We all know that some herbs are fantastic for your overall wellness, but what if you just want a good herbal regimen for your sensitive stomach, your stiff joints, or your migraines?
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Certain herbs don’t get much mainstream attention because they only do one job, but they do that job extraordinarily well (if you haven’t heard of fenugreek, go ask a breastfeeding mother about it and prepare for a lengthy rant or rave). If you want to find a natural way to care for a specific part of your body, there are multiple herbal remedies at your fingertips.
If you suffer from migraines, try feverfew or butterbur. Both herbs have successfully reduced migraine attacks in clinical studies. Chamomile is sometimes recommended for migraine as well, but this may be because it’s related to feverfew and looks similar; there is much less clinical evidence linking chamomile to migraine relief.
There are several factors that go into keeping your mind healthy, and there are herbs for each of them. If you want to boost your memory, gingko biloba is the best known herb for the job, but it may surprise you that there aren’t many studies to support its use in healthy adults. If you have memory impairment such as senile dementia or Alzheimer’s, however, gingko biloba could be helpful. A better all-round memory aide for healthy adults is ginseng, which has a stronger clinical track record on improving things like memory, concentration, and abstract thought.
If you suffer from depression, St. John’s Wort is a well-known remedy, and saffron has shown some promise in relieving depressive symptoms as well. However, St. John’s Wort can be dangerous when combined with antidepressants, and saffron can be dangerous if overused, so always use these herbs with a doctor’s supervision.
Anxiety, whether it’s clinical or simply day-to-day stress, can be relieved by herbs as well. Valerian, passionflower, lavender, chamomile, and lemon balm have all had some success in clinical trials.
For at least two thousand years, people have used hawthorn to treat heart disease, and the science supports that usage. Hawthorn has proven effective in helping people recover after heart failure, and it can also relieve chest pain. Scientists are also exploring the circulatory benefits of cayenne pepper, although they haven’t come to any definite conclusions yet. It may, however, help to improve circulation if you have atherosclerosis or other artery blockages.
Eucalyptus oil loosens phlegm, which can help relieve chest congestion if you have a cold. Lobelia has been used as a possible cure for asthma, although its effectiveness hasn’t been proven. You can also protect your lungs with turmeric; it contains curcumin, which prevents inflammation in the lungs. Even common oregano can help your lungs, particularly if you suffer from allergies, as it contains a natural decongestant and antihistamine.
If you want an herbal remedy for ulcers, you’re in luck; there is a massive amount of research supporting the efficacy of herbal cures. Piper betel extract and phyllantus emblica (also called amla) both work as antioxidants, dramatically improving gastric ulcer symptoms. Centella helps your stomach protect itself from ulcers by increasing its production of mucus, and holy basil can reduce your stomach’s production of acid to make the ulcers hurt less.
If you tend to have day-to-day nausea or stomach ache, ginger can help; there is a reason so many people swear by ginger ale for stomach problems. Two studies of people who took ginger to relieve nausea from chemotherapy showed that the herb is more than an old wives’ tale.
Peppermint can be a wonderful cure for indigestion, as it increases the flow of bile and helps you digest food more quickly. Some studies have suggested that peppermint also helps with irritable bowel syndrome and abdominal pain (ibid).
You may never have heard of the best herbs for an overactive bladder, but that doesn’t make them any less effective. One studied and proven remedy is gosha-jinki-gan, a Japanese herbal blend that reduces the sensation in your bladder and helps to relieve that constant “have to go right now” feeling. A Chinese blend called hachi-mi-jio-gan has a similar effect on rats, but unlike gosha-jinki-gan, it hasn’t been tested on humans yet.
If you’re a man and your frequent urination comes from an enlarged prostate, try saw palmetto. Although some studies have suggested that it isn’t as effective as we used to think, it certainly can’t hurt, and it does seem to relieve pressure on the urinary tract.
Men’s Reproductive Systems
If you’re having trouble in the bedroom, look no further than ginseng. Studies have shown that it helps with both performance and fertility. It can help with erectile dysfunction and improve libido, and it also raises your sperm count, improves the motility of your sperm, and helps your sperm to last longer. There is even evidence that ginseng can protect your fertility during radiation therapy and that it can help prevent the sexual problems related to diabetes.
For those who don’t like ginseng, maca root has also been linked to increased fertility and libido. Yohimbe bark can help with erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow, although it hasn’t been linked to any other benefits to fertility or libido.
Women’s Reproductive Systems
Try black cohosh if you suffer from menopausal symptoms or from PMS. Native Americans have used it for more than two hundred years to relieve menstrual discomfort, and for good reason. Chasteberry may also help with PMS, although there is less science to support that possibility, and the same is true for dong quai and menopausal symptoms.
If you want to improve your uterine health, try red raspberry leaf, which can improve uterine tone; this is a great way to prepare your body for childbirth if you’re pregnant or want to become pregnant. On the opposite end of the spectrum, yarrow relaxes uterine muscles and may help with menstrual cramps or other pelvic pain.
If your main problem is a low libido, a berry called tribulus terrestris has been linked to higher levels of desire, satisfaction, and orgasm in women. It also increases lubrication and leads to less pain during sex. As with men, maca root can help with libido as well.
Bones And Joints
Stinging nettle is an anti-inflammatory, and as such, it can help to relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Indian frankincense can also suppress autoimmune function and reduce inflammation.
If your bones are healthy and you want to keep them that way, try red clover, which has been shown to slow osteoporosis and reduce the rate of spinal bone loss in women. Horsetail, meanwhile, might actually reverse some of the bone loss from osteoporosis, although more study is needed.