A lot of the medicines you find on the shelves of pharmacies come from natural compounds found in herbs, spices and other plants. The difference with pharmaceuticals is that the compounds have been extracted—instead of the whole cranberry, you will find an extract from the cranberry in a large dose, making it ten or ten thousand times as effective as the actual cranberry.
There are still herbal remedies that work without the need for extracting a certain compound. However, they aren’t always as strong as pharmaceuticals and are sometimes preferred as prevention, or long term cures, as opposed to curing an acute illness, though there are exceptions.
Please note that this article does not offer medical advice. Herbal/natural extracts, teas and tinctures can interfere with regular medication, so please ask a healthcare professional before using these if you are on any kind of medication.
If you want to reduce stress, solve mathematical problems faster, calm down, fall asleep, reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s or lower oxidative stress, then lemon balm is for you. Medical studies have shown that it has incredible antioxidants that help with memory and stress reduction.
To reduce stress and reap the antioxidant benefits, use pure essential oil from lemon balm in a diffuser and drink the leaves, dried or fresh, in tea every day. If you don’t fancy tea, you can use a tincture instead, or why not alternate between the two?
This plant has been proven to increase urinary output. Why would you want that you ask? To cure and prevent urinary tract infections. You can make tea from parsley, to be drunk three times a day, if you have a urinary tract infection or think you are at risk getting one.
You can also eat fresh parsley in salads and use it in everything from omelettes to garlic bread.
Tip: there’s some contradictory research that suggests cranberry juice (unsweetened or sweetened by something like stevia or xylitol, which doesn’t foster growth of bacteria like sugar does) and cranberry extract can help to prevent/cure urinary tract infections as it prevents the bacteria from attaching to the walls of your bladder.
A combination of a small amount of lemon juice and baking soda in water may also help as it helps to neutralize the acid in your bladder (in South Africa, you can buy Citrus Soda in the shops for that purpose). Likewise, apple cider vinegar might work for this reason.
If you want to optimize cardiovascular health, then hawthorne is for you. Apparently it relaxes arterial-wall muscles, which in turn increases the flow of blood to the heart. It also “increases the heart’s strength and exercise tolerance, diminishes its oxygen needs and reduces cardiac patients’ shortness of breath,” according to NBC.
To reap the benefits, you might need as much as 60mg three times a day. However, if you just want to include it in your diet, you can start drinking tea made of hawthorne.
To be or not to be, to cure or not to cure—that is the question. According to WebMD:
In one study, volunteers ate from 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon for 40 days. (One gram of ground cinnamon is about half a teaspoon.) The researchers found that cinnamon cut cholesterol by about 18% and blood sugar levels by 24%.However, in other studies, the spice did not lower blood sugar or cholesterol levels.
While small doses of cinnamon can be included in your diet, large doses can cause liver and kidney damage as cinnamon contains coumarin. Therefore, it’s essential to research how much is suitable for your weight and what kind of cinnamon (cassia or verum) is best to use.
This yellow spice is currently being tested for its benefits in preventing and curing cancer, kidney diseases, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, irritable bowel disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and a few others.
So far, there’s been some positive feedback regarding curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, helping to prevent/cure cancer. In what doses and how it should be consumed is still uncertain. Turmeric also has anti fungal and antibacterial properties and it works as an antioxidant.
As it seems a perfectly safe spice to use, taking it as a supplement or drinking it in tea every day, as well as using it in cooking, could be a good idea given the many health benefits it may have!
Personally, I start my days with a cup of lemon water mixed with ginger and turmeric. Doesn’t taste great, but it makes me feel like I do my body a favor.
This plant has long been known as the “cure it all” and has been called a natural antibiotic, just as oregano oil. However, studies are usually inconclusive as to what it actually does. It seems to lower LDL cholesterol in adults with high cholesterol.
It may also help to prevent stomach and prostate cancer and the common cold, though this is still inconclusive. Like any plant, it also works as an antioxidant and has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
The side effect of eating garlic is the smell, as it enters your bloodstream and you start to exude a pungent odor (it can also interfere with various medicines and some people are allergic to it).
To prevent this, drink milk while eating it and eat mushrooms and basil. Milk seems to have the best effect, so I’m guessing it’s best to finish a meal with a bit of yoghurt; whipped cream or ice cream may also be beneficial if out on a date.
Lavender has proven beneficial for sleep and relaxation and chamomile aids in this as well. In addition, chamomile helps to calm an upset stomach and has been used in creams that treat various skin conditions.
Ginger is a powerful antioxidant and may help to prevent nausea and various diseases. However, it may also bring certain side effects, such as excessive bleeding from wounds, after surgery or when giving birth, so please do your research before using it.
A lot of herbs and spices have antioxidants that may help to prevent a plethora of different diseases. I found out, while writing an article recently, that just adding more spices to your food on a daily basis could help to fight inflammations.
Various herbs and spices also contain compounds that might help with a particular ailment, such as lavender, which has a calming effect. It therefore seems wise to drink various different herbal teas, use essential oils for aromatherapy and lotions/massage oils and add herbs and spices to your food as a measure of prevention. You can also use tinctures as and when needed.
However, a lot of herbs and spices also have side effects (though often only when you consume too much). They can interact with medicines even in small doses and you have to ensure you aren’t allergic to them before incorporating them into your diet.