Terms of the Trade: Trophorestorative
A trophorestorative is an herb, food or other substance that acts as a nutritive restorative for the body, usually with a strong affinity for an organ or organ system and corrects deficiency and weakness not simply through temporary stimulation but through the vital nourishment of that organ or organ system.
It is a tonic in the deepest sense of the word, in that it provides substance for the building up of strength and function. It order to be a true trophorestorative it must not bring harm or have undue side effects and be able to be used over a long period of time safely. Also, while many herbs are nutritives, trophorestoratives are unique in that they can restore actual physical function to a debilitated organ or tissue, as is the case with Nettle Seed (kidneys), Avena (nervous system) and Ashwagandha (endocrine system).
Todd Caldecott says:
The “trophic state” is representative of the vital capacity of a system or tissue in the body. In chronic states of irritation or depression some degree of vital deficiency will manifest in the affected tissue, with a gradual loss of functional capability.… In any case where an organ or tissue can be determined to be suffering from a vital deficiency, trophorestoration should be undertaken as a long-term measure to restore normal function.
While most herbs of this class are very nourishing and restorative by nature, they should not be taken indiscriminately but as with all herbs, with specific indications as there is need. Just because Yerba Mansa is a mucus membrane trophorestorative and your mucus membranes are having issues doesn’t necessarily mean you should be using that herb. However, if your mucus membranes are boggy, there’s copious mucus and you feel generally cold then Yerba Mansa might be a match. If instead you have inflamed sinuses with noticeable irritation and redness and systemic dryness, you’d be better off looking into Spanish Needles (Bidens spp.) instead. Some herbs are a bit more universal, and if there’s impending kidney failure accompanied by exhaustion I’m very likely to choose Nettle seed regardless of other constitutional components. Nevertheless, I’ll usually include the Nettle seed within a larger regimen that includes specifically chosen herbs for that individual’s temperament.
A Few Examples of Herbal Trophorestoratives
Nettle Seed, Urtica spp. (Kidneys/Adrenals)
Milky Oats Avena fatua or sativa (Nervous system, heart, endocrine system)
Skullcap, Scutellaria spp. (Nervous system)
Milk Thistle Silybum marianum (Liver)
Ashwagandha Withania somnifera (Endocrine system)
Yerba Mansa, Anemopsis californica (Mucus membranes)
Goldenseal, Hydrastris canadensis (Mucus Membranes)
Spanish Needles, Bidens spp. (Mucus Membranes)
Hawthorn Crataegus spp. (Heart)
St John’s Wort Hypericum spp. (Nervous system)