Herbal Medicine

HERBAL THERAPY

Herbal Therapy also known as Herbal Medicine is the practice of using herbs to promote health and prevent and treat illness. Herbal medicine has been around for centuries and has developed throughout many cultures.

Herbs and their medicinal uses are strongly represented in modern medicine. One-quarter of all prescription drugs are derived from herbs, trees or shrubs.

Many of today’s pharmaceutical medications are based on herbal medicines borrowed from older cultures.

Some herbs have potent (powerful) ingredients and should be taken with the same level of caution as pharmaceutical medications. For instance, the heart drug digitalis was derived from the foxglove plant. 

Herbal Medicine

The general categories of herbs and their functions are:

  • Adaptogenic herbs
    help the body adapt to and resist stress by supporting glands (e.g., licorice)
  • Alternative herbs
    help restore general function of the body (e.g., goldenseal)
  • Anti-inflammatory herbs
    reduce the inflammatory response of the body (e.g., Echinacea)
  • Antimicrobials
    help kill microbes and increase the body’s resistance to infection (e.g., garlic)
  • Anti-spasmodic herbs
    ease cramping in muscles and can ease psychological tension (e.g., St. John’s Wort)
  • Astringents
    link to the skin and mucous membranes to protect those tissues from inflammation and infection
  • Bitter herbs
    have a bitter taste that triggers digestive juices, bile flow and gut repair
  • Carminative herbs
    stimulate the gut to function better and to remove gas and pain in the gut
  • Demulcents
    are used for sensitive GI systems, to soothe irritation in the gut/colon and to prevent diarrhea (e.g., ginger)
  • Diuretics
    increase urine flow to assist in waste elimination
  • Emmensgogue
    increases menstrual flow and helps normalize the female reproductive system
  • Expectorant herbs
    help remove irritants and mucous in the lungs and respiratory passages
  • Hepatics
    help liver function in digestion and detoxification
  • Hypotensives
    lower elevated blood pressure (e.g., hawthorn)

Herbal Products

Herbal remedies can play an important role in the treatment of many conditions, and may provide safer alternatives to many pharmaceutical treatments. Following is a quick reference list of common natural herbal products with a brief description of their traditional uses.
  • Aloe Vera:
    Skin soothing and softening
  • Cayenne:
    Stimulation of the circulatory and digestive systems; rheumatism
  • Chamomile:
    Digestive aid, mild sedative, anti-inflammatory
  • Chasteberry:
    Hormone imbalances, endometriosis
  • Echinacea:
    Wound healing, anti-inflammatory for infections, chronic illness
  • Ephedra or Ma Huang:
    Asthma, hay fever
  • Feverfew:
    Migraine headaches
  • Garlic:
    Antibiotic, anti-fungal, antiviral, detoxifier, immune system support
  • Ginger:
    Anti-nausea, digestion stimulant
  • Ginkgo:
    Increased peripheral circulation, hearing loss improvement, brain circulation for better cognition
  • Ginseng:
    Stress relief, antioxidant, liver protector, benefits for the elderly
  • Goldenseal:
    Immune response stimulation, antimicrobial, increased digestive juices, eczema
  • Hawthorne:
    Heart tonic, lowered blood pressure, increased blood flow to the heart
  • Hops:
    Calming, sleep-inducing, appetite stimulant Licorice: Anti-inflammatory, reduced viral growth, good for peptic ulcers
  • Milk Thistle:
    Liver and gallbladder cleanser
  • Nettle:
    Detoxification, arthritis, hay fever, childhood eczema, diuretic
  • Passion Flower:
    Mild sedative
  • Peppermint:
    Digestive disorders
  • St. John’s Wort:
    Anti-inflammatory, increased wound healing, calming response to stress
  • Saw Palmetto:
    Improvement of male reproductive system, enlarged prostate
  • Senna:
    Laxative
  • Siberian Ginseng:
    Decreased toxicity due to cancer drugs
  • Valeria Root:
    Sleep aid, nervousness, daytime sedative
  • Witch Hazel:
    Decreased bleeding, diarrhea, inflammation, swelling, varicose veins

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Please Do Not Self Diagnose

Herbal medications and supplements may interact in harmful ways with over-the-counter or prescription medicines you are taking.  

Taking herbal supplements may decrease the effectiveness of other drugs you are taking or may increase the negative side effects.  

It is very important that people do not self-diagnose any health conditions. Any medication (herbal or otherwise) should be taken under the supervision of a knowledgeable and qualified practitioner.

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