Juniperus species (Cupressaceae) – Juniper species are small to large shrubs, some upright and some creeping in form, widely distributed in temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere. Both leaves and berries contain several volatile essential oils, and the berries and are sometimes used in cooking as well as being the main flavouring in gin. Juniper oil acts as an antimicrobial, analgesic, stimulant and nervine agent, and has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, including as a diuretic and smooth muscle contractant. Native Americans smoke the berries in a pipe to treat asthma, to clear head colds, and as an incense and smudging herb. Juniper berries have been found to contain more than 70 volatile essential oils, primarily monoterpenes, including terpinen-4-ol (main constituent), alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, borneol, bornyl-acetate, camphor, caryophyllene, citronellal, citronellol, geranyl-acetate, limonene, linalyl-acetate, menthol, myrcene and nerol. Juniper berries also contain catechol tannins, flavonoids and traces of niacin, selenium and thiamine. The leaves of juniper contain citronellol, farnesol, rutin and umbelliferone among other compounds. The wood of juniper contains diterpenes, gallcatechin tannins and lignans and is astringent. Some of the terpenes in juniper essential oil are irritating to the kidneys, and juniper should be taken internally only in small doses. Contraindicted during pregnancy.
Kaempferia galangal (Zingiberaceae) (Galanga) – This member of the ginger family native to New Guinea has an aromatic rhizome containing a number of volatile compounds, from which long, narrow leaves grow. The rhizome is used as a spice and medicine similar to ginger, for its antipyretic, analgesic, antimicrobial, antimalarial, antitussive and stimulant effects. Galanga has sometimes been reported to cause euphoric or hallucinogenic effects when ingested. It also has antioxidant and anticancerous compounds such as kaempferol.
Kalanchoe brasiliensis; pinnata (Crassulaceae) (Kalanchoe) – Of this large genus of succulent plants, K. brasiliensis is the only species occuring in South America, and its leaves are used by natives in the Amazon basin as an antimicrobial, antipyretic, cough supressant, analgesic, muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory and sedative. Kalanchoe contains many alkaloids, triterpenes, glycosides, flavonoids, and plant steroids. A group of compounds known as bufadienolides isolated from Kalanchoe show structural relations to the cardiac glycosides digoxin and digitoxin from Digitalis species, and may be responsible for some of the effects of this plant.
Larix species (Pinaceae) (Tamarack; Larch) – Larex laricina is a conifer unique for the fact that it is deciduous, its delicate green needles turning yellow and dropping in the fall. A tea made of the inner bark is used in Native American medicine as an antiseptic and as a treatment for depression and heart ailments. The outer bark and roots are boiled to make a dark decoction which is drunk daily as an analgesic to treat arthritis, aches and pains and to cure colds. Larix contains a volatile essential oil rich in bornyl acetate and other terpenoids. Larix decidua is listed as a stimulant.
Lavandula angustifolia (Lamiaceae/Labiatae) (Lavender) – Lavender is a common aromatic herb. It is well known for its strong sedative effects, as well as being antispasmodic, antimicrobial, analgesic, and extremely effective at aiding the healing of cuts and burns. Contains numerous terpenes that are common plant scents, including lavandulin and others. Lavandula angustifolia and L. intermedia are listed as nervine and sedative agents.
Ledum groenlandicum; palustre; glandulosum (Ericaceae) (Labrador tea) – This hardy shrub commonly found in muskeg, bog, and wet coniferous forest areas of Canada, the northern USA and Greenland, has evergreen alternate leaves, with the edges rolled under and covered with rusty hair underneath. White fragrant flowers are produced in terminal clusters. A pleasant tasting tea made of the leaves or flowers is used as a beverage. It is also used medicinally, as a stimulant, a nervine and anxiolytic, analgesic, to treat headaches, and an antimicrobial. A dark coloured decoction made by boiling the plant is often prepared for medicinal uses. Labrador tea contains catechin tannins, flavonoids including quercetin, hyperoside, arbutin, and 0.3-2.5% volatile oil consisting of camphor, palustrol, germacrone, ledol and many other monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. In L. groenlandicum the main volatile oil component is germacrone, whereas in L. palustre the main volatile component is ledol. Labrador tea is thought to be toxic in large amounts, due to the presence of small amounts of the poisonous compound andromedotoxin in Labrador tea leaves. In large doses andromedotoxin can cause harmful effects including headaches, vomitting and death. Although there are no documented deaths from Labrador tea, it should be consumed in dilute infusions only infrequently to minimize this risk.
Leonurus cardiaca; sibiricus (Labiatae) (Siberian Motherwort) – This member of the mint family is used as a mild sedative and hypnotic agent in Siberia and is sometimes used as a substitute for Leonotis species. Motherwort is a perennial that grows up to three feet tall with hairy, segmented leaves up to three inches long, with pink whorls of flowers. Leonurus cardiaca has been used as an analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-asthmatic, nervine, for rabies, as a sedative and as a tonic. Leonotis sibiricus is also listed as having stimulant, hypnotic and sedative effects. Some chemicals contained within the plant include alpha-pinene, benzaldehyde, caryophyllene, limonene, quercetin, quercitrin and rutin. Leonurus japonicus is listed as an aphrodisiac.
Matteuccia struthiopteris (Dryopteridaceae) (Ostrich fern) – This large fern is common to damp woods and river margins in Canada and the northern USA and Eurasia. The base of the green fronds are used medicinally as an analgesic, as a treatment for cancer, to regulate blood sugar, and as an antimicrobial substance. Ostrich fern contains numerous flavonoids, phenylpropanoids and the stilbene pinosylvin. Young fiddle heads are edible.
Maytenus krukovii (Celastraceae) (Chuchuhuasi) – This large canopy tree of the Amazon rainforest has a thick reddish-brown bark that is used by native peoples as an analgesic, aphrodisiac, tonic, stimulant, muscle relaxant and immunostimulant. It is used by shamans and curanderos as a synnergistic plant in many brews. Maytenus contains several different types of sesquiterpene alkaloids as well as triterpenes.
Meconopsis species (Papaveraceae) (Tibetan poppy) – Species of Meconopsis, blue flowered members of the poppy family, have their roots used as an analgesic and sedative in traditional medicine in the Himalayas. The roots contain benzoisoquinoline alkaloids.
Melaleuca species (Myrtaceae) (Tea Tree; Niaouli) – contains a volatile essential oil that is extremely effective against fungi, bacteria, viruses and other microbes. Used as a tea substitute by Captain Cook and his crews, who gave it the name of tea tree. Also an effective analgesic.
Melissa officinalis (Labiatae) (Lemon Balm) – This aromatic perennial member of the mint family native to southern Europe has lemon scented leaves and small white flowers. Melissa is rich in volatile essential oils, which have euphoriant, analgesic, anti-anxiety, antidepressant, sedative, antipyretic and antimicrobial actions. Melissa officinalis has been used as an analgesic, antidepressant, antimicrobial, sedative, antispasmodic and nervine. Some chemicals contained within the plant include caffeic-acid, chlorogenic-acid, eugenyl-acetate, protocatechuic-acid, thymol, ursolic acid, citronellal, citronellol, geraniol, geranyl-acetate, limonene, myrcene, nerol and oleanolic-acid.
Mentha species (Labiatae) (Mint) – Many species of mint contain volatile essential oils. Mentha piperita (peppermint) has potent analgesic activity mediated through kappa opioid receptors, as well as a strong stimulant effect. Many mints have similar activity, and are effective at clearing clogged nasal passageways. Mint is also highly antimicrobial. Contains menthol and other volatile terpenes that are common plant scents. Mentha pulegium (Pennyroyal) is listed as a sedative and can be toxic or poisonous in large amounts due to the presence of terpenes not found in other mint species.
Monarda species (Labiatae) (Bee Balm; Wild Bergamot) – Species of Monarda have brilliant clusters of purple or red flowers. Both leaves and flowers are rich in volatile oils, with spicy and sweet scents. Monarda is an effective antimicrobial agent, and is calming, mildly sedating and analgesic. Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot) is common in North America, and different varieties have been found to contain an essential oil rich in either geraniol, linalool or thymol. Monarda didyma and M. punctata are also active species and are listed as stimulants.
Morinda citrifolia (Noni) (Rubiaceae) – Fruit, juice, roots and leaves of this Polynesian tree have medicinal effects, although juice of the fruit is most widely available. Has anticancerous and immunostimulant. Other parts of the plant, particularly the roots, have strong analgesic, sedative and hypnotic effects. Found to contain a variety of alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides and other plant compounds.
Ochna obtusata (Ochnaceae) – Alcoholic extract of bark shows strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity.
Petiveria alliacea (Phytolaccaceae) (Anamu) – This herbaceous perennial of the Amazon rainforest, the Caribbean and Africa. The plant is used in Amazonian herbal medicine and it has analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-anxiety, antipyretic, anti-cancer and antimicrobial actions. It also has sedative effects. Many flavonoids, triterpenes, plant steroids and sulfur containing compounds have been isolated from the plant. May also have potential for regulating blood sugar levels, treating arthritis, and as an immunostimulant.
Peumus boldus (Monimiaceae) (Boldo) – This shrubby evergreen is native to Andean regions of Chile and Peru. The leaves are made into a tea which is a general tonic for sickness, antispasmodic, analgesic and effective at settling the stomach and stimulating appetite. Also used as a treatment for altitude sickness. At least seventeen isoquinoline alkaloids have been isolated from boldo, the most biologically active being the alkaloid boldine. Boldo also contains a variety of volatile oils. Listed as a stimulant.
Polemonium caeruleum (Polemoniaceae) (Jacob’s Ladder) – This common aromatic garden plant is used as an analgesic and nervine. Other species of Polemonium are similarly used.
Polygala tenuifolia; senega; sibirica; vulgaris (Polygalaceae) (Chinese Senega) – Polygala tenuifolia is used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for asthma and coughs. Has analgesic, sedative and tranquilizing effects, and is also used as an anti-anxiety, antidepressant and memory enhancer. The related species P. senega (Seneca Snakeroot) is used in native North American medicine as a powerful analgesic and agent to treat bronchial diseases and as a decongestant and stimulant. Seneca snakeroot has been reported to contain up to 12% dry weight of a mixture of triterpene glycosides (senegasaponins A-D), methyl salicyclate and the glucoside of methyl salicyclate. The saponins account for the degongestant effects, and the salicyclates have analgesic and antipyretic effects. Polygala sibirica is listed as a nervine and sedative agent. Polygala vulgaris (Milkwort) is listed as a stimulant. Polygala tenuifolia is reported to contain beta-carboline in the root.
Polygonatum biflorum (Convallariaceae/Lililaceae) (Solomons Seal) – The root of this plant is used in native medicine in North America for many conditions. Includes analgesic and sedative effects among other medicinal effects. May be toxic. Polygonatum humile, P. inflatum, P. macropodum, P. odoratum and P. multiflorum are also listed as sedatives. Polygonatum cirrhifolium is listed as a stimulant.
Pongamia pinnata (Fabaceae) – Extracts of root and seed showed strong analgesic effects in mice.
Populus species (Salicaceae) (Poplar) – Inner bark contains salicyclates which exert analgesic and antipyretic effects. Young leaves are enclosed in sticky bracts. The resin from these bracts is known as balsam and is strongly antimicrobial and is placed on wounds to promote healing and as a topical analgesic. Populus tremuloides (trembling aspen) is listed as having nervine and stimulant effects. Populus balsamifera, P. nigra, P. tremula and P. trichocarpa are also active species.
Primula veris; vulgaris (Primulaceae) (European Cowslip) – This common spring-flowering garden plant has been used in European herbal medicine as a sedative, soporific, antispasmodic and analgesic. The flowers are held to be the strongest part of the plant.
Psidium guajava (Myrtaceae) (Guava) – Shade tree from the tropics. Leaves are used in native medicine as a cough suppressant, antimicrobial, analgesic, antioxidant and central nervous system depressant. Domesticated in Peru several thousand years ago. Seeds and fruit are edible. Contains many volatile essential oils, triterpenes, phenols, flavonoids, saponins and tannins.
Ptychopetalum olacoides; uncinatum (Olacaceae) (Muira Puama) – This small tree native to the Amazon rainforest is used in South American herbal medicine as an aphrodisiac, anti-anxiety and nervine, antidepressant, memory enhancer, analgesic, stimulant and antioxidant. The root and bark contain many fatty acids and fatty acid esters, numerous essential oils including both isomers of caryophyllene, pinene, linalool, limonene and others, plant sterols, triterpenes including the novel compound lupeol, and an alkaloid known as muirapuamine.
Pyrola asarifolia; secunda (Pyrolaceae) (Pink Wintergreen) – This perennial herb with shiny round leaves in a basal rosette and a slender column of pink (P. asarifolia) or greenish-white (P. secunda) flowers on a single flowering stalk is native to moist to circumboreal regions of moist forest. A number of flavonoid glycosides have been isolated from Pyrola leaves, as well as naphthoquinones (such as chimaphilin), sesquiterpenes, arbutin and ursolic acid. Extracts of Pyrola are reported to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory and circulation enhancing activities.
Rosmarinus species (Labiatae) (Rosemary) – Contains a volatile mixture of essential oils witfh potent stimulant, analgesic and antimicrobial action. Rosemary oil is toxic in large doses. Rosmarinus officinalis (true rosemary) is also listed as having nervine effects.
Sarracenia species (Sarraceniaceae) (Pitcher Plant) – Pitcher plants are bog plants native to Canada, the Eastern USA and California, with distinctive hollow pitcher-shaped leaves with purple veins and hoodlike tops. Water sits in the bottom of this pitcher, and insects get trapped in the pitcher, drown and are digested by the plant to meet its demand for nitrogen and other nutrients. The leaves of pitcher plant are used medicinally in Native American medicine as an antitussive, analgesic, antipyretic, antispasmodic and hormone balancing agent. Leaves are reported to contain numerous flavonoids including quercetin, rhamnetin and hyperoside, as well as benzenoids, the triterpenes betulin, amyrins and luteol, and alkaloids. Some species have been shown to have anti-leukemic effects.
Sida acuta/cordifolia (Malvaceae) – Contains ephedrine and related isomers of ephedrine with stimulant, decongestant, analgesic and smooth muscle relaxant properties. Sida rhombifolia has been shown to mediate release of histamine, serotonin (5HT) and other compounds. Sida cordifolia has also been reported to contain the alkaloid N-methyl-l-tryptophan methyl ester, which is also found in several legumes and in the myristicaceous Osteophloem platyspermum, and is related to psychoactive tryptamines in structure.
Sideritis taurica/spp (Lamiaceae) – The genus Sideritis consists of about 140 species native to areas of the Mediterranean. Several species have been reported to contain diterpenes, sesquiterpenes, volatile essential oils and flavonoids. Sideritis species have been used medicinally for their anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, antioxidant, anticataract, antimicrobial and immunomodulating effects. Sideritis taurica was analyzed and found to contain fatty acids, hydrocarbons, alpha-amyrin, stigmasterol and beta-sitosterol and derivates of apigenin and isoscutellarein, and showed analgesic, anti-inflammatory and other medicinal effects.
Silphium perfoliatum (Compositae) (Cup Plant) – This native to regions of North America oozes a resinous sap when its stems are snapped. When dried, this sap tuns into a sticky gum. Native peoples chewed this cup and also burned and inhaled the smoke of the rhizome for its analgesic, stimulant, antispasmodic and adaptogen effects. Held to have supernatural powers and used by the Winnebago indians as a cleansing and purifying agent before going on a hunt.
Stachytarpheta hamaicensis; cayennensis (Verbenaceae) (Gervao) – This weedy tropical annual in the verbena family. It is used as an antihistamine, cough suppressant, analgesic, antispasmodic, antipyretic and sedative. The plant contains a variet of flavonoids, terpenes, phenols and steroids. The glycoside verbascoside is an antioxidant, antimicrobial, neuroprotective and antitumorous substance. The flavonoid scutellarein has anti-inflammatory effects. Hispiduline, salicyclic acid and dopamine are also present.
Tynanthus panurensis (Bignoniaceae) (Clavo Huasca) – This large woody vine native to tropical regions of South America has bark and roots with a clove-like scent. It is used
in native medicine as an aphrodisiac, analgesic and to stimulate digestion. It is commonly added to ayahuasca mixtures to settle the stomach. Clavo huasca has been found to contain alkaloids including a unique alkaloid tinantina, tannins, and essential oils including eugenol.
Uncaria tomentosa; guianensis (Rubiaceae) (Cat’s Claw) – This woody vine native to South and Central America is used in native herbal medicine for its immunostimulant, anti-cancerous, antioxidant, adaptogen, analgesic, antimicrobial and antidepressant actions. Oxindole alkaloids isolated from cat’s claw have documented immunostimulant and anti-leukemic properties, and have been shown to have a positive modulating effect of 5-HT (serotonin) receptors. A range of other chemicals, including anti-inflammatory and antiviral quinovic acid glycosides, antioxidant tannins, plant sterols, and immunostimulant carboxyl alkyl esters have been isolated. The tricyclic indole hallucinogen, sedative and MAOI harman is also found in cats claw in small amounts. Other species of Uncaria have been used in traditional Asian medicine and have been found to contain many of the same compounds, particularly the oxindole and beta-carboline alkaloids.
Vernonia lasiopus; galamensis; spp (Sahadevi) (Asteraceae/Compositae) – Species of the genus Vernonia have been shown to have sedative effects in rats, and also to have strong analgesic effects not mediated through opioid receptors.
Viburnum species (Caprifoliaceae) (Cranberry; Crampbark) – Bark of Viburnum species is sometimes referred to as crampbark due to its uses as an analgesic and antispasmodic. Viburnum bark has also been smoked by Native americans as a Tobacco substitute. Viburnum prunifolium, which is listed as a nervine and sedative, has been reported to contain the biflavone amentoflavone, several triterpenes, coumarins, salicin and derivatives of salicin and tannins. Viburnum opulus is listed as a sedative. Viburnum mullaha is listed as a stimulant.
Zizyphus jujuba; spinosa (Chinese Jujube) (Rhamnaceae) – The seeds of the bush Zizyphus spinosa are used in Chinese medicine to calm the mind, treat insomnia and irritability, and as an anti-anxiety herb. Used medicinally for its tranquilizing, hypnotic, analgesic and antispasmodic effects. The related species Ziziphus jujuba is listed as having narcotic and hypnotic effects. Zizyphus species are reported to contain isoquinoline alkaloids.