A Short Guide to Medicinal Herbs

Medicinal herbs stand the test of time, playing an essential role in the medical systems in China, India, Greece, Egypt and the Americas for thousands of years. All of the herbs mentioned here are regarded as safe for human consumption, with minimal side effects and interactions with other drugs. These herbs go by many names including: Tonic, Rasayana, Rejuvenative, Restorative, Adaptogen, Balancer, Stabilizer and Stress-Reliever. 

Imagine herbal medicine as millions of hours of trial and error of countless human cultures - condensed into one list. As Stabilizers, these herbs help the body regulate homeostasis, so if something is too high, it gets lowered, and vice versa. All of these have antioxidant properties, essentially slowing the aging process and promoting vitality at all ages.

As always, talk with a doctor and herbalist before medicating with these herbs especially if you have any medical conditions.

You can find these herbs (in bulk) online at a cost per dose for each herb averaging about 10 cents per day. Visit Mountain Rose Herbs to order high-quality Organic versions of these herbs.


Spirulina and Chlorella Algae: “Swamp Magic”

Origin: Tropical and subtropical fresh waters that contain a high mineral content.

Uses: Muscular endurance; boosting the immune system; improving memory; increasing metabolism; lowering cholesterol/heart disease prevention; healing wounds; and improving digestion.

Precautions: Autoimmune diseases and avoid when pregnant or breastfeeding.

History: Used in ancient cultures as a food source, this is a popular organic supplement for hikers, Olympians and the elderly because of its wide range of health benefits.

Fun Fact: It is now grown as a staple in Africa to treat chronic malnutrition.


Ginger Root: “Awakened Energy”

Origin: China, Japan, India, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.

Uses: Improving digestion; aphrodisiac; reducing motion sickness, gas, diarrhea, IBS; relieving arthritis, menstrual pain, migraines, bronchitis, anxiety, diabetes, muscle cramps.

Precautions: May cause increased risk of bleeding with someone with bleeding disorders, and increased insulin levels and/or lower blood sugar.

History: Used in global cuisines and medical systems for over 6,000 years.

Fun Fact: Mixing honey and sliced ginger in a tea is an world-class remedy for breathing issues.


Turmeric Root: “Golden Remedy”

Origin: Southern India

Uses: Treating arthritis, muscle tension, depression, heartburn, joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, IBS, gallbladder disorders, high cholesterol, skin inflammation, bronchitis, colds, and lung infections.

Precautions: May slow blood clotting, cause upset stomach, and decrease blood sugar in people with diabetes.

History: Used as a medicine and main ingredient in curry recipes for 6,000 years. Turmeric is a specific species of the ginger plant.

Fun Fact: Turmeric is more effective at treating chronic medical conditions than at least fourteen prescription medications (see Uses above). There are thousands of studies indicating turmeric's effectiveness as a natural remedy.


Parsley, Dandelion and Cilantro: “Three Emeralds”

Origin: China and Mediterranean

Uses: Detoxing from heavy metal exposure; enhancing dreams and visions; treating digestion problems, loss of appetite, hernia, nausea, diarrhea, bowel spasms, intestinal gas, hemorrhoids, toothaches, and joint pain.

Precautions: May consider avoiding any dosage if pregnant.

History: The Egyptians and Mesopotamians used these herbs in cooking, and the Conquistadors brought cilantro to the Americas where it flourished.

Fun Fact: Cilantro is a member of the Parsley species, and the seeds are ground to make Coriander spice.


Ceylon Cinnamon Bark: “Sweet Wood”

Origin: Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)

Uses: Treating gastrointestinal upset, menstrual cramps, colds, and the flu.

Precautions: Can lower blood sugar with type 2 diabetes.

History: Ancient Greek kings prized this spice so much that they believed that Cinnamon came directly from the gods on top of Mount Olympus. Cinnamon has a global history in the early spice trade.

Fun Fact: Most cinnamon in stores is “Cassia,” a similar tree bark known as “false cinnamon.” Ceylon Cinnamon is sweeter and spicier than Cassia.


Red Reishi Mushroom: “Royal Immortality”

Origin: China and Korea

Uses: Balancing the immune system; treating viral infections, swine flu, avian flu, lung conditions (asthma and bronchitis), heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, liver disease, HIV, altitude sickness, chronic fatigue, insomnia, stomach ulcers, Candida, chemical poisoning, chemotherapy and herpes pain.

Precautions: May cause increased bleeding and lower blood pressure.

History: Chinese Emperors prized this woody fungi for its ability to strengthen the body and promote lucid dreaming.

Fun Fact: Reishi breathes just like humans, in with oxygen and out with carbon dioxide.


Ginseng Root: “The Human Root”

Origin: Siberia, Asia, and the Americas

Uses: Treating stress, boosting the immune system, and gastritis.

Precautions: Avoid if pregnant, may lower blood sugar with people with diabetes, causes sleep problems and agitation for mental conditions.

History: There are many Ginseng species, including Asian, Siberian, Korean, American and Brazilian. Asian (Panax species: “all healing”) is the “true” ginseng, and has been a main component of Chinese medicine for millenia.

Fun Fact: The word ginseng means “person + root” in Chinese due to the fact it looks like a person with arms, legs and a head when you take it out of the ground.


Astragalus Root: “Superior Earth”

Origin: China, Mongolia and North Korea

Uses: Treating common cold, upper respiratory infections, allergies, fibromyalgia, anemia, HIV, chronic fatigue syndrome, kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Precautions: Avoid using with an Autoimmune Disease.

History: Astragalus, like Ginseng, is one of the main roots used in Chinese medicine. Of the 2,000 species of

Astragalus, only two species, “Astragalus mebranaceous” and “Astragalus mongholicus” are used for medicine.

Fun Fact: The Chinese word for Astragalus, “huang-qi” means “superior earth” referring to it's ability to regenerate the spleen.


Schisandra Berry: “Five-Flavor Fortune”

Origin: China and Russia

Uses: Preventing aging, normalizing blood sugar, reducing blood pressure, stimulating the immune system, treating liver disease, high cholesterol, coughs, asthma, insomnia, spontaneous sweating, involuntary discharge of semen, erectile dysfunction, exhaustion, excessive urination, depression, irritability, astigmatism and memory loss.

Precautions: Side effects include increased stomach acid with individuals that have GERD disease.

History: Chinese and Tibetans have used this herb for at least 2,000 years, and more recently in the Russian strongman community.

Fun Fact: The five flavors refer to bitter, sour, sweet, pungent and salty – the main tastes regions on the tongue. Schisandra is the only known plant to contain all of these flavors in one.


Moringa Leaf: “The Miracle Tree”

Origin: Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan

Uses: Treating anemia, arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, cancer, constipation, diabetes, diarrhea, epilepsy, stomach pain, stomach and intestinal ulcers, intestinal spasms, headache, heart problems, high blood pressure, kidney stones, fluid retention, thyroid disorders, and infections.

Precautions: Avoid using when pregnant.

History: Indian Medicine has used the moringa tree for building materials and as a medicine for 5,000 years. It is one of the most commonly grown herbs across the globe today.

Fun Fact: Moringa is one of very few plants to contain Vitamin B12.


Tulsi Leaf (Holy Basil): “The Unparalled”

Origin: India

Uses: Treating colds, flus, H1N1 virus (swine flu), diabetes, bronchitis, earache, headache, stomach upset, heart disease, fever, viral hepatitis, stress, and tuberculosis.

Precautions: May slow blood clotting.

History: Hindus use Tulsi in religious traditions and as a medicine and essential oil promoted for its “merciful“ quality. Tulsi is unique and means “unmatched” or “incomparable.”

Fun Fact: Tulsi is a sacred herb grown in many Indian home gardens, as a “good luck” symbol of health, fortune and prosperity.


Suma Root: “The Amazon Wonder”

Origin: South America

Uses: Treating cancer and tumors, diabetes, male sexual performance problems, and applied to the skin for wounds and skin problems.

Precautions: Suma can cause asthma symptoms if the root powder is inhaled.

History: Indigenous Amazon tribes have used this herb for millenia, as an aphrodisiac, calming herb and strengthener.

Fun Fact: A relative of ginseng, Suma means “for all,” as a traditional Brazilian medicine for all problems.


Licorice Root: “Sweet Stomach Soother”

Origin: Europe and Asia

Uses: Treating stomach ulcers, bronchitis, osteoarthritis, lupus, malaria, tuberculosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Precautions: When used for several weeks it can cause high blood pressure, low potassium levels, weakness, paralysis, and occasionally brain damage.

History: Licorice has been used to treat digestive conditions in India and China for millenia.

Fun Fact: Licorice root is now mixed with sugar to make black licorice candy. It is biologically unrelated to anise and fennel, which have a similar taste.


Gotu Kola Leaf: “The Crown”

Origin: Asia

Uses: Treating infections, shingles, leprosy, cholera, dysentery, syphilis, colds, flu, H1N1, tuberculosis, and schistosomiasis.

Precautions: May cause too much sleepiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery.

History: People have used this herb for thousands of years in India, China and Indonesia for calming and rejuvenating of the soul. It is one of the most commonly used herbs in Indian medicine today.

Fun Fact: When people saw elephants munching on gotu kola leaves, and knowing how long elephants live, they decided it must increase your lifespan. Science shows this herb has a rare anti-oxidant recycling biological function, making it a unique herb for longevity and mental performance.


Brahmi Leaf: “The Expander”

Origin: Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America

Uses: Treating Alzheimer's, improving memory, anxiety, ADHD, backache, mental illness, epilepsy, and joint pain.

Precautions: May increase secretions in urinary tract, may cause increased levels of thyroid hormone, could worsen lung conditions (asthma), slow down heart beat, and cause congestion in intestines.

History: Brahmi means “to expand, to create” and this plant has a place in Yoga traditions for expanding the mind. One of the earliest Indian systems of writing is called Brahmi. It has been a common medicine in India for 2,500 years.

Fun Fact: Brahmi has neuroprotective qualities that make it useful for clear thoughts.


Osha Root: “Breath of America”

Origin: Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada

Uses: Treating sore throats, bronchitis, cough, colds, influenza, H1N1 virus (swine flu), viral infections, and pneumonia.

Precautions: Avoid when pregnant.

History: Native Americans regularly used this herb to treat heart and lung conditions.

Fun Fact: Osha is a species in the Parsley family.


Shilajit Mineral Pitch: “Conqueror of Mountians”

Origin: Himalaya Mountains

Uses: Treating arthritis, stress, and aging (both mental and physical); enhancing strength.

Precautions: May lower blood pressure and reduce blood sugar in diabetics.

History: Ancient cultures revered this mineral resin for its ability to enhance mountain climbing ability and clear the mind. It has been used as a staple in Indian medicine for the trace minerals it possesses.

Fun Fact: Shilajit is millions of years old plant matter that has been squeezed out of cracks in the mountains by tectonic plate movement.


Cannabis Leaf: “The Truth Serum”

Origin: Asia

Uses: Treating Alzheimer's, glaucoma, arthritis, diabetes, muscle spasms, nausea, insomnia, depression, poor appetite, anxiety, epilepsy, nerve pain; inhibiting tumors and viruses.

Precautions: May cause depersonalization and anxiety.

History: Cannabis has a sacred place in world religions and medicine dating back at least 5,000 years. Today, it is one of the most commonly used herbs as a mild euphoriant and sedative.

Fun Fact: Ancient Greeks traded gold for cannabis oil with Indians to burn in the temples.


Black Cumin Seed Oil: “Cures All But Death”

Origin: Europe and the Middle East

Uses: Treating MRSA (staph) infection, psoriasis, eczema, epilepsy, heavy metal poisoning, tumors (esp. leukemia), diarrhea; increasing urine flow, menstruation.

Precautions: May slow blood clotting and lower blood sugar.

History: Black cumin (Nigella sativa) is different from the spice cumin (Cuminum cyminum) or turmeric (Curcumin). It has been a part of Greek and Egyptian medicine for it's ability to enhance the immune system.

Fun Fact: Mohammed (the Prophet of Islam) is known for saying that Black Cumin Oil “cures everything, except for death.”


Oregano Leaf Oil: “Delight of The Mountain”

Origin: Europe and Asia

Uses: Internal - Treating intestinal parasites, allergies, sinus pain, arthritis, cold and flu. External - Treating acne, athlete's foot, dandruff, canker sores, warts, ringworm, rosacea, and psoriasis.

Precautions: May cause increased risk of bleeding, allergic reaction, and low blood sugar.

History: Oregano has been used in Mediterranean cooking and medicine for at least 4,000 years.

Fun Fact: The ancient Greeks believed the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, created oregano as a symbol of happiness, so newlyweds are crowned with laurels of oregano.


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