Top 4 Medicinal Herbs for Healing

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Top Four Medicinal Herbs for Healing and How to Use Them

If you’re reaching for the spice cabinet as much as the medicine cabinet on those days you’re feeling off, you’re in good company. While organic herbs are known for adding flavor to food, they’ve also been used as herbal medicine to help combat health concerns for thousands of years.

But with all the spices around, from anise to za’atar, it can be difficult to keep them straight. What is the difference between dried vs fresh herbs? How long do dried herbs last? Which ones come with a health benefit? Is ginger for digestion, or is that sage?

Keep reading for insight into the top herbs for medicinal purposes. In this guide, we’ll provide background information on each herb, cover their benefits, and offer suggestions for how to incorporate them into your daily life. Whether you’re looking for the best medicinal herbs to grow, savor, or enjoy, get ready to spice up your life.

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#1 Echinacea

At one point or another, everyone may experience the common cold (hence the name). When you’re dealing with the unwelcome effects of congestion or a sore throat, it can be easy to overdo the cough syrup or headache medicine. However, one spice may provide a gentler and more natural method of lessening your symptoms: echinacea.

Echinacea, also known as the coneflower, is one of the foundational herbs to include on your spice rack. It originates in North America, where Native Americans used it as early as the 17th century to treat various ailments.

That tradition has lasted. According to Mount Sinai Medical Center, this herb is commonly used to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms, and may lessen the length of time you feel under the weather. Potentially getting over a five-day flu in two days? Yes, please.

Benefits

What’s better than a healing herb that may naturally treat an ailment? A healing herb that can serve multiple functions! While echinacea is primarily known for its potential to soothe upper respiratory ailments, it may also be used to support the following:

  • Boosting immunity – According to a study in the academic journal Phytomedicine, echinacea may affect the immune system, stimulating changes in the concentration of cytokines, an important element in health and disease. This means the herb could potentially strengthen your immune system to better combat viruses and bacteria.
  • Fighting infection – Studies have also shown that this herb may provide anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects for certain health conditions. In fact, some people currently use echinacea with the belief that it may assist with urinary tract infections, ear infections, and athlete’s foot.

How to Use

When it comes to taking echinacea, the great news is that this multifunctional herb comes in a wide variety of forms. You can stick with one that best suits your lifestyle or mix it up for a special treat. Consider the following ways to get your echinacea fill:

  • Take an echinacea tablet or capsule with breakfast or lunch for maximum convenience.
  • Add echinacea extract to a leafy green smoothie or nutrient-filled juice.
  • Brew echinacea-infused tea for those days when you want to curl up and stay cozy.

#2 Ginger

If ginger isn’t on your weekly shopping list, it should be. This superb herb, with over five thousand years of history, comes from Southeast Asia. It has since spread across the globe, making an appearance in recipes from Indian ginger potatoes to Greek and Egyptian gingerbread.

Gingerol, an active ingredient in ginger root, is the secret sauce.

Benefits

One of the most versatile medicinal herbs you can find, ginger comes with many potential health benefits, including the following:

  • More efficient digestion – According to Emma Slattery, a clinical dietitian with Hopkins Medicine, ginger helps to keep food moving along in the digestive tract. By keeping your gut clear, this herb may subsequently help relieve queasiness and heaviness after eating. This explains why ginger is commonly used for treating nausea and bloating.
  • Pain relief – Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist Candace O’Neill also explains that gingerol has anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in alleviating temporary and chronic pain. From spur-of-the-moment cramps to recurring joint pain, consuming ginger could provide some much-needed relief.

How to Use

Ginger comes in a variety of forms, perfect for seamless integration into your diet and lifestyle. Whether you’re beginning your day with a steaming cup of ginger honey tea or choosing a nightly serum with ginger extract, there are plenty of opportunities for medicinal use with this herb.

The following options may spark your creativity:

  • Fresh ginger root – Go back to the basics with fresh ginger root, a pungent spice that can be added to a variety of dishes. Commonly used in Asia, fresh ginger can give a kick to meats, seafood, and vegetables. Next time you’re tired of the same old weekday dish, consider chopping up some ginger and adding it to the mix.
  • Ginger powder – Not in the mood to take out your chopping board? Opt for ginger powder instead. The smooth quality of the powder is perfect for soups, desserts, and various drinks.
  • Ginger-infused liquids – From concentrated ginger oil to soothing ginger tea, this herb comes in numerous liquid forms. Finish off your lunch with a glass of cool ginger juice or add a drop of essential ginger oil to your nightly routine.

#3 Bay Leaf

When you’re feeling under the weather, perhaps nothing is more welcoming than a hot bowl of soup—complete with bay leaves. In fact, this potent culinary herb makes its way into a wide variety of brothy recipes to provide a flavorful pick-me-up for when you’re not feeling your best.

But the bay leaf isn’t just used for its aromatic flavors. Produced by the evergreen bay tree, indigenous to Asia and known later in the Mediterranean as the laurel tree, the bay leaf also comes with a host of natural remedies and potential health benefits.

Benefits

Throw a bay leaf or two into your next stew to take advantage of the following potential perks:

  • Antimicrobial properties – According to a study published in Medical Plants of South Asia, bay leaves have both antibacterial and antiviral properties, which may help improve your health. Because of this, you might consider increasing your intake of bay leaves during periods of stress or times of the year when you’re more likely to fall sick.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – By decreasing swelling and inflammation in the body, bay leaves may help wounds heal more quickly. In a study on mammals, treatment using bay leaves resulted in fewer inflammatory cells and greater collagen production. Think about using bay leaves in the earlier stages of the wound-healing process.

How to Use

Depending on the nature of your ailment, you may use bay leaves differently. Consider the following examples for how to incorporate this special herb into your life:

  • Add bay leaves to your soups and broths in the winter months when you’re more likely to experience flu symptoms.
  • Steep your morning tea with bay leaves as a preventative measure.
  • Mix bay leaf essential oil with an ointment of your choice and apply it over a healing wound.

#4 Sage

Originating in the Mediterranean region, this temperate herb is not only delicious when paired with creamy dishes, it may also come with a wealth of healing properties and long-term benefits. And is there anything better than an herb that tastes as good as it can make you feel?

Benefits

A member of the mint family, this aromatic herb has been recognized for its medicinal uses since ancient times. Top potential benefits may include the following:

  • Antibacterial – Sage comes with antibacterial properties, which may help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in your body. In fact, according to one study evaluating the effectiveness of sage mouthwash, the herb-infused solution had the potential to effectively reduce plaque buildup over a three-week period.
  • Antioxidant-boosting – Antioxidants are an essential part of any diet in helping protect your body against chronic illnesses, such as heart disease or cancer. The great news is that sage is full of antioxidants, containing over 160 varieties that can help promote long-term health.
  • Cholesterol-lowering – According to a study of diabetic patients, a regular treatment using this herb may help to stabilize blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol, which are both important for heart health.

How to Use

When it comes to consuming sage, a little goes a long way. This is because the herb is packed full of nutrients. Consider the following ways to add this potential medicinal herb into your routine:

  • Start your mornings with a daily sage supplement, keeping the dosage between 280 mg and 1,500 mg daily.
  • Opt for a sage tincture, an extract of the herb dissolved in ethanol alcohol. Place a drop on the tongue for twenty to thirty seconds before swallowing.
  • Incorporate sage into your daily meals by rubbing it onto meats, mixing it into stuffings, or adding it into smoothies and juices.

Starwest Botanicals: Top-Notch Organic Herbs to Help Make Wellness Easy

Looking for the best medicinal herbs to add to your spice cabinet? At Starwest Botanicals, we believe that maintaining optimal health and wellness comes down to choosing organic, top-quality ingredients. That’s why our immune boosting herbs are held to the highest standards, coming straight from the source with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Talk to our expert customer service team about your goals, and we’ll provide you with all the information you need to make the right choices for your health. Whether you want to know the difference between herbs vs spices or how to store dried herbs, we are here to help. From herb-infused essential oils to herbal capsules, you’re sure to find that extra wellness boost you’ve been searching for.

Reviewed By: Allie Baker

Allie Baker is a California-based conscious copywriter and content strategist who partners with wellness and lifestyle brands to bring their vision to life.


Sources:

Mount Sinai. Echinacea. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/echinacea

Spiceography. Echinacea: A Native American Cure-All. https://www.spiceography.com/echinacea/

PubMed. Medicinal properties of Echinacea: a critical review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12622467/

Heathline. Echinacea: Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and Dosage. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/echinacea

Healthline. 11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger

Hopkins Medicine. Ginger Benefits. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/ginger-benefits

Cleveland Clinic. The Surprising Benefits of Ginger. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/ginger-health-benefits/

Food Network. Fresh Ginger — Off the Beaten Aisle. https://www.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/recipes/2011/10/how-to-use-fresh-ginger

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. All About Bay Leaves. https://www.escoffier.edu/blog/culinary-arts/all-about-bay-leaves/#:~:text=Bay%20leaves%20come%20from%20the,with%20Ancient%20Greece%20and%20Rome.

National Library of Medicine. Bay Leaf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7152419/#:~:text=Bay%20has%20many%20traditional%20medical,taste%2C%20are%20used%20in%20cooking

National Library of Medicine. Evaluation of wound healing activity of Allamanda cathartica. L. and Laurus nobilis. L. extracts on rats. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1456996/

MasterClass. How to Cook With Sage: 11 Culinary Uses for Sage. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-cook-with-sage-11-culinary-uses-for-sage#what-is-the-history-of-the-sage-plant

National Library of Medicine. The antibacterial effect of sage extract (Salvia officinalis) mouthwash against Streptococcus mutans in dental plaque: a randomized clinical trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26668706/

Mayo Clinic. Antioxidants. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/multimedia/antioxidants/sls-20076428#:~:text=Antioxidants%20are%20substances%20that%20may,to%20tobacco%20smoke%20or%20radiation.

Healthline. 12 Health Benefits and Uses of Sage. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sage

National Library of Medicine. Improved glycemic control and lipid profile in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients consuming Salvia officinalis L. leaf extract: a randomized placebo. Controlled clinical trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24050577/

WedMD. Sage - Uses, Side Effects, And More. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-504/sage