From the Earth to the Bar
By Kyle Branche www.KylesCocktailHotel.com Source: Andrew Chevallier’s Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Part 4 – 8 Entries
Angelica – Coffee – Garlic – Lemon Grass – Peppermint – Raspberry – Sweet Basil - Tea
Angelica archangelica ( Umbelliferae )
Part used – Root, leaves, seeds, stems Native to temperate regions of western Europe, the Himalayas, and Siberia. Preferably damp sites near running water. Aromatic biennial herb growing to 6 ft, with ridged upright hollow stems, large bright green leaves, and greenish white flowers in umbels. Known as a prized medicinal herb, it is considered one of the most important of the soil. The root extract is considered to be anti-inflammatory. The stems are candied for culinary use, and is one of the herbs used in gin. Actions – A warming tonic remedy, it improves the blood flow to the peripheral parts of the body – hands and feet. It also stimulates relief from bronchitis and challenging chest conditions. The roots are mainly used for respiratory conditions, yet all parts of the plant help relieve indigestion and colic.
Coffea arabica ( Rubiaceae)
Part used – Seeds Native to tropical East Africa, it is now cultivated in tropical areas worldwide. Fermenting, sun-drying, and roasting create the best quality beans. Evergreen shrub or small tree growing to 28 ft, with dark-green oval leaves, white star-shaped flowers, and produces small red fruit, containing two seeds (beans). Caffeine is a strong stimulant and a short-term stimulant as well. In long term, it is thought to weaken the vitality, especially when above moderate consumption over-stimulates the central nervous system. Ayurvedic medicine states that unripe beans are best used for headaches, and ripe roasted beans for diarrhea. In occasional consumption, it has a beneficial effect on the nervous system, temporarily improving perception and physical performance. It is a powerful diuretic, as it increases heart output and stimulates digestive juices. Coffee should be avoided by those prone to acid indigestion, high blood pressure or palpitations, as it may cause a one degree rise in the body temperature of some.
Allium sativum ( Liliaceae )
Part used – Cloves of the bulb – whole, chopped, or crushed. Native to central Asia, it is now grown worldwide, by dividing the bulb, and is harvested late the following summer. A bulbous perennial growing to 1–3 ft, with pale pink or green-white flowers. Garlic is a powerful treatment for a host of health problems, such as bronchial infections, digestive tract, prevents circulatory problems and strokes, and may be taken with conventional antibiotics to support action and ward off side effects. Actions – Antibiotic, antidiabetic, expectorant, increases sweating, lowers blood pressure, reduces blood clotting.
Cymbopogon citratus ( Graminaeae )
Part used – Leaves, essential oil Native to southern India and Sri Lanka, it is now cultivated in tropical regions around the world. Sweet-scented grass growing large clumps up to 5 ft, with narrow leaf blades and branched stalks of flowers. Lemon grass contains a volatile oil with citral (about 70%) and citronellal as its main constituents. Both have noticeable traits as sedatives. Cultivated for its oil, for use as a culinary flavoring, as a scent, and as a medicine. In the Caribbean, it is regarded as a fever-reducing herb. It also makes a soothing tea, relaxing the muscles of the stomach and gut, relieves cramps, and is safe for children.
Mentha x piperita ( Labiatae )
Part used – Aerial parts (dried and fresh), essential oil Even though peppermint has been in existence for a long time (as far back as 1000 BC), its origin is still unknown. It is grown commercially and in gardens throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. Harvested just before it flowers in summer, in dry, sunny weather. A strongly aromatic, square-stemmed annual, growing to 32 in, with serrated leaves. Peppermint is a hybrid of watermint and spearmint. It’s key constituents are volatile oil, including menthol (35-55%), and menthone (10-40%), flavonoids, phenolic acids, and triterpenes. The volatile oil is strongly antibacterial, and menthol is anesthetic, antifungal, and cooling to the skin. Actions – Carminative, antispasmodic, antiseptic, increases sweating, stimulates secretion of bile. Peppermint is known to be excellent for the digestive system.
Rubus idaeus ( Rosaceae )
Part used – Leaves, fruit Native to Europe and Asia. Raspberry grows wild and is cultivated in many temporate regions. The fruit is collected in summer when ripe, leaves in early summer. Deciduous shrub growing to 6 ft. It has woody stems with prickles, pale green leaves with 3-7 leaflets, white flowers, and red berries. The leaves contain polypeptides, flavonoids, and tannins. The fruit contains pectin, fruit sugars, fruit acids, and vitamins A, B, and C. Actions – The fruit is good for the heart and diseases of the mouth. The leaves are taken, in the form of tea, to help speed childbirth, as it encourages an easier labor, and thought to strengthen the longitudinal muscles of the uterus, increasing a more natural force of contractions. NOTE – Do not take leaves medicinally during early stages of pregnancy.
The leaves are also astringent, and in a mild way the fruit is also.
Ocimum basilicum ( Labiatae ) – Basil
Part used – Leaves, flowering tops, essential oil Over 150 varieties are now grown around the world for their distinctive flavors and essential oil. It is guessed that basil is probably native to India. Strongly aromatic annual growing to 20 in, with shiny oval leaves, a square stem, and small white flowers in whorls. Ancient Romans used the herb to relieve gas, as a diuretic to counteract poisoning, and to stimulate breast-milk production. An African belief is that eating sweet basil checks the pain of a scorpion’s sting. Actions – Used as a digestive, stimulant, and has an established antibacterial action. As a sedative, it is useful in treating nervous irritability, tiredness, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. It is also taken for epilepsy, migraine, and whooping cough. The juice from the leaves brings relief to insect bites.
Camellia sinensis syn. Thea sinensis ( Theaceae )
Part used – Leaves and buds Cultivated principally in India, Sri Lanka, and China, tea has been grown since the earliest times. Evergreen shrub clipped to 5 ft in cultivation,. with leathery dark-green leaves and fragrant white flowers. The tea leaves are picked throughout the year and used both as a beverage and a medicine. Tea contains xanthines, caffeine (1-5%), theobromine, tannins, flavonoids, fats, and vitamin C. In Ayurveda, tea is considered astringent, sweat-inducing, a nerve tonic, and is used for eye problems, tiredness, and fever.
Herbaceous Plant that dies down at the end of the growing season Hallucinogenic Causes visions or hallucinations Infusion Water-based preparation in which flowers, leaves, or stems are brewed in a similar way to tea Latex Milky fluid found in various plants and trees Narcotic Causes drowsiness or stupor and relieves pain Nervine Restores the nerves; relaxes the nervous system Parasympathetic Nervous System Part of the nervous system involved in vegetative functions, especially digestion