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by Gregory Kelly
"I have found Collinsonia (stoneroot) to be of great reliability in assisting to stabilize the lining on the sinus cavities and to minimize the build-up of excess mucus in the sinus cavities, throat, and stomach." --- Peter J. D'Adamo, N.D.
"Remember it in any wrong of the venous capillary system". --- Lloyd's Bulletin
Collinsonia or "stone root" (other common names have included knob root, horse balm, and richweed) has traditionally been employed for passive venous congestion or engorgement. It was historically described as astringent, alterative, diuretic, tonic, etc., none of which give a very clear idea of its effects. A more apt description of its actions in old herbal texts often emphasizes its ability to overcome undue congestion with accompanying pain, irritation, and a sense of stagnation, whether it is within the rectum, pharynx (throat), or other vascular area. In the Merck Index its active principles are listed as resins, saponins, tannins, and mucilage.
Collinsonia was also used historically as a tonic and as an antispasmodic (essentially something to relax smooth muscle tissue). Comments in old herbal texts refer to its ability to relax painful constrictions and spasms of the rectum. As such it was often used in the past for fistulas, ulcers, and fissures. It had a similar reputation for relaxing activity on urinary organs, where it was thought to relax the ureter, and therefore increasing urination, reducing irritability of the bladder, and assisting with the passage of kidney stones.
Another often mentioned use of collinsonia is its ability to counteract the build-up gastric catarrh. This word has fallen out of common use, even within the medical profession, but implies inflammation of a mucus membrane resulting in an increased production of mucus.
Collinsonia's two most common historical applications were for "preacher's throat" and hemorrhoids. Preacher's throat is best thought of as the irritation, dryness, or scratchiness to the throat that develops as a result of overuse. Hence the idea of the preacher who was constantly delivering a sermon and had chronic problems with sore throat or an irritated sensation from overuse of his voice box. I think its reputation in this area is well deserved.
I routinely give presentations and occasionally have been on marathon speaking engagements. Last spring, for example, I gave a 3 hour presentation for the Learning Annex in New York City on a Thursday night. On Friday morning I flew to San Diego and gave 2 presentations at health food stores on Friday, and 2 more on Saturday; all sandwiched around a presentation on herbs at a local botanical garden. Collinsonia has repeatedly helped me when my throat has become irritated from this type of overuse. Whether this is a placebo effect or not, I honestly could not tell you. However, it has been quite reliable in this area for me, and for patients who have tried it for similar situations.
Its use in hemorrhoids seems to also be well worth a try. This has without question been its primary use among herbalists and naturopaths. Hemorrhoids can be a result of several different factors. Generally, we hear that they are a result of straining too hard to defecate, constipation or from low fiber diets and the subsequently harder stools. Other explanations for hemorrhoids include a weakness and irritation in venous tissue and liver congestion (causing increased pressure through the portal veins). In Boericke’s Materia Medica, collinsonia is listed as having an ability quite specific to all of these functional derangements. Do not expect this plant to cure you of hemorrhoids overnight; it won't. However, it does offer the possibility of relief if used regularly for a prolonged period of time.
The first mention of collinsonia's use for some functional problems of the sinus that I ran across was in Eat Right 4 Your Type, which gives some idea of the depth of Dr. D'Adamo's herbal knowledge. However, in old herbal Materia Medica’s, collinsonia is invariably mentioned as being useful for nasal catarrh and dull frontal headaches (especially in people who have or have had hemorrhoids). These common complaints are now invariably lumped into a category called sinusitis (or inflammation of the sinus cavities).
Before we discuss under what circumstances you might want to try this herb for sinus health, let's discuss when it is not going to be of much help. When you have an acute sinus infection, collinsonia should not be regarded as a reliable option to replace either conventional medicines (such as antibiotics) or more aggressive alternative remedies. This plant simply does not have any known anti-microbial or anti-bacterial activity. This is not to say that it has no activity against these organisms; but this area has never been studied and is not part of the plant's historical use. If collinsonia does have any anti-bacterial activity it is likely to be too weak to be of adequate help for an acute infection.
So when might it be useful. Dr. D'Adamo frequently refers to some forms of chronic sinus discomfort as "hemorrhoids of the head". What he is implying is that the lining of the sinus cavities is made from similar material as the lining of your venous system, and just like with a hemorrhoid, this tissue has become inflamed or irritated. So this gives one possible clue to its use. When there is a sense of pressure, congestion, or a generalized inflammation in the area of your sinuses (with or without excess mucus production), collinsonia used regularly will often bring about a subjective sense of improvement.
Even if your sinus concerns just center around a chronic complaint of post-nasal drip, or excess mucus production (without pressure or dull headaches), collinsonia will often be quite useful. Another factor to consider and to place attention on for this type of sinus complaint would certainly be your diet; with strict avoidance of the foods mentioned in ER4YT being a great strategy.
There is one other hygienic practice you might want to consider for this type of recurring problem with sinus congestion or mucus build-up. This is the use of shea butter (a wax-like fat from a seed of an African tree) applied topically in the lining of your nasal cavity. This will often also be helpful to sooth irritated tissue, and reduce build-up of mucus or congestion.
Boericke W. Materia Medica with Repertory. 9th ed. (originally published in 1927) Boericke and Tafel, Inc., Santa Rosa, CA.
D’Adamo P, Whitney C. Eat Right 4 Your Type. 1996 G. P. Putnam and Sons, New York, NY.
Ellingwood F. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. 1919 Ellingwood’s Therapeutist, Evanston, IL.
Budavari S, ed. Merck Index. 1989 Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ.
copyright 1999 North American Pharmacal. All Rights Reserved.
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