The following is a short overview of various herbal extracts which are popular today:
ALFALFA - Alfalfa contains eight essential digestive enzymes and eight essential amino acids of protein. It has been used for a mild blood thinner, and a kidney cleanser. Contains natural fluorides, preventing tooth decay and helps rebuild decaying teeth. Athletes use this herb for endurance and energy.
ANGELICA - This herb is a useful expectorant for cough, bronchitis and pleurisy, especially when they are accompanied by fever, colds or influenza. It has been shown to help ease rheumatic inflammation. As a digestive agent it stimulates appetite and may be used in anorexia nervosa.
ANISE - The volatile oil in Aniseed provide the basis for its internal use to ease griping, intestinal colic and flatulence. It also has an expectorant and anti-spasmodic action and may be used in bronchitis, in tracheitis where there is persistent irritable coughing, and in whooping cough. It has middle estrogen effects, thought to be due to the presents of dianethole and photoanethole, which explains the use of this plant in folk medicine to increase milk secretion, facilitate birth and increase libido. Felted and Lloyd considered it a "stimulant and carminative; used in cases of flatulence, flatulent colic of infants, and to remove Nassau.
ARNICA - This herb should not be taken internally as it is potentially toxic, it provides us with one of the best remedies for external local healing and may be considered a specific when it comes to the treatment of bruises and sprains. Ellingwood considered it specific for "bruised, sore, lacerated and contused muscular structures." In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies: muscular soreness, pain, soreness of the breasts, severe injury, old sores and abscesses.
ASTRAGALUS - Used in ancient times in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The polysaccharides in Astragalus have been shown to intensify phagocytosis of reticulo-endothelial system, stimulate pituitary-adrenal cortical activity and restore depleted red blood cell formation in bone marrow. The conclusion being drawn by most western herbalist's is that Astragalus is an ideal remedy for any one who might be imuno-compromized in any way. This can range from someone who easily catches colds to someone with cancer.
BARBERRY - Barberry is one of the best remedies for correcting liver function and promoting the flow of bile. Priest and Priest tell us that it is a "stimulating hepatic tonic: influences the mucosa generally, removing mucoid accumulations and controlling excess secretion. Improves appetite, digestion and assimilation. Indicated for gouty constitution." They give the following specific indications: Biliary catarrh with constipation and jaundice. Gastritis, biliousness, debility during convalescence, ulcerative stimatitis, eczema of the hands. Felter considered it much like Hydrastis and could be employed for many of the uses of that scare and high-priced drug. Caution: Avoid during pregnancy. A high dose slows down the heart beat and also the respiratory system and could possibly constrict the bronchial tubes.
BASIL - Basil, of course is a splendid spice. When used as a tea, it is a excellent remedy to stop vomiting.
BAYBERRY - Bayberry has many useful properties for the body it improves circulation and tones all the tissues it contacts. Priest and priest give the following specific indications: colds and acute febrile conditions, prolapsed uterus, leucorrhoea, atonic vaginitis, nasal polypi. It has been used in urinary tract infections when used in conjunction with Echinacea and Plantain.
BLACK COHOSH - Is a most valuable herb that has a powerful action as a relaxant and a normalizer of the female reproductive system. It may be used beneficially in cases of painful or delayed menstruation. Ovarian cramps or cramping pain in the womb will be relieved by Black Cohosh. Black Cohosh is good for almost all female problems. It is a natural supplier of estrogen. Black Cohosh is very active in the treatment of rheumatic pains, but also in rheumatoid arthritis, osteo-arthritis, in muscular and neurological pain.
BLACK HAW - Black haw has a very similar use to Cramp Bark, to which it is closely related. It is a powerful relaxant of the uterus and is used for dysmenorrhoea, false labor pains as well as in threatened miscarriage. Its relaxant and sedative actions explain its power in reducing blood pressure in hypertension, which happens through a relaxation of the peripheral blood vessels. it may be used as an anti-spasmodic in the treatment of asthma. KING'S describes this herb: "That is has a decided affinity for the female reproductive organs is well established. Decoctions of the herb were formerly used as a gargle in apthae, as a wash in indolent ulcers, and in various ophthalmic disorders. By its astringency it has proved of value in diarrhea and dysentery. It has been recommended in jaundice, but we have a better agent in Chionanthus. Palpitation of the heart is said to have been relieved by it. Its principal use at the present day is in disorders of the female organs of reproduction. As a uterine tonic it is unquestionably of great utility. In the hyperasthetic, or irritable condition of the uterus incident to highly nervous women, or as the result of overwork, it will be found an admirable agent. In dysmenorrhoea, with deficient menses, uterine colic and in those cases where there are severe lumbar and bearing-down pains, it will prove and efficient herb. It is specifically indicated in cramp-like menstrual pains, pains decidedly expulsive and intermittent in character and in the various painful contractions of the pelvic muscles, so common to disorders of women. Uterine congestion and chronic uterine inflammation are often greatly relieved by Black Haw. It acts promptly in spasmodic dysmenorrhoea, especially with excessive flow.
BLACK WALNUT - Black Walnut Bark, including the kernel and green hull, have been used to expel various kinds of worms by the Asians, as well as by some American Indian tribes. External applications have been known to kill ringworm. The Chinese use it to kill tapeworm with extremely good success. The high tannin content is primarily responsible for its anthelmintic property, although other constituents such as juglandin, juglone and juglandic acid may also be involved
BLADDERWRACK - Bladderwrack has proved most useful in the treatment of underactive thyroid glands and goiter. through the regulation of thyroid function there is an improvement in all the associate symptoms. Where obesity is associated with thyroid trouble, this herb may be very helpful in reducing the excess weight. It has a reputation in helping the relief of rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis, both used internally and as an external application upon inflamed joints. Ellingwood describe the uses of Fucus: "this agent is used for the specific purpose of reducing unhealthy fat in excessive adiposity. If given in doses of from 1/2 to 2 drams, 3 or 4 times daily, it had reduced excessively fat patients in a satisfactory manner without interfering in any way with the normal health functions."
BLESSED THISTLE - Blessed Thistle has been used to increased and enrich the milk in nursing mothers. This herb can be used for female problems when Black Cohosh cannot be tolerated. It increases stomach, small intestine and liver activity, and in this capacity is especially useful for the convalescent elderly.
BLOOD ROOT - Blood root finds its main use in the treatment of bronchitis. Thus the stimulating properties show in its power as an emetic and expectorant, it demonstrates a relaxing action on the bronchial muscles. It thus has a role in the treatment of asthma, croup and also laryngitis. However, by far the most important contribution Bloodroot has to make is in chronic congestive conditions of the lungs including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and bronchiectasis. it may be used as a snuff in the treatment of nasal polypi. It combines well with Horehound and Elecampane for congestive complaints. In pharyngitis it combines well with Red Sage and a pinch of Cayenne.
BLUE COHOSH - An excellent uterine tonic that may be used in any situation where there is a weakness or loss of tone. It may be used at any time during pregnancy if there is a threat of miscarriage. Similarly, because of its anti-spasmodic action, it will ease false labor pains and dysmenorrhoea. However, when labor does ensue, the use of blue Cohosh just before birth will help ensure and easy delivery. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "gently diffusive stimulating relaxant, uterine vaso-dilator and anti-spasmodic in all spastic and irritable states.
BLUE FLAG - this useful remedy has a wide application in the treatment of skin diseases, apparently aiding the skin by working through the liver, the main detoxifying organ of the body. It may be used in skin eruptions such as eczema and psoriasis, it is valuable as part of a wider treatment. It may be used with value where there is constipation associated with liver problems or biliousness. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a " positive alternative for chronic, torbid conditions: influences glandular system, lymphatic, liver and gal ducts, and intestinal glands. Specific for hepatic congestion due to venous or lymphatic stasis. " They give the following specific indication: chronic hepatitis and rheumatic conditions, scrophulous skin conditions, herpes, eczema, psoriasis. Enlarged thyroid gland. Uterine fibroids. Blue flag combines well with Echinacea or Burdock and Yellow Dock.
BLUE VERVAIN - is a valuable and underutilized medicine especially useful for spasmodic nervous disorders. It is indicated for some types of petit mal epilepsy (especially if associated with menses), PMS (irritability & anxiety symptoms), and irritability associated with fevers and flu.
BONESET - one of the best remedies for the relief of the associated symptoms that accompany influenza. It will speedily relieve the aches and pains as well as aid the body in dealing with any fever that is present. Boneset may also be used to help clear the upper respiratory tract of mucous congestion. In the treatment of influenza it may be combined with Yarrow, Elder Flowers, Cayenne or Ginger. With pleurisy root and Elecampane in bronchial conditions.
BUCHU - Actions: Diuretic, urinary antiseptic. Buchu leaves are one of the best diuretics known. Excellent when there is pain with urination, when combined with Echinacea and plantain. For acute and chronic bladder and kidney disorders, the herb Buchu is most helpful.
BUGLEWEED - Actions Diuretic, peripheral vasoconstrictor, astringent, nervine, anti-tussive. Bugleweed is a specific for over-active thyroid glands, especially where the symptoms include tightness of breathing, palpation and shaking. It may safely be used where palpitation occur that are of nervous origin. Bugleweed will aid the weak heart where there is associated build-up of water in the body. Kings Dispensatory: "Bugleweed fills an important place in eclectic therapeutics. Its action is chiefly exhibited on the vascular structures and the sympathetic nervous system. It is a certain sedative, mild narcotic, subastringent and tonic. Its sedative action is most pronounced and most frequently indicated where the vascular action is tumultuous, the velocity of the pulse rapid, with evident want of cardiac power. Its is for this purpose that it is principally employed in advance stages of acute disease with great debility, and in chronic disease with frequent pulse. It improves the circulation and its good influence is extended to all the parts under the control of the vegetative system of nerves. Combinations: Bugleweed may be used with nervines such as Skullcap or Valerian.
BURDOCK BLEND - Action: Alternative, diuretic, bitter. Burdock is a most valuable remedy for the treatment of skin conditions which result in dry and scaly skin. It may be most effective for psoriasis if used over a long period of time. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "general alternative: influences skin, kidneys, mucous and serous membranes, to remove accumulated waste products. It is specific for eruptions on the head, face and neck, and for acute irritable and inflammatory conditions." They give the following specific indications: eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis. Boils, carbuncles, styes, sores. Combinations: For skin problems, combine with Yellow Dock, Red Clover or Cleavers.
BUTCHER'S BROOM - French scientists were the first to reveal that butcher's broom extract possessed vasoconstriction (blood vessel narrowing) and anti-inflammatory properties. Since that time, the extract has become very popular in European medicine as a treatment for venous circulatory disorders (especially for women complaining of a heavy sensation in the legs), as well as hemorrhoidal ailments. The signs and symptoms of both external and internal hemorrhoids. including bleeding, itching, soreness, and swelling, have been successfully treated with repeated application of butcher's broom, over several days or weeks. Circulation disorders of the legs have also been the subject of considerable research activity. Dramatic improvement in both subjective and objective measures is observed within days. The ubiquitous "heaviness in the legs" symptom, commonly reported by mothers and working women, responds to treatment, in most studies, within days to a few weeks. More resistant to permanent alteration, but still capable of cure, are varicose veins, varicose ulcers, and surface veins. Phlebitis, resulting from insufficient circulation, and associated complications ranging from edema to varices, have all yielded to treatment with butcher's broom
CACTUS GRANDIFLORUS - Is indicated for heart disease of nervous or drug origin (coffee, tobacco, etc.) nervous tachycardia, palpitation, feeble and irregular pulse, and shortness of breath with mild exertion.
CALAMUS - In China, Calamus root is considered to have antiarrythmic, hypotensive, vasodilatory, antitussive, antibacterial and expectorant properties. Calamus has been used for lack of mental focus, stomach problems, acidity and an aid to quite tobacco smoking. It has been shown to be of low toxicity in animals and adverse reactions are rare. Though recent studies have revealed the presence of B-asarone, a carcinogen, the American variety is considered superior to the European because it seems to lack this ingredient. The Native Americans would chew the root while running long distances to increase endurance and stamina. Externally it is added to the bath to quiet the nerves and induce a state of tranquility. Tincture of Calamus is useful as a parasiticide when directly and frequently applied to lice and scabies infestations. Calamus does have emmenagogic properties and should be avoided during pregnancy.
CALENDULA - Calendula is one of the best herbs for treating local skin problems. It may be used safely wherever there is and inflammation on the skin, whether due to infection or physical damage. It may be used for any external bleeding or wound, bruising or strains. Combinations: For digestive problems it may be used with Marshmallow Root and American Cranesbill. As an external soothing application it can be used with Slippery Elm and any other relevant remedy. A useful anti-septic lotion will be produced by combining it with Golden Seal and Myrrh.
CALIFORNIA POPPY - has the reputation of being a non-addictive to the Opium poppy, though it is less powerful. It has been used as a sedative and hypnotic for spasmodic remedy is required. The Native Americans used it for colic pains and it may be useful in the treatment of gall-bladder colic.
CASCARA SAGRADA - may be used in chronic constipation as it encourages peristalsis and tones relaxed muscles of the digestive system. Ellingwood considered it to be a bitter tonic for "chronic constipation, He recommends it in the following terms: In prescribing Cascara for the cure of chronic constipation, large doses at the first are undesirable. If a single dose, so large as to produce a cathartic effect be administered, subsequent small doses will prove insufficient to restore tone and the constipation will remain unless the large is constantly repeated. If a dose of from two to ten drops in a proper vehicle be given, three, four or five times daily for many days, even if the constipation does not at first yield, the effects after a few days are usually salutary. There is a normal movement in the morning and the habits of regular evacuation can be soon fixed, as the agent is continued the dose may be slowly decreased until a single drop at each dose is given. Finally, a single small dose morning and night may be continued for a time and then stopped, the bowels continuing their normal action. Combinations: Cascara Sagrada should be combined with carminatives to lessen any colic.
CATNIP - Catnip is one of the traditional cold and flu remedies. It is a useful diaphoretic helpful in any feverish condition, especially acute bronchitis. As carminative with anti-spasmodic properties, Catnip eases any stomach upsets, dyspepsia, flatulence and colic. It is a perfect remedy for the treatment of diarrhea in children. Its sedative action on the nerves adds to its generally relaxing properties. Combinations: May be used with Boneset, Elder, Yarrow or Cayenne in colds.
CAYENNE - Cayenne is the most useful of the systemic stimulants. It stimulates blood flow, strengthening the heart, arteries, capillaries and nerves. A general tonic, it is also specific for both circulatory and digestive system. It may be used in flatulent dyspepsia and colic. If there is insufficient peripheral circulation, leading to cold hands and feet and possibly chilblains, Cayenne may be used, also for debility and for warding off colds. Capsicum meets the debility of young and old, but particularly useful in the elderly, when body-heat is low, vitality depressed and reaction sluggish. Tired, painful muscles, stiffened joints and relaxation of any part are common conditions in the elderly that are, in a measure, rectified by Capsicum.
CELANDINE - fresh herb and root (chelidonium majus) is a cholagogue useful for insufficient bile with clay colored or gray stools and stagnant liver Qi with flank pain. It prevents gall stone formation and is used with Chionanthus to expel biliary calculi. Celandine also has marked anti-viral activity against retrovirus and externally is used for warts.
CELERY SEED - finds their main use in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and gout. They are especially useful in rheumatoid arthritis where there is and associated mental; depression. Their diuretic action is obviously involved in rheumatic conditions, but they are also used as a urinary antiseptic, largely because of the volatile oil apiol. Combinations: In gout they combine well with folic acid and plantain.
CHAMOMILE - The essential oil's in Chamomile are a wonderful blend of many individual oils. In addition to a wonderful aroma, these oil's all have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-microbial activity in the body. When freshly distilled this oil is blue due to the presence of azulene. Some of the other components of the oil include a-bisabolol, chamazulene, farnesene and herniarin. Following much pharmacological research, the a-bisabolol has been created with the ulcer-protective properties of the herb and chamazulene as the main anti-inflammatory. It has been suggested that there is a stimulation of local prostaglandin synthesis, thus strengthening the protective mucosal barrier against ulceration. Azulene imparts the deep blue color to the essential oil. Important flavonoids have been found that include quercimeritin, which is involved in the reduction of capillary fragility. Other relevant constituents are anthemic acid, anthemidine tannin and matricarin. Action: Nervine, anti-spasmodic, carminative, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, bitter, and vulnerary.
CHAPARRAL - has substantial clinical and experimental support as a treatment for skin cancer. In addition, at the Brooks hospital in Boston, a team of scientists found that the antioxidant nature of NDGA (nordihydroquaiaretic acid), the primary constituent of chaparral, significantly inhibited the formation of dental caries (73-74% by one measure, 80-83% by another). This research implies that a good rinsing of the mouth with Chaparral tea a couple of times per day might reduce bacterial or viral damage to teeth.
CHASTE TREE - Action: Uterine Tonic. Indications: Chasteberry has the effect of stimulation and normalizing pituitary gland functions, especially its progesterone function. It may be called an amphoteric remedy, as it can produce apparently opposite effects though in truth it is simply normalizing. The greatest use of Chasteberry lies in normalizing the activity of female sex hormones and it is thus indicated for dysmenorrhoea, premenstrual stress and other disorders related to hormone function. It is especially beneficial during menopausal changes. In a similar way it may be used to aid the body to regain a natural balance after the use of the birth control pill. Here are some quotes from an article On Vitex by Medical Botanist Christopher Hobbs: " In 1930 Dr. Gerhard Madaus conducted some of the first scientific research on the plant and developed a patent medicine from and extract of dried fruits named Agnolyt. Almost all of the studies on Vitex have been done with this preparation. He found it to have a "strong corpus-luteum" effect, which increases progesterone. Scientists think that it regulates the pituitary gland, which detects increased estrogen levels and tells the ovaries to make less of it. Recent findings confirm that Vitex helps restore a normal estrogen-to-progesterone balance. It can not only ease but, with time, actually cure premenstrual syndrome, which has been linked to abnormally high levels of estrogen, especially if symptoms tend to disappear when menstruation begins. Herbalist David Hoffmann reports that the most important use of Vitex in England is for treating menopause symptoms, and that this is the only female health situation in which he uses Vitex by itself. For relieving symptoms such as hot flashes, he claims good results after 2 or 3 months of taking 2 ml of Vitex a day. Several studies indicate Vitex can help control acne in teenagers, both among young women and men. Clinical research shows that Vitex may start working to treat imbalance after 10 days, but for full benefit it should be taken up to 6 months or longer. With PMS, as positive result may be felt by the second menstruation, but permanent improvement may take up to a year or longer. Vitex has no report of even moderate side effects for over 2,000 years
CHICKWEED - has been used for acne, boils, obesity, sand skin problems. Chickweed is good for stopping bleeding and inflammation from lungs, Bowels, and Stomach. Used as a poultice fro Rashes and Sores. High in Vitamin C. Helps liquefy and remove mucous from Respiratory Tract. Helps dissolve fat in the body. May be used as an external scrub for acne.
CLEAVERS - is a very valuable plant, being perhaps the best tonic to the lymphatic system available. As a lymphatic tonic with alternative and diuretic action it may be used safely in a wide range of problems where the lymphatic system is involved. These include swollen glands (lymphadenitis) anywhere in the body, especially in tonsillitis and adenoid trouble. It is helpful in skin conditions, especially the dry kind such as psoriasis. It is helpful in the treatment of cystitis and other urinary conditions where there is pain and may be combined with urinary demulcents for this. There is a long tradition for the use of Cleavers in treatment of ulcers and tumors. This may have its basis in the lymphatic drainage, which helps detoxify tissue. Cleavers also makes an excellent vegetable. Combinations: For the lymphatic system combine with Echinacea or Calendula. For skin conditions combine with Yellow Dock and Burdock. For diuretic purposes it is often used with Buchu and/or Bearberry.
CLOVES - the herb increases circulation, promotes digestion and nutrition, raises the body temperature; stimulates the excretory organs, and stimulates and disinfects the kidneys, skin, liver and bronchial mucous membrane. It is the most powerful of the aromatic and carminative herbs.
COLLINSONIA - fresh root, leaf and flower is indicated primarily for pelvic sand venous congestion such as hemorrhoids, varicose veins, benign prostatic hypertrophy, an chronic laryngitis. It is also used for urinary calculi, diverticulosis, colitis, and chronic heart problems. It combines well with Saw palmetto for benign prostatic hypertrophy.
COMFREY - The impressive wound-healing properties of comfrey are partially due to the presence of allantoin. This chemical stimulates cell proliferation and so augments wound-healing both inside and out. The addition of much demulcent mucilage makes Comfrey a powerful healing agent in gastric and duodenal ulcers, hiatus hernias and ulcerative colitis. Its astringency will help hemorrhages wherever they occur. Comfrey may be used externally to speed wound-healing and guard against scar tissue development incorrectly. Care should be taken with very deep wounds, however, as the external application of Comfrey can lead to tissue forming over the wound before it is healed deeper down, possibly leaking to abscesses. Combinations: For gastric ulcers and inflammations it combines with Marshmallow and meadowsweet. For chest and bronchial troubles use it with Coltsfoot, White Horehound or Elecampane. For wound healing use with Calendula.
CORN SILK - As a soothing diuretic, Corn Silk is helpful in any irritation of the urinary system. It is used for renal problems in children and as a urinary demulcent combined with other herbs in the treatment of cystitis, urethritis, prostatitis, and the like. Ellingwood suggests Corn Silk in the following conditions: catarrhal cystitis, lithaemia (stones) bladder irritation, gonorrhea, all catarrhal conditions of the urinary passages, dropsies due to heart disease, edema. Combinations: With Couchgrass, Bearberry, Buchu or Yarrow in the treatment of cystitis.
CRAMP BARK - shows by its name the richly deserved reputation it has as a relaxer of muscular tension and spasm. It has two main areas of use. Firstly in muscular cramps and secondly in ovarian and uterine muscle problems. Cramp Bark will relax the uterus and so relieve painful cramps associated with periods (dysmenorrhoea). In a similar way it may be used to protect from threatened miscarriage. Its astringent action gives it a roll in the treatment of excessive blood loss in periods and especially bleeding associated with the menopause. Combinations: for the relief of cramp it may be combined with Prickly Ash and Wild Yam. For uterine and ovarian pains or threatened miscarriage it may be used with Black Haw and Valerian.
CULVER'S ROOT - Culver's root is an old-time American doctors' remedy for liver congestion with accompanying constipation. Thus it is to be considered when compounding a formula for the liver, gallbladder, to treat constipation, colitis, gallstones and hepatitis. Culver's Root is used for liver disorders and constipation.
DAMIANA - Action: Nerve tonic, anti-depressant, urinary antiseptic, laxative. Damiana is and excellent strengthening remedy for the nervous system. It has and ancient reputation as an aphrodisiac. Whilst this may or may not be true, it has a definite tonic action on the central nervous and the hormonal system. As a useful anti-depressant, Damiana is considered to be a specific in cases of anxiety and depression where there is a sexual factor. It may be used to strengthen the male sexual system. Combinations: As a nerve tonic it is often used with Oats. Depending on the situation it combines well with Kola or Skullcap.
DANDELION - Dandelion leaf is a very powerful diuretic, its action comparable to that of the drug 'Frusemide'. The usual effect of a drug stimulating the kidney function is a loss of vital potassium from the body, which aggravates any cardio-vascular problem present. With Dandelion, however, we have one of the best natural sources of potassium. It thus makes an ideally balanced diuretic that may be used safely wherever such an action is needed, including in cases of water retention due to heart problems. As a hepatic & cholagogue Dandelion root may be used in inflammation and congestion of liver and gall-bladder. It is a specific in cases of congestive jaundice. Combinations: For liver and gall-bladder problems it may be used with Barberry or Balmony. For water retention it may be used with Couchgrass or Yarrow.
DEVIL'S CLAW - This valuable plant has been found effective in the treatment of some cases of arthritis. This action appears to be due to the presents of a glycoside called harpagoside that reduces inflammation in the joints. Unfortunately Devil's claw is not always effective, but it is well worth considering in cases of arthritis where there is inflammation and pain. This plant also aids in liver and gall-bladder complaints. Combinations: With Celery Seed, Bogbean or Meadowsweet in the treatment of arthritis.
ECHINACEA - Action: Anti-microbial, immunomodulator, anti-catarrhal, alterative. Echinacea is one of the primary remedies for helping the body rid itself of microbial infections. It is often effective against both bacterial and viral attacks, and maybe used in conditions such as boils, septicaemia and similar infections. In conjunction with other herbs it may be used for any infection anywhere in the body. For example in combination with yarrow or Bearberry it will effectively stop cystitis. It is especially useful for infections of the upper respiratory tract such as laryngitis, tonsillitis and for catarrhal conditions of the nose and sinus. In general it may be used widely and safely. The tincture or decoction may be used as a mouthwash in the treatment of pyorrhea and gingivitis. It may be used as an external lotion to help septic sores and cuts. Much research is focusing upon this plant, providing important insight into its activity and potential uses. Glycosides from the roots have mild activity against Streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus. Echinacoside was the most active with about 6 mg being equivalent to one unit of penicillin. The tincture was, able to reduce both the rate of growth and the rate of reproduction of Trichomonas vaginalis, and was found to be effective in halting the recurrence of Candida albicans infection. It seems to prevent infection and repair tissue damaged by infection, partially through inhibiting the activity of the enzyme hyaluronidase.
ELDER - The elder tree is a medicine chest by itself! The leaves are used for bruises, sprains, wounds and chilblains. It has been reported that Elder Leaves may be useful in an ointment for tumors. Elder Flowers are ideal for the treatment of colds and influenza. They are indicated in any catarrhal inflammation of the upper respiratory tract such as hayfever and sinusitis. Catarrhal deafness responds well to Elder Flowers. Elder Berries have similar properties to the Flowers with the addition of their usefulness in Rheumatism. Combinations: For colds and fevers it may be used with Peppermint, Yarrow or Hyssop. For influenza combine it with Boneset. For Catarrhal states mix it with Golden Rod.
ELECAMPANE - Actions: Expectorant, anti-tussive, diaphoretic, hepatic, anti-microbial. Elecampane is a specific for irritating bronchial coughs, especially in children. It may be used wherever there is copious catarrh formed (e.g. in bronchitis or emphysema). This remedy shows the complex and integrated ways in which herbs work. The mucilage has a relaxing effect accompanied by the stimulation of the essential oils. In this way expectoration is accompanied by a soothing action which in this herb is combined with an anti-bacterial effect. It may be used in asthma and bronchitis asthma. Priest & Priest give the following specific indications: Bronchial and gastric catarrh, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, pertussis, emphysematous conditions, chronic cough in the elderly. Elecampane combines well with White Horehound, Coltsfoot, Pleurisy Root, Lungwort and Yarrow for respiratory problems.
EYEBRIGHT - Actions: Anti-catarrhal, astringent, anti-inflammatory. Eyebright is an excellent remedy for the problems of mucous membranes. The combination of anti-inflammatory and astringent properties make it relevant in many conditions Used internally it is a powerful anti-catarrhal and thus may be used in nasal catarrh, sinusitis and other congestive states. It is best known for its use in conditions of the eye, where it is helpful in acute or chronic inflammations, stinging and weeping eyes as well as over-sensitivity to light. Priest & Priest tell us that it is specific for congestive conditions of the eyes with profuse lachrymation. They give the following specific indications: Catarrhal blepharitis, rhinitis, sinusitis and conjunctivitis. Hay fever, acute coryza, irritable sneezing and lachrymation. In catarrhal conditions it combines well with Golden Rod, Elder Flower, or Golden Seal. In allergic conditions where the eyes are effected it may be combined with Ephedra. As an eye lotion it mixes with Golden Seal and distilled Witch Hazel.
FENNEL - Actions: Carminative, aromatic, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, galactogogue, hepatic Fennel is an excellent stomach and intestinal remedy which relieves flatulence and colic whilst also stimulating the digestion and appetite. It is similar to Aniseed in its calming effect on bronchitis and coughs. It may be used to flavor cough remedies. Fennel will increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers. To ease flatulence, take a cup half an hour before meals. Tincture: Take 1-2ml of the tincture 3 times a day.
FENUGREEK - Actions: Expectorant, demulcent, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, tonic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, hypotensive. Fenugreek is a herb that has an ancient history. It was rarely used in Britain during the hayday of herbal medicine due to difficulties in obtaining the spice. Since becoming easily available it has often been overlooked because herbal tradition rarely mentioned it. For a comprehensive discussion of Fenugreek you must refer to an herbal or materia medica of Ayurvedic medicine. Its limited use in Britain demonstrates its value as a vulnerary, healing and reducing inflammation in conditions such as wounds, boils, sores, fistulas and tumors. It can be taken to help bronchitis and gargled to ease sore throats. Its bitterness explains its role in soothing disturbed digestion. It is a strong stimulator of milk production in mothers, for which it is perfectly safe, and has a reputation of stimulating development of the breasts.
FEVERFEW - Actions: Anti-inflammatory, vasodilator, bitter, emmenagogue. Feverfew has regained its deserved reputation as a primary remedy in the treatment of migraine headaches, especially those that are relieved by applying warmth to the head. Dizziness and tinnitus may be eased, especially if it is used in conjunction with other remedies. Painful periods and sluggish menstrual flow will be relieved by Feverfew. It is the only herb used in European Phytotherapy known to be specific for the treatment of migraine. Caution: Feverfew should not be used during pregnancy because of the stimulant action on the womb. The fresh leaves may cause mouth ulcers in sensitive people.
FRINGETREE BARK - Phyllyrin, a lignin glycoside, Chionanthin. Hepatic, cholagogue, alternative, diuretic, tonic, antemetic, laxative. This valuable herb may be safely used in all liver problems, especially when they have developed into jaundice. It is a specific for the treatment of gall-bladder inflammation and a valuable part of treating gall-stones. It is a remedy that will aid the liver in general and as such it is often used as part of a wider treatment for the whole body. Through its action of releasing bile it acts as a gentle and effective laxative. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "relaxing and stimulating hepatic and alternative: stimulates the discharge of bile, promotes digestion of fats. Corrects excessive discharge of mucus into the gastro-intestinal tract". They give the following specific indications: Duodenal catarrh, hepatic torpor, catarrhal jaundice, gall stones. Alimentary glycosuria. Pancreatic disease & glandular disorders. Chronic disease of liver/spleen.
GARLIC - Actions: Anti-microbial, diaphoretic, cholagogue, hypotensive, anti-spasmodic. Garlic is among the few herbs that have a universal usage and recognition. Its daily usage aids and supports the body in ways that no other herb does. It is one of the most effective anti-microbial plants available, acting on bacteria, viruses and alimentary parasites. The volatile oil is an effective agent and as it is largely excreted via the lungs, it is used in infections of this system such as chronic bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, recurrent colds and influenza. In general it may be used as a preventative for most infectious conditions, digestive as well as respiratory. For the digestive tract it has been found that Garlic will support the development of the natural bacterial flora whilst killing pathogenic organisms. In addition to these amazing properties, Garlic have an international reputation for lowering both blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels and generally improving the health of the cardio-vascular system. Combinations: For microbial infections it will combine well with Echinacea.
GENTIAN - Bitter sialagogue, hepatic, cholagogue, anti-microbial, anthelmintic, emmenagogue. Gentian is an excellent bitter which, as do all bitters, stimulate the appetite and digestion via a general stimulation of the digestive juices. Thus it promotes the production of saliva, gastric juices and bile. It also accelerates the emptying of the stomach. It is indicated wherever there is a lack of appetite and sluggishness of the digestive system. It may thus be used where the symptoms of. sluggish digestion appear, these being dyspepsia and flatulence. Through the stimulation of the digestion it has a generally fortifying effect. Priest & Priest tell us that it is an intense, bitter, stimulating tonic: influences digestive organs, mucous membranes and the portal circulation. Indicated for atonic and sub-acid states: slowly promotes peristalsis and facilitates assimilation". They give the following specific indications: Languid conditions & general debility, anorexia, alimentary insufficiency. Portal congestion, biliousness and jaundice.
GINGER - Ginger may be used as a stimulant of the peripheral circulation in cases of bad circulation, chilblains and cramps. In feverish conditions, Ginger acts as a useful diaphoretic, promoting perspiration. As a gargle it may be effective in the relief of sore throats. Externally it is the base of many fibrositis and muscle sprain treatments. Ginger has been used world-wide as an aromatic carminative and pungent appetite stimulant. In India, and in other countries with hot and humid climates, ginger is eaten daily and is a well-known remedy for digestion problems. Its wide-spread use is not only due to flavor, but to the anti-oxidant and anti-microbial effects, necessary for preservation of food, essential in such climates. Ellingwood describes this herb thus: "This agent is mentioned in but few therapeutic works, although it occupies an important place, and should not be neglected. It is a profound and immediate stimulant, an active diaphoretic, an anodyne in gastric and intestinal pain, and a sedative to an irritated and overwrought system when there is extreme exhaustion".
GINKGO - Anti-inflammatory, vasodilatory, relaxant, digestive bitter, uterine stimulant. Traditionally known as an anti-microbial & anti-tubercular agent, new research has shown a profound activity on brain function and cerebral circulation. Clinically it is proving effective in a range of vascular disorders. Ginkgo has been suggested in the following conditions: vertigo, tinnitus, inner ear disturbances including partial deafness, impairment of memory and ability to concentrate, diminished intellectual capacity and alertness as a result of insufficient circulation, anxiety, depression, neurological disorders, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, complications of stroke and skull injuries, diminished sight and hearing ability due to vascular insufficiency, intermittent claudication as a result of arterial obstruction, a sensitivity to cold and pallor in the toes due to peripheral circulatory insufficiency, Raynaud's disease, cerebral vascular and nutritional insufficiency, hormonal and neural based disorders as well as angiopathic trophic disorders, arterial circulatory disturbances due to aging, diabetes and nicotine abuse, sclerosis of cerebral arteries with and without mental manifestations, danger of arteriosclerotic angiopathy of lower limbs, diabetic tissue damage with gangrene, chronic arterial obliteration, circulatory disorders of the skin, as well as ulcerations hormonal and neural based disorders as well as angiopathic trophic disorders caused by ischaemia. Ginkgo is becoming available in a number of different forms.
GOLDENROD - Actions: Anti-catarrhal, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, astringent, diaphoretic, carminative, diuretic. Goldenrod is perhaps the first plant to think of for upper respiratory catarrh, whether acute or chronic. It may be used in combination with other herbs in the treatment of influenza. The carminative properties reveal a role in the treatment of flatulent dyspepsia. As an anti-inflammatory urinary antiseptic, Goldenrod may be used in cystitis, urethritis and the like. It can be used to promote the healing of wounds. As a gargle it can be used in laryngitis and pharyngitis. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "stimulating and slightly astringent tonic antiseptic to the mucous membranes. Specific for putrescent conditions. Suitable for bronchial disease in the elderly. Promotes renal excretion of fluid where micturation is scanty." They give the following specific indications: influenza, repeated colds, catarrhal bronchitis with purulent expectoration, putrescent tonsillitis, naso-pharyngeal catarrh with sneezing and excessive mucus. Combinations: For upper respiratory catarrh it may be used with Eyebright, Elder, Echinacea and Wild Indigo.
GOLDENSEAL - Actions: Bitter, hepatic, alterative, anti-catarrhal, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, astringent, laxative, expectorant, emmenagogue, oxytocic. One of our most useful remedies owing much of its value to the tonic effects it has on the mucous membranes of the body. This is why it is of such help in all digestive problems, from peptic ulcers to colitis. Its bitter stimulation helps in loss of appetite, and the alkaloids it contains stimulate bile production and secretion. All catarrhal conditions improve with Goldenseal, especially sinus ones. The anti-microbial properties appear to be due to alkaloids present. As an example of research that has been done on plant constituents we shall consider berberine. Berberine, found in a number of other herbs as well, has antibiotic, immuno-stimulatory, antispasmodic, sedative, hypotensive, uterotonic, cholerectic & carminative activity. Its demonstrable pharmacological activities strongly contribute to the therapeutic use of Hydrastis. Berberine has marked antimicrobial activity, and whilst not in the same league as antibiotics, it has a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. In vitro antimicrobial effects have been demonstrated against bacteria, protozoa, and fungi.
GRAVEL ROOT - Actions: Diuretic, anti-lithic, anti-rheumatic. Gravel Root is used primarily for kidney stones or gravel. In urinary infections such as cystitis and urethritis it may be used with benefit. Ellingwood considered it to have the following symptomatology: "Irritation of the bladder in women from displacement and chronic inflammation of the uterus; and suppression of urine, partial or complete, during or after pregnancy." He recommends in following conditions: dropsy, strangury, gravel, haematuria, disease of the kidney and bladder from an excess of uric acid, chronic endometriosis, leucorrhoea, chronic uterine disease, threatened abortion, ovarian and uterine atony, dysmenorrhoea, dysuria, constant desire to urinate, intermittent fever, severe bone pains. For kidney stones or gravel it combines well with Stone Root, Parsley Piert, Pellitory of the Wall or Hydrangea.
GRINDELIA - Actions: Anti-spasmodic, expectorant, hypotensive. Grindelia acts to relax smooth muscles and heart muscles. This helps to explain its use in the treatment of asthmatic and bronchial conditions, especially where these are associated with a rapid heart beat and nervous response. It may be used in asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough and upper respiratory catarrh. Because of the relaxing effect on the heart and pulse rate, there may be a reduction in blood pressure. Externally the lotion is used in the dermatitis caused by poison ivy. Ellingwood considered it specific for "asthmatic breathing". In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies: bronchial coughs, irregular heart beat associated with chronic coughs, hay fever. Combinations: In the treatment of asthmatic conditions it may be used with Lobelia and Pillbearing Spurge.
HAWTHORNE - Flowers richest source, leaves and berries can also be used. Actions: Cardio-tonic, diuretic, astringent, hypotensive. Crataegus can be considered a specific remedy in most cardio-vascular disease. A tonic in the true sense. The therapeutic benefits are only gained when a whole plant preparation is used. When the isolated constituents were tested separately in the laboratory, their individual effects were insignificant, whilst the whole plant has unique and valuable properties. Herbal synergy again! A multicentre double blind clinical trial done in 1981 demonstrated marked improvement of heart function in patients with reduced cardiac output. Following a four year study commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Health, Crataegus has gained full recognition as a heart remedy in Europe. The monograph concludes that the herb has these properties: It is positively inotropic, it is positively chronotropic & dromotropic, it is negatively bathmotropic, it increases coronary & myocardial circulation, and its applications are: loss of cardiac function, subjective feelings of congestion and 'oppression' in the heart region, the ageing heart that does not warrant the use of Digitalis mild bradycardiac arrhythmias. No contra indications or side effects were noted. Mode of action: It dilates the coronary arteries, relieving cardiac hypoxemia, thus reducing the likelihood of anginal attacks and relieves symptoms. The herb thus directly effects the cells of the cardiac muscle, enhancing both activity and nutrition. It is quite different in activity to the cardiac glycoside containing remedies. They impact the contractile fibers, whilst Crataegus is involved in the availability and utilization of energy. This facilitates a gentle but long term, sustained effect on degenerative, age-related changes in the myocardium. It does not produce rapid results but they are persistent once achieved. Normalization of cardiac arrhythmias. Mainly extra systoles and tachycardia. Indications: Cardio-vascular degenerative disease. Myocardial problems, coronary artery disease and associated conditions. Angina pectoris and similar symptoms will be eased and prevented. Where no disease state exists but a loss function is happening because of old age. No toxicity, accumulation or habituation occurs, thus it may be used long term, achieving result entirely safely, especially in the elderly. Post infarction recovery. Essential hypertension. Used in conjunction with hypotensives, Crataegus will maintain the heart in a healthy condition, preventing the development of coronary disease. Heart weakness following infectious disease such as pneumonia or diphtheria. Cardiac arrhythmias.
HOPS - Actions: Sedative, hypnotic, antimicrobial, anti-spasmodic, astringent. Hops is a remedy that has a marked relaxing effect upon the central nervous system. It is used extensively for the treatment of Insomnia. It will ease tension and anxiety, and may be used where this tension leads to restlessness, headache and possibly indigestion. As an astringent with these relaxing properties it can be used in conditions such as mucous colitis. It should, however, be avoided where there is a marked degree of depression as this may be accentuated. Externally the antiseptic action is utilized for the treatment of ulcers. Caution: Do not use in cases with marked depression. Ellingwood considered it specific for "marked cases of nerve irritation and wakefulness where anxiety and worry are the cause." He recommends it for the following pathologies: hysteria, insomnia, acute local inflammations, facial neuralgia, delirium tremens, sexual excitement. Combinations: For insomnia it can be combined with Valerian and Passion Flower.
HOREHOUND - Horehound is a valuable plant in the treatment of bronchitis where there is a non-productive cough. It combines the action of relaxing the smooth muscles of the bronchus whilst promoting mucus production and thus expectoration. It is used with benefit in the treatment of whooping cough. The bitter action stimulates the flow and secretion of bile from the gall-bladder, aiding digestion. Horehound is used externally to promote the healing of wounds. Priest & Priest: "gently diffusive tonic expectorant: relieves hyperemia, congestion, decreases discharge where secretion is too free." They give the following indications: Colds, bronchitis, catarrh; asthma with moist expectoration, aphonia and dyspnoea. Catarrhal dyspepsia. Depending upon the specific indications it combines well with Coltsfoot, Lobelia, Elecampane, Wild Cherry Bark and Mullein.
HORSE CHESTNUT - Do not confuse with its North American relative Aesculus glabra, Buckeye. Actions: Astringent, anti-inflammatory. The unique actions of Horse Chestnut are on the vessels of the circulatory system. It seems to increase the strength and tone of the veins in particular. It may be used internally to aid the body in the treatment of problems such as phlebitis, inflammation in the veins, varicosity and hemorrhoids. Externally it may be used as a lotion for the same conditions as well as for leg ulcers. Combinations: Other cardiovascular tonics such as Hawthorn, Linden, Ginkgo and Yarrow.
HORSETAIL - Actions: Astringent, diuretic, vulnerary. Horsetail is an excellent astringent for the genito-urinary system, reducing hemorrhage and healing wounds thanks to the high silica content. Whilst it acts as a mild diuretic, its toning and astringent actions make it invaluable in the treatment of incontinence and bed wetting in children. It is considered a specific in cases of inflammation or benign enlargement of the prostate gland. Externally it is a vulnerary. Ellingwood suggests the following uses: dropsy, lithaemia, haematuria, gonorrhea, gleet, irritable bladder, enuresis in children, prostatitis, and the ashes for acid dyspepsia. Horsetail is often combined with Hydrangea and Saw Palmetto in the treatment of prostrate troubles.
HYDRANGEA - Actions: Diuretic, anti-lithic. Hydrangea's greatest use is in the treatment of inflamed or enlarged prostrate glands. It may also be used for urinary stones or gravel associated with infections such as cystitis. Ellingwood gives the following specific symptomatology for this underused remedy: "frequent urination with heat, burning, accompanied with quick, sharp, acute pains in the urethra; partial suppression of urine with general irritation and aching or pain in the back, pain from the passage of renal sand, are direct indications for this agent. I am convinced after a lifetime of experience that it is more specifically, more universally a sedative to pain and distress in kidneys and urinary bladder than any other one remedy." He gives the following indications: acute nephritis, lithaemia, backache due to urinary tract problems, urinary irritation. Combinations: In kidney stones it is often combined with Stone Root, Bearberry and Gravel Root. In prostate problems it combines well with Horsetail and Saw Palmetto.
HYSSOP - Anti-spasmodic, expectorant, diaphoretic, nervine, anti-inflammatory, carminative, hepatic, emmenagogue. Hyssop has an interesting range of uses which are largely attributable to the anti-spasmodic action of the volatile oil. It is used in coughs, bronchitis, and chronic catarrah. Its diaphoretic properties explain its use in the common cold. As a nervine it may be used in anxiety states, hysteria and petit mal (a form of epilepsy). King's Dispensatory considers it a "stimulant, aromatic, carminative and tonic. Principally used in quinsy and other sore throats, as a gargle, combined with sage and alum, in infusion sweetened with honey. The leaves applied to bruises, speedily relieve the pain, and disperse every spot or mark from the affected parts." Depending upon the specific indications it combines well with Coltsfoot, Lobelia, Elecampane, Wild Cherry Bark and Mullein.
JAMAICAN DOGWOOD - Actions: Nervine, anodyne, anti-spasmodic. Jamaican Dogwood is a powerful sedative, used in its West Indian homeland as a fish poison. Whilst not being poisonous to humans, the given dosage level should not be exceeded. It is a powerful remedy for the treatment of painful conditions such as neuralgia and migraine... It can also be used in the relief of ovarian and uterine pain. Its main use is perhaps in insomnia where this is due to nervous tension or pain. For the ease of insomnia it is best combined with Hops & Valerian. For dysmenorrhoea: It may be used with Black Haw.
JUNIPER BERRIES - Actions: Diuretic, anti-microbial, carminative, anti-rheumatic. Juniper Berries make an excellent antiseptic in conditions such as cystitis. The essential oil present is quite stimulating to the kidney nephrons and so this herb should be avoided in kidney disease. The bitter action aids digestion and eases flatulent colic. Externally, it eases pain in the joints or muscles. Caution: Due to its action on the kidneys, Juniper Berries should be avoided in any kidney disease. It should also be avoided in pregnancy.
KOLA - Actions: Stimulant to central nervous systems, anti-depressive, astringent, diuretic. Kola has a marked stimulating effect on the human consciousness. It can be used wherever there is a need for direct stimulation, which is less often than is usually thought. Through regaining proper health and therefore right functioning, the nervous system does not need such help. In the short term it may be used in nervous debility, in states of atony and weakness. It can be viewed as specific in cases of depression associated with weakness and debility. Ellinwood recommends it for the following pathologies: "neurasthenia and hysteria, characterized by great mental despondency, foreboding, brooding, more of a quiet or silent character. Combinations: Kola will go well with Oats, Damiana, and Skullcap.
LAVENDER - Actions: Carminative, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressant, rubefacient, emmenagogue, hypotensive. This beautiful herb has many uses, culinary, cosmetic and medicinal. It is an effective herb for headaches, especially when they are related to stress. Lavender can be quite effective in the clearing of depression, especially when they are related to stress. Lavender can be quite effective in the clearing of depression especially if used in conjunction with other remedies. As a gentle strengthening tonic of the nervous system it may be used in states of nervous debility and exhaustion. It can be used to soothe and promote natural sleep. Externally the oil may be used as a stimulating liniment to help ease the aches and pains of rheumatism. Combinations: For depression it will combine well with Rosemary, Kola or Skullcap.
LIQUORICE - Actions: Expectorant, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, mild laxative. Liquorice is a traditional herbal remedy with an ancient history and world wide usage. Modern research has shown it to have effects upon, amongst other organs, the endocrine system and liver. The triterpenes of Glycyrrhiza are metabolized in the body to molecules that have a similar structure to the adrenal cortex hormones. This is possibly the basis of the herb's anti-inflammatory action. As an anti-hepatotoxic it can be effective in the treatment of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, for which it has been widely used in Japan. Much of the liver orientated research has focused upon the triterpenes glycyrrhizin. This inhibits hepatocyte injury caused by carbon tetrachloride, benzene hexachloride and PCB. Antibody production is enhanced by glycyrrhizin, possibly through the production of interleukin. Glycyrrhizin inhibits the growth of several DNA and RNA viruses, inactivating Herpes simplex virus particles irreversibly. Liquorice is used in allopathic medicine as a treatment for peptic ulceration, a similar use to its herbal use in gastritis and ulcers. It can be used in the relief of abdominal colic. There is a small possibility of effecting electrolyte balance with extended use of large doses of Liquorice. It has an ACTH like effect causing retention of sodium thus rising BP. The whole herb has constituents that counter this but it is best to avoid Liquorice if you have hypertension, kidney disease or during pregnancy.
LINDEN - Actions: Nervine, anti-spasmodic, hypotensive, diaphoretic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue, astringent. Linden is well known as a relaxing remedy for use in nervous tension. It has a reputation as a prophylactic against the development of arteriosclerosis and hypertension. It is considered to be a specific in the treatment of raised blood pressure associated with arteriosclerosis and nervous tension. Its relaxing action combined with a general effect upon the circulatory system give Linden a role in the treatment of some forms of migraine. aphoresis combined with the relaxation explain its value in feverish colds and flu. Combinations: In raised blood pressure it may be used with Hawthorn and European Mistletoe, with Hops in nervous tension and with Elder Flower in the common cold.
LOBELIA - Actions: Anti-asthmatic, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, emetic, nervine. Indications: Lobelia is one of the most useful systemic relaxants available to us. It has a general depressant action on the central and autonomic nervous system and on neuro-muscular action. It may be used in many conditions in combination with other herbs to further their effectiveness if relaxation is needed. Its primary specific use is in bronchitic asthma and bronchitis. An analysis of the action of the alkaloids present reveal apparently paradoxical effects. Lobelia is a powerful respiratory stimulant, whilst isolobelanine is an emetic and respiratory relaxant, which will stimulate catarrhal secretion and expectoration whilst relaxing the muscles of the respiratory system. The overall action is a truly holistic combination of stimulation and relaxation! Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "general systemic relaxant with diffusive stimulation - best where arterial action is strong. Equalizes circulation and relieves vascular tension. Vaso-motor stimulant - increases the activity of vegetative processes. Influences glandular system and respiratory tubuli. Contra-indicated in nervous prostration, shock and paralysis. Of brief continuance in asthenic conditions." They give the following specific indications: Dislocations, trauma and hernias. Spasmodic and membranous coup, pertussis, bronchial asthma, bronchitis and pleurisy. Hepatitis, jaundice, nausea and hepatic congestion. High Blood pressure, intestinal obstruction and neurasthenia. Ellingwood considered it specific for "irritable, spasmodic and oppressed breathing, and in respiratory from exalted nerve force and nerve irritation. It is contra-indicated in general relaxation and in dyspnoea from enlarged or fatty heart, or from hydropericardium, or enfeebled heart, with valvular incompetence. It is specific in threatening spasm with exalted nerve action - a high degree of nerve tension with great restlessness and excitability, flushed face and contracted pupils. It is a prompt emetic in full doses." The high regard that the eclectics held Lobelia in is reflected by his recommendation for the following pathologies: spasmodic asthma, whooping cough, spasmodic croup, membranous croup, infantile convulsions, puerperal eclampsia, epilepsy, tentanus, hysterical paroxysms, hysterical convulsions, puerperal eclampsia, epilepsy, tetanus, hysterical paroxysms, hysterical convulsions, rigid os uteri, diphtheria, tonsillitis, pneumonia. For more discussion of this important plant please refer to pg. 235 - pg. 242 of Ellingwood's American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, and pg. 1199 - 1205 of King's American Dispensatory. Combinations: It will combine well with Cayenne, Grindelia, Pill-bearing Spurge, Sundew and Ephedra in the treatment of asthma.
MA HUANG - Actions: Vasodilator, hypertensive, circulatory stimulant, anti-allergic. Ma Huang has been used in China for at least 5000 years, treating a range of health problems, but especially those of the respiratory system. This ancient medicinal plant was also mentioned in the Hindu Vedas, With the discovery of the alkaloids in Ma Huang, time honored, traditional herbal wisdom has been verified, providing modern medicine with important healing tools. A range of therapeutically active alkaloids are found in Ephedra, sometimes amounting up to 2.0% of the dried herb. The alkaloids were first isolated in 1887 and came into extensive use in the 1930's. Various species of Asian Ephedra are used as a source of the widely used alkaloids ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, mainly Ephedra sinica and E. equisetina from China and E. gerardiana from India. The alkaloids present in Ephedra have apparently opposite effects on the body. The overall action however is one of balance and benefit. A brief review of the pharmacology of these alkaloids might be illuminating. Ephedrine was the first Ma Huang alkaloid to find wide use in western medicine, being hailed as a cure for asthma because of its ability to relax the airways in the lungs. Unfortunately, as is often the way with miracle cures, it soon became clear that this isolated constituent of Ephedra had unacceptable side-effects which dramatically limited it use. The problems related to the way in which ephedrine stimulates the autonomic nervous system causing, amongst other things, elevated blood pressure. When studies were done using the whole plant, only a slight blood pressure elevation was found. This led to the discovery that pseudoephedrine, another one of the alkaloids present, slightly reduces both heart rate and lowers blood pressure, thus avoiding the side-effects that often accompany the use of ephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is an effective bronchodilator, equivalent in strength to ephedrine, but having the advantage of causing less stimulation of the nervous system, and so less vaso-constriction, tachycardia (heart palpitations) and other cardiovascular symptoms. Clinical studies have found insignificant side effects with pseudoephedrine.. The efficacy and safety of pseudoephedrine are recognized by the Food and Drug Administration, who approve its use in over the counter medications as a safe and effective nasal decongestant. The naturally occurring alkaloids have been synthesized in the laboratory, however even though they have the same molecular structure they have different physical properties, the natural form rotating polarized light to the left whilst the synthetic form is optically inactive. In practice the natural form has the advantage of being better tolerated with less impact upon the heart. All of these findings lead to the confirmation of traditional uses for Ephedra sinica as an effective and safe treatment for nasal congestion and sinus pressure whether due to the common cold, allergies or sinusitis. The herb is used with great success in the treatment of asthma and associated conditions due to its power to relieve spasms in the bronchial tubes. It is thus used in bronchial asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough. It also reduces allergic reactions, giving it a role in the treatment of hayfever and other allergies. It may be used in the treatment of low blood pressure and circulatory insufficiency. Combinations: Ephedra sinica is best used in conjunction with herbs that support its effects or help the body deal with the underlying health problem. An example might be with Echinacea, Hydrastis and Glycorrhiza.
MARSHMALLOW - Actions: Demulcent, emollient, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant. Its abundance of mucilage makes Marshmallow an excellent demulcent that is indicated wherever such an action is called for. The roots have been used more for the digestive system whilst the leaves are used more for the urinary system and lungs. All inflammatory conditions of the G-I tract will benefit from its use, e.g. inflammations of the mouth gastritis, peptic ulceration, colitis etc. The leaves help in cystitis, urethritis and urinary gravel as well as bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, irritating coughs. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "soothing demulcent indicated for inflamed and irritated states of mucous membranes. Particularly suitable for the elderly with chronic inflammatory conditions effecting the gastro-urinary tract". They give the following specific indications: acute respiratory disease, gastro-enteritis, peptic ulcer, cystitis, urethritis, inflammation of mouth & throat, inflamed hemorrhoids, inflamed wounds, burns & scalds, bedsores, abscesses, boils, ulcers. Combinations: As one or the most effective and safest demulcents in the materia medica, it may be used in any situation where this action is appropriate.
MEADOWSWEET - Actions: Anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, carminative, antacid, anti-emetic, astringent. Meadowsweet is one of the best digestive remedies available and as such will be indicated in many conditions, if they are approached holistically. It acts to protect and soothe the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, reducing excess acidity and easing nausea. It is used in the treatment of heartburn, hyperacidity, gastritis and peptic ulceration. Its gentle astringency is useful in treating diarrhea in children. The presence of aspirin-like chemicals explains Meadowsweet's action in reducing fever and relieving the pain of rheumatism in muscles and joints. With Marshmallow and Chamomile it will be very soothing for a whole range of digestive problems. For musculo/skeletal conditions consider combining with Black Cohosh, Willow Bark and Celery Seed for its anti-inflammatory effects.
MILK THISTLE - Actions: Hepatic, galactogogue, demulcent, cholagogue. Milk Thistle can be used to increase the secretion and flow of bile from the liver and gall-bladder. Its traditional use as a liver tonic has been supported by research showing that it contains constituents which protect liver cells from chemical damage. It is used in a whole range of liver and gall bladder conditions including hepatitis and cirrhosis. Historically this herb has been used in Europe as a liver tonic and current Phytotherapy indicates its use in a whole range of liver and gall bladder conditions including hepatitis and cirrhosis. A wealth of research done in Germany is revealing exciting data about reversal of toxic liver damage as well as protection from potential hepatotoxic agents. A number of chemical components of herb are now being shown to have this protective effect on liver cells. They are all flavones and flavo-lignins, the best studied being silymarin. Silymarin has been shown to reverse the effects of highly toxic alkaloids, such as phalloidine and amanitine from the Avenging Angel mushroom (Amanita phalloides), as well as protect liver cells from their impact. The pharmacodynamics, site and mechanism of action of silymarin are becoming well understood, providing insights into the metabolic basis of this herb's activity - an activity long known and used by medical herbalists. As its name implies, it promotes milk secretion and is perfectly safe to be used by all breast feeding mothers.
MOTHERWORT - Actions: Nervine, emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, hepatic, cardiac tonic, hypotensive. The names of this plant show its range of uses. Motherwort shows its relevance to menstrual and uterine conditions whilst cardiaca indicates its use in heart and circulation treatments. It is valuable in the stimulation of delayed or suppressed menstruation, especially where there is anxiety or tension involved. It is a useful relaxing tonic for aiding in menopausal changes. It may be useful to ease false labor pains. It is an excellent tonic for the heart, strengthening without straining. It is considered to be a specific in cases of tachycardia (heart palpitations), especially when brought about by anxiety and other such causes. It may be used in all heart conditions that are associated with anxiety and tension. Chinese research referred to in Potters Cyclopedia found that it both reduced blood platelet aggregation and decreased levels of blood lipids. Combinations: May be freely commend in any prescription, especially with Hawthorn.
MYRRH - is an effective anti-microbial agent that has been shown to work in two complementary ways. Primarily it stimulates the production of white blood corpuscles (with their anti-pathogenic action) and secondarily it has a direct anti-microbial effect. Myrrh may be used in a wide range of conditions where an anti-microbial agent is needed. It finds specific use in the treatment of infections in the mouth such as mouth ulcers, gingivitis, phyorrhoea, as well as the catarrhal problems of pharyngitis and sinusitis. Combinations: It will combine well with Echinacea for infections and as a mouth wash for ulcers and similar problems. For external use it should be combined with distilled Witch Hazel.
NETTLE - are one of the most widely applicable plants we have. They strengthen and support the whole body. Throughout Europe they are used as a spring tonic and general detoxifying remedy. In some cases of rheumatism and arthritis they can be astoundingly successful. They are a specific in cases of childhood eczema and beneficial in all the varieties of this condition, especially in nervous eczema. As an astringent they may be used for nose bleeds or to relieve the symptoms wherever there is hemorrhage in the body, for example in uterine hemorrhage. Combinations: Nettles will combine well with Figwort and Burdock in the treatment of eczema.
OAT - is one of the best remedies for "feeding" the nervous system, especially when under stress. It is considered a specific in cases o nervous debility and exhaustion when associated with depression. It may be used with most of the other nervines, both relaxant and stimulatory, to strengthen the whole of the nervous system. It is also used in general debility. The high levels of silicic acid in the straw will explain its use as a remedy for skin conditions, especially in external applications. Combinations: For depression it may be used with Skullcap and Mugwort.
ORGAN MOUNTAIN CRAPE - is similar in action to both Golden Seal and Barberry. It finds its main use in the treatment of chronic and scaly skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. As skin problems of the sort are due to systemic causes within the body, the tonic activity of Organ Crape on the liver and gall-balder may explain its potency. It can be used in stomach and gall-bladder conditions, especially where there is associated nausea and vomiting. As a laxative it may safely be used in chronic constipation. Combinations: For skin problems it will combine well with Burdock Root, Yellow Dock and Cleavers. For gall-bladder problems it may be used with Black Root and Fringe Tree Bark.
PASSION FLOWER - has a depressant effect on C.N.S. activity and is hypotensive; it is used for it's sedative and soothing properties, to lower blood pressure, prevent tachycardia and for insomnia. The alkaloids and flavonoids in Passion Flower have both been reported to have sedative activity in animals. Many of the flavonoids, such as apigenin, are well-known for pharmacological activity, particularly anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory activities. It is the herb of choice for treating intransigent insomnia. Combinations: For insomnia, it will combine well with Valerian, hops and Jamaican Dogwood.
PAU D' ARCO - is the name of a tree found growing in the forests of Brazil. Lapacho is a name given to the same tree, which some believe to grow in more abundance and potency, in Argentina. History records its use by the calaway tribe, descendants of the Incas, for the treatment of cancer and a wide range of other diseases. Its healing power was brought to the attention of the scientific community by Dr. Theodore Meyer and Prats Ruiz of Argentina. According to Dr. Paulo. Martin, a medical researcher for the Brazilian government, "Dr. Meyer learned of purple lapacho from the Callaway, using it on his patients and reporting complete cures for five leukemia victims. In 1960, it's use was taken up by the Municipal Hospital of Santo Andre where medical doctors used a brew of the bark on terminal cancer patients. They reported that within thirty days of treatment using this herb, most of the patients no longer exhibited pain and many found their tumors also gone or greatly diminished. Both herb stores and regular pharmacies in Brazil now sell this bark.
PERIWINKLE - is an excellent all-round astringent that may be used internally or externally. Its main use is in the treatment of excessive menstrual flow, either during the period itself (menorrhagia) or with blood loss between periods (metrorrhagia). Combinations: It will combine well with Cranesbill and Agrimony. For menstrual problems it may be used with Beth Root.
PLANTAIN - Both the Greater Plantain and its close relative Ribwort Plantain have valuable healing properties. It acts as a gentle expectorant whilst also soothing inflamed and sore membranes, making it ideal for coughs and mild bronchitis. Its astringency aids in diarrhea, hemorrhoids and also in cystitis where there is bleeding. Ellingwood describes Plantain thus: "The remedy is of value in the internal treatment of all diseases of the blood. Scrofula, syphilis, specific or non-specific glandular disease and mercurial poisoning. "The older physicians ascribe and active influence to it, in the cure of the bites of venomous serpents, spiders and poisonous insects. A simple but important influence is that exercised in tooth-ache. The juice on a piece of cotton applied to a tooth cavity, or to the sensitive pulp, had immediately controlled intractable cases of toothache. It seems to exercise a sedative influence upon pain in the nerves of the face, an relieves many cases of earache and tic-douloureux. Plantago relives inflammatory infection of the skin, especially if accompanied with burning pain or itching. Old Dr. Smith from southern Illinois applied Plantago in the form of a saturated tincture as a dressing for fresh cuts, wounds, or bruises. He could thus secure healing without the formation of pus. He made his tincture of the entire plant and roots, pounded up in alcohol. he applied one part usually to four of water.
PLEURISY ROOT - Pleurisy Root is effective against respiratory infections where it reduces inflammations and assists expectoration. It can be used in the treatment of bronchitis and other chest condition. The addition of diaphoretic and anti-spasmodic powers will show why it is so highly valued in the treatment of pleurisy and pneumonia.
PRICKLY ASH - may be used in a way that is similar to Cayenne, although it is slower in action. It is used in many chronic problems such as rheumatism and skin diseases. Any sign of poor circulation calls for the use of this herb, such as chilblains, cramp in the leg, varicose veins and varicose ulcers.
RED CLOVER - Priest tell us that it is a "mild, stimulating and relaxing alterative with a special affinity for the throat and salivary glands. Especially indicated for debilitated children with chronic bronchial or throat conditions." They give the following specific indications: Salivary gland congestion. Spasmodic or croupy coughs. Pertussis. Pharyngeal inflammation. Chronic skin eruptions. Combinations: For skin conditions it combines well with Yellow Dock and Nettles.
RASPBERRY - Actions: Astringent, tonic, parturient. Raspberry leaves have a long tradition of use in pregnancy to strength and tone the tissue of the womb, assisting contractions and checking any hemorrhage during labor. As an astringent it may be used in a wide range of cases, including diarrhea, leucorrhoea and other loose conditions. It is valuable in the easing of mouth problems such as mouth ulcers, bleeding gums and inflammations. As a gargle it will help sore throats. Raspberry is also very rich in iron and calcium.
RHUBARB - This root is collected in China and Turkey. Rhizome of Rheum palmatum and other species, not the garden rhubarb. Rhubarb Root has a purgative action for use in the treatment of constipation, but also has an astringent effect following this. It therefore has a truly cleansing action upon the gut, removing debris and then astringing with antiseptic properties as well. Note: Rhubarb Root may color the urine yellow or red. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "mild stimulating tonic to alimentary mucous membrane, liver and gall ducts-removes viscid mucus. Small doses-tonic hepatic. Large doses-cathartic." They give the following specific indications: diarrhea and dysentery, summer diarrhea, functional dyspepsia. Combinations: It should be combined with carminative herbs to relieve any griping that may occur.
ROSEMARY - is a circulatory and nervine stimulant, which in addition to the toning and calming effect on the digestion is used where psychological tension is present. This may show for instance as flatulent dyspepsia, headache or depression associated with debility. Externally it may be used to ease muscular pain, sciatica and neuralgia. It acts as a stimulant to both the hair follicles and circulation in the scalp and thus may be helpful in premature baldness. The oil is most effective here.
RUE - is an herb with an ancient history. The genus name "Ruta" comes from the Greek word "reuo", to set free, showing its reputation as a freer disease. Its main use is the regulation of menstrual periods, where it is used to bring on suppressed menses. The oil of Rue is a powerful abortifacient, therefore the plant is best avoided during pregnancy. The other area of usage is due to the plant's anti-spasmodic action. It may be used to relax smooth muscles, especially in the digestive system where it will ease griping and bowel tension. The easing of spasm gives it a role in the stopping of spasmodic coughs. It also increases peripheral circulation and lowers elevated blood pressure. If the fresh leaf is chewed, it will relieve tension headaches, ease palpitations and other anxiety problems. CAUTION Avoid during pregnancy. Combinations: For use in the regulation of periods it will combine well with False Unicorn Root.
ST. JOHN'S WORT - Action: Anti-inflammatory, astringent, vulnerary, nervine, anti-microbial, anti-depressant. Taken internally, St. john's wort has a sedative and pain reducing effect, which gives it a place in the treatment of neuralgia, anxiety, tension and similar problems. It is especially regarded as an herb to use where there are menopausal changes triggering irritability and anxiety. It is increasingly recommended for the treatment of depression. In addition to neuralgic pain, it will ease fibrositis, sciatica and rheumatic pain. Externally it is a valuable healing and anti-inflammatory remedy. As a lotion it will speed the healing of wounds and bruises, varicose veins and mild burns. The oil is especially useful for the healing of sunburn.
SARSAPARILLA - is a widely applicable alternative. It may be used to aid proper functioning of the body as a whole and in the correction of such diffuse systemic problems as skin and rheumatic conditions. It is particularly useful in scaling skin conditions such as psoriasis, especially where there is much irritation. As part of a wider treatment for chronic rheumatism it should be considered and is especially useful for rheumatoid arthritis. It has been shown that Sarsaparilla contains constituents with properties that aid testosterone activity in the body. Combinations: For psoriasis it will combine well with Burdock, Yellow Dock and Cleavers.
SAW PALMETTO - is a herb that acts to tone and strength the male reproductive system. It may be used with safety where a boost to the male sex hormones is required. It is specific in cases of enlarged prostate glands. It will be of value in infections of the genito-urinary tract: Ellingwood gives the following specific symptomatology: "The direct influence of this agent is exerted upon the entire reproductive apparatus, especially upon the prostate gland of the male. It is demanded in enlarged prostate, with throbbing, aching, dull pain, discharge of prostatic fluid, at times discharge of mucus, also of a yellowish, watery fluid, with weakened sexual power, orchalgia, epididymitis and orchitis, when associated with enlarged prostate. In women, ovarian enlargement, with tenderness and dull aching pains, weakened sexual activity, and small undeveloped mammary glands, are much benefited by its continued use. It is a sedative to all irritable conditions of these organs and is a profound nutritive tonic, operating much like phosphorous. It increases the size and secreting power of the mammary glands where they are abnormally small and inactive. It improves the tone and overcomes irritability of the ovaries, relieving dysmenorrhoea when due to atonicity, It may be given with confidence in wasting of the testes in the early states and the development of varicocele retarded with the growth and nutrition of the testes developed materially by its use.
SHEPHARD'S PURSE - Actions: Astringent, diuretic, anti-inflammatory. This easily recognized plant may be used wherever a gently diuretic is called for, for instance in water retention due to kidney problems. As an astringent it will prove effective in the treatment of diarrhea, wounds, nose bleeds, and other conditions. It has specific use in the stimulation of the menstrual process whilst also being of use in the reduction of excess flow. Priest & Priest tell us that it is "mild relaxing and gently stimulating to the kidneys and urinary tract: relieves atonic and catarrhal conditions, and controls hemorrhages." They give the following specific indications: vesico-renal irritations from atonic states. Enuresis. Passive capillary hemorrhages, functional menorrhagia, bleeding fibroid tumors, metrorrhagia. Congestive leucorrhoea. Internal hemorrhage of lungs and bowels, recurrent epistaxis. Hemorrhoids. Elllingwood recommends it for the following pathologies: Haematuria, passive hemorrhage, chronic menorrhagia, intestinal hemorrhage, gastric hemorrhage, atonic dyspepsia, diarrhea, dysentery, bleeding piles. Externally may be applied to bruised or strained muscles, rheumatic joints. Combinations: Combines will with Agrimony, Cranesbill or Periwinkle.
SKULLCAP - Actions: Nervine tonic, anti-spasmodic, hypotensive. Skullcap is perhaps the most widely relevant nervine available to us in the materia medica. It relaxes states of nervous tension whilst at the same time renewing and revivifying the central nervous system. It has a specific use in the treatment of seizure and hysterical states as well as epilepsy. It may be used in all exhausted or depressed conditions. It can be used with complete safety in the easing of pre-menstrual tension. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "diffusive, stimulating & relaxing nervine - cerebral vasodilator and trophorestorative. Indicated for nervous irritation of the cerebrospinal nervous system". They give the following specific indications: functional nervous exhaustion, post febrile nervous weakness. Chorea, hysteria, agitation and epileptiform convulsions, insomnia, nightmares, restless sleep. Ellingwood considered it specific for "two distinct lines of specific phenomena. Firstly, irritability of the nervous system with restlessness and nervous excitability; inability to sleep without pain; general irritability with insomnia from local causes. The second is where there is nervous disorder, characterized by irregular muscular action, twitching, tremors and restlessness, with or without in coordination. Its soothing influence continues for a protracted period, after the agent is discontinued." In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies; delirium tremens, nervous excitability. Combinations: It combines well with Valerian, Passion Flower, Black Cohosh, etc.
SKUNK CABBAGE - Actions: Anti-spasmodic, diaphoretic, expectorant. Indications: Skunk Cabbage may be used whenever there is a tense or spasmodic condition in the lungs. It will act to relax and ease irritable coughs. It may be used in asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough. As a diaphoretic it will aid the body during fevers. Combinations: For the treatment of asthmatic conditions it may be used with Grindelia, Pillbearing Spurge and Lobelia.
THYME - Actions: Carminative, anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, astringent, anthelmintic. With its high content of volatile oil, Thyme makes a good carminative for use in dyspepsia and sluggish digestion. This oil is also a strongly antiseptic substance, which explains many of Thyme's uses. It can be used externally as a lotion for infected wounds, but also internally for respiratory and digestive infections. It may be used as a gargle in laryngitis and tonsillitis, easing sore throats and soothing irritable coughs. It is an excellent cough remedy, producing expectoration and reducing unnecessary spasm. It may be used in bronchitis, whooping cough and asthma. As a gentle astringent it has found use in childhood diarrhea and bed wetting. Combinations: For asthmatic problems it will combine well with Lobelia and Ephedra, adding its anti-microbial effect. For whooping cough use it with Wild Cherry and Sundew.
VALERIAN - Constituents: A range of unique chemical constituents have been found, but as with all herbal remedies it is a mistake to try to understand the plant from these chemicals alone. The healing gift of Valerian is much more than simply the effects of constituents like valepotriates. The practitioner of herbal medicine can glean much of value from biochemical research that can augment clinical experience but never replace it: Valepotriates - valtrate, didrovaltrate, acevaltrate, isovaleroxy-hydoxydidrovaltrate; Volatile oil - esters: bornyl isovalerianate, bornyl acetate, bornyl formate, eugenyl isovalerate, isoeugenyl isovalerate. Alcohols, eugenol, terpenes, valerianol, a sesquiterpene alcohol; Alkaloids - chatinine, valerine and 2 others similar to skytanthine. The powerful sedative action of valerian is partially due to valepotriates, epoxy-iridoid esters, found in the root. A whole series of valepotriates has been isolated, and their actions have been found to be different, and in part opposite. They do not have simply sedative properties, but a predominately regulatory effect on the autonomic system. One fraction has a suppressant effect, another a stimulant one, so that in combination they have an equalizing effect that has been referred to as amphoteric. Valtrate & didrovaltrate have been to have potent cytotoxic activity, and the former is active against Krebs II ascitic tumors. There is 0.5-1.0% of volatile oil present. The peculiar bouquet of valerian is actually produced by drying. A number of components of the volatile oil in the roots, hydrolyze with time to isovaleric acid. Very little is present in the fresh root, which has a pleasant aroma. The older the dried herb the stronger the smell of isovaleric acid, but not necessarily stronger in effect. This volatile oil has anti-microbial, carminative and relaxing properties. Alkaloids are also present that have blood pressure lowering effects. There may be up to 0.1% in the dried root. Like many other medicinal plants valerian contains a complex of active principles, making analysis difficult. Even detailed and thorough investigation does not reveal a single active constituent in this well-known medicinal plant, highlighting that the therapeutic effect depends on the interaction of the plants constituents as a whole. Actions: Nervine, hypnotic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, hypotensive, emmenagogue. Indications: it has a wide range of specific uses, but its main indications are: anxiety, nervous sleeplessness, and the bodily symptoms of tension such as muscle cramping or indigestion. It may be used safely in situations where tension and anxiety are causing problems. This may manifest in purely psychological and behavioral ways or also with body symptoms. Valerian will help in most cases. For some people it can be an effective mild pain reliever. As one of the best gently and harmless herbal sleeping remedies, it enhances the natural body process of slipping into sleep and making the stresses of the day recede. For people who do not need as much sleep as they once did, it also eases lying awake in bed, ensuring that it becomes a restful and relaxing experience. This is often as re-vivifying as sleep itself, and indeed all that is necessary in more cases than not. The true nature of sleep still remains a mystery. Everybody goes through stages of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a stage where dreaming is associated with minor involuntary muscle jerks and rapid eye movements, indicating that active processes are occurring in the brain. It is important not to suppress the dreams dreamed during this stage. Emotional experiences are processed by the mind in those dreams, and much arising from both the unconscious and daily life is balanced and harmonized. Whilst sleeping pills have a marked impact on REM, Valerian does not interfere with this process as it is not powerful enough to suppress these necessary REM phases. The research into valerian is confirming the traditional experience of the herbalist. In one study Valerian produced a significant decrease in subjectively evaluated sleep scores and an improvement in sleep quality. Improvement was most notable amongst those who considered themselves poor or irregular sleepers and smokers. Dream recall was relatively unaffected by Valerian. When the effect of valerian root on sleep was studied in healthy, young people it reduced perceived sleep latency and the wake time after sleep onset. In other words they experienced an easily and quicker descent into sleep. A combination of Valerian and Humulus was given to people whose sleep was disturbed by heavy traffic noise. Giving the herbs well before retiring, reduced the noise induced disturbance of a number of sleep stage patterns. Much research has centered on its effects upon smooth muscle, demonstrating that it is a powerful and safe muscle relaxant. It can be safely used in muscle cramping, uterine cramps and intestinal colic. Its sedative and anti-spasmodic action can be partially ascribed to the valepotriates and to a lesser extent to the sesquiterpene constituents of the volatile oils. Amongst other effects, Valerian decreases both spontaneous and caffeine-stimulated muscular activity, significantly reduces aggressiveness of animals, and decreases a number of measurable processes in the brain. Italian researchers compared the relaxing properties of Valerian and a number of other plants on the muscles of the digestive tract. Crataegus and Valerian were the best, followed by Passiflora and Matricaria. Especially interesting was the finding that combining all the herbs acted in a synergistic way, being relaxing at low dosage levels. Valerian is used world wide as a relaxing remedy in hypertension and stress related heart problems. There is an effect here beyond simple nerve relaxation, as it contains alkaloids that are mild hypotensives. Such use is recognized by the World Health Organization. They promote research and development of traditional medicine that sees the importance of using whole plants and going beyond the test tube for meaningful results. In WHO sponsored studies in Bulgaria, traditional herbs known for their healing effect in cardiovascular problems were considered. Results of clinical examination of patients using such herbs are impressive. Valerian is one such herb whose use was validated. Others are garlic, geranium, European mistletoe, olive, and hawthorn. Combinations: It is possible to enhance different aspects of valerians effects by combining it with other herbs. For tension and anxiety it will combine well with Scutellaria, whilst for sleep Humulus or Passiflora would be better. In cases of nervous indigestion use it with Matricaria or Lavandula and for muscular cramps with Viburnum opulus or V prunifolia.
WILD CHERRY BARK - Action: Anti-tussive, expectorant, astringent, nervine, anti-spasmodic. Due to its powerful sedative action on the cough reflex, Wild Cherry Bark finds its main use in the treatment of irritating coughs and thus has a role in the treatment of bronchitis and whooping cough. It can be used with other herbs in the control of asthma. It must be remembered, however, that the inhibition of a cough does not equate with the healing of a chest infection, which will still need to be treated. It may also be used as a bitter where digestion is sluggish. The cold infusion of the bark may be helpful as a wash in cases of inflammation of the eyes. Priest & Priest say it is a "mild, soothing, stimulating astringent: tonic expectorant for acute irritable coughs, quiets nervous irritability and relieves arterial excitement. Sedative for conditions of prolonged irritation." They give the following specific indications: chronic bronchitis with debility. Catarrhal dyspepsia, weak digestion in the elderly. Chronic diarrhea, Weak throat, Ophthalmia. Ellingwood recommends it for: chronic coughs, phthisis, palpitations & dyspepsia.
WILD INDIGO - Actions: Anti-microbial, anti-catarrhal. Indications: Wild Indigo is a herb to be considered whenever there is a focused infection. It is especially useful in the treatment of infections and catarrh in the ear, nose and throat. It may be used for laryngitis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis and catarrhal infections of the nose and sinus. Taken both internally and as a mouthwash it will heal mouth ulcers, gingivitis and help in the control of pyorrhea. Systemically it may be helpful in the treatment of enlarged and inflamed lymph glands (lymphadenitis) and also to reduce fevers. Externally an ointment will help infected ulcers and ease sore nipples. A douche of the decoction will help leucorrhoea. Ellingwood has lot to say about this neglected remedy: "The agent has been widely used for many years by our practitioners in the treatment of typhoid conditions, and has established its position as an important remedy. It has an apparent dynamic influence upon the glandular structure of the intestinal canal, directly antagonizing disease influences here and re-enforcing the character of the blood, prevents the destruction of the red corpuscles and carries off waste material. In malignant tonsillitis and diphtheritic laryngitis it has been long used with excellent results. In phagedena with gangrenous tendencies wherever located, it has exercised a markedly curative influence. It is useful in dysentery where there is offensive breath and fetid discharges of a dark prune juice character. In scarlet fever, with its specific indications, it is a useful remedy. Large doses are not necessary, but it should be employed early and the use persisted in. In the treatment of low fevers this agent is said to exercise marked sedative power over the fever. Homeopathic physicians prescribe it to control the fever. There is no doubt that in proportion as the cause of the fever is destroyed, the temperature abates. Any inhibitory influence directly upon the heart and circulation cannot be attributed to it, yet it soothes cerebral excitement to a certain extent, having a beneficial influence upon delirium. "It is advised in all diseases of the glandular system, and in hepatic derangements especially, with symptoms of the character. In the various forms of stomatitis, putrid sore throat and scarlatina; in inflammation of the bowels, where there is a tendency to typhoid conditions, especially ulcerative inflammation of any of the internal organs; in dyspepsia, with great irritability and offensive decomposition of food; in scrofula and in cutaneous infections, the agent should be long continued. In the long protracted and sluggish forms of fevers, with great depression of the vital forces; in ulceration of the nipples or mammary glands, or of the cervix uteri, it is spoken highly of. There is a dynamic influence exercised by Baptisia upon the entire glandular structure of the body, more particularly upon the intestinal glands. This influence directly reinforces the blood in its effort to throw off the disease and restore normal conditions. It is because of this influence that it is of value in typhoid. "Dr. Hainey says that in whatever condition the patient complains of difficult respiration, where the lungs feel compressed, where the patient cannot lie down because of fear of suffocation, if he sleeps, he has found Baptize in small doses every hour positively curative. He got this suggestion from a homeopathist and he has prove it to be reliable. "Others have found typhoid cases with the characteristic symptoms, where the brain seems to be overwhelmed with toxins, where the patient has times where the breathing is rapid or panting, alternated with slow respiration, in which this remedy is very prompt. The condition may also be present in diphtheria, and in the so-called black measles or other highly infectious disorders. "It will thus be seen that the agent is properly classed among the alteratives, as its alterative properties stand first, but its pronounced tonic influence will be quickly observed. It overcomes weariness "that tired feeling," produces a sense of vigor & general improved tone and well-being." Combinations: For the treatment of infections it may be used with Echinacea and Myrrh. For lymphatic problems it can be combined with Cleavers and Poke Root.
WILD YAM - Constituents: Steroidal saponins, based on diosgenin: dioscin, dioscorin, and others. Actions: Anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, hepatic, cholagogue, diaphoretic. Indications: This valuable herb was at one time the sole source of the chemicals that were used as the raw materials for contraceptive hormone manufacture. In herbal medicine Wild Yam is a remedy that can be used to relieve intestinal colic, to soothe diverticulosis, ease dysmenorrhoea and ovarian and uterine pains. It is of great use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, especially the acute phase where there is intense inflammation. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "autonomic nerve relaxant, especially for gastro-intestinal conditions, vegetative neuroses and hyperaesthesiae. Rheumatic syndromes arising from hepatic and intestinal dysfunction." They give the following specific indications: Bilious colic, flatulence, gastro-intestinal irritation. Neuralgic conditions. Dysmenorrhoea, uterine pains. Nervousness. Restlessness and pains of pregnancy. Ellingwood considered it specific for "sudden spasmodic griping pain in the stomach and bowels. It is specific in bilious colic, in the pain of the passing of gall stones, in mild cases, and is valuable in spasmodic colic of any kind." In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies: Neuralgic dysmenorrhoea, ovarian neuralgia, cramp-like pains. Combinations: To relieve intestinal colic it may be combined with Calamus, Chamomile and Ginger. For rheumatoid arthritis it may be used with Black Cohosh.
WILLOW - Actions: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, tonic. Willow is an ancient remedy which has been used in various forms for rheumatism and gout, fevers and aches and pains of all kinds. It is usually considered to be the natural form and origin of the modern aspirin.
WITCH HAZEL - Actions: Astringent, anti-inflammatory. Indications: This herb can be found in most households in the form of distilled Witch Hazel. It is the most applicable and easy to use astringent for common usage. As with all astringents, this herb may be used wherever there has been bleeding, both internally or externally. It is especially useful in the easing of hemorrhoids. It has a deserved reputation in the treatment of bruises and inflamed swellings, also with varicose veins. Witch Hazel will control diarrhea and aid in the easing of dysentery. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "mild, diffusive, cleansing astringent. Passive hemorrhages of pulmonary, gastro-intestinal, and genital organs. Bruised soreness of affected parts, especially from relaxed conditions. Venous congestion, atony or laxity." They give the following specific indications: Diarrhea and dysentery. Protruding, bleeding hemorrhoids. Vulvae bruising after childbirth. Vaginal laxity with tenderness, inflamed sore throat, varicose veins, sore and bloodshot eyes. Combinations: For the easing of hemorrhoids it will combine well with Pilewort.
WOOD BETONY - Actions: Nervine, bitter. Indications: Betony gently tones and strengthens the nervous system whilst also has a relaxing action. If finds uses in nervous debility associated with anxiety and tension, it will ease headaches and neuralgia when they are of nervous origin, but especially those caused by hypertension. Combinations: For the treatment of nervous headache it combines well with Skullcap. In hypertensive headaches use in combination with appropriate hypotensives.
WORMWOOD - Actions: Bitter, carminative, anti-microbial, anthelmintic. Indications: Traditionally, Wormwood has been used in a wide range of conditions, most of which have been vindicated by analysis of the herb. It is primarily used as a bitter and therefore has the effect of stimulating and invigorating the whole of the digestive process. It may be used where there is indigestion, especially when due to a deficient quantity or quality of gastric juice. It is a powerful remedy in the treatment of worm infestations, especially roundworm and pinworm. It may also be used to help the body deal with fever and infections. Due to the general tonic action it will be of benefit in many diverse conditions because it benefits the body in general.
YARROW - Actions: Diaphoretic, hypotensive, astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, anti-microbial, bitter, hepatic. Indications: Yarrow is one of the best diaphoretic herbs and is a standard remedy for aiding the body to deal with fevers. It lowers blood pressure due to a dilation of the peripheral vessels. It stimulates the digestion and tones the blood vessels. As a urinary antiseptic it is indicated in infections such as cystitis. Used externally it will aid in the healing of wounds. It is considered to be a specific in thrombotic conditions associated with hypertension. Combinations: For fevers it will combine well with Elder Flower, Peppermint, Boneset and with Cayenne and Ginger. For raised blood pressure it may be used with Hawthorn, Linden Flowers and European Mistletoe.
YELLOW DOCK - Actions: Alterative, laxative, hepatic, cholagogue, tonic. Indications: Yellow Dock is used extensively in the treatment of chronic skin complaints such as psoriasis. The anthraquinones present have a markedly cathartic action on the bowel, but in this herb they act in a mild way, possibly tempered by the tannin content. Thus it makes a valuable remedy for constipation, working as it does in a much wider way than simply stimulating the gut muscles. It promotes the flow of bile and has that somewhat obscure action of being a "blood cleanser". The action on the gall-bladder gives it a role in the treatment of jaundice when this is due to congestion. Priest and Priest tell us that it is a "general tonic alterative with special influence upon skin eruptions." They give the following specific indications: simple deficiency anemias. Eczema, psoriasis, urticaria, prurigo, itching hemorrhoids. Ellingwood considered that its "alterative properties are underestimated. It is a renal depurant and general alterative of much value when ulceration of mucous surfaces or disease of the skin resulting from impure blood. It acts directly in its restorative influence, purifying the blood, removing morbific material and quickly cures the disease conditions." In addition he recommends it for the following pathologies: ulcerative stomatitis, nursing sore mouth, syphilis, scrofula, cancer, tuberculosis. Combinations: It will combine well with Dandelion, Burdock and Cleavers.