Home Back to Plants Medicinal Actions Contact Us

Please Note: While this is a good start, it is by no means a definitive list of all herbs and their medicinal actions.

Medicinal Actions

 

 

Download this list.

For thousands of years man has used the flora around him to heal his maladies. It was not until the late 19th century that the first pharmaceutical companies appeared. Those first mass produced medications were derived from many of the same herbal remedies listed here. Early Pharmaceutical companies advertised standardized dosages. This made it easier for the average person to purchase remedies over the counter. As these companies grew in popularity it was not long before they began to vilify the very herbal remedies they used in their offerings. Their campaign of misinformation was so successful that by the early 20th century herbalism all but died out in the United States. There have continued to be those who practiced herbalism, but they were relegated to the fringes of society. As the medical community grew in knowledge and arrogance, they further vilified the Herbal community. As the herbal community began to feel more and more marginalized many developed a deep seeded dislike and distrust of the medical community. It became two divided camps, each thinking the other had little or nothing to bring to the table. If we look at the rest of the developed world, most of them realize modern medicine and herbalism each have something to offer. More and more people in the United States are beginning to realize that by utilizing both herbalism and modern medicine we will be that much healthier.

I developed this list with that end in mind. It is by no means a complete list, but it is a pretty good start. If you mouse over the action a quick definition will appear. If you click on the action you will be taken to a definition of the action, and the list of corresponding herbs. Herbs that are highlighted red are those that are most recommended based upon efficacy. Herbs that are highlighted red and in BOLD text are ones I have found to be particularly effective. Herbs that are underlined are links to pages with detailed information about that individual herb.

Now for the legal stuff.

This list is meant for informative purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult qualified medical advice prior to starting an herbal regime.

Adaptogen

Alterative

Analgesic

Anesthetic

Anhydrotic

Anodyne

Antacid

Anthelmintic

Antiabortive

Antiarthritic

Antiasthmatic

Antibilious

Antibiotic

Anticatarrhal

Anticoagulant

Anticonvulsant

Antidiabetic

Antidepressant

Antidiarrheal

Antiemetic

Antiepileptic

Antifungals

Antihemorrhagic

Antihistamine

Antihydropic

Antihydrotic

Antihypertensive

Antihypothyroid

Anti-Infective

Anti-Inflammatory

Antilithic

Antimalarial

Antimicrobial

Antimitotic

Antimutagenic

Antineoplastic

Antinociceptive

Antioxidant

Antiparasitic

Antipruritic

Antipsoriatic

Antipsychotic

Antipyretic

Antiretroviral

Antirheumatic

Antiscorbutic

Antiseptic

Antispasmodic

Antithrombotic

Antitoxin

Antitussive

Antiviral

Anxiolytic

Aperient

Aphrodisiac

Aromatic

Astringent

Bactericidal

Bitter

Carminative

Cathartic

Cholagogue

Cicatrisant

Contraceptive

Demulcent

Deobstruent

Depurative

Desiccant

Detoxicant

Diaphoretic

Discutient

Diuretic

Emetic

Emmenagogue

Emollient

Estrogenic

Expectorant

Febrifuge

Fungicide

Galactagogue

Haemostatic

Hepatic

Hypnotic

Hypoglycemic

Hypotensive

Immunostimulant

Laxative

 

 

Adaptogen:

Herbs that improve the body's ability to adapt to stress of any sort, including infection, mental stress, or fatigue.

Examples:

Astragalus membranaceus, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Ginseng Panax quinquefolius, Valerian Valeriana officinalis

Back To List

Alterative:

Herbs that restore the proper function of the body.

Examples:

Alfalfa Medicago sativa, Astragalus membranaceus, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Bayberry (Sweet gale, Wax-Myrtle) Myrica gale, Trillium (Birthroot) Trillium spp., Bistort Persicaria bistorta, Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Black Root Leptandra Virginica, Black Walnut Bark Juglans nigra, Blessed Thistle Cnicus benedictus, Blue Flag Iris versicolor, Boxwood Buxus spp., Burdock Arctium lappa, Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Chaparral Larrea tridentata, Chickweed Stellaria media, Cleavers Galium aparine, Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Curly Dock Rumex crispus, Devil's Claw Harpagophytum procumbens, Dandelion Root Taraxacum officinale, Dogwood Cornus spp., Echinacea purpurea, Elder Sambucus L., Eyebright Euphrasia L., Fringe Tree Chionanthus L., Fumitory Fumaria, Garlic Allium sativum, Ginseng Panax quinquefolius, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Gotu Kola Centella asiatica, Guaiac Guaiacum L., Holly llex, Ironweed Vernonia spp., Kelp, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Mandrake Mandragora L., Mallow Malva neglecta, Marshmallow Althaea officinalis, Mezereum Daphne mezereum, Milkweed Asclepias L., Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, Oregon Grape Root Mahonia Nutt., Pilewort Ranunculus ficaria, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Plantain Plantago spp., Pokeweed Phytolacca americana, Prickly Ash Zanthoxylum L., Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria, Raspberry Leaf Rubus idaeus, Red Clover Trifolium pratense, Rockrose Cistus L., Rhubarb Rheum rhabarbarum, Sarsaparilla Smilax aristolochiifolia, Sassafras Sassafras albidum, Soapwort Saponaria L., Speedwell Veronica L., Spikenard Nardostachys grandiflora, Black Spruce Picea mariana, St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Twinleaf Jeffersonia diphylla, Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Wafer Ash Ptelea trifoliata, Wahoo Euonymus atropurpurea, Walnut Juglans nigra, Wheatgrass Triticum aestivum, Willow Bark Salix spp., Wild Indigo Baptisia L., Wood Betony Stachys officinalis, Water Dock Rumex orbiculatus, Yarrow Achillea millefolium, Yellow Jessamine Gelsemium sempervirens, Yellow Parrila, Yerba Santa Eriodictyon spp., Yucca Root Yucca schidigera

Back To List

Analgesic:

Herbs that relieve pain.

Examples:

Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Buttercup Ranunculus L., Chamomile Anthemis L., Catnip, Celandine, Clove, Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Echinacea purpurea, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Goatsbeard Tragopogon L., Henbane Hyoscyamus niger, Hops Humulus lupulus , Jimson Weed Datura stramonium, Lemongrass Cymbopogon L., Meadowsweet Spiraea spp., Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora, Kava Kava Piper methysticum, Lady's Slipper Cypripedium acaule, Marijuana Cannabis sativa, Mint Mentha L., Monkshood Aconitum L., Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Nightshade, Noni Fruit, Opium Papaver somniferum, Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, Pansy, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Pokeweed Phytolacca americana, Poplar, Prickly Ash Zanthoxylum L., Primrose, Saffron, Sassafras Sassafras albidum, Skullcap Scutellaria L., St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum, Turmeric Curcuma longa, , Willow Bark Salix spp., Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens, Woodruff Asperula L., Wood Sorrel Oxalis spp., and Valerian Valeriana officinalis

Back To List

Anesthetic:

Herbs that cause a lack of feeling. Typically administered to numb area prior to a medical procedure.

Examples:

Sanguinaria canadensis

Anhydrotic:

Herbs that decrease sweating.

Examples:

Astragalus membranaceus

Anodyne:

Herbs that reduce pain by reducing the sensitivity of the nerves. Synonymous with ANALGESIC

Examples:

St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum

Antacid:

Herbs that relieve excessive stomach acid.

Examples:

Comfrey Leaves or Root Symphytum officinale, Flax Seed, Dandelion Root Taraxacum officinale, Kelp, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Red Raspberry Rubus idaeus, Slippery Elm Ulmus americana, Wood Betony Stachys officinalis

 

Back To List

Anthelmintic:

Destroy or expel worms from the digestive system.

Examples:

Garlic Allium sativum, Tansy Tanacetum L., Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris

Antiabortive:

Herbs that help to inhibit abortive tendencies. The herbs will not prevent a miscarriage when the fetus is damaged or improperly secured.

Examples:

American Mistletoe Phoradendron leucarpum, Kelp, Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium, Ragwort Packera spp.

 

Back To List

Antiarthritic:

Relieve gout or other arthritic conditions. Generally, ALTERATIVES

Examples:

Angelica, Arnica Arnica montana, Ashwagandha Withania somnifera, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Birch Betula spp., Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Camphor Tree Cinnamomum camphora, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Devilís Claw Harpagophytum procumbens, Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globules, European Mistletoe Viscum album, Giloy Tinospora cordifolia, Guggul Commiphora mukul, Larch Larix decidua, Nirgundi Vitex negundo, Poke Phytolaca americana, Shallaki Boswellia serrata, Sonth Zingiber officinale, Spruce Picea spp., Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, Turmeric Curcuma longa, Willow Bark Salix spp.

Antiasthmatic:

Herbs that relieve the symptoms of asthma. Some, like Lobelia, are strong Antispasmodics that dilate the bronchioles. Others, like Mullein Verbascum thapsus, and Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum help break up the mucus. Some herbs like Mullein may be smoked for quick relief, which may also be taken as tea.

Examples:

Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Lobelia, Mallow Malva neglecta, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Rooibos African Red Tea, Wild Cherry Bark Prunus virginiana, Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum

Back To List

Antibilious:

These herbs stimulate the flow of bile from the liver.

Examples:

Balmony, Fringetree, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis

Antibiotic:

Herbs that inhibit the growth of, or destroy, bacteria, viruses or amoebas. some herbs may directly kill the invader, while others work by stimulating the bodies own immune system response.

Examples:

Acacia, Aloe, Marijuana Cannabis sativa, Chaparral Larrea tridentata, Cryptolepsis, Echinacea purpurea, Eucalyptus, Garlic Allium sativum, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Honey,  Hops Humulus lupulus , Iceland Moss, Juniper Berries, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Myrrh, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Olive Leaf, Plantain Plantago spp., Rosemary Oil, Sage Salvia oficinalis, Saint John's Wort Hypericum perforatum, Sundew, Thyme, Usnea, Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris

Back To List

Anticatarrhal:

Help remove excessive mucus, generally from the upper respiratory tract.

Examples:

Angelica, Anise, Bayberry (Sweet Gale, Wax-Myrtle) Myrica gale, Bistort Persicaria bistorta, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Cinnamon Cinnamomum spp., Coltsfoot, Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Cranesbill Geranium dissectum, Elder Sambucus L., Elecampane, Figs, Flax Seed, Garlic Allium sativum, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Ginkgo Biloba, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale, Hydrastis canadensis, Horseradish, Irish Moss, Lobelia, Lungwort, Mallow Malva neglecta, Marshmallow Althaea officinalis, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Plantain Plantago L., Raisins, Sage Salvia oficinalis, Wild Cherry Bark Prunus virginiana, Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum

Back To List

Anticoagulant:

Herbs that break up or prevent clots.

Examples:

Yellow Sweet Clover Melilotus officinalis, White Sweet Clover Melilotus albus

Anticonvulsant:

Herbs that help reduce or prevent seizures.

Examples:

Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora, Kava, Valerian Valeriana officinalis,

Antidepressant:

Herbs that raise the mood and counteract depression

Examples:

St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata.

Back To List

Antidiabetic:

Herbs that help regulate and reduce blood sugar.

Examples:

Burdock Arctium annum, Garlic Allium sativum

Antidiarrheal:

Herbs that alleviate diarrhea.

Examples:

Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus, Blackberry Rubus fruticosus, Cinquefoil Potentilla erecta, Coffee Coffea Arabica, Dogwood Cornus florida, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Psyllium Seed Plantago afra, Sheep Sorrel Rumex acetosella, Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina, Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca, Uzara Xysmalobium undulatum

Back To List

Antiemetic:

Herbs that reduce nausea and vomiting.

Examples:

Anise, Black Horehound, Cinnamon Cinnamomum spp., Cloves, Colombo, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Iceland Moss, Lemonbalm, Lobelia, Peach Leaves, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Raspberry Rubus idaeus, Red Clover Trifolium pratense, Spearmint Mentha spicata, Sweet Basil

Antiepileptic:

Herbs that help reduce or prevent seizures.

Examples:

Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora, Valerian Valeriana officinalis,

Antifungals:

Herbs which help the body destroy or resist pathogenic organisms. Some actually kill the organisms while others support the function of the immune system to fight off the fungi.

Examples:

Cornflower Centaurea cyanus, Echinacea purpurea, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Mountain Laurel Kalmia latifolia, Myrrh, Garlic Allium sativum, Plantain Plantago spp., Thyme, Eucalyptus, White Cedar Thuja occidentalis, Wild Indigo Baptisia L., Sage Salvia officinalis

Back To List

Antihemorrhagic:

Herbs which stop or prevent bleeding. Astringents are often haemostatic.

Examples:

Cranesbill, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Antihistamine:

Herbs that oppose the action of histamines.

Examples:

Canadian Goldenrod Solidago canadensis, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Kudzu Pueraria lobata

Antihydropic:

Relieves "dropsy" or fluid retention.

Examples:

Bearberry, Couch Grass, Buchu, Corn Silk, Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata

Antihydrotic:

Herbs that reduce or suppress perspiration.

Examples:

Sage

Back To List

Antihypertensive:

Herbs that reduce blood pressure.

Examples:

Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Garlic Allium sativum, Ramps Allium tricoccum, Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Antihypothyroid:

Herbs that stimulate thyroid action.

Examples:

Astragalus Astragalus membranaceus, Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Kelp

Anti-Infective:

Herbs that combat infections.

Example:

Bistort Persicaria bistorta, Clematis Clematis recta, Colchicum Colchicum autumnale, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Jack-in-the-Pulpit Arisaema triphyllum, Kudzu Pueraria lobata, Lily-of-the-Valley Convallaria majalis, Mountain Laurel Kalmia latifolia, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Oats Avena sativa, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Picture Plant Sarracenia purpurea, Plantain Plantago spp., Sandalwood Santalum album, Sassafras Sassafras albidum, Sorrel Rumex acetosa, Spruce Picea spp., St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum, Thyme Thymus vulgaris, Turmeric Curcuma domestica, Yarrow Achillea millefolium, Yellow Dock Rumex crispus

Back To List

Anti-Inflammatory:

Herbs which help the body fight inflammation.

 Examples: Mallow Malva neglecta, Solomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum,

Salicylates: Willow Bark Salix spp., Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens, Birch Betula spp., and Black Haw.

Steroidal: Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Wild Yam, and Ginseng Panax quinquefolius.

Unidentified: Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Bogbean, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Devilís Claw Harpagophytum procumbens, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Pot Marigold flowers Calendula officinalis, Sheep Sorrel Rumex acetosella Turmeric Curcuma longa, Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca.

Antilithic:

Herbs that help prevent the formation of stones or gravel in the urine, and can help the remove of those which have already formed.

Examples:

Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Bean, Bearberry, Birch Betula spp., Briar Hip, Buchu, Cascara Sagrada Frangula alnus, Chaparral Larrea tridentata, Chervil, Corn Silk, Cucumber, Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Devilís Claw Harpagophytum procumbens, Dyer's Broom, Everlasting, Fraxinella, Goldenrod Solidago L., Gravel Root, Ground Ivy, Holly llex, Horsetail, Hydrangea Root, Juniper Berries, Knot Weed, Marshmallow Althaea officinalis, Meadowsweet Spiraea spp., Mouse Ear, Oregon Grape Root Mahonia Nutt., Parsley, Pimpernel, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Plum, Queen of the Meadow, Ragwort Packera spp., Common Groundsel, European, Restharrow, Sassafras Sassafras albidum, Seven Barks,Bearberry Uva Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, Water Eryngo, Woodruff Asperula L., Yellow Toadflax

Back To List

Antimalarial:

Herbs that prevent or treat Malaria.

Examples:

Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Black Catnip Phyllanthus amarus, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Croton Seeds Croton tiglium, Fever Bark Alstonia constricta, Hwema Bark Corynanthe pachyceras, Marijuana Cannabis sativa, Milk Thistle Silybum marianum, Neem Antelaea azadirachta, Quassia Picrasma excelsa, Quinine Cinchona pubescens, Simaruba Simaruba amara, Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima, Tulip Tree Liriodendron tulipifera, Wild Indigo Baptisia tinctoria

Antimicrobial:

Herbs that help the body destroy or resist pathogenic organisms. Some herbs actually kill the pathogens, while others aid the body in its immune system response.

Examples:

Blood Root Sanguinaria canadensis, Echinacea Echinacea purpurea, Eucalyptus, Garlic Allium sativum, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Myrrh, Plantain Plantago spp., Sage, St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum, Thyme, Turmeric Curcuma longa, White Cedar Thuja occidentalis, Wild Indigo Baptisia L.

Back To List

Antimitotic:

Herbs that reduce or prevent spontaneous cellular mutations.

Examples:

Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale, Plantain Plantago L.

Antimutagenic:

Herbs that reduce spontaneous mutations within cells. There is evidence that this may help reduce the incidence of cancer.

Examples:

Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Plantain Plantago L., Sheep Sorrel Rumex acetosella

Antineoplastic:

Herbs that inhibit the growth of tumors.

Examples:

American Ginseng Panax quinquefolius, Bitter Melon Momordica charantia, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Cranberry Vaccinium macrocarpon, Kudzu Pueraria lobata, Pygeum Prunus africana, Sheep Sorrel Rumex acetosella, St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum

Back To List

Antinociceptive:

Herbs that reduces sensitivity to painful stimuli.

Examples:

Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora.

Back To List

Antioxidant:

Herbs that render free radicals harmless.

Examples:

Artichoke, Ashwagandha Withania somnifera, Astragalus membranaceus, Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellata, Bacopa Bacopa monniera, Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Ginkgo, Grape Seed Extract, Green tea Camellia sinensis, Hawthorne, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Milk Thistle Silybum marianum, Olive Leaf, Rosemary, Sheep Sorrel Rumex acetosella, St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Turmeric Curcuma longa,

Antiparasitic:

Herbs that Destroy or expel worms from the digestive system. See ANTHELMINTIC

Examples:

Garlic Allium sativum, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Tansy Tanacetum L., Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris

Antipruritic:

Herbs that prevent or relieve itching.

Examples:

Butcherís Broom Ruscus aculeatus, Evening Primrose Oenothera biennis, Kudzu Pueraria lobata, Scarlet Pimpernel Anagallis arvensis, Sweet Gale Myrica gale, Vervain Verbena officinalis, Wheat Triticum aestivum

Back To List

Antipsoriatic:

Herbs that alleviate symptoms of Psoriasis.

Examples:

Bitter Mellon Momordica charantia, Black Nightshade Solanum nigrum, Burdock Arctium lappa, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium, Kudzu Pueraria lobata, Red Clover Trifolium pratense, Sarsaparilla Smilax spp., Sunflower Helianthus annuus, Teazle Dipsacus spp.

Antipsychotic:

Herbs that help relieve the symptoms of Psychosis.

Examples:

Pygeum Prunus africana, St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum

Back To List

Antipyretic:

Herbs that reduce fever. In general, herbalists do not like to reduce fever unless it also has some beneficial effect on the infection or inflammation causing the fever. They see fever as one of the body's ways of fighting infection, and try to use herbs that support the immune system and the other cleansing processes of the body.

Examples:

Alfalfa Medicago sativa, American Centaury, American Hellibore, Bird's Tongue, Birthwort, Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis, Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum, Borage, Brooklime, Buck Bean, Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Camphor, Carline Thistle, Catnip, Chickweed Stellaria media, Cleavers, Colombo, Coral Root, Cranberries, Currant, Dogwood Cornus spp., Dulse, Elder Flowers, Ephedra (Mormon Tea, Ma Huang), European Centuary, Everlasting, Feverweed, Fraxinella, Fringe Tree Chionanthus L., Garlic Allium sativum, Gotu Kola Hedge Bindweed, Holly llex, Hops Humulus lupulus , Imperial Masterwort, Kelp, Lady's Mantle, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Lemons, Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Limes, Magnolia, Monkshood Aconitum L., Olive, Oranges, Peruvian Bark,Poplar, Quassia, Rosemary, Skullcap Scutellaria L., Sumac, Sweet Flag, Willow Bark Salix spp., Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris, Southernwood Artemisia abrotanum, Valerian Valeriana officinalis, Yellow Gentian, Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum

Back To List

Antiretroviral:

Herbs which are effective against retroviruses (RNA viruses such as HIV).

Examples:

Aloe, Astragalus membranaceus, Bromelain, Cats Claw, Frost Grape Vitis vulpina, Garlic, Licorice Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Magnolia Vine Berries, Multake, Prunella, Rooibos, Shitake, St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum, Turmeric Curcuma longa

Antirheumatic:

Herbs that alleviate the symptoms of Arthritis.

Examples:

Arnica Arnica montana, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Birch Betula spp., Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Camphor Tree Cinnamomum camphora, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Devilís Claw Harpagophytum procumbens, Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globules, European Mistletoe Viscum album, Larch Larix decidua, Poke Phytolaca americana, Spruce Picea spp., Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, Turmeric Curcuma longa, Willow Bark Salix spp.

Back To List

Antiscorbutic:

Herbs rich in Vitamin C which prevent or cure scurvy, a disease caused by deficiency of this vitamin.

Examples:

Alfalfa Medicago sativa, Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellata, Barberry Berberis vulgaris Berries, Black Berries, Black Currant, Burdock Root Arctium lappa, Blueberries, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Chickweed Stellaria media, Citrus Fruits, Cranberries, Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Eyebright Euphrasia L., Fennel Seed, Fenugreek Trigonella L., Hibiscus, Hops Humulus lupulus , Horsetail, Juniper Berries, Kelp, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Poke Root, Rose Hips, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, Wood Betony Stachys officinalis, Curly Dock Rumex crispus

Antiseptic:

Inhibit growth of bacteria, and prevent infection, putrefaction, cell decay, and pus formation.

Examples:

Agave, Anise oil, Astragalus, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Beth Root, Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus, Trillium (Birthroot) Trillium spp., Bistort Persicaria bistorta, Black Walnut Bark Juglans nigra, Buchu, Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Chamomile Anthemis L., Chaparral Larrea tridentata, Clove, Cubeb, Echinacea purpurea, Eucalyptus, Feverweed, Garlic Allium sativum, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Guaiac Guaiacum L., Heather, Hibiscus Flower, Juniper Berries, Iceland Moss, Lavender, Mustard, Myrrh, Nasturtium, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, Olive Leaf, Onion, Oregon Grape Root Mahonia Nutt., Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Plantain Plantago spp., Rosehips, Rosemary, Sage Salvia oficinalis, Sandalwood, Saw Palmetto Serenoa repens, Sassafras Sassafras albidum, Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina, Sweet Gum, Thyme, Tormentil, Turmeric Curcuma longa, White Oak Bark, White Pond Lily, Willow Bark Salix spp., Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, Wild Indigo Baptisia L., Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris, Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum

Back To List

Antispasmodic:

Muscle relaxants. Herbs that help prevent or ease muscle spasms in both skeletal and smooth muscles. Herbs which have a tendency to act upon the respiratory system are useful for the treatment of asthma.

Examples:

Anise, Astragalus membranaceus, Balm, Basil, Bedstraw, Belladonna, Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Black Haw, Blind Nettle, Blue Cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides, Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Buttercup Ranunculus L., Cascara Sagrada Frangula alnus, Cayenne Pepper Capsicum annuum, Chamomile Anthemis L., Caraway, Catnip, Cayenne Capsicum annuum,, Celandine Chelidonium majus, Cinquefoil Potentilla L., Coriander, Corydalis, Cowslip, Cramp bark, Dill, Dog Poison, English Ivy, Fennel, Ferula, Garlic Allium sativum, Gum Plant, Hawthorne, Henbane Hyoscyamus niger, Hibiscus Flower, Hops Humulus lupulus , Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora, Jimson Weed Datura stramonium, Kava Kava Piper methysticum, Ladyís Slipper Cypripedium acaule, Lavender, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Lettuce, Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Lily of the Valley, Linden, Lobelia, Marijuana Cannabis sativa, Marjoram, Masterwort, Mint Mentha L., American Mistletoe Phoradendron leucarpum, Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca, Mugwort, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Muskmallow, Stinging Nettle Leaf Urtica dioica, Nerve Root, Oat, Onion, Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, Parsley, Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata, Peony, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Pimpernel, Pluerisy Root, Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Prickly Ash Zanthoxylum L., Radish, Ragged Cup, Raspberry Rubus idaeus, Red Clover Trifolium pratense, Rosehips, Rosemary, Rue, Saffron, Sage Salvia oficinalis, Siberian Ginseng Eleutherococcus senticosus, Spearmint Leaf, Spring Beauty Claytonia virginica, St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Skullcap Scutellaria L., Skunk Cabbage, Sundew, Thyme, Twinleaf Jeffersonia diphylla, Valerian Valeriana officinalis, Vervain Verbena officinalis, Wild Yam, Woodruff Asperula L., Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris, Woundwort, Yarrow Achillea millefolium, Yellow Melilot, White Melilot, Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum

Back To List

Antithrombotic:

Herbs that help prevent the formation of blood clots.

Examples:

Garlic

Antitoxin:

Herbs that act against the effects of specific toxins.

Examples:

Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Angelica, Plantain Plantago spp.

Antitussive:

Herbs that reduce or prevent cough.

Examples:

Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara, Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Solomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum, Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina, Wild Cherry Prunus serotina

Antiviral:

Herbs that kill viruses or render them unable to replicate.

Examples:

Astragalus membranaceus, Echinacea purpurea, Garlic Allium sativum, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Myrrh, Plantain Plantago spp., Sage, St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum, Thyme, Eucalyptus, Wild Indigo Baptisia L., Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Anxiolytic:

Also called anti-anxiety or anti-panic. Herbs that are used for the treatment of anxiety, and its related psychological and physical symptoms. Anxiolytics have been shown to be useful in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Examples:

Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Kava Kava Piper methysticum, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Valerian Valeriana officinalis

Back To List

Aperient:

A mild and gentle laxative which promotes natural bowel movement and function.

Examples:

Agar-Agar, Asparagus, Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum, Borage, Burdock Arctium lappa, Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Cucumber, Curly Dock Rumex crispus. Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Dyer's Broom, Elder Sambucus L., Fig, Flax Seed, Fringe Tree Chionanthus L., Guar Gum, Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Olive Oil, Plum, Prunes, Psyllium, Raisins, Restharrow, Rhubarb root Rheum rhabarbarum, Rose, Rose Hips, Senna, Spiderwort Tradescantia spp., Turtlebloom, Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca, Witch Grass

Aphrodisiac:

Herbs that increase sexual potency or excitement.

Example:

Artichoke, Astragalus membranaceus, Burdock Arctium lappa, Carline Thistle, Celery, Clove, Coriander, Damiana, European Vervain Verbena officinalis, False Unicorn, Fennel, Fenugreek Trigonella L., Galangal, Ginseng Panax quinquefolius, Jasmine, Jimson Weed Datura stramonium, Kava Kava, Lettuce, Lovage, Maca Root, Matico, Mint Mentha L., Onion, Plantain Plantago spp., Pride of China, Queen of the Meadow, Saffron, Sarsasparilla Root, Savory, Saw Palmetto Serenoa repens, Stinging Nettle Root Urtica dioica, Sundew, Walnut Juglans nigra, Water Eryngo, Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Back To List

Aromatic:

Herbs with a strong aroma that stimulates the digestive system.

Examples:

Allspice, Angelica, Anise Seed, Balm, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Buchu, Chamomile Anthemis L., Caraway, Cardamon, Catnip, Cinnamon Cinnamomum spp., Cloves, Coriander, Cubeb, Dill, Fennel, Galangal, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Goldenrod Solidago L., Hops Humulus lupulus , Juniper, Khus-Khus, Lavender, Marjoram, Matico, Monarda, Nutmeg, Orris Root, Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Rosemary, Rue, Sage Salvia oficinalis, Sassafras Sassafras albidum, Savory, Star Anise, St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Sweet Cicely, Sweet Flag, Wax Myrtle, Wild Hyssop, Wood Betony Stachys officinalis, Woodruff Asperula L., Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris

Back To List

Astringent:

Herbs that have a binding action on skin or mucous membranes that helps dry up mucous discharge, tone local blood vessels and varicosities, and stop bleeding. Astringents can be used to treat diarrhea, bleeding, mucous discharges, and the discomfort of varicosities and hemorrhoids.

Examples:

Agrimony Agrimonia L., Aloe Vera, Alpine Cranberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. spp., Amaranth Amaranthus L., Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Apple Fiber, Bearberry Uva Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, Bears Garlic Allium sativum, Beechdrops, Beet Root, Bennet Geum urbanum, Betony Stachys officinalis, Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus, Birch Betula spp., Trillium (Birthroot) Trillium spp., Bistort Persicaria bistorta, Black Alder Alnus glutinosa, Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Cinnamon Cinnamomum spp., Cinquefoil Potentilla L., Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Cranesbill Geranium dissectum, Dandelion Root Taraxacum officinale, Dogwood Cornus spp., Elm Ulmus americana, Evening Primrose Oenothera L., Eyebright Euphrasia L., Fenugreek Trigonella L., Goldenrod Solidago L., Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Great Burnet, Ground Ivy, Hawthorn Berry, Hemlock Spruce, Hemp Nettle, Henna, Herb Robert, Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), Holly llex, Horse Chestnut, Horseweed, Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale, Houseleek, Hyssop, Kidney Vetch, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Lady's Mantle, Laurel, Lemon, Lettuce, Loosestrife Lythrum spp., Lungwort, Madder, Magnolia, Mallow Malva neglecta, Marsh Tea, Matico, Meadowsweet Spiraea spp., Milfoil, Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca, Mountain Laurel, Mouse Ear, Mullein Leaf, Myrrh, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, New Jersey Tea, Oak bark, Olive Leaf, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Periwinkle, Peruvian Bark, Pilewort Ranunculus ficaria, Pimpernel, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Pitcher Plant, Plantain Plantago spp., Plum, Pomegranite, Pride of China, Privet, Queen of the Meadow, Radish, Raspberry Leaf Rubus idaeus, Red Eyebright Euphrasia L., Rhatany, Rhubarb Rheum rhabarbarum, Rockrose Cistus L., Rose, Rosehips, Rosemary, Rowan, Sage Salvia oficinalis, Solomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum, St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Sandalwood, Sanicle, Savory, Senna (Purging Cassia), Shinleaf, Soloman's Seal, Sorrel, Spotted Cranesbill Geranium dissectum, Squaw Vine Mitchella repens, Sticklewort, Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina, Storksbill, Sumac, Sweet Fern, Sweet Gum, Sycamore Maple, Tormentil, Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, Vervain Verbena officinalis, Walnut Juglans nigra, Water Avens, Water Dock Rumex orbiculatus, Wax Myrtle, White Pond Lily, Wild Cherry Bark Prunus virginiana, Wild Indigo Baptisia L., Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca, Willow Bark Salix spp., Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens, Witch Hazel Hamamelis virginiana, Woundwort, Yarrow Achillea millefolium, Yellow Dock Rumex crispus, Yellow Toadflax, Yucca Root

Back To List

Bactericidal:

Herbs that kill bacteria.

Examples:

Echinacea purpurea, Eucalyptus, Garlic Allium sativum, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Myrrh, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Sage, Thyme, Wild Indigo Baptisia L., Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Bitter:

Herbs which, because of their bitter taste, stimulate the release of digestive hormones. This in turn stimulates appetite.

Examples:

Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Gentian, Mallow Malva neglecta, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Rue, Spiderwort Tradescantia spp., Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris,

Carminative:

Herbs that help the stomach and intestinal walls relax to aid in expelling gas.

Examples:

Allspice, Angelica, Anise, Astragalus membranaceus, Balm, Basil, Betony Stachys officinalis, Bergamot Monarda citriodora, Brier Hip, Buchu, Caraway, Cardamom, Carline Thistle, Carrot, Catnip, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Celery, Chamomile Anthemis L., Chickweed Stellaria media, Cinnamon Cinnamomum spp., Cloves, Coriander, Cubeb, Dill, Fennel, Ferula, Feverfew, Garlic Allium sativum, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Goldenrod Solidago L., Hyssop, Juniper, Laurel, Lavender, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Lemongrass Cymbopogon L., Lovage, Marjoram, Masterwort, Milfoil, Monarda, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Onion, Orange, Parsley, Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Pimpernel, Pleurisy Root, Rue, Sage Salvia oficinalis, Sarsaparilla Smilax aristolochiifolia, Savory, Star Anise, Sweet Cicely, Sweet Flag, Thyme, Valerian Valeriana officinalis, Wild Ginger Zingiber officinale, Wild Cherry Bark Prunus virginiana, Wild Hyssop, Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens, Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris, Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum

Back To List

Cathartic:

Herbs that clean waste material from the whole digestive system, including bowels, liver, and gall bladder.

Example:

Aloes, Asarum, Bird's Tongue, Black Root Leptandra Virginica, Blue Flag Iris versicolor, Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum, Buck Bean, Castor Bean, Dogbane, Elder Sambucus L., Hellebore, Holly llex, Jalap, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Mandrake Mandragora L., Mezereum Daphne mezereum, Mulberry, Pokeweed Phytolacca americana, Scotch Broom, Senega Snakeroot, Senna, Stillingia, Walnut(Butternut), Wild Jalap, Yellow Toadflax

Cholagogue:

Herbs that stimulate the flow of bile from the liver.

Examples:

Aloe Vera, Artichokes, Astragalus Astragalus membranaceus, Balmony, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Black Root Leptandra Virginica, Blue or American Gentian, Burdock Arctium lappa, Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Cat's Foot, Chicory, Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Elder Sambucus L., Elecampane, European Centaury, Fern, Fumitory Fumaria, Fringed Gentian, Fringetree, Garlic Allium sativum, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Heather, Hedge Bindweed, Hemp Agrimony Agrimonia L., Lavender, Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Linden, Milk Thistle Silybum marianum, Mint Mentha L., Mouse Ear, Mugwort, Olive, Radish, Red Pimpernel, Red Clover Trifolium pratense, Rosemary, Senna, Soapwort Saponaria L., Stiff Gentian or Gallweed, Turtlebloom, Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris, Yarrow Achillea millefolium, Yellow Dock Rumex crispus, Yellow Gentian, Yerba mate

 

Back To List

Cicatrisant:

Herbs that aid wound healing. See VULNERARY.

Contraceptive:

Herbs that act as a contraceptive

Examples:

Spring Beauty Claytonia virginica

Demulcent:

Herbs with a soothing effect on inflamed or irritated tissue.

Examples:

Acacia, Almond, Althea, Barley, Apple Fiber, Burdock Arctium lappa, Chickweed Stellaria media, Cinnamon Cinnamomum spp., Colombo, Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Dulse, Elm Ulmus americana, Fenugreek Trigonella L., Fig Tree, Flax, Ginseng (Panax schin-seng), Great Burnet, Gum Plant, Hibiscus (Hibiscus esculentus), Hollyhock, Iceland Moss, Indian Corn, Irish Moss, Kelp, Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Lungwort, Mallow Malva neglecta, Marshmallow Root, Milk Thistle Silybum marianum, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Oat Straw, Olive, Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, Pansy, Plantain Plantago spp., Slippery Elm Bark, Spiderwort Tradescantia spp., White Pond Lily, Witch Grass

Back To List

Deobstruent:

These herbs will remove obstructions from the alimentary canal and other areas.

Examples:

Barberry Berberis vulgaris (liver), Culver's Root (bowel), Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis (glands), Gravel Root (kidneys), Hydrangea Root (kidneys), Plantain PlantagoL. (blood, kidneys), Yarrow Achillea millefolium (blood, kidneys)

Depurative:

A term synonymous with ALTERATIVE. Top

Desiccant:

Herbs that will dry surfaces by absorbing moisture.

Examples:

Agar Agar, Bladderwrack Powder, Corn Starch, Marshmallow Powder, Slippery Elm Powder

Detoxicant:

Herbs that support the liver in removing toxic substances from the body. These are different than antitoxins in that they help the liver eliminate any toxin, while antitoxins are for specific toxins. See HEPATIC

Back To List

Diaphoretic:

Herbs that promote sweating. Sweating helps to remove waste products from the body. A fever without sweating can quickly overheat the body, and cause problems.

Examples:

Burdock Arctium lappa, Bergamot Monarda citriodora, Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Chamomile Anthemis L., Ginger Zingiber officinale, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Rosemary, Spearmint Leaf, Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa

Stimulating: Angelica, Blessed Thistle Cnicus benedictus, Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum, Buchu, Elder Flowers, Ephedra, Garlic Allium sativum, Horseradish, Hyssop, Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Sage Salvia oficinalis, Spearmint Mentha spicata, Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa, Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Neutral: Horehound, Safflower, Sarsaparilla Smilax aristolochiifolia, Sassafras Sassafras albidum.

Relaxing: Burdock Arctium lappa, Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Catnip, Chamomile Anthemis L., Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca, Mugwort, Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata, Pleurisy Root, Thyme, Vervain Verbena officinalis, Willow Bark Salix spp., Wild Yam

Back To List

Discutient:

Herbs which act by dissolving abnormal growths and tumors.

Examples:

Black Walnut Bark Juglans nigra, Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis, Burdock Root Arctium lappa, Cabbage Leaf, Chaparral Larrea tridentata, Devilís Claw Harpagophytum procumbens, Garlic Allium sativum, Sanicle, Red Clover, Turkey Tail Mushroom Triamedes versicolor.

Diuretic:

Herbs that increase the formation and flow of urine. They are used to treat water retention, obesity, lymphatic swellings, nerve inflammations such as lumbago and sciatica, infections of the urinary tract, skin eruptions, and kidney stones. Whenever a Diuretic is given, a lesser amount of Demulcent herb is also given to buffer the effect of the diuretic on the kidneys (especially when the Diuretic contains irritating properties) and to protect the tissues from the movement of kidney stones.

Examples:

Bearberry, Bergamot Monarda citriodora, Couch Grass, Cranberry, Buchu, Corn Silk, Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Goldenrod Solidago canadensis, Sheep Sorrel Rumex acetosella, Solomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum, Spiderwort Tradescantia spp., Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca, Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Back To List

Emetic:

Herbs that cause vomiting. They have been used in the past in conditions characterized by a great deal of mucus, to clear the mucus from the body. In modern herbalism, they are used to cause forceful emptying in cases of poisoning.

Examples:

Adder's Tongue, Agrimony Agrimonia L., American Hellebore, American Mistletoe Phoradendron leucarpum, Asarum, Black Alder Alnus glutinosa, Red Alder, Smooth Alder, Black Root Leptandra Virginica, Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis, Blue Vervain Verbena officinalis, Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum, Carline Thistle, Dogbane, Dog Poison, Dog's Mercury, Elder Sambucus L., European Centaury, Garden Violet, Hellebore, Hemp, Holly llex, Ipecacuanha Cephaelis ipecacuanha, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Lobelia, Mezereum Daphne mezereum, Milkweed Asclepias L., Nightshade, Peyote, Pilewort Ranunculus ficaria, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Pride of China, Rockrose Cistus L., Scotch Broom, Senega Snakeroot, Skunk Cabbage, Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina, Solomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum, Spurge (Cypress, Flowering, Garden, Milk-Purslane, Petty), St Benedict Thistle, Stillingia, Twinleaf Jeffersonia diphylla, Water Eryngo, Wild Indigo Baptisia L., Wild Yam

Back To List

Emmenagogue:

Herbs that stimulate or normalize menstrual flow. They are sometimes referred to as Uterine Tonics.

Examples:

Examples of strong Emmenagogues: Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Juniper Berries, Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca, Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium

Herbs with some Emmenagogue properties include: American Centaury, Angelica, Balm, Aloe Vera, Bergamot Monarda citriodora, Birthwort, Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis, Blue Cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides, Brooklime, Caraway, Chamomile Anthemis L., Chicory,.  Trillium (Birthroot) Trillium spp., Cotton, Ergot, European Vervain Verbena officinalis, False Unicorn Root Chamaelirium luteum, Flax, Fraxinella, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Hellebore, Hibiscus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Hyssop, Imperial Masterwort, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Lovage, Madder, Stinging Nettle Leaf Urtica dioica, Parsley, Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Pride of China, Ragwort Packera spp., Rosemary, Rue, Saffron, Sheep Sorrel Rumex acetosella, Squaw Vine Mitchella repens, Sumac, Sweet Flag, Tansy Tanacetum L., Tarragon, Thuja, Wood Sorrel Oxalis spp., Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Emollient:

Herbs that have a soothing or healing effect on the skin. Similar to Demulcents, but they act only upon the skin, where demulcents effect all mucus membranes.

Examples:

Aloe Vera, Chickweed Stellaria media, Fenugreek Trigonella L., Flax seed, Kelp, Mallow Malva neglecta, Marshmallow Root, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Plantain Plantago spp., Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis, Slippery Elm Bark

Back To List

Estrogenic:

Herbs that normalize the balance of estrogens in the body. Often supply compounds the body can make into estrogens if more are needed. These herbs are often used to ease the symptoms of menopause.

Examples:

Angelica, Dong Quai Angelica sinensis, Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca, Wild Yam

Expectorant:

Herbs that help the body to remove excess mucous from the lungs.

Examples:

Coltsfoot, Eyebright Euphrasia L., Fenugreek Trigonella L., Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale, Hyssop, Lemongrass Cymbopogon L., Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Mallow Malva neglecta, Marshmallow Althaea officinalis, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Stinging Nettle Leaf Urtica dioica, Plantain Plantago spp., Red Clover Trifolium pratense, Slippery Elm Bark, Wild Cherry Bark Prunus virginiana, Yucca Root Yucca schidigera, and Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum

Back To List

Febrifuge:

Herbs that reduce fever.

Note: Herbalists understand that a fever is the bodyís way of fighting off an infection. As long as the body is able to eliminate waste, they do not typically use herbs to reduce fever. They may also lower a fever when it has some beneficial effect on the infection or inflammation causing the fever. They will also lower fever if for some reason the bodyís ability to eliminate waste has been compromised. They will first attempt to repair the waste eliminating system that is not functioning properly, and try to use herbs that support the immune system and the other cleansing processes of the body.

Examples:

Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Meadowsweet Spiraea spp., Sheep Sorrel Rumex acetosella, Willow Bark Salix spp., Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens

Fungicide:

Herbs that kill fungus. See ANTI-MICROBIAL.

Galactagogue:

Herbs that increase lactation. Generally need to be used in the context of a very good diet and general health to be effective.

Examples:

Anise Seed, Basil, Borage, Caraway, Cleavers Galium aparine, Cumin, Dandelion Root Taraxacum officinale, Dill, European Vervain Verbena officinalis, Fennel, Fenugreek Trigonella L., Goat's Rue, Iceland Moss, Milk Thistle Silybum marianum, Milkwort, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica

Back To List

Haemostatic:

Herbs which stop or prevent bleeding. ASTRINGENTS are often HAEMOSTATIC.

Examples:

Bayberry (Sweet Gale, Wax-Myrtle) Myrica gale ( Uterus), Beth Root (General), Black Alder Alnus glutinosa, Blackberry (Uterus), Bistort Persicaria bistorta, Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa (Lungs), Cayenne (Powerful), Club Moss, Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Cranesbill Geranium dissectum, Ergot, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis (Uterus, bowels), Great Burnett, Horsetail, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Mullein (Bowels, general), Stinging Nettle Root Urtica dioica (General), Plantain Plantago spp., Raspberry Leaf Rubus idaeus, Red Alder, Shave Grass, Smooth Alder, Storksbill (Uterus), Tormentil, Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, White Oak Bark (General), Witch Hazel, Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Hepatic:

Herbs that support the function of the liver.

Examples:

Agrimony Agrimonia L., Aloe Vera, Asparagus, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Bayberry (Sweet Gale, Wax-Myrtle) Myrica gale, Blue Flag Iris versicolor, Boldo, Buckthorn, Carrot, Cascara Sagrada Frangula alnus, Curly Dock Rumex crispus, Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Fennel, Garden Sage Salvia oficinalis, Hyssop, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Mandrake Mandragora L., Milk Thistle Silybum marianum, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica,  Poke Root, Self-Heal, Wild Yam, Wood Betony Stachys officinalis

Back To List

Hypnotic:

Herbs that help induce sleep or a hypnotic state.

Examples:

Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata, Hops Humulus lupulus , Kava Kava Piper methysticum, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Skullcap Scutellaria L., Valerian Valeriana officinalis

Hypoglycemic:

Herbs that help regulate and reduce blood sugar.

Examples:

Burdock Arctium lappa, Garlic

Back To List

Hypotensive:

See ANTIHYPERTENSIVE.

Immunostimulant:

Herbs that stimulate the immune system.

Examples:

Astragalus membranaceus, Burdock Arctium lappa, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Echinacea purpurea, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, White Cedar Thuja occidentalis, Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Back To List

Laxative:

Herbs that promote contractions of the bowels to stimulate removal of feces. Unlike the gentler APERIENTS which promote normal bowel activity, herbs with a Laxative effect act by irritating the bowels so they evacuate more forcefully.

Examples:

Agave, Aloe Vera, Apple tree bark, Asparagus, Black Walnut Bark Juglans nigra, Cascara, Chickweed Stellaria media, Dog's Mercury, Ferula Ferula foetida, Fig tree, Fumitory Fumaria, Garden Violet, Larch, Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Lily of the Valley, Mexican Damiana, Olive, Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, Pansy, Peach tree, Plum Prunus domestica Prunus americana, Pokeweed Phytolacca americana, Raspberry Rubus idaeus, Senna, Solomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum, Sorrel, Tamarind, Wahoo*, Walnut Juglans cinerea, Wild Oregon Grape Root Mahonia Nutt., Yellow Parilla, Yerba Mate, Yucca Root

Lithotriptic:

Herbs that help to dissolve and eliminate urinary and biliary stones and gravel.

Examples:

For kidney and bladder stones: Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Goldenrod Solidago canadensis, Nettle Leaf Urtica dioica, Parsley, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi

For the gallbladder: Cascara Sagrada Frangula alnus, Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi, Wild Cherry Bark Prunus virginiana

Back To List

Lymphatic:

Herbs that will stimulate and cleanse the lymphatic system.

Examples:

Astragalus membranaceus, Black Walnut Bark Juglans nigra, Chaparral Larrea tridentata, Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Dock Rumex crispus, Echinacea purpurea, Garlic Allium sativum, Oregon Grape Root Mahonia Nutt., Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Poke

Lypolytic:

Herbs that normalize lipids in the body.

Examples:

Dong Quai Angelica sinensis, Garlic

Narcotic:

Powerful ANALGESICS which often also have HYPNOTIC function.

Example:

Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora, Kava Kava Piper methysticum, Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum

Back To List

Nervine:

Herbs that exert an effect on the nervous system. See the categories below.

Examples:

Nervine Relaxant: Herbs that promote relaxation of the nervous system. Often act to sedate or produce sleep, or to relax muscles.  Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Catnip, Chamomile Anthemis L., Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora, Hyssop, Kava Kava Piper methysticum, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Linden blossom, Musk-mallow Malva moschata, Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata, Black Haw, Cramp Bark, Lady's Slipper Cypripedium acaule, Hops Humulus lupulus , California Poppy, Lavender, Pleurisy Root, Skullcap Scutellaria L., St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Valerian Valeriana officinalis

Nervine Stimulant: Herbs that stimulate the nervous system. Astragalus membranaceus, Coffee, Tea, Mate, Kola Nut

Nervine Tonic: Herbs that support and strengthen the nervous system. Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora, Oats, Skullcap Scutellaria L., St John's Wort Hypericum perforatum, Vervain Verbena officinalis

Nutritive:

Herbs that nourish the body. Useful in convalescence or anorexia.

Examples:

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis, Hemp seeds

Back To List

Oxytocic:

These herbs will promote and can assist in easier childbirth. See Uterine Tonic

Examples:

Birthwort, Blue Cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides, Marijuana Cannabis sativa, Cotton, Ergot, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Peruvian Bark, Shepherd's Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris

Parasiticide:

Herbs that destroy parasites in the digestive tract or on the skin.

Examples:

Blackberry, Black Walnut Bark Juglans nigra, Chamomile Anthemis L., Cinnamon Oil, Chaparral Larrea tridentata, Cloves, Echinacea Echinacea purpurea, False Unicorn, Garlic Allium sativum, Gentian, Nettle Leaf Urtica dioica, Rue, Thyme, Wood Betony Stachys officinalis, Wormwood Artemisia vulgaris

Back To List

Parturient:

Herbs that support and facilitate the birthing process. These are often Uterine Tonics or stimulants. See Oxytocic

Examples:

Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Blue Cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides, Chaste Berry, False Unicorn Root Chamaelirium luteum, Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca, Raspberry Leaf Rubus idaeus, Squaw Vine Mitchella repens

Pectoral:

Herbs that strengthen the lungs. All expectorants are pectorals, but this class includes herbs that aid the lungs through other actions as well.

Examples:

Bloodroot Sanguinaria Canadensis, Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Elecampagne, Lobelia, Mallow Malva neglecta, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Pleurisy Root, Bearberry Uva-Ursi Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi

Back To List

Relaxant:

Herbs which induce relaxation. See Nervine

Examples:

Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Catnip, Chamomile Anthemis L., Hyssop, Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora, Kava Kava Piper methysticum, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Linden blossom, Musk-mallow Malva moschata, Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata, Black Haw, Cramp Bark, Lady's Slipper Cypripedium acaule, Hops Humulus lupulus , California Poppy, Lavender, Pleurisy Root, St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Valerian Valeriana officinalis

Restorative:

See ALTERATIVE

Rubefacient:

Herbs that increase the flow of blood at the surface of the skin and produce redness where they are applied. Their function is to draw inflammation and congestion from deeper areas. They are useful for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, and other joint problems and for sprains.

Examples:

Bergamot Monarda citriodora, Buttercup Ranunculus L., Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Cinnamon Cinnamomum spp., Cowslip, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Hellebore, Horseradish, Juniper, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Mezereum Daphne mezereum, Monarda, Mustard Seed, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Olive Leaf, Pasque Flower, Peppermint Oil, Prickly Ash Zanthoxylum L., Rosemary Oil, Rue, Thyme Oil, Wheatgrass Triticum aestivum, Powder

Back To List

Sedative:

Herbs that strongly quiet the nervous system. These will include antispasmodic and nervine.

Examples:

Birch Betula lenta, Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Black Haw, Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis, Bugleweed (arterial, nervine), Catnip, Celery seeds, Chamomile Anthemis L., Coral Root, Ferula Ferula foetida, Feverweed, Garden Sage Salvia oficinalis, Goldthread, Hawthorn, Hops Humulus lupulus , Hyssop, Indian Pipe (Indian Pipe) Monotropa uniflora, Kava Kava Piper methysticum, Lavender, Ladyís Slipper Cypripedium acaule, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Lettuce, Monkshood Aconitum L., Mountain Laurel, New Jersey Tea, Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata, Peach Tree, Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium, Peony, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Periwinkle Vinca minor, Red Clover Trifolium pratense, Saffron, Saw Palmetto Serenoa repens, Skullcap Scutellaria L., Sorrel, Spearmint Mentha spicata, St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Sweet Flag, Thyme, Valerian Valeriana officinalis, Wild Black Cherry, Witch Hazel, Wood Betony Stachys officinalis, Yellow Jessamine Gelsemium sempervirens

Back To List

Sialagogue:

Substances that stimulate the flow of saliva and thus aid in the digestion of starches.

Examples:

Beet Root, Betel Nut Piper betle, Black Pepper, Blue Flag Iris versicolor, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Currant Ribes rubrum, Echinacea purpurea, European Centaury, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Lemon, Licorice Root Glycyrrhiza lepidota, Moneywort Lysimachia nummularia, Prickly Ash Zanthoxylum L., Quassia Picrasma excelsa Rooibos African Red Tea, Senega Snakeroot, Seven Barks (Hydrangea), Water Eryngo, Yerba Santa Eriodictyon californicum)

Soporific:

Herbs that will assist in giving a restful and relaxing sleep.

Examples:

Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Catnip, Hops Humulus lupulus , Kava Kava Piper methysticum, Ladyís Slipper Cypripedium acaule, Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata, Skullcap Scutellaria L., Valerian Valeriana officinalis, Vervain Verbena officinalis

Back To List

Spasmolytic:

See ANTISPASMODIC

Stimulant:

Generally, herbs that cause an increase in body functions. In older herbals, this term refers specifically to stimulants of the circulatory system;

Examples:

Bayberry (Sweet Gale, Wax-Myrtle) Myrica gale, Bergamot Monarda citriodora, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, .Prickly Ash Zanthoxylum L., Yarrow Achillea millefolium. See Cardiac.

Stomachic:

Herbs that tone and stimulate action of the stomach. See BITTER

Styptic:

Herbs that will stop bleeding, both internal and external.

Examples:

Astragalus membranaceus, Bennet Geum urbanum, Beth Root, Bistort Persicaria bistorta, Blackberry, Blind Nettle, Cranesbill Geranium dissectum, Horsetail, Horseweed, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Loosestrife Lythrum spp., Matico, Plantain Plantago spp., Rhatany, Sanicle Sanicula europaea, Shepherd's Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris, Spotted Cranebill, Tormentil, White Oak Bark, Witch Hazel, Woundwort, Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Back To List

Thymoleptic:

Herbs that act upon neurotransmitters in the brain to raise the mood and counteract depression.

Examples:

St Johnís Wort Hypericum perforatum, Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata

Tonic:

Herbs that strengthen and support the function of a specific organ or, in some herbals, the whole body.

Examples:

Alfalfa Medicago sativa, Apple Fiber, Burdock Arctium lappa, Cayenne Capsicum annuum, Chaga Mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Dandelion Root Taraxacum officinale, Eyebright Euphrasia L., Fenugreek Trigonella L., Ginseng Panax L., Hawthorn Berry, Hops Humulus lupulus , Milk Thistle Silybum marianum, Plantain Plantago spp., Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhinaSolomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, Yerba Mate

Specific Tonics                                                    

-Blood:      Chaparral Larrea tridentata, Chokecherry Prunus virginiana, Echinacea Echinacea purpurea, Garlic, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica

-Cardiac: Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Bugleweed, Foxglove Digitalis purpurea, Hawthorne, Ginseng Panax L., Hawthorn, Hedge Hyssop, Hellebore, Lily of the Valley, Lime blossom, American Mistletoe Phoradendron leucarpum, Monarda, Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca, Peyote, Raspberry Rubus idaeus, Wahoo, Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa

-Gall Bladder:   Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Oregon Grape Root Mahonia Nutt., Parsley, Wild Yam

-Intestinal:      Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Blackberry Leaves, Cascara Sagrada Frangula alnus, Cranesbill Geranium dissectum, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis

-Kidney:   American Mistletoe Phoradendron leucarpum, Buchu, Bunchberry Cornus canadensis, Burdock Root Arctium lappa, Cleavers, Fo-ti, Horsetail, Kava Kava, Parsley, Pipsissewa Chimaphila umbellata, Saw Palmetto Serenoa repens, Uva Ursi.

-Liver:       Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Buckthorn Bark, Cascara Sagrada Frangula alnus, Dandelion Taraxacum officinale, Eyebright Euphrasia L., Fo-ti, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Mandrake Mandragora L., Stoneroot.

-Lung:       Beth Root, Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Elecampane, Fenugreek Trigonella L., Garlic Allium sativum, Lungwort, Pluerisy Root

-Nerve:      American Mistletoe Phoradendron leucarpum, Celery, Chamomile Anthemis L., Hops Humulus lupulus, Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora, Ladyís Slipper Cypripedium acaule, Lobelia, St. John's Wort Hypericum perforatum, Valerian Valeriana officinalis

-Sexual:   (1) Female - Black Haw, Damiana, Dong Quai Angelica sinensis, False Unicorn, Squaw Vine Mitchella repens

(2) Male - Damiana, Ginseng Panax L., Plantain Plantago spp., Sarsaparilla Smilax aristolochiifolia, Saw Palmetto Serenoa repens, Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica, Yarrow Achillea millefolium

-Uterine       Tone and normalize the function of the female reproductive system. Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Blue Cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides, Chaste Berry, Dong Quai Angelica sinensis, False Unicorn Root Chamaelirium luteum, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca, Raspberry Leaf Rubus idaeus, Shepherd's Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris, Squaw Vine Mitchella repens

Back To List

Vasoconstrictor:

Herbs which reduce blood flow.

Examples:

Ma Huang Ephedra sinica, Witch Hazel Hamamelis virginiana, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Bugleweed Lycopus virginicus

Vasodilator:

Herbs which Increase blood flow.

Examples:

American Hellebore Veratrum viride, Garlic Allium sativum, Ginseng Panax L., Horseradish Amoracia rusticana, Barberry Berberis vulgaris, Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa, Black Haw Viburnum spp., Coleus forskholii Coleus, Cramp Bark, Fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum, Ginger Zingiber officinale, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng Panax L., Goldenthread Coptis spp., Hawthorn Crataegus spp., Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Linden Flower Tilia europaea, Olive Leaf Olea europaea, Parsley Petroselinum crispum, Prickly Ash Xanthoxylum americanum, Skullcap Scutellaria L., Stinging Nettles Urtica dioica, Valerian Valeriana officinalis Vervain Verbena officinalis, Yarrow Achillea millefolium,

Vermicide:

Herbs that kill intestinal worms. See ANTHELMINTIC

Vermifuge:

Herbs that promote expulsion of intestinal worms. See ANTHELMINTIC

Vulnerary:

Herbs that help wounds or inflammations to heal; can refer to lesions of the skin or mucus membranes. Many ASTRINGENTS, DEMULCENTS, and EMOLLIENTS have vulnerary actions. Sometimes the vulnerary function is due to tannins producing an impervious layer that protects the wound as it heals. Sometimes mucilage soothes and keeps the tissue moist. Certain plants like Comfrey and Plantain contain Allantoin which is a natural cell proliferant. Allantoin stimulates cell growth, and helps the body quickly regenerate cells to speed healing. Comfrey contains hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA's). These have been shown to increase the incidents of liver failure. Rats given injections of pure PA's developed cancer. It is therefore not recommended that you take comfrey internally. Herbs with ANTI-MICROBIAL action can also assist wound healing by guarding against infection.

Examples:

Burdock Arctium lappa, Comfrey Symphytum officinale, Chickweed Stellaria media, Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis, Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale, Knotweed Polygonum aviculare, Marigold, Marshmallow Althaea officinalis, Plantain Plantago spp., Sassafras Sassafras albidum, Solomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum, St John's Wort Hypericum perforatum, Yarrow Achillea millefolium, Willow Bark Salix spp.

Back To List

Download a hard copy of this medicinal actions list.

Home Back to Plants Medicinal Actions Contact Us

Medicinal Actions

Herbal Actions

Herbal Remedies

Contact Living Afield

Revised: 12/19/16 Living Afield