Before the rise of Western medicine, people relied on food and herbs to cure what ailed them. Although much of society now uses over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals, there is evidence to suggest that certain herbs may be just as effective for treating a variety of illnesses, injuries, and conditions. Here are nine of the most powerful herbs known to man.
#1 – Rosemary
Rosemary is a common herb that most everyone keeps in their spice racks. Aside from its rich, delicious flavor, it may also stop cancer dead in its tracks. It contains compounds called carnosol and rosemarinic acid, which are antioxidants that can destroy certain carcinogens. Researchers at the University of Illinois fed rosemary extract to lab rats who had been exposed to a carcinogen called dimethylbenzanthracene, which is known to cause breast cancer. They found that the size and number of tumors in these rats, as well as DNA damage, decreased significantly.
#2 – Ginger
Everyone suffers from nausea from time to time, whether it’s a woman experiencing morning sickness, a child with the stomach flu, or even a cancer patient struggling with the side effects of chemotherapy. Ginger is a powerful antioxidant that blocks the effects of serotonin, which increases when you feel nauseated. It also blocks the production of free radicals, which is something scientists believe is responsible for feelings of nausea.
In one study, cruise ship passengers in rough seas were given 500mg of ginger every four hours. These passengers reported that the ginger was just as effective as Dramamine, which is the go-to motion sickness pill. When they took 940mg of ginger, the passengers reported it worked even better than the drug.
#3 – St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort has received much attention in the last several decades, and many people claim it has earned its place among the most powerful herbs in the world. Some experts believe that it can relieve the symptoms of mild to moderate depression just as effectively as prescription anti-depressants, but without the side effects. It also contains melatonin, which can improve the body’s sleep-wake cycle, and it can even help your body produce more of its own melatonin over time. St. John’s Wort can interact with certain medications and create dangerous side effects, so speak with your physician before starting a regimen.
#4 – Andrographis
Andrographis, otherwise known as green chiretta, is a little-known herb that grows natively in places like Sri Lanka and India. Per those who use the herb regularly, it does wonders for relieving the symptoms of upper respiratory infections – including bacterial sinusitis or a common head cold. In fact, a study published in Phytomedicine showed that andrographis could reduce symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, and fatigue by as much as 90%, and it does so without the harsh side effects that most cold medicines can cause.
#5 – Holy Basil
Holy basil is a cousin to the herb you use in your tomato sauce, and there is evidence to suggest that it can relieve stress just as well as a class of medications called benzodiazepines, which includes drugs like Xanax and Valium. Pratima Nangia-Makker MD, a researcher at Detroit’s Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, also found that holy basil shrunk cancerous tumors in mice by cutting off their blood supply.
#6 – Echinacea
Echinacea is not only one of the most powerful herbs known to man, but it’s also one of the most popular. You can find it in nearly any drug or grocery store. Per researchers at the University of Maryland, a review of some 14 studies over the course of about a decade revealed that echinacea decreased the odds of catching a cold by about 58% and shortened the duration of colds by 1.5 days. It’s important to note that echinacea can interact with certain medications and should not be used by people who have autoimmune disorders and certain types of allergies. Speak to your doctor before you start using this herb.
#7 – Saw Palmetto
More than two million men in the United States take saw palmetto daily to help treat BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is the medical term given to an enlargement of the prostate gland that is not caused by cancer. There are multiple clinical studies available for review, and the vast majority show that saw palmetto is effective for relieving the symptoms of BPH, which may include frequent urination, sudden urgency, and difficulty urinating.
#8 – Gingko Biloba
Gingko biloba, sometimes called simply “gingko”, is one of the most powerful herbs in the world, and it’s also one of the most widely-used. It’s a staple in Eastern medicine for good reason. Some studies have shown that gingko can effectively treat dementia – including dementia caused by progressive Alzheimer’s disease. Others suggest that gingko can improve blood circulation in the legs and feet, which may be incredibly beneficial for those with diabetes. If you take a blood thinner, have seizures, or are seeking treatment for fertility, ask your doctor before you start taking this herb.
#9 – Sage
It comes as no surprise that sage is one of the most powerful herbs known to mankind. It’s known the world over for its medicinal properties, and many cultures regularly burn sage in their homes just like incense to help purify and cleanse the air. You can find it in medications for things like ulcers and mouth sores, and it can ease the pain associated with sore throat.
It can also lower blood sugar and cholesterol per a study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 40 patients with both diabetes and high cholesterol used sage leaf extract over the course of three months. At the end of the study, these patients had lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol levels, but higher HDL. These patients also had significantly lower fasting glucose and average glucose levels.
Although pharmaceutical medications can save lives, and many significantly improve the quality of lives, there are some cases in which the world’s most powerful herbs are just as effective, but without the same incidence of side effects. It’s very important to speak to your physician before you start any herb regimen, especially if you have a medical condition or take any kind of maintenance medication.
If you enjoyed reading this article you may be interested in our write up on important herbs for memory.