The best medicinal herbs and why you need them in your life
by Ezra •9 minutes read
Last updated: 16 Aug, 2023
From ancient civilizations to modern times, societies across the globe have recognised and harnessed the healing potential of plants to alleviate ailments, promote health and wellness, and restore balance to the body.
Medicinal herbs involve the use of different parts of plants, such as roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds, for therapeutic purposes. Plants contain bioactive compounds which can have healing effects on the human body.
Herbal medicine is a prominent feature in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, two of the world's oldest healing systems. Traditional medicines often utilise plant materials, minerals, animal products, and other natural substances found in the local environment for health and wellness.
Health benefits of medicinal herbs
Herbal remedies offer a wide range of health benefits, each with its own set of active compounds that contribute to its healing potential.
Anti-inflammatory: Many medicinal herbs possess anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce swelling and minimise pain.
Antioxidant: Certain medicinal herbs are rich in antioxidants that help to protect cells from damage.
Immune support: Some medicinal herbs boost the immune system's response to illness and infection.
Digestive health: Certain medicinal herbs aid digestion, alleviate bloating, and soothe gastrointestinal discomfort.
Nervous system support: Some medicinal herbs have calming and relaxing effects on the nervous system.
Cardiovascular health: Many medicinal herbs support heart health by reducing cholesterol levels, improving blood circulation, and regulating blood pressure.
Adaptogens: Adaptogenic medicinal herbs help the body adapt to stress, promoting overall resilience.
Health and safety
While certain herbs have shown medicinal potential and are generally safe to use when guidelines are followed, it is still important to consult a healthcare professional before using medicinal plants. This is particularly necessary for those with underlying health conditions, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are taking medications as interactions with medications, allergic reactions, and side effects can occur.
Always source high-quality medicinal herbs from reputable sources.
Modes of use
Infusions and teas: Dried or fresh herbs are steeped in hot water to extract their active compounds. Commonly used for mild conditions or for relaxation.
Tinctures: Herbs are soaked in alcohol or a mixture of alcohol and water to extract their medicinal properties. Tinctures offer a concentrated form of the herb.
Powders: Dried herbs are ground into a powder, which can be added to beverages or food. These can also be encapsulated or compressed into tablet form for convenience.
Topical applications: Herbal extracts can be applied externally as creams, balms, or oils to address skin issues and muscle pain.
The best medicinal herbs
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which alleviates joint pain and digestive discomfort, supporting overall immune health. It is taken as a tablet or used in infusions and teas.
Ginger has anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties that relieves motion sickness, aids digestion, minimises muscle pain and discomfort, and promotes circulation. It is used in infusions and teas, ginger poultice, or taken as a tablet.
Garlic is known for its immune-boosting antibacterial and antiviral properties and cardiovascular benefits. It is taken as a tablet, used in infusions, teas, and mouthwash, or applied topically in the form of creams, gels, and pastes.
Echinacea is used to support the immune system, reducing the severity and duration of common colds and respiratory infections. It is consumed as a tablet, used in infusions and teas, or as a tincture.
Chamomile has calming and anti-inflammatory properties which promote relaxation, aid sleep, and soothe digestive issues. It is used in infusions and teas, as an oil in aromatherapy, and applied topically.
Peppermint is known for its ability to ease digestive discomfort, minimise bloating and headaches, and relieve muscle tension. It is used as an oil in aromatherapy and in infusions and teas, taken as a tablet, and applied topically in the form of gels, mouthwash, and creams.
Lavender is a flowering plant that has relaxing, soothing, and calming effects and soothes menstrual cramps. It is used as an oil in aromatherapy and in infusions and teas, applied topically in the form of lotion, or taken as a tablet.
Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb that helps the body manage stress whilst improving energy levels, cognitive and sexual function, and immune health. It is taken as a tablet and used in infusions and teas.
Valerian is known for its calming, sedative, and sleep-inducing properties. It's often used to treat insomnia, stress, and anxiety. Valerian is taken as a tablet or used as a tincture.
Saint John's Wort
Saint John's Wort is used to treat mild to moderate depression and mood disorders. It can be taken as a tablet, used as a tincture, and applied topically in the form of an ointment, cream, and gel.
Note: Saint John’s Wort can interact with certain medications, so it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before use.
Aloe vera is known for its cooling, moisturising, and soothing properties which helps alleviate skin irritations, acne, burns, and promotes wound healing. It is applied topically in the form of gels and creams or used as a mouthwash.
Lemon balm has mild sedative and calming effects that can help to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. It can also be applied to cold cores to reduce symptoms and shorten healing time. Lemon balm is taken as a tablet, used in infusions, teas, and tinctures, and applied topically in the form of lotions, ointments, and essential oils.
Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose oil has anti-inflammatory properties which can relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopause, arthritis, high cholesterol, and acne. It also supports nerve health. Evening primrose oil is taken as a tablet and as an oil in aromatherapy.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial properties which helps treat acne, toenail fungus, and athlete's foot. It is applied topically in gels, shampoos, body washes, mouthwash, sprays, and creams.
Milk thistle is a flowering plant that promotes detoxification, supporting liver health by protecting it from toxins and damage. It is taken as a tablet and used in infusions and teas.
Disclaimer: We provide this information for educational purposes only. No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
We aim to always give appropriate credit to our reference sources and image authors. Contact us if you think a credit may be incorrect or you're an author and would like to request removal.