35 Fresh Herbs Supplements and How to Use Them

In the following sections, you’ll meet 35 herbs we think are most important for beginners. Many are probably growing in your neighbourhood—we’ve chosen plants common in most areas of the United States. All these herbs are easy to find in commerce, whether online or at a local herb shop. 

They have low potential for allergic reactions or negative interactions with pharmaceuticals (and we’ve noted wherever either is a concern), so they’re all quite safe to experiment with. Let these herbs introduce you to the world of plant remedies, and you’ll develop a deep well of experience to draw from when you meet other herbs in the future.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica)

Qualities: warming, drying, tonifying

Taste: bitter, pungent, aromatic

Family: Apiaceae

Medicinal parts: root, seed, stems

Actions: alterative, antimicrobial, aromatic, bitter, carminative, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, diffusive, emmenagogue, expectorant, grounding, nervine

Common Preparations

Angelica roots can be decocted, and both the roots and the seeds can be prepared as infusions, tinctures, or elixirs. The stems can be candied or cooked and eaten.

Ideal for Addressing

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Bloating
  • BPH/prostatitis
  • Chest cold/bronchitis/pneumonia
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • PMS
  • Seasonal depression
  • Varicose veins and haemorrhoids

Effective Applications

Angelica is a strongly grounding plant, acting to calm and support the nervous system. This makes angelica particularly helpful for issues like ADD and ADHD, anxiety, and overstimulation. Angelica’s grounding effects, combined with its circulatory stimulant action, are also helpful in cases of cyclic depression, such as seasonal depression or PMS.

That warming, blood-moving action is also effective on a physical level for issues from bloating to oedema to constipation: Angelica gets things moving! This makes angelica very handy in any formula targeting stagnation and sluggishness in the body.

Angelica is one of the few warming digestive bitters—important because cold, sluggish digestion is so common in our culture. In addition to improving digestion by warming the digestive tract, angelica can help release stress, which makes it easier to digest food. A dropperful of angelica tincture before a meal is an easy way to improve digestion and release stress—all in one.

Angelica’s expectorant action is particularly helpful for wet, phlegmy coughs. Decoct the roots with a heavy lid to retain the aromatic, volatile oils. When you ladle out a cup, breathe in the steam as it cools to increase angelica’s antimicrobial action in the respiratory tract.

Recommended Dosage

Angelica is an herb commonly used as food and can be consumed safely in food-like quantities. For respiratory ailments, 3 to 4 cups of tea a day, sipped slowly, will be effective. For improving digestion, 1 to 2 dropperful of tincture before each meal or snack is sufficient. 

For bloating, a cup of tea as needed. For circulatory support, fatigue, and other longer-term issues, plan to incorporate angelica into your life at least 3 times a day as tea or tincture, alone or in formula.

Important Considerations

Because angelica stimulates circulation and is particularly influential on the reproductive system, it can improve blood flow in individuals with sluggish menstruation. For those prone to heavy periods, though, angelica is best avoided in the week before menstruation.

Do not take angelica in high doses if you take pharmaceutical blood thinners.

Angelica archangelica is not the same plant as Chinese angelica (A. sinensis), often referred to as dong quai or dang gui.

Ashwagandha

Qualities: warming, drying, relaxant

Taste: bitter, sweet, pungent

Family: Solanaceae

Medicinal parts: root

Actions: adaptogen, alterative, antispasmodic, cardiac tonic, immunomodulator, nervous trophorestorative

Common Preparations

Ashwagandha root can be decocted, tinctured, powdered, or prepared as an elixir. It can be found in some supplements such as Resurge, which can improve your sleep quality.

Ideal for Addressing

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Insomnia
  • Menopause/andropause
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • PMS
  • Seasonal depression
  • Stress

Effective Applications

Ashwagandha is one of the adaptogenic herbs that help the body cope with stress more easily. Most of this action comes by improving the function of the adrenal glands and the rest of the endocrine system, which is responsible for orchestrating the entire symphony of the body’s functions. 

Ashwagandha is a great herb to “tune-up” the whole system, especially during times of stress and heavy workloads.

Ashwagandha helps the body stick to its circadian rhythm, so it’s easier to fall asleep at night and stay active and wakeful during the day. As a result, it can be particularly helpful for addressing “out of cycle” situations, like insomnia or seasonal depression. Because ashwagandha supports the “rest and digest” functions of the body and can soothe an overstimulated nervous system, it’s also great for relieving anxiety and feelings of overwhelm.

Ashwagandha might be translated as “strength of a thousand horses,” but its action is quite a bit more gentle and foundational than the image conjured up by the translation! Unlike more stimulating herbs, such as ginseng or eleuthero, ashwagandha is a slow, restorative builder. 

There’s no big rush of energy, which means there’s no corresponding crash of energy running out. Instead, each day you have a little more resilience than the day before—until, after a while, you feel like your old self again!

Ashwagandha is particularly appropriate in cases of extended exhaustion, depletion, and deficiency.

Recommended Dosage

Ashwagandha is not a particularly delicious herb, but it can be blended in many ways that cover the taste. Chai spices, such as ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon, are strong, familiar flavors that can do the trick; so is coffee. 

Drink 1 to 4 cups of these blends daily. Ashwagandha can also be taken as tincture (1 to 8 droppersful per day), or as a honey powder paste (1 to 3 tablespoons per day). When getting to sleep and staying asleep is an issue, pulse dosing before bed is effective: 

Take 3 dropperful of tincture 1 hour before bedtime, the same amount half an hour before bedtime, and again right at bedtime. With consistent use over 1 week to 1 month, you’ll see drastic changes in your sleep quality. Ashwagandha works best with consistent, long-term use.

Important Considerations

Ashwagandha is a nightshade plant, and may need to be avoided by people with allergies to tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, etc.

Due to its benefits, Ashwagandha is also found in some supplements. For example, it is used as a primary ingredient in Resurge supplements to promote better sleep and improve general health.

Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

However, before making any purchases, you might want to read the Resurge reviews.

Remember that you should always consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplement, especially if you are pregnant or taking medication. 

Betony (Stachys officinalis)

Qualities: neutral, drying, relaxant

Taste: mildly bitter, aromatic, slightly sweet

Family: Lamiaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: anxiolytic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diffusive, grounding, hepatic, mildly astringent, nervine

Common Preparations

The leaves and flowers of betony can be infused as tea or prepared as a tincture or elixir. 

Ideal for Addressing

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • PMS
  • Stress

Effective Applications

One of the best herbs for all kinds of head ailments, betony is a top choice for many types of headaches: tension headaches, hormonal or menstrual headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, and chronic headaches. 

Betony releases tension in constricted muscles, especially in the neck and head. It’s a traditional remedy for seizure disorders and spastic conditions characterized by tremors and shaking, as well as concussion.

Betony is helpful for people who easily get lost in their thoughts and need help staying grounded and connected to their body. It’s especially appropriate for people experiencing dissociation, or a disconnect between their mind and body, and people who work heavily with machines and computers, as it can bring the focus out of the cerebral head-space and back into the present moment.

Because betony strengthens the mind-body connection, it is beneficial for people suffering from depression and adolescents going through puberty—two populations that often struggle with difficult thoughts and emotions. 

Add that to the grounding, antispasmodic, and diffusive actions and you have an ideal remedy for issues such as heart palpitations, stress, anxiety, and ADD/ADHD.

Recommended Dosage

Betony is mild enough in flavor to drink on its own as a tea, but it lends itself beautifully to formulation. Tulsi, chamomile, rose, catnip, and linden pair well with betony, both in flavor and effect. For headache, a cup of betony tea, as needed, may be sufficient. 

For long-term support with issues such as dissociative disorders, anxiety, and post-concussive stresses, 2 to 4 cups of betony daily, alone or in formula, over several weeks or months, is more appropriate.

Important Considerations

Two different plants are known as betony in the United States: Stachys officinalis and Pedicularis spp. We are referring to Stachys off., though Pedicularis has some of the same effects.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Qualities: warming, drying, tonifying

Taste: bitter, pungent, salty, sweet

Family: Asteraceae

Medicinal parts: flowers

Actions: alterative, antifungal, antimicrobial, diaphoretic, lymphatic, vulnerary

Common Preparations

The calendula flower head can be infused for a tea or a compress or prepared as a tincture, elixir, or salve.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess and gingivitis
  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Athlete’s foot/fungal skin infections
  • Bloating
  • BPH/prostatitis
  • Breast fibroids and cysts
  • Burns and sunburn
  • Detox
  • Eczema and dermatitis
  • Edema
  • Endometriosis
  • Food sensitivities
  • Gingivitis
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Indigestion/dyspepsia
  • Inflammation
  • Leaky gut
  • Menopause/andropause
  • PMS
  • Rash
  • Receding gums
  • Seasonal depression
  • Stomach ulcer/gastritis
  • Varicose veins and haemorrhoids
  • Wounds
  • Yeast infection

Effective Applications

Many digestive system ailments share a similar symptom triangle: irritation and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, impaired digestive and liver function, and a lymphatic response such as bloating.

Calendula is effective for all three! Tea is the most effective way to work with calendula for digestive ailments.

Calendula’s liver-stimulating action makes it helpful for issues where hormones play a role, such as endometriosis and PMS symptoms. The lymphatic action is also supportive for fibroids and cysts, inflammatory issues, many types of rashes, varicose veins—anything that has a component of lymphatic stagnancy. 

With those actions together, calendula is well suited for a wide variety of conditions that involve water retention, such as intestinal bloating, edema, and BPH. Because ailments on these lists often occur together, calendula gets you two (or more) treatments in one!

The digestive tract cells are the same type of cells that make up skin, which is why calendula is fantastic for healing wounds and irritation in both areas. It’s important to get the herb directly in contact with the wound, which means tea for digestive tract use, and a compress, soak, or salve for skin issues.

Recommended Dosage

Calendula is safe to work with in food-like doses. For chronic internal issues, we recommend a quart of tea daily, either on its own or as part of a formula. For topical issues, application of calendula by compress, soak, or salve multiple times a day is appropriate until the issue is resolved.

Calendula is also a sunny, friendly plant and can be added to any formula just to bring in that brightness!

Important Considerations

Calendula is a very safe plant and is appropriate even for newborns and elders.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Qualities: warming, drying, relaxant

Taste: pungent, aromatic, acrid

Family: Lamiaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: antispasmodic, anxiolytic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic,

hepatic, nervine, sedative

Common Preparations

Catnip leaves and flowers can be infused as a tea or prepared as a tincture or elixir.

Ideal for Addressing

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Food sensitivities
  • Heartburn/reflux/gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Indigestion/dyspepsia
  • Leaky gut
  • Nausea

Effective Applications

Catnip’s relaxant and digestive actions make this a very effective plant for anxiety or nervousness, especially when poor digestive function is also involved. Catnip is particularly indicated when this nervous energy or upset has an upward-moving direction, as in heartburn and “butterflies in the stomach.” 

For headaches caused by poor or incomplete digestion, catnip is an effective remedy, especially when combined with another warming or carminative herb like sage or fennel.

Somewhat sedative, catnip can be helpful for panic and anxiety in adults and children. A soothing herb, catnip is a nice nervine to take before bedtime, either alone or added to a sedative formula for times when falling asleep is difficult. Tea, tincture, or elixir all work well to support sleep.

As a relaxing diaphoretic, catnip relaxes muscles to allow a fever’s heat to escape the body. Catnip is commonly included in formulas to break a high or long-lasting fever. This same action can be applied emotionally, as well: When emotions are running hot and you can’t let go of them, try catnip!

Recommended Dosage

One cup of catnip tea is effective for relief at the moment, but for long- term issues, it’s a great idea to have catnip regularly. Three to 4 cups daily, alone or in formula, is ideal. Tincture and elixir are safe to use regularly and as needed in doses of 1 to 8 droppersful.

Important Considerations

Catnip is a safe herb for children, although it is more strongly sedating for them than it is for adults.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Qualities: warming, neutral, relaxant

Taste: aromatic, bitter, sweet

Family: Asteraceae

Medicinal parts: flowers

Actions: antimicrobial, antispasmodic, anxiolytic, aromatic, carminative, sedative, soothing nervine, stomach tonic, vulnerary

Common Preparations

Chamomile flowers can be infused as tea or a compress or prepared as a tincture, elixir, or salve.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess
  • Acne
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eczema and dermatitis
  • Food sensitivities
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Indigestion/dyspepsia
  • Insomnia
  • Leaky gut
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • Pain management
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Receding gums
  • Stress
  • Wounds

Effective Applications

Perhaps because it is considered gentle, or perhaps because it is a ubiquitous tea, chamomile is often undervalued in our culture. Yet in other cultures, chamomile is prized for its powerful wound-healing abilities. 

For serious wounds, it’s probably better to visit the emergency room, but for everyday cuts and scrapes, you can rely on a wash or a soak with strong chamomile tea to aid a speedy recovery.

Chamomile is the ideal choice for people who run cold and damp physically, but have type A personalities. There’s no single better plant for helping relax and unwind before bed—or anytime! 

Have tea or elixir by itself, or blend with ginger, betony, and/or elderflower for a tremendously effective relaxant. Chamomile is also excellent for headaches caused by mental tension.

The antispasmodic action of chamomile is also very potent, but for this effect you’ll need a strong cup of tea. If you have tea bags, put three or four in your cup; if you have loose leaf, use 1 tablespoon per cup.

Either way, cover and steep it long enough to become noticeably bitter. The flavor may not be as pleasant as a lighter, shorter steep, but the results are absolutely worth it. This is effective for menstrual cramps, intestinal cramping, headaches, and general muscle tension.

Recommended Dosage

Chamomile can be taken freely as needed. Consider a cup of chamomile tea with ginger in the evening to help relax, especially when there is tension or digestive distress. For wound care or other topical applications, apply as a compress, soak, or steam multiple times a day.

Three to 4 cups of chamomile daily, alone or in formula, are very helpful for chronic digestive issues.

Important Considerations

Chamomile is a very safe herb that is particularly nice for children (and dogs, too!). Occasionally, people have hay fever-like allergies to chamomile and other daisy family (Asteraceae) plants.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia)

Qualities: warming, moistening, tonifying

Taste: pungent, sweet, astringent

Family: Lauraceae

Medicinal parts: inner bark

Actions: antimicrobial, aromatic, astringent, demulcent, diffusive, hypoglycemic, mild circulatory stimulant, relaxant

Common Preparations

Cinnamon can be prepared as a hot or cold infusion or a decoction. The cinnamon essential oil can be added to salves. Cinnamon can also be added to food.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Athlete’s foot/fungal skin infections
  • Bloating
  • Fever
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Indigestion/dyspepsia
  • PCOS
  • Sore throat and respiratory ailments

Effective Applications

Both warming and moistening when prepared in water, cinnamon is excellent for cold, dry conditions, such as sluggish digestion and constipation. That warm, moist quality is also very helpful for dry, sore throats and coughs. 

Cinnamon can be taken on its own as tea or added to other formulas for its own actions and to improve the flavor of less- tasty herbs. To get the full range of warmth and moistening action, first prepare hot cinnamon tea, then let sit for a few hours after it has cooled:

The moistening constituents are only soluble in cool water. Strain the tea before reheating gently to retain all the moistening action, and enjoy the warmth.

Cinnamon is a very potent antifungal agent. Cinnamon powder can be regularly applied directly to the affected area when that is convenient (for example, as a foot powder for an athlete’s foot) or applied as a salve.

Cinnamon essential oil can be added to salves made with calendula—the two plants together form a powerful pair.

Cinnamon is an effective ally for insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, as well as symptoms arising from those conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In a 2003 study published in Diabetes Care, researchers found that 1 gram (about 1⁄2 teaspoon) of cinnamon daily was enough to reduce blood glucose levels significantly, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 

Those are very encouraging results, especially for people not yet medicated and working to avoid worsening symptoms. It is important to test glucose levels daily and communicate with your doctor if you take medication for diabetes.

Recommended Dosage

Cinnamon is very safe in cooking and is often included in sweet recipes or heavier recipes where its warming action can assist in digestion. For sore throat, cinnamon tea can be taken as needed throughout the day.

For fungal infections, cinnamon preparations can be applied several times a day as needed—though it is not recommended to apply essential oils directly to the skin without diluting them first.

Important Considerations

Due to cinnamon’s effect on blood glucose, people taking Glucophage (metformin) or using insulin injections need to monitor their glucose levels when taking cinnamon in doses larger than culinary amounts, as blood sugar levels can change quickly. In large doses, cinnamon has a blood-thinning effect, and high amounts of cinnamon (greater than 6 grams per day) should be avoided if you take blood-thinning pharmaceuticals.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Qualities: cooling, drying, tonifying

Taste: bitter, earthy, sweet, salty

Family: Asteraceae

Medicinal parts: root, leaves, flowers

Actions: leaves—alterative, antilithic, diuretic, drying, nutritive; root— antilithic cholagogue, mild laxative, sialagogue; flowers—exhilarant

Common Preparations

Dandelion leaves can be infused for tea: A long infusion (4 to 8 hours) releases the most mineral content. Dandelion leaves can also be tinctured in vinegar or eaten as food. Dandelion roots can be decocted as tea or prepared as a tincture. Dandelion flowers can be prepared as a honey infusion, tincture, or elixir.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Acne
  • Constipation
  • Detox
  • Dry mouth
  • Eczema
  • Endometriosis
  • Gout
  • Kidney stones
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • PCOS
  • PMS
  • Rash
  • Varicose veins and hemorrhoids

Effective Applications

Dandelion flowers can be infused into honey or tinctured for an emotionally uplifting action. Dandelion roots and leaves are applicable at different times:

Dandelion roots act more strongly on the liver and digestive system, and their stimulating effect on the liver improves the body’s ability to digest food and detox. This has fairly far-reaching effects, from improving acne, eczema, and rashes to reducing constipation. 

The liver’s detox functions are responsible for breaking down excess hormones in the body, which means the root can even be an effective helper for those with hormonal conditions such as PCOS and PMS.

Dandelion roots also contain inulin, a prebiotic fibre that feeds probiotic gut flora. Inulin is most available in a decoction, so blend dandelion roots with chai spices or decaf coffee for a daily morning blend to support digestion.

Dandelion leaves act more strongly on the kidneys, have higher mineral content, and are more astringent. The leaf’s high mineral content supports healthy kidney function. Both the improvements in kidney function and the minerals themselves can drastically reduce PMS symptoms and endometriosis, and help create a more regular menstrual cycle. 

The leaf is also very helpful for treating gout and protecting against kidney stones, and its astringent action helps drain extra fluid from the body, as in edema and water retention. This diuretic action can also reduce high blood pressure and is best attained by taking daily doses of long-infused dandelion leaf tea. 

That astringency is also supportive for varicose veins and haemorrhoids, especially when combined with topical preparations.

Recommended Dosage

Dandelion is a “food herb,” and is coming back into fashion in salads and other dishes. Eating dandelion leaves is a great way to receive the benefits of this plant! Dandelion leaf’s nourishing infusion is most supportive when taken over time; drink 2 to 3 cups daily, either alone or as part of a formula.

Dandelion roots are also traditionally eaten as food, and their benefits are similarly best seen when they become a consistent part of your daily routine. Take root tincture in doses of 1 to 4 droppersful 3 times per day, or drink 2 to 4 cups of decoction, alone or in a formula.

Important Considerations

Dandelion leaf should be paired with moistening herbs such as linden or licorice for people with very dry constitutions. Dandelion leaves may not be suitable for people taking blood thinners or pharmaceutical diuretics.

Elder (Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis)

Qualities: cooling, drying, relaxant

Taste: sweet, slightly oily, astringent

Family: Adoxaceae

Medicinal parts: berries and flowers

Actions: alterative, antimicrobial, antitussive, antiviral, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, exhilarant, immune stimulant, nutritive, relaxant, respiratory antispasmodic

Common Preparations

Both elderflowers and elderberries can be prepared as tea, tincture, elixir, syrup, and honey infusion. Elderflowers are also made into liqueurs, sold commercially.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Anxiety
  • Bronchitis/chest cold/pneumonia
  • Cold and flu
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Immune support
  • PMS
  • Stress

Effective Applications

Today, elder may be best known for its ability to prevent viruses from replicating, especially influenza viruses, making it much easier for the immune system to fight these pathogens. This decreases the severity and length of the illness. 

Elder also has a stimulating effect on immune function. These actions are strongest in the berries but are also present in the flowers. Elderberries can even help preserve immune function as we age, due to their high antioxidant content.

Elderflowers are a relaxing diaphoretic, meaning they assist in “sweating out” a fever. Elder is especially helpful when fever and chills alternate. A hot cup of tea is the best preparation for this result. This diaphoretic action can also work emotionally, helping release intense emotions or worry and allowing the mind to relax.

Recommended Dosage

Elderberries can be eaten as jam or jelly, or baked into other foods. For colds and flu, 1 tablespoon of syrup 3 to 4 times daily at the first sign of symptoms is ideal; this can be continued until you recover.  Elderflowers can be taken freely as a hot tea for fever or stress management or as a tincture or elixir for releasing feelings of stress.

Unlike some immune-stimulating herbs, elder is typically well tolerated in individuals with autoimmune conditions.

Important Considerations

Large amounts of fresh elderberries have a laxative effect. Cook elderberries for food use.

Elecampane (Inula helenium)

Qualities: warming, drying, tonifying

Taste: pungent, bitter

Family: Asteraceae

Medicinal parts: root

Actions: antimicrobial, bitter, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, nervous system tonic, nutritive, respiratory stimulant

Common Preparations

Elecampane roots are best decocted for tea, although they can be infused for a lighter effect. They can also be prepared as a tincture.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis/chest cold/pneumonia
  • Cough
  • Immune support
  • Indigestion and dyspepsia

Effective Applications

Elecampane is particularly suited to treat infections of the respiratory tract, especially those that come with thick, heavy mucus. Its antimicrobial effect kills bacteria, while the stimulating and expectorating actions help bring up the stuck, thick mucus that accumulates at the bottom of the lungs, which can otherwise be very difficult to get rid of.

Elecampane is one of the most strongly antiseptic plants in our materia medica (collection of medicinal plants). Particularly effective for bacterial infections, elecampane has been successful against bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and MRSA, in part due to its biofilm-disrupting action, which makes it more difficult for pathogens to defend themselves against our immune systems.

Elecampane contains a high percentage of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that is a preferred food for healthy gut bacteria. Elecampane is also a warming, digestive bitter and liver stimulant. These functions work together to help fight dysbiosis in the gut and can speed recovery from food-borne infection.

Recommended Dosage

Elecampane’s flavor might be best described as “peppery mud,” but it is so effective it’s worth putting up with. Instead of drinking an entire cup of decoction, take 1 or 2 tablespoons every hour, from the first sign of respiratory infection until the illness clears. Alternatively, blending elecampane with other pungent respiratory herbs, such as ginger, angelica, and cinnamon, can help mask its flavor.

Elecampane’s inulin content will sink to the bottom of the brew: If you want to work with the inulin, give the decoction a good stir before ladling out a cup. Inulin is not well extracted by alcohol, so a decoction is the preferred method for this application.

Important Considerations

People with allergies to members of the daisy plant family (Asteraceae) may be allergic to elecampane. This is uncommon, in our experience.

Fennel Foeniculum vulgare

Qualities: warming, moistening, relaxant

Taste: aromatic, pungent, sweet

Family: Apiaceae

Medicinal parts: seed

Actions: antiemetic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, cholagogue, diuretic, galactagogue, sialagogue

Common Preparations

Fennel seeds can be eaten as they are, added to food, infused for tea, or tinctured.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Asthma
  • Bloating
  • Food sensitivities
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Indigestion/dyspepsia
  • Leaky gut
  • PMS

Effective Applications

A warming herb that improves digestion and liver function, fennel is particularly suited to counteract the cold, stagnant conditions we see so commonly in our population today. Fennel can help relieve gas and bloating in adults and children, and colic in babies. Fennel can be added directly to foods likely to cause gas or bloating or taken as tea after the meal. 

For babies, a little bit of fennel tea on a spoon or given by dropper can be quite effective. Fennel is antispasmodic, making it a helpful remedy for intestinal cramping, whether it’s a bout of indigestion or part of something chronic, such as IBS. The antispasmodic action is also effective for soothing menstrual cramping and relieving the constriction and spasms of asthma.

Recommended Dosage

Fennel is common in cooking for the same reasons it can be helpful as a herbal preparation: It improves digestion! You may already include fennel in recipes with fattier cuts of meat or sausage, where it stimulates digestion to improve the body’s ability to digest that fat. Fennel is safe to eat as food, and infusions of fennel can be taken as often as desired.

Important Considerations

Fennel is very safe for humans of all ages.

Garlic Allium sativum

Qualities: warming, drying, tonifying

Taste: pungent, aromatic, oily, slightly sweet

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Medicinal parts: bulb

Actions: alterative, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, aromatic, carminative, circulatory stimulant, diffusive, hepatic stimulant, hypotensive, rubefacient

Common Preparations

Garlic can be eaten in food, prepared by pickling in vinegar and honey, made into tea, added to broth, or infused into oil. It can also be prepared in water or vinegar for topical applications or as a steam.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Athlete’s foot/fungal skin infections
  • Bronchitis/chest cold/pneumonia
  • Cholesterol management
  • Cold and flu
  • Dysbiosis
  • Ear infection/earache
  • Immune support
  • Sinusitis/stuffy nose

Effective Applications

Garlic is a vital plant for managing respiratory tract infections, including cold, flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, tonsillitis, strep throat, and sinus infections. This is because some of the most antimicrobial aspects of garlic you’ve ingested exit the body through the lungs as you exhale— that’s how you get garlic breath. 

On the way out, they directly destroy fungi and bacteria while stimulating an immune response against viruses in the mucous membranes. This makes garlic a remedy specific to microbial infections of the lungs.

These antimicrobial agents function anywhere they can reach, so the topical application of garlic—to a wound on the skin, in the digestive tract, or at the site of other infections—will also be antibacterial and antifungal. 

However, raw garlic can also cause damage to skin and digestive tract tissue, so it’s important to buffer garlic’s heating action with oil when applying it to the skin and to be conscious of your body’s reaction when consuming raw garlic. 

If raw garlic is too intense, consider “pickling” it—combine peeled garlic cloves in a jar with half apple cider vinegar and half honey and let soak for a month. Garlic pickles retain all the benefits but are gentler on the digestive system.

By improving the quality of the blood and stimulating circulation while lowering blood pressure, garlic can have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. Plus, garlic is packed with antioxidants, which help lower cholesterol levels.

Recommended Dosage

Garlic is safe to consume in food amounts daily. Raw garlic can irritate the stomach and skin, but garlic preparations do not typically present this problem. Be attentive; if the feeling is too hot, take a break. 

Garlic can be taken medicinally in many forms—simply adding it to food is a great way to make garlic’s benefits a regular part of your life. A garlic steam (see Sinus-Clearing Steam) is an intense experience, but tremendously effective for beating colds and flu. 

Garlic infused into vinegar is a fantastic way to apply the fungus-fighting action directly to the affected area—multiple times a day is ideal.

Important Considerations

Garlic can be very irritating to the skin and the digestive tract when applied raw. Garlic has a strong blood-thinning effect. This can be problematic for individuals taking blood-thinning pharmaceuticals; check with your doctor before adding garlic to your regimen if you take one of those drugs. Occasionally, people do have allergies to garlic.

Ginger Zingiber officinale

Qualities: warming, drying, relaxant

Taste: pungent, aromatic

Family: Zingiberaceae

Medicinal parts: rhizome (root)

Actions: anodyne, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, diffusive, emmenagogue, relaxant, rubefacient, sialagogue, stimulant, stomach tonic

Common Preparations

Ginger can be added to food, made as tea, and even candied for medicinal use. A tincture of ginger can be used internally and topically or blended into an elixir for a tasty remedy.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Bloating and intestinal cramping
  • BPH/prostatitis
  • Bronchitis/chest cold/pneumonia
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Dry mouth
  • Endometriosis
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Inflammation
  • Joint pain
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • Muscle soreness/post-workout recovery
  • Nausea
  • Pain management
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • PMS
  • Seasonal depression
  • Sprains and strains
  • Varicose veins and hemorrhoids

Effective Applications

Ginger has a particularly effective combination of actions—especially its warming antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory actions—that make it appropriate for a wide variety of ailments.

Ginger’s warming quality can stimulate digestion, resolving slow and sluggish issues such as bloating and constipation. Combined with ginger’s antispasmodic actions, the result is a very effective treatment for gut cramping—whether from IBS, PMS, or some food that didn’t agree with you. 

This warming, relaxant action also makes ginger ideal for headaches and backaches resulting from tension, or those that come along with digestive or menstrual problems.

Ginger can also stimulate circulation, improving blood flow throughout the body. Along with its anti-inflammatory action, this makes ginger very effective for treating cardiovascular problems and issues that result from systemic inflammation (such as rheumatoid arthritis). This also encourages healthy menstrual flow.

Ginger is very effective against all forms of nausea, including those induced by food poisoning, medications (including chemotherapy), morning sickness, and motion sickness. A warming diaphoretic, ginger encourages a healthy fever in response to infection.

All these actions combine to help ginger effectively counter many types of depression: The circulatory stimulant action helps the body feel more alive, and the antispasmodic action can help release anxiety or other stressors contributing to the problem. 

As researchers continue to investigate the connection between inflammation and depression, we will likely see more ways ginger can support people experiencing depression.

Recommended Dosage

Ginger is common in recipes, and food is a great way to get ginger into your life. Ginger can also be taken in tea as needed for headaches, cramps, and digestive problems or daily for chronic and inflammatory issues—3 to 4 cups daily is a good target. 

Tincture of ginger works well in doses as small as a few drops, though 4 or more dropperful may be taken at once for some purposes. Ginger blends well with many herbs and can enhance the unappealing flavour of some herbs. Ginger can also be applied topically, as needed, in a tincture or liniment (see here and here).

Important Considerations

Ginger has a blood-thinning effect; if you take blood-thinning medications, consult your doctor. Ginger’s emmenagogic action may increase the menstrual flow of those with already heavy cycles.

GoldenrodSolidago spp.

Qualities: warming, drying, tonifying

Taste: aromatic, bitter, astringent

Family: Asteraceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: analgesic, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antilithic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, urinary antiseptic, vulnerary

Common Preparations

Goldenrod can be prepared as tea or tincture or infused into oil to make a salve.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess and gingivitis
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Depression
  • Detox
  • Endometriosis
  • Gingivitis
  • Gout
  • Heartburn/reflux/GERD
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney stones
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • Muscle soreness/post-workout recovery
  • PMS
  • Receding gums
  • Seasonal depression
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach ulcer/gastritis
  • Stress
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Varicose veins and hemorrhoids
  • Wounds

Effective Applications

Goldenrod’s Latin name, Solidago, means “to make whole”—such an appropriate name for this plant! Goldenrod has notable anti- inflammatory and antiseptic actions that make it excellent for wound healing, both on the skin and in the digestive tract. 

Goldenrod is especially helpful for oral abscesses and wounds, heartburn, and stomach ulcers.

Like many other astringents, goldenrod has a tonifying influence on the mucous membranes. This helps dry up drippy, runny noses, weepy eyes, and phlegm lungs and, combined with goldenrod’s antihistamine action, is part of the reason goldenrod is so helpful for seasonal allergies.

Goldenrod has a particular affinity for aiding in kidney and urinary tract health; one reason is that the volatile oils in goldenrod are eliminated via the urinary system in their whole form—their antimicrobial action is still working even as the goldenrod is leaving your body! For those with chronic UTIs, a daily regimen of goldenrod tea can be a powerful form of defence.

The astringent and diuretic actions can also help with kidney stones and prostatitis, and the anti-inflammatory action is very soothing to affected tissues.

Topical applications of goldenrod (infused into oil) are quite a relaxant to the muscles and particularly soothing to lower-back pain.

Recommended Dosage

Goldenrod makes an absolutely delicious tea, and because so much of its action is rooted in kidney support, tea is a great way to work with this plant. Goldenrod can be taken as needed to soothe irritations, but for chronic and long-standing ailments, it’s best to have 3 to 4 cups of goldenrod tea daily.

Important Considerations

Though often blamed for seasonal allergy flare-ups, goldenrod is actually insect-pollinated: Its pollen is too heavy to be carried in the air. It is in fact the pollen from ragweed, which flowers at the same time, that is responsible for allergy symptoms—and goldenrod can actually function as an antidote!

Kelp (Alaria esculenta)

Qualities: cooling, moistening, relaxant

Taste: salty, sweet

Family: Alariaceae

Medicinal parts: lamina (leaves)

Actions: cardiac tonic, demulcent, emollient, mineral-rich nutritive, musculoskeletal tonic, thyroid restorative, vulnerary

Common Preparations

By far the best way to prepare kelp is in a long-simmered broth. Kelp can also be prepared in tea, as a vinegar extract, and in food.

Ideal for Addressing

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Breast fibroids and cysts
  • Heartburn/reflux/GERD
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Menopause/andropause
  • Pain management
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Rash
  • Sprains and strains

Effective Applications

One of kelp’s strongest attributes is its high nutritional content. This is increasingly more important as the quality of our soils degrades—and, with it, levels of vitamins and minerals in our land vegetables. This superfood aspect of kelp plays a critical role in every facet of its application.

Kelp can be helpful for nervous issues such as ADD and anxiety because of its high mineral and nutrient content and its soothing, moistening action. Kelp is also beneficial to the adrenal glands (and the entire endocrine system), which can be a significant factor in both ADD and anxiety. 

It may seem overly simple just to “nourish” these ailments away, but it’s actually a surprisingly effective part of a protocol for these and other nervous system issues.

This nutritive action, and in particular the thyroid-boosting effect of kelp, is very helpful for reproductive issues, especially around menstruation, menopause, and andropause. These issues are all about endocrine function, and kelp’s high iodine content, among other things, can keep the whole system running more smoothly.

Kelp can be applied topically to wounds for an anti-infective, wound- healing action.

It’s also fantastic for sprains and strains, both to speed the healing through anti-inflammatory action and to reduce pain. This is appropriate for both external wounds and skin irritations and irritation in the digestive tract.

Recommended Dosage

Kelp is a vegetable, so even more than most herbs, we think about it in terms of serving sizes. Kelp is a very complex plant, and many of its constituents take time to break down, which is why broth is such a good way to take it. 

If it’s a new flavor for you, there’s another benefit: Although there will be a “seaweedy” or “fishy” smell for the first 10 to 15 minutes, this dissipates quickly and the resulting broth does not retain the smell or flavor. It’s also easy to add a handful of confetti-size pieces to a pot of rice—the result is very mild and easy for seaweed “beginners.”

Important Considerations

Buy kelp in its whole, unprocessed, simply dried form, and cook it yourself for the most nutrition and medicinal benefit. It’s important to consider the origin of your seaweed, as so much of our oceans is now polluted.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Qualities: warming, moistening, relaxant

Taste: sweet

Family: Fabaceae

Medicinal parts: rhizome (root)

Actions: adaptogen, antitussive, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, hepatoprotective, sialagogue, stomach tonic

Common Preparations

Licorice can be prepared as either an infusion or a decoction, for tea or topical application. It can also be tinctured, infused into oil, and made into a salve.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Fatigue
  • Food sensitivities
  • Hangover
  • Heartburn/reflux/GERD
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Inflammation
  • Leaky gut
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach ulcer/gastritis

Effective Applications

Licorice has a moistening effect, which makes it an excellent remedy for dry, itchy, irritated conditions throughout the body. This includes everything from eczema to heartburn and even the “dry,” frazzled feeling of being exhausted and stressed.

Add licorice’s strong anti-inflammatory action, and you have a plant perfectly suited to treat conditions like stomach ulcers, IBS, and ulcerative colitis, with painful irritation in the digestive tract. 

Licorice not only reduces inflammation but also helps heal the mucous membranes in the digestive tract, making it an important part of Gut-Heal Tea. Licorice can also simply be paired with self-heal or goldenrod for this effect, as well.

Licorice helps moisten dry lungs and sore throats, and its antitussive action helps relieve dry, unproductive coughs. Combined with ginger, this can be a perfect formula for alleviating winter discomfort. 

For those who live in dry climates and feel frequently dehydrated, a formula of licorice and linden or marshmallow can provide great relief. Licorice has strong liver-protective effects, restoring damaged liver tissue and reducing inflammatory irritations. 

Licorice also strongly supports the adrenal glands and the endocrine system and is excellent for addressing chronic or long-standing conditions, including adrenal exhaustion and endocrine imbalance.

When applied topically, licorice has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. This allows your body’s response to itchy, irritated issues such as bites, stings, rashes, eczema, and psoriasis to work more effectively, so you may not need to apply synthetic cortisone topically. An important plant for the skin, licorice moistens skin while calming itching and inflammation.

Recommended Dosage

Licorice has a very strong, sweet flavor and is best suited to multi-herb formulations. It can also be an excellent addition to a formula that leans too far to the dry side. In formula, licorice can be taken 3 to 4 times a day, either as tea or tincture. 

Licorice is more soluble in water than alcohol, so it is best in tinctures with lower alcohol content or as a strong decoction preserved with 20 percent alcohol. Licorice can be applied topically multiple times daily, as needed.

Important Considerations

Licorice is not recommended in high doses for those with high blood pressure. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) products sidestep this concern.

LindenTilia spp.

Qualities: cooling, moistening, relaxant

Taste: sweet, mildly salty, mildly aromatic

Family: Malvaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: anodyne, anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, aromatic, demulcent, hypotensive, nervine, relaxant, diaphoretic, sedative, sialagogue

Common Preparations

Linden can be prepared in either a hot or cold infusion, for tea or topical application. Linden can also be made into a tincture, elixir, or infused into wine or mead.

Ideal for Addressing

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Burns and sunburn
  • Depression
  • Heartburn/reflux/GERD
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure/hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • PMS
  • Stress

Effective Applications

Linden is helpful for high blood pressure, heart palpitations, arrhythmia, angina, tightness and dryness in the chest, and those with histories of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular surgery. 

Part of this soothing, restorative effect comes from its ability to relax the nervous system, reducing stress on the heart, and part of it comes from direct restorative action on the heart and cardiovascular system in general.

For the emotional heart and nervous system, linden has broad application. Its gentle yet effective cooling nervine action is perfect for anxiety, nervous tension, insomnia, and agitation. Linden is particularly suited to mitigate the side effects of drying, stimulating medications like Adderall and Ritalin and is well tolerated in children and adults alike.

Linden is soothing to nerve pain wherever it appears in the body. Intestinal pain from indigestion and allergies to foods, systemic nerve pain from fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis, tension headaches, tense menstrual cramps, nerve damage due to injury, and nerve pains due to viruses, including herpes, are all calmed by linden. Imagine being able to rub lotion into “fried and frazzled” nerves—that’s exactly how linden can help!

Recommended Dosage

A cup of linden tea is soothing at the moment, but for chronic or long-standing issues, plan to make linden a supportive part of your daily life.

Three to 4 cups a day, in formula or by itself, is a soothing form of self- care. For a more moistening effect, prepare linden as a cold infusion, or steep it covered overnight: The water starts out hot but cools overnight, so you get the benefit of both the hot water–soluble and cold water–soluble constituents.

Important Considerations

Linden leaves and flowers are very safe for all people.

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Qualities: cooling, moistening, relaxant

Taste: sweet, salty, bland

Family: Malvaceae

Medicinal parts: root and leaves

Actions: anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, nutritive, sialagogue, vulnerary

Common Preparations

Marshmallow root is most effectively prepared as a cold infusion, which may be drunk or used as a bath, poultice, or compress. The leaf can be added to hot infusions or overnight infusions.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Burns and sunburn
  • Cough
  • Dry mouth
  • Food sensitivities
  • Gout
  • Hangover
  • Headache (dehydration)
  • Heartburn/reflux/GERD
  • High blood pressure/hypertension
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Indigestion/dyspepsia
  • Leaky gut
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach ulcer/gastritis
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Wounds

Effective Applications

Marshmallow’s moistening action is very important for dry constituents and for people who do not hold on to water well. Perhaps you drink a lot of water but feel like it “goes right through you.” Marshmallow helps the water “stick,” due to its mucilage and mineral content.

Marshmallow also has pronounced, but often overlooked, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and vulnerary actions, which make it ideal for treating irritations—even ulcers—anywhere in the digestive tract. 

This action is also soothing and effective in the urinary tract, where marshmallow plays an important role in resolving UTIs and cystitis.

Marshmallow’s moistening action is also excellent to relieve sore throats and tight, dry coughs and respiratory spasms.

Marshmallow’s moistening action is effective topically, too: A soak or spray of cold-infused marshmallow is soothing to dry, red skin, particularly when the irritation is caused by heat, salt, or sun damage.

Topical applications of marshmallows are also appropriate for treating burns and wounds, soothing inflammation, combating infection, and stimulating the healing processes. Historically, marshmallow was used for problems as severe as sepsis and gangrene!

Recommended Dosage

Marshmallow can be applied topically or taken internally as needed for acute irritation until the problem resolves. For longer-term issues and chronic dehydration, make marshmallows a part of your daily routine.

Drink a cup or pint of the thicker cold infusion to soothe painful internal issues such as heartburn and stomach ulcers, or add a half cup of cold infusion to your water bottle each time you refill it to combat dehydration.

Important Considerations

Because of the coating action in the digestive tract, very thick, mucilaginous infusions of marshmallow root can inhibit the absorption of medications taken at the same time; take medications separately from marshmallows by at least two hours.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

Qualities: cooling, drying, tonifying

Taste: astringent, sweet

Family: Rosaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, aromatic, astringent, diuretic, nervine, vulnerary

Common Preparations

Meadowsweet can be infused for tea or topical applications. Meadowsweet can also be prepared as a tincture or elixir.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Food sensitivities
  • Headache
  • Heartburn/reflux/GERD
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Indigestion/dyspepsia
  • Joint pain
  • Leaky gut
  • Pain management
  • Receding gums
  • Stomach ulcer/gastritis
  • Rash (weeping)

Effective Applications

Meadowsweet is a delicious, soothing herb for addressing hot, inflamed conditions, whether that’s an irritated, weepy rash, a wound or abscess in the mouth, or irritation and inflammation in the digestive tract or throughout the body. Meadowsweet not only speeds healing and recovery time but also helps relieve pain, due to its salicylate content.

Unlike aspirin—acetylsalicylic acid, which can cause ulcers—meadowsweet does not damage the digestive tract, because the salicylates are not converted to their free acid form until they reach the liver. And, in fact, meadowsweet is tremendously effective for resolving ulcers: Not only can it relieve the pain, but the anti-inflammatory and astringent actions help the ulcer heal much faster, too.

The astringent action of meadowsweet is also very effective for diarrhea, as well as edema and cystitis. Cooling and anti-inflammatory, meadowsweet is especially well suited for treating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and headaches that feel hot and pounding.

Recommended Dosage

Meadowsweet tea can be taken as needed, until the problem resolves. It’s a delicious tea, and it formulates well with other herbs, so include it in any formula when you’re looking for that cooling, anti-inflammatory action.

Important Considerations

Avoid meadowsweet if you are allergic to aspirin.

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Qualities: cooling, moistening, relaxant

Taste: nutty, salty, sweet

Family: Asteraceae

Medicinal parts: seeds

Actions: alterative, anti-inflammatory, emollient, expectorant, hepatic, hepatoprotective

Common Preparations

Milk thistle is most commonly taken in capsule form. It can also be powdered and added to food or smoothies.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Constipation
  • Detox
  • Eczema/dermatitis
  • Endometriosis
  • Hangover
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Menopause/andropause
  • PCOS
  • Rash

Effective Applications

An important remedy for the liver, milk thistle has a unique threefold action. It provides nourishment specifically for liver tissue, protects liver cells from damage, and stimulates the regeneration of already damaged liver cells. 

Milk thistle is also very gentle on the body. Because of its gentleness and strong anti-inflammatory action, milk thistle is an ideal remedy for all kinds of liver problems, including states of acute and chronic inflammation.

Milk thistle is an important herb for people who are chronically stressed, sleep deprived, and overworked, whose high levels of adrenaline and cortisol put an added load on the liver. Milk thistle is also excellent support for insulin-resistant and hormonally imbalanced bodies, as these states also add to the liver’s already large workload. 

This applies to people taking pharmaceuticals, alcohol, and other drugs as well: Anytime the liver has extra detoxification work to do, think milk thistle! Many times, this extra load on the liver shows up on the skin in the form of acne, rashes, or eczema—consider milk thistle in these situations.

Milk thistle is particularly handy for kids in puberty, which is a time of heavy load on the liver. Puberty means lots of hormones for the liver to break down, and that can lead to acne. Plus, many teenagers eat diets higher in sugar or turn to caffeine to manage late nights of homework— two things the liver has to clear out of the system. 

Milk thistle is a quick fix for teens because it can be taken in capsules—no extra work required! The same goes for menopause and andropause, which present many of the same issues, just a few decades later.

Recommended Dosage

Although we usually much prefer to work with herbs in tea or other liquid preparations, milk thistle is a herb that is very effective as a capsule. This can be handy, especially because supporting the liver is important for almost every ailment. 

You can have a quart of tea daily that is specifically targeted to the recovery you’re trying to make, and just add milk thistle capsules for extra liver support. We typically recommend two capsules daily for background support and two twice daily for liver-specific issues.

Important Considerations

A very safe herb, milk thistle is effective in capsule form and has no known drug interactions. Heavy use may have a mild laxative effect.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus, V. densiflorum)

Qualities: cooling, drying, tonifying

Taste: salty, mucilaginous

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves, flowers, root

Actions: anodyne, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, moistening expectorant, nervous sedative, respiratory relaxant, urinary and connective tissue tonic

Common Preparations

Mullein leaves can be prepared as tea or tincture, and applied topically. Mullein root can be made into a decoction or tincture. Mullein flowers are typically infused into oil and can also be infused for tea. Any of the plant parts can be infused into oil to make a salve. Mullein leaves can also be smoked.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Back pain
  • Cough
  • Ear infection/earache
  • Incontinence

Effective Applications

A moistening expectorant and respiratory relaxant, mullein leaf is particularly indicated for dry, hacking coughs. Mullein leaf loosens and moistens mucus in the lungs, making it easier to expel, and is particularly helpful for unproductive coughs.

Mullein is very effective for loosening and bringing up the thick, “baked on” mucus that results from smoking cigarettes and is helpful for keeping smokers’ lungs clear. Mullein can also be smoked and can be slowly substituted for tobacco over a period of time while trying to quit smoking cigarettes.

Additionally, mullein helps expectorate any environmental contaminants inhaled into the lungs, which cause congestive problems and infections: Construction workers, painters, miners, firemen, mechanics, potters—anyone who works in a dry, dusty, or chemical-laden environment would benefit from a quart of mullein tea daily.

Mullein leaf also has anti-inflammatory action, with particular affinity to the joints and skeleton, and is restorative to connective tissues, including the spinal discs. Mullein can be applied topically to injuries or areas with chronic pain.

Mullein root is relaxing to the nervous system, yet exerts a tonifying effect on the bladder. Incontinence and frequent urination can be reduced with a tincture of mullein root.

Mullein flower-infused olive oil dropped into the ears soothes the pain of earache, helps clear the infection and loosens stuck or compacted earwax. Be sure to warm it slightly for comfort.

Recommended Dosage

Mullein leaf makes a tasty tea and can be taken daily, alone or in the formula, for lung support and more. Mullein root is not typically sold commercially, but you do not need to wildcraft large quantities, as root tincture is very effective at lower doses—1 dropperful 2 to 3 times daily is sufficient.

Three to four root balls should be sufficient to make enough tincture for a year. Mullein flower oil can be made in small quantities, as you will only use 1 to 2 drops per ear as needed.

Important Considerations

Mullein leaves are covered in tiny hairs, which can be irritating: Strain the tea well.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Qualities: cooling, drying, tonifying

Taste: earthy, salty, umami

Family: Urticaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves, root

Actions: alterative, diuretic, kidney tonic, nutritive

Common Preparations

Nettle leaves can be long infused for a high-mineral tea, or added to soup and stew. Nettle roots are most commonly tinctured or taken as a capsule.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Allergies
  • BPH/prostatitis
  • Detox
  • Endometriosis
  • Gout
  • Incontinence
  • Kidney stones
  • Menopause/andropause
  • PCOS
  • Rash
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Effective Applications

Nettle tea is, above all, a multivitamin and mineral supplement in a teacup! One of the most mineral-rich land plants, nettle, when taken regularly, can resolve many issues resulting from the lack of minerals in modern diets. Often, it’s not that nettle is an herbal medicine required for a specific ailment but that the ailment was due to “nettle deficiency”—a lack of vitamin- and mineral-rich foods in the diet.

Nettle leaf is not just nourishing, it also has specific beneficial effects on the kidneys, and through them the endocrine system. 

This makes nettle essential support for issues that affect the urinary system, like gout, UTI, and kidney stones, and also for hormonally based issues, such as endometriosis and PCOS. Nettle leaf can be very supportive through the phases of menopause, as well.

Nettle has a fairly strong astringent action, especially in the pelvic region, which makes it a perfect support for BPH and prostatitis, as well as incontinence. However, for people who run dry, the astringent action can be aggravating over time: Formulate it with linden or marshmallow to balance the dryness.

Nettle is one of the best supports for seasonal allergies—not only because of its strong kidney-supporting actions, but also because nettle can stimulate the liver’s antihistamine production, and it even has its own antihistamine constituents to contribute to the cause! 

A quart of long-infused nettle tea daily, starting 1 to 2 weeks before your usual allergy season, is a great way to get this support, but freeze-dried nettle capsules will also do the trick.

Recommended Dosage

Nettle leaves are food; think of them in serving-size quantities. A quart of long-infused tea daily is an excellent way to get the full benefit of nettle leaves. This can be helpful when you just don’t have time to incorporate fresh vegetables into your diet, or you just need the extra support nettle can provide. 

Nettle root can be taken in tincture or capsules daily for support of long-term genitourinary issues. If the effect is too drying over time, 1 to 2 cups of linden or marshmallow infusion daily can provide balancing moisture.

Important Considerations

Fresh nettle leaf can raise a temporary rash on the skin. This typically passes quickly, and the effect is neutralized by drying or cooking the nettle.

If you take thyroid medication, wait 2 hours after taking it before consuming long infusions of nettle. Do not take nettle leaf in high doses if you take pharmaceutical blood thinners.

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)

Qualities: warming, drying, relaxant

Taste: aromatic, pungent, minty

Family: Lamiaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: anticatarrhal, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, cholagogue, stimulating diaphoretic

Common Preparations

Peppermint leaves can be infused into water for tea or into oil for salves. Peppermint can also be prepared as a steam.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Arthritis
  • Bites and stings
  • Bloating
  • Burns and sunburn
  • Fever
  • Food sensitivities
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Indigestion/dyspepsia
  • Leaky gut
  • Muscle soreness/post-workout recovery
  • Nausea

Effective Applications

Peppermint has a relaxing action throughout the body, which can be helpful in the digestive system to relieve gas and bloating, and colic in children. This relaxing action can also be effective for muscle soreness, especially when applied topically. 

In fact, peppermint can even relax the mind in stressful situations—but it doesn’t dull the senses: Peppermint stimulates the flow of oxygen to the brain, so while the end effect is relaxing, the mind is sharpened.

Peppermint’s volatile oils, much like thyme and sage, are antimicrobial and very effective in a steam against respiratory infections. The relaxing action of peppermint also helps release fever, and because the flavor often appeals to children, this is a very handy plant for sick little ones.

Like nettle and dandelion, peppermint is high in minerals. And the widely appealing flavor makes peppermint a welcome addition to the somewhat grassy flavor of the other high-mineral herbs. Add rosehips for a complete multivitamin in a teapot!

Recommended Dosage

Peppermint can be taken freely as tea as desired. Its pleasant flavor makes an excellent cover for less palatable herbs.

Important Considerations

Large amounts of peppermint may relax the lower esophageal sphincter and induce heartburn in susceptible individuals.

Pine (Pinus strobus)

Qualities: warming, drying, tonifying

Taste: aromatic

Family: Pinaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves

Actions: anticatarrhal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, vulnerary

Common Preparations

White pine can be prepared as tea, tincture, or elixir. Pine resin can be made into a salve.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess
  • Bronchitis/chest cold/pneumonia
  • Cold and flu
  • Cough
  • Depression
  • Gingivitis
  • Immune support
  • Receding gums
  • Sinusitis/stuffy nose
  • Wounds

Effective Applications

Pine is most commonly associated with immune support and respiratory ailments. The aromatic, volatile oils in all conifer trees are directly antiseptic to the respiratory system, helping kill invading pathogens. 

As tea, pine warms the respiratory system and acts as an expectorant to move phlegm up and out of the lungs. Pine makes an effective and enjoyable steam for respiratory infections and is a great choice if a thyme steam feels too intensely warming (see Thyme).

Pine is also a mood-boosting, uplifting remedy. Long walks in the woods have been shown scientifically to reduce stress, aid in depression, and have many other health benefits, which has led to the recent fascination with “forest bathing.”

But our modern lifestyles don’t always offer the time we need to get those benefits. Fortunately, because some of those actions come from the volatile oils of pine trees, a steamy, hot cup of pine needle tea can bring many of the same benefits right to you, wherever you are.

Pine resin is an excellent remedy for wound healing. Strongly antiseptic, pine resin prevents infection, and its vulnerary actions stimulate healing. Pine Resin Salve is indispensable in a first aid kit, though on the trail, the resin can even be applied in its natural (sticky!) state.

Recommended Dosage

Pine needle tea can be taken freely as needed, or as desired for its deliciousness! Pine resin salve can be applied to shallow wounds multiple times daily until the wound heals.

Important Considerations

There are many species of pine trees, and many have herbal applications, but some do not. To be sure you have white pine, check the “bundles” of pine needles—if long, flexible needles grow in bundles of five, you have white pine!

Plantain (Plantago major, rugelii, lanceolata)

Qualities: cooling, moistening, tonifying

Taste: slightly bitter, earthy

Family: Plantaginaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves

Actions: anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, hepatoprotective, vulnerary

Common Preparations

Plantain leaves can be prepared as a tea or tincture for internal and topical use. The leaves can also be infused into oil for lotion or salve.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess and gingivitis
  • Allergies
  • Athlete’s foot/fungal skin infections
  • Bites and stings
  • Burns and sunburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Eczema and dermatitis
  • Food sensitivities
  • Hangover
  • Herpes/cold sores/chickenpox
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Indigestion/dyspepsia
  • Leaky gut
  • Rash
  • Receding gums
  • Stomach ulcer/gastritis
  • Wounds
  • Yeast infection

Effective Applications

Plantain is a vulnerary, promoting the growth of new cells to speed wound healing. This action applies both to the skin and the entire digestive tract lining, making plantain a very handy plant to have around. Everything from eczema to wounds and abrasions to ulcers and leaky gut heal faster with plantain.

Plantain is another of our very strong biofilm-disrupting herbs, which means it can help break up infection even in antibiotic-resistant situations. Combining plantain with other antimicrobial herbs, or even with pharmaceutical antibiotics, makes a much more effective remedy than either one alone.

Plantain also has a gentle astringent action, which, combined with the ability to break up biofilms, makes it excellent in situations such as gingivitis or dental abscesses: It is able to break up and drain the infection and tighten the gums.

Plantain is also liver-protective. This is handy in mundane situations such as a hangover, but it also enhances plantain’s antimicrobial capability, as the liver plays such an important role in fighting infection.

Recommended Dosage

Plantain can be applied topically several times daily for wounds or other topical irritations until the situation clears. As tea, especially for digestive issues, 3 to 4 cups daily, alone or in formula (see Gut-Heal Tea), is appropriate.

Important Considerations

The herb plantain has no relationship to the small banana-like fruit, except the same name.

Rose (Rosa canina, multiflora, rugosa)

Qualities: cooling, drying, tonifying

Taste: sweet, aromatic, astringent, sour

Family: Rosaceae

Medicinal parts: flowers, hips (fruits), root

Actions: petals—antimicrobial, aromatic, astringent, exhilarant, nervine, refrigerant, vulnerary; hips—nutritive, refrigerant; root—astringent, refrigerant

Common Preparations

Rose can be infused into water for tea or a topical application, or tinctured in vinegar or alcohol. Rose can also be infused into oil for salve.

Rosehips can be made as tea or prepared as food. Rose water can be applied directly to the skin and taken internally. Rose petals can be infused into honey to enjoy on its own or for blending elixirs. Rose roots are most commonly prepared as tincture.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Acne
  • Anxiety
  • Bites and stings
  • Burns and sunburn
  • Cholesterol management
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Eczema and dermatitis
  • Edema
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure/hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Rash
  • Stress
  • Varicose veins and haemorrhoids

Effective Applications

Rose petals are astringent and promote the growth of new cells, and rose roots are more strongly astringent than the petals or leaves, which means rose is particularly effective at drying and healing wet or weeping wounds when applied topically. 

In fact, rose is excellent for a whole range of skin issues, from eczema to acne to keeping skin looking healthy and vibrant. Rose water—the same that is often used in cooking—or rose petals infused into water, makes an excellent wound wash, soak for rashes, and face wash.

That astringent and healing action is also appropriate in the digestive tract for diarrhea, leaky gut conditions, gut inflammation, and ulcerations. 

Rose makes an excellent topical treatment for any type of burn. The cooling action of rose relieves the painful, hot sensation on contact and helps promote new cell growth. That cooling, anti-inflammatory action works throughout the body as well and is even helpful in stressful and anxiety-inducing situations.

Rose has a particularly uplifting effect on the heart, both physiologically and emotionally. The petals provide the relaxing effect, and the hips are high in nourishing antioxidants to help keep the entire cardiovascular system healthy.

Recommended Dosage

Rose hips can be enjoyed regularly as food or as a nutritional tea. Blend with other nutritive herbs such as nettles, dandelion, and even seaweed for a tasty, high-vitamin tea. Rose petals can be added freely to tea, but they have a bitter flavor if steeped for too long, so blend with herbs that have strong flavors, such as tulsi or mint. 

A spoonful of rosewater can be added to any tea for an uplifting effect or even just to hot water all by itself! For skin care, apply rose water frequently throughout the day until the issue is resolved or daily for routine skin care.

Important Considerations

The rose used in herbalism is not the same rose you find at the florist, though those are lovely! For herbalism, the wild varieties are preferable. If you grow roses, it’s generally fine to use any of the varieties that have a strong rose scent.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Qualities: warming, drying, tonifying

Taste: aromatic, astringent, bitter, slightly oily

Family: Lamiaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves

Actions: anticatarrhal, antimicrobial, antitussive, aromatic, carminative, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, diffusive, hepatic, respiratory nervine

Common Preparations

Sage leaves are often included in cooking, and can be prepared as tea, tincture, or elixir. They can also be added to a steam inhalation or infused into oil for a salve.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess and gingivitis
  • Acne
  • Bronchitis/chest cold/pneumonia
  • Cough
  • Oedema
  • Fever
  • Menopause/andropause
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • PMS
  • Receding gums
  • Sinusitis/stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Stress

Effective Applications

Warming, somewhat bitter, and astringent, sage stimulates digestive secretions and is particularly effective at breaking down dietary fats—which is why it’s so commonly included in recipes for roast meats and sausage. Sage is an important herb for people who have trouble digesting meat and fat.

Sage is antimicrobial in the respiratory tract and is excellent in a steam or as a gargle for sore throats, to fight viruses and loosen mucus, and to reduce coughing. It is particularly effective against the rhinovirus, which causes many colds and sore throats (especially those associated with post-nasal drip).

Long in the past, sage was considered an important herb for nervous system overwhelm, and now, in our modern times, it’s coming back into fashion. Sage is particularly effective for people who feel overwhelmed with everything that must be done but don’t see any way to get help.

Blended with tulsi and betony, sage can make your outlook on an impossible situation much more manageable.

Recommended Dosage

For colds and flu, sage is most effective as a steam or hot tea, employed multiple times a day until the sickness passes. For stress management, 1 to 3 cups of sage tea daily, alone or in combination with other nervous systems–supporting herbs, can be very helpful. 

A tincture or elixir is also a lovely, and speedier, way to work with sage in stressful situations. For improving digestion, sage can be added directly to foods or taken as a tincture before meals. Sage’s bitter and liver-stimulating action can be excellent for reproductive system issues, whether taken as tea or tincture.

Important Considerations

Sage is quite drying; for people who run dry, it’s best to formulate it with moistening herbs such as marshmallow or linden. Sage is not recommended during breastfeeding, unless it is intended to slow or stop milk production.

Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris)

Qualities: cooling, drying, tonifying

Taste: mildly aromatic, mildly astringent, mildly bitter

Family: Lamiaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: antimicrobial, antiviral, astringent, diuretic, immunomodulator, lymphatic, styptic, vulnerary

Common Preparations

Self-heal leaves and flowers can be infused into water as tea or for topical application, as well as infused into oil for topical use or to make a salve. Tincture and elixir are also effective.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess and gingivitis
  • Allergies
  • Bloating
  • BPH/prostatitis
  • Breast fibroids and cysts
  • Burns and sunburn
  • Eczema and dermatitis
  • Edema
  • Food sensitivities
  • Heartburn/reflux/GERD
  • Herpes/cold sores/chickenpox
  • IBS/IBD/ulcerative colitis
  • Inflammation
  • Leaky gut
  • Stomach ulcer/gastritis
  • Wounds

Effective Applications

Self-heal inhibits the binding ability of a virus, so the virus can’t replicate. Additionally, self-heal can disrupt biofilms, making bacteria easier to fight. To round it out, self-heal stimulates the lymphatic system—your body’s “cleanup crew” during and after an illness. 

Together, this makes self-heal your first-choice defense for whatever infection you have—even if you don’t know what it is! Self-heal doesn’t have any known drug interactions, so you can feel free to take it even if you’re also on antibiotics.

Self-heal supports kidney health, stimulates lymphatic movement, and has an immune system-modulating effect—which makes it perfect for supporting seasonal allergies. A quart of tea daily, alone or in formula with herbs such as nettle and goldenrod, is a great way to get through allergy season. 

These actions also are particularly effective against issues with lymphatic stagnation, such as edema, fibroids and cysts, and prostatitis.

Self-heal is excellent for wounds, internally and externally. The antiviral and antibacterial actions help fight infection, the astringency helps stop bleeding, and the vulnerary action helps grow healthy new tissue. Apply topically or drink plenty of tea to combat digestive tract issues, such as stomach ulcers, IBS, and leaky gut.

Recommended Dosage

Self-heal can be applied topically for skin infections or wound healing, either as a compress or soak, or infused into oil or made into a salve. Apply several times a day until the issue is resolved. As tea, self-heal is best taken daily for supporting chronic issues.

Important Considerations

Although self-heal has no known interactions, it is important to be cautious if you take pharmaceutical blood thinners.

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum, multiflorum)

Qualities: cooling, moistening, relaxant

Taste: sweet, slightly acrid

Family: Asparagaceae

Medicinal parts: rhizome (root)

Actions: anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, hypotensive, joint lubricant, nutritive, tension modulator, vulnerary

Common Preparations

Solomon’s seal roots are best prepared as a tincture for topical and internal use. The roots can also be prepared as an infused oil or a salve or as a decoction.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Incontinence
  • Inflammation
  • Joint pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Sprains and strains

Effective Applications

Solomon’s seal is moistening and relaxing and can restore lubrication in the joints and rebuild connective tissue, especially where there is inflammation associated with dryness. Solomon’s seal can also restore healthy joint function, relaxing overtight connective tissue and moistening overstretched and deteriorating tissue so it returns to its appropriate state. 

This function is effective whether the condition is chronic, such as arthritis, or acute, such as a sprained ankle, and is especially suited to supporting back injuries.

Solomon’s seal taken internally can be helpful for pelvic floor issues such as incontinence. Solomon’s seal restores proper levels of tension to the ligaments that hold organs in place, and can support healthy pelvic floor function.

This works emotionally as well: Just as Solomon’s seal can help people with joint problems become more flexible and adaptable to changing physical environments, it can also help people become more emotionally and mentally flexible and adaptable. A 1⁄2 dropperful of tincture 2 to 3 times daily can be very helpful for people who want to do this work.

Recommended Dosage

Solomon’s seal is a very safe herb, but because it is not abundant in the wild, it is best to work with tincture, because tincture requires less plant matter to make a larger quantity of medicine. Apply topically, alone or in formula, directly to the affected areas as needed, at least 2 to 3 times per day. 

Solomon’s seal can be taken internally to support physiological healing or provide emotional support—1⁄2 to 1 dropperful is usually sufficient, 3 times daily.

Important Considerations

Some species of Solomon’s seal are endangered, and while Polygonatum biflorum is not yet endangered, it is considered at risk for overharvesting in the wild. 

Be especially picky when buying Solomon’s seal from a supplier—make sure it was organically cultivated. However, it is an easy herb to grow in a shady spot, and cultivated Solomon’s seal is just as effective as wild-harvested.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Qualities: warming, drying, relaxant

Taste: bitter, aromatic

Family: Hypericaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: alterative, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, bitter, exhilarant, hepatic, nerve trophorestorative, nervine, vulnerary

Common Preparations

St. John’s wort leaves and flowers can be made into tea, tincture, and elixir. The fresh flowers can be infused into oil for liniments and salves.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Acne
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Depression
  • Detox
  • Endometriosis
  • Hangover
  • Herpes/cold sores/chicken pox
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Inflammation
  • Menopause/andropause
  • PCOS
  • PMS
  • Rash
  • Seasonal depression
  • Sprains and strains
  • Stomach ulcer/gastritis
  • Stress
  • Wounds

Effective Applications

St. John’s wort has been touted for depression and can be very effective, especially in situations where there is stagnation and “stuckness.” When depression comes along with physical symptoms of constipation or impaired digestion and the feeling of not clearing waste effectively (physically or emotionally), St. John’s wort is a great choice. 

That’s because St. John’s wort works primarily through the gut and the liver: There is actually much more neurotransmitter activity in the gut than in the brain, so by improving gut function, St. John’s wort can affect the emotions we perceive to be in our brains.

One of the liver’s most important jobs is daily detox and hormone regulation—it’s like the janitorial staff for your body. 

The word “detox” is often associated with things like environmental toxins and heavy metals, but the far larger part of the daily cycle of detoxification is just the regular clutter of life—much like the dishes, laundry, and vacuuming in your home. Keeping up with the daily clutter improves every aspect of health.

The efficient liver function and gut-brain restoration is also helpful for ADD and ADHD, and kids in puberty—when the neurotransmitters in the gut function efficiently and the liver can keep up with daily detox, it becomes much easier to quiet mental chatter and distraction.

St. John’s wort has specific action in restoring nerve function, whether after an injury or viral nerve infection, or repairing chronic inflammation. Combine that with wound healing and soft tissue repair actions, and St. John’s wort is the perfect companion for Solomon’s seal for topical post-injury support.

St. John’s wort is also very effective against “enveloped” viruses, such as those in the herpes family and hepatitis B and C.

Recommended Dosage

Although St. John’s wort capsules were popular in the 1990s for addressing depression symptoms, it’s the whole herb that can really promote this effect. Tea or tincture, taken regularly, is much more effective than capsules. For topical applications, apply several times daily until the injury completely heals.

Important Considerations

St. John’s wort is so effective for improving liver function that it will cause many pharmaceuticals to be cleared from the body too quickly. Avoid St. John’s wort when taking pharmaceuticals that require precise dosing, such as HIV and organ-rejection drugs, or thyroid medication. 

It should also be avoided with pharmaceuticals that cause withdrawal symptoms upon stopping, such as psychiatric drugs and steroids. If you take pharmaceuticals, check with your pharmacist before trying St. John’s wort.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Qualities: warming, drying, tonifying

Taste: pungent, aromatic

Family: Lamiaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, aromatic, carminative, emmenagogue, relaxant, respiratory antimicrobial, stimulating expectorant

Common Preparations

Thyme can be prepared as a steam or infused for tea. Thyme can be infused into apple cider vinegar for topical use or into alcohol as a tincture. It can also be added directly to food.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess and gingivitis
  • Acne
  • Athlete’s foot/fungal skin infections
  • Bronchitis/chest cold/pneumonia
  • Cold and flu
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Herpes/cold sores/chicken pox
  • Immune support
  • Sinusitis/stuffy nose
  • UTI
  • Yeast infection

Effective Applications

Thyme steams are a very important part of our protocol for cold and flu. Thyme’s antimicrobial action is in the volatile oils, which are released in hot steam. Breathed deeply into the lungs, thyme steam kills respiratory pathogens on contact, warms and moistens the lungs, and loosens phlegm.

Taken internally, thyme has an antimicrobial effect in the gut and is warming and stimulating to the whole digestive system. This can explain why thyme is such an important culinary herb—improving digestion and protecting from food-borne pathogens.

Topically, thyme’s antimicrobial action fights infection and is strongly antifungal. Infused into apple cider vinegar, alone or with other herbs such as calendula and garlic, thyme can be a very effective remedy for athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.

Recommended Dosage

Thyme is a food herb, and adding it to recipes is a great way to make it part of your daily life. For respiratory infection, thyme steams should be started at the first sign of symptoms. 

Even better, do steams as a preventive treatment throughout the cold and flu season. Thyme can be applied topically several times a day for antimicrobial effect until the issue is resolved.

Important Considerations

Thyme is very warm and may be too much for children. Sage or fennel can be substituted for internal actions and pine or peppermint for steams. Formulating thyme with gentler herbs, such as chamomile, can also help make the heat less intense.

Tulsi, or Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum, tenuiflorum)

Qualities: warming, drying, relaxant

Taste: aromatic, sweet, pungent, bitter

Family: Lamiaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: adaptogen, antimicrobial, anxiolytic, aromatic, diaphoretic, diffusive, exhilarant, hepatic, hypoglycemic, immunomodulator, nervine

Common Preparations

Tulsi, also known as holy basil, can be infused into water for tea, or made as a tincture or elixir. Fresh tulsi leaves and flowers can be infused into honey.

Ideal for Addressing

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Food sensitivities
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Menopause/andropause
  • PCOS
  • PMS
  • Seasonal depression
  • Stress

Effective Applications

Tulsi has traditionally been the herb of choice for “stuck emotions,” whether that’s depression or PTSD or just a case of the grumpies. Recent discoveries have shown tulsi’s ability to restore function to the part of the brain that processes short-term memory into long-term memory:

Tulsi, literally, helps move us past difficult experiences and emotions! Tulsi is also an exhilarant, uplifting spirit, which is a vital part of the work of releasing tension, depression, and stagnation that prevents people from successfully making lifestyle changes.

Tulsi is an adaptogen, meaning it helps keep hormones in check. Most people think about reproductive hormones first, but there are many hormones in the body with many different functions. Because it can help keep hormones in balance, tulsi can help with a wide variety of issues—from trouble sleeping to blood sugar regulation to menopause.

Tulsi also has a special ability to help moderate cravings, which makes it the perfect partner for people trying to reduce sugar intake, eliminate food allergies, or quit smoking or drinking.

Another of the mint family diaphoretics, tulsi is a handy helper for fever and flu. Tulsi relaxes the body and stimulates circulation, helping “sweat out” a fever.

Recommended Dosage

Tulsi makes a tasty tea you can drink all day long. It blends well with other herbs and makes a tasty elixir, too—take as needed in any stressful moment. Work with tulsi freely: This mood booster also has mineral and vitamin content.

Important Considerations

Tulsi is a safe herb for all ages, including people taking antidepressant and psychiatric medications. However, if you take blood sugar management pharmaceuticals, monitor your glucose levels regularly because tulsi can have a significant blood sugar–lowering effect.

Uva-Ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Qualities: cooling, drying, tonifying

Taste: astringent, pungent

Family: Ericaceae

Medicinal parts: leaves

Actions: diuretic, respiratory astringent, topical antifungal and antimicrobial (biofilm disruptor), urinary astringent and antimicrobial, uterine astringent

Common Preparations

Uva-ursi leaves can be prepared as tea or tincture.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess and gingivitis
  • Athlete’s foot/fungal skin infections
  • BPH/prostatitis
  • Oedema
  • Gout
  • Incontinence
  • Kidney stones
  • Rash
  • Receding gums
  • UTI
  • Yeast infection

Effective Applications

Taken internally, uva-ursi has particular affinity for the urinary system and pelvic floor, where its astringency supports against BPH and prostatitis, incontinence, and other prolapse issues, including edema. 

This astringency can also be effective topically for treating weepy rashes, abscesses, spongy and receding gums, and other issues that require draining.

Uva-ursi has a very strong biofilm-disrupting action, which is excellent for fighting infection topically and in the urinary tract. When cranberry juice isn’t enough to stop a UTI, it may be because the bacteria have had enough time to band together and establish a biofilm. Uva-ursi can break up the bacteria so your immune system can fight it.

Recommended Dosage

Because it’s so focused on urinary system issues, it’s best to work with uva-ursi in water. For acute issues, 2 to 4 cups of tea daily is appropriate. 

If the flavor is too astringent, tincture can be taken instead, but in that case it’s important to increase overall liquid intake for the day: Clearing kidney and urinary tract issues requires plenty of fluids. Topically, uva-ursi can be applied as a soak or compress several times daily as needed and orally as a rinse at least 3 times a day.

Important Considerations

A kidney stimulant, uva-ursi should not be given to individuals with kidney disease; for these individuals, use goldenrod and nettle instead.

Uva-ursi is a very strong herb and should not be taken in large doses for extended periods—generally, not longer than 2 weeks at a time. For longer-term use, formulate with herbs such as goldenrod and self-heal to soften its effect. 

Do not blend uva-ursi with marshmallow root, as the tannins in uva-ursi will bind with the mucilages in marshmallow, resulting in an unpleasant sludge.

Wild LettuceLactuca virosa, spinosa

Qualities: cooling, drying, relaxant

Taste: bitter

Family: Asteraceae

Medicinal parts: leaves, stems, latex (sap)

Actions: anodyne, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, bitter, hepatic, hypnotic, nervine, refrigerant, sedative

Common Preparations

Wild lettuce stalks and leaves can be prepared as a tea or tincture. Wild lettuce latex can be tinctured for a stronger pain-relieving preparation.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle soreness/post-workout recovery
  • Pain management

Effective Applications

A cooling and relaxing hypnotic (sleep-inducing) herb, wild lettuce is particularly appropriate when pain prevents sleep or causes agitation, anxiety, and nervousness. Even when dealing with severe pain caused by illness or injury, wild lettuce cools the sensation, removing enough pain so sleep can occur.

Wild lettuce is also a cooling bitter and very helpful for people with hot pain in the stomach—whether from physiological factors such as ulcers or heartburn or emotional factors such as high stress levels and anxiety.

Wild lettuce’s pain-relieving constituents are concentrated in the plant’s white, milky sap found in the stems. For this reason, including the stems in teas and tincture is important.

Recommended Dosage

Wild lettuce is bitter and is not generally enjoyable alone as tea. To work with wild lettuce on its own, tincture may be the more palatable option.

Start with 1 to 3 droppersful as needed. For pain that makes it difficult to sleep, try pulse dosing 1 to 3 dropperful before bed (see Insomnia). For milder discomfort, blending wild lettuce with chamomile (and ginger, if desired) will create a much more palatable, and quite effective, tea.

Important Considerations

The latex-like sap of wild lettuce must be processed by the kidneys; a latex tincture is not appropriate for individuals with existing kidney disease or dysfunction. Additionally, if you have a latex allergy, there is some potential for allergic reaction to the sap of wild lettuce.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Qualities: cooling, drying, tonifying

Taste: bitter, pungent, aromatic

Family: Asteraceae

Medicinal parts: leaves and flowers

Actions: anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, aromatic, astringent, bitter, diffusive, diuretic, emmenagogue, hepatic, stimulant, stimulating diaphoretic, styptic

Common Preparations

Yarrow can be prepared as an infusion for tea or as a wash, compress, poultice, or soak. Yarrow can also be tinctured.

Ideal for Addressing

  • Abscess and gingivitis
  • Acne
  • Bites and stings
  • BPH/prostatitis
  • Cholesterol management
  • Cold and flu
  • Eczema and dermatitis
  • Edema
  • Fever
  • Food sensitivities
  • Gout
  • High blood pressure/hypertension
  • Inflammation
  • Leaky gut
  • Muscle soreness/post-workout recovery
  • PMS
  • Rash
  • Receding gums
  • Stomach ulcer/gastritis
  • UTI
  • Varicose veins and hemorrhoids
  • Wounds

Effective Applications

Topical applications of yarrow deliver an antimicrobial and astringent effect. Washes or poultices can help quite a lot with rashes, wounds, insect bites, and pimples—especially when in a wet or weepy stage.

Yarrow is a strong styptic (an agent that can stop bleeding) when applied topically, due to its tightening effect on broken blood vessels.

This same effect, when applied on unbroken skin, will help drain stagnant fluids from a bruise, varicose vein, or hemorrhoid, while the anti- inflammatory constituents known as flavonoids strengthen the blood vessels and restore their integrity.

All these actions apply in the mouth, too, when yarrow is included in a mouthwash for abscess, gingivitis, or receding gums. Yarrow’s astringency helps tonify lax mucous membranes in the digestive tract, too, helping restore healthy barriers that have been damaged by food allergy or leaky gut syndrome.

When taken internally, yarrow’s influence is primarily over fluid movement and quality. Yarrow thins the blood slightly, lowering cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure. Its diffusive, stimulating diaphoretic action means an improvement in blood flow from the body’s core to the surface skin layers. 

This helps dispel a fever’s heat but also provides better tissue nourishment to help the body cope with skin troubles such as eczema and dermatitis.

Yarrow acts as a moderate-strength diuretic. It can drain stagnant fluids that contribute to a sluggish period, swollen prostate, or other expressions of edema. Stimulating kidney activity and urine flow also prevents or relieves gout. Yarrow is a helpful component of formulas for treating UTI.

Like all bitter herbs, yarrow supports liver function. This improves clearance of hormones from the system and directly lessens hormonal troubles like PMS. The liver-aiding action also enhances yarrow’s systemic anti-inflammatory effects and, of course, improves digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food.

Recommended Dosage

One to 3 dropperful of yarrow tincture is an effective dose and may be repeated 1 to 3 times daily. As infusion, up to a quart of yarrow tea can be taken in a day. Yarrow is safe to take long term.

Important Considerations

Yarrow has a bitter flavor when prepared on its own, so it’s often best to work with it in formulas containing other, more pleasant-tasting herbs. Some people have an allergic reaction to the yarrow or the whole Asteraceae family of plants. Avoid large doses during pregnancy.

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