Category: Materia Medica

Wild Yam

Latin Name: Dioscorea villosa (Dioscoreaceae)

Common names: Wild yam root, Colic root, Devil’s bone, Rheumatism root

Part(s) used: Root

Form(s) used:  Decoction, tincture

Dosages

– Decoction: 8-16 g, 1-2x/day
– Tincture: 1-2ml, 2-3x/day

Herbal Actions

– Relaxant
– Bitter
– Astringent
– Cooling
– Stabilizing
– Dry

Clinical Actions

– Strong Antispasmodic
– Demulcent and Emollient due to high starch content and steroidal saponins
– Anti-inflammatory
– Astringent/ Tonifier to Reproductive System

Constituents: Steroidal saponins ( dioscin, gracillarin), polysaccharides (starch; some mucilaginous polysaccharides), phytosterols, alkaloids, tannins

Primary Uses: Anti-inflammatory and analgesic for chronic inflammatory disorders (fibromyalgia, rheumatism, arthritis); antispasmodic to gastrointestinal tract (gastritis, diarrhea) and genitourinary tract (dysmenhorrea); demulcent and emollient properties relieve skin rashes with redness and sores (eczema, dermatitis) when applied topically

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: There are no reports of contraindications or side effects when herb is used correctly. It is not recommended to use Wild Yam Root as substitution for birth control.

 

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p.398 , Holmes- p.564-565, Actions Database- p. 36 , CSCH Notes- Musculoskeletory System

White Willow

Latin Name: Salix alba  (Salicaeae)

Common Names: White willow, Sallow tree, Saugh

Part(s) used: Bark

Form(s) used: Decoction, tincture

Dosages

– Decoction: 2-10 g, 1-2x/day
– Tincture: 0.5-2 ml, 2-3x/day

Herbal Actions 

– Cooling
– Drying
– Somewhat Bitter
– Astringent
– Calming and Stabilizing

Clinical Actions

– Strong Anti-Inflammatory due to salicin constituents
– Bitter Tonic
– Anodyne, esp. regarding internal pain
– Astringent
– Antipyretic

Constituents: Glycoside salicin, phnolic glycocides, flavonoids (isosalipurposide), tannins, phenolic acids

Primary Uses: Relieves pain/ discomfort from rheumatic ailments and headaches; reduces fever; relieves inflammation of gastrointestinal tract (diarrhea, minor cases of hemorrhoids); stimulates digestion and appetite; when used as a wash, reduces inflammation of minor skin wounds/burns and eczema

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: May cause allergic reaction in people sensitive to salicylates. Due to blood-thinning properties, do not use this herb if also taking high blood pressure medication. Taking higher doses than recommended can cause nausea and constipation, and overdosing can cause internal bleeding. If pregnant, use herb with caution.

 

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p. 391-392, Holmes- 654-655, Actions Database- p.101

St. John’s Wort

Latin Name: Hypericum perforatim (Hypericaceae)

Common Names: St. John’s Wort, Herba Hyperici, Rosin rose, Witches’ Herb, Terrestrial sun

Part(s) used: Flowering top

Form(s) used: Infusion, tincture, ointment

Dosages

– Infusion: 8-14g, 1-2x/day
– Tincture: 1-2ml, 2-3x/day
– Ointment: 200g (dried) or 400g (fresh) prepared as directed, apply at least 3-4x/day or as needed

Herbal Actions

– Stimulant
– Somewhat Bitter and Astringing
– Cooling
– Dry
– Relaxing and Restoring
– Sweet

Clinical Actions

– Antidepressant and mild sedative due to hypericin constituents
– Nervine
– Antibacterial/ Antiviral
– Mild Liver Stimulant
– Anti-inflammatory and Wound-Healing

Constituents: Flavonoids, naphthodianthrones (hypericin, pseudohypericin), tannins, alkaloid, xanthone derivatives, volatile oil

Primary Uses: Reduces mild to moderate depression esp. for young and school-age children; provides relief from nervous exhaustion, anxiety, insomnia, and childhood enuresis due to nervine properties of herb; anti-inflammatory for complaints of the gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, genitourinary, upper respiratory tracts; used topically as an ointment to promote healing from wounds, burns, ulcers, bruises, etc.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: Herb should not be taken in cases of severe depressive states, and should not be combined with other antidepressant drugs or immunosuppresants. Be cautious if using during pregnancy due to herb being a mild uterine stimulant. There is risk of increased skin photosensitivity because of hypericin content, so when taken in concentrated or high doses, monitor skin closely since phototoxic reactions may occur after exposure to sunrays.

 

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

 

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p. 359, Holmes- p.124, 504-506, Actions Database- p.57, CSCH Notes- Materia Medica Nervous System

Skullcap

Latin Name: Scuttilaria lateriflora (Lamiaceae/ Labiatae)

Common Names: Skullcap, Helmet flower, Hooded willow herb, Madweed, Blue pimpernel

Part(s) used: Leaf

Form(s) used: Infusion, tincture

Dosages

– Infusion: 8-14 g, 1-2x/day
– Tincture: 1-2 ml, 2-3x/day

Herbal Actions

– Vital Stimulant
– Bitter
– Cooling
– Astringing and Restoring
– Dry
– Relaxing and Stabilizing

Clinical Actions

– Bitter (due to iridoids) and Nervine tonic
– Stomachic
– Sedative and Hypnotic
– Astringent due to tannin constituents;
– Antispasmodic
– Diaphoretic when taken as hot infusion

Constituents: Bitter principles (iridoids), Lamiaceae tannins (rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid), flavonoids, volatile oil, calcium/potassium/magnesium phosphate

Primary Uses: Provides relief to the Central Nervous System with minor cases of fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia due to sedative and hypnotic effects; aids digestion and minor cramps in GI tract; diaphoretic for feverish states when taken as a hot infusion; relieves minor cases of painful menstruation

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: Skullcap should be used within 6 months of collecting because it deteriorates rapidly with age. There are fraudulent substitutions for Skullcap, such as Germander which is hepatotoxic, so handle herb with wariness. Aside from this, there are no reports of contraindications or side effects when herb is used correctly.

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

 

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p. 346, Holmes- p.507-509, Actions Database- p.104, CSCH Notes- Nervous System

 

Rosemary

Latin Name: Rosmarinus offcinalis (Lamiaceae/Labiatae)

Common Name: Rosemary

Part(s) used: Leaf

Form(s) used: Infusion, tincture, essential oil

Dosages

– Infusion: 6-12g, 1-2x/day
– Tincture: 1-2 ml, 2-3x/day

Herbal Actions

– Vital Stimulant
– Pungent and Sweet Aromatics
– Hot
– Drying
– Tonifies and Diffuses
– Relaxant

Clinical Actions

– Carminative
– Bitter Tonic due to carnosol and triterpenes constituents
– Neurocirculatory Stimulant
– Anti-inflammatory/ Antimicrobial
– Diuretic
– Emmenagogue

Constituents: Volatile oil, bitter principles (carnosol), Lamiaceae tannins, flavonoids (luteolin), triterpines. salicylates, minerals

Primary Uses: Overall antioxidant effect on the body when ingested; reduces bloating due to gas/flatulence; stimulates digestion through relieving stagnation; assists in re-building immune system following illness/injury; tonifies menstrual cycle by regulating previously irregular (stopped/delayed) patterns; assists circulation through mild cholesterol and triglyceride reduction; reduces inflammation and prevents potential infection when applied topically to minor wounds

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: During pregnancy, do not consume in higher/excessive dosages. Otherwise, no reported cautions, contraindications, or adverse effects.

 

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p. 322-323, Holmes- p.350-352, Actions Database- p.98

Red Clover

Latin Name: Trifolium pratense (Leguminosae)

Common Names: Red Clover Flower, Purple Clover, Field Claver, Suckles, Meadow Trefoil

Part(s) used: Flowerhead

Form(s) used: Juice, infusion, tincture, syrup

Dosages

– Juice: 2 tsp, 1-2x/day
– Infusion: 10-16g, 2-3x/day
– Tincture: 1-2.5 ml, 2-3x/day
– Syrup: 2 tsp, as needed with acute upper respiratory infections

Herbal Actions

– Vital Stimulant
– Neutral with Cooling Potential
– Slightly Dry in Moisture
– Dissolving and Astringing
– Relaxant

Clinical Actions

– Estrogen-like due to flavonoid constituents such as isoflavones
– Anti-inflammatory
– Expectorant
– Antitumoral
– Nutritive due to vitamin C and mineral content

Constituents: Flavonoids (isoflavones), coumestans, volatile oil, phytosterols, minerals (iron, chromium, molybdenum), vitamin C

Primary Uses: Supplements phytoestrogens to alleviate menopausal syndrome and to prevent postmenopausal problems; expectorant properties relieve wheezing and spasmodic coughs; relieves inflammation of the genitourinary tract; can reduce tumors in estrogen-rich parts of the body (breasts, ovaries, etc.); anti-inflammatory for chronic skin diseases; nutritive when used as a dietary source

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: Red clover should not be taken in cases of estrogen receptor-positive tumors. Otherwise, there are no reported contraindications or adverse effects when taken correctly.

 

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p.316, Holmes- p.712-714, Actions Database- p.114, CSCH Class Notes- Cell Environment

Passionflower

Latin Name: Passiflora incarnata (Passifloraceae)

Common Names: Passionflower, Apricot vine, Maypop, Love in a mist

Part(s) used: Flower, leaf, stem (Aerial)

Form(s) used: Infusion, tincture, wash/compress

Dosages 

– Infusion: 6-10 g, 1-2x/day
– Tincture: 0.5-3 ml, 2-3x/day
– Wash/Compress: soak clean fabric in infusion (6-10g), then apply topically as needed throughout day

Herbal Actions

– Vital Stimulant
– Cooling
– Dry
– Calming and Sinking
– Relaxant
– Somewhat Bitter

Clinical Actions

– Sedative to the Central Nervous System and Antispasmodic/Muscle Relaxant to Autonomic Nervous System due to flavonoids, indole alkaloids, and coumarins
– Hypnotic

Constituents: Flavonoids (apigenin-C-glycosides), maltol, coumarins indole alkaloids (passiflorane, harman), volatile oil, phenolic acids, minerals (iron, calcium, phosphorus)

Primary Uses: Provides relief to Central Nervous System for nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia and to the Autonomic Nervous System  for nervous cardiac disorders (rapid heartbeat); reduces painful menstruation; topical usage soothes painful ulcerative skin conditions; reduces mild withdrawal symptoms from alcohol or benzodiazepines; adjuvant for epilepsy

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: Contraindicated during pregnancy due to the tendency of alkaloid constituents to stimulate the uterus. Passionflower possesses slight cumulative toxicity, therefore should only be used for occasional or short term use when taken singularly. Very small doses have been known to cause nausea and vomiting.

 

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p. 282-283, Holmes- p.813-815, Actions Database- p.84, CSCH Notes- Nervous System

Stinging Nettle

Latin Name: Urtica dioica (Urticaceae)

Common Names: Nettle, Stinging Nettle, Dwarf Nettle, Analypse, Acantum

Part(s) used: Leaf and stem

Form(s) used: Long Infusion, tincture, syrup

Dosages

– Long Infusion: 10-20g, 1-2x/day
– Tincture: 2-3ml, 2-3x/day
– Syrup: 2 tsp., as needed with acute respiratory issues

Herbal Actions

– Vital Stimulant
– Neutral to Cool
– Astringing and Restoring
– Very Dry
– Nourishing
– Tonic

Clinical Actions

– Anti-inflammatory due to phenolic acid constituents
– Diuretic
– Alterative
– Nutritive due to high mineral content
– Astringent
– Decongestant

Constituents: Flavonoids, minerals (silicon, phosphorus, potassium, calcium), phenolic acids (chlorogenic acid, caffeoyl-malic acid), vitamins, protein, biogenic amines (histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin)

Primary Uses: Reduces inflammation of the skin, genitourinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, and those caused by rheumatic complaints; diuretic properties assist in the prevention of urinary tract infections; detoxification agent when taken as a tea; nutritive when used as a dietary source; assists in reducing issues with the liver and metabolism; relieves phlegm in the upper respiratory tract which causes coughing and wheezing.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: When properly used, there are no reports of contraindications or side effects.

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p. 265-266, Holmes- p.443-446, Actions Database- p.119, CSCH Class Notes- Vitalist Actions and Energetics

Myrrh

Latin Name: Commiphora myrrha (Burseraceae)

Common Names: Myrrh, Myrrh tree, Mo Yao

Part(s) used: Tree resin and essential oil

Form(s) used: Tincture, essential oil

Dosages

-Tincture: 0.25-0.75ml, 2-3x/day

Herbal Actions

– Strong Vital Stimulant
– Warming
– Decongesting and Restoring
– Astringent
– Dry
– Birter and Somewhat Pungent

Clinical Actions

– Antimicrobial/ Disinfectant
– Analgesic, possibly due to volatile oil constituents
– Anti-inflammatory and Wound-Healing
– Alterative
– Astringent

Constituents: Volatile oil (with ethanol-soluable sesquiterpenes), resin (commiphoric acid, commiphornic acid, heerabomyrrhol) gum (mainly water-soluable)

Primary Uses: Promotes tissue repair and relieves pain, swelling, clotting, decay when applied topically; reduces inflammation of the gums, canker sores, denture sores; relieves painful periods esp. in cases of amenorrhea; promotes expectoration and resolves phlegm, congestion, discharge; stimulates circulation to dispel chills caused by fever; reduces infection; prevents thyroid hyperfunctioning and sexual overstimulation; reduces inflammation of the gastrointestinal and upper respiratory tracts

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: Contraindicated during pregnancy due to being a uterine stimulant. Aside from this, there are no cautions or possible side effects when herb is used properly.

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p. 263, Holmes- p.774-775, Actions Database- p.33, CSCH Notes- Skin

Motherwort

Latin Name: Leonurus cardiaca (Labiatae)

Common Names: Motherwort, Agripalma, Cowthwort, Lion’s tail, Lion’s ear, Herba pectoralis

Part(s) used: Flower, leaf, stem (Aerial)

Form(s) used: Infusion, tincture, wash/compress

Dosages

-Infusion: 8-14 g, 1-2x/day
– Tincture: 1-2.5 ml, 2-3x/day
– Wash/Compress: soak clean fabric in infusion (8-14g), then apply topically as needed throughout day

Herbal Actions

– Vital Stimulant
– Cooling
– Bitter and Astringing
– Dry
– Relaxing and Diffusing
– Restoring

Clinical Actions

– Cardiorelaxant
– Sedative and Hypnotic
– Astringent due to tannin constituents
– Antispasmodic
– Emmenegouge
– Nervine Tonic

Constituents: Iridoids, diterpenes (leocardin), triterpenes (ursolic acid), phenolic acid, bitter glycosides, tannins, trace minerals

Primary Uses: Provides relief for minor nervous cardiac disorders (rapid heartbeat) and hypertension; reduces menopausal and premenstrual syndromes, and menstrual discomfort; promotes regular menstruation; astringes and stops discharge/bleeding esp. in genitourinary tract; relaxes Central Nervous System and facilitates relaxation state to body; induces sleep; reduces minor cases of hypertension

Cautions, Contraindications, and Possible Adverse Effects: Contraindicated during main part of pregnancy due to herb being a uterine stimulant. Otherwise, there are no cautions or adverse effects reported when used correctly.

 

Written By: Sadie A. Garner, Clinical Herbalist

Resources Cited: Skenderi- p. 253-254, Holmes- p.578-579, Actions Database- p.65, CSCH Notes- Materia Medica Nervous System

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