Arachnae's Metaphysics

Herbs and Herbalism

Before there was medicine, there was herbs and herbalism. Most drugs in use today had their origins in a leaf, root, or bark. White willow bark brought us aspirin, and quinine came from the bark of the Cinchona tree. Many herbs offer medical benefits such as bringing down a fever (feverfew) or speed healing of cuts and bruises (comfrey).

But beyond that, herbs are often thought to be effective in drawing certain types of results to you. Gamblers might keep a root node from the herb High John the Conqueror in their pocket to bring them luck at the table, for instance, and a leaf of deerstongue in your pocket is supposed to be sure to draw the men to you. (I admit I have been too chicken to try this.)

This section will feature articles on individual herbs, and interesting recipes and techniques for making your own infusions, ointments, tinctures and salves.

St. John's Wort
St. John's Wort ( Hypericum perforatum ) is a bushy plant that can be grown almost anywhere and grows wild easily. It has been known as a medicinal herb for literally centuries - use of St. John's Wort dates back to the ancient Greeks. Today, St. John's Wort is widely used in Europe as treatment for mild depression and for anxiety. It is being more accepted by the US medical community as well. (more)

Lavender is perhaps best known as a perfuming agent, but its medicinal properties have long been recognized. Culpeper, writing in the seventeenth century, says "it is of especial use in pains of the head and brain which proceed from cold, apoplexy, falling-sickness, the dropsy, or sluggish malady, cramps, convulsions, palsies and often faintings.... Two spoonfuls of the distilled water of the flowers help them that have lost their voice, the tremblings and passions of the heart, and fainting and swoonings, applied to the temples or nostrils, to be smelt into, but it is not safe to use it where the body is replete with blood and humours, because of the hot and subtle spirit wherewith it is possessed. " (more)
Chamomile is probably the most widely used specific for relaxing and reducing anxiety. Its use can be traced at least as far back as the ancient Romans and early Egyptians.

Modern day stress makes chamomile a vital staple in your herb cupboard. There are two types of chamomile available today; 'roman' and 'german'. They are both soporific (sleep-inducing) but vary significantly in price; most studies of chamomile's effectiveness has been done on German Chamomile.  (more)