigella has been used for include: eruption fever, puerperium (Iraq); liver disease (Lebanon); cancer (Malaya); joints, bronchial asthma, eczema, rheumatis (Middle East); with butter for cough and colic (North Africa); excitant (Spain); boosing immune system, colds (U.S.)

A recent study in South Carolina at the International Immuno-Biology Research Laboratory showed that there was some action against cancer cells using nigella plant extract.

Cosmetic Uses: A decoction of the seeds rubbed on the breasts will bring about firmness and the finely ground seeds rubbed into the hair will rid it of ticks and lice.

Breast Lotion: An infusion of the seeds of nigella (1 oz to 4 pints boiling water) and straining will provide a lotion which since the earliest times, Egyptian women have used to firm the breasts.  While still warm, wring out cloths and place over the breasts, leaving on for 10 minutes. Repeat until the liquid is used up or rub the breasts with the lotion at bedtime and let dry.

Culinary Uses: The seeds of black cumin are used for seasoning and are employed in spice mixes.  The odor of crushed seeds has been described as like lemons with a faint suggestion of carrots while the taste is strong, pungent, peppery, rather oddly aromatic and nutty like a cross between poppy seeds and pepper.  The name nutmeg flower reflects similarity with the odor of nutmeg.  The seeds are added to curries, pickles, cheeses, eggs, poultry, meats, game, pickles, conserves, fruit pies and confections, particularly cookies, rolls and bread.  Nigella is delightful with fish, in naan bread and in salads.  In west Bengal the most prolific spice blend is panch phoron, a mixture of five spices including nigella and this gives vegetables, legumes and lentils a distinctive Bengali taste.  In the Middle East it is used to flavor bread.  The seeds may be used whole or ground, often after a preliminary frying or roasting.  They are easily crushed with a rolling pin or pestle and mortar.

Other Uses: Nigella seeds were once an ingredient in snuff tobacco and are sometimes employed in perfume.


Spicy Fried Shrimp
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cayenne powder
4 Tbsp distilled vinegar
1 ¼ lbs large raw shrimp, shelled and cleaned
5 Tbsp corn oil
2 tsp nigella seeds
2 tsp garlic, sliced
4 small dried red chilies, deseeded
10 curry leaves

Mix the powder spices and salt with the vinegar.  Marinate the shrimp in this mixture for 10 minutes.  Heat the oil in a wok. Add the nigella, garlic, red chilies and curry leaves.  Reduce the heat and stir-fry for a minute. Add the shrimp, stirring continuously until they are completely cooked.  Remove the chilies and curry leaves.  Serve hot with a blend accompaniment, such as rice or rotis, to balance the spicy heat of the shrimp.  (The Indian Spice Kitchen)

French Beans with Coconut
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp nigella seeds
2 dried red chilies
1 lb French beans, cut into 1 in lengths
1 Tbsp desiccated coconut
2 Tbsp coconut milk
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan or wok until almost smoking.  Add the nigella seeds and chilies and fry for a minute until sizzling.  Add the beans and stir-fry for about 7 minutes.  Add the coconut, coconut milk and salt and cook, stirring, for a further 7-10 minutes or until the coconut milk has evaporated and the beans are tender.  (The Macmillan Treasury of Spices and Natural Flavorings)

Adriana’s Spice Caravan. Adriana and Rochelle Zabarkes, Storey, 1997; ISBN: 0-88266-987-7
The Complete Book of Spices, Jill Norman, Dorling Kindersley, 1990, ISBN: 0-670-83437-8
Cooking With Spices, Carolyn Heal & Michael Allsop, David & Charles, 1983; ISBN: 0-7153-8369-8
Cosmetics from the Earth, Roy Genders, Alfred van der Marck Editions, 1985; ISBN: 0-912383-20-8
Culinary Herbs, Ernest Small, 1997, NRC Research Press; ISBN: 0-660-16668-2
The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spice & Flavorings, Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, Dorling Kindersley, 1992; IBSN: 1-56458-065-2
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2
The Indian Spice Kitchen, Monisha Bharadwaj, Dutton, 1997; ISBN: 0-525-94343-9
The Macmillan Treasury of Spices & Natural Flavorings, Jennifer Mulherin, 1988, Macmillan Publishing; ISBN: 0-02-587850-6

HERBALPEDIA™ is brought to you by The Herb Growing & Marketing Network, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245; 717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261; email:    URL: Editor: Maureen Rogers.  Copyright 2006.  All rights reserved.   Material herein is derived from journals, textbooks, etc. THGMN cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information contained in any reference noted herein, for the misuse of information or any adverse effects by use of any stated material presented.

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Posted by admin | Posted in Marshmallow | Posted on 05-10-2010

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Marshmallow is one of the most useful herbs, though not as most non-herbal people think. Get that idea of a sugary confection out of your mind.    If you like this profile, the complete one, with many more medicinal and cosmetic recipes, is part of the Herbalpedia CD.

Althaea officinalis, of the Malvaceae family, is a tall perennial (3-4 ft.), covered with large pink flowers in late summer. The leaves have the texture of velvet, with the lower leaves being circular, 3-5 lobed, toothed and 1¼ to 3¼ inches wide. The upper leaves are ovate to lanceolate, pointed, lobed and toothed. It has woolly stems and several spreading, leafy branches. The flowers are generally solitary, 1-2 inches across, borne from the upper leaf axils, five pink or white, obovate, notched petals. It flowers July through September.

Cultivation: Perennial. Zone 4. Marsh mallow grows in marshes, bogs, damp meadows and along stream banks. The plant is a downy, erect, 5-foot perennial with a long taproot. The stems, which die back each autumn, are hairy and branching. The roundish, gray-green leaves, 1 to 3 inches long, are lobed, toothed, and covered with velvety hairs. The flowers, pink or white, bloom in summer. They are up to 2 inches across and give rise to round fruits called “cheeses,” one of the herb’s names.
In moist soil under full sun, marsh mallow is a hardy plant that grows easily from seeds, cuttings, or root divisions. Seeds should be planted in spring (germination in 2-3 weeks), root divisions in autumn. Thin them to 1-2 foot spacing. A well manured field followed by a good cover crop the year before planting should provide all the nutrients needed. Needs to be irrigated deeply at least once a week in the west. Young plants should be intensely weeded the first year. Do not harvest roots from plants less than two years old. In autumn, when the top growth has died back, dig out mature roots and remove the lateral rootlets. Wash, peel, and dry them whole or in slices. Roots harvested in the fall seem to have a higher mucilage content than those harvested in winter or spring. They can be dug with a root digger or by hand. The expected yield is 1,000-1,500 pounds of dry root per acre. The root is mainly used, being split and dried as quickly as possible a 92F to avoid a mildew attack. The leaves have to be watched while being dried for any developing rust fungus. The marsh mallow root has a weak but distinctive smell but the leaves are odorless.

History: The botanical name comes from a Greek word, altho, meaning “to heal”. The modern name comes from the Anglo-Saxon merscmealwe (merse means “marsh,” and mealwe is “mallow”) Marsh mallow was a food before it was a medicine. The Book of Job mentions a plant that was eaten during famines. And during the Middle Ages when crops failed, people boiled marsh mallow roots, then fried them with onions in butter. A dish of mallow was considered a delicacy by the ancient Romans and the Chinese also used a species of mallow for food. Backpacking guides suggest the plant for wilderness foragers today. Fresh young tops are still eaten in France as a spring tonic. The French first candied marsh mallow roots centuries ago (pate de guimauve). They peeled the root bark, exposing the white pulp, and boiled it to soften it and release its sweetness. Then they added sugar. The result eventually evolved into the confection marshmallows.

The plant’s history as a medicinal goes back to Theophrastus (372-286BC) who reported that marsh mallow root was taken in sweet wine for coughs. Hippocrates prescribed a decoction of marsh mallow roots to treat bruises and blood loss from wounds. The Greek physician Dioscorides recommended marsh mallow root poultices for insect bites and stings and prescribed the decoction for toothache and vomiting and as an antidote to poisons. 10th century Arab physicians used mallow leaf poultices to treat inflammations and early European folk healers used marsh mallow root both internally and externally for its soothing action in treating toothache, sore throat, digestive upsets, and urinary irritation. Culpeper recommended it and by the mid-19th century, it was included in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia. In the 9th century, Emperor Charlemagne ordered marshmallow cultivated in his monasteries.
Those about to undergo torture by hot irons during the Inquisition would paint their skin with an ointment of mallow sap, white of egg and plantain seeds. A coating of this ointment would lessen the effects of the burns and so hopefully prove their innocence.

Properties: Root: demulcent, diuretic, vulnerary, emollient,
Leaves: demulcent, expectorant, emollient, anti-catarrhal, pectoral, alterative, diuretic, lithotriptic; yin tonic

Nutritional Profile: Very high in aluminum, iron, magnesium, selenium, tin. Also has substantial quantities of calcium and magnesium.

Energetics: cool, moist, sweet, bitter

Meridians/organs affected: lungs, stomach, kidneys

Constituents: Root: Mucilage, 18-35%: consisting of a number of polysaccharides: one is composed of L-rhamnose, D-galactose, D-galacturonic acid and D-glucuronic acid; another a highly branched L-arabifuranan, another a trisaccharide structural unit and one with a high proportion of uronic acid units; about 35% pectin, 1-2% asparagines, tannins; In the leaves: mucilage including a low molecular weight D-glucan; Flavanoids such as kaempferol, quercitin and diosmetin glucosides; Scopoletin, a coumarin; polyphenolic acids, including syringic, caffeic, salicyclic, vanillic, p-courmaric, etc.

Language of Flowers: humanity and benevolence

Medicinal Uses: Used whenever a soothing effect is needed, marsh mallow protects and soothes the mucous membranes. The root counters excess stomach acid, peptic ulceration, and gastritis. It reduces the inflammation of gall stones. Marsh mallow is also mildly laxative and beneficial for many intestinal problems, including regional ileitis, colitis, diverticulitis, and irritable bowel syndrome Marshmallow’s ability to bind and eliminate toxins allows the body to cleanse itself. For this reason, it is added to arthritis, laxative, infection, female tonic, vermifuge and other cleansing formulas. Taken as a warm infusion, the leaves treat cystitis and frequent urination. Marsh mallow’s demulcent qualities bring relief to dry coughs, bronchial asthma, bronchial congestion, and pleurisy. The flowers, crushed fresh or in a warm infusion, are applied to help soothe inflamed skin. The root is used in an ointment for boils and abscesses, and in a mouthwash for inflammation. The peeled root may be given as a chewstick to teething babies. The dried root contains up to 35% of mucilage, 38% of starch and 10% of pectin and sugar. Extracts have to be made with cold water if they are to contain the mucilage and not the starch, the latter dissolving only in hot water. If marsh mallow is to be used for gargling rather than taken internally as a tea, the starch will be of additional benefit. Marsh mallow root is very high in pectin. Taking pectin is an effective way to keep blood sugar levels down.

Flowers—Use a syrup made from the infusion as a cough expectorant;
Leaves—use for bronchial and urinary disorders;
Roots—decoction: for inflammations such as esophagitis and cystitis, use 25 g root to 1 liter water, and boil down to about 750 ml. ; tincture: use for inflammations of the mucous membranes of the digestive and urinary systems; poultice—Use the root or a paste of the powdered root mixed with water or honey for skin inflammations and ulcers; ointment—for wounds, skin ulceration, or to help draw splinters, melt 50 g lanolin, 50 g beeswax, and 300 g soft paraffin together, then heat 100 g powdered marshmallow root in these liquid fats for an hour over a waterbath. When cool, stir in 100 g powdered slippery elm bark.
The root boiled in milk, will prove beneficial in treating diarrhea and dysentery. It will also enrich the milk of nursing mothers, and at the same time increase milk flow. Combining both Blessed Thistle and Marshmallow for enriched milk is especially effective. Marshmallow’s ability to bind and eliminate toxins allows the body to cleanse itself. For this reason, it is added to arthritis, laxative, infection, female tonic, vermifuge and other cleansing formulas.

Tincture—20-40 drops 3 times per day. High in minerals, especially calcium, nutritive. High in oxygen. Feeds cells and stops putrefaction. Rejuvenative to lungs, cleanses and rebuilds. Good for weak digestion, chronic constipation, irritations associated with diarrhea and dysentery, enteritis, gastritis, peptic ulcer. Two to 4 heaping tablespoons of powder a day, mixed with water (or yogurt, oatmeal, applesauce or maple syrup) to make a paste will increase stool motility.

Ulcerative conditions, internal or external: comfrey
Bronchitis: licorice and white horehound
Often mixed with slippery elm to make ointments

Marshmallow Root Cough Syrup
1½ -2½ tsp chopped dried marsh mallow root
2 cups water
2 cups refined sugar
¼ cup orange juice
Stir the marsh mallow root into the water and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the decoction into another saucepan; you should have about a cup. Over low heat, gradually stir in the sugar, so that a thick syrup forms. Simmer the mixture for another 5 minutes. Make sure the grains are fully dissolved. Stir in a small amount of water if the mixture gets too thick. Let the mixture cool slightly; then gradually mix in the orange juice. Pour the syrup into a sealable container and cover it when it is cool.

Allergy Tea
2 cups water
½ tsp each echinacea root and marshmallow root
1 tsp chamomile flowers
½ tsp peppermint leaf
¼ tsp ginger rhizome
Combine water and echinacea and marshmallow roots in a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and add remaining ingredients. Steep for 15 minutes, then strain out herbs. For a 50-lb child give 1-2 cups daily.

Cosmetic Uses: Use in facial steam for dry, sensitive skin; boil leaves or use the liquid from steeped root, warmed or cold as a healing softener for dry skins, chapped hands and sunburn; make into an eye compress to soften skin around eyes. The pulverized roots make a soothing and drawing poultice and are occasionally blended in ointments and creams to soothe chapped hands. Marshmallow stimulates skin-cell growth and soothes skin that is irritated from being dry and flaky.

Marsh Mallow face mask
4 tsp untreated acacia honey
2 tsp almond oil
2/3 oz fresh marsh mallow leaves
1/3 oz wheat starch
20 drops blackcurrant macerated in glycerin
5 drops peppermint essential oil
4 ½ oz still mineral water
Simmer the marsh mallow leaves gently in a covered pan for 10 minutes until nearly all the water has gone. If using dried leaves, use 1/3 oz with 5 oz water. Blend all the ingredients in a blender for one minute. Smooth over the face and neck or any area which has been irritated by the sun, wind or other factors. Leave for at least half an hour, then rinse with tepid water and dry. It makes the skin beautifully soft and relieves inflammation in young and old alike. It keeps for a day or two in the refrigerator.

Toxicity: Medical literature contains no reports of any harm from marsh mallow. If it causes minor discomforts such as stomach upset or diarrhea, use less or stop using it. The absorption of other drugs taken simultaneously may be delayed.

Ritual Uses: Sometimes used to cure impotency, and is sometimes used as an Aphrodisiac. The seed of the herb may be gathered beneath a full moon, and this made into an oil which is used upon the genitals. An amulet may be made of either leaf or root, and its energy kept near the genitals to achieve the same purpose. As a Funereal Herbe, it may be used in rituals for the dead, or may be grown upon the grave.

Culinary Uses: Eat fresh seeds alone or sprinkled like nuts on salads; toss flowers on salads; mix young leaves into salads and add to oil and vinegar; steam leaves and serve as a vegetable. Some Middle Eastern peoples boil marshmallow and then fry it with onions and butter. A confection made from the herb was the inspiration for the candy called marshmallow.


Make sure the mallow roots aren’t moldy or too woody. Marshmallow gives off almost twice its own weight of mucilaginous gel when placed in water.
4 tablespoons marshmallow roots
28 tablespoons refined sugar
20 tablespoons gum tragacanth (or gum arabic)
Water of orange flowers (for aroma or instead of plain water)
2 cups water
1-2 egg whites, well beaten
Make a tea of marshmallow roots by simmering in a pint of water for twenty to thirty minutes. Add additional water if it simmers down. Strain out the roots. Heat the gum and marshmallow decoction (water) in a double boiler until they are dissolved together. Strain with pressure. Stir in the sugar as quickly as possible. When dissolved, add the well beaten egg whites, stirring constantly, but take off the fire and continue to stir. Lay out on a flat surface. Let cool, and cut into smaller pieces.

Gingered Pumpkin Soup
1 Tbsp butter
3-4 whole marsh mallow plants, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped gingerroot
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
4-6 cups baked pumpkin
½ cup cow or soy milk
Melt the butter in a skillet and sauté the marsh mallow and ginger until tender. Transfer to a large cooking pot, add the vegetable broth, and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, until the marsh mallow and ginger are softened. In a blender, combine approximately 1 cup pumpkin, 1 cup broth mixture, and 1/8 cup milk. Puree until smooth. Pour pureed soup into another large cooking pot; repeat the blending step until all the pumpkin has been pureed. Heat soup until just warmed thorugh; do not boil. (Growing 101 Herbs that Heal)

Roast Beef
1 large roast
2 onions, peeled and chopped
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
6-8 dandelion roots, chopped or sliced
1-3 burdock roots, chopped or sliced
2-4 hollyhock or marsh mallow roots, sliced
3-4 potatoes, chopped
4-6 carrots, sliced
Preheat the oven to 400F. Place all ingredients in a large baking pan or roasting pan, with 1-2 inches of water in the bottom. Bake for 1 hour. Lower temperature to 325F; continue to cook 1 ½ to 2 hours longer, or until roast is tender, juicy and done as desired. (Growing 101 Herbs That Heal)

The Healing Herbs, Michael Castleman, Rodale Press, 1991
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, 1993
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2
Growing 101 Herbs That Heal, Tammi Hartung, Storey Books, 2000; ISBN: 1-58017-215-6
Herbal Medicine, Rudolf Fritz Weiss, distributor: Medicina Biologica, 1988
Herbs for Health and Healing, Kathi Keville, Rodale, 1997; ISBN: 0-87596-2939-
Magic and Medicine of Plants, Reader’s Digest, 1986
The Complete Book of Herbs, Lesley Bremness, Viking, 1988
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991
Master Book of Herbalism, Paul Beyerl, Phoenix Publishing, 1984
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field & Marketplace, Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley, San Juan Naturals; 1998; ISBN: 0-9621635-7-0
Jude’s Herbal Home Remedies, Jude C. Williams, Llewellyn Publications, 1992
Textbook of Modern Herbology, Dr. Terry Willard, C.W. Progressive Publishing, 1988
The Herb Book, John Lust, Bantam Books, 1974
Nutritional Herbology, Mark Pedersen, Pedersen Publishing, 1987
Flora’s Dictionary, Kathleen Gips, TM Publications, 1990
Thorne’s Guide to Herbal Extracts, Terry Thorne, Wisteria Press, 1992
Natural Beauty, Aldo Facetti, Fireside Books, 1990

Crimson Sage, Plants

HERBALPEDIA™ is brought to you by The Herb Growing & Marketing Network, PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245; 717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261; email:  URL: Editor: Maureen Rogers. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. Material herein is derived from journals, textbooks, etc. THGMN cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information contained in any reference noted herein, for the misuse of information o

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