What is an Astringent?

If you’ve ever had a cup of tea or glass of wine, then you have personally experienced astringency. The tightening of the tissue of the mouth is the astringent action of the plant at work. Astringents (sometimes called Styptics) are remedies that contain constituents that have a binding action on mucous membranes, skin, and other exposed tissues.

How Astringents Work

Usually this effect is due to a group of complex chemicals called tannins. They have the effect of precipitating protein molecules (how animal skin is turned into leather). Astringents have a role in a wide range of problems in many parts of the body, but are of special importance in wound healing and conditions of the digestive system.

Their therapeutic benefits include:

  • A reduction of irritation on the surface of tissues due to a form of numbing
  • A reduction in surface inflammation
  • A barrier against infection is created which is of great help in wounds and burns

Long-term internal use or too much in the diet can be detrimental to health, as there may be an eventual inhibition of proper food absorption across the gut wall.

Herbal Examples

Comments are closed.

NPLEX II Herbal Review Course

Are you writing NPLEX II this summer?

Join me for an (as fun as possible!) day of herbal learning, meant to save you study time and build your confidence in answering exam-like questions about botanical medicine for your upcoming NPLEX II exam.

Wednesday July 7th 10am – 2pm PST


A place for all things herbal medicine

Created and maintained with love by Dr. Marisa Marciano, ND



This site is created and maintained as a free resource for herb lovers around the world. Donations are accepted with gratitude :)


Get my new book here!

The Botanical Medicine Manual is the best multidisciplinary, integrated guide available for students, clinicians & instructors. This book gives top quality content that you will refer to often in class, for board exams & in practice. Topics include, study tips, Botanical Actions, Constituents, Pharmacy, Monographs, Nutrition, Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Fiber and much more evidence informed medicine. Cost is $39.95