An Herbal Life: Common Medicinal Herbs and their Interesting Uses

medicinal-herbs

What Is An Herb?

An herb could be a plant that is used in the flavoring of food, eaten plain, used as an ingredient in homeopathic remedies or natural medicine as well as a perfuming agent.  Herbs have been utilized for all of these reasons and more throughout history by almost all people in every corner of the globe.

History Of Humans And Herbs

In India the system of natural medicine called Ayurveda is said to go back as far as 4000 BC and some herbs used were cinnamon, sandalwood and neem.  Ancient Sumerians used caraway and thyme for healing practices.  Ancient Egyptian texts make reference to more than 700 herbal therapies using herbs such as aloe, poppy and garlic.  The Roman Empire heavily relied on the use of herbs for medicine and anesthetics.   European explorers became well acquainted with Native American knowledge of the local herbs and their many uses.  In the absence of modern medicine people across time have looked to the natural world to provide what they needed.  Herbs of various kinds proved to be useful in a variety of ways and have been a part of most cultures.

Below are some common herbs that we’ve all heard of. Their use in the kitchen is known to almost all, but some of their other benefits might surprise you.

Ginger

In addition to being a staple in Indian cooking, ginger is also known to help quell upset stomachs and help alleviate digestive problems.  Ginger tea might bring down the effects of a cold and is a natural anti-inflammatory.

Basil

A staple in Italian cuisine, basil adds a distinctive flavor to food that is the favorite of many.  What’s more, the culinary benefits are not all basil brings to the table.  Chewing up fresh basil leaves and applying them to bug bites or stings can help lessen the pain.  Basil essential oil is supposed to help with ear infections.  Most herbs can be consumed in tea form and basil is no different.  Basil tea can help regulate blood sugar and even reduce stress.

Cinnamon

Native cinnamon hails from Ceylon.  The historic value of cinnamon was known to cause conflict barely short of war.  Some cultures believed that it was a powerful aphrodisiac.  It has a high phenol content which discourages the production and spread of bacteria and nearly all forms of bacteria and viruses cannot survive near cinnamon.  This fact makes it one of the best antivirals and bacterial defenses in the herbal world.

Garlic

Garlic is another well known culinary staple across many cultures.  People are sometimes surprised to hear of the other qualities garlic possesses and its ability to heal.  Acne can be terribly awkward and embarrassing for anyone.  Also many of the medicines prescribed to help seem to do more harm than good.  Try garlic.  Applying crushed garlic or rubbing whole cloves on your skin can help with persistent acne.  Garlic has strong antibiotic properties making it a handy natural antibiotic substitute to commercial versions.  It can also help protect your pets from ticks and fleas if added consistently to their diet.

Dandelion

Dandelion leaves have some of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the natural world.  Consequently, Dandelion tea is a great way to boost your immune system.  It has been known to lower cholesterol and help diabetics control their blood sugar levels.

Thyme

Thyme can be a natural remedy for halitosis as well as providing relief for headaches.  It is a natural diuretic to increase urine flow.  If taken by mouth thyme can help sore throats, bronchitis, diarrhea and stomach pain.  For the balding among us, essential oil from thyme, combined with a few other herbs, is supposed to help remedy hair loss.   

Oregano

The Greeks originally discovered the varying uses of oregano outside of the kitchen.  The beneficial properties of oregano still apply today.  Yeast infections can be combated with oregano, as can heart burn and indigestion.  Because of its anti-fungal aspects, oregano oil is an effective treatment for athlete’s foot.

As demonstrated above, your pantry or spice rack can also act as your medicine cabinet.  Herbs and spices are natural and non-toxic.  Thousands of years of accumulated knowledge across continents has given modern man and woman a wealth of knowledge about herbs and their multitude of uses.  Modern drugs can be expensive.  Herbs are more versatile and certainly easier on your wallet.

[box type=”note”]According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 80% of people use herbal medicine as a portion of their primary care. Arm yourself with some herbal knowledge to take advantage of the diversity of uses provided by mother nature’s finest herbs.[/box]

Lauren Hill

Lauren Hill is a wife, mother and freelance writer. She writes on a wide array of topics from healthcare and healthy living to business marketing and social media. She spends her free time gardening, being a taxi driver for her kids and blogging at: www.laurenqhill.com

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