Herbal Glossary - The Alchemist's Kitchen


Herbal Glossary

Welcome to our Herbal Glossary

Here is are some of our favorite herbal allies. We know medicinal mushrooms aren't classified as herbs, but we've included them here. This glossary is meant to be a quick introduction for you to become familiar with their names and some of their uses. We encourage you to explore the herbs that intrigue you the most, read our introduction to herbalism, explore our blog and shop our curated herbal products.

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Anise Hyssop

Origin: The name comes from the Greek word hyssopos and the Hebrew word for Azob, a holy herb used for cleaning sacred places. Hyssop is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Benefits: Create a delicious tea to help relieve symptoms of the common cold, such as congestion.

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Origin: Arnica has been used for its many healing properties for centuries, since its discovery by goat herders who noticed their goats went up the mountains in search of its flowers to heal themselves after falling or stumbling.
Benefits: Arnica can help reduce bruising and swelling, as well as muscle soreness from exercise or sports injuries.

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Origin: In Ayurvedic healing tradition, ashwagandha is recognized as one of the most powerful herbs. Use of this root can be traced back for over 3,000 years.
Benefits: This is an adaptogenic herb that can be used to strengthen your immune system and to target the negative effects that stress takes on the body.

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Origin: Astragalus is a foundational herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support one’s Chi.
Benefits: Use astragalus to support a weakened immune system.

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Blue Lotus

Origin: Blue Lotus was prized above all other plants by the Ancient Egyptians. The plant was associated with the Sun God Ra as the bringer of light.
Benefits: Use Blue Lotus to calm the nerves and brighten your mood.

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Origin: Calendula has been considered a magical herb for centuries. Ancient Egyptians used it for their skin, the Greeks and Romans used it as a culinary herb, and in ancient and modern India it is used in wedding ceremonies.
Benefits: Use Calendula to support healthy skin, cure stomach ailments, and in culinary dishes.

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California Poppy

Origin: The early Spanish settlers of California saw the California Poppy lighting up the coastal hillsides, and it is said they could guide their ships by the sight.
Benefits: Use California Poppy as a tincture for mild sedative and analgesic effects and also as an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety remedy). California Poppy contains no opiates, and is non-addictive and safe.

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Origin: Chaga has been recognized for thousands of years as a powerful healing mushroom. Ancient Asian Folk Medicine practitioners relied on it for balance, and to boost the immune system. Chaga also has a long history of use in Russian and Siberian folklore and herbalism. 
Benefits: Use it in a tea to boost immunity, energy, and reduce inflammation.

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Origin: Known as the “Jewel of the East”, chlorella is a genus of single cell freshwater green algae which is comprised of organisms that have survived as a life form for billions of years.
Benefits: Use chlorella to detoxify, support your immune system, and aid in digestion.

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Origin: According to legend, yak herders in the Himalayas of Tibet and Nepal noticed that their yaks grazed on a certain mushroom, they suddenly become very energetic and playful.
Benefits: Use Cordyceps in a tincture or powder to increase energy, detoxify the body, stimulate the immune system, and as an overall tonic for the body.

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Origin: Damiana has been used since the times of the Aztecs in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Originally taken during religious ceremonies, it was later banned due to its "passion inspiring properties."
Benefits: Damiana helps to boost libido and is known as an essential aphrodisiac.

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Origin: Dandelion's common name was apparently invented by a 15th century surgeon, who compared the shape of the leaves to a lion's tooth, or dens lionis.
Benefits: Both the Dandelion leaf and root have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat liver, gallbladder, kidney ailments, weak digestion and rheumatism.

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Origin: Echinacea was the primary medicine of the North American Indians, who used root poultices for wounds, bites, stings, and snakebites.
Benefits: Use Echinacea as soon as you feel a cold coming on for powerful immune support.

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Origin: “Father of medicine” Hippocrates recognized elderberry’s gifts as early as 400 AD. Elderberry was often called the “medicine chest” of the country folk.
Benefits: Elderberry is often used for its ability to boost and balance the immune system and quell coughs, colds, flu, and bacterial and viral infections. Make your own syrup or take as a tincture.

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Origin: Elecampane is reputed to owe its genus name "Inula Helenium", to the fabled beauty Helen of Troy.
Benefits: Elecampane is wonderful for respiratory health, for digestive health, and can be used as an anti-parasitic.

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Origin: Fennel crops up in Greek mythology, when humanity received a fiery coal from Mount Olympus in a fennel bulb. Hippocrates talked about the medicinal powers of fennel to treat infant colic.
Benefits: Fennel Seeds help to relax the smooth muscles of the digestive system, which stimulates bile flow and reduces pain associated with digestion.

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Origin: In Ayuverdic medicine, ginger is called the “universal medicine.” In Chinese Medicine for over 4,000 years, Ginger was used to treat nausea, dysentery and to act as an overall digestive stimulant.
Benefits: Use ginger to soothe an upset stomach, a cold, or a case of the flu. Take in tincture form, cook in its dried or fresh form, or brew as a tea.

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Gotu Kola

Origin: Gotu Kola is an Ayurvedic herb that was first used in India where it has a reputation for rejuvenating the body and mind. Gotu kola is said to also develop the crown chakra.
Benefits: Use this herb in a tea to enhance concentration and memory.

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Hawthorn Berry

Origin: Hawthorn is a symbol of love and union. The Hawthorn tree is steeped in Celtic mythology and history, with many believing that the trees were inhabited by the Faery Folk.
Benefits: Use Hawthorn Berry in a tincture or tonic for heart health and improved circulation.

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Origin: The name “Jasmine” derives from the Persian word Yasmin, meaning "Gift from God.” The flower is sacred in India and the Himalayas.
Benefits: Use Jasmine’s uplifting scent to help boost mood. Jasmine is wonderful as a tea or infused in oil.

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Origin: Lavender is probably the most well known medicinal herb. Originally from France and the western Mediterranean, lavender is now cultivated worldwide.
Benefits: Lavender can be used as a sleep-aid, to help heal wounds and burns, and to quell anxiety.

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Lemon Balm

Origin: Also known as “Sweet Mary,” “Honey Plant,” and “Cure-All,” this herb has been cultivated as a culinary and medicinal plant for over 2,000 years.
Benefits: Use Lemon Balm to combat anxiety, treat wounds, and soothe indigestion.

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Origin: Linden is included in the folk stories and mythology of many different European cultures. In the symbolism of flowers, linden is a symbol of conjugal love, sweetness, peace and happiness.
Benefits: Linden flowers have been used traditionally for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, and headache.

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Lion's Mane

Origin: Lion’s Mane has been a staple in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. It’s also known as “deer’s tail,” “satyr’s beard,” and even the “pom pom” mushroom.
Benefits: This mushroom has adaptogenic properties and may protect against dementia, reduce mild symptoms of anxiety and depression and help repair nerve damage.

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Origin: Maca was first utilized by the Incas in Peru. Maca root grows in the mountains of Peru at high altitudes of 7,000 to 11,000 feet, making it the highest altitude growing plant in the world.
Benefits: Use Maca as a mood and libido booster, or a hormone stabilizer. Add in powder form to coffee, teas, or smoothies.

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Origin: Stems of marshmallow were originally peeled to reveal the soft and spongy pith. This pith was boiled in sugar syrup and dried to produced a soft, chewy confection.
Benefits: As a demulcent it is an agent that forms a soothing film over mucous membranes, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane.

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Origin: Matcha can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty in China, where citizens would steam tea leaves into bricks, making it easier to transport and trade.
Benefits: Matcha is great for boosting the metabolism and is a wonderful alternative to coffee. It is filled with antioxidants and is rich in fiber.

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Mimosa Flower

Origin: Mimosa has been called “the happiness flower” and is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to cleanse the heart and liver meridians (energetic pathways) in the body. Mimosa tree bark is also used as a common remedy for generalized muscular discomfort and swelling.
Benefits: Use Mimosa Flower for emotional relief, especially from grief or anxiety.

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Mucuna Pruriens

Origin: Mucuna Pruriens is classified in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a jing enhancing herb. Jing loosely translates as “life force” or “vital essence."
Benefits: Mucuna Pruriens can be used to increase libido, support brain health, and boost mood. Drink as a tonic or in put in smoothies, teas, and coffee.

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Origin: Around 1,000 years ago, medieval brewers used Mugwort to make a beer or ale called "gruit.” Mugwort is called the “Mother’s Herb” and is traditionally used for dreamwork.
Benefits: Use this herb to aid in lucid dreaming, help regulate periods, and alleviate joint pain.

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Origin: Nutmeg has a long history of use as a spice, with recorded evidence that the ancient Romans and Greeks enjoyed its warm, aromatic flavor and aroma.
Benefits: Use nutmeg to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, relieve insomnia, and improve brain function. Nutmeg can also help protect the liver, improve cholesterol levels, and regulate blood levels.

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Oat Straw

Origin: Archaeological studies show that oats have been found dating from 2,000 BCE and have been used ever since as a valuable source of human and animal nutrition.
Benefits: Uses include helping to balance the menstrual cycle, to treat dysmenorrhoea, for osteoporosis and urinary tract infections. Drink in an herbal infusion for maximum benefits!

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Origin: Peppermint was used in ancient Roman, Greek, and Egyptian cultures in both culinary and medicinal forms.
Benefits: Use Peppermint as a digestive aid to soothe stomach pains and indigestion.

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Red Clover

Origin: Red clover has been used for 400 years in anti-cancer formulas.
Benefits: Because of red clover’s concentration of the phytoestrogens daidzein and genistein, which mimic the activity of estrogen, red clover has been studied for its use in alleviating the discomfort of menopause.

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Origin: The Reishi Mushroom is one of the most valued plants in traditional Chinese medicine, and is described alongside Ginseng as one of the two most important elixirs.
Benefits: Use Reishi for an immune system boost, improved liver function, and to restore hormonal balance.

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Origin: The Greeks, Persians, and Romans all used roses as medicine. The botanical name of the Wild Rose, rosaceae canina reflects how the Romans used it to help treat rabid dog bites.
Benefits: Roses have astringent, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and diuretic properties.

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Origin: Usage of rosemary dates back to 500 b.c. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it as a culinary and medicinal herb.
Benefits: Rosemary can be used for improved concentration and improved digestion. It may help alleviate muscle pain, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.

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Origin: Traditional healers have historically used saffron to treat heartache, hemorrhoids, and other kinds of inflammation. Cleopatra was said to bathe in saffron-infused mare’s milk before seeing a suitor.
Benefits: Saffron can be used as an aphrodisiac, asthma, dry skin, heartburn, and for baldness.

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Origin: In ancient Rome, the herb was used to heal ulcers, stop the bleeding of wounds, and to soothe a sore throat. The Chinese used sage to treat colds, joint pain, typhoid fever, and kidney and liver issues.
Benefits: Sage is known to lower cholesterol, and is a tonic for the liver. Sage is helpful for women’s health, specifically pain from menstruation.

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Origin: Chinese folklore and Traditional Chinese Medicine says that Schisandra can "calm the heart and quiet the spirit.”
Benefits: Add Schisandra to your home apothecary for a powerful anti-anxiety tool.

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Origin: Shilajit has been known and used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a rejuvenator and anti-aging compound.
Benefits: Shilajit is useful in the treatment of kidney stones, edema, and hemorrhoids, and as an internal antiseptic.

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Spice Bush

Origin: Native Americans originally used the bark, twigs and berries to make teas that could help treat colds, fevers and rheumatism.
Benefits: Make a warming and stimulating tea from spice bush to help with both digestion and circulation.

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Stinging Nettle

Origin: Stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, is a flowering plant that is found worldwide. It is native to northern Africa, North America, Asia, and Europe.
Benefits: Use Stinging Nettle in a tea to reduce inflammation, help with hay fever, and aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels.

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Origin: Thyme’s name is from the Greek word thymos, meaning “strong.”
Benefits: Thyme can be used as a nervine herb (to relieve stress) or to help heal respiratory infections. It can also improve digestion and has antibacterial properties.

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Origin: Tremella comes to us from Traditional Chinese Medicine for overall immune health.
Benefits: Use it to help aching joints or muscles, or for complexion and skin health.

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Origin: Tulsi or ‘Holy Basil” comes from the healing tradition of Ayurvedic medicine.
Benefits: In herbalism, Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen. Adaptogens can help your body adapt to stress and restore balance. Tulsi is especially good for pain relief, digestive support, and respiratory health.

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Origin: Turmeric has been used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine as a cleansing herb.
Benefits: Turmeric can aid in reducing overall inflammation and improve digestion. Cook with tumeric, make into a tonic, or take as a tincture!

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Origin: Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome.
Benefits: Valerian can be used to ease insomnia and anxiety, reduce pain, and as a muscle relaxant.

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Witch Hazel

Origin: Native Americans have long used the twigs and bark of witch hazel as a medicinal herb for a wide variety of ailments.
Benefits: Brew it in a tea to treat a sore throat or common cold.

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Wood Betony

Origin: The name Betony comes from Celtic where Bew meant “head” and Ton meant “good.”
Benefits: Wood Betony was originally used by both Native Americans and Europeans for its medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities. Use it for headache relief, or as an aphrodisiac.

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Yerba Santa

Origin: It was given its name, “holy weed,” by Spanish priests impressed with its properties.
Benefits: Yerba santa is used for respiratory conditions including coughs, colds, tuberculosis, asthma, and chronic bronchitis.

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