In the eighteenth century, seasoned sailors found that by sucking on lemons they could avoid scurvy, a debilitating disease that often developed during long voyages when fresh fruits and vegetables were scarce. When the lemon’s key nutrient was formally identified in 1928, it was named ascorbic acid for its anti-scurvy, or antiscorbutic, action. Today ascorbic acid is widely known as vitamin C.
Also referred to as “bearberry” in honor of the bears so fond of its bright red or pink berries, uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi) is an evergreen shrub that has long been popular for fighting urinary tract infections. Its leathery green leaves are formulated into teas, tinctures, capsules, and extracts for this purpose.
A common herb found in kitchens and on party platters from Dresden to Detroit, the bright green parsley plant comes in numerous varieties. Different parsleys are distinguished primarily by the appearance of their leaves: Some are curly, others flat, still others divided or featherlike. Overall, the flat-leafed variety (Petroselinum crispum) is the one most commonly used for medicinal purposes.