Nature has provided us with a wealth of medicinal herbs and plants that have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. From pepper and dill for indigestion, to chamomile for insomnia, lemon balm for headaches and tension, and rosemary for halitosis (bad breath) and to improve concentration, there are many herbs that can be used to help us feel better. Gingko is one of the oldest tree species, and is also one of the oldest homeopathic plants and a key herb in Chinese medicine. The leaves are used to create capsules, tablets and extracts, and when dried, they can be consumed as tea.
It is perhaps best known for its ability to improve brain health. Studies suggest that gingko can treat patients with mild to moderate dementia and may slow cognitive decline in dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Turmeric is another herb that has been used as a medicinal herb for 4,000 years. Native to India, it is believed to have anti-cancer properties and may prevent mutations.
Recent research also suggests that turmeric may be a treatment for a variety of dermatological diseases and joint arthritis. Evening primrose oil is another plant-based dietary supplement that has been studied for its potential health benefits. Studies have found that evening primrose oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can help with conditions such as atopic dermatitis and diabetic neuropathy. It can also help with other health problems, such as breast pain.
Flax seed is one of the safest options among plant-based dietary supplements. Harvested for thousands of years, today flax seed is praised for its antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory benefits. While more research with humans is needed, studies suggest that flax seed may help prevent colon cancer and lower blood pressure. It can even help reduce obesity when consumed regularly.
Tea tree oil is another herb that has been studied for its antimicrobial superpowers in wounds and topical infections. Wilson recommends that tea tree oil, like all essential oils, be diluted in a carrier oil. It is often already diluted in a variety of skin care products and creams. Echinacea is much more than those beautiful purple flowers that you see dotting gardens.
These flowers have been used for centuries as medicine in the form of teas, juices and extracts. The most well-known use of echinacea is to shorten the symptoms of the common cold, but further studies are needed to verify this benefit and understand how echinacea increases immunity when there is a virus. Ashwagandha comes from the plant Withania somnifera, also known as ginseng from India and winter cherry from India. The evergreen shrub is native to Africa and Asia and grows in parts of the Middle East and India. Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties, including increasing energy levels, decreasing anxiety and stress, reducing pain and inflammation, improving male sexual health, increasing testosterone levels in men, supporting erectile dysfunction, increasing libido (sexual desire) and improving sexual pleasure. Chamomile is a popular herbal remedy in the United States, commonly used to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health, chamomile is likely to be safe when used as tea or taken orally in the short term. In Europe, chamomile is used to help heal wounds and reduce inflammation and swelling. Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments with varying degrees of success. While more research needs to be done on many of these herbs before their full potential can be realized, they offer an alternative option for those looking for natural ways to improve their health.