Common Medicinal Herbs: Uses and Side Effects

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Healing Medicinal Herbs

Herbs have been used traditionally as medicines for hundreds of years. Modern medicine is descended form of old-world herbal healing practices that have been fine-tuned and brought to a science. Many of the medicines we still use today are derived directly from medicinal herbs, but their active ingredients are purified and their medicinal effects magnified.

Though many common healing herbs have been forgotten for their medical value due to the rise of modern medicine, many people are becoming aware of the dangers and side effects of some power over the counter medications (whether they are synthetic or naturally derived) and are looking for a holistic alternative.

Effective healing herbs do exist as an alternative; you just need to know where to get the correct herbs and how to use them.

medicinal-herbs
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History of Medicinal Herbs

While herbal supplements have experienced a surge of popularity during recent years in the United States, their popularity is nothing new in Europe, particularly in Germany, where they have been in use for decades. The practice of using herbs dates back thousands of years to a time when people around the world safely used natural botanicals including tree bark, roots, berries, leaves, and blooming flowers for their unique health maintaining and healing properties.

Medicines dispensed by most American pharmacies during the 19th century were derived from plants and other natural substances. Examples include St. John’s Wort and Echinacea, which became popular again in the late 1990s and continues into the 21st century. To satisfy today’s demand, conventional drug manufacturers are adding herbal ingredients to their products. For example, you’ll find multivitamin tablets with ginseng and ginkgo biloba as well as laxatives with senna.



Although many herbal treatments can be considered experimental from a “scientific” perspective, herbal medicine has gained respect through a long and supportable history. During ancient times, specific plants were used to treat health problems, which have contributed to many of today’s familiar medications through close examination of the medicinal properties of many botanicals.

Examples of plant components that are now synthesized in large laboratories for use in pharmaceutical preparations include vincristine (a drug that treats tumors), digitalis (a heart regulator), and ephedrine (a bronchodilator used to decrease respiratory inflammation).

Throughout history and up to today, three primary functions of herbs have been recognized. First, herbs are used to maintain health by counteracting physical symptoms and allowing the body to heal itself. Secondly, individuals use herbs toning organs or particular systems of the body through herbal treatments.

The use of herbs can positively affect all systems of the body from the cardiovascular system and upper respiratory system to the nervous system, bones, skin, and immune system. Lastly, herbal supplements are used to eliminate toxins from the body to purify the blood for total detoxification, or cleansing, of the body.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, more than likely you’ll find an herb to treat a particular system of the body, a physical ailment, or to use as an aid in weight loss.

Herbs such as Chinese Ephedra (Ma Huang), Yerba Mate, Green Tea, Bladderwrack, and Ginkgo Biloba, have been used for centuries to increase circulation, purify the body, and stimulate the metabolism. Since the healing properties of herbs are not always limited to one function, most of these herbs are also frequently administered for reasons other than weight loss. And, as with food or drink, overuse or improper use of an herb can result in adverse reactions.

The use of ephedra, for example, originated in China over 2000 years ago, where it was used as a decongestant and antihistamine to treat colds, flu, edema, and asthma. Today, ephedra is used all over the world as a weight loss product. The safety of ephedra has recently been called into question since (in large doses) it raises blood pressure, increases the heart rate, and can over-stimulate the nervous system.

Green tea, which also came from the East, contains polyphenols that can reduce the risk of gastric and esophageal cancers, protects against digestive and respiratory infections, and can prevent plaque buildup on teeth. Green tea is a natural stimulant that many people now use as a weight loss aid.



Unfortunately, scientists have recently found that some green teas and green tea products contain fluoride and aluminum, which in excessive amounts can cause illnesses such as Crippling Skeletal Fluorosis, dental fluorosis, and may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Again, overdosage or overuse seems to be the major contributor to the adverse effects of this otherwise beneficial herb.

Cayenne is an herb that came from Central and South America and the West Indies. It stimulates circulation and has been a means of stimulating the thyroid, pineal, and pituitary glands. Historically, cayenne was used as an effective treatment for fatigue, endurance, colds, and flu, as an anti-inflammatory and digestion aid, and to strengthen the heartbeat.

Cayenne is now respected as an effective tool for weight loss, and scientists have also found that cayenne may reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. For many people, cayenne is simply a tasty additive to spice up ethnic dishes. However, as with anything else that you consume, cayenne can have negative effects; large doses of cayenne can cause gastroenteritis and kidney damage.

It is clear that a vast variety of medicinal plants have been used throughout history in almost all cultures, and the current revival of interest in alternative healing techniques ensures that the use of herbal remedies will continue into the future. The uses of herbs change and expand as we become more knowledgeable about their properties and possible interactions. The safety and efficacy of herbal weight loss remedies are constantly being tested with measures set by current scientific standards.

How to Get medicinal herbs

You can grow many of them yourself, or you can pick them up at local herbal health food stores or even on the Internet. If you are buying them, you will find them available in several common forms. These include ground powder to make tea, tinctures, or oil extracts or capsules.



It is always important to verify the integrity of healing herbs before you buy them, to ensure safety and effectiveness. You should always make sure that the herbal health food store you are buying from is a respected source that would grow and process its herbs correctly before selling to the consumer.

Contact the store if you are a first-time buyer and ask for their information about how they handle their herbs etc. Stores that won’t disclose this kind of information should be avoided.

What To Do With Herbs

Many healing medicinal herbs already exist in the marketplace today, often incorporated into other products. Companies have realized the fact that healing herbs are becoming very popular, so for example, herbs like aloe vera are often being added to face creams and even suntan lotions.

Sage is another of the healing medicinal herbs. It is an important herb in alternative medicine due to the wide range of illnesses it has been used to treat. Sage can be burned and used in aromatherapy to assist with breathing because it helps to clear mucous out of the airways.

It can also be used in tea form to reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract ie. swelling or redness in the gums or throat, as well as upset stomach and diarrhea. Sage can also lower blood sugar and provide relief for pregnant women who are producing too much milk.

Garlic is a common herb that is used to help ailments of the heart. It can help to lower high blood pressure, reduce blood cholesterol, and reduce blood clotting. It also has antioxidant properties that work against free radicals to lower the risk of cancer. It has also been used to treat lung infection, colds, and flu.

Parsley is another one of the healing herbs. It is known to help with the prevention of bladder infections and other digestive tract problems, such as nausea and gas. You can also apply it to insect bites, cuts, and dry or chapped skin to prevent infection.

Chamomile is a healing herb that offers a gentle calming effect. It is a common tea additive for relaxation, but it is also thought to assist digestion.

Raspberry leaves are another of the healing herbs often found in teas. Like chamomile, it provides help with relaxation and digestion. It has also been used to treat eye, mouth, and throat soreness or redness and it is also thought to help prevent miscarriage and to help with symptoms of PMS.

This is a list of only some of the most common healing herbs. Different tried and true herbal remedies come from all over the world. Discovering useful herbal remedies and how to use them safely and effectively can be very beneficial to your long-term health. Though serious conditions should always be brought to a doctor, many illnesses can be treated with simple home remedies quickly and easily.


Medicinal Herbs to Treat Constipation

Scientifically, constipation can be defined as an uneven movement or the excreting of a small quantity of stool or a desiccated and hard stool. Some of the causes of this could be lack of fiber or hydration, an inactive lifestyle, negative side effects from drug prescriptions, or even the consequence of certain circumstances. When intermittent sessions of constipation take place, there are herbal remedy cures for it that can aid to ease this uncomfortable situation.

The herbal treatment is a natural, non-artificial solution used to alleviate constipation and reduce it to the lowest condition. It is better to use natural remedies. This does not mean that herbal remedies are not to be taken seriously or cautiously though. For something to be natural does not mean it is already safe, in other words, one must be sure to carry out his research before making use of it.

Almond Oil

A mixture of almond oil with a glass of milk (can be warmed if preferred) should be drunk before going to bed. As the morning approaches you should be able to successfully annul your bowels.

Carrot Juice

The carrot juice is another easier method of preparing home remedy cures. You can buy the juice of this medicinal herb or you could even make yours, it’s your choice. Start juicing with a juicer! You could blend the carrot juice with vegetable juice in order to get one-two blow of constipation release, for instance, spinach juice. This is not as sweet as it seems.

Licorice

If it’s about curing constipation, then licorice tea is the ideal item. This herb is helpful in aiding the digestive tract to get back to its usual purpose in a few days. Prepare a mug of licorice tea and drink it up. Take it three or four times daily at your leisure.

Buckthorn

This can be referred to as Cascara Sagrada. Buckthorn helps in stimulating the colon to expand which assists in promoting bowel movements. This herbal treatment comes in capsules, liquid, or as a desiccated bark.

Tamarind

This is well known in some Asian cookery. Tamarind pulp is used as an herbal remedy for constipation. You can put it in food. A lot of recipes contain tamarind. Making a search on the Internet will give you many options on how to use Tamarind.

Ginger

To calm any type of intestinal upset as well as constipation, ginger could be used as a herbal remedy cure. You can prepare a tablespoon of ginger (shredded) in cups of water. For some 10 to 15 minutes steep and then drink it throughout the day until the condition is calmed. You could put in little ground flax seeds.


7 Medicinal Herbs To Cure Cough Fast!

When we have an infection, coughing helps to keep the passageway for breathing clear by removing mucus and other obstructions. While we may be glad our body is working to protect us, no one enjoys the constant coughing and sore throat. Help your body heal and end the coughing and sore throat with these natural herbal cures.

Home Remedies for Cough

  1. Horehound is a herb originally from Europe, but now growing as well in North and South America. This herb has been used medicinally for 2,000 years for cough and other bronchial disorders.
  2. Lemon and Honey are one of the long-used home remedies for cough. Just mix lemon juice with honey. For those who want something stronger, add a clove of grated garlic and a pinch of cayenne pepper. This is a powerful remedy for many kinds of cough. The lemon juice gives vitamin C which fights infection. The honey soothes your irritated throat and is an antibacterial agent. Garlic is a powerful infection fighter and cayenne pepper has a natural pain killer, increases blood circulation, and speeds healing.
  3. Herbal Bath. Hydrotherapy is often an underused healing modality but is highly useful for many conditions including cough. A natural cure for cough uses Eucalyptus essential oil in your hot bath. The bath will help you relax you and the hot water will get your blood flowing, while the eucalyptus will clear away mucus and relieve irritation.
  4. Herbal Cough Drink. Mix equal amounts of thyme and licorice powder and take one teaspoon of this mixture with water 3 or 4 times daily.
  5. Herbal Oil For Chest Rub. As one of your home remedies for cough try this chest rub. This is an external remedy. Simply mix 4 drops of eucalyptus, 4 drops of thyme, and 3 drops of lavender essential oils with 3 teaspoons of olive oil and massage on chest and neck first thing in the morning and again at night before bedtime.
  6. Herbal TeaTime. A cup of Ginger tea or Green tea with two pinches of cinnamon often works great. You can drink these herbal teas 3 or 4 times daily for relief.
  7. Herbal Aroma to Aid Sleep. To help relieve coughing when you are trying to sleep use a humidifier along with a diffuser of lavender. The humidifier will keep the air moistened and the lavender will help you relax. Try sleeping on your sides rather than your back or stomach as this will increase mucus in the throat.




Safety and Side Effects of Medicinal Herbs

As with any supplementation, it is best to talk to your healthcare provider before implementing any herbal remedies. If you are not sure that a particular medicinal herb is safe, do not use it until you’ve researched it thoroughly and are sure that it will not harm you.

Studies suggest that several popular herbal supplements may provide health benefits. For example, ginseng can stimulate metabolism and energy in weight loss, folic acid during pregnancy can prevent birth defects, and there is some evidence suggesting that St. John’s Wort may be helpful for some people with mild depression.

It is important to check out any health claims with a reliable source, such as the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, a public health or scientific organization like the American Cancer Society or the Arthritis Foundation, and your healthcare provider.

If taken in recommended doses, most people do not experience adverse reactions to herbal remedies. Most problems occur when the herbal dosage is higher than recommended or the herb is used consistently for too long. For example, high doses of licorice administered over a long period of time can lead to high blood pressure.

Children should be especially careful when taking herbal supplements; children taking chamomile on an ongoing basis can develop ragweed allergies, and children should never take comfrey root, poke, or mayapple.

Most herbal supplements, even those intended to treat chronic health problems, should be administered consistently for a set length of time then resumed later or perhaps alternated with other remedies. Be sure that you’re aware of the possible effects of long-term use with any of the medicinal herbs you use, and always use them in moderation.

If you are taking an herbal supplement for the first time, only use a small amount and wait for at least a day before taking it again to make sure that you do not experience an adverse reaction. You may even want to start a log that keeps track of your body’s reaction to the herbal remedies and supplements you use. Your body’s response will let you know if a particular herb is good for you (or not).

If you would like to use more than one herbal supplement or would like to use an herbal remedy in conjunction with prescribed or over-the-counter pharmaceutical medicines, consult your physician and research the possible interactions or side effects.



Some herbs, like St. John’s Wort, licorice, and passionflower, can produce an adverse reaction in people who take antidepressants that are MAO (monamine oxidase) inhibitors. Herba Ephedra (Ma Huang) is known to interact with prescription medications that treat hypertension, seizures, diabetes, and thyroid conditions. Make sure you do your research!

A number of weight-loss medicinal herbs that have been used for centuries are now being declared dangerous by researchers and physicians. Ephedra, used for centuries by eastern cultures, is the most notorious of these blacklisted herbal weight loss remedies. Anything that we consume in excessive quantities can cause adverse reactions, and most herbal supplements and remedies are sold in very concentrated portions.

Be sure to follow the directions on the packaging of any herbal remedy that you buy. Even if you have done outside research and feel comfortable administering your own dosage, it is still possible to overdose; the concentration of the effective agents in herbal remedies can vary depending on the brand and manufacturer of the product.

As with any ingestible product that is not covered by federal regulations, only buy herbal remedies from viable sources, such as trusted physicians, nutritionists, or companies with a reputation for producing pure, organic herbal products.

FDA legislation regulates the labeling of medicinal herbs but does not test for safety or efficacy. Contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals can cause adverse reactions in users, and some manufacturers do not test for contaminants before they market and distribute their products.

Pregnant and nursing mothers, in particular, should be careful about the herbal supplements and remedies they ingest or apply to their bodies. If you are pregnant, consult your healthcare professional before you decide to use any kind of remedy-herbal or pharmaceutical. Chinese ephedra, buckthorn, cascara sagradad, senna, kava root, and all herbal oils should be used with caution or avoided when you are pregnant or nursing.


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HealthKura does not provide medical advice of any kind. If you have any questions related to this, you can contact the related health care practitioner for more information.

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