Edition 36: October 2011
Essential Oil of the Month
Spicy oil spreads warmth to extremities
BLACK PEPPER, known as the 'King of Spices', is one of the oldest and most used spices in the world.
The word pepper is derived from the Latin word piper, which in turn is taken from the Sanskrit word pippali. It appears in ancient Chinese and Sanskrit texts and India remains the biggest player in the production and export of this sought-after spice.
Indian monks travelling long distances ingested several peppercorns a day to give them energy. It was used by the Ancient Romans and Greeks to treat malaria, cholera, dysentery, diarrhoea and other digestive problems.
The Chinese used it as a detoxifier and anti-ageing herb; increasing circulation and lowering blood pressure.
This prized stalwart of the spice trade fetched a high price - even gold was less valuable - and often exchanged hands as currency instead of money. In the Middle Ages it had a huge influence on the European economy, bringing great wealth to many western countries. Today, it is extensively used in cooking for its hot and appetising aroma.
Rich in Minerals
Black pepper is rich in minerals and vitamins such as calcium, manganese, iron, vitamin-K, beta carotene, phosphorus, potassium and selenium.
Its essential oil can be used to help in the treatment of pain relief, rheumatism, chills, flu, colds, increase circulation, exhaustion, muscular aches, physical and emotional coldness, nerve tonic and fevers.
It is remarkably beneficial for its tonic action on digestion. It stimulates the whole digestive system - appetite, increasing the flow of saliva in the mouth and facilitating better digestion by increasing digestive juices such as acids and bile.
It aids in the break-down of fats and protein in rich meats. It encourages peristalsis and tones the muscles of the colon. It is prescribed as a remedy for dyspepsia, flatulence and nausea.
Unlike chilies, black pepper - although spicy - does not cause adverse effects in cases of ulcer of the mouth or stomach. The oil is a carminative that helps quell gases and also prohibits their formation in the stomach and in the intestines by inhibiting the responsible bacteria.
Mildly purgative, black pepper oil safely stimulates evacuation of the bowels, cleaning the intestines and preventing infections in the excretory and digestive systems.
As an anti-toxic agent it is used in certain cases of food poisoning such as with fish and mushroom. It has known anti-bacterial properties without side- effects, combating bacterial infections in the mouth, colon, digestive system, urinary tract and other areas.
It also disinfects food stuffs in which it is added and protects them from bacterial infections for longer. Used very carefully it can help with tooth aches, in a similar manner to clove oil.
Black pepper is an effective anti- spasmodic and provides relief for cramps, muscles pulls, spasms and convulsions.
Sports Recovery Aid
Encouraging dilation of local blood vessels, it is ideal for massaging on the abdomen and muscles for such purposes and is useful in rubefacient blends before and after sports or extreme exertion to help maintain suppleness and fresh blood supply to the deep tissue and tone to muscle. It eases bruising on the skin.
In chronic fatigue where the hands and feet are cold, or for chilblains, a brisk rub with diluted black pepper is an effective remedy spreading warmth to the extremities as well as in easing shivering cases of fever. This warming ability is a useful complementary treatment for calming coughs and chest infections.
Black pepper demonstrates excellent anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic properties because it is so warming and stimulating, improving circulation.
It serves well in warming liniment blends for aches and pains, along with poor circulation and joint pain; mix it with basil oil to bring warmth in chilly conditions.
Its other feature action to is to remove toxins such as uric acid from the blood; this cleansing effect benefits people suffering from chronic rheumatism and arthritis, gout and similar conditions. These diuretic qualities are also helpful in reducing inflammation.
Black pepper is a stimulating, energising essential oil that has been studied for its effects on cellular oxygenation.
It is an anti-oxidant that protects the body from free radicals damage; such action delays the adverse effects of ageing such as degeneration, loosening of muscles, loss of mobility in joints, nervous disorders and memory loss.
It can be helpful in anaemia as it enhances the formation of new blood cells and also acts as a tonic for the spleen and a pancreatic balancer; it is thought to contain compounds that help prevent osteoporosis.
Burners and vapourisers: Black pepper can help in fighting colds, flu, coughing, infections and viruses, catarrh and chills and to create an atmosphere of 'getting things done'.
Blended massage oil: Assists with circulation, bruises, rheumatoid arthritis and muscular aches and pains.
Black pepper clears the head, stimulates the memory and relieves mental exhaustion; bringing greater endurance and resilience. The fragrance of black pepper is comforting and activating to the spirits, encouraging courage and positivity to overcome worries and anxieties; it lessens these overwhelming feelings generating greater self-worth, resourcefulness and discernment.
Black pepper diminishes feelings of imprisonment caused from anxiety over challenging life experiences. To conquer excessive worry, use the oil on the stomach and spleen meridians; this will help to clear the emotional blockages, coldness and apathy and help us recognise denial, unburdening us of anxiety and despair through self acceptance and compassion.
This oil is helpful for when we need to focus on what we want to manifest, to overcome our limiting and destructive self-beliefs that obstruct our goals.
Rub this oil on the brow and the webbing of the thumb and index finger when experiencing frontal headaches as this often signals colon distress caused by not letting go.
When we experience a decrease in blood or lymph flow throughout the body, there often tends to be an accompanying emotional withdrawal.
It is a wise choice to combine black pepper with other warming oils such as rose, frankincense or ylang to create a blend that will open us up to better connect with others, coaxing us from our isolation. Rub such a blend into the soft tissue area above the breast and shoulder joint to release stored hurt feelings - this point can feel tender when hurt is suppressed in the body.
Name: Black Pepper
Latin name: Piper nigrum
What is it? The black pepper plant is a tropical climbing shrub, native to India, Malaysia, Madagascar and Indonesia. It is a perennial woody vine with heart- shaped leaves and small white flowers and is cultivated primarily in tropical climates. It uses trees and supports to grow to about 7m high, but is normally kept to 4m for commercial purposes and has a lifespan of about 20 years. The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the unripe, red peppercorns (fruit) which have been sun-dried; which produces a yield of nearly 2 per cent. Some black pepper oil is extracted by a more expensive, low- temperature 'supercritical CO2' method.
Scent: Black pepper has a warm, spicy and uplifting aroma that is a bit sharp, peppery and faintly reminiscent of clove oil, yet more refined and woody. It can range in color from light amber to yellow-green and has a watery viscosity.
Black pepper blends well with: bergamot, clary sage, clove, coriander, fennel, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, juniper, lemon, lime, mandarin, sage, rose, sandalwood and ylang-ylang. It provides a lovely 'spicy' middle note to aromatic and perfume blends, giving them an unusual twist. Try blending it with ylang-ylang to create the musky scent of clove pinks, those little carnations. Black pepper is an interesting addition to aphrodisiac blends with its spicy allure.
Therapeutic properties: aperitif, analgesic, antiseptic, antimicrobial, antifungal, antispasmodic, antitoxic, aphrodisiac, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative, rubefacient, stimulant, stomachic and tonic (especially of the spleen).
Precautions: Black Pepper can be a skin irritant in high concentration, so it must be used in moderation. Too much too often could over stimulate the kidneys.
What Herb is That?
Prostate herb a must for men’s health
IT WAS world-renowned Austrian herbalist Maria Treben who more recently brought a lot of focus on Epilobium, or small-flowered willow herb, as an efficacious remedy for prostate problems in men, bladder and kidney trouble and bed-wetting.
In her herbal, Health through God’s pharmacy (pub. 1982) she shares her successful experiences of people regaining their health from many prostate disorders.
Most men over 40 have prostate problems and as they age, the frequency of prostate disorders increases. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, after skin cancer, and kills many men every year.
Components (elagitannin, oenothein B) present in epilobium appear to be active anti-inflammatory components and the anti-cancer activity of the plant extract may be related to the content of oenothein B, which has been found to exhibit anti-tumour properties as well as supporting the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.
Other than cancer; there are two other medical problems that affect the prostate: benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis. BPH, or swelling of the prostate (enlarged prostate), which causes symptoms such as urgency to urinate, low or interrupted urinary flow with frequent night urinations.
The less-common prostatitis is caused by a chronic bacterial infection of the prostate, which can also cause problems with the urethra and bladder.
Epilobium Parviflorum has an inflammation-inhibiting and healing effect on acute and chronic inflammation of the prostate and can help to reduce the gland to its normal size. It is recommended that all men over the age of 50 take this herb regularly as a preventative and to maintain prostate and bladder health.
The action of small-flowered willow herb on prostate symptoms can be very swift, occurring within a few days to weeks. This wonderful herb keeps the prostate cells in their normal, differentiated state, allowing them to be the cells they were intended to be. Negligence of abnormal cells can lead to hyperplasia and cancer. Small- flowered willow herb, Epilobium parviflorum, is a prolific perennial that is widespread in Central and Eastern Europe and in disturbed areas of North America, where it is called Fireweed because it springs up on ground recently cleared by fire.
The name of the genus Epilobium is from the Greek words epi (upon) and lobos (a pod), because the flowers stand on top of long, thin, pod-like seed-vessels, looking rather like thick flower-stems.
In Ireland it is called Blooming Sally - Sally being a corruption of the Latin Salix (willow) - for its willow-like leaves; although it is not a willow.
Folk Remedy Favourite
Ethno botanical reports reveal that traditional healers of Canada used extracts of this plant to soothe gastro-intestinal and bronchial problems. This Epilobium species was used in folk medicine, particularly in Central Europe, for the treatment of prostate disorders and abnormal growths and the young shoots were boiled and eaten like asparagus.
This tea was administered as a treatment for urinary problems and for various gastrointestinal disorders such as dysentery or diarrhoea. It was also a traditional topical treatment to sooth and heal minor burns, rashes, ulcers and other skin irritations. The plant is mentioned in a Pharmacopoeia of 1880.
Willow-herb (Epilobium) settles urinary problems and works beautifully in combination with other herbs to reduce urinary discomfort. Modern clinical use has reported reduction in incontinence in both males and females.
The fresh juice or the powdered root of this cooling and astringent herb is prescribed to stop internal haemorrhaging. The astringent nature of Epilobium treats looseness of the bowel or diarrhoea. An infusion of the leaves will be found beneficial in leucorrhoea, menorrhagia and uterine haemorrhage and forms an excellent local application for ophthalmia and ulcerations of the mouth and throat.
Due to the unusual chemical make-up of the plant, commercial extracts of the plant are now used in cosmetics and personal care products including creams, lotions and wipes.
The leaves in a poultice are a valuable remedy for nasty and stubborn ulcers. Various skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, seborrhoea, fungal infections and rosacea respond well when willow herb is used topically.
It possesses antimicrobial effects against a number of bacteria, including the propionibacterium in some acne.
In ointment form, it has been used locally as a remedy for infantile cutaneous affections.
Epilobium’s antiseptic and free radical scavenging abilities soothe inflamed or irritated skin while allowing healing to take place. Accordingly, this ingredient is excellent for traumatised skin whether by injury or cosmetic medical procedures.
It has been recommended for its antispasmodic properties in the treatment of whooping cough, hiccough and asthma.
Latin Name: Epilobium parviflorum
Family: Onagrariacae (Evening Primrose).
Common Names: Small-flowered willow herb, Hoary willow herb or Small leafed willow herb.
What is it? There are several species that can be used medicinally, nine species of which are native to Great Britain. Medicinal tea and extracts are made from the stems and leaves of Epilobium parviflorum.
Properties: astringent, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, haemostatic, diuretic, anti-tumour, anti-carcinogenic, demulcent, tonic.
Indicated for: benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), bladder health maintenance, bronchial infections, cellular regeneration, cleansing, detoxification, diarrhoea, enlarged prostate, prostatitis, kidney and bladder disorders, gastro-intestinal disorders, hormonal imbalances, irritable bowel, genitourinary conditions, bladder cancer, cystitis, urinary tract disorders, male health maintenance, rectal bleeding, mouth mucus membrane lesions, menstrual disorders, prostate health maintenance, mucous colitis.
Dosage: To make an infusion pour boiling water over 1.5-2 grams (2-2.5 teaspoons) of finely chopped willow- herb, steep for 10 minutes, then strain.
Precautions: No toxic effects are indicated. Epilobium contains substances that affect the production of oestrogen in the body, so this herb should be avoided by pregnant or lactating females.