If you’ve ever burned your finger on the stove or or banged your toe on the corner of something so hard that you colored your language for a good minute or two, you probably noticed the same stimulus that happens in each of us. The unfortunate appendage turns red and starts to throb, and maybe even gets really hot. That’s your body funneling all of its defenses to your injured area to begin the healing process.
Your body responds similarly when you are sick and fighting off a virus or bacteria in order to bring nutrients and healing agents to where they are most needed. In this sense, inflammation is helpful because it only sticks around for as long as it’s needed and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
However, chronic inflammation is the mother of disease. Diabetes, heart disease, IBD to name a few. Stress and poor diet are factors that cause chronic inflammation and can lead to major health concerns that decrease your quality of life, or altogether shorten it.
Thankfully, mother nature has a cure (she always pulls through for us). We’ve compiled a list of her healing herbs - some of the earth’s best healing tools for the body - to help you continue to function the way you were meant to.
The qualities our choice of herbs have in common is their ability to fight oxidative stress, excessive inflammatory issues, and the effects of a processed Western diet. Continue reading to see what our favorite herbs can do to help you live your best life.
This herb is a superpower that is also pleasurable to the palate. Cinnamon contains many medicinal properties due to the compound cinnamaldehyde. This is what gives cinnamon its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant attributes. It is also used for antimicrobial, anticancer, and neurological purposes.
Cinnamon protects against high cholesterol and triglycerides, and aids vasodilation making it a heart healthy herb. Its effects regarding blood sugar levels are extremely noteworthy. Cinnamon has the ability to slow down your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract which lowers blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity.
Ginger is a common component of alternative and holistic medicine for a very convincing reason. Similar to cinnamon, the compound found in ginger, called gingerol, is the source of most of the plant’s healing properties. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substance. Because of these properties, it is an effective natural option to pain and stiffness relief as evidenced in a study on osteoarthritis patients when combined with cinnamon and sesame seed oil.
You can’t have a list of top medicinal herbs without mentioning turmeric. It is well known that turmeric contains the compound curcumin. Given its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities, turmeric has been extensively studied regarding its effects on heart disease, cancer, and arthritis relief. Some welcomed good news on turmeric’s effects on Alzheimer's Disease includes the delay in the degradation of neurons and overall improved memory in patients.
Perhaps the most eco-friendly superherb, Spirulina is an algae that has an impressively high amount of protein, especially for a plant. You can find it in either powder or tablet form loaded down with a wide variety of micronutrients such as calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
Spirulina is also an antioxidant that can take care of your oxidative stress related health issues. It is antimicrobial which boosts your innate immune response. There is also evidence of lowering cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure levels.
Spirulina isn’t the tastiest thing nature ever produced, if we’re honest with ourselves. But sprinkling a teaspoon per day over your salad, soup, or sautéed greens are just some of the palatable ways to reap the rewards of this power-packed herb.
Hot peppers are spicy because of the compound capsaicin. They contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which is what earns them a spot on our healthy life herbs list. There is even evidence that suggests capsaicin can reduce the damage of alcohol on the liver, but more evidence in humans is needed.
Look for cayenne, jalapeños, tabasco, chili peppers and other spicy additions to include on your guacamole, salsa, or even in a vegetarian chili!
One of the few highly beneficial plant adaptogens in the world, ginseng is used in Traditional Chinese medicine to build and boost your body’s resistance to all types of stress - physical, emotional, and environmental. This helps improve your immune response, lowers inflammation, heals your gut, and improves your sleep quality. Don’t you feel better just reading about it?
Due to the compound ginsenoside, ginseng is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiviral properties. With ginseng in your corner, your longevity and quality of living score will shoot through the roof.
Longevity in life can be found in this Chinese plant. Traditionally, astragalus’s uses are for fighting against immune related diseases such as cancer and cardiac disease. It also helps to modulate your immune function as you age. This is all due to astragalus polysaccharide within astragalus, which has significant immune-boosting and antiviral properties.
Astragalus also contains amino acids, flavonoids, and other healing components to pump up your body’s ability to heal itself.
Popular for its aroma, sage is a member mint family and has been used in traditional medicine to treat viral infections. Safficinolide is the compound found in sage that gives it its antiviral properties.
There is promising research that suggests sage could play a part in “rapidly and drastically reducing” HIV - which can lead to AIDS - by keeping the virus from entering targeted cells. Like another member of the mint family, oregano, sage might also help in fighting the herpes simplex virus type-1.
Another warrior against herpes viruses, fennel contains the compound trans-anethole which boasts antiviral abilities. As an antioxidant and antimicrobial, fennel also beefs up your immune system by decreasing inflammation which is another facet of warding off viral infections.
Peppermint leaves and peppermint essential oils are teaming with menthol and rosmarinic acid - compounds known for anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity. Traditional medicine adds peppermint extract to teas and tinctures to help fight against viruses. We would be remiss to not mention that peppermint helps with digestive issues by easing gas and bloating.
Dig into your herb garden and let the power of nature heal you from the inside. Just because the world around us can be chaotic doesn’t mean you have to deal with the health consequences. These additions to your daily food and drink can have a profound impact on how you feel and how you live. Use the gifts earth has provided us all to nurture your body one day at a time.
In health & healing,
The OWL Fam
Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.
Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?
Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.
"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.
When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing