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All of the plants in this class of herbs may have their own individual medicinal properties as well as body systems that they specifically act upon. What they share in common is a cleansing, normalizing action. This is why they are referred to as the blood cleansers. There are also known as alterative herbs.
How exactly they work is unclear, although their effects are well-known. They bring a state of balance by altering a polluted state of the bloodstream. They are essentially detoxifying herbs. When used over a long period of time they can improve the functioning of most bodily systems and revitalize the entire body.
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Conditions Which May Benefit
For the most part these botanicals are used to treat skin conditions and rheumatic conditions — both of which are usually a sign of a build-up of toxins in the body. They also can be used to support other herbs when treating digestive problems, liver and gallbladder health, urinary tract functioning, and the glandular system. They can be used simply as a measure to work towards optimal well-being. Most of these herbs are generally safe for regular use.
Conditions which alteratives are beneficial for include:
- General digestive issues
- Chronic fatigue
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List of Herbs
The following herbs are some of the most well-known alteratives:
- Red clover is a popular alternative in cases of chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. it also has mild sedative properties, and is gentle enough for both adults and children. This herb combines well with yellow dock and nettles.
- Nettles is one of the best herbs for foundational health from a holistic point of view. It has a normalizing effect, and is also a rich source of nutrients. Nettles are ideal when trying to overcome a chronic illness and return to a state of health. Drinking nettle tea or taking the tincture form regularly is a great way to add a boost of nutrition to your diet.
- Burdock root is a potent herb, recommended for skin and rheumatic conditions. Used over a period of time, it can help correct problems such as adult acne and dandruff. With bitter properties, it also benefits the digestive system.
- Licorice root is not as much of a blood cleanser as an endocrine system balancer. It does have a very normalizing effect on the body, especially in cases of chronic fatigue. It is also beneficial for bronchial issues and stomach ulcers. Do not use if you have high blood pressure.
- Blue flag is an alternative that works through benefiting the liver. When the liver is toned and balanced, it has the ability to remove toxins from the body. This herb is good for chronic skin conditions and any problems with the liver. It does well with burdock and yellow dock.
- Sarsaparilla is an overall cleansing herb, good for correcting both skin and rheumatic conditions. It also balances testosterone activity. Use this herb with burdock, cleavers, and yellow dock.
- Bogbean is a blood cleanser that should be used for rheumatism and arthritis. It not only normalizes, but it has anti-inflammatory properties. For arthritis, combine with celery seed. This herb also stimulates digestive juices and bile production, and can be beneficial in cases of indigestion, as well as liver and gallbladder problems.
- Cleavers is an alternative that acts specifically on the lymphatic system. It can be used for swollen glands as well as chronic skin conditions.
- Figwort is ideal for skin problems and purifying the body. It blends well with yellow dock and burdock. Do not use if you have heart problems as it can stimulate the heart.
- Sassafras is another powerful cleanser, with both alternative and diuretic properties. It can be used for eczema, psoriasis, and arthritis problems. It is also good for restoring health after colds and flu.
- Yellow dock is often used in conjunction with other herbs to treat skin conditions. It also stimulates the flow of bile, making it beneficial for gallbladder problems.
To use the blood cleansing herbs effectively, drink one to three cups of an herbal infusion daily. To make a tea, infuse one to two teaspoons of the dried herb in one cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Many of these herbs are enhanced when blended together. A great blend for healthy skin is nettles, red clover, and burdock. Combine bogbean with celery seed and meadowsweet for arthritis. Herbal tinctures are also very effective. One dropperful is the equivalent of one dose.
When treating the body, use these herbs several times a week if not daily for a period of at least four weeks. They work gradually to correct an imbalance. While herbs are generally safe and beneficial for the body, they are a form of medicine. Talk to your health care practitioner before using herbs, especially if on any medications or pregnant.
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Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies." (Element Books, 1996).
Gaines Nutrition <http://www.gaines.com/html/Libraries/Herbs/Alterative.html>
Andy Rob (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/aroberts/12471160/>
The Equinest (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/theequinest/2535259552/>
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