A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.

The Actions Of Herbs

There have been lots of pharmaceutical studies to evaluate the active elements present in herbs to discover the reason as well as the manner in which they work. A relatively outmoded method is to classify the herbs by exploring the types of health conditions that they can aid in curing. Identifying the actions of the herbs and the manner in which they may be employed together forms the basis of a comprehensive approach.

For example, in a number of instances, the action of herbs is owing to certain chemical or a blend of chemicals present in them - the sedative herb valerian is a perfect example of this. Alternately, the action may also be owing to a multifaceted synergetic interaction between the different elements of the herbs. Nevertheless, the best way to comprehend the actions of the herbs is to consider them as characteristics all together, and to interpret the chemical basis of an herb in the form of a support while prescribing remedies.

In order to comprehend this methodology, we need to consider a few cases in point. For example, the aromatic herb peppermint possesses anti-catarrhal, anti-microbial, diaphoretic (a medication that induces perspiration), carminative (expelling gas from the stomach/ bowel), emmenagogue (a medicine that promotes menstrual discharge), nervine, febrifuge (a medicine that reduces fever) and stimulant properties. In addition, the herb boneset also possesses anti-catarrhal, febrifuge and diaphoretic properties. However, different from peppermint, boneset is a bitter herb possessing emetic, diuretic and tonic attributes. Therefore, if you require an anti-catarrhal herb which also possesses diuretic properties, you should use boneset for your condition. On the other hand, if you require an anti-catarrhal herb, you should use peppermint. Moreover, these two herbs may be used in combination to provide a more extensive result.

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It is obvious that both these herbs have a very important role in treating an assortment of health conditions. Peppermint and boneset are not only useful for specific conditions, but also have a wide range of actions that actually make these two herbs all-inclusive remedies, which they really are. Each of these herbs also has its individual wide range of actions and, hence, it is important that you exercise caution while blending these herbs to deal with an assortment of related health conditions as well as to cure the reason and also the symptoms of these conditions.

A list of herbs and their respective actions is given below. The list has been prepared by putting the actions of the herbs together indicating the most effective representative in every category. However, it needs to be mentioned that the list has been prepared in an alphabetical order and not essentially in the order of their value.

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Herbs possessing alternative attributes work to restore the normal functioning of the body gradually and, at the same time, improve the health as well as vivacity. Once, these herbs were called "blood cleansers".

Bladderwrack Bloodroot Blue Flag Bogbean Burdock Cleavers Echinacea Figwort Fringetree Fumitory Garlic Guaiacum Goldenseal Mountain Grape Nettles Pasque Flower Poke Root Queen's Delight Red Clover Sarsaparilla Sassafras Wild Indigo Yellow Dock.

Analgesic, Anodyne

Analgesic herbs are those which help in alleviating pain and are applied topically on the affected part of the body or taken internally, subject to the condition that is being treated.

Figwort Hops Jamaican Dogwood Lady's Slipper Passion Flower Poppy Skullcap St. John's Wort Valerian.


Herbs that are known as anthelmintics work to eliminate or force out worms from our digestive system. It is very unfortunate that ever since the introduction of the new Medicine Act, several of the most useful anthelmintics are not available anymore, because they have the potential to be toxic when used in excessive dosage. Hence, those herbs are not included in this list.

Aloes Garlic Pomegranate Tansy Thuja Wormwood Rue.


Herbs that are antibilious assist the body in getting rid of surplus bile and, thereby, they can be of help in treating conditions like jaundice and those related to the bile.

Balmony Barberry Dandelion Fringetree Goldenseal Mugwort Vervain Wild Yam Wormwood.


Herbs possessing anti-catarrhal properties aid the body in getting rid of excessive accumulation of catarrhal build-up (mucus membrane inflammation occurring together with extreme secretions), irrespective of whether it occurs in the sinus region or any other part of the body.

Bearberry Boneset Cayenne Coltsfoot Cranesbill American Echinacea Elder Elecampane Eyebright Garlic Goldenseal Goldenrod Hyssop Iceland Moss Irish Moss Marshmallow Mullein Peppermint Sage Thyme Wild Indigo Yarrow.


The anti-emetic herbs possess the aptitude to lessen the nauseated feeling and, at the same time, aid in providing relief from vomiting or putting off vomiting.

Balm Black Horehound Cayenne Cloves Dill Fennel Lavender Meadowsweet Peach Leaves.


Herbs possessing anti-inflammatory attributes are those that aid the body in fighting inflammations. All other herbs that are listed in the demulcent, emollient and vulnerary categories also act in this way quite frequently, particularly when they are applied topically on the affected body part.

Black Willow Bogbean Chamomile Devil's Claw Marigold St. John's Wort White Poplar Witch Hazel.


Herbs that are listed under anti-lithic work to put off the development of gravel or stones in the urinary system and may also aid the body in getting rid of them.

Bearberry Buchu Corn Silk Couchgrass Gravel Root Hydrangea Pellitory of the Wall Parsley Sea Holly Stone Root Wild Carrot.


Herbs possessing anti-microbial properties are able to assist the body in destroying disease-bearing microorganisms or protecting the body from their invasion.

Aniseed Balsam of Peru Bearberry Caraway Oil Cayenne Clove Coriander Echinacea Elecampane Eucalyptus Garlic Gentian Juniper Marigold Marjoram Myrrh Olive Peppermint Plantain Rosemary Rue Sage Southernwood Thyme Wild Indigo Wormwood.


Anti-spasmodic herbs are those that have the aptitude to put off or alleviate cramps or spasms in the body.

Black Haw Black Cohosh Chamomile Cramp Bark Eucalyptus Lady's Slipper Lime Blossom Lobelia Mistletoe Motherwort Pasque Flower Skullcap Skunk Cabbage Thyme Valerian Vervain Wild Lettuce Wild Yam.


Herbs that are known as aperients work as extremely mild purgatives.

See 'Laxatives'.


All herbs that are aromatic possess a potent and mostly pleasing smell, having the ability to invigorate the digestive system. Aromatic herbs are used to append the perfume as well as flavour of other medications.

Aniseed Chinese Angelica Balm Basil Caraway Cardamon Celery Chamomile Cinnamon Cloves Coriander Dill Fennel Hyssop Ginger Meadowsweet Pennyroyal Peppermint Rosemary Valerian Wood Betony.


Astringent herbs work to tighten the tissues by means of triggering proteins and, hence, they are able to lessen the secretions as well as discharges. Astringent herbs enclose tannins.

Agrimony Avens Bayberry Bearberry Beth Root Bistort Black Catechu Bugleweed Cranesbill Elecampane Eyebright Goldenrod Ground Ivy Kola Lungwort Meadowsweet Mouse Ear Mullein Oak Bark Periwinkle Pilewort Plantain Ragwort Raspberry Sage Rhubarb Root Rosemary Slippery Elm St.John's Wort Tormentil Wild Cherry Witch Hazel Yarrow.


Bitter herbs are those that have a bitter flavour and work in the form of invigorating tonics for our digestive system by means of a reflex through the taste buds.

Barberry Boneset Chamomile Centaury Gentian Goldenseal Hops Rue Southernwood Tansy Horehound Wormwood.

Cardiac Tonic

Herbs that act as cardiac tonics have an effect on the heart. These herbs have a specific functioning and it ought to be searched in the herbal division.

Broom Bugleweed Cayenne Hawthorn Lily of the Valley Motherwort Night Blooming Cereus.


Herbs possessing carminative properties usually contain high amount of unstable oils and their actions stimulate the peristalsis of our digestive system and, at the same time, help the stomach to loosen up. In this way, carminative herbs encourage the digestive process and aid in removing the gas formed in the digestive tract.

Chinese Angelica Aniseed Balm Caraway Cardamon Cayenne Cinnamon Chamomile Coriander Dill Fennel Galangal Garlic Ginger Hyssop Juniper Mustard Peppermint Sage Thyme Valerian.


Herbs that are known as cholagogues work to promote the secretion and release of bile from the gall-bladder, which may result in a notable benefit in case of problems related to the gall-bladder. These herbs also possess purgative properties and have an effect on the digestive system, as the volume of bile present in the duodenum enhances when an individual takes these herbs. It may be noted here that bile is produced by the body and is a natural purgative.

Balmony Barberry Black Root Blue Flag Boldo Dandelion Fringetree Fumitory Gentian Goldenseal Mountain Grape Wahoo Wild Yam.


Herbs with demulcent properties have high mucilage content and have the aptitude to calm as well as shield the aggravated or inflamed tissues inside the body.

Coltsfoot Comfrey Corn Silk Couchgrass Flaxseed Irish Moss Lungwort Licorice Mallow Marshmallow Mullein Oatmeal Parsley Slippery Elm.


Diaphoretic herbs can help the skin to get rid of toxic substances and, at the same time, induce sweating.

Chinese Angelica Bayberry Black Cohosh Boneset Buchu Cayenne Chamomile Elder Fennel Garlic Ginger Goldenrod Guaiacum Lime Blossom Peppermint Pleurisy Root Prickly Ash Thuja Thyme Horehound Yarrow.


Herbs possessing diuretic properties work to increase the production as well as elimination of urine.

Agrimony Bearberry Blue Flag Boldo Boneset Borage Broom Buchu Bugleweed Burdock Celery Seed Cleavers Corn Silk Couchgrass Dandelion Elder Gravel Root Hawthorn Berries Juniper Kola Lily of the Valley Lime Blossom Night Blooming Cereus Parsley Pellitory of the Wall Pumpkin Seed Saw Palmetto Sea Holly Stone Root Wild Carrot Yarrow.


Emetic herbs induce vomiting. Most of the herbs listed under this category result in vomiting only when they are used in high dose. The dosing of each of these herbs may be looked up in the herbal description.

Balm Bloodroot Boneset Catnip Elder Flowers Ipecacuanha Lobelia Senega Squill.


Herbs possessing emmenagogue properties encourage as well as regularize the menstrual flow. In fact, the term emmenagogue is frequently used in the perspective of medications that work in the form of tonics for the reproductive system in females.

Beth Root Black Cohosh Black Haw Blessed Thistle Blue Cohosh Carline Thistle Chamomile Chaste Tree Cramp Bark False Unicorn Root Fenugreek Gentian Ginger Goldenseal Juniper Berry Lime Marigold Motherwort Mugwort Parsley Pasque Flower Pennyroyal Peppermint Raspberry Rosemary Rue Sage Shepherd's Purse Southernwood Squaw Vine St. John's Wort Tansy Thyme True Unicorn Root Valerian Vervain Wormwood Yarrow.


Emollient herbs are applied topically to the skin with a view to make it softer, calm it or defend it from any harm. These herbs work in the same way as the demulcents work inside the body.

Balm of Gilead Borage Chickweed Coltsfoot Comfrey Elecampane Fenugreek Flaxseed Licorice Mallow Marshmallow Mullein Plantain Quince Seed Rose Petals Slippery Elm.


Herbs possessing expectorant properties help the body in getting rid of surplus mucus from the respiratory system.

Aniseed Balm of Gilead Balsam of Peru Balsam of Tolu Bloodroot Coltsfoot Comfrey Elder Flower Elecampane Garlic Goldenseal Grindelia Hyssop Iceland Moss Irish Moss Licorice Lobelia Lungwort Marshmallow Mouse Ear Mullein Pleurisy Root Senega Skunk Cabbage Squill Thuja Thyme Vervain Horehound Wild Cherry.

Febrifuge Anti-Pyretic

Herbs called febrifuges assist the body in lowering fevers.

Chinese Angelica Balm Blessed Thistle Boneset Borage Cayenne Elder Flower Eucalyptus Hyssop Lobelia Marigold Pennyroyal Peppermint Peruvian Bark Plantain Pleurisy Root Prickly Ash Raspberry Sage Thyme Vervain.


Galactogogue herbs have the aptitude to assist mothers who are breast-feeding to enhance the flow of their milk.

Aniseed Blessed Thistle Centaury Fennel Goat's Rue Raspberry Vervain.


As the name suggests, hepatic herbs help the liver. Using hepatic herbs regularizes as well as fortifies the liver. At the same time, these herbs help to augment the release of bile from the liver.

Agrimony Aloes Balm Balmony Barberry Black Root Blue Flag Boldo Bogbean Cascara Sagrada Celery Centaury Cleavers Dandelion Elecampane Fennel Fringetree Fumitory Gentian Goldenseal Horseradish Hyssop Mountain Grape Motherwort Prickly Ash Wahoo Wild Indigo Wild Yam Wormwood Yarrow Yellow Dock.


Hypnotic herbs facilitate bringing on sleep. However, the action of these herbs should not be mistaken to be causing a hypnotic spell.

Hops Jamaican Dogwood Mistletoe Passion Flower Skullcap Valerian Wild Lettuce.


Herbs possessing laxative or purgative properties work to stimulate the emptying of the bowels.

Balmony Barberry Buckthorn Burdock Cascara Sagrada Cleavers Dandelion Flaxseed Fringetree Mountain Grape Pellitory of the Wall Rhubarb Root Senna Wahoo Yellow Dock.


Herbs having mucilaginous attributes enclose gelatinous elements and they frequently work like emollients and demulcents.

Comfrey Fenugreek Flaxseed Iceland Moss Irish Moss Mallow Marshmallow Quince Seed Slippery Elm.


Herbs called nervines have a positive action on the nervous system and they help to harmonize as well as fortify it. A number of nervine herbs also work in the form of stimulants, while some others act as relaxants.

Balm Black Cohosh Black Haw Blue Cohosh Bugleweed Chamomile Cramp Bark Damiana Ginseng Hops Kola Lady's Slipper Lavender Lemon Balm Lime Lobelia Mistletoe Motherwort Oats Pasque Flower Passion Flower Peppermint Red Clover Rosemary Skullcap Tansy Thyme Valerian Vervain Wild Lettuce Wormwood.


Oxytocic herbs work to encourage the uterus to contract and they may, therefore, be useful during childbirth.

Beth Root Blue Cohosh Goldenseal Rue Squaw Vine.


Herbs that possess pectoral properties have a common curative as well as strengthening outcome on our respiratory system.

Aniseed Chinese Angelica Balm of Gilead Balsam of Peru Balsam of Tolu Bloodroot Coltsfoot Comfrey Elder Elecampane Garlic Goldenseal Horehound Hyssop Iceland Moss Irish Moss Licorice Lungwort Marshmallow Mouse Ear Mullein Pleurisy Root Senega Skunk Cabbage Vervain.


Rubefacient herbs are applied topically to the skin and their application generally results in a mild irritation, while stimulating the widening of the capillaries just beneath the skin. This action of these herbs helps to improve the skin's blood circulation. When these herbs are applied to the skin, it helps to pull blood from more profound areas of the body to the skin. This, in turn, frequently helps to alleviate internal pains.

Cayenne Cloves Garlic Ginger Horseradish Mustard Nettle Peppermint Rosemary Rue.


Herbs having sedative or tranquilizing properties work to soothe the nervous system as well as lessen the strain and anxiety all over the body. Therefore, these herbs may possibly have an influence on the body tissues that have been aggravated due to problems related to the nervous system.

Black Cohosh Black Haw Bladderwrack Blue Cohosh Bloodroot Boldo Bugleweed Chamomile Cowslip Cramp Bark Hops Jamaican Dogwood Lady's slipper Lobelia Motherwort Pasque Flower Passion Flower Red Clover Red Poppy Saw Palmetto Skullcap St. John's Wort Valerian Wild Cherry Wild Lettuce Wild Yam.


Herbs that are called sialagogues are those that promote the saliva secretion from the salivary glands.

Bloodroot Blue Flag Cayenne Centaury Gentian Ginger Prickly Ash Senega.


Like hypnotics, soporific herbs help to bring on or promote sleep.

Compare 'Hypnotics'.


Herbs having stimulant properties hasten as well as enliven the body's physiological functioning.

Chinese Angelica Balm of Gilead Balmony Bayberry Benzoin Bladderwrack Caraway Cardamom Cayenne Cinnamon Dandelion Eucalyptus Galangal Garlic Gentian Ginseng Gravel Root Ground Ivy Horehound Horseradish Juniper Marigold Mustard Pennyroyal Peppermint Prickly Ash Rosemary Rue Sage Southernwood Tansy Wild Yam Wormwood Yarrow.


All herbs categorized as styptics lessen or put an end to external hemorrhage owing to their astringent properties.

See 'Astringents'.


As the name indicates, tonic herbs work to fortify as well as make particular organs more vigorous. In addition, they also have a positive (similar) action on the entire body.

Agrimony Chinese Angelica Aniseed Balm Balmony Bayberry Bearberry Beth Root Bistort Black Cohosh Black Haw Black Root Bogbean Boldo Boneset Buchu Buckthorn Bugleweed Burdock Calumba Carline Thistle Cayenne Centaury Chamomile Cleavers Coltsfoot Comfrey Condurango Couchgrass Cranesbill Damiana Dandelion Echinacea Elecampane Eyebright False UniCorn Root Fringetree Fumitory Garlic Gentian Ginseng Goldenseal Gravel Root Grindelia Ground Ivy Hawthorn Horse Chestnut Hydrangea Hyssop Iceland Moss Lady's Slipper Licorice Lime Marigold Mistletoe Motherwort Mountain Grape Mugwort Mustard Myrrh Nettle Oats Parsley Periwinkle Poke Root Raspberry Red Clover Rue Sarsaparilla Skullcap Squaw Vine Tamarind Tansy Thyme Vervain Virginia Snake Root Wild Yam Wood Betony Wormwood Yarrow Yellow Dock.


Herbs that are classified as vulneraries are applied topically to help the body to cure cuts as well as wounds.

Aloes Arnica Bistort Black Willow Burdock Chickweed Cleavers Comfrey Cranesbill Daisy Elder Elecampane Fenugreek Flaxseed Garlic Goldenseal Horsetail Hyssop Irish Moss Marigold Marshmallow Mullein Myrrh Plantain Poke Root Shepherd's Purse Slippery Elm St. John's Wort Thyme Witch Hazel Wood Betony Yarrow.

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