Herbal medicine, also called botanical medicine or phytomedicine, refers to using a plant’s seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Every culture of every era has used it, even today, herbal medicine is the primary healing modality for much of the world’s population.
Modern medical science certainly comes with a high price tag, and pharmaceuticals are no exception. One reason why herbal medicine is becoming more popular recently is because people simply can’t afford to pay for their medication month after month.
Science shows these herbal power-healers can help ease pain, prevent cancer, and provides a safe and effective healing modality for everyone. People of all ages, from infants to the very elderly, we have listed below some medicinal herbs that relieve common ailments like indigestion, stress, anxiety, sunburn, headaches, coughs, colds, and more.
Garlic – used to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as well as for treating infections. It can be taken fresh, as a powder, as oil or as a juice.
Studies show an inverse correlation between garlic consumption and progress of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Research published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that garlic reduces cholesterol, inhibits platelet clustering, reduces blood pressure and increases antioxidant status.
Ginger – commonly used to reduce nausea, to reduce symptoms of colds and chills through sweating and to boost circulation. It can be taken fresh, dried, or as oil.
According to a 2013 review of evidence published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, the anticancer potential of ginger is well-documented, and its functional ingredients like gingerols, shogaol and paradols are the valuable ingredients that can prevent various cancers. Researchers also found that ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties for controlling the aging process.
There are several ways to use ginger. It can be eaten raw, taken in powder or supplement form, consumed in liquid form by making a tea, or used topically in oil form.
Ginseng – generally used to treat weakness, for example during recovery from illness. Also used to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, however overuse of ginseng has been associated with raised blood pressure
A study done at the Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Centre in the U.K. was conducted to gather data about ginseng’s benefits and its ability to improve mood and mental function. It involved 30 volunteers who were given three rounds of treatments of ginseng and a placebo, and the results found that 200 milligrams of ginseng for eight days slowed the fall in mood but also slowed the participants’ response to mental arithmetic. The 400-milligram dose improved calmness and improved mental arithmetic for the duration of the eight-day treatment.
Ginseng is also used to reduce stress, help with weight loss, treat sexual dysfunction, improve lung function, lower blood sugar levels, boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. Ginseng is available in dried, powdered, tea, capsule and tablet forms.
Gingko – most commonly used to improve memory. Gingko improves circulation, particularly to the brain, though it is also used to regulate irregular heartbeats and to reduce symptoms of dementia. It is usually taken as a tincture or an infusion.
St. John’s Wort – is well known for its antidepressant effects. In general, most studies have shown that St. John’s wort may be an effective treatment for mild-to-moderate depression, and has fewer side effects than most other prescription antidepressants. But the herb interacts with a wide variety of medications, including birth control pills, and can potentially cause unwanted side effects, so it is important to take it only under the guidance of a health care provider.
Valerian – is a popular alternative to commonly prescribed medications for sleep problems because it is considered to be both safe and gentle. Some studies bear this out, although not all have found valerian to be effective. Unlike many prescription sleeping pills, valerian may have fewer side effects, such as morning drowsiness. However, Valerian does interact with some medications, particularly psychiatric medications, so you should speak to your doctor to see if Valerian is right for you.
Are Herbs Safe?
People have always co-existed with the plant kingdom. Our bodies have evolved the ability to extract and use the healing properties of plants, and have mechanisms for eliminating many potentially harmful substances. The safety of herbs has been demonstrated throughout history and by the wide availability of herbal products in recent years. Despite the fact that most people self-medicate with herbs, significant negative reactions are rare.