Clubmoss has been used by ancient healers for over two thousand years. The druids used this plant as a laxative and purgative. Native Americans used it to treat postpartum pain, fever, weakness and to stop the bleeding of wounds. Today, clubmoss is used for kidney and urinary disorders, stomach upset, diarrhea and for treating skin conditions. This plant contains a substance called Huperzine which may be effective for memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease. More studies on clubmoss have to be done to determine it’s safety and effectiveness in this area.
In the past, I have regarded herbs, in many cases, as a safer alternative to drugs, useful for treating various symptoms but not to treat the underlying cause. I have since revised my opinion on this quite significantly, and now realize that herbs can help support your health from a very basic level, just as foods do. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, you could walk into a drug store and find hundreds of herbal extracts for sale. Upwards of 90 percent of the population at that time knew how to use the medicinal plants growing in their backyards to treat common illnesses and injuries; they had too, as this was virtually the only "medicine" available.
People with type 2 diabetes may use oral medication instead of insulin. Sometimes, people with type 2 can only control their blood sugar with insulin, but it is possible for people with this type to end their need for both insulin and oral medication. Through careful control of diet and establishing and maintaining a healthy weight body mass index (BMI), people can reduce and even reverse type 2 diabetes and its consequences.
Licorice root is both an expectorant and demulcent, simultaneously soothing your airways while loosening and thinning mucous, easing congestion. It can also ease any inflammation that may be irritating your throat. Its main constituent, glycyrrhizin, is responsible for most of its effects. 30-50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), it inhibits an enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (how would like you to write that on a name tag?) This enzyme regulates access of glucocorticoid (a steroid hormone) to steroid receptors, ultimately slowing the conversion of cortisol to cortisone. This increases the effect of cortisol and reducing inflammation. If you are on steroids, or have any problems with your kidneys, it is best to steer clear of licorice root.
Aside from being a great herb for the kitchen basil has a place as an herbal medicine as well. One reason I really like the basil plant is the fact that it's super easy to grow, you just need to be sure you water it from time to time. It's a very aromatic herb too having kind of a licorice smell and taste as well. One cool thing that I found you can do with basil is cloning it. Sounds crazy right? It actually is pretty easy all you have to do is find the plant you wish to clone (the parent plant) and trim about 3-4 inches down from the top of a stem. You'll want to make sure you make the cut just above a node. This area will be where a leaf attaches to the body of the stem and is where new growth takes place. Then you simply remove the lower leaves of the cut so that you're left with a stem containing 4-6 leaves on the top. After that you simply just need to place the cut into a shallow dish of water and wait for roots to sprout, then you simply just plant the new basil clone into some soil. To speed up the root growth I've found that applying a rooting hormone and some honey to the end of the stem helps a lot. As I mentioned above basil has a place as an herbal medicine so let's take a look at the properties of the basil plant that we can use.
St. John’s Wort is known as Nature’s anti-depressant. It is often used to treat depression and anxiety. It functions as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). This allows more serotonin to stay where it’s needed to keep you feeling less depressed and anxious. This herb is also used to help quit smoking. St. John’s work possesses antiviral properties and can be used externally to treat wounds.
Korean ginseng is an adaptogen. An adaptogen can help your body and mind handle stress better. This is an energizing herb often taken by people to ward off fatigue, increase strength, stamina and sharpen mental abilities. This herb is believed to lower cholesterol and may be helpful in treating diabetes and depression. Korean ginseng is a good immune system booster. Since it has a warming effect on the body, it’s best taken in the winter months.
Kemmerich, B., Eberhardt, R., & Stammer, H. (2006). Efficacy and tolerability of a fluid extract combination of thyme herb and ivy leaves and matched placebo in adults suffering from acute bronchitis with productive cough: A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial [Abstract]. Arzneimittelforschung, 56(9), 652–660. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17063641
The nettle plant can actually be used in a variety of ways, teas, capsules, tinctures, and extracts are all great ways to get the benefits of the nettle. Capsules can be found and used to help manage hay fever symptoms, anywhere from 300 to 800 mg is generally the recommended dosage. Teas are often consumed to gain the strong diuretic effects that nettles have, because of this diuretic effect it has been used for things such as arthritis, prostate health, and high blood pressure.
Another well know spice in the kitchen cinnamon is also known for it's medicinal properties. While not really an herb I still think it's important to list it in our list of herbs and their uses. Cinnamon actually comes from the inner bark of a tree in the laurel family. It's been used for centuries and was a hot commodity for trade in ancient times. In fact during the first century A.D. in Rome cinnamon was 15 times more expensive than silver. The Chinese were probably the first to use cinnamon as a medicinal herb and used it to treat fevers, and diarrhea. In more modern times cinnamon has been found to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics, as it has an insulin kind of effect.