An Alterative is a medicinal substance that has a gradual action to improve the system.
In the 19th century, the term Alterative was used for herbs that were considered blood purifiers.  In more recent times, an alterative is more typically considered as an herb that increases metabolism, improving both nutrient absorption and cleansing / eliminative functions.
There are very many herbs that have been considered alterative by herbalists. Some of the best known of these include Echinacea, Cleavers, Oregon Grape Root, Chaparrel, Poke, Yellow Dock, Alder, Sarsaparilla, Violet, Redroot, Peach, Rose, Cherr, Stinging Nettle, Dandelion, Red Clover, Elder and Burdock. 
It is often said that alteratives work slowly and need to be taken for perhaps a minimum of a month before significant change may be noticed. 
Herbalist Jim McDonald makes an interesting statement about alteratives: "I think... that many alteratives exist in the hazy undivided territory between food and medicine. Many metabolic woes, I deem, come from the fact that we don't consume alterative foods anymore."
Some herbalists have suggested these herbs are capable of elimiating toxins from the organs, and thus should be used with caution in cases where the person is very weak, owing to the possibility of "cleansing reactions" from the toxins put back into bodily circulation from the cleansed organs. 
See also - depurative.
This website is not medical advice.
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