Herbs are mainly used to add flavor to foods, but many people are unaware of the fact that many herbs have medicinal properties. For hundreds of years people have used herbs as natural medicines and can be more effective at treating some conditions than traditional medicine. Certain herbs are often used to treat multiple conditions and, because of this versatility, are considered quite valuable to herbalists. Below you will find the top twelve herbs used for healing.
While not really an herb, garlic has a long history in herbal medicine. Garlic is packed full of antioxidants and has anti-parasitic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. The main chemical component, allicin, is also considered to be a natural antibiotic. Used to treat the common cold, cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol, garlic can be taken in capsule or tablet form, or eaten fresh.
A small, flowering plant in the chrysanthemum family, chamomile grows well either indoors or out with an average amount of sunlight. Chamomile’s effects are mild and is useful in treating insomnia, nervous disorders, headaches, fevers, indigestion, menstrual cramps and colic. Generally taken as an herbal tea, it is even considered to be safe for children.
Also known as purple coneflower, Echinacea is a tall plant that grow all over North America and was largely used in Native American medicine. Echinacea contains chemical compounds that have been found to boost the immune system, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, as well as antiviral and antioxidant effects. It can be taken as a tincture, capsule, or as an herbal tea.
Lavender is an aromatic herb that is used by chefs, herbalists, and aroma therapists. Used for its soothing, calming effects, it is also considered anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and mildly analgesic. Lavender is also used by herbalists to help relieve stress, induce sleep, treat headaches, and to sooth sore muscles. It is also said that lavender may be used topically for acne and hair loss.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort, a flowering herb, is widely used to treat mild to moderate depression, PMS and menopausal symptoms. It should not be used with other anti-depressants or birth control because of it’s effects on hormone levels. St. John’s wort is a mild sedative and anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in capsule form, as a liquid extract, or as an herbal tea.
Sage is a perennial, evergreen shrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purple flowers. Used in the kitchen, sage has a slight peppery flavor and is one of the main herbs used in traditional Thanksgiving Day dinners. Herbalists use sage as an anti-sweating agent, antibiotic, antifungal, astringent, antispasmodic, estrogenic, hypoglycemic, and is also known as the memory herb as it has shown to be effective in the management of Alzheimer’s disease. Can be taken as a tea, infusion, or an extract.
Basil is a common culinary herb, but what many people don’t know is the health benefits this herb has to offer. It has been used to treat asthma, diabetes, headaches and fever. Taken as a tea, or for an asthma treatment use the inhalation method. Bring a pot of water with basil leaves to a boil, remove from heat, drape towel over head and the pot, breath in the steam.
There are many different types of mint, but the most commonly known and used are spearmint and peppermint. Mint contains menthol that is used as a natural flavoring, and as an herbal treatment for digestive problems, a decongestant for colds, and headaches. It also is used as a diuretic, and because it is high in vitamins A and C it has also been used to treat scurvy and improve night vision. Can be taken as a tea, extract, or applied topically.
Rosemary is an aromatic, evergreen shrub that is mostly known for it’s culinary uses, widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. It is also sought after for it’s purifying and stimulant properties. Rosemary is used for it’s natural antidepressant, antiseptic, and digestive properties. It is also used to prevent colds and the flu, alleviate headaches and muscle aches, and normalize blood pressure. It is also said that rosemary stimulates the central nervous system and help to provide mental stability, it helps in retaining memory and stimulating the memory. Can be used as a tea, tonic or an essential oil.
Another herb mainly used for culinary purposes, thyme is an aromatic herb also has many therapeutic properties, as well as a pleasing fragrance. Thyme has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, stimulant, carminative, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, expectorant, diuretic, and vermifuge properties. It is also rich in iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K.
Thyme is used in alleviating respiratory infections, digestive problems, and stimulates the production of white blood cells. It is used as a natural cure for muscle cramps, gout, arthritis, stress and fatigue. Can be used as a tea, tincture, essential oil, or capsule form.
Lemon Balm is a perennial herb with a mild lemon scent. The aroma soothes the nervous system, and can reduce stress and anxiety. It is also beneficial for people with insomnia. Lemon Balm is good for the skin, it can reduce irritations, help heal wounds, and reduce pain. It has also been used as a natural treatment for hyperthyroidism, muscle and menstrual cramps, nausea and flatulence. Can be taken as a tea or essential oil.
Cilantro is yet another herb largely used in the culinary world, and rightfully so, it has a fantastic flavor. This herb is also a powerful, natural cleansing agent known for it’s effectiveness for toxic metal cleansing. Cilantro has chemical compounds that bind to toxic metals and remove them from your system. It is also used to treat anxiety and diabetes, as well as being a strong antioxidant. Can be eaten fresh, as a tea or an essential oil.
As always, be sure to consult with an herbalist and/or physician before attempting any natural herbal treatments. Remember that even though they are natural herbs, there are also possible side effects you need to be aware of.