Find Tranquility at the Paracelsus Herb Garden


Test your knowledge of medicinal herbs. Match the following descriptions with the correct herb.

A. St. John’s Wort
B. Dandelion
C. Burdock
D. Monkshood

1. The common name of this plant originates from the French words for “tooth of the lion” which refers to the large, pointed teeth of the leaves. The root of this plant is primarily used for liver and digestive problems and the leaves are thought to have a diuretic action. It can be found throughout North America and is generally considered a common weed.

2. Throughout history, I have been used by hunters to poison arrow tips; and to eliminate “senile persons of no value to the state” on the ancient isle of Ceos. My root is so toxic that 3 milligrams would be sufficient to kill a horse. Best use me only in homeopathic dilution where I am a top remedy for acute ailments that come on suddenly, especially after a chill from the cold wind.

3. This herb is a long-living, wild-growing herb with yellow flowers that has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders and nerve pain. In ancient times, it was used as a sedative, an anti-malarial agent, and was used as a balm for wounds, burns and insect bites. Today, the herb is a popular treatment for mild to moderate depression. It is used to treat anxiety, seasonal affective disorder and sleep disorders. It has been dubbed “Nature’s Prozac”.

4. This herb can be found in a Japanese restaurant wrapped up like sushi or marinated in sweet vinegar, with an earthy flavour. In fact, in Japan it is a common vegetable like the potato in North America. Its roots grow deep into the ground and its purple flowers are surrounded by burrs as sticky as Velcro! It has a long tradition of medicinal use in many cultures.

You can learn a lot about medicinal herbs, their historical significance and current uses, at the Paracelsus Herb Garden at The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) at Leslie St. and Sheppard Ave. E in Toronto. The name honours Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim Paracelsus, a Swiss-born doctor whose practices and teaching were influential throughout the 16th century and beyond. Specifically, he said, “A doctor shall know plants of every kind and understand well for what purpose they are serviceable to him.”

Photo Credit: Janet Patterson

Chris Sowton, a naturopathic doctor, designed the garden. He teaches homeopathic medicine at the college and has particular skills in landscaping and gardening. Information plaques accompany each plant, detailing the plant’s habitat, origin, active constituents and usage through a quiz format. The garden was constructed primarily for CCNM students to identify medicinal herbs studied in class, however the garden is also open to the community as a resource for learning about herbal medicine, and a place of peace, relaxation and communion with nature. There are currently more than 200 plants. Plant uses are specific to different medical traditions including Traditional Western, Traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, Homeopathic, Native American, and modern Phyto-pharmaceutical medicine. Each plant has been carefully chosen for its medicinal qualities.The inner meditation garden contains a wetland feature, waterfall and pond with aquatic plants. A portion of this acts as a biological filter to attract non-plant species to make their home in or near the water, which, in turn strengthens the plants in the ecosystem.The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, established in 1978, offers Canada’s only accredited four-year, full-time professional program in naturopathic medicine. Graduates receive a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) diploma.

The college is home to the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic, where students train under the direction of regulated naturopathic doctors. Interns use safe, non-invasive therapies and gentle techniques.

Find time for reflection and relaxation in your busy day Ñvisit the Paracelsus Herb Garden.

Answers to quiz: 1) B2) D3) A 4) C