A guide to common medicinal herbs is essential for anyone looking to improve their health and wellbeing. From chamomile to echinacea, there are many healing herbs and medicinal plants that can be used to treat a variety of ailments. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a popular herb that is commonly used in the United States. It is believed to be a cure-all for many conditions, and its oil is often used to treat skin disorders such as eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual symptoms, and swelling.
In some cases, borage oil is added to infant formula to provide extra fatty acids for premature babies. Medicinal plants are a great resource for treating common ailments. You can use certain herbs to relieve headaches, stomach issues, and even irritation caused by insect bites. Plants can be consumed as teas, used as garnishes, applied topically as essential oils, or taken as lozenges.
To help you decide which plants are best for you, we have compiled a list of our top medicinal plants, their remarkable health benefits, and how to use them. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is an amusing plant for cats. Most cats are attracted to the plant and will roll around it due to its stimulating scent. For humans, it is usually used as an analgesic for stress, a sleep aid, and a solution for skin problems.
Its health benefits come from the presence of nepetalactone, thymol, and other compounds that make this plant beneficial for both you and your furry friend. Cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum) adds a spicy kick to any food or drink and is a popular detoxifier for many people. Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the spiciness of cayenne pepper but also responsible for some of its health benefits such as pain relief and cholesterol reduction. Chamomile (Feverfew chamomilla) has a high concentration of antioxidants that make it an excellent herb for treating various ailments.
Chamomile is usually consumed as tea and can be made at home by brewing dried chamomile flowers (make sure the flowers are completely dry). Drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bed can help you relax and have a more restful sleep. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), also known as purple echinacea, is another flower that is commonly used in tea to help soothe various symptoms and strengthen the immune system. This popular herb is most often used to speed up recovery from the common cold.
It's important to note that echinacea can cause negative effects such as nausea and dizziness if taken in large doses over an extended period of time. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as ginseng from India or winter cherry from India, comes from an evergreen shrub native to Africa and Asia that grows in parts of the Middle East and India. This versatile herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to increase energy levels, reduce anxiety and stress, and reduce pain and inflammation. Ashwagandha is also used to improve male sexual health by increasing testosterone levels in men.
The root of this woody plant is said to support erectile dysfunction, increase libido (sexual desire), and improve sexual pleasure. Ashwagandha powder may taste earthy and bitter so it's best to mix it with something like milkshakes, desserts, coffee or tea. It has traditionally been mixed with honey, ghee or water. Most people don't feel the effects of ashwagandha immediately; it may take weeks before the benefits are noticed. Ashwagandha is generally safe for most adults but can cause drowsiness, gastrointestinal upset, or diarrhea in some people. People who take certain medications such as anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines or barbiturates should not take ashwagandha as it may interact negatively with these medications.
Pregnant women should avoid taking ashwagandha as high doses can cause miscarriage. Chamomile is another 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 (NCCIH), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), chamomile is likely safe when used as tea both orally in the short term. However, not enough is known about its long-term safety when used medicinally. In Europe, chamomile is used to help heal wounds and reduce inflammation and swelling which supports its popularity as an herbal remedy. You can also add ice to tea if you prefer a cooler drink; chamomile is available for purchase as tea or in capsule form in most health food stores. If you use capsules look for pharmaceutical-grade products; other grades such as therapeutic grade may not be of such high quality.
Chamomile can cause allergic reactions in some people; some have reported anaphylaxis (a severe whole-body allergic reaction that can be fatal) from its use so avoid using chamomile if you take blood thinners or the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine. Echinacea is a flowering plant belonging to the daisy family with large magenta petals that unfold in early or late summer; it grows in eastern and central North America where its leaf stem and root are commonly used medicinally. Echinacea has traditionally been used as a remedy for toothache intestinal pain snake bites seizures skin irritation arthritis and pain. Today echinacea is a home remedy commonly used to prevent or shorten the duration of the common cold or flu; it's also widely used to promote wound healing due to its rich content of substances believed to relieve pain reduce inflammation have antiviral and antioxidant effects. Some studies show minor benefit from using echinacea possibly preventing upper respiratory tract infections however further studies are needed to determine its effectiveness in preventing or shortening duration.