According to Better Health, herbal medicine is the use of plants to treat disease and enhance general health and well-being. Medicine Plus, a government website, notes that herbal remedies can be sold as tablets, capsules, powders, teas, extracts, and fresh or dried plants. Herbal remedies can be a great natural source of healing, but should still be taken with precaution. Many of the herbal medicines used today have been used for centuries to treat symptoms of depression, allergies, asthma, eczema, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ancient Chinese and Egyptian writings describe herbal medicine dating back to 3000 B.C. Indigenous cultures have also used herbs as part of healing rituals, while others have developed more traditional medical systems. Unlike medicine prescribed today, herbal remedies can typically be bought in common grocery stores and online. Some of the following are common herbs used to treat various maladies:
- St. John’s Wort: This herb is native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. Healthline states that this can be used to treat depression, but the FDA has not officially approved the herb to treat this condition.
- Garlic: This has been used to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and can also be used to treat infections.
- Ginseng: Known to boost the immune system and reduce fatigue, this herb can also help with coughs and to reduce blood pressure. The University of New Hampshire states this root can be taken as a powder, tincture, or decoction.
- Lavender: This plant is often used as an aromatic oil and is typically used to treat headaches, indigestion, depression, and more. It can be taken as an infusion, tincture, mouthwash, cream, lotion, massage oil, chest rub, hair rinse and oil.
- Chamomile: This is an herb often used for indigestion, stress relief, anxiety, insomnia, asthma, bronchitis, and more. It can be used as an infusion, tincture, ointment, inhalation or mouthwash.
One common misconception is that because an herbal supplement is natural, that it is healthy to use. Medline Plus stresses the importance of obtaining information from reliable sources regarding the herb before using it. Some herbs, such as comfrey and ephedra, can be very dangerous to use. Natural remedies can be an effective, healthy way to resolve minor issues, but should be addressed with a doctor to ensure safety.
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