Why Herbs Are Important For Health
Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Herbs have been used as medicine, as a flavoring for food, and much more throughout history. Their medicinal properties made them the go-to for treating various diseases. Today, herbs continue to be studied for different medicinal and health benefits. However, this leads us to the question; what are herbs actually?
What are Herbs?
Simply put, herbs are any plants or parts of plants that are used for their flavor, aroma, or healing properties. They are processed to be used for different purposes. Nature has gifted us with many nutritious herbs, which research shows to be good for our health and wellness.
The Health Benefits of Herbs
Modern science has curated an entire list of health benefits that can be derived from herbs. Several studies have linked herbs to improved heart disease, cholesterol, and even cancer. Here are some major benefits of herbs for your health and wellness, along with the specific herbs that target them:
Herbs such as fenugreek and lemongrass have cholesterol-lowering properties
Fenugreek also helps with blood sugar and insulin activity control
Sage, Oregano, and similar herbs are rich in antioxidants and may therefore reduce “bad” cholesterol
Chives, Leek, Mint, Basil, Oregano, and Sage, among others, have found to be effective anti-carcinogens, i.e., effective against cancer
Echinacea is said to contain anti-flu and cold properties, and some studies have declared it effective against upper respiratory infections, among others
Gingko Biloba is said to have brain-friendly properties and can even slow down cognitive decline in cases of mild to moderate dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Herbs and Medicine
The use of herbs in medicine started a long time before the phenomenon entered the culinary world. In many cultures, herbs that are common to this day were used for healing and soothing purposes. The Chinese, Egyptians, and even Europeans considered natural herbs their go-to in times of health crises.
And despite the prevalence of modern prescription-style medicines, a large group of people are still convinced of nature’s healing potential and have chosen healing herbs as alternative medicine. I happen to be one of those people. Here are some of the most powerful medicinal herbs, as well as their benefits:
Dong Quai: Dong Quai helps with gynecological issues such as period cramps, menopause symptoms, and premenstrual tension. Studies suggest that dong Quai is effective against high blood pressure.
Echinacea: Echinacea helps with immunity against infections. Ailments including boils, herpes, and fever are treated with herbal medicine containing echinacea.
Ginseng: Ginseng helps with illness-induced fatigue. Thought to be effective against high blood pressure and cholesterol. However, keep in mind that since ginseng is used in homeopathic medicine, its overuse can lead to the same symptoms it fights, i.e., blood pressure.
Garlic: Garlic helps lower the chances of heart disease by reducing blood fats such as cholesterol. It contains antibiotic properties which help against colds, sinusitis, along with other respiratory issues.
Ginger: Ginger helps against nausea such as morning and motion sickness.
Ginkgo biloba: Ginkgo Biloba helps with low blood circulation, as well as cases of tinnitus.
Hypericum: Hypericum is also known as St John’s Wort; it is taken as an alternative medicine for moderate depression, insomnia, and anxiety. However, hypericum interacts with several prescription medicines, such as contraceptive pills, and does not let them function properly.
That being said, since many herbal medicines are unregulated, you should err on the side of caution and only consume them according to an expert’s advice. In addition, not everyone will benefit from the usage of herbs, and allergic reactions are not a rare occurrence. Therefore, it is vital that you know what you are taking beforehand and whether your body will accept it. It would be best if you always had the supervision of an expert when taking herbal medicine.
Precautions to Take when Using Herbal Medicine
Here are some important precautions to take before consuming alternative medicine:
Inform yourself. This includes knowing about all the herbal ingredients in your medicine, if they are safe for your particular bodily make-up, and what typical doses look like. You may contact a certified herbalist or the manufacturer of the medicine.
Follow the instructions. These could be instructions from a trained health practitioner or even the medicine label you are about to take. Make sure you are taking medicine at the right time and quantity.
Look out for possible side effects. Not every side effect is supposed to show immediately, and some may emerge after a while of you taking medicine. Make sure you are watchful.
Pay attention to allergic reactions. Allergic reactions are not necessarily a rare occurrence with medicinal herbs, and you are to discontinue usage immediately if they show up. Contact your doctor in cases of emergency.
Look into the manufacturing company. Trusted companies and practitioners are always better with herbal medicine. You should ensure that the company all information is clear (benefits, side effects, and precautions). The brand you use should not make outrageous claims, and they should be reputable.
Herbal Medicines and Active Ingredients
Herbal medicines have active ingredients in them. The active ingredients of many of these herbal medicines have not been confirmed yet. While several prescription medications contain a single plant-based active ingredient, sometimes single ingredient medicines used without other plant components can make it dangerous and less effective. Most herbs work synergistically.
For example, salicylic acid originated from a plant known as meadowsweet. It is also used to produce aspirin. Aspirin can make the stomach’s lining bleed, but the meadowsweet plant already contains natural ingredients that lower salicylic acid’s irritative effects.
Most herbal medicine experts say that the whole plant is much more effective rather than a single ingredient. As per critics, this nature of herbal medicine dictates the process of deciding a measured dose of active ingredients.