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The Action Of Herbs – Herbal Remedies – Medicinal Herbs

    Herbs Are Chosen According To Their Action

    The action of an herb is due in part to its active constituents. Active constituents are special chemicals or combination of chemicals and oils that are present in each particular plant and produce a particular result. These combinations may cause a synergistic reaction between various constituents of each plant thus providing a variety of effects.

    Herbs are chosen and combined in preparations according to their action. The action depends on the active ingredients. Most herbs have several actions and the skill in choosing the right herbs for a particular patient’s needs lies in selecting the right degrees of action and the best combination of actions in the individual herbs.  Each of these may be altered when different herbs are combined.

    Close study of the actions of each herb will improve your skill in understanding how and why these medicinal plants work. Below you will find a definition of the wide variety of actions herbs provide and the herbs that best represent that particular action.


    Substances which put the body into a state of non-specific heightened resistance in order to better resist stress and adapt to extraordinary challenges.

    Aswagandha, Siberian Ginseng, Ginkgo, Gotu Kola, Ho-Shou-Wu, Licorice, Reishi, Schizandra, Shiitake, Suma.


    An herb that will help to restore the proper function of the body and increase its health and vitality. Sometimes Alteratives are referred to as blood purifiers.

    Alfalfa, Black Cohosh, Blue Vervain, Boneset, Burdock ,Chaparral Leaf, Chickweed,  Cleavers, Cornsilk, Dong Quai, Echinacea, Garlic, Gentian Root, Golden Seal, Gotu Kola, Ho-Shou-Wu, Irish Moss, Kelp, Licorice, Mandrake,  Nettles, Oregon Grape, Pau d’Arco, Prickly Ash, Red Clover, Red Raspberry, Rhubarb, St. John’s Wort, , Sarsaparilla, White Willow, Yarrow, Yellow Dock, Yerba Santa, Yucca.


    Analgesics or Anodynes are herbs that reduce pain.

    Blue Vervain, Catnip, Chamomile, Dong Quai, Feverfew, Ginger, Jamaican Dogwood, Hops, Kava Kava, Lobelia, Passion Flower, Pau d’arco, Reishi, Safflower, Scullcap, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, White Willow.


    Herbs that work against parasitic worms, which may be present in the digestive system.

    Black Walnut, Chaparral Leaf, Garlic, Mugwort, Sheep Sorrel, Wormwood.


    Herbs with properties that can inhibit bacterial growth.

    Blessed Thistle, Cloves, Echinacea, Garlic,  Kelp, Licorice, Myrrh, Pau d’Arco, Reishi, St. John’s Wort, Scullcap, Yucca.


    Herbs that help the body remove excess bile.

    Barberry, Dandelion, Golden Seal, Mandrake, Vervain, Wild Yam, Wormwood.


    Herbs that help the body reduce excess mucous and phlegm.

    Boneset, Echinacea, Elder, Garcinia, Garlic, Golden Seal, Hyssop, Marshmallow, Oregon Grape, Sage, Saw Palmetto, Uva Ursi, Wild Yam, Yarrow.


    Herbs that reduce the feeling of nausea and can help to relieve or prevent vomiting.

    Barberry, Cloves, Elecampane, Fennel, Ginger, Oregon Grape, Red Raspberry, Wild Yam.


    Herbs that prevent or decrease the secretion of milk.

    Black Walnut, Sage.


    Herbs that help the body combat inflammations.

    Aswagandha, Blue Vervain, Butcher’s Broom, Calendula, Cat’s Claw, Chamomile, Chaparral Leaf, Cleavers, Devil’s Claw, Eyebright, Fennel, Feverfew, Gentian Root, Guggul, Horehound, Hyssop, Licorice, Reishi, St. John’s Wort, White Willow,  Witch Hazel, Wormwood, Yarrow, Yucca.


    Herbs that prevent the formation of, or help to remove stones or gravel from the urinary system.

    Gravel Root, Hydrangea, Stone Root, Uva Ursi.


    Herbs that can help the body destroy or resist pathogenic micro-organisms.

    Calendula, Cat’s Claw, Cloves, Echinacea, Eucalyptus, Feverfew, Juniper, Licorice,  Myrrh, Olive Leaf, Pau d’arco, Red Clover, Rose Hips, St. John’s Wort, Uva Ursi, Wormwood.


    Herbs that have the specific action of inhibiting and combating tumor development.

    Chaparral Leaf, Cleavers, Red Clover, Reishi, St. John’s Wort, Shiitake.


    Herbs that can be applied to the skin to prevent and resist bacterial growth.

    Bilberry, Black Walnut, Chamomile, Chaparral Leaf,  Cloves, Echinacea, Elecampane, Eyebright, Gentian Root, Golden Seal, Horseradish, Myrrh, Oregon Grape, Parsley, Queen of the Meadow, Red Clover, Sage, Sarsaparilla, Schizandra, Thyme, Uva Ursi, White Oak Bark, White Willow, Witch Hazel,  Wormwood, Yarrow.


    Antispasmodics can prevent or ease spasms and cramps in the body.

    Black Cohosh,, Blue Cohosh, Blue Vervain, Boneset, Calamus, Chamomile, Cramp bark, Dill, Dong Quai, Fennel, Garlic, Hope, Hyssop, Lady’s Slipper, Licorice, Lobelia, Motherwort, Mullein, Oat Straw, Passion Flower, Pennyroyal, Pleurisy Root, Red Clover, St. John’s Root, Scullcap, Thyme, Valerian, Wild Yam.


    Herbs used to stimulate sexual potency and passion.

    Angelica, Astragalus, Damiana, False Unicorn, Ginseng, Kava Kava, Muira Puama, Schizandra, Suma, Yohimbe.


    Herbs that have a strong and often pleasant odor and can stimulate the digestive juices.

    Angelica, Anise Seed, Catnip, Celery Seed, Chamomile, Cloves, Fennel, Feverfew, Garlic, Ginger, Ho-Shou-Wu, Juniper, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Sarsaparilla, Thyme, Valerian, Yerba Santa.


    Astringents contract tissue and can reduce secretions and discharges.

    Agrimony, Bayberry, Bilberry, Blessed Thistle, Blue Vervain, Butcher’s Broom, Calendula, Cleavers, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Cordyceps, Cramp bark ,Cyani Flowers,  Eyebright, Garcinia, Hops, Golden Seal, Hops, Male Fern, Muira Puama, Myrrh, Nettle, Periwinkle, Queen of the Meadow, Saw Palmetto, Schizandra, Slippery Elm, Squawvine,  St. John’s Wort, Stone Root, Suma,  Uva Ursi, White Oak Bark, Wild Cherry Bark, Witch Hazel, Wood Betony, Yarrow, Yellow Dock, Yucca.


    Herbs that taste bitter act as stimulating tonics for the digestive system.

    Barberry, Blessed Thistle,  Burdock, Catnip, Chamomile, Chaparral Leaf,  Coltsfoot, Dong Quai, Elecampane, Eyebright, Feverfew, Gentian Root, Golden Seal, Hops, Ho-Shou-Wu, Hydrangea, Schizandra, Wormwood, Yellow Dock.

    Cardiac Tonic

    Cardiac tonics are herbs that act beneficially on the heart.

    Cayenne, Cat’s Claw, Guggul, Hawthorn, Hops, Kelp, Motherwort, Myrrh, Reishi, Siberian Ginseng.


    Carminatives are rich in volatile oils and expel gas from the stomach and bowels.

    Angelica, Catnip, Chamomile, Cloves, Dill, Elecampane, Fennel, Feverfew, Garlic, Ginger, Hops, Hyssop, Juniper, Motherwort, Pennyroyal, Pleurisy Root, Prickly Ash, Queen of the Meadow, Thyme, Valerian, Wild Yam, Wormwood, Yarrow, Yerba Santa.


    In large doses cathartics purge the bowels and stimulate glandular secretions.

    Barberry, Cascara Sagrada, Hydrangea, Mandrake, Rhubarb, Senna, Yellow Dock.


    Herbs that stimulate the release and secretion of bile from the gall bladder. They also have a laxative effect on the digestive system.

    Barberry, Calendula, Dandelion, Gentian Root, Golden Seal, Mandrake, Milk Thistle, Oregon Grape, Wild Yam, Yellow Dock.


    Herbs that are usually rich in mucilage and can soothe and protect damaged or inflamed tissue.

    Chickweed, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Cornsilk, Fenugreek ,Garcinia, Irish Moss, Kelp, Licorice, Marshmallow, Milk Thistle, Mullein, Oat Straw, Psyllium, Pumpkin Seeds, Slippery Elm, Suma.  


    Depuratives are herbs that remove impurities and cleanse the blood.

    Black Walnut, Blessed Thistle, Burdock, Dandelion, Elderberry, Garlic, Gotu Kola, Oregon Grape, Pau d’Arco, Red Clover, Sarsaparilla, Watercress, Yarrow, Yellow Dock.


    These herbs will aid the skin in the elimination of toxins through perspiration.

    Angelica, Blessed Thistle, Black Cohosh, Blue Vervain, Boneset, Butcher’s Broom, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Elecampane, , Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Passion Flower, Peppermint, Pleurisy Root, Prickly Ash, Sage, Sarsaparilla, White Willow, Yarrow.


    Herbs that increase the flow of urine and help in the removal of toxins from the system.

    Alfalfa, Astragalus, Bilberry, Blue Vervain ,Buchu, Burdock, Butcher’s Broom, Cleavers, Cornsilk, Cyani Flowers, Dandelion, Dill, Dong Quai, Elecampane, False Unicorn, Fennel, Golden Seal, Gotu Kola, Gravel Root, Hawthorn, Juniper, Marshmallow, Nettle, Parsley, Parthenium, Pleurisy Root, Prickly Ash, Red Clover, Safflower, Sarsaparilla, Saw Palmetto, Squawvine, Uva Ursi, White Willow, Yarrow.


    Emetics are herbs that cause vomiting when taken in specific doses (generally high doses).

    Calamus, Elecampane, False Unicorn (in large doses), Lobelia, Mandrake, Poke root.


    Herbs that stimulate and normalize the menstrual flow.

    Black Cohosh, Blessed Thistle, Blue Cohosh, Blue Vervain, Butcher’s Broom, Calendula, Catnip, Chamomile, Cramp Bark, Dong Quai, False Unicorn, Fennel, Fenugreek, Feverfew, Ginger, Golden Seal,  Hope, Lobelia, Motherwort, Myrrh, Pennyroyal, Prickly Ash, Squawvine, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Vitex, Wormwood, Yarrow.


    Herbs that are applied to the skin to soften, soothe, or protect it.

    Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Fenugreek, Flaxseed, Irish Moss, Kelp, Marshmallow, Mullein, Slippery Elm.


    Herbs that assist the body in expelling excess mucous from the respiratory system.

    Anise Seed, Blue Vervain, Calamus, Chaparral Leaf, Chickweed, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Cordyceps, Elecampane, Fennel, Fenugreek, Garlic, Golden Seal, Horehound, Hyssop, Licorice, Ma Huang, Marshmallow, Mullein, Myrrh, Nettle, Pleurisy Root, Red Clover,  Reishi,  Schizandra, Slippery Elm, Thyme, Wild Cherry Bark, Yerba Santa.


    The febrifuges help the body to bring down fevers.

    Angelica, Blessed Thistle, Boneset, Calendula, Cayenne, Gotu Kola,  Lobelia, Peppermint, Prickly Ash, Rose Hips, Sage, Scullcap, White Willow,  Wormwood.


    Herbs that help breast-feeding mothers increase the flow of mother’s milk.

    Blessed Thistle, Blue Vervain, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek, Horsetail, Marshmallow, Milk Thistle, Nettle, Vervain.


    Hepatics strengthen and tone the liver as well as stimulate the flow of bile.

    Barberry, Cascara Sagrada, Celery Seed, Cleavers, Dandelion, Fennel, Golden Seal, Mandrake, Milk Thistle, Motherwort, Oregon Grape, Prickly Ash, Wild Yam, Wormwood, Yarrow, Yellow Dock.


    Hypnotic herbs will help induce sleep (not a hypnotic trance).

    Hops, Passion Flower, Lady’s Slipper, Scullcap, Valerian.


    Remedies that reduce elevated blood pressure.

    Astragalus, Cat’s Claw, Hawthorn, Hops, Reishi, Valerian, Yarrow.


    Herbs that promote the evacuation of the bowels.

    Barberry, Boneset, Burdock, Butcher’s Broom, Cascara Sagrada, Cleavers, Dandelion, Golden Seal, Licorice, Oregon Grape, Senna, Rhubarb, Yellow Dock.


    Mucilaginous herbs contain gelatinous constituents and will often be demulcent.

    Fenugreek, Flax Seed, Irish Moss, Kelp, Marshmallow, Parthenium, Psyllium, Slippery Elm.


    Herbs that strengthen and tone the nervous system, easing anxiety and stress.

    Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Blue Vervain, Catnip, Chamomile, Cramp bark, Damiana, Feverfew, Ginkgo, Ginseng, Hops, Jamaican Dogwood, Lady’s Slipper, Motherwort, Oat Straw, Passion Flower, Periwinkle, Red Clover, Scullcap, Valerian, Wild Cherry Bark, Wormwood.


    Herbs that stimulate the contraction of the urerus.

    Blue Cohosh, Dong Quai, Golden Seal, Red Raspberry, Squaw Vine.


    Herbs that can kill parasites in the digestive tract and on the skin.

    Black Walnut, Blue Vervain, Chaparral Leaf, Cloves, Elecampane, Feverfew, Gentian Root, Pumpkin Seeds, Wormwood.


    Herbs that have a general strengthening and healing effect on the respiratory system.

    Angelica, Chickweed, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Elecampane, Golden Seal, Licorice, Marshmallow, Mullein, Slippery Elm.


    Can produce very strong laxative effects and watery evacuations.

    Aloe Vera, Cascara Sagrada, Rhubarb, Senna, Yellow Dock.


    Herbs that simulate circulation locally when applied to the skin.

    Capsicum, Cloves, Fennel, Ginger, Horseradish, Nettle, Peppermint, Prickly Ash.


    Strong herbs that can quiet the nervous system.

    Black Cohosh, Bugleweed, Catnip, Celery Seed, Chamomile, Cramp Bark, Hops, Kava Kava, Lady’s Slipper, Lobelia, Motherwort, Passion Flower, Periwinkle, Red Clover, Saw Palmetto, Scullcap, St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Wild Yam.


    Herbs that stimulate the secretion of saliva from the salivary glands.

    Cayenne, Gentian Root, Ginger, Horseradish, Licorice, Prickly Ash, Rhubarb.


    Herbs that quicken and enliven the physiological function of the body.

    Angelica, Bayberry, Calamus, Calendula, Catnip, Cayenne, Cloves, Dandelion, Elecampane, False Unicorn, Fennel, Feverfew, Ginger, Ginkgo, Ma Huang, Muira Puama, Myrrh, Prickly Ash, Sarsaparilla, Schizandra,  Valerian, Wild Yam, Wormwood, Yarrow.


    Herbs that promote digestion and strengthen the stomach.

    Catnip, Chamomile, Chickweed, Cloves, Elecampane, Fennel, Gentian Root, Ginger, Golden Seal, Papaya, Peppermint, Red Raspberry, Rhubarb, Wood Betony, Yerba Santa.


    The tonic herbs strengthen and tone either specific organs or the whole body through nutritional stimulation.

    Alfalfa, Angelica, Ashwagandha, Astragalus, Black Cohosh, Black Walnut, Boneset, Burdock, Calendula, Catnip, Cat’s Claw, Cayenne, Chamomile, Cleavers, Coltsfoot, Cordyceps, Cyani Flowers,  Damiana, Dandelion, Echinacea, Elecampane, Fenugreek,  Garlic, Gentian Root, Ginger, Siberian Ginseng, Golden Seal, Gotu Kola, Hawthorn, Hops, Ho-Shou-Wu, Hydrangea, Licorice,  Male Fern, Milk Thistle, Motherwort, Muira Puama, Myrrh, Nettle, Oregon Grape, Poke root, Prickly Ash, Red Clover, Red Raspberry, Sarsaparilla, Saw Palmetto, Schizandra, Sheep Sorrel, Skullcap, Squawvine, Spirulina, Suma, Uva Ursi, Watercress, Wild Yam, Wormwood, Yarrow, Yellow Dock, Yohimbe.


    Herbs that help promote healing of external wounds and cuts.

    Aloe Vera, Calendula, Chickweed, Comfrey, Elder Flower, Golden Seal, Horsetail, Hyssop, Male Fern, Marshmallow, Mullein, Myrrh, Plantain, Rhubarb, Sage, St. John’s Wort, Slippery Elm, Wood Betony.

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