If you mention natural herbal remedies to most people, you might get some resistance or maybe even a side eye or two. That’s unfortunate, as holistic alternatives to mainstream medicine have been around for thousands of years, with often incredible results.
Today, more and more people are becoming interested in plant-based remedies, due in part to decades of overmedicating, drug addictions, and side effects such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
If you’re one of the many who has never experienced the benefits of natural remedies for yourself, allow us to introduce you today to some of the most tried-and-true, easy to use remedies available.
In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about holistic medicine, why you should get started with natural herbal remedies, and which remedies to try first. Let’s start with the questions everyone wants to be answered: what is holistic medicine?
What Is Holistic Medicine?
Alternative holistic medicine (also known as alternative medicine) is a type of study that considers a person’s whole being, including mind, spirit, and heart, in the healing process. Its counterpoint, western traditional medical practices, tend to focus more narrowly on a person’s symptoms and has a more defined set of tools–mainly surgery and pharmaceutical drugs–to address disease.
An holistic approach, however, tends to focus more on finding balance in life, and makes use of a variety of ancient and more modern techniques for healing, including ayurvedic practices, ancient Chinese healing philosophies, homeopathy, and herbal remedies, just to name a few. Most importantly, a holistic understanding seeks to address the underlying causes and conditions that lead to disease and sees patients as people outside of their pathologies.
Where Can You Find a Holistic Therapist?
A holistic health therapist can be found in a variety of ways. You’ll often find chiropractors, acupuncturists, homeopaths, naturopaths, and massage therapists who specifically practice holistic care. You may also refer to the American Holistic Medical Association to help you find a practitioner in your area. Some will have more knowledge than others, and just like with any other medical practitioner, some will have better bedside manners or just a personality you mesh with better.
Make sure that you look for reviews or talk to other patients (if you can). This is a field that can be ripe for charlatans and unscrupulous individuals that will promise huge results–and cost you a lot of money. The best holistic practitioners are realistic about what you can and cannot achieve. You should not, however, expect to see lightning-fast results. Holistic therapy, unlike traditional medicine, tends to take longer as it is addressing issues that are often below the surface. Your overall health should trend towards the better, however.
Since holistic medicine is such a broad field, you’ll also find that different therapists specialize in different things. Some might have very little knowledge of natural herbal remedies, while some will specialize in this field. Either way, we’ve rounded up some treatments you can try for common ailments and issues.
Natural Herbal Remedies to Use Today
Despite our lack of common knowledge today about natural herbal remedies, they’ve been in use for the entire history of mankind! In fact, for much of our history, herbs were the only type of medicine available. When used correctly and carefully, there’s nothing to fear and everything to gain. Here are some of our favorites:
You might know turmeric as the bright yellow spice that gives many Indian food dishes their distinct flavor (and color!), but did you know turmeric also has a powerful, 4,000-year tradition of fighting inflammation and contributing to your overall health? In fact, if there’s only one supplement you start taking after reading this article, we hope it’s this one!
You can think of inflammation as a disease; in fact, it’s at the heart of most of our modern-day pathologies. What’s so great about turmeric is that it contains curcumin, a bioactive substance that targets inflammation at multiple steps at the molecular level, blocking a key molecule known to turn on the genes in our DNA that relate to inflammation.
In short, turmeric supplements can help you prevent cancer and heart disease, ease the impact of diabetes and high cholesterol, and alleviate the symptoms of diseases caused by chronic inflammation, such as arthritis.
2. Black Cohosh
Black cohosh is a plant whose roots have been used for medicinal purposes by the indigenous tribes of North America. Today, it’s largely used to treat the symptoms of menopause, which include night sweats, sleep issues, hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. The herb can also be taken as a supplement to relieve menstrual cramps and arthritis.
Black cohosh can be taken as a supplement or in tincture form; it is also available as a tea. Either way, make sure you purchase from a reputable dealer (this applies to all herbal treatments and remedies).
Yes, that delicious, pungent root that makes our food delicious is also a powerful medicinal herb. Even the National Cancer Institute, which does not recognize natural herbal remedies as having anticancer properties, recommends garlic as part of a superfood diet to prevent cancer. Eating raw or cooked garlic can, in fact, help prevent or reduce some of the biggest causes of disease and death in the world, including heart disease, infections, and stroke.
The reasons for garlic’s super-potent abilities are varied. We don’t fully understand everything about how it works, but what we do know is that garlic contains things like flavonoids, allicin, sulfur, oligosaccharides, and selenium. This means that garlic can help with the following:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Viral infections
- Blood pressure issues
- Fungal infections
- Immune system weakness
Ginger is another commonly found ingredient that’s both delicious and widely available as a food or a supplement. Coincidentally, it also has incredible disease-fighting properties and is one of the most valuable natural herbal remedies you can take. It has its place as a daily supplement, but you can also use it to treat specific diseases or symptoms.
Ginger is famous for helping to relieve nausea, such as nausea from morning sickness during pregnancy or nausea due to motion sickness, but it also has very active anticancer properties thanks to some of its ingredients, including gingerols, paradols, and shogaols. It’s also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and high antioxidant levels which help it fight fungal and bacterial infections.
You can enjoy ginger raw, cooked in your favorite foods, or you can take it in a supplement form. You can also enjoy it as a tea.
5. Aloe Vera
Who knew that spikey, ooey plant your grandmother grew on her patio could have so many useful properties? After you learn more about what aloe vera can do, you might just find yourself growing the plant on your kitchen windowsill, too!
Aloe vera is another plant used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines. It’s been around for a very long time and is useful for everything from skin diseases to infections to sunburn to constipation. Aloe vera is incredibly biologically active; in fact, more than 75 vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and more ingredients have been found in the juice of this green plant!
Aloe vera can be taken internally to relieve inflammation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, and it can also be used topically for its antiviral, antiseptic, and antifungal properties. It is extremely inexpensive and widely available, making it a great place to start for somebody who is just learning how to incorporate natural herbal remedies into her life.
6. Ginkgo Biloba
Gingko is a famous memory herb for a reason and is yet another herb that has been used since ancient times. Today, it’s finally being recognized by the medical establishment as the powerful natural herbal remedy that it is.
In a 2000 study of 256 middle-aged healthy volunteers, a ginkgo/ginseng combo supplement was found to improve memory quality by an average of 7.5%, across both short-term and long-term memory. Thanks to its high levels of antioxidants, ginkgo may also help to prevent cancer, repair brain injuries, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, counter depression and anxiety, alleviate ADHD symptoms and fibromyalgia, and even help improve libido.
You can take ginkgo in a pill, tablet, or capsule form.
A Powerful Way to Stay Healthy
The six natural herbal remedies we’ve listed (turmeric, black cohosh, garlic, ginger, aloe vera, and ginkgo biloba) play powerful roles in any holistic medicine approach. You don’t have to consider yourself to be holistic, however, to enjoy their powerful benefits! Whether your goal is a healthy lifestyle that prevents major forms of disease or you have a specific symptom you’re looking to alleviate, natural herbal remedies are a great place to start.