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An Elementary Herbal Course – Lesson 7 – Antispasmodics

Here is the seventh lesson following on from An Elementary Herbal Course – Lesson 6 – The Properties of Herbs – Pt 2


These are agents that allay cramps or spasms.


Botanical name: Lobelia inflata.

Common names: Bladder Podded Lobelia, wild tobacco, emetic herb, emetic weed, puke weed, asthma weed, gag root, eyebright, vomit wort.

Parts used: Plant and seed.

Therapeutic properties and uses: Antispasmodic, emetic, expectorant, diaphoretic, diuretic, nervine.

Lobelia is the most powerful relaxant known among herbs that has no known harmful effects. Lobelia relieves pain due to spasm of any character. It makes the pulse fuller and softer in cases of inflammation and fever. Lobelia reduces palpitation of the heart. It is fine in the treatment of all fevers and in pneumonia, cough, bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough, hysteria, convulsions, tetanus, febrile troubles, spasmodic or membranous croup, pleuritis, hepatitis, peritonitis, otitis, ophthalmia, nephritis, rheumatism, etc.. Lobelia alone cannot cure, but it is very beneficial if given in connection with other measures.

Pleurisy root is a specific remedy for pleurisy, but it is excellent if combined with Lobelia for its relaxing properties. It is excellent for very nervous patients. Poultices or hot fomentations of Lobelia are good in external inflammations such as rheumatism, etc.. It is excellent to add Lobelia poultices for abscesses, boils and carbuncles. Use one third lobelia to two-thirds Slippery Elm bark or the same proportion to any other herb you are using.

While Lobelia is an excellent emetic, it is a strange fact that given in small doses for irritable stomach, it will stop spasmodic vomiting. In cases of asthma, give a lobelia pack, followed the next morning by an emetic. The pack will loosen the waste material and, it will be cast out with the emetic. In bad cases where the liver is affected and the skin yellow, combine equal parts of pleurisy root, catnip and bitter root. Steep a teaspoonful in a cup of boiling water. Give two tablespoons full every two hours, hot. Lobelia is a most efficient relaxant, influencing mucous, serous, nervous and muscular structures. It influences the glandular system, the fauces, and the respiratory tubuli. It is a good rule to always take a stimulant before using lobelia.

The acid tincture of Lobelia is made as follows:

  • Lobelia herb and seed of each 50 grams
  • Best malt vinegar 1 litre

Steep in a closely stoppered bottle for two weeks or more, shaking every day. Strain and bottle for use. If the vinegar is brought to the boiling point before adding, it will be ready to use at once.

This has also been used as an external application, it being rubbed between the shoulders and on the chest in asthma and most helpful in cases where breathing has been most difficult.

This acid tincture may be added to horehound, hyssop and other teas for coughs, asthma and colds. Add from one to ten drops of the acid tincture to one cup of the tea.

The antispasmodic tincture is made as follows:

All in powder. Twenty-five grams of each, crushed lobelia seed and herb, skunk cabbage root, skullcap, myrrh, valerian and twelve gramsof cayenne. Infuse for fourteen days in 50% alcohol. Shake well each day and at the end of the fourteen days (or longer), strain and bottle for use.

A drop or two of this tincture on the tip of a finger, thrusting the finger into the mouth of a convulsed infant, has in many cases stopped the convulsions very quickly.

In mucous and spasmodic croup this tincture should be administered as soon as possible. The dose is a half teaspoonful in warm water, repeated every ten to fifteen minutes.

The dose of the Fluid Extract is from one to five drops.


Botanical name: Viburnam opulus.

Part used: The bark.

Common names: High Cranberry, Guelder rose.

Therapeutic Properties and Uses: Antispasmodic, nervine, relaxant.

The bark of this plant is the official part. It has no odour. The taste is bitter and astringent. It yields its properties to water and dilute alcohol. The leaves of this plant contain a bitter principle, viburnine. The bark contains derivatives of isovalerianic acid and salicoside.

Although this plant is called High Cranberry, it is in no sense a species of edible cranberry. CAUTION POISON. The berries contain a poison which causes severe gastro-enteritis, and death has resulted from eating them.

This is a wonderful antispasmodic, and as the common name cramp bark implies, it is very useful in cases of cramp. It will quickly relieve the pains of cramp in the limbs and the cramps of pregnancy. It is valuable in any nervous troubles associated with the pregnant state and it will help to prevent miscarriage. To enhance its action, making it more active, it may be combined with any of the following, Wild yam, Blue cohosh, Squaw vine or Skullcap.

It is a valuable female remedy, it is useful in painful menstruation and when rheumatic pains are felt in the uterine region. It is a relaxant of the ovaries and uterus. Useful for colicky pains in the pelvic organs, false labour pains, sudden cramps in the umbilical region, with tenderness on pressure. These complaints are often accompanied by constant nausea which is relieved by eating.

Where the menses are too late, scanty, or only lasting a few hours, this is an excellent remedy. There is often an offensive odour accompanied with cramp and pain extending down the thighs. The ovaries region feels heavy and congested, aching in the sacrum and pubic areas. The muscles at the back of the thighs are painful, accompanied by leucorrhoea which burns and smarts in the genital area and wherever else it comes into contact. It is useful in certain types of sterility. It is excellent for pains that extend from the back to the loins and the womb. They are often at their worst in the morning.

It can also be used, often with great success, in fits, fainting, neuralgis, lockjaw, stomach flaulence, convulsions and spasms of all kinds.

There is a frequent urge to urinate, passing much pale coloured urine. Coughing and walkind causes discharge of urine. There is backache in the sacral area. This is a very valuable uterine sedative to be used in cases of dysmenorrhoea and miscarriage.

Dose: Fluid Extract, From one half to a full teaspoon.

The decoction is made by steeping one teaspoonful of the bark in one cupful of boiling water for half an hour. The dosage for this is one or two cupfuls daily.

The infusion is made by steeping twelve grams of the bark in a litre of boiling water. The dose of this is one tablespoonful as often as required.


Botanical name: Cypripedium pubescens.

Part used: The root.

Common names: Mocassin root, mocassin flower.

Therapeutic properties and uses: Antispasmodic, hypnotic, nervine tonic, relaxant, sedative.

The odour is slightly valerianic. In the United States it is often reffered to American valerian, The taste is sweet, acrid, bitter and aromatic.

The root is almost a pure nervine, accounting for the name ‘nerve root’ which has been given to it. It expends all of its medicinal properties on the nervous system, in one way or another.

It is also an excellent relaxant and may be used to advantage in the delirium of fevers, either alone or in combination of – two parts of ladies slipper root and one part of lobelia. Make an infusion of these and take in tablespoonful doses throughout the day. It relieves nervous tension and permits a refreshing sleep. In the delirium of typhoid fever, add a little capsicum to the above formula and this will relieve the brain irritation, and again, permit a refreshing sleep. It is used for cerebral hyperasthaesia in children and adults after over-stimulation of the brain. It may also be used with advantage for children who are nervous and cross from teething and intestinal derangements.

Many old persons are subject to headaches and this is an excellent gentle remedy for them. In some cases of insomnia, an injection into the bowel of ladies slipper may be given when retiring and a little lobelia may be added. This combination may also prove of benefit in nymphomania and assist in preventing emissions.

For hysteria it is an excellent remedy. Mix equal parts of ladies slipper, Skullcap and Capsicum all powdered. Fill in to ‘oo’ capsules, dose as required, according to the severity of the case. This is used in all forms of hysteria, headache, sleeplessnes and neuralgia. For convulsions you can add asafoetida, a little ginger and a little lobelia. Those who are overworked and rather worried can obtain relief by taking small and frequent doses of a simple infusion.

If the stomach is involved in any condition, use an enema for relief. This is especially so where there are enfeebled nerve conditions. Use ladies slipper two parts and Skullcap one part for this condition.

In dysmenorrhoea and uterine irritation, add some capsicum and extract of boneset. You can either use them in infusion or combine them into pills. It may be used in many combinations for painful menses.

In parturition, the following will relieve a rigid os uteri and calm nervous irritability. Three parts ladies slipper, two parts raspberry leaves, one part bruised ginger. Infuse twenty-five grams in one litre of boiling water and ingest one wineglassful every hour. If more stimulation is needed, add a little capsicum.

For colic and afterpains, use three parts of ladies slipper, two parts of wild yam and one part of ginger. Infuse twenty-five grams in one litre of boiling water and drink as necessary. It should give a good result. In cases of post partum haemorrhages, however, omit the ginger and add, either trillium pendulum, capsicum or black haw.

For rheumatism, ladies slipper should be combined with stimulants. In low states of typhoid fever, congestions with nerve irritation, and other similar conditions, it is too relaxing to be administered alone, therefor, combine with Capsicum and Golden seal. (It would be better to use a golden seal substitute, as golden seal is an endangered species.)

A soothing syrup for the use of children, and also for neuralgia can be made as follows: Fluid extract of Ladies slipper Fifty mils, Fl. Ext. Skullcap Twenty-five mils, Fl. Ext. Prickly ash Twenty-five mils, Fl. Ext. Pleurisy root Twenty-five mils, Tincture of Lobelia Twenty-five mils and Essence of Aniseed Twenty-five mils. Mix, and take a dose of one mil in warm water sweetened, as required. In cranial or abdominal pain, the following is a soothing nervine for both children and adults: Fl.Extracts of Ladies slipper Twenty mils, Skullcap Five mils, Catnip Five mils, Wild yam Five mils and mix the whole with One hundred mils of Syrup of Ginger. Dose: Five mils as required.

If Ladies slipper is used combined with other tonics, its power is enhanced. It combines well with Oats (Avena sativa) and Skullcap. For nerve pains it can be combined with Jamaica dogwood, Passion flower and Valerian.

Dosage: Fluid extract From two to five mils. NOTE WELL. If the bodily system is very toxic, causing nerve irritation, measures should be taken to eliminate the poisonous matter as Ladies slipper alone, will not eliminate it.


Botanical name: Viscum album.

Parts used: Twigs and leaves. Caution: Do NOT use the berries.

Common names: Birdlime, Golden bough.

Therapeutic properties and uses: Antispasmodic, Antiscorbutic, Astringent, Cardiotonic, Diuretic, Emetic, Hypotensive, Nervine, Tonic, Sedative.

It acts as a peripheral vasodilator. Used externally, it appears to inhibit and destroy some tumours. In large quantities the plant is poisonous affecting the heart.

In olden times, it was deemed a panacea against every disease and a remedy for poisons. Mistletoe is considered a specific in chorea. Its nervine and tonic properties make it of great value in epilepsy, convulsions, hysteria, delirium, nervous debility, or any trouble caused by weakness or disordered state of the nervous system. It quiets the nerves lessens cerebral excitement and will favourably influence febrile conditions. You can make a decoction using twenty-five grams of the herb to one litre of boiling water. The dose is from one to three tablespoons (according to age), every one, two, or three hours. There will be no unpleasant reaction as there are with bromides.

Mistletoe is an excellent relaxing nervine indicated in many cases. It will quieten, soothe and tone the nervous system. The remedy acts directly on the vagus nerve to reduce the heart rate whilst strengthening the wall of the peripheral capillaries. It will thus act to REDUCE blood pressure and ease ARTERIOSCLEROSIS. Where there is NERVOUS QUICKENING OF THE HEART (NERVOUS TACHYCARDIA) it can prove very helpful.

Headache due to high blood pressure is relieved by it. It has been shown by recent cancer research to have anti-tumour activity. It combines well with Hawthorn berries and Lime blossom in the treatment of High Blood Pressure.

A good remedy for nervous troubles is made by simmering twenty-five grams of each of the following herbs Mistletoe, Valerian and Vervain herb in two and one half litres of water for ten minutes. Strain, take two tablespoonsful, three times daily. If the digestive organs are weak, add a little capsicum.

During parturition when oains are light, it produces prompt uterine contractions, will anticipate haemorrhage, and will assist in the expusion of the placenta, when retained. In all uterine haemorrhages it is useful.

Its anti-spasmodic properties make it a very useful remedy in asthma, epilepsy and other spasmodic affections.

Used in rheumatic and gouty complaints, neuralgi, sciatica and it has been used, in one case with success in rheumatic deafness. For spinal pain due to uterine causes and valvular disease with disturbance in the sexual sphere. Agitated facial muscles, vertigo, dyspnoea with a feeling of suffocation and spasmodic cough. All of these have responded to Mistletoe.

I have found that where the pulse is small and weak, with a feeling as if a hand were squeezing the heart that this has proven an excellent remedy.

For female complaints it is used with haemorrhage with pain, blood containing clots, that are bright red in colour. Pain from the sacrum to the pelvis, tearing and shooting downwards. Chronic endometritis and overalgia, tearing and shooting pains in both thighs and the anus. Itching all over and oedema of the extremities.


  • Mistletoe 15 grams
  • Valerian 10 grams
  • Skullcap 10 grams
  • Ground Ivy 10 grams
  • Ginger 5 grams

Mix together and boil in two litres of water down to one litre. Strain with pressure, and while hot mix with half a kilo of molasses. When cold it may be used. Dose: A wineglassful four times a day before meals.

Another formula for all sorts of complaints:

  • Mistletoe 25 grams
  • Valerian 25 grams
  • Vervain 25 grams

Boil in a litre of water for ten minutes. When cool, strain. The dose is two tablespoons, three times a day. For cases of debility of the digestive organs, this medicine may be improved by the addition of a small portion of capsicum.

Dose of the fluid extract is from one to five mils.


Botanical name: Valeriana officinalis

Common names: English valerian, German valerian, Great wild valerian, Vandal root, All heal, Setwall.

Part used: The root.

Therapeutic properties and uses: Antispasmodic, aromatic, anodyne, carminative, hypnotic, hypotensive, nervine, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, tranquilliser.

The odour which in the fresh plant is slight, in the dried is strong and though pleasant to some, is disagreeable to others. Often, cats find it a great attraction. The taste, is at first sweetish, afterwards bitter and aromatic.

Valerian yields its medicinal properties to both water and alcohol. As the medicinal properties of valerian reside chiefly in its essential oil, it should never be boiled or subject to strong heat. It may be taken as powder, infusion, tincture or fluid extract.

Although valerian is especially directed to the nervous system it does not have a narcotic effect. It is especially employed in cases of irregular nervous action, when not connected with inflammation or an over-excited condition of the system. Valerian is one of the most useful relaxing nervines that we possess. This fact is recognised by orthodox medicine as can be seen by its inclusion in many pharmacopoeias as a sedative. It can be safely used to reduce TENSION and ANXIETY, OVER-EXCITEABILITY and HYSTERICAL states. It is a very effective remedy in INSOMNIA, producing a natural healing sleep. As an antispasmodic, it will aid in the relief of cramps and in INTESTINAL COLIC, it is also useful for the CRAMPS and PAINS OF PERIODS. For the relieving of pain, it is indicated wherethe pain is associated with tension. Valerian is an excellent remedy in MIGRAINE and RHEUMATIC pain.

It is particularly recommended in hysteria, hypochondria, epilepsy, low forms of fever attended with restlessness, all symptoms of nervous derangements, nervous debility, weakness or irritability of the nervous system and the nervousness of children.

It has been used in intermittent fevers combined with Peruvian bark. In cases of children with measles, scarlet fever, and other diseases which make them restless, give small doses of the infusion twice, or three times daily. A sound sleep will be the result. The same method is also useful in the convulsions of infants. Use the essence of aniseed or lavender to cover the taste in these cases, if needed. It will promote menstruation when taken hot. It is healing to ulcerated stomach, and it prevents fermentation and gas in the stomach and bowel. The tea is very healing applied to sores and pimples externally and should be taken internally at the same time. The remedy relieves the palpitations of the heart.

The powdered root, given in half-teaspoonful doses with a pinch ofcapsicum added, can be taken two or three times a day for nervous headache. It can also be used in combination with scullcap, vervain or mistletoe.

For the relief of tension it will combine most effectively with scullcap. For insomnia it can be combined with passion flower and hops. For the treament of cramps it will combine well with cramp bark.

A good compound for convulsions, hysteria, colic, cramps and dysmenorrhoea is made as follows:

  • Fluid extract of Valerian 25 mils
  • Fluid extract of Wild yam 25 mils
  • Fluid extract of Black cohosh 25 mils
  • Essence of Aniseed 25 mils
  • Syrup of Ginger 150 mils

Mix, dose, from one teaspoonful to one dessertspoonful, three or four times daily.

5 comments to An Elementary Herbal Course – Lesson 7 – Antispasmodics

  • fred


    Lobelia is the most powerful relaxant known among herbs that has no known harmful effects.


    The species used most commonly in modern herbalism is Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco).[13] However, there are adverse effects that limit the use of lobelia.


  • Kenneth Eames

    Fred, Thanks for this. Yes you are right, however, if you stick to the dosages I give here you will be safe. If you go above the recommended dosages, the herb is emetic (causes vomiting). It was often used as an emetic in asthma as it brought relief to the person suffering. I have not recommended it in high dosage. Kenneth Eames.

  • Kenneth Eames

    Every herb has its problems. If you consume very large amounts of any one herb it will produce an adverse effect (in fact any food). If you over-eat garlic, for instance, you will find you develop gut trouble. That is why a certain dose is recommended when recieving treatment. Another point to note, is that many people are allergic to certain herbs and food. Sorry for the delay in adding this but the computer has been down.Kenneth Eames.

  • attiq

    does cranbarry use with any herhb which made a combination for leucorrhea treatment in tablets form plz.

  • Kenneth Eames

    attiq, If you contact me by e-mail I am sure that I will be able to help you. I would need to have your symptom pattern and recommend a formula for you. Kenneth Eames.

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