Herbal Medicines

Natural Plant-Based Treatments | South Africa

What is a tincture?

A herbal tincture is a solution containing the ingredients of plant substances. It uses either alcohol or glycerine as a solvent. The plant is immersed in the solvent and left for a period of time, after which is it is pressed and strained to yield the tincture. The preparation of a herbal tincture depends largely on the pharmacopoeia that is used. In South Africa, the British and German pharmacopoeias are primarily utilised for manufacturing herbal tinctures.

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Homeopathy is often confused with phytotherapy. These are two different systems of alternative medicine although there is some degree of overlap. In South Africa, homeopathy and herbal medicine (phytotherapy) often sit side by side with each other. Homeopaths may also prescribe herbal medicines as well as homeopathic medicines. Despite the label ‘all natural’ being attached to both systems of medicine, the way in which a homeopathic medicine is prescribed and acts on the body is significantly different from the prescription and action of herbal medicines.

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Herbal medicines are plant-based substances used in the treatment and management of a disease. It is also used for general health and wellness purposes to prevent the onset of certain diseases and maintain the body in peak condition. Herbal medicines are widely used across the world. Most traditional systems of medicines use herbs as the primary modality. Plants have also been the source and/or inspiration of some 80% of today’s modern drugs (pharmaceuticals).

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Achillea millefolium

Yarrow

Achillea millefolium (yarrow) is a herb that is said to have a wide range of therapeutic action. It may be used for infections like influenza (flu), the common cold, measles, mumps and chickenpox. For female health conditions, yarrow may be used for menstrual problems such as abnormally heavy periods (menorrhagia). For circulatory conditions, it may be used for ailments ranging from blood clots to haemorrhoids (piles) and bleeding, both internal and external. Yarrow is also widely used for digestive conditions such as heartburn, indigestion and excessive flatulence. It is also said to be useful for liver disease, diabetes as well as kidney and urinary tract problems.

Aesculus hippocastanum

Horse chestnut

Aesculus hippocastannum (horse chestnut) is a herb used primarily for the treatment of vascular conditions. It is said to target distended and inflamed veins and is therefore useful for varicose veins and haemorrhoids (piles). Aesculus hippocastanum may also be used in anti-inflammatory herbal preparations and is therefore used for conditions like arthritis. The astringent and anti-inflammatory properties also makes it useful for skin conditions like eczema when it is impregnated in a topical application. Aesculus hippocastanum is also used in the homeopathic form for vein conditions.

Arctium lappa

Burdock

Arctium lappa (burdock) is said to be a “blood purifier”. It acts as a diuretic and promotes the excretion of toxins from the bloodstream. Burdock is widely used in chronic conditions such as psoriasis, arthritis and several other chronic conditions. Its use for conditions such as cancer and AIDS is often in conjunction with other herbs. Skin conditions such as acne and eczema are other indications for using burdock. It has a high fibre content and prebiotic activity which may help with digestive health.

Arnica montana

Wolf’s bane

Arnica montana (wolf’s bane) is one of the more popular herbs that is used in massage oils and other topical applications, as well as in homeopathic remedies. It is primarily used for muscle aches and soft tissue injuries. The tincture or powder form cannot be applied to the skin or consumed as it may cause skin irritation and digestive symptoms, respectively. Some of the ingredients in Arnica is toxic and therefore it only be used as a homeopathic potency internally.

We are constantly updating our repertory of herbs. Please note that the therapeutic benefits of these herbs is based on traditional uses. Some of these benefits have been scientifically verified. You should not use any of these herbs to treat any disease you may have without first consulting with a complementary health practitioner like a homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist who are trained and licensed to prescribe and dispense herbal medicines.