formulating herbal remedies with dried herbs in apothecary jars based on list of herbal actions

The Ultimate List of Basic Herbal Actions | Herbalism 101

If you’re just starting down the path of herbalism and herbal wellness, you’ll quickly learn that herbalism has its own language. And a key part of that language is being able to communicate how herbs work. Herbal actions are categories of herbal behaviors that do just that! Here’s a list of over 30 basic herbal actions to help you in confidently choosing the right herbs for the right jobs.

HERE YOU’LL FIND:
What is an Herbal Action?
Why Does This Matter To You
List of Basic Herbal Actions: A to Z
Your Next Steps
Resources & Further Reading

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Japanese honeysuckle branch with blossoms

What Is An Herbal Action?

Herbalism is the dialogue of an ancient relationship between people and plants. And in our modern world, understanding the language of herbalism is essential in not only learning to create effective herbal formulations but also to blur the line between tradition and modern science.

Modern medicine has left many of our medicinal plant allies behind. And it’s in blurring this line that we’re better able to bring our ancient plant allies almost more effectively into today’s world as food, medicine, and yes, even friends.

Herbal actions are an essential part of this language. An herbal action is a word used to describe a specific medicinal property or quality of a plant.

Many plants have several herbal actions that work in synergy. For example, anti-inflammatory is an herbal action. And a plant can be both anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and may also work to support heart health.


How Knowing Herbal Actions Affects YOU

Learning this language is about so much more than just building a bridge between people and plants. Without knowledge of herbal actions, it’s incredibly difficult (perhaps nearly impossible) to formulate herbal blends for therapeutic purposes.

It’s basically like picking out a bottle of wine based solely on how much you like the look of the label. (I mean, but isn’t that the proper way to choose a bottle of wine though?!)

Depending on the herb, some may cause serious side effects if misused. Some herbs are safer and more appropriate for everyday use, while others are not. And it’s so incredibly important to know the difference.

Knowing herbal actions helps you dive deeper and more confidently into herbalism, whether you’re formulating therapeutic herbal teas for cold care or making herbal tinctures to support mental health or a healthy gut.

It’s taking culinary (or kitchen) herbalism into a greater degree of intentional (and maybe more targeted) healing. Beyond your well-versed use of common culinary herbs and spices, there’s a great big world of incredible plants waiting for you to discover them.

Let this list of herbal actions help guide you in your practice of herbalism and herbal wellness.

organic herbs and spices from mountain rose herbs

List of Herbal Actions A to Z

Before we just jump into learning about these herbal actions, I think it’s super important to note that none of the information given here is intended to diagnose or treat any aches, pains, illnesses, or diseases.

There are licensed integrative healthcare practitioners and practicing clinical herbalists that are willing and able to incorporate herbs into their care and treatment plans safely and effectively.

This list of herbal actions is simply a tool to empower you with the skills to communicate effectively in the world of herbalism and the confidence in formulating preparations for your everyday herbal wellness.

Adaptogen | Alterative | Analgesic | Antifungal
Anti-Inflammatory | Antimicrobial | Antioxidant | Antispasmodic
Antiviral | Aphrodisiac | Aromatic | Astringent
Bitter | Carminative | Demulcent | Diaphoretic | Diuretic
Emmenagogue | Emollient | Expectorant | Galactagogue | Heart Tonic
Hepatic | Hepatoprotective | Hypoglycemic | Hypotensive | Laxative
Nervine | Nutritive | Sedative | Stimulant | Tonic | Vulnerary


Adaptogen

Adaptogenic herbs are all about restoration and balance, bringing our bodies back to a solid foundation from which we’re better able to cope with physical, mental, and/or emotional stress. They work on a broad-spectrum scope, as opposed to targeting a particular organ or part of the body. And most typically they are entirely safe and non-toxic.

Adaptogens may help with energy conservation, mental focus, and resistance to disease, among many other things. Some adaptogens may be stimulating and some may be relaxing.

Examples of Adaptogenic Herbs:

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Ginseng (Panax spp.)
  • Holy Basil/Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)
  • Reishi (Ganoderma lucidem)
  • Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
  • Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)

Try these easy recipes with adaptogenic herbs:

Heavenly Banana Milk with Ashwagandha and Chamomile
Peppermint Hot Chocolate with Ashwagandha
Immune-Boosting Coffee Smoothie with Reishi


Alterative

Alterative herbs help to restore proper function and overall health and vitality to your body. To be completely honest, alterative herbs are kind of difficult to define, and their pharmacological action is not well understood. In fact, alterative is probably one of the most unclear and misunderstood herbal actions.

Nonetheless, alterative herbs play an important role in herbal medicine.

You may also hear alterative herbs referred to as blood and lymph cleansers or tonics, alluding to their role in helping to maintain our body’s essential function of natural detoxification. As one of the most important physiological processes, our body’s ability to self-cleanse is key to maintaining overall health and vitality.

And at the risk of greater confusion, you may hear alterative used interchangeably with adaptogen and tonic as well.

Examples of Alterative Herbs:

Try these easy recipes with alterative herbs:

Creamy Stinging Nettle Soup
Calendula & Honey Cheesecake (raw, vegan)
Stinging Nettle Dukkah | A Nut, Spice, & Herb Blend
Fresh Rosemary, Garlic, & Lemon Sea Salt
Elderflower Shortcake with Blackberry Smash


Analgesic

Analgesic herbs help to relieve pain, plain and simple. They may work in a variety of ways, but primarily by reducing the sensitivity of our nerves to pain.

And they may be used for all kinds of pain, including pain associated with headaches, sore muscles, arthritis, back pain, and toothaches.

Examples of Analgesic Herbs:

  • Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)
  • Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Anti-Fungal

Anti-fungal herbs either completely wipe out or slow the growth of fungi. You’ll commonly see anti-fungal herbs used to help with gastrointestinal candida overgrowth, vaginal yeast infections, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and more.

Examples of Anti-Fungal Herbs:

  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
  • Fresh Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Anti-Inflammatory

Anti-inflammatory herbs have the broad effect of helping to decrease inflammation in your body. They do so by helping to manage (or control) inflammation as a normal and healthy body response to infection or anything else that may be causing inflammation.

Unlike most pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories, herbal anti-inflammatories do not necessarily work to suppress inflammation.

There are a wide variety of plant compounds and mechanisms that can act as anti-inflammatories. These compounds work with our bodies to bring healing and restoration to the affected area.

Examples of Anti-Inflammatory Herbs:

  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
  • Cayenne (Capsicum spp.)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • Cleavers (Galium aparine)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
  • Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • Plantain (Plantago spp.)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Try these easy recipes with anti-inflammatory herbs:

Creamy Turmeric & Ginger Salad Dressing
Nourishing Calendula Body Oil
Simple Saffron & Garlic Braised Fennel
Carrots Roasted in a Savory Cinnamon & Spice Herbal Salt

Ginger Turmeric Herbal Honey


Antimicrobial

These guys are our protectors! Antimicrobial herbs contain plant compounds that directly block harmful bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoans that can cause the common cold, flu, or any other number of other infections. They can be applied topically or taken internally.

Examples of Antimicrobial Herbs:

  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
  • Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata)
  • Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
  • Fresh Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

Try these easy recipes with antimicrobial herbs:

Easy Onion, Garlic, & Honey Cough & Cold Syrup
DIY Pumpkin Spice Blend


Antioxidant

Antioxidant herbs help to prevent oxidative stress to our cells that may be caused by environmental factors, poor quality food, certain medications, smoking, alcohol abuse, or any number of the physical, mental, or emotional stressors we face. Oxidative stress is often the cause of premature aging and many inflammatory diseases.

Examples of Antioxidant Herbs:

  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
  • Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
  • Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Antispasmodic

Antispasmodic herbs help to soothe muscle contractions and prevent spasms that may present as painful stomach cramping, muscle tension, and more.

Examples of Antispasmodic Herbs:

  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)
  • Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Antiviral

Antiviral herbs work to completely destroy and/or suppress the growth of viruses. And they do so by generally supporting and strengthening the immune system.

Interestingly, many herbs that may show antiviral properties in a lab setting are not actually effective in a clinical setting. This is perhaps just another mechanism of defense for the plant that doesn’t translate over to us humans.

Examples of Antiviral Herbs with Proven Clinical Applications:

  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
  • Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
  • Fresh Garlic (Allium sativa)
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Try these easy recipes using antiviral herbs:

Elderberry Syrup – 3 Ways
Kid-Friendly Elderberry Gummies
Elderberry Hot Toddy
Elderberry & Thyme Corn Muffins


Aphrodisiac

In the simplest of terms, aphrodisiac herbs help to stimulate sexual desire and pleasure, increase potency, and/or enhance performance. And they do so by nourishing your nervous, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems.

They can be taken internally or applied topically and work via a variety of physiological and energetic mechanisms to “get things moving.”

For deeper information on aphrodisiac herbs, check out: A Beginner’s Guide to the Aphrodisiacs in Your Spice Cabinet & How to Use Them.

Examples of Aphrodisiac Herbs:

  • Cacao (Theobroma cacao)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
  • Damiana (Turnera spp.)
  • Ginseng (Panax spp.)
  • Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia)

Try these easy recipes with aphrodisiac herbs:

Cinnamon & Rose Pear Upside-Down Cake
Ginger-Tumeric Honey
Strawberry Pop-Tarts with Pistachio & Rose


Aromatic

Aromatic herbs are easily recognized by their incredible (and perhaps sometimes not-so-incredible) and lingering smells. This is often indicative of a high concentration of volatile oils (like essential oils). When these oils come in contact with the air (perhaps due to being crushed), they generally evaporate pretty quickly, giving off their smell to anyone nearby.

These herbs are generally dually used as carminatives, antimicrobials, antispasmodic, and more in support of the digestive and nervous systems.

Examples of Aromatic Herbs:

  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata)

Try these easy recipes using aromatic herbs:

Peppermint Ashwagandha Hot Chocolate
DIY Pumpkin Spice Blend
Homemade Mint Extract
Lemon Mint Hummus


Astringent

Astringent herbs help to tighten and tone (by way of contraction) our tissues so that they can function better. You can often detect the astringent qualities of an herb when putting it in your mouth. A tea or tincture made with astringent herbs may cause your mouth to feel tight and dry.

Plant compounds known as tannins are oftentimes responsible for this tightening and toning action. (You’ll probably hear the catchy saying “tannins tone tissues” at some point in your herbal wellness endeavors.)

Because of these tannins, many astringent herbs often help to speed up wound healing.

  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
  • Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)
  • Oak (Quercus spp.)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Rose Petals (Rosa spp.)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Bitter

Bitter herbs are a chemically complex group! But regardless of the wide variety of phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that their bitter properties come from, they all have one thing in common: that goshdarn awful bitter taste.

Fortunately, as we age and naturally lose taste buds, we’re better able to handle (and even enjoy) the bitter taste of these herbs. They’re incredibly important medicine for our overall health. As soon as they hit our tongue, they start to work their magic.

Herbs with bitter qualities start a cascade of stimulations and secretions that encourage healthy and efficient digestion. They help to keep all our digestive organs, including the stomach, pancreas, liver, and gall bladder, in tip-top shape. When you learn of bitter herbs, think of digestive support!

If you’re looking for a deeper dive into herbal bitters, check this out: The Beginner’s Complete Guide to Herbal Digestive Bitters

Examples of Bitter Herbs:

  • Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)
  • Burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • Coffee (Coffea spp.)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)

Try these easy recipes using bitter herbs:

Mugwort, Dandelion, & Ginger Cordial
Lavender, Hibiscus & Chamomile Bitters
Coffee & Cacao Cocktail Bitters


Carminative

Carminative herbs help to stimulate and ease digestion in a way that helps to prevent symptoms of poor digestion such as gas and bloating, indigestion, nausea, low nutrient absorption, etc.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it!? Luckily, many of our common culinary herbs and spices are incredible carminatives!

Examples of Carminative Herbs:

Try these easy recipes using carminative herbs:

Herbs de Provence Infused Olive Oil
Fresh Rosemary, Garlic, & Lemon Salt
DIY Pumpkin Spice with Dandelion Root


Demulcent

Demulcent herbs help to soothe irritated and inflamed internal tissues such as the mucous membrane that lines our entire digestive tract from our esophagus to our colon.

They’re often mucilaginous or oily in nature and work by forming a protective coating over the irritated or inflamed mucous membranes.

Examples of Demulcent Herbs:

  • Aloe (Aloe vera)
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • Flax Seed (Linum usitatissimum)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)
  • Oats (Avena sativa)

Diaphoretic

Diaphoretic herbs cause perspiration. Have you heard folks say “sweat it out” when referring to a fever? That’s what diaphoretic herbs help you do; they help to sweat it out. They’re often used with fever to help cool things down.

Examples of Diaphoretic Herbs:

  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
  • Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens)
  • Elderflower (Sambucus spp.)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Diuretic

Diuretics help the body get rid of excess sodium by increasing the amount of fluid we’re getting rid of through urine.

Examples of Diuretic Herbs:

  • Cleavers (Gallium aparine)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
  • Elderflower (Sambucus spp.)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)

Emmenagogue

Emmenagogue herbs stimulate blood flow in the pelvic region. Many emmenagogues can help to stimulate and regulate menstruation. For this reason, their use is contraindicated with pregnancy due to an increased risk of miscarriage.

Examples of Emmenagogue Herbs:

  • Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
  • Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Emollient

Emollient herbs are characterized by their softening and soothing properties due to oils or mucilage. They are typically used on inflamed and irritated skin. And while they are very similar in action to demulcent herbs, emollients are generally used externally and demulcent herbs are used internally.

Examples of Emollient Herbs:

  • Aloe (Aloe spp.)
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • Plantain (Plantago spp.)

Expectorant

Expectorant herbs help you to remove excess mucous from your lungs. They help you to “cough it up” when there’s just too much mucous or it’s too thick and sticky for your natural mechanisms to be able to keep up.

There are different types of expectorant herbs for different sticky situations: soothing and stimulating. Soothing expectorants are generally mucilaginous in nature and work to help loosen stuck mucous. And on the other hand, stimulating expectorants, work almost as chemical irritants that stimulate gastric reflex, causing you to cough.

One thing to note when formulating with and using expectorant herbs is that adequate hydration is an essential part of their effectiveness.

Examples of Soothing Expectorant Herbs:

  • Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)
  • Plantain (Plantago spp.)
  • Violet (Viola odorata)

Examples of Stimulating Expectorant Herbs:

  • Elecampagne (Inula helenium)
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus spp.)
  • Poplar Buds (Populus spp.)
  • Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum)
  • Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria)

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Galactagogue

Galactagogue herbs may help to stimulate milk flow and can be helpful to nursing mothers. For the largest benefits, it’s generally recommended that the nursing mother is in optimal health to begin with.

Interestingly, it’s not well-understood how these herbs work. Just some Mother Nature magic, if you ask me!

Examples of Galactagogue Herbs:

  • Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • Hops (Humulus lupulus)

Heart Tonic

Heart tonics (also called cardiac tonics), as you may imagine, work by supporting the natural, healthy function of the heart. They’re essentially adaptogens for your cardiovascular system.

Examples of Heart Tonics:

  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
  • Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Hepatic

Hepatic is used as a general term for herbs that act on the liver. These herbs work via a broad spectrum of mechanisms. For example, some may help to stimulate healthy liver function in the way bitter herbs do or they may work more to protect the liver. Herbs that have more of a protective action may be referred to as hepatoprotectives.

Nonetheless, both bitter and hepatoprotective herbs can be referred to as hepatics.

Examples of Hepatic Herbs:

  • Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)
  • Burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
  • Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Try these easy recipes using hepatic herbs:

Dandelion Root Mocha
Lavender, Hibiscus, & Chamomile Bitters


Hepatoprotective

Hepatoprotective herbs work to support normal liver function and protect the liver from damage. As our filter through which all toxins pass, the liver has a big and difficult job. In today’s world, our liver is often on overdrive and could use all the love it can get so that it can adequately do its job of natural detoxification.

Examples of Hepatoprotective Herbs:

  • Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)
  • Burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
  • Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
  • Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Hypoglycemic

Hypoglycemic herbs work to help lower blood sugar. Plain and simple.

Examples of Hypoglycemic Herbs:

  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)
  • Mulberry (Morus alba)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

Hypotensive

Hypotensive herbs help to reduce blood pressure. These herbs work by many different mechanisms. To help lower blood pressure, some may act as diuretics, heart tonics, or antispasmodics.

Examples of Hypotensive Herbs:

  • Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens)
  • Fresh Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
  • Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Laxative

Laxative herbs may help to stimulate bowel movements. And because there are many reasons constipation or bowel disfunction may occur, there are different kinds of laxatives to fit the specific situation.

The types of laxatives are: bulking laxatives, stimulating laxatives, and stool moisteners. Water and adequate hydration are also key to healthy bowel movements. Don’t forget the power in a nice, big glass of water!

Examples of Laxative Herbs:

  • Aloe (Aloe spp.) – aloe gel may be both bulking and moistening, while aloe resin may be strongly stimulating
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) – both bulking and moistening
  • Flax (Linum usitatissiumum) – both bulking and moistening
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) – mildly stimulating
  • Senna (Senna alexandrina) – strongly stimulating

Nervine

Nervine is a general category of herbs for those that work on the nervous system. They are generally nourishing and soothing to the nervous system in a way that can help to bring balance to the body and may help to ease stress and anxiety.

Examples of Nervine Herbs:

  • Oats (Avena sativa) – gentle nerve tonic
  • Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) – nerve tonic
  • St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – nerve tonic
  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.) – nerve relaxant
  • Hops (Humulus lupulus) – nerve relaxant
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – nerve relaxant
  • Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) – nerve relaxant
  • Coffee (Coffea spp.) – nerve stimulant
  • Green/Black Tea (Camellia sinensis) – nerve stimulant

Nutritive

Nutritive herbs are those high in vitamins and minerals. They help to nourish and ultimately sustain life.

Examples of Nutritive Herbs:

Try these easy recipes using nutritive herbs:

Herbal Electrolyte Drink
Stinging Nettle Dukkah
Dandelion Root Coffee Cake
Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt Nettle Crackers


Sedative

Sedative herbs may help to calm the nervous system and can be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety. They are characterized by their ability to help us relax and may be helpful for insomnia.

Examples of Sedative Herbs:

  • California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Hops (Humulus lupulus)
  • Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)
  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Try these easy recipes with sedative herbs:

Lavender Tea
Chamomile Lemon Bars
Banana Milk with Ashwagandha & Chamomile
Pink Paloma with Chamomile-infused Tequila


Stimulant

Stimulant herbs work to excite and increase energy in the body by awakening or quickening physiological processes. Herbal stimulants are often used to help combat symptoms such as fatigue.

Herbal stimulants are wonderful in the right circumstances. However, their long-term use may not be appropriate for everyone and could even work to mask underlying health issues. Think of someone trying to beat adrenal fatigue by drinking multiple cups of coffee every day and ultimately pushing their adrenals to work harder.

The herbal stimulants can generally also be broken down into categories. For example, there are immune stimulants, nervine stimulants, circulatory stimulants, and others.

Examples of Stimulant Herbs:

  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – a peripheral circulatory stimulant
  • Cayenne (Capsicum sp.) – a central circulatory stimulant
  • Coffee (Coffea spp.) – a nervine stimulant
  • Elderflower (Sambucus spp.) – an immune stimulant
  • Green/Black Tea (Camellia sinensis) – a nervine stimulant
  • Yerba Maté (Ilex paraguariensis)- a nervine stimulant

Tonic

Tonic herbs help to nourish, restore, and even invigorate tissues, organs, and entire body systems. They are generally targeted to a specific organ or body system, unlike adaptogens that work on a broader, whole-body spectrum. For example, there are herbs that act as heart tonics, those that work more on the liver, and others that may target our entire system of natural detoxification. Still, some target the uterus or the entire reproductive system. It totally depends on the herb.

In general, tonic herbs are meant to be taken in small amounts over long periods of time and ultimately function to help the body stay in balance. In this way, they may seem very similar to both adaptogens and alterative herbs.

Examples of Tonic Herbs:

  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) – for the digestive system
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) – for the heart
  • Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) – for the liver
  • Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) – for the immune system
  • Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) – for the uterus
  • Holy Basil/Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) – for the nervous system

Try these easy recipes using tonic herbs:

Immune-Boosting Coffee Smoothie with Reishi
Dandelion Root Mocha
Dandelion Root Coffee Cake


Vulnerary

Vulnerary herbs are wound-healing. They may help to promote or speed up the healing of both wounds and irritated tissues.

Examples of Vulnerary Herbs:

  • Aloe (Aloe spp.)
  • Arnica (Arnica spp.)
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
  • Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis)
  • Plantain (Plantago spp.)

Try these easy recipes using vulnerary herbs:

Ultra-Nourishing Calendula Body Oil


fresh rose hips on a stem

So You Know All About Herbal Actions, Now What?

Get to formulating! Use your knowledge of herbal actions to choose appropriate herbs for your intended usage and turn the plants into things you or you’re loved ones are likely to use.

For example, if you stir honey into your tea or drizzle it on your toast every morning, you’ll likely really benefit from (and use!) herbal honey.

If you sip on tea all day long, formulate herbal teas for your everyday wellness. And better yet, sweeten them with your herbal honey or an herbal syrup.

There’s nothing worse than ending up with a bunch of herbal remedies that you don’t really know how to use crowding your cabinets and countertops. Actually, I can think of worse things, but you get the point right?

If you turn your everyday things into herbal everyday things, you and your loved ones are more likely to use them.

I use this practice of creating more herbal everyday things as a general rule-of-thumb, but there are, of course, acute situations that call for very specific herbs and herbal preparations. For example, it’s not like you need an herbal cough syrup or cold care tincture every day, but when you need it, it sure is handy to have!

Using your knowledge of herbal actions could be as simple as adding a little extra rosemary to your vinaigrette or more involved like formulating more therapeutic herbal preparations like tinctures, herbal vinegar, or herbal teas for a specific use.

It’s so incredibly easy to get the nutritive and medicinal qualities of the plants into you every day. The options are quite literally unlimited.

Use these guides to jump in and start formulating!

How to Make Herbal Honey – 3 Easy Ways + Recipes
The Herbal Aphrodisiacs in Your Spice Cabinet & How To Use Them
The Beginner’s Complete Guide to Herbal Digestive Bitters
How to Make Your Own Nourishing Herbal Tea Blends
23 Of The Best Herbs for Daily Detox & How To Support Your Body’s Detox Intuition


Resources & Further Reading

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learning the language of herbalims: list of over 30 basic herbal actions to help you create more effective herbal remedies for your herbal wellness

DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications.

Find Organic Herbs & Spices at Mountain Rose Herbs

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