Herbal Actions and Uses

Herb Action Uses
Immune stimulant, adaptogen tonic, increases vitality, cardio tonic, hypotensive, diuretic Debility, sweating – caused by debility, low immunity, chronic viral and bacterial infection esp. if debilitating (e.g. CFS), chronic autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, organ prolapse
Berberis vulgaris
Stimulating bitter, digestive tonic, liver stimulant, spleen tonic, cholagogue/ choleretic, purgative, anti microbial  Debility, poor digestion, history of unresolved infection, dietary/alcohol abuse, excessive exposure to drugs/ toxins/chemicals, splenic enlargement, malaria, biliary, GIT infections, gall bladder problems
Arctium lappa 
Alterative, bitter digestive tonic, cholagogue/choleretic aperient, diuretic, anti rheumatic Chronic skin conditions – eczema, psoriasis, dandruff when dry and scaly, acne, boils; chronic inflammatory conditions – arthritis, gout, cystitis, digestive disturbance
Centella/Gotu cola
Centella asiatica
Adaptogen, restorative, rejuvenative,
gentle adrenal stimulant and tonic, relaxant, bitter digestive stimulant, alterative, anti rheumatic, anti arthritic, dermatic, revitalises brain and nervous tissue, improves concentration
Debility, mental fatigue, digestive disturbance, neurological and mental disturbance, insomnia, anxiety, epilepsy, senility, rheumatic and inflammatory diseases, chronic skin diseases, eczema, psoriasis, leprosy, syphilis
Turnera diffusa
Nerve tonic and restorative, mild stimulant, anti depressant, aphrodisiac, trophorestorative, tonic to male reproductive system, hormonal regulator Depression, debility, impotence, nervous system problems connected to sexual organs, neuralgia, puberty, nervous dispepsia, atopic, constipation 
Taraxacum officinale
Bitter digestive, hepatic tonic and stimulant, cholagogue/choleretic, aperient, stomachic, anti rheumatic, anti arthritic, detoxifier Liver congestion, constipation, jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis, gall stones, general toxic conditions, chronic skin and joint inflammation – gout, arthritis, rheumatism
Dong Quai
Angelica sinensis
Blood stimulant ‘makes better blood’,
menstruation corrective, emmenagogue, analgesic, female reproductive tonic, antispasmodic, anti inflammatory, alterative, sedative
Menstruation problems – painful, irregular, scanty periods, some pre-menstrual symptoms, infertility, blood stagnation, palour, cold, debilitated

Echinacea angustifolia/purpurea

Immune enhancing/stimulating, (increases T cells, macrophages, phagocytes) antiviral, antibacterial, antiallergic (long term), anti inflammatory, anti neoplastic, lymphatic alterative Infections (immune responsive high with continued use), immune system deficiency, post viral syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, SLE, allergies intolerance’s, chronic respiratory catarrh, skin disorder, psoriasis, septic and infected conditions, i.e. boils, tonsillitis
Gentiana lutea
Bitter tonic, tonic to stomach, digestive stimulant, sialagogue, cholagogue/ choleretic, stomachic, anti inflammatory Sluggish digestion, flatulence, stomach pain, heart burn, reflux, anorexia, loss of appetite, painful feeling of fullness,
intestinal and gastric inflammations,
liver and gall bladder diseases,  
Ginseng (Siberian)
Eleutherococcus senticosus
Stimulating adaptogen, adrenal tonic, antispasmodic, anti rheumatic, circulatory stimulant, peripheral vasodilator, amphoteric to blood sugar and pressure, hypocholersterolaemic Exhaustion, stress, debility, poor circulation, high and low blood pressure and sugar, high cholesterol, atheroscloerosis, depression
Ginseng (Korean)
Panax ginseng
Stimulating adaptogen. adrenal tonic, central nervous system stimulant, mood enhancer, immune stimulant, hepato protective, cardio protective Short term use for increased performance, functional adrenal exhaustion (Addison disease), angina, some chronic recurrent infections 
Golden seal
Hydrastis canadensis 
Stimulating bitter tonic, astringent to mucous membrane, hepatic stimulant, cholagogue/choleretic, laxative, spleen tonic, immune stimulant Mucous membrane problems in GIT, gastritis, colitis, reactive diarrhoea/ constipation, jaundice. Respiratory tract – catarrhal conditions, bronchitis. Reproductive system – vaginitis, menorrhagia, post-partum haemorrhage.
Urinary tract – cystitis, urethritis
Nettle/stinging nettle
Uritca dioica
Alterative, diuretic, anti rheumatic, nutritive tonic, astringent, galactogogue, amphoteric to blood level and sugar level  Skin diseases – eczema, psoriasis, urticaria, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, cystitis, debility, fatigue, convalescence, anaemia, high or low blood pressure or sugar, diarrhoea
Plantago psyllium/ ovata  
Hydrophilic bulking agent, bulking laxative with lots of water, astringent with smaller amount of water, demulcent, healing to gut wall Sluggish/irritable bowels, bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic constipation (with fluid), diarrhoea (low fluid), gastritis, ulcers
Red clover
Trifolium pratence
Alterative, expectorant, diuretic, antispasmodic, nervine, hormonally active, anti neoplastic Skin conditions, eczema, bronchitis, coughs, pertusis, insomnia, restlessness, menopause
Smilax spp.
Alterative, diuretic, anti rheumatic, anti pruritic, tonic to liver and lymphatics, reproductive tonic, antispasmodic Chronic inflammatory diseases, eczema, arthritis, rheumatism, rheumatoidal arthritis, debility, reproductive disorders (male and female), genital herpes
Withania somnifera
Tonic adaptogen, sedative nervine, anti inflammatory, anti anaemic (in high doses), anti tumour Debility, nervous exhaustion, convalescence, chronic inflammatory diseases, sexual disfunction
due to exhaustion, emaciation, anaemia,
cancer prevention, stress
Artemisia absinthium
Bitter and aromatic digestive tonic, hepatic, stomachic, calminative,
antimicrobial, ant parasitic, anthilmintic,
anti inflammatory, abortifacient
Slow digestion, flatulence, bloating, infections and infestations of GIT, low energy from poor digestion, low appetite, headache, menstrual irregularities
Yellow dock
Rumex crispus
Alterative, hepatic, bitter digestive tonic, cholagogue/choleretic, aperient or laxative (dose dependent), anti-pruritic, anti rheumatic, astringent, iron tonic Skin complaints – weeping/oozing and itchy from constipation/liver dysfunction, eczema, acne, jaundice, sluggish bowel, constipation, liver congestion, arthritic and rheumatic conditions, anaemia

Herbal interactions

Herb Interaction Potential Effects
Chamomilla recutita
Barbiturates & Sedatives.
Increase in bruising and bleeding.
Devils Claw
Harpagophytum procumbens
Antiarrythmic drugs.
Increase in bruising and bleeding. May increase arrythmia
Dong Quai
Angelica sinensis
Hormone-sensitive tumours. Pregnancy.
Increase in bruising and bleeding.
Potential excess of oestrogen.
May cause uterine contractions
Echinacea spp.
Hepato-toxic agents (e.g. Methotrexate).
Immune suppressant medication.
Possible liver toxicity.
Counteracts effect of immune suppressants.
Tanacetum parthenium
Anticoagulants e.g. Warfarin.
Increased risk of bleeding, bruising and haemorrhage.
Allium sativum
NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Antiplatelet drugs.
Antihypertensive drugs.
Bleeding abnormalities.
Decreases efficacy of saquinavir.
May increase bleeding.
Zingiber officialis
Antiplatelet drugs.
High doses in pregnancy.
Risk of post-operative bleeding, haemorrhage.   
Ginkgo biloba
(circulatory stimulant)
Anticoagulants (warfarin).
Anticonvulsants (phenytoin).
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
May increase bleeding.
Reduced efficacy of anticonvulsants.
Intensify effects of MAOIs increasing side effects 
Ginseng (Siberian)
Eleutherococcus senticosus
Anticoagulants (warfarin).
Estrogen replacement therapy.
May decrease effectiveness.
Increase heart rate or blood pressure.
May cause bleeding in women post-menopause.
Increase side effects of MAOIs
Caffeine-like palpitations, tremors, insomnia
Ginseng (Korean)
Panax ginseng
Stimulants e.g. caffeine
Insomnia, anxiety, irritability, increase high blood pressure, tremor, hysteria, mania, headaches, palpitations, diarrhoea, skin eruptions, menstrual abnormalities              
Paulinia cupana
(contains caffeine)
Anti-anxiety agents.
Counteract effects of these medicines.
Glycyrrhiza glabra
Cardiac glycosides, e.g. Digitalis/Digoxin
Increased levels of steroids (reduced clearance).
Loss of potassium.
Increased sensitivity to digitalis glycosides.
Passiflora incarnata
Excess sedation, coma
Rosmarinus officinalis
Pregnancy. Anti-implantation effect, possibly abortifacient.
Saw palmetto
Serenoa serrulata
Oestrogen replacement therapy and oral contraceptives.
Hormonal effects.
St John’s Wort
Hypericum perforatum
HIV protease inhibitors.
Oral contraceptive pill.
Serotonin excess.
Increased frequency.
Decreased serum levels.
Mid-cycle bleeding.
Valariana officinalis
Observe with sedatives. Possible excess sedation.
 Wormwood Anticonvulsants. Insomnia, nightmares, convulsions,
neurotoxic in high doses, or if taken over long periods, do not take regularly