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Medicinal Plants

At the Green Wave House Eco-Living Inspiration Center

Medicinal Plant Update 2019

The following is an update on the medicianl plants that are being cultivated at or that grow naturally at the Green Wave House (GWH). Medicinal information is from Ed Bernhardt's Medicinal Plants of Costa Rica.

Allspice - looking forward to using this but it's still a small tree. Although people use this often as a seasoning, allspice can help in lowering cholesterol.

Aloe - Is planted strategically in many areas of the property to help with first aid for burns, cuts, and insect bites. Hoping to work much more with aloe in the future and to remember to make a drink of papaya and aloe as they are supposed to have good synergy together. Aloe is good for digestive issues, heartburn, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and bladder issues. Using a fillet from the fresh leaves, bldn with 1L of water and add some papaya fruit for flavor and to add to medicinal properties.

Achiote aka Annatto - The leaves are supposed to be good for counter acting naturally high cholesterol. For the first 2 1/2 years, GWH only had one tree that never got too big (many of the first trees have struggled as they were the first to be planted on old cattle ground without shade, nutrients, etc.). We now have many other saplings growing and look foward to working mor with this incredible medicine in the future, possibly playing around with the seeds for a dye or natural makeup.

Arnica - is growing strongly in the medicinal garden on the side of the house and has been used already for making skin applicant oils for sore muscles.


Artemisia - grows in the medicinal garden and some was gifted to the local brewery, La Perra Hermosa for a small batch artisnal brew. Looking foward to using more of this for future Bitters. This is good for intestinal parasites, fever, and menstrual issues.

Avocado - several avocado trees still remain and are growing strong but several have also died. The ones that are growing strong are still too young to fruit. Hoping 2020 will be the year we get first fruits from some. Even the leaves of avocado trees can be used medicinally for skin disorders, headaches, and join pain.

Basils - The Green Wave House boasts many different types of basils aside from the popular sweet basil. Basils improve digestion and prevents fermentation and gas in the digestive tract. Basil tea with honey can be used to treat stomach cramps.

Bluebush - did not make it and GWH does not at this time believe it should be replaced aside from biodiversity and that it can make a rinse that fortifies the scalp and hair and can prevent hair loss.

Borage - grows wild in the wet season. GWH has used boarage as an emergency expectorant.

Castor bean - GWH did not have much luck with castor bean. As it looks similar to cranberry hibiscus which GWH enjoys for salads, it is not on the priority list to replace.

Cayenne - is growing again but did not make it on the last pass. Cayenne is heavily used at GWH for oils. Cayenne oil can be used as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent to heal cuts and skin infections. It also helps keeps a microbe balance in the digestive tract and increases circulation and elimination.

Cecropia tree aka Guarumo - These trees are a pioneering species that create a nice, fast growing umbrella to help shade the land. GWH does not at this time use Guarumo much for medicinal purposes as we have found it be a strong agent for inducing sleepiness. Supposed to be able to help relieve asthma and sore throats, and can act as a decongestant for colds and flus. Boiled leaves have been used to reduce inflammation by making a sponge bath from boiled leaves.

Chan - seeds are used to make beverages in the same way chia is used. We currently have chan growing. Fascinated by the smell of the flower, we may experiment with this aspect of the plant in the future. Helps indigestion and constipation. Infusions can reduce high blood pressure.

Cilantro - wild, indigenous, cilantro is currently growing and used often in rice and bean dishes. If used excessively the seeds have a slight narcotic effect. The leaves are good for prevention of upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Cinnamon - our first tree died. The second tree is growing but still very small. Can help staunch bleeding, and heal skin infections.

Citrus - GWH has oranges, limes, and grapefruit trees. Limes started fruiting in 2018 and we now have our first orange coming in. Citrus preparations can be made for an antihistamine as well as a morning liver flush.

Coconut - GWH will have many dwarf coconut palms. Our first coconuts are coming in now. Coconuts can help increase energy, hepatitis, indigestion, and ulcers. Coconuts are antiparsitic, hepatic, diuretic, a circulatory and digestive aid.

Corn silk - is from corn. We have harvested corn silk from previous corn crops (as it grows fast), and we expect to harvest more soon. Corn silk can be used for burining urine, kidney stones, and bladder infections.

Dandelion - is currently growing in our culinary garden. GWH currently has dehydrated root available for infusion and decoctions. Superfood-medicine.....

Hoja sen - as this is a beautiful flowering plant, this is planted everywhere on the property. It also helps the soil as the plant serves as a nitrogen fixer. GWH has used this as a tea for "movement" and relaxation. Hoja sen is a analgesic, anodyne, and laxative.

Ginger - two types of ginger are grown at GWH. Both are used for both cooking, teas, and other medicinal remedies. "Ginger is a cleansing and tonic herb for the entire body". It can be used as an aphrodisiac, and substitute for coffee. It's good for sore throats, sore muscles, strains, sprains, and arthritis, circulation, digestion, kidney and bladder problems.

Golden shower tree - this tree was planted last year and it is unknown if this tree has survived.

Gotu kola - the gotu kola had previously not made it, overtaken by a non-edible Nasturtium. We invested in gotu kola again and have planted it in thier own spaces. During this rainy season, they are currently thriving. It is a nervine, and so good for stress and fatigue. "One of the best herbal medicines for skin infections."

Gaupinol - two trees have been planted on green space land adjacent to the property. We eagerly await these trees to mature to the point they are able to provide us with nutriment and medicine.

Greater plantain - did not make it.

Guava - GWH house has a beautiful guava tree that is the highlight of the "fairy garden". Tea of the leaves can be used for an astringent and antimicrobial skin wash or douche.

Hibiscus - this is used extensively both at GWH and the larger farm as useful but also ornamental borders. The rosa de jamaica (a type of hibiscus) has been abundantly planted here for it's vitamin C powers that we like to absorb through teas. The leaves and flowers are edible and can be used raw in salads. Leaves can provide relief for menustration and postpartum hemorrahages.

Hoja de estrella - grows in the surrounding jungle (aka quebrada aka biological corridor). This is used for skin problems and sore muscles.

Horsetail - surprisingly, this resilient plant did not make it.

Indian almond - beach almond has been planted for the Scarlet Macaws. We need to find out if beach almond is the Indian almond. If so, we have two trees. If not, we don't.

Jackass Bitters (JAB) aka Gavilana - this is growing like a weed. It wants to be here and seems to be dancing for our attention, "work with me". We have begun our journey into using this as a parasite detox as both tea and decoction. JAB is a stomachic, antidiarrheal, antiparasitic, febrifuge, anitviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.

Juanilama - we use this both fresh and dried for teas especially when sick with a cold. Juanilama is a sudorific (helps with prespiration), an antispasmodic, expectorant, digestive, and nervine.

Lemongrass - grown close to the house for medicinal purposes. Reduces fevers and inflammation. Also good for digestion and nervous conditions. Listed as a relaxant though (not a nervine).

Life everlasting - grown both in the medicinal garden and the food forest. Planted here by Adriana to help with headaches. This can be used both externally and internally. A juice, like aloe, can be extracted from the leaves. It is antiseptic, astringent, hemostatic, anodyne, and antiherpetic.

Mimosa - grows wild at GWH and the larger farm. It is an anodyne, an antispasmodic, and sedative.

Mints - previously our mints did not make it. We currently have 3 different mints growing and we are rooting for them all. Two live in the culinary garden area and one is planted by "Pisa Papaya". Mints are relaxants, stomachics, antibacterial agents, and carminative (for gas).

Mozote de caballo - this was growing (as advised) on the borderof the property. We have used this in a tea. The stickers are quite a thing to get off of clothes. If this does not come back we are grateful for the time we spent with this beautiful gift of Nature but will not be investing in its return. Many of the same benefits as aloe.

Noni - growing in our food forest. Quite stinky but looking to find ways to ingest this medicine in pleasant ways. Good for absorbing facial oil and also staff infections from infected sores and boils. Has also been used as a treatment for chronic illnesses and juice can be used to remove head lice.

Oregano - GWH boats three types of oregano. Two live in the culinary garden and one more grows in the food forest. Who knew an oregano bush could be 10 feet tall? Good for nerves, colds and flus.

Papaya - GWH boasts a mini-papaya farm. We have plenty to share with the birds. Good for digestion, constipation, liver problems and lowering of blood pressure.

Parsley - we have grown this but it has not thrived. Can help with tumors, edeme, worms kidney stones, the regulaton of menstruation, and works as a great body tonic. Seems we should try harder to make this work here ;)

Passionflower - we have planted many passionflower plants over the years and have not seen them yet thrive. Patiently waiting. We planted 6 more within the last 2 months. Although the seeds can be used for a deworming agent, the main medicinal characteristic is listed as "sedative".

Pink Shower tree aka Carao - we have two planted and are very excited to see these grow and thrive for beauty and medicinal powers. The "caroblike syrup from the seedpod makes a nutritious drink (rich in vitamins and minerals) that is used to treat anemia and a general state of lethargy". It is also good for edema, backaches, kidney problems, and skin infections like ringworm.

P’au de arco - on the wish list. A sacred tree to the Indigenous. We need to wait till next May to plant.

Jocote - we currently have one tree. After 2 1/2 years it is finally starting to grow in a way that makes us believe it will make it and thrive. Excited to have Jocote join the future food forest team. Has been used to treat bloating, gas, diarehea, dysentery, and jaundice. It is considered a nutritive (probably for the fruit), antidiarrheal, antiherpetic, and antispasmodic.

Madero negro - abundant on the farm and we use it mostly for temporary structures, including stakes for other plants. The leaves are supposed to be good for skin infections, pimples, boils, rashes and burns. The leaves can also be used as a flea wash for pets. Some people eat the flowers cooked.

Redhead - grows wildly around the property. We have not yet used redhead. Good for fungal infections, stings, sores, cuts, burns, insect bites, itches, and bruises.

Rosemary - we now have 3 down from 4 bushes left. GWH uses rosemary mostly in cooking and medicinal oil concoctions. Stimulates sweating, good for circulation including scalp and hair. Good for sore muscles and digestive system.

Rue - didn’t make it and we think it's okay. Rue is from Europe and does not thrive in the hot tropical climate.

Sage - although wild sage grows well in this climate, the other white sages do not. We currently have them growing in pots and their current state of health is kind of struggling. A friend to females (the book says helping "an assortment of female maladies".) Sages is astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, tonic, antispasmodic, and an nervine. It can be used as a tea, burned, or made into an oil although essential oils are strong and can cause nausea or vomiting.

Sanseveria - this is a go to only after Aloe. GWH has this growing mostly as an aloe backup and ornamental for pathways. In addition to antibacterial, antiseptic, antiherpetic, and astringent qualities it is also an anti-fungal.

Saragundi - we have many trees growing here as they are fast growing and provide shade for some of our other plant friends. Luckily we have not felt we needed to use the medicinal properties of this plant. Used to treat skin fungal infections, urinary problems, female infertility, and can be used as a vulnerary (treatment of wounds).

Sarsaparilla - on our wish list.

Scorpions tail - grows wildly at GWH. Good for boils. No longer recommended to be taken internally.

Shrub verbena - also known as lantana. This is grown as a mosquito repellant and was recently understood as a sacred plant to the Hawaiians. According to, this plant can help against EMF pollution.

Spiral flag - growing in our "Lugar de John" or future moonlight garden (for bats). This has been used to treat eye problems.

Stevia - not currently used but grown in our culinary garden. Dried leaves are more potent than fresh.

Stinging nettle - this did not make it and we will not be replacing as the name is an accurate description and thrives in cooler climate.

Strangler fig - grows wildly in the surrounding biological corridor that borders the food forest or somewhere on the larger farm. Good for parasitic intestinal worms "particulary whipworms".

Thyme - growing in our culinary garden. Will be used for future bitters. Supposed to be a great antibacterial agent and is good for stomach issues.

Sheila (tradescantia) - created this name as we did not like the other names. This name honors an Irish Goddess. This is growing around many of our citrus trees to act as a living "mulch". The juice "is used to combat hemmorages and neuralgia of the face." As an anodyne it reduces pain. It is antiherpetic, antiseptic, a hemostatic, and astringent.

Tropical elm guacimo - will be on the lookout. We believe this does grow either at GWH now or on the larger farm in the surrounding biological corridor that borders the food forest. "A rinse from the leaves is said to reduce hair loss."

Tuete - grows wildly around GWH in the surrounding biological corridor that borders the food forest. "Primarily used as a wash to remedy skin problems (such as cuts and bruises), to stop bleeding, and to reduce swelling."

Turmeric - growing definitively in the medicinal garden but also in other locations around GWH. Used often. Blood purifier and used often anit-inflammation and cancer prevention. A staple in Ayurvedic medicine.

Vervain - had died out but rebought from Ark Herb Farms. Currently in the medicianl garden. "This little plant has remarkable healing powers." It is an astringent, diuretic, emmenaggue, stimulant, tonic, vulnerary, nervine, galactagogue, and sudorific.

Wild sage - used primarily last season for creating sage burn bundles. We have one main plant though cuttings were made (and we need to check on progress) for the newly planted lot. Applied as a mceration, "it helps heal lacerations, bruises, strains, and sprains". As an external infusion it can help with rashes and skin infections. Internatlly it has been reported successful in relieving insomnia, menstrual problems, hemorrhoids, headaches, respiratory infections, asthma, digestive and nervous disorders.

Wild tobacco - on our wish list.

Yarrow - thrives typically in a colder climate. During this rainy season, the yarrow is doing well but summer will come soon... Growing this in part for La Perra Hermosa Brewery.

Yucca - GWH has a type of yucca growing that is used for food. The medicinal variety listed in the book we use is currently not being grown.

Zornia - grows wildly at GWH and the larger farm. GWH has not yet communted with Zornia. Tea is mild enough for children. Helps combat amoebas and other microparasites.

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