Top 10 Herbs and their Health Benefits
Please Note: This article is to be considered as general information. Please consult with your relevant health care professional in relation to the use of these herbs.
Herbs and spices is at the foreground of our history. These have been integrated into our rich culture and tradition for many centuries. There are lots of herbs and spices that contain powerful plant compounds that can heal, ease pain, prevent various diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and even fight off cancer, heart disease and other common and critical illnesses.
Ancient Egypt had used herbs and spices to preserve their mummies. Also, it was recorded that Chinese and Korean junk boats traded herbs and spices in 500 B.C. This trading had expanded throughout Europe, Asia and eventually, in the Americas. Europe suffered during the Dark Ages, however, other regions highly profited from the herb and spices trading empire such as the Indonesian, Arab, Chinese and Indian traders. Europe had eventually joined the spice trading during the Crusades, which further flourished the spice and herb trading. The East India Company founded by a Dutch in the 1600s became one of the most powerful herbs and spices trading companies in history.
Today, we are still using the original herbs and spices traded during the middle ages such as turmeric, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Since then, dozens of new spices have been discovered, each with its own wealth of benefits.
The following are the top 10 herbs that are a great addition into your daily recipes:
Top 1: Turmeric
Turmeric is certainly the most powerful herb on the planet. It is from the ginger family that is primarily grown in India, China and Indonesia. It contains various compounds with medicinal properties. For example, turmeric contains Curcumin which is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.
Turmeric is one of the top most herb frequently discussed and mentioned in medicinal herbs in all of science. Dr. Axe of draxe.com shares the following benefits of Turmeric:
Medical intervention generally includes the following medications to slow and prevent blood clotting:
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Enoxaparin (Lovenox)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others)
- Warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Unfortunately, for people with conditions that are treated by these drugs (i.e. deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism), this approach may not always be the wisest decision. Ibuprofen overdose is one such common problem. In addition to common side effects like excessive bleeding and hemorrhage, the risks associated with anticoagulants abound and include everything from back pain to headaches to difficulty breathing. Additionally, ever since several groundbreaking studies in the mid-1980s, the curcumin in turmeric has been suggested by researchers as actually being a better option for those with vascular thrombosis.
Although few studies have been conducted on humans, dozens of research trials have proven that turmeric is especially effective in correcting depression symptoms in laboratory animals. To address this issue, the journal Phytotherapy Research published the results of an amazing, innovative study this past year. The study took 60 volunteers diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), such as manic depression, and split the group to determine how patients treated by curcumin fared against fluoxetine (Prozac) and a combination of the two. Not only was it discovered that all patients tolerated curcumin well, but they discovered curcumin was as effective as Prozac in managing depression. According to the authors, “This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe therapy for treatment in patients with Mild Depression.
Arguably, the most powerful aspect of curcumin is its ability to control inflammation.
The journal Oncogene published the results of a study that evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that aspirin and ibuprofen are least effective, while curcumin, is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world.
d. Arthritis management
Because curcumin is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reducing characteristics, Turmeric is also effective in Arthritis management.
e. Cancer treatment
Turmeric is reported to help naturally treat cancer.
f. Diabetes management
For lowering blood sugar and reversing insulin resistance there’s arguably no better natural treatment than adding turmeric into your diet.
g. Gastrointestinal treatments
Oftentimes, people with digestive and stomach complaints become intolerant to medical interventions because the stomach flora is already compromised and drugs can literally tear up the mucosal lining. An in-depth analysis of all the studies evaluating curcumin’s ability to manage inflammatory bowel disease found that many patients were able to stop taking their prescribed corticosteroids because their condition improved so dramatically by taking curcumin!
h. Cholesterol regulators
A study done by Drugs in R & D found that curcumin was equal or more effective than diabetes medications at reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the treatment of high cholesterol.
One of the more widely accepted properties of curcumin in scientific communities is its ability to manage pain.
In a 1999 breakthrough clinical study, it was found that curcumin has the ability to cure chronic inflammation of the eye. Typically this condition was only treated with steroids but today it’s common for medical doctors who practice functional medicine to prescribe curcumin instead. What cannot be overstated, however, is that although statistically “comparable” to steroids in managing and reversing chronic disease, “The lack of side effects with curcumin is its greatest advantage compared with corticosteroids,” as stated by the authors in the above study out of K.G. Medical College.
Top 2. Ginger
Ginger was first grown by the Chinese and Indians. It was also the top herb that prompted the opening of the herb and spice trade routes around the world.
Ginger is a famous spice used in various ways of alternative medicine. It has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine.
The following are the health benefits of ginger:
- Can treat many forms of nausea, especially morning sickness, chemotherapy and sea sickness
- Reduce muscle pain and soreness
- The anti-inflammatory effects can help with osteoarthritis
- May drastically lower blood sugars and improve heart disease risk factors
- Can help treat chronic indigestion
- Ginger powder may significantly reduce menstrual pain
- May lower cholesterol levels
- Contains a substance that may help prevent cancer
- Ginger may improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease
- The active ingredient in ginger can help fight infections
Top 3: Rosemary
Rosemary is an herb native in the Mediterranean regions. Greeks believed that Rosemary is effective in enhancing memory and brain function. Traditionally, this plant also became famous as a symbol of fidelity, and it was once burned as incense at wedding parties throughout Europe. European judges also burned rosemary to protect them from the illnesses that prisoners exposed them to.
The active ingredient in Rosemary is called Rosmarinic Acid. This substance has been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion.
Organicfacts.net – reports the following health benefits of Rosemary:
- Improves mood and stress
- Strengthens the immune system
- Antibacterial potential
- Soothes the stomach
- Breath freshener
- Stimulate blood flow
- Pain reliever
- Detoxify the body
Top 4: Garlic
Garlic is so popular that it is used in almost every cuisine in the world! Garlic has been used for more than five thousand years ago. It was known that the Egyptians fed garlic to workers as they build the pyramids. This powerful herb was also given to Olympic athletes in Greece. Also, it was used in many cultures to increase production and strength among laborers.
Garlic has many well-known benefits such as its anti-infection and overall power to boost the immune system. It has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal properties allowing it to stand against infections. Garlic is also very effective in treating skin infections caused by bacteria, virus, fungi or yeast by simply rubbing raw chopped garlic on the affected area.
The following are the health benefits of Garlic:
- Powerful cancer fighter
- Fights inflammation, protecting against numerous conditions
- Treat toothache and earache
- Repel mosquitoes
- Great for cough
- Home remedy for stuffy nose or nasal congestion
Top 5: Cinnamon
Cinnamon is an extremely tasty spice. It is available in every supermarket around the world. It has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of trees and has been known for its health benefits since Ancient Egypt.
The following are the health benefits of Cinnamon:
- Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
- Has a Powerful Anti-Diabetic Effect
- Cinnamon May Have Beneficial Effects on Neurodegenerative Diseases
- May Cut the Risk of Heart Disease
- Cinnamon May Be Protective Against Cancer
- Cinnamon Helps Fight Bacterial and Fungal Infections
Top 6: Nutmeg
Nutmeg grows on an evergreen tree with the scientific classification Myristica fragrans. It is a native plant from Indonesia. It is a delicate and slightly sweet spice that is largely used in cuisines around the globe.
Nutmeg is known to impact health in various ways because of its nutritive content of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds related to the essential oils. These beneficial components include dietary fiber, manganese, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, copper, and macelignan.
The following are the health benefits of Nutmeg:
- Pain reliever
- Promotes digestive and brain health
- Detoxify the body
- Oral health (It kills bacteria that cause bad breath)
- Help lower blood pressure and circulation
Top 7: Sage
Sage has been known since the Middle Ages due to known for its powerful healing properties. It is an evergreen shrub with woody stems and blue or purple flowers. They are commonly found in the Mediterranean region. According to research, Sage or Salvi officinalis has lots of resemblance to Rosemary. In fact, they are even referred as “sister herbs”.
Sage has been used as a medicine for many centuries. It was traditionally used for the treatment of snakebite, protection from evil, boosts female fertility and many others.
Today, modern science and technology had discovered that Sage is more powerful and offers a lot of health benefits such as the following:
- Cognitive Boosts (stimulate brain function, increase recall abilities and memory retention)
- Help eliminate cognitive disorders ( Alzheimer’s and dementia)
- Strengthen the immune system
- It has Vitamin K (Vitamin K is a crucial element in developing bone density and ensuring the integrity of our bones as we age)
- Treatment for skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, acne)
- Diabetes Management
- Assists in digestion
Top 8: Oregano
Oregano is best known as “pizza herb”. It’s a famous herb that has been used to improve or enhance the flavour of their food. However, Oregano offers a wealth of health benefits. It’s an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. It is rich with vitamins A, C, and E complex, including zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese and niacin.
Below are the health benefits of Oregano:
- Treats the Common Cold
- Breaks up Nasal Congestion
- Treats Flu Virus
- Relieves Menstrual Cramps
- Kills Intestinal Parasites
- Improves Heart Health
Top 9. Cumin
Cumin is a flowering plant that is native from the Mediterranean Region to Pakistan and India. The seeds are used in the cookeries of many different cultures around the globe. Cumin is most famous as a condiment or spice in the Indian Subcontinent and some other Asian, African, and Latin American countries. It is scientifically known as Cuminum Cyminum and it belongs to the family of Apiaceae.
Cumin is also known for its rich health benefits such as the following:
- Assists in digestion
- Improve immunity
- To treat various illnesses such as insomnia, respiratory disorders, asthma, bronchitis, common cold, lactation, anemia, skin disorders, boils.
- Treating cancer
- Has the powerful effect in preventing diabetes
Top 10: Holy Basil
Holy Basil is also famously known as tulsi. Its scientific name is Ocimum Sanctum and is absolutely one of the top medicinal herb.
The following are the known benefits of Holy Basil:
- Oral care
- Relief from respiratory disorders
- Treatment of fever, asthma, lung disorders, heart diseases and stress.
Even going close to a Tulsi plant alone can protect you from many infections. A few leaves dropped in drinking water or foods can purify it and can kill germs within it as well. Even smelling it or keeping it planted in a pot indoors can protect the whole family from infections, coughs, colds and other viral infections.
Nowadays, these herbs are found in every market around the world. In fact, every cook and almost every family has an herb and spice rack in their own homes. Certainly, we have advanced from the days where herbs are only accessible for kings! Today, herbs are cheap and it’s no longer elegant, exclusive and rare. Interestingly, some of the herbs and spices that we use every day have a long and atrocious history. Well, this only proves that we should not take for granted the health benefits these herbs can give us.