From Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine,
by David Hoffmann.
Elderberry for Flu Treatment & Prevention.
Black Elder(berry), or Sambucus nigra L.: “The elder tree is a medicine chest in its own right,” says herbalist David Hoffmann. “The leaf is used topically for bruises, sprains, wounds, and chilblains, and some reports hold that elder leaf may be effective as an ointment for tumors. Elder flower is ideal for the treatment of colds and influenza, and a standardized black elderberry extract has demonstrated antiviral properties. This extract was effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. It also reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3 to 4 days in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study. The herb appears to strengthen cell membranes to prevent virus penetration, possibly by inhibiting the viral enzyme that weakens the membrane. An infusion made from elder flower, St. John’s wort herb (Hypericum perforatum), and soapwort root (Saponaria officinalis) exhibited antiviral activity against influenza types A and B both in vivo and in vitro.” There are no side effects or drug interactions that have been reported. Tincture dosage: 2-4 ml three times a day (1:5 in 40%).
Oatstraw, or Avena Sativa L., for Nerves.
Oatstraw “is one of the best remedies for ‘feeding’ the nervous system,” writes Hoffmann, “especially when the patient is under stress. It is considered a specific in cases of nervous debility and exhaustion associated with depression. This remedy “may be used in combination with most other nervines, both relaxant and stimulant, to strengthen the whole nervous system. It is also used to treat general debility.” No side effects or drug interactions have been reported. Tincture dosage: 3-5 ml three times a day (1:5 in 25%).
Stoneroot for Stones in Urinary Tract & Gall Bladder.
“As its name suggests,” says Hoffmann, “stoneroot finds its main use in the treatment and prevention of stone and gravel in the urinary system and gallbladder. It may be used as a prophylactic, but is also an excellent remedy when the body needs assistance in passing stones or gravel. It is a strong diuretic.” Also, stoneroot, or Collinsonia canadensis L., is used to treat hemorrhoids, rectal pain, rheumatic inflammation, laryngitis and ulcers. No side effects or drug interactions have been reported. Tincture dosage is 1-2 ml three times a day (1:5 in 40%).
Herbal Cholagogues for the Liver.
Cholagogues act upon the liver, but function as body tonics in general. “The secretion of bile,” says Hoffman, “is of great help to the whole digestive and assimilative process…. The role of bile is partially to facilitate fat digestion, but also to act as a natural laxative and thus cleanse the system. Without exploring the vast complexities of liver function, it is worth noting that bile formation and flow are fundamental to it all. Thus, the value of these herbs goes far beyond the simple release of bile. They help ensure a strong and healthy liver and so enliven the whole being. Most bitters and hepatics are also cholagogues,” as well as: wild indigo, barberry, celandine, balmony, fringetree, artichoke, wild yam, boneset, gentian, goldenseal, butternut, black root, Oregon grape, lemon balm, rosemary, yellow dock, sage and dandelion root.
—From David Hoffmann’s book Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, 2003; Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT, www.innertraditions.com.