Materia Medica

Herbal Medicine Resource


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Adhatoda

Justica adhatoda

‘Adhatoda’

 

Botanical Name: Justicia adhatoda / Adhatoda vasica

Family: Acanthaceae

Part Used: Leaves. Smells like strong tea and the leaves are bitter. Small evergreen bush with 10-15 cm long lanceolate leaves. 

Qualities: Drying. Bitter to taste (Thomsen)


 

Constituents:

  • Essential oil
  • Alkaloids – vasicine considered the main active constituent

Actions:

  • Anti-asthmatic
  • Anti-spasmodic (specifically Respiratory Tract)
  • Bronchodilator (mild)
  • Expectorant (Relaxing)
  • Oxytocic

220px-Justicia_adhatoda_1

Indications:

  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory mucus
  • Gingivitis
  • To assist with uterine contraction or for post-partum haemorrhage

MAJOR INDICATION: Relief of bronchitis & cough


Contraindications:

During pregnancy – except at delivery.

Professional supervision recommended for during lactation.

Discontinue 7 days before general anaesthesia


Dose:

LE 1:2  10 – 25 ml per week

Dry herb: 0.5 – 1.5 g per day


 

 


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Horsechestnut

‘Horsechestnut’

AesculusHippocastanum

Botanical Name: Aesculus hippocastanum

Common Name: Horsechestnut

Family: Hippocastanaceae

Part Used: Seed – Gathered as they fall from trees


Qualities: Sweet – taste of nourishment (saponins)


Active Constituents:

  • Saponins
  • Tannin
  • Flavones
  • Starch
  • Fatty oil
  • Glycosides – aesculin & fraxin

Actions:

  • Veno-tonic & venous vessel tone (deep veins)
  • Anti-edematous
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-ecchymotic (against bruises) (Bone)
  • Astringent & Circulatory Tonic (Hoffman)
  • Tissue congestion that is effecting other system – e.g. tissue fluid imbalance of inner ear Meniere’s Disease (vertigo) with Ginkgo + Gotu Kola

Clinical Indications:

  • Varicose Veins – symptoms associated with
  • Varicose ulcers – in combination with butcher’s broom
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency/ poor venous return
  • Oedema of lower limbs
  • Reduce congestion (venous)
  • Disc damage in lower back – fluid pressing on nerve (Gotu Kola, Corydalis, Curcumin)
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Rectal Complaints
  • Improving capillary resistance in healthy individuals
  • Disorders where local tissue oedema may be involved
  • TOPICAL Tx for Hematoma, contusions, non-penetrating wounds & sports injuries resulting in oedema

Aesculus_hippocastanum_fruit

Traditional Indications:

  • Conditions involving venous congestion – with DULL ACHING PAIN & FULLNESS
  • Reflex conditions attributed to rectal irritation – dyspnea, spasmodic asthma, dizziness, headache, backache & dyspepsia
  • Rheumatism & neuralgia
  • Traditional – congestion, nausea and discomfort around the LIVER

Contraindications/Cautions:

Contains saponins so should not be applied to broken or ulcerated skin

May also, due to saponins, cause irritation of gastric mucosa when taken orally and cause reflux. Use enteric coated preparations to avoid this.


Dose:

L.E 1:2   2-5 ml per day OR 15 – 35 ml per week

(Bone, Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs)


horsechestnut460x276

Combine with butchers broom – use enteric coated tablet (high saponin content in both). Echinacea

Centella asiatica

References:



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Butcher’s Broom

‘Butcher’s Broom’

220px-Illustration_Ruscus_aculeatus0

Botanical Name: Ruscus aculeatus

Common Name: Butcher’s Broom

Family: Liliaceae

Part Used: Root


Qualities:


Active Constituents:

  • Steroidal saponins – ruscogenin & neoruscogenin

Actions:

  • Reduces vascular permeability
  • Anti-elastase activity (ruscogenins)
  • Vasoconstrictive
  • Venotonic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Diuretic

Clinical Indications:

  • Venous Insufficiency/Varicosities
  • Oedema
  • PMS
  • Haemorrhoids – internally or topically
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Orthostatic Hypotension

Combinations:

Melitotus officinalis (Sweet Clover) for topical application in sprains


Contraindications/Cautions:

Keep to minimum dose in patients with pre-existing cholestasis. Do not apply to broken or ulcerated skin.

Professional supervision is recommended in pregnancy and lactation.

Discontinue 7 days before anaesthesia.


Dose:

L.E. 1:2   25-50 ml week 

To make cream – use 5ml in 45 gm of vitamin E cream base


References:

MediHerb Prescribers Guide

 

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Heartsease

“Heartsease”

Heartsease is named so due to its historical use in love potions.

Botanical Name: Viola tricolor

Common Name: Heartsease, Pansy
Family: Violaceae
Parts Used: Aerial Parts, harvested while flowering

Qualities: Moist pungent, cold & slightly bitter


Active Constituents:

  • Saponins
  • Salicylates
  • Alkaloids
  • Flavonoids
  • Volatile Oil
  • Tannins
  • Mucilage

Actions:

  • Expectorant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Diuretic
  • Anti-rheumatic
  • Laxative
  • Stabilises capillary membranes
  • Immunosuppressive (Potential)

Indications:

  • Skin disorders – nappy rash, varicose veins
  • Cough expectorant – due to saponins
  • Tonify and strengthen blood vessels

SUMMARY:

Used mostly in three areas –

1. SKIN

2. LUNGS

3. URINARY

Used in eczema and other skin cases where there is exudate – weeping.

Used as an anti-inflammatory expectorant – used for whooping cough & acute bronchitis to soothe and heal.

In urinary – use in cystitis an Sx of frequent & painful urination


OTHER USES:

  • INFUSION: Chronic skin disorders & use as gentle circulatory and immune system stimulant
  • TINCTURE: Use for lung and digestive disorders, capillary fragility and urinary problems
  • POULTICE: Make a paste of powdered herb with water – and apply to skin sores and ulcer
  • CREAM: Use for skin rashes and irritant eczema
  • WASH: Use infusion – nappy rash, cradle cap, weeping sores, insect bites

Cautions: 

Avoid large doses due to saponin content


Dosage:

INFUSION: 

Pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 tsp of dried herb and leave to infuse 10-15 mins. Drink 3 times a day

TINCTURE: 

2-4ml TDS


Combinations:

  • Lung conditions – Coltsfoot
  • Skin issues – Red Clover, Nettles & Cleavers
  • Cystitis – Couchgrass & Buchu

References & Links to Articles:

Hoffman, D. Holistic Herbal. Pg. 220

Australian Naturopathic Network Monograph

Immunosuppressive Activity – Journal Link 2014 Hellinger et al.



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Coltsfoot

“Coltsfoot”

Smoking coltsfoot for coughs and asthma was recommended by the Greek physician Dioscorides. The plant’s Latin name means ‘cough dispeller’. 

Botanical Name: Tussilago farfara

Common Name: Coltsfoot
Family: Asteraceae
Parts Used: Flowers, harvested in early spring,  and leaves harvested in summer. Chop up leaves BEFORE they are dried and stored

Qualities: Warm, pungent & slightly sweet (Ody)


Active Constituents:

  • Mucilage
  • Tannins
  • Pyrrilizidine
  • Alkaloids
  • Inulin
  • Zinc
  • Bitter principle
  • Sterols
  • Flavonoids – including Rutin
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

“The smoke of this plant, dried with the root and burnt, is said to cure, if inhaled deeply through a reed, an inveterate cough” – Pilny, AD 77

ACTIONS:

  • Relaxing Expectorant
  • Anti-catarrhal
  • Anti-tussive
  • Anti-spasmodic
  • Demulcent
  • Diuretic
  • Topical: Tissue Healer and Emollient

INDICATIONS:

  • Flowers: Chest complaints – including bronchitis, asthma and stubborn irritating coughs
  • TCM SPECIFIC: chronic coughs with profuse phlegm – to force rising lung qi to descend
  • Leaves: Coughs. Fresh leaves can be applied to skin sores and chronic wounds (due to zinc). Due to zinc – leaves have marked anti-inflammatory effects.

Contraindications:

 ****RESTRICTED HERB IN AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND***  

Contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which have caused liver damage in rats. Amounts in colts foot are minimal and Swedish research suggests that these are possibly destroyed when making decoction.


OTHER USES: 

  • FLOWER DECOCTION: Irritable coughs and catarrah
  • FLOWER TINCTURE: Combines well with Thyme and Elecampane for persistent coughs
  • FLOWER SYRUP: More moistening for dry coughs than infusion. Make from decoction
  • LEAF POULTICE: Apply fresh leave externally to ulcers, sores and other slow to heal wounds

References & Links to Articles:

Tussilago -Wyk

Ody, Penelope (1998). The Herb Society’s Complete Medicinal Herbal. Milan: Dorling Kindersley

Hoffman, D. Holistic Herbal. Pg. 192



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Betony

“Betony”

Betony was the most important Anglo-Saxon Herb, being used medicinal for approximately 30 ailments. It was also used as an amulet herb into the Middle Ages to ward off evil or ill humours. In 1597, Gerard quoted ‘it maketh a man to pisse well”. 

Botanical Name: Stachys officinalis

Common Name: Wood Betony, Bishopwort
Botanical Family:Laminaceae
Parts Used: Aerial Parts – harvested in summer time while flowering or just before flowers bloom. Dry carefully in the sun.  Root can be used but not commonly in modern herbalism,

Qualities: 

Cool, Drying & Bitter-sweet (Ody)

Active Constituents:

  • Alkaloids – stachydrine, betonicine & trigonelline
  • Tannins
  • Saponins

“…it is good whether for a man’s soul or his body: it shields him against visions and dreams” – Herbarium Apuleii, Anglo-Saxon 9th Century



Actions:

  • Sedative
  • Bitter Digestive
  • Nervine Tonic
  • Mild Diuretic
  • Circulatory Tonic
  • Astringent

Indications:

  • Headaches
  • Nervous Disorders
  • Good Digestive Remedy
  • Cleansing & Stimulant for system

SUMMARY:

Betony feeds and strengthens the Central Nervous System and also has a sedative action.

Use in nervous debility associated with anxiety & tension.

It will ease headaches & neuralgia when they are of nervous origin.


 OTHER USES:
  • INFUSION: Take low doses of 1 tsp per cup as a relaxing tonic. Take in therapeutic doses for period pain, migraines & headaches, nervous tension or as digestive stimulant/cleanser
  • TINCTURE: Combines well with Lavender for nervous headaches
  • POULTICE: Apply pounded fresh herb to wounds & bruises
  • MOUTHWASH/GARGLE: Use infusion for mouth ulcers, gum inflammations and sore throats

Cautions: 

This herb is a uterine stimulant so avoid high doses in pregnancy – may be taken during labour


Dosage:

Infusion:

Pour a cup of boiling water over 1-2 tsp of herb and infuse for 10-15 minutes. Drink three times a day.

Tincture:

2-6ml of tincture three times daily


Combinations:

  • Nervous Headache – Skullcap

Reference & Links to Articles:

Ody, Penelope (1998). The Herb Society’s Complete Medicinal Herbal. Milan: Dorling Kindersley
Hoffman, D. (1990). Holistic Herbal. London: Thorsons