Herbs have been used for centuries as natural remedies for treating health issues. They can help naturally relieve health problems without the side effects that many prescription medications have.
Spices are also considered herbs and are used successfully to treat various health problems. The difference between an herb and a spice is that an herb comes from the leaves of a plant, and spices come from the roots, seeds, and bark of a plant. Among all of the herbs and spices, there are some that stand out as having wonderful health benefits.
1. Ceylon Cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon is considered an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. It is best known for its ability to increase insulin sensitivity and keep blood sugar from spiking too high.
To get these benefits, it must be Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia and Saigon cinnamons are sometimes considered fake cinnamons and do not have these benefits. In fact, eating too much fake cinnamon can cause health problems.
With its distinctive orange hue, turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for health issues like rheumatism, arthritic pain, breathing problems, and fatigue.
It is best known for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used in topical ointments or used in cooking for the relief of arthritic joint pain. When used in food, it is better absorbed if black pepper and a little fat is also included in the meal.
Oregano is one of the most powerful medicinal herbs we know of. It can be used as an herb in cooking or the more potent oregano oil. The health benefits of oregano include:
- Fights viral infections
- High in antioxidants
- Can fight bacteria
- Decrease inflammation
- Anti-cancer properties
Oregano contains two antiviral compounds, carvacrol, and thymol. One study found that oregano inactivated norovirus, and another study found that carvacrol and thymol inactivated the herpes simplex virus within one hour.
In the same family as turmeric, it is one of the most commonly used herbs in the world. Ginger is well known for its ability to treat nausea from morning sickness, chemotherapy, and motion sickness. Ginger has other health benefits such as:
- Stimulating circulation
- Reducing pain and inflammation from menstrual cramps, arthritis, and headaches
- Reducing gas and stomach cramps
- Inhibiting rhinovirus, the virus that causes the common cold
- inhibiting the salmonella bacteria
Peppermint is one of the most enjoyable herbs with wonderful health benefits. Peppermint can boost your mood, improve your mental focus, settle an upset stomach, and relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Fresh or dried peppermint leaves can be used in tea and foods. The essential oil is often used in chest rubs for a tight chest. Like other essential oils, it should never be taken orally, and should be properly diluted when applied topically.
Echinacea is mainly known to enhance the immune system and keep you from getting colds and the flu. During the summer many people us it to relieve hay fever and allergy symptoms.
Also, echinacea can keep your blood sugar from spiking after a meal, which is good news for anyone who is pre-diabetic or has type 2 diabetes. This same study found that compounds in echinacea can also help lower high blood pressure.
Valerian is a root that has been used medicinally since ancient Greece and Rome. Hippocrates wrote about using valerian as a healing tonic to relieve headaches, nervousness, and heart palpitations.
Today, it is used to treat anxiety, insomnia, hot flashes, other menopause symptoms, and depression. It can be bought as capsules, liquid extracts, and tea. Drinking a cup of valerian tea can help you get a restful night sleep.
8. Saint John’s Wort
Saint John’s wort is one of the most popular herbs in the United States. It is effective in treating those with mild to moderate depression with fewer side effects than prescription antidepressants.
A 6-week study found that St. John’s wort worked as well as Paroxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Also, St. John’s wort has been shown to be effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs during the winter due to a lack of sunlight.
As these herbs have powerful medicinal value, you should discuss taking them with your doctor. Make sure you tell your doctor of any medications you already take since it is not advisable to mix herbs with medications.