Healers have used medicinal herbs since ancient times. Their leaves, flowers, and roots contain a variety of compounds that are used to both treat disease and enhance our health and well-being.
At this point, you might be asking yourself, “How do I get in on this?” Well, it’s easier than you might think; we’ve put together a list of 36 powerful medicinal herbs that can help you in your time of need.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start if you want to learn more about boosting your health naturally.
36 Medicinal Herbs to Heal Your Body
1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it helps your body adapt to stress. It supports the immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems. It also fights inflammation and protects the brain, muscles, and joints from long-term degeneration. It’s an excellent choice for managing physical and emotional stress.
Don’t use ashwagandha if you’re taking sedatives, immunosuppressants, or drugs for diabetes or high blood pressure. And be careful if you have a sensitivity to the nightshade family.
2. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
When your immune system is struggling, astragalus is a great choice. It’s an adaptogen, it regulates and balances the immune system, and it fights both bacteria and viruses. It also protects the immune system and helps you to recover from illness.
Don’t use astragalus if you’re taking immunosuppressants.
3. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Bilberries, also known as huckleberries, are similar to blueberries, but with more antioxidants. These chemicals protect and repair the small capillaries that help blood flow through the body. Bilberry can be used to help prevent heart disease and gently stimulate circulation. Its antioxidants have also been shown to support eye health.
4. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
Brahmi, otherwise known as Bacopa monnieri, is a nootropic herb that’s most often used as a brain tonic to improve concentration and memory. It has mild sedative effects and may also help with stress and anxiety.
Don’t use Brahmi if you’re taking thyroid medication, calcium channel blockers, or sedatives.
5. Buchu (Agathosma betulina)
Buchu is an aromatic herb with an affinity for the urinary system. It’s mostly used to treat urinary tract infections, as it fights bacteria and inflammation. It’s also used for water retention and digestive health. As an anti-spasmodic, it may help ease stomach aches, bloating and nausea associated with infections of the digestive tract.
6. Cancer Bush (Sutherlandia frutescens)
Cancer bush (also known as Sutherlandia) is a powerful adaptogen. It has a wide range of healing properties: antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-microbial, chemoprotective, antioxidant, and cardioprotective. It also improves bone health, chronic fatigue, and poor appetite.
If you’re taking antiretrovirals, consult with a professional before using cancer bush.
7. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Chaga is an unusual mushroom with many excellent medicinal properties. It balances the immune system, reduces inflammation, fights viruses and bacteria, and even helps protect the stomach and liver. it also contains compounds that may protect us from cancers and tumors,
Consult a professional before taking chaga if you’re taking anticoagulants or on medication for an autoimmune disorder, pregnancy, or diabetes.
8. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile is one of the most well-known and widely used herbs in the world. It is midly sedating and has been used to support the digestive system, especially to calm and soothe a digestive upset or excited nervous system. It helps with wind, colic, nausea, and indigestion as well as anxiety, insomnia, and other sleep problems.
9. Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)
Cordyceps is a mushroom used in ancient healing traditions. It’s a powerful antioxidant that’s good for energy, appetite, stamina, libido, endurance, and sleeping patterns. It may also improve mitochondrial function and the immune system.
10. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis, Asteraceae family)
Dandelion is a bitter herb that supports the digestive system by promoting the release of digestive enzymes. It also supports the liver as well as the eliminatory and detoxification processes in the body.
11. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea / Echinacea angustifolia)
Echinacea supports the immune system when it becomes depleted. It’s especially useful for healing upper respiratory tract infections, managing fevers, and clearing congestion.
Some people are sensitive to echinacea – especially those who are allergic to sunflowers, daisies, dandelions, and artichokes. It may also interfere with immunosuppressant therapy.
12. Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
Eleuthero (also known as Siberian ginseng) is an adaptogen and potent energy booster. It may increase mental sharpness and act as a general neuroprotector for neurodegenerative disorders. It may also improve cardiovascular function and glycogen metabolism.
Use cautiously when using immunosuppressant, anticoagulant, anti-diabetic, or sedative medications.
13. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel is a wonderful aromatic herb known for its ability to improve digestion and reduce bloating, heartburn and gas. It’s also used for upper respiratory tract infections, coughs and bronchitis.
If you’re pregnant, don’t use fennel medicinally.
14. Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is one of those plants you either love or hate – but either way, it is has some powerful medicinal properties. It’s known for its ability to protect the body from viruses, bacteria and pathogens and has traditionally been used for all kinds of infections. It’s also seen as a good remedy for a variety of cardiovascular issues.
Consult a professional before taking garlic medicinally if you’re taking anti-coagulant, anti-inflammatory or thyroid meds.
15. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a warming, aromatic herb. It calms the digestive system, and its antimicrobial properties make it particularly helpful for coughs and colds. It’s also anti-inflammatory, which means it can be used to help reduce swelling (particularly of the joints).
16. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Ginkgo is known for its ability to improve cognition and protect the brain. It may also stimulate the circulatory system and act as a vascular tonic.
Ginkgo also acts as a blood thinner, so you should avoid it if you have a coagulation disorder or are using other blood-thinning medications. It should not be used prior to surgery.
17. Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Ginseng (also known as Panax ginseng or Korean ginseng) is an adaptogen that helps the body recover from stress. It is also known to enhance mental and physical performance, support the lungs after a respiratory infection, and strengthen the immune system.
Use ginseng with caution, as there may be side effects. Do not take it with caffeine, as this can speed up the nervous system. Avoid it if you are taking medication for bleeding, chronic disease or autoimmune issues. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take ginseng.
18. Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
Gotu kola has a particularly long list of uses. It improves disorders of the mind (including Alzheimer’s), mental fatigue, anxiety, depression, memory loss, and insomnia. It also increases circulation, speeds wound healing, and improves detoxification.
This herb should be used with caution when using sedatives, anti-diabetic, or cholesterol-reducing medications (including statins). Don’t use it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
19. Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Holy basil (also known as tulsi) is traditionally recommended for a variety of ailments. The list includes stress and anxiety; immune dysfunction; sleep issues; mood issues; metabolic conditions such as diabetes; toxins; and even colds, headaches, and fevers.
20. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is full of surprises. It’s a calming, sedative herb that can also be uplifting. It’s mostly used to calm anxiety and tension in the body, but it’s also good at fighting off viruses. It even helps with digestive issues.
21. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s mane is a medicinal mushroom that’s especially good for brain health. It has also shown promise in treating stress and anxiety. Like other medicinal mushrooms, lion’s mane may help fight viruses and bacteria.
Lion’s mane may also slow blood clotting and reduce blood glucose levels.
22. Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Liquorice is a soothing and moistening herb with many protective qualities. Its bitterness helps with digestive issues whilst its mucous-protecting compounds soothe dry, irritable coughs and inflamed mucous membranes in the lungs. It’s also used as a tonic to support the adrenal glands and reduce anxiety.
Liquorice should only be used for short periods of time, preferably in its deglycyrrhizinated form. It is contraindicated with a number of medications as well as in pregnancy, so it’s best to consult a medical practitioner before use.
23. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Milk Thistle is known for protecting the liver – especially from damage caused by toxins, alcohol and drugs. It also supports the digestive system, especially when one has difficulty digesting fats.
24. Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus)
Mullein is known for its ability to act as a lung tonic. It also works well in the treatment of respiratory tract infections, dry coughs, excess mucous and sore throats.
25. Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle has a multitude of actions. It reduceds inflammation in the gut, urinary system and joints as well as allergies such as hay fever. It has purifying and detoxifying effects, making it helpful with chronic skin conditions. It’s also a nutritive herb that’s good for breastfeeding mothers.
Nettle is contraindicated with the use of anti-coagulants.
26. Olive Leaf (Olea europaea)
Olive leaf extract may help to strengthen the immune system, especially in the early stages of an infection. It’s traditionally indicated for lowering blood pressure and more recently there’s interest in its possible antithrombotic effects (reducing blood clots).
27. Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint is a powerful aromatic herb. It’s best known for its ability to calm, protect, soothe and encourage the repair of the digestive system. It’s commonly used to help with indigestion, gas, constipation, nausea and vomiting. It’s also used for headaches, spasms and pain as well as when feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
28. Pine Pollen (Pinus pollen)
Pine pollen is great for improving vitality and stamina. In men it’s also used to improve low testosterone and infertility. Besides helping men, it strengthens the immune system as well as the heart, gut and liver.
29. Reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi)
Reishi is a mushroom that improves immunity, relaxes the nervous system and calms the mind. It also helps with blood pressure and metabolic issues. It may also help to prevent cancer.
Reishi may interact with blood pressure and anticoagulation medications and should be avoided before surgery or childbirth.
30. Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
Rhodiola helps with mental and physical fatigue, especially when the immune system is depleted due to exhaustion and stress. It’s also known for its ability to improve learning and memory.
If you’re using anti-depressants or have a mood disorder, consult a health professional before taking rhodiola.
31. Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus)
Rosemary is a stimulating herb that can be used internally and externally for poor circulation. It’s said to drive blood to the brain, thereby helping with brain fog and low mood issues. It can be used externally to ease pain and inflammation in muscles and joints.
Pregnant women should not use rosemary medicinally.
32. Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
Schisandra is an adaptogen that helps calm anxiety, combat fatigue and improve endurance, especially under physical stress. It’s used to treat a variety of ailments, including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, insomnia, kidney problems and diarrhoea. It’s also good for the skin.
Schisandra may interact with certain medications, so it’s best to speak to a medical professional before using.
33. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
Shatavari is best known as a female reproductive tonic. It’s useful for women of all ages, supporting the menstrual cycle through to helping manage menopausal symptoms. It also helps with both male and female infertility issues. This plant is an adaptogen and has been shown to regulate the immune system, which is especially important in autoimmune diseases.
34. Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
Turkey tail is a mushroom with impressive immune-enhancing and anti-tumor properties. It recommended to use at the first sign of illness. It may also improve the balance of gut bacteria. In adults, it appears to be well tolerated with few, if any, side effects.
35. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric may help with inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It may be helpful in managing diabetic and metabolic disorders and other neuroinflammatory conditions.
Turmeric is more bioavailable when combined with piperine (a component of black pepper).
Be careful when using turmeric long-term or in conjunction with anti-platelet or anti-coagulant medications, as it has blood-thinning properties. If you’re on medication, consult with a medical professional.
36. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian is a restorative herb and especially helpful for severe shock and anxiety as well as nervous exhaustion, burnout, panic attacks, headaches and nervous digestive issues. It’s also useful for sleep issues.
For some, however, it may be stimulating rather than sedating, so caution is advised.
Nature has given us an incredible variety of plants that can be used as both food and medicine. When using plants medicinally, it’s always a good idea to consult with a health professional; they are invariably taken at higher doses and more frequently than food. This is essential if you’re taking medication or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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