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An Elementary Herbal Course – Lesson 3 – Anodynes

Here is the third lesson following on from Lesson two : An Introduction to Herbal Medicine – Alternatives.


Anodynes are medicinal agents that quiet, relieve or kill pain.


Botanical name: Anthemis nobilis and Chamomilla matricaria.

Parts used: Flowers, leaves and stems.

Common names: Mayweed, Ground apple, Roman chamomile.

Therapeutic Properties and Uses: Anodyne, antispasmodic, aromatic, bitter tonic, stomachic, stimulant, nervine, diaphoretic.

Chamomile tea is good for flatulent colic, dyspepsia, and for fever and restlessness in children. It is very useful as a wash for sores and wounds.

Chamomile oil can be taken internally for colic,spasms and stomach cramps. The flowers can also be made into a rubbing oil for swellings, callouses and painful joints. If drunk before going to bed, a tea made of chamomile flowers will help to induce sleep. It has been claimed that it has dissolved kidney stones but I have never used it for this purpose. It is a good remedy for the spleen and is also useful in delirium tremens. The oil is good for earache and other ear pains. Where there are hard swellings and pain in the joints, this is a very useful remedy.

To make chamomile oil: Take twenty five grams of fresh or dried chamomile, and add sufficient olive oil to just cover. Beat them together and leave in a warm dark place for a week to ten days. Then, strain and bottle and keep tightly stoppered. This is very useful for pain, rheumatism and for strained muscles.

Chamomile is very soothing to the nervous system and mucous membrane. It influences the uterus relieving congestion and promoting the menstrual flow. It will be found of great benefit in hysteria. A good indication for its use in gastric disterbances ‘is a feeling of coldness’.

Dosage: Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water on to one or two tea spoons flul of the dried leaves, and let it infuse for from ten to fifteen minutes. For digestive troubles this tea should be taken after meals.

Tincture: From five to ten drops.

Botanical name: Humulus lupulus.

Part used: The fruit, these are also termed strobules.

Therapeutic Properties and Uses: Anodyne, diuretic, tonic, febrifuge, hypnotic and sedative.

Hops are most commonly used for their calming effect on the nervous system. Hop tea is recommended for nervous diarrhoea, insomnia and restlessness. It will also help to stimulate the appetite, dispel flatulence and relieve intestinal cramps. It can be usefully combined with valerian for its antispasmodic properties in the treatment of coughs and nervous spasmodic affections. Hops also possess diuretic properties and can be taken for various problems where there is urine retention and excess uric acid. A tea of Hops eases restlessness, insomnia and delirium tremens. It reduces fever and pain and helps to expel poisons from the body.
As a poultice or fomentation, it is a very valuable agent for inflammatory and irritable conditions, whether they be internal or external. It makes a good addition to cough syrups, for irritable coughs, and restlessness of the breathing apparatus. It has been used successfully in rheumatism and neuralgia. A hot fomentation may be applied to the parts affected, and it may be taken, with other suitable agents internally.

In hysteria and dysmenorrhoea it will be found of great advantage taken as a hot tea. In combination with hepatic tonics it will give good results in nervous depression.

It is gently laxative to the bowels and exerts a relaxing influence over the liver and gall ducts. It is indicated where nervous conditions are accompanied with nausea, dizziness, headache following a night’s debauch. Some other important indications for this remedy are, a slow pulse and drowsiness.

Dose: Fluid extract: Fifteen to sixty drops.


Botanical name: Verbascum thapsus.

Part used: Leaves and flowers.

Common names: Aaron’s rod, Feltwort, Jacob’s staff, Velvet dock.

Therapeutic Properties and Uses: Anodyne, antispasmodic, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, vulnerary.

A very good remedy for coughs, hoarseness, bronchitis, bronchial catarrh and whooping cough. It can also be used for gastro-intestinal catarrh and cramps in the digestive tract. A few of the flowers will reduce pain and induce sleep. For inflammations a tea or a vinegar fomentation can be applied. For catarrh, nasal congestion or other respiratory problems, breathe the vapour from hot water in which a handful of the flowers have been added. The crushed fresh flowers are claimed to remove warts when applied to the same.

Mullein is a very useful agent in the treatment of glandular swellings, hepatisation or thickening of the lung tissue, phthisis, asthma, hay fever, coughs, pleuritis and in all forms of oedema. A hot infusion of the leaves is useful in dysuria. Externally, it is useful for sprains, bruises, soreness of the chest and painful chronic abscesses. The expressed juice of the green leaves, forms an excellent extract or salve for haemorrhoids.

The oil of Mullein is a valuable remedy in otalgia, scrophulous ophthalmia and in enuresis.

The oil may be obtained by filling a large bottle with fresh flowers. Use a cork with a hole bored in it. Cork the bottle tightly, and invert the bottle so that the oil will drip through the hole in the cork into another bottle placed beneath it. These bottles should be kept standing in the hot sunlight. To preserve the oil that drips through, a few drops of alcohol will need to be added. This oil may be applied to an enlarged sub-maxillary or other enlarged glands. It has a pronounced action on the fifth pair of cranial nerves.

Dose: Infusion: Steep two tea spoons full of leaves or flowers in one cup of hot water. Strain, and drink one or two cupfuls a day.

Fluid extract: from two to three mils.

Tincture: Fifteen to forty drops, in warm water, every two to four hours.


Botanical name: Viola tricolor.

Part used: The plant.

Common name: Heartsease.

Therapeutic Properties and Uses: Anodyne, demulcent, diaphoretic, expectorant, diuretic, laxative, vulnerary.

An infusion of pansy is useful for skin eruptions in children, for diarrhoea and urinary problems. Among its many uses, it has been used for arteriosclerosis, bedwetting, nervous complaints, hysteria, and cramps in children. It also serves in cases of jaundice, gout and rheumatism, chest and lung inflammations.

It is a very efficient expectorant in bronchitis. It was formerly used in syphilis and other venereal diseases. Used for the treatment of eczema in childhood, nocturnal emissions accompanied by very vivid dreams. Eczema of the scalp with swollen glands has responded well to this remedy. It is very useful where there is much phlegm and for large volumes of urine accompanied by a cat-like odour.

Other indications for its use are, intolerable itching and thick scabs, which crack and exude a thick tenacious yellow pus.

Dose: Powdered herb: One to four grams, three or four times a day.

Strong tincture: Two to five drops a day. This is the best way of administering this remedy. It is far more potent than the infusion or any other methods of administering this remedy.

Prickly Ash

Botanical name: Xanthoxylon americanum

Part used: Bark and fruit.

Common names: Toothache bush, Toothache tree, Yellow wood.

Therapeutic Properties and Uses: Anodyne, diaphoretic. Irritant, stimulant, tonic, alternative, carminative.

The bark is a useful wash for itching of the skin. It has been used many times in the past in the treatment of rheumatism. It is useful where there is flatulence and poor digestion. It acts on the nervous system and mucous membrane. It has proven a valuable herb in certain cases of paralysis, especially in heiplegia. However, it will not cure the problem.

It is useful for painful haenorrhages, neuralgic dysmenorrhoea and sluggish capillary circulation.

Of value in neurasthenia, poor assimilation, insomnia and occipital headache. It increases the mucous secretion of the mouth, stimulating the secretions of the glands with their ducts opening into the mouth. For mental depression, weight and pain on the vertex. Pain over the eyes and throbbing pressure over the nose, pressure in the forehead and ringing in the ears. All of these are very good pointers for the use of Prickly Ash.

Some other conditions in which this remedy may be used are headache situated in the occiput, neuralgia of the lower jaw, pharyngitis, and griping with diarrhoea. It is used in cases of dysentery, for menses that are too early and painful, and in cases of ovarian neuralgia.

This fine remedy warms the stomach, arouses the skin and stimulates the salivary glands, as well as the lymphatics, serous and mucous membranes. It is very useful for aphonia and liver derangements. It strengthens the heart and quickens the pulse.

Dose: Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water on to one or two tea spoons full of the bark, and allow to infuse for ten or fifteen minutes. This should be taken a wine glass full at a time, three or four times a day.

Dried root: From a half to three grams, three times a day.

Dried Berries: From a half to one-and-a-half grams, three times a day.

Tincture: From two to four mils, three times a day.


Botanical name: Salix alba.

Part used: The bark.

Common names: White willow, Salicin willow, Withy.

Therapeutic Properties and Uses: Anodyne, antiseptic, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, tonic, nervine, stimulant, anti-pyretic.

White Willow allays pain and reduces fever. It contains salicin, a glucoside that is probably converted to salicylic acid in the body. It is closely related to aspirin.

It reduces inflammation and makes an effective treatment for articular rheumatism. As an astringent it has been used for internal bleeding, and as a diuretic for gouty and rheumatic problems. It is useful for heartburn and stomach complaints. A decoction can be used as a gargle for gum and tonsil inflammation; as an external wash for eruptions, sores, burns and wounds. It can be used as a foot-bath for sweaty feet, a lotion for pimples, pus-filled wounds and eczema.

As an anti-periodic it is superior to Quinine and much less exciting to the nerve centres. In decoction, it is useful in general debility, chronic diarrhoea, chronic dysentery, and in convalescence after fevers. A hot infusion stimulates the circulation and relieves neuralgia.

Dose: Decoction: Pour a cup of water on to one or two teaspoons of the bark, bring to the boil and simmer from ten to fifteen minutes. Strain. This quantity should be taken as a dose, three times a day.

Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water on to one or two tea spoons full of the bark. Allow to stand for ten to fifteen minutes. Drink whilst hot, three doses per day. The infusion is much weaker than the decoction.

Tincture: From two to four mils per dose.

Dried powdered bark: One to three grams, three times a day.


Botanic name: Salix nigra.

Part used: Bark and buds.

Common names: Pussy willow, Catkins willow.

Therapeutic Properties and Uses: The properties are exactly the same as the White Willow, with the exception of the following additional properties – Antiaphrodisiac and sexual sedative.

Taken before retiring for the night, it quiets the nerves and prevents lascivious dreams. This remedy restores vigour to the sexual organs and relieves ovarian pains. It is used in the treatment of nymphomania, onanism, seminal incontinence, ovaritis, cystitis, prostatitis, spermatorrheoa, and nocturnal emissions.

It is used for ovarian congestion, neuralgia and menorrhagia. It can be used for the treatment of bleeding from uterine fibroids.

It is used for pain caused by moving the testicles. It controls genital irritability and moderates sexual passion. It is used in cases of satyriasis and erotomania. Used for chordee.

Dose: This fine remedy is best used in the form of the Homoeopathic Mother tincture (which is far stronger than a normal tincture), or in very low homoeopathic potency (from 1x to 6x). A dose of the Mother tincture would be from twenty to thirty drops. The dose in potency would be one tablet or three pilules, three times a day. At the commencement of treatment of cases of a sexual nature, the dose should be given every two hours until progress is made, and then the dosage adjusted accordingly.


Today there is an increasing interest in Herbs. In 1974 the Pharmacoepial Society of Great Britain, held its National Conference on Herbal Remedies in Europe. In 1975 it organised an International Symposium entitled ‘Secondary Plant Products of Commercial Importance’.
In 1974 the International Pharmaceutical Federation included a Medicinal Plants Section in its meeting in Rome. In 1975 the International Conference met in Czechoslovakia and discussed Medicinal Plants.

This was the start of a new era in the study and usage of Medicinal Plants. The next move came, when a working party of the United Nations was set up to discuss problems such as the shortage of Opiates, which was prompted by a shortage of Codeine. This shortage was caused by the failure of chemists to produce sufficient synthetic Codeine. The solution was to produce more Thebaine which converts to Codeine. Thebaine and Morphine are obtained from the Opium Poppy, Papaver somniferum, and is the major source of medicinal Opium. It has been found that Thebaine is produced in larger quantities in another Poppy, Papaver bracteum.

Long time critics of Herbal medicine have laughed at the lengths that Herbalists go to, to obtain certain herbs at a specific time of the day, of the year, or in certain weather conditions. This was said to be hocus-pocus. Modern advanced research, however, has shown that the old-time Herbalist was right. The yield of Morphine from the Opium Poppy at 09.00 a.m. Is often four times the yield, twelve hours later. The same diurnal variation has been shown with other plants, including Atropine.

In many other cases, the yield of a particular alkaloid varies with the stage of germination. In the case of Periwinkle, there is virtually no active properties in the seeds. The properties commence to appear during germination and by the time three weeks has elapsed, is present throughout the whole of the plant. The properties then disappear, to reappear again after eight weeks. When plants flower, there is often an increase in the active principle, but in some other plants it is found to decrease.

The old herbalists certainly knew what they were doing when they selected herbs at certain times of the day or night, or the season. They also knew of the variations of the constituents between certain species and how location could influence the properties of these plants.

Modern day Herbalists lack a lot of this knowledge, and so it is that we must now experiment as the old herbalists did, to regain that wonderful knowledge.

6 comments to An Elementary Herbal Course – Lesson 3 – Anodynes

  • Northern Raider

    Pretty sure I used to go out with a girl from Limerick call Ann O’dyne 🙂

  • iaaems

    Very absorbing and for me, at least, highly topical insofar as my recent soul destroying weekend at the hopsital was for what turned out to be kidney stones – so will be having a go at the chamomile or is it ‘camomile’ tea to help get rid of my unwelcome passengers.

  • Kenneth Eames

    iaaems, There is a herb from the rainforest which is claimed to be wonderful for Kidney stones. I am looking for its name, as I cannot remember it. As soon as I find it I will pass it on. Kenneth Eames.

  • Kenneth Eames

    iaaems,The rain forestherb is called Chanca Piedra. Its botanical name is Phyllanthus niruri. It is a antilithic which means it destroys and prevents kidney stones. For further information go to This site has information on the herb and also sells the herb. I do hope this helps. I am sorry for the delay but at present I am rushing about like a cork speeding down the amazon. You must be in absolute agony and have all my sympathy. Kenneth Eames.

  • iaaems

    Kenneth, Very many thanks for the info – I will look into it as soon as possible.
    I had to go back to the hopsital for a check up and it would seem that I am clear for the moment as the offending piece of ‘grit’ has been removed from my system – but there are others waiting. Have been pain free since ‘giving birth’ at home. The advice given by the medics seems fairly standard but works – modify my diet a little and drink up to three litres of water during the day (not all at once). It seems to be working. The camomile tea is helping with getting a good nights sleep if nothing else and I regard that as something of a bonus.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  • Kenneth Eames

    iaaems, A very merry christmas. Thanks for your reply. I am pleased that for the present you are clear of the problem and that diet is keeping you well. All the very best. Kenneth Eames.

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