Important Herbal Actions
The best way to understand what kind of tea you might need is to understand your current symptoms. Once symptoms have been identified, we then pick herbs with a specific function or action.
Adaptogenic: Adaptogenic herbs are used for tonifying organs and systems during periods of stress, tension, and through periods of intense change. Adaptogenic herbs help maintain health and balance by restoring proper hormone levels, work to increase stamina, and increase longevity. Adaptogens can be stimulating and/or relaxing, many help improve focus, support immune system functioning, or provide some other broad-spectrum normalizing influence on unbalanced physiological processes.
Alterative: Alterative herbs ensure your the body's metabolism, including blood flow will function properly. Many herbs with this action improv and restore the body’s ability to eliminate waste through the kidneys, liver, lungs, or skin. Some stimulate digestion or are anti-microbial. Alteratives move the body to a state of health, removing indicators of systemic disintegration.
Anti-Emetic: reduces nausea
Astringent: Herbs that are drying, drawing, and constricting to help create a barrier for healing. Look for that "puckered" feeling. Topical astringents can be used to ease bug bites and burns, help pull out splinters or infection from a wound, dry out oozing sores, tighten tissue and gums, tone the skin, and stop bleeding. Internally, astringents work to help tone mucus membranes and dry up conditions of excess, like diarrhea, too much urine, or profuse sweating.
Aromatic: Herbs often with volatile essential oils that present strong aromas. Most often used to stimulate the digestive system, reproductive system, and disinfect the respiratory tract, or help expectorate the lungs. Some aromatics are also excreted through the urinary tract or the skin.
Bitters: Herbs that help stimulate appetite and digestion by encouraging the production of gastric fluids and peristalsis. Just a drop of this often shunned flavor on the tongue is effective in activating the production of beneficial digestive secretions including saliva, gastric acid, and bile. Helpful for constipation, gas related cramping, sluggish digestive movement, and to support a healthy appetite after an illness or while traveling, for example.
Calming: Nervines are herbs that specifically support the nervous system, so not all calming herbs are nervines. Calming herbs have a range of actions including tonic nervines, mildly calming, anti-spasmodic, and strongly sedative. They are used to relieve muscle tension and spasms, some kinds of pain, circular thoughts, sleeplessness, and the occasional worry we all experience from time to time.
Carminative: These herbs are often aromatic and help expel gas from the digestive system. This action can help ease bloating and gas related cramping.
Demulcants: Herbs that are mucilaginous and produce a slime that coats, soothes, and protects mucus membranes, as well as eases dry conditions. This slime action triggers a reflex that helps promote natural moistening secretions within the body systems such as respiratory, digestive, renal, and reproductive. Best extracted as an infusion in water rather than in alcohol tincture form. Helpful for supporting normal respiratory health and coating otherwise dry internal conditions.
Diaphoretic: flushes water through the kidneys. These herbs help raise your body temperature to make you sweat and stimulate circulation. This action can also cool the body through increased perspiration. Using diaphoretics may be helpful for breaking dry fevers, erupting skin infections, promoting blood flow to cold extremities, and detoxification.
Diuretic: Herbs that make you urinate. They help promote the elimination of fluid by increasing the amount of urine expelled by the kidneys. This can be helpful for water retention and urinary tract flushing.
Emollient: Similar to demulcents, these herbs are also mucilaginous, but used as topical applications to help soothe, condition, and protect the skin.
Expectorant: Herbs that encourage productive coughing by breaking up mucus in the lungs and expelling it more effectively.
Nervine: These herbs support the nervous system. Not all calming herbs are nervines. Calming herbs have a range of actions including tonic nervines, mildly calming, anti-spasmodic, and strongly sedative. They are used to relieve muscle tension and spasms, some kinds of pain, circular thoughts, sleeplessness, and the occasional worry we all experience from time to time.
Tonic : The concept of tonifying means to help tone, increase available energy, and provide balance where an organ has been deficient.