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Herbal medicine dates back to the beginning of time when humans used their surrounding plants from the environment as medicine.
Evidence of the use of herbs among humans can be found in many ancient civilizations such as Ancient Egyptian medicine, Ancient Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and Greek and Roman Medicine
Herbs are gaining popularity again as alternative healing treatments and therapies for various health concerns as many people are looking for a holistic approach to their health. Whole plants can help support the body's own healing processes due to their synergistic and holistic effects on the body.
Herbal preparations can come in various forms such as capsules, tinctures, tea, and fresh or dried plants.
Though herbs can be tremendously beneficial in the healing journey they are not for everyone. Though natural, herbs remain powerful compounds. Always check in with your medical practitioner to discuss the use of herbal supplements and if there are right for you.
Adaptogenic herbs increase the body's resilience to stress, so no wonder they are making a comeback! These herbs act to support the body in staying in balance when it comes face to face with any physical, chemical, or biological stressors from the environment. They can act on various areas of the body depending on the individual's current needs. Adaptogens can help to support energy levels, hormones, sleep disturbances, and immune function.
However adaptogens can work on scale from more stimulating to calming. For instance ginseng and licorice can be more energizing whereas ashwagandha and holy basil are generally more relaxing herbs.
With today's high-paced society, adaptogens can be a great addition to your supplement lineup alongside the proper diet and lifestyle changes.
If you feel like you are burning out or find yourself in a high-stress environment, adaptogens may be worthwhile looking into.
Also known as hepatics, these herbs support the work of the liver, which can include detoxification, stimulation of bile and enzyme production, protection of liver cells, and strengthening and toning of the liver.
One could argue that these herbs are even more important today as our world has become increasingly toxic and burdening to this vital organ.
Milk thistle is probably the most popular hepatic herb and can be taken in capsule, tincture, or tea form. Milk thistle is a hepatoprotective meaning it can protect liver cells from oxidative stress and it also can promote the regeneration of diseased liver cells.
Turmeric and dandelion are other examples of hepatic herbs that can help protect the liver and support detoxification.
Commonly used digestive herbs included chamomile, ginger, and peppermint.
There are actually many different classes of digestive supporting herbs such as bitters, laxatives, carminatives, and demulcents.
Laxatives are probably one of the most popular of the digestive herbs due to constipation being a growing issue. Laxatives help to stimulate the digestive system to promote bowel movements. Some are more stimulating than others by promoting contractions in the muscles of the intestinal tract.
Carminatives and bitters are similar in that they gently support and promote digestive functions. Bitters are typically used as a tincture at the beginning of a meal to promote the secretion of digestive secretions and carminatives at the end of a meal to reduce indigestion.
Demulcents are soothing herbs that calm and protect inflamed mucosal tissue to reduce irritation. These include licorice root, marshmallow root, and slippery elm. Demulcents are commonly used in cases of acid reflux, ulcers, and colitis because of their healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Also known as immunomodulators, these herbs have a positive effect on the immune system's ability to respond to infection and disease. They may act by stimulating immune cell production, supporting the adrenal glands, reducing inflammation, or modulating an overactive immune system in cases of autoimmunity.
Examples of immunomodulators include echinacea, ginger, turmeric, and shiitake mushroom.
These herbs can help balance out hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol by potentially regulating the effects and the activity of these hormones circulating in the body.
These herbs can modulate hormone levels in the body by either upregulating or downregulating them and also work on the communication between the brain and the reproductive organs.
Examples of hormone balancers include black cohosh, vitex, and white peony.
Hormone balances are most often used in cases such as PMS, menopause, PCOS, and sexual dysfunction.
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.