Hopking's Herbal -A- A concise list of herbs, actions and uses

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Alan Hopking's concise Modern Materia Medica


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What are herbs? In this context, herbs are any plants that are used as medicines. Medical Herbalists prefer using whole herbs, either the whole plant, or any whole part of the plant, viz. root, rhizome, leaf, flower, fruit. Sometimes we only use the gum of the plant e.g. Myrrh, or essential oil of the plant, like lavender or thyme oil. What herbal practitioners emphasise is that we use the whole part, not isolated, industialised, concentrated consituents extacted from plants; we know (unlike the press) this can lead to harmful, even fatal, results. Whereas, the use of the whole plant or the whole part of the plant has never led to a death of a patient. In this sense, herbalism is the safest system of chemical drug therapy of any medicine. It has been used for millions of years, and is still the most popular natural therapy in the world, often used alongside, to support and stabilise the harsher action of orthodox medicine, for instance in India, China and in many parts of Africa and South America.
Herbal treatment is best used by including many other herbs, rather than the use of just one herb (as often promoted by pharmacies and health shops, eg echinacea for a cold). Multi-herbal treatment has the benefit of giving greater support to the body's own innate healing defences, as well as confusing and thus defeating pathogens that have caused illness. In this way, health is restored much more quickly. Dependence on any one herb is then also avoided; any dependence weakens the body's own natural defences.
Another thing you can be assured by: every single herb on our shelves has been more thoroughly tested than any orthodox drug in your chemist down the road. Every single herb has gone through a rigorous in vivo test down the centuries and a huge documentary evidence has been built up which has invariably been confirmed by stringent scientific investigation and tests on humans and animals. Our herbs are safe because of this and they are prescribed with safety and effectiveness as the priority for their use. Keep to the dose and get advice from your herbal practitioner if you have any adverse symptoms or questions about your treatment.

All these herbs are available from Herbactive Botanicals as:
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Over 400 single herb tinctures - sizes available 60ml, 120ml, 300ml, 555, 1.110L, 2.220L -
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Hopking's Herbal - A

1. Acacia catechu (Black Catechu, Er Cha) - expectorant, haemostatic, cough with sputum, diarrhoea, bleeding, haemorrhoids, eczema; kidney stones - preventative (lowers pH of urine); bitter, astringent, cool; LU HE.

2. Acanthopanax gracilistylus (Acanthopanax root bark, Wu Jia Pi) Chinese Herb - anti-rheumatic - dispels wind and dampness, strengthens the bones and sinews (osteoporosis); diuretic; rheumatoid arthritis, oedema, oliguria, lumbar pain, joint pain, walking difficulty; pungent, warm. LIV KI. Note: Soak the root in wine and drink; excellent drink for geriatric patients with RA.

3. Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) - diaphoretic, hypotensive (systolic), fevers, common cold, thrombosis, hair growth, wounds, sore nipples, douche for leucorrhoea, amenorrhoea.

4. Aconite carmichaeli (Aconite Fu Zi, Chuan Wu Tou) Chinese Herb (A. napellus) - analgesic, shock/collapse, stimulant to yang energy, chronic disease with cold; cold hands and feet; weak pulse; spleen dysfunction; kidney deficiency; pain. Ext: peripheral, sciatica, RA pain, lumbago, stiffness after injury. Very pungent, very hot; HE SP KI.

5. Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag) - carminative, diaphoretic, stomachic, poor appetite, anorexia, dyspepsia, gastritis, peptic ulcer, hyperacidity. Ext: Chew root to stop smoking. Bath for insomnia or stress.

6. Acorus gramineus (Sweet Flag, Shi Chang Pi) Chinese Herb - resuscitative; dissolves phlegm in respiratory tract; stomachic, digestive; fainting due to heat excess or excess phlegm; hysteria; tinnitus, deafness, chronic dysentery; sedative in insomnia; insanity, melancholia, impaired consciousness; extreme stress (as in sudden grief); despair. Pungent, warm; HE ST LIV.

7. Adonis vernalis (False Hellebore) 1:10 - heart tonic (cardiosedative, nervous tachycardia, extrasystoles, myocardial impairment, arterial hypotension). Rare herb. N/A

8. Adiantum capillus-veneris (Maidenhair Fern) - anti-tussive, expectorant, demulcent, bronchitis, nasal catarrh, pharyngitis, sinusitis.

9. Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse chestnut fruit) - strengthens arteries and veins, prevents thrombosis, phlebitis, varicose veins, haemorrhoids. Ext: on legs.

10. Agastache rugosa (Agastachis tops, Huo Xiang) Chinese Herb - dispels summer heat and dampness in spleen and stomach; dispels exterior cold and dampness. Uses: fullness of chest, dyspepsia, malaise, poor appetite; nausea and vomiting; common cold and interior dampness. Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-spirochetes (worms), diaphoretic, reduces acidity in stomach, slows excessive peristalsis. Pungent, slightly warm. LU SP ST.

11. Agathosma betulina (Buchu) - urinary anti-septic, diuretic, cystitis, urethritis, prostatitis (with Althea).

12. Agrimonia eupatoria (Agrimony) - digestive tonic; mucus colitis; appendicitis, incontinence, gargle for acute sore throat or chronic nasopharyngeal catarrh.

13. Agropyron repens (Couch grass) - diuretic, cystitis, urethritis, prostatitis, prostatic hypertrophy, stones in kidney or bladder.

14. Akebia quinata (Akebia stems, Mu Tong) Chinese Herb - (herb no longer available for use in UK) diuretic, antiphlogistic, promotes lactation; abscesses on tongue and mouth; insomnia, restlessness; dark and scanty urine; urination painful and difficult, pain and swellings in feet and legs; insufficient milk production; bitter, cold; HE, LU, SI, BL. (N/A, info only)

15. Alchemilla vulgaris (Ladies Mantle) - dysmenorrhoea, emmenagogue (eases resistance), haemorrhage, menorrhagia, endometriosis, menopause; diarrhoea, acute (specific, also for infants). Ext: leucorrhoea; prorates vulvae (douche); mouth wash for mouth ulcers and gingivitis.

16. Aletris farinosa (Unicorn root) - bitter, anti-spasmodic, sedative, dyspepsia, flatulence, debility with anorexia and anxiety; anorexia (specific). See Anorexia. Rare herb.

17. Allium sativum (Garlic bulb, Da Suan) - anti-bacterial (amoebic dysentery, typhoid), hypotensive (lowers cholesterol and blood pressure), expectorant, anti-septic, anti-viral (common cold); anthelmintic - worms; TB; asthma, chronic bronchitis, bronchitis chronic - specific; pungent, warm; ST, LI.

18. Aloe vera gel (Pure Aloe Gel) 1:1 - burns, sunburn, wounds, insect bites, skin, eczema, scalp problems, psoriasis in scalp, wrinkles, skin irritations, minor cuts and scratches, an eyewash.

19. Aloe vera (A. ferox) (Cape Aloe, Lu Hui) - purgative, stomachic, refrigerant, anti-septic, emmenagogue, sedative to liver, delirium due to liver inflammation, intestinal parasites, headache, dizziness, tinnitus, fidgety, insomnia; bitter, cold; LIV ST LI; C/I pregnancy. Good for chronic constipation and safe for prolonged use - does not lose effect.

20. Alpinia officinarum (Galangal rhizome, Gao Liang Jiang) - carminative, aromatic, diaphoretic; cold & pain of abdomen, nausea and vomiting, dyspepsia, gastralgia, enteritis, flatulent colic - specific; effective against candida albicans; pungent, warm; SP ST.

21. Althea officinalis (Marshmallow root) - demulcent, peptic ulcer, mouth ulcer, gastritis, colitis, respiratory catarrh, cough. Ext. for varicose ulcers, abscesses, boils.

22. Ammi visnaga (Khella seed) - known to early Egyptian medicine. Antispasmodic to respiratory and cardiovascular system. Alternative use to steroids in children. Vitaligo. A potent coronary vasodilator. Angina pectoris. Bronchial asthma. Whooping cough. Asthma (Arabian medicine). Diseases of coronary vessels, gall bladder, kidney, bladder. Pain of kidney stones. Myocardial infarction. Allergies. Vitaligo. Psoriasis.

23. Andrographis paniculata (Andrographis herb) - antibiotic (inhibits Staph. aureus). Uses: urinary tract infection, boils, ulcers (internal), enteritis, shigella, colitis, osteomyelitis, pneumonia. Rare herb.

24. Anemone pulsatilla (Pasque Flower) 1:10 - sedative, analgesic, spasmolytic, bactericidal; dysmenorrhoea pain, testes pain, ovary pains, hyperactivity, tension headaches, insomnia, glaucoma. Ext. earache (oil or tinct). Reproductive system (male and female) - specific. Dose: 1:10 40% 0.3-1ml.

25. Anemopsis californica (Yerba Mansa root) - N/A (see Ilex paraguariensis (Mate, Yerba Mate leaves)

26. Anethum graveolens (Dill Weed) - flatulent colic, colic in children, helps lactation. Ext. halitosis (chew seeds).

27. Angelica archangelica (Angelica root) - expectorant (respiratory catarrh, psychogenic asthma, bronchitis, coughs, pleurisy - esp. when with fever or ‘flu), carminative (intestinal colic, flatulence, anorexia); vascular disease - peripheral.

28. Angelica dahurica (Bai Zhi, root) Chinese Herb - diaphoretic, eliminative, frontal headaches, neuralgia, sinusitis, rhinitis (colds and flu); pungent, warm. LU ST.

29. Angelica pubescens (Du Huo root) Chinese Herb - dispels wind-damp (RA), and relieves pain; especially for RA pain in lower body. Lowers BP (lowers blood pressure); stimulates CNS; pungent, bitter, slightly warm; KI, BL.

30. Angelica sinensis (Angelica root, Dang Gui) Chinese Herb - nourish blood, circulatory stimulant (Raynaud’s), anaemia, abdominal pain, dysmenorrhoea, amenorrhoea, menopause; angina, coronary heart disease; sweet, pungent, warm. LIV HE SP.

31. Anopaegma (Catuaba) - aphrodisiac. Aphrodisiacs: Catuaba (Juniperus brasiliensis, Cajueiro (Anacardium occidentale) and Koribo (Tanaecium nocturnum). N/A – see Erythroxylum catuaba (Trichilla catigua, Catuaba).

32. Anti-viral herbs (herbs against all kinds of viruses): (internal use): Pod. Thuj. Thymus. Ech. Equis. Calend. Hyperic. Uncar. Mesissa. Eucal. Alli. Crat. Glyc. Verbasc. Pass. Anemon. Ext: Pod. Thyme. Calend. Alli. Oil of Thyme and oil of Tea Tree. See Anti-Viral Tonic

33. Aphanes arvensis (Parsley Piert, whole herb) (= Alchemilla arvensis) - diuretic, demulcent; renal stones, bladder stones, painful urination.

34. Apium graveolens (Celery Seed) - rheumatism, sedative; arthritis, gout (with Taraxacum), urinary anti-septic; RA with mental depression (specific).

35. Aphrodisiacs/sexual debility. To stimulate hormonal secretion of ovaries and testes. Erythrox. Turnera. Centella. Eleuthero. Horny Goat Weed. Seranoa. Liriosma. Pausinystalia. Anemopaegma chamberlaynii. Panax. Paullinia. Cistanche. Coriand. Cnidium. Eugenia. Vanilla. Ylang ylang. See Herbal V8. Specific for women: Anemone. Leonurus. Smilax (low pituitary activity). Cnidium. Pausin. Panax. Rubus idaeus. Vib prun (uterine relaxant - as ‘receptive’). Cim rac. See Herbal VW.

36. Aralia racemosa (Spikenard) - stimulant, diaphoretic, expectorant, alterative, cough, asthma, chest pains. Use with Smilax for skin. Ext: skin diseases.

37. Arctium lappa (Burdock root) - alterative, bitter, diuretic, dry or scaly eczema, psoriasis, skin detoxification; anorexia nervosa.

38. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry leaf) - diuretic, astringent, urinary anti-septic, demulcent. Tones urinary system, cystitis, urethritis, dysuria (urination painful), kidney stones, bladder incontinence.

39. Areca catechu (Betel Palm Nut, Bing Lang) - anthelmintic with purgative action; food stagnation; qi xu. worms, oedema, constipation; swellings in feet and legs; pungent, bitter, warm; ST LI. Dose 60-120ml.

40. Armoracia rusticana (Horseradish root, fresh) - stimulant (strong), diuretic (strong), aperient, expectorant, rubefacient (Raynaud’s), anti-septic; nervous stimulant, digestive organs stimulant, kidney stones, oedema, persistent cough (especially following influenza); whooping cough, hoarseness (as syrup), worms. Ext: rheumatism, paralytic complaints, sciatica, gout, joint-ache, hard swellings of the spleen and liver, chilblains, facial neuralgia; freckles (removes) - mixed with white vinegar.

41. Arnica montana (Arnica flowers) 1:10 - Ext: anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, bruises, sprains, rheumatic pain, phlebitis, chilblains, muscular aches and pains.

42. Artemisia absinthium (Wormwood herb) - stomachic, choleretic, bitter tonic, carminative, anthelmintic: worms (roundworm and pinworm), anti-inflammatory; indigestion, anorexia.

43. Artimisia annua (Chinese Artemisia, Ai Ye) – specific for malaria, see malaria, and smoking mixture, see below.

44. Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort, Ai Ye [argyi, leaves]) - haemostatic, astringent, to warm meridians & stop bleeding; analgesic; sterility (fertility); menorrhagia, bleeding during pregnancy, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, uterine bleeding; bitter, pungent, warm; LU LIV SP KI. Amenorrhoea (absence of menstrual flow), dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation), menopause, pre-menstrual tension. Emmenagogue (an agent to induce menstruation). Mugwort owes its properties principally to the essential oil it contains at levels between 0.02 to 2 %(1). The composition of this oil has been recently studied (2); its principal constituents are cineol (or eucalyptol) with traces of thujone. A sesquiterpene lactone is also found. But Mugwort is also rich in mineral salts: potassium, phosphorus, iron... (4) According to latest scientific studies coming from China, Mugwort could contain an effective element against malaria. Bibliography Paris R.R. et Moyse H. in "Matiere Medicale", Tome III, P. 419,Masson Ed., Paris, 1971. Nano G.M. et al. Planta med., 1976, 30, 211. Geissman T.A. Phytochemistry, 1970, 9, 2377. Saint Paul A. Plantes Med. et Phytoth., 1982, 1, 46. Weiss R.W. in "Lehrbuch der Phytotherapie, P. 100, Hippocrates Verlag Ed., Stuttgart, 1980.

45. Asclepias tuberosa (Pleurisy root) 1:10- diaphoretic, expectorant, anti-spasmodic, carminative; respiratory disease, bronchitis, flu; pleurisy - specific.

46. Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s-tongue, Gods hair, leaf; Phyllitis scolopendrium L Polypodiaceae) – Mild astringent. It is reputed to exert an action on the spleen and liver. Disorders of spleen. Mucus colitis. Splenomegaly, especially in blood dyscrasias. Dose: 2-4g or by infusion. LE 1:1 25%, 2-4ml. Tincture: 1:5 45%, 2-6ml. The plant is a native British fern; contains amino acids including a-methylglutamic acid. "Jupiter claims dominion over this herb, and it is a good remedy for the liver, both to strengthen it when weak, and ease it when afflicted; a syrup of it should be made, for I think the leaves are not green all the year. It is commended for hardness and stoppings of the spleen and liver, and the heat of the stomach, lax, and the bloody-flux. The distilled water is very good against the passions of the heart, to stay the hiccough, to help the falling of the palate, and to stay the bleeding of the gums by gargling with it." – Nicholas Culpeper. In Devonshire the children have a graceful tale about Harts-tongue fern. It was once the pillow for the Son of Man, when he had nowhere to lay His head. In return for this service, He left two hairs of His most blessed and dear head, which the plant treasures in her ripe stem, as His legacy - two auburn hairs which children find and show. In Guernsey it has the remarkable name of Christ's-hair. This name is explained by snapping the stipe and pulling out the two black fibro-vascular bundles. For more see Godshaer Herb

47. Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus root, Huang Qi) Chinese Herb - sweating, prolapse of uterus and anus; immunostimulant, raises yang qi, increases vitality, fatigue, stimulates tissue regeneration (Vitaligo?), fertility; oedema, anti-viral, cardiotonic, nephritis; profuse sweating - menopause; facial swellings; diabetes; cardiotonic, lowers blood pressure and blood sugar, improves circulation in skin. C/I acute infections; sweet, slightly warm; SP LU.

48. Atractylodes lancea (Thistle, Cang Zhu) Chinese Herb - drying, stomachic, eliminates wind-damp; leucorrhoea, aching joints, RA, muscle aches (fibromyalgia), swellings and pain in feet and legs, weakness, sluggishness, night blindness, dyspepsia, lack of appetite, nausea vomiting, diarrhoea; bitter, warm; SP ST. See PainLess Joints Tonic.

49. Atropa belladonna (Belladonna flowers and tops) 1:10 - narcotic, mydriatic, sedative. Anti-cholinergic, anti-asthmatic, anti-hydrotic. Reduces salivary and sudorific gland secretions; biliary digestive colic, gall bladder pain, night sweating (menopause), arrhythmia, convulsions, asthma, neuralgia, whooping cough, NS diseases, Parkinson’s. Ext: gout. C/I tachycardia, glaucoma, prostatitis. Dose: 0.5-2ml (BP 1980). (BHP tincture: 0.5-2ml). Tincture 2oz:1pt, 5-15 drops.

50. Avena sativa (Oat seed and straw) - anti-depressive, thymoleptic; depressive states and debility; menopause.

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Go to Hopking's Herbal - A Modern Materia Medica (herbs and their medicinal action and uses):
A, B-C, D-E-F, G-H, I-J-K, L-M-N, O-P-Q, R-S, T-U, V-W, X-Y-Z





Our herbal tonic medicines are carefully prepared on a personal and individual basis for your healing by medical herbalist Alan Hopking MA MNIMH FINEH.

Only whole herbs are used in our herbal medicines. Nothing else is added. If you have symptoms which you consider might be helped with herbal medicine please contact herbal practitioner Alan Hopking for a friendly confidential professional consultation. See terms and fees.

Once you have received your herbal prescription you can contact Alan Hopking at any time for more free advice (preferably by email). When you have completed your bottle of herbal medicine and if you want a repeat prescription you are requested to phone or email so that your progress can be assessed and adjustments made if necessary so that there is no break in your treatment. To order or re-order, click here.

MRCHM - see Alan Hopking's statement about renouncing his association with membership of this organisation

HERBACTIVE Centre of Herbal Medicine, England, UK. Freephone 0800 0834436

General advice to consumers on the use of herbal remedies from the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK

• Remember that herbal remedies are medicines. As with any other medicine they are likely to have an effect on the body and should be used with care. • Herbal remedies may sometimes interact with other medicines. This makes it particularly important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a herbal remedy with other medicines such as prescribed medicines (those provided through your doctor or dentist). • Treat with caution any suggestion that a herbal remedy is '100% safe' or is 'safe because it is natural'. Many plants, trees, fungi and algae can be poisonous to humans. It is worth remembering that many pharmaceuticals have been developed or derived from these sources because of the powerful compounds they contain. Any medicine, including herbal remedies, which have an effect on the body should be used with care. • Treat with caution any herbalist or other person who supplies herbal remedies if they are unwilling or unable to provide written information, in English, listing the ingredients of the herbal remedy they are providing. • If you are due to have a surgical operation you should always remember to tell your doctor about any herbal remedy that you are taking. • Anyone who has previously experienced any liver complaint, or any other serious health complaint is advised not to take any herbal remedy without speaking to their doctor first.


Pregnant/Breast-feeding mothers

Few conventional medicines have been established as safe to take during pregnancy and it is generally recognised that no medicine should be taken unless the benefit to the mother outweighs any possible risk to the foetus. This rule should also be applied to herbal medicinal products. However, herbal products are often promoted to the public as being “natural” and completely “safe” alternatives to conventional medicines. Some herbal ingredients that specifically should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy. As with conventional medicines, no herbal products should be taken during pregnancy unless the benefit outweighs the potential risk.

Volatile Oils

Many herbs are traditionally reputed to be abortifacient and for some this reputation can be attributed to their volatile oil component.(6) A number of volatile oils are irritant to the genito-urinary tract if ingested and may induce uterine contractions. Herbs that contain irritant volatile oils include ground ivy, juniper, parsley, pennyroyal, sage, tansy and yarrow. Some of these oils contain the terpenoid constituent, thujone, which is known to be abortifacient. Pennyroyal oil also contains the hepatotoxic terpenoid constituent, pulegone. A case of liver failure in a woman who ingested pennyroyal oil as an abortifacient has been documented.


A stimulant or spasmolytic action on uterine muscle has been documented for some herbal ingredients including blue cohosh, burdock, fenugreek, golden seal, hawthorn, jamaica dogwood, motherwort, nettle, raspberry, and vervain. Herbal Teas Increased awareness of the harmful effects associated with excessive tea and coffee consumption has prompted many individuals to switch to herbal teas. Whilst some herbal teas may offer pleasant alternatives to tea and coffee, some contain pharmacologically active herbal ingredients, which may have unpredictable effects depending on the quantity of tea consumed and strength of the brew. Some herbal teas contain laxative herbal ingredients such as senna, frangula, and cascara. In general stimulant laxative preparations are not recommended during pregnancy and the use of unstandardised laxative preparations is particularly unsuitable. A case of hepatotoxicity in a newborn baby has been documented in which the mother consumed a herbal tea during pregnancy as an expectorant. Following analysis the herbal tea was reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are known to be hepatotoxic.

Breast-feeding mothers

A drug substance taken by a breast-feeding mother presents a hazard if it is transferred to the breast milk in pharmacologically or toxicologically significant amounts. Limited information is available regarding the safety of conventional medicines taken during breast-feeding. Much less information exists for herbal ingredients, and generally the use of herbal remedies is not recommended during lactation.

Paediatric Use

Herbal remedies have traditionally been used to treat both adults and children. Herbal remedies may offer a milder alternative to some conventional medicines, although the suitability of a herbal remedy needs to be considered with respect to quality, safety and efficacy. Herbal remedies should be used with caution in children and medical advice should be sought if in doubt. Chamomile is a popular remedy used to treat teething pains in babies. However, chamomile is known to contain allergenic sesquiterpene lactones and should therefore be used with caution. The administration of herbal teas to children needs to be considered carefully and professional advice may be needed.

Perioperative use

The need for patients to discontinue herbal medicinal products prior to surgery has recently been proposed. The authors considered eight commonly used herbal medicinal products (echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St John’s Wort, valerian). On the evidence available they concluded that the potential existed for direct pharmacological effects, pharmacodynamic interactions and pharmacokinetic interactions. The need for physicians to have a clear understanding of the herbal medicinal products being used by patients and to take a detailed history was highlighted. The American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) has advised patients to tell their doctor if they are taking herbal products before surgery and has reported that a number of anaesthesiologists have reported significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure in some patients who have been taking herbal medicinal products including St John’s Wort, ginkgo and ginseng. MCA is currently investigating a serious adverse reaction associated with the use of ginkgo prior to surgery. In this case, the patient who was undergoing hip replacement experienced uncontrolled bleeding thought to be related to the use of ginkgo.

From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK


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