Anti-Inflammatory Plants: Plants That Stimulate Cortisone Production Remedies

Natural Remedies for Inflammation (Healing Arts Press, 2014), by Christopher Vasey contains valuable information about treating inflammation naturally. The book examines over 50 of the most common inflammation-related illnesses and explains which medicinal plant or food supplement is best suited to ease the symptoms and help the body heal. The following excerpt is from Chapter 5, “Eighteen Anti-Inflammatory Plants.”

Plants That Stimulate Cortisone Production

The plants of this group have a “cortisone-like” effect; in other words, they stimulate the adrenal glands to produce more cortisone. This hormone will then flow at higher levels in the bloodstream and work its anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body. Since this cortisone is produced by the body and is a natural physiological product, it is entirely beneficial, without any adverse side effects.

Black-Currant-Web jpg

Black Currant (Ribes nigrum)

Botanical Description: The black currant is a small bush that can grow to more than 4 feet tall. It produces small, black spherical fruits.

History: Black currant leaves have been used for several centuries for their antiarthritic properties. In the twentieth century, black currant buds were found to contain concentrated levels of these same properties. The recommended preparations are glycerin maceration or mother tincture.

Parts Used: Buds, leaves

Active Principles: Bioflavonoids


• Adrenal stimulant

• Powerful anti-inflammatory

• Diuretic

Target Organs: All organs, particularly the respiratory tract and joints


Respiratory tract: Hay fever, allergies to dust and animal hair, allergenic asthma

Joints: Acute and chronic arthritis

Urinary tract: Cystitis, prostatitis

General inflammation: Hives, hemorrhoids, et cetera


Glycerin maceration or mother tincture (buds): Take 30 to 50 drops with water three times a day before mealtime. For hay fever and other seasonal allergies, maintain this dosage throughout the season when the pollen to which you are sensitive is present. In the event of an isolated attack, take 50 drops in a glass of water at once. You should start feeling its effects within half an hour.

Herbal tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 10 grams of dried leaves, and let steep for fifteen minutes. Drink 2 or 3 cups a day. The tea’s effect is primarily antiarthritic and diuretic; it is not antiallergic.

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Black Spruce (Picea mariana)

Botanical Description: Black spruce is a fir tree, one of almost forty members of the genus Picea found primarily in the world’s northern temperate and boreal regions. It is one of the most cold-tolerant trees of this genus. It grows mainly in Canada, up to the very borders of the tundra.

History: Black spruce provides a very solid wood for carpentry. Its buds and needles are rich in vitamin C. They were once used to brew spruce beer, which was used to prevent scurvy.

Part Used: Needles from the young branches

Active Principles: Terpenes, bornyl acetate


• Adrenal stimulant

• Anti-inflammatory

• Antimicrobial

• Overall stimulant

Target Organs: Adrenal glands and the respiratory tract


Respiratory tract: Rhinitis (the common cold), rhinopharyngitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, coughs, hay fever, asthma

Urinary tract: Prostatitis

Digestive tract: Candida enteritis, parasites

Use/Dosage: Black spruce is primarily used in the form of essential oil.

Orally: Take 1 drop of essential oil in honey or cold-pressed oil three times a day.

Skin application: Use 1 to 3 drops of essential oil per 1/2 teaspoon of sunflower or another carrier oil. Massage onto the back, around the area of the adrenal glands (around the upper kidneys at the level of the bottom ribs).

scotch pine
Photo courtesy © GeoM

Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Botanical Description: The Scotch pine is a coniferous tree that grows in the cold and mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. It can grow to 100 feet in height. It is very resistant to frost but requires a lot of sunlight. Its bark is dark and scaly, except toward the top of the tree, where it is flaky and orange. Its needles, which are grouped in pairs, are deep green in color. It gives off a pleasant pine odor. The species name sylvestris is based on the Latin sylva, meaning “forest.”

History: The young needles are harvested for their therapeutic properties. They are often sold under the (incorrect) name of spruce buds.

Parts Used: Needles, buds

Active Principles: Various terpenes


• Adrenal stimulant

• Anti-inflammatory

• Anti-infectious

• Overall stimulant

Target Organs: The entire body


Respiratory tract: Sinusitis, bronchitis

Joints: Arthritis in general

Urinary tract: Cystitis, prostatitis


Herbal tea: Pour 1 quart of boiling water over 20 to 50 grams of buds and let steep for ten minutes. Drink 3 cups a day.

Mother tincture: Take 10 to 20 drops diluted in a little water three times a day.

Essential oil: Take 3 drops in honey or cold-pressed oil three or four times a day.

Capsules: Take 2 capsules three times a day when inflammation comes on, and then 2 capsules two times a day until it has completely cleared.

Contraindications: Avoid Scotch pine in cases of high blood pressure, nervousness, or weak kidneys.

Antihistaminic Plants

Histamines are inflammation mediators, especially when allergies are involved. The plants described here reduce histamine levels in the bloodstream and thereby exert an anti-inflammatory effect.

Histamine is a type of protein. It can be found in small quantities in every cell of the body, but it is present in higher levels in the cells of the tissues most prone to attack and trauma, like those of the skin and mucous membranes.

In the event that a cell is attacked or injured, the histamine it contains spills into the extracellular fluid. When it comes into contact with the surrounding cells, the histamine triggers a defensive reaction similar to the one caused by pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. The capillaries dilate, organs secrete fluids (the tears caused by hay fever), and the smooth muscles spasm (hence the colics). These are all defensive means used by the body to fight the attack.

When histamine is released by many cells at the same time, its presence in the tissues causes damage like a poison. Depending on the individual case, the result can be a dramatic drop in blood pressure (collapsus), asthma, hives, colic, or diarrhea.


Photos courtesy © Schlierner (top) and © catbird338 (above)

Birch (Betula pubescens)

Botanical Description: The birch tree is easily recognized thanks to its distinctive papery white bark, thanks to which it is commonly known as white birch. But this name, in fact, is bestowed upon a number of birch varieties, of which Betula pubescens is but one example. Etymologically speaking, betula means “tree” and pubescens means “hair.”The hairs can be found on the young branches of this species of birch and are not found on the other varieties. This birch is a very undemanding tree with good cold tolerance. It happily colonizes bare and abandoned areas.

History: This tree has been valued throughout history for its medicinal virtues.

Parts Used: Leaves, sap, buds

Active Principles: Hyperoside, betuloside


• Antihistaminic (buds)

• Diuretic

• Lowers fever

• Antiarthritic

Target Organs: Overall body tissues, respiratory tract, joints


Respiratory tract: Hay fever, allergies to dust and animal hair, allergic asthma

Joints: Arthritis, gout


Glycerin maceration: Take 30 drops of the gemmotherapy remedy Betula pubescens buds 1D (a glycerin and alcohol extract diluted in a 1:10 ratio with water) with water three times a day.

black cumin
Photo courtesy © Svenja98

Black Cumin (Nigella sativa)

Botanical Description: This widely cultivated nigella is an annual of some 14 to 20 inches in height that is distinguished by its feathery leaves, in other words, leaves that are cut into narrow threads or lashes, creating an intricate tangle. Its flowers are blue and its seeds are deep grey to black, from which its name of black cumin arises (though it has nothing in common with the cumin used in Indian and North African cuisine). It is now also widely referred to as Nigella or nutmeg flower.

History: This plant is cultivated in the East and in central Europe for its seeds. These seeds have a bitter, burning taste and are widely used to impart flavor to bread and the string cheeses that can be found in eastern European and Jewish delicatessens. In Germany, they are used to make pancakes, among other dishes, to which they impart a peppery taste. The seeds’ antihistaminic properties were discovered only recently, but they have quickly become one of the primary herbal remedies for lowering blood histamine levels.

Part Used: Seeds

Active Principle: Nigellone


• Antihistaminic

Target Organs: Respiratory tract, blood vessels of the head


Respiratory tract: Hay fever, allergies, allergic asthma

Blood vessels: Headaches, migraines


Mother tincture: Take 10 to 30 drops in water, three times a day.

english oak
Photo courtesy © Kautz15

English Oak (Quercus robur syn. Q. pedunculata)

Botanical Description: This familiar tree can be recognized by its sessile leaves that are carved into several pairs of rounded lobes. It can reach heights ranging from 120 to 160 feet and can live to be seven hundred to eight hundred years old.

This species of oak is sometimes called pedunculate oak in reference to the fact that, in contrast to other species, it bears its acorns and flowers at the end of long stalks or peduncles. Its wood is extremely hard and resistant to rot.

History: English oak’s massive branches give it an air of strength and solidity, and perhaps, for this reason, it has been revered throughout history. In ancient Greece, it was said to be the tree sacred to Zeus. In the time of the Celts, Druids performed their ceremonies at the foot of an oak tree.

Parts Used: Buds, leaves, young bark

Active Principles: Quercetin, quercitol


• Antihistaminic (buds)

• Astringent (bark, leaves)

• Tonic

Target Organ: The body’s tissues, respiratory tract


Respiratory tract: Hay fever, allergies, allergic asthma


Glycerin maceration: Take 35 drops of the gemmotherapy remedy Quercus pedunculata buds 1D (a glycerin and alcohol extract diluted in a 1:10 ratio with water) with water three times a day, before meals.


  • All these plants I can’t keep up with! Black spruce is rare here. We have one at the farm, but that is about it. There are a few blue spruce. (I really wanted to grow all of the North American spruce, but it did not happen . . . long story.) The black spruce makes nice chewing gum where it gets pruned. Black currant is something that I want to add. The native currants just do not cut it for me.

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