What is bud medicine?

If you think of precious stones when people talk to you about gemmotherapy, it is because you do not yet know this branch of herbal medicine. We will explain everything to you.

Caring for the buds of the plant was the idea of ​​the Belgian physician Pol Henry in the middle of the 20th century. By focusing on those harvested in the spring just before they hatched but also on the roots (the thinnest roots) and young shoots, he was the originator of a kind of embryonic herbal medicine.

Promising young shoots

The buds indeed contain the whole plant in the making: the leaves, the flowers, the stem … A concentrate of active ingredients which allows to benefit from all the vital energy of the plant. “They have molecules that will be found in the adult plant (antioxidant polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, etc.), but also reserve and growth molecules (simple and complex sugars, amino acids) in larger quantities”, explains Jean-Michel Morel, a phytotherapist. Their therapeutic properties are therefore slightly different, or even enhanced, compared to those of the adult plant and they can be used in addition to or as a replacement for conventional herbal medicine.

Truly gentle medicine

Gemmotherapy is rather to be used as preventive medicine. Its very gentle and gradual action is generally used as a background treatment for at least four weeks to assess its effects. Better still, it is accessible to all, without interactions for example with other drugs if the recommended doses are respected. The buds are therefore particularly interesting for fragile areas: children, the elderly, convalescents … And if the preparations contain alcohol, it is in such small quantities that their use is not prohibited in children or pregnant women, however adapting the dosage and on medical advice. The only exception: people in alcohol withdrawal when all alcohol is prohibited.


Bud extracts are sold in pharmacies or drugstores in the form of macerates (plants bathed in a mixture of water, alcohol and glycerin). There are two types: mother macerates, more concentrated, which require much less drops than macerates diluted according to the homeopathic method (ten times more diluted and sold in the “1DH” form, for example at Boiron). There are also complexes associating several plant buds, for a synergistic action (for example rose hips and bramble against the evils of winter). The mother macerates are used diluted in a glass of water, 5 to 15 drops per dose on average depending on the bud and the pathology to be treated, to keep a little in the mouth before swallowing. The treatment should last a minimum of one month and can be prolonged, taking breaks of 15 days after each treatment to regain full effectiveness. “The moment of taking is important to strengthen the action of the plant. For example, blackcurrant, which has a stimulating effect on the adrenal gland, is best taken in the morning, ”explains Dr Morel. To know the best period, it is better to seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist.

The 5 most precious buds

  • Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) for joint pain. It is one of the star buds thanks to its anti-inflammatory action. To be tried as a basic treatment for osteoarthritis or inflammatory rheumatism. It is also recommended as a preventive treatment against allergies and to support the body in general. 15 drops in the morning, due to its action which mimics that of cortisol.
  • Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) to keep a lynx’s eye. Rich in polyphenols and other anti-oxidants which promote micro-circulation in the retina, it helps to delay the risk of AMD, glaucoma or cataracts. 10 drops morning and evening, for two out of three months.
  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) to boost your memory. The young shoots of gingko play a role of defender for the neurons, with a stimulating effect on the cerebral cortex. We also recognize the protective virtues of the vessels. 15 drops before the 3 meals, over the long term.
  • Oak (Quercus pedunculata) for better recovery. To get back in shape and get rid of fatigue more quickly after a small accident or an operation, opt for the oak bud which supports the production of cortisol. It is also a sexual tonic in men. 15 drops in the morning to accompany the natural peak of cortisol.
  • Rosehips (Rosa canina) against the small ailments of winter. It revives the immune system and offers a good source of vitamin C to better fight against repeated ENT infections (colds, flu, bronchitis …). Finally, it stimulates the body in case of fatigue. 15 drops, morning and evening.

Thanks to Dr Jean-Michel Morel, general practitioner, phytotherapist, author of the “Guide to gemmotherapy” (Editions First)


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