Before the advent of the pharmaceutical industry in the mid-1800s, people worldwide used herbal and holistic remedies for everything from wound care to infertility. Today, a renewed interest in herbal remedies is bringing much of this ancient knowledge to a new generation. Discover six herbal medicines and their uses with pictures with this handy herbal medicine list.
First up on our list of herbal medicines and their uses with pictures is chamomile or Matricaria chamomilla. Chamomile is one of the most popular herbal medicines used today and can be found as a fresh plant, herbal tablet, or tincture.
This ubiquitous, sweet-smelling herb contains over 100 active compounds which are thought to be responsible for its numerous biological actions, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial potential.
To use chamomile for topical inflammation, you can take a chamomile tea bag, dip it in warm water, and apply it directly to the affected area for as long as needed. You can also drink chamomile tea for general relaxation, menstrual cramping, or to help you wind down before bed. Other uses for chamomile worth mentioning in our list of herbal medicines and their uses with pictures include treating diarrhea and pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis.
Second on our list of herbal medicines and their uses with pictures is Echinacea purpurea ‘ a native American flowering plant that is often used for immune support during the cold and flu season. While the fresh plant material can be used to make echinacea tea, the most common preparation is echinacea tincture, which is taken in a small amount of water to prevent or shorten the duration of a cold.
Like most of the plants on this herbal medicine list, echinacea has a wide range of uses beyond immune support and has been used in Native American cultures for the following conditions:
- Sore throat
- Stomach upsets
You can purchase echinacea in most supermarkets and health food stores and in some areas you may also be able to buy the plant itself.
Third on our list of herbal medicines and their uses with pictures is the cooked Sambucus nigra fruit ‘ known by the common name of ‘elderberry.’ Typically consumed in the form of syrup or lozenges, elderberry has several traditional uses, including relief from:
- Nerve pain
- Symptoms of cold and flu
To prepare your own elderberry syrup at home, boil the berries in water with honey or sugar (plus ginger optional) until the mixture forms a syrup. Strain into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator for up to three months. Please note that the raw berries are toxic and that the fruit may only be consumed when ripe and well cooked.
Evening primrose or Oenothera biennis is another North American native that we are pleased to include on our list of herbal medicines and their uses with pictures. Traditionally, the roots were used to treat hemorrhoids, and the whole plant was used for bruises. The leaves had three applications in traditional medicine, being used for sore throats, gastrointestinal ailments, and minor wounds.
Today, evening primrose oil (extracted from the seeds) is usually sold in capsule form and taken as a dietary supplement for eczema, PMS and menopause symptoms, breast pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. According to herbal medicine lists, the oil can be applied topically for a broad range of skin problems and small wounds, as well. The healing benefits of evening primrose oil are thought to be related to the presence of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an omega-6 fatty acid found in many plant oils.
The fifth of our herbal medicines and their uses with pictures is a household staple: garlic. Also known by its botanical name ‘ Allium sativum ‘ garlic has appeared on herbal medicine lists from peoples as widespread as Europe, Asia, and North America.
As a dietary supplement, garlic is used for high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure. Taking garlic supplements every day is also an excellent way to boost your immunity. Studies show that taking such supplements can prevent up to 63% of colds and reduce the length of a cold by up to 70%.
To enjoy the benefits of garlic that you’re reading here in our list of herbal medicines and their uses with pictures, take a clove of garlic, chop it or crush it with a pestle and mortar, and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes. In this time, the allicin in the garlic will finish forming and will start to be converted into the bioactive and anti-cancer compounds diallyl sulfide, diallyl disulfide, and diallyl trisulfide. You can eat the garlic raw or heat it up after this 10-minute resting period and the garlic should still retain up to 70% of its beneficial compounds.
The final item on our list of herbal medicines and their uses with pictures is ginger root ‘ known by the botanical name of Zingiber officinale. This culinary rhizome has long been used medicinally to treat various ailments, including:
- High blood pressure
Typically taken fresh, powdered, in juice, as a tea, or in a capsule, ginger is currently used for pregnancy-related nausea or morning sickness, as well as nausea associated with chemotherapy and medical surgeries. Ginger is also used for chronic indigestion as it can help the stomach to empty more quickly in both people with dyspepsia and healthy adults.
To use the final item on our herbal medicine list, add fresh or powdered ginger to your cooking and prepare a cup of ginger tea when experiencing menstrual pain or nausea. You can also chew on candied ginger for the benefits of the spice with a little sweetness.
Some Final Advice for Using Herbal Medicines
After reading this list of herbal medicines and their uses with pictures, it’s understandable that you might be keen to try some straight away. Please note that ‘ just like with kratom ‘ many herbs are contraindicated for pregnant and breastfeeding women and for people who are taking certain medications.
While chamomile, ginger, and garlic are generally considered safe for most people in culinary amounts or when taken occasionally as a tea, it is best to consult with a qualified herbalist or naturopath to make the best use of herbs and supplements in your health and wellness regime.