ADJUSTING AND REGULATING THE CHOLERIC HUMOR
Flushing Out the Bile, Quelling the Fire
The Choleric humor, also known as the Bilious humor, is Hot and Dry in temperament. Since its primary quality is Hot, the vast majority of herbs and medicines used to adjust and regulate the Choleric humor when it is aggravated or out of balance are Cold or cooling in nature.
When the Choleric humor is out of balance or aggravated, the most commonly seen clinical manifestations are irritation, inflammation, swelling, jaundice, bilious disorders, acid indigestion, fevers, and purulent, bleeding and ulcerous conditions.
Therefore, herbs and medicines used to treat aggravations of the Choleric humor commonly have the following therapeutic properties: demulcent, antiinflammatory, antiphlogistic, antihistamine, choleretic, cholagogue, hepatic, aperitive or bitter tonic, antacid, febrifugal, antipyretic, resolvent, detoxifying, hemostatic, styptic and astringent.
Acute manifestations of Choleric aggravation and imbalance, like fever, swelling, inflammatory crises or bleeding ulcers, can be quite serious and urgent, and demand immediate therapeutic intervention. If there is a fire raging out of control in your house, your first and most urgent order of business is to put it out.
Even the smouldering embers of a chronic or recalcitrant Choleric condition like chronic gastroenteritis, inflamed and bleeding gums, or various other chronic inflammatory or bilious conditions can rob your body of the harmony and integration it needs to heal, and insidiously eat away at the organism's reserves of vitality and immunity. They can also disrupt the wholeness and integrity of the body's overall humoral balance and fluid metabolism. Correcting these chronic Choleric imbalances and disorders is therefore equally important.
Basic Principles for Adjusting and Correcting Yellow Bile
Yellow Bile can become morbid or corrupted in the following ways:
1) It can be softened by admixture with watery phlegm and dampness;
2) It can be corrupted by admixture with thick, toughened phlegm;
3) It can be thickened and dried by chronic or excessive heat, or by admixture with
morbid Black Bile;
4) It can be charred black, or oxidized due to excessive Metabolic Heat.
These morbid varieties of Yellow Bile are arranged in order, starting with the most Cold and Wet in temperament, progressing to the most Hot and Dry. Accordingly, the herbs and therapies used to resolve and eliminate the colder, moister varieties of morbid Yellow Bile must be hotter and dryer in temperament, whereas the herbs and therapies used to resolve and eliminate the hotter, dryer varieties must be colder and moister in temperament.
In addition, each one of these morbid forms of Yellow Bile, especially the thinner, softer varieties, can assume a subtle, vaporous form and be carried through the bloodstream to affect virtually any part of the body. If the morbid Yellow Bile remains in its gross form, it tends to remain close to its site of origin in the liver and hepatobiliary tract, as well as the middle and lower GI tract.
The herbs and therapies used to treat morbid Yellow Bile in its subtle vaporous form focus more on the non-digestive manifestations of Choleric imbalance, such as fever, irritation, inflammation, ulceration, swelling, purulent conditions and bleeding disorders. Accordingly, these herbs and therapies are predominantly febrifugal, antipyretic, antiperiodic, antiinflammatory, astringent, styptic, antiphlogistic, antipurulent and hemostatic.
The herbs and therapies used to treat the hepatic, bilious and digestive manifestations of Choleric imbalance are most commonly choleretic, cholagogue, hepatic, aperitive or bitter tonic, antiulcerative, anticatarrhal, aperient and laxative.
What the vast majority of the herbs used to treat Choleric or bilious disorders, as well as the various systemic manifestations of excessive heat and choler have in common is the bitter taste. This is true especially of herbs that treat the various digestive and hepatobiliary manifestations of Choleric imbalance.
The bitter taste is very Cold or cooling in nature; it is also very soothing and detoxifying. In addition to stimulating and promoting the flow of bile, the bitter taste, as exemplified in the bitter tonics of herbal medicine, has an almost magical ability to regenerate and restore proper pepsis when it has become deranged or dysfunctional due to imbalances and aggravations of the Choleric humor.
After the bitter taste, the astringent taste can also be very therapeutic and beneficial for correcting certain imbalances and disorders of the Choleric humor. The astringent taste is cooling, which is a necessary prerequisite for correcting Choleric imbalances and aggravations, but it is also drying, making it useful for bringing down swelling caused by histamine reactions secondary to inflammation. The binding action of astringents is also very useful for closing wounds and ulcerations, and in stopping bleeding due to excessive heat and choler in the blood.
The pungent taste, also known as spicy, is a valuable adjunct or auxiliary to the bitter taste when it comes to concocting and resolving the colder, moister forms of morbid Yellow Bile, which are due to admixtures with various types of phlegm. With bitter and pungent herbs, the bitter taste cools down and resolves the aggravated heat and choler, while the pungent taste concocts, resolves and eliminates the phlegm by stimulating pepsis. Since bilious agues, or intermittent fevers are caused by a morbid softening of the Choleric humor due to admixture with damp, thin, watery forms of phlegm, many bitter and pungent herbs are also antiperiodics that resolve these types of fevers.
With the hotter, dryer varieties of morbid Yellow Bile, or with morbid Yellow Bile that has become admixed with thickened , toughened forms of phlegm, bitter herbs with a secondary moistening, emollient, attenuating, liquefying quality are used. Once this liquefication or attenuation has been accomplished, these morbid excesses of Yellow Bile can be easily expelled by the eliminative organs of the body, chiefly the kidneys, liver and hepatobiliary system.
Throughout the remainder of this article, I will be introducing you to various herbs and therapies for correcting Choleric imbalances that fit the general profiles outlined here.
According to the principles of traditional Greek and Unani Medicine, Yellow Bile takes at least three days to ripen. So, in treating Choleric and bilious disorders, the course of treatment should take at least three days, with at least five days or more for difficult or recalcitrant cases.
Dietary Therapy for Choleric Disorders
For Choleric disorders, as for those of any other humor, the first line of treatment and prevention is dietary. For those of a Choleric temperament, who are prone to Choleric disorders, following a cooling, anti-Choleric dietary regimen will go a long way towards preventing or mitigating the occurrence of acute or serious Choleric flareups.
The first thing we must do is to eliminate those foods which cause or aggravate Choleric excess or disorder. These are mainly fried foods, greasy foods, excessive salt, excessive aged cheeses, excessive red meat and animal fats, and excessive alcohol and spicy foods.
Coffee, although it may be bitter, is not therapeutic, but actually injurious to the liver and bile metabolism; in addition, the stimulant effects of its caffeine fire up the nerves, and can cause Choleric aggravations of the nervous system. Also, coffee is grown mainly in tropical third world countries, which use a lot of pesticides in growing it, which are toxic to the liver.
Luckily, there is an excellent herbal coffee substitute, an anti-Choleric herb that is a beneficial tonic to the liver. It's roasted Chicory root, and it tastes exactly like the real thing. Or, you can mix organic coffee, grown without harmful pesticides, with roasted Chicory root in equal parts. This was a common practice in the United States, in the old South.
The anti-Choleric diet contains a great abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to alkalize, cool and detoxify the blood. Of these, certain ones are particularly beneficial and therapeutic.
The anti-Choleric diet stresses the importance of green leafy vegetables, especially those that are bitter and cooling in nature. These include lettuce, endive, and Dandelion greens. The Three Cooling Seeds - those of Lettuce, Chicory and Purslane - are taken both as food and as medicine. Artichokes are cooling, cleansing and detoxifying to the liver and kidneys, promoting both the free flow of bile as well as urine. Asparagus is bitter and pungent, and soothes, cleanses and detoxifies the urinary tract as an anti-Choleric diuretic.
Fruits and vegetables in the Cucumber family, or Cucurbitaceae, tend to be cooling and anti-Choleric in nature. These include the vegetable cucumber, as well as watermelon and various types of melons, which are cooling and diuretic.
Citrus juices, particularly those of limes and oranges, are cooling, and can be used to bring down fevers, or disperse excessive body heat in summer. But here, it is not recommended that they be taken straight, as their intense sourness and tartness would tend to aggravate Choleric imbalances rather than resolve them. Orange juice should be diluted at least 50 / 50 in water for these purposes, and the juice of a half to a quarter of a small lime squeezed into a large cup of water.
Certain bitter and pungent cooking spices are useful in correcting Choleric digestive disturbances, and in stimulating or promoting the flow of bile. These include Sage, Rosemary and Tarragon.
European, Greek and Unani Herbs for Correcting Choleric Disorders
Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) - Slightly cooling to temperate, moderately drying. Astringent, diuretic, hemostatic, hepatic, stomachic. Agrimony tea can be used as a gargle to soothe and heal sores and ulcerations in the mouth, teeth and gums. It's also a hemostatic that can stop bleeding from the nose, lung, stomach, uterus and urinary tract. Agrimony is a valuable tonic for correcting nearly all kinds of urinary difficulties and disturbances, and taken daily, it is an astringent tonic that tones and strengthens the liver and stomach, and is beneficial for jaundice.
Aloe Vera (Aloe vera) - Cold, extremely bitter, slightly moistening and attenuating. Laxative, purgative, alterative, hepatic, bitter tonic, emmenagogue, vulnerary. Dried Aloe leaves or resin in larger doses acts as a vigorous laxative and purgative, flushing out the bile and emptying the bowels. Because of its vigorous action, Aloe must be used with care if bleeding hemorrhoids are present. In smaller doses, Aloe acts as a hepatic, bitter tonic and blood cleanser that is valuable in bilious dyspepsia, jaundice, and as a women's tonic to regulate the menses, clear out old stagnant blood in the uterine and pelvic areas, and to dissolve gynecological growths, cysts and fibroids. Used topically or internally with resins like Myrrh, Aloe is a powerful vulnerary that accelerates healing and tissue regeneration. The debittered juice of the fresh Aloe leaf is a soothing antiinflammatory to the GI tract, and is a valuable inflammomodulatory herb to heal and correct chronic inflammatory conditions wherever they may occur in the body.
Artichoke (Cynara scolimus) - Moderately cooling and drying. Bitter and moderately pungent. Bitter tonic, choleretic, cholagogue, hepatic, aperient laxative, antihypertensive. In European herbal medicine, Artichoke leaves are the most popular cholagogue to flush out stagnant, congested bile from the liver and gall bladder, and is great at liquefying bile that has become dried and thickened by chronic or excessive heat. Artichoke leaves are also a valuable tonic in chronic inflammatory and aesthenic conditions of the liver, gall bladder, spleen and pancreas. Because Artichoke leaves promote the flow of bile, they also have a mild laxative action, and are also beneficial in lowering blood pressure in Choleric individuals due to a loosening, vasodilating effect. Take Artichoke leaves as a tea or decoction, and not as a powder.
Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) - Cold and Dry. Bitter, berries bittersweet. Choleretic, cholagogue, aperitive, bitter tonic, hepatic, antiinflammatory, alterative, antirheumatic. The bittersweet Barberry berries are taken in the Middle East as a cooling tonic and detoxifier of the blood, especially in chronic consumptive dyscrasias of the blood due to lingering heat and fever. The berries are also laxative. Barberry root is one of Greek and Unani Medicine's principal bile cleansers and anti-Choleric herbs, as well as being a valuable tonic to the liver. It is a valuable immune booster and antiseptic in chronic infections due to its high Berberine content. Because of its antiinflammatory and antirheumatic properties, Barberry root is also useful in treating inflammatory arthritis and rheumatism.
Calamus (Acorus calamus) - Warming and Drying. Pungent and bitter. Carminative stomachic, bitter tonic, nervine, antispasmodic. Despite its bitter taste, Calamus root does not fit the usual cooling energetics of anti-Choleric herbs. Nevertheless, it is one of the best herbs to take in cases of heartburn, acid indigestion, acid reflux and Choleric dyspepsia. Just chew a few pieces of the dried root to obtain relief. Calamus root resists toxins, and is a great tonic to the stomach and digestion.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) - Temperate to slightly cooling and moistening. Mildly sweet, bland. Emollient, antiinflammatory, vulnerary, alterative, febrifuge, emmenagogue. Salves, medicated oils and fresh juices of Calendula, or Marigold flowers, are used extensively in homeopathic medicine to soothe and heal minor cuts, burns and skin irritations. Taken internally, Calendula acts as a women's tonic and emmenagogue, and is valuable in hemorrhoids because of its ability to flush out stagnant blood in the hepatic portal system. It is also valuable in treating chronic ulceration of the GI tract, and in resolving fevers and purulent conditions caused by toxic blood.
Celandine (Chelidonium majus) - Moderately heating and drying. Bitter and pungent. Choleretic, cholagogue, hepatic, bitter tonic and stomachic, alterative, vulnerary. The juice of the fresh Celandine herb is used to heal sore, red and inflamed eyes, and to restore and srengthen the vision with topical application. The fresh juice or the tea of the dried herb is a useful vulnerary when applied topically to wounds and ulcerations. Taken internally, a tea of Celandine herb is a valuable tonic in jaundice, and in torpid, sluggish conditions of the liver caused by congestions of stagnant bile and phlegm. Celandine also has a relaxing, calming antispasmodic effect on the stomach, gall bladder and biliary ducts that helps to flush out the bile.
Centaury (Erythrea centaurium) - Cooling. Bitter, slightly pungent. Choleretic, cholagogue, bitter tonic and stomachic, febrifuge, alterative, vulnerary. Dedicated to the old Centaur Chiron, the mythological founder and teacher of the medical art, Centaury was considered to be a virtual panacea by the ancient Greeks, and Dioscorides considered it to be an excellent wound healer and vulnerary for both internal and external use. Centaury is the consummate bitter tonic, improving both appetite and digestion where they have become tired and run down due to Choleric aggravation. It improves the generation and flow of bile, relieving jaundice as well as colic and biliary colic, and removes hardness and obstructions from the liver, gall bladder and spleen. Centaury is also a useful blood cleanser, and brings down fevers.
Chicory (Chicorium intybus) - Moderately cooling, slightly moistening. Bitter, slightly sweet and pungent. Choleretic, cholagogue, hepatic, aperitive, bitter tonic, aperient, alterative, diuretic. Chicory is Unani Medicine's premier liver tonic, and both the root and the seeds are used in many medicinal preparations. Chicory is a valuable tonic for both the liver and the spleen, which it both cleanses and nourishes. It improves the generation and flow of bile, and therefore has both stomachic and aperient, or mildly laxative properties. Chicory is a rich source of minerals and other nutrients, which make it a valuable tonic in anemia, and for reducing and normalizing blood sugar levels in diabetes. As an alterative, Chicory is useful in treating chronic skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Culpeper calls this herb Succory, and says that it cleanses accumulations of both bile and phlegm; it also has a diuretic effect that strengthens the kidneys, and is useful in treating edema. In Romania, the herb or leaves of Chicory are used as a calming sedative and nervine to treat insomnia and neuaesthenia, or weak nerves.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) - Moderately cooling and drying. Bittersweet and pungent. Choleretic, cholagogue, hepatic, alterative, diuretic, aperient, bitter tonic. Dandelion leaves are used as a bitter tonic for the stomach and liver, and as a reliable diuretic. Chinese Medicine uses Dandelion leaves to detoxify the blood and resolve abscesses and swellings of the breast, and of the large intestine. Dandelion root is a great hepatic and liver tonic that removes obstructions from the liver and spleen, stimulates the stomach and digestion, relaxes the bowels, and promotes the flow of bile. It is also a mild diuretic that opens the urinary passages and improves fluid metabolism, especially in conjunction with diuretic herbs like Burdock root. This last combination is also very good at eliminating excess heat and choler from the blood.
Emblic Myrobalan (Emblica officinalis) - Cooling, slightly moistening. Sour, binding and astringent. Alterative, astringent, antiinflammatory, cholagogue, aperient, febrifuge, nutritive tonic, antiscorbutic. The Emblic Myrobalan, also known as the Indian Gooseberry, is Ayurvedic medicine's principal herb for subsiding excessive or aggravated Pitta, or heat and choler. Its therapeutic properties come both from its cooling, binding astringency as well as its incredibly high vitamin C content, which cannot be destroyed by cooking. Its vitamin C has a beneficial effect on the liver, and on the bile flow and metabolism, as well as a strengthening and protective antiinflammatory effect on the collagen and connective tissues of the body. Amla is an ingredient of Triphala, or the Powder of the Three Myrobalan Fruits, which is used not just in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, but also in Unani Medicine; medicinal recipes in Culpeper's Complete Herbal even contain and mention the Three Myrobalans.
Gentian (Gentiana lutea) - Moderately cold and dry. Bitter, slightly pungent. Choleretic, cholagogue, hepatic, aperitive, bitter tonic, alterative, emmenagogue, antiinflammatory, antiperiodic, antirheumatic. Gentian root is one of Nature's great tonics for the liver and digestion, and improves the flow of bile and all the other digestive secretions. Like its botanical relative Centaury, it is extremely valuable in Choleric dyspepsia, and to improve appetite and digestion where they have become tired or run down. Culpeper says that Gentian removes obstructions of the liver, urine and menses, and resists poison; he also says that it is beneficial for jaundice and subdues agues, or intermittent fevers. Gentian also has a soothing antiinflammatory effect on sore, aching joints. As a bitter digestive tonic, Gentian root is often steeped in wine or alcohol in combination with other more pungent or aromatic digestive herbs.
Hops (Humulus lupus) - Cold, bitter, slightly pungent. Sedative, nervine, hypnotic, bitter tonic, stomachic. Hops, used to flavor beer, is both a calming sedative and nervine as well as a bitter stomachic. And so, it is perfect for insomnia due to Choleric indigestion. It is also a diuretic and an emmenagogue.
Meadowsweet (Fillipendula ulmaria) - Cooling, drying, binding. Antirheumatic, antiinflammatory, astringent, diuretic, diaphoretic. Meadowsweet contains salycilates, which make it very useful in treating inflammatory types of arthritis, rheumatism and gout. Its diuretic and diaphoretic properties make it an herb to treat colds and flu, fevers, edema and urinary and bladder problems.
Melilot (Melilotus officinalis) - Slightly cooling and drying. Sweet, pungent, aromatic. Alterative, antiinflammatory, thymogenic, diuretic, vulnerary. Melilot, or Sweet Clover, is rich in fragrant Coumarins that thin the blood, improve its circulation, dispel stagnant blood and have a thymogenic effect. Melilot is very useful in treating all purulent and septic conditions of the blood. Topically, it is used as a poultice for swellings, boils and skin problems. It is also valuable in treating chronic respiratory infections, urinary infections, arthritis and rheumatism, and skin rashes and conditions when taken internally.
Olive leaves (Olea europaea) - Slightly cooling and drying. Bitter, sweet, pungent. Alterative, thymogenic, antiseptic, febrifuge, adaptogen. Olive leaves are a reliable remedy to cleanse the blood, bring down fevers, and fight colds, flu and respiratory infections. Olive leaf is a broad spectrum natural antiseptic and antibiotic, effective against a wide variety of organisms - bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic. Just google it up on the net to see all the diverse infections it can treat. As to Olive leaf's basic mechanism of action, its basic nature and temperament is very mild, temperate and balanced, and can be used by anyone, regardless of their constitutional type. I feel that Olive leaf, being mildly bitter, cleanses and detoxifies not just the Choleric humor, but all the other humors and vital fluids of the organism as well, correcting and eliminating sepsis and turbidity, which then restores the activity of the Thymos, or immune force, to overcome infections.
Rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum) - Cold, bitter, acrid, pungent, slightly astringent. Laxative, purgative, bitter tonic, cholagogue, antiinflammatory, antiphlogistic, alterative. In higher doses, Rhubarb root is a vigorous laxative and purgative, whereas in smaller doses it is a bitter tonic and cholagogue that cleanses the liver and stimulates the flow of bile. Rhubarb root is an effective antiinflammatory and antiphlogistic that reduces swelling and inflammation either internally or applied topically / externally. Rhubarb root is Chinese Medicine's main laxative and purgative, and is indicated for constipation caused by the accumulation of excess heat and choler in the bowels. Taken in small doses, Rhubarb root is a valuable alterative for women, treating suppressed menses and gynecological cysts and growths caused by stagnant pelvic blood corrupted by heat and choler. Because of its strong purging action, Rhubarb root is contraindicated in pregnancy, and must be used with care by those with weak, delicate digestions.
Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) - Moderately cooling and moistening. Sour, sweet. Aperient, laxative, tonic, febrifuge, refrigerant. Tamarind is a soothing, lubricating bulk laxative with an abundance of soluble fiber which relieves constipation caused by a congestion of heat and choler in the bowels. And so, it is commonly added as a corrective in laxative and purgative formulas to counteract the irritation and intestinal griping caused by harsh stimulant laxatives like Senna, Rhubarb and Jalap. In the tropics, Tamarind is made into a soothing, cooling summer drink , and is also useful in bringing down fevers.
White Willow bark (Salyx alba) - Cold and Dry. Cooling, binding, astringent. Febrifuge, antiinflammatory, analgesic, anodyne, astringent, hemostatic. White Willow bark contains salycilates, and is the natural herbal source for aspirin. it is an effective febrifuge that will bring down high fevers and allay painful inflammation in the muscles, tendons and joints. White Willow bark can be used for all of aspirin's uses, but it is gentler on the stomach; in addition, its astringency makes it, contrary to aspirin, useful for stopping internal bleeding.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum) - Slightly warming and drying. Bitter, slightly pungent and astringent. Choleretic, cholagogue, aperitive, bitter tonic, stomachic, alterative, adaptogen, antiperiodic, diuretic, vermifuge. Wormwood got its name because it is an effective vermifuge to expel intestinal parasites; however, it is a versatile herb with many other uses. Digestively, Wormwood increases the biliary secretions of the liver and gall bladder in jaundice, biliousness and biliary colic, and is very soothing and helpful in heartburn and acid indigestion, as well as gas and flatulence, especially of biliary origin. Soaking Wormwood in red wine produces the aperitive, or bitter digestive tonic drink Vermouth, which dates back to the ancient Greeks. A small glass of Vermouth was taken before meals to stimulate the appetite and digestion; medicinally, Vermouth was used as a blood and liver tonic in anemia and jaundice, and as a febrifuge and antiperiodic in consumptive, malarial and bilious intermittent fevers. Wormwood has strong antibiotic activity against many organisms, including Staph and Salmonella, and is a powerful adaptogen and immune stimulant. In Romania, Wormwood tea is used for swelling and edema of the feet.
There is considerable concern about the safety of Wormwood and its long term deleterious effects on the nervous system with prolonged or continuous use, due to the presence of Thujone. A lot of this concern comes from the experience of alcoholics addicted to Absinthe, or Wormwood liqueur, in the 19th century. I, as well as many other herbalists, have not noticed any deleterious effects on the nervous system, but here I urge common sense and moderation. Wormwood should not be taken in large doses by pregnant women, and the essential oil should never be taken internally.
Yarrow (Achillea millfolium) - Slightly cooling and drying. Bitter, aromatic, pungent; slightly astringent. Cholagogue, bitter tonic, stomachic, hepatic, emmenagogue, diaphoretic, febrifuge, antiperiodic, astringent, diuretic, hemostatic, vulnerary. Yarrow got its botanical name due to the legend that its medicinal use was discovered by the great warrior Achilles; and so, Yarrow has always had a strong military association, and its astringent and vulnerary properties are used to staunch bleeding and accelerate the healing of wounds. Yarrow is an excellent stomachic and bitter tonic that improves the flow of bile and soothes a nervous, irritable stomach and digestion; it is also a great hepatic tonic, and harmonizes and regulates the vital energies of the liver and spleen. Yarrow also has a great reputation as a diaphoretic and febrifuge, being useful even in chronic, deep seated malarial, bilious or intermittent fevers. Besides treating these disorders of aggravated heat and choler, Yarrow is also very useful in treating nervous and Melancholic afflictions, which we will deal with in the following page on adjusting and regulating the Melancholic humor.
Anti-Choleric Herbs from the New World
The New World has given us many valuable bitter tonics and anti-Choleric herbs. I will discuss some of the better ones below:
Cinchona bark (Cinchona spp.) - Cooling, drying. Bitter, pungent. Febrifuge, antimalarial, bitter tonic, cardiotonic. Cinchona bark yields Quinine, which is an important antimalarial drug. It is also a relaxing and strengthening tonic to the heart. Since Cinchona bark is an oxytocic that provokes labor contractions, it is contraindicated in pregnancy. Since Christian missionaries learned of the bark's medicinal uses from the indigenous peoples of Peru, Cinchona bark is sometimes called Peruvian bark.
Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) - Cooling, slightly drying. Pungent, slightly bitter. Alterative, febrifuge, antibiotic. Considered by American plains Indians to be an antidote for snakebite, Echinacea root was considered by doctors to be a natural antibiotic before the introduction of synthetic substitutes. As an alterative, Echinacea cleanses the blood and lymph of excess heat, choler and purulent toxins in eczema, acne, boils and abscesses. As an antibiotic and infection fighter, Echinacea is often combined with the bitter tonic Goldenseal. Echinacea is an immune stimulating tonic due to its high polysaccharide content, which increases the production of immune globulins and also improves intestinal immunity.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) - Cold, bitter. Choleretic, cholagogue, stomachic, bitter tonic, aperient, alterative, antiinflammatory. Goldenseal is an antiinflammatory, stomachic and bitter tonic that has a soothing, healing effect in catarrhal and inflammatory conditions of the mucosa of the gastrointestinal, respiratory and genitourinary tracts. As a bitter tonic, Goldenseal strongly stimulates the excretion of bile from the liver and gall bladder, giving it a mild yet reliable laxative effect. Because of its high Berberine content, Goldenseal is considered by many herbalists to be a powerful natural antibiotic, for which purposes it is often combined with Echinacea. Topically, Goldenseal tea can be used as a gargle for sores and ulcerations of the mouth, teeth and gums.
Oregon Grape root (Mahonia aquifolium) - Cooling, bitter. Alterative, diuretic, antirheumatic, bitter tonic. Like Barberry root, Oregon Grape root is a bitter tonic whose main active consituent is Berberine. Oregon Grape root is a powerful alterative, or blood purifier, in all scrofulous and chronic skin conditions and inflammatory types of rheumatism. It is also a mild laxative in chronic constipation. Oregon Grape root is one of the most valuable bitter tonics to come from Native American herbalism.
Quassia wood (Picraena excelsa) - Bitter, cooling, drying. Alterative, bitter tonic, vermifuge, febrifuge, stomachic. Quassia wood is a bitter tonic that is strengthening to the stomach and pancreas in cases of diabetes and chronic indigestion. It is also a vermifuge that expels roundworms when taken internally and pinworms when taken as an enema. Quassia wood is also a useful alterative or blood cleanser in fevers and rheumatism.
Unani Remedies for Adjusting Yellow Bile
On page 173 of his excellent book, The Traditional Healer's Handbook, Hakim G. M. Chishti gives several remedies and formulas for adjusting Yellow Bile:
Among the single herbs he gives for adjusting Yellow Bile are Quince seeds, Chicory, Cucumber seeds, Coriander seeds, Sandalwood, Lettuce seeds and Camphor. If there is coughing, Hakim Chishti reminds us, we should not give Quince seeds, but rather syrup of Chicory and Purslane.
A well-known formula for purging Yellow Bile, Hakim Chishti tells us, is to take 1 teaspoon pulp of Plum, 1/2 teaspoon each of Sebestan (Capers), Fumitory leaves, Senna leaves and Chicory seeds. After adding one teaspoon of Sweet Almond Oil, you should boil this mixture in two cups of water for 5 minutes. Strain, cool and drink. Repeat if necessary.
Aromatherapy for Adjusting and Sedating Aggravated Heat and Choler
In the Orient, certain fragrances, either in essential oil form, or burned as incense, are considered very cooling and sedating, and useful for dispersing aggravated heat and choler, particularly when it has unsettled the mind, inflaming the passions and provoking undue tension and stress. The better known herbal fragrances for this purpose are as follows:
Aloes Wood (Aquillaria aggalocha) - Aloes Wood is a resinous wood from a shrub that resembles Aloe Vera, or the True Aloe, in shape and form. In the Bible, it is called Fragrant Aloes, whereas Aloe Vera is known as Bitter Aloes. Taken internally as a medicine, Aloes Wood is a strong carminative and stomachic useful for treating gastric reflux symptoms like burping, belching and colic. Aloes Wood is a common ingredient in Oriental incenses, where it has a cooling, calming, meditative fragrance with a hint of Fennel or Anise.
Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) - Pure crystalline Camphor is the distilled essence of the essential oil of the wood of the Camphor tree, which is indigenous to the Orient and Southeast Asia, but which has been cultivated all over the globe for its noble stature and soothing fragrance. It is a relative of the Cinnamon tree.
In Hinduism, Camphor is considered to be the most spiritual fragrance, and symbolic of the Soul because it leaves no residue or ash behind when it burns. Either burned as a fragrance or taken internally in minute doses, Camphor can be used as an anaphrodisiac to subdue the sexual passions or dissolve sexual attachments to an old lover. Camphor is used medicinally in liniments, salves and tinctures, both as a cooling antiinflammatory, and to open up the meridians, orifices and vessels of the subtle body, facilitating the free flow of the Vital Spirits, the Vital Force, and other vital principles.
Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) - The white Jasmine flower has a delicate floral scent that is soothing and cooling in nature. Taken internally, Jasmine is an effective sedative that also generates a mild sense of euphoria. And so, Jasmine flowers are added to some Chinese teas, both for their wonderful fragrance and flavor as well as for their sedative effect, which counterbalances the stimulating effect of the caffeine.
Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) - In the Orient, all parts of the versatile Lotus plant are used, as food, medicine and fragrance. The dried powdered petals are burned in incenses, or a fragrant essential oil is extracted from them, which has a cooling, soothing fragrance. The Lotus root is eaten as a food in China and Japan, and is used medicinally to stop coughing and bleeding from the lungs and respiratory tract. Lotus seeds are baked in cookies, and are used medicinally as a nutritive tonic to strengthen the low back and loins, and to treat insomnia. The leaves are an excellent diuretic that also strengthens and clears pepsis and digestion, and disperses summer heat. The plumules of the seeds are used to treat insomnia, and the stamens are used for urinary disorders.
In the West, White Pond Lily, also called Nuphar (Nymphaea odorata), can be used as a substitute in many ways, although the parts and their uses are not identical. With both the Oriental Lotus and the Western White Pond Lily, a soothing, cooling sedating anti-Choleric theme runs through them.
Rose (Rosa damascena, Rosa spp.) - A tea of Rose petals makes a soothing eyewash for red, sore eyes. Rosewater and Glycerine is a famous treatment for beautifying the skin. Combine Rosewater and Glycerine with Olive Oil and Beeswax, and you get Cold Cream, which was Galen's great cosmetic gift to women. The sweet, floral, pungent, sensuous scent of Rose cools down the aggravated Choleric emotions of anger and spite, and cultivates the healing power of True Love. The finest Rose oil comes from Bulgaria, and can be prohibitively expensive, but oil or attar of Roses is also produced and much appreciated in Persia or Iran, where it is even used to flavor sweets and ice cream.
Sandalwood (Santalum album) - In India and the Orient, Sandalwood is considered to be one of the most spiritual and meditative of all fragrances, cooling down aggravated Choleric passions and opening up the higher spiritual senses. Medicinally, whether used topically or taken internally, Sandalwood has a cooling, anti-Choleric effect and a wide variety of uses. Like Rosewater, Sandalwood paste or infusion used as a facial wash is a great beautifying treatment for the skin, and is great for treating and preventing acne. Just dab a little bit of Sandalwood oil on an acne blemish, and it disappears within minutes! But the genuine natural essential oil must be used, not synthetic substitutes. Taken internally, Sandalwood is a soothing stomachic and carminative in digestive upsets much like Aloes Wood; it is also a soothing and cleansing diuretic useful for relieving chronic infection, irritation and inflammation of the urinary passages.
Derivation of Pus, Heat and Choler through the Skin
Last but not least, as a remedial treatment for adjusting the Choleric humor, we have the derivation of hot, purulent, inflammatory toxins through the skin. This is done through the principle of Like attracts Like, because the procedure usually involves the application or rubbing on of pastes which are themselves hot and irritating, made from substances like Cantharides, or Spanish Fly, as well as Thapsia and Mustard seed.
These pastes are known as vesicants - substances producing blisters or boils, and counterirritants - substances whose surface irritation counters or draws out deeper Choleric heat, inflammation and purulence. A blister or boil is formed and ripened, then it is lanced and drained, after which the wound is sterilely dressed and bandaged. These therapies draw off deeply held toxins in the muscles, bones and joints, and can be very effective in treating arthritis and rheumatism, especially in its hotter, inflammatory manifestations.
Excessive heat and choler can also affect the blood, since Blood, or the Sanguine Humor, is, like Yellow Bile, also Warm or Hot in temperament. When Blood is affected, or infected, by excess heat and choler, not only can pus and purulent toxins be generated, but bleeding disorders can also result, since the blood circulation gets too reckless and agitated.
A nosebleed, or epistaxis, is a good example of a spontaneous bleeding disorder caused by excessive heat and choler in the blood. And so, cupping and bloodletting are often used to draw off hot, Choleric congested Blood in imitation of these spontaneous bleeding crises of Nature.
Cupping can relieve deep congestions of hot, Choleric blood by dispersing this congestion and drawing it to the surface. Cupping a point over the liver can relieve toxicity and congestion in that organ, for example. Wet cupping, or scarification and cupping, is even stronger for draining excessive heat and choler from the blood.
In acupuncture, the end points, or Jing Well points, of many meridians are often bled to relieve excess heat, swelling and congestion in body parts traversed by the meridian, or in its associated organ. For example, Lung 11, the Jing Well point, is bled to relieve sore throat, cough and asthma of a hot, inflammatory nature, as well as fevers and nosebleeds.
The Traditional Healer's Handbook: A Classic Guide to the Medicine of Avicenna by Hakim G. M. Chishti, N.D. Pg. 173 @1988, 1991 by Hakim G. M. Chishti. Healing Arts Press, Rutland Vermont USA
Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Pg. 139. @1987 by Foreign Languages Press, Beijing China
Culpeper's Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper. @1995 by Wordsworth Editions, UK
The Herb Book by John Lust N.D. @1974 by Benedict Lust Publications