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An analysis of twenty-nine clinical trials with more than five thousand patients was conducted by Cochrane Collaboration. The review concluded that extracts of St John's wort were superior to placebo in patients with major depression. St John's wort had similar efficacy to standard antidepressants. The rate of side-effects was half that of newer SSRI antidepressants and one-fifth that of older tricyclic antidepressants.
Used in all pulmonary complaints, bladder troubles, in suppression of urine, dysentery, worms, diarrhoea, hysteria and nervous depression, haemoptysis and other haemorrhages and jaundice. For children troubled with incontinence of urine at night an infusion or tea given before retiring will be found effectual; it is also useful in pulmonary consumption, chronic catarrh of the lungs, bowels or urinary passages. Externally for fomentations to dispel hard tumours, caked breasts, ecchymosis, etc.
When the Germans defined their 'Reinheitsgebot' or the 'Bavarian Purity Law' in 1516, hops were the only herb allowed in the brewing process. However, original 'Pilsen' lager recipes allowed a wide array of herbs, primarly henbane, but also wormwood, yarrow and other often bitter herbs with similar psychoactive effects as that of hops, most often mild sedatives. Unlike stinging nettles, hops is still classified as a plant in the Cannabaceae family, and actually has much the same medicinal properties as it's famed cousins.
But be careful, for the result will be concentrated chemicals of varying toxicity depending on which plant you are using. We wouldnt want people to extract and drink sarin, would we?
Ironically, they chose Hops because of those sedative effects, whereas the other, more psychotropic and inebriating herbs produced a desire to do two frowned upon activities at the time... Imbibe more to excess, and then take home the beer wench.
Sage, In my opinion can be safely used as a brewing herb. I would not use Henbane! And, have only ever read of the dried seeds being used, not the plant itself. Not into wormwood, since I can safely drink sage ale [to excess]. Van Gogh was rumored to have been drinking absinthe when he cut off his ear... I like my ears.
Having also made Gruit with Yarrow, Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale) and Marsh Rosemary; there is a noticeable difference between hopped and unhopped ales that is in part probably due to the level of toxicity in the herbs used. Your Caution is not lost on me
This is all fascinating stuff, and I am learning a lot. Keep up the good work. I would love to see a writeup on hops. I grow them, but use them for a lot more than
Side note: Is Sarin plant derived? All that is coming to mind is Ricin.
St John's wort [Hypericum perforatum]
This is one of my favourite plants. Found growing 'wild' or self-set, it is an indicator that you are standing in what was once an ancient forest.
It grows in profusion in my church-yard so no need for me to go hunting this one down.
G. officinale is one of two species yielding the true lignum vitae, the other being Guaiacum sanctum. Guaiac, a natural resin extracted from the wood, is a colorless compound that turns blue when placed in contact with substances that have peroxidase activity and then are exposed to hydrogen peroxide.
The 1955 edition of the Textbook of Pharmacognosy also says that: "Guaiacum has a local stimulant action which is sometimes useful in sore throat. The resin is used in chronic gout and rheumatism, whilst the wood is an ingredient in the compound concentrated solution of sarsaparilla, which was formerly much used as an alterative in syphilis.”[
It is a mild laxative and diuretic. For tonsilitis it is given in powdered form [U: powdered resin]. Specially useful for rheumatoid arthritis, also in chronic rheumatism and gout, relieving the pain and inflammation between the attacks, and lessening their recurrence if doses are continued. It acts as an acrid stimulant, increasing heat of body and circulation; when the decoction is taken hot and the body is kept warm, it acts as a diaphoretic, and if cool as a diuretic. Also largely used for secondary syphilis, skin diseases and scrofula.
The genus [U: Guaiacum] is famous as the supplier of Lignum vitae, which is the heartwood of several species in the genus. It is the hardest wood that is measured using the Janka hardness test, requiring a force of 4,500 lbf (20,000 N) to embed a steel ball 0.444 in (1.13 cm) in diameter a distance half of that into the wood.