The Herbal Apothecary A-B


Herbs are food and medicine. They are available in every forest, on every seashore, in every meadow, on every mountain slope and in every desert. Herbs are plants that extract and process nutrients from the soil, but also whose biochemicals provide effects in the human body that are the ancient ancestors of modern medicine. The difference is that so many herbs have absolutely no side-effects and can bring about amazing changes in even the most chronic of cases. So please browse the world of herbs in our Herbal Apothecary... Adhatoda (Adhatoda vasica) Also known as Malabar Nut Tree Leaf, this is an Ayurvedic alkaloid herb that is bronchodilating and has a stimulating effect on the respiratory system. It is also an expectorant, antiallergic and antitussive. It is definately contraindicated for pregnancy.

Albizia (Albizia lebbek) This is one of the best herbs for allergy issues. It stabilizes mast cells, decreases levels of allergy-inducing antibodies, decreases T-lymphocyte activity and protects against anaphylaxis. We use it for hayfever, asthma, eczema, rhinitis and hives. It even helps to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) This wonderful plant had been used for centuries and is particularly well known for burns. However, it is specifically for any wound, abscess, ulcer or skin issue, making it even excellent for the skin that is inside our body, the lining of our intestinal tract. We have used it in colitis, Crohn’s disease and irritible bowel syndrome to alleviate inflammation and begin the healing process. It is one of the most gentle in the herbal apothecary.

Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) Commonly known as kalmegh, meaning "king of bitters", this plant grows in hedgerows and gardens in India for Ayurvedic medicine. It is a bitter tonic which increases appetitie, strengthens digestion and is excellent for its stimulating effect on the immune system, especially phagocytic activity. It counters the effects of free radicals and is perfect for convalescence after fevers. It enhances the detoxifying capactiy of the liver, alleviates inflammation and is energetically "cold" making the addition of ginger advisable during winter treatments.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Often called Indian ginseng, the roots of this evergreen shrub have been used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to promote strength and stamina. In fact, the name means "the strength of a thousand stallions." More human studies are needed, but lab and animal research suggests the herb may boost white blood cell counts and other measures of immunity. Ashwagandha has a mild sedative effect, even though it increases physical endurance and energy. It is useful for insomnia issues, anxiety, irritability, inflammation and anemia. It even promotes growth and appetite in children and adults. We also use it at ISIS as our choice for Multiple Sclerosis to alleviate the accompanying fatigue.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) It is a member of the pea family and is a perennial herb. Specifically from the membranous milk-vetch root plant, this is one of the basic ingredients for recovery from chronic infection with its amazing anti-viral effects, and illness by restoring and strengthening the body’s natural immune response. We use it post-viral, post-surgery, post-trauma and post-anibiotic therapy. It helps with chronic fatigue syndrome because of its revitalizing effect and and reduce the night sweats that can occur as a result of debility. Combined with Eleuthero in our complex tablets, it is a great tonic for elderly patients because it is one of the herbs that tonifies the Qi and the blood in chinese medicine.

Bacopa (Bacopa monniera, Bacopa monnieri) Bacopa is a classic brain and nervine tonic included in the "Brahmi" category of herbs, which are those that benefit both the mind and spirit and improve the intellect and consciousness. Bacopa assists in heightening mental acuity and supports the physiological processes involved in relaxation. Bacopa is considered the main rejuvenating herb for nerve and brain cells and, therefore, has played a very important role in Ayurvedic therapies for the treatment of cognitive disorders of aging. Countless studies have shown Brahmi helps improve protein activity and protein synthesis, especially in brain cells, which can increase intelligence, longevity and memory and decrease senility and aging. It has tranquilizing effects but, unlike synthetic sedatives which often have side effects of dulling the mind, it actually improves mental clarity. It is also used as an anti-anxiety agent, to calm restlessness in children, and to cure several mental disorders. It is most commonly used as a nervine tonic that enhances learning and academic performance, improves mental aletness, and sharpens short-term and long-term memory.

Baical Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) Also known as Chinese Skullcap, this herb has been used for centuries to treat "hot and damp" conditions such as dysentery and diarrhea. Native American Indians used this herb as a treatment for rabies, thus its nickname "mad dog." The Cherokee Indians used it to stimulate menstruation, relieve breast pain, and for expelling the placenta after childbirth. Nineteenth century herbalists used Baical Skullcap as a nerve tonic for treating hysteria, epileptic convulsions, and schizophrenia. This herb has anti-allergic, antibacterial, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antioxidant, diuretic, sedative, and vasodilator properties. We use it primarily for treating allergies such as asthma, hay fever, eczema, and nettle rash. This herb is used to treat fevers, coughs, and gastrointestinal infections that bring on diarrhea. It also works as an appetite stimulant. This herb also increases the volume and flow of urine and is therefore helpful in treating urinary and kidney problems. Baical Skullcap is used to calm nerves, distress, and or irritation. It also improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, and is useful in treating arteriosclerosis and varicose veins, and also helps prevent blood clots.

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Bearberry is a small evergreen shrub producing both flowers and fruit. It was the treatment of choice for bladder and related infections prior to the discovery of sulfa drugs and antibiotics. Dating back to the 2nd century, Bearberry was used for its astringent property and was considered of great value in diseases of the bladder and kidneys. It is perfect for cystitis and provides an antiseptic and antiinflammatory action for the urinary tract. It is anitmicrobial on contact. Due to its high tannin content, we do not recommend the use of bearberry for prolonged treatment.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) Bilberry fruit is well known as a jam, but especially during World War II, when RAF pilots ate it to improve their night vision. In fact, it is one of the best herbs to assist vision, decrease vascular permeability, protect against oxidative stress and as an astringent and antiinflammatory for the mucosal lining of the gut. It is perfect for diarrhea, hemorrhoids, vaginal discharge and peripheral vascular disorders such as Raynaud’s Syndrome. But it is still our favorite for improving vision.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) Known commonly as snakeroot, this herb comes from North America and was used to treat snakebite. In fact, its Latin name means "to chase insects away". It has recently become the herb of choice to treat menopausal symptoms as it has an estrogen-like effect which suppresses luteinizing hormone. It is an antirheumatic, antispasmodic and uterine tonic. We use it rarely at the clinic, but when we do, it works miraculously, particularly for symptoms arising from ovarian insufficiency.

Black Walnut Hulls (Juglans nigra) This herb has been the basis of anti-parasitic regimens for centuries. It is used for any worm infestation, parasites and skin disorders brought about by microbes. Even medical texts from ancient Greece and Rome mention the use of Black Walnut Hulls for many different ailments, which may actually have been symptoms of various microbial infections.

Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus) This shore-dwelling seaweed has one of the most bioavailable sources of iodine in the herbal kingdom, making it perfect for hypothyroid function. It is very different from deep-sea kelp and has been shown in studies since the 19th century to contain polysaccharides which bind to heavy metals such as Cadmium, Mercury and Lead, helping to reduce the toxic metal load on the body. It also contains algin which can act as a laxative to enhance bowel function. Bladderwrack has also long been used to soothe irritated and inflamed tissues in the body.

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) Blue Cohosh is a woodland plant that is becoming endangered due to over harvesting. It is a small plant that rarely grows more than 2 1/2 feet in height and is used in herbal medicine as a uterine tonic, and as an aid in difficult menstruation. It is a basic treatment for endometriosis and difficulty with conception. Native Americans used Blue Cohosh to induce labor.

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) Known as Indian Frankincense, Boswellia is a moderate to large branching tree found in the dry hilly areas of India. When the tree trunk is tapped, a gummy oleoresin is exuded. A purified extract of this resin is used in modern herbal preparations. In the ancient Ayurvedic medical texts of India, the gummy exudate from boswellia, known as a guggal was recommended for a variety of conditions, especially inflammatory conditions. Studies have shown that boswellic acids have an anti-inflammatory action much like the conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ) used for inflammatory conditions. Boswellia inhibits pro-inflammatory mediators in the body, such as leukotrienes. However, unlike NSAIDs, long-term use of boswellia does not appear to cause irritation or ulceration of the stomach. This makes it perfect for Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis, as well as inflammatory bowel issues such as Crohn’s Disease.

Bugleweed (Lycopus virginicus) A member of the mint family, Bugleweed inhibits the effects of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and also inhibits the binding of thyroid stimulating IgG antibody. This reduces thyroid secretion and inhibits the peripheral formation of T3 hormone. This makes Bugleweed the perfect treatment for hyperthyroid conditions such as Graves Disease.

Bupleurum (Bupleurum falcatum) Coming from the carrot family, several species of Bupleurum have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. In each case, Bupleurum exhibits anti-inflammatory activity, which appears to be mediated through the enhanced release of hormones from the adrenal cortex. It is recommended for autoimmune issues and chronic disease of the liver and kidneys, particularly when there has been chemical damage. It is also good for chills, fever and the common cold or flu.

Burdock (Arctium lappa) During the Middle Ages, burdock was valued for treating a host of ailments. English herbalists used burdock root for boils, scurvy, diabetes, and rheumatism. It has been traditionally used as a "blood purifier" to clear the bloodstream of toxins, as a diuretic to promote the excretion of urine, and as a topical remedy to relieve skin problems. Today, many professional herbalists find burdock helpful for skin and scalp conditions (including acne, psoriasis, eczema, contact dermatitis, and wounds) and inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. It is still one of the key ingredients of Essiac Tea, used in the treatment of cancer. — The Herbal Laboratory of ISIS Holistic Clinic, Boston, MA