Herbs – briefly
Herbs are leaves or roots that can be used to make tea or other infusions. This site distinguishes between herbs, which are used for tea and for medicine, and spices, which flavor food. 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 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. Many 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, adrenal, and thyroid, glands, possible natural source of iodine, contra-indicated in those with high blood pressure, found in India and Pakistan, traditional uses|
|astragalus||Astragalus membranaceus||adaptogen, stimulates the immune system, interferes with corticosteroids, traditional uses|
|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, traditional uses|
|chicory||Cichorium intybus||used since ancient Egypt as a substitute for coffee, may stimulate digestion, may have other health benefits, traditional uses|
|comfrey||Symphytum officinale||used topically, can stimulate growth of new cells after sprains or broken bones, can relieve pain and 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, traditional uses|
|dandelion||Taraxacum officinale||can stimulate the liver, diuretic, detoxifying, has other benefits, strengthens kidneys, grows all over the earth, traditional uses|
|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, traditional uses|
|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, carminative, may have other health benefits, traditional uses|
|feverfew||Tanacetum parthenium||may control fever, may reduce inflammation, use with caution, traditional uses|
|ginkgo||Ginkgo biloba||may increase blood flow to the brain, can relieve anxiety, may balance the central nervous system, potential aphrodisiac, native to China, used since ancient times in case of cold extremities, medicinal uses, traditional uses, this plant resists radiation in the wild|
|ginseng||Panax ginseng||adaptogen, general tonic, can increase energy, may have other health benefits, traditional uses|
|green tea||Camellia sinensis||may stimulate the appetite and promote digestion, may reduce jet lag, traditional uses|
|hawthorn||Crataegus oxyacantha||may strengthen the heart, supports a normal heart rhythm, traditional uses|
|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, traditional uses|
|horny goat weed||Epimedium grandiflorum||potential aphrodisiac, native to China and used since ancient times, traditional uses|
|horse chestnut||Aesculus hippocastanum||can strengthen circulation and reduce varicose veins, traditional uses|
|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, traditional uses|
|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, traditional uses|
|milk thistle||Silybum marianum||can treat, detoxify, and stimulate the liver (for detoxification); may relieve prostate enlargement; other, traditional uses|
|mullein||Verbascum thapsus||strengthens respiratory system, can relieve sinusitis and dry cough, can relieve hemorrhoids and diarrhea, internally moistens, traditional uses|
|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, traditional uses|
|Urtica doica||can increase energy, can relieve discomfort of an enlarged prostate (like the combination of selenium and iodine), may be useful as natural allergy remedy and to relieve joint pain, can reduce estrogen, traditional uses|
|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, traditional uses, carminative|
|plantain||Plantago major||can form mucilage internally in case of dry cough or ulcer (demulcent), can be used externally against skin infection, moistens internally, traditional uses|
|rhodiola||Rhodiola rosea||adaptogen, can clear lungs, support adrenal glands, enhance mental and physical performance, relieve depresssion, and provide other health benefits, native to northern Europe and mountainous Asia, traditional uses|
|rockrose||Cistus incanus||detoxifies, dissolves biofilms, antifungal, benefits|
|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, traditional uses|
|sarsaparilla||Smilax glabra||anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, can cleanse the blood, used in ancient China to control infection, traditional uses|
|slippery elm||Ulmus fulva||relieves inflammation of mucus membranes and irritable bowel syndrome (digestive system), has mucilage, soothes sore throat and dry coughs, traditional uses|
|sweet wormwood||Artemisia annua||anti-viral, may be able to control malaria, artemisinin research (Greenmedinfo), other research (against cancer), video, traditional uses|
|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, traditional uses|
|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.
Beware that the law in most places on earth prohibits making any statements that any herb can be used to “treat” or “cure” any “disease”. I avoid these words. I focus on health and the key concepts of detox and nourishment.
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
GreenMedinfo – “the science of natural healing”, free and subscription-based articles and research
Herbs Info – list of 150 herbs, “learn all about the magical world of herbs and natural remedies”
MedicineHunter – by condition, “healthy mind, body, spirit”; well-researched, well-written site by Chris Kilham
Richard Whelan – Medical Herbalist, conditions, herbs, constitutions, pulse testing, Christchurch, NZ
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
Buhner, Stephen, “Herbal Antibiotics“, Storey, 1999, summary
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
Innvista Herbs – well-researched online herbal reference, including details of history and traditional uses
The School of Evolutionary Herbalism, modular online course, southern Oregon, USA
Ward, Harold, “Herbal Manual“, L.N. Fowler, London, 1936
Harris, Ben Charles, “The Complete Herbal“, Communication Channels, 1984
Healthy Hildegard – inspired by Hildegard of Bingen, nutrition, remedies, fasting, shop, Denver, CO, USA, RSS?
Matthew Wood Institute of Herbalism, courses, free courses, Wisconsin, USA
The Herbal Academy – blog, courses, Bedford, MA, USA, RSS?