There are a number of categories of herbs used in the detoxification process. One of the most popular types is alteratives. Although alterative herbs are often referred to as "blood purifiers," the way they work is to improve organs of blood purification, such as the liver and kidneys, and thus aid in the elimination of harmful by-products of metabolism. Alteratives increase blood flow to the tissues, detoxify, improve assimilation, and stimulate metabolism. They are also often rich in electrolytes and trace minerals and are best used over a period of time for their restorative influences.

Antifungal agents inhibit the growth of unfriendly yeasts that can contribute to candida. Antioxidants help protect us from free radicals - unpaired molecules we are exposed to through environmental pollutants that can cause cellular damage. A cholagogue promotes bile flow to the liver and aids the breakdown of fats. A demulcent soothes irritated tissue of the throat as well as gastrointestinal system. This effect is usually due to the plant's content of mucilage, a soothing slippery substance that lubricates and heals.

Diuretics increase kidney function and thus the elimination of urine and excess fluids. Nutritives are rich in vitamins and minerals that help build and tone the body. Rejuvenative properties in plants help renew the body and mind and help slow down the aging process. They are usually tonics, are highly nutritive, counteract stress, and gently increase endurance. A vulnerary herb helps promote cellular growth and repair.

- By Brigitte Mars, AHG
Published in the September 1998 Partners Magazine

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