The Complete Herbal - Herbs and Herbal Remedies

Index | Preface| Title Page | Biography
A to Z of alternative therapies | A to Z of herbal actions | A to Z of herbal remedies | A to Z of latin names | A to Z of medical terms | A to Z of vitamins and minerals
What is a herb? | Anise | Balm | Camomile | Dill | Evening Primrose | Fennel | Garlic | Hyssop | Irish Moss | Knapweed | Lavender | Marigold | Nettle | Orchis | Parsley | Rosemary | Sage | Thyme
Growing herbs | Soil Type | Sun or shade? | Annuals or perrenials? | Hardiness | Planting | Feeding | Weeding | Pest control | Transplanting | Watering | Container gardening
History | Signatures | In China | In India
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Complete Herbal


What is Complete Herbal about?

Our mother instilled in us an interest and love of all growing things. This site is a tribute to her love, her patience and her understanding. In fact without her we would never have been inspired to develop it. It's a free site, for educational purposes only. We are constantly adding information and articles not just about herbalism, but covering all kinds of complementary therapies, which we hope you find useful and inspiring.

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We have used herbs in our everyday lives, in medicine and in cookery, since time immemorial.

Herbs have been nature's pharmacy for thousands of year and a renewed interest in all forms of alternative medicine has led consumers, health care providers, and drug researchers to re-examine herbal remedies.  

This guide to herbs and their uses has been designed to allow everyone access to the age old lore of herbs, their history, their cultivation and their many uses. It includes the full text of Culpeper's Complete Herbal from 1814, which, believe it or not, was rescued by my mother from a bonfire, a little the worse for wear, but still legible.

A word of caution though: Whilst many herbs are used for their flavour and medicinal properties, like drugs, any plant with the potential for healing when used appropriately also has the potential for harm when used irresponsibly.  Whilst the most popular medicinal herbs are reasonably safe for most people, most of the time, and when taken in their recommended amounts, many medicinal herbs contain pharmacologically active compounds that have drug effects on the body.  All drugs have the potential to cause allergic reactions, side effects, and interactions with other herbs and drugs.  Anyone who uses herbs should do so cautiously, responsibly and be well informed on the herb they choose.

Buyer Beware

Botanicals should always be used in a rational and informed manner. Illness or negative reactions can occur from excessive consumption, individual sensitivities and allergic reactions. Seek qualified expert advice before using any botanical.

Please, always check out everything you read about and hear about when it comes to natural health, nutritional supplements and cosmetic products. Do your own follow up work, check the company and the claims they make for their products before you buy anything. Your health may depend on it.

Another Cautionary Note

You can't be too careful and there are some unscrupulous people out there. Be sure of what you are using, it must be accurately identified. Be especially careful when buying over the internet, use only trusted and recommended sources.

If you have something growing that you are not sure of, have it identified by a nursery, agriculture department or botanic garden. To do this you will need all parts of the plant, leaf, stem (at least 6inches), flower, bud and if possible seed. Be aware that the Latin name of any plant is far more accurate for identification purposes, also you should check any botanical terms you don't understand.

Please do not pick herbs from the wild, many species are becoming endangered, and if a species goes extinct we will lose its hidden secrets forever. Try to grow your own herbs, it's relaxing and fun.

And remember that the spirit of a plant should always be thanked when harvesting it, if you feel silly just think "What harm can it do?"

Some Common Pharmaceuticals made from Plants

Herbs are drugs. Most conventional medicine is based on herbal or natural bases or the artificial copying of a natural process.

  • Aspirin (salicylic acid) - from white willow bark and meadowsweet plant.
  • Atropine - used to treat irregular heartbeats - for belladonna leaves.
  • Colchicine - used for gout - from autumn crocus.
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin) - the most widely prescribed heart medication - from foxglove, a poisonous plant.
  • Ephedrine - used to widen or relax the airways - from the ephedra plant.
  • Morphine and Codine - potent narcotics - from the opium poppy.
  • Paclitaxel (Taxol) - used to treat metastatic ovarian cancer - from the yew tree.
  • Quinine - a drug which treats malaria - from cinchona bark.
  • Valium - a synthesised version of the herb valerian
  • Vinblastine (Velban) and Vincristine (Oncovin) - anticancer drugs - from periwinkle


When buying herbal products:-

  • Common names can be confusing - Latin names should be provided.
  • Percentages of active ingredients should be stated or at least available.
  • Active ingredients mean the potential for side effects or overdoses.
  • The herbalist should guarantee quality control to avoid misidentified plants or contamination.
  • The herbalist should be familiar with making products specifically for conditions and any sensitivities that exist.
  • All medicines, including herbal preparations, should be stored safely so that children cannot get into them.

complete herbal

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Important Disclaimer
The information on this web site is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases. Any information presented is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not take the place of any prescribed medication. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consultation with your physician.