Experienced herbalists select one or two herbs which have one target property (example: antipyretic, or fever reducing), to this will be added one or two other complimentary herbs which accomplish a related objective. As you learn to combine herbs, you become a skilled herbalist.
Medicinal herbs produce certain effects on the body. A list of all these possible effects is called "herbal properties." One herb will produce certain effects while another may produce some of the same ones, plus certain others. Listed below are the major categories of herbal properties. The "examples" are some of the best herbs containing those properties.
To this list has been added a "goes with" section. This is because herbs with certain properties work best with herbs containing certain other properties. The "goes with" sections, below, will tell what these are. Experienced herbalists select one or two herbs which have one target property (example: antipyretic, or fever reducing), to this will be added one or two other complimentary herbs which accomplish a related objective. As you learn to combine herbs, you become a skilled herbalist.
These are herbs which are applied locally, to stimulate and increase the blood flow to the surface.
Examples: Cayenne, mustard seed, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil, prickly ash, and rue
Goes with: Stimulant herbs, such as cayenne or ginger.
These are herbs which calm the functional activity of an organ or body part. They influence the circulation, reducing nervous expenditure.
Examples: Catnip, all mints, hops, skullcap, black haw, hawthorn berries, hyssop, kava kava, lemon balm, passionflower, peach bark, red clover, rue, saw palmetto, sorrel, valerian, wild cherry bark, witch hazel, and wood betony
These are herbs which promote an increased flow of saliva.
Examples: Cayenne, ginger, licorice, prickly ash, and Echinacea
Goes with: Ginger and a few other stimulants work well here; for they excite the salivary glands.
These are herbs which assist the functional activity of the body, thereby increasing energy.
Examples: Cayenne, garlic, ginseng, ginger, red clover, angelica, bayberry, boneset, elder flowers, elecampane, false unicorn, fennel, fo-ti, gravel root, juniper berries, mandrake, myrrh, pennyroyal, prickly ash, raspberry, rosemary, rue, sassafras, shepherd's purse, wild cherry bark, yarrow, and yerba santa
Goes with: These combine well with most herbs.
These are herbs which strengthen the functions of the stomach. Although usually bitter, they promote and improve digestion and appetite. In Britain they are known as "bitter."
Examples: Agrimony, barberry, blessed thistle, elecampane, juniper berries, mugwort, peach bark, rue, and wormwood
Goes with: Demulcents and emollients are often needed for soothing. Nutrients; mucilages; and, in most cases, stimulants are also added. If there is severe pain, nervines and antispasmodics can be mixed with them.
These are herbs (usually astringent) which stop bleeding, hemorrhaging, and draining of wounds. They may be used externally or internally.
Examples: White oak bark, witch hazel, bistort, shavegrass, plantain leaves, and yarrow
Goes with: Stimulant herbs will help seed the action.
These are herbs which increase energy and strengthen the body. They increase muscular strength and tone the nervous system while improving digestion and assimilation, resulting in a general sense of well-being.
Gallbladder tonics (examples): Goldenseal, Oregon grape root, parsley, and wild yam
Heart tonics (examples): Bugleweed, hawthorn berries, motherwort, and ginseng
Intestinal tonics (examples): Barberry, blackberry leaves, cascara sagrada, and goldenseal
Kidney tonics (examples): Buchu, burdock root, cleavers, fo-ti, kava kava, parsley, pipsissewa, saw palmetto, and uva ursi
Liver tonics (examples): Barberry, buckthorn bark, cascara sagrada, dandelion, eyebright, fo-ti, goldenseal, and mandrake
Lung tonics (examples): Bethroot, comfrey, elecampane, fenugreek, garlic, lungwort, pleurisy root, and wild cherry
Nerve tonics (examples): Chamomile, hops, lady's slipper, and valerian
Stomach tonics (examples): Agrimony, blessed thistle, elecampane, gentian, goldenseal, mugwort, raspberry, wild cherry bark, and wormwood
Goes with: Use demulcents and emollients, to soothe; and often combine mucilage herbs with stimulant herbs, antispasmodics, and carminatives in order to cut gas. Tonic herbs combine well with most herbs, and usually require aromatics to make them more pleasant.
These are herbs which promote the healing of cuts, wounds, and burns by protecting against infection and stimulating cellular growth.
Examples: Aloe vera, tea tree oil, garlic, black walnut, comfrey (leaves or root), fenugreek, lungwort, mullein, plantain, slippery elm, and yarrow
Goes with: Stimulant herbs, such as cayenne, and can be used alone as vulneraries. When there is pain, add antispasmodics and nervines with it. For fresh wounds, oils and mucilage herbs keep the vulneraries fresh for faster healing. A favorite here is slippery elm.
Check out the previous parts:
Medicinal Herbs: Know the Different Herbal Properties (Part 1)
Medicinal Herbs: Know the Different Herbal Properties (Part 2)
Medicinal Herbs: Know the Different Herbal Properties (Part 3)
Medicinal Herbs: Know the Different Herbal Properties (Part 4)