Materia medica overview - part 2
by Dr. Douglas Kirkbride
Medical Herbalism 10-31-96 8(3): 14, 16
The following material is continued from an article started in the last issue of Medical Herbalism. It is transcribed from a tape of a lecture by Douglas Kirkbride, R.Ph, ND, at a convention of the national Canadian and U.S. naturopathic associations in British Columbia in 1992. Dr. Kirkbride, a Canadian naturopathic physician, graduated from National College of Chiropractic in Chicago in the early 1950s with both chiropractic and naturopathic degrees, when that school still offered ND degrees. He had formerly practiced as a pharmacist. Kirkbride is a master of clinical herbalism, having practiced it for more than forty years. In his lecture, Kirkbride reviewed the various categories of herbs, and selected one herb from each category, describing it as one herb that he could not do without in his practice.
Diuretics: Uva ursi (bearberry)
A diuretic is any medication which increases the flow of urine, either by influencing the kidney directly or indirectly through the nervous system. In some cases, if you treat the liver first, sometimes you won’t need a diuretic. If the patient is constipated, treat the constipation first, and you may not need the diuretic. Do not exhaust the kidneys by causing them to be wrung out like a washcloth, as with pharmaceutical diuretics. remedies must support physical functioning up to normal function. Don’t beat a tired horse.
- Other diuretics: gravel root, cleavers, buchu, saw palmetto, juniper berries, parsley, corn silk, and cubebs.
- Without equal in treating chronic inflammation of the bladder and the kidneys. [Editor’s note: in some cases, uva ursi may cause problems in chronic kidney disease, i.e. elevations of creatinine have been observed after taking uva ursi in chronic nephritis.]
- Influences all the mucous membranes, but especially genitourinary tract. It is astringent and tonic to these areas.
- Catarrh in the bladder
- Leukorrhea in the female
- Practically every urinary condition
- Aching back from kidney trouble
- Ulceration of the bladder and kidneys
- Prostatic weakness.
- Enuresis when all other contributing factors have been eliminated
- Cystic catarrh
- Prolapsed uterus
- Flaccid vagina and uterus.
- Tonification of the pelvic organs, male or female
- Uva ursi one ounce, squaw vine (Mitchella repens) one ounce; dandelion 1 1/2 ounces. Simmer in 1 qt water for twenty minutes. Strain and give 4 T doses 3x/day.
- Uva ursi 1 ounce, populus (species not specified) 1/2 ounce, sumac (Rhus glabra) 1/2 ounce, yarrow (Achillea millefolium) 1/2 ounce. Simmer in 1 qt water for twenty minutes. Strain and give 3 T three times a day. Take a hot sitz bath daily, and rub lumbar area every day with a solution of salt and water.
Diaphoretics and sudorifics: Achillea (yarrow)
These are agents which cause perspiration. A sudorific is a powerful diaphoretic. They primarily affect the surface, but the whole circulation is affected. Sweating a patient is one of the most certain ways of restoring health if the pores are not working, because the pores can exorcise poisons. A vapor bath plus the use of diaphoretics is a traditional naturopathic treatment. Diaphoretics must be given warm, and be sure the bowels are clean first. Yarrow is the top diaphoretic, but boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) is a close second.
- If the system is hot and the skin is dry and pulse full, use a relaxing diaphoretic. If the pulse is weak and the skin cold, use stimulating diaphoresis.
- A hot infusion of fresh yarrow, given freely, will raise the heat of the body, equalizing the circulation and producing free sweating.
- Put 1 oz in one pint of hot water. Steep for a few minutes and give freely, as much as the patient can drink. if possible, let the patient drink the whole pint and go to bed.
- Use also for hemorrhages, dyspepsia, jaundice, hemorrhoids, and mucous discharges from the bladder.
- Yarrow is a reliable remedy in chronic affections of the mucous surfaces of the internal organs, and chronic dysentery and diarrhea.
- “I feel dejected when I think of so many of the doctors out there who do not know the use of this medicine. Or worse those who do know and don’t practice. Shame on you.”
- Other diaphoretics: blue vervain,
hyssop, pleurisy root, boneset, garden sage, wood sage, thyme,
Expectorants and Demulcents: Lobelia and Comfrey
Demulcents have a soothing and mucilaginous protecting action of the membranes from irritating substances. Expectorants will throw out tenacious phlegm. Best expectorant: lobelia. Best demulcent: comfrey.
- Other expectorants and/or demulcents: comfrey, horehound, wild cherry bark, elecampagne, slippery elm, coltsfoot, mullein, chickweed, balm of gilead, maidenhair fern, ipecac, beth root, lobelia, senega, squill, yerba santa, linseed, licorice root, marshmallow.
- Lobelia inflata is a relaxant, and is a specific as an emetic. It acts primarily on the bronchial and pulmonary areas. It removes mucous nicely.
- Use in croup, whooping cough, asthma, bronchial spasms, asthmatic paroxysms. It alleviates spasm very quickly.
- It removes mucous accumulations also in liver, gall bladder, and bile ducts
- The acid tincture of lobelia is a must. “I have seen patient expels large ropes of phlegm from the bronchus with the acid tincture.” Lobelia herb, 2 oz; lobelia seed, 2 oz; malt vinegar 16 ounces. Macerate 10-14 days, shaking it every day. Strain off an bottle for use. May also use raspberry vinegar.
- Dosage: alcohol tincture, 5-15 drops; acid tincture 15-60 drops.
- Comfrey’s greatest power is in pectoral complaints such as coughs, and ulceration and inflammation of the lung.
- Use it freely in all cases that require a good demulcent: stomach ulcers, kidney inflammation, and bladder ulcerations.
- Use in all cases of cough, asthma, tuberculosis, blood in the urine, diarrhea, and dysentery.
- Externally it makes an excellent fomentation for bruises, strains, fractures, and swellings.
- Use as a poultice to promote suppuration in carbuncles and boils
The best nervines bring about relaxation and also feed the nerve tissue. Skullcap is one of the finest nervines and antispasmodics given to humanity. It should be on every physician’s shelf.
- Use the whole plant.
- It should never be boiled.
- Keep tightly stoppered and airtight
to prevent deterioration.
- Use for restlessness, hysteria, delirium tremens, convulsions, epilepsy, fits.
- Skullcap influences the sympathetic nervous system, toning and soothing without narcotic properties
- Use for trigeminal neuralgia, other neuralgias, nervous headaches, hypochondria, convalescence from fevers.
- Use the infusion of powdered capsules or tablets. Three #4 capsules four or six times a day.
- Other useful nervines: valerian, lady slipper, blue cohosh, mistletoe, asafoetida, wood betony, black cohosh, passiflora, hops, cactus, and others.
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner