Naturopaths and herbalists are extensively trained in herbal medicine and are excited by the many ways that herbs can profoundly improve health and minimise symptoms. However, I find that many people are actually confused by the term “herbal medicine” and are unsure how herbs can help them. So I would like to outline some ways that herbs assist your body to regain optimal health.
• Herbs are sources of nutrients. Herbs are a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals and unique phytochemicals which support our body to function. As our foods are now mostly grown in nutrient-deficient soils and we tend to eat less fresh foods than we should, herbs are a great way to boost our vitamin and mineral intake. Phytochemicals, or “plant chemicals”, include substances like curcumin which modulates inflammation, and quercetin which helps to reduce allergy symptoms.
• Herbs assist our digestion. Many people contend with all kinds of digestive symptoms, including heartburn, bloating, pain, constipation and diarrhea. We have many herbs that effectively ease these symptoms and support our digestive tract to reduce the occurrence of these symptoms in the first place. And best of all, when we improve our digestion, there are positive flow-on effects in the rest of our body.
• Herbs can improve your energy levels and sleep. Depending on your health history and your current situation, there are many herbs that can provide you with an energy boost, support you through a gruelling time and assist you to get restorative sleep through the night so that you can wake feeling refreshed.
• Herbs assist us to detoxify. Of course we have our own inbuilt system of detoxification, involving our liver and lymph, along with other body systems too. However, our detoxification systems can become overburdened due to our diet and lifestyle choices, and even the environment we live in. Herbs can assist these body systems to clear waste products more efficiently so that we can feel better and function more effectively. Reducing our “toxic burden” simultaneously reduces inflammation in the body, which is a contributor to many of the health challenges we face.
• Herbs tend to work in particular parts of the body, which means the right herbs can be used to help with just about anything – menstrual symptoms, brain function, heart health, skin conditions, anxiety, immune function … and maintaining general wellness and vitality.
Just like there are many conditions herbs can be used for, there are also many ways that herbs can be taken. You do not need to drink herbal tea every day – although for many people that is a beneficial option. Working with an experienced practitioner can help you to figure out which herbs are most appropriate for you and ways of taking them that are most suitable for you and your lifestyle.