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Herbal Actions : Alterative

The alterarive class of herbs work to restore normal balance and function of the bodies systems and organs. They are considered to improve overall wellbeing and vitality.

The alterative action is considered an important herbal action in the western system of herbalism. It is also one of the most vague and misunderstood. 

A plant containing the alterative action is said to open the elimination channels of the body and affect the bodies natural detoxification processes. This includes pesticides, chemicals, environmental toxins and the normal waste products associated with metabolism like proteinaceous wastes, cellular debris, hormones etc.

The five primary elimination channels are :

1. Lungs

2. Kidneys

3. Liver

4. Bowels

5. Skin

So what are they used for?

Where would you think to utilise an alterative medicine?

Traditional western practitioners called the condition in which you would use alterative herbs “bad blood syndrome,”. This was associated with a build up of waste products and toxins stagnating within the tissues and congesting the channels of elimination. As well as this, a patient would also present with dampness accumulating (edema, swellings, puffiness, swollen lymph nodes), poor sluggish digestion (constipation), chronic skin conditions (eczema, acne, boils), infections (low grade fever, septicemia, chronic infections, low immunity), chronic fatigue and low energy levels, to the most severe which would be things like tumors, malignancies, and cancer.

Examples of herbal alteratives: 

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) diaphoretic, lymphatic, hepatic alterative 

Celery Seed (Apium graveolens) diuretic alterative 

Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) hepatic alterative 

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, E.angustofolia) Immunological, lymphatic alterative

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) Immunological alterative

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) : circulatory alterative

Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) nutritive alterative

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) circulatory alterative

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) diuretic alterative 


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