About Witch Hazel and Its Benefits

Witch hazel is a number of species of bushes belonging to a genus called Hamamelis. The plants are native to North America, though one species grows naturally in China and another is native to Japan. Though it is common, growing wild in many places, the shrub is an attractive one and many people grow it as a landscaping plant. In fact, the picture above was taken in New York City’s Central Park. The name, ‘witch hazel’ really has nothing to do with witchcraft. The green branches are extremely limber and flexible, quite like river willow in that regard, so they were often used for the practice of water dowsing. The ‘witch’ comes from this. (“Wiche” in middle English means ‘bendable’.) Witch hazel appearance Most of the witch hazels grow less than six feet tall, but some species can become small-diameter trees that can grow to¬†over 20 feet tall. A few have been known to even get twice this height. The alternate leaves are oval in shape, usually pointed at the tip and up to six inches long by four inches wide. The flowers can be almost white, orange, red or yellow. They are usually less than three-quarters of an inch in length and each has four petals. The seeds that this bush produces are in capsules and when they dry out, the capsules pop audibly and burst, sending the black, shiny seeds over two dozen feet away. Medicinal properties of witch hazel The leaves and inner bark or cambium of Continue Reading →

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Hidden Medicine in Your Kitchen Cupboards – Oregano

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is one of the most well-known and often-used culinary herbs in the world today. Italian sauces just don’t taste right without some oregano and naturally, since the herb originated in Greece and still grows there wild, it is heavily featured in Greek dishes as well. The fact is that it is so well liked that it is grown and used in almost every country in the world today. As widely as it is used, though, many people don’t realize that this herb has some really good medicinal properties, too. The name of this herb comes from the Grecian words ‘oros ganos’, meaning “mountain joy”. The plant grows in nutrient-poor and rocky soil and the herb is quite hardy, so it is easy to see why it was named oros ganos. It is a member of the mint family, so it isn’t surprising that some of the components in oregano that make it medicinally valuable are the same ones that make the other mints good additions to the medicine cabinet, too. Among them is thymol, which is similar to menthol and is also found in thyme. Because of the thymol and other chemicals the plant contains, oregano is highly aromatic. Oregano is quite high in fiber, vitamin E, calcium, iron, manganese and this is part of the healthy aspects it gives to foods that it is used to flavor. It is perhaps less well-known that this herb is also high in anti-oxidants. This makes it valuable in preventing Continue Reading →

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