Classification of Herbs

Professional herbologists have been successfully combining herbs to produce effective solutions for a wide range of natural healing actions for decades. A variety of different systems are used to classify herbs, they may be classified by the botanical family, by a part of the plant, or by color and structure of the herb. This classification makes it easy to identify herbs according to their touch, taste, and smell.

Medicinal herbs can help to restore the body’s internal balance for proper health and strength. They are widely used for digestive and intestinal problems. There are five primary categories used to identify herbs, they are aromatic, astringents, bitter, mucilaginous, and nutritive. Each of these categories include an extensive list of herbs that stimulate, detoxify, replenish, and nourish the body.

Named for their pleasing smell, aromatic herbs are volatile oils that may be stimulants or nervines. Stimulating herbs increase the body’s energy, as well as its organ activities. Stimulants directly affect the digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Some common types of stimulant herbs are garlic, sage, peppermint, fennel, thyme, and lemon grass. Nervine herbs are used to soothe and treat the nervous system. These types of herbs can be added to tea, or purchased in capsule form. Crampbark, lady’s slipper, chamomile, dong quai, and scullcap are some examples of widely used nervine herbs.

The medicinal properties of astringent herbs are primarily provided by the tannins that work to tighten body tissue and effectively heal wounds. The circulatory, digestive, and urinary systems are effected by astringents. Herbs in the astringent categories include comfrey, golden seal, red raspberry, black walnut, eye bright, and slippery elm. High doses of astringents may have a toxic effect on the liver.

Bitter herbs offer healing properties for a wide variety of health problems with natural alkaloids, phenolic glycosides, and saponins. Bitter herbs are split into four groups that include diuretic herbs, laxative herbs, herbs that contain saponin, and aloaloid filled herbs. Diuretic herbs help rid the body of toxins by eliminating fluids through the urinary tract system. Laxative herbs are available in bulk, lubricant, or stimulant forms. Laxatives made from bitter herbs provide gentle stimulation to the intestines to effectively remove toxins from the digestive tract. Some commonly used bitter herbs are dandelion root, buckthorn, yucca, orange peel, safflowers, and chocolate.

Herbs that contain saponin increases the body’s capacity to absorb other active elements. Molecules of soluble fat are emulsified in the digestive system to provide proper absorption. Some herbs that contain saponin are devil’s claw, wild yam root, licorice, alfalfa, and blue and black cohosh. Herbs containing aloaloid have varying biological effects, herbs with alkaloid properties can be found in several classifications. Herbs that contain alkaloid include capsicum, ephedra, valerian, lobelia, ginseng, and golden seal.

The properties of mucilaginous herbs are derived from polysaccharides found in plants such as aloe, kelp, psylium, echinacea, and burdock. These types of herbs affect the digestive system to help with elimination, moves toxic matter out of the intestinal tract, and controls the amount of bacteria in the intestines. Mucilaginous herbs are often used in extracts and throat lozenges.

Found in foods that provide vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and protein, nutritive herbs supply the diet with essential nutrients. A wide range of foods and natural plants are classified as nutritive herbs. The most commonly known nutritive herbs are bee pollen, rosehips, red clover, hibiscus, wheat germ, and barley grass. Vegetables rich in nutritive herbs include cabbage, broccoli, carrots, onion, cauliflower, and asparagus. Nutritive herbs are also found in fruit like bananas, grapefruits, apples, lemons, papaya, oranges, and pineapples.

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