More Important Medicinal Plants

Eucalyptus

The eucalyptus is a majestic tree that gives a stately aspect to any garden capable of holding its extraordinary dimensions. Its enormous need for water, absorbed by its roots, makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to develop other plants close to it.

CHARACTERISTICS:
It is an evergreen tree, fast growing and that under favourable conditions can reach 100 meters high.
It has two types of well-differentiated leaves in the young branches that grow ovate and opposite leaves, while the elongated, sickle-shaped leaves are formed in the adult branches. The flowers originate inside a hard, conical capsule with a lid.
When it blossoms, the lid is detached and the numerous white stamens that surround the central pistil appear. Both the leaves and stems and flower capsules smell essence and have a bitter taste.

LOCATION:
The eucalyptus is native to Australia and Tasmania, where it was discovered in 1792. It was introduced in Europe and America in the second half of the nineteenth century, as an ornamental tree and to take advantage of its therapeutic properties and as a desiccator of marshes in endemic areas of malaria. It adapts to temperate climates

ACTIVE PRINCIPLES:
The leaves are the organs that contain essence in greater quantity (3%), being its main component the eucalyptol. They also have tannins, resin and bitter principles.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:
In the American continent, eucalyptus was planted to fight against malaria and since there was a coincidence: where there was eucalyptus there was no malaria, so it was believed that the leaves influenced the cure of the disease.
It calms a cough and fluidifies sputum and is effective in the affections of the respiratory tract, especially in bronchitis and asthmatic processes. It also acts as an antiseptic, this property is used in infections of the urinary tract. Due to the tannins, it contains, it has also been used as an astringent (against diarrhoea).

HARVEST:
False leaves (sickle-shaped) are used exclusively, which can be cut at any time of the year provided they are fully formed. The capsules, if required by their fragrance, should be taken when they have already opened, in autumn or winter

USES AND APPLICATIONS:
It is taken in infusion prepared with one or two leaves for a maximum of one cup.
It is used in inhalations, boiling a container with water and a bunch of leaves. It keeps on simmering while the steam is breathed with a towel over the head and hanging on the sides in order to better absorb the vapours.
Environmental humidifiers are used, some leaf may be added to the water to flavour the air.
The capsules of the flowers can be useful to give a feeling of freshness inside the cabinets or to hide the smell of tobacco in cars.

Sarsaparilla

With the name of sarsaparilla are designated more than 200 species of the genus Smilax, distributed throughout the warm and humid regions of the planet. They usually receive the name of their place of origin (sarsaparilla from Mexico, from Peru, from Brazil, from Europe, etc.).
In America and especially in Mexico, a refreshing drink based on sarsaparilla root was elaborated that gave rise to the modern cola drinks.

CHARACTERISTICS :
It is a climbing plant several meters long, which climbs the trees to reach the top. The flowers form small white clusters with six floral pieces that will develop other fruits, red, like small cherries. The rhizome, woody, forms an extensive underground network for its multiple rations full of knots from which triangular leaves that wrap around it, from the same knots arise the roots, short and little branched, that grow vertically downwards. The rhizome can reach several meters in length, sometimes even longer than the aerial stem.

LOCATION:
Except the European one, they live in all America from Mexico to Brazil, in the humid forests.

ACTIVE PRINCIPLES:
They are found in the rhizome, where especially the parrillina accumulates, a saponin characteristic of the American species, in addition they contain carbohydrates, tannins and mineral salts.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:
It is diuretic, sudorific and depurative. The Spaniards checked on arrival in America, that the aborigines already used the plant to cure various ailments, and named it sarsaparilla by similarity with that growing in Spain (the Europe) to which they also adjudicated the properties of that one, without knowing that its active principles are not the same. They even believed that it served to cure syphilis.

HARVEST:
At any time of year. It is not necessary to tear off the whole plant, it is enough to pick up a part of the long rhizome and leave enough rest so that the plant does not die.

USES AND APPLICATIONS:
In decoction, 50 grams of rhizome per liter of water are boiled. Two and three glasses a day will be taken, it is a solution to stimulate the secretion of urine and that of the sweat glands, in this last case very useful to cure acne (sweat eliminates the toxic substances accumulated in the grains). With the dried rhizome, the decoction can be replaced by the infusion.