As with all herbal formulas, our Lymph Tonic is a perfect example that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Arriving at an effective formula is every bit as much an artful craft as it is a science.
The formulation of our Lymph Tonic illustrates this beautifully and comes with a good news story that’s grounded in the harmonious meeting of practical need and traditional wisdom. It all happened years ago, when my husband Paul was just a child. One evening in early spring, Paul woke up with a terrible throbbing earache and very high fever, in unbearable pain. My in-laws and founding co-owners, Jeremy and Monique Rivett-Carnac, turned to what they know so well, herbs. Pressed by the urgency of the moment, Jeremy spontaneously put his expertise to work and devised the formula that we now know as Lymph Tonic. Within hours, Paul’s earache subsided, the pain left him, and he fell peacefully to sleep.
Cleavers – This herb is used traditionally as an alternative (i.e. a detoxifying agent that aids eliminatory functions) and diuretic. Cleavers is used for any problem of toxicity that is marked by lymphatic symptoms or edema. David Hoffmann, a well-known herbalist, considers cleavers as being quite possibly the best tonic to use for the lymphatic system.
Red root – The Eclectic physicians, a class of practitioners of the 19th century who tended to rely on herbal remedies, valued red root for disorders of the spleen, the organ associated with lymphatic circulation. Herbalist Christopher Hobbs verifies this approach and recommends red root as the go to when beginning treatment with new patients, in combination with echinacea and poke.
Blue flag – A highly valued alterative in the Eclectic medical tradition,4 blue flag was considered to have specific alterative benefits for glandular structures5,6 and was used for thyroid and skin conditions, as well as general detoxification.
Echinacea angustifolia – In our own day, herbalist Michael Tierra describes echinacea, an alternative, as “the best herb for blood and lymph purification.”8 Echinacea serves to activate phagocytes, and this helps to clean wastes from the lymphatic system.
Burdock – Burdock is a remedy of first recourse for an infected glandular system, ideal for swollen glands.
Mullein – Mullein is considered a general decongestant for the lymphatic system. Its saponin and mucilage content is useful for activating the lymph circulation, especially of the neck and chest.
Phytolacca – Poke, as this herb is also known, is the benchmark lymphatic herb and is used in small quantities to stimulate lymph flow and to detoxify. Famous American naturopath Dr. John Bastyr used poke in formulas for “lymphatic stasis”. Dr. William Mitchell adds that poke is also useful for Eustachian tube inflammation and chronic tonsillitis.
Southern prickly ash – The Eclectics valued southern prickly ash for its ability to stimulate circulation of both blood and lymph. Southern prickly ash also improves the tone of mucous membranes.
Lobelia – Lobelia was the detox panacea of the Thomsonian school of herbal medicine in the 19th century. Its most common modern application is for asthma and lung conditions, although it is also valued for its lymphatic alterative properties. Lobelia was part of Dr. John Bastyr’s lymphatic alterative formula.
In summary, the herbs in this formula all act to some degree upon the lymphatic system or aid the other herbs in this action.
Small wonder, therefore, that Lymph Tonic remains Paul’s favourite medicinal companion to this day–a testimony to the miraculous healing power of herbs.
References available upon request.