It’s about that time of year – Halloween! And how best to celebrate than with herbs? 🙂 Traditionally herbs were a means to ward away evil spirits. I’m not superstitious so I don’t believe in all of that, but I do think the background on these herbs is very interesting. In my opinion, Here are the 6 Best Herbs for Halloween:
Used as an anesthetic for surgery in ancient times (they would give a piece of the root to a patient to chew on), the root looks like a human- male or female that is said to “shriek” when it is pulled from the ground. Called the “love plant”, it was believed to be associated with reproductive power and so our ancestors would sleep with it at night. This was recorded in the book of Genesis 29: 15 – 30: 13. The root, taken internally, can cause hallucinations and delirium. In high amounts it can cause death or coma. The leaves have a cooling effect and have been used for ointments and other external application. If boiled in milk and used as a poultice, it is believed to treat ulcers.
If you watched Vampire Diaries, this herb came up several times as a way to ward off a vanpire’s bite. It was said that it was used to stop the flow from Christ’s crucifixion wounds. In ancient Egypt, it was a sacred plant where it was thought to have sprung from the tears of the goddess Isis as she mourned the death of the god Osiris. Isis was actually Semiramis and Osiris was Nimrod son of Cush son of Noah. The whole plant can be used. The leaves may be brewed as a tea and the flowers used as flavor. The flowers are edible. Vervain eases tension and stress and is said to improve liver and gall bladder function. It is a diuretic and is not to be used in excessive amounts as it can cause nausea.
This plant is poisonous. So poisonous it is said the the smell of the flowers produce giddiness. When taken internally, this herb causes hallucinations, delirium, dry mouth, burning sensation, blurred vision, vomiting, and a pleuthura of other symptoms. It was used traditionally in dentistry to treat toothaches because it was thought to eliminate the pain. It was also thought that this was the herb that was used to kill Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play. Used externally, an oil may be derived from the leaves and made into anodyne lotions and used for earache and rheumatism. Externally, it can be applied to ulcers, sores, and gout.
This plant is poisonous when taken internally and was named for the “beautiful women” of Renaissance Italy who took it to enlarge their pupils which was found to be more attractive. The berries are known as devil’s berries and was thought to be what poisoned Juliet in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Is it any surprise that this herb is found in the same drops your eye doctor uses to dilate your eyes? Used externally as a poultice, this herb treats sore joints, muscle and back pain, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and even arthritis. It has an anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic effect.
Mugwort was considered the ‘universal herb for protection and prophecy’ throughout the ancient world. It is also known as St. John’s plant. In Biblical times, it was believed Mugwort was worn by John the Baptist as a girdle in the wilderness. There are many superstitions surrounding it such as warding off wild beasts, evil spirits, and preserving the traveler from fatigue and sunstroke. It was believed to ward off diseases and misfortunes as well. Thought to be a “dream herb”, it was used in pillows to make dreams more lucid. At one point in our history, it was even used as an ingredient in making beer. Taken internally as a tea, Mugwort is an herb that can delay menstruation, help restore a women’s monthly cycle, and ease the effects of menopause. It is a mild sedative and can ease stress. It expels parasites, assists in liver function, and when used in a method called moxibustion, can be used to treat joint pain and arthritis.
Also known as monkshood and devil’s helmet, it is extremely poisonous. This herb has many species of its kind, but the most potent is Aconite or in Greek Wolfsbane is translated to Akoniton Lykotonon for lykos meaning “wolf” and kteinein meaning “to kill” according to Dictionary.com. It belongs to the genus Aconitum. This herb causes organ failure and within 6 hours of consumption can cause death. Legend has it, Wolfsbane was used to deter werewolves and was often an ingredient in witch’s brews or potions. The poison was applied to arrows in hunting and warfare. Historians believed Cleopatra killed herself with a potion that contained Wolfsbane. The poisons in Wolfsbane are not easily detectable and can soak through the skin. It’s been labeled by ancient Greeks as “The Queen of Poisons.” The root of the plant has been used medicinally although never in crude form. The plant must be processed by where the toxicity is reduced. Once that is done the root is made into a poultice and then applied externally to unbroken skin in the treatment of rheumatism, painful bruises, neuralgia, etc. Both Chinese and Ayurveda medicine have a process by which they reduce this plant’s toxicity before use. This often involves drying the herb and brewing for long periods of time. Wolfsbane, or Aconite, first stimulates the nerves of your skin and then paralyzes it. If applied to the skin or to a mucous membrane; the initial tingling therefore gives place to a numbing and long-continued anesthetic effect. Used externally, great caution is recommended, as abraded skin (scraped or damaged skin) can absorb a dangerous dose of the drug, and merely tasting some of this herb can be fatal.
Where Can you Find These Herbs?
I did some digging on where to find these herbs. This is the best of what I found for the price and quality.
Starwest Botanicals – This site carries Wolf Bane, but only the Arnica “Mountain Tobacco” variety which is not quite the same as the Aconite however it is similar. Starwest Botanicals also carries Mugwort, Mandrake, and Vervain – these are available on here in dried root/leaf form and they also have powdered. They also carry the whole root of the Mandrake.
Amazon.com – This site carries Henbane, Belladonna, Mugwort, Vervain, Wolfsbane, and Mandrake seeds along with dried Mandrake roots and dried Mugwort and Vervain leaves. I wasn’t able to locate any dried Henbane or Belladonna on this site or anywhere else for that matter when I googled it. Amazon.com carries a supposedly raw, dried Aconite Wolfs bane by the company Moon Majick, but the reviews on it suggest it is being mislabeled and the product is actually Arnica Wolfsbane. I don’t care for companies mislabeling their products so I don’t recommend buying that on here.
I thought it would be neat to actually obtain a live mandrake plant- root and all. I found this site below…
Manta – This site claims to have live mandrake plants and roots. I’ve never ordered from this site so I do not know how trustworthy they are, but if you are looking for the whole plant, they claim to have it! If you do order from them, let me know how your experience went.
I hope this information helps you in your hunt for herbs on Halloween! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.