My 10 Favourite Herbs ~ part 1
There is an herb for everything. They all have their specialised benefits depending on what ails you. So in picking ten favorites, I have chosen the ones I feel are life enhancing and most beneficial for maintaining health and wellbeing for most people.
#1 Ashwaganda (Withania Somnifera)
Ashwaganda or Withania is just the best! An incredibly powerful herb that is also gentle and nourishing for the whole family. Ashwaganda is known as a tonic herb and is used in the Herbal medicine mainly for its adaptogenic actions, to help the body deal with and reduce the effects of stress.
The term 'stress' covers all types, including emotional, psychological and physical. This amazing herb helps the whole body become strong and healthy and help prevent disease by supporting the adrenals, nervous system as well as being anti-inflammatory, immune modulatory and anti-anaemic.
Use this herb if you are finding life exhausting, suffering anxiety, feeling low or convalescing from illness. Children who are not thriving or having trouble gaining weight find great benefit in taking Ashwaganda. It’s even ok during pregnancy.
Dose 3-6 g a day of powdered root. You can take it in warm milk (the traditional way) or in capsules or smoothies or however you like really.
#2 Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra / fulva)
The king of digestive demulcents. When your digestive membranes need soothing then Slippery elm is a great place to turn. It’s easy to take as a warm tea, decoction or a cool gruel or even rolled in a ball with honey and other powders or spices.
Slippery Elm is a traditional native North America herb that comes from the inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree. As a mucilage it forms a gel-like consistency when mixed with water and is extremely nourishing, full of vitamin E, iron, calcium, selenium, zinc and others, whilst it protects and soothes the whole digestive tract.
It helps with duodenal ulcers, diverticulitis, gastritis, intestinal inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reflux, crohn’s disease, constipation or diarrhoea plus sore throats and cough. Also it’s great for soothing external issues too such as burns, boils or skin irritations. I give this to my kids when they complain for an upset tummy and it helps greatly.
For a tea use 1-2 teaspoons in 500 ml water and simmer gently for 10-15 mins. Drink through the day as needed.
#3 Mucuna (Mucuna pruriens)
Also known as Velvet Bean, this powder is fantastic at lifting your mood and your libido! It has been traditionally used for Rheumatic conditions by mixing with ginger powder and rubbing on the affected areas, as well as ingested for fertility and the nervous system.
Its most impressive action is seen in helping with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and depression, as it’s a great source of L-Dopa, which is a precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is needed for many functions of the nervous system including mood, memory, sleep and motivation.
Mucuna is also thought to decrease prolactin and increase testosterone and may also be helpful in lowering and maintaining blood sugar levels so help with some symptoms of diabetes.
If you are looking for some more pep in your step try some Mucuna powder in your smoothie or juice. This powder is best used in a cold preparation as heat will destroy the L-Dopa content. Because of its effects on dopamine, it is not to be used with MAO inhibitor drugs. There is a small chance that some people don’t feel good using Mucuna, due to their levels of dopamine and serotonin, so stop taking immediately if you don’t feel great using it.
Use 5-15 g a day in a cold drink or food.
#4 Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
If you are needing to chill out, unwind or get to sleep then Lemon balm is my go to. It tastes lovely, with a lemony flavour that most people enjoy, even children.
It has carminative, antispasmodic, sedative, diaphoretic, used topically as an anti-microbial, has a great effect on viruses such as cold sores. Lemon balm’s most amazing work is done on the nervous system, helping greatly with restlessness, excitability, stress, herpes, nervous headaches, anxiety, heart palpitations, racing heart, nervous abdominal pain, depression, dizziness and insomnia.
It’s a wonderful herb for restless children, to calm them or help drift off to sleep. My children and I love a cup of lemon balm tea before bed. If you suffer insomnia you can mix with Valerian for a deeper more solid sleep.
Use 6g-12g a day, in an infusion in water.
#5 Licorice root – (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Tastes great and has some amazing actions! Mainly used as an expectorant to help expel mucus in the lungs to treat productive coughs like bronchitis, Licorice root also soothes a sore throat.
In fact, one of my daughters would ask for a licorice root to chew on when she had a sore throat as it was the only thing that worked, and she loved the taste.
This yummy root has many more uses for our health including an anti-inflammatory, mild laxative, immune modulation and one of its more exciting actions is adrenocorticotropic, which means it helps support the adrenals and may help relieve adrenal insufficiency and Addison’s disease. It also protects and heals the gastro intestinal tract and the liver.
Licorice is an amazing herb but is known to raise blood pressure, which is a plus if you suffer from low blood pressure but is contraindicated if you have hypertension (high blood pressure) or hypokalaemia (very low potassium levels). It’s also not for use when pregnant or if you have cirrhosis of the liver.
Decoction of 3-15 g a day (for no longer than 6 weeks at a time)
Take a look at my next 5 favourite herbs ~ I have also included a Health Tonic Recipe >> Click here