Herbs – briefly
Herbs are leaves or roots that can be used to make tea or other infusions. This site distinguishes between spices, which flavor food, and herbs, which are used for tea. Perhaps this distinction is is arbitrary, since you can also add herbs to food. The utility of herbs and spices for your health may be due to their content in minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. This content depends on the soil where they were grown and the batch of the harvest. Their utility for you depends on your individual deficiencies of specific minerals and vitamins.
One possible reason to make herbal tea is to improve digestion. Good health begins with optimal digestion. What is optimal digestion? It begins with an absence of constipation, diarrhea, stomach pains, and excess gas. It continues with absorption and assimilation of the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins from your food into your blood, tissues, organs, and bones.
This article includes a table of herbs and natural products, their botanical names, and descriptions, and also details by herb or product. When buying herbs, try to get to know the supplier and the source. Some herbs, even grown organically, can be contaminated with heavy metals, fungus, or other contaminants. Some herbs are possible substitutes for antibiotics. None of this information is intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease. If you think that the world of plants is about poisonous plants, but the rest are not formally researched, you are mistaken. There are many excellent reference books about herbs and their possible benefits for you. Be aware that the authors mostly describe what works for them. The fact that something works for someone else does not mean that it works for you.
This list is not complete. Do your own research, and verify.
|Herb/plant||Botanical name||Description and uses|
|artichoke||Cynara scolymus||can stimulate the liver and digestion, increases bile, diuretic|
|ashwagandha||Withania somnifera||adaptogen, can stimulate the immune system, possible natural source of iodine, contra-indicated in those with high blood pressure, found in India and Pakistan|
|astragalus||Astragalus membranaceus||adaptogen, stimulates the immune system, interferes with corticosteroids, used in ancient Chinese medicine|
|bilberry||Vaccinium myrtillus||leaves are used to make teas, may promote healthy vision, Vaccinium cyanococcus is the common North American variety called blueberry, has other possible health benefits|
|black walnut||Juglans nigra||tincture can be used to reduce parasites, used by native Americans for this purpose|
|cat’s claw||Uncaria tomentosa||can reduce inflammation, known as uña de gato in Spanish, indigenous to the rainy tropical forests of the Amazon and South and Central America|
|chaste tree||Vitex agnus-castus||also called “chasteberry”, can reduce discomfort of menopause, second opinion|
|chickweed||Stellaria media||may promote digestion and detoxification, may reduce inflammation, may remove toxins from skin|
|chicory||Cichorium intybus||used since ancient Egypt as a substitute for coffee, may stimulate digestion, may have other health benefits|
|comfrey||Symphytum officinale||used topically, can stimulate growth of new cells after sprains or broken bones, can reduce inflammation, do not apply to broken skin, native to Europe, can be used as a fertilizer|
|cranberry||Vaccinium oxycoccos||can stimulate and detoxify the urinary tract, see the harvest in this three-minute video, native to North America and known to the native Americans|
|damiana||Turnera diffusa||potential aphrodisiac, has other possible health benefits, native to Mexico and Latin America|
|dandelion||Taraxacum officinale||can stimulate the liver, diuretic, detoxifying, has other benefits , grows all over the earth|
|devil’s claw||Harpagophytum procumbens||can reduce pain and inflammation, native to Africa|
|eyebright||Euphrasia officinalis||can be a tonic for the eyes and vision|
|fennel||Foeniculum vulgare||can stimulate healthy digestion, used in ancient Greece, seeds are served at the end of meals in India and Arabia as a digestive aid, may have other health benefits|
|feverfew||Tanacetum parthenium||may control fever, may reduce inflammation, use with caution|
|ginkgo||Ginkgo biloba||may increase blood flow to the brain, may balance the central nervous system, potential aphrodisiac, native to China, used since ancient times in case of cold extremities, medicinal uses|
|ginseng||Panax ginseng||adaptogen, general tonic, can increase energy, may have other health benefits|
|green tea||Camellia sinensis||may stimulate the appetite and promote digestion, may reduce jet lag|
|hawthorn||Crataegus oxyacantha||may strengthen the heart, supports a normal heart rhythm|
|hops||Humulus lupulus and Japanese and Chinese varieties||can be a sedative, among other sedatives, gives beer a bitter taste, contains estrogens, may be beneficial for pre and post-menopausal women|
|horny goat weed||Epimedium grandiflorum||potential aphrodisiac, native to China and used since ancient times|
|horse chestnut||Aesculus hippocastanum||can strengthen circulation and reduce varicose veins|
|horseradish||Armoracia rusticana||stimulates appetite, can be used topically to relieve pain, nature’s antibiotic?, has other health benefits, used in ancient Egypt|
|horsetail||Equisetum arvense||cure for brittle nails, has silica and chromium, strengthens bones, diuretic, strengthens urinary system, can remove aluminum, can deplete thiamin (vitamin B1) if used to excess, used in ancient Greece|
|licorice||Glycyrrhiza glabra||can stimulate digestion, anti-viral, can have other benefits, used in ancient Egyppt, Greece, Rome, and China as a natural sweetener, related to fennel, tarragon, and anise|
|milk thistle||Silybum marianum||can stimulate the liver, detoxifying|
|mistletoe||Viscum album||can calm nervous system, used by the Druids against headaches and seizures, used today in Switzerland and Germany to control cancer, blocks formation of new malignant blood vessels|
|neem||Azadirachta indica||anti-fungal, anti-viral, used in a salve for the skin, has many uses in Ayurveda tradition, can be toxic in large doses, used as a natural pesticide and fertilizer, native to India|
|Urtica doica||can increase energy, can relieve discomfort of an enlarged prostate, may be useful as natural allergy remedy and to relieve joint pain|
|passionflower||Passiflora incarnata||can act as a gentle sedative, potential aphrodisiac, may reduce anxiety and calm nerves, used by native Americans and then transported to Europe|
|peppermint||Mentha piperita||can stimulate digestion, may decongest sinuses, has various possible health benefits|
|rhodiola||Rhodiola rosea||adaptogen, can enhance mental and physical performance, has other health benefits, native to northern Europe and mountainous Asia|
|rose hips||Rosa canina and
other related species
|has vitamin C, may reduce inflammation, may detoxify and soothe skin, possible health benefits|
|sage||Salvia officinalis||may cleanse blood and relieve menopause symptoms|
|sarsaparilla||Smilax glabra||anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, can cleanse the blood, used in ancient China to control infection|
|slippery elm||Ulmus fulva||relieves inflammation of mucus membranes and irritable bowel syndrome (digestive system), has mucilage, soothes sore throat and dry coughs, used by native Americans|
|sweet wormwood||Artemisia annua||anti-viral, may be able to control malaria, artemisinin research (Greenmedinfo), other research|
|yohimbe||Corynanthe yohimbe||potential aphrodisiac, use with caution|
The therapeutic use of plant products, herbal medicine, is among the oldest of medical practices. Combinations of herbs include the Hoxsey and Essiac blends. Hoxsey’s story is documented in this ninety-six minute video here. René Caisse, the Canadian nurse who developed the Essiac blend from an aboriginal recipe, kept the details a secret but transferred it to Resperin Canada on her death. Do your own research. This is not an endorsement of either of these teas. On the other hand, unrelated to herbs, if you have an open mind towards methods that have nver been patented, then read this official online book about unconventional treatments published in 1990.
Some herbs can strengthen your eyes. Other herbs can relieve toothaches. Do your own research. Be skeptical and verify. Hundreds of books, called “herbals”, have been published. Thousands of of formal, academic scientific studies have been published. No herbs work for everybody. What works for someone else may or may not work for you. Your blood type may be a factor. Use caution, and be aware that not all herbs are for everybody.
One place to start is an excellent online library in Australia called the Soil and Health Library. This library contains online copies of older books about herbal medicine. It is for self-study only. On his website, the librarian, Steve Solomon, states “because the library is domiciled in Australia, it can offer books for free download that are protected by copyright. None of these copyrighted materials are legally owned or controlled by Soil and Health, so permissions cannot be granted for further distribution of anything downloaded from this site. Public domain materials in this library have no copyright protection. The copyright status of all materials is plainly indicated.”
The Soil and Health Library is organized into four sections:
You can find knowledge in this library that is not easy to find elsewhere. Some of the books in the library have been translated to Dutch, French, and German or are available in these and other original languages.
Another source of information is the set of of four online herbal monographs of the World Health Organization, including references to the clinical data about the use of certain medicinal plants. The table of contents is listed by the botanical name (not the common name), but this can be an excellent source of information. Use the index to search for the plant by the common name.
Dr. Tori Hudson, a naturopathic physician, describes the use of herbs to treat menopause symptoms. She also describes the use of chaste tree extracts to treat pre-menopausal syndrome. Check it out for yourself.
GreenMedinfo – “the science of natural healing”, free and subscription-based articles and research
Herbs Info – “learn all about the magical world of herbs and natural remedies”
MedicineHunter – “healthy mind, body, spirit”; well-researched, well-written site
Mercola – Dr. Mercola’s Healthy Herbs and Spices List
Institute of Traditional Medicine – “handed down generation to generation from ancient times”
Gaia Herbs – commercial herb reference guide for further research
Botanical.com – online version of “A Modern Herbal” by Maud Grieve, originally published in 1931
Herbs at a glance – publshed by Northwest School for Botanical Studies