Learn About Herbal Medicine

It's Thyme to Learn About Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicines can be used, in conjunction with proper guidance from health care professionals, to boost immunity, lower blood pressure, combat digestive issues and alleviate the symptoms of a cold, among other benefits. We might not realize it, but many herbal remedies are contained in household products we use on a daily basis. Here are eight herbs with medical benefits that may be overlooked.

Thyme is a household herb used for cooking. It also contains antioxidants that have been shown effective in combating inflammation. Speak to a doctor before using thyme regularly, especially if you have thyroid issues. Thyme slows down thyroid activity, which can exacerbate any problems you already have.

Cinnamon can be sprinkled on top of your coffee to give it more flavor or used for French toast. Some studies have shown that it can also have added benefits to your health, including reducing inflammation and working as an antioxidant. These benefits have been found in a particular type of cinnamon, known as cassia cinnamon. You will need to be careful when using cinnamon, however, as large quantities can be toxic. You should also consult your doctor about using cinnamon if you are taking any medications.

Anise seeds can provide you with iron, fiber and calcium. A single teaspoon of anise can contain up to 2.4 milligrams of iron. It can also work to sooth an upset stomach or to calm a cough or runny nose. It may also help to alleviate menstrual symptoms.

Rosemary not only has a beautiful name, but it can also help in reducing inflammation. The oil taken from this herb can also help with heartburn and high blood pressure, and can reduce some of the memory loss due to aging. While the oil can be beneficial in small doses, you should avoid taking large quantities of it as it can cause kidney troubles, uterine bleeding and vomiting.

Echinacea roots and leaves are often used in teas to counteract the effects of a cold or other respiratory issue. Some cultures even use the herb as treatment for wounds, acne or boils. There are conflicting scientific reports about the viability of Echinacea's use to combat a cold, but the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is funding more studies to find conclusive evidence about Echinacea's effectiveness.

Peppermint is more than just a candy or half the flavor found in mint chocolate chip ice cream. When used as an oil, peppermint can help soothe the symptoms of irritable bowel, and when mixed with caraway oil it may alleviate indigestion. There are a few side effects associated with the use of peppermint including heartburn and allergic reactions.

European mistletoe is a different variety than its American counterpart. While American mistletoe is used during Christmas as decoration, European mistletoe is used as a cancer treatment supplement. There have been 30 clinical trials that have produced evidence that European mistletoe can kill cancer cells, but some doubts still remain about the efficacy of this herb for cancer treatment. Be careful when using European mistletoe, as it is poisonous in its unprocessed form.

Garlic may be best known as a way to keep vampires at bay, but it actually has real world applications. There is evidence that garlic can, at least in the short-term, help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Other studies have shown that it may also help slow the development of atherosclerosis and lower blood pressure. Some side effects of prolonged garlic use may include body and breath odor, stomach troubles and heartburn. A more serious side effect is a thinning of blood, which could prevent clotting in the event of surgery or serious trauma to the body. This can be exacerbated if you have a condition such as hemophilia.

Herbal medicines can have a number of health benefits if used correctly and under the careful supervision of a doctor, nurse, dietitian or herbalist. Please be sure to carefully read the labels on any supplements you plan to take to make sure you are ingesting the proper dosage, and check with a health care professional if you have any questions.


"Anise seeds," WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-582-anise.aspx?activeIngredientId=582&activeIngredientName=anise

"Cassia cinnamon," WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1002-Cinnamon+CASSIA+CINNAMON.aspx?activeIngredientId=1002&activeIngredientName=Cinnamon+(CASSIA+CINNAMON)&source=2

"Echinacea," Herbs at a Glance, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, http://nccam.nih.gov/health/echinacea/ataglance.htm

"European mistletoe," Herbs at a Glance, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, http://nccam.nih.gov/health/mistletoe

"Garlic," Herbs at a Glance, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, http://nccam.nih.gov/health/garlic/ataglance.htm

"Peppermint," Herbs at a Glance, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, http://nccam.nih.gov/health/peppermintoil

"Rosemary," WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-154-Rosemary.aspx?activeIngredientId=154&activeIngredientName=Rosemary&source=1

"Thyme," WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-702-thyme.aspx?activeIngredientId=702&activeIngredientName=thyme&source=1