- ST. JOHN’S WORT Action: Anti-inflammatory, astringent, vulnerary, nervine, anti-microbial, anti-depressant. Taken internally, St. john’s wort has a sedative and pain reducing effect, which gives it a place in the treatment of neuralgia, anxiety, tension and similar problems. It is especially regarded as an herb to use where there are menopausal changes triggering irritability and anxiety. It is increasingly recommended for the treatment of depression. In addition to neuralgic pain, it will ease fibrositis, sciatica and rheumatic pain. Externally it is a valuable healing and anti-inflammatory remedy. As a lotion it will speed the healing of wounds and bruises, varicose veins and mild burns. The oil is especially useful for the healing of sunburn.
- SARSAPARILLA is a widely applicable alternative. It may be used to aid proper functioning of the body as a whole and in the correction of such diffuse systemic problems as skin and rheumatic conditions. It is particularly useful in scaling skin conditions such as psoriasis, especially where there is much irritation. As part of a wider treatment for chronic rheumatism it should be considered and is especially useful for rheumatoid arthritis. It has been shown that Sarsaparilla contains constituents with properties that aid testosterone activity in the body. Combinations: For psoriasis it will combine well with Burdock, Yellow Dock and Cleavers.
- SAW PALMETTO is a herb that acts to tone and strength the male reproductive system. It may be used with safety where a boost to the male sex hormones is required. It is specific in cases of enlarged prostate glands. It will be of value in infections of the genito-urinary tract: Ellingwood gives the following specific symptomatology: “The direct influence of this agent is exerted upon the entire reproductive apparatus, especially upon the prostate gland of the male. It is demanded in enlarged prostate, with throbbing, aching, dull pain, discharge of prostatic fluid, at times discharge of mucus, also of a yellowish, watery fluid, with weakened sexual power, orchalgia, epididymitis and orchitis, when associated with enlarged prostate. In women, ovarian enalrgement, with tenderness and dull aching pains, weakened sexual activity, and small undeveloped mammary glands, are much benefited by its continued use. It is a sedative to all irritable conditions of these organs and is a profound nutritive tonic, operating much like phosphorous. It increases the size and secreting power of the mammary glands where they are abnormally small and inactive. It improves the tone and overcomes irritability of the ovaries, relieving dysmenorrhoea when due to atonicity, It may be given with confidence in wasting of the testes in the early states and the development of varicocele retarded with the growth and nutrition of the testes developed materially by its use.
- SHEPHARD’S PURSE Actions: Astringent, diuretic, anti-inflammatory. This easily recognized plant may be used wherever a gently diuretic is called for, for instance in water retention due to kidney problems. As an astringent it will prove effective in the treatment of diarrhoea, wounds, nose bleeds, and other conditions. It has specific use in the stimulation of the menstrual process whilst also being of use in the reduction of excess flow. Priest & Priest tell us that it is “mild relaxing and gently stimulating to the kidneys and urinary tract: relieves atonic and catarrhal conditions, and controls haemorrages.” They give the following specific indications: vesico-renal irritations from atonic states. Enuresis. Passive capillary haemorrhages, functional menorrhagia, bleeding fibroid tumors, metrorrhagia. Congestive leucorrhoea. Internal haemorrhage of lungs and bowels, recurrent epistaxis. Haemorrhoids. Elllingwood recommends it for the following patholgies: Haematuria, passive haemorrhage, chronic menorrhagia, intestinal haemorrhage, gastric haemorrhage, atonic dyspepsia, diarrhoea, dysentary, bleeding piles. Externally may be applied to bruised or strained muscles, rheumatic joints. Combinations: Combines will with Agrimony, Cranesbill or Periwinkle.
- SKULLCAP Actions: Nervine tonic, anti-spasmodic, hypotensive. Skullcap is perhaps the most widely relevant nervine available to us in the materia medica. It relaxes states of nervous tension whilst at the same time renewing and revivifying the central nervous system. It has a specific use in the treatment of seizure and hysterical states as well as epilepsy. It may be used in all exhausted or depressed conditions. It can be used with complete safety in the easing of pre-menstrual tension. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a “diffusive, stimulating & relaxing nervine – cerebral vasodilator and trophorestorative. Indicated for nervous irritation of the cerebrospinal nervous system”. They give the following specific indications: functional nervous exhaustion, post febrile nervous weakness. Chorea, hysteria, agitation and epileptiform convulsions, insomnia, nightmares, restless sleep. Ellingwood considered it specific for “two distinct lines of specific phenomena. Firstly, irritability of the nervous system with restlessness and nervous excitability; inability to sleep without pain; general irritability with insomnia from local causes. The second is where there is nervous disorder, characterized by irregular muscular action, twitching, tremors and restlessness, with or without incoordination. Its soothing influence continues for a protracted period, after the agent is discontinued.” In addition he recommends it for the following patholgies; delirium tremens, nervous excitability. Combinations: It combines well with Valerian, Passion Flower, Black Cohosh, etc.
- SKUNK CABBAGE Actions: Anti-spasmodic, diaphoretic, expectorant. Indications: Skunk Cabbage may be used whenever there is a tense or spasmodic condition in the lungs. It will act to relax and ease irritable coughs. It may be used in asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough. As a diaphoretic it will aid the body during fevers. Combinations: For the treatment of asthmatic conditions it may be used with Grindelia, Pillbearing Spurge and Lobelia.
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- THYME Actions: Carminative, anti-microbial, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, astringent, anthelmintic. With its high content of volatile oil, Thyme makes a good carminative for use in dyspepsia and sluggish digestion. This oil is also a strongly antiseptic substance, which explains many of Thyme’s uses. It can be used externally as a lotion for infected wounds, but also internally for respiratory and digestive infections. It may be used as a gargle in laryngitis and tonsillitis, easing sore throats and soothing irritable coughs. It is an excellent cough remedy, producing expectoration and reducing unnecessary spasm. It may be used in bronchitis, whooping cough and asthma. As a gentle astringent it has found use in childhood diarrhoea and bed wetting. Combinations: For asthmatic problems it will combine well with Lobelia and Ephedra, adding its anti-microbial effect. For whooping cough use it with Wild Cherry and Sundew.
| U |We have no herbs listed under the letter “U” at this time.
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- VALERIAN Constituents: A range of unique chemical constituents have been found, but as with all herbal remedies it is a mistake to try to understand the plant from these chemicals alone. The healing gift of Valerian is much more than simply the effects of constituents like valepotriates. The practitioner of herbal medicine can glean much of value from biochemical research that can augment clinical experience but never replace it: Valepotriates – valtrate, didrovaltrate, acevaltrate, isovaleroxy-hydoxydidrovaltrate; Volatile oil – esters: bornyl isovalerianate, bornyl acetate, bornyl formate, eugenyl isovalerate, isoeugenyl isovalerate. Alcohols, eugenol, terpenes, valerianol, a sesquiterpene alcohol; Alkaloids – chatinine, valerine and 2 others similar to skytanthine. The powerful sedative action of valerian is partially due to valepotriates, epoxy-iridoid esters, found in the root. A whole series of valepotriates has been isolated, and their actions have been found to be different, and in part opposite. They do not have simply sedative properties, but a predominately regulatory effect on the autonomic system. One fraction has a suppressant effect, another a stimulant one, so that in combination they have an equalizing effect that has been referred to as amphoteric. Valtrate & didrovaltrate have been to have potent cytotoxic activity, and the former is active against Krebs II ascitic tumors. There is 0.5-1.0% of volatile oil present. The peculiar bouquet of valerian is actually produced by drying. A number of components of the volatile oil in the roots, hydrolyse with time to isovaleric acid. Very little is present in the fresh root, which has a pleasant aroma. The older the dried herb the stronger the smell of isovaleric acid, but not necessarily stronger in effect. This volatile oil has anti-microbial, carminative and relaxing properties. Alkaloids are also present that have blood pressure lowering effects. There may be up to 0.1% in the dried root. Like many other medicinal plants valerian contains a complex of active principles, making analysis difficult. Even detailed and thorough investigation does not reveal a single active constituent in this well-known medicinal plant, highlighting that the therapeutic effect depends on the interaction of the plants constituents as a whole. Actions: Nervine, hypnotic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, hypotensive, emmenagogue. Indications: it has a wide range of specific uses, but its main indications are: anxiety, nervous sleeplessness, and the bodily symptoms of tension such as muscle cramping or indigestion. It may be used safely in situations where tension and anxiety are causing problems. This may manifest in purely psychological and behavioral ways or also with body symptoms. Valerian will help in most cases. For some people it can be an effective mild pain reliever. As one of the best gently and harmless herbal sleeping remedies, it enhances the natural body process of slipping into sleep and making the stresses of the day recede. For people who do not need as much sleep as they once did, it also eases lying awake in bed, ensuring that it becomes a restful and relaxing experience. This is often as re-vivifying as sleep itself, and indeed all that is necessary in more cases than not. The true nature of sleep still remains a mystery. Everybody goes through stages of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a stage where dreaming is associated with minor involuntary muscle jerks and rapid eye movements, indicating that active processes are occurring in the brain. It is important not to suppress the dreams dreamed during this stage. Emotional experiences are processed by the mind in those dreams, and much arising from both the unconscious and daily life is balanced and harmonized. Whilst sleeping pills have a marked impact on REM, Valeriana does not interfere with this process as it is not powerful enough to suppress these necessary REM phases. The research into valerian is confirming the traditional experience of the herbalist. In one study Valeriana produced a significant decrease in subjectively evaluated sleep scores and an improvement in sleep quality. Improvement was most notable amongst those who considered themselves poor or irregular sleepers and smokers. Dream recall was relatively unaffected by Valeriana. When the effect of valerian root on sleep was studied in healthy, young people it reduced perceived sleep latency and the wake time after sleep onset. In other words they experienced an easily and quicker descent into sleep. A combination of Valeriana and Humulus was given to people whose sleep was disturbed by heavy traffic noise. Giving the herbs well before retiring, reduced the noise induced disturbance of a number of sleep stage patterns. Much research has centered on its effects upon smooth muscle, demonstrating that it is a powerful and safe muscle relaxant. It can be safely used in muscle cramping, uterine cramps and intestinal colic. Its sedative and anti-spasmodic action can be partially ascribed to the valepotriates and to a lesser extent to the sesquiterpene constituents of the volatile oils. Amongst other effects, Valeriana decreases both spontaneous and caffeine-stimulated muscular activity, significantly reduces aggressiveness of animals, and decreases a number of measurable processes in the brain. Italian researchers compared the relaxing properties of Valeriana and a number of other plants on the muscles of the digestive tract. Crataegus and Valerian were the best, followed by Passiflora and Matricaria. Especially interesting was the finding that combining all the herbs acted in a synergistic way, being relaxing at low dosage levels. Valeriana is used world wide as a relaxing remedy in hypertension and stress related heart problems. There is an effect here beyond simple nerve relaxation, as it contains alkaloids that are mild hypotensives. Such use is recognized by the World Health Organization. They promote research and development of traditional medicine that sees the importance of using whole plants and going beyond the test tube for meaningful results. In WHO sponsored studies in Bulgaria, traditional herbs known for their healing effect in cardiovascular problems were considered. Results of clinical examination of patients using such herbs are impressive. Valeriana is one such herb whose use was validated. Others are garlic, geranium, European mistletoe, olive, and hawthorn. Combinations: It is possible to enhance different aspects of valerians effects by combining it with other herbs. For tension and anxiety it will combine well with Scutellaria, whilst for sleep Humulus or Passiflora would be better. In cases of nervous indigestion use it with Matricaria or Lavandula and for muscular cramps with Viburnum opulus or V prunifolia.