Materia medica overview
by Dr. Douglas Kirkbride
Medical Herbalism 07-31-96 8(1/2): 12-13
The following material was obtained from a tape of a lecture delivered 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. It is rare indeed to have access to the insights of such an experienced herbal elder. The comments below are based on years of first hand experience, not gleaned from reference books.
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.
Stimulants: Capsicum (cayenne)
These give increased stimulation to the action or energy of the body. They are most useful for inflammation, congestion, and fever.
- Terrific agent for most inflammatory conditions
- Purest and most certain stimulant
- Produces warmth and equalizes the circulation
- Good for cramps of the stomach and bowels
- In combination with golden seal will support portal circulation
- In colds, dyspepsia, or palpitations, give the warm infusion in small repeated doses — 2 tsp every hour
-In infection of the throat, apply the tincture to the neck, or warp flannel wetted with the infusion around the neck, and also take internally as an infusion.
- Capsicum is not a cure all, but you are missing the boat if you are not using it.
- Place 2 oz. capsicum in 1 qt of alcohol. Store it in a warm place for 14 days, strain and bottle. Dose: 1-3 drops as needed.
- Make a liniment of capsicum, lobelia, wormwood, rosemary, spearmint and wintergreen.
useful stimulants: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, horseradish, pennyroyal,
Bitter Tonics: Hydrastis (goldenseal)
Bitter tonics primarily exert their action on the digestive system to increase the muscle tone and the general digestive vigor. They give a feeling of well-being in the gastrointestinal area and increase overall strength. They should be used only when the acute stage of disease is over. See to it the bowels are cleansed and functioning properly, or bitter tonic therapy will fail.
Hydrastis is the King of the Tonics for the mucous membranes. It is good for all debilitated conditions of the stomach and the entire gastrointestinal tract. It allays inflammation, and is the top herb for treating dyspepsia, biliousness, ulceration, and gastric catarrh. It improves the appetite and aids the digestion. It is one of the few agents which will sustain the venous circulation.
Combine it with other herbs to target specific organs
- With squaw vine (Mitchella repens) for genitalia
- With black walnut (Juglans nigra) for the intestines
- With gravel root (Eupatorium purpureum) for the kidneys
- For the spinal nerves, take 1 ounce of hydrastis, 6 tsp of dried hops (Humulus lupulus). Infuse in 1 1/2 pints of water. Let stand till room temperature. Take wineglass doses 3-4 times daily.
- Use as a wash for inflamed eyes
- Use externally for ringworm.
- Useful for passive hemorrhage of the pelvic tissues
- Skin eruptions
- Pyorrhea and sore gums
- Bladder troubles- Other bitter tonics: barberry, columbo, peruvian bark, populus, centuary, gentian, myrrh gum
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner