Herbs

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 and for medicine. This distinction may be arbitrary, since you can also add herbs to food.

The utility of herbs and spices for your health may be related 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. Some herbs work for some people, but not for others. Very few work for everybody. If you are sick, see a doctor. 

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. 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 or what they have observed works for others. Again, 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, traditionally
astragalus Astragalus membranaceus adaptogen, stimulates the immune system, interferes with corticosteroids, traditionally
blueberry/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, has been used to control arthritis and cancer
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, traditionally
chicory Cichorium intybus used since ancient Egypt as a substitute for coffee, may stimulate digestion, may have other health benefits, traditionally
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, can enhance fertility, has other possible health benefits, native to Mexico and Latin America, traditionally
dandelion Taraxacum officinale can stimulate the liver, diuretic, detoxifying, has other benefits , grows all over the earth, traditionally
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, traditionally
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, traditionally
feverfew Tanacetum parthenium may control fever, may reduce inflammation, use with caution, traditionally
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, traditionally
ginseng Panax ginseng adaptogen, general tonic, can increase energy, may have other health benefits, traditionally
green tea Camellia sinensis may stimulate the appetite and promote digestion, may reduce jet lag, traditionally
hawthorn Crataegus oxyacantha may strengthen the heart, supports a normal heart rhythm, traditionally
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, traditionally
horny goat weed Epimedium grandiflorum potential aphrodisiac, native to China and used since ancient times, traditionally
horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum can strengthen circulation and reduce varicose veins, traditionally
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 reduces brittle nails, has silica and chromium, strengthens bones, diuretic, strengthens urinary system, can remove aluminum, can deplete thiamin (vitamin B1) if used to excess, traditionally
kratom Mitragyna speciosa an herb in the coffee family, used to relieve pain, but controversial, with various points of view – is it safe – yes or no?
licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra can stimulate digestion, anti-viral, can have other benefits, used in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and China as a natural sweetener, related to fennel, tarragon, and anise, traditionally
milk thistle Silybum marianum can treat, detoxify, and stimulate the liver;
may relieve prostate enlargement; other, traditionally
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, traditionally

mullein  Verbascum thapsus  strengthens respiratory system, can relieve sinusitis and dry cough, can relieve hemorrhoids and diarrhea, internally moistens, traditionally
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, traditionally
nettle
(stinging nettle)
Urtica doica can increase energy, can relieve discomfort of an enlarged prostate, may be useful as natural allergy remedy and to relieve joint pain, can reduce estrogen, traditionally
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, traditionally
plantain Plantago major can form mucilage internally in case of dry cough or ulcer (demulcent), can be used externally against skin infection, moistens internally, traditionally
rhodiola Rhodiola rosea adaptogen, can clear lungs, enhance mental and physical performance, relieve depresssion, and provide other health benefits, native to northern Europe and mountainous Asia, traditionally
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, traditionally
sarsaparilla Smilax glabra anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, can cleanse the blood, used in ancient China to control infection, traditionally
slippery elm Ulmus fulva relieves inflammation of mucus membranes and irritable bowel syndrome (digestive system), has mucilage, soothes sore throat and dry coughs, traditionally
sweet wormwood Artemisia annua anti-viral, may be able to control malaria, artemisinin research (Greenmedinfo), other research (against cancer), video, traditionally

wild lettuce

Lactuca virosa pain relief, especially in case of migraine or severe menopause, sedative, ancient use, possible aphrodisiac, possible stimulant of breast milk production, use with caution, traditionally

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.

If you look for them, you can find many excellent sources of information about herbs and how to use them for health. One is Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, originally published in 1660. There are many others.

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. For a list of herbal remedies, inlcuding references to publications, read herbs-info.com

Certain herbs and foods can gently reduce fever, such as devil’s claw, cranberry, pomegranate, raspberry, chili pepper, and ginger.

To relieve general aches and pains, the following may be useful for some people, though they do not act immediately. How much? It is better to start low and go slow:

  • omega-three acids (flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, cod liver oil, sardines)
  • cannabidiol, also known as CBD (found in hemp extracts),
  • silica (found in horsetail),
  • kratom, and
  • others.

References

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
Dr. Joe 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
Broadbent, John, “The Australian Botanic Guide“, Kemp & Boyce, 1887, preventions and treatments
Thomson, Samuel, “New Guide to Health; or, Botanic Family Physician“, 1822, skip to page 189 for herbal
HerbalLegacy.com – Dr. Christopher’s herbal legacy, archive of articles, single herbs, vegan recipes
Maxwell, Nicole, “Witch Doctor’s Apprentice: Hunting for Medicinal Plants in the Amazon“, Kensington, 1990
Susun Weed, “natural health, herbal medicine and spirit healing the wise woman way”, Woodstock, NY
Buhner, Stephen, “Sacred Plant Medicine: The Wisdom in Native American Herbalism“, Bear Company, 2006
Buhner, Stephen, “The Secret Teachings of Plants“, Bear Company, 2004
Schaller MD, Dr. James, “The Use of the Herb Artemisinin for Babesia, Malaria, and Cancer“, Hope Academic, 2006
Balch, Phyllis, “Prescription for Herbal Healing: An Easy-to-Use A-Z Reference“, Avery Trade, 2002
Earth Clinic – reference on herbs, remedies, videos, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Herbal Chats – weekly podcasts about herbs by Jasmin Anderson, Georgia, USA
Botanical Online – “the world of plants”, medicinal plants, health, food, gardening, botany, Barcelona, Spain
Kilham, Chris, “Hemp Attributes: What To Look For“, fifteen-minute podcast
MedicineTraditions – herbal monographs from six tradtions, Australia
Miindell, Earl, “Earl Mindell’s New Herb Bible“, Pocket, 2005
Royal, Penny C, “Herbally Yours“, Sound Nutrition, 1982, cough remedy

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