Action of herbs

Here’s an approach to categorising herbs by looking at what kinds of problems can be treated with their help. The understanding of actions and the way they may be used in combination is fundamental to a holistic approach.

In some cases, for instance, the action is due to a specific chemical or combination of chemicals present in the herb – the sedative valerian is an example – or it may be due to a complex synergistic interaction between various constituents of the herbs. However, it is best to view the actions as an attribute of the herb as a whole, and any understanding of its chemical basis as an aid in prescription.

When combining herbs, they play a part in the treatment of a whole range of problems; they not only work on specifics but have a spectrum of actions, which really makes them into the holistic tools they are. Each herb has its own spectrum of actions, so it is important to take care in combining the herbs to cover a range of related problems and to treat the cause as well as symptoms.

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