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st-johns-wort

St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Hippocrates was one of the first to document therapeutic uses of St John’s Wort.

The common name relates to St John the Baptist and Hypericum is reputed to be derived from the Greek “hyper” (over) and “eikon” (image).

Hypericum perforatum is an erect perennial with yellow flowers, up to 1 m tall, which grows throughout Europe, Asia and America. The leaves consist of translucent glands, where the essential oil is stored. Brown-black glandular dots are sometimes present along the edges. The yellow flowers contain hypericine which when ground leaves a red colouration.

The dried flowering tops or aerial parts are the part of the plant used. St John's Wort has traditionally been used to help relieve the symptoms of slightly low mood and mild anxiety.

Sources:
Bradley P. British Herbal Compendium. British Herbal Medicine Association, Bournemouth, UK, 2006.
WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants. ­ Vol. 2. World Health Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland, 2002.
Blumenthal M. The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas, USA 2003.


black-kohosh

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

The dried rhizomes and roots of Black cohosh were used by Native Americans and early colonists to treat female problems, which gave the plant the common name of 'Squaw root'.

The perennial herb grows up to 1-2.5 m high in eastern North America. Typical is a long, wand-like raceme of white flowers with many stamens.

Black cohosh has traditionally been used for the relief of symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes, night sweats and temporary changes of mood.

Sources:
WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants. ­ Vol. 2. World Health Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland, 2002.
Blumenthal M. The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas, USA 2003.


valerian

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Valeriana officinalis is one of approximately 250 valerian species that occurs Europe and the temperate zones of Asia. It is a perennial herb about 50-150 cm high, with white or pink flowers and prefers damp, swampy areas.

Valerian for medicinal use is cultivated and harvested from September to October. The root has traditionally been used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to symptoms of mild anxiety.

Sources:
Schulz et al. Rational Phytotherapy A Physician’s Guide to Herbal Medicine. Springer, Berlin, Germany, 2001.


agnus-castus

Agnus castus (Vitex agnus castus)

The herb Vitex agnus castus aided medieval monks in keeping their vow of chastity; hence, the common name Monk’s pepper.

They used the dried, ripe fruits of the plant that is native to the Mediterranean region. The berries have an aromatic odour and an acrid, slightly peppery taste.

Agnus castus has a long history of use in female complaints related to the menstrual cycle. It has traditionally been used to help relieve symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome.

Sources:
Bradley P. British Herbal Compendium. British Herbal Medicine Association, Bournemouth, UK, 2006.
Schulz et al. Rational Phytotherapy A Physician’s Guide to Herbal Medicine. Springer, Berlin, Germany, 2001.

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