Part Three:     Modern Western Herbalism                                                                           313

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Neuromuscular System                                  315

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Sensory Organs                                              363

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Respiratory System                                       415

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Cardiovascular System                                  465

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Lymphatic System                                         545  

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Upper-Digestive System                               555

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Lower-Digestive System                               603

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Endocrine System                                         647

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Immune System                                            701

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Reproductive System                                   799

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Renal System                                                903

                                    * Herbal Healing for the Skeletal & Integumentary Systems              945      




Cystic tonics are agents that improve the tone, or muscular integrity, of the bladder.  Most of these are astringents, which are agents that pull together mucous membrane or other tissue, almost always owing to the possession of tannic acid and/or pseudo-tannins. (See below, under agrimony, bunchberry, mullein, plantain, red-osier dogwood, and sumac) The value of these agents, as well as in other cystic tonics not necessarily exercising their activity owing to tannins (see horsetail and shepherd’s purse, below), in enuresis is where the bladder’s muscular tone has not as yet matured.

Nervous-system trophorestoratives are agents that have been observed to improve the innervation (or, nerve flow) to the bladder when deficient. Some are also spasmolytics, or agents which reduce bladder spasms causing an involuntary loss of urine. (See under cramp bark and possibly oat, below.) Their use is indicated when fear, nutritional deficiencies (calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, etc.), and/or food hypersensitivities are causing cystic spasms.

Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) herb (Sl. Warming; Drying)

     The Physio-medicalists, Eclectics, and British and American herbalists following them have appreciated the use of this botanical to help offset bedwetting in children. (Cook 1985) British-trained herbalist Mary Carse even considers it to be the herb of choice among those typically used for this complaint. (Carse 1989) Contraindications: Heat conditions; concurrent use of anticoagulants

 Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) herb

     The Micmac Indians used an infusion of this plant to help offset enuresis in children. (Lacey 1993) A related species (C. stolonifera) was used by another Indian tribe for same (see below, under "Red-osier dogwood"), while the Chinese have used yet another species for the same complaint!

 Corn silk (Zea mays) stigma and style (Neutral to Cooling; Drying)

     British and American herbalists often find this botanical helpful for children experiencing nocturnal enuresis. (Hyde et al 1976-79; Smith 1999)  Contraindications: Bile-duct obstruction

 Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) inner bark (Cooling; Drying)

     British herbalists have found this herb helpful for infantile enuresis, especially when due to cystic spasm. (Hyde et al 1976-79) Contraindications: Hypotension

 Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) dried young stem (Neutral to Cooling; Drying)

     When bladder problems occurred, the Potawatomi Indians would often turn to this plant for assistance. (Smith 1933) The Eclectics especially cherished horsetail for the enuresis of children, (Ellingwood 1983) as have British herbalists who have followed in their tradition. (Hyde et al 1976-79)  Horsetail contains silicic acid and other chemicals possessed of tonic activity. Contraindications: Renal failure; concurrent use w/prescription diuretics or digitaloids.  Caution in Pregnancy and Lactation.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) root (Cooling; Drying)

     Clinical herbalists and naturopaths have found this botanical, used as a tea or tincture, to be one of the most reliable for enuresis in children (Michael Moore, as one of these, suggests the use of 1/2 tsp of the crushed root in 1/4 cup of water,, taken before bedtime) (Moore 1979; Clymer 1973; Bove 2003; Winston 1999) The Alabama folk herbalist Tommie Bass reminisced that “oldtimers” in his region used to give it to bed-wetting children along with pipissewa (see below, under that entry). (Crellin & Philpott 1990) Note that the root is used and not the leaf or flower as typically used for other complaints.

 Oat milky seed (Avena sativa) fresh milky seed (Neutral; Moistening)

     The Eclectics would sometimes turn to the use of this nerve tonic when there was “lack of control over the urinary organs,” (Fyfe 1903) especially when caused by inadequate nerve control or fear, as have modern herbalists following their example. Contraindications: None reported, but caution in Celiac Disease

Plantain (Plantago major) leaf (Cooling; Drying)

     The Eclectics pointed to the use of this common lawn weed in the enuresis of children when due to a relaxed sphincter of the bladder and a consequent copious discharge of clear urine, which indications have been followed by British herbalists influenced by them. (Felter & Lloyd 1898; Felter 1922; Harper-Shove 1938) 

Red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera [sericea]) inner bark (Drying)

   The Shuswap Indians implemented this botanical as a tea for children who wet their bed. (Palmer 1975)  It is not readily available on the Western commercial herb market, but grows wildly as a shrub throughout much of North America, enabling it to be wildcrafted.


Western-Herbalism Certificate Program




(You will need only your Workbook to answer these lesson questions.)

1.  Which one of the following urinary conditions is not normally treated by astringents?

A.) Enuresis                          B.) Incontinence                  C.) Acute UTIs                      D.) Hematuria

2.  Which one of the following herbs has shown antiphlogistic, diuretic/antilithic, and hemostatic properties?

A.) Gotu kola                       B.) Goldenrod                      C.) Horny goat weed          D.) Cramp bark

3.   Which herb, whose scientific name begins with the letter “O,” has historically been used to relieve ascites?  

4.  Which herb, commonly used for cardiac or venous edema, has been shown to exert potassium-sparing diuretic activity?

5.  Which chemical, occurring in both bugleweed and red sage, has been shown to support kidney function?

6.  The root of which yellow-flowered plant, whose scientific name begins with the letter “V,” is used by Western herbalists to strengthen the bladder?

 7.   Which one of the following herbs is not generally utilized to dilate a ureter to allow a stone to pass?

A.) Khella                              B.) Wild yam                         C.) Cramp bark                      D.) Usnea

8.  Which common weed is used by Western herbalists in both nephrotic edema and to relieve bedwetting in children who produce copious, clear urine from a bladder with sphincter dysfunction (i.e., a relaxed bladder)?

Back to Programs Page