People have been using natural herbs medicinally for thousands of years. While we’re not sure how far the practice goes back, it’s not uncommon for many creatures to seek out healing plants. Our instincts may be less in-tune than ever before. So, it's a good thing we've documented our use of herbal medicine for generations to follow.
One of the earliest records regarding medicinal herbs was on a clay tablet that dates back about 5,000 years. With 12 recipes using natural herbs, over 250 different plants comprised the formulas on these Sumerian tablets. An ancient Chinese text that goes back over 4,000 years includes 365 medicinal plants, many of which we still use, like ginseng, cinnamon, and ephedra.
Science Weighs in on Natural Herbs
In the last 20 years or so, the use of herbal medicine has become more popular, even mainstream. Herbal components in common remedies abound, including horehound in cough drops and chamomile in relaxing teas. In order to verify which natural herbs provide a real benefit, more researchers are investigating these botanicals.
By studying their chemical structures and testing their effects, many dismissed old folk remedies have found themselves redeemed with unbiased reports. By reviewing clinical trials and the results of scientific inquiry, we’ve identified several natural herbs you should keep on hand.
Just like stocking your medicine chest and first aid kit, you can keep these herbal remedies on hand. You can soothe a cold, settle a stomach, or solve a simple case of insomnia.
Natural Herbs for Colds and Flu
As a species, we may never conquer the common cold. However, we can alleviate symptoms and reduce the impact and duration of the illnesses caused by these viruses and infections.
- Nature's Answer alcohol free extracts are produced using alcohol, water and natural extractants.
- Tested, Verified, & Identified for Authenticity
- Super Concentrated - 1000 mg per 1 ml dose
Where to buy: Nature's Answer alcohol-free licorice root
For those who don’t care for the taste of licorice tea, this licorice extract from Nature’s Answer provides 2,000 mg of licorice root per serving.
- Supports healthy function of the immune system*
- A proprietary blend of the certified organic extracts of four different Echinacea purpurea plants parts
- Rapidly absorbed liquid extract
One of the most common natural herbs used for colds and flu in Europe and North America, Echinacea works as an antiviral against the flu. In 2015, researchers found it reduces the length and severity of flu symptoms, as well as minimizing any complications of the illness when tested on over 400 patients with early onset symptoms.
Where to buy: Herb Pharm certified organic super echinacea extract
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As well as making a delicious wine and hot drink, elderberry has been shown to reduce travel-related colds. A 2016 Australia study showed that drinking elderberry tea before and after international travel meant a reduction of symptoms. Test subjects taking it also had the length of their colds reduced by an average of two days compared to those who received the placebo.
Where to buy: Norm's Farms elderberry extract
Natural herbs for digestion
Interestingly, two of the best natural herbs for digestion double as culinary spices. Add these to your menu or make a soothing tea to drink along with your meals to reduce nausea or other stomach disorders.
- Expertly extracted for digestive system support
- Prepared from the certified organic rhizome of Zingiber officinale plants
- Rapidly absorbed liquid extract
Frequently used across the world as a culinary spice, ginger tea and ginger ale are both common home remedies for nausea. Researchers tested Ginger several times, and found it both safe and effective for post-surgical nausea. An earlier midwifery study found it effective against the nausea of early pregnancy.
Where to buy: Herb Pharm Certified Organic Ginger Extract
Fresh ginger always tastes and works best. However, when you want to add supplemental doses, a liquid extract is simple to use and efficient. Your body absorbs it quickly into your system. This organic extract from Herb Pharm keeps relief in reach with potency assured by high-performance thin-layer chromatography.
- Expertly extracted to support the gastrointestinal system.
- Prepared from the mature seed of certified organic Pimpinella anisum plants.
- Rapidly absorbed liquid extract.
A 2014 study provided 47 gastroenterology patients with star anise power to see if it would prevent their chronic post-meal gastric distress. When following up 12 weeks later, researchers found that the addition of the anise doubled the patients quality of life index scores. Try a little anise extract for indigestion, constipation, or gas.
Where to buy: Herb Pharm certified organic anise extract
Natural Herbs for Aches and Pains
Aspirin and other over the counter painkillers can make us feel less pain for a short time. But, many natural herbs can reduce pain by addressing inflammation. And along with being easier on the liver, many of them also provide other health benefits.
Along with being tangy and tasty, and high in vitamin C, rose hips reduce the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis. In a 2003 Norwegian study, over 64 percent of trial patients reported a reduction of pain using rose hips.
Best of all, it can also reduce excess body fat and abdominal fat stores and as a powerful antioxidant, it also reduces wrinkles, like some kind of anti-aging dynamo.
Where to buy: Vitacost Rose Hips
You can purchase rose hips in an extract or capsule. However, since so many manufacturers produce rose hip oil – which is great for skin – rose hip extract is much harder to find. These rose hip capsules from Vitacost come highly rated at a low cost.
Each capsule contains 1,100 mg and you get 120 capsules per bottle.
Horsetail herb has long been popular in rural communities for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. The active ingredient is kynurenic acid (KYNA), found in a number of pain-relieving natural herbs, it works as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. A 2014 study tested 50 RA patients, and 80 percent of those using horsetail reported a significant reduction in symptoms.
Where to buy: Nature's Answer alcohol-free horsetail herb
Natural Herbs for Relaxation
Some people have no trouble falling into slumber. Others feel ragged and anxious at the end of the day with too many worries to clear their minds. These natural herbs have been shown to improve sleep and reduce anxiety.
Passiflora has a worldwide reputation for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Many specialists recommend it for both anxiety and to improve the quality of sleep. A 2011 study showed that Passion Flower tea helps aid sleep for those having short-term insomnia. Passion flower tea also reduces anxiety and the response to stress without impairing job performance, according to a 2001 study.
Where to buy: Botanic Choice passion flower extract
- Chamomile is appreciated by many for its comforting, soothing taste and delicate aroma. Since it is naturally caffeine...
- For the perfect cup we recommend that you use one tea bag. Add freshly boiled water and infuse for 3-4 minutes. Our Pure...
- Ideal for bedtime to help with sleep
This common flower makes a delicious tea and has built a reputation as a sleep aid. A 2014 study showed significant improvement for adults after four weeks of using chamomile extract before sleep. Researchers are now looking at chamomile for generalized anxiety disorder. Mild improvements were found in symptoms with long-term use, as well as other health benefited such as more normal blood pressure and healthier body weight.
Where to buy: Taylor's of Harrogate organic chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is so delicious, there’s no need to hide its apple-tinged tangy flavor in a pill. Just add a little honey.
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Kava kava has mild and pleasant soporific effects to help you relax and prepare to sleep. It's also appropriate for anxiety. When compared with the efficacy of two prescription anti-anxiety medications, a 2003 study found a small dose of 400 mg of kava kava was just as effective and well tolerated.
For 61 patients receiving half that amount to treat sleep disturbances due to anxiety, significant improvements in both sleep and anxiety followed four weeks of regular use.
Where to buy: Kavana Supplements kava kava root extract
Natural Herbs for Weight Loss
The obesity epidemic is not news, thanks to sedentary lives and the processed and chemical laden foods we often eat. And many people are utilizing natural herbs to restore health while reducing their excess fat stores. These herbs have shown to help in several clinical trials.
While long known for its ability to protect the liver, dandelion also has an important impact on metabolism. Chemical constituents, namely chlorogenic acid (CGA) and chicory acid (CRA) in dandelion improve the uptake of glucose into muscle tissue. They also lower blood sugar and reduce excess fat storage. Some researchers have suggested its use to treat or prevent Type 2 Diabetes. As a side benefit, dandelion flower and leaves also help prevent photo-aging of the skin.
Where to buy: Nature's Answer dandelion root
This 2-ounce bottle from Nature’s Answer provides 30 servings of dandelion root extract for fast absorption.
- Lemon balm liquid herbal extract to support a healthy nervous system.*
- Easily absorbed liquid engages the senses of taste and smell to help the body recognize & use herbs
- Extracted with cane alcohol from the shade-dried herb of Melissa officinalis plants which are Certified Organically...
Lemon balm has long been used as a relaxation herb. And It's been suggested by many specialists that stress can increase excess weight gain. A unique 2016 study showed that an extract of lemon balm reduced the proliferation of adipocytes (fat cells) as well as reduced their size. While further tests are needed, it may be worth adding to your evening tea if you're trying to lose excess weight.
Where to buy: Herb Pharm lemon balm extract
13. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne contains capsaicin, which is responsible for its spicy taste. However, capsaicin also impacts your metabolism. Researchers have long suspected that it increases metabolism, and several recent medical studies have followed theory with proof. A 2013 study showed that adding capsaicin to meals increased the body’s natural fat burning that follows eating a meal. A 2009 study showed that regularly adding this spice to meals reduced appetite by reducing the production of ghrelin.
Where to buy
Taking cayenne will require different approaches for everyone. Cayenne hot sauce on food might be just the thing to spice up your meals. You can also purchase a natural herbs extract with medicinal grade cayenne.
- Liquid herbal extract to support the heart and circulatory system.*
- Easily absorbed liquid engages your senses of taste and smell to help your body recognize & use herbs.
- Prepared from the fruit (pepper) of certified organic Capsicum annum plants.
- Cayenne pepper powder (capsicum annuum) has been used both as a food and a medicine by Native Americans for over 9000...
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It isn’t known if capsaicin's effects on appetite and weight loss requires your sense of taste or the heat sensation of peppers. But, if you would prefer not to add it to food or water, these capsules from Pure Mountain Botanicals might be easier to take. Each of these 90 capsules contain 500 mg of cayenne powder.
Stocking up on the Most Useful Natural Herbs
While dried and fresh herbs are more potent, often an extract will preserve the effectiveness of your herbs for several years. Most manufacturers prepare herbal extracts with alcohol. This breaks down the material and allows the manufacturer to isolate the important botanical constituents. In that way, they can make a more potent and standardized dosage.
These well-known and helpful natural herbs come in handy for regular home health needs. They help in treating colds, reducing a stomach ache, or helping you to get to sleep. These are the herbs we keep on hand in our home. Let us know which herbs you always keep in stock to keep you and your family healthy in the comments below. Our readers can benefit from your experience.