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20 Amazing Uses for Herbs to Heal Your Body and Mind

20 Amazing Uses for Herbs to Heal Your Body and Mind

For almost every prescription treatment for what ails us is a plant, herb, or other natural substance that has been used as a treatment for hundreds of years by naturalists and herbalists. But how effective are these folk remedies, really? Evidence on most of these treatments is still somewhat inconclusive, but you may be surprised to learn how many beneficial herbs you could be keeping in your spice rack.

Important note: As with most things of this nature, this is not professional medical advice. Always seek out your doctor’s advice on any kind of treatment, natural or otherwise, before taking it.

1. Ginger: Prevent nausea

    photo source: mekman via Flickr

    Basics: Significant results have been found in ginger’s ability to ease nausea, even for motion sickness and chemotherapy patients.

    How to use it: Some specialists recommend taking ginger before the nausea sets in; for example, if you know you get airsick, you can chew ginger gum before takeoff. If taking ginger when nausea is already present, there are a variety of products including teas and candies that contain the root.

    2. Chamomile: Promote sleep

      photo source: FromSandToGlass via Flickr

      Basics: There have been very few scientific studies on chamomile’s ability to encourage sleep, but it remains a popular herb for this purpose.

      How to use it: Chamomile as a sleep aid is typically taken as a warm tea, with many brands specifically marketing it as a “nighttime” or “sleepytime” tea.

      3. Ginseng: Fortify energy levels

        photo source: Eugene Kim via Flickr

        Basics: Ginseng root has been tested in a number of studies for its effectiveness at fighting fatigue, with significant (though few) results.

        How to use it: Ginseng can be found in a number of products including “natural” energy drinks, though as with all energy drinks these should be used with caution. You can also get ginseng in capsule form, often grouped with other herb and vitamin capsules at regular grocery stores, as well as health food and supplement stores.

        4. Licorice: Soothe a sore throat

          photo source: lakrids via Flickr

          Basics: There has been some scientific examination of licorice root’s anti-inflammatory effects on sore throats, with promising results.

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          How to use it: You can find teas and lozenges with licorice root at a variety of grocery and health food stores, as well as online.

          5. Nettle: Treat dandruff

            photo source: J Brew via Flickr

            Basics: Despite the name, stinging nettle has a number of recognized medicinal properties including as an anti-inflammatory. It has also been used as a natural treatment for dandruff.

            How to use it: There are a few commercial shampoo products containing stinging nettle, though you may have better luck on sites like Etsy.

            6. Black tea leaves: Reduce risk of heart problems

              photo source: archangeli via Flickr

              Basics: Black tea as a way to reduce the risk of heart-related problems has been loosely studied with hopeful finds, though more thorough testing is needed.

              How to use it: A couple cups of black tea a day is a good amount, and the caffeine will help you stay alert throughout your day.

              7. Lavender: Ease stress and tension

                photo source: David Biesack via Flickr

                Basics: Evidence from scientific trials suggests that lavender works well to relieve tension and stress.

                How to use it: Aromatherapy products such as oils, lotions, and herb pouches are all good ways of using the scent to relieve stress.

                8. Cinnamon: Control blood sugar

                  photo source: trophygeek via Flickr

                  Basics: A wide range of research suggests cinnamon is an effective way to manage blood sugar levels, particularly useful for people with Type II diabetes.

                  How to use it: Cinnamon can be added to a variety of foods and beverages, and can be purchased in capsule form for a higher concentration.

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                  9. Fennel seed: Ease bloating and indigestion

                    photo source: roseannadana via Flickr

                    Basics: Fennel seed has shown promising results as a relief agent for bloating and constipation.

                    How to use it: Fennel can be bought both in capsule form and as a tea.

                    10. St. John’s Wort: Treatment of mild depression

                      photo source: Jonathan Ball via Flickr

                      Basics: Extensive research as been done on the plant’s effectiveness in treating mild to moderate depression, and it is sold over the counter as such.

                      How to use it: Capsules, tinctures, and teas containing St. John’s Wort can be found in health food and supplement stores and some grocery stores, as well as online.

                      11. Mint: Soothe an upset stomach

                        photo source: Brian Costin via Flickr

                        Basics: Mint seems to be a powerful cure for stomach aches, as well as being used for relaxation and as a diuretic.

                        How to use it: Mint tea is the most common and popular way to ingest the herb.

                        12. Calendula: Prevent wound infections

                          photo source: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra via Flickr

                          Basics: More commonly known as marigolds, calendula has several practical uses, most notably as a wound healing agent. This is due to the plant’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

                          How to use it: Topical ointments and creams containing calendula can be bought online or at health food and supplement stores.

                          13. Eucalyptus: Relieve lung congestion

                            photo source: Gary Sauer-Thompson via Flickr

                            Basics: Perhaps best known for being the food of choice for koalas, eucalyptus is also used as a cleaning agent and to treat lung problems. It appears to have an mucolytic (mucus-clearing) and anti-inflammatory component that works particularly well in this area.

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                            How to use it: Eucalyptus essential oil is a good option to keep by your bed or, if you can find it, use a vapor rub with eucalyptus as one of the primary ingredients.

                            14. Comfrey: Alleviate dry skin

                              photo source: Dinesh Valke via Flickr

                              Basics: Comfrey has had a somewhat controversial history in recent decades, and is now not recommended for any kind of internal use. Topical use of the plant is still pervasive, however, as it has shown a notable ability to treat dry or inflamed skin.

                              How to use it: Though it may be harder to find them in mainstream product lines, you can often find comfrey soaps and lotions on sites like Etsy or anywhere else artisan grooming products are sold.

                              15. Chrysanthemum: heal the common cold

                                photo source: matsuyuki via Flickr

                                Basics: Chrysanthemum’s medicinal properties are not widely tested by Western scientists, but it is a popular part of Chinese treatments for colds and other mild sickness.

                                How to use it: Warm chrysanthemum tea is recommended.

                                16. Rosemary: Improve your memory

                                  photo source: Rebecca Siegel via Flickr

                                  Basics: This ultra-fragrant, evergreen herb has garnered interest in recent decades for medical and pharmaceutical uses, most notably as a mild memory enhancer.

                                  How to use it: Aromatherapy products such as essential oils can be found for rosemary, but the plant itself can leave a noticeable scent even when dried.

                                  17. Passionflower: Reduce anxiety

                                    photo source: PINKÉ via Flickr

                                    Basics: There are around 500 species under the Passiflora genus, most of which are appreciated for their beautiful blooms as well as their tasty fruit. It has proven to be a viable treatment for some forms of anxiety.

                                    How to use it: Passionflower tea has a pleasant and sweet taste and can be found in both health food stores and most regular grocers. Tinctures and essential oils also exist.

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                                    18. Parsley: Fight bad breath

                                      photo source: cookbookman17 via Flickr

                                      Basics: Parsley is packed full of vitamins and has some more specific uses, such as treating bad breath. This may be due in large part to the plant’s high concentration of chlorophyll, which has some evidence of treating halitosis.

                                      How to use it: Consuming it in your food, by itself, or in a blended drink are all good ways of using parsley for this particular ailment.

                                      19. Tobacco: Treat bee stings

                                        photo source: Curtis Perry via Flickr

                                        Basics: Tobacco is regarded for little else than its addictive nicotine content, but it also doubles as a surprisingly impressive way to treat bee and wasp stings. Tobacco acts as a sort of anesthetic to the area, possibly helping to draw out the sting’s toxins as well.

                                        How to use it: Unroll a cigarette and place the tobacco against the sting, then hold it down with a moist washcloth. The moisture is needed so that “juice” will flow to the sting.

                                        20. Sage: Fight Alzheimer’s

                                          photo source: Rebecca Siegel via Flickr

                                          Basics: This grey-green herb has a faint and pleasant smell, and much like rosemary has been said to boost memory recall. While this claim hasn’t been tested, studies have found that sage is a somewhat useful treatment for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

                                          How to use it: Sage can be administered in liquid elixir form or in capsules.

                                          Featured photo credit: Harvesting Herbs/Susy Morris via flic.kr

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                                          Published on November 14, 2018

                                          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                          With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                                          For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                                          In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                                          Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                                          Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                                          It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                                          For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                                          Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                                          Symptoms of Fatigue

                                          Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                                          • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                                          • mental blocks
                                          • lack of motivation
                                          • headache
                                          • dizziness
                                          • muscle weakness
                                          • slowed reflexes and responses
                                          • impaired decision-making and judgement
                                          • moodiness, such as irritability
                                          • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                                          • reduced immune system function
                                          • blurry vision
                                          • short-term memory problems
                                          • poor concentration
                                          • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                                          Causes of Fatigue

                                          The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                                          • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                                          • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                                          • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                                          • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                                          Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                                          Medical Causes of Fatigue

                                          If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                                          Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                                          Anemia

                                          Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                                          Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                                          There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                                          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                                          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                                          This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                                          Diabetes

                                          Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                                          Sleep Apnea

                                          Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                                          Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                                          Thyroid disease

                                          An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                                          Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                                          • Lack of sleep
                                          • Too much sleep 
                                          • Alcohol and drugs 
                                          • Sleep disturbances 
                                          • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                                          • Poor diet 

                                          Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                                          • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                                          • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                                          • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                                          • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                                          Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                                          Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                                          • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                                          • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                                          • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                                          How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                                          Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                                          1. Tell The Truth

                                          Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                                          To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                                          Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                                          The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                                          One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                                          • How you feel
                                          • What time of day it is
                                          • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                                          • How your mind and body reacts

                                          This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                                          2. Reduce Your Commitments

                                          When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                                          If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                                          When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                                          Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                                          3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                                          If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                                          Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                                          If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                                          Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                                          Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                                          4. Express More Gratitude

                                          Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                                          It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                                          Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                                          5. Focus On Yourself

                                          Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                                          There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                                          But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                                          We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                                          6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                                          Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                                          Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                                          The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                                          Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                                          7. Take a Power Nap

                                          When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                                          Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                                          This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                                          8. Take More Exercise

                                          The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                                          Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                                          The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                                          You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                                          9. Get More Quality Sleep

                                          To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                                          Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                                          My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                                          10. Improve Your Diet

                                          Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                                          Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                                          On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                                          To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                                          Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                                          Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                                          11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                                          Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                                          When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                                          Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                                          My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                                          12. Get Hydrated

                                          Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                                          Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                                          If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                                          The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                                          If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                                          Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                                          [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                                          [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                                          [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                                          [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                                          [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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