Move over vitamins and minerals: Herbal remedies from nature's pharmacy is many times more powerful for healing. Yes, nutritional supplements can certainly be useful in providing lost nutrients due to depleted soil, but they can't take the place of wild, organic, plants for healing serious health problems.
Herbs, also referred to as botanicals, were the first medicine used by humans. Even animals are instinctively drawn to eating medicinal plants, which may be how humans discovered their use. In any case, early peoples observed the effect of ingesting or topically applying the leaves, roots, seeds and bark of freely growing plants and were able to discern the healing properties of each one.
Today we know that botanicals consist of strong chemical compounds such as acids, alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, antioxidants, and more. These compounds not only provide nutrition, but also pull out toxins and rebuild the cells. They literally clean out the body and allow for new, healthy cells to grow.
Many naturopathic doctors continue the tradition of herbal medicine with their patients. Dr. Robert Morse, N.D. is one of them. In his book, The Detox Miracle Sourcebook, he says, "When I started using herbs and herbal formulas over twenty-seven years ago, my success in my clinic skyrocketed. I began to see much deeper cleansing and healing-- true regeneration and vitality in tissues. Previously, with supplements, I would see some improvement, and maybe some symptoms eliminated. However, these symptoms would return when the supplementation was stopped."
Herbal remedies are widely known as safe which is why it's so easy for anyone to obtain them. Only a handful of herbal remedies are to be used with caution and under a holistic doctor's guidance and include Cinchona calisaya (Peruvian Bark) and Chaparral.
Top Ten Medicinal Herbs
There are numerous herbal tinctures, teas, capsules, oils and salves available for specific conditions and we encourage you to explore them on your own if we don't cover them here. There are just too many to list so Healthy Girlfriend came up with a top ten list to get you started. These 10 single herbs are easy to obtain, and we include some of our favorite sources at the bottom of the article. We prefer tincture (herbs are dissolved in alcohol) forms most of the time because this yields stronger concentrations and may be more bioavailable. Teas are also great.
- Garlic. Who knew?! Readily available in the produce section, this bulb is antiseptic, anti parasite, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. Enjoy its tastiness both raw in salad dressings and cooked in your favorite dishes. To release its healing properties, chop a liberal amount and set aside for 10 minutes before adding to the pan.
- Milk Thistle. If you drink alcohol and even if you don't, this is a must. It protects and cleans the liver, then rebuilds the cells so this organ can do a better job of detoxifying the body.
- Valerian. This smelly (honestly) root is powerful relaxant. It relieves anxiety and mildly sedates you, so it's best to take before bed, unless you need fast relief from a tense situation. It's one of those herbs that you can feel the effects of fairly quickly, so you know it's working.
- Turmeric. An amazing herb that East Indians have used throughout their history, particularly in curry dishes. Among other things, it's a powerful anti-inflammatory that benefits any conditions dealing with joints and tendons. It's also good for the digestive system and blood.
- Echinacea. The great immune herb. It is nature's antibiotic and antiseptic, good for any infections including blood poisoning. The best way to take it is in tincture form and only for ten days a month since it is more effective this way. It is know for keeping colds and flu at bay in the winter months. We swear by it!
- Cascara Sagrada. This one is the digestive systems best friend. Taken in low doses (capsules are fine) this tree bark cleanses and rebuilds the stomach, pancreas, liver and intestines. It works well for constipation, too.
- Licorice. If you suffer from indigestion, this root soothes a fiery stomach and esophagus pretty quickly. For this use, the best form is a chewable tablet. It's also a tonic for the adrenal glands and benefits anyone with blood sugar issues. Make sure to get the kind that is deglycyrrized kind because regular licorice can raise blood pressure. And no, you can't eat those rubbery, sugary, red ropes and expect to get the same benefits.
- Hawthorn. These berries and leaves strengthen the heart and the whole vascular system. It helps with circulation, high and low blood pressure, varicose veins, and even dissolves fatty deposits. Got heart issues? Start taking this herb yesterday.
- Gotu Kola. This plant has been used by the Chinese people for at least 2,000 years. Known as the "miracle elixir of life," and is beneficial for many conditions including depression, nervous tension, weight loss, endocrine problems, spinal cord injuries, and menopause. It promotes blood flow and increases oxygen to the cells. What's not to like? This is a good one to take daily as a tonic for all that ails and as a preventative, too.
- Goldenseal. This root is another remedy for all that ails you. One important note: don't take it as a daily tonic because it builds up in the system. It is great for short term use when you are doing a cleanse and also as an herbal remedy for digestive problems, blood sugar issues, infections, rashes, eye inflammation, ulcers, canker sores, sore throat and many other conditions.
Combination Herbal Remedies
Combining several herbs into one formula produces an even more powerful effect. Lay herbalists who enjoy learning about herbs and practicing herbal self-treatments often make their own combinations, but Healthy Girlfriend recommends purchasing them for reputable companies. Again, tinctures and teas are the recommended form.
A few of our favorite combination herbal remedies here at Healthy Girlfriend include the following:
- Female Reproductive (chaste tree berry, wild yam root, red raspberry leaf and more)
- Male Reproductive (saw palmetto berry, chaste tree berry, siberian ginseng root and more)
- Kidney/Bladder (couch grass, corn silk, nettle, dandelion, coriander seed and more)
- Lungs (mullein leaf, lobelia, comfrey root, horehound, cayenne pepper and more)
- Stomach/Intestines (cascara sagrada, slippery elm, licorice, ginger root, gentian and more)
These are classic formulas, but the herbal combinations vary with different producers. Our favorite sources are listed below.
Sources of Herbal Remedies
Our Botanicals/Dr. Morse's Very high quality single and combination herbal remedies.
Dr. Shulze's Also high quality and powerful single and combos. Mostly organic.
Mountain Rose Herbs Bulk dried herbs, high quality, good for teas.