Herbs P-Z

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Herb Name   Latin


Traditional Uses

Pasque Flower
Anenome pulsatilla

The foliage is a silky silver green colour. Each plant has a solitary purple flower, in the early spring.

Traditionally used in France as a sedative. It is also used as a calming herb.

Passion Flower
Passiflora incarnata

The herb is the aerial parts of the passion fruit plant, which is native to South-East America. The flowers are purple tinged yellow or pink.

Used as a sedative and relaxing herb, especially when the sleeplessness is due to restlessness and irritability. N.B. The name does not indicate any aphrodisiac qualities!

Pau D’Arco
Tabebuia impetiginosa

A South American tree, preferring mountainous regions. The herb is normally collected from the wild.

Prized by the native South Americans as a cure all. In the UK its reputation is as an anti-fungal herb

Pellitory of the Wall
Parietaria diffusa

Normally growing out of walls and stony ground, the plant can grow up to 30 cm in length, with downy leaves

For over 2000 years Pellitory of the wall has been prized as a diuretic and for its soothing properties.

Mentha piperita

Peppermint plants look similar to nettle plants, but the leaves are shiny smooth, often with a purple tinge. The flowers are purple.

Its many traditional uses include as a digestive herb and to prevent nausea.

Plantago lanceolata

Plantain is wild in two forms (P. lanceolata and P. major). Both have a rosette of green leaves, with a stalk growing from the centre topped with a green/brown flower. P. laceolata (also known as ribwort) has thinner leaves and a longer stalk and flower than P. major.

In Gaelic this herb is known as the healing plant.

Psyllium Husk (powder­)
Plantago psyllium

The plant requires a lot of sun, therefore here in Scotland we do not have much experience of it! It is commonly grown in South Europe, North Africa and Asia.

Interestingly, psyllium has traditionally been used for both constipation and diarrhoea! N.B. Only occasional constipation or diarrhoea is suitable for self treatment.

Raspberry Leaf
Rubus idaeus

The raspberry plant is well known in the UK for its red juicy fruit. It is a bush with prickly stalks, pale green leaves and white flowers.

Like many plants in the Rose family raspberry leaf is used to heal wounds. It is often used as a gargle for sore throats and mouth ulcers.

Red Clover Flowers
Trifolium pratense

The clover leaves have 3 leaflets, the more common form has cream flowers. Red clover is larger, with dark pink to red flower heads.

Red clover was traditionally used for skin conditions; more recently it has been found contain phyto-oestrogens.

Rose Petals
Rosa spp.

Roses have changed considerably through cultivation. Originally the flowers were pink to red, with the fruit appearing as red hips in the autumn. The stalks are covered in thorns.

Although commonly used nowadays in cosmetics, rose was a very popular medicinal herb in the middle ages, mainly used by females.

Rosmarinus officinalis

Originally native to south Europe, it can now be found all over Europe. The leaf is needle like, resinous and leathery and the flowers are pale blue.

There is a long tradition of Rosemary being used to improve memory and as a tonic herb, increasing energy.

St Johns Wort
Hypericum perforatum

The St John’s Wort bush has many bright yellow flowers throughout the summer, the leaves contain glands with a red oil (lift the leaf to the light and you will see the oil glands).

Many people have heard that St John’s Wort can be used in mild to moderate depression. But it is also used by herbalists for nerve pain (applied externally).

Salvia officinalis

A small bush with silver green to purple furry leaves and purple flowers. It has a distinctive aroma.

‘Why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?’ Historically sage has been used for many reasons, but it is more likely to be used now as a gargle for sore throats or for excessive sweating. It is often recommended for hot flushes.

Senna Pods
Cassia angustifolia

Native to south Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the senna plant leaves consists of pairs of leaflets, with the yellow flowers at the tip of the stem. The fruits (pods) are flat and oblong, each containing about six seeds.

Senna has been the basic ingredient in many laxative products. N.B. Laxatives are to only be used for occasional constipation.

Siberian Ginseng
Eleutherococcus sent.

Native to Korea, China and the far east of the old Soviet Union. The root of the bush is used.

There are several varieties of ginseng. All are used as tonics, often to increase energy levels. N.B. It is often recommended that it Ginseng is not used for more than 6 weeks at a time.

Scutellaria lateriflora

Native to North America, the plant is a perennial which grows up to a metre in height. The flowers are serrated and the flowers are pale blue and shaped like a scull-cap

Historically skullcap was used to treat a number of conditions, but modern research into its use has been very limited. It is commonly used nowadays to aid relaxation.

Slippery Elm (powder)
Ulmus fulva

A small tree with rough branches, long serrated leaves and clusters of small flowers.

Take some slippery elm and you will realise why it is used to sooth the digestive tract (it is very mucilaginous).

Thymus vulgaris

A small aromatic shrub, with small leaves on woody stems. It flowers early, with pink to lilac flowers.

Medieval herbalists used thyme to treat respiratory conditions. This tradition has carried on to modern herbal medicine.

Uva Ursi
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

An evergreen shrub native to Europe, with dark glossy leaves, small bell shaped flowers (which are pink or white) and bright red berries.

Uva Ursi is one of the herbs commonly used for urinary infections. N.B. Do not self treat a urinary tract infection if there is a possibility of a kidney infection.

Valeriana officinalis

An erect plant with large leaves and topped with pink funnel shaped flowers. On drying, the roots of the plant have a very pungent smell.

Valerian has long been used for sleep problems, research recently has confirmed this.

Verbena officinalis

A delicate looking plant, with many long branches, slender leaves and long slender spikes of tiny white flowers.

Vervain was used as part of ancient religious ceremonies and sacred rights. It is more commonly used nowadays for anxiety & stress.

White Dead Nettle
Lamium album

Despite not being a nettle it looks very similar, but it has white labiate flowers.

White Dead Nettle is traditionally used for a wide range of menstrual problems.

White Willow
Salix alba

The willow prefers damp ground, such as by rivers. The flowers are catkins and the leaves are serrulate. There are many different varieties, the best way to find out how useful a willow variety is medicinally is to taste the bark and see how similar to aspirin it tastes.

It is well known that willow contains a similar constituent to aspirin; like aspirin it is used as an anti-inflammatory and pain-killer.

Wild Lettuce
Lactuca virosa

Native to western & southern Europe, and north Asia, wild lettuce can grow up to 2 metres high.

Wild lettuce has a reputation as a sedative and calming agent. It was used for nervous disorders.

Achillea millefolium

Also known as ‘milfoil’, because of its appearance of many leaves (the leaves are fern like). The flowers are also numerous, appearing in tiny white clusters.

One of the three herbs used in the traditional cold/flu mix (Elderflower, peppermint and yarrow). It is used by herbalists for catarrh and fevers.

Yellow Dock (root)
Rumex crispus

A dock with long narrow leaves, which curl at the edges, and whorls of green flowers at the top of the stem.

Yellow dock has a long history as a cleansing herb, particularly for itching skin conditions.