Top 10 Healing Herbs Anyone Should Know

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Top 10 Herbs Used in Herbal Medicine

10. Aloe Vera

In traditional Indian medicine, aloe vera is used for constipation, skin diseases, worm infestation, infections and as a natural remedy for colic. In Chinese medicine, it’s often recommended for the treatment of fungal diseases, and in the Western world, it has found widespread use in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries.

Studies have proved the antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties of aloe vera. The plant has also shown to be non-allergic and excellent in building up the immune system. One study reported in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that 30 milliliters of aloe vera juice twice a day decreased the level of discomfort in 33 patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

Other aloe vera benefits include its ability to soothe rashes and skin irritations; treat burns and cold sores; moisturize the skin, hair, and scalp; provide antioxidants, and reduce inflammation.

Aloe vera can be used topically or orally, and it’s available in most health food stores.

9. Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto supplements are some of the most commonly consumed supplements by men with prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia. It plays a role in slowing down the production of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which converts the male hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a sex steroid and androgen hormone. While DHT is important because it plays a role in male development, it also contributes to many common health issues in men, such as loss of libido, an enlarged prostate and hair loss.

Aside from its ability to relieve conditions triggered by DHT, saw palmetto is also known to fight inflammation, boost immune function, treat respiratory conditions and promote relaxation.

8. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba, which is also known as maidenhair, is the oldest surviving species of tree on earth. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a centuries-old history of effective uses of ginkgo against many ailments, particularly such age-related complaints as poor circulation, short-term memory loss, fatigue and general mental deterioration. Current research shows that it’s linked to improvements in cognitive function. When researchers from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine reviewed evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials involving brain injury patients, it reported that Ginkgo Biloba extract had positive effects on patients’ neurological impairment and quality of life in nine of the trials.

Other Ginkgo Biloba benefits include its ability to improve concentration and memory, reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, fight anxiety and depression, help maintain vision and eye health, relieve ADHD symptoms, and fight fibromyalgia. Recent studies show that ginkgo also helps to relieve impotence caused by arterial erectile dysfunction, as well as those with high HDL cholesterol. Ginkgo is usually taken in capsules and extracts.

7. St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort has been used as a medicinal herb for its antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties for over 2,000 years. It produces dozens of biologically active substances, but hypericin and hyperforin have the greatest medical activity.

St. John’s wort uses come from its antidepressant activity, ability to relieve PMS symptoms, improve mood during menopause, fight inflammation, reduce skin irritations and improve symptoms of the obsessive-compulsive disorder.

6. Feverfew

For centuries, feverfew has been used for fevers, headaches, stomachaches, toothaches, insect bites, infertility, and problems with menstruation and labor during childbirth. Feverfew’s pain-easing effect comes from a biochemical called parthenolide, which combats the widening of blood vessels that occurs in migraines. Studies showed that active constituents identified in feverfew inhibit the production of prostaglandins, chemical substances that are involved in the inflammatory process. Feverfew is one of the most sought-after medicines for pain relief, with an effect similar to that of aspirin. However, without aspirin’s side effects. The herb is also used to prevent dizziness, relieve allergies, reduce arthritis pain and prevent blood clots.

Several important human studies show the benefits of using feverfew to prevent and treat migraines. A systematic review completed by the School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Science in the U.K. compared the results of six studies. Researchers found that feverfew is indeed useful in the prevention of migraine headaches and does not pose any major safety concerns.

Among feverfew’s other benefits are relief from sinus and allergy discomfort, psoriasis, spondylosis, menstrual cramps, menopause, high blood pressure, and spinal problems. It is available in loose, dried form, tea bags, capsules, and tinctures.

5. Milk Thistle

The extract of the common milk thistle weed strengthens and stimulates the liver, helping it to synthesize quality fats such as phospholipids. It also improves protein synthesis and the quality of blood protein. Milk thistle can even rebuild livers damaged by alcohol, drugs, hepatitis or cirrhosis. Strengthening the liver is essential for overall health, disease resistance, and for cancer prevention.

The active ingredient in milk thistle is flavonoid called Silymarin. The seeds also contain large amounts of linoleic acid. Milk thistle works best over an extended period of time.

Milk thistle extracts, which are commonly sold in capsules, are also known to be safe and well-tolerated.

4. Ginseng

Panax Ginseng is another well-known herb, with many claims made for its healing abilities. Research suggests it promotes homeostasis, maintaining steady blood pressure, blood sugar, and energy levels. Ginseng is found in North America but it was popularized by Asians who have used the root for over five thousand years to boost energy levels, counteract aging, tone the respiratory tract, and improve sexual function. Overall, ginseng strengthens the entire endocrine system and sets the metabolism at a more efficient level. Do not take it at night because of its stimulating properties. Use the expensive roots, as they are less apt to irritate.

Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world, and it’s been used in Asia and North American for centuries. Native Americans used the root as a stimulant and headache remedy, as well as a treatment for infertility, fever, and indigestion, for instance.

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a close relative of Panax ginseng but is actually not a true ginseng. It does energize the entire bodily system, and it relieves stress and fatigue without side effects. Siberian ginseng also increases endurance and works as an adaptogen to help the body acclimate to mental and physical stress. Because it is said to contain testosterone, it is useful in treating impotence. Ginseng root can be purchased in Oriental pharmacies and some health food and herbal stores. It is more commonly available in capsule, pill, tea, and tincture forms.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a plant that has a very long history of medicinal use, dating back nearly 4,000 years. Modern medicine has begun to recognize its importance, as indicated by the over 3,000 publications dealing with turmeric. This great plant can be added to any recipe or taken as a supplement. There is a range of turmeric benefits, including its ability to slow and prevent blood clotting, fight depression, reduce inflammation, relieve arthritis pain, manage diabetes, treat gastrointestinal issues, regulate cholesterol, and fight cancer.

Several studies indicate that turmeric has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial and anticancer properties.

2. Ginger

Ginger is the most widely used dietary condiment in the world today. The root of the ginger is a stimulant, tending to excite the glands to action. Though most renowned for its ability to relieve nausea and digestive distress, ginger’s ability to bring heat and circulation to any area of the body makes it a favorite of people around the world for combating colds and flu, drawing out toxins and gas, loosening mucus in the throat and bronchial tubes, promoting menstruation, and restoring appetites. Much like aspirin, but without the side effects, ginger inhibits thromboxanes and platelet aggregation, helping to prevent strokes and heart failure.

The therapeutic benefits of ginger come from gingerols, the oily resin from the root that acts as a highly potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Gingerol, among other bioactive agents present in ginger, is able to relieve indigestion and nausea, boost immune and respiratory function, fight bacterial and fungal infections, treat stomach ulcers, reduce pain, improve diabetes, prevent malabsorption, and may even inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

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.

1. Raw Garlic

This pungent bulb, a close relative of the onion, has a history of service to mankind as ancient and honorable as that of any plant. The intense smell of garlic is so penetrating that it is exhaled in the breath of anyone who has even had a clove of it applied to the soles of his feet.

Garlic is among the best-researched of all herbs. Its active properties lie in essential oil, a sulfide of allyl, which is rich in sulfur and present in all members of the onion family. Renowned for its ability to lower high blood pressure, garlic is also effective as a blood thinner, aid to circulation, detoxifier, and natural antibiotic and antihistamine. It also lowers cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, preventing blood clots by blocking the formation of thromboxane, a clotting factor, and lowering the levels of fibrinogen, another contributor to clotting. Studies have shown that garlic contains eighteen antiviral, antifungal, and bacterial substances. It also seems to be a powerful cancer fighter, particularly against stomach and colon cancers.

A group of researchers at Tulane University in Louisiana discovered that total cholesterol and low-density (bad) cholesterol are reduced after a twelve-week regime of one and a half cloves of garlic or a 900-milligram capsule of powdered garlic daily. Elise Malecki, Ph.D., a researcher at Penn State, reports a strong link between garlic and lowered risk of colon cancer. She also points to the low incidence of stomach cancer in areas in China where garlic is consumed heavily. New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center in New York City established a Garlic Information Center to help spread the word about the role of garlic and garlic supplements in preventing and treating infections, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

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