Materia Medica | by Kelly the Naturopath

Herbal Medicine Resource

Leave a comment



A herb native to Zew Zealand. A popular Maori remedy that was used to treat oral thrush and parasitic infection – such as ringworm.

Latin Binomial: Pseudowintera colorata

Part Used: Leaf

Weekly Dose: 10 – 30 mL of 1:2


  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Circulatory stimulant
  • Analgesic properties

Pronounced effect as an anti fungal  on the GI system, respiratory system, genitourinary tract and the skin (topically).


  • Parasitic infection
  • Candida
  • Thrush – oral/systemic
  • Fungal skin conditions
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Respiratory tract conditions – e.g. coughs/colds/asthma


Prescribe internally & externally for fungal infections

Combine withHoly Basil & Echinacea in candida infections 

Leave a comment



Fumaria Officinalis illustration

Primarily used for colic of the upper digestive tract & gallbladder.


Common Name: Fumitory

Botanical Name: Fumaria officinalis

Dose: 15 – 40 mL 1:2 weekly

Part Used: Aerial Parts


  • Protopine is the main alkaloid


  • Cholagugue
  • Amphicholeretic (it can increase or decrease bile flow activity – modulates)
  • Spasmolytic
  • Potential anti-bacterial activity against Gram-positive organisms, Bacillus anthracis
    and Staphylococcus

Secondary actions:

  • Alterative 
  • Laxative
  • Digestive tonic


  • Gallbladder colic
  • Dysregulation of the gallbladder
  • Dysregulation of smooth muscle sphincters
  • Biliary colic
  • Reflux 
  • Liver insufficiency 
  • Has been used as a cream for topical application in conjunctivitis according to the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP)

Eczema – and management of other chronic skin disorders. The juice of the plant was used for these uses.


Use as a simple for biliary colic – take as needed in drop dose. 

Combine with other chol/chols – such as Turmeric, Barberry, Oregon Grape, Danelion root, St. Mary’s thistle and Blue flag.

Good safety profile – can be used long term


Wood, M. The book of herbal wisdom.

Babaeimarzangou, S.S., Aghajanshakeri, S., Anousheh, D. & Mikaili, P.

(2015). Ethno-botanical, Bioactivities and Medicinal Mysteries of Fumaria officinalis (Common Fumitory). J Pharm Biomed Sci | Vol. 05 No. 11 | 857–862

Bradley PR editor. British Herbal Compendium. Fumitory – Fumariae
herba. Bournemouth: British Herbal Medicine Association; 1992.
pp. 102–4



Leave a comment

Bitter Melon

“Bitter Melon”

Bitter Melon illustration

Common Name: Bitter Melon

Botanical Name: Momordica charatia


Part Used: Fruit

Key Actions:

  • Andi-diabetic
  • Anti-obesity
  • Hypocholesterolaemia
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Antiparasitic
  • Anti-ulcer
  • Anti-viral
  • Emmenagogue
  • Immunomodulator
  • Vulnerary


  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Atherosclerosis prevention
  • Diabetic complications
  • Dyslipidaemia
  • Obesity

Preserves and protects pancreatic beta cells

Can prevent against many diabetic complications

Secondary Indications:

  • Bacterial infections
    • gram positive bacteria & gram negative
  • CancerTx adjunct
  • Fungal infectons – esp candida
  • Gastric Ulcer prevention
  • Hepatic steatosis
  • Parasitic infections
  • Psoriasis
  • Viral infections
  • Worms (traditionally)
  • Wound healing – topically

EXTREMELY BITTER TASTING LIQUID — Combine with cinnamon liquid extract and nigella.


Information obtained from Optimal Rx Herbal Dispensary update webinar and tech sheet.

Leave a comment

Blessed Thistle

“Blessed Thistle”


Traditionally used as a bitter tonic to stimulate digestion and enhance appetite. This herb is included in Essiac tea.

Historically, this herb has been used as a ‘cure’ for the plague and malaria – a ‘cure-all’ tonic herb. 

Local to Mediterranean areas in Southern Europe. 

Botanical Name: Cnicus benedictus

Common Name: Blessed Thistle, bitter thistle, holy thistle, St. Benedict thistle

Family: Compositae. Asteraceae

Part Used: Aerial Parts – leafs, flowers and seeds


  • Sesquiterpenen lactone glycosides
    • cnicin (bitter)
    • salonitenolide
    • absinthin
  • Triterpenoids
    • a-amyrenone
    • a-amyrin acetate
    • a-amyrine
    • multiflorenol acetate
  • Lignans
    • trachelogenin, artigenin
    • nortacheloside
  • Flavonoids & polyenes
    • Tannins
  • Essential & volatile oils
    • p-cymene
    • fenchon
    • citral 
    • cinnamaldehyde


  • Mild diuretic
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Digestive tonic
  • Gastric Stimulant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-viral — Blessed thistle exhibited no antiviral activity against herpes, influenza or polio viruses in vitro. Lignans found in blessed thistle are under investigation as anti-HIV agents
  • Anti-pyretic
  • Diaphoretic
  • Emmenagogue (trad.)
  • Anti-tumor — Cnicin and arctigenin exhibited cytotoxic activity against some tumor cell lines including leukemia (HL-60), hepatomas and sarcomas. Arctigenin also induced differentiation in mouse myeloid leukemia cell lines.


Cnicin and the essential oil of blessed thistle were mildly antibacterialin vitro against Bacillus subtilis, Brucella species, Escherichia coli, Proteus species, Psedomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis; other studies demonstrated no activity against Klebsiella, Pseudemonas, S. aureus, S.tyhpi, or yeast



  • TRADITIONAL: Dysmennorhoea
  • Dyspepsia
  • Reduced appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion

Safety – Cautions & Contraindications:

Avoid in pregnancy & lactation due to traditional use as an emmenagogue.


1:1 PPC Fresh Tincture

30 drops t.d.s. (before meals as gastric stimulant)


Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinkmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.


Kemper, K.J. (1999)/ Blessed Thistle Monograph. Centre for Holistic Paediatric Education & Research

Leave a comment




Botanical Name: Origanum vulgare

Common Names: Origano

Family: Lamiaceae

Parts Used: Leaves


  • Carvacrol (phenol)
  • Thymol
  • Rosmarinic acid


  • Anti-microbial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Nervous system tonic
  • Vagotonic
  • Digestive
  • Anti-spasmodic


1:2 PPC Fresh Tincture

20 – 40 drops t.d.s.



Leave a comment



Found in wet, damp, marshy ground – near water.

Used throughout history to treat fevers, the plague and skin wounds. It is found in Europe and in some parts of Asia and North America.

The name butter bur apparently comes from the fact that it’s large leaves were used to wrap fresh butter in the cellars of American pioneer farms.

Botanial Name: Petasites hybridus 

Common Names: Butterbur, Blatterdock, Bog Rhubarb, Butter-dock, Sweet Coltsfoot

Family: Asteraceae (Senecioneae)

Part Used: Rhizomes, roots and leaves can be used. Roots have stronger anti-spasmodic effects. Japanese use as a vegetable – young shoots. Leaves – collected during time of growth


Large leaves. Love moisture.



  • Petasin
    • reduce spasms in smooth muscle & vascular walls
    • Inhibit leukotriene synthesis 
  • Isopetasin 
    • Positive impact on prostaglandin synthesis 
  • Volatile oil
  • Flavonoids
  • Tannins
  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (highest in stalks – lowest in the leaves)


  • Anti-spasmodic
  • Anodyne
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Neuroprotective
  • Cardiotonic (traditional)
  • Diaphoretic (Hoffman)
  • Diuretic (Hoffman)


  • May improve lung ventilation
  • Possible impact on normalising blood lipids
  • Possible support of antioxidant pathways in liver — glutathione reductase, peroxidase & transferases 
  • May reduce vasoconstriction via blocking calcium-gated channels in vasculature.

Noted to induce formation of peptidoleukotrienes released from macrophages.

May also reduce release of histamine and leukotrienes from Mast Cells.


  • Chronic asthma (anti-spasmodic)
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic obstructive bronchitis
  • Allergic airway disease
  • Migraine prevention
  • Prevention of gastric ulcers
  • Irritable bladder
  • Urinary tract spasm relief 
  • Kidney stone disorders
  • Obstruction of bile flow
  • Intestinal colic
  • Menstrual cramping/dysmennorhoea
  • Allergic hyperactivity
  • ‘DIFFICULT TYPES OF PAIN’ – terminal cancer/bone metastasis (Weiss) – may reduce the need for other pharmaceutical sedatives/anodynes

COMMISSION E (leaves ) – Nervous  cramp-like states, pain, colic, headaches & as an appetite stimulant. Supportive therapy for spastic pain in the urinary tract.

Seems specific for pain of the vasculature — smooth muscle spasms in HOLLOW ORGANS – e.g. bronchi, uterus, bladder.

Safety – Cautions & Contraindications:

In rats — reduction in testosterone production 

Alkaloids may be toxic to liver & carcinogenic in animals. STICK TO LOW DOSE.

Possible interaction with pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory agents.




Migraine prevention – daily dose 4 to 6 months – then see if dose frequency can be reduced. If migraines return – step up dose slightly.

PPC 1:2 Fresh Tincture

1 to 2 drops t.d.s.

Infusion: 1 teaspoon or root in 1 cup water – bring to boil and simmer 10-15 minutes. Drink 3 x day.



MIGRAINES: Feverfew, turmeric & St John’s Wort

VASCULAR INFLAMMATION: Horsechestnut, Angelica & Dan Shen



Hoffman, D. (1990). Holistic Herbal.

Oliff, H. (2002). Butterbur Monograph. HerbClip. American Botanical Council

Stansbury, J. (2012). Petasites for pain and inflammation. Naturopathic Doctor News and Review.

Leave a comment

Pleurisy Root

“Pleurisy Root”


Native Americans used this herb internally and applied externally for bronchial and pulmonary diseases – such as fever and pneumonia. 


Latin Binomial: Asclepias tuberosa

Common Names: Pleurisy root, Butterfly Weed

Family: Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed)

Plant Part Used: Root




  • Diaphoretic
  • Expectorant
  • Lung tonic (traditional)


  • Respiratory disorders
    • Catarrhal
    • Chronic
    • Inflammatory 
    • e.g. those due to common cold, flu, pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis
  • Fever with cough 

Well suited to people who get a cold and it settles in the chest and becomes chronic.

May be a feeling of tightness in the chest that impacts the heart – they may feel like it is a problem with the heart… 

Brings up phlegm in chronic lung cases.


None known


10 – 20 mL weekly 1:2 LE

Drop dose – 3 to 5 drops t.d.s.