Many common ailments and health problems can be treated using medicinal herbs. These powerful natural remedies should be used with caution and you should consult your GP before using them, particularly if you are taking any other medication.
1. Black cohosh
Used in traditional medicine to treat symptoms of the menopause, black cohosh can also helps relieve period pains.
As an alternative to hormone therapy, black cohosh alleviates symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and heart palpitations.
This medicinal herb is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help reduce the pain associated with arthritis. It can relieve migraines and is useful in treating sleep disorders.
2. Wild yam
Used as a tonic for the liver, wild yam can also balance hormones and reduce symptoms of morning sickness.
Wild yam can also treat diverticulosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and for boosting energy.
3. Lion’s tail
This medicinal herb is commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia as it has sedative qualities. lion’s tail is also antiarrhythmic and can relieve tachycardia and palpitations. It can also be used to relieve labour pains and also helps stimulate uterine contractions. In addition, it is used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism.
Sage has long been used to aid digestion, treat asthma and, due to its excellent astringent and antibacterial properties, to treat bacterial and fungal infections. Sage stimulate the nervous system and can ease the symptoms of a cold or cough. Used in aromatherapy, sage oil improves concentration, relieves stress and can also improve memory function in patients with Alzheimer’s. Sage can also treat nervous conditions, anxiety and fatigue.
Used externally, sage can relieve painful associated with muscle rigidity, rheumatism, and some neurological conditions.
Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, or anyone with epilepsy should not use this medicinal herb. Sage can be toxic when taken in excess or a prolonged period.
5. Blue verbena
Used throughout history, verbena is known for its beneficial health properties and is a natural painkiller and tranquiliser. Having a wide range of curative properties, herbalists use this medicinal herb to treat a range of conditions from chronic bronchitis to rheumatism.
Not only does verbena reduce pain in the joints and stimulate the liver, it also has a calming effect on the nervous system. It is considered to have anti-depressant benefits when used to treat chronic ailments.
Used by western physicians and in traditional chinese medicine, ginseng has a number of restorative qualities. Administered as a tonic, this powerful plant is thought to stimulate the central nervous system and can relieve the symptoms of stress such as anxiety and insomnia. It is also used to treat fatigue and weakness caused by emotional stress, injuries and prolonged illness. Athletes using this medicinal herb report greater resistance.
Ginseng is an aphrodisiac and is used as a sexual tonic to boost libido in the elderly. In the male population it can help with erectile dysfunction.
Studies also suggest that regular use of ginseng could greatly reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Schisandra (or magnolia vine) is a powerful medicinal herb and is used to treat a whole range of ailments, including:
- high cholesterol
- erectile dysfunction
- spontaneous sweating
- premenstrual syndrome
- memory loss
- nervous pain
Schisandra also stimulates the immune system and can help prevent the signs of premature ageing. It is a useful herb to take following surgery as it can speed up recovery. As well as helping to balance blood sugar levels and to stabilise blood pressure it can also boost energy levels and protect against disease and stress.
Hawthorn can be used to treat ailments of the coronary system. It can help treat both hyper and hypotension, reduce cholesterol and to prevent the build-up of arterial fat and plaque associated with arteriosclerosis. Hawthorn also normalises an irregular heartbeat and can prevent chest pain.
Though there is insufficient scientific proof to support many of the restorative claims that dandelion boasts there is certainly anecdotal evidence of its benefits, namely in treating:
- stomach pain
- appetite loss
- muscle pain
- excess intestinal gas
- joint pain
This versatile medicinal herb can be prepared as a drink or added to foods such as salads and soups. It can also be found as a supplement.
Known to be used as laxative, it is also purported that dandelion has diuretic qualities. It may also be used as a digestive tonic, blood tonic and skin toner.
Vitex agnus-castus is a very useful medicinal herb for women and can be used to treat:
- symptoms of the menopause
- fibrocystic breasts
- increase production of breast milk
- premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- irregular menstrual cycles
It can also prevent early miscarriages in women who suffer from low levels of progesterone.
Also known as the “chaste tree” due to its properties at lessening the libido, it is said that monks used to chew vitex to make their celibacy vows easier to keep. Men can also benefit from this herb at increasing the flow of urine and in treating hyperplasia of the prostate.
Vitus agnus-castus is a versatile medicine and can also be used to improve the symptoms of inflammation, migraines, dementia, acne, aching joints, eye pain, colds, disorders of the spleen and swelling.
Used topically vitex can also act as a powerful insect repellent.
11. Liquorice root
Most commonly used to treat digestive ailments, liquorice root is useful in relieving stomach pain, treating stomach ulcers, chronic gastritis and colic. Its properties are also beneficial in treating viral and bacterial infections, easing sore throats, bronchitis and coughs.
Among its less common uses, this medicinal herb has also been found in preparations to treat:
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- systemic lupus erythematosus
- food poisoning
- liver disorders
Probably one of the most commonly used medicinal herb, ginger is used to treat a wide range of intestinal ailments from nausea, colic, stomach discomfort, diarrhoea, excess gas and loss of appetite. It is used as an ingredient in many antacid, anti-gas and laxative medications.
Ginger is a natural painkiller and can alleviate menstrual, joint and arthritic pains.
Applied to the skin, the juice is useful in the treatment of burns. Used in an essential oil preparation ginger can be massaged into the skin to relieve pain. apply its fresh juice to the skin to treat burns and ginger oil is sometimes to the skin to reduce pain.
Nettle root has been used in men who suffer with enlargement of the prostate gland. It can help with urinary problems such as an irritable bladder, pain during urination, nocturia and frequent urination.
The stem of the plant is both an astringent and a diuretic an is useful in treating infections and inflammation of the urinary tract as well as gallstones.
Nettle leaves are prepared in medication to treat osteoarthritis, hay fever and allergies. The leaves can also assist where there is internal haemorrhaging such as intestinal bleeding, nosebleeds and uterine bleeding.
As a general tonic, this medicinal herb can be used to treat:
- pulmonary oedema
- excess stomach acid
- poor circulation
- enlarged spleen
14. Lady’s mantle
Lady’s mantle is a good natural astringent and can be used as a mouthwash to treat laryngitis, mouth sores and ulcers.
Known to stimulate blood flow to the pelvic area and uterus this medicinal herb can alleviate symptoms of the menopause, treat menorrhagia and metrorrhagia and ease period pains.
It is also useful in treating diarrhoea.
Red raspberry leaves can be used to treat period pains, menorrhagia, morning sickness and both to induce labour and lessen labour pains.
Red raspberry leaves can be applied topically to treat hives.
Known to have a diuretic effect, red raspberry leaves increase sweating and is used to purify the skin. This medicinal herb can be found in treatments for the following:
- Flu (including swine flu)
- disorders of the respiratory system
- vitamin deficiency