In this article, I’m going to share wth you a brief intro into herbalism and how you can incorporate it for some relief from common ailments. There are a multitude of factors that can contribute to the way we feel and how our bodies are functioning. For example, our diets, environmental factors, relationships, etc. can all effect how we feel.
So, what exactly is herbalism anyway? The formal definition of herbalism is “the study or practice of the medicinal and therapeutic use of plants, now especially as a form of alternative medicine.” Utilizing plant-based alternatives instead of traditional pharmaceuticals can help us avoid toxic chemicals and harsh side effects. Just listening to a commercial for certain medications can be alarming when they speed through the long list of potential side effects. Herbal alternatives are safer for consumption, more affordable and easy to find.
Now let’s discuss some common conditions and see what plants and herbs can help us to overcome them!
Maca Root for Fatigue
We tend to have packed schedules and are always “on-the-go,” (at least here in America) and sometimes even getting enough sleep does not seem to be enough. That’s where mama root can be beneficial. It’s a Peruvian herb that has been used for thousands of years so it’s definitely tried and true!
Benefits of Maca:
How to use:
I like to add maca root powder to my smoothies but you can also add it to oats, yogurts, protein shakes, etc. Maca is typically found in powder or capsule form as a supplement. You can find it in health food retailers such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, Vitamin Shoppe, online (Amazon, iherb.com, etc.) and at local health food stores.
Peppermint for Headaches and Migraines
As someone who used to suffer from frequent headaches and migraine prior to being plant-based, I can attest to this as well. Peppermint contains at least 44% menthol which is the main component that can help ease headaches. Studies show It reduces the intensity of headaches (including tension headaches and acute migraines).
Benefits of Peppermint:
How to use:
You can find peppermint in different forms. With peppermint essential oil, you can dab a few drops on your fingers and gently massage your temples for instant relief. You can make peppermint tea (with the leaves, NOT the oil as it is not safe for oral consumption) and sip away to ease the tension. If you have a diffuser, you can also diffuse peppermint in the air around you and reap the benefits via aromatherapy as well.
Elderberry to Prevent & Treat Colds
If you're looking for natural ways to arm your immune system (even if you're already sick), one of many ways is with elderberry syrup or extract. Elderberry (also known as sambucus) comes from a flowering plant and is often used in medicine. Sambucus nigra, or European elder (aka black elder) is the specific species of elder that is most commonly used for medicinal purposes.
Benefits of Elderberry:
How to use:
Raw elderberries can be poisonous as they contain a chemical similar to cyanide. For safe consumption, they must be cooked before they can be used. There are several forms that elderberry can be found in: syrup, lozenge, extract, tea, throat spray and capsules. Personally, I use the syrup or throat spray consistently throughout the cold and flu season to really boost my immune system. Since I started doing this about 3 years ago, I have not had a cold or flu since! You can find elderberry in the forms previously mentioned at health food and nutrition stores along with online retailers like Amazon.
Eucalyptus Oil for Allergy Relief
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, more than 50 million Americans suffer each year from allergies. This leads to annual costs surpassing $18 billion for treatment and medications. As staggering as those numbers are, it’s not hard to believe especially seeing the high prices for allergy medication these days. As we saw earlier with peppermint, essential oils are quite powerful. While there is no cure for allergies, natural resources can be of great help in easing the discomfort allergy sufferers go through.
Benefits of Eucalyptus:
How to use:
Diffusing eucalyptus oil in your home is a great way to reap it’s benefits both for you and your house. If you are really congested and need help opening your airways, create a simple chest rub by mixing a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil with a carrier oil or butter ( such as coconut, almond or avocado oil or shea butter, etc.) and gently rubbing into the skin. It’s important to mix essential oils with a carrier oil or butter before applying directly to the skin as essential oils are very strong. This works really well for my husband when his allergies are acting up.
As an added bonus, most (if not all) of these plant-based remedies have a long list of beneficial uses. I just named a few! Even if you do not follow a plant-based diet or anything else natural, why not at least reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals? Not only that but these options can save us money as a little goes a long way making them far more affordable than over-the-counter medicine. If you give any of these a try, let me know how it goes in the comments below. If you already use or have used any of these methods (or know some others), share with me below so we can all learn from each other!