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Magic And Wicca - Herbal Encyclopedia - Y


Herbs & Oils

~ Y ~


(Achillea millefolium)

Also known as Seven Year's Love, Milfoil, and Woundwort. The flowering tops are a digestive and cleaning tonic and a diuretic and are used to reduce high blood pressure. Fresh leaves arrest bleeding and are applied as a poultice to wounds or are placed on shaving cuts. One of the true treasures of the earth, Yarrow essential oil is naturally blue and possesses an incredible scent. The oil treats colds , flu, and inflamed joints.
This is a classic herb for flu, especially the intestinal variety. Try a mixture of elderflower, peppermint, and yarrow to bring down a fever and induce perspiration. The tea benefits the kidneys. Yarrow is used in salves for hemorrhoids and in poultices to stop bleding and help heal wounds. Cramps and rheumatism are treated with the tea, as are intestinal gas, diarrhea, anorexia, and hyperacidity.

Parts Used:
Above-ground portions of the herb

Magical Uses:
Large patches of yarrow growing in a field indicate a very grounded energy spot. Sit there to center and relax. Yarrow is used to exorcise evil and negativity from a person, place or thing. A bunch of dried yarrow hung over the bed or yarrow used in wedding decorations ensures a love lasting at least seven years. Use in spells for: Divination; Love; Happy Marriage; Wards Negativity; Defense; Protection; Gather at Litha; Psychic Awareness; Banishing; Releasing; Clairvoyance.

Aromatherapy Uses:
Acne; Burns; Cuts; Eczema; Hair Rinse; Inflammation; Rashes; Scars; Wounds; Arteriosclerosis, High Blood Pressure; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Thrombosis; Varicose Veins; Constipation; Cramps; Flatulence; Hemorrhoids; Indigestion; Amenorrhea; Colds; Fever; Flu; Cystitis; Hypertension; Insomnia; Stress Related Conditions. Key Qualities: Balancing; Restorative; Tonic; Strengthening; Opening; Grounding; Revitalizing; Mildly Stimulating.


(Cananga odorata)

Ylang-ylang has glossy leaves and masses of perfumed, greenish-yellow (sometimes mauve or pink) flowers with narrow petals that resemble witch hazel flowers but appear during two flowering periods. The essential oil is distilled by steam from freshly picked flowers and is featured in many perfumes, soaps, skin lotions, and to balance sebum in Macasser hair oil. Use in moderation, since the oil's heady scent can cause headaches or nausea. Ylang-Ylang means "flower of flowers".

Magical Uses:
(Oil) Useful for Peace, Love and Sex Spells. It can be worn on the body or included in mixtures for these purposes.

Aromatherapy Uses:
(Oil)Acne; Hair Growth; Hair Rinse; Insect Bites; Irritated and Oily Skin; General Skin Care; High Blood Pressure; Palpitations; Depression; Frigidity; Impotence; Insomnia; Nervous Tension; Stress Related Disorders. Key Qualities: Powerfully Sedative; Soothing; Calming; Regulating; Euphoria-inducing; and narcotic when used in large quantities; Aphrodisiac.



Botanical: Dioscorea Villosa (LINN.)

Family: N.O. Dioscoreaceae

Dioscorea. Colic Root. Rheumatism Root. Wilde Yamwurzel.

---Part Used---
Dried rhizome.

Southern United States and Canada.

There are upwards of 150 varieties of Dioscorea, many, like the potato, being edible. An Indo-Chinese species is used as a dye in Southern China. Dioscorea Villosa is a perennial, twining plant, with long, knotty, matted, contorted, ligneous root-stocks. The root is long, branched, crooked, and woody, the taste being insipid, afterwards acrid, and having no odour. It is usually sold in pieces of various lengths, which are difficult to pulverize, as the root flattens out when this is attempted. The therapeutical value is lost after the first year, so that it should be freshly gathered and carefully dried each year.

Much saponin has been found in the roots, and a substance improperly called dioscorein, obtained by precipitating the tincture with water.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Antispasmodic. Perhaps the best relief and promptest cure for bilious colic, especially helpful in the nausea of pregnant women. Valuable also in painful cholera morbus with cramps, neuralgic affections, spasmodic hiccough and spasmodic asthma.

1/2 to 1 drachm of fluid extract. Dioscorein, 1/4 to 4 grains.

---Poisonous, if any, with Antidotes---
An alkaloid separated from the Javanese D. hirsuta has been found to be a convulsive poison, resembling picrotoxin, but much feebler.


Botanical: Achillea millefolium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
Parts Used
Medicinal Action and Uses

Milfoil. Old Man's Pepper. Soldier's Woundwort. Knight's Milfoil. Herbe Militaris. Thousand Weed. Nose Bleed. Carpenter's Weed. Bloodwort. Staunchweed. Sanguinary. Devil's Nettle. Devil's Plaything. Bad Man's Plaything. Yarroway.
(Saxon) Gearwe.
(Dutch) Yerw.
(Swedish) Field Hop.

---Part Used---
Whole Herb.

Yarrow grows everywhere, in the grass, in meadows, pastures, and by the roadside. As it creeps greatly by its roots and multiplies by seeds it becomes a troublesome weed in gardens, into which it is seldom admitted in this country, though it is cultivated in the gardens of Madeira.

The name Yarrow is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon name for the plant - gearwe; the Dutch, yerw.

The stem is angular and rough, the leaves alternate, 3 to 4 inches long and 1 inch broad, clasping the stem at the base, bipinnatifid, the segments very finely cut, giving the leaves a feathery appearance.
It flowers from June to September, the flowers, white or pale lilac, being like minute daisies, in flattened, terminal, loose heads, or cymes. The whole plant is more or less hairy, with white, silky appressed hairs.
Yarrow was formerly much esteemed as a vulnerary, and its old names of Soldier's Wound Wort and Knight's Milfoil testify to this. The Highlanders still make an ointment from it, which they apply to wounds, and Milfoil tea is held in much repute in the Orkneys for dispelling melancholy. Gerard tells us it is the same plant with which Achilles stanched the bleeding wounds of his soldiers, hence the name of the genus, Achillea. Others say that it was discovered by a certain Achilles, Chiron's disciple. It was called by the Ancients, the Herba Militaris, the military herb.
Its specific name, millefolium, is derived from the many segments of its foliage, hence also its popular name, Milfoil and Thousand Weed. Another popular name for it is Nosebleed, from its property of stanching bleeding of the nose, though another reason given for this name is that the leaf, being rolled up and applied to the nostrils, causes a bleeding from the nose, more or less copious, which will thus afford relief to headache. Parkinson tells us that 'if it be put into the nose, assuredly it will stay the bleeding of it' - so it seems to act either way.
It was one of the herbs dedicated to the Evil One, in earlier days, being sometimes known as Devil's Nettle, Devil's Plaything, Bad Man's Plaything, and was used for divination in spells.
Yarrow, in the eastern counties, is termed Yarroway, and there is a curious mode of divination with its serrated leaf, with which the inside of the nose is tickled while the following lines are spoken. If the operation causes the nose to bleed, it is a certain omen of success:
'Yarroway, Yarroway, bear a white blow,
If my love love me, my nose will bleed now.'
An ounce of Yarrow sewed up in flannel and placed under the pillow before going to bed, having repeated the following words, brought a vision of the future husband or wife:
'Thou pretty herb of Venus' tree,
Thy true name it is Yarrow;
Now who my bosom friend must be,
Pray tell thou me to-morrow.'
---(Halliwell's Popular Rhymes, etc.)
It has been employed as snuff, and is also called Old Man's Pepper, on account of the pungency of its foliage. Both flowers and leaves have a bitterish, astringent, pungent taste.
In the seventeenth century it was an ingredient of salads.
---Parts Used---
The whole plant, stems, leaves and flowers, collected in the wild state, in August, when in flower.

A dark green, volatile oil, a peculiar principle, achillein, and achilleic acid, which is said to be identical with aconitic acid, also resin, tannin, gum and earthy ash, consisting of nitrates, phosphates and chlorides of potash and lime.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Diaphoretic, astringent, tonic, stimulant and mild aromatic.
Yarrow Tea is a good remedy for severe colds, being most useful in the commencement of fevers, and in cases of obstructed perspiration. The infusion is made with 1 OZ. of dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water, drunk warm, in wineglassful doses. It may be sweetened with sugar, honey or treacle, adding a little Cayenne Pepper, and to each dose a teaspoonful of Composition Essence. It opens the pores freely and purifies the blood, and is recommended in the early stages of children's colds, and in measles and other eruptive diseases.
A decoction of the whole plant is employed for bleeding piles, and is good for kidney disorders. It has the reputation also of being a preventative of baldness, if the head be washed with it.

Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. An ointment made by the Highlanders of Scotland of the fresh herb is good for piles, and is also considered good against the scab in sheep.
An essential oil has been extracted from the flowers, but is not now used.
Linnaeus recommended the bruised herb, fresh, as an excellent vulnerary and styptic. It is employed in Norway for the cure of rheumatism, and the fresh leaves chewed are said to cure toothache.
In Sweden it is called 'Field Hop' and has been used in the manufacture of beer. Linnaeus considered beer thus brewed more intoxicating than when hops were used.
It is said to have a similar use in Africa.
Culpepper spoke of Yarrow as a profitable herb in cramps, and Parkinson recommends a decoction to be drunk warm for ague.
The medicinal values of the Yarrow and the Sneezewort (A. millefolium and A. ptarmica), once famous in physic, were discarded officially in 1781.
Woolly Yellow Yarrow (A. tomentosa) is very rare, and a doubtful native; its leaves are divided and woolly, the flowers bright yellow.

Yellow Dock
See Docks.

Yellow Flag
See Irises.

Yellow Parilla
See Parilla, Yellow.

Yerba Reuma

Botanical: Frankenia grandifloria (CHAM. and SCHLECHT)
Family: N.O. Frankeniaceae

Frankenia. Flux Herb.

---Part Used---Herb.

California, Nevada, Arizona and Northern Mexico.

A small, shrubby plant, with a prostrate, much-branched stem, about 6 inches long, growing in sandy places. It is salty to the taste, leaving an astringent aftertaste. It has no odour.

It contains about 6 per cent of tannin.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Astringent. The herb is used as a remedy in catarrhal affections, especially of the nose and genitourinary tract.
When diluted with from two to five times its volume of water, it may be used as an injection or spray.
It may also be taken internally.

Of fluid extract, 10 to 20 minims.

Yerba Santa

Botanical: Eriodictyon glutinosum (BENTH.)
Family: N.O. Hydrophyllaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Other Species

Mountain Balm. Consumptive's Weed. Gum Bush. Bear's Weed. Holy or Sacred Herb. Eriodictyon Californicum (Hook and Arn.).

---Part Used---
Dried leaves.

California, Northern Mexico.

A low, shrubby evergreen plant, 2 to 4 feet high, found growing abundantly in clumps on dry hills in California and Northern Mexico. The stem is smooth, usually branched near the ground, and covered with a peculiar glutinous resin, which covers all the upper side of the plant. Leaves, thick and leathery, smooth, of a yellowish color, their upper side coated with a brownish varnish-like resin, the under surface being yellowish-white reticulated and tomentose, with a prominent midrib, alternate, attached by short petioles, at acute angle with the base; shape, elliptical, narrow, 2 to 5 inches long 3/4 inch wide, acute and tapering to a short leaf-stalk at the base. The margin of the leaf, dentate, unequal, bluntly undulate. The flowers, bluish, in terminal clusters of six to ten, in a one-sided raceme, the corolla funnel-like, calyx sparsely hirsute.

The chief constituents are five phenolic bodies, eriodictyol, homoeriodictyol, chrysocriol, zanthoeridol and eridonel. Free formic and other acids, glycerides of fatty acids; a yellow volatile oil; a phytosterol, a quantity of resin, some glucose. Taste, balsamic and sweetish, afterwards acrid, but not bitter, recalls Dulcamara and creates a flow of saliva. Odour, aromatic. The leaves are brittle when dry, but flexible in a warm, moist atmosphere. Eriodictyon Californicum is official in the United States Dispensary. Alcohol is the best agent for the fluid extract of the dried plant.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Recommended for bronchial and laryngeal troubles and in chronic pulmonary affections, in the treatment of asthma and hay-fever in combination with Grindelia robusta. Likewise advised for haemorrhoids and chronic catarrh of the bladder. Much used in California as a bitter tonic and a stimulating balsamic expectorant and is a most useful vehicle to disguise the unpleasant taste of quinine. Male fern and Hydrastis. In asthma, the leaves are often smoked. Aromatic syrup is the best vehicle for quinine.
15 to 60 grains.

---Other Species---
E. tomentosum, often found growing next to E. Californicum, especially in South California, but is easily distinguished from E. Californicum, being a larger shrub, and having a dense coat of short, villous hairs, coloring with age, whity-rusty; corolla, salver-shaped; leaves oval or oblong, and obtuse.


Botanical: Taxus Baccata
Family: N.O. Taxaceae and Coniferae

---Poisonous Parts---
Leaves, seed and fruit.

Europe, North Africa, Western Asia.

A tree 40 to 50 feet high, forming with age a very stout trunk covered with red-brown, peeling bark and topped with a rounded or wide-spreading head of branches; leaves spirally attached to twigs, but by twisting of the stalks brought more or less into two opposed ranks, dark, glossy, almost black-green above, grey, pale-green or yellowish beneath, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long, 1/16 to 1/12 inch wide. Flowers unisexual, with the sexes invariably on different trees, produced in spring from the leaf axils of the preceding summer's twigs. Male, a globose cluster of stamens; female, an ovule surrounded by small bracts, the so-called fruit bright red, sometimes yellow, juicy and encloses the seed.
No tree is more associated with the history and legends of Great Britain than the Yew. Before Christianity was introduced it was a sacred tree favoured by the Druids, who built their temples near these trees - a custom followed by the early Christians. The association of the tree with places of worship still prevails.
Many cases of poisoning amongst cattle have resulted from eating parts of the Yew.

The fruit and seeds seem to be the most poisonous parts of the tree. An alkaloid taxine has been obtained from the seeds; this is a poisonous, white, crystalline powder, only slightly soluble in water; another principle, Milossin, has also been found.

The wood was formerly much valued in archery for the making of long bows. The wood is said to resist the action of water and is very hard, and, before the use of iron became general, was greatly valued. (In homoeopathy a tincture of the young shoots and also of the berries is used in a variety of diseases: cystitis, eruptions, headache and neuralgia, affections of the heart and kidneys, dimness of vision, and gout and rheurmatism.



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