For a long time, medicinal herbs have been used for medicinal purposes all over the world. And now, their benefits and curative properties are coming to scientific light. As awareness of safe alternatives to medication and drugs spreads, more people are turning to natural methods of curing various illnesses and prevention against them. For instance, natural ways to boost fertility and natural hyperactivity remedies are always very popular.
Natural remedies for prevention and alleviating ailments have always been part of our lives. Ginger can alleviate nausea, peppermint helps in getting rid of tension headaches and lavender and camomile help us sleep better. But, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Nature has provided us with cures for numerous illness. And it’s very possible the cure to all cancers are trapped somewhere in the flora and fauna of places like the Rain Forest.
Everyday, research and studies are conducted to find out more of the benefits of different medicinal herbs. Some of the findings over the years is there are medicinal herbs that help us improve mood, reduce stress, reduce inflammation, and treat skin issues. Using herbs can be a daily part of your routine for preventative health and to help alleviate ailments.
In this article, we will discuss several herbs used for medicinal purposes around the world. Some of these medicinal herbs are widely available in the form of herbal teas and supplements, each comprising of a formula of one or more herbs, that can easily be added to your daily diet.
Sceletium is native to South Africa, where it was used as barter currency, back in the 17th century. It has been very popular because of its antidepressant, mood improving and relaxing properties. Sceletium contains alkaloids that stimulate brain receptors and release dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are responsible for improving the mood. It also gives clarity to brain and improves focus. It can also be used to decrease stress, anxiety and tension. Traditionally, the herb was fermented and chewed. Now, it is easily available in capsule or tablet form.
This herb is native to Northern China and some parts of Russia. Schisandra is known as the harmonizing herb in China. It has been used to treat liver, lung and kidney disorders. Science, however, treats it as an adaptogen – a medicine used to decrease the damaging effects caused by illness or stress.
Schisandra is helpful in increasing energy, stamina and endurance, controlling blood pressure and sugar, treating liver diseases and enhancing cognitive functioning. It is not safe to be used by pregnant or nursing women, or people with epilepsy or peptic ulcers. Schisandra can be eaten as powder or brewed into a tea. It is a blend of five flavours: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and pungent.
Chaga is weird looking herb full of healing properties. It is found in northern parts of Europe, Asia, and America; and it has some effectiveness alleviating symptoms of psoriasis. It contains antioxidant phenols and is known to have anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting properties. Some cancer studies involving Chaga have been positive. It’s showing promise inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in liver.
Chaga tastes bitter, therefore it is easier to take in the form of tea. People who are already on blood thinning drugs or medicines for diabetes, should exercise caution in when using Chaga.
Black Cohosh, native to North America, is a beautiful looking plant, with its tall stalks and pearl shaped buds and flowers. It is known to be beneficial for women’s health. It has been found very useful for relieving menstrual and premenstrual cramps, pain and discomfort. It also helps with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, irritability, anxiety and mood swings. Some people use Black Cohosh when they cannot undergo hormone replacements therapy.
Black Cohosh can be taken as extract, capsule or tincture form. It can also be brewed and taken as tea. Black Cohosh is not suitable for people with liver problems and should be stopped if symptoms of jaundice appear.
Agrimony comes from Europe and is popular because of its unique medicinal properties. It is used to treat stomach ailments, improve the functioning of liver and gall bladder and control bleeding. Due to its astringent properties, it is also used on wounds. It can be used as tea. The tea is useful in alleviating the symptoms of diarrhea, sore throat and cough.
Aloe Vera is popular around the world for its medicinal as well as cosmetic properties. It is native to semi tropical areas of Africa and the Mediterranean. The Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, was known to use Aloe Vera as a part of her beauty regime. It can easily be grown in hot and dry areas with excellent draining soil and can also be grown indoors. Due to its anesthetic and anti-bacterial properties, it helps with burns and other skin conditions. It also has tissue healing properties. Aloe Vera has long, thick leaves. The gel inside the leaves is used on skin to treat skin conditions.
Commonly known as wormwood, the Artemisia plant or shrub grows best in well-drained soil and the sun. It is useful in treating digestive conditions like an upset stomach, gall bladder disease, loss of appetite and intestinal spasms. It is also useful in treatment of fever, liver disorder and worm infections. People use it to treat wounds and skin irritations.
Native to the Indian subcontinent, it is known to be a sacred herb. Holy basil is used in the treatment of cold and flu. Its oil is used as an antioxidant and is helpful in relieving pain. Recent studies have also shown it to lower blood pressure and improve liver function and potentially reduce the risk of diabetes. Other benefits include sharp memory, anti-inflammatory, and immunity builder. And finally, it’s used as a safe insect repellent.
Holy basil or Tulsi can also be grown indoors as well as outdoors. To administer, it’s can be used as a dried herb or brewed as a tea.
Commonly known as tuberose, Asclepias is an attractive plant. It requires the full sun to grow. Tuberose is helpful in increasing milk production in nursing mothers. It is also used as an expectorant and for treating coughs and respiratory infections.
Also called sweet bay or bay laurel, bay leaves are most commonly used in cooking. The plant has thick stems with waxy green leaves. It smells of the blend of clove mint and honey and it has a sharp, peppery taste. Bay leaves are used to treat earache, rashes caused by poison ivy, high blood pressure, arthritis and rheumatism. Its oil is also an insect repellent.
Bergamot or bee balm is native to America and has been used as a medicine for a long time. It is also called wild oregano or horse mint. Originally this herb was used by Blackfoot Native Americans. The Niitsitapi, also known as the Blackfoot Indians, reside in the Great Plains of Montana and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. A tea made from this herb is used to treat mouth and throat infections. It contains a natural antiseptic Thymol and is helpful in treating bloating, digestion, fever and headaches.
Betony belongs to the family of mint and sage. It has beautiful purple flowers and its leaves have a velvety texture. Due to its expectorant, astringent and stimulative properties, it is known to be very beneficial. Its uses include treating migraines, wounds and cuts, neuralgia and concussions. Betony relaxes tension and improves blood circulation. It can also be taken fresh or dry and makes excellent tea which tastes like black tea.
It has been used for centuries in Ayurveda. Brahmi is known for its anti-aging properties. It also assists in symptoms of epilepsy, improves memory, anxiety, stomach problems and fights stress. With it’s flavonoids and alkaloids, it makes an excellent medicinal herb. Note that before taking Brahmi, you should consult a doctor because it may react with other medications.
Roman Chamomile has beautiful flowers and a delicate foliage. It’s an excellent aromatic herb. Roman Chamomile is very easy to grow and requires full sun, so don’t try and grow it in the shade. It’s used to aid digestion, induce sleep and treat minor burns. It also creates a powerful oil that helps aid in relaxation, and as an anti-inflammatory and pain relieving herb.
Chervil is the most important ingredient in French cuisine. It was probably introduced to Europe by the Romans and has been used as a medicine throughout the Middle Ages and is known to treat a myriad of things from hiccups to high blood pressure. It also helps in regeneration of cells. An unusual use of Chervil is that it makes an excellent eye wash.
Tongkat Ali is found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. It is also called pasak bumi. This herb is most sought as a boost in sexual health. It also helps in improving blood circulation and restoring a healthy weight. Body builders use tongkat ali to increase muscle mass. It might have side effects that may trigger insomnia and anxiety, so don’t operate heavy machinery when you take it.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is known to be an excellent stress reliever. It relaxes the mind and treats mild to moderate anxiety and depression. It also helps in production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. In short, this herb is excellent for improving mood and sleep. It can be taken in the form of a capsule.
Andrographis is used for curing summer colds. It treats upper respiratory tract infections and sinusitis. It is also helpful in relieving fatigue, sleeplessness, runny nose and sore throat. This herb is used in the form of a syrup.
Sea Buckthorn is very popular among women. It helps lessen vaginal dryness because it has been found effective in hydrating mucous membranes. It is rich in palmetoleic acid which moisturizes human skin. This herb can be taken in capsule form.
Ashwagandha is one of the most popular Ayruvedic herbs, also known as Indian ginseng. Its roots and berries are used to prepare several types of medicines. Some of its benefits are decreasing anxiety, sleep problems, arthritis, asthma, skin conditions, bronchitis, back ache, menstrual problems and liver diseases. It also acts as an adaptogen.
Ashwagandha is also known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. It assists in healing wounds. It also stimulates thyroid hormones and can make you drowsy. It is used in the form of tea prepared in water or milk.
Echinacea has antiviral and immunity enhancing properties. It is ideal for treating colds and respiratory infections. This herb can also be used as tea.
Comfrey is native to Europe and the temperate parts of Asia. It has dark green oval leaves. Comfrey is also known as knit bone. With it’s high quantity of Allantoin, it helps reduce the inflammation caused by sprains and broken bones. If heated into a poultice or applied as salve, it serves as an excellent astringent to heal ulcers and sores. Its tea is used to treat discomfort caused by sun burns. This herb is strictly for external use, so do not swallow it.
As the name suggests, this herb is used for treating fever and headaches. It is rich in parthenolide, which is a compound with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also an antispasmodic that helps in opening constricted blood vessels and thus is helpful in relieving headaches and migraines. Feverfew smells of citrus and is an excellent insect repellent.
Herbs are used around the world for all sorts of purposes, but can also be used in preventative disease and to treat symptoms of illness. Before taking any of these medicinal herbs, please make sure to consult with your physician. Some of them can interact with medication, so be particularly careful. But for thousands of years, humans have used medicinal herbs to aid them. And we are fortunate to be able to continue doing so.
Disclosure: This post is a guest post by Audrey Throne.
ABOUT Audrey Throne
Audrey Throne is a mother and a professional blogger by choice. She has completed her masters in English literature from university of Birmingham. As a blogger she’s writes about health, technology as well as management. Currently, she is associate with Brain-test Team. Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.