Herbs For Health
Here is a list of easily available herbs with an explanation of their principal benefits. Some of these herbs are imported from other countries, many grow here in the United States. A few of them can even be grown in your backyard – or on a window sill. CAUTION: some of the following herbs ought not to be taken during pregnancy. Please do consult with a qualified herbalist before taking any of these (or other) herbs if you are pregnant, if you are on medications, or suffering from serious health issues.
Stinging Nettle is a natural anti-histamine, and very helpful with seasonal, inhalant allergies affecting the nose, ears or eyes. It also cleanses the blood and assists the skin and joints to renew and to detox. It raises PH, thus alkalizing and rejuvenating the body. NOTE: This herb should only be gathered from young green shoots, not from mature plants, which may be too mineral-rich for the kidneys to handle.
Boswellia helps the body maintain a healthy and positive inflammation response. It is extremely effective without having any of the longterm dangerous side-effects of conventional pain relievers. Excellent for joint pains, it is often best combined with Neem to help skin problems as well.
Brain Health And Anti-Aging
Ginkgo Biloba is an eminent, ancient tree. It assists the heart, improves circulation and improves the elasticity of blood vessel walls. It is excellent as part of after-stroke care, but above all it has been studied for its capacities to prevent aging in the brain and to assist with memory loss and mental performance.
Gotu Kola is very helpful for a low functioning thyroid gland (low energy, cold hands and feet, weight gain, sluggish appetite, malaise). It is also a powerful health tonic and is synergistic with Ginkgo. It improves memory and mental clarity and focus. It also helps purify the blood and the skin.
Rosemary has always been associated with good memory and mental alertness. It contains cineole, an ingredient which is vital for our navigational awareness, according to animal studies. It can be helpful with nervous exhaustion and associated depression. Rosemary can be consumed in the form of a tea, as an addition to cooking, or as an essential oil.
Sage has been used traditionally in China to prevent brain decline by increasing oxygenation. It therefore assists us in our focus and concentration, and alleviates confusion – when taken as part of a general preventive protocol.
Turmeric is an extraordinary herb currently being studied for its anti-cancer properties, as well as its effectiveness in preventing Alzheimer’s, dementia or other brain function disorders. Taking a little turmeric every day could be one of the best investments we make in our overall health maintenance. It can be easily taken in capsule form.
Colds And Flu
Ginger Root is excellent at the first signs of a head cold if the body is heavy, tight and achy and you feel chills. Best taken as a tea. Yarrow is also excellent at the first signs of a cold, and can help stimulate a good sweat. Can be taken as a tea, or inhaled in hot water or a bath.
Basil leaves are very helpful to counteract the effects of rich, heavy foods. They are light, stimulating and energizing for the digestive system. Like parsley, basil is filled with luteolin, a substance which protects our DNA from degradation due to UV and man-made sources of radiation.
Catnip is very helpful for colicky babies and children’s tummy upsets. It also soothes the nerves and helps with infant insomnia.
Chamomile is also a very effective, gentle herb for children, infants and babies with tummy issues, gas or nausea. It is also calming and induces sleep in both children and adults.
Cilantro is the name given to the leaves and stems of the coriander plant. Coriander as a dried herb is frequently used in Indian cooking, as a complement to cumin. The fresh green leaves have a strong, distinctive taste and a clean, cooling energy. If you eat a little cilantro with a meal, it can help balance out the hot, starchy or acidic effects of the cooked food. It is a wonderful fresh herb to maintain the digestive system, and prevent it from “overheating”.
Fennel is a great digestive aid. A little raw fennel can be eaten with, or immediately after, a heavy meal. Toasted fennel seeds can be chewed after a meal also. Or fennel tea can be prepared by gently cooking a handful of seeds in purified water. Fennel also improves milk flow in nursing mothers. It is great for children’s tummy problems, safe for babies, and helps stimulate the appetite.
Ginger is a wonderful tonic for digestion. It helps with nausea, morning sickness and motion sickness. Taken as a tea after eating a meal, it will both warm and settle the stomach, prevent bloating and calm digestion. Ginger tea is also very effective at the first signs of a cold. Either slice the root and simmer it for about ten minutes in purified water, adding a little evaporated cane juice. Another way is to grate some ginger root, place it in a french coffee press, fill this with boiling water, and add some honey and fresh lime juice. An elixir and health tonic!
Peppermint (like other mint-family plants) is wonderful for the digestion. It settles the stomach after a big meal, relaxes the intestines, alleviates gas and is both calming and slightly stimulating to the mind. Peppermint (or spearmint) can be taken as a tea, or even as an essential oil. It is great for both IBS sufferers and heartburn. Mint is easy to grow in many plots and climates.
Cleavers helps alkalize the system reduce lymphatic swelling, and purify the blood. It is often included in herbal anti-cancer protocols. May be taken as a tea. It will help cool excessive high fevers naturally during infections and flus.
Red Clover is a potent lymphatic cleanser, and forms part of both the Essiac Tea Formula and the Hoxsey anti-cancer Formula. Excellent for chronic skin problems due to impurities in the blood and lymph.
Parsley is very helpful for the eyes. In Chinese medicine, it is seen as “cooling” the liver, an organ which tends to easily “overheat”. Because the health of our eyes is somewhat dependent upon the liver’s ability to detoxify our blood, parsley is a great ally in the kitchen. Parsley also contains luteolin, which protects the retina from damage, especially if there is too much sugar circulating in the blood. So parsley is very helpful when people have problems with sugar metabolism, as in diabetes mellitus type II.
Bilberry is a herb traditionally used to keep the eyes clear, to maintain good vision and correct ocular pressure. Bilberries are full of antioxidants. They are good for the heart and also can help with certain kinds of diarrhea. Bilberry can be taken in capsule or tincture.
Black Cohosh has been used for centuries to assist with uterine cramps and hot flashes. Like Dang Gui, it balances female hormones (estrogen and progesterone). However, it can also be helpful to males experiencing stressed nerves, and nerve related spasms in muscles or digestive tissues. Very good too whenever there are achy pains in the joints along with the soft tissues, black cohosh also helps maintain bone health. Do not take when pregnant.
Cramp Bark helps with PMS, menopause, morning sickness, menstrual cramps and excessive heavy bleeding during the period.
Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica) is the foremost Chinese herb for strengthening the blood and balancing female hormones. Best taken not alone but in Chinese combination formulas prescribed by a trained herbalist. Do not take when pregnant.
Shatavari is the principal Ayurvedic herb for regulating and harmonizing the female reproductive system. Very effective on its own, or in combination with other herbs for reproductive health.
Vitex (Chaste Berry) balances female hormones and stimulates milk production in nursing mothers. Helpful with a wide range of female disorders originating in unbalanced hormone ratios.
Wild Yam balances female hormones and reduces cramps and spasms. Best absorbed sublingually or through the mucous membranes of the mouth.
Arjuna is a potent cardio-tonic, combing well with Inula, C0-Q10, Hawthorn and adaptogenic herbs (see section on stress below).
Hawthorn helps dilate blood vessels and lowers LDH (bad cholesterol) in the arteries. It assists with cardiac arrythmia, sytrengthens heart pulse and heart wall. High in flavinoids, it synergizes with anti-oxidant rich foods such as blueberries, pomegranate juice and many other alkalizing berries, fruits and vegetables.CAUTION: if you are taking any Digitalis based medication, consult your physican before taking Hawthorn, and read the Herb-Drug interactions paragraph on the Herbal Therapy page of this website.
Astragalus is the chief immune tonic in Chinese medicine. It is valuable as a complementary aid for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. It is even more powerful when part of a combination Chinese herbal formula. (For more information on this, please consult us).
Cayenne can help stimulate cell-mediated immunity by increasing metabolic fire. It enhances circulation and blood purification, and revitalizes a weakened immune response. Use with care as it can cause some people to overheat.
Echinacea supports humoral as opposed to cell-mediated immunity. It is a natural anti-biotic and useful against many bacterial infections affecting the mouth, throat, gums or skin.
Olive Leaf is a powerful anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb, an immune tonic, and it also helps reduce excess blood clotting. It can be taken in capsule or tincture form, or the whole leaves can be slowly cooked for about eight hours in a crock pot and taken as a tea. (The rest can be refrigerated and consumed daily).
Oregon Grape is anti-microbial, and can be used in place of Goldenseal (a precious plant which is now very scarce in its wild-crafted form). Oregon Grape also contains berberine, a bitter alkaloid, so it is excellent as a liver tonic and to assist digestion. Do not take when pregnant.
Osha is known to Native Americans as “Bear Medicine”. It helps colds, flu, sore throat, chest mucus and bronchial infections. Do not take when pregnant.
Usnea is a lichen, traditionally used to stimulate immunity. Research studies have shown it to be a powerful anti-fungal agent, and to be effective against many gram-positive bacteria. Many indigenous people apply it directly to wounds to prevent infection and stop bleeding.
Burdock is great for the skin as it supports the eliminatory functions of both the liver/gallbladder and the kidneys. It helps the body rid itself of waste materials and toxins, purifying the blood and thus enhancing the skin.
Dandelion Root assists liver health and is an overall digestive tonic, rich in potassium.
Milk Thistle is a herb that defends hepatic cells from disrepair, and evan helps to actually heal liver from scarring. The active ingredient in Milk Thistle is silymarin. Milk Thistle is even more effective when taken in combination with Alpha Lipoic Acid and Selenium.
Yellow Dock supports liver and digestion, and helps to clear up chronic skin problems.
Chamomile is a simple but wonderful herb to calm both the mind and the stomach (which are closely connected, as the human gut houses our so-called “Second Brain”, and there are many neuro-transmitter receptors in our intestines).
Kava-Kava helps remove tension from the body by calming and relaxing the muscles. By reducing tension in the muscles, it can reduce mental anxiety and associated insomnia. CAUTION when combining with any medications, alcohol consumption, driving or operating machinery. Do not take when pregnant.
Motherwort is helpful for nervous disorders, and for related heart palpitations and insomnia. Also good for PMS and menopause. Do not take when pregnant.
Passionflower assists with nervous tensions and mental overactivity. Used for insomnia and children’s asthma.
Skullcap is very calming. It promotes restful sleep and reduces muscle spasms by releasing tensions held in the sympathetic nervous system.
Valerian is a well known herb for insomnia and anxiety. However, this herb does not work equally well for everybody and can make people feel very sluggish and dull, or even over stimulated. CAUTION when driving or operating machinery.
Wood Betony is excellent for hyper-sensitive nerves, autonomic nervous system imbalances and associated symptoms such as depression, convulsions, anxiety and headaches.
Black Walnut Hull helps against parasites and fungi. In this way, it can also assist those with lowered T-cell function by liberating an overburdened immune system. Do not take when pregnant. (Frequently combined with Wormwood.Do not take when pregnant. )
Cedar is a good anti-fungal herb derived from a tree recognized as the Tree of Life by some Native American tribes.
Clove is used as an anti-fungal and anti-parasitic herb. It also helps kill the eggs and larvae of parasites, so disabling their replication cycles. Also helpful for toothache
Jackass Bitters is a potent anti-parasitic plant from Central America.
Quassia is a tree with anti-parasitic properties.Do not take when pregnant.
Sweet Annie (Artemisia Annua) works against blood-borne and intestinal parasites. This remarkable herb is currently being researched for its anti-cancer properties, and is now being used as the base for new chemotherapeutic agents. Do not take when pregnant.
Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium) is usually combined with Black Walnut hulls in a synergistic anti-parasite formula. Should only be taken in small doses or under the supervision of a trained herbalist. Do not take when pregnant.
Ginger Root is helpful for morning sickness during the first trimester.
Yellow Dock may assist pregnant mothers by fortifying the blood during this time. The herb can be taken as a tincture tea: add a few drops of tincture to hot water, let stand for about ten minutes and then drink.
Ashwagandha is sometimes called the Indian Ginseng. It helps the body cope with stress condition rather than masking the stress response with sedatives. In this way it is profoundly restorativa and rejuvenative for the entire system.
Holy Basil (Tulasi) is an Idian herb highly revered for its spiritual properties. It helps normalize cortisol levels by rebalancing the autonomic nervous system. In this way it helps the body cope with stress, and maintain inner calm and healthy homeostasis of the body. It has also been used to repel mosquitoes and other harmful insects, and even to treat malaria.
Shilajit is a remarkable mineral exudate tapped from the Himalayas, or from mountainous areas of Russia, where it is known as Moomiyo. It is fantastic for stamina, athletic performance, recovery from any kind of physical or mental stress, and to promote longevity. It also strongly enhances macrophage activity, thus fortifying immune response. It reduces anxiety and renews vitality. This is an extraordinary adaptogenic herb.
Siberian Ginseng is another great herb for athletes. It helps with stamina, and assists with recovery from exhaustion. It is also good for seniors, and to boost sexual function. As an adaptogenic herb, it assists the entire body to cope with stress, and to rejuvenate. Do not take when pregnant.
This self-care page is meant to inform, and is for educational purposes only. In no way is it intended to evaluate, diagnose or to treat any condition or disease, nor to replace consultation with a qualified health professional. It is strongly recommended that no-one seek to reduce or to discontinue any medication they may be on without prior discussion with their physician.