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An Elementary Herbal Course – Lesson 6 – The Properties of Herbs – Pt 2

Here is the sixth lesson following on from An Elementary Herbal Course – Lesson 5 – The Properties of Herbs – Pt 1.

LESSON Six The Properties of Herbs – Pt 2 Continued from Lesson Five

CATHARTICS OR LAXATIVES: A herb that causes a rapid evacuation from the upper intestines and the bowels. They clean waste matter from the liver, gall ducts and alimentary canal. They normalise the peristaltic action of the bowels when taken in moderate doses over a period of time. They should not be habit forming.

Agar Agar, Aloes, Boneset, Buckthorn, Cascara Sagrada, Cleavers, Flax Seed, Golden Seal, Licorice Root, Motherwort, Oregon Grape Root, Peach Bark, Poke Root, Psyllium Seed, Rhubarb, Safflower, Senna, Yellow Dock.

CHOLAGOGUES: These promote the flow of bile and purgation of the bowels.

Barberry, Beets, Bistort, Boneset, Cascara Sagrada, Cayenne, Damiana, Dandelion, Gentian, Elecampane, Golden Seal, Hops, Hyssop, Olive Oil, Oregon Grape Root, Vervain, Wild Yam, Wormwood, Yellow Dock.

DEMULCENTS AND MUCILAGES: They soften and relieve irritation of the mucous membranes. They have a mucilaginous property which aids in the soothing of inflammed parts.

Agar Agar, Aloe Vera, Burdock, Chickweed, Coltsfoot, Comfrey Root, Corn Silk, Fenugreek, Flax Seed, Irish Moss, Kelp, Licorice Root, Lungwort, Marshmallow, Mullein, Peach Bark, Psyllium Seed, Slippery Elm.

DEOBSTRUENTS: Herbs thatremove obstructions from the alimentary canal and other areas.

Barberry (Liver), Culver’s Root (bowel), Golden Seal (Glands), Gravel Root (Kidneys), Hydranges Root (Kidneys), Plantain (Blood, Kidneys).

DEODERANTS: Herbs that eliminate foul odours.

Blackberry, Echinacea, Lovage.

DESSICANTS: Herbs that dry surfaces by absorbing moisture.

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

DIAPHORETICS: These herbs promote perspiration and increase elimination through the skin. They influence the whole circulatory system. There are three divisions or classes.

STIMULATING: Angelica, Blessed Thistle, Boneset, Buchu, Elder Flowers, Garlic, Ginger, Horseradish, Hyssop, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Spearmint, Yarrow.

NEUTRAL: Horehound, Safflower, Sarsaparilla, Sassafras.

RELAXING: Burdock, Calandula, Catnip, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Motherwort, Mugwort, Passion Flower, Pleurisy Root, Thyme, Vervain White Willow, Wild Yam.

DISCUTIENTS: Herbs that dissolve and remove tumours and abnormal growths. These are used as poultices and taken internally as teas.

Black Walnut, Blood Root, Burdock Root, Cabbage Leaf, Chaparral, Chickweed, Devil’s Claw, Garlic, Sanicle, Red Clover.

DIURETICS: Herbs that increase the flow of urine. They are usually combined with a demulcent herb to sooth any irritation from acids or gravel. Diuretic herbs can be used in the treatment of backache, prostatitis, sciatica, kidney stones, bladder ache, lymphatic swelling, scalding urine, gonorrheoa, skin eruptions, water retention.

Agrimony, Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Buchu, Burdock root, Celery seed, Chaparral, Cleavers, Cornsilk, Damiana, Dandelion, Fennel, Gravel root, Hawthorn, Horsetail, Horseradish, Juniper berries, Kelp, Marshmallow, Mistletoe, Parsley, Plantain, Pleurisy root, Rosemary, Saw Palmetto, Shepherd’s purse, Squaw vine, St. John’s wort, Stone root, Uva Ursi, White Willow.

EMETICS: These are herbs used to induce vomiting and evacuation of the stomach. They are normally administered as a tea or in tincture.

Bayberry, Chaparral, Lobelia, Poke root.

EMMENAGOGUES: Herbs that are female correctives to the reproductive system. They stimulate and promote normal menstrual function.

Aloe vera, Angelica, Pennyroyal, Bayberry, Beth root, Black Cohosh, Black Haw, Blessed Thistle, Blue Cohosh, Chamomile, Damiana, Gentian, Horsetail, Motherwort, Mugwort, Myrrh, Prickly Ash, Squaw vine, Tansy.

EMOLLIENTS: Herbs that are applied to soften and soothe and protect external surfaces. They are applied as selves, fomentations and poultices and may be taken internally for their demulcent action.

Almond oil, Aloe vera, Chickweed, Coltsfoot, Comfrey root, Flax seed, Irish moss, Lungwort, Marshmallow, Olive oil, Plantain, Slippery Elm.

EXPECTORANTS: Herbs that promote the discharge of mucous from the lung and throat.

Angelica, Chaparral, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Cramp bark, Elecampane, Ephedra, Fennel, Fenugreek, Garlic, Horehound, Horseradish, Hyssop, Licorice root, Lobelia, Lungwort, Mullein, Myrrh, Nettles, Parsley, Plantain, Pleurisy root, Thyme, Vervain, Wild Cherry bark, Yerba Santa.

FEBRIFUGES: Herbs that reduce fever.

Boneset, Catnip, Hyssop, Peppermint, Shepherd’s purse, White willow, Yarrow.

GALACTAGOGUES: Herbs that increase the secretion of milk in a nursing mother.

Anise seed, Blessed Thistle, Cumin, Dandelion, Fennel, Fenugreek, Raspberry, Vervain.

HAEMOSTATICS: Herbs that arrest internal bleeding.

Bayberry (uterus), Beth root (general), Blackberry (uterus), Bistort, Black Cohosh (Lungs), Cayenne (very powerful), Goldenseal (uterus and bowels), Horsetail, Mullein (bowels, general), Stinging Nettle root, White Oak bark, Witch Hazel, Yarrow.

HEMETICS: Herbs that are rich in IRON and MANGANESE and these enrich the red corpuscles of the blood.

Agrimony, Apple (Unpeeled, sour), Barberry, Blackberries, Black Walnut, Comfrey, Dandelion, Fenugreek, Gentian, Red Raspberry, Watercress, Yellow Dock.

HEPATICS: Herbs which strengthen, tone and stimulate the secretions of the liver, causing an increased flow of bile. Useful in the treatment of jaundice, hepatitis and alcohol abuse to detoxify the liver.

Agrimony, Aloe vera, Bayberry, Blue Flag, Buckthorn, Carrot, Cascara sagrada, Dandelion, Fennel, Sage, Hyssop, Milk Thistle, Poke root, Self Heal, Wild Yam, Wood Betony, Yellow Dock.

LYMPHATICS: Herbs that stimulate and cleanse the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is so important for the proper functioning of the immune system. It filters the wastes from the blood.

Black Walnut, Burdock, Chaparral, Dandelion, Echinacea, Garlic, Oregon Grape root, Poke root, Yellow Dock.

NERVINES: Herbs that are a tonic to the nervous system. They are used to relieve pain and regulate the nervous system.

Catnip, Celery, Chamomile, Cramp bark, Gravel root, Hops, Ladies Slipper, Lobelia, Mistletoe, Motherwort, Mugwort, Avena Sative, Parsley, Passion flower, Pleurisy root, Skullcap, St. John’s wort, Valerian, Vervain, Wood Betony.

NUTRITIVES: Herbs that are nourishing and build tissue.

Agar Agar, Alfalfa, Comfrey herb, Comfrey root, Dandelion leaves, Horsetail, Irish Moss, Lelp, Licorice, Marshmallow root, Mullein, Nettles, Red Clover, Rosehips, Slippery Elm, Watercress, Yellow Dock.

OPHTHALMICS: Herbs that are used for healing the eyes.

Borage, Chamomile, Chickweed, Dandelion, Eyebright, Fennel, Goldenseal, Hyssop, Mullein.

OXYTOCICS: Herbs that are prescribed to promote an easy childbirth.

Angelica (Afterbirth), Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Cramp Bark (Afterbirth), Juniper berries, Raspberry, Squawvine.

PARACITICIDES: Herbs that kill animal and vegetable parasites that attack the skin.

Blackberry, Black Walnut, Cinnamon oil, Chaparral, Cloves (Probably the most potent), Echinacea, False Unicorn root, Garlic, Gentian, Rue, Thyme, Wood Betony.

RUBEFACIENTS: These herbs are used externally to stimulate and increase the flow of blood to the surface to assist relief of congestion and inflammation.

Cayenne, Mustard seed, Peppermint oil, Prickly Ash, Rosemary oil, Rue, Oil of Thyme.

SEDATIVES: Herbs that lower the functional activity of an organ to calm, moderate and tranquilise that organ.

Black Haw, Bugleweed, (Arterial nervine, Catnip, Chamomile, Garden Sage, Hawthorn berries, Horsemint, Hops, Hyssop, Ladies Slipper, Lemon Balm, Passion flower, Peach bark, Peppermint, Red Clover, Saw Palmetto, Skullcap, Sorrel, Spearmint, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Wild Cherry Bark (For coughs), Witch Hazel, Wood Betony.

SIALAGOGUES: Herbs that promote the flow of saliva.

Black pepper, Cayanne, Echinacea, Ginger, Licorice, Prickly Ash.

SOPORIFICS: These herbs promote a healing sleep.

Black Cohosh, Catnip, Hops, Ladies Slipper, Motherwort, Mullein, Passion flower, Skullcap, Valerian, Vervain.

STIMULANTS: Herbs that stimulate functional activity and energy in the body.

Angelica, Bayberry, Black Pepper, Blessed Thistle, Boneset (Powerful), Cardamom, Cayenne, Celery, Cloves, Elder flowers, Elecampane (Gentle), Ephedra, False Unicorn, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Ginseng, Horseradish, Juniper berries, Oats, Onion, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Prickly Ash, Raspberry, Rosemary, Rue, Shepherds Purse, Spearmint, Yarrow.

STOMACHICS: Herbs that strengthen the function of the stomach. They are usually bitter herbs and this generally promotes digestion and increases appetite.

Agrimony, Barberry, Blessed Thistle, Dandelion, Elecampane, Ginseng, Goldenseal, Hops, Juniper berries, Mugwort, Peach bark, Rosehips, Rue, Wormwood.

STYPTICS: Herbs that stop the bleeding of wounds. Used both externally and internally.

Beth root, Bistort, Blackberry, Cranesbill, Horsetail, Plantain, Tormentil, White Oak bark, Witch Hazel, Yarrow.

TONICS: Herbs that stimulate nutrition and permanently increase tone, vigour and energy.

Blood Tonics: Echinacea, Chaparral, Garlic, Red Clover.

Gall Bladder Tonics: Goldenseal, Oregon Grape root, Parsley, Wild Yam.

Heart Tonics: Bugleweed, Hawthorn, Ginseng, European Mistletoe, Motherwort.

Intestinal Tonics: Barberry, Blackberry leaves, Cascara Sagrada, Cranesbill, Goldenseal.

Kidney Tonics: Buchu, Burdock root, Cleavers, Horsetail, Parsley, Pipssissewa, Saw Palmetto, Arctostaphylos uva ursi.

Liver Tonics: Barberry, Buckthorn bark, Cascara Sagrada, Dandelion, Eyebright, Goldenseal, Stoneroot.

Lung Tonics: Beth root, Comfrey, Elecampane, Fenugreek, Garlic, Lungwort, Pleurisy root.

Nerve Tonics: Celery, Chamomile, Hops, Ladies Slipper, Lobelia, Mistletoe, Valerian.

Sexual Tonics: Black Haw (Female), Damiana (Male and female), Dong Quai (Female), False Unicorn (Female), Ginseng (Male and female), Sarsaparilla (Male), Saw Palmetto (Male), Squaw vine (Female).

Stomach Tonics: Agrimony, Blessed Thistle, Elecampane, Gentian, Goldenseal, Raspberry, Wild Cherry Bark, Wormwood.

VULNERARIES: Herbs that promote the healing of wounds.

Aloe vera, Black Walnut, Calendula, Comfrey leaves, Comfrey root, Fenugreek, Garlic, Daisy, Goldenseal, Horsetail, Lungwort, Marshmallow, Mullein, Slippery Elm, Yarrow.


SYRUP: These are used for coughs,throat inflammations and to soothe the intestinal tract. It is thick and sticky. Take 25 gms of herb and boil it in one litre of water. Boil down to one half litre. Strain, and add 100 mils of honey. If you add Licorice root and Wild Cherry bark it may be used to make cough syrup.

TEAS OR TISANES: These are normally made in this way, put one teaspoon of the herb in a cup of boiling water. Allow to stand for five minutes. If your tea is being made from bark, stems or root, you will need to boil the tea for three minutes and allow to stand for your five minutes before consuming.

Infusions, Decoctions, Tinctures and Fluid Extracts will be dealt with in a later lesson.

We will shortly deal with Pharmacy in more detail.


When we mix herbal compound medicines there are four principles that we have to bear in mind. These are:-

  • The basic ingredient or ingredients. This is the herb or herbs that contain the curative virtues.
  • An ingredient that will disguise the taste, making ir taste more pleasant.
  • A medicine that will moderate the basic ingredients action, i.e. Protect the mucous membrane. Often a laxative is added as well where the bowels are not operating, or they are but only sluggishly.
  • The vehicle which contains the above substances, e.g. Water, alcohol, tablet base, syrup capsule etc.

I recommend that the following method of producing compound medicines be followed:-

  1. Four parts of active herbs.
  2. One part of demulcent herb.
  3. One part of aromatic herb.
  4. One part of laxative herb for temporary constipation or for sluggish bowels. In future prescriptions this may be omitted.

Here is a simple formula for Nervousness.

  • 50 grams of Valerian
  • 25 grams of Scullcap Active herbs
  • 25 grams of Lime flowers
  • 25 grams of Marshmallow Demulcent and Emollient
  • 25 grams of Catnip Aromatic carminative
  • 25 grams of Dandelion root Laxative (gentle)

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