A guide to common medicinal herbsChamomile. Flower) Considered by some to be a cure for everything, chamomile is commonly used in the U.S. UU. Root, rhizome) Ashwagandha comes from the plant Withania somnifera, also known as Indian ginseng and Indian winter cherry.
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. This versatile herb is common in Ayurvedic medicine (Indian traditional medicine system) to increase energy levels, decrease anxiety and stress, and reduce pain and inflammation. Ashwagandha is also used to improve male sexual health, as the herb can increase testosterone levels in men.
The root of the woody plant is said to support erectile dysfunction, increase libido (sexual desire) and improve sexual pleasure. Ashwagandha is available in the form of capsules, tincture and powder as a dietary supplement. Ashwagandha powder may taste earthy and bitter, so it's best to mix it with something, such as milkshakes, desserts, and coffee or tea. It has traditionally been mixed with honey, ghee or water.
Most people don't immediately feel the effects of ashwagandha. It may take weeks before the benefits of ashwagandha are noticed. Ashwagandha is generally safe for most adults. Common side effects include drowsiness, gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea.
People who take certain medications, such as anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines and barbiturates, should not take them, as the plant can interact with these drugs. Do not take ashwagandha if you are pregnant, as high doses can cause miscarriage. 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.
And it can be safe for oral use in the short term. Not enough is known about the long-term safety of using chamomile for medicinal purposes. In Europe, chamomile is used to help heal wounds and reduce inflammation and swelling. Its proven effectiveness supports the popularity of this herbal remedy.
You can also add ice to tea if you prefer a cooler drink. Chamomile is available for purchase as tea and 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, and some people have reported anaphylaxis (a severe whole-body allergic reaction that can be fatal) from its use. Avoid using chamomile if you take blood thinners or the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine. May interact negatively with these medications. Echinacea is a flowering plant belonging to the daisy family.
The large magenta petals of the flower unfold in early or late summer. It grows in eastern and central North America, and the leaf, stem and root of echinacea are commonly used for medicinal purposes. 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 that is commonly used to shorten the duration or prevent the common cold and flu.
It is also widely used to promote wound healing. Echinacea is rich in substances that are believed to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have antiviral and antioxidant effects. Some studies show a minor benefit of using echinacea to possibly prevent upper respiratory tract infections. However, further studies are needed to determine its effectiveness in preventing or shortening the duration of a cold.
Echinacea can be harmful to the digestive system and can cause stomach upset. Experts say echinacea should only be used in the short term. Long-term use (eight weeks or more) may affect the body's immune system and liver. Consult your healthcare professional before using echinacea.
It may interact with medications you are taking, particularly medications that are known to affect the liver. If you are allergic to plants in the daisy family, such as ragweed, calendula, and daisies, you may have an allergic reaction to echinacea. Garlic is a perennial plant native to Central Asia that is cultivated for its tasty bulbs. It is now cultivated all over the world by many cultures.
Garlic is valued both for cooking and for its medicinal properties. Humans have been using garlic for thousands of years. Traditional medicinal uses include preventing infections, lowering blood pressure, treating tuberculosis, colic, liver disease, intestinal worms, and reducing fever. Compounds found in garlic have antimicrobial, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
Research shows that garlic can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Garlic may be effective in preventing certain types of cancer. Research shows that regular consumption of cooked or raw garlic can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Garlic can be consumed both cooked and raw.
It can also be used in powder to season meats, vegetables, soups and stews. Talk to your doctor if you plan to take garlic supplements for its health benefits. Garlic may increase the risk of bleeding and should not be used if you are taking blood thinners. For that same reason, do not take large amounts of garlic before surgery or dental procedures.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant with a leafy stem and greenish-yellow flowers. Originally from Asia and India, ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. This versatile spice comes from the underground stem of the ginger plant and is added to food and drinks around the world. Ginger has been widely used since the 16th century in many traditional medicines around the world.
More than 2,000 years ago, ginger was so prized and sought after for its medicinal properties that one pound equaled the cost of a sheep. It was used as a remedy for common ailments, such as nausea, pain and vomiting. Nowadays, ginger has the distinction of being classified as a herb, food and medicine. In terms of its medicinal properties, ginger is perhaps best known for its ability to help reduce nausea.
Research confirms that ginger may help relieve nausea and vomiting in people undergoing surgery and pregnancy-related nausea. Ginger May Also Help Relieve Chemotherapy-Related Nausea. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, ginger is also an effective analgesic. A study found that ginger helped reduce pain and increase mobility in people with osteoarthritis.
Ginger is versatile and is used in many forms, including fresh, dried, pickled, candied and powdered. It has a strong, pungent smell and tastes a little sweet and spicy. Ground ginger root is what is normally found on store spice shelves. Commonly used for cooking and baking.
There are numerous ways to consume ginger, including in tea. You can buy ginger tea bags at most grocery stores or make them at home with fresh ginger. If you consume fresh ginger, peel the skin with a vegetable peeler before use. Ginger is considered safe when taken orally as a dietary supplement, and may also be safe when used topically (on the skin).
Side effects are generally mild and include diarrhea, heartburn and abdominal discomfort, especially when consumed in large doses. While using ginger during pregnancy is considered safe, talk to your healthcare professional before using it if you want to reduce pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. Ginkgo biloba (widely known as ginkgo) is one of the oldest surviving tree species. Originally from Asia, ginkgo is one of the best-selling herbal remedies in the United States.
Gingko leaves are used to create extracts, capsules and tablets. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health points out that there is no conclusive evidence that gingko helps any medical condition. Gingko may increase the risk of bleeding. It should not be taken with NSAIDs, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants or tricyclic antidepressants due to possible drug interactions.
Ginseng is a well-known herb that is credited with several health benefits. Sometimes called the “human root” because it has the shape of a person, there are many types of ginseng. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a perennial herbaceous plant native to deciduous forests in the United States. Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is native to China, Korea and eastern Siberia.
The botanical name Panax is derived from the word “panacea”, which represents the versatile uses of ginseng for medicinal purposes. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is also called eleuthero or ci wu jia in traditional Chinese medicine. It is less tonic than the other types and works more like an adaptogen. Panax notoginseng, also called radix notoginseng or sanchi, is traditionally used to control bleeding.
Ginseng has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. The herb has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-obesity and antiviral properties, which makes it a popular herb for medicinal use even today. Research Shows Ginseng Helps Improve Circulation, Boosts Immunity, and Protects Against Certain Cancers. This powerful herb has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve treatments for diabetes.
Studies show ginseng improves learning and memory acquisition, making it a popular anti-aging herb to support brain health in older adults. Ginseng has also been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and have pain-relieving and inflammation-reducing potency comparable to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). There are many ways to consume ginseng to get its health benefits. If you buy fresh ginseng, you can eat it raw or steamed.
Freshly sliced ginseng can also be soaked in hot water to make tea. It can also be added to food and is popularly used in soups and sautées. However, these culinary uses are too expensive if you buy expensive ginseng. Ginseng is also available for purchase in health food stores and in some pharmacies as a dietary supplement.
It can be purchased in the form of capsules, powder and extract. There is currently no recommended daily dose of ginseng, and various amounts have been examined in research studies, ranging from 0.5 to 3 grams per day of fresh ginseng and 100 to 800 mg of extract. If you use ginseng supplements, be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the label. Ginseng is generally safe for consumption without serious side effects.
The most common side effects include headache, gastrointestinal discomfort and difficulty sleeping. There is some evidence to suggest that prolonged use of ginseng decreases its effectiveness, so you should take the supplement for two or three weeks with a break of one or two weeks to enjoy its benefits. If you take medicines for diabetes, monitor your glucose levels closely when you consume ginseng to make sure your levels don't drop too low. Talk to your healthcare professional before taking a ginseng supplement if you are currently taking any medications.
Do not take ginseng if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinners, such as Coumadin (Warfarin). One of the most popular herbs in the world, lavender (Lavandula) is a pleasantly smelling perennial shrub that grows on low mounds and is native to the Mediterranean. Lavender belongs to the mint family and thrives in many places around the world. Lavender has been used by humans for centuries, for everything from perfume to aromatherapy and medicinal purposes.
The therapeutic properties of the herb were traditionally used to treat insect bites and burns, clean wounds and protect against certain diseases. Today, evidence suggests that lavender promotes sleep, improves memory, relieves pain and improves mood. In animal and human studies, lavender has been shown to have anticonvulsant, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities. Lavender is a potent herb that offers many medicinal and therapeutic uses.
Thanks to its calming properties, lavender essential oil can be effective in calming anxiety and promoting a good night's sleep. Lavender tea is available to buy in pre-made tea bags, or you can soak the dried lavender buds in hot water for a caffeine-free tea. Lavender essential oil may cause an allergic reaction or skin irritation in some people. Always dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil before applying it directly to the skin.
If you experience headache, nausea or vomiting after use, stop using it immediately. Do not consume lavender essential oil orally, as it can be toxic. Oral consumption of lavender, as in a tea, can cause constipation, headaches or increased appetite. Native to South Asia, turmeric is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the ginger family.
It has been used for its medicinal properties for more than 4,000 years. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. As one of the oldest tree species, gingko 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 say gingko can treat patients with mild to moderate dementia and may slow cognitive decline in dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The gingko is considered a living fossil, with fossils dating back 270 million years ago. These trees can live up to 3,000 years.
With its bright orange hue, it's impossible to miss a bottle of turmeric on a spice rack. Turmeric, native to India, is believed to have anti-cancer properties and may prevent mutations. According to recent research, turmeric also shows promise as a treatment for a variety of dermatological diseases and joint arthritis. Turmeric has been used as a medicinal herb for 4,000 years.
It is a tentpole of an Indian alternative medicine practice called Ayurveda. The studies that are available on this oil tend to be everywhere, but there are studies that are more robust than others. For example, some studies have found that evening primrose oil has anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to help with conditions such as atopic dermatitis and diabetic neuropathy.
It can also help with other health problems, such as breast pain. According to these studies, evening primrose oil could be the Swiss army knife in the world of medicinal plants. The caveat is that it can interact with several medications. More research is coming and applications are promising.
Flax seed, also available as oil, 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, study says flax seed may help prevent colon cancer. Another study cites that flax seed has the ability to lower blood pressure.
When consumed, it can even help reduce obesity. Many people add flaxseed and flaxseed meal to oats and smoothies, and it is also available in the form of tablets, oil (which can be put in capsules) and flour. The best way to add flax seeds is through diet. Sprinkle ground seeds on cereals or salads, cook in hot cereals, stews, homemade breads or milkshakes.
Add Linseed Oil to Salad Dressing. Flax seeds are one of the few vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Other sources include chia seeds, walnuts and soy. More studies are needed on acne and scalp use, but for now, there is a degree of research on the antimicrobial superpowers of tea tree oil in wounds and topical infections.
Wilson recommends that tea tree oil, like all essential oils, be diluted in a carrier oil. He adds that it is often already diluted in a variety of skin care products and creams. Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of a tree native to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Echinacea is much more than those beautiful purple echinacea that you see dotting gardens.
These flowers have been used for centuries as medicine in the form of teas, juices and extracts. Nowadays, they can be taken as powders or supplements. 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. In general, with the exception of some potential side effects, echinacea is relatively safe.
Even though you need more testing, you can always choose to use it if you expect your cold symptoms to end more quickly. Some of the first people to use echinacea as a medicinal herb were Native Americans. The first archaeological evidence dates back to the 18th century. A blueberry has most of its antioxidant-rich blue color on the skin, but its lesser-known relative, blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is dark in its entirety and full of health benefits.
Maine herbalist Mischa Schuler, MS, suggests making an ointment by removing flower heads and soaking them in olive, almond or coconut oil for two weeks, then adding beeswax to thicken. Calendula petals rich in lycopene can also be mixed in salads or dried to make teas that relieve indigestion and sore throat. According to the Herb Society of America, dill seeds have been called “meeting center seeds” because they were chewed during long church services to keep members awake or children calm. The seeds were also chewed to freshen breath and calm noisy stomachs.
Modern studies show that dill can also lower cholesterol. Growing this herb in your garden has the added benefit of attracting butterflies. Tanacetum parthenium has a confusing history. NYU's Langone Medical Center suggests that the name is a corruption of an older name, Featherfoil, and that the herb lost popularity among herbalists because it didn't dissipate the fever.
The herb came back into fashion in the 1970s, when the wife of a British medical officer tried a local folk remedy by chewing feverfew leaves for her terrible migraine headaches. The success of this remedy attracted researchers, who subjected the herb to clinical trials and found that chewing fresh feverfew leaves during a migraine, in fact, helped people feel better. They also found that taking dry leaf capsules every day can reduce overall susceptibility to headaches. Throughout the centuries, people used garlic to prevent infections and treat many conditions, including respiratory problems, leprosy, type 2 diabetes, and warts.
Scientific research has confirmed the usefulness of the herb, finding that garlic lowers blood pressure and can protect against heart attacks and strokes. Research also suggests that regular consumption of cooked or raw garlic may also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Garlic is one of Mark Blumenthal's favorite herbs. For more information on the health benefits of garlic, see “Digging in Garlic”.
It was eliminated during the Ice Age in Europe, but it thrived and became revered for its medicinal benefits in Asia. Ginkgo is now one of the best-selling herbal supplements in the United States. These supplements are made from the leaves of the tree, which contain antioxidants that are believed to protect nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels, and retinas from damage. Ginkgo has been shown to improve the memory of people with dementia, attenuate the side effects of medications used to treat schizophrenia, and reduce anxiety.
Because ginkgo dilates blood vessels, it improves circulation and has been shown to increase the distance that people with PAOD (peripheral arterial occlusive disease) can walk without pain. The kitchen herb garden, or planter, as it is known in France, is traditionally a small section of the garden, or even a separate garden, where culinary and healing herb plants are grown along with fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants. Usually, these herb gardens are carefully designed to provide easy access, but also aesthetic value. Read more to learn more about plants with healing effects and the design of a medicinal herb garden.
Many of the herbs that were once very specific to a region and population are now available to the rest of the world as teas, extracts and supplements, and even as growing plants, offering us new opportunities for herbal treatment. Many of the healing herbs described in the book are still used today, such as ephedra, yellow gentian, ginseng and, yes, ginger and cinnamon. Many have risks and side effects, and herbal remedies are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine their safety or effectiveness. Most herbs have not been tested to ensure the safety of vulnerable people, and trying herbs is not worth the risk.
Sea buckthorn oil has long been used in traditional medicine and can provide numerous health benefits. Embrace your inner herbal spirit and explore how to improve your physical and mental health through the natural healing legacy of plants. With a little research and guidance from qualified experts, herbal medicine can be a powerful indicator on the wheel of overall health. For a more complete list of herbs and their medicinal properties, see the Herbs and Supplements section of MedlinePlus.
As mentioned above, it is important to rely on trusted professionals to determine the quality and potency of herbs, along with your own research on processing and manufacturing practices. It is also important to note that products that are mass-produced and packaged have to go through processes that can decrease the potency of the herbs they contain. Healing herb plants were often grown in sacred gardens that not only provided healing of the plants themselves, but were also aesthetically pleasing to the senses. If the product was manufactured in small batches by a person or a small company, you'll want to ask them about where their herbs come from, how they prepare them, and where did they come up with the dose.
Use common low-growing healing herbs such as thyme, violas or chamomile for useful and attractive soil cover. Before using ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes, consult a doctor or medical herbalist for advice. . .