Classifying Herbal Medicinal Properties
The remarkable aspect of herbs is their combination of several different healing properties. Thus, each herb will have a combination of specific effects on particular systems of the body, and also some very general effects. By carefully matching the herbal properties with the symptoms being treated, it is possible to confront the entire scope of the disease at once, achieving a cure quickly and with the minimum possible dosage. Also, by referencing the herbal properties, it becomes easier to substitute one herb for another.
Also known as blood purifiers, these agents gradually and favorably alter the condition of the body. They are used in treating toxicity of the blood, infections, arthritis, cancer and skin eruptions. Some Alteratives include: Red Clover, Echinacea, Dandelion Root, Alfalfa, Marshmallow Root, Black Walnut Bark, Burdock, Calendula, Ginseng, Licorice, Raspberry Leaf, Wheatgrass Powder, White Willow Bark, and Nettle Leaf.
Herbs that are taken to relieve pain. Some Analgesics include: Echinacea, Chamomile, Ginger, Lemongrass, Noni Fruit, Skullcap, Turmeric, White Willow Bark, and Valerian.
Herbs that neutralize excess acids in the stomach and intestines. Many also have demulcent properties to protect the stomach lining. Some Antacids are Dandelion Root, Slippery Elm Bark, and Kelp.
Herbs that help to inhibit abortive tendencies. The herbs will not interfere with the natural process of miscarriage when the fetus is damaged or improperly secured. Kelp
Herbs that relieve the symptoms of asthma. Some, like Lobelia, are strong Antispasmodics that dilate the bronchioles. Others, like Yerba Santa help break up the mucus. Some herbs like Mullein may be smoked for quick relief, which may also be taken as tea. Other Antiasthmatics include Acai Berry Juice, Ginseng, Rooibos African Red Tea, and Wild Cherry Bark.
Substances that inhibit the growth of, or destroy, bacteria, viruses or amoebas. While many herbal antibiotics have direct germ killing effects, they have as a primary action, the stimulation of the body’s own immune response. Excessive use of antibiotics will eventually destroy the beneficial bacteria of the intestines. In fighting stubborn infections it is a good idea to maintain favorable intestinal flora by eating miso, tamari, or fresh yogurt. Important antibiotic herbs include, Echinacea and Olive Leaf
Herbs that eliminate or counteract the formation of mucus. A treatment for catarrh should also include the use of herbs that aid elimination through sweat (diaphoretics), urine (diuretics), and feces (laxatives). Anticatarrhal herbs include: Cayenne Pepper, Ginkgo Biloba, Sage, Cinnamon, Mullein, Wild Cherry Bark, and Yerba Santa.
Cooling herbs used to reduce or prevent fevers. Cooling may refer to neutralizing harmful acids in the blood (excess heat) as well as reducing body temperature. Antipyretics include: Alfalfa, Skullcap, Dulse, Rosemary, White Willow Bark, and Kelp.
Herbs that can be applied to the skin to prevent the growth of bacteria. This includes the Astringents. Some Antiseptics include: Calendula, Astragalus, Chamomile, Hibiscus Flower, Nettle Leaf, Olive Leaf, Rosehips, Rosemary, Turmeric, White Willow Bark, Yerba Santa, and Sage.
Herbs that prevent or relax muscle spasms. They may be applied either internally or externally for relief. Antispasmodics are included in most herb formulas to relax the body and allow it to use its full energy for healing. Some Antispasmodics include: Astragalus, Cayenne Pepper, Chamomile, Eleutherococcus, Skullcap, Hibiscus Flower, Hops, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Licorice, Mullein Leaf, Nettle Leaf, Valerian, Passionflower, Peppermint, Red Clover, Rosehips, Sage, Spearmint Leaf, Yerba Santa, and Raspberry Leaf.
Substances used to improve sexual potency and power. Aphrodisiacs include: Astragalus, Burdock, Ginseng, and Maca Root.
Herbs that have a constricting or binding effect. They are commonly used to check hemorrhages and secretions, and to treat swollen tonsils and hemorrhoids. The main herbal Astringents contain tannins, which are found in most plants, especially in tree barks. Important Astringents include: Aloe Vera, Apple Fiber, Beet Root, Calendula, Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, Dandelion Root, Eyebright, Fenugreek, Hawthorn Berry, Hibiscus Flower, Mullein Leaf, Olive Leaf, Peppermint, Raspberry Leaf, Rosehips, Rosemary,st johns wart , White Willow Bark, Wild Cherry Bark, and Yucca Root.
Herbs and spices taken to relieve gas and griping (severe pains in the bowels). Examples of Carminatives include: Astragalus, Cayenne Pepper, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Ginseng, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Sage, Valerian, Wild Cherry Bark, and Yerba Santa.
Substances used to promote the flow and discharge of bile into the small intestine. These will also be laxatives, as the bile will stimulate elimination. Some Cholagogues are: Aloe Vera, Dandelion Root, Licorice, Red Clover, Wormwood, and Yerba mate.
Soothing substances, usually mucilage, taken internally to protect damaged or inflamed tissues. Usually a Demulcent herb will be used along with diuretics to protect the kidney and urinary tract, especially when kidney stones and gravel are present. Important Demulcents include: Apple Fiber, Burdock, Cinnamon, Dulse, Fenugreek, Ginseng, Kelp, Marshmallow Root Root, Milk Thistle, Mullein Leaf, Slippery Elm Bark, Licorice, and Oat Straw.
Herbs used to induce sweating. To administer Diaphoretics effectively, the stomach and bowels should be emptied by fasting and using an enema. However, laxatives should not be used before using these herbs. Sweating teas should be hot; when given cold, they act as diuretics. Some Diaphoretics include: Burdock, Calendula, Cayenne Pepper, Chamomile, Elder Berries, Ginger, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Spearmint Leaf.
Herbs that increase the flow of urine. They are used to treat water retention, obesity, lymphatic swellings, nerve inflammations such as lumbago and sciatica, infections of the urinary tract, skin eruptions, and kidney stones. Whenever a Diuretic is given, a lesser amount of Demulcent herb is also given to buffer the effect of the diuretic on the kidneys (especially when the Diuretic contains irritating properties) and to protect the tissues from the movement of kidney stones. Some Diuretics include: Alfalfa, Astragalus, Beet Root, Elder Berries, Hibiscus Flower, Marshmallow, Nettle Leaf, Burdock, Dandelion, Hops, Oat Straw, Red Clover, Yerba mate, and Hawthorn Berry.
Herbs that promote menstruation, usually causing it to occur earlier, and sometimes with increased flow. These have been used in the past to induce abortions, so extreme caution is advised. All of these, when taken in sufficient quantity to cause abortion, have other strong effects on the body. None of these should be taken when a woman wants to be pregnant. These are now commonly used to help regulate the menstrual cycle. Herbs with strong Emmenagogue properties include: Pennyroyal, Juniper Berries, and Black Cohosh. Herbs with some emmenagogue properties include: Aloe Vera, Calendula, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, and Nettle Leaf.
Substances that are softening, soothing, and protective to the skin. These include Aloe Vera, Fenugreek, Kelp, Marshmallow Root, and Slippery Elm Bark.
Herbs that assist in expelling mucus from the lungs and throat. Expectorants include: Eyebright, Fenugreek, Ginseng, Lemongrass, Licorice, Mullein, Nettle Leaf, Red Clover, Slippery Elm Bark, Wild Cherry Bark, Yucca Root, and Yerba Santa.
Substances that increase the secretion of milk. Anise Seed, Cumin, Dandelion Root, and Fennel.
Substances that arrest hemorrhaging. These include astringents and herbs that affect the coagulation of blood. Cayenne Pepper, Mullein, Nettle Leaf, and Raspberry Leaf.
Herbs that promote bowel movements. A strong laxative that causes increased intestinal peristalsis is called a purgative in many texts. Some laxatives include: Aloe Vera, Black Walnut Bark, Elder Berries, Licorice, Yerba mate, and Yucca Root.
Herbs that help to dissolve and eliminate urinary and biliary stones and gravel. For kidney and bladder stones, use Parsley, Dandelion Root and Nettle Leaf. For the gallbladder, use Wild Cherry Bark and Cascara Sagrada.
Herbs that calm nervous tension and nourish the nervous system. Herbs with nervine properties include: Chamomile, Hops, Passionflower, Rooibos African Red Tea, Rosemary, Skullcap, and Valerian.
Herbs that destroy parasites in the digestive tract or on the skin. Parasiticides include: Chamomile, Cinnamon, Cloves, Black Walnut Bark, Nettle Leaf, and Wormwood.
Substances that increase the flow of blood at the surface of the skin and produce redness where they are applied. Their function is to draw inflammation and congestion from deeper areas. They are useful for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, and other joint problems and for sprains. Rubefacients include: Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, Olive Leaf, and Wheatgrass Powder.
Herbs that strongly quiet the nervous system. These will include antispasmodics and nervines. Useful Sedatives include: Valerian, Hops, Chamomile, st johns wart, Wild Cherry Bark, and Skullcap.
Substances that stimulate the flow of saliva and thus aid in the digestion of starches. Some Sialagogues are Beet Root, Echinacea, Ginger, Licorice, Rooibos African Red Tea, and Yerba Santa.
Herbs that increase the energy of the body, drive the circulation, break up obstruction and warm the body. Stimulants include: Bee Pollen, Cloves, Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, Echinacea, Eleutherococcus, Ginseng, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba, Rosemary, Sage, Peppermint, Raspberry Leaf, Valerian, Yerba Santa,and Astragalus.
Stomachics – see Tonics
Herbs that promote the functions of the systems of the body. Most Tonics have general effects on the whole body, but also have a marked effect on a specific system. Some tonic herbs include: Acai Berry Juice, Alfalfa, Apple Fiber, Burdock, Cayenne Pepper, Dandelion Root, Fenugreek, Ginseng, Hawthorn Berry, Hops, Milk Thistle, and Yerba mate.
Herbs that encourage the healing of wounds by promoting cell growth and repair. Some Vulneraries are: Aloe Vera, Cayenne Pepper, Calendula, Fenugreek, Ginseng, Mullein Leaf, Rosemary, Marshmallow Roott, and Slippery Elm Bark.
Diets rich in vegetables, herbs, plants, and fruits are associated with reduced risk of several major diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders. Although some beneficial phytochemicals might function solely as antioxidants, it is becoming clear that many of the beneficial chemicals in vegetables, herbs, plants, and fruits evolved as toxins (to dissuade insects and other predators) that, at subtoxic doses, activate adaptive cellular stress-response pathways in a variety of cells including neurons. Examples of such ‘preconditioning’ or ‘neurohormesis’ pathways include those involving cell-survival signaling kinases, the transcription factors NRF2 and CREB, and histone deacetylases of the sirtuin family. In these ways, neurohormetic phytochemicals such as resveratrol, sulforaphane’s and curcumin might protect neurons against injury and disease by stimulating the production of antioxidant enzymes, neurotrophic factors, protein chaperones, and other proteins that help cells to withstand stress. Thus, as we discuss in this review, highly conserved longevity and survival pathways in neurons are the targets of many phytochemicals.
The term hormesis has long been used to describe the phenomenon where a specific chemical is able to induce biologically opposite effects at different doses; most commonly there is a stimulatory or beneficial effect at low doses and an inhibitory or toxic effect at high doses (Calabrese et al., 2007). In the case of natural compounds an example of hormesis is vitamin A which in relatively low amounts is essential for normal development and eye function, but in high amounts can cause anorexia, headaches, drowsiness, altered mental states and other symptoms (Penniston and Tanumihardjo, 2006). In the present article, we describe evidence supporting a major role for hormesis as a mechanism of action of phytochemicals on cells and organisms, with a focus on the health-promoting and neuroprotective actions of phytochemicals. The term hormesis is commonly used by toxicologists to describe biphasic dose response curve such that a chemical has a stimulatory effect at low doses, but is toxic at high doses. Recently the concept of hormesis has been adopted in the fields of biology and medicine to portray the adaptive response of cells and organisms to moderate stress (Mattson, 2008). In other words, a mild stress induces the activation of signaling pathways, leading to intrinsic changes conferring resistance to a more severe stress. Typically, the stress-inducing agent elicits molecular responses that not only protect the cell against higher doses of the same agent, but also against other agents or even less specific stressors including oxidative, metabolic and thermal stress. Major components of the hormetic response include various stress resistance proteins such as heat-shock proteins, antioxidants, and growth factors (Mattson and Cheng, 2006; Mattson 2008). Classical examples of hormetic stress are exercise and calorie restriction (CR). Epidemiological studies have consistently demonstrated that moderate levels exercise and CR promote good health, whereas excessive levels are harmful (Fontana and Klein, 2007; Radak et al., 2008). As mentioned above, the need to protect themselves against bacteria, fungi, viruses, and hazardous environmental changes, has lead plants to concentrate defensive chemicals in their most vulnerable parts (i.e. leaves, flowers and roots). Like moderate exercise or CR, many of these ‘poisons’ also exhibit hormetic properties, being harmful at high doses yet beneficial at relevantly low doses.
The Following are great examples of Hormetic Compounds: Neurohormetic phytochemicals: low-dose toxins that induce adaptive neuronal stress responses.
Although some phytochemicals possess direct free radical-scavenging properties at high concentrations, in lower amounts typical of those obtained in the diet, phytochemicals may activate one or more adaptive cellular stress responses pathways. Activation of such hormetic pathways in neurons results in the production of several types of cytoprotective proteins including neurotrophic factors, protein chaperones, antioxidant and phase II enzymes and anti-apoptotic proteins. One specific pathway that is receiving considerable attention in regards to hormesis in the nervous system involves the transcription factor Nrf2 which binds the ARE, thereby inducing the expression of genes encoding phase II detoxifying enzymes. Preclinical and clinical studies of the therapeutic potential of phytochemicals that activate the Nrf2/ARE pathway (curcumin, for example) in several different neurodegenerative disorders are in progress. Other hormetic pathways involved in neuronal stress resistance and plasticity include those that activate FOXO and NF-κB transcription factors. Using neurohormetic phytochemicals as base compounds for medicinal chemistry (Ohori et al., 2006; Milne et al., 2007) will likely result in the development of a range of plant based nootropics that enhance neuroplasticity and protect against synaptic dysfunction and neurodegeneration. Try our range of nootropics at Plant Based Academy made using some of the powerful ingredients listed below.
In summary All these compounds do at least two things:
Phase 1 biotransformation enzymes convert pro carcinogens into their active carcinogenic state.
Specific Plant Hormetic Compounds in Herbs Cardiac glycosides: Found in various medicinal plants, notably in foxgloves and in lily of the valley, cardiac glycosides such as digitoxin, digoxin and convallotoxin have a strong, direct action on the heart, supporting its strength and rate of contraction when it is failing. Cardiac glycosides are also significantly diuretic. They help to stimulate urine production, thus increasing the removal of fluid from the tissues and circulatory system.
Cyanogenic glycosides: Though these glycosides are based on cyanide, a very potent poison, in small doses they have a helpful sedative and relaxant effect on the heart and muscles. The bark of wild cherry and the leaves of elder both contain cyanogenic glycosides, which contribute to the plant’s ability to suppress and soothe irritant dry coughs. Many fruit kernels contain high levels of cyanogenic glycosides, for example those of apricot.
Polysaccharides: Found in all plants, polysaccharides are multiple units of sugar molecules linked together. From a herbal point of view, the most important polysaccharides are the “sticky” mucilages and gums, which are commonly found in roots, bark, leaves and seeds. Both mucilage and gum soak up large quantities of water, producing a sticky, jelly-like mass that can be used to soothe and protect irritated tissue, for example, dry irritated skin and sore or inflamed mucous membranes in the gut. Mucilaginous herbs, such as slippery elm and linseed or flaxsee are best prepared by soaking in plenty of cold water. Some polysaccharides stimulate the immune system, for example acemannan, which is found in the leaves of aloe vera.
Glucosilinates: Found exclusively in species of the mustard and cabbage family, glucosilinates have an irritant effect on the skin, causing inflammation and blistering. Applied as poultices to painful or aching joints, they increase blood flow to remove the build-up of waste products. On eating, glucosilinates are broken down and produce a strong pungent taste. Radish and watercress are typical glucosilinate-containing plants.
Bitters: Bitters are a varied roup of constituents linked only by their pronounced bitter taste. The bitterness itself stimulatess secretions by the salivary glands and digestive organs. Such secretions can dramatically improve the appetite and strengthen the overall function of the digestive system. With the improved digestion and absorption of nutrients that follow, the body is nourished and strengthened. Many herbs have bitter constituents, notably wormwood, chiretta and hops.
Alkaloids: A very mixed group, alkaloids mostly contain a nitrogen-bearing molecule (-NH2), that makes them particularly pharmalogically active. Some are well-known drugs and have a recognized medical use. Vincristine, for example, derived from Madagascar periwinkle, is used to treat some types of cancer. Other alkaloids, such as atropine, found in deadly nightshade, have a direct effect on the body, reducing spasms, relieving pain and drying up bodily secretions.
Vitamins: Though often overlooked, many medicinal plants contain useful levels of vitamins. Some are well known for their vitamin content, for example dog rose, has high levels of vitamin C, and carrot is rich in beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A), but many are less well recognized. Watercress, for example contains appreciable levels of vitamins B1, B2, C and E as well as beta-carotene, while seabuckthorn can be regarded as a vitamin and mineral supplement in its own right.
Minerals: Like vegetable foods, many medicinal plants provide high levels of minerals. Plants, especiallt˝ organically grown ones, draw minerals from the soil and convert them into a form that is more easily absorbed and used by the body. Whether plants are eaten as a vegetable, like cabbage or taken as a medicine, like bladderwrack, in many cases the mineral content is a key factor in the plant’s therapeutic activity within the body. Dandelion leaf is a potent diuretic, balanced by its high potassium content, while the high silica content of horsetail supports the repair of connective tissue, making it useful in arthritis.
List Including some of The Top 60 Superior Tonic Herbs :
Eucommia bark – Du zhong
Polygonum multiflorum – Ho shou wu / Foti
Codonopis – Dang shen
White atractylodes – Bai zhu
Poria – Fu ling
Cinnamon twig – Gui zhi
Jujube date – Hong zao
Liquorice root – Gran cao
Goji berry – Lycium
Siberian ginseng – Eleutherococcus
Astragalus – Huang chi
White peony root – Bai shao
Liqusticum – Gao ben
Angelica sinesis root – Bai shao
Rehmannia – Shu di huang
Schzandra – Wu wei zi
Morinda – Noni root, Ba ji tian
Bupleurum – Chai hu
Scutellaria – Bicalensis – Huang qin – Chinese skullcap
Gynostemma – Jiaogulan
Dandelion – Taraxaci
Coptis – Huang Lian (Anti cancer, gastrointestinal)
A superior tonic herb must meet six qualifications:
1.Must have anti agening properties and aid in the attainment of a long life
2.Must have broad and profound health-promoting actions
3.Must help balance emotional and psychic energy leading to happiness
4.Must do no harm, safe for every day use, long term health benefits
5.Must taste good, easy to absorb, easy to consume
6.Must contain at least one of the three treasures. Some contain all three
The tree treasures:
Jing, Qi and Shen– These are the three primary types of energy in the body
Jing– Regenerative (astragalus) schzandra, reishi, foti
Qi– Vitality (astragalus, ginseng, gynostemma) schzandra, reishi
Shen– Spirit (reishi, ginseng, gynostemma) schzandra
Adaptogenic herbs or superior herbs are adaptogenic which means these herbs help regulate all systems in the body to promote health and vitality. Also balancing Yin (relaxation) and Yang (invigorating). These herbs most importantly help the body deal effectively with stress and so help you strive under stressful events – This is the art of living from the Daoist perspective. There are 120 superior class Daoist herbs (60 are tonic). We focus on the top Ten in our recipes.
(Volatile Oils, Flowers, Herb Infused Smoothies/Milks, Tinctures, Cocktails and Herbal Infused Probiotics, Powders, Dusts, Capsules & Medicinal Cacao)
Hydrosols ( Herbal Waters) for use in Cosmetics
Kava kava Cocktail or Milk
Ceremonial Mate Cold Tea or cocktail
Lavender, rose, lemon, ginger, apple, chamomile, cold tea
Medicinal probiotic tonic – kombucha, matcha, hemp, ginger
Medicinal cocktail elixir – liquorice, rooibos, vanilla, cinnamon
Medicinal cocktail elixir – almond milk with green tea + nutmeg
Medicinal smoothie tonic – milk + cold tea + powders + butters
C02 infused espresso (foti, maca, cacao)
Tincture using apple cider vinager
(Slow, low temp brews for leaves and some roots)
Remedy blend tea – burdock, carob, liquorice, milk thistle, hemp
Remedy blend tea – orange peel, ginger, meadowsweet, liquorice, nettle massage herbal oil
Remedy blend tea – damiana, rose, liquorice, nettle
Herbal stock for soup
Medicinal latte (65 degrees)
(High Temp extraction for Roots, Barks and Mushrooms) (Min of 80 degrees)
Medicinal tonic elixir – three treasures tea of medicinal mushrooms, foti, astragalus, goji berry, schzandra berry, liquorice root, rhodiola
Use tonic elixir for a tonic, stock, latte, probiotic tonic, base for warm infusion, medicinal milk
Medicinal Mushroom Properties:
Cordyceps– kidney tonic, restores energy after stress, antibiotic, treats exhaustion, B12, inhibits cancer growth, treats diabetes
Black trumpet– inhibits tumor growth
Enoki– anti cancer – supports immune system
Birch polypore– Helps bladder, treats esophageal cancer, anti inflammatory, inhibits tumors, powerful antibiotic, used on skin for anti aging.
Rosy conk / pink polypore– anti cancer
Agarikon– Liver- and kidney disease, spleen/stomach, pains, coughs, colds, treats smallpox, antiviral
Red belted conk– reduce inflammation of GI track, cancer prevention
Artist conk– anti trauma, stimulates immune system, inhibits prostate cancer, heavy metal detox
Reishi– calms nervous system, pain reflex, protects liver, increases white blood cells, anti viral, anti tumor, antibacterial, inhibits HIV,
used as sunscreen, treats skin issues, powerful anti anxiety + carer
Maitake– Maitake means dancing mushroom. Supports kidneys, boosts immune system and reduces tumors.
Turkey Tail Mushroom Health Benefits
Digestion Aid: Prebiotics help to promote the growth of good bacteria
Fights Infections: May help to heal infections including human papillomavirus (HPV)
Replenish Qi: Turkey tail is believed to enhance the flow of life force energy in TCM
Appetite Enhancer:Can help to increase appetite
Anti-Inflammatory:Reduces inflammation and eases muscle aches
Antitumor:Studies suggest that turkey tail can reduce tumors
Antioxidant:Fights free radical damage and reduces oxidation
Cold buster:Modulates the immune system to fight colds and flu
Anti-Ageing:Slows down the aging process
Adaptogen:Helps the body to resist harmful stress factors
Immune-Supporting:Supports and strengthens the immune system