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HERBAL MEDICINE Thomas Bartram Robinson
LONDON Title Page: The Herball, by John Gerard (1633) CORDIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS are tendered to owners of copyright. While some of this book is from personal experience, in a work
of such scope considerable research has been necessary. The author has done his best to avoid using copyright material without first asking
permission. If, however, any short excerpts of this nature have been printed without formal consent, he begs the indulgence of all concerned. Constable & Robinson Ltd.
55–56 Russell Square
London WC1B 4HP
First published in the UK by Grace Publishers 1995.
First published in paperback in the UK by Robinson Publishing Ltd 1998.
Author photograph: Richard A. Pink
All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or
otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similiar condition including this
condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in Publication data is available from the British Library
ISBN 13: 978-1-85487-586-0
eISBN : 978-1-47211-111-1
Printed and bound in the EC
Cover design: Slatter~Anderson; Front cover photographs: RSA Photography Ltd., A-Z Botanical Collection Ltd. THIS ENCYCLOPEDIA is dedicated to Mr Fred Fletcher-Hyde, whose life work as a herbal consultant
was complementary to the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and the British Herbal Medicine
Association, which two public bodies ensured the survival of herbal medicine during the critical stages of
the Medicines Bill leading to the Medicine’s Act, 1968. Mr Hyde is President Emeritus of the National
Institute of Medical Herbalists and of the British Herbal Medicine Association. FOREWORD
to the First Edition
FOR over half a century I have known Mr Thomas Bartram and welcomed his unflinching advocacy of
natural and herbal medicine as a Council Member and Fellow of the National Institute of Medical
Herbalists. It is an honour to be invited to write a foreword for his magnum opus.
One of the compensations of increasing years is a growing maturity of judgement and a balanced
objectivity. This is evident in the present work. The author is able to draw from experience in relation to
established medicine and from many decades as a practitioner of herbal medicine. During his busy life Mr
Bartram has read voraciously in all cognate aspects of phytotherapy. This is demonstrated in the pages of
the widely acclaimed magazine “Grace” which he founded in 1960. For thirty years his gentle and kindly
advice of natural and safe medication, in association with a high Christian ethic, has aided the restoration
of health and hope of its readers. “Recapture the thrill of living” is the author’s watchword.
This volume contains the distilled wisdom of a life spent in the cause of natural medicine: the
quintessence of a herbal practitioner’s experience; a book of reference and information to help the
restoration and maintenance of health for all its readers. I wish it every success. Ex herbis remedia.
F.Fletcher-Hyde B.Sc. FNIMH
1st January 1995 PREFACE
IS IT NOT AMAZING, after 200 years denigration and ridicule, that herbalism is stronger than ever?
At a time of unprecedented demand for natural medicines there would appear to be a need for a
comprehensive A to Z compendium of diseases and their treatment. Today, clinical effects of natural
medicines are convincingly demonstrated. These were the remedies used by Pythagorus, Galen and
Hippocrates. Their use today has been built upon the experience of centuries. Their data has often been
confirmed at the cost of human lives – a point often overlooked by research workers. Their use
extensively around the world, especially in the undeveloped countries, exceeds that of conventional
With each passing year, science proves the efficacy of the age-old craft at the back of this system of
medication which today wins the confidence of peoples of the world. More consulting herbalists work in
co-operation with registered medical practitioners as scientific investigation confirms empirical
Herbal (phytotherapeutic) medicine is used to assist the body in its own instinctive attempts at selfhealing. Non-suppressive medicines strengthen immune reserves and help overcome disease, viz: to
reduce inflammation (Elderflowers), to sustain the immune system (Echinacea).
Plant medicines bring to the body a force which stimulates the energy-production system. They also
de-toxify. Alteratives, diuretics, diaphoretics and antibacterials combat infection, cleanse the blood,
stimulate the kidneys, empty the bowel and eliminate wastes. Each herb contains a group of valuable
constituents and vital mineral material – in its natural context. A plant synthesises its own chemicals to
protect itself against disease, which also proves to be effective in humans. It bridges the gap between the
inorganic and the organic – the non-living and the living.
As never before, pharmaceutical laboratories are feverishly screening plants from all over the world.
Success is reported by the use of a Periwinkle for leukaemia, and Wild Yam for its steroid effects. Agnus
Castus increases production of progesterone and is helpful for pre-menstrual tension, infertility and
Mistletoe has been shown to produce an anti-tumour effect, as also has Wild Violet. Plants that have
been used in orthodox medicine for many years include the Foxglove (digoxin), Poppy (morphine),
Peruvian Bark (quinine). The medical profession took 300 years to accept quinine.
Readers may be surprised to see herbal medicines for some of the highly contagious and infectious
diseases that have troubled the human race since the beginning of time. Plant medicines have always been
used for cholera, diphtheria and venereal disease, though maybe not as effectively as today’s orthodox
300 million people in the world are infected with STD each year. It is estimated that only 20 per cent
receive the sophisticated pharmacy of the West. The remaining 80 per cent rely on native medicine.
No apology is made for inclusion of plant medicines for these and similar desperate conditions. True,
they may not prove a cure, yet a wealth of medical literature testifies to their beneficient action.
Sometimes they reduce severity of symptoms and may be used as supportive aids to official treatment.
The anecdotal experiences of accredited physicians merit attention. Such treatments must be carried out
by or in liaison with hospital specialists, oncologists, etc. A work on herbal medicine would not be
complete without reference to these classic diseases of history. If the public is to receive the best of treatment it needs the best of both worlds. Length and quality of
life are more likely to be improved by a multi-disciplinary team including the herbalist.
In this book, where silicosis, pneumoconiosis, emphysema and other incurable conditions are linked
with herbal medicines, no cure is implied.
Herbalism is a science in its own right. It has a rationale and modus operandi quite different from
orthodox medicine. Given the opportunity, it is able to provide appropriate medication for a vast range of
diseases. It offers healing properties that favourably influence chemical change, combat stress, build up
resistance to infection and promote vitality.
Herbs also have an important role in improving mental and physical performance and, whether to the
sportsman on the track or housewife in the kitchen, have something to offer everybody.
Self medication. The Government and health authorities of the UK and Europe express their desire that
citizens take more responsibility for their own health. Also, the public’s disquiet towards some aspects of
modern medicine leads them to seek alternatives elsewhere. As a generation of health-conscious people
approach middle age, it is less inclined to visit the doctor but to seek over-the-counter products of proven
quality, safety and efficacy for minor self-limiting conditions. This has the advantage of freeing the doctor
for more serious cases. Intelligent self-medication has come to stay.
Prescriptions. While specimen combinations appear for each specific disease in this book, medicines
from the dispensary may be varied many times during the course of treatment. The practitioner will adapt
a prescription to a patient’s individual clinical picture by adding and subtracting agents according to the
changing basic needs of the case. For instance, a first bottle of medicine or blend of powders may include
a diuretic to clear the kidneys in preparation for the elimination of wastes and toxins unleashed by active
The reader should never underestimate the capacity of herbal medicine to regenerate the human body,
even from the brink of disaster.
Acknowledgements. I am indebted to my distinguished mentor, Edgar Gerald Jones, Mansfield,
Nottinghamshire, England, to whom I owe more than I could ever repay. I am indebted also to the
National Institute of Medical Herbalists, and to the British Herbal Medicine Association, both of which
bodies have advanced the cause of herbal medicine. I have drawn heavily upon the British Herbal
Pharmacopoeias 1983 and 1990, authentic publications of the BHMA, and have researched major works
of ancient and modern herbalism including those pioneers of American Eclectic Medicine: Dr Samuel
Thomson, Dr Wooster Beach, Dr Finlay Ellingwood and their British contemporaries. All made a vital
contribution in their day and generation. I have endeavoured to keep abreast of the times, incorporating
the latest scientific information at the time of going to press. For the purposes of this book I am especially
indebted to my friend Dr John Cosh for checking accuracy of the medical material and for his many
A wealth of useful plants awaits further investigation. Arnica, Belladonna and Gelsemium are highly
regarded by European physicians. It is believed that these plants, at present out of favour, still have an
important role in medicine of the future. The wise and experienced clinician will wish to know how to
harness their power to meet the challenge of tomorrow’s world.
Perhaps the real value of well-known alternative remedies lies in their comparative safety. Though
largely unproven by elaborate clinical trials, the majority carry little risk or harm. Some have a great
potential for good. The therapy is compatible with other forms of treatment.
The revival of herbal medicine is no passing cult due to sentimentality or superstition. It indicates,
rather, a return to that deep devotion to nature that most of us have always possessed, and which seems in
danger of being lost in the maze of modern pharmacy. It is an expression of loyalty to all that is best from the past as we move forward into the 21st century with a better understanding of disease and its treatment.
I believe the herbal profession has a distinguished and indispensible contribution to make towards the
conquest of disease among peoples of the world, and that it should enjoy a place beside orthodox
Who are we to say that today’s antibiotics and high-tech medicine will always be available? In a
world of increasing violence, war and disaster, a breakdown in the nation’s health service might happen
at any time, thus curtailing production of insulin for the diabetic, steroids for the hormone-deficient, and
anti-coagulants for the thrombotic. High-technology can do little without its specialised equipment. There
may come a time when we shall have to reply on our own natural resources. It would be then that a
knowledge of alternatives could be vital to survival.
Bournemouth 1995 Thomas Bartram HERBAL MEDICINES and herbs have always been with us. Up to the end of the 19th century the
physician and the pharmacist shared with the herbalist a practical working knowledge of many herbal
preparations and their therapeutic powers. But with the growth of scientific medicine in the 20th century
medical reliance on herbal remedies has progressively diminished, although the fund of knowledge of true
herbalists like Thomas Bartram continued to grow. Today, however, we hear repeatedly of threats to the
natural world and its flora and fauna, alerting us to the precious heritage of herbal medicine. We realise,
too, that many of our scientifically designed drugs are derived ultimately from plants; pharmaceutical
research continues to draw on this source of new remedies. There is therefore a sense of urgency as we
realise how much the pressures of population and of civilisation threaten the extinction of whole species
of plants as well as of animals.
Public regard for herbal medicines has reawakened in the West, bringing an appreciation of the age-old
herbal wisdom to be found in many other parts of the world. It is therefore of immense value to have in
the publication of the Encyclopedia such a fund of information about herbs and their practical uses in
everyday medical problems. It represents the fruit of many years of learning and practice by its dedicated
author. All who use this Encyclopedia have good reason for gratitude to Thomas Bartram.
John Cosh MD., FRCP
January 1995 WARNING. Recommendations are not intended to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a medical
practitioner or qualified consulting medical herbalist. All information has a record of efficacy, though
treatment cannot be expected to be always successful. Any condition that persists for more than ten days
should be referred to a doctor, especially if it is not in the nature of a cold or influenza. All reasonable
care has been taken in the preparation of this book. The author does not imply any guarantee of cure and
cannot accept responsibility for adverse effects arising from the use of thereof.
IN the case of a known serious condition a doctor should be consulted.
ALL medicines should be avoided during pregnancy unless prescribed by a doctor.
UNDERLINED HERBS. Predominant remedies are underlined. For instance, leading remedies for
treatment of neuralgia are Chamomile and Valerian. ABDOMEN, INJURIES. Following accident render first-aid treatment. See: FIRST AID. Straining to
lift a heavy weight or when at stool may force an intestinal loop through the muscular wall to produce a
rupture. Severe cases of injury require hospitalisation; those from blows or bruising benefit from a cold
compress of Comfrey root or Fenugreek seed.
Before the doctor comes: 3 drops each or any one: Tinctures Arnica, Calendula and Hypericum;
ABDOMINAL PAIN (Acute). Sudden unexplained colicky pain with distension in a healthy person
justifies immediate attention by a doctor or suitably trained practitioner. Persistent tenderness, loss of
appetite, weight and bowel action should be investigated. Laxatives: not taken for undiagnosed pain.
Establish accurate diagnosis.
Treatment. See entries for specific disorders. Teas, powders, tinctures, liquid extracts, or essential oils
– see entry of appropriate remedy.
The following are brief indications for action in the absence of a qualified practitioner. Flatulence (gas
in the intestine or colon), (Peppermint). Upper right pain due to duodenal ulcer, (Goldenseal). Inflamed
pancreas (Dandelion). Gall bladder, (Black root). Liver disorders (Fringe Tree bark). Lower left –
diverticulitis, colitis, (Fenugreek seeds). Female organs, (Agnus Castus). Kidney disorders, (Buchu).
Bladder, (Parsley Piert). Hiatus hernia (Papaya, Goldenseal). Peptic ulcer, (Irish Moss). Bilious attack
(Wild Yam). Gastro-enteritis, (Meadowsweet). Constipation (Senna). Acute appendicitis, pain central,
before settling in low right abdomen (Lobelia). Vomiting of blood, (American Cranesbill). Enlargement of
abdominal glands is often associated with tonsillitis or glandular disease elsewhere which responds well
to Poke root. As a blanket treatment for abdominal pains in general, old-time physicians used Turkey
Rhubarb (with, or without Cardamom seed) to prevent griping.
Diet. No food until inflammation disperses. Slippery Elm drinks.
ABORTIFACIENT. A herb used for premature expulsion of the foetus from the womb. Illegal when used
by laymen and practitioners not medically qualified. Emmenagogues may be abortifacients and should be
avoided in pregnancy. Papaya fruit is used by women of Sri Lanka and India for this purpose.
ABORTION – TO PREVENT. Disruptive termination of pregnancy before twenty-eighth week. Too
premature expulsion of contents of the pregnant womb may be spontaneous, habitual, or by intentional
therapy. Untimely onset of uterine contractions with dilation of cervical os (mouth of the womb) dispose
to abortion. Essential that services of a suitably qualified doctor or obstetrician be engaged. It would be
his responsibility to ensure that the embryo (unborn baby) and the placenta (after birth) are completely
Alternatives. Tea: equal parts – Agnus Castus, Ladysmantle, Motherwort, Raspberry leaves, 1-2
teaspoon to each cup boiling water; infuse 5-10 minutes; 1 cup 2-3 times daily.
Tablets/capsules. Cramp bark, Helonias.
Powders. Formula. Combine Blue Cohosh 1; Helonias 2; Black Haw 3. Dose: 500mg (two 00 capsules or
one-third teaspoon) thrice daily.
Practitioner. Tincture Viburnum prunifolium BHP (1983), 20ml; Tincture Chamaelirium luteum BHP
(1983) 20ml; Tincture Viburnum opulus BHP (1983), 20ml; Tincture Capsicum, fort, BPC 1934, 0.05ml.
Distilled water to 100ml. Sig: 5ml tds pc c Aq cal.
Black Cohosh. Liquid Extract Cimicifuja BP 1898, 1:1 in 90 per cent alcohol. Dosage: 0.3-2ml. OR:
Tincture Cimicifuja, BPC 1934, 1:10 in 60 per cent alcohol. Dosage: 2-4ml. Squaw Vine (mother’s cordial) is specific for habitual abortion, beginning soon after becoming pregnant
and continuing until the seventh month. Also the best remedy when abortion threatens. If attended by a
physician for abortion, a hypodermic of morphine greatly assists; followed by Liquid Extract 1:1 Squaw
Vine. Dosage: 2-4ml, 3 times daily.
Liquid extracts. Squaw Vine, 4 . . . Helonias, 1 . . . Black Haw bark, 1 . . . Blue Cohosh, 1. Mix. Dose:
One teaspoon every 2 hours for 10 days. Thereafter: 2 teaspoons before meals, 3 times daily. Honey to
sweeten, if necessary. (Dr Finlay Ellingwood)
Abortion, to prevent: Cramp bark, (Dr John Christopher)
Evening Primrose. Two 500mg capsules, at meals thrice daily.
Diet. High protein.
Vitamins. C. B6. Multivitamins. E (400iu daily).
Minerals. Calcium. Iodine. Iron. Selenium, Zinc. Magnesium deficiency is related to history of
spontaneous abortion; magnesium to commence as soon as pregnant.
Enforced bed rest.
ABRASION. Superficial grazing, rubbing or tearing of the skin. Wash wound with warm water or
infusion of Marigold petals, Comfrey or Marshmallow leaves. Saturate pad or surgical dressing with
10/20 drops fresh plant juice, tincture or liquid extract in equal amount of water: Aloe Vera, Chamomile,
Chickweed, Comfrey, Marigold, Plantain, St John’s Wort, Self-heal or other vulnerary as available.
Notable products: Doubleday Comfrey Cream. Nelson’s Hypercal.
ABSCESS. A collection of pus in a cavity, consisting of spent white blood cells and dead invading
micro-organisms. The body’s fight against localised infection may result in suppuration – the discharge of
pus. An abscess may appear on any part of the body: ear, nose, throat, teeth, gums, or on the skin as a
pimple, boil, stye. A ‘grumbling appendix’ is one form of abscess, caused by internal obstruction and
irritation. Internal abscesses are usually accompanied by fever, with malaise and swollen glands under
arms, groin or elsewhere. Septicaemia – a dangerous form of blood poisoning – may result where an
abscess bursts and discharges purulent matter into the bloodstre...
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