I Come to the Garden Alone


James A. Duke (4 April 1929 ~ 10 December 2017)

With sadness, we wish to inform readers of this Green Farmacy Garden blog site that Jim Duke peacefully passed in his home on December 10, 2017. He lived an amazing life filled with adventure, plants, people and music until his senectitude at age 88. Jim’s desire was for his medicinal plant sanctuary to continue for as long as possible to educate and inspire students. We, at the Green Farmacy Garden, are committed to Jim’s vision and will maintain the garden for tours and workshops. Look for a list our tours and workshops in the spring.

to read tributes of Jim, click on the following links:







Remembering Jim.


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Spicebush – Ethnobotany and division of the flower sexes

3 April 2017 ~ Jim’s ethnobotany of spicebush below Helen’s observations.

Traipsing through the lowland forest this past weekend and even on the cold dreary days of last week, it was impossible to miss hints lemon yellow glistening in the understory. Drawing nearer, it became detectable that the bright color standing out against the past winter’s worn out brown was from the small flowers of the spicebush shrub, Lindera benzoin. Spicebush is in the Lauraceae or Laurel family, which includes sassafras and avocado.

IMG_0003 Lindera benzoin spicebush

spicebush flowers dominating the color scheme of the understory 4/2/2017

For those of you also in the outdoors this week and near a spicebush, focus in close and look into the flowers. Do you see pollen laden anthers of the male staminate flowers?… or do you see a roundish central pistil overshadowing small non-functional stamens in the female pistillate flowers? There are only male flowers on some bushes and only female flowers on other bushes. This type of division of the flower sexes with separate male plants and separate female plants is indication that spicebush is dioecious. Dioecious means “two houses” and is a term used mostly to apply to species with separate female and male plants. The males produce viable stamen with pollen for cross pollination of the female plants. I noted on my walks that the majority of the spicebush shrubs were bearing male flowers. According to John Eastman in the Book of Forest and Thicket (1992). “the female plants will be pollinated from “early solitary bees, ladybug beetles and by bee flies.” The female flowers will eventually drop, and if pollinated, the ripening ovaries will become lipid rich small red drupes appearing toward the end of summer. Wood thrushes and veeries enjoy the ripened fruit as do an occasional songbird.


P1070404 *spicebush berries lindera benzoin

spicebush berries or drupes

Spicebush flowers before the leaves emerge in late winter to early spring. Many folks who frequent the outdoors in the mid-Atlantic know this native plant even in a deer nibbled wood. Deer avoid munching on this plant most likely due to the aromatic scent just beneath the outer bark ~ making it unappetizing for these four-legged herbaceous beings. Often spicebush is the most prolific understory plant where deer are in high populations. The scent is one of nature’s defense mechanisms. No matter the season, scratch the bark and the spicy citrusy scent is very apparent. The scent is also apparent in the flowers bark and berries.

male staminate flowers lindera benzoin spicebush

Spicebush male staminate flowers above and female pistillate flowers below (not quite opened) photo taken at the macrophotography studio of the USGS Bee Monitoring and Monitoring Lab

Lindera benzoin pistillate flower, 23 March 2017 spicebush, Howard County, MD, Helen Lowe Metzman_2017-03-24-16.44

Jim Duke, who turns 88 on 4/4/2017 on spicebush:

on the phytochemicals:

“thanks to the work of Tucker and associates (1994), we know that the leaf essential oil is dominated by beta-caryophyllene (~ 15-50%), 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one (~2-35%), and (E)-nerolidol (~10-12%). The twig essential oil is dominated by 1,8-cineole (~45%), sabine (~7%), alpha-terpineol (~ 7%), and alpha-pinene (~6%). Fruits are dominated by alpha-phellandrene (~65%). (Tucker, Maciarello, Burbage and Sturtz, 1994).

That shows the chemical variation in different plant parts. If you were after a single phytochemcial, you would usually find more beta-caryophyllene in the leaf essential oil, more 1,8-cineole in the twigs, and more phellandrene in the fruits. Once we get our database integrated this might hint at which part of the plant might be better for a given indication. There are at least four antiyeast compounds in spicebush: borneol, cineole, limonene and beta-pinene. This suggests, but by no means proves, that you’d be better off with the twigs for a yeast infection. Coincidentally, I am suffering a yeast overgrowth now as a result of Doxicyclene. In addition to Lactobacillus, I am taking garlic and spice bush tea from the back yard to curb the yeast.”

SPICEBUSH by Jim Duke (Written before his retirement almost twenty years ago)

Approaching retirement from the federal government, I am getting a bit more uninhibited about sounding off on one of my favorite themes, giving the herbal alternative a fair shake. Today, I’ll just talk about spicebush (Lindera benzoin), its culinary and folk medicinal uses, and its potential as a remedy for yeast (candidiasis), an ailment widely mentioned on TV today..

Spicebush is one of the commonest undershrubs in the forest around my place. And it has quite a bit of folklore about it. Still I don’t find reports on the chemicals which no doubt contribute to its aromatic, culinary, essential oil, medicinal, and pesticidal properties. We and the Asians have studied their species of Lindera while ignoring ours. And some American scientists, while busy studying alien species of Cocos, Cuphea, and Umbellularia as sources of lauric acid, ignore this copious resource in our back yards.

Is spicebush a food? Facciola (Cornucopia, Kampong Publ. Vista Ca. 1990) says:

“Young leaves, twigs, and fruits contain an aromatic oil and make a very fragrant tea. The twigs are best gathered when in flower as the nectar adds considerably to the flavor. Dried and powdered fruits can be used as a substitute for allspice. The new bark is pleasant to chew.”

King’s American Dispensatory (Eclectic Institute, Reprint 1984) says:

“The dried berries were used during the American Revolution and in the South during the late Rebellion as a substitute for allspice … The bark, in decoction, is said to be refrigerant and exhilarating, and exceedingly useful in all kinds of fever, for allaying excessive heat and uneasiness; a warm decoction is employed to produce diaphoresis. The decoction may be drunk freely.”

I quote these directly so you, and the FDA, may see that they have served as tea and spice for years. That puts them in the category I abbreviate GRAF, generally recognized as food.

In my Handbook of Northeastern Indian Medicinal Plants (Quarterman Publ., Licoln Mass. 1986), I mention that the Cherokee Indians used spicebush for blood disorders, cold, cough, croup, dysmenorrhea, hives, phthisis and swellings. Cherokee drank spicebush tea as a spring tonic, and steeped the bark with wild cherry and dogwood in corn whiskey to break out measles. Creek Indians used the teas for pains of rheumatism, (anodyne antirheumatic), for purifying the blood (depurative) and making themselves puke and sweat. (emetic and diaphoretic). Wisely they added willow to spicebush tea for drinking and using in the sweat lodges for rheumatism. The drug of choice today is still usually based on salicylates derived from willows. Ojibwa took the tea for anemia and that “tired rundown feeling”. Rappahannock used the tea for menstrual pain or delayed periods.

To these Moerman (Medicinal Plants of Native America. Mus. Anthropol., Tech Rept. 19. 1986), in his more extensive survey adds that the Cherokee also took the tea for hives (sometimes associated with yeast, JAD). Iroquois used it for colds, fevers, gonorrhea, measles, and syphilis. Mohegans chewed the leaves or took the tea for worms.

In their Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants (Houghton Miflin, Boston. 1990), Foster and Duke add that the settlers used the berries as a substitute for allspice. It’s not bad! Medicinally the berries were used as a carminative for flatulence and colic. The oil from the fruits was applied to bruises and muscles or joints for chronic rheumatism. The tea made from the twigs was popular with the settlers (and available all year) for colds, colic, fevers, gas, and worms. The bark tea was used for various fevers, including typhoid, and to expel worms.

In all that listing of applications, there’s not much folklore to anticipate that spicebush might be useful in yeast (candidiasis). But maybe the Indians didn’t have yeast. Apparently the yeast is a normal component of the flora of all human beings.

Maybe cadidiasis is mostly an iatrogenic ailment, induced by our medicines. Respected naturopaths, Murray and Pizzorno (Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing, Rocklin CA. 1991) say that when antibiotic use first became widespread, it was noted immediately that yeast infections increased. White man’s alcohol, anti-ulcer drugs, corticosteroids, increase in diabetes, oral contraceptives, tights insead or cotton undergarments, and too much sugar in the diet all may have contributed to the emergence of candidiasis as a major ailment, today afflicting half our womenfolk. The total incidence and relative frequency of vaginal candidiasis have increased more than two-fold since the late 1960’s.

There are a lot of synthetic alternatives for yeast, Nystatin, which is effective in mild cases. But Murray and Pizzorno suggest that garlic is more effective than Nystatin. I’d like to see the results of comparative heads-on trials between garlic, Nystatin and spicebush extracts. I’d like to see spicebush extracts compared also to Terazol, which reportedly leads to recovery of 95% of patients within three days. I’d like to see it compared with butacoconazole (Femstat), clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), ketoconazole (Nizoral) and miconazole (Monistat), all reportedly with an 80-90% cure rate. But the Graedons, after listing the latter four, reiterate the anecdote of the lady who had wasted $2,000 in office fees and medication, when a GP prescribed douching three times a day with 2 tablespoons vinegar in a quart of water (Graedons, 1991). That solved her $2,000 problem.

Studying 54 plant species for antimicrobial effects, Heisey and Gorham (1992; Letts. Appl. Microbiol. 14: 136-9.) found that extract of stem bark of Lindera benzoin (“spicebush”) strongly inhibited yeast (Candida albicans), much better than any of the other 53 species. (Walnut husks also showed some activity.). Now if vinegar could have saved that lady $2,000, might not a vinegar extract of spicebush bark and garlic be even better. Spicebush is best of the 54 studied. Garlic is reportedly better than Nystatin. I suspect that our mixture might be as safe and efficacious as any of the drugs names above, but we’ll never known.

You’ve seen the flurry of ads for expensive over-the-counter “remedies” for yeast. “See your doctor if you’re not sure. But if you’re sure you have yeast, use our brand.” Ten years ago, my doctor told me you couldn’t be sure without identification of the microorganisms involved. I doubt that has changed. Our FDA has become more relaxed in this regard. But if you started selling spicebush/garlic/vinegar for yeast, you’d be breaking the law, and the FDA might get you. But they won’t bother those OTC drugs because they have been proven safe and effective, to the FDA’s satisfaction, apparently. Are they more or less safe and efficacious than spicebush/garlic/vinegar? I don’t know. You don’t know. The FDA doesn’t know. The drug companies and physicians don’t know.

I want the best medicine for myself and my family. But nobody is going to invest $231 million to prove that spicebush/garlic/vinegar is safe and efficacious for vaginal candidiasis. Hence we’ll never know. Unless somehow, we convince some influential congressperson that no new drug for candidiasis should be permitted unless it is compared, not only to placebo, but to the best herbal alternative (s) as well. If the herbal alternative works safely, the world should know if. More than two-thirds of the world’s population and nearly a third of Americans can no longer afford the high-tech synthetic options. And their cost is going up at a much higher rate than other segments of our economy. So fewer and fewer of us can afford the modern pharmaceutical. And there’s no governmental or private incentive to investigate the cheap herbal alternatives, that may be as safe and efficacious.



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We’ve gotta get ourselves back to the garden

March 9, 2017

Maybe its the time of year or maybe its the time of man….but it’s definitely the time to get back to the garden. As the last third of winter descends on the Green Farmacy Garden, we are back pruning woody plants and removing the last year’s annuals and perennials stubble of dead growth wearing t-shirts one day and bundled up in our thick coats the next. Climate confusion with a fluctuating roller coaster of hot and cold temperatures seems to have become the norm the past several years. The early warmth last week of temperatures close to 80 degrees summoned new growth and buds to swell only to be followed by a sudden dip back to the freezing 20’s and unfortunately nipping the tender growth. Plants such as the coltsfoot and butterbur emerge yearly as the earliest bloomers and push up their flower inflorescences prior to their leaves. Slippery elm, horny goat weed, Chinese coptis, vinca minor, Christmas rose, shepherds purse and bitter cress are also amongst our early flowering arrivals.

It’s also the time of year that many folks still exhibit lingering coughs.  Possible relief for respiratory irritations from two of our early bloomers comes to mind.  Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, a member of the Aster family, with its sunny yellow flat topped ray flowers upon a scaly scape are easy to spot among the decaying leaves. Coltsfoot is indicated to reside in our asthma, bronchitis, cold and smoking plots – but currently is only in our asthma plot. The dried flowers and horseshoe shaped leaves are traditionally used for their mucilaginous, soothing, expectorant and antitussive qualities. While coltsfoot was used for centuries as a respiratory demulcent, there are now safety concerns with prolonged and large dose uses of this plant due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids – specifically senkirkine -that are found in the plant. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids may have hepatotoxic (liver harming) properties, and for that reason, it is not recommended to take coltsfoot except for short periods of time and at low doses. Coltsfoot is taken as a tea of the dried flowers and leaves, but cautioned to use only in small doses and not by those who have a compromised liver, children, pregnant or nursing moms.

coltsfoot tussilago farfara

Tussilago farfara, Coltsfoot in flower

While there may be a risk with taking coltsfoot as an expectorant, slippery elm poses no apparent safety issues. Slippery elm, Ulmus rubra, is harvested for its slimy or mucilaginous inner bark. At the Green Farmacy Garden, we harvested small diameter twigs last week to keep our tree from getting too tall; but to get the best medicine, harvest when the sap is running on larger diameter branches or trunks. Slippery elm, like American elm, is susceptible to Dutch Elm disease spread from a fungus and an elm bark beetle. Slippery elm is also on the United Plant Savers “at risk*” list. Sustainable harvest is essential for this native plant. Only harvest from plants that may be subjected to Dutch elm before the inner bark is affected or only take branches or parts of the bark of healthy trees without girdling the tree. Girdling kills the tree by cutting off the food and water routes of the plant and could invite Dutch elm disease. Cut off the corky outer bark to find the slimy inner cambium layer that readily peels off. Dried slippery elm bark can be chewed as is, or made into powder for a delicious nutritive porridge or a tea.


Jared and Andrea harvesting from the just pruned slippery elm branches


Slippery elm flower in bloom

Here is the recipe for Nutritive Gruel of Slippery Elm from one of our beloved Appalachian teachers, Paul Strauss:

“To make a nourish gruel, bring 1 cup of milk to a simmer. Add 1-1/2 teaspoon of powdered slippery elm and 1 teaspoon of honey to the milk and stir until it reaches the boiling point. Remove from the heat. Stir the gruel a few seconds more, adding a pinch of cinnamon powder if desired. This is delicious and very good for young children.”

We adapted the recipe at the Green Farmacy to use about a half cup of  milk, water, or a milk substitute like almond, coconut or flax milk and a couple of tablespoons of slippery elm powdered bark, and spiced with cinnamon and honey to make thick delicious gruel.


harvested inner bark from pruned branches of slippery elm..typically larger branches are used to harvest the cambium layer


dried and powdered bark

slippery elm gruel_3621

nutritive gruel

IMG_3624 andrea thumbs up slippery elm

Andrea gives slippery elm gruel a thumbs up

slippery elm thayers

or… simply go to the store and buy slippery elm lozenges or a health food store to get powder.

The medicine from slippery elm bark is not only used for inflamed sore throats and coughs, but also excellent to coat the gut for irritable bowel, and as a poultice for wounds and dry chapped skin.

* The conservation of native medicinal at risk plants like slippery elm is of significant concern. It’s the time of year to please consider becoming a member of United Plant Savers during the March Membership Drive. Supporting United Plant Savers helps to ensure the renewal of native medicinal plants for future generations.

For more information about United Plant Savers and becoming a member please see https://www.unitedplantsavers.org/

For more info regarding tours and volunteering at the Green Farmacy Garden contact us at greenfarmacygarden@gmail.com


Sanguinaria canadensis, bloodroot, blooming March 7, 2017 almost a month before it typically blooms.


Helleborus niger, Lenten Rose blooms with snow dusting


Epimedium sagittatum, Horny Goat Weed in flower and buds


Wood frog, Rana sylvatica, down in the pond


Wood frog eggs laid the first week of March

gfg barn

the old barn on the edge of the valley

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Jim Duke Speaks for the Plants

An Interview with Jim in a video created by Jason Bryan in 2016:

Interview with Dr. James Duke 2013
In this interview with Dr. James Duke, he explains his inspirations for studying ethnobotany and talks about his time in the field. Videography: Charlie Weber | Editing: Courtney Adkisson for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage


as reprinted from



By Hannah Norris, Intern,
Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Dr. James Duke is a botanist known for his extensive study of plants and their medicinal properties. Curator Betty Belanus made two field visits to Dr. Duke’s garden, the first with intern Hannah McConnell and research associate Sita Reddy, and the second with intern Katie Fernandez, video producer Charlie Weber, and Karen Anne Malkin of the USDA. Ongoing research on traditional medicine may lead to a future Smithsonian Folklife Festival program, or at least help inform future presentations of traditional medicine practices of various groups to the Festival.

Dr. Duke believes that natural remedies from plants are much healthier for people than the synthetically produced medications often prescribed. This conviction is a result of his many years of plant research done both academically and professionally.

The practice of using plants as medicine is known as traditional medicine. Humans across the globe have been using plants to prevent and cure disease for at least five thousand years, with written references in the Old Testament and in Egyptian manuscripts like the Ebers Papyrus. Early in his career, Dr. Duke began conducting research in the forests of Latin America, including extensive field visits to Panama. He was convinced that plants can serve the body with far fewer and less dangerous side effects than man-made pharmaceuticals.

“There’s a process called homeostasis,” he says. “By this process, your body, more than your doctor, or your quack, or your shaman, or your herbalist, knows what your body needs. You’re not going to have so many side effects through this homeostatic process of your body grabbing the chemicals that it knows it needs.”

He is author of the book The Green Pharmacy, which offers recommendations on herbal remedies for 120 common diseases and conditions. Dr. Duke also has a “teaching garden” dedicated to the cultivation and research of various medicinal herbs which he readily shows to visitors.

In this online exhibition, the theme of traditional medicine is explored through the story and work of Dr. Duke. His years of research at home and abroad as well as experience recommending herbal remedies provide a vast sum of resources for anyone interested in traditional medicine.

A Visit to the Green Farmacy Garden, Fall 2013
Dr. Duke and gardener Helen Metzman lead an exploration through the Green Farmacy Garden, giving examples of how their plants can be used as medicine.



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87th Birthday Note from Jim Duke


Excuse my corny canned birthday note!  On April 2, I instrumentally backed Jared and John as we played some bluegrass in the sunshine on the patio for a garden tour, son John on guitar, gardener Jared on mandolin, me on the bass fiddle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pry53UbSm5M

(As many of you know, I play standup  bass fiddle but neuropathologically I can no longer stand up). Unsolicited they also did Happy Birthday to me. I’m 87 today, April 4, 2016, two days later. Generates a bit of nostalgia about puppy love and bass fiddles. I fell in puppy love with lovely 14-year country bassist Carolyn Jean Saylor when I was 15 in Hugh Morson High School. She and her attractive older sister, Wanda, and mother (also Jean) constituted the Saylor Sisters lovely to look at AND hear, Jeannie played bass, Wanda accordion, and their mother, Jean, guitar, I conned my generous dad into paying half the cost of a used bass fiddle (50 bucks each) and that started my affair with the  bass fiddle. Within less than 2 years, I was recording (on the bass fiddle) Briarhopper Boogie (key of e) with Homer A, Briarhopper and the Dixies Dudes, in the Ernest Tubb’s Studio near the Grand Old Opry in Nashville. The 16 year old kid Jimmy Duke was pretty proud.. In college at UNC, and married to Jeannie, at 19.  I started UNC as a music major, with bass and bow. Not my cup of tea. I quickly switched to botany as a major, playing combo and big band bass, with Jeannie singing jazz in both big band and small combo j.. So I’ve been playing bass mediocrely 72 years. Jeannie left us all too soon. But she triggered my long time association with the bass fiddle.

Jim, John and Jared jam Paradise Lost to the students of Allegheny College

Jim, John and Jared jam “Paradise Lost” to the students of Allegany College of Maryland








Director’s Note: As Jim plays bass well into his golden years, the garden’s Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis emerged a bit early glistening with staminate flowers:

Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis, emerging in early spring

Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis, emerging in early spring

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Green Farmacy Garden Greetings

28 March 2016

With the arrival of warmer than usual temperatures these last few weeks, the garden quickly awakened from its winter rest. Buds overwintering were hastily summoned to burst open and we were greeted by the flowers of:

butterbur, Petasites japonicusIMG_9225

coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara  IMG_9390

snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis  IMG_8949

slippery elm, Ulmus rubra IMG_9926lesser celandine, forsythia, Chinese coptis, yellowroot, rosemary, bloodroot and spicebush, Lindera benzoin IMG_9966 lindera benzoin spice bush  flowers.

Meanwhile, wood frogs, primed for mating delights, romped and “quacked” in the pond:IMG_9869and off in the distance, a chorus of spring peepers filled the airwaves. Phoebe, incessantly bobbing its tail and calling its name, returned and is building a nest under the Duke’s deck. The pair of red-shouldered hawks are seen circling overhead or gliding into the yin-yang valley also to tend their nest.


Year after year, these are our harbingers of another season of for The Green Farmacy Garden. 

To witness the stirring of winter into spring, to listen to the calls of amphibians and birds, to smell the organic chemistry of sweet birch, sweet Cicely and spicebush, to feel the cool earth warming, and to taste the wildness of nettles, chickweed, winter cress, and slippery elm bark marks yet another year. The patterns and rhythms of the flora and fauna, and even a fickle March, are all apart of the phenology – observing the seasonal changes of nature.  

With the change of weather and with this 2016 season, we have two new gardeners: 

Jared Gulliford (pruning sweet birch, Betula lenta, that was later made into tea and infused into oil)IMG_9911 and Elana Metzman (using a draw knife to remove slippery elm, Ulmus rubra, inner bark that she later dried and will grind for powders)IMG_9918Jim Duke, turning 87 in a week, continues to compile plant data and play stand up bass while sitting on his exercise bike. 

All of us – including the five-lined skink IMG_0059and Eastern mole IMG_0076.JPG

– are gearing up and getting down and dirty while preparing our medicinal plant garden for tours and workshops.

A listing of tours can be found on  https://thegreenfarmacygarden.com/tours-and-events/ Upcoming workshops will be listed ASAP.

If you are interested in receiving notices about volunteer times, tours, and workshops, please email greenfarmacygarden@gmail.com 

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Herbal Superdrugs for the Superbugs!

 The below article appeared in the Journal of the American Herbalists Guild JAHG: Volume 13 | Number 1, pg. 51-54

Reductionist’s Rant:

Could cannabis be the superdrug of the year? In an effort to compile lists of herbs and phytochemicals that might help control some of the emerging superbugs, I was intrigued to find that five of the cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa were quite active against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA. Along with this important information about cannabinoids, I share in this rant a quick list of herbs and phytochemicals that have shown promise against MRSA and also methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA), as well as some other species are also cited herein as ”anti-Staphylococcus.”

A particularly interesting paper compared the anti-Staphylococcus actions of the principal cannabinoids with pharmaceuticals. Under lead author Giovanni Appendino, the scientists studied four pharmaceuticals against a panel of six strains of Staphylococcus getting a wide spectrum of minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs): erythromycin MIC=0.25->128 ug/ mL; norflaxacin 0.5-128 ug/mL; oxacillin 0.25-128 ug/mL; and tetracycline 0.25-128 ug/ mL. Keeping in mind that the lower the MIC, the more potent the chemical, that makes the cannabinoids look pretty good indeed, with low MICs: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 0.5-2 ug/mL; cannabidiol (CBD) 0.5-2 ug/mL; cannabinol (CBN) 1 ug/mL; cannabichromene (CBC) 1-2 ug/mL; and cannabigerol (CBG) 1-2 ug/mL (PubMed ID 18681481). I’m surprised no one has yet tried to encapsulate some of these in silver nanoparticles.

As this edition of the JAHG focuses on botanical essential oils, I’ll point out that noted cannabis researcher Ethan Russo posed the question, “Are cannabis terpenoids relevant
to the effects of cannabis?” in a paper entitled “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy
and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects” (PubMed ID 21749363). Terpenoids are components of essential oils that give a plant (in this case cannabis) its distinctive scent. Over 200 terpenoids have been identified in cannabis, but Russo’s paper singles out eight, all of which are widely distributed in the plant world and are GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) by FDA standards. They are listed here with examples of common plants that contain them:

Limonene, commonly found in lemons Alpha-pinene, commonly found in pine                  Beta-myrcene, commonly found in hops                                                                                Linalool, commonly found in lavender                                                                                          Beta-caryophyllene, commonly found in black pepper                                                Caryophyllene oxide, commonly found in lemon balm
Nerolidol, commonly found in oranges                                                                                       Phytol, commonly found in green tea

This study notes that while each terpenoid has its own set of pharmacological actions ranging from anti-inflammatory to anxiolytic, they may also act synergistically with cannabinoids to treat various diseases as well as to counteract effects of THC. More to the point of this article, the aromatic component pinene, commonly found in pine as well as in cannabis, was found to be effective against MRSA. Combined with the powerful anti-MRSA actions of the cannabinoids mentioned above, cannabis as an anti-MRSA agent is looking better all the time.

Big Pharma, CDC and FDA once praised antibiotics, often mono chemical derivatives of fungi, as the wave of the future. That failed future has come and gone! “Better living through (synthetic) chemistry” was an illusion generated by synthetic chemists, failing to appreciate that new synthetics can have many unanticipated side effects. Still today, monochemical superdrugs are failing. They say they have nothing new on track for the superbugs of the future. But there is still hope; the hope resides in our long-used herbs, those herbs the FDA has continuously and studiously tried to brainwash us into believing are useless. (Corporate crime I call it, rampant in America.)

Searching for the new “superdrug” (promising anti-MRSA herbs), I searched through the PubMed abstracts all the way back to 2010. Once again, as in many of my bacterial and viral compilations, Manuka honey seems very promising. I know no reason why Manuka should be better than our American honeys, especially if spiked with the more promising of the anti-MRSA herbs and phytochemicals listed below. Some synergies may make the combos “super,” i.e. superlative to the monochemical antibiotics, slowly or rapidly yielding to drug resistance, which should have been anticipated.

Many of the PubMed abstracts give a relative idea of the potency of anti-MRSA
herbal extracts and phytochemicals. I like in particular the MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration) usually but not always less than the MBC (minimum bactericidal concentration). Frequently they are compared with the MICs and MBCs of the many antibiotics, some lower, some higher. And I suppose (read: hope, but sometimes skeptically) most of these herbal and phytochemical studies are just as reliable as the PubMed pharmaceutical studies. Still I fear that some herbalists and phytochemists may be as aggressive and statistically manipulative at over-promoting their beliefs and products as Big Pharma scientists and reps. They may not even publish the negative points (or may completely leave negative studies unpublished). Too often, like too many Big Pharma scientists, they just publish the data that prove their point, and may sell their product. How I long for that utopian day when a benevolent FDA will support unbiased clinical comparisons of the natural herbal polychemical alternatives with the monochemical synthetics. My evolutionary homeostatic bias is that the herb will usually outperform the synthetic, when cost, efficacy and side effects are all considered.

Many authors compared their species with pharmaceuticals (including ampicillin, azithromycin, carbapenems, ceftazidime, chlorhexidine, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, fluoroquinolones, gentamicin, levofloxacin, methicillin, norfloxacin, oxacillin, tetracycline, and vancomycin). Many authors also noted that the natural phytochemicals often potentiate the pharmaceuticals, often dramatically so. (A warning: my superficial compilation is often based only on the PubMed abstracts. In cases where there was a free publication, or the author sent PDFs, I dug deeper. In all cases where the authors did not cite the potency of their extracts or phytochemicals, I assume those extracts or phytochemicals were only modestly anti-MRSA.)

If we can believe the PubMed authors and the compiler (yours truly), the following are some natural phytochemicals which might individually be competitive or synergistically super- competitive with the failing pharmaceuticals with their reported MIC (in ug/mL).

But let me remind you as someone should have told BigPharma, using any one of these natural phytochemicals alone to fight a multi- drug resistant (MDR) ailment can rapidly
lead to resistance, as in quinine long ago, and now artemisinin. Using quinine alone instead of the mix of more than a dozen alkaloids cohabiting with quinine was a BIG mistake. We are better off using many anti-MRSA natural chemicals in synergy to avoid this problem. I cannot imagine Big Pharma was not aware that using just one chemical, natural or synthetic, leads to resistance. The more chemicals, natural or synthetic, the less the probability of resistance. But why even bother to synthesize unnatural chemicals unknown to your genes. Your genes know the naturals (at least those consumed by your ancestors), not tomorrow’s synthetics. Viva la natural synergies!

Furthermore, I suspect the whole herbs, like cannabis with its five anti-MRSA cannabinoids, or licorice, which contains dozens of antiseptic compounds, may synergistically be better anti-MRSA weapons than any one of the single compounds mentioned at left. And better yet, continued use of the mixtures will not likely lead to resistance like monochemical approaches will. On another hand, many species of Hypericum contain anti-MRSA activities and/ or phytochemicals, but no single species so far is reported to contain a huge number of anti-MRSA phytochemicals. Thirty-three of 34 chloroform Hypericum extracts showed anti-MRSA activity, 5 with MIC=64 ug/ml. This genus has great potential for anti-MDR activity (PubMed ID 12234572). Many Hypericum species also contain hyperforin, one of the more potent anti-MRSA phytochemicals. Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) seems also to be well endowed with a variety of anti-MRSA phytochemicals.

Turning back the pages of time, let us look back to the safer herbs, many of which have 5,000-10,000 biologically active compounds in them, dozens or even hundreds of which are natural antiseptics. Many of the same natural phytochemicals can synergistically potentiate the failing pharmaceuticals. Unlike synthetics, these phytochemicals have been known to your genes for as long as your ancestors (primates or even earlier ancestors before) consumed them.


Jim Duke “Better Living Through Phytochemistry” with Potentilla recta, Cinquefoil – The Green Farmacy Garden’s legal representative of Cannabis sativa as displayed in the Glaucoma plot

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A TALE OF THREE ULCERS ~ Medicinal Virtues of Honey

(adapted from an article printed in Pathways Magazine, Spring 2015)

Decades ago, one ankle sore;
Had me facing amputation.
But p’roxide, sulfur, sunshine
Permitted perambulation
(anonpoet, 2015)

Trying to offer my Pathways readers something completely different for the New Year, I am offering a detailed account of the reported medicinal virtues of honey. Turns out that honey, in this case New Zealand’s manuka honey, a new friend of mine, mixed in Peru’s dragon blood, an old friend of mine, cured two ankle ulcers of mine, that conventional antibiotics had failed to help. And I’ve long been afraid of ankle ulcers. As you’ll see, I almost lost a leg to such an ankle ulcer in Panama about 50 years ago.

My Rodale book, The Green Pharmacy, came out in 1997, nearly 20 years ago, but had been submitted for publication, closer to 1995, when I retired from the USDA. That book still sells well, and has been reprinted in 10 or so languages. Matter of fact, it did so well, that the royalties helped me establish what we now call (and spell) Green Farmacy Garden (GFG). GFG started harvesting honey two seasons ago, thanks to some beekeeping friends, Dick and Victoria Ransom, who placed some hives here, near my 300-species GFG.

Apiarist Dick Ransom checking the Green Farmacy Garden hives

Apiarist Dick Ransom checking the Green Farmacy Garden hives

On page 148 of the original hard cover edition of the book, there’s a chapter entitled, “Cuts, Scrapes and Abscesses.” It takes me back to Panama, cerca 1965. I hope you never have an abscess like the one I had on my left leg 50 years ago there in Panama. In the humid forests, minor cuts can turn into major infections, seemingly almost overnight. This one started out quite small on my left ankle. Before you could contemplate “suppurating,” the medical term for the pus oozing from infected wounds, my aggressive abscess turned into Hollywood movie type jungle rot. My lower leg was a mess, the growing ulcer dripping disgusting green pus. My immune system was battling the bacteria hiding in the ulcer. Little did I know then that the peroxide and other chemicals in honey can fight some of those bacteria.

In the sleepy little province of Darien, near the Colombian border, my abscess grew, and my Panamanian friends shook their heads knowingly. I was hobbling so badly and I became feverish and wary. I paid the town urchins to take me from the farm, where several gringo scientists were renting to town in a wheelbarrow.  The natives (but not me) probably believe such ulcers are caused by the corrosive exudates of dumbcane (Dieffenbachia seguine), which is the same as the familiar palmlike Dieffenbachia houseplant up here. My friends assumed that some of the caustic resin from cut stems of dumbcane had entered a minor cut. That sounded possible, especially since I tended to go barefoot on the slippery slopes of the rivers, trying not to embarrass myself by falling down. But I’ll never know for sure. All I knew was that as the ulcer grew larger, I became feverish–and scared.

HerbalBum 1960

HerbalBum 1960 with his ulcerated bum ankle

I put on a brave face, but skin infections in the tropics can quickly become serious. Three decades ago, I was not quite as confident of the Green Farmacy as I am today. So I called on a North American physician at a hospital in the Canal Zone. After one look at my abscess, he said that if I didn’t get intravenous antibiotics immediately, I might lose my leg.  He administered some antibiotics, but that was not enough, in his view. If I wanted to save the leg, he said, I should return to the United States for continued treatment in air-conditioned hospitals.

Back then the American military stationed in Panama military offered me nice position to return to the forest as a botanical consultant. What to do? I wanted that job more than anything – but I also wanted to keep my leg.

I called my right-hand man and friend Narciso “Chicho” Bristan, an African-Panamanian who had accompanied me on several jungle trips. He, too, would enjoy a financial windfall by joining the new expedition into the bush to look into the advisability of a sea level canal cut thru Darien with nuclear devices. Chicho helped me hobble to see his sister, Carmen, a Darien nurse with an extensive knowledge of bush medicine. She had seen ulcers like mine before.  She was more optimistic. Yes, I needed immediate treatment, but not intravenous antibiotics. I was pleased when Carmen told this budding botanist that I could treat my abscess with “flowers,”. Not the botanical kind of flowers. She meant flowers (purified powder) of sulfur. She recommended flushing out my sores with hydrogen peroxide, a good disinfectant, drying them in the sun and finally sprinkling on flowers of sulfur. Turns out she was right or I was lucky.  Soon after that visit, I limped back into the jungle, still leaning on Chicho. But I didn’t have to lean on him for long. Carmen’s program and her flowers of sulfur quickly healed that angry abscess. Within a month, all I had left was a scar that I bear to this day, testimony to my first leg-threatening encounter with jungle rot. I’ve spent 7 of the last 50 years tromping around the tropics looking for medicinal plants.  Peroxide, sulfur and sunshine (Jungle Rx) with a generous helping of serendipity had permitted me my favorite avocation, walking thru the forests and botanizing.

Now, 50 years after my first indolent ulcer, old age and stenotic spinal neuropathy have me hobbling again. Last spring (2014), while wearing prescription compression stockings to improve my leg circulation, a strange pair of small ulcers developed, one on the front of each ankle.  It soon became apparent that they were, if anything – fertilized by the allopathic antibiotics. I was doubly amazed and amused when my holistic Physician’s Assistant, Josh Anderson, suggested a rather gory mixture he concocted, consisting of my new friend Manuka Honey and my old friend Dragon’s Blood (Croton lechleri) – a red resin that comes from a specific plant group.

Dragon's blood, Sangre de Draco, Croton lechleri

Dragon’s blood, Sangre de Draco, Croton lechleri

IMG_1587 manuka honey

raw manuka honey

That did the trick! In a few weeks, aided and abetted by also exposing the ulcers to the summer sunshine, (as I had done in Darien some 5 decades ago), I was up and about.

Dragon’s Blood and Honey
May sound bloody funny
But if it heals my ulcers
Right on the bloody money (Anonpoet, 2015)


Jim Duke applies honey mixed with dragon’s blood to his leg ulcers


Green Farmacy Garden Honey made in 2014 by our bees with help by Dick Ransom.

Green Farmacy Garden Honey made in 2014 by our bees with help by Dick Ransom.

More than a decade ago I wrote a foreword to Stephen Harrod Buhner’s, Herbal Antibiotics – Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug Resistant Bacteria (Storey Books, Pownal, Vermont, 1999). Hence, I feel free to quote myself from that Foreword, “When we borrow the antibiotic compounds from plants, we do better to borrow them all, not just the single solitary most powerful. We lose the synergy when we take out the solitary compound. But most important, we facilitate the enemy, the germ, in its ability to outwit the monochemical medicine. The polychemical synergistic mix, concentrating the powers already evolved in medicinal plants, may be our best hope for confronting drug-resistant bacteria.” After a quick review of the antibacterial properties of various honeys, I think the same applies to honeys.

Honey, not necessarily New Zealand manuka nor Slovakian honeydew honey, looks to be significantly or trivially (depending on author, concentration, and/or potency of antiseptic phytochemicals, or synergy) useful against some bacteria (even some super bacteria). For example, Acinetobacter, Aeromonas, Bacillus, Campylobacter, Candida (not a bacteria but important), Cellulosimicrobium, Clostridium, Enterobacter, Enterococcus. Escherichia; Hemophilus, Helicobacter, Klebsiella, Listonella, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Mycobacterium, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Serratia, Shigella, Staphylococcus, Stenotrophomonas, Streptococcus, Vibrio, Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) (WebMD; X20882522; X21776290; X23494861; X23569748; X24969731; X25278429).

To avoid developing resistance to the chemicals in honey, I recommend using the whole antibacterial multifloral honey as a shotgun; do not isolate the most potent chemical (silver bullet) to which resistance will quickly evolve. Buhner wisely specifies the use of wildflower honey (in contrast to the Ayurvedics, who recommend against wild honeys, which may come from bees foraging on poisonous plants). Our mountain laurels, Kalmia latifolia, here in Maryland, can lead to poisoned honey. Buhner rightly suggests that monofloral alfalfa and clover honeys may lack the natural chemical diversity of wild honey and are more liable to be contaminated with pesticides.

Buhner notes that honey has been effectively used in huge ulcers extending to the bone (rather like my Darien ulcer). Honey gives excellent results with burns; complete healing with no need for skin grafts, and with no infection or muscle loss. Honey “has outperformed antibiotics” with blood vessels, bone storage and transport, corneal problems, gangrene, skin grafts, stomach ulcers, and surgical incisions or infections (Buhner, 1999).

AYURVEDA (mostly in India) – Honey (Madhu) is classified by Ayurveda according to color. There are four types: white, brown, oil-colored and light yellow. The oil-colored varieties are, generally speaking, the best. Honey is sweet-astringent in taste, heavy to digest, cooling (constricts capillaries) and a blood purifier. It has medicinal value in treating Kapha end Pitta energy over-balance, but overuse can cause dryness and gas. In the winter, in spring and in humid weather, it has remarkable value for health. However, it should never be taken hot, as with teas, because heat may bring out latent poisonous effects from the pollens of nearby poisonous flowers. This is especially true of wild or uncultivated honey. (From Alan Tillotson.)

BIBLICAL: And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds Genesis 43:11 (KJV). Sounds like a Biblical food farmacy gift package to me. The word honey is mentioned 60 times, the phrase “milk and honey,” perhaps synonymous with agricultural sufficiency, is mentioned 20 times in the Old Testament. Perhaps the most medicinal of the quotes is Proverbs 16(24), “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” There is no reference to “wild honey”in the Old Testament, no reference to “milk and honey” in the New Testament, where there only five references to honey, three of them to wild honey, e.g., in Mark 1:(6) “John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey.” Some speculate John’s locust may be the insect, others suggest it might be the carob (Ceratonia), rather suggestive of our honey locust. Speaking of extra-Biblical uses of medicinal plants mentioned in the Bible, I noted a few, e.g., (1) Onion seeds are mixed with honey and applied to warts. (2) North Africans that use aloe, usually mixed with gum arabic and honey or sugar for amenorrhea, dyspepsia, and jaundice. (3 & 4) Rhizomes of the Biblical Reed (Arundo donax) are boiled in wine and honey to treat cancers, as are chicory leaves boiled with honey for cancers, (5 & 6) Arabs add cumin and pimenta to honey as an aphrodisiac; similar uses reported for rocket seed in honey, and (7) Algerians mix manna ash seeds with honey and olive oil to treat gonorrhea (from my CRC Medicinal Plants of the Bible and the Bible online).

Carob, Ceratonia siliqua, has male and female flowers on separate trees. These are the male flowers and the strong "male" scent    lures not only insects to gather pollen but also me (H.Metzman). Ramat Rachel Jerusalem, Israel

Carob, Ceratonia siliqua, has male and female flowers on separate trees. These are the male flowers. The strong “male” scent lures not only insects to gather pollen but also me to photograph them (H.Metzman). Ramat Rachel Jerusalem, Israel

BULGARIA: Noting that honey is effective against colds, flu, and other respiratory infections, as well as immunodepression, Buhner recalls a Bulgarian study of 17, 862 patients showing that honey helped allergic and chronic rhinitis, asthmatic bronchitis, bronchitis, and sinusitis (Buhner, 1999).

INDIANA: The later it gets the more often I say, ”My good friend, the late … in this case Varro Tyler. Varro, like me and the late Norman Farnsworth, were important advisers on the American Botanical Council, Founder and Executive Director, Mark Blumenthal. I don’t think Farnsworth published any pop books, but Varro and I did. Thirty years ago Varro published, Hoosier Home Remedies, Purdue University Press (1985), in which we find such fascinating Hoosier recipes as drinking honey and vinegar for arthritis, or as a panacea (for whatever ails you). Then there was honey and sassafras as spring tonic and blood thinner. And comfrey, horehound, jack-in-the-pulpit, and spikenard, with honey and vinegar, for colds and flu. As antitussive, balm of gilead with honey and lemon; or honey and garlic, in vinegar (with whiskey), or honey and vinegar (with or without olive oil), or licorice, rock candy and honey, or mullein root with honey, or the complicated alum, black pepper, butter, ginger, honey and rosin, or simmered skunk cabbage and vinegar, with added honey, or says Tyler (p. 55), “a teaspoon of honey will quiet a cough.” As a panacea, milkweed root with honey (for constipation, dropsy, fever, hemorrhoids, nerve problems, even snake and spider bites). Then Varro suggests large doses of honey (two pounds in doses of six teaspoons every 20 minutes, to sober one up, even curb the desire to drink alcohol. Eat honey to promote sleep. While I am sure that some honeys are good for running sores or ulcers, I’d not try the Hoosier pokeroot, with honey, flour, eggs, and olive oil. On the other hand I’d not be afraid to take horseradish with honey and vinegar for hoarseness. One I did not know for stomachache was crawley root (Corallorrhiza) tea, sweetened with honey. I think I’d rather have Varro’s wild mint tea, with honey. And finally, he mentions 3-4 teaspoons aloe decoction with honey for tuberculosis. How’s that for a Hoosier Honey roundup from the late Varro Tyler’s Hoosier Home Remedies, Purdue University Press (1985)?

LATIN AMERICAN: Among Latinos, Amazonians use Motelo sanango stems and roots decocted with wild bee honey for female sterility. Maidenhair infusion is mixed with honey as expectorant, for rheumatism, and colds, heartburn, and sour stomach. Andeans use agave leaf tea with honey as a collyrium for conjunctivitis. Bolivians use century plant with honey for bruises, gonorrhea, internal tumors, nephritis, rheumatism, and tuberculosis. Bolivians gargle pineapple decoction with honey for angina, sore throat, and tonsilitis. Choco Indians mix papaya latex with honey as a vermifuge. Haitians use the Haiti Catalpa leaf tea with honey to relieve angina. Panama natives put copaiba mixed with honey in newborne mouths to impart knowledge and ward off hexes; also used for VD. Amazons mix bitter cane (Costus) stem juice with honey for cough, colds, and whooping cough. Bolivians use calabash decoction with honey to bring on the menstrual period. Peruvians take calabash jelly (hot fruit juice with honey and lemon) for bronchosis and cough. Chileans steep Winter’s Bark leaf in boiling water with honey as a stomachic tonic. Peruvians macerate ripe genipaps in rum with honey, for rheumatism. Haitians mix sweet potato root, honey and sulfur for cough. Peruvians use lantana leaf decoction with honey, garlic, and onion for bronchosis and cold (DAV). Hondurans cook Peruvian basil root with anise and honey cardiac pain and cough. A shot of chuchuhuasi with aguardiente and honey was given many ecotourists on departure from the Iquitos airport in 1991. All survived withdrawal from the Amazonian rain forest. And many came back, habituated. Latinos gargle leaf decoction with lemon and honey for sore throat. Peruvians apply matico leaves in honey to leishmanial sores. There is the strange mix of stinging hairs (Mucuna) in honey ingested to dislodge worms. Amazonians take honey with andiroba, black pepper, copaiba, and sugar, for bronchitis, coughs, laryngitis and pharyngitis. Bolivians use paud’arco leaf tea with honey as a tonic. Peruvians take Tecoma floral tea with honey as diuretic, pectoral, and sudorific (Source: Duke, JA; Vasquez Martinez, R. 1994. Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary (Peru). CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, FL. 215 pp., and Duke, JA, Bogenschutz-Godwin, MJ, and Ottesen, A. 2008. Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 901pp).

NORTH AMERICAN: Dan Moerman was kind enough to print out from his database the entries that involved honey among, e.g., the Cahuila, Cherokee, Diegueno, Navajo (floral honey), and Rappahannock Native Americans. Most often it seems to be added to medicinal herbs as a tonic or for asthma, coughs, colds pertussis, and sorethroat. Moerman’s printout includes no mention of topical use for burns, infections, or sores. (Moerman, Daniel E. 1998. Native American Ethnobotany. Timber Press, Portland, OR. 927 pp.)

SLOVAKIA: Slovakian, J. Majtan, listed a lot of surprising uses for honey, often honeydew honey from Abies [not honeydew (Cucumis melo)], e.g., corneal ulcers caused by contact lens (X25278429), leg ulcers (X25187187), perianal fistula in IBD (X21977900), preventing endophthalmitis (X22508360), in addition to more mundane activities like antibiofilm (X25278429), antiniflammatory (X25278429), IL-1beta-Genic (X24612472), IL-1beta-Inhibitor (X24612472), IL-6-Genic (X24612472), IL-6-Inhibitor (X24612472), immunomodulator (X24612472), MMP-9-Inhibitor (X 23812412), ROS-Genic (X24612472), ROS-Inhibitor (X24612472), TNFalpha-Genic (X24612472), TNFalpha-Inhibitor (X24612472), and vulnerary (X24612472).

TRADITIONAL CHINESE: Regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Roy Upton kindly forwarded this to me. Shi Mi (mel) is sweet and balanced. It mainly treats heart and abdominal evil qi, all fright epilepsy, and tetany. It quiets the five viscera when they sustain various insufficiencies, boosts the qi, supplements the center, relieves pain, and resolves toxins. It eliminates multitudes of diseases and harmonizes hundreds of medicinals. Protracted taking may fortify the will, make the body light and free from hunger and prevent senility. A commentary in the same text states, “Honey moistens dryness, resolves various toxins, relieves various kinds of pain, frees the flow of the triple burner, and harmonizes the constructive and defensive. It is often prescribed to suppress cough, cure dysentery, and brighten the eyes. Besides the indications cited in the text, it may render the face brilliant.” (Yang SZ. 1998. The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica. Blue Poppy Press, Boulder, CO. 198 pages.)

Honeybee on Pycnathemum muticum in the GFG

Honeybee, Apis mellifera, on mountain mint, Pycnathemum muticum, in the GFG


©James A. Duke, Green Farmacy Garden, 2015

MANUKA, New Zealand Tea Tree
(Leptospermum scoparium J.R. et G. Forst) + FNFF=! (Honey ++ FNFF=!!!)


“Make no doubt, we have the finest medical/patent science system in the United States of America that human greed can fashion.” — Attributed to someone under the name or pseunonym of ‘Hackus’. (We’ve been financially hacked by Big Pharma and collusional government agencies.)

Synonyms: Leptospermum nichollsii Dorr. Sm.; (=) Leptospermum scoparium var. chapmannii Dorr. Sm. ex Rehder; Leptospermum scoparium var. incanum Cockayne; Leptospermum scoparium var. martinii hort.; Leptospermum scoparium var. nichollsii (Dorr. Sm.) Turrill

NOTES (MANUKA): It may surprise you as it surprised me to read that there are three different species of Myrtaceae growing in Australia and New Zealand known as ‘Tea-tree.’ There’s the more familiar Australian Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), and the New Zealand manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), and Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides). All three essential oils are used by aromatherapists. Manuka had a spasmolytic action, while Kanuka and Melaleuca had an initial spasmogenic action. The antifungal activity of Kanuka was inversely proportional to its strong antibacterial activity, whilst manuka displayed a stronger antifungal effect, though not as potent as Melaleuca. The antioxidant activity of manuka samples was more consistent than that of Kanuka, while Melaleuca showed no activity. The variability in the manuka and Kanuka essential oils suggests caution in their usage, as does the fact that the oils have not been tested for toxicity (X11114000).

In mid-2014, manuka honey from New Zealand and dragon’s blood (Croton lechleri) from Peru quickly cured my “compression stocking” ulcers where conventional antibiotics had failed. So I’m devoting my lengthy fluffy first paragraphs to manuka honey itself which has its own healing reputation. Recently there are more PubMed citations on the manuka honey than on the essential oil, both of which are proving to be trivial or significant antiseptics.

But from the outset of this, I’m trying to see if there’s some strong reason why manuka should be better, perhaps a monotonous monofloral honey from rather monotonous manuka forests. Monofloral honeys may have high concentrations of a few antiseptics; multifloral honeys may have more antiseptic phytochemicals, possibly acting synergically. The honey produced in my Green Farmacy Garden is multifloral, with over 300 flowering plant species in a half acre. Many of them are well known bee forage plants in the mint family, with chemicals that can help the bees resist the mites that are playing havoc with many bee colonies here in the US, if not in New Zealand.

Here I report on some chemicals rightly or wrongly stated in the literature to be unique to manuka honey. In 2014, Japanese scientists reported that leptosperin, (methyl syringate 4-O-ß-D-gentiobiose), and methyl syringate are exclusively present in manuka (X24941263; X25310890). In 2012 Japanese researchers also reported that the honey inhibits myeloperoxidase, due to methyl syringate and its methyl syringate 4-O-ß-D-gentiobiose, named “leptosin,” a good chemical marker for manuka, which was correlated with the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) value, as antibacterial (X22409307). Can you believe it? Indian studies showed that brushing with manuka was better than brushing with commercial toothpaste. Manuka has substantial non-peroxide antibacterial activity associated with an unidentified phytochemical component, denoted as UMF. Children using manuka honey instead of conventional toothpastes showed statistically significant reductions in salivary Streptococcus mutans after 10 and 21 days (X25001440).

In 2008, German scientists showed that manuka honey exhibited antibacterial activity when diluted to 15-30%, which corresponded to a methylglyoxal (MGO) content of 1.1-1.8 mM (anti-Escherichia, anti-Staphylococcus) (X18210383). In New Zealand, MGO ranges from 38-828 mg/kg (X18194804). And yes, manuka has anti-Staphylococcus aureus activities, with promise as a topical antibacterial (AntiMSSA) agent and effective chronic wound dressing (X22580031). As early as 1991, New Zealand scientists (Allen, Molan, and Reid) surveyed 345 samples of unpasteurized honey obtained from commercial apiarists throughout New Zealand. Most of the honeys were considered to be monofloral, from 26 different floral sources. Antibacterial activity (against Staphylococcus aureus) ranged from the equivalent of less than 2% (w/v) phenol to 58% (w/v) phenol, with a median of 13.6 and a standard deviation of 12.5. manuka was outstanding, and due entirely to the non-peroxide component (XX1687577).

Not everyone recommends manuka honey for diabetic ulcers. Juraj Majtan from Slovakia, while recommending honey for several ails, suggests that high methylglyoxal manuka (MG) might be contraindicated at least for diabetic ulcers. In 2011, he said the pronounced antibacterial activity of manuka honey is due, at least in part, to reactive methylglyoxal (MG), which can be 100-fold higher than in conventional honeys. Freshly produced manuka honey contains low levels of MG (~ 140 mg/kg) but during storage at 37̊C its content increases. The levels of MG in multi-floral honeys are low, ranging from 0.4 to 5.4 mg kg. High levels are reported in manuka honeys, ranging from 48 to 835. It has been suggested that concentrations of MG above 150 mg kg are directly responsible for the characteristic antibacterial properties of manuka honey. But MG is a potent protein-glycating agent and an important precursor of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). MG and AGEs may impair diabetic wound healing. Majtan also pointed out that resistance to silver as an antibacterial is showing up in Acinetobacter, Enterobacter, Escherichia, Klebsiella, and Salmonella (X21776290).

A discordant New Zealand study comparing four different honeys found that kanuka honey (from Kunzea ericoides) was a better wound healing antiiflammatory than a blend (kanuka and manuka), better than manuka and much better than red clover honey. “The phenolic content of honey correlates with its effectiveness, although the specific compounds involved remain to be determined.” (Manuka had 59% phenolic, kanuka 39%, the manuka/kanuka blend 59%, and clover 40%.) (X24623989).

The dihydroxyacetone in manuka may be converted to methylglyoxal (MGO). Flavonoid components of manuka run about 1.16 mg/100 g honey. The principal flavonoids present were pinobanksin, pinocembrin, luteolin and chrysin. Also, 1, 2-formyl-5-(2-methoxyphenyl)-pyrrole, was isolated from the flavonoid fraction and separately synthesized (X23870890). “Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and methylglyoxal (MGO) are unique carbohydrate metabolites of manuka honey” (X22960208).

Recently, Hammond has shown the manuka honey effective against one of the superbugs, Clostridium difficile and its biofilm. (MIC & MBC=6.25%v/v) (X23651562, X25181951). Here I am at home January 16, 2015, while my wife Peggy is hopefully recovering from a very complicated serious open heart surgery (coronary bypass, new aorta). I have maintained for years that the most dangerous place in the world is the hospital. I still maintain that opinion and long for my wife’s successful recovery. She’s in ICU in a very clean (we hope) new building at Johns Hopkins. Still even in the first day of her operation, we heard rumblings that might be caused by an earlier botched operation (at Howard County Community Hospital. The doctors (January 15, 2015) noted that scar tissue from the botched pacemaker insert operation necessitated some dissection. That might dislodge scar tissue “debris” to float around, capable of causing minor or major blood clots, even strokes. It was probably about 3.5 years ago when Peggy went in for a much simpler operation, to insert a pacemaker, at our Howard County Hospital but with a highly recommended Johns Hopkins surgeon. But they botched it, the simple pacemaker insert, and overshot. We almost lost her. And they had to do emergency reparations. And she had a near fatal sepsis. I think I heard the attending physicians mention Clostridium.

I mention all this because I just came across those papers by N. E. Hammond showing that manuka honey (from Leptospermum) has antibacterial properties capable of inhibiting in vitro biofilm formed by the superbug Clostridium difficile (X25181951). Clostridium difficile diarrhea is estimated to occur in 8 out of 100,000 people each year. Among those admitted to hospital, it occurs in 4- 8 people per 1,000. Due in part to the emergence of a fluroquinolone-resistant strain, C. difficile-related deaths increased 400% between the years 2000 and 2007 in the United States. A number of different antibiotics are used for C. difficile, more or less equally effective. Metronidazole typically is the initial drug of choice for mild to moderate disease, because of lower price.Typically it is taken three times a day for 10 days. Oral vancomycin is preferred for severe cases. Fidaxomicin is as effective as vancomycin in mild to moderate cases. Cholestyramine, an ion exchange resin, is effective in binding both toxin A and B, slowing bowel motility, and helping prevent dehydration. Cholestyramine is recommended with vancomycin. A last-resort treatment in those who are immunosuppressed is intravenous immunoglobulin. Evidence to support the use of probiotics in the treatment of active disease is insufficient…. A World Health Organization report, released April 2014 states, “this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country. Antibiotic resistance–when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections–is now a major threat to public health” (Source: Wikipedia). Not all citizens of the world can afford these antibiotics. In their desperate poverty, they can try honey. Until the honey has been clinically compared with the increasingly more useless antbiotics, I cannot be sure but what the honey is better, cheaper, and safer. You see, honey is like a natural shotgun, long known (millennially) to your genes (if your ancestors consumed it), containing several different kinds of antibacterial pellets which might synergically be more useful than the dying silver bullet, the unnatural synthetic monochemical never known to your genes until you take it for the first time.

In 1994, New Zealand scientists, publishing on manuka honey (XX8308841), noted that some of the antiseptic activities of honey were due to hydrogen peroxide, which I, too, have used as an antiseptic. And many of the studies of manuka honey relate to the antiseptic activities of the non-peroxide components. Five isolates of the ulcerogenic bacteria Helicobacter pylori to honey was tested, were sensitive to a 20% (v/v) solution of manuka honey. As little as 5% honey (v/v) stopped overgrowths of the bacteria in cultures. None showed sensitivity to a 40% solution of a honey, in which antibacterial activity was due primarily to hydrogen peroxide (XX8308841).

al Somal, et al. (X) note that conventional treatment of gastric and duodenal ulceration is unsatisfactory. Most drugs used suppress but do not cure ulcers, slowly healing and with high rate of relapse – 80% at 1 year and 100% at 2 years, even with maintenance therapy with ranitidine 150 mg at night, the relapse rate is 48%. Gastric and duodenal ulcer medicine is expensive. Treatment with honey is much less expensive and appears to be quicker. Allopaths tend to prematurely reject “alternative medicine” if it lacks a rational basis. These New Zealanders provide a rational basis. Much gastric and duodenal ulceration appears due to Helicobacter pylori and honey has proven antibacterial activity.

As they note, antibacterial activity of honey varies depending on the bee honey sources. The major antibacterial factor in most honey is hydrogen peroxide, produced in the honey by the action of glucose oxidase which is added to the honey by the bee, but some antibacterial activity is due to floral substances. If honey heals gastritis and ulcers by affecting Helicobacter pylori, it may be the phytochemical content of the honey that is involved rather than the osmolarity or the hydrogen peroxide content of the honey. The authors honestly say, “Honey is a very bland treatment, and in fact can protect the stomach from the damaging action of other substances. However, although manuka honey shows potential for use as a low-cost innocuous agent against Helicobacter pylori, its usefulness clinically is not known. Helicobacter pylori is susceptible to many antibacterial agents in vitro but only a few are effective in vivo.” “Manuka honey, a common floral type in New Zealand, has been ingested in large quantities by a large number of people for a long time without any adverse effects coming to light” (XX8308841). Are not clinical studies in order? We need to know; can honey be significantly or trivially better than the synthetic options offered us. We don’t know! Why? If the FDA were looking for what is best for the American public instead of what’s best for the bottom line of the pits, Big Pharma, perhaps FDA’s biggest patron, we would already know. Good old corporate America. Feeding the rich. Milking the poor. In the land of milk and honey. I think even rich Democrats and Republicans, might like to know if honey might help the ulcers they have (and deserve). Manuka honey, a common floral type in New Zealand, has been ingested in large quantities by a large number of people for a long time without any adverse effects coming to light.

Where one finds honey, one often finds propolis, which has some antiseptic vitrues of its own.

Czech scientists note that propolis, in ethanol, or in DMSO, proved antibacterial against Enterococcus, Escherichia, Listeria, and Staphyloccus, and against the fungi Aspergillus fumigatus, Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypsaeum, and the omnipresent yeast, Candida albicans (X23915150).

Yes, even monofloral bee pollens have their own antiseptic activities, e.g., pollen of Brassica napus subsp. napus > Papaver somniferum > Helianthus annuus, among Slovakian pollens, against Escherichia, Listeria, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus. Staphylococcus was most sensitive to the poppy pollen, Salmonella to the rape and sunflower pollen   (X23305281).

Korean scientists found two acaricides more potent than DEET [(LD50=37.12 ug/cm(-2)]. 2,2,4,4,6,6-Hexamethyl-1,3,5-cyclouetrione LD50=1.21 ug/cm(-2) and Leptospermone LD50=0.07 ug/cm(-2) (X19051215). New Zealand researchers showed that a mouthwash including essential oils of manuka and kanuka was effective against radiation-induced mucositis of the oropharyngeal tract (during treatment for head and neck cancers). Taiwanese scientists studied the essential oils of the aromatic tea tree relatives kanuka and manuka. They reported that they were significantly effective against four bacteria (Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus) and four fungi (Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, Malassezia furfur, Trichosporon mucoides). The manuka oil also reduced canine Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, including MRSA, and biofilm (X23772881).

As early as 2005, German scientists showed that the oil inhibited herpes (HSV1 & HSV2) with IC50 of 0.96 ug/ml and 0.58 ug/ml for inhibiting the viral plaque. Like the oil itself, flavesone and leptospermone, inhibited the virulence of HSV-1. Even after the virus had penetrated the host cells, manuka oil still cut back replication of HSV1 by ~ 41%. Added at non-cytotoxic concentrations 1 h prior to cell infection, plaque formation was reduced by 99.1% and 79.7% for flavesone and leptospermone, respectively (X16395648).

Oregon University researchers reported a clinical trial of IND 61,164, a mouthwash, containing essential oils and extracts from Leptospermum scoparium, Melaleuca alternifolia, Calendula officinalis, and Camellia sinensis. Fifteen subjects completed the Phase I safety study. Seventeen subjects completed the Phase II randomized placebo-controlled study. As I read the abstract, I’d not care to try it myself (X16317652).

COMMON NAMES (MANUKA): Árvore-Chá (Brazil, Por; USN); Broom Teatree (Eng. ,USN): Érica (Brazil, Por.; USN); Falsa-érica (Brazil, Por.; USN); Leptospermo (Brazil, Por.; USN); Manuka (Maori, NZ, USN); Manukamirt (Afrikaan; USN); Manuka Myrtle (Eng., USN); Manuka Teatree (Aust.; Eng., USN); New Zealand Teatree (Eng., S. Afr., USN); Rosenmyrten (Swe.; USN).

ACTIVITIES (MANUKA): Acaricide (1; X19051215); Anthelminthic (1; PR14:623); Antiacetylcholinesterase (1; HAD; JAF45:677); Antiallergic (1; FNF); Antiasthmatic (1; FNF; CJT4:203); AntiEscherichia (1; X24582465); Antiherpetic (1; X16395648) Antiinflammatory (1; XX9720632); AntiMRSA (1; X23772881); Antimucositic (1; X19297246); Antioxidant (1; PR14:623; X11114000); Antiseptic (1; PR14:623; X11114000; X16395648; X24582465); AntiStaphylococcus (1; X24582465); AntiStreptococcus (1; X24582465); Antitussive CJT; Antiulcer X10823671; Antiviral (1; X16395648); Antiyeast (1; X24582465); Anxiolytic (1; FNF); Astringent (1; PR14:623); Bactericide (1; PR14:623; X24582465); Candidicide (1; X24582465); Diuretic (1; AEH219 BIS); Fungicide (1; PR14:623; X11114000; X24582465); Herbicide (1; FNF; X23314892); Immunomodulator (1; X17675558; X22212104); Insectifuge (1; FNF); Irritant (1; CAN); Nematicide (1; SZ44:183); Nephroirritant (1; CAN); Sedative (1; FNF; XX7838881); Spasmolytic (1; PR14:623; XX9720632; X11114000); Spermicide (1; FNF); TNF-alpha-Genic (1; X17675558; X22212104); Tranquilizer (1; XX7838881); Uterocotractant (1; PR14:623); Vulnerary (1; FNF).

INDICATIONS (MANUKA): Anxiety (1; XX7838881); Bacteria (1; FNF; X24582465); Candida (1; X24582465); Cold (f; PR14:623; XX9720632); Cold (f; XX 9720632); Diarrhea (f; XX9720632; Dysuria (f; PR14:623); Escherichia (1; X24582465); Fever (f; PR14:623); Fungus (1; FNF; X24582465); Infection (1; FNF); Inflammation (f1; XX9720632; X24582465); Insomnia (1; XX7838881); MRSA (1; X23772881); Mycosis (1; FNF); Staphylococcus (1; X24582465); Streptococcus (1; X24582465); Worm (1; PR14:623); Yeast (1; X24582465).

DOSAGES (MANUKA): FNFF=!!!. I do not remember seeing dosages for this, but recommend the honey as a food to be consumed as desired. Manuka honey is now sold internationally. Leaves used also to make tea. Manna edible (WIK).

DOWNSIDES (MANUKA): Honey should not be given to infants as it may cause botulism (WebMD). None for the honey (possibly fattening and habit forming, containing the endocannabinoid caryophyllene); essential oils need to be monitored carefully say practicing aromatherapists. Aromatherapists, as with many other essential oils, suggest caution. Variability in manuka and Kanuka essential oils suggests caution in their usage; “oils have not been tested for toxicity” (X11114000).

Not indexed in AHG or AHPA’s Botanical Safety Handbook (2nd Ed., 2013).




CALAMENENE EO XX9933953 X19161682
CARYOPHYLLENE EO XX9933953 X15184010
ELEMENE EO XX9933953 X15184010
FLAVANOIDS PL XX7838874 XX7838881 X17235970
FLAVESONE EO X10096865 X17368492
GRANDIFLORONE LF X10096865 X17368492 X25103692
LEPTOSPERMONE EO X10096865 X17368492 X19051215 X23314892
LINALOL EO X15184010
MONOTERPENES -30,000 EO EO XX9933953
MYRCENE EO X15184010
SELINENE EO XX9933953 X15184010
TRIKETONES 200,000 EO X15184010

3.25.2015 Garden Report ~Helen Lowe Metzman, Garden Director

We had a delayed opening of the garden due to temperatures in the single digits, ice, and snow in late February and early March. Once the snow finally melted, Hillary, Wendy, Porter, and I cut back out last year’s growth and pruned the dormant trees and shrubs. Our rosemary, which lost 90% of its size in the Winter of 2014, once again has 90% dead  remaining branches and leaves with only 10% growth that is not dried and withered. I am not going to lose hope in its survival, but I will not have any expectations either. As I tell my kids, “all suffering comes from expectations.”  Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) replaced the snow in the Alzheimer’s plot; Chinese goldthread (Coptis chinensis), a source of berberine in its root, is blooming in the Vaginitis plot; butterbur (Petasites japonica) displays its flower inflorescence in advance of its mammoth leaves in Headache plot; ramps (Allium tricoccum) leaves are emerging  from maroon sheathes in the yin side of the valley; and Lenton Rose (Helleborus sp.), crocus (Crocus vernus) and Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemale) herald the transition of winter to spring around the garden. The red-shouldered hawks continue as they do – year after year – to scream and bicker overhead and in the woods. I have yet to hear the wood frogs’ quacking call, and wonder if I just missed them. This winter of 2015 was hard in many ways and the awakening of plants brings a fresh joy to the garden.

Wendy, Hillary and Porter prune the Aesculus glabra Buckeye.

Wendy, Hillary and Porter prune the Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

IMG_9210 Goldthread coptis chinensis gfg

Chinese goldthread, (Coptis chinensis) in flower


Butterbur (Petasites japonicus) in flower


Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)


ramps (Allium tricoccum) emerging


ramps (Allium tricoccum) last year’s seed head

IMG_9245 lenten rose helleborus niger

Lenten Rose (Helleborus sp.) flowers beginning to open


Crocus vernus in flower

IMG_6869 red shouldeered hawk

Red-shouldered hawk watching at the GFG

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EBOLAPHOBIA by James A. Duke

 Viriphobia Goes Viral

eeeeeek! Ebola, Encephalomyocarditis, Enterovirus, Epstein Barr Virus, Equine-Rhinopneumonitis, all evidently evolving quicker than we do.

We taxpayers deserve to know, now, before they fast-track some moneymaking poison that may hurt some Ebola and a lot of people

………… vacciniphobic jim duke

My editors here at Pathways dislike my choice of big words I use, sometimes even invent, like the one I used to describe myself as a vacciniphobe, someone who fears vaccines or vaccinations, like the flu shots. I almost goofed and called myself a vacciniaphobe, which would mean someone who fears Vaccinia, one of the many viruses that might confront us again via bioterrorism. [[OPTIONAL: According to Wikipedia on Google, Vaccinia virus belongs to the poxvirus family, which includes smallpox. Vaccinia virus is in the vaccine that eradicated smallpox, making it the first human disease to be eradicated (under the World Health Organization, under the Smallpox Eradication Program). Currently, there are concerns about smallpox being used as an agent for bioterrorism, there is renewed interest in Vaccinia. So I am both vacciniaphobe and vacciniphobe, and slightly ebolaphobe.]]

October 24, 2014, Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institites of Health (NIH), proudly pronounced that nurse Nina Pham was free of Ebola as she was released from the hospital. But I watched her release on the noon news, and Dr. Fauci pronounced her virus-free. He like many Americans seems to be preoccupied with Ebola, and I am rather sure he meant to declare her Ebola-free, not necessarily virus-free. Most of us know that we humans are 90% microbe, and only 10% human. Among those microbes, most are bacteria, but there may well be several fungi (and/or yeast), and probably quite an array of viruses. Probably 90% of us have a trace Epstein-Barr virus, or have antibodies to it. So far, I have not found a source to tell me how much and how many viruses the healthy human houses. I’ll wager I have a half a dozen at least right now, though most do not now have the upper hand, e.g., cold, enterovirus, flu, herpes, hepatitis, rhinovirus, and, from my earlier years, measles, mononucleosis, and mumps, maybe cowpox.

Melatonin used to be as cheap as aspirin. Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center, in San Antonio,Texas, USA, may change that. In the PubMed abstract, they say, “the use of melatonin for the treatment of Ebola virus infection is encouraged” (X25262626). They compare the symptoms of Ebola with those life threatening symptoms of sepsis, which Mrs. Duke suffered three summers back. [[OPTIONAL: They suggest that melatonin can disrupt, endothelial disruption, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and multiple organ hemorrhage, if that means anything to my readers.]]

The good news (in case such positive reports on melatonin cause a shortage) is that many common food plants contain melatonin. The bad news it is that the melatonin is at such low levels that I’d have to eat thrice my weight in rice to get a significant quantity of melatonin. No, while I am an advocate of natural food farmacy, not in the case of melatonin.

In response to the current viriphobia, I have been rooting through our governmentally sponsored NIH PubMed journals search, seeking published articles on viruses. I seek those PubMed citations dealing with herbs or phytochemicals that might help, significantly or trivially, in a viral epidemic. We are not yet in a viral epidemic. We are suffering what I irreligiously call hysterical viriphobia, fanned by the constant headlines in the periodicals and on the TV. I use that politically incorrect word hysterical, amused by the title of one article (in French) which translates, ‘Coexistence of mass hysteria, konzo, and HTLV-1 virus’ (X10816753). The article tells me that ebolaphobia (mass hysteria over ebola) might do more damage here than Ebola itself. Among all those vacuous “words of wisdom” from CDC (like wash your hands; don’t touch doorknobs and elevator buttons, seems like CDC has washed it hands of a natural approach to virus) and the new Ebola Czar, they talk of new synthetics, often GMO, vaccines which in some cases may prove more dangerous than the feared viruses CDC washes their hands of for a despairing public, seeking some magic medicine. You see, CDC and Big Pharma, if not FDA, have concluded there is no money to be made in using natural antiviral (or immune boosting) chemicals in the foods our ancestors have long ingested, like garlic, licorice, onion, persimmons, and turmeric, even honey (all in my Viroxymel).

Jim duke samples his Viroxymel

Jim Duke samples his Viroxymel

Yes, honey! Have you ever heard of an oxymel, defined by the Free Dictionary as a mixture of honey, water, vinegar, and spice, boiled to a syrup. Well, I don’t boil my oxymels, and I use them when the flu is going around. And, I add several diced antiviral spices, chopped up in my honey and vinegar, to make an antiviral oxymel, which I call my Viroxymel. This year, I’m betting most on the antivirals garlic, licorice, onion, persimmon, tea, and turmeric.

Those who sell green tea (Camellia sinensis) may sell a little bit more to ebolaphobics who study this PubMed abstract appearing in the journal Antiviral Research, and cryptically entitled, “HSPA5 is an essential host factor for Ebola virus infection” (X25017472). The abstract did not even define HSPA5! So, I did some more digging and found that HSPA5 is heat shock 70kDa protein 5 (glucose-regulated protein, 78kDa). That doesn’t help you or me much. All we need to know is that HSPA5 is necessary for an ebola infection to survive. All that coming this year from Ft. Dietrick, where I enjoyed serving two of my military years, back in the 1950’s. And then the good news! There is a common compound in a common food with an uncommonly long name, (-)- epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which might lessen the liklihood of ebola infection. Your tea leaves may contain up to 5% or more EGCG. Other NIH PubMed citations tell us that EGCG might help with other viruses Epstein-Barr, flu, herpes, hepatitis B & C, papilloma virus, T-Cell lymphocytic virus. EGCG is the first HSPA5-Inhibitor I ever heard of from plants. Mark my word, eager investigators will soon start churning out research papers on other natural HSPA5-Inhibitors in many of our food plants, herbs, medicinal plants and spices. Big Pharma will seek unnatural synthetic HSPA-5 Inhibitors our genes have never known. Some will be less dangerous than the virus; others will possibly be more dangerous, as science marches onward during these ebolaphobic days. Meanwhile, if you chew enough garlic, your garlic halitosis may discourage Ebola-bearing guests from getting too close. I’m busy compiling a list of those antiviral spices and which viruses they have been reported to help. Some skeptics say there are no antiviral plants. They might selfishly argue that they work by boosting the immune system as their vacccines are also reported to do. Me, I’d rather eat an immune-boosting clove of garlic or enjoy my Viroxymel than take an immune boosting flu vaccination. Mrs. Duke would rather take the flu-shot. I am accumulating hundreds of PubMed citations on antiviral plants from the governmental NIH library. The scientists who wrote these papers often list some herbs and the chemicals reported to help control if not kill the virus (if indeed it is alive to be killed).

Camelia sinensis - tea in flower

Camelia sinensis – tea in flower

Garlic can be hot and that alone might make you thirsty. Garlic is not yet reported to work on Ebola. But it works on a lot of other viruses. Try it. Sweeten your antiviral green tea with honey and spice it up with antiviral spices. That’s my first suggestion for a food farmacy approach, my Viroxymel against Ebola, perhaps a little better than nothing, perhaps better than what Big Pharma will push on the ebolaphobics.

Garlic with underground bulb of cloves beginning to develop after the scape was removed

Allium sativum – Garlic

Many published papers suggest that honey is antiviral, alone or in concert with some of these antiviral spices. In 2014, Japanese scientists studied of Manuka honey (which I have used to cure an ulcer on front of both my ankles). The authors said, in technical terms what translates to, “Manuka honey efficiently inhibited influenza virus replication and, in combination with synthetic pharmaceuticals, zanamivir or oseltamivir, potentiated them nearly 1,000-fold” (X24880005). Beekeepers at the Green Farmacy Garden (GFG) produced some honey here for the first time this year. And I have no reason to believe that our honey is inferior to Manuka, since our bees have a much greater variety of herbs to visit than the comparatively monotonous Manuka forests. A Portuguese study suggested that “Água-mel,” as a honey-based product, was good for simple symptoms of the upper respiratory tract (X23422034). Manuka and clover honeys (0-6% weight) were antiviral against varicella zoster virus EC50 = 4.5%. “Honey is convenient for skin application, is readily available and inexpensive, honey may be an excellent remedy to treat zoster rash in developing countries, where antiviral drugs are expensive or not easily available” (X22822475). Honey potentiated acyclovir in the treatment of herpes simplex keratitis (X22242438). Oseltamivir and maxingshigan-yinqiaosan, alone and in combination, reduced time to fever resolution in patients with H1N1 influenza virus (X21844547). Indian researchers compare topical honey application with acyclovir for recurrent herpes simplex lesions (X16940940). One Saudi scientist concluded that topical honey application is safe and effective in the management of the signs and symptoms of recurrent lesions from labial and genital herpes. The abstract suggested that it was less effective than acyclovir and but had fewer side effects (X15278008). Syrian scientists (1996) concluded that honey solutions were effective against Rubella virus while thyme extracts were not (XX9395668). Burdock (1998) and Rau et al. (1992) add that propolis may have antibiotic, antifungal, antiinflammatory, antitumor, and antiviral properties (XX9651052; XX1423745).

As for spices to go in your spiced aguamel or oxymel or Voroxymel, I mention a few with an evidence-based list of viruses reportedly reduced or inhibited by the spice:

Garlic and Onion: Coxsackie, flu, herpes, respiratory viruses. Fresh garlic extract, rich in thiosulfinates, reportedly reduced herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, parainfluenza virus type 3, vaccinia virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, and human rhinovirus type (XX1470664).

Green Tea: We have tea in the GFG but brought it into the green house in late October. As mentioned above, thus does contain a chemical (EGCG) that can arrest Ebola infections.

Glycyrrhiza glabra - licorice root (left) and stem leaf (right) just harvested from the Green Farmacy Garden

Glycyrrhiza glabra – licorice root (left) and stem leaf (right) just harvested from the Green Farmacy Garden

Licorice: Licorice, in addition to sweetening your tea, or oxymel, or Viroxymel, has a lot of antiviral activities, against, e.g., arboravirus, corona virus, flu, HBV, HCV, HIV, HSV, RSV, Vaccinia, VSV (X17886224).

Persimmon: Late October and my bearing persimmon is bare, leaves all blown off, and there are only a couple fruits still hanging on there. My readers may well know how puckery unripe persimmons can be. That puckery effect is due to the astringent tannins or polyphenols. Astringency might help in some hemorrhagic fevers, if not Ebola. It is the astringency that contributes to the antiviral properties of persimmons against a dozen viruses: adenovirus, coxsackie, feline-calicivirus, H3N2-flu, H5N3-flu, herpes simplex, murine-norovirus, Newcastle, polio, rotavirus, Sendai, and vesicular stomatitis (XX23372851).

Persimon ~ Asimina triloba

Persimmon – Dyospyros virginiana

Turmeric or its major active ingredient curcumin are active against CVB3, FHI, FIPV, Flu, HBV, HCV, Herpes, HIV, Japanese encephalitis, papilloma, parainfluenza; Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Vescicular Stomatitis Virus.

Curcuma longa – turmeric harvest

Since Big Pharma, CDC, and FDA seem to have written off the antiviral chemicals (no money to be made there, they say; they can make more money damaging and even killing people with unnatural statins and vaccines). I will finish off 2014 (maybe even yours truly, too) compulsively compiling on published natural antiviral chemicals in such wholesome herbs as garlic, ginger, green tea, licorice, onion, persimmon, and turmeric, for example. There are many, and they seem to be currently ignored by Big Pharma, CDC, and FDA, as they knowingly or unknowingly push their more dangerous and expensive alternatives, too often unproven vaccines. I’d like to know that CDC and FDA are sure their recommendations are better for the American public than what I suggest herein.

After consulting the NIH PubMed evidence, and without futilely trying to consult Big Pharma, CDC, or FDA, I suspect Viroxymel is better for flu and several other viruses, if not Ebola, than what Big Pharma has to offer and CDC and FDA seem to champion. I don’t know. Neither do BigPharma, CDC or FDA know. We all need and deserve to know.

………..vacciniphobic jim


vacciniphobic jim in his grotto

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Rosemary – not so rosy or merry after the winter of 2014

5.23.2014 After this past winter of relentless temperatures below freezing, we witnessed the majority of our beloved rosemary’s (Rosmarinus officinalis) leaves turn from green to brown. We had, as in previous years, wrapped our huge rosemary in insulation and burlap the week after Thanksgiving to protect this Mediterranean native from the Howard County Maryland wet and cold winters. Our rosemary had made it through all the winters since the inception of the garden in 1998 and even bloomed continuously during the mild winter of 2013. During a recent trip to the National Arboretum a couple weeks ago, I noted all of their rosemary plants looked equally dismal, if not worse off, than ours. Yes, misery loves company. We had a tour of gardeners this week, who informed me all of their rosemary plants had died, and one person even reported every rosemary died at the National Cathedral garden, which is protected from the prevailing winter winds and several to ten degrees warmer in the city’s heat sink than it is here in the garden. I have had many visitors this year also remark that their rosemary plants did not survive. A Mediterranean native plant just can’t survive in a “polar vortex.” Or can it? This past week, our rosemary put out a half dozen flowers and is showing fresh buds on about 10% of the plant.  With the recent warm weather and wishful thinking, I believe our rosemary will survive the Winter of 2014! We are keeping our fingers crossed for a rosemary recovery.

IMG_1961 rosemary 2014 - Version 2
Rosemary (center of photo) in the Alzheimer’s plot tattered from the winter but also showing a bit of new spring growth.
Rosemary is in the Green Farmacy Garden’s Alzheimer’s plot not only for its well known reputation as Shakespeare’s “Herb of Remembrance” but also for its constituents which are “acetylcholine sparring.” Research on the causes of Alzheimer’s is changing and no longer solely favoring the acetylcholine retaining theories that dominated when the garden was conceived, but focusing more on beta amyloid forming plaque in the brain for triggering the disease. Recent research investigated the neuroprotective effects of antioxidants found in rosemary such as Carnosic acid, and although the studies are done on animal models or on cultured cells, the conclusion was that rosemary’s antioxidant properties could be promising.* 

*Cell J. 2011 Spring; 13(1): 39–44. Published online Apr 21, 2011. PMCID: PMC3652539 Neuroprotective Effects of Carnosic Acid in an Experimental Model of Alzheimer’s Disease in Rats

*Carnosic acid suppresses the production of amyloid-β 1-42 by inducing the metalloprotease gene TACE/ADAM17 in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells. Meng P, et al.  Neurosci Res. 2013 Feb;75(2):94-102. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2012.11.007. Epub 2012 Dec 17. PMID 24295810

6.1.2014 –  Rosemary was pruned back 85% of its original size and shows signs of fresh verdant growth.  Other plants suffering a set back in growth from the winter are the fig and pomegranate, with their aerial parts appearing to have died all the way down to surface level. Signs of hope came this week as a solo small white bud appeared at the base of the fig and shiny new growth at ground level for the pomegranate. I’ll probably be cutting down the above ground stems of these plants after I wait for more signs of life to emerge.

The native plant species from temperate regions of Europe, China, and Japan are back on track as expected and the garden is flourishing with unabated growth and vigor…finally!!! Weeds are exploding too. We are in the process of putting out the tropicals such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamon, coffee, tea, mate, peppers etc. into their plots throughout the garden.

Jim is still compiling away and writing new herbal songs just as May slipped into June.  The cold hard winter is the distant past and the time is now to move on but not forget. With a sniff of rosemary, I hope to always remember the winter of 2014 as the year that almost did our beloved plant in – but didn’t.

    (Parody on Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Thru the Night)

A quick glimpse of what’s been growing on at the Green Farmacy Garden:

Tussilago farfara Colt's foot in seed

Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot in seed


Primula vernalis  - Primrose in flower

Primula vernalis – Primrose in flower


Hydrastis canadensis - Goldenseal in flower

Hydrastis canadensis – Goldenseal in flower


Hillary in buttercups

Hillary in buttercups – Ranunculus bulbosus

Iris versicolor - Blue flag Iris

Iris versicolor – Blue flag iris

Symphytum officinale - Comfrey - in bloom

Symphytum officinale – Comfrey in bloom

Hillary and garden - east side looking west

Hillary and garden – east side looking west

Urtica dioica - Stinging nettles

Urtica dioica – Stinging nettles with their “hypodermic needle” stinging hairs.

Matteuccia struthiopteris -ostrich fern

Matteuccia struthiopteris – Ostrich fern

Epimedium sp. Horny Goat weed - yin yang huo

Epimedium sp. – Horny Goat weed – yin yang huo


Epimedium sp. – Horny Goat weed – yin yang huo

Panax trifolius - dwarf ginseng growing wild in the Aphrodisia Plot...

Panax trifolius – Dwarf ginseng growing wild in the Aphrodisia Plot…

Anemone pulsatilla in bloom

Anemone pulsatilla in bloom

Caulophyllum thalictroides - blue cohosh - in bloom

Caulophyllum thalictroides – Blue cohosh  in bloom

garden crew setting the thyme on the floral clock

garden crew setting the thyme right in the floral clock

bamboo sprout

bamboo sprout – eventually made into our trellises

Vicia fava - faba bean flower

Vicia fava – Faba bean flower



Papaver bracteatum - Iranian poppy - after the hail storm

Papaver bracteatum – Iranian poppy after the hail storm

Papaver bracteatum -Iranian poppy

Papaver bracteatum -Iranian poppy

Dioscorea sp. Wild yam gone wild

Dioscorea sp. – Wild yam gone wild

Smilax herbacea - Carrion flower - intertwined with the wild yam.

Smilax herbacea – Carrion flower intertwined with the wild yam.

Baptisia australis - Blue false indigo in bud

Baptisia australis – Blue false indigo in bud


Silybum marianum – Milk thistle in bud/flower

American toad in the stone wall

Bufo americanus – American toad in the stone wall








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