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Herbal Glossary

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Alfalfa (Medicago sativa): Detoxifier; used to reduce and prevent symptoms caused by arthritis, bursitis and gout9; lowers cholesterol10. Contains natural fluorides, preventing tooth decay and helping to rebuild decaying teeth. Alfalfa contains eight essential digestive enzymes and eight essential amino acids of protein and a high chlorophyll content. Extremely rich source of Beta-Carotene, minerals, trace elements, and vitamins A, B-1, B-6, B-12, C, D, E, K, Biotin, Folic Acid, Niacin and Pantothenic Acid. Minerals are calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Caution: Not recommended for use by persons on blood thinning agents.


Anise (Pimpinella anisum): Used to aid digestion, relieve digestive disorders and cramps, expel gas, (soothing colicky infants), and loosen phlegm with colds and coughs.


Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus): An immune stimulant thought to inhibit tumor growth and often used to help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. Astragalus supports the production of interferons (proteins which cells produce to fight viral infections). May be used daily as a tonic before colds start.


Barberry (Berberis vulgaris): Contains bitter alkaloids that have bactericidal activity; also used to reduce fever, lower blood pressure, calm the nerves, reduce muscle spasms and constrict capillary blood flow. Historically used to treat infections in the respiratory tract, for poor appetite, fever, candidia overgrowth and hemorrhages. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Bayberry (Myrica ceriferea): A tonic and stimulant used to support the body against colds, flu, fever, sore throat and headache. Astringent used in diarrhea, to reduce excessive menstruation and relax nervous tension which may cause colic.


Beth Root (Trillium pendulum or eductum): An astringent herb used traditionally in birthing and for uterine disorders such as menorrhagia (profuse menstruation) and related symptoms; also for hemorrhages, internal and external, for bleeding from the lungs and the rectum, and in cases of diarrhea.


Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus): Shown to have anti-aging properties. Studied for its effects on poor night vision, it has been shown to help in quicker adjustment to darkness and glare and improved visual acuity both night and day. Useful in the treatment of glaucoma and other chronic degenerative diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, as it strengthens the walls of the vascular system and connective tissue. Anti-bacterial, anti-viral; also an antioxidant used to prevent free radical damage. Aids circulation in all parts of the body.


Black Cohosh (Cimacifuga racemosa): Anti-spasmodic used for cramps, muscle and menstrual pain. Traditionally considered a "female" herb, Black Cohosh has been used to balance female hormones and regulate menstrual periods12 and sometimes to induce labor and regulates contractions. Also used as a cough suppressant and expectorant, a diaphoretic for eliminating toxins, an anti-inflammatory in arthritis13 and to lower high blood pressure14. Caution: During pregnancy and nursing use only under the guidance of a health care practitioner.


Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolium): Believed to tone the female reproductive system and used to help prevent threatened miscarriage15. Black Haw contains uterine muscle relaxants16.


Black Walnut (Juglans nigra): Used for sore throat; also as a vermifuge17 to eliminate parasites, as a blood purifier, and to lower blood pressure. Caution: Not recommended for long term use.


Blackberry Leaf (Rubus fruticosus): Astringent and tonic herb, used in the treatment of dysentery and diarrhea.


Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus): Traditionally used to help regulate the menstrual cycle. As it stimulates the production of bile by the liver, Blessed Thistle has been used for detoxification and for liver disorders. Also used to lower fevers, as a heart tonic, for circulation and to stimulate memory. Caution: Large doses may work as an emetic and lead to nausea or vomiting. Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalactroides): Used as an anti-spasmodic to relax nervous tension that may cause colic and menstrual cramps. Traditionally used with false labor (contractions that don't lead to birth), to help prevent miscarriage and to assist in an easier and more rapid labor by dilating the cervix. Also used as an emmenagogue to induce the menstrual flow, as a uterine stimulant, and for uterine toning and inflammation. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy except during the last month under the guidance of a health care practitioner.


Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata): Traditionally used as a tonic, emetic, expectorant and to eliminate parasites.


Boneset (Eupatorium perfolatum): Used to relieve coughs and upper respiratory congestion, to loosen mucous and to reduce fevers. It has a bitter action for liver, gall bladder, and bowel.


Borage (Borago officinalis): Lactagoge (used to increase milk production); diaphoretic; anti-inflammatory; used to lowers fevers during convalescence. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Boswellia (Salai-guggal): Extract shown to have a unique anti-inflammatory action and anti-arthritic properties, used for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, soft tissue rheumatism and low back pain. Also used to control high blood lipids and atherosclerosis, and protect the liver against bacterial galactosamine-endotoxins. Also used to improve appetite, the supply of blood to the joints, and for general weakness. The non-acid part of the gum from the Bosellia tree has been used for its pain-relieving and sedative qualities. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Buchu (Barosma betulina): Diuretic; reduces inflamed mucous membranes that cause a mucous discharge. Antiseptic used for inflammation, rheumatism, blood in the urine, bladder infections and kidney disorders. Helps heal cystitis (infection of the urinary bladder and tract) and prostatis (infection of the prostrate gland); relieves irritation of the bladder, kidneys and urethra18. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Burdock (Arctium lappa): A traditional detox herb and blood purifier19, used in India and Russia as an anti-cancer remedy. Also used to stimulate appetite and digestion, reduce arthritic pain and treat scrofula and other cankerous skin conditions20. Used to treat liver problems, gallstones and to support the kidneys in filtering acids from the blood. A good source of iron. Combined with Dandelion and Yellow Dock, used to treat swelling of a sore growing on top of a lip21.


Butternut Bark (Juglans cinera): Used to eliminate intestinal worms, as a mild laxative22 and to increase secretion of bile and activity of glands in the walls of the intestinal tract23.



Capsicum (Cayenne) (Capsicum annum): Anti-inflammatory, stimulant and blood purifier; used to lower blood cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure24 and to improve digestion, circulation and respiration25. Caution: Avoid contact with the eyes or open wounds.


Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana): Anti-spasmodic; also a safe laxative26 especially helpful for the elderly27 in cases of chronic constipation. Helps to detoxify and restore tone to the colon. Cascara Sagrada has been used in the treatment of jaundice, hemorroids and colic. Used to stimulate the pancreas, gallbladder and stomach. Also used to strengthen and stimulate the liver28; as a chelating agent to prevent the formation of calcium-containing urinary stones, and for hepatic disease29. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy and nursing.


Catnip (Nepeta cataria): Diaphoretic, detoxifier, digestive aid, relaxant; used as a mild sedative, to soothe stomach discomforts30 (cramps and upset stomach) and to control diarrhea. Also used for bronchitis, the treatment of colic, and to relieve cold and flu symptoms. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa): Supports the intestinal and immune system by it's ability to cleanse the entire intestinal tract. Used as a detoxifier; also in the treatment of arthritis and for a wide range of stomach and inflammatory bowel disorders such as crohn's disease, colitis and leaky bowel syndrome. Also used for diverticulitits, hemorrhoids, intestinal flora imbalance, to eliminate parasites and for candida overgrowth.


Celery Seed (Apium graveolens): Used as a diuretic to promote the flow of urine through the kidneys and as a digestive aid; possibly helpful against gout and rheumatism.


Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, stimulant, digestive aid, mild sedative and sleep aid; used to reduce nervous stomach problems, help relieve cancer of the liver, mouth, skin and brain. (Applied internally as well as externally31) Also used to calm anxiety, stimulate the expulsion of parasitic worms in the digestive system; also to help eliminate bacteria that causes strep throat32; and in the treatment of skin problems33. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Chaste Tree Berries (Vitex) (Verbenaceae species): Used to treat PMS as well as some symptoms of menopause. Recommended as a hormone balancer, as a possible natural alternative to estrogen replacement therapy. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Chestnut (Castanea Sativa): Contracts body tissue and blood vessels; helps in convulsive coughs and other irritable conditions of the respiratory organs.


Chickweed (Stellaria media): Good source of vitamin C; used to treat blood disorders, fever, asthma and arthritis. Reduces internal inflammation and external swelling, soothes coughs, colds, sore throats and flu34; effective against certain respiratory pathogens35.


Chicory (Cichorium Intybus): Believed to be a mild tonic, diuretic and laxative.


Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): Used as an astringent, stimulant and carminative to aid digestion and relieve vomiting. Recent Japanese studies show that it also contains a substance that kills bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms, including the ones that cause botulism and staph infections. It also destroys the fungi that produces aflatoxin, a potent carcinogen and poison.


Cleavers Herb (Galium aparine): Used as a strong diuretic, tonic, blood purifier and sedative.


Cloves (Caryophyllum aromaticus): Antiseptic; also a mild anesthetic and anti-emetic which reduces vomiting.


Codonopsis (Codonopsis pilosula ): Milder and safer than Asian ginseng, this Chinese herb is often used as a substitute for the stronger herb. Used in treatment for diabetes, chronic cough and shortness of breath, fatigue, prolapsed uterus, stomach, or rectum, for lack of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting.


Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara): Used as an expectorant to treat coughs and colds, respiratory problems such as bronchitis, silicosis and emphsysema. Stimulates the immune system. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy. Extensive use is cautioned.


Comfrey (Symphytum officinale): Used in speeding wound healing and guarding against scar tissue; soothes irritated surfaces; helps hemorrhages wherever they occur, internally or on the skin. Caution: Extensive internal use is cautioned.


Cornsilk (Zea mays): Diuretic; traditionally used for cystitis, gonorrhea, gout and rheumatism.


Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus): Traditionally used to relax muscle tensions and reduces spasms, as a sedative, to relax the uterus and relieve painful menstrual cramps; also to prevent menstrual excessive blood loss and protect from threatened miscarriage. Caution: Not to be used by persons on blood thinning agents.


Damiana (Turnera diffusa): Blood purifier similar to parsley. Also used as a diuretic, laxative and expectorant in the treatment of coughs and colds.


Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Mineral rich herb which may protect against iron-deficiency anemia. It has been shown helpful in detoxifying the liver. Used to reduce high blood pressure, due to its diuretic action; also to enhance liver and gallbladder function and to treat liver disorders and infections. Used in the treat-ment of breast cancer36.


Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): Anti-inflammatory; shown in some studies to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis. It has also been shown to reduce serum cholesterol and uric acid levels and work as a blood purifier. Caution: Not recommended for use by persons with ulcers.


Dill (Anethum graveolens): Used to eliminate gas in infants, as a tranquilizer, and to soften hardened stools.


Dog Grass (Agropyron repens): Traditionally used in the treatment of kidney stones and urinary incontinence. It is also anti-parasitic.


Dong Quai (Angelica) (Angelica sinensis): Dubbed as the "female ginseng," Dong Quai has been used as an all-purpose uterine tonic for a wide range of female gynocological problems. Used to help regulate menstruation and as an anti-spasmodic to ease nervousness and cramping caused by uterine contractions, also in PMS and menopause. Rich in vitamins A, B-12 and E, Dong Quai may aid in the prevention of anemia. It has also been used as a blood purifier, mild laxative, a diaphoretic11 and diuretic. Caution: Not to be used during pregnancy or by persons on blood thinning agents.


Dulse (Rhodymenia palmata): Member of the kelp family. This wonderful sea vegetable is high in iodine, many nutrients, amino acids and trace minerals. It has been used in treating thyroid dysfunction.



Echinacea Angustifolia (Echinacea angustifolia): Widely used and now scientifically documented for its immune-enhancing, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Studies show Echinacea fights infection, speeds wound healing, lessens the severity of colds and flu and speeds recovery.


Echinacea Purpurea (Echinacea purpurea): Same as above. An immune stimulant by increasing phagocytosis37; used to treat fevers and minor infections.


Elder Berries and Flowers (Sambuccua canadensis nigra): Traditionally used to relieve symptoms of coughs and colds. Elderberries are a good source of vitamins C, B and A.


Elecampane (Inula helenium): Contains an essential oil that has been successfully used for its bactericidal and fungicidal properties. This makes it useful in treating diarrhea, dysentery and yeast infections of the bowel. Also used as a diuretic, diaphoretic and as an expectorant to help with coughs and bronchitis. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Ephedra (Ephedra sinica): Used in China in most decongestant formulas and to promote thermogenesis (the body's way of maintaining its body temperature.) Recommended in the treatment of coughs, colds and flu, aching joints and bones, chills and headache. Ephedrine is also a bronchodilator used in asthma, hay fever and emphysema to relieve swollen mucous and sinus membranes. Caution: The action of this herb is very powerful and should be used with care under the direction of a health care practitioner. Keep out of the reach of children.


False Unicorn (Chamaelirium luteum): Used for women to balance hormones, aid in delayed or absent menstruation, also to help threatened miscarriage. In small dosages it may ease vomiting associated with pregnancy. Also used as a diuretic. Caution: During pregnancy use under the guidance of a health care practitioner.


Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Long used as a digestive aid, resulting in quicker digestion and less flatulence. Also considered an estrogenic agent38; a lactagogue and an antimicrobial. 


Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): Known as a lung herb, it has been used to expel mucous and phlegm from the bronchial tubes, to soothe sore throats, aid the digestive system and to expel toxic waste through the lymphatic system.


Feverfew (Tanateum parsenium): Anti-inflammatory for arthritis, migraine headaches, to relieve painful, slow menstruation and to promote relaxation. Also used as a digestion and uterine stimulant, to reduce fevers and aid liver function.


Flax Seed (Linum usitatissimum): A mild laxative and mucilage, Flax Seed has been used as a remedy for colds, coughs, and irritations of the urinary tract.


Fo-Ti (Polygonum multiforum): Used primarily as a rejuvenating tonic, testing shows possible anti-tumor activity. It also appears to protect against heart disease by preventing blood clots and reducing blood pressure.


Garlic (Allium sativum): Anti-bacterial used to treat amoebic dysentery. Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol level39; increases phagocyte and peritoneal macro-phage production, thereby acting as an anti-microbial. Also considered effective as an immune booster and in treating viral and fungal infection40. Caution: Not recommended for pregnancy or nursing mothers as it can pass to breast milk and cause colic in infants.


Gentian (Gentiana lutea): Increases ability to digest and assimilate food41; also increases sensitivity of glands and organs to adrenalin (the hormone the body secretes when in need of rapid energy)42. Caution: Not recommended for persons with ulcers or stomach inflammation.


Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Used to stimulate appetite and improve digestion; also for upset stomach, heartburn, vomiting and cramps. Stimulates circulation and is a useful diaphoretic, promoting perspiration. Has strong antibiotic and antioxidant properties. Also used for coughs, cold, flu, fevers and as a gargle for sore throat. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy. Persons with gallstones should consult a health care practitioner before use.


Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba): Anti-inflammatory; relaxant; circulatory used to move blood and oxygen to the brain to enhance memory, improve mental alertness and relieve signs of senility. Shown to strengthen blood vessels and capillary walls. Powerful antioxidant used to prevent cell damage and possibly slow down the aging process; also to prevent plaque build up inside the arterial walls (which may lead to heart disease). Recommended for the the treatment of vertigo, tinnitus, inner ear disturbances including partial deafness, impairment of memory and the ability to concentrate, diminished intellectual capacity and alertness as a result of insufficient circulation, Raynaud's disease and arterial circulatory disturbances due to aging.


Ginseng, Korean (Panax ginseng): Used as an adaptogen (helps the system adapt to a variety of changes); also to increases physical and mental endurance, normalize bodily functions, reduce cholesterol and possibly inhibit cancerous tumor growth. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Ginseng, Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus): Used to improve memory and concentration; as an adaptogen to both to raise and/or lower blood sugar43 as needed. Also used to lower stress, helping the body resist viral infections, toxic substances, chemotherapy and radiation. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis): Immune stimulant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial; a broad-spectrum herb often used like an anti-biotic44. Contains berberine which is effective against Helobacter pylori (often responsible for recurrent ulcers) and giardia; effective against gram-positive bacteria such as streptococcus and staph45 and gram-negative bacteria such as E. Coli46; also used externally to reduce inflammation of the eyes47 and soothe mucous membranes. Caution: Contraindicated during pregnancy.


Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica): Effective in healing skin, connective tissue, lymph, blood vessels and mucous membranes. Used to stimulate alertness, memory, learning and to improve circulation. Also for varicose veins, edema, cellulite and to reduce swelling and pain in phlebitis (inflammation of the veins); also used for sedative effects and as an expectorant to eliminate congestion due to colds.


Guarana (Paullinia cupana): Historically used by Brazilian Indians as a general tonic for the body and as a source of energy. Guarana acts on the central nervous system to prevent fatigue, breaking down and efficiently disposing of lactic acid that comes from muscle stress. Besides caffeine, Guarana contains a host of other xanthines. Theobromine and Theophylline are the primary xanthines, acting as muscle relaxants and possessing diuretic properties.



Hawthorne Berries (Crataegus oxycantha): Used as a digestive aid, for insomnia, nervous disorders, as a mild astringent for sore throat; also to enhance cardio-vascular health. Used in the treatment of both high and low blood pressure and for certain heart conditions. Contains bioflavonoids which cause dilation of the blood vessels, especially the coronary arteries, strengthening the blood vessels, and also aiding the reduction of blood pressure. Caution: Consult a health care practitioner if using for heart conditions. Should be taken with or after a meal to avoid nausea.


Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica): Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, tuberculostatic; traditionally used for bacterial dysentery, fevers, flu and laryngitis.


Hops (Humulus lupulus): Nerve tonic; sedative; used to relieve stomach cramps and aid digestion, as a pain reliever and also to increase breast milk. Caution: Not recommended for persons suffering depression.

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