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Earthnotes
Herb Library

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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.




ALKANET
(Alkanna tinctoria)
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Member of the anchusa family.

HARVEST: Roots.

USES

MEDICINAL:
Anciently used to help old ulcers, inflammations and burns by applying in ointment form.
Used historically as an external emollient.
Reputed to soften and sooth the skin. Said to contract tissue and reduce fluid loss.
Was used to treat wounds.
The powdered herb mixed with petroleum gel was applied as an ointment for back pains or bruises.
Internally, 1/2 tsp of powdered herb in 1 C hot water was allowed to steep, then taken for worms.

DYE:
Roots produce red with no mordant and gray-green with alum. Mixed with alum and oil or alcohol, can produce red for cloth, ointments, liquids and staining wood and stone.
In central and southern Europe a dye is extracted from the root by steeping in linseed oil. Spirit of wine was also used historically. It does not give its color up to water. Will appear as dull brown in water.
Has been used to give an imitation of rosewood or mahogany when staining wood with the oil in which the alkanet has been soaked.
Wax tinged with alkanet is applied to warm marble and imparts a pale pink flesh color.
Also used in pharmaceuticals to give red tinge to salves.

COSMETIC:
Was once used as rouge. French ladies colored their faces with the ointment, although it is said it did not last long.
LIP GLOSS = In top of double boiler melt together 1 Tbsp beeswax and 5 Tbsp of almond or olive oil. Remove from heat and add 1/4 tsp alkanet root to 1/3 of the melted oil and wax. Allow color to be released, then strain through fine cloth. Pour remaining clear mixture into a container of its own. You will have one clear gloss for everyday and a red tinted gloss when color is desired. You may also use a small amount of commercial lip stick or gloss to color your homemade version.

OTHER:
Has also been used to flavor drinks.




©2001 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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