Medicinal Herbs: What Do They Do And How Can You Use Them Safely?
Welcome to the New Year! We made it.
Last year flew by, the holidays were fun and exhausting, and we’ve seemed to stumble into 2018. Where does the time go?
Along with New Years Resolutions, the new year comes with exciting new regulations in many states regarding the legalization of medicinal herbs- mainly marijuana. Now, this article isn’t going to be about cannabis or hemp, we’re going to be exploring the broader world of medicinal herbs and their benefits.
Hopefully as more information and studies come are now able to be conducted about the benefits of the newly approved herbs, more attention will be drawn to other benefits.
If you’re looking for a natural, holistic way to address pains, negative moods, and normal everyday stressors of an increasingly chaotic world, it may be worth taking a closer look into the cures mother nature is readiliy suppling us with.
Using Herbs is Not New
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 80% of the world’s population uses herbal medicine as an integral part of their primary health care. In America, up to a third of the population uses herbs regularly.
The number could actually be higher considering as many as 70% of those who rely on herbs for some form of treatment are usually reluctant to disclose that information.
Contrary to what many people think, most individuals who use herbs are in fact well educated and have higher-than-average incomes.
That goes to show that the urban population has really embraced herbalism, it is no longer seen as a practice reserved for those who prefer a primitive lifestyle.
What Are Medicinal Herbs?
Medicinal herbs are plant seeds, leaves, roots, barks or flowers that are used for medicinal purposes. The process of using medicinal herbs is known as herbalism, botanical medicine or phytomedicine.
It is a very reliable alternative method of treatment that stems from way back before recorded history. Ancient Egyptian and Chinese manuscripts suggest an extensive use of herbalism as a healing ritual. It in fact developed into comprehensive medical systems like Ayurveda and Unani.
In total, over 30% of all plant species have been used as medicinal herbs at one time or another.
The dawn of chemical analysis (19th century) made it possible for scientists to develop pharmaceutical drugs. Initially, they relied mostly on medicinal herbs as ingredients, but that faded away with time; until recently when herbs bounced back to mainstream medicine.
In the USA, for instance, up to 25% of all drugs are plant-based. The number is even higher in China and India (approximately 80%).
Germany has well over 700 medicines that are plant-based and an estimated 70% of physicians prescribe them frequently. What that means is that herbalism is back in mainstream medicine.
It is actually safe to say that the numbers can only increase since the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 21,000 plant species can be used as medicinal herbs.
How Herbs Work
Herbs contain certain substances that enhance good health.
For example, some herbs like chamomile, dandelion and wormwood contain bitters, which when you consume benefit your liver and digestive system. Others like custard apple, adulsa, Hawthorne, green/black tea and turmeric have flavonoids. You can use them to treat inflammations and improve your circulation system.
The same goes for every other herb. It contains at least one substance that has medicinal properties. Some of the substances include saponins, tannins, vitamins, minerals and mucilage just to name a few.
Each of them helps the body in one way or another; so essentially you can use it for treatment, to enhance certain functions (like brainpower, digestion and many others) or defense against illnesses.
Note that nowadays there are many stores that stock medicinal herbs. You can either get them in their natural form (roots, seeds, leaves, barks and what have you), as extracts, or in supplement form.
But it is important to get the guidance of a professional herbalist before you buy over the counter products as some may be dangerous to your health.
More on that later (including the best herbalist to get advice from), but for now let’s look at what you can treat using herbs.
What Can You Use Herbs For?
Most herbs are perfect for treatment of and protection against illnesses that range from headaches and stomach pains to diabetes and even hypertension. Others are better at alleviating symptoms of common conditions.
For example, turmeric is an effective pain reliever that can be used to treat arthritis pain. Still, there are herbs whose main function is to enhance bodily processes. Dandelion and ginger are perfect examples, they cleanse the digestive tract and increase its efficiency in digestion and absorption.
The bottom line is that every herb has some medical value. It is practically impossible to list each herb and what you can use them for but here’s a summarized overview that contains the most common and popular herbs.
They are very easy to purchase or plant in your garden.
Complete Guide to Medical Herbs Purposes and Uses
Here is a little list to get you more familiarized with what you can use medicial herbs for.
Treating wounds, boils, bruises and soreness
- Cinnamon, black pepper, safflower, myrrh, arnica, sandalwood, aloe, red clover, ginseng and burdock
- Burdock root, dandelion, Reishi mushroom, red clover and basil
As an antibiotic
- Turmeric, garlic, thyme, oregano, colloidal silver, ginger, and Echinacea
- Chirayta, sandalwood, black pepper and safflower.
- Marshmallow leaves and roots
- Turmeric, sandalwood, aloe and sheetraj hindi
Treating colds and flu
- Ginger, clove, cardamom, Echinacea, eucalyptus and wild cherry.
Aiding blood circulation
- Chamomile, basil, calamus, ajwain, fennel, peppermint, coriander, spearmint, chrysanthemum, ginger and turmeric
Adding flavor and aroma to food
- Coriander, cardamom, cloves, turmeric and peppermint
- Golden seal, aloe, chirayata, giloe, barberry, dong quai and ginseng
Stomach pain, indigestion and heartburn
- Chamomile, peppermint, fennel, lemon balm, turmeric, cayenne and artichoke leaf
- Garlic, turmeric, licorice, ginger, fenugreek leaves and seeds, basil and artichoke leaf
Lowering blood pressure
- Garlic, basil, cinnamon, celery seed, ginger, flaxseed and hawthorn
- Cloves, turmeric, cayenne, sage, rosemary, Jamaican allspice, oregano and marjoram.
- Ginger, peppermint and lemon
- Tea tree, garlic, cloves, olive leaf, black walnut and goldenseal.
Protection against cancer
- Astragalus, berberis, pau d’arco, red clover, Echinacea, cat’s claw, butcher’s broom, bloodroot and turmeric
Protection from Alzheimer’s disease
- Lemon balm, sage, gingko biloba, cat’s claw and ginseng
Are There Any Considerations To Keep In Mind?
The fact is medicinal herbs are very safe to use.
They are natural and will cause very minimal side effects (if any). There is however a genuine point of concern which doesn’t come from the plants but rather how and where they are grown.
Some, especially those sourced from Asian countries, may contain a higher-than-desired level of heavy metals (mercury, lead, cadmium and others). When you use them you are ingesting toxins into the body and they may eventually contribute to such conditions as liver and kidney complications/failure.
In addition to that, there are some herbs that shouldn’t be used under certain conditions.
For example, if you are taking prescription medication you may want to consult your doctor before using medicinal herbs as the two may interact.
Also, some herbs can have a negative effect if you suffer from certain conditions. A good example is evening primrose. Do not use it if you suffer from seizures as it may increase their frequency and intensity.
If you have a bleeding problem you should also avoid using ginkgo, garlic, ginger and feverfew.
Other medicinal herbs that pose potential danger are:
- Kava kava – highly linked with liver toxicity.
- St. John’s wort – increases skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.
How Can You Start Using Medicinal Herbs?
The best way to go about using medicinal herbs is start by getting advice and help from a professional who understands them thoroughly. They will guide you on which herbs are safe for you and which ones could be dangerous. They will also help you get safe herbs that are free of any heavy metals.
One person who can help with that is Jazmine Russell. A degree holder in Applied Psychology from NYU, Jazmine blends her academic knowledge with her expertise in herbalism to offer holistic treatment that heals physical ailments and boosts spiritual, mental and psychological development at the same time.
She creates tailored herbal blends that are suitable for whatever treatment you could be looking for. For instance, if you are looking for motivation she can make a blend that will uplift your spirit and boost your mental ability as well. That is why she has a growing reputation in the world of herbalism and is the sole provider of Air&Stone’s natural crystal upcoming herb product line.
It seems like this year will be the year herbs finally come more into the forground of public knowledge. If you’re ready to learn more about it for yourself and get a jump start on your own wellness, be sure to check out Jazmine’s website to find out how to use medicinal herbs in a safe and effective way.