Health & Beauty Recipes > Herbal Medicine Part 2


Although all the ingredients in these beauty recipes are natural, remember that it is still possible to be allergic to anything applied to the skin. DO NOT USE ANYTHING NUT BASED ON YOUR SKIN IF YOU HAVE A NUT ALLERGY. To test other ingredients make up a very small amount of the recipe you intend to use. Wash and gently dry a small patch of skin inside your elbow. Apply a little of the mix to the skin and leave for 48 hours. If you experience any redness or swelling DO NOT USE THE BEAUTY RECIPE AT ALL.

We strongly recommend that you do your own research before using any of the ingredients in these recipes since some ingredients should be avoided by certain groups of people. Mountain Rose Herbs' website has a wealth of information on herbs, their uses and possible side effects. Many essential oils and herbs should always be avoided by pregnant/nursing ladies. Always check with a qualified health advisor if in doubt.

Herbal Medicine Part 2:

Mountain Rose Herbs
Mountain Rose Herbs offers a wide range of dried herbs and spices.

When considering how it was that many plants came to be used to treat common ailments a knowledge of the medicinal action of those plants makes the process of choice easier to understand. The best example would be the action of a plant on pain. By accident, coincidence or experiment a plant may have been eaten and then observed to improve a painful headache - a powerful means of influencing the human body. The name given to this particular action is anodyne. Other medicinal properties of plants include:


This property is said to be necessary for stimulating the body's natural elimination system. Thus an alterative has an effect on the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. Traditionally these types of herbal medicines were called "blood purifiers".


Herbal remedies with anodyne properties have a mild pain killing effect. However herbal practitioners are more likely to attempt to achieve a return to overall health rather than just to alleviate pain.


Over-stimulation of muscles can lead to spasm or the excessive contraction of muscles. When this happens in the gut it is called colic. In other muscles it is referred to as cramp. Antispasmodic herbal remedies can relax the muscles and relieve the problem.


Some plants are valued for their aromas which are produced by volatile oils. The medicinal action of each aromatic plant is different.


This action is tightening and anti-inflammatory. Plants which contain tannin are used for their astringent action.


Expectorants work by irritating the stomach lining which is said to cause the lungs to produce mucus. This then stimulates coughing which removes any phlegm that was already in the lungs along with the newly produced mucus.


Some plant-based laxatives irritate and stimulate the bowel which speeds up the rate at which waste is eliminated. Another type of plant laxative aims to add bulk to the system. These laxatives usually have a high cellulose content which swells up when they come into contact with water. A slippery gel is then formed which moves easily through the gut.


Plant-based tonics are said to strengthen and revitalise the body and to restore it to health.

Balm of Gilead

An alcohol based solution made from the leaf buds of this plant is used as an expectorant in herbal medicine. The solution can be either inhaled or taken internally.

Black Haw

The root bark of black haw is used in the form of a decoction in herbal medicine. It has an anti-spasmodic action and is said to be especially effective in treating uterine cramp.


The seeds of the cardamom are valued for their volatile oil. This can help to stimulate poor digestion and sooth any irritation that is causing wind or colic pain. The remedy is taken in the form of an infusion made from the crushed seeds.


Cascara bark contains anthraquinones which irritate the intestines and thus stimulate the bowels. Too much of this natural laxative can cause colic and diarrhoea


A decoction made from the root of the Echinacea plant is said to have an alterative action. It is used herbally against all types of infection both acute and chronic.


In herbal medicine an infusion of fenugreek seeds is used as a tonic for the digestive system. It is said to help in conditions such as enteritis and gastritis.

Red Clover

In herbal medicine an infusion of red clover flowers is given to children. It is believed to be cleansing and to help with conditions such as eczema and phlegm in the lungs.

White Willow

A decoction made from the bark of white willow has mild anodyne properties. Aspirin (salicylic acid) can be extracted from the bark but when used in low concentrations the effects are much milder.

Herbalism differs from modern medicine in that an herbalist does not just attempt to treat one symptom with one substance. Rather he studies the patient as a whole and prescribes a range of herbal substances in a bid to rebalance the various systems in the patients body.

A herbal doctor takes a great deal of time and trouble studying a patients symptoms and lifestyle. Based on his findings he will prescribe various tinctures, decoctions etc. along with recommendations for a healthy lifestyle and diet.

See Herbal Medicine Part 1