Alfalfa, Aloe Vera, Anise Seeds, Artichoke, Astragalus, Bilberry, Blessed Thistle, Blueberry, Black Cohosh, Black Walnut, Blue Malva, Buchu, Buckhorn Root, Butcher’s Broom, Capsicum, Cascara Segrada, Catnip,Centella, Chamomile, Coleus forskohlii, Corn Silk, Couch Grass, Cramp Bark, Cranberry, Culver’s Root

Medicinal Herbs A - C

Medicinal Herbs A - C

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of

Alfalfa has been referred to as “the poor man’s multi” because it contains vitamins A, K, and D, and is the richest land source of trace minerals. Alfalfa contains chlorophyll, which is a body cleanser, infection fighter, and natural deodorizer. It also helps to break down carbon dioxide. It is useful as a tonic, to help eliminate retained water, and to support the digestive and urinary systems.

Aloe Vera has been used as a first aid treatment for skin conditions for centuries. It cleans, soothes, reduces the risk of infection and scarring, and promotes healing by causing release of dead cells and stimulating the growth of normal cells. Taken internally it is helpful in healing damage in the digestive tract. It is also a strong laxative and can cause diarrhea if taken in moderate amounts.

Anise Seeds have been valued over the centuries for their ability to decrease intestinal gassiness and ease colic.

Artichoke has been used medicinally since at least the fourth century B.C. It is in the same family as milk thistle and is supportive of gall bladder and liver function.

Astragalus has been shown to be extremely beneficial in supporting the immune system. It has been shown to increase the body’s production of natural killer cells by over thirty percent and the activity of NK cells by up to 300 per cent. Astragalus contains swainsonine, a compound that reduces the ability of cancer cells to move to new sites in the body.

Bilberry, a European blueberry, is rich in pigments that support eye and cardiovascular health. World War II RAF crews used bilberry’s ability to enhance night vision to their advantage in bombing runs over occupied Europe. It strengthens capillary walls, and can help stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in areas of ischemia (low oxygen levels).

Blessed Thistle contains cincin, a potent analgesic and fever reducer. It also promotes perspiration.

Blueberry has the strongest antioxidant benefit among fruits and vegetables. Like bilberry, it supports eye health and, like cranberry, it helps to prevent urinary tract infections. The leaves contain myrtillin, a substance that enhances and extends the action of insulin.

Black Cohosh has a vasodilating action that improves circulation and helps to reduce blood pressure. It helps to relax uterine muscles and ease menstrual cramping, and it contains compounds that have an estrogen-like effect. It is widely used in formulations designed to support menstrual regularity and ease post-menopausal symptoms.

Black Walnut has been used by Asian cultures and Native Americans to expel worms from the intestinal tract. It appears to be particularly effective against tapeworms.

Blue Malva flowers are included in some laxative formulations because of their high mucilage content that provides lubrication to the intestinal tract.

Buchu leaves have been used as a treatment for kidney and bladder infections in southern Africa for centuries. The leaves contain an oil that is passed unchanged in the urine. This oil has antiseptic properties and has been shown to be effective in easing the pain and irritation of bladder infections. It may have a mild diuretic effect as well.

Buckhorn Root contains compounds that have anti-parasitic properties. They are also lubricating and they stimulate peristalsis (intestinal activity). It is included in some anti-parasitic formulations as it aids in the expulsion of worms and parasites.

Butcher’s Broom contains compounds called ruscogenins and neuroscogenins that strengthen the walls of capillaries and veins. Varicose veins, hemorrhoids (varicose veins in the anal area), and leg swelling from venous insufficiency are improved by its use. It may also be helpful in reducing the severity of menstrual cramps. It has a mild diuretic effect and also acts as an anti-inflammatory. It has the potential to increase blood pressure and should be used with caution if a history of high blood pressure exists. It should not be used if drugs known as MAO inhibitors are being taken.

Capsicum (cayenne pepper) stimulates circulation, enhances digestion, and induces perspiration. Taken internally it may be helpful in lowering blood pressure and in healing peptic ulcers. Topical preparations decrease the pain of shingles (herpes zoster) and arthritis. Capsicum can strengthen heart action without increasing blood pressure. Capsicum is said to be a catalyst, carrying other herbs to areas where they are most needed. It is useful in controlling bleeding and aids digestion when taken with meals.

Cascara Segrada bark is used as a stimulant laxative. The term segrada means “sacred bark” – a name given to it by early Spanish explorers of North America. It is one of the most frequently used herbs in laxative preparations. Chronic use often results in a black pigmentation of the walls of the large intestine called melanosis coli. This is not felt to be a dangerous condition. Long-term use can result in a dependence upon the substance for bowel action.

Catnip is a member of the mint family. Approximately 80 % of cats are attracted to the volatile oils in its leaves. In humans catnip promotes perspiration, eases muscle spasms, calms coughs, and promotes a restful sleep. It is used in formulations designed to ease the effects of colds, flu, and childhood illnesses. It eases colic and has been used to slow diarrhea and decrease flatulence.

Centella is better known as gotu kola. It will be discussed under that name.

Chamomile is an ancient herb that has been extensively studied by modern science. It contains glycosides, flavonoids, and essential oils that relax smooth muscles, are mild sedatives, and are strong anti-inflammatory compounds. It is typically used in formulations designed to calm the nervous system. Chamomile flowers are antispasmotic and are used to ease indigestion, flatulence, colic, and inflammation in the intestinal tract. It is used in topical preparations for its ability to reduce inflammation in skin and mucous membranes.

Coleus forskohlii is part of the mint family. Native to the subtropical regions of India, it has a long history of usage in Ayurvedic medicine. The active compound, forskolin, stimulates the burning of fat and enhances the body’s metabolic rate. Traditional medicine has used Coleus forskohlii to help with cardiovascular disease, abdominal colic, respiratory disorders, painful urination, insomnia, and convulsions. Studies have demonstrated that forskolin increases cellular production of a substance called cyclic AMP. Increased CAMP levels are instrumental in preventing histamine release, and in reducing inflammation in eczema, psoriasis, and asthma.

Corn Silk has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is an effective diuretic and is used to eliminate excess fluid build-up.

Couch Grass possesses diuretic and antibiotic properties. It also stimulates the production of intestinal mucous and is used in anti-parasitic formulations for its ability to wash out parasites.

Cramp Bark was valued by Native Americans and early white settlers for its ability to relax all types of muscle spasms. It is effective in smooth muscle and skeletal muscle alike. It is therefore helpful in easing cramps in arm, leg, and back muscles, effective in reducing intestinal colic, and in relieving menstrual cramps.

Cranberry contains quinic acid, which is converted by the kidneys to hippuric acid, a powerful antibiotic that works by preventing bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder. Bacteria are therefore washed out before they can multiply and cause an infection. Hippuric acid also increases urine acidity, which helps to dissolve calcium oxalate kidney stones.

Culver’s Root is known for its ability to increase the secretion of mucous in the intestinal tract. It is commonly used in anti-parasitic preparations because of its ability to wash away worms that have been killed by other herbs.

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