Herbal medicine, also known as herbalism or botanical medicine, is a medical system based on the use of plants or plant extracts that may be eaten or applied to the skin. Since ancient times, herbal medicine has been used by many different cultures throughout the world to treat illness and to assist bodily functions. While herbal medicine is not a licensed profession in the United States, herbal remedies in the form of extracts, tinctures, capsules and tablets as well as teas may be recommended by healthcare practitioners of many different disciplines as a practical way to address a wide variety of medical conditions.
^ Hamamelitannin from Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) Displays Specific Cytotoxic Activity against Colon Cancer Cells. Susana Sánchez-Tena, María L. Fernández-Cachón, Anna Carreras, M. Luisa Mateos-Martín, Noelia Costoya, Mary P. Moyer, María J. Nuñez, Josep L. Torres and Marta Cascante, J. Nat. Prod., Publication Date (Web): January 4, 2012, doi:10.1021/np200426k
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.
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.
This flowering plant has traditionally been used as a liver tonic, useful for detoxification and improving liver function. Dandelion is known as a stimulant that is typically used for kidney and liver disorders. It is also traditionally used to reduce the side effects of prescription drugs, as well as to treat infections, gallbladder problems, water retention and swelling.15 Dandelion greens, which you can prepare simply by blanching them in boiling water for 20 seconds to help remove their bitter flavor (they can also be added to vegetable juice), contain many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. They are a particularly good source of vitamin A and may also have cancer-fighting properties.
However, patients who use alternative treatments have a poorer survival time, even after controlling for type and stage of disease. In 2017, researchers at Yale School of Medicine published a paper which suggested that people who choose alternative medicine over conventional cancer treatments were more than twice as likely to die within five years of diagnosis. And specifically, in those with breast cancer, people choosing alternative medicine were 5.68 times more likely to die within five years.
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Ginkgo Biloba has been used for thousands of years in herbal medicine. Probably first used by the Chinese, today it is used widely in both the United States and Europe. Ginkgo actually comes from the leaves of a the Ginkgo tree, while probably not an herb you would plant in your garden I still think it's a great herb to include in our list of herbs. Over the years Ginkgo Biloba has gained a reputation of being beneficial to the brain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center the two main constituents found in Ginkgo are flavonoids and terpenoids, both are antioxidants. Flavonoids have been shown to aid in the protection of nerves, heart, and blood vessels. Terpenoids are probably where ginkgo gains it's reputation for being beneficial to the brain, terpenoids help improve blood flow to the brain by dilating blood vessels and prevents platelets from sticking to each other.
I can’t say how underrated steam is when it comes to anything dealing with a cough, cold, or congestion. Not only does the steam quite literally loosen mucous and phlegm, almost immediately, but you can add numerous essential oils that will impart wonderful healing benefits. These benefits (anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory etc.) do become airborne, so you inhale them while you breathe in the steam. For this particular blend I’ve included both tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil, which can help soothe and open your airways as well as help fight off bacteria or a virus.
In my opinion, when you find a certain therapy being criticized as being unproven quackery, then that is a pretty good sign that the alternative therapy is effective and safe. Big pharma would not waste their time preparing reports designed to warn people against using an alternative therapy unless that therapy is effective and has the potential for being a threat to their monopoly.
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Burdock was used by the ancient Greeks to treat wounds and infections. This herb is loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals and is often used to treat liver and digestive problems, urinary tract infections, ulcers, eczema, psoriasis and to boost energy and stamina. It has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and makes a good immune system booster and blood purifier.
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.
In Australia, one study reported that 46% of children suffering from cancer have been treated with at least one non-traditional therapy. Further 40% of those of any age receiving palliative care had tried at least one such therapy. Some of the most popular alternative cancer treatments were found to be dietary therapies, antioxidants, high dose vitamins, and herbal therapies.
Looking for a list of herbs and their uses? I've often needed a quick a reference myself in the past to look up a particular herb and find their uses. This article will do just that, I'll be listing several common herbs and listing the medicinal properties of each along with how you can use them. I'm aiming to make this your one source for finding information about your favorite herbs, so let's get to it. You can use the Quick Navigation feature down below to quickly locate a particular herb and by clicking the red chevron in the bottom right you'll be taken back to the top of this page. If you're looking for some easy to grow herbs be sure to check out our article covering 5 Useful and Easy to Grow Herbs.
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.