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Sophie Kalinauckas, Health & Beauty writer
Have you heard about herbs?
Herbs are powerful healers. They ease pain, work to prevent illness and fight bacteria, which is often just a sneeze away on a busy Tube carriage. Recent scientific studies have shown that happiness is linked with health. The good news is, herbs work in various ways to strengthen, support and supply your body with all kinds of goodness in a natural and safe way. Spice up your life with natural remedies which have been used for hundreds of years. Research has shown that plant features have the ability to reduce high blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and relieve pains.
Take the traditional track which avoids any negative effects or extra negative symptoms. Even if you simply add a few flavours with basil or ginger into your daily dinners this can really benefit your well-being. Herbs flavour your food and fill the air with fruity aromas but fundamentally they also have medicinal functions. You might already have a few medical plants in your front garden but if gardening seems too much trouble you can turn your attention to tinctures. Tinctures are liquid extracts which are made from healing herbs; you can take them like taking a vitamin. Often they are extracted in alcohol or vinegar and are taken orally to hit the bloodstream straight away. Tinctures give instance relaxation effects and work towards healing you naturally and non-invasively.
Herbs, a humans best friend...
Tumeric/kurkuma or curcuma longa- Adding a dash of spice to your curry or taking tinctures of the ancient Indian herb tumeric can turn you human again if you've been suffering. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-septic. This means it can ease swelling and eradicate pain. This in particular can help with Arthritis and joint or muscle problems. It contains curcumin which studies suggest can help prevent diseases. Turn the heat up in your kitchen and maximise the benefits of some spice in your suppers or a tumeric tincture to tame the pain.
Echinacea-Keep it calm with Echinacea. It is also known as the American coneflower, which is one of the most popular herbs used to benefit your health. It was used by the Native Americans and can live for many years, growing 60 centimetres long. This happy herb boosts the production of white blood cells and benefits the immune system. Echinacea angustifolia is the narrow leaf coneflower which contains antiviral and anti-inflammatory powers. This is the perfect, calm concoction to have if you are suffering from the cold or flu.
Milk Thistle-All hail the Holy Thistle! This herb works to protect and heal the liver. It has been an ancient healing method which started 2000 years ago to treat liver problems. The thistle can grow to be 10 feet tall. It is described as 'milk' as when it is crush it oozes a white fluid which is the vital healing component. As well as treating the liver, it is also known to lower cholesterol and improve your blood sugar levels. Sugar levels are something we tend to ignore, with up and down schedules and scattered meals.
Ashwagandhais otherwise known as the Indian ginseng. It is the root and berry of the plant which is used to make a herbal remedy. It tackles the big A’s: anxiety, arthritis and asthma. But it is also useful for skin sensitivities, insomnia and menstrual problems. A fun fact for you, it also cures the hiccups apparently! Its name is in Sanskrit and refers to its aroma which is described as 'horse-like' but don't let that hoof you off, this a general tonic of goodness which can help your body to face the stresses of daily life. Face it, it sounds like magic, it's not horsing around.
Valerian- drift away with the fairies with Valerian. This herb contains sedative properties which help your central nervous system to relax and loosens tensions in your muscles. Often our muscles are jarred tight without us even realising it. But just like when you finally open that stiff jam jar, Valerian gives great relief. For 100s of years it has been used to aid sleep troubles. It reduces the amount of time it takes for you to get to dreamland and it does not affect the normality of your sleep stages. It can also help if you are going through emotional stress or have menstrual cramps.
Astragalus- anti-ageing did you say? This Asian herb treats fatigue and illness and has done for over 1000 years. Its potent power produces more telomeres and replicates immune cells. This magic medicine is unique in its benefits to your cellular health. This is why it is particularly useful in treating wounds and gives you youthful, revitalised skin and energy.
California Poppy- California knows how to party and the California Poppy, can make you want to party too. It is a colourful flower which gets you feeling vibrant. It has relaxing effects, with very subtle euphoric properties. Native Americans used it for similar reasons as it is used today, to aid insomnia, tension and pain. In particular for our worrying world of today it works to calm restlessness and ease anxiety.
Gingko- Remember Gingko! It is made into extracts which help with conditions such as memory loss and headaches. Other symptoms such as vertigo, hearing problems and lack of concentration can also be aided by gingko. The Gingko Biloba is amongst one of oldest living trees on the planet. The extracts work by boosting blood circulation which in turn helps your eyes, ears and other parts of your body to work better.
Comfrey- Get comfy with comfrey! Comfrey is a leaf which has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used to heal wounds. It has known to be called the 'knitbone', as it is like it knits wounds back together. It can also be beneficial for your bones as it is rich in Calcium and Vitamin C and goes as far as helping mend broken bones. It is also an anti-inflammatory and contains allantoin which helps sores and wounds to heal speedier: comfrey puts the pieces back together.
Feverfew- Phew! This herb drives out your fever, as its Latin meaning tells us. It is thought to have famously, grown around the Greek Parthenon and originates from Europe. It is popularly used to heal headaches and migraines. The herb eases the tension of blood vessels in your brain, but don't let this worry you, it is a relaxing remedy which reduces pain and is more like a natural paracetamol.
Chaste Tree (also called Agnus Castus) is one of the most popular herbs amongst women. It is meant to have a gentle hormone balancing effect and is thought to raise progesterone levels. Any symptoms stemming from hormone imbalance are mainly due to excess oestrogen and lack of progesterone. By balancing the hormones, Chaste Tree may help relieve PMS symptoms, including irritability, mood swings, cravings, breast tenderness and period pains.
Other happy to help herbs are Burdock Root and Siberian ginseng tinctures. Or why not look at a few herbs to add to your shopping basket like basil, ginger and chamomile. However, it is important to remember to not overdo it with any herbs. Even though they are natural, it doesn't mean the more the better, as with anything you need to be careful. It’s always advised to seek advice from a qualified herbalist or naturopath. It doesn't necessary replace medical care but it may certainly help. Herbal healings are what nature has given to us, in order to survive. Herbs are becoming more popular as they work with your body rather than trying to modify it. They are less invasive and work with the rhythms of nature. They are remedies with the rhythm of life from plants that have been growing for longer that we have. Connecting with herbal healing means you can rediscover natural health which considers your whole body. As it’s said, 'the fruit of it shall be for eating and leaf of it for healing…'