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.
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In Europe, apothecaries stocked herbal ingredients for their medicines. In the Latin names for plants created by Linnaeus, the word officinalis indicates that a plant was used in this way. For example, the marsh mallow has the classification Althaea officinalis, as it was traditionally used as an emollient to soothe ulcers. Ayurvedic medicine, herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine are other examples of medical practices that incorporate medical uses of plants. Pharmacognosy is the branch of modern medicine about medicines from plant sources. Plants included here are those that have been or are being used medicinally, in at least one such medicinal tradition.
Cannabis is a controversial subject, and really needs an article all itself. Few people understand all the political and therapeutic issues surrounding cannabis. Many people distinguish between “medical cannabis” and “marijuana.” Medical cannabis involves research into particular varieties of the cannabis plant and its therapeutic value. Many varieties are lower in THC, the component that makes people “high”, while recreational varieties of marijuana have been cultivated to maximize the amount of THC for recreational purposes. For more information see:
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.
Teas are a great way to get the benefits of sage all you need to do is steep one teaspoon of sage in a cup of water for about 10 minutes. You can also make a pretty awesome sore throat reliever by combining sage and thyme. Take an ounce of both grind them, and cover them with 16 ounces of apple cider vinegar. Be sure to shake it periodically and let it sit for ten days before using.