My personal favorite so far for promoting relaxation has got to be Valerian root. Like a lot of the others in this list of herbs Valerian was probably first used by the Greeks and Romans centuries ago. They used Valerian to treat disorders associated with the liver, urinary tract and digestive tract. Valerian was once used to treat people suffering from the plague. Your cat will love Valerian too! People use to use Valerian in sort of the same way we use catnip today. Some people said that you could judge the potency of the Valerian by the reaction the cat had to the herb. In addition to being a cat attractant rats are also found of the foul smell and it was once used in rat traps. Today Valerian root is most commonly found as a sleep aid and anxiety relief supplement.
^ Gilani A.H. "Focused Conference Group: P16 - Natural products: Past and future? Pharmacological use of borago officinalis", Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology. Conference: 16th World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. WorldPharma 2010 Copenhagen Denmark. Publication: (var. pagings). 107 (pp 301), 2010. Date of Publication: July 2010.
Even though it's more of a spice than an herb I couldn't help but include turmeric in the list of herbs. Turmeric has a long standing tradition in Hinduism and is associated with purity and cleansing. Still today Hindu brides will take part in a ceremony where they will cover their faces in a turmeric paste before taking their vows. Marco Polo once described turmeric as being a vegetable with qualities resembling that of saffron. It wasn't until about the mid 20th century when people from the west started to recognize turmeric for its medicinal benefits. Curcumin is the main ingredient found in turmeric that gives it these benefits, the concentration of curcumin in turmeric is around 3% this is why it is more beneficial to take an extract of turmeric.
Licorice root is both an expectorant and demulcent, simultaneously soothing your airways while loosening and thinning mucous, easing congestion. It can also ease any inflammation that may be irritating your throat. Its main constituent, glycyrrhizin, is responsible for most of its effects. 30-50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), it inhibits an enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (how would like you to write that on a name tag?) This enzyme regulates access of glucocorticoid (a steroid hormone) to steroid receptors, ultimately slowing the conversion of cortisol to cortisone. This increases the effect of cortisol and reducing inflammation. If you are on steroids, or have any problems with your kidneys, it is best to steer clear of licorice root.
Lavender is probably best noted for its fragrance and is a great herb to use for a stressful day. The lavender is commonly used in soaps, detergents, or just as an essential oil due to the calming effects it produces from the fragrance. Lavender is also commonly used in teas for the same reason. The history of lavender is quite long stretching back about 2500 years to the Mediterranean. Today it is mostly grown for its uses as an essential oil. In addition to brewing tea with lavender it also ha many other culinary types of uses, lavender can add a floral type of taste with a little sweetness. It works great in some seafood, soups, salads, and baked goods.
Lemon balm is another herb with a potent fragrance, rubbing the leaves releases a somewhat minty and lemony scent into the air. First used by the Greeks over 2000 years ago lemon balm has a long standing use in herbal medicine. Back then the Greeks as well as the Romans would infuse there wine with the lemon balm to relieve fevers. Today lemon balm is often paired with other herbs such as valerian and hops for sleep promotion and relaxation. Its gaining popularity as some what of a nootropic as well, some studies have shown it to improve learning, and memory recall too. So its no surprise that a lot of herbal practitioners are recommending lemon balm as a treatment to Alzheimer's.
St. John’s Wort is known as Nature’s anti-depressant. It is often used to treat depression and anxiety. It functions as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). This allows more serotonin to stay where it’s needed to keep you feeling less depressed and anxious. This herb is also used to help quit smoking. St. John’s work possesses antiviral properties and can be used externally to treat wounds.
Native Americans and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) use this common weed as a great digestive tonic and bladder curative. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) helps stimulate the kidneys to increase urine production, which helps flush out your urinary tract. Dandelion tea is also used for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and often referred to an anti-diabetic plant and anti-hyperglycemic. It is also used as a treatment for atherosclerosis.
Pacific Center for Naturopathic Medicine in Bellingham is run by Rachelle Herdman, N.D., M.D. They treat cancer and autoimmune, neurological, cardiovascular, digestive disorders, and chronic fatigue. They use nutrition, diet, Ayurveda, homeopathy, botanical medicine and teas, herbal tinctures, plant extracts, and a variety of supplements. Second location in Canada. Phone: 360-734-0045.
To treat colds or coughs you can make a nice ginger tea by cutting about one inch of ginger root into small pieces and adding to two cups of water and simmering for fifteen minutes. Ginger can also be found in capsules like a lot of other herbs and is a great way to get your dose of ginger for the day. Extracts are also available but are generally used only to treat osteoarthritis.
Maca is an adaptogen and helps the body cope with stress. This root is rich in vitamins, minerals, good fats, plant sterols and amino acids. Some people refer to it as a “superfood”. The people of Peru found that consuming maca root could greatly enhance physical strength and stamina as well as boost the libido. It’s a great overall energy booster and is popular with athletes. Maca is beneficial to the nervous system and is calming to the nerves. Today, this herb is mostly used for increasing energy and balancing the hormones.
Sage is often referred to as the Throat Herb, with good reason. It has a rich history of being used for mouth and throat ailments. Making this strong tasting herb into an herbal syrup is a good way to get it down. Sage has a strong flavor and may be unpleasant-tasting for young children. To beat this taste you can mix it with other herbs of your choosing.
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