Witch hazel is an interesting herb that I've only recently found out about, it has been used for centuries by the Native Americans though. When I was researching witch hazel I assumed that it got its name for warding off witches or something, but it actually was used as a witching stick for locating underground sources of water and or precious minerals. Witch hazel might not be considered an herb by some due to the fact it is a woody shrub, but it has very strong astringent and antiseptic properties so I just had to include it in the list of herbs along with its uses. Today you can find witch hazel in pretty much any drugstore in the form of witch hazel water (an alcohol extract of the twigs). The only problem with this is that most of the time the extract contains very little of the actual herb, and most of the effects might actually come from the alcohol itself.
^ Vuksan, V; Jenkins, DJ; Spadafora, P; Sievenpiper, JL; Owen, R; Vidgen, E; Brighenti, F; Josse, R; et al. (1999). "Konjac-mannan (glucomannan) improves glycemia and other associated risk factors for coronary heart disease in type 2 diabetes. A randomized controlled metabolic trial". Diabetes Care. 22 (6): 913–9. doi:10.2337/diacare.22.6.913. PMID 10372241.
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Essiac Tea became popular in Canada and the United States when the herbal tea formula was used by a Canadian nurse to cure many forms of cancer. The formula was given to nurse Rene Caisse by a Native American medicine man. There are various formulas that are now on the market with various names. Most contain the original four ingredients, while others have made additions to the formula.
Another well know spice in the kitchen cinnamon is also known for it's medicinal properties. While not really an herb I still think it's important to list it in our list of herbs and their uses. Cinnamon actually comes from the inner bark of a tree in the laurel family. It's been used for centuries and was a hot commodity for trade in ancient times. In fact during the first century A.D. in Rome cinnamon was 15 times more expensive than silver. The Chinese were probably the first to use cinnamon as a medicinal herb and used it to treat fevers, and diarrhea. In more modern times cinnamon has been found to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics, as it has an insulin kind of effect.