Hepatics are herbal remedies which in a wide range of ways aid the work of the liver. They tone, strengthen and in some cases increase the flow of bile. In a broad holistic approach to health they are of great importance because of the fundamental role of the liver in the working of the body. An area of therapy that is well suited for herbal treatment is that of liver damage. In the unique and often infuriatingly ‘unscientific’ language of traditional herbalist’s, much attention is given to ‘detoxifying the liver’. The incredible complexity of liver chemistry and its fundamental role in human physiology is so daunting to researchers that the thought that simple plant remedies might have something to offer is both laughable and even insulting! Of course this is their problem as these ‘common weeds’ are proving to be profound tools in the treatment of diseases of pollution, both voluntary and involuntary. This blinkered perspective highlights again the limiting trap of the current research paradigm. For a more detailed look at the phytotherapeutic approach to liver disease please refer to the section on the digestive system.

There is no simple or single answer to how hepatics work. The bitters and cholagogues all act as hepatics, but then so do a whole range of remedies without such specific actions. Here is the epitome of herbal remedies that do wonders for the body, without us necessarily knowing how. This lack of biochemical knowledge does not stop them from working their wonders!







Black Root

Blue Flag













Golden Seal



Milk Thistle

Mountain Grape


Prickly Ash


Wild Indigo

Wild Yam



Yellow Dock

Hepatics that are also Alterative: Agrimony, Blue Flag, Cleavers, Dandelion, Fringetree, Fumitory, Mountain Grape, Prickly Ash, Yellow Dock

Hepatics that are also Anti-catarrhal: Golden Seal, Mountain Grape, Wild Indigo

Hepatics that are also Anti-inflammatory: Blue Flag, Bogbean, Celery, Cleavers, Wild Yam, Wormwood

Hepatics that are also Anti-microbial: Barberry, Elecampane, Wild Indigo, Yarrow

Hepatics that are also Anti-spasmodic: Balm, Black Root, Fennel, Hyssop, Motherwort, Wild Yam

Hepatics that are also Astringent : Agrimony, Barberry, Cleavers, Golden Seal, Yarrow

Hepatics that are also Bitter: Agrimony, Barberry, Bogbean, Cascara, Centaury, Gentian, Golden Seal, Wormwood

Hepatics that are also Carminative: Balm, Celery, Fennel, Horseradish, Hyssop, Prickly Ash, Wormwood

Hepatics that are also Diaphoretic: Balm, Barberry, Black Root, Elecampane, Hyssop, Prickly Ash, Wild Indigo, Yarrow

Hepatics that are also Diuretic : Agrimony, Blue Flag, Bogbean, Boldo, Cleavers, Fringetree, Fumitory, Horseradish, Wahoo, Yarrow

Hepatics that are also Emmenagogue: Barberry, Motherwort, Wormwood

Hepatics that are also Expectorant: Elecampane, Fennel, Hyssop

Hepatics that are also Hypotensive: Yarrow

Hepatics that are also Laxative : Balmony, Blue Flag, Dandelion, Fringetree, Golden Seal, Horseradish, Mountain Grape, Wahoo, Yellow Dock

Hepatics that are also Nervine : Balm, Celery, Hyssop, Motherwort

Tonic : Agrimony, Balmony, Cleavers, Dandelion, Fringetree, Golden Seal, Mountain Grape, Prickly Ash

Vulnerary: Agrimony, Golden Seal

Hepatics and Their System Affinity

The hepatics can be considered as having a system affinity for the liver and so a broad supportive effect upon the whole digestive system and blood.

Cardio-Vascular: Yarrow

Respiratory: Elecampane

Digestive: Agrimony, Boldo, Centaury, Gentian, Golden Seal



Endocrine :

Lymphatic: Cleavers

Nervous: Hyssop

The Skin: Cleavers

Musculo/Skeletal: Bogbean, Celery

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021