Healing Herbs for 16 Common Health Issues
Harness the power of plants and healing herbs to restore your body and win over toughest illnesses. Often, we go straight to over-the-counter medicines to treat our arthritis, headaches, inflammation, mood disorders, high cholesterol, blood pressure and other syndromes. Find out why natural remedies have the power to drastically improve your health and familiarize yourself with nature’s medicine: healing herbs.
Healing Herbs for Weight Loss
Weight gain is a simple question of mathematics. You need to burn more calories than you consume or else you will gain weight. Having said that, as we age, our metabolism slows down, so we burn calories less efficiently. Our appetites stay the same, but it gets harder and harder to lose weight.
Cinnamon balances blood sugar to help remove cravings. It also slows down the emptying of your stomach, so you feel fuller for longer and are less likely to eat mindlessly because you feel famished. It supports a healthy metabolism. It also kills off harmful gut bacteria, improving digestion. It can even kill off C Difficile infection, a potentially dangerous gut bacteria that can severely damage your colon.
Cinnamon is inexpensive and tastes great, so it is easy to incorporate into your diet. To be sure you are getting a quality product, consider buying the sticks and grinding them yourself so you don’t have to worry about pre-ground cinnamon being adulterated with other substances. (Most commercial ground cinnamon is described as little better than “floor sweepings.”)
Those with diabetes or liver disease should avoid cinnamon.(Source)
Cayenne, or capsicum, contains an active compound called capsaicin. It is used to treat arthritis, but it can also be a great fat-burning aid. It lowers cholesterol and prevents fatty buildup in the blood vessels.It adds flavor to many dishes, including Mexican and Indian food. The tastiness of the food can in part help curb appetite-a person will feel more satisfied eating full-flavored rather than bland dishes.
Cayenne pepper is often added to lemon juice to be used as a detox and weight loss drink that will burn fat. Capsicum is dangerous only if applied topically on the broken skin. (Source)
Ginger is beneficial for improving a person’s digestive system as it regulates the movement of food from the stomach to the intestines. Ginger helps promote feelings of fullness, which decreases the urge to binge. Ginger is a natural appetite suppressant and helps detox the body. It is often added to lemon juice to help detox.
It is tasty in Chinese and Indian food, and a small amount can be very satisfying.(Source)
This tasty yellow spice is used widely in Indian cookery and can help curb cravings. Turmeric, the brilliant yellow-orange spice that adds color to curry, also affords numerous health benefits. The primary antioxidant in the spice, curcumin, is an anti-inflammatory that’s been used for centuries in medicine.
Turmeric also offers promise in helping you deal with obesity and its related metabolic disorders. While increasing your intake of turmeric isn’t a lone strategy for weight loss, it may help you mitigate the inflammation associated with obesity and give you a boost in fat burning. (Source)
Peppermint soothes the stomach and can settle hunger pangs. The taste is also quite strong, and can reduce oral cravings. Try minty sugar-free chewing gum to keep your mouth busy without packing in lots of calories. (Source)
Milk thistle cleanses the liver and helps boost digestive health. It speeds the metabolism through the detox process, making it easier to lose weight.
Arthritis and Pain Relief Healing Herbs
Arthritis is a common cause of chronic pain. The trouble is that many over the counter remedies can cause internal bleeding or liver damage.
Nettle is rich in a range of antioxidants that can relieve inflammation. It also has diuretic properties, removing excess fluids in the body through urination. Many with prostate issues find it relieves many of their urinary tract symptoms in addition to relieving pain. You can take it in pill form or as a tea.
Those with diabetes, or who are pregnant or breastfeeding, should use with caution. It can also cause kidney issues and low blood pressure. (Source)
Willow bark has been used since the time of Hippocrates in ancient Rome to relieve pain and inflammation. It is the origin of the active ingredient in aspirin. It relieves inflammation safely in people who are not allergic to aspirin. It can be used in pill form, or the oil can be used as part of a therapeutic massage. It has also be used for colds and flu, to relieve aches and pains. It has also been used for weight loss.
Those with bleeding issues should not take it, as it thins the blood like aspirin.(Source)
Burdock root is another mainstay of herbal medicine because it has so many different uses, and in particular, helps with arthritis. Burdock root is used as a tea, or tincture to relieve pain and inflammation. It contains essential fatty acids and has a pleasant taste similar to root beer.
Those with diabetes, bleeding issues or ragweed allergy should avoid.(Source).
It is used topically in salves and ointments and as a mild tea. However, prolonged use could lead to kidney issues, so it is best used topically.
Those with diabetes or who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid it. Those with stomach disorders or high or low blood pressure should also beware.(Source)
Boswellia ( Indian Frankincense)
Boswellia is also referred to as frankincense or Indian frankincense. It has been valued as early as Biblical times for reducing pain and inflammation, especially as part of a message. Indian frankincense is a mainstay of Ayurvedic medicine and used for many different purposes.
It can relieve pain through topical creams, and also through the essential oil being inhaled as part of aromatherapy. There is some indication it can also be helpful against autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
It is considered safe for most people. However, some skin rashes and diarrhea have been reported after using creams containing Boswellia or taking it internally.(Source)
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria Tomentosa or Uncaria Guianensis0)
Cat’s claw, not to be confused with cat’s food, is used in both North America and Europe for a wide range of health issues, most commonly arthritis pain relief.
This powerful herb is not only antiviral — it also has anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic and antioxidant properties. These health-promoting attributes may make cat’s claw helpful as a natural treatment for arthritis, allergies, asthma, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, viral infections, ulcers, hemorrhoids and more.
It should be avoided by anyone with an autoimmune disorder like MS or lupus, bleeding disorder, low blood pressure or leukemia.(Source)
Colds, Flu, Nasal and Chest Congestion
Colds and flu can strike at any time, leaving people feeling run down and causing them to miss work and miss out on all the things they need to do every day.
Some herbs boost the immune system. Others relieve symptoms, including aches, pains, and congestion.
Echinacea is popular for boosting the immune system and shortening the recovery time when someone has had a cold. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe a range of health issues, including skin problems. It contains antioxidants and protects against the wear and tear of aging on the body.
Echinacea has antifungal and anti-bacterial properties as well, which can prevent other contagious diseases from spreading.
Echinacea is generally considered safe, but those who have ragweed allergies, or MS or lupus, should avoid it. (Source)
Ginseng is an herbal powerhouse of energy. Ginseng can help with the weariness and listlessness that often accompanies colds and flu.
Ginseng has been used in Asia and North America for centuries for a variety of purposes designed to support good health. It can boost energy, reduce stress, aid in weight loss, and treat sexual issues such as loss of libido. It improves breathing, lowers blood sugar levels, supports the immune system, and reduces inflammation.
Those with heart conditions, diabetes, or a manic mental disorder should avoid ginseng. It might also trigger bleeding. Those with hormonally-related cancers such as ovarian cancer should not use ginseng. (Source)
Goldenseal is good for a range of upper respiratory symptoms. It is also used, along with Echinacea, to remove the burning pain of tonsillitis.
Native Americans historically used goldenseal for various health concerns including skin diseases, ulcer symptoms, and gonorrhea. Today’s traditional uses of goldenseal have broadened to include the natural treatment and prevention of colds, respiratory tract infections, allergies, eye infections, digestive issues, canker sores, vaginitis, urinary tract infections and even cancer.
In addition, it is good for the skin and considered safe for all users expect pregnant women and younger children. (Source)
Licorice helps with sore throats. It has a pleasant taste and can also help unclog blocked nasal passages. It is good for oral health and kills germs. It can also relieve stomach upset and soothe irritated skin. It is recommended in TCM for the leaky gut syndrome and for trouble with the adrenal glands.
Beware of products that are only flavored with anise oil. You should look for pure licorice supplements, such as DGL licorice. Those with swelling, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome, or low potassium, should avoid licorice.(Source)
Eucalyptus is good for coughs and colds. It is also a very soothing aromatic oil that can be inhaled as part of aromatherapy, or diluted with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil and applied to the chest to relieve congestion. It should not be put near the eyes or mouth because it can sting, so beware if using with younger children.
A few drops can be applied to hot bath water, including a baby’s, to help relieve congestion. Those with diabetes or planning to have surgery should avoid eucalyptus.(Source)
One popular remedy during cold and flu season is to eat a spoonful of chopped raw garlic cloves.
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant with an antibiotic, antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Rich to vitamin C and many enzymes and minerals, the raw garlic relieves nasal congestion.
Crushing fresh garlic or chomping down on a clove with your teeth causes a chemical reaction that releases powerful antibacterial only present shortly after garlic is crushed and before it is heated!
Eating fresh garlic in this state is purported to knock out that terrible feeling associated with the onset of a cold or flu. Some experts even recommend eating a clove or two every 3 to 4 hours until the bug is entirely knocked out! (Source)
Many people suffer from digestive disorders. However, commercial antacids can have unpleasant side effects. Here are a few suggestions.
Avoid rosemary if you have bleeding disorders or an aspirin allergy. (Source)
Ginger, as discussed above, is very soothing for the stomach. It can be used cooked or raw.
Dandelion helps cleanse the liver, which is considered to be the seat of strong emotions. Dandelion can be drunk as a tea or tincture, such as in dandelion and burdock root drinks. Dandelion is also an effective pain reliever, which can improve mood. It should be avoided by anyone who is allergic to ragweed. (Source)
Peppermint is very soothing to the stomach and a great stress reliever. The mint also helps with oral health. It has also been shown to relieve irritable bowel syndrome. Those with a lack of stomach acid or diarrhea should avoid peppermint. (Source)
Cinnamon is good for digestive disorder, weight loss and blood sugar regulation.
It’s a tasty addition to many recipes.
Those who have diabetes or who are about to have surgery should avoid cinnamon. (Source)
Headaches and Migraines
We all get headaches from time to time, but the over the counter remedies taken, such as aspirin or Tylenol can have significant side effects.
It is also important to note that headaches from different causes, such as stress and tension, so taking a holistic approach to headache pain can help prevent them in the first place.
In terms of migraine, some people can be laid up for as many as three days in a dark, quiet room because the pain is so excruciating. Fortunately, there are a number of herbs that have been clinically proven to help with migraine that is also safe.
This herb is commonly used for treating the symptoms of migraine. It can not only ease current migraines, it can prevent them from happening. It can also help with cluster headaches, in which a person has several headaches in a row over the course of a couple of days.
Note: Some butterbur preparations contain chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which can damage the liver. Only butterbur products that are certified and labeled “PA-free” should be used. Those with liver issues or ragweed allergies should avoid butterbur.(Source)
Feverfew was originally grown in Asia Minor, but its effectiveness as a pain reliever and cure for many other common ailments has caused it to be cultivated all over the world. It has anti-inflammatory properties and prevents spasms in the blood vessels that create a throbbing sensation during headaches and migraines.
It also relieves nausea and light sensitivity in people who have migraines. As the name suggests, it is also good for reducing fever. Those with bleeding disorders or ragweed allergies should avoid feverfew. (Source)
Passionflower is another herb with many uses, including pain relief from fibromyalgia and migraine. It is famous for its calming and pain-killing properties. The physical and mental relaxation it produces lowers the chance of getting headaches. Drinking passionflower tea before bed improves sleep and further lowers the risk of headaches and migraines.
Some people have reported dizziness, confusion and nausea after taking it, so start out slowly to see what effect it has on you.(Source)
Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally
In November 2017, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) issues new guidelines regarding what should be considered normal blood pressure, and who should, therefore, be treated in order to lower their blood pressure to the suggested levels.
The suggested definition of high blood pressure has been lowered from 140/90 down to 130/80 mm Hg. Estimate show that up to 50% more Americans could now fall into the high blood pressure and treatment range now that the goalposts have been moved.
High blood pressure can leave you more prone to heart attack and/or stroke and other cardiovascular issues. Fortunately, there are a lot of natural things you can do to lower it, including:
- Lowering your salt intake (sodium on food labels)
- Avoiding too much water-weight gain/bloating
- Managing your stress
- Maintaining a healthy weight
You can also try various herbs.
Hibiscus is pleasant-tasting and the main component of most herbal teas. It serves as a diuretic to reduce bloating and removes excess sodium from the body, which both serve to lower blood pressure. Research has shown that the active ingredients in hibiscus are similar to a certain class of medication used to treat high blood pressure, ACE inhibitors.
Those with diabetes or low blood pressure should use with caution. Those already taking ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril or ramipril should discuss hibiscus with their doctor. (Source)
Basil is the main ingredient in tasty the tasty green Italian sauce pesto. It lowers blood pressure and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It eases stress and tension, detoxifies the body, and eases gastric symptoms.
It should not be used by anyone with bleeding disorders or low blood pressure. (Source)
This herb has been used for thousands of years to treat heart health problems. Its ability to lower blood pressure is due to the active ingredient which is the same as the prescription medicine reserpine. Reserpine is used to treat mild to moderate hypertension, schizophrenia, and some symptoms of poor circulation. It also relieves anxiety and stress.
This herb should only be used under the direct supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner in order to ensure the dosage is correct and safe. There are numerous contraindications to taking it, including gallstones, ulcers, adrenal gland problems, certain allergies, and more. (Source)
Lowering Cholesterol Naturally
Many people with high cholesterol are put on statin drugs. However, these are known to have numerous side effects and have been linked with the growing number of cases of type 2 diabetes in the US.
Cholesterol levels in the body are 25% what you eat, and 75% what you produce within your own body. Some people produce a lot more than others, so regulating their cholesterol through whatever means possible is one way for them to stay healthy as they age. Several herbs can help.
Skullcap is used for a wide range of medical conditions, but it is particularly used for lowering cholesterol and combatting hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). Research has shown that it reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and boosts the production of HDL (good) cholesterol. It is also used to help in recovery after a stroke.
Be careful of skullcap if you are pregnant or nursing, or are planning to have surgery. (Source)
Indian gooseberry has been used for years by Ayurvedic and TCM practitioners to help keep arteries clear of cholesterol. It is also useful for many other health conditions. However, it should be avoided by those with diabetes, bleeding disorders, or liver disease. (Source)
This resin has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to lower cholesterol, and in particular stopping bad LDL cholesterol from sticking to blood vessels. Many people claim it works just as effectively as statin drugs, but without any negative side effects. If you have bleeding disorders, hormone-related cancers, or thyroid issues, you should avoid guggul. (Source)
Hawthorn is used for treating a variety of heart health problems, including blood pressure issues, high cholesterol, and congestive heart failure. Hawthorn can help improve the amount of blood pumped out of the heart during contractions, widen the blood vessels, and increase the transmission of nerve signals.
You will find hawthorn among the ingredients in candied fruit slices, jam, jelly, and wine. It has powerful phytochemicals in it, however, so it should only be used under a doctor’s supervision if you are already taking heart medications. (Source)
Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice is used in TCM and throughout Asia instead of statin drugs. As the name suggests, it is a combination of yeast and rice that has been fermented. It has been shown as highly effective and can also help with aches, pains and fatigue. However, because it is so powerful, people under 20, and anyone with liver, kidney or thyroid issues should not take it. (Source)
Many women suffer a range of symptoms when they start to undergo menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats. Here are a couple of herbs to try.
Black cohosh has been clinically proven to help with hot flashes and other symptoms. It appears to wok by maintaining hormonal levels, even though it has no estrogen activity. However, it should be avoided by women with a history of hormonally related cancers, and those with liver or kidney issues. (Source)
Dong Quai (Angelica) Benefits
The powerful health benefits of dong quai, or ‘female ginseng’, include its ability to balance hormone levels, increase sex drive in men and women, cure infertility, ease menstrual cramps, and improve heart health. Dong quai has been used in TCM for centuries to maintain the natural balance of female hormones. It does not act as an estrogen either.
It is also known as a “blood purifier,” so should be avoided by any woman still having heavy periods, or anyone with a blood disorder. (Source)
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is derived from a small seed. It is a powerhouse when it comes to health and healing, especially in relation to the many issues associated with menopause, including hot flashes, lowered bone mineral density, night sweats and weight gain. Take it regularly twice a day for 3 to 6 months in order to see a difference or 4 times a day for 12 weeks for weight loss.
Those with epilepsy, bleeding disorders or schizophrenia should not take this supplement. (Source)
Herbs can be used to treat a number of mood disorders and bring thing back into balance. Our moods affect our physical health, and vice versa. Our physical health issue can often drag us down and make us worried, depressed and/or irritable. Here are some suggestions for each of these mood issues.
Anxiety, also referred to as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), can ruin the quality of a person’s life. Fortunately, there are a number of herbs that can help.
Passion flower (passiflora incarnata) is an herbal supplement used historically in treating anxiety, insomnia, seizures and hysteria. A perennial climbing vine native to southeastern North America, passion flower is now grown throughout Europe.
Although the safety and effectiveness of passion flower have not been adequately studied, evidence from limited animal and human research suggest that the supplement may be useful in treating anxiety, insomnia and nervous disorders. However, more rigorous scientific studies are needed to make firm conclusions about the effectiveness of passionflower for the treatment of anxiety problems, such as social anxiety disorder (SAD).(Source)
Lemon balm can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and stress. It is most commonly used for relaxation and sleep issues. It has also been used for treating Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD. It is safe in general, but is a member of the mint family and can sometimes cause nausea and vomiting. (Source)
Depression and Irritability
Depression can cause people to lose interest in their everyday activities, and lead a poor quality of life. Certain herbs can help, without the typical side effects of prescription drugs.
St. John’s Wort
Most people have heard about how effective this herb is for mood disorders. The trouble is that it can be too powerful, and interact with a range of medications. For this reason, some countries have banned it, while others have updated the warning labels. (Source)
Schisandra (Ultimate Superberry)
Schisandra Chinensis enjoys millennia of traditional use for prolonging life, retarding the aging process, increasing energy, as a fatigue-fighter, and as a sexual tonic. Schisandra also possesses significant protective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Thus it helps to maintain healthy cells throughout the body.
It is considered one of the most highly protective of all medicinal plants, and the berry is included in many traditional herbal formulas for improving energy and mental health. (Source)
Stress can often make people irritable and short-tempered. Fortunately, there are a number of herbs which can help soothe frazzled nerves.
Vervain is used in TCM for mood disorders ranging from depression to irritability. It is a relaxing and uplifting herb enhancing mood and well being. Vervain is also effective in promoting a good night’s sleep. It can be drunk as a tea several times a day. It also offers pain relief, which can help people feel less irritable. It is generally considered safe for all except pregnant women. (Source)
Lavender is prescribed by many natural health professionals for mood disorders and feeling “on edge.”
It alters mood safely without the risk of side effects or addiction. It calms nervousness and restlessness and can help with a migraine and insomnia. We are rarely at our best when we are suffering from a lack of sleep or have a headache.
Lavender can be used as an essential oil in aromatherapy. Many people like to sleep with a pillow stuffed with dried lavender flowers as a relaxation and sleep aid.
It is generally safe, but anyone planning to have surgery should stop using lavender about 2 weeks before their procedure.(Source)
Unfortunately, a lot of people take their skin for granted. They don’t care for their face and body depending on their skin type, and they often make poor food choices, which can have a direct impact on the appearance and overall health of the skin.
Fortunately, there is a range of herbal remedies that can help you get great skin. Some can be taken internally, while others can be applied externally to soothe inflamed skin.
Borage soothes skin and relieves inflammation. It is also good for upper respiratory health and oral health. It is eaten in salad and soups and found in many natural skin creams. Those with bleeding disorders or liver disease should avoid borage. (Source)
Calendula is applied to the skin to reduce inflammation and to treat poorly healing wounds and leg ulcers. It is also used topically for nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and conjunctivitis of the eye. Research has shown that calendula has antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties and is suitable to use on all skin types, even sensitive skin.
Many people use calendula in treating diaper rash, chapped lips, minor bruises, and minor cuts and burns. It is also used as a wash and an astringent to help get rid of acne.
Those allergic to ragweed should avoid calendula. (Source)
Gotu Kola is a very small herb, special to India.
This herb can be eaten as a vegetable every day and it can also be used as a herbal medication. Gotu kola is a mainstay of Ayurvedic medicine and TCM. It can relieve itchy, scaly skin and help with psoriasis. It can also help with scarring and is commonly used by women to reduce the appearance of stretch marks after they have had a baby. Those with liver disease should avoid Gotu kola. (Source)
Marshmallow root is excellent for skin conditions of all types. It relieves inflammation, abscesses, skin ulcers and more. It helps with chapped skin and chilblains.
It can also relieve insect bites and infections from the parasite leishmania. It should be avoided by people with diabetes and anyone about to have surgery. (Source)
Do you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, tossing and turning for hours? If so, a few good herbal remedies might be just what you need to start getting a full 8 hours of restful, high-quality sleep.
Sleep is essential for good physical and mental health. It also has a direct impact on your weight.
Some prescription sleeping tablets can be addictive. Try the following herbs for safe, natural relief:
Valerian, as discussed above, is a sleep aid that can help relieve insomnia naturally. It is soothing and calming, and the tea can be quite refreshing.
Lemon balm, as discussed above, is soothing and has been used as a sleep aid since the Middle Ages.
Chamomile tea is often used as a sleep aid. It helps with digestion as well, so anyone who might have trouble sleeping due to stomach issues like heartburn will also find it beneficial.
Passionflower tea can calm and relax you enough to get to sleep.
Herbal remedies have been used for more than 5,000 years, with great success. While it is true that not all of it has been systematically been put down in writing, a growing body of research has shown that some herbs can be just as effective as modern medications, if not more so, and often pose fewer risks of side effects or interactions.
A large percentage of prescription and over the counter medicines are derived from herbs and spices. If you are looking for more natural, less synthetic forms of treatment, consulting a qualified herbalist could be your best first step for holistic health and healing.
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