By Kyle Branche www.KylesCocktailHotel.

com Source: Andrew Chevallier’s Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants

From the Earth to the Bar
Part 3 – 8 Entries

Angostura – Blackcurrant – Cinchona – Coriander Grape – Olive – Papaya - Sage

Angostura
Galipea officinalis ( Rutaceae )

Part used – Bark Native to some Caribbean islands and to tropical South America. Evergreen tree growing to 50 ft, with gray bark, shiny bright green leaflets, and foul smelling flowers. A traditional tonic and fever remedy in the native land, Amazonians use the plant as a fish poison. There is a brand name of bitters on the market called Angostura, but the herb is no longer an ingredient in the cocktail flavoring. Actions – The bark contains bitter principles, alkaloids, and volatile oil. With tonic properties, it stimulates the stomach and digestive tract as a whole. Being antispasmodic, it is also reported to act upon the spinal nerves of paralytic conditions. It is also known to control fevers.

Blackcurrant
Ribes nigrum ( Grossulariaceae )

Part used – Leaves, berries Native to the temperate regions of Europe, western and central Asia, and the Himalayas. Cultivated for its sour sweet fruit when ripe in mid-to-late summer, and its leaves in early summer. Erect shrub growing to 5 ft, with palm-shaped lobe leaves, small green-white flowers, and clusters of blackberries. The berries contain flavonoids, pectin, tannins, vitamin C, and potassium. Actions – In Europe, the leaves are used as a diuretic, reducing blood volume and thereby reducing blood pressure. Also used as a gargle for sore throats and canker sores. High in vitamin C, the berries help strengthen the immune system’s resistance to infection. Also known to be just as effective as lemon juice for patients with pneumonia and influenza.

Cinchona
Cinchona spp. ( Rubiaceae ) – Peruvian Bark

Part used – The dried bark of the tree, bark of the trunk, branches, and root contains alkaloids, especially quinine. Native to the tropical regions of South America, mainly Peru. It is now grown in India, Java, and parts of Africa, along with tree farm cultivation. An evergreen tree reaching as tall as 80 ft, with reddish bark and leaves that grow to 20 inches. Best known as the source of quinine, taken as a remedy for malaria, the herb is also used for fevers and digestive problems. The bitter constituents of cinchona produce a digestive reflex stimulation, increasing saliva and stomach secretions, and improves weak digestive functions. Having a bitter taste, quinine is also used to flavor tonic water. Actions – Appetite stimulation, antibacterial, astringent, antispasmodic, tonic Preparations – Powder (to treat malaria), Decoction (for fevers), Tincture (very bitter, to improve digestion)

Coriander
Coriandrum sativum ( Umbelliferae) – Cilantro

Part used – Seeds, essential oil, leaves Native to southern Europe and western Asia, this herb is now cultivated throughout the world. Seeds are gathered ripe in late summer. Strong aromatic annual growing to 20 in, with finally cut upper leaves (known as cilantro) and white or pink flowers producing little, round seeds (coriander) in beige-colored seed coats. Coriander has been used for well over 2000 years. Considered an aphrodisiac in Europe, it is more often used as a spice than as a medicine. It settles spasms and nervous tension. It is also chewed to sweeten the breath.

Grape
Vitis vinifera ( Vitaceae )

Part used – Leaves, fruit, sap Native to southern Europe and western Asia, grapes are grown and cultivated throughout the world in warm temperate regions, for their fruit and to produce wine. Leaves collected in summer, fruit in autumn. Deciduous climber with erect rambling stems, tendrils, palm-shaped leaves, clusters of small pale-green flowers, and bunches of fruit that vary in color from green to black. The ashes of the burnt branches are said to make the most heavily stained teeth as white as snow. The red leaves and grapes are helpful in the treatment of varicose veins, and capillary fragility. Because the nutrient content of grapes is similar to that of blood plasma, grape fasts are recommended for detoxification. Grapes have a long list of beneficial constituents: Flavonoids, tannins, tartrates, choline, sugars, carotenes, malic acids, pectin, glycosides, vitamins A, B, C, and minerals.

Olive
Olea europaea ( Oleaceae )

Part used – Leaves, oil They grow wild in the Mediterranean region, and are also cultivated in regions with a similar climate in the Americas. Leaves can be gathered throughout the year, the fruit in late summer. Evergreen tree growing to 30 ft, with a deep-grooved gray trunk, small leathery leaves, clusters of small greenish-white flowers, and a green fruit ripening to black. The leaves have been used for thousands of years as a means to clean wounds. Today, they have been shown to lower blood pressure, and blood sugar for those suffering from diabetes. Olive oil contains about 75% oleic acid. The leaves of wild trees are believed to contain a higher concentration of active principles.

Action – The oil improves the balance of fats within the blood, it has a protective action on the digestive tract, and is useful for dry skin.

Papaya
Carica papaya ( Caricaceae )

Part used – Fruit, latex, leaves, flowers, seeds Native to tropical America, and cultivated in tropical regions throughout the world. Herbaceous tree growing very rapidly to 25 ft, with segmented leaves, yellow flowers, and large black-seeded yellow to orange fruits weighing to 11 lbs. The juice, shoots, and latex were used in Mayan herbal medicine. The leaves are used as a meat tenderizer in tropical Latin America. One of the constituents is a proteolytic enzyme called papain, found in the milky white latex that flows from incisions in the unripe fruit, is a protein-dissolving enzyme that aids digestion. Actions – It’s main use is a supporter of sound digestion (the unripe fruit is known to be even more effective). The latex from the tree trunk is applied externally to speed the healing of wounds, ulcers, boils, warts, and cancerous tumors. The leaves are also used to dress wounds.

Sage
Salvia officinalis ( Labiatae )

Part used – Leaves (fresh and dried) Native to the Mediterranean, it is now cultivated all around the world. The leaves are picked in summer. There are close to 500 species of sage. Spanish is the most used for culinary purposes, and does not contain thujone. Purple sage is the preferred medicinal variety. Clary sage is used as an essential oil. In Latin, sage’s botanical name means “to cure”. Today, it is an excellent remedy for sore throats, poor digestion, and irregular menstruation. It is only taken as a gentle stimulating tonic. Actions – Astringent, antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, estrogenic, tonic, and sweat reducer. Preparations – Infusion, for sore throat.

Tincture, as a digestive tonic. Fresh leaves, can be rubbed over stings and bites.

Definitions
Decoction Water-based preparation of bark, roots, berries, or seeds simmered in boiling water Demulcent Coats, soothes, and protects body surfaces such as gastric mucous membranes Detoxification The process of aiding removal of toxins and waste products from the body Elixer A liquid herbal preparation with a pleasant taste, due to the addition of fruit, and honey or sugar Essential Oil Distillation of volatile oils derived from aromatic plants Estrogenic With a similar action to estrogen in the body, supporting and maintaining the female reproductive organs Expectorant Stimulates coughing and helps clear phlegm from throat and chest