Artemisia of the Week: Sweet Annie

Species: Artemisia annua

Common names: Sweet Annie, Sweet Wormwood, Sweet Sagewort, Annual Wormwood

History/Folklore: Sweet Annie is a annual herb that is native to Asia. It is widespread throughout Europe and North America. It has been utilized for over 1500 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine as treatment for fevers. Sweet Annie’s main active ingredient, artemisinin, has been used effectively as a treatment for malaria. The most common use of Sweet Annie, in the USA, is as an aromatic addition to dried arrangements and wreaths. It is also used as a deterrent to insects.

Appearance: Single stemmed with alternating branches and leaves. The leaves are fern like with a sweet camphor-like smell. The flowers, which are small and yellow, appear between July and October. Sweet Annie can reach a height of 5-6 feet.

Parts Used: Leaves stem and flowers

Cut after flowers appear. Can be used fresh or dried.

Actions:  febrifuge
Indications:  Has been used to reduce fever.

Counterindications: Avoid during pregnancy.

Cultivation: By seed.

Light: Annual

Zones: annual

Plant Type: Annual, Herb

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Herb of the Week: WITCH HAZEL

Hamamelis virginiana

Common names: Witch Hazel, Spotted Alder, Winterbloom, Snapping Hazelnut

History/Folklore: Witch Hazel is a deciduous shrub native to North America and has been used by Native Americans as a treatment for wounds, tumors and skin ulcers by boiling the bark and leaves in water. The remedy was adopted by early settlers and it is now a household staple.

Appearance: Has oval, toothed leaves that start out reddish/bronze that turn to green. The flowers, which appear in late fall/ winter, are small, yellow and fragrant. There is a spring blooming variety as well. The shrub can grow 10 to 20 feet with an equal spread.

 Parts Used: Leaves, twigs and bark

Collection: Late fall and winter for bark, summer to fall for leaves.

Actions:  astringent, tonic, sedative, anti-inflammatory
Indications:  Use externally to relieve hemorrhoids, varicose veins, acne, sunburns, phlebitis, minor swellings, itchy skin and diaper rash. It can also soothe mosquito and other bug bites. Witch Hazel can be used internally (as a tea or tincture) for cases of hemorrhoids, diarrhea or weak, lax uterus, veins and intestines. It may also be internally used to relieve symptoms of colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Please use common sense when using witch hazel internally.

Contraindications: Do not use witch hazel prepared with isopropyl alcohol internally. Do not use internally if pregnant or nursing.

Cultivation: Seeds

Light: Full Sun to part Shade

Zones: 4-8

Plant Type: perennial shrub

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Artemisia of the Week: Wormwood


Species: Artemisia abstinthium

Common names: Wormwood, Absinthe wormwood, Common wormwood, Green ginger

History/Folklore: The name Wormwood is derived from one of its many uses – to expel Worms and other intestinal parasites. It has been used for centuries to aid in digestion, relieve nervousness, strengthen contractions and reduce labor pains. Wormwood is probably best known as the key ingredient in Absinthe.

Appearance: Wormwood has tall and erect somewhat furrowed stems, which can reach two to four feet in height. It has silvery green, deeply serrated leaves with down-like fine hairs underneath. Small rounded yellow flower heads appear in July and August.

Parts Used: Leaves, stems and flowers

Cut and dry in July and August after flowers appear.

Actions:  febrifuge, anthelmintic (vermifuge), nervine tonic, stomachic,emmenagogue

Indications:  Has been used to reduce fever, expel intestinal worms and other parasites, strengthen the nervous system, aid in digestion, strengthen labor contraction and reduce labor pain, regulate menstruation..

Counterindications: Avoid during pregnancy.

Cultivation: Cuttings and layering or by seed.

Light: Full sun

Zones: 3-9

Plant Type: Perennial, Herb, Shrub

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Herb of the Week: Ashwaganda


Species: Withania somnifera

Common names: Ashwaganda Root, Indian Ginseng, Winter cherry

Ashwaganda root has been used for over three thousand in Ayuverdic medicine as a general tonic and to help stabilize moods. It is a member of the nightshade family. Ashwaganda is native to India, Northern Africa and the Middle East. The roots can be used as a decoction or tincture. The dried root can also be powdered and consumed on food. The name “Ashwaganda” roughly translates into “horses smell” which might reference the plant’s musky smell.

Grows up to 4 feet with elliptical green leaves and
tiny green yellow flowers followed by red berries.

Parts Used: Roots

Collection: Dig Roots in late Fall (in New England)

Actions:  Adaptagen, Anti-inflammatory, Sedative, Tonic
Indications:  General tonic to help the body regain balance especially when battling stress. Helps promote a restful sleep.

Contraindications: Avoid if Pregnant or Nursing

 Cultivation: By seed

Light: Full Sun

Zones : Annual

Plant Type: Semi Hardy Evergreen Shrub in Native areas– Annual in New England

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Herb of the Week: Burdock


Species: Arctium lappa

Common names: Beggar’s Buttons,Thorny Burr, Love Leaves, Gobo

 History/Folklore: Burdock is a common biennial considered by many to be a weed. However, it has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments throughout history. The seeds have been used to provide relief from measles, common cold, arthritis, tonsillitis. The seeds are usually used for more acute conditions since its actions are more immediate (but not as sustainable) than those from the root. The root is a great blood purifier, and is used to help detoxify the liver. Some conditions it is effective against include rheumatism, gout, psoriasis, eczema, ulcers and acne. The Japanese use Burdock root (Gobo) as a vegetable. The Europeans use Burdock root oil as a scalp treatment. The Burdock burr is said to be the inspiration for Velcro.


Grows to a height of 3-6 feet with heart shaped leaves. Purple flowers, which appear from midsummer to early fall, are followed by sticky burrs. Roots are generally 12 inches up to 3 feet.

 Parts Used: Roots, leaves and seeds.

Collection: Dig roots in fall of the first year or early spring of second year before flower stalks appear.

Actions: diuretic, diaphoretic, blood purifier, alterative, tonic. 

Indications: Burdock helps remove toxins and impurities from the liver allowing it to work more efficiently and effectively. It is believed that it helps regulate the body’s metabolism. Mostly used as a decoction, although leaves are used as a poultice to treat bruises and inflamed skin.

 Counterindications: Avoid if pregnant or nursing. May cause allergic reaction if you are sensitive to daisies, chrysanthemums or ragweed.

Cultivation: Seeds. Self seeds readily.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Zones : Biennialnot common in deep south.

Plant Type: Biennial

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Artemisia of the week: WHITE WORMWOOD

Species: Artemisia herba-alba

 Common names: White wormwood, Desert wormwood

 History/Folklore: A short shrub that grows commonly in Northern Africa and the Middle East in desert like conditions. It has been used to treat diabetes in Iraqi folk medicine. It has also been used by tribes in the Negeve dessert to treat Enteritis and other intestinal disturbances. 

Finely divided gray green leaves that are aromatic. Grows to about 8–16 inches high.

Parts Used: leaves

Collection: Harvest and dry in mid summer. Cut stems and hang to dry.

Actions:  Antispasmodic, antiseptic, vermifuge.
Indications:  Aids in digestion, expels parasites, cleansing.

Counterindications: Avoid during pregnancy.


 Cultivation: Cuttings and layering



Light: Full sun

Zones: ? 

Plant Type: Perennial,Herb, Shrub




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Fire Cider Controversy

Ottawa Herb Society

There has been quite alot of information buzzing around since one company patented the term Fire Cider. Here is Rosemary Gladstar’s most recent response.


Official Statement from Rosemary Gladstar

Dear Friends,

The saga of Fire Cider continues….

I wish to thank you all for your ongoing support. It’s been amazing to see how many people have mobilized over this issue and who are willing to support free ownership of Fire Cider. To me this issue is larger than just fire cider. However, in this moment it is most important that the name and product “Fire Cider” be returned to its rightful owners, the herbal community, many who have been making, using, and selling Fire Cider longer than Shire City Herbals has been in existence. When I first made Fire Cider, named it such, and taught hundreds of other people how to make it through my books, videos, classes, and…

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