Fratellone Medical Associates

Herbal Properties

We would never have to be hungry again if we turned to mother nature. Plants are a great food source. Plants, flowers and shrubs can have medicinal properties. Start adding herbs as part of your new dietary lifestyle. I will selectively discuss various herbs. As an introduction, I should make you all aware of the various properties of herbs. The remarkable aspect of herbs is their combination of several healing properties. Each herb or a combination of herbs can have specific effects on the body.

Alteratives:
These are known as blood purifiers. These tend to alter the condition of the body. They treat toxicity of the blood. Some of these assimilate nutrients and help with elimination. An example is dandelion, which combines its liver tonic effects with its diuretic effects.

Analgesics:
These do what they say–they relieve pain. Many of you use aspirin. Did you know that aspirin is derived from the herb, white willow bark? Some herbs relieve pain by reducing cramping in the body. Another herb, kava kava, reduces pain by directly affecting the nervous system.

Antacids:
I love the effect produced by some herbs. These neutralize excess acid in the body, especially the stomach and small intestines. The herbs peppermint, slippery elm, aloe, fennel and dandelion are all used.

Antiasthmatics:
These are herbs that relieve asthma. In the past, when I was an emergency room attendant, I used to use magnesium to relieve asthma attacks. An herb, yerba santa, helps break down mucous production. I haven’t used many in this property but literature states comfrey and white cherry bark are used.

Antibiotics:
This is a large property of many herbs. Of course, we need to use herbs as antibiotics because antibiotics are used too frequently and too excessively. Some bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, especially when we use the "high gun" ones like a Z pack or levaquin. Important herbs in this class are aloe vera, wild flower honey, echinacea, golden seal, garlic, grape seed extract and myrrh. I have never used juniper berries but some say they are effective.

Antipyretics:
These are the cooling herbs to reduce fevers. If they have strong cooling properties, then these are called refrigerants (like refrigerator). Some of the herbs used here are basil, gota kola, skullcap and alfalfa.

Antiseptic:
These herbs are applied to the skin to prevent growth of bacteria. My favorite herb in this class is calendula. Some other herbs are myrrh, thyme, pine and garlic.

Antispasmodics:
Who doesn’t need an herb to prevent muscle, especially in the colon? If you follow a yeast free diet, then you would not need these herbs. The best is lobelia, which is also used to help a smoker quit. Other herbs are black cohash (used also for peri-menopausal flashes), valerian (also used for anxiety), kava kava and even raspberry leaves.

Aphrodisiacs:
You were waiting for this last category. What individual would not want to improve sexual energy or libido? These include damiana, tribulus, ashwaganda, angelica, and ginseng. I have seen horny goat weed advertised as well as burdock root.Remember this: herbs are drugs. Although you can go to your local health food store and obtain these, I caution against this. Herbs can interact with conventional medications. Always consult your doctor. Carminatives: These are herbs that relieve gas. I use an amino acid called L-glutamine and probiotics to do that but herbs are more soothing. Some of these include fennel, dill, ginger, anise and caraway.

Cholagogues:
These are herbs to promote the flow of bile.

Demulcents:
These are soothing herbs taken internally to protect damaged tissue and that are sometimes used with a diuretic herb as dandelion or astragalus. The herbs that are demulcents are marshmellow, comfrey, slippery elm and aloe vera. I love using aloe to relieve gas, bloating and reflux. I prefer the gel over the juice as the juice has more sugar.

Diaphoretics:
These are herbs to induce sweating. I have seen some herbalists combine these herbs (yarrow, elder flowers) with ginger or cayenne pepper.
Diuretics: These are herbs increase the flow of urine. In allopathic medicine, doctors use furosemide (lasix) or hydrochlorothiazides. As a supplement, I utilize an amino acid called taurine. I am now using parsley, uva iursi, dandelion, juniper and horsetail.

Emetics:
Every good mother knows syrup of ipecac induces vomiting in the case of poisoning by a child. It is important to know what substance was ingested before giving this to a child. Other herbal emetics are bayberry, mustard seed and lobelia. Blessed thistle has the same effect.

Emollients:
These are substances that soften, sooth and protect the skin. There are many herbs in this category. Some are oils of almond, marshmellow, slippery elm and chickweed.

Expectorants:
These are herbs that assist in getting rid of mucous from the lungs and throat. This is especially important during a flu or bronchitis and is useful during allergy season. Some expectorants include wild cherry bark, ginger, elderberry (mainly used for coughs), anise and the old time vaporizer. You could inhale steam from boiled water with eucalyptus or sage.

Hemostatics:
These substances arrest hemorrhaging. These herbs affect the coagulation of blood. Other hemostatic herbs used are mullein, goldenseal, blackberry, white oak bark and yellow dock.Laxatives:
Of course, we all know what these do–they allow us to have a bowel movement. Sometimes herbalists refer to this group as purgatives.

Nervines:
These are herbs that calm the nervous tension and nourish our nervous system. These are also called tonics to the nervous system. I use the nerve tonics, especially valerian. Others are skull cap, St. Johns wort, lobelia, and even lady slipper.Vitamins do enhance resistance, especially Linus Pauling’s discovery of mega doses of Vitamin C. Lemon juice is the best known source of vitamin C. Lemons also contain citrin and hesperidin. Paprika (Capsicum) has also been found to be rich in vitamin C. Rosa canina (Dog rose and other rose species) contains plenty of the vitamin as well. Rosehips are the most commonly used. Rosehip tea is used for colds, allergies and even influenza. It does have a mild diuretic property so be prepared to go to the toilet more often. You can obtain rose water and rose oil from the petals. The blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) also contains plenty of vitamin C. The redcurrant has a lower vitamin C quantity so it is better to eat than to use it medicinally.

Okay, now there are a variety of herbal formulations. There are:

  1. Infusions- flowers, leaves and seeds infused in hot water
  2. Decoctions – harder plant issues are used as wood and bark and extracted from boiling
  3. Maceration – extracts made from cold water
  4. You can combine any of the above with

    1. Extracts and fluid extracts
    2. Aromatic waters
    3. Syrups
    4. Spirits – not as in alcohol; these are used externally
    5. Suppositories
    6. Ointments

Oxytocics:
These herbs stimulate uterine contractions (this cannot happen in a male subject) to assist and induce labor. Most of us think of magnesium when pregnant females get induced for labor. The herbs that do this are angelica, black cohash, juniper berries, wild ginger and squaw vine.

Parasiticides:
These are substances that destroy parasites in the digestive tract. I have used cloves, black walnut, and artemesia (wormwood). Others are garlic, thyme oil, chaparral and rue.Rubefacients:
These are substances that increase the flow of blood at the surface of the skin, produce a redness when they are applied and draw inflammation out. These herbs include mustard oil, thyme oil, eucalyptus oil and pine oil.

Sedatives:
These herbs quiet the nervous system. These include valerian, kava kava, catnip, skullcap and hops. Do not forget the chamomile tea before bedtime.

Sialagogues:
These stimulate the flow of saliva. They also aid in the digestion of starch. Well, for those of you who consume high quantities of bread, do not take this literally. The herbs used here are ginger, black pepper, and echinacea.

Stimulants:
These herbs increase the energy of the body. We all use coffee or some caffeinated drink as a stimulant. The stimulants I include here are cayenne, ginseng, ginger, anise, garlic, astragalus, and sage.Tonics:
This is the largest group since these herbs promote the functions of the system of the body. There can be heart tonics, as well as the nervines already discussed. There are also urinary tonics such as parsley and gravel root. There are biliary tonics that stimulate the production of bile as rhubarb, wild yam and goldenseal. There are liver tonics as dandelion, stone root, and mandrake. Of course, there are even sexual tonics. These are damiana, ginseng, dong quai and burdock.