By: Amanda Froelich,
Why spend $20 on a half-filled jar of high-heated herbs in an artificially made capsule, especially when the most medicinal plants can be found right around your own home? While the health food store scene may be all the rave, there’s something to be said for positively impacting your health the frugal way.
Non-pesticide treated herbs that grow as weeds or are planted in the garden are more beneficial for a number of reasons: they’re free, easy to attain, have more nutrition and life force than processed versions, and help aid the body in a variety of ways.
Forage for life-promoting greens around your house or neighborhood and reap the benefits nature has always freely offered.
1. Dandelion Greens
The yellow-topped flower is happily shunned and sprayed, but did you know it is one of the most healing herbs for the liver and kidneys? Dandelion (the flower and greens) is a diuretic, contains potassium, alleviates arthritis and intestinal disorders, and is even thought to regulate blood sugar levels. Used topically, it also has use to treat skin disorders such as Eczema.
Commonly used in cooking, the herb native to the Mediterranean region can do more than spice up your dishes, however. A recent study shows that carnosic acid in Rosemary may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The oil in the flower is also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Finally, the oil in Rosemary has been shown to improve circulation to the brain, hence it’s association with ‘remembrance’.
The beautiful bush which offer relaxing fragrance and a shield from your neighbor has many health benefits as well! Lavender is known to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Historically used in ancient Greek and Roman times, it was used as an antiseptic. Through the ages it’s progressed to be utilized as an alternative remedy to treat anxiety, migraines, insomnia, and depression.
4. Aloe Vera
Besides being a great soother for burns and stings, Aloe Vera offers healing in many ways. The clear gel can be used to treat skin infections, reduce inflammation (taken intrinsically and applied externally), relieve constipation, aid heartburn, and even soothe irritable bowel syndrome. It’s easy to cultivate a plant indoors and keep it on hand for any ails in the future.
5. Lemon Thyme
A colorful derivative of Thyme, this variety of herb can be used as a digestive aid for children with upset stomachs and has been utilized for centuries as an anti-biotic to treat wounds. Also containing anti-fungal properties, it’s use extends to treating toenail fungus and more. Thymol, one of the main active ingredients in most mouthwashes, is a derivative of Thyme. Grow it at home or let it naturally spring forth and harvest the benefits for free!
A beautiful masterpiece of a plant that follows the sun, Sunflowers have many health benefits. Tea made from the leaves is known to be an astringent, diuretic, an exporant, and an agent to reduce fever. Because of these properties Sunflower has been used to treat a variety of colds and coughs. The plant itself can extract toxic ingredients from the soil and was even used by the Russian government to help clean up after the Chernobyl accident.
Finally, if matured and seeding, the actual sunflower seeds provide many B vitamins, Vitamin E, protein, and fiber.
A wonderful additive to treats and entrees, peppermint boasts the ability to soothe headaches, skin irritations, nausea, pain, diarrhea, and flatulence. Because it calms the stomach, it’s a well-known indigestion aid. Some studies have even shown it has antiviral and anti-bacterial properties. Preparations made from the leaves can even relieve chest congestion. This wonder herb can freely abound from just a few sprinkled seeds.
More than a happy-cat elixer, this herb is soothing for toothaches if chewed on, can make one sweat and lower fevers, and is even known to be a mild sedative to humans. Catnip oil can be a useful insect repellent, and some research even suggests it may repel mosquitos 10x better than DEET.
9. Sweet Basil
This delectable herb adds a zest to Italian-inspired dishes and boosts the healing of the human body. Not only is Sweet Basil an effective insect repellent, but in early Greek times its leaves were used to treat scorpion stings. Romans used it to alleviate flatulence, counteract poisonings, and to stimulate breast milk. A variety called ‘Holy Basil’ in India is one of the most medicinal herbs on the planet – used to treat stress, Diabetes, and even asthma. Further more, some studies have shown it to have antiviral and anti-cancer properties.
Whether wild food foraging or growing in the comfort of one’s own home, fresh and affordable herbs flourish easily and are readily available for man’s use.
**Note: Although rare, plants – like prescription drugs – may cause side effects if taken in wrong proportion/quantity. It is recommended to consult a medical professional before taking any medication, even natural herbal remedies, if concerned. **
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