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The Complete Guide To Home Remedies With Herbs

While most people and doctors today still rely on medicines and drugs to treat minor medical conditions, more and more are turning to herbal remedies to cure what ails them. Even more, doctors are starting to recognize and appreciate the power of herbal medicines and home remedies over prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Herbs have been used for centuries, and today we have more evidence than before as to the effectiveness and safety of many herbal remedies. We have thousands of scientific studies now that point to the efficacy of herbs for treating hundreds of conditions.

There is also a great deal of evidence to support the idea that herbs are safer than drugs, as pharmaceuticals cause thousands of deaths each year from accidental poisoning, yet herbs cause zero. Herbs have fewer side effects and less chance of toxic overdose than traditional medicines, so using herbal treatments can be safer for your health. 

Because herbs have been used on millions of people over the past several centuries, their safety and effectiveness have stood the test of time. While many herbs have a less harsh or strong effect than their pharmaceutical cousins, that is not necessarily a bad thing. In most instances, a light touch will accomplish the goal, whereas drugs can often be too strong to their intended purpose, resulting in harsh side effects and unwanted problems. 

As an example, when you have a cold, your first instinct may be to take ibuprofen for pain, an expectorant for congestion, something for your cough, and maybe even an additional drug for your sore throat. What you could be left with, though, is trouble sleeping, dehydration, a headache, and other symptoms you didn’t have before you started “treatment.” Instead, herbs like echinacea, ginseng, licorice root, and eucalyptus can accomplish all the same goals, plus help your immune system heal you faster, without all the side effects of traditional medicines. 

For many common ailments, herbs offer a less expensive and smarter treatment option. For the most common of these ills, there are many tried-and-true herbal remedies that are excellent options for nearly everyone. Below, we share our favorite herbal treatments for the most frequent ailments today.

Herbal Medicine Best Practices

Like all medications, herbs should be used with caution and knowledge. Like drugs, herbs can have side effects, so having plenty of information about what you are taking and how it can interact with other substances is critical. If you are very interested in herbal medicine, consider purchasing a guide to herbs, or at the very least, always check one of the many online herbal databases for contraindications and possible adverse side effects. 

Regardless of your health issue, you should always consult with your physician before taking any medicine you have never used before, and this is true for herbs as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications. This will ensure you are not taking anything that could impact other medical conditions or interact with one another. Using a trusted herbal reference guide, in consultation with your doctor, will help you have all the information you need to treat your ailments. 

Herbal treatments come from plants and can cause allergic reactions just like any other plant. If you have known responses to specific types of plants, or have seasonal allergies due to hay fever, be sure to talk with your doctor or an herbalist or naturopathic doctor to select the right herbal remedies for your ailment or sickness. 

Varieties, Forms and Extraction Methods

Herbs and herbal medicines can come in many different varieties and forms, and they can be extracted using many different techniques. Each is dependent on the properties of the plant, how it is commonly used, and what various temperatures and pressures due to the potency or effect of the herb.

The most common forms or extractions of herbs include:

  • Whole herbs
  • Tea
  • Syrup
  • Ointment
  • Salve or Rub
  • Essential oil
  • Capsule or tablet made from powdered or ground herb that is either raw or dried
  • Tincture
  • Vinegar
  • Other extracted forms including tisanes, decoctions, and macerates

Knowing what to look for in quality herbs is probably the biggest challenge of herbal medicine. In general, the best herbs will be the ones you grow yourself, so stock your herb garden with those items you use more frequently.

Here are useful, general guidelines to consider when purchasing herbs or herbal treatments.

  • Avoid whole dried herbs sold in most stores. These herbs have been exposed to air, light, and moisture, deteriorating their effectiveness.
  • Buy only brands that are reputable and advertise all their ingredients as well as their standards of purity.
  • When possible, select herbs harvested from wild areas or that have been cultivated using organic methods.
  • Avoid any herbal product that does not list all its ingredients, particularly those from foreign countries.

When using essential oils, there are some additional precautions. Not all essential oils can be consumed, so be sure to read all labels carefully before using essential oils that you plan to eat or drink in any form. 

Some essential oils can cause skin irritation when applied topically, so you may need to blend essential oils with a carrier oil such as olive, coconut, or jojoba oil. This will ensure you do not have any adverse skin reactions to the medicinal compounds.

Home Remedies With Herbs

The following sections list common ailments, diseases, and symptoms divided into similar categories. We have identified some of the most common herbal treatments for each. As we describe each herbal treatment, we will explain its properties the first time we mention it, then only name it after that initial introduction. 

For a complete list of each herbs properties, you should consult an herbal medicine handbook or a qualified specialist. Herbal medicine should not replace medical care with your physician, so make sure to check with your doctor before using herbs to treat any condition you may have.

Problems of the Skin or Mucous Membranes

ACNE

  • Calendula, or marigold oil, is used as an anti-inflammatory as well as a remedy for healing wounds. Extracts of marigold have antiviral properties, as well. Calendula used in suspension or as a tincture is effective at treating acne, controlling bleeding, soothing irritated skin, and lowering inflammation.
  • Aloe Vera is a natural skin soothing agent, and it can calm burns, irritated skin, and acne.
  • Tea tree oil is made from leaves of the tea tree, or Melaleuca alternifolia. Its combination of soothing and cooling actions makes it excellent for treating all sorts of skin disorders, including acne.

ATHLETE’S FOOT

  • Topical tea oil is excellent as an antifungal for treating athlete’s foot.

BOILS

  • Garlic’s natural antimicrobial properties mean it can keep infection at bay, and it also reduced inflammation, especially on the skin. Garlic boosts your immune system’s response, as well.
  • Echinacea’s natural immune-boosting properties are widely known, as are its properties that fight infection, making it the perfect choice for treating boils.
  • Ginseng’s ginsenosides stimulate hormone production that improve the immune system response as well as provide mental health benefits, as well. Ginseng encourages resistance to disease, making it a powerful tool to fight infection.
  • Tea tree oil can also be used on boils.

BURNS

  • Aloe Vera soothes the pain and irritation of burns.

DIABETIC ULCERS

  • Comfrey can be applied to the skin to treat wounds, ulcers, and bruising, as well as provide relief for rheumatoid arthritis and other joint pain. As a tea, comfrey is also frequently used to treat digestive problems, upper respiratory problems, and to treat sore throats.

ECZEMA

  • Chamomile is known for its soothing and calming properties, which is why it is most often used as a sleep aid. Using water infused with chamomile can also calm and soothe skin that is irritated or inflamed from eczema. 
  • Borage seed oil is used to treat a number of problems, including skin disorders like eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and neurodermatitis. Borage seed oil is known to calm inflammation, making it ideal for skin disorders as well as chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
  • Evening primrose oil works similarly to borage seed oil and can be used to treat eczema and other skin conditions.

Herpes

  • Lemon balm is related to the mint plant, and its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make is a natural choice for using topically to treat herpes blisters or sores.
  • Comfrey, echinacea, garlic, and ginseng are also effective at treating this type of skin outbreak.

Yeast Infection

  • Garlic is a natural antifungal and can be used to create suppositories to treat yeast infections.
  • Goldenseal is a popular antiviral and antiseptic herb. As a tincture, goldenseal can be applied directly to genital warts or to treat a yeast infection. As an herbal supplement, the antiseptic and antiviral properties can help keep Candida, which causes yeast infections, at bay.

Upper Respiratory Issues

ALLERGIES

  • While chamomile can help with allergies by reducing inflammation and promoting your immune system with antioxidants, it should not be used by anyone with a ragweed allergy.

ASTHMA

  • Coffee, ephedra, and tea containing caffeine are all good for helping stop an asthma attack. Caffeine’s natural stimulants open the airways in your lungs to relieve wheezing and coughing associated with asthma.

BRONCHITIS

  • Pelargonium, or geranium, is used to treat intestinal issues and wounds. When used in conjunction with echinacea, it is effective at relieving respiratory disorders, such as bronchitis. As an essential oil, it can be used in aromatherapy to treat breathing problems.

COLDS AND FLU

  • Echinacea, ginseng, and caffeine from coffee or tea can relieve various symptoms of the common cold as well as support your immune system’s ability to fight this common disorder.
  • Andrographis paniculata, a species of plant sometimes called False Waterwillows, has been used for centuries by many Asian cultures to treat various diseases, including relieving cold and flu symptoms.
  • Elderberry syrup is great for supporting your immune system, and the chemical compounds in the berries reduce the symptoms of cold and flu.
  • Licorice root contains natural enzymes that stimulate mucus production, which can help coat your throat and relieve the pain of a sore throat.
  • Hot, herbal tea of any kind can help relieve chest and nasal congestion associated with colds.

COUGH

  • Eucalyptus oil is used to create many cough-relieving products and using this essential oil can not only calm your coughing but also loosen the mucus in your chest that contributes to a cough and congestion.

EAR ACHE or STUFFY NOSE

  • Echinacea can support healing from infections that cause an earache and a stuffy nose.

HAY FEVER

  • Stinging nettle tea or fresh leaves are used to treat many disorders, including allergies such as hay fever. Stinging nettles are also good for flu, skin problems, and cardiovascular problems.
  • Butterbur, which is related to the sunflower plant, has been used for centuries to treat cardiovascular diseases as well as promote better respiratory function.

TONSILLITIS

  • Goldenseal and echinacea are excellent treatments for tonsillitis.
  • Astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is known to promote the growth of new tissue and discharge pus buildup, making it a great choice for tonsillitis and other throat infections.

Cardiovascular Diseases and Diseases and Disorders

ANGINA AND ARRHYTHMIA

  • Hawthorn is used traditionally to treat many cardiovascular problems, including angina. It helps to improve blood flow, widens vessels and arteries, and increases the transmission of signals that regulate heartbeat. Hawthorn is known to regulate blood pressure and is widely used in medicines that treat heart problems. 
  • Green tea’s compounds not only lower cholesterol but also increase blood flow, which can help regulate heartbeat and treat angina symptoms.
  • Garlic is a naturally heart-healthy herb because it increases blood flow. Garlic is used to treat high and low blood pressure, to reduce cholesterol, and to treat coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis.

CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE

  • Hawthorn’s heart-healthy compounds make it the number-one choice for using herbs to treat congestive heart failure and other serious cardiovascular diseases.

High Blood Pressure

  • Garlic and Hawthorn are excellent choices for regulating blood pressure.
  • Beans, which are naturally high in soluble fiber and contain magnesium and potassium, are great for lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart health.
  • Cocoa, or more specifically, dark chocolate contains compounds that reduce cholesterol as well as lower blood pressure.

High Cholesterol

  • Evening primrose oil not only treats skin disorders but can lower cholesterol, as well.
  • Green tea and cocoa to work well to lower cholesterol.

Relieving Pain

LOWER BACK PAIN

  • Carvacrol is the natural compound found in oregano oil, oil of thyme, and bergamot essential oils. This herb’s natural properties inhibit the growth of many kinds of bacteria, and it also desensitizes certain pain receptors, making it an excellent pain reliever. It also produces a warming sensation when applied to the skin.
  • Willow bark’s compounds act much like aspirin for the body, which makes it an excellent remedy for many types of pain, including lower back pain due to pinched nerves or disc problems.

MENSTRUAL CRAMPS

  • Kava has been used by cultures in the Pacific for centuries. Kava is known as a sedative, an anesthetic, and because it can produce euphoriant or entheogenic states. It can dull or reduce pain associated with many disorders, including menstrual cramps.
  • The leaves of the red raspberry plant have not only antioxidant effects but can also relax blood vessels and calm muscles contractions. Women have used raspberry leaf to relieve painful or heavy periods, morning sickness, and easing labor and delivery.
  • Chasteberry is often used to regulate hormone levels, which can be helpful during menstruation or while pregnant or breastfeeding.

MIGRAINE

  • Feverfew contains a chemical called parthenolide, which decreases some of the factors that cause migraine headaches.
  • Butterbur’s benefits extend beyond cardiovascular support to include migraine relief. Butterbur relieves pain and calms muscular contractions.

MUSCLE PAIN

  • Ointments and creams containing capsicum can help relieve muscle pain or aches. The warmer and anti-inflammatory effects of the active ingredient in peppers help ease pain topically with great success.
  • Wintergreen leaves are used to treat pain from many sources, including muscle aches, headache, nerve pain, and menstrual cramps. Applied to the skin, wintergreen infusions can treat joint pain and other types of muscular or skeletal pains.

General Symptoms

DIZZINESS

  • Ginger can help reduce the symptoms of nausea caused by vertigo and other types of dizziness.
  • Ginkgo leaves can be used to increase blood flow to the brain and alleviate many symptoms, including dizziness. Ginkgo is a common treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, headache, vertigo, dizziness, and mood disturbances.

INFECTION

  • Tea tree oil, astragalus, echinacea, garlic, ginseng are all excellent infection fighters. Their natural antimicrobial and antiseptic properties make them a good choice for many types of infection.
  • Rhodiola is an adaptogen, which means it promotes resistance to infection and other forms of stress. Rhodiola is also good for boosting energy, which helps fight infection, as well.
  • Eleutherococcus is a type of ginseng from Siberia, and like other forms of this herb, is a powerful tool for fighting infection.

FATIGUE

  • Cocoa, coffee, Eleutherococcus, ginseng, Rhodiola, and black or green tea will all give you extra energy to fight fatigue. 

RINGING IN THE EARS

  • Ginkgo’s ability to increase blood flow is often helpful for alleviating tinnitus or other forms of ringing on the ears.

HOT FLASHES

  • Red clover contains isoflavone compounds which get converted to natural estrogen-like hormones in the body. For women, red clover can be helpful in treating many symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, as well as PMS and breast tenderness due to shifts in hormones.
  • The plant estrogens found in soy products can produce a low estrogen-like effect that reduces the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Consume soy from foods like tofu and edamame and avoid supplements.
  • Black cohosh has been used in tradition medicine for centuries to treat women suffering from PMS, acne, and osteoporosis. Black cohosh is effective at reducing menopause symptoms, and it is known for inducing labor.

Mental Health and Cognition Problems

ANXIETY AND STRESS

  • Hops can be used to treat anxiety, insomnia, tension, restlessness, irritability, and nervousness.
  • Passionflower is another popular herbal remedy for anxiety. Passionflower can provide the calming effect needed to help stop anxious thoughts, thus lowering stress.
  • Valerian has been used since ancient times for nervousness and anxiety. Valerian, which is often found in chamomile tea, works by calming nerve cells in the brain through the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA blocks signals that cause anxiety, which results in a calming effect.
  • Chamomile, like valerian, produces a calming effect that lowers anxiety and helps manage stress. Chamomile can be found as tea, extract, and topical ointment.
  • Lavender provides calming aromas that lower blood pressure and calm anxiety.

DEPRESSION

  • St. John’s Wort has been used for centuries as a treatment for depression.

INSOMNIA

  • Melatonin can improve your overall sleep quality, including reducing the amount of time you require to fall asleep and increasing the total amount of time you are asleep.
  • The use of essential oils for aromatherapy can also promote better sleep. Essential oils containing bergamot, lavender, mandarin, sandalwood, and frankincense create calming effects to induce sleep.
  • Kava, evening primrose, hops, lemon balm, and valerian are also all excellent natural sleep aids.

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER

  • St. John’s wort is effective at treating this form of seasonal depression.

Digestive Issues

DIARRHEA

  • Bilberry’s tannins can help reduce diarrhea and lower levels of irritation throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Bilberry reduces inflammation throughout the body.
  • Raspberry leaves are also effective at treating diarrhea.

DIVERTICULITIS

  • Peppermint oil’s properties reduce spasms in the gastrointestinal tract, which can help relieve the symptoms of diverticulitis.

GAS

  • Fennel is a powerful carminative, which is an herb that helps get rid of gas in your GI tract. Fennel seeds contain oils that calm stomach cramps and reduce bloating and flatulence. Fennel seeds are used widely in many cultures to promote effective digestion and relieve upset stomachs.
  • Dill is packed with essential oils that calm the stomach and work as an antispasmodic. This can relieve cramping and stomach pain as well as help release gas.

IRREGULARITY or CONSTIPATION

  • Senna’s active chemicals naturally irritate the bowel lining, which has a laxative effect that is gentle and helps relieve constipation. 
  • Psyllium seed is naturally high in fiber, which is an excellent natural treatment for constipation or bowel irregularity.

IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME

  • Chamomile and peppermint can calm GI spasms and inflammation that cause IBS symptoms and flared.

NAUSEA OR INDIGESTION

  • Ginger, chamomile, and peppermint are all great remedies for calming many different stomach maladies and reducing nausea.

Herbal First Aid

If you are interested in using herbal remedies as a part of everyday first aid treatments, the following can be helpful in creating an herbal first aid kit for your home. This kit will allow you to treat minor injuries, burns, and other non-serious maladies. 

Your kit should contain herbal and traditional remedies for things like cuts, rashes, burns, and minor ailments. Always include bandages, tweezers, moleskin, rubbing alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, which can be used in the event of blisters, splinters, cuts, and scrapes.

The following items offer a wide-range of herbal treatment options for common first aid problems and minor illnesses.

  • Activated charcoal-  to treat intestinal illnesses that result in vomiting, excess gas, diarrhea, or other digestive problems. 
  • Aloe Vera gel-  to treat minor burns and scalds as well as sunburn.
  • Arnica gel or cream- for the treatment of bruises, sore muscles, and sprains. Its anti-inflammatory properties can significantly reduce healing time. 
  • Calendula- comfrey salve- to treat wounds, this herbal remedy is an astringent, antifungal, and antibacterial treatment.
  • Chamomile tea- to treat sleeplessness, minor muscle spasms, and inflammation. Chamomile also enhances relaxation and digestion.
  • Citronella-based insect repellents- prevent bug bites with these. All-natural repellents should be applied liberally and frequently.
  • Echinacea- boost your immune system while treating many types of infections.
  • Eucalyptus essential oil- treat colds, flu, and sinus infections with this antibiotic and antiviral oil. Use as a vapor or dilute and apply to the skin.
  • Ginger capsules or tea-  treat digestive issues such as nausea, reflux, stomach trouble, and motion sickness.
  • Lavender essential oil- treat anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and headaches as well as relieve pain from a burn or wound.
  • Peppermint essential oil and tea-  treat upset stomachs, clear sinuses, treat insect bites, or use as a digestive aid.
  • Witch hazel-  this mild astringent and antiseptic treats skin irritations, minor wounds, and insect bites.

The Benefits of Herbal Medicine

The art and science of using herbs to promote better health have been around for centuries. Before modern medicine, herbs and other plants were used to treat hundreds of illnesses and symptoms. In many parts of the world, herbal medicine is still the primary source of treatment for most people.

Herbal medicines are created from live or dried forms of plants, including seeds, roots, flowers, and whole plants. Herbal medicine focuses on using the herbs properties to stimulate the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Herbal treatments often have few or no side effects.

Herbal medicine is often more affordable and more readily available than conventional and prescription drugs, making them more accessible for significant segments of our population. You must be sure to purchase your herbs from reputable manufacturers and suppliers to ensure you are getting the best possible product for your health, though.

Herbs and plants contain compounds and chemicals that can be used to treat a variety of acute and chronic conditions, illnesses, and diseases. Consider skipping the drug counter next time you are under the weather and instead reach for natural, herbal treatments.

Remember, always consult your physician before using any herbs and consult with a qualified herbal medicine specialist to ensure your safety.