Herbal Remedies 101: Do they Actually Work?
Since the onset of human history, men and women have harnessed the power of nature to heal their minds and bodies.
According to research published in Science Magazine in Nov. 1975, the earliest evidence of herbal medicine dates back to more than 60,000 years ago in Iraq. Further archaeological evidence has shown similar remnants of plant medicine were found in China 8,000 years ago and, more recently, 5,000 years ago in artifacts of the Sumerian people.
And while much has changed in that hard-to-comprehend amount of time, humanity remains drawn to natural remedies. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 75% of the population still utilizes herbs for basic healthcare needs. Whether by ingesting pills or edibles, drinking herbal tonics, or applying topicals, people are rediscovering natural healing benefits.
But do they actually work? How do they compare to products developed by the pharmaceutical industry?
The simple answer is: It depends on the person and what they’re trying to treat.
We’re not suggesting treating severe, life-threatening illnesses and ailments with only herbal remedies. There’s a reason the life expectancy is much higher than it was hundreds of years ago, in large part due to advancements made by the scientific and medical communities.
However, much of today's modern medicine is originally derived from plants. Scientists are able to isolate healing properties contained in the Flora, which help make them effective.
Common ailments like insomnia, stress, mild anxiety, bloating, and skin issues are all commonly — and effectively — treated with herbal tonics, edibles, or topicals.
Physicians are increasingly prescribing alternative therapies.
As the cost of prescription drugs rises and people are increasingly looking to adopt a healthier, more natural-centered lifestyle, herbs and supplements have had a positive impact on the lives of the majority of the population.
This, in conjunction with their effectiveness, is partly why an increasing number of physicians are prescribing alternative therapies instead of pharmaceuticals.
Here are a few common conditions and plant-based remedies that have consistently been used to treat them.
Stress & Mild Anxiety - Chamomile, Lavender, Hibiscus, Peppermint, Ashwagandha
Chamomile and lavender are arguably the most well-known herbs to produce calming effects in those who use them. Chamomile contains apigenin, a compound that produces effects similar to benzodiazepines (a prescribed anti-anxiety medication), while studies show that Lavender, too, creates similar effects in its users.
Hibiscus is full of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Vitamin C has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind, helping to treat anxiety and cool down the body during high-stress situations.
While studies have shown that peppermint illicits tranquilizing and analgesic (pain-relieving) responses.
Ashwagandha is an herb that’s being utilized in more herbal tonics and teas in recent years, and for good reason. Studies detail that the herb seems to assist in lowering cortisol levels (the stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands).
Bloating & Digestive Issues - Dandelion Root, Lemon Balm, Chicory, Ginger
Do you remember the yellow flowers you used to pick as a kid, the ones that gardeners and lovers of their lawns claim are just pesky weeds? Well, the root of that vibrant yellow flower has a myriad of benefits for your health, specifically, gut health. It has properties that are known to stimulate your body’s natural detoxifying system, cleaning it out so you can operate at your fullest potential.
Lemon Balm, a member of the mint family, has been used for centuries to help reduce gas, bloating and other mild digestive disorders. Similarly, chicory contains soluble fiber, which has several positive effects on the gut, including slowing down digestion, and removing cholesterol from the body. Studies have also shown it may assist in blood sugar regulation.
Ginger is the most famous herbal remedy for digestive issues, as I’m sure you, too, have gravitated toward the most well-known herbal tonic, ginger ale, when your stomach is feeling a little off. That’s because ginger helps empty the stomach and reduces intestinal cramping, bloating, and gas.
Skin Impurities - Acai, Amla, Goji Berry
Acai is a superfood, meaning it offers sizeable nutritional value with minimal calories. Acai is well-known for its antioxidant properties, including assisting in the production of collagen, which has a glowing effect on the skin.
Amla, too, contains a high amount of collagen and regularly incorporating an herbal tonic with this ingredient boosts levels of Vitamin C.
Goji berry is also a powerhouse containing phytochemicals that have been shown to slow down the aging process on the skin. It also contains lots of Vitamins C and B, amino acids, and calcium.
Herbal remedies stand the test of time.
Plants were here before us, and they’ll be growing and prospering for a lot longer than we will inhabit this planet. While modern medicine has made outstanding contributions to society, herbal remedies have and will continue to work for those who wish to incorporate them into their lives.