Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine has been used by all the world’s people for millennia

The natural world provided our ancestors with the only medicine they knew, and continues to do so for us. The beauty of herbal medicine is its power to heal in the gentle and holistic way that it does. Many of the medicines today have herbal origins: Morphine from opium, digoxin from foxglove, atropine from morning glory.

Dr. Kimberly Brown gave me herbs for a cough I’d had for more than 10 years. She believed my cough was likely due to silent reflux so she also told me what food to avoid. The cough is now gone! I saw a gastroenterologist as she instructed and the endoscopy showed that I have reflux just as Dr. Brown thought.

Ron M.

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Herbal Medicine San Jose Integrative Medicine

Many of the supplements we use at San Jose Integrative Medicine are herbal based.

Based on a patient’s unique symptoms, a combination of herbs are selected to treat symptoms and prevent worsening of certain diseases.

With lifestyle changes, vitamins, minerals, and herbs can treat a variety of conditions. In Ron’s case, Dr. Kimberly Brown ND used a modified formula of Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, which is a Chinese herbal formula.

Herbal medicine dates back thousands of years to the Paleolithic era, almost 60,000 years ago. Every culture around the world has a rich history in using herbs medicinally. The first written records of herbal medicine dates to ancient Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) 5000 years ago. The Sumerians of that region recorded medicinal plants on clay tablets.

The first compilation of herbal medicine belongs to the Ancient Egyptians. Around 1500 BCE, the Ancient Egyptians recorded herbs on papyrus including herbs we still use today.

Ancient Egyptians Recorded Herbs Example

From “Ancient Egyptian Medicine” (http://www.crystalinks.com/egyptmedicine.html):

  • Acacia (Acacia nilotica) – vermifuge, eases diarrhea and internal bleeding, also used to treat skin diseases.
  • Aloe vera – worms, relieves headaches, soothes chest pain, ulcers and for skin diseases and allergies.
  • Basil (Ocimum basillicum) – excellent for heart
  • Balsam apple (Malus sylvestris) or Apple of Jerusalem – laxative, skin allergies, soothes headaches, gums and teeth, for asthma, liver stimulant, weak digestion.
  • Bayberry (Myrica cerefera) – stops diarrhea, soothes ulcers, shrinks hemorrhoids, repels flies.
  • Belladonna – pain reliever; camphor tree-reduces fevers, soothes gums, soothes epilepsy.
  • Caraway (Carum carvi; Umbelliferae) – soothes flatulence, digestive, breath freshener.
  • Cardamom (Eletarria cardamomum; Zingiberaceae) – Used as spice in foods, digestive, soothes flatulence.
  • Colchicum (Citrullus colocynthis) – also known as “Meadow Saffron”, soothes rheumatism, reduces swelling.
  • Common Juniper tree (Juniperus phoenicea; Juniperus drupacea) – digestive, soothes chest pains, soothes stomach cramps.
  • Cubeb pepper (Piper cubeba; Piperaceae)- urinary tract infections, larynx, and throat infections, gum ulcers and infections, soothes headaches.
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens) – soothes flatulence, relieves dyspepsia, laxative and diuretic properties.
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) – respiratory disorders, cleanses the stomach, calms the liver, soothes pancreas, reduces swelling.
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) – throat and larynx infections, stops bleeding, cuts phlegm, asthma, stops vomiting.
  • Garlic (Allium sativa) – gives vitality, soothes flatulence and aids digestion, mild laxative, shrinks hemorrhoids, rids the body of “spirits” (note, during the building of the Pyramids, the workers were given garlic daily to give them the vitality and strength to carry on and perform well).
  • Henna (Lawsonia inermis) – astringent, stop diarrhea, close open wounds (and used as a dye).
  • Honey – was widely used, a natural antibiotic and used to dress wounds and a base for healing unguents, as was castor oil, coriander, beer and other foods.
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – mild laxative, expels phlegm, soothes liver, pancreas and chest and respiratory problems.
  • Mustard (Sinapis alba)- induces vomiting, relieves chest pains.
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) – stops diarrhea, relieves headaches, soothes gums, toothaches and backaches.
  • Onion (Allium cepa) – diuretic, induces perspiration, prevents colds, soothes sciatica, relieves pains and other cardiovascular problems.
  • Parsley (Apium petroselinum) – diuretic.
  • Mint (Mentha piperita) – soothes flatulence, aids digestion, stops vomiting, breath freshener.
  • Sandalwood (Santalum Album) – aids digestion, stops diarrhea, soothes headaches and gout (used in incense).
  • Sesame (Sesamum indicum) – soothes asthma.
  • Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) – laxative.
  • Thyme (Thymus/Thimbra) – pain reliever.
  • Turmeric (Curcumae longa) – close open wounds (also was used to dye skin and cloth).
  • Poppy (Papaver somniferum) – relieves insomnia, relieves headaches, anesthetic, soothes respiratory problems, deadens pain. (“Ancient Egyptian Medicine,” n.d.).

Chinese herbal medicine has been in use for thousands of years, with the first written records found on bone and shell dating back 3500 years.  Zhang Zhongjing compiled Chinese herbal formulas 1800 years ago in “Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders” and “Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Casket”.

The following are some of the herbal formulas from the “Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Casket” that are still in common use:

Gan Mai Da Zao Tang:  For insomnia, anxiety, depression, and menopause

Ban Xia Hou Po Tang: For coughing, nausea, vomiting, and Plum Pit sensation (feeling of something stuck in throat)

Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan: Fatigue, low libido, and frequent urination

Da Chai Hu Tang: Hypertension, menopause, anxiety, constipation

Dang Gui Shao Yao San:  Abdominal pain during pregnancy, anemia, dizziness, palpitations, low energy, cold hands and feet, painful periods, irregular menstrual cycles, uterine bleeding, and anovulation (infertility).

Can Herbal Medicine Help Me?

There is an herb to treat every complaint, but herbal medicine is not always sufficient alone. We will combine herbal therapies with nutritional supplements, diet, and medication. We commonly uses herbs to treat the following conditions:

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

Irregular Periods

Menopausal Symptoms such as Hot Flashes

Painful Periods & Menstrual Cramps

Stress & Anxiety

Low Libido


High Blood Sugar/Prediabetes

High Cholesterol

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

Anxiety & Depression

Hayfever & Allergies

Digestive Disorders like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), Candida Overgrowth, and Reflux

Hypothyroidism (used in combination with thyroid medication or natural dessicated thyroid)

Adrenal Fatigue & Exhaustion

Upper Respiratory Infections & Bronchitis

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Herbal Medicine San Jose Integrative MedicineHow are Herbal Medicines Administered?

Once upon a time, herbal medicine was only given in teas. Today, herbal medicine is available in many different forms. The following are the most commonly used:

Standardized Extracts

Most commonly used because of their convenience, standardized extracts are simply herbs in a pill (capsule or tablet) form. They are highly concentrated and better researched for their active compounds. They can be prepared as a single herb or in combination with other herbs to make a specific formula. Because of their convenience, we usually uses herbs in a pill form.

Herbal Tinctures

Tinctures are extracts of medicinal plants in alcohol or glycerin. They also can be found as single herbs or in combination with other herbs. We find herbal tinctures to be most useful when very high doses of herbs are needed, when the herbs are not available in pill form, or for people with malabsorption (digestive) issues.


Teas are the traditional way herbs have been taken for generations. A cup of tea is a great way to relax no matter what herbs are used. Dr. Kimberly Brown ND does not usually prescribe teas because they are less potent than tinctures or standardized extracts.

Since they are not as strong, teas are very safe. For instance, chamomile may cause miscarriage and decrease estrogen but you will not find a warning on chamomile tea boxes nor does chamomile tea increase hot flashes!

Other Herbal Forms

Herbs can be applied topically in the form of lotions (liniments), ointments (salves), and poultices. Topical herbs are used for infections, pain, and dry skin. Herbs can be found in lozenges, which are used for sore throats. In addition, they can be found in liquid and powder form making them easier to ingest. And for the kids, there are always gummies!

We are trained in both Western and Eastern herbs. We will develop a plan to support you in your path to better health.

Discover what natural herbal medicine and naturopathic medicine can do for you!

If you would like to learn more, give us a 408-357-3422 or request a complimentary phone consultation.

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