May is the first stage in our voyage through "health & herbs". Every month our botany expert will teach us to recognize officinal herbs, which can also be used in cooking and beauty treatment. They are the treasures of our mountains, which are a sort of natural chemist's shop.
Have a walk in the Dolomites to find good herbs, but be careful and respectful, because some of them are protected!
Any substance contains death and life at the same time, each one is both medicine and poison. Pharmacology and toxicology are the same thing, there are poisons that can heal and, under certain circumstances, they can kill in a few seconds' time...Thomas Mann
Mistletoe - according to northern tradition, wearing mistletoe around one's neck kept evil spirits away. Therapeutic employment of mistletoe: the treatment of high blood pressure.
Willow tree - the ancient knew its properties very well. This is why 19th century researchers worked hard to find its anti-rheumatic properties. As a consequence, they managed to discover one of the most famous medicines of modern times: Aspirin.
Chelidonia - against warts and gallstones. Its yellow latex is rich in active substances. Its yellow latex is rich in active substances. Chelidonia, however, must be used carefully, because overdoses can be lethal.
Primrose - it is considered a symbol of the return of spring, but it also features important expectorating properties. Against respiratory tract infections.
Burdock - it is a bush with wide leaves and supplied with numerous characteristics infructescences covered of hooked squamae that stick to dresses, celebrated as useful remedy against an infinite number of diseases. Against furunculosis and acne.
Nettle - very common in uncultivated fields, in woods, along hedges and roadsides, among ruins and old walls. It is famous for its stings, but it is good in cooking. It is often used in depurant treatment.
Paritory - common in woods, along hedges and among ruins. It has been used for ages: the Latin writer Pliny talks about it in his works. It is often used in depurant treatment.
Sage - it has always been considered a prodigious herb both in cooking and in pharmacy. Against spring allergies.
Black currant - its leaves and buds contain powerful anti-allergic agents. Against spring allergies.
Borage - the more important part of the plant is represented from the seed, from which a rich oil of active principles is extracted, very helpful in contrasting the cutaneous aging. Against dry skin, cutaneous dehydration.
Perforated St. John's Wort - an amulet to chase demons in the Middle Ages, this herb has been recently revaluated as a remedy for depression thanks to the stimulating effect of its active substance. Against depression and burns.
Arnica - it blooms in July/August in wet meadows of mountain areas, above 1000 m. Once considered "the poor's quinine", it is now used as an anti-ecchymotic and a remedy for articular affections. Against bruises and muscular aches.
Valerian - it blooms in late summer, in wet woods and along streams of mountain areas. The late-Latin term valeriana derives from the verb valere, i.e. "to be strong", and it refers to the power this herb had of healing people. Against insomnia.
Common horse chestnut - big tree from Asia Minor. Nowadays we are used to seeing its "false chestnuts" along our roads, but many of us still don't know its healing properties. Against venous disorders, haviness in the lags.
Mugo pine - Once, it was a common habit to cut its bark in order to collect its precious resin, but this does not happen any more. Herbalists now prefer the so-called "resin-oil". Against inflammation of respiratory passages.
Lichen - its name derives from that of a skin disease this herb was said to heal. It later revealed important expectorating properties and recent studies have demonstrated an interesting antibiotic action.