Whispering Woods Herbal Grimoire

Section - B1

Herb Description List: Bearberry, Bee Balm, Beech, Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), Birch, Bistort, Bittersweet, Black Alder, Blackberry, Black Cohosh


                             Bearberry: Bear Grape, Crowberry, Foxberry, Uva-ursi, Yukon holly

                                                         (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)  leaves

Medicinal Uses: Bearberry was smoked in peace pipes by American Indians to promote calming and mental clarity. People of the Middle Ages believed that since bearberry grew in sandy, gravely soils, it would effectively remove "sand" and "gravel" from the kidneys.                                                                                                                                    Bearberry is considered to be a kidney herb. Primarily it is used for bladder infection, kidney infection and irritation. The plant is believed to have urinary antiseptic properties. It helps to reduce accumulations of uric acid and to relive the pain of bladder stones and gravel. It is used to alleviate chronic cystitis. The tea or tincture is used for bronchitis, nephritis, and kidney stones.                      
It is used to strengthen the heart muscle.  Also used as a broad-range remedy for diabetes, liver and spleen problems (to cleanse and strengthen), hemorrhoids, and mucous discharges.                                                                   
Used in combination with blueberry for diabetes (20-40 drops tincture of blueberry leaves, 10-20 drops tincture of bearberry; dose is 10-20 drops in water three times daily).

Magickal uses: Uva-ursi is used to increase psychic powers. Used in a shaman smoking mixture. Ruled by the planet Mars and Pluto.

Properties: Diuretic, strongly astringent, tonic. Contains arbutin (a powerful astringent that has antiseptic properties), chorine, ellagic acid, ericolin, gallic acid, hydroquinolone, malic acid, methyl-arbutin, myricetin, volatile oils, quercetin, tannins, ursolic acid, ursone, and a substance similar to quercetin. Tannin is present up to 6% or 7%.

Growth: A sprawling shrub with much-branched irregular stems and evergreen leaves with a single, long, fibrous main root which sends out several prostrate stems from which grow erect, branching stems 4 to 6 inches high; found over most of the northern hemisphere (primarily the mountains of Europe, Asia, and America, it is also common in Scotland on heaths and barren places in hilly terrain (especially the Highlands), and extends as far south as Yorkshire. Also found on hills of northwestern Ireland. In North America it is found throughout Canada and the United States as far south as New Jersey and Wisconsin.    

Infusion: soak the leaves in alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) or brandy, then add 1 tsp. soaked leaves to 1 cup boiling water. Drink 2-3 cups per day, cold. You can let the leaves soak in brandy for a whole week before making the infusion with water and add a tsp. of the brandy to each cup of infusion. Do not boil this herb. Just steep in boiling-hot water.

Dried herb: mix 1 tbsp. in 8 oz. warm water. Drink 1 cup daily.

Tincture: take 10 to 20 drops in water, 3 to 4 times per day.

Not to be taken by pregnant women or those breastfeeding, by children, or those with kidney disease. High doses cause nausea and can actually inflame the lining of the bladder and urinary tract. Overuse can cause symptoms of poisoning. Long term use can cause liver damage, especially in children.

                 Bee Balm: Bergamot, horse-mint, wild oregano, Oswego tea         

                                 (Monarda didyma) leaves and flowers and stems

The name "Oswego tea" was coined by John Martram who discovered Native Americans and settlers in Oswego, New York, making tea from the leaves of this mint. All of the above ground parts of the flowering plant are used.

Medicinal Uses: Bee Balm has antibacterial properties because of its high thymol content. Bee Balm can be used as part of a first-aid-dressing regimen for cuts, abrasions, insect bites, and other wounds.                                                         An infusion is good for colds, coughs, nausea, catarrh, headaches, gastric disorders, to reduce low fevers and soothe sore throat, to relieve flatulence, nausea, menstrual pain, and insomnia. Steam inhalation of the plant can be used for sore throats, and bronchial catarrh (inflammation of the mucus membrane, causing an increased flow of mucus). Externally, it is a medicinal application for skin eruptions and infections.                                                                    Native Americans used leaf tea for colic, gas, colds, fever, stomachaches, nosebleeds, insomnia, heart trouble, measles, and to induce sweating. A poultice is used for headaches.

Magickal uses: Use in love charms and spells to attract a partner. Soak herb in wine for several hours, strain and share with a friend. Or, carry herb with you to find love. Also used in magical healing, and spells to ensure success.

Properties: Stimulant, carminative, rubefacient

Growth: A perennial with square-shaped stems, characteristic of herbs in the mint family. The roots are fibrous and spread via rhizomes. The leaves are lance-shaped, opposite, glabrous, fuzzy, and toothed. When bruised or damaged, the leaves are highly fragrant. The bright red flowers range from one to three inches terminal clusters each with dozens of tiny blossoms. The flowers are approximately one and a half inches long, ending in two lips (the upper one rigidly overhangs the other which has three spreading lobes). Bee Balm grows in dry, sunny meadows and sloped areas, preferring a full sun or partially shaded environment. Usually found in bracken grasslands, cliff areas, northern lowland and upland forests, southern upland forests, pine barrens, prairies, savanna, and sedge meadows.

Medicinal tea: To 1 tsp. dried herb add 1 cup boiling water, steep 10 min. sweeten to taste, take at bedtime.

                                                       Beech: Beechnut Tree                              

                                                       (Fagus sylvatica) leaves

Medicinal: As a tonic it is used to tone the entire system and improve appetite.                                                                   The leaves are applied to swellings and blisters; they are also chewed for chapped lips and gum pain. Bruised leaves are applied directly to burns.                                                                                                      
It has been used internally for chronic bronchitis and upper respiratory tract infections. A decoction of the root or leaves are believed to cure intermittent fevers, dysentery, and diabetes. The oil from the nut was given for intestinal worms. The nuts were once eaten to ease the pain of kidney stones.
The creosote has been used externally for skin diseases. The Rappahannock Indians steeped beech bark in saltwater to produce a poison ivy lotion.

Magickal uses: Beech is used for enhancing wishes. Carry the leaves to increase your creative powers. Scratch or carve your wish on a stick and bury it. It is feminine and ruled by the planet Saturn.

Properties: tonic, astringent, antiseptic

Growth: An ornamental tree indigenous to England (found on chalky and sandy soil), but found throughout Europe, and is now grown world wide. The Beech has silvery gray bark (darker on mature trees) and blue-green leaves which are silky when young, but silky only the undersides when mature and with the upper leaf being leathery in texture. The buds are long and thin on slender, slightly zigzag twigs. The flowers appear, after the leaves unfold, in bell-like clusters on long drooping stalks. The fruit is a prickly husk opening to 4 parts containing 2 three-sided triangular nuts with sharp points. The fruits are rarely produced until the tree has reached 50 years of age.

Infusion: 1 heaping teaspoon of leaves to 1 cup boiling water; steeped 1/2 hour; take 3 to 4 cups daily, 1 cup before each meal and before retiring (said to be use for diabetes). Also used to wash sores, especially old sores.

Belladonna: Deadly nightshade, Devil's Herb, Naughty Man's Cherries                                       

(Belladonna atropa L.)                                                                                                                                                       

Its scientific name derives from Atropos, one of the Fates in Greek mythology, who held the shears to cut the thread of human life.                                                                                                                                                               

Medicinal Uses: Belladonna has a sedative, anticholinergic (an agent that blocks parasympathetic nerve impulses) and spasmolytic effects on the gastrointestinal tract. The leaves applied externally are used as a treatment and possible cure for cancer. Treats nervous congestion, suppresses the action of smooth muscles, and is helpful for kidney pains, and colitis. During the Parthian Wars it was said to have been used to poison the troops of Marcus Antonius. In the 16th century, herbalists laid moistened leaves on the head to induce sleep. Small doses to allay cardiac palpitation was administered by applying a plaster to the region of the heart. Atropine is used today to dilate eyes prior to eye surgery, and for certain eye exams.

Magickal uses: Belladonna is ruled by Saturn and is considered feminine. It is the plant of Hecate, Bellona and Circe. Encourages astral projection and produces visions. Belladonna is used in funeral rituals to aspurge the circle, helping the deceased to let go and move forward.

Properties: Antispasmodic, diuretic, anodynic, narcotic, sedative, anodynic, calmative, relaxant, mydriatic. Contains various alkaloids, such as  hyoscyamine and scopolamine, belladonnine, atrosin and  atropine. Acts through the central nervous system. Small, minute doses stimulate, large doses paralyze and can result in fatality. Atropine is a powerful nerve poison.

Growth: Atropa belladonna is a poisonous plant with reddish flowers and shining black berries. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is naturalized in the eastern United States. It is found in meadows, forests and waste places.   Belladonna grows to a height of five feet with a much branched lax, purplish colored stem. The leaves are a dull, darkish green, oval and pointed, of unequal size being 3 to 10 inches long. The lower leaves are solitary, the upper in alternate pairs on opposite side of the stem, one leaf of each pair being much larger than the other. They are pale green on the underside with prominent veins; mid-rib is depressed on the upper surface. Dingy purple-brown to purple bell-shaped flowers, about 1-inch long, dangle in the axils of the leaves; corolla has 5 large teeth or lobes, slightly refracted; the 5-cleft calyx clings to the berry. The smooth berries contain several seeds and follow the flower, turning from green to a jewel-like black and ripen in September.

This herb can could cause death or other serious consequences. Its use is not recommended without professional medical guidance. Every part of the plant is extremely poisonous.


(Betula alba) (Betula nigra) (Betula lenta) inner bark, small twigs, and


Medicinal Uses: To dissolve kidney stones make a tea of white birch leaves. This must be taken over a long time. Steep two teaspoons per cup of water for twenty minutes. Take one to one and a half cups daily.                                        For itchy skin and falling hair use simmered leaves and twigs and add to water. The tea is also a sedative. Use the young shoots and leaves to make a tonic laxative.
Use the inner bark for fevers. Simmer using two teaspoons per cup of water for twenty minutes. Take one-fourth cup four times daily. Gather twigs of B. lutea (yellow birch) and B. lenta (black birch) in the spring. Must not be after Midsummer, as the leaves will then contain natural insecticides. Simmer gently twenty minutes; this will make a delicious tea.
Leaf tea is used for urinary problems and to expel intestinal worms. Birch leaves act as an effective remedy for cystitis and other infections of the urinary system as well as removing excess water from the body. Inner bark tea used as mouthwash and taken internally for diarrhea, dysentery, cholera infantum, kidney stones, blood purifier, bowel problems, neuralgia, anti-inflammatory, muscle soreness and pain, gout, scrofula, rheumatism, and externally for sores, boils, canker sores in the mouth.

Magickal uses: Birch is the embodiment of the Great Mother so cradles are often made of this wood for protection for the child. Russians tie a red ribbon around the stem of a birch to rid themselves of the evil eye. Traditionally, a witches’ broom is made of birch twigs. Use in exorcisms by gently striking the possessed with a birch twig. Birch is feminine, and ruled by the planet Venus. It is associated with Water.

Properties: Anthelmintic, astringent, diuretic, stimulant, diaphoretic, aromatic. Contains traces of essential oil (methyl salicylate), saponins, tannin, bitter principle and glycosides.

Growth: Birch does not thrive in heavy clay soils, but is otherwise fairly tolerant of soil conditions. Prefers cool temperatures. The birch is a tree that grows 60 - 80 feet high; the bark is brown when the tree is young, dark gray later, and is horizontally striped. Bark is non-peeling, sweet, aromatic. On old trees the bark is more irregularly broken. The ovate, pointed leaves, 6 inches long, occur alternately in pairs and are finely serrate. The flowers grow in inconspicuous male catkins about 3 inches long and female catkins about 1 inch long, the male appearing in the fall and the female the following spring. The fruits are oblong, upright, 3/4 inch long. The bark and small twigs have a flavor similar to wintergreen. It is found in rich woods; southern Quebec; southwestern Maine to northern Georgia, Alabama, north to eastern Ohio.

Decoction: use 1 tsp. inner bark or leaves with 1 cup boiling water. Take 1-2 cups a day.

Tincture: A dose is 1/4 to 1/2 tsp., 3 times a day.

Bistort: Patience Dock, Red Legs, Easter Giant, Snakeweed, Sweet dock    

(Polygonum bistorta)

Medicinal Uses: Bistort root, when ground and mixed with Echinacea, myrrh, and goldenseal, is a great dressing for cuts and other wounds. It is also a powerful astringent,used by mixing a teaspoon in a cup of boiled water, and drunk several times a day, as a treatment for diarrhea and dysentery.           
The same mixture can be used as a gargle for sore throats. Bistort is good to drive out infectious disease, and is effective for all internal and external bleeding. Bistort root is one of the strongest astringent herbs available.            
Bistort is also an excellent remedy for diarrhea, even for bloody diarrhea, cholera, and dysentery. The Cheyenne and Blackfoot Indians used the roots in soups and stews.

Magickal uses: An amulet fashioned of the root of Bistort is carried when one wishes to conceive. Sprinkle an infusion of bistort around your home to keep out unwanted visitors of the mischievous variety, such as poltergeists, sprites, etc. Add to wealth and money incenses and carry in money sachets.

Properties: Alterative, astringent, diuretic, styptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrhea, demulcent, febrifuge, hemostatic, laxative, promotes healing.

Growth: Bistort prefers damp soils, such as in cultivated fields. It is native to Europe, but has been grown in Nova Scotia and as far south as Massachusetts. Bistort is a mountain perennial. It is a perennial that reaches up to 30 inches tall. The basal leaves are arrow-shaped, blue-green, long petiole; the few upper leaves are laceolate to linear, short-petiole to sessile with a dry leaf sheath at the base. Spikes of soft pink flowers are held high above the foliage. Blooms from June to July.

Decoction: Use 1 oz of the bruised root in 1 pint of water. One table spoon is given every 2 hours for passive bleeding and for mild diarrhea. The decoction is also used as an injection in profuse menustration. As well as a oral mouth wash in ulcerated gums. Use to treat ulcers accompanied by discharge.

Bittersweet: Woody Nightshade, Felonwort, Violet bloom                

(Celastrus scandens L.)

Medicinal Uses: The bark of the root is used.  The root-bark tea induces sweating and is diuretic and emetic. Externally the bark is used in an ointment for burns, scrapes, skin eruptions.
Bittersweet is a narcotic herb containing solanine and in large doses can paralyze the central nervous system. Bittersweet is used to treat skin diseases, bronchial conditions and asthma.  

Magickal uses: This is a masculine herb. It is ruled by the planet Mercury and its element is Air. Shepherds hung it as a charm around the necks of their animals as protection from evil.

Properties: narcotic, exportant, diuretic

Growth: This is a climbing, twining shrub. It grows up to 50 feet in height. The leaves are ovate to oblong, sharp pointed and fine-toothed. The flowers are greenish and in clusters, May to June. The fruit capsule is scarlet to orange, splitting, to reveal scarlet seeds. The stems are green and slightly hairy at first but become woody with age. It grows in hedges, wasteways and swamps. Bittersweet is found in North America and Europe.

All parts of this plant including the berries are potentially toxic.

Black Alder: Fever bush, Winter berry  

(Alnus glutinosa L.) Dried bark and leaves

Medicinal Uses: The bark and the leaves of this tree are used. Fresh alder bark will cause vomiting and so is used as a emetic. Boiling the inner bark in vinegar produces an external wash for lice and for skin problems such as scabies and scabs, psoriasis, rheumatism, inflammations. It is also good for burning and aching feet. The powdered bark and the leaves have been used as an internal astringent and tonic, and the bark also as an internal and external hemostatic against hemorrhage.

Do no use if pregnant

Magickal uses: Use alder in memorial rituals as protection for the dying or dead.

Properties: Astringent, bitter tonic, emetic, hemostatic, mucilaginous, cathartic, alterative

Growth: The Alder is a deciduous tree up to 80 feet high; the alternate leaves are round-obviate, usually doubly serrate, scalloped, and have a tuft of down on the underside. The flowers are segregated by sex into separate catkins, the reddish-purple female ones developing into hard cones that contain the seeds. 2-8 catkins will occur in a cluster on a forked peduncle. It grows in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and locally in North America. Found in cooler regions, forming dense stands around swamps and along streams and rivers. Cool, moist or even wet soils.

Infusion: use 1 heaping tbsp. crushed alder leaves to 1 pint boiling water. Let steep for 1/2 hour.

Decoction: boil 1 tsp. bark, or leaves in 1 cup water. For internal use, take 1-2 cups a day, in mouthful doses.

Tincture: a dose is from 1/2 to 1 tsp.

Poultice: use just enough water to moisten the leaves.

                                                                 Blackberry: Bramble 

                                                             (Rubus villosus) Fruit, leaves, root, root bark

Medicinal Uses: A syrup made from the root is used to treat diarrhea and upset stomach (good for treating children). An infusion of the leaves is good for treating diarrhea and sore throat. Blackberry is a long standing for diarrhea.  The presence of large  amounts of tannins give blackberry roots and leaves an astringent effect that is useful for treating diarrhea.
Fruit and juice are used for anemia and to regulate menses. The leaf is also used to inhibit excessive menstrual bleeding. The leaves have been used as a uterine tonic The leaves, root, and root bark have been used externally for inflammation of the throat, mouth, and gums (also bleeding gums) as well as piles, hemorrhoids, an leucorrhea. Chewing of the leaves for bleeding gums is an ancient practice. A strong tea of the leaves is useful as a gargle in treating thrush and also makes a good general mouthwash. A tea made from the dried root can be used for dropsy. 

Magickal uses: Blackberry leaves are used in money spells, as are the berries. Blackberries are considered to be Faery fruit. Weave pentagrams from the brambles to hang in the home for protection. Blackberry pies are baked on Lughnasadh in commemoration of the harvest, poetically viewed as the death of the God. This is sacred to Brighid, the Celtic Goddess of poetry, healing and smith craft. Find a bramble bush that forms a natural arch to aid magical healing. To cure boils, rheumatism, and whooping cough and even get rid of blackheads, on a sunny day crawl through the arch backward and then forward three times, going from east to west. Blackberry is a feminine plant. It is ruled by the planet Venus and its element is Water. It is sacred to the Goddess Bridget.

Properties: Astringent, tonic, mild diuretic, hemostatic; fruit specific to liver and kidney. Leaf specific to stomach and intestines. Fruit and juice considered a refrigerant. The main chemicals present in blackberries are gallic acid and tannin, and it is present in every part of the plant. Contains Isocitric, and malic acids; sugars, pectin, monoglycoside of cyanidin, tannin (high in root bark and leaves), iron, carbohydrates, sodium, magnesium, and vitamin A and C

Growth: Blackberries are perennial vines that grow in many areas, depending on the variety. They require full sun, very good air circulation, fertile soil that is kept moist, not soggy. Do not grow where you have grown other fruits or vegetables, to avoid transferring diseases to the young vines. Some varieties need pollinators, so check with your local nurseries to find a variety best suited to your needs and climate.

Blackberry Cordial:                                                                                                                                                  
press out the juice, for every quart of juice add, 1/2 - 1 oz of nutmeg and cloves and about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of sugar (honey also works well, about 2/3 cup of honey is equivalent to one cup of sugar, the amount of total liquid also needs to be monitored, about 3 tablespoons less liquid per amount of honey used) Heat and simmer this mixture till it reaches the point of becoming a syrup. This syrup can be mixed with brandy to taste. Note: Using honey does cut down on the shelf life of this cordial and it may cause it to ferment if not kept cold.

Blackberry Tea: To 1 ounce of the dried leaves and root bark, add 1 pint of boiling water, and steep 10 min., drink a tea cup at a time.

Infusion: use 1 tsp. dried leaves to 1/2 cup water. Take 1/2 to 1 cup a day.

Decoction: use 1 tsp. root or leaves to 1 cup water. Take 1 to 2 cups a day

                          Black Cohosh: Rattleweed, Snakeroot, Squawroot    

                                                        (Cimcifuga racemosa)  

Medicinal Uses: The importance of black cohosh as a medicinal plant was recognized in the first works on American herbs, dating back to 1801.                                                                                                     
The primary use of Black Cohosh has been as a relaxant, sedative, and antispasmodic.
Black Cohosh is useful in all conditions dealing with arthritis. It improves blood circulation, and is used in treating delayed and painful menstruation, and is often used in conjunction with other herbs in treating menopause symptoms.  A tincture is used for bronchitis, chorea, menstrual irregularities.                                                                                          Black Cohosh lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Combined with skullcap, wood betony, passionflower, and valerian, black cohosh works as a mild tranquilizer.

Black Cohosh has the same effects on the female system as synthetic estrogen, without the side effects. It can be used for gingivitis, hives, diarrhea, venting eruptive skin diseases, such as measles, in the early stages; and prolapsed internal organs, such as the anus and uterus. The leaves were once used to repel bedbugs.   

Magickal uses: Black Cohosh leaves laid around a room is said to drive away bugs, and to drive away negativity.

Properties: Alterative, astringent, diuretic, alterative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue (starts menstrual flow), expectorant, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, cardiac stimulant (safer than digitalis), anti-inflammatory, sedative, antitussive, uterine stimulant. Contains Actaeine, cimicifungin (macrotin), estrogenic substances, isoferulic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, phosphorus, recemosin, tannins, starch, gum, triterpenes, and vitamins A and B5.

Growth: Black Cohosh grows in open woody areas. It needs good soil and partial to mostly sun to do well. It has been grown as far south as Georgia, and as far west as Missouri. It is a perennial which reaches 3 - 8 feet tall. It has large compound leaves thrice-divided; sharply toothed; terminal leaflet 3-lobed, middle lobe is the largest. Small, fetid, flowers are white and strong smelling, in very long, slender, fluffy, spikes, terminating tall leafy stalks, each flower has numerous white stamens and no petals; May to September.

Black Cohosh should not be used during pregnancy. Black Cohosh can be poisonous in large doses. It contains a chemical much like estrogen, so those advised by their doctor's not to take the Pill should avoid using this herb.

Collect the rootstock in the fall, after the leaves have died down and the fruit has appeared.

Decoction: boil 2 tsp. rootstock in 1 pint of water. Take 2 to 3 tbsp. 6 times a day, cold.

Tincture: made by half-filling a pint or quart bottle with the powdered root, adding diluted alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) or whisky until the bottle is full, and agitating once or twice a day for two weeks. Doses range from 1-30 drops in a tsp. of water.

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