Herbs for Medical Use
There are hundreds of herbs for medical use ranging from common culinary herbs to exotic tree barks, essences and oils. The safest way to begin your exploration of herbal remedies is to experiment with culinary herbs first, then discover commercial herbal preparations, tinctures and oils. Aromatherapy, homeopathy, Indian and Chinese herbal medicine, as well as European herbal medicine all offer unique pathways to learn more about herbs and their medicinal uses.
Although you might not think of the garlic available in the supermarket as an herbal remedy, it offers many benefits. Garlic is an antifungal, antimicrobial plant. It also confers numerous cardiovascular benefits and may help reduce cholesterol. Add more garlic to your diet or use commercial odorless garlic supplements.
Another common culinary herb with medicinal benefits is cinnamon. In many studies, cinnamon has been shown to improve blood glucose levels in diabetics. You can safely sprinkle more cinnamon on your oatmeal or place a cinnamon stick in hot beverages such as your morning coffee to add additional cinnamon to your diet.
This golden-yellow spice hails from Asia and is often added to Indian cuisine such as curry. Several studies have identified a chemical in turmeric that may inhibit the growth of tumors. Turmeric is an herb that holds much promise. It is available as a powder for culinary use or in capsule form. Capsules may cause stomach upset, so add it gradually to your diet until you are used to it and discontinue use if stomach upset occurs.
Lavender is a useful herb to use topically or for aromatherapy. The lovely purple flowers have a sweet scent that is thought to induce peace and calm the nerves, which can in turn reduce stress levels and help you sleep. You can use a few drops of lavender oil diluted in several cups of warm water as an antibacterial rinse or soak.
Echinacea, known by the common name Purple Coneflower, is a favorite garden flower and one of the most popular herbs for medical use. Traditionally it has been used to shorten the duration of the common cold or other respiratory infections. You can purchase it as a tincture or in capsule form. Do not pick garden flowers to use in your herbal remedies, but choose standardized Echinacea extracts manufactured by a reputable company.
St. Johns Wort
St. Johns Wort is a perennial herb used to treat depression as well as some mood and anxiety disorders. Several studies yield inconclusive results. It appears most effective for mild depression. If using St. Johns Wort, stay out of the sun, as it may make your skin burn more easily. Do not use this herb if your are taking prescription medicine for depression as it may interact badly with such medicines.
Aloe is among the most well known of herbal medicinal plants. Some studies suggest that if ingested, the plant can lower blood sugar and cholesterol. Gel from a freshly cut leaf will heal cuts and burns quickly. It's also great for skin problems.
A cut leaf can be kept refrigerated for use at another time. It will stay in good condition for several weeks.
Studies have found that oil dervived from the borage plant may be of aid to atopic dermatitis or eczema. The oil is injested in capsule form.
Calendula is a pretty flower that adds cheer to any garden. Flowers from calendula are made into a salve for burns, bruises and other skin irritations. Some studies have shown that application of calendula to a wound may help it heal faster. You can also make an infusion for stomach problems or a tea that makes a great hair rinse.
Fennel seeds are an excellent digestive aid and have been found in studies to relax the muscles of the digestive track. Take 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of the seeds a day for this purpose. They also make a tea that is perfect for nursing mothers who want to increase milk production. The tea is also a great help to mothers in another way; it helps to eliminate colic in babies.
Leaves and flowers of feverfew are made into capsules that can eliminate, and prevent, miserable migraines. Used fresh, it can be made into a tea that is also effective. Do not use feverfew if you are pregnant or if you use anticoagulants.
For tea pour a quart of boiling water over an ounce of leaves and flowers. Other herbs can be added as well. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain and drink every 30 minutes until you feel better.
Ginkgo leaves and fruit are believed to help increase brain function. It is also notable for its ability to increase circulation and for its ability to help tinnitus.
Mullein oil is great for painful ear infections. As a tincture or infusion, mullein is also useful in treating coughs and colds.
A delicious red raspberry tea is a wonderful reproductive tonic. Because it is rich in iron and other nutrients, it's also excellent as an energy booster.
Dried and powdered, the yarrow leaf is good to keep around in case of injury. Applied to a wound, it will not only stop bleeding but it will also act as a disinfectant. Yarrow is also believed to be useful for cramps.
This is only the beginning of the herbal medicinal plants. There are many more herbs used for medicinal purposes. The more you study the kinds of herbal medicines, the more you will benefit from using herbal medicine for your family.