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3 Herbs That Offer a Variety of Healing Benefits

3 Herbs That Offer a Variety of Healing Benefits

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.

1. Catnip

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:

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  • Insomnia
  • 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.

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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:

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  • 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.

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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

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3 Herbs That Offer a Variety of Healing Benefits

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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