The word “astringent” is not one we commonly use.

Astringing herbs draw proteins together, meaning that they bind tissues and hold back fluids. If you’ve ever had a very dry, red wine, then you’ve felt the effects of astringency. The sudden dryness of your mouth is a perfect example of the action of astringents.

In particular, astringents come in handy in cases of bleeding, diarrhea or loose, flabby (lax) tissues. Varicose veins are an example of laxity in the venous system.

A few common astringents:

  • red raspberry leaf
  • uva ursi
  • yarrow
  • oak bark
  • witch hazel

A little more detail


Taste: aromatic and bitter

Energetics: cooling, locally drying and constitutionally moistening (stops fluid loss), astringing/constricting

Common uses: styptic (stop bleeding), cuts, bites, stings, diarrhea, excessive menstrual bleeding, hemorrhoids, hot infusion this is used to promote sweating and support the work of a fever.

White Oak Bark

Taste: bitter and slightly sour

Energetics: locally drying, constitutionally moistening and astringing

Common uses: hemorrhoids, varicose veins, diarrhea, gingivitis and loose teeth (mouthwash), bites, stings.