If you cook, you probably flavor your recipes using a variety of fresh herbs. But did you know that many of these herbs have medicinal properties as well?
If you’re suffering from pain, illness, or some other form of discomfort, rather than immediately running to the drugstore to medicate the symptoms away, you’ll be surprised to discover there are natural alternatives that can not only do the trick, but can make the healing process pleasant, inexpensive, and even creative.
So, if you’ve got a bug bite, a headache that won’t go away, or if you can’t sleep, check out how these three amazing herbs can be used to help to alleviate some those pesky health conditions and promote wellbeing.
You’ve heard catnip’s for cats, but did you know it can help you too? If not, check this out.
Catnip can offer relief for quite a few of the common ailments you may be experiencing daily, such as:
- Digestive issues (especially bloating and constipation)
- Stress and chronic anxiety
- Menstrual discomfort
- Headaches and migraines
Catnip is known to induce sweating. This is useful when it comes to flushing out toxins and can help speed up the healing process of the common cold.
It can easily be made into a tea by pinching off the leaves, dicing them up, placing them into a tea ball, and steeping them in hot water. Add some locally produced raw honey and fresh lemon and you’re good to go.
You can also apply catnip topically to help soothe bug bites and other skin irritations.
Catnip can be made into oils, tinctures, and teas.
You can grow your own and have it available whenever you need it. It isn’t a high-maintenance plant, so even if you’re a newbie gardener, this may be right up your alley. If gardening isn’t your thing, products made out of catnip are available at your local health food store.
2. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a beautiful plant that has a fresh lemony scent. You can add it to your water to enhance the flavor or in a recipe as a delicious culinary herb. Like catnip, it can also be used to provide health benefits. It can promote:
- Relief for sleep disorders (sleeplessness/insomnia)
- Mental sharpness/cognitive function
- Calming properties to help alleviate anxiety and stress
- Protection of brain cells
- Blood sugar stabilization
You can make a tincture out of lemon balm and use it for its antiviral properties (perfect for when you feel like you’re getting a cold or a bug of some sort) or to help soothe stomach discomfort. It also comes in handy as a cosmetic clay to lightly apply to bug bites and blemishes.
Lemon balm is considered easy to grow and doesn’t require much sun. It also attracts bees, which is ideal if you have a garden.
3. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper may sound familiar to you because it’s often added to recipes for those who enjoy spicy foods. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it also contains an impressive range of healing properties.
It’s best used for:
- Pain management
- As a nasal decongestant
- Calorie-burning properties/appetite reduction
- Increased circulation
- Psoriasis symptoms
- Leveling blood sugar
Capsaicin is the active ingredient in cayenne peppers. It helps to control peripheral nerve pain because it’s known to inhibit “substance P,” a neuropeptide which is associated with inflammation.
It’s also the ingredient that makes cayenne peppers so spicy. When consumed, it helps to clear up mucus in the lungs and nose.
Cayenne peppers have been demonstrated to help lessen triglyceride levels, blood platelet buildup, and blood cholesterol. This is because they increase your body’s ability to break down fibrin, which is necessary for forming blood clots.
You can add them to your meals, but you may want to do this sparingly at first to see how well you can handle the heat — it can be pretty intense.
If you’re not a fan of cooking with them, you can easily find cayenne in supplement form.
A Note of Caution
Now that you’re aware that herbs can offer some fantastic health benefits, it’s important to know that if you take any medications or suffer from certain medical conditions, you’ll want to ask your health care provider if any of these herbs could interfere with your prescriptions or would be considered contraindicated for any reason.
One example is that lemon balm may not be suitable for people with hypothyroidism because it may block some of the thyroid hormone activity in the body.
This is why it’s a good idea to use discernment. Then, go ahead and enjoy the benefits.
Featured photo credit: Crookedly via flickr.com