Utilizing the medicinal properties of herbs to help maintain and improve health has become a growing trend in recent years.
People are becoming more conscious of the detrimental side effects from long-term utilization of prescription medications and are looking for more natural means of coping with the same conditions to avoid some of the downsides.
Not only that, but they’re also looking for something that doesn’t cost so much. While there is not an herbal cure for every disease, it is possible to restore health from some conditions with herbs and a return to a whole food diet.
Any and all information included in this post should not be taken as medical advice, and is for informational purposes only! Always consult with your doctor before utilizing herbs medicinally!
In addition to being far cheaper than pharmaceuticals, herbs also vary greatly in their scope of treatment. By that I mean that each herb often helps a myriad of conditions and isn’t just confined to a singular ailment or issue.
Herbs also serve as an important source of vitamins and minerals that much of our food is lacking due to industrialized agricultural practices.
Not only that, but herbs can be eaten routinely in everyday dishes, not only improving your health, but also improving the palatability of the food we eat.
Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.
1. Marshmallow – Althaea officinalis
Marshmallow is primarily used for its demulcent properties, being a very cool, soothing herb. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a demulcent as a mucilaginous substance having properties that both soothe and protect tissues, specifically the mucus membranes.
It is utilized in helping deal with inflammation, soothing topical wounds, tissue irritation, stomach complaints, and urinary tract issues, among other things.
The Modern Herbal Dispensatory also references utilizing it to enrich milk in nursing mothers.
Personally, I have found that drinking a warm cup of marshmallow tea several times a day works wonders for a sore throat. It was something I utilized quite frequently during my choir days in college!
2. Plantain – Plantago major
Plantain has a myriad of useful properties, some of which include: antiseptic, antivenom, astringent, vulnerary, and demulcent.
Similar to comfrey, plantain has some allantoin, which makes it a good herb for wounds and injuries. It also has drawing properties which make it invaluable for bug bites, poison ivy and stinging nettle mishaps, as well as pulling venom from snake bites.
Internally, this herb is wonderful for inflammatory conditions like ulcers and phlegm caught in the lungs. It also helps remove toxins from the kidneys and other tissues.
3. Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis
This member of the mint family is utilized for its sedative and antiviral properties. It works wonders against cold sores and other herpes viruses (shingles) when applied directly to the lesion.
Because of its mild sedative effects, it can help with insomnia.
Some herbalists also use lemon balm for headaches and migraines. The Modern Herbal Dispensatory also references its use in helping depression and memory.
4. Peppermint – Mentha x piperita
This aromatic herb works wonders for the digestive tract. Not only does it help settle digestive ailments, but it also helps with morning sickness.
In addition to this, it has also been utilized in cold and flu cases, helping with congestion.
5. Comfrey – Symphytum officinale
Comfrey, like marshmallow, is a very popular demulcent herb. That said, first and foremost, comfrey is utilized in wound healing/management! It contains large amounts of allantoin, a chemical which stimulates the growth of cells, thus greatly reducing healing times.
It is most commonly used externally on wounds, as there is some controversy over the safety of internal use of this herb. However, the herbalists that still use it internally utilize it for ulcers and other lesions.
I’ve used a salve made with comfrey on scrapes and cuts sustained around the homestead, and seen amazing results!
6. Chamomile – Matricaria recutita
Chamomile is frequently utilized as a nervine and antispasmodic. These properties produce a mildly sedating effect in the body tissues, helping to ease pain and inflammation.
This herb is often combined with other herbs in a formula, used to treat things such as colds, infection and swelling.
The Modern Herbal Dispensatory refers to its cooling nature making it useful in helping calm colic, teething, etc. in young children.
Some people will also drink it in a tea to help calm nerves and ease tension, especially before bed.
7. Garlic – Allium sativum
Garlic is a fantastic herb for bacterial and fungal conditions/infections.
When used raw, it both acts to stimulate the immune system against infection as well as attacks the microbes themselves (in some cases).
8. Nettles – Urtica dioica
This herb serves as a wonderful nutritive. It contains large quantities of minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium. As a medicinal herb, it helps treat anemia and low blood pressure.
In addition to this, it also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help reduce symptoms of allergies and asthma when taken in conjunction with other herbs.
As a note of import, use caution when harvesting/handling the fresh plant and leaves. They will irritate the skin, but loose this effect when dried or cooked.
9. Elderberry – Sambucus canadensis and Sambucus nigra
This herb works well as an antiviral and immune stimulant, similar to echinacea.
When taken at the onset of a cold or flu, it can help shorten the length and severity of the illness.
The flowers of the plant can help reduce inflammation and are more mild in their action than the berries.
10. Echinacea – Echinacea agustifolia or Echinacea purpurea
Echinacea works well as an immune stimulant. In addition to this, it is also amazing at inhibiting hyaluronidase and stimulating hyaluronic acid production.
This makes it the perfect herb to aid in brown recluse bites, as well as bites from other spiders and snakes whose venom produces hyaluronidase which breaks down the binding agent between cells.
It can also be used to help clear lymph nodes and helps the body fight viral infections when it comes into direct contact with the virus.
As a result, it doesn’t work well after a virus has settled into the body, but rather when you are just beginning to feel symptoms.
Final Thoughts –
While the list of herbs that can and have been used for years in helping us regain and maintain health is too exhaustive to be covered here, it is my hope that you will find one or several of these wonderful plants and utilize them in your family’s health protocol!
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