As a Naturopathic Doctor I have many treatment modalities at my finger tips such as acupuncture, nutritional counselling, therapeutic supplements, Bowen therapy or homeopathy. But one of my favourite modalities has to be Herbal Medicine. Plants have been used medicinally since the dawn of time and continue to play an important role in health today.
There are many ways to use plants medicinally including as food, herbal extract, capsules or tablets, teas or tinctures (a herbal extract using alcohol). And with easy access these days to Naturopaths, Herbalists and natural pharmacies like Finlandia or Gaia Gardens, we can all easily use herbs to improve our health and fight disease. A note of caution though: just because it is “natural” does not mean that it is safe. Herbal medicine, like any other form of natural medicine, should be used under the suppervision of a health care practitioner like those listed above.
Over the past few years I’ve compiled my unofficial Top 5 list of plants that have incredible medicinal properties and multiple medicinal uses. If I could have access to only 5 medicinal plants for the rest of my career, these amazing plants would make the cut:
Garlic (Alium sativum)
Useful in treating: atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, chronic bronchitis, viral or bacterial infections, H. pylori -Taken in caps or as food
Coleus (Coleus forskohlii )Useful in treating: asthma, high blood pressure, inflammation, congestive heart disease, hypothyroidism, low mood.
-Taken in caps or tincture
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Useful in treating: inflammation, low estrogen conditions, cough, bronchitis, adrenal fatigue, heart burn/GERD, H. pylori, herpes
-Taken in caps, as a tincture, chewable tabs (eg: DGL) or as dried root in tea
Lavender (Lavandula off)
Useful in treating: inflammation, insomnia, colic, gas and bloating, cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis, headaches, low mood, anxiety
-Used topically in oil as a rub, the essential oil in aroma therapy or as a dried herb in tea
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
Useful in treating: gas and bloating, poor digestion, cold hands and feet due to poor circulation (warming), nausea and vomiting, motion sickness, menstrual cramps, parasites, digestive bacterial infections
-Taken in caps, as a tincture, tea, chewable tabs or as food
Honourable Mention: Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus)
Useful in treating: female hormonal imbalances, easing the transition when discontinuing the birth control pill, irregular periods, infertility, PMS
-Taken in tabs, caps or tincture
How do you use herbal medicine in your life?