Health & Wellness

Herbs for Healing

Written by Sarah Worley

For centuries before modern medicine, herbs were used for treating ailments across the globe. Shamans, medicine women and holy men prescribed various herbs to their tribes for many years before the establishment of doctors and nurses. In some cases, herbs were just as successful as modern pharmaceuticals. In today’s society, herbs are often misunderstood and even mistrusted, because they are not as stringently regulated as pharmaceuticals. However, extensive research has been conducted that shows the many benefits of using them. The American Botanical Council and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center are both safe and reliable sources for information on herbs and their usage.

Use caution before you begin to use herbs. Always make sure your doctor knows exactly which herbs you are thinking of taking and why. Also do not ever substitute an herb for a prescription given to you by a doctor. Children, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions should be very careful and should also make sure to consult their physician before using herbs. Dont “double up” with herbs and pharmaceuticals. Dont take a pharmaceutical and a herb that are supposed to do the same thing. Make sure that you understand any side effects the herb you are taking may have and any adverse reactions to other herbs or drugs prescribed to you.

Most herbalist concur that there are 8-10 different herbs that are essential in your well being. First is garlic. Garlic has long been known to be good for your heart by lowering cholesterol, but did you know that garlic has been shown in some studies to prevent cancer? In an Iowa Women’s Health Study, it was found that out of 41,000 women, those that ate the most garlic had the lowest risk of colon cancer. Herbal and traditional teas have also been shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease. Black and green teas are both high in antioxidants, natural cancer and heart disease fighters.

Most people have been advised by their elders or friends to drink cranberry juice at the first signs of a bladder infection. But did you know that it is scientifically proven that cranberry does reduce the number of urinary tract infections over time. Cranberry can be found in juice form, capsules or even dried.

Gingko is another well known herb that is healthy. It increases blood circulation through the brain and may slow the effects of Alzheimer’s. Adults are usually advised by herbalists to take gingko to help enhance their memory.

Echinacea is also a long prescribed herb for the treatment of the common cold. Although some studies show no effects, there are many studies that show that echinacea reduces the symptoms experienced during a cold and sometimes even reduce the duration of suffering.

Did you know there is even an herb that can boost mood like the pharmaceuticals Prozac or Zoloft? Some studies have shown that people taking St. John’s Wort showed an elevated mood after only 12 weeks, and with fewer side effects than the pharmaceuticals.

Ginger has been a leading herb for the reduction of motion sickness and as a digestion aid. You don’t think those pieces of ginger are included on that plate of sushi as just a decoration do you? Ginger ale and ginger tea can also be used to provide relief.

All of the above herbs can be grown easily in almost any climate and location. And most are beautiful flowering shrubs or plants. So do some research and use a piece of your existing garden to plant some  medicinal herbs for natural healing or even in pots along your windowsill.

Note: Always consult your medical doctor before using anything mentioned above.

References

“Garlic and Cancer Prevention.” National Cancer Institute, 22 Jan. 2008. Web. 05 Sept. 2011. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/garlic-and-cancer-prevention>.

About the author

Sarah Worley

Sarah is a wife and mother living on the central coast of California. She runs a small CSA where they have a myriad of farm animals including chickens, goats, pigs and bees. They grow a large percentage of their fruit, vegetables and meat and strive for sustainability and self-sufficiency on their 2 acre patch of heaven.