- GARLIC Actions: Anti-microbial, diaphoretic, cholagogue, hypotensive, anti-spasmodic. Garlic is among the few herbs that have a universal usage and recognition. Its daily usage aids and supports the body in ways that no other herb does. It is one of the most effective anti-microbial plants available, acting on bacteria, viruses and alimentary parasites. The volatile oil is an effective agent and as it is largely excreted via the lungs, it is used in infections of this system such as chronic bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, recurrent colds and influenza. In general it may be used as a preventative for most infectious conditions, digestive as well as respiratory. For the digestive tract it has been found that Garlic will support the development of the natural bacterial flora whilst killing pathogenic organisms. In addition to these amazing properties, Garlic have an international reputation for lowering both blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels and generally improving the health of the cardio-vascular system. Combinations: For microbial infections it will combine well with Echinacea.
- GENTIAN Bitter sialagogue, hepatic, cholagogue, anti-microbial, anthelmintic, emmenagogue. Gentian is an excellent bitter which, as do all bitters, stimulate the appetite and digestion via a general stimulation of the digestive juices. Thus it promotes the production of saliva, gastric juices and bile. It also accelerates the emptying of the stomach. It is indicated wherever there is a lack of appetite and sluggishness of the digestive system. It may thus be used where the symptoms of. sluggish digestion appear, these being dyspepsia and flatulence. Through the stimulation of the digestion it has a generally fortifying effect. Priest & Priest tell us that it is an intense, bitter, stimulating tonic: influences digestive organs, mucous membranes and the portal circulation. Indicated for atonic and sub-acid states: slowly promotes peristalsis and facilitates assimilation”. They give the following specific indications: Languid conditions & general debility, anorexia, alimentary insufficiency. Portal congestion, biliousness and jaundice.
- GINGER Ginger may be used as a stimulant of the peripheral circulation in cases of bad circulation, chilblains and cramps. In feverish conditions, Ginger acts as a useful diaphoretic, promoting perspiration. As a gargle it may be effective in the relief of sore throats. Externally it is the base of many fibrositis and muscle sprain treatments. Ginger has been used world-wide as an aromatic carminative and pungent appetite stimulant. In India, and in other countries with hot and humid climates, ginger is eaten daily and is a well-known remedy for digestion problems. Its wide-spread use is not only due to flavor, but to the anti-oxidant and anti-microbial effects, necessary for preservation of food, essential in such climates. Ellingwood describes this herb thus: “This agent is mentioned in but few therapeutic works, although it occupies an important place, and should not be neglected. It is a profound and immediate stimulant, an active diaphoretic, an anodyne in gastric and intestinal pain, and a sedative to an irritated and overwrought system when there is extreme exhaustion”.
- GINKGO Anti-inflammatory, vasoddilatory, relaxant, digestive bitter, uterine stimulant. Traditionally known as an anti-microbial & anti-tubercular agent, new research has shown a profound activity on brain function and cerebral circulation. Clinically it is proving effective in a range of vascular disorders. Ginkgo has been suggested in the following conditions: vertigo, tinnitus, inner ear disturbances including partial deafness,impairment of memory and ability to concentrate, diminished intellectual capacity and alertness as a result of insufficient circulation, anxiety, depression, neurological disorders, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, complications of stroke and skull injuries, diminished sight and hearing ability due to vascular insufficiency, intermittent claudication as a result of arterial obstruction, a sensitivity to cold and pallor in the toes due to peripheral circulatory insufficiency, Raynaud’s disease, cerebral vascular and nutritional insufficiency, harmonal and neural based disorders as well as angiopathic trophic disorders, arterial circulatory disturbances due to aging, diabetes and nicotine abuse, sclerosis of cerebral arteries with and without mental manifestations, danger of arteriosclerotic angiopathy of lower limbs, diabetic tissue damage with gangrene, chronic arterial obliteration, circulatory disorders of the skin, as well as ulcerations hormonal and neural based disorders as well as angiopathic trophic disorders caused by ischaemia. Ginkgo is becoming available in a number of different forms.
- GOLDEN ROD Actions: Anti-catarrhal, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, astringent, diaphoretic, carminative, diuretic. Golden Rod is perhaps the first plant to think of for upper respiratory catarrh, whether acute or chronic. It may be used in combination with other herbs in the treatment of influenza. The carminative properties reveal a role in the treatment of flatulent dyspepsia. As an anti-inflammatory urinary antiseptic, Golden Rod may be used in cystitis, urethritis and the like. It can be used to promote the healing of wounds. As a gargle it can be used in laryngitis and pharyngitis. Priest & Priest tell us that it is a “stimulating and slightly astringent tonic antiseptic to the mucous membranes. Specific for putrescent conditions. Suitable for bronchial disease in the elderly. Promotes renal excretion of fluid where micturation is scanty.” They give the following specific indications: influenza, repeated colds, catarrhal bronchitis with purulent expectoration, putrescent tonsillitis, naso-pharyngeal catarrh with sneezing and excessive mucus. Combinations: For upper respiratory catarrh it may be used with Eyebright, Elder, Echinacea and Wild Indigo.
- GOLDEN SEAL Actions: Bitter, hepatic, alterative, anti-catarrhal, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, astringent, laxative, expectorant, emmenagogue, oxytocic. One of our most useful remedies owing much of its value to the tonic effects it has on the mucous membranes of the body. This is why it is of such help in all digestive problems, from peptic ulcers to colitis. Its bitter stimulation helps in loss of appetite, and the alkaloids it contains stimulate bile production and secretion. All catarrhal conditions improve with Golden Seal, especially sinus ones. The anti-microbial properties appear to be due to alkaloids present. As an example of research that has been done on plant constituents we shall consider berberine. Berberine, found in a number of other herbs as well, has antibiotic, immuno-stimulatory, antispasmodic, sedative, hypotensive, uterotonic, cholerectic & carminative activity. Its demonstrable pharmacological activities strongly contribute to the therapeutic use of Hydrastis. Berberine has marked antimicrobial activity, and whilst not in the same league as antibiotics, it has a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. In vitro antimicrobial effects have been demonstrated against bacteria, protozoa, and fungi.
- GRAVEL ROOT Actions: Diuretic, anti-lithic, anti-rheumatic. Gravel Root is used primarily for kidney stones or gravel. In urinary infections such as cystitis and urethritis it may be used with benefit. Ellingwood considered it to have the following symptomatology: “Irritation of the bladder in women from displacement and chronic inflammation of the uterus; and supression of urine, partial or complete, during or after pregnancy.” He recommends in following conditions: dropsy, strangury, gravel, haematuria, disease of the kidney and bladder from an excess of uric acid, chronic endometriosis, leucorrhoea, chronic uterine disease, threatened abortion, ovarian and uterine atony, dysmenorrhoea, dysuria, constant desire to urinate, intermittent fever, severe bone pains. For kidney stones or gravel it combines well with Stone Root, Parsley Piert, Pellitory of the Wall or Hydrangea.
- GRINDELIA Actions: Anti-spasmodic, expectorant, hypotensive. Grindelia acts to relaxsmooth muscles and heart muscles. This helps to explain its use in the treatment of asthmatic and bronchial conditions, especially where these are associated with a rapid heart beat and nervous response. It may be used in asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough and upper respiratory catarrh. Because of the relaxing effect on the heart and pulse rate, there may be a reduction in blood pressure. Externally the lotion is used in the dermatitis caused by poison ivy. Ellingwood considered it specific for “asthmatic breathin “ In addition he recommends it for the following patholgies: bronchial coughs, irregular heart beat associated with chronic coughs, hay fever. Combinations: In the treatment of asthmatic conditions it may be used with Lobelia and Pillbearing Spurge.
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- HAWTHORN Flowers richest source, leaves and berries can also be used. Actions: Cardio-tonic, diuretic, astringent, hypotensive. Crataegus can be considered a specific remedy in most cardio-vascular disease. A tonic in the true sense. The therapeutic benefits are only gained when a whole plant preparation is used. When the isolated constituents were tested separately in the laboratory, their individual effects were insignificant, whilst the whole plant has unique and valuable properties. Herbal synergy again! A multicentre double blind clinical trial done in 1981 demonstrated marked improvement of heart function in patients with reduced cardiac output. Following a four year study commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Health, Crataegus has gained full recognition as a heart remedy in Europe. The monograph concludes that the herb has these properties:It is positively inotropic,it is positively chronotropic & dromotropic,it is negatively bathmotropic,it increases coronary & myocardial circulation, and its applications are: loss of cardiac function, subjective feelings of congestion and ‘oppression’ in the heart region, the ageing heart that does not warrant the use of Digitalis mild bradycardiac arrythmias. No contra indications or side effects were noted.Mode of action: It dilates the coronary arteries, relieving cardiac hypoxaemia, thus reducing the likelihood of anginal attacks and relieves symptoms. The herb thus directly effects the cells of the cardiac muscle, enhancing both activity and nutrition. It is quite different in activity to the cardiac glycoside containing remedies. They impact the contractile fibres, whilst Crataegus is involved in the availability and utilisation of energy. This facilitates a gentle but long term, sustained effect on degenerative, age-related changes in the myocardium. It does not produce rapid results but they are persistant once achieved.Normalisation of cardiac arrhythmias. Mainly extrasystoles and tachycardia.Indications: Cardio-vascular degenerative disease. Myocardial problems, coronary artery disease and associated conditions. Angina pectoris and similar symptoms will be eased and prevented. Where no disease state exists but a loss function is happening because of old age. No toxicity, accumulation or habituation occurs, thus it may be used long term, achieving result entirely safely, especially in the elderly.Post infarction recovery. Essential hypertension. Used in conjunction with hypotensives, Crataegus will maintain the heart in a healthy condition, preventing the development of coronary disease.Heart weakness following infectious disease such as pneumonia or diptheria.Cardiac arrhythmias.
- HOPS Actions: Sedative, hypnotic, antiimicrobial, anti-spasmodic, astringent. Hops is a remedy that has a marked relaxing effect upon the central nervous system. It is used extensively for the treatment of Insomnia. It will ease tension and anxiety, and may be used where this tension leads to restlesness, headache and possibly indigestion. As an astringent with these relaxing properties it can be used in conditions such as mucous colitis. It should, however, be avoided where there is a marked degree of depression as this may be accentuated. Externally the antiseptic action is utilized for the treatment of ulcers. CAUTION: Do not use in cases with marked depression. Ellingwood considered it specific for “marked cases of nerve irritation and wakefulness where anxiety and worry are the cause.” He recommends it for the following patholgies: hysteria, insomnia, acute local inflammations, facial neuralgia, delirium tremens, sexual excitement. Combinations: For insomnia it can be combined with Valerian and Passion Flower.
- HOREHOUND Horehound is a valuable plant in the treatment of bronchitis where there is a non-productive cough. It combines the action of relaxing the smooth muscles of the bronchus whilst promoting mucus production and thus expectoration. It is used with benefit in the treatment of whooping cough. The bitter action stimulates the flow and secretion of bile from the gall-bladder, aiding digestion. Horehound is used externally to promote the healing of wounds. Priest & Priest: “gently diffusive tonic expectorant: relieves hyperaemia, congestion, decreases discharge where secretion is too free.” They give the following indications: Colds, bronchitis, catarrah; asthma with moist expectoration, aphonia and dyspnoea. Catarrhal dyspepsia. Depending upon the specific indications it combines well with Coltsfoot, Lobelia, Elecampane, Wild Cherry Bark and Mullein.
- HORSE CHESTNUT Do not confuse with its North American relative Aesculus glabra, Buckeye. Actions: Astringent, anti-inflammatory. The unique actions of Horse Chestnut are on the vessels of the circulatory system. It seems to increase the strength and tone of the veins in particular. It may be used internally to aid the body in the treatment of problems such as phlebitis, inflammation in the veins, varicosity and haemorrhoids. Externally it may be used as a lotion for the same conditions as well as for leg ulcers. Combinations: Other cardiovascular tonics such as Hawthorn, Linden, Ginkgo and Yarrow.
- HORSETAIL Actions: Astringent, diuretic, vulnerary. Horsetail is an excellent astringent for the genito-urinary system, reducing haemorrhage and healing wounds thanks to the high silica content. Whilst it acts as a mild diuretic, its toning and astringent actions make it invaluable in the treatment of incontinence and bed wetting in children. It is considered a specific in cases of inflammation or benign enlargement of the prostate gland. Externally it is a vulnerary. Ellingwood suggests the following uses: dropsy, lithaemia, haematuria, gonorrhoea, gleet, irritable bladder, enuresis in children, prostatitis, and the ashes for acid dyspepsia. Horsetail is often combined with Hydrangea and Saw Palmetto in the treatment of prostrate troubles.
- HYDRANGEA Actions: Diuretic, anti-lithic. Hydrangea’s greatest use is in the treatment of inflamed or enlarged prostrate glands. It may also be used for urinary stones or gravel associated with infections such as cystitis. Ellingwood gives the following specific symptomatology for this underused remedy: “frequent urination with heat, burning, accompanied with quick, sharp, acute pains in the urethra; partial suppression of urine with general irritation and aching or pain in the back, pain from the passage of renal sand, are direct indications for this agent. I am convinced after a lifetime of experience that it is more specifically, more universally a sedative to pain and distress in kidneys and urinary bladder than any other one remedy.” He gives the following indications: acute nephritis, lithaemia, backache due to urinary tract problems, urinary irritation. Combinations: In kidney stones it is often combined with Stone Root, Bearberry and Gravel Root. In prostate problems it combines well with Horsetail and Saw Palmetto
- HYSSOP Anti-spasmodic, expectorant, diaphoretic, nervine, anti-inflammatory, carminative, hepatic, emmenagogue. Hyssop has an interesting range of uses which are largely attributable to the anti-spasmodic action of the volatile oil. It is used in coughs, bronchitis, and chronic catarrah. Its diaphoretic properties explain its use in the common cold. As a nervine it may be used in anxiety states, hysteria and petit mal (a form of epilepsy). King’s Dispensatory considers it a “stimulant, aromatic, carminative and tonic. Principally used in quinsy and other sore throats, as a gargle, combined with sage and alum, in infusion sweetened with honey. The leaves applied to bruises, speedily relieve the pain, and disperse every spot or mark from the affected parts.” Depending upon the specific indications it combines well with Coltsfoot, Lobelia, Elecampane, Wild Cherry Bark and Mullein.
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We have no herbs listed under the letter “I” at this time.