Herbal Dictionary-Materia Medica

Alfalfa Leaf

Alfalfa Leaf medicago sativa –  Part Used: leaf stems, unopened flowers Taste: sweet/bitter Energy:neutral to cool Effective Form: infusion, capsules, tincture, powered  Properties: anti-inflammatory,rich in carotene, vitamin K, chlorophyll, amino acids, full spectrum minerals and trace minerals very nutrient rich Medicinal use: especially good for the muscular skeletal system. Supports digestive and liver health. Help prevent tooth decay. Helps with arthritis, rheumatism and osteoporosis. Stimulate removal or inorganic mineral deposits from the blood, rich in vitamin K.

Cautions: those on blood thinners need to ask their doctor before taking vitamin K rich herbs.

Astragalus Root 

Astragalus Root: (Huang Chi) Astragalus membranaceus – Part Used: root Taste: sweet Energetic: slightly warm Effective Form: decoction of root, tincture, capsules. Properties: anti-viral,immune enhancer Medicinal use: Organ toning and gland balancing herb especially for the spleen, kidneys, adrenals and lungs. Astragalus is a adaptogen which helps maintain good natural energy throughout the day, strengthens digestion, promotes wound and injury healing, strengthens chronic lung conditions.  Cautions: Best mixed in a formula for long term use, high in selenium which can be toxic in high doses for those who live in areas which have a high selenium content in the soil.

Barberry Root

Barberry Root berberis vulgarisPart Used: root  Taste: Bitter Energetic: cold Effective form/Preparation: decoction, capsule, tincture Properties: Alterative, antiseptic, hepatic, laxative, anti-inflammatory, bitter tonic, vermifuge Medicinal Use: A bitter tonic which helps purify the blood and bile creation.  Has mild laxative properties and is beneficial for skin conditions; psoriasis, eczema and herpes when undernourishment and constipation are the cause.  Prevents parasite infestation, aids in digestion of fats and proteins and helps keep the spleen healthy and strong.

Barley Grass

Barley Grass hordeum vulgare – Part Used: stem Taste: sweet/salty Energetic: cooling Effective Form: fresh juiced, dried, powdered, tablets Properties: a very nutrient rich plant, also known as a super green food, it is rich in chlorophyll, antioxidants, and is anti-aging.  Medicinal use: Helps keep the immune system strong, neutralizes heavy metals such as mercury, provides liver/blood health through its gentle cleansing properties, regulates blood sugar, fresh juiced helps keep healthy strong cells which is known to prevent cancer.  Cautions: none 

Burdock Root

Burdock Root arctium lappa. – Part Used: root, seed (fruit), leaf Taste: bitter Energetic: cooling Effective Form/Preparation: *decoction, capsule, *tincture, tea, *compress, *poultice  Properties: anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, anti-histamine, anti-biotic, *alterative, anti-fungal, diuretic, mild laxative, 45% *inulin (a prebiotic important for metabolism of carbohydrates), high amount of Vitamin C, A, B complex, bioflavonoids, minerals; iron, sulphur, silicon, copper, iodine,  potassium, calcium, and zinc. Medicinal Use: Regulates blood sugar, helps with diabetes & hypoglycemia Blood *tonic. Blood cleanser and helps with water retention. 

Burdock root is the most used in herbal remedies because it is a tonic and is used specifically for blood cleansing and detoxification, inflammation, serious female conditions, excess fluid retention, allergies, acne, eczema.  

Cautions: Do not use during lactation.

Chamomile Flower

Chamomile Flower maticara recutita Part Used: flowers Taste: bitter Energetic: neutral Effective form/Preparation:  *infusion, *tincture, capsules, tea, compress   Properties: *nervine, *tonic, sedative, antispasmodic, antiseptic, anti-fungal, high in calcium and magnesium. It contains potassium, iron, manganese, zinc and some beta carotene.  Medicinal Use: Helps with sleep. Soothes a nervous stomach caused by stress and relieves indigestion, gas and flatulence.  Aromatherapy: German Chamomile matricaria chamomilla – antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, supports the liver, sedative. Roman Chamomile anthemis nobillis – *analgesic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive, supports the liver, supports the immune system, sedative

Chickweed Leaf 

Chickweed Leaf  stellaria mediaPart Used: leaf Taste: bitter/sweet
Energetic: cool Effective Form: tea, capsules, oil Properties: Beta carotene, vitamin C with flavonoids, most of the B complex, full spectrum of minerals and is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Medicinal use:  herbal diuretics, alkalizes the blood and balances our chemistry. Helps with blood toxicity, fever, inflammation,  inflamed bowel disorders; IBS, colitis, Crohn’s. The oil is great for irritated skin, eruptions of the skin and pain reliever for arthritis and gout.   


Chlorella – part Used: algae Taste slightly bitter Energetic: cooling   Effective form: powder, table  Properties: rich in vitamins, minerals, trace mineral, enzymes and amino acids. Medicinal Use: neutralizes heavy metals such as mercury, lead and aluminum, cleanses the liver and blood, increases circulation and is easy to assimilate which strengthens digestion.


Cinnamon cinnamomum verum – Part Used: bark, twig Taste: pungent/spicy Energetic: hot Effective form/Preparation: powder, *tincture, oil, capsules  Properties: stimulant, astringent, *diaphoretic, *carminative, antiseptic, antispasmodic, expectorant Medicinal Use: Helps strengthen digestion. Increases circulation, is a tonic and uterine stimulant. Oil is antibacterial, anti- fungal. Aromatherapy: Cinnamon leaf is used and has antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, *carminative, digestive, insecticidal, stimulant, *stomachic

Dandelion Leaf

Dandelion Leaf taraxacum officinalePart Used: leaf, fresh or dried
Taste: bitter Energetic: cooling Effective Form: *infusion, capsules, tincture, fresh Properties:  rich in potassium, beta carotene, vitamin D, vitamin B, vitamin C, pancreatic regulator, galactagogue,  cholagogue, bile duct stimulant Medicinal use:  Used for water retention (herbal diuretics) especially due to high blood pressure. Used in tonics for liver stagnation and gallbladder issues, rich in minerals and is known to maintain healthy tooth enamel.  Helps rejuvenate the blood and prevents age spots; liver spots

Dandelion Root 

Dandelion Root taraxacum officinalePart Used: leaf, fresh or dried
Taste: bitter Energetic: cooling Effective Form: *decoction, capsules, tincture, fresh Properties:  rich in potassium, beta carotene, vitamin D, vitamin B, vitamin C, pancreatic regulator, galactagogue, cholagogue, bile duct stimulant, rich in *inulin Medicinal use:  Has very strong detoxification properties; used in liver cleansing formulas. Added to tonic formulas, reduces blood pressure, aids in digestion of fats which aids in weight loss and healthy cholesterol. Prevents age spots; liver spots and roasted dandelion root is rich in calcium.   

Fennel Seed

Fennel seed faeniculum vulgarePart Used: seed Taste: pungent/sweet Energetic: warm Effective form/Preparation: extract, oil, decoction, tea Properties: carminative, expectorant, anti-inflammatory Medicinal Use: Helps relieve gas. Assists and improves digestion. Helps with bladder or prostate infections, is used as a tea for eye washes to relieve conjunctivitis and inflammation of the eyelids. Relieves pain and expels mucous. Aromatherapy: antiseptic, antispasmodic, detoxifier, diuretic, insecticidal, stimulant

Fenugreek Seed

Fenugreek seed Trigonella foenum-graecum – Part used: seed Taste: Bitter Energetic: Warm Effective form/Preparation: whole seed infusion, capsule, tincture, tea, poultice, sprouts, paste, gruel, milk Properties: calmative, nutritive, stimulant demulcent, alterative, expectorant, antipyretic, regulative  Medicinal Use: Indigestion, mucus, tuberculosis, anemia, convalescence, promotes lactation and hair growth, regulates blood sugar balance, low back pain

Ginger Root

Ginger root zingiber officinale – Part Used: root Taste pungent Energetic: warm  Effective form: fresh, dried powder, capsules, tincture Properties: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, carminative, *cordials *dental anodynes,  *diaphoretics  Medicinal Use: Increases absorption of nutrients, increases circulation, helps with digestive issues; nausea, morning sickness, motion sickness and supports the body when it is cold or has a cold.

Hawthorne Berry, Leaf & Flower 

Hawthorne Berry, Leaf and Flower crategnus oxyacantha
Part Used: leaves, berries, flowers Taste: sour/sweet Energetic: slightly warm Effective Form: infusion; flowers and leaf. Decocation; berries, tincture Properties: cardiac tonic, *digestant, antispasmodic, anti-diarrheic, astringent, sedative, rich in bioflavonoids
Medicinal use:  Heart tonic; strengthens the vasodilating and heart muscle activity, reduces arterial plaque build-up, supports circulation. Regulates blood pressure, strengthens veins and capillaries.   

Kamut grass

Kamut grassPart Used: stem Taste: bitter Energetic: cool Effective form: juice or powder Medicinal use: rich in minerals and a good source of  magnesium, selenium, zinc and iron,  vitamins A, B, C and E, enzymes and  chlorophyll. Gently cleanses the liver and blood, aids in digestion, rebuilds the blood, reduces free radical damage, supports and increases immunity. Supports fat metabolism and balances hormones. Reduces side effects of radiation therapy.

Licorice Root

Licorice root glycyrrhiza glabra; leguminosae Part Used: root Taste: sweet Energetic: neutral Effective form/Preparation: pills, tea, tincture, decoction Properties: energy tonic,expectorant, alterative, demulcent, laxative, mild sedative, rejuvenative. Medicinal Use: cough, sore throat, colds, flus, bronchitis, ulcers, low energy, laryngitis, general debility, poor digestion, spasms, thirst, stress, spasms, intoxication, toxicity

Milk Thistle Seed

Milk Thistle silybum marianum – Part Used: seed  Taste: bitter Energetic: coolingEffective form/Preparation:  ground, *tincture, capsules, tea  Properties: *hepatic *tonic, bitter tonic, *demulcent, antidepressant Medicinal Use: A specific in liver regenerating formulas. Helps with jaundice and cirrhosis; by increasing secretion and flow of bile from gallbladder, helps with lactation for breast-feeding and aids in liver detoxification.  

Orange Peel

Orange Peel citrus aurantium – Part Used: peel Taste: bitter Energetic: cool Effective form/Preparation: decoction, extract, oil, tea,  Properties: astringent, carminative, expectorant, rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids Medicinal Use: Abdominal pain with bloating. Indigestion and gas.   Aromatherapy: anti-depressant, antispasmodic, lymph stimulator, mildly sedative *stomachic

Oregon Grape Root

Oregon Grape Root berberis aquifolium – Part Used: root Taste: bitter Energetic: cooling   Effective form/Preparation: *decoction, *tincture, capsules, tea  Properties: *alterative; strong blood cleanser, liver detoxification, can release stored iron in the liver, used for chronic degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Medicinal Use: Used in many liver detoxification formulas. Helps improve blood conditions; eczema psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, hepatitis, jaundice and mononucleosis.

Paud’ Arco Bark

Paud’ Arco tabebuia impetiginosa – Part Used: bark  Taste: bitter Energetic: cooling  Effective form/Preparation: *decoction, *tincture, capsules, tea, cream, ointment Properties: antibiotic, anti-inflammatory,  anti-viral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal. Medicinal Use: Enhances the immune system, it is anti-fungal for thrush, athlete’s foot, nail fungus, candida albicans yeast overgrowth and ringworm. Helps with digestive issues; colitis, gastritis and stomach ulcers and is a blood purifier.

Peppermint Leaf

Peppermint Leaf mentha piperita Part Used: leaf Taste: pungent/bitter Energetic: cool Effective Form: *infusion, oil, tincture Properties: diaphoretic, aromatic, carminative, calmative, mild alterative, anti-bacterial, anti-viral,   Medicinal use: Upper respiratory. Digestion; specific in colon cleansing. Very good for Crohn’s disease, Irritable bowel and ulcerative colitis. Helps with gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. A nervine for migraine headaches, anxiety and tension in the upper neck and shoulders. Body odor and bad breath; toner, mints, oil

Sage Leaf

Sage Leaf salvia officinalis – Part Used: leaf Taste: pungent/spicy Energetic: warm Effective form/Preparation: *infusion, *tincture, tea, *poultice Properties: anti-infective, astringent, *diaphoretic,*carminative, antispasmodic, *antidiarrhteic, *nervine,  promotes natural healthy estrogen, anti-depressant, important herb for blood cleansing formulas, anti-galactagogue; helps stop lactation during weaningMedicinal Use: Emmenagogue; promotes regular menstrual flow, used in formulas for chronic cystitis and as a poultice for tumors. Aromatherapy: Sage (Spanish) salvia lavandulaefolia – antidepressant, anti-infectious, *emmenagogue, stimulant, antisudorific; reduces sweating

Spearmint Leaf

Spearmint Leaf menthe virides Part Used: leaf Taste: pungent/bitter Energetic: warm Effective Form: infusion, oil, tincture Properties:  diaphoretic, aromatic, carminative, calmative, mild alterative, anti-bacterial, anti-viral,   Medicinal use: Upper respiratory. Digestion; specific in colon cleansing. Very good  for Crohn’s disease, Irritable bowel and ulcerative colitis. Helps with gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. A nervine for migraine headaches, anxiety and tension in the upper neck and shoulders. Body odor and bad breath; toner, mints, oil


Spirulina spirulina plantensis   Part used: whole organism as dried powder Effective Form: power, tablets, capsule Energetics: cooling Properties: Rich in vitamins especially B vitamins, anti-oxidants; especially beta carotene, minerals; especially calcium, trace minerals, amino acids, enzymes and prebiotics; for healthy flora and rich in chlorophyll. Medicinal use: A prime immune supporter, helps cleanse the blood, supports circulation,  heart health, the liver and the thyroid and adrenal glands.

Sarsaparilla Root 

Sarsaparilla Root smilax officinalisPart Used: root Taste: sweet/mildly spicy Energetic: neutral Effective Form: *decoction, oil (externally only)capsules, tincture. Properties:*alterative, diuretic, *diaphoretic, tonic
Medicinal use: Balances male and female hormones. Hormone imbalances; PMS, Menopause and Andropause (men), cleanses the blood, helps with joint aches.  Liver spots (age spots), gout, chronic rheumatism,  is a Tonic for the glands and increases vitality overall.  

Turmeric Root

Turmeric Root: Curcumae longa or c. aromatic; Zingiberaceae – In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Jiang Huang, Pian Jiang Hugan – Part Used: rhizome Taste: bitter/pungent   Energetic: warm (rhizome)  Preparation/Effective Form: decoction, extract, powdered, whole root Properties: alterative analgesic, antiseptic, astringent,carminative, cholagogue, emmenagogue stimulant, vulnerary Primary Use: Liver, digestion, spleen, musculoskeletal system. Turmeric is one of those herbs which can be used internally for liver and digestive stress and externally for tumors, joint pain and more.

Supporting Liver and Thyroid Health supports Adrenal Gland Health. 

Wheat Grass

Wheatgrass tritcum aestrvum – Part Used: stem Taste bitter/sweet Energetic: cool.  Effective form fresh juice, dried powder, tablets Properties: rich in minerals, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids.  Medicinal Use: Arthritis, constipation, rheumatism, hypertension, fatigue, hemorrhoids, premenstrual syndrome.  Helps keep the immune system strong, neutralizes heavy metals such as mercury,  provides liver/blood health through its gentle cleansing properties and regulates blood sugar.

Excellent reference books

on learning how to make your own herbal blends are by Linda Rector-page and Leslie Tierra.   I learned how to use herbs in my life by seeing practitioners who were also herbalist and taking herbal classes. I purchased reference books with an herbal dictionary (Materia Medica) and how to blend a formula; we can all learn how to use food and herbs for good health.  


HEALING WITH THE HERBS OF LIFE by Leslie Tierra, L.Ac., Herbalist, A. H.G. 

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