Guardian Angel

It is year 1665 in London. People live in extremely unhygienic conditions, with rats freely roaming the streets. Even though the Dark Ages had long been over, the darkness persists and is embodied in the Black Death, a bubonic plague.

The plague which ravaged China in the 1330s arrived in Europe in October 1347, when 12 Genoese ships docked in Messina, Sicily after a long passage across the Black Sea. People rushed to the port to welcome the sailors, but once there they witnessed something that froze blood in their veins: most of the sailors were dead, while those few who were still alive were about to join the dead. They had a high fever, excruciating pains all over and could not hold any food or water. Their skin was covered in black boils from which blood and pus were dripping. These boils gave the disease its name – Black Death.

Even though the city authorities immediately ordered the ships to leave the port it was already too late. In the five years that followed, over 20 million people in Europe died, shrinking the population by a third. The plague decimated the population at a lightening speed, and Boccaccio wrote that “its victims may have lunch with friends and dinner with their ancestors in heaven”.

“The Triumph of Death” mural, Palazzo Abatellis, Palermo – detail

During the Great Plague of London in 1665 the local population experienced the same fate. The year after, another disaster struck – the Great Fire of London – which may have helped end the outbreak by killing many of the rats and fleas that were spreading the plague.

But even before the Great Fire a ray of hope had emerged: a monk dreamt of Archangel Michael pointing the finger at a plant that had the power to cure this cruel disease. The plant proved to be effective and became an ingredient in the royal cure of English King Charles II. The concoction was named “The King’s Majesty’s Excellent Recipe for the Plague”. Thousands of desperate inhabitants of London meticulously used it twice a day, which may have even eradicated the plague if the source of the epidemic itself – rats and flees – had not kept coming back constantly.

Charles II, king of England, Scotland and Ireland 1660-1685. Fleas must have loved his wig.

What was the plant that the archangel pointed at?

It was Angelica archangelica – a plant that was named after the archangel – commonly known as garden angelica or wild celery, because its aroma is indeed similar to celery.

Angelica has completely earned its holy name. It is edible in its entirety and is used in cooking as well as in herbal medicine. What are the curing powers of a plant which potentially had an impact on the plague? Angelica is an antiseptic and spasmolytic, it has an anti-inflammatory and diuretic effect, i.e. it acts against viruses, cramps, inflammations and it detoxifies the body. So, it is very possible that “The King’s Majesty’s Excellent Recipe for the Plague” really worked.

This plant was not only adored in medieval England. It has been cultivated as a medicinal and edible plant since the 10th century. In the 12th century it found a special place among the Sami people in Lapland, where poets used to be crowned with angelica crowns, because of “its power to inspire”. The people of Lapland used to chew it in the belief that it would bring them longevity.

The last reference of its traditional use in history is from 1974, about a certain Annibal Camoux of Marseilles, France, who died at the age of 121. Her longevity was credited to having chewed angelica root every day.

Austrians have traditionally used angelica as a cure for stomach problems and its use against colds, infections, respiratory tract diseases and nervous system disorders is also widespread.

Siberian Eskimos also believed in the exceptional power of this plant: they always had angelica’s root on them as protection against polar bears. It is part of a voodoo ritual and can be found in a mojo flannel bag which is filled with magical items believed to protect the house from evil spells.

It has turned out that folklore and superstition are not baseless: when an experiment was conducted with 50 plants and 25 types of bacteria, in order to establish which plant had the strongest anti-bacterial properties, it was shown that angelica was the most efficient in suppressing all 25 types of bacteria.

Angelica contains acids, resins, phytosterols and angelicin, an acid named after it. Its essential oils and extracts contain extremely high amounts of coumarin. Coumarin is notorious for being poisonous and is used as a rat poison, but the type of coumarin in angelica is not poisonous. On the contrary, it is therapeutic and has the following beneficial effects: it has a calming effect, soothes cramps, stimulates healthy digestion and secretion of gastric juice; it has a beneficial effect on the pancreas and eliminates bloating. Coumarins have a mild sedative effect; that is why it is good to put dried leaves of angelica in the pillow to improve sleep.

Angelica is great for the recovery of the sick, the elderly and those who suffer from anorexia. It gives strength, strengthens muscles, cleanses the blood and eliminates toxins from the body. It is a great stimulant, much better than coffee and energy drinks as it provides energy without causing negative effects, such as insomnia and irritability. For the elderly it is particularly effective, it improves memory and sharpens hearing and vision. Its tinctures help with coughs, laryngitis, bronchitis and pneumonia.

This biennial plant loves woodland glades, humid thickets, cleared meadows… It is most effective in the second year of its lifespan when it blossoms, produces a fruit and then wilts away. It is very decorative – numerous tiny white flowers are reminiscent of an angel’s crown or a halo. However, because of its similarity to plants that are poisonous, the harvesting of angelica should be left to the experts.

Angelica is an ingredient in Herba Svet products: in Disan, its power as an expectorant comes to the fore, making this elixir beneficial to those who have problems with airways and also to smokers who want to give up smoking; in Equigal, a professionally prepared tincture made of five plants, it helps with the detoxification of the body, bloating and digestive issues.

Fortunately, the plague was eradicated a long time ago; however today we are plagued by modern ailments as a result of our modern pace of life: obesity, digestive disorders caused by various allergies and food intolerances, diseases of the respiratory tract caused by high levels of pollution, irritability caused by an unnatural pace of living, as well as eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia. Being able to help with these ailments, angelica can be considered our true guardian angel.

Stronger than Thunderbolt

When we come across nettle in nature and accidentally get stung by it we are usually angry, but this plant is so healthy and beneficial that we should be thankful it even when it leaves blisters on our skin. At the same time, it is available to everyone and everywhere, and if we eat it a couple of times a week or drink an infusion made with its root, it will certainly significantly improve our health.

Nettle has been used since time immemorial and nowadays is recognised as a seemingly cruel folk cure for rheumatic pains which involves whipping yourself with it. That is backed by science, because nettle is a well-known pain killer and has an anti-inflammatory effect. Throughout history it has been used as detox therapy, as a diuretic, a cure for enlarged prostate, women’s ailments, pneumonia and asthma, for wound healing, for high blood pressure and boldness. Those old enough can remember that there was not much to choose from in terms of shampoos on sale in our shops in the past – you could choose between nettle and birch shampoos. And that was quite sufficient. Nettle shampoo strengthens hair roots and prevents hair loss.

When the first shoots of nettle appear in the spring, that is exactly the time when we need it most. After eating unvaried food during a long winter, springtime nettle can restore our vitality. As it is rich in iron, it is an ideal cure for anaemia, weak immunity and exhaustion. It is also a diuretic and a great detoxifier in the spring.

What is it about nettle that has such healing power? First, a set of minerals: iron, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium; then vitamins: B2 and B5, A, C and K. Quercetin in nettle reduces allergic reactions. Beta-sitosterol regulates work of the prostate and prevents its enlargement. Its diuretic effect also helps with high blood pressure, and its anti-inflammatory effect helps with osteoarthritis. Nettle root contains polysaccharides, lectins, coumarins, triterpenes, fatty acids…

As an excellent diuretic, nettle can help against cellulite accumulated due to water retention issues. It also has a good effect on high blood pressure, and thanks to beta-sitosterol it protects the heart because this ingredient has the power to absorb fats in blood vessels. Triglycerides and cholesterol are always within the normal range if we consume nettle on a regular basis.

As it is a natural cleanser, nettle is beneficial for the skin. If used as a skin lotion it can reduce the symptoms of eczema and problems with acne, because it balances the production of sebum. Thus it helps with the problems associated with greasy hair and dandruff.

Nettle is a great friend of men. In addition to being effective in fighting hair loss problems, it has a beneficial effect on proteins in the blood which attach to a surplus of hormones. In that way it protects the prostate and the urinary tract. Women benefit from it too, because the same effect of hormone regulation can help with reproductive system disorders, with polycystic ovary syndrome for instance; as it has astringent effect it prevents heavy bleeding. It is excellent for breast-feeding women as it stimulates lactation, while in pregnancy it strengthens the embryo and prevents anaemia.

It is not surprising that it has been used throughout history as a super cure for all ailments. However, nettle is not only used in herbal medicine. Its stalk contains cellulose fibres which can be used to produce textiles. German First Word War uniforms were made of it. It is also used to produce the natural yellow die for textiles. In German mythology the nettle used to be a symbol of the God of Thunder.

One should wear gloves when harvesting nettle, in areas far from city pollution, in the spring when the shoots appear. We can enjoy nettle’s therapeutic effect without having to go to areas untouched by heavy pollution from car exhaust fumes. To help us do that, there are two products in Herba Svet laboratories:

Disan – in addition to other herbs and honey, this product contains liquid nettle extract. This natural elixir strengthens immunity, protects respiratory organs, helps with the revitalisation of the mucus membrane in the throat, calms tickly cough and is of great help to smokers who are attempting to give up smoking.

Hipoporstat – contains nettle root in addition to another four medicinal plants and is intended for men. It increases the vitality of the prostate, decreases frequent and laboured urination and protects the urinary tract. Hipoprostat helps with acute and chronic infections of the prostate and with the benign enlargement of the prostate.

With Disan and Hipoprostat – our health is stronger than thunder.

Plantain, Our Treasure

There is a common weed that we step on almost every day, that grows all around us, but which we normally do not notice. And we are totally unaware of how much it can help us.

According to mythology, broadleaf plantain originated from a girl who stood on the road side and waited… for so long that she grew roots and turned into a roadside plant. Later, in Christianity, it became a symbol of the path that leads to Christ. Ancient Romans applied it to wounds – Roman naturalist Pliny mentioned it as a remedy for ulcers, while his compatriot, physician Galen, wrote that the plant’s leaf cools inflamed tissue and extracts pus. American Indians used it for snake and insect bites, the ancient Saxons considered it one of the nine sacred plants, the Aztecs ate it regularly. It has been used by the Chinese for over 2000 years, and in our nation from time immemorial.

Broadleaf plantain, or plantago, has been famous throughout history for its medicinal properties. There are two medicinal varieties of this plant: Plantago lanceolata, known as narrowleaf plantain and Plantago major, known as broadleaf plantain.

One of the most common uses of plantain is as cure for respiratory organ diseases. Plantain and honey are a winning combination to combat cough, bronchitis and asthma. In addition, it effectively stops bleeding and helps heal wounds, and is valuable as treatment for swollen glands, bleeding gums, toothache, skin diseases, burns, bruises, frostbites, acne, rosacea, blisters on the feet and hands, haemorrhoids, menstrual discharge, ulcers, high fever, and has a very beneficial effect on the stomach. It can also be eaten – fresh, in salads, boiled with other leafy green vegetables, or blended and taken as a detox drink.

Narrowleaf plantain
Broadleaf plantain

What are the therapeutic ingredients in broadleaf plantain? They are: saponins – which have a beneficial effect on the respiratory organs and create a protective film on the wounds and disinfect them; tannins – which help flush out toxins from tissues; allantoin – which stimulates the creation of new cells, something that plays an important role in the treatment of skin diseases and wounds; glycosides and antibiotics – which prevent infections; silicate acid which helps treat herpes; and potassium salt which aids the regeneration of tissues. Among herbalists, broadleaf plantain is highly regarded as a rare plant that has the ability to push out a thorn, grit and pus from a wound.

Apart from curing lung diseases, broadleaf plantain is excellent for smokers who want to give up smoking, because it reduces the craving for cigarettes and at the same time cures smoker’s cough.

At the end of the 19th century, Sebastian Kneipp, a famous Bavarian priest and herbalist, described how broadleaf plantain is used in folk medicine: “Should peasants cut themselves while working in the field, they will look for broadleaf plantain leaf, will press it firmly until that stubborn leaf starts giving a few drops. They will then either put this juice directly onto the wound, or would put it on a piece of cloth and wrap their wound with it. If it proves impossible to squeeze the leaf, then it should be rubbed until it becomes moist and soft, and then should be placed on the wound itself”.

Asked if there was a danger of tetanus, Kneipp replied that broadleaf plantain prevents complications: “Plantain closes the gaping wound with a seam of gold thread; for, just as gold will not admit rust, so the plantain will not admit rotting and gangrenous flesh.”

Kneipp was a great champion of internal and external application of broadleaf plantain. He used to say that the best time to harvest the plant is in springtime, that it should be pressed and drunk as a juice and as a cure for many ailments, for flushing toxins from the body, or that an infusion made with its dried leaves should be drunk against mucus in our respiratory organs.

Knowing all this, when we take a walk along roads and country pathways we will no longer view this inconspicuous plant with the same eyes. Broadleaf plantain is a true treasure, and its wide application makes it an inevitable part of our home pharmacy.

What Is Free And Rudderless that Cannot Be Found in Shops?

Dandelion. It grows everywhere, its seed is carried by the wind, it cannot be domesticated, it has a will of its own and it cannot be found in shops. But it is all over the place, all around us. We walk on it, we pick it, we blow its over-ripe flowers and watch as its feathery seeds hover in the air in front of our eyes. In the spring it is among the first plants to flower, breaking through the gloom of winter. When we have something in abundance, we are usually unaware of its value. Do we really know how beneficial to our health dandelion is?

Ancient nations have been well aware of it; oldest records about dandelion date back to the 10th century manuscripts of Arabic doctors. All parts of taraxacum oficinale Weber, a plant in the family of Asteraceae, are edible, it is very healthy and has therapeutic properties. Dandelion contains vitamins: K, A, B6, C, riboflavin and thiamine, folic acid; minerals: iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, copper, zinc and magnesium. Since time immemorial it has been used for stomach issues and numerous studies have proven its positive effect on the urinary tract, bile and the liver.

Dandelion has a diuretic effect, it stimulates bile secretion, cleanses toxins from the liver, but also helps with allergies, soothes inflammations, joint and muscle pain, raises energy levels, lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Since it regulates digestion, prevents constipation and boosts metabolism, it is also good for weight loss; as it has antibacterial properties, it helps with skin infections and acne. Even if we do not suffer from any of these problems, dandelion can strengthen our immunity and improve the general condition of the body.

Dandelion root has been used for centuries in China to cure certain types of cancer, and the latest research conducted in 2011 at the University of Windsor in Canada proved its ability to selectively destroy malignant melanoma cells without damaging healthy cells. Studies were also done on pancreatic and liver cancers, and dandelion proved equally effective. Its powerful ingredient is luteolin, a flavonoid with extremely strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour effects.

Dandelion root is dug out in the spring or autumn in fields away from city pollution; the best time to dig it is immediately after it flowers. It can be used fresh or dried; a herbal infusion can be made from it. It can also be baked, ground and used to make a drink as a substitute for coffee. Dandelion flowers can be used to make a syrup which improves digestion, soothes coughs and strengthens the whole body. Dandelion leaf, which is richer in useful ingredients than spinach, is best picked in the spring, and is delicious served as a salad with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice.

The dandelion root extract can be found in three Herba Svet products: Nefrovit, Hipoprostat and Disan. In Nefrovit, it is effective in combating urinary problems, it has a diuretic effect; in Hipoprostat, it helps soothe symptoms of infections and an enlarged prostate; in Disan it calms coughs. Dandelion is accessible to us everywhere, but in its best form it can be found in Herba Svet products.

Protector of the Weak and the Infirm

If we were to draw up a list of the most powerful plants, it would certainly be topped by mistletoe. Our ancestors glorified it since time immemorial and ascribed to it magic powers; modern science has proved that the magic is real. Mistletoe is strange in itself – it grows as a parasite on trees and feeds on them. We can spot it easily, on leafless tree crowns of deciduous trees in wintertime as mistletoe is still green. Its fruit is very poisonous, but the plant itself – if prepared professionally – has such potent therapeutic properties that it even has the power to destroy cancer cells. It is interesting that the therapeutic power of mistletoe depends on what tree it lives on: it has medicinal properties if it grows on the apple, pear and plum trees, not on conifers, willow, oak and linden trees.

What scientific research has established is that mistletoe stimulates our immune response at the cellular level and that it selectively attacks and destroys cancer cells. That is why it is used officially in many hospitals as therapy for malign diseases and precancerous conditions. What makes this possible are mistletoe’s viscotoxins, cardiotonic polypeptide and lecithins which have an impact on granulocytes which destroy pathogenic cells. Standard anticancer treatment destroys granulocytes and thereby the immune system of the patient. Unlike the standard therapy, mistletoe eliminates cancerous cells, but at the same time it protects and strengthens the patient’s immunity.

Mistletoe has a wide range of effects: it is a natural vasodilator – it widens the arteries which results in blood flowing more easily through vessels. That is why it is excellent for cardiovascular diseases, used both therapeutically and prophylactically. Mistletoe lowers blood pressure, it has a soothing effect on the heart muscle and helps flush excess water from the body. This magical plant calms cramps, aides wound healing and stops bleeding, stimulates healthy digestion, flushes out intestinal parasites, balances the hormones and helps with diabetes. As an efficient diuretic it can help with inflammations, rheumatism, arthritis and gout. It is the protector of the female reproductive system and strengthens both female and male fertility.

Numerous studies have confirmed mistletoe’s powerful anti-viral properties; with the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it has taken centre stage. It is mostly used in China to inhibit 3CVLpro, the main protein that helps the virus spread in the host’s body. But it plays its most important role by protecting the most vulnerable people, those most at risk from Covid-19 – the people with existing co-morbidities, heart patients and diabetics. This is where mistletoe’s effect on the glands with internal secretion and the cardiovascular system is precious.

Mistletoe is the biggest protector of the weak and the infirm, a true Robin Hood among the plants. It strengthens our immunity, helps the body to fend off external enemies, but also to restore balance in our body. What is very important to bear in mind is not to use it if not prepared by the experts. As all other medicinal plants, mistletoe works best if it joins forces with other plants. This powerful synergy of mistletoe with other plants is found in Disan – a natural bio-elixir which strengthens our immunity and protects our vitality and health. In addition to mistletoe, Disan contains broadleaf plantain, echinacea, nettle, lemon balm, angelica, heath speedwell and dandelion, together with honey and vitamin C. In addition to helping us fight off viruses, Disan will protect our respiratory tract, it will cleanse our lungs, soothe or calm coughs, stimulate circulation and micro-circulation, cleanse our blood vessels, but also calm and relax us. This is why Disan can also help smokers give up smoking.

Therefore, Disan is an obligatory part of a home pharmacy, a bio-elixir which is worth having at home, taken as prevention or having in your medicine cabinet “just in case”, particularly at the time of epidemics when we all need extra protection.