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Yohimbe Root available
Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe)

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Sweet Woodruff, Wild Baby's Breath, Master of the woods, Sweet scented bedstraw, Cudweed, Ladies' Bedstraw

Galium odoratum

Woodruff (Galium odoratum) is an herbaceous perennial plant that is indigenous to Europe, North Africa and western Asia that grows from 12 inches to 20 inches long, frequently lying horizontally on the soil or held up by other plants. The plant favors partial to complete shade and it flourishes in damp, nutrient wealthy dirt. It spreads rapidly at the roots. It is an outstanding groundcover or perimeter accent in forested, acidic patches or in the cool shade of shrubs or wherever other shade plants unsuccessfully succeed. It is an ideal carpeting plant for bulbs to grow through and deer steer clear of consuming it.

 Sweet Woodruff illustration
Botanical illustration from
Thomé, Flora von Deutschland,
Österreich und der Schweiz 1885

Although the fresh plant itself emits very little aroma, woodruff gathered immediately as it comes into flower and can be dried out for later use and the scent increases on wilting and then persists on drying for years. The dried plant is popular for use in pot-pourri and as a moth deterrent. Traditionally, Woodruff was hung in bunches in the home in order to keep the rooms cool and fragrant during the summertime. This plant has also long been used in sick rooms and root cellars to keep the air smelling sweet anywhere it was scattered. Secure the dried leaves in muslin sacks and place in drawers, closets or the pantry. Or, sprinkle the dried leaves around the outside of windows and doors, and in your cellar.

The Woodruff plant is produced commercially as a supply of coumarin. Coumarin has appetite-suppressing properties, suggesting one reason for its widespread occurrence in plants, especially grasses and clovers, is because of its effect of reducing the impact of grazing animals on these forages. Although the compound has a pleasant sweet odor and is responsible for the names of sweet clover and sweet grass, these plants are not named for their taste. Coumarin has a bitter taste, and animals will avoid it, if possible. Coumarins have shown some evidence of many biological activities, although they are approved for few medical uses as pharmaceuticals. The activity reported for coumarin and coumarins includes anti-HIV, anti-tumor, anti-hypertension, anti-arrhythmia, anti-inflammatory, anti-osteoporosis, antiseptic, and analgesic (pain relief). It is also used in the treatment of asthma. Coumarin has been used in the treatment of lymphedema.

Woodruff was at one time quite popular principally in Germany, to give flavor to May wine (called Maiwein or "Maibowle") and a syrup to flavor beer, brandy, sausages, jelly, jam, a soft drink (Tarhun), and ice cream.

A word of caution here is that high amounts can cause headaches, due to the toxic effects of coumarin. Extremely high amounts of coumarin can internal bleeding, dizziness, somnolence (making someone undergo a sluggish and sleepy feeling) or even paralyze the central nervous system and apnea, (a temporary suspension or absence of breathing), while in a coma (unconsciousness). Since 1981, woodruff can no longer be employed as an element of industrially manufactured drinks and food substances in Germany; it has been substituted by synthetic fragrances and colorings.

Edible parts of Sweet Woodruff:
The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The coumarin-perfumed leaves of the woodruff plant (a fragrance like freshly mown hay), are used as a flavoring for cooling drinks and are included in fruit salads, etc. The wilted leaves can also be infused with white wine to make "Maitrank", (an aromatic tonic drink that is made in Alsace).

Medicinal use of Sweet Woodruff:
Sweet woodruff was extensively used in herbal remedy throughout the middle ages, achieving a reputation as an external application to wounds and cuts and what's more it was taken internally to help with the management of the digestive processes and liver troubles and functions. In present day the herbalists value it mainly for its tonic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. The leaves are antispasmodic (muscle controlling), cardiac (relating to or affecting the heart), diaphoretic (induce sweating), diuretic (increased flow of urine), and tranquilizing effects.

A combination is used in the management of insomnia and anxious anxiety, varicose veins, biliary, (bile transporting ducts in the liver), obstruction; hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes). It is also used to make an anticoagulant medicine (prevents blood clots). A homeopathic remedy made from the plant is used in the treatment of inflammation of the uterus.

Do not use this remedy if you are taking conventional medicine for circulatory problems or if you are pregnant.

Other uses of the herb:
A red dye is acquired from the root. Supple-tans and grey-green dyes are achieved from the stems and leaves. The flowers of the bedstraw plant will provide you with a yellow dye. The bedstraw plant is one of the more important dye plants. Madder, Rubia tinctoria is a spreading plant, which is a relative of Lady's Bedstraw and Sweet Woodruff. Depending on the mordant (having a corrosive effect) used, most commonly alum, the roots will surrender colors of red, pink, lilac, purple, rose, orange, brown, or black. Traditionally this dye was used to dye wood in fine violins.

Here is how to use these plants as a dye:
First you need to collect the roots of these plants and then chop them up finely. Soak the chopped root overnight in water. Fill you dying pot with water and add the root and boil for one hour. Strain the root particles from the dye pot. Place clean pre-mordanted linen, cotton cloth, yarn, fleece or even a pre-made t-shirt into the dye pot filled with the colored water. Simmer the ingredients for one hour or until the desired depth of color is achieved. Turn off the dye pot and allow it to cool completely. Remove the dyed articles from the dye pot and rinse thoroughly with cool water and then let them dry. This complete process will take about twelve hours to finish from start to end.

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