With an ever increasing number of people trying to create lifestyles as close to nature as possible, there has been a rapidly growing interest in identifying natural ways to promote health and wellbeing. This search has led to the public’s renewed interest in the herbal world. However, when it comes to using herbs to relieve health problems and/or improve overall wellbeing, most people tend to rely only on a few commonly known ones, like ginger, lavender, peppermint, or perhaps, calendula. While these herbs are certainly useful, nature offers us many more powerful herbs that we can use to our advantage.
To help increase your knowledge about herbs and take better control of your health, here we’re highlighting some of the lesser-known medicinal herbs and their properties:
1. Eyebright (Euphrasia Officinalis)
Eyebright is a small and delicate herb characterized by its white, lobed flowers that bear yellow spots, pale purple vertical stripes, and black centers. The flower of eyebright somewhat looks like a bloodshot human eye and this is what gave the plant its primary historical usage in herbal medicine – relieve eye issues.
In case you didn’t know already, the Doctrine of Signatures is an ancient theory in the herbal world according to which the resemblance of a plant to a body part or organ is the sign that it is meant to cure its ailments and issues.
Eyebright has a long history of use in several European traditional herbal medicinal systems. Even though it was primarily used for eye problems, like inflammation, irritation and redness, the herb also had several other uses. It was also used for seasonal allergies and respiratory issues, like sore throat, cough, and cold.
Although scientific research on eyebright is still limited, studies have found that the herb contains several vitamins and minerals that nourish and heal the eyes. For example, eyebright contains vitamin B-1 (thiamine), which is essential for retinal metabolism.
Research has also shown that luteolin and quercetin present in eyebright have antihistamine properties, which point towards the herb’s traditional use as a natural remedy for allergies.
2. Horsetail (Equisetum Arvense)
Horsetail, also known as common horsetail and field horsetail, is a fern-like herb rich in flavonoids, saponins, alkaloids, tannins, glycosides, phytosterols, vitamins A, C, and E, dietary fiber, silica, antioxidants, and a range of essential minerals. Due to its incredibly powerful chemical profile, the plant has been used by herbal experts for alleviating various health issues since the times of ancient Greek and Rome.
The herb is primarily used to improve skin, hair, and bone health. It is also considered a powerful natural compound to prevent and fight against free radical damage. Horsetail has also been found to have antibacterial effects on gram-positive cocci, responsible for causing various types of infections.
It also works as a natural diuretic and is also used to promote wound healing and hair growth. Its bone healing properties have also made the researchers investigate the herb as a potential remedy for conditions that cause brittle bones.
3. Kanna (SceletiumTortuosum)
Used in traditional South African medicine from prehistoric times, Kanna is known for its mood-altering properties. It is considered a powerful natural remedy for stress, anxiety, and depression. The indigenous hunter-gatherer tribes and pastoralists also used the herb to quench thirst and alleviate digestive discomfort while they were out and about. There is also evidence that the warriors of the San and Khoi tribe would take this herb to overcome their stress and fears after the war.
These stress relieving and mood lifting benefits of Kanna are believed to come from alkaloids, which help maintain serotonin levels. While their mechanism of action hasn’t been deeply investigated yet, some experts believe that the alkaloids found in Kanna may have a similar mechanism of action as antidepressant medications; they may also act as serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Despite its widespread use in its native region for thousands of years, the herb is still largely unknown among the general public in the western world.
4. Neem (Azadirachta Indica)
Also referred to as Indian lilac, this mahogany (Meliaceae) species is one of the best known all-rounder herbs. The flowers, tender shoots, and young leaves of the neem tree are eaten in various ways in many parts of India and Southeast Asia. The leaves of neem are used as an insect repellent and the powdered seeds are used on crops as a natural alternative to chemical pesticides. The plant also holds a prominent position in the Indian traditional medicinal system, called Ayurveda, as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant. It is also known for its powerful cleansing and toxin removing properties.
Neem is considered an excellent natural compound for a range of oral and skin issues. It is commonly used in skin, hair, and oral care products in many South Asian countries, particularly in India.
Neem is believed to help stimulate the immune system as well. Some preliminary research shows the potential benefits of need bark extract for acidity and gastric ulcers.
The Sum Up
These are some of the herbs that have not yet gained the public recognition (in the west) that they deserve despite their long history of use in various traditional medicinal systems. All these herbs have powerful chemical profiles and health beneficial properties, making them worth incorporating into your natural medicine cabinet.
In case you’re wondering where you can get these herbs from, we have them all available on our website. Check out our range of single herb products to get your hands on 100% organic herbal tinctures and capsules.