Herbs that Heal
Photography by: Roni Ramos
11. Ginseng for immune enhancement and diabetes Ginseng revs up the immune system. A University of Alberta study found that subjects taking daily doses of ginseng got fewer colds and less severe symptoms than a placebo group. Ginseng also reduces bloodsugar levels. A study in Toronto, Canada, found that Korean red ginseng improved glucose and insulin regulation in well-controlled type II diabetes. (Diabetes requires professional treatment, so consult your physician about using ginseng.)
12. Goldenseal for digestive-tract infections Goldenseal, an herbal antibiotic, is often marketed in combination with echinacea as a treatment for infections, but it is effective only in the digestive tract, not for colds or flu. At the University of Illinois in Chicago, researchers tested goldenseal against H. pylori, the bacteria that cause ulcers, and the herb inhibited bacterial growth. For gastrointestinal infections (e.g., ulcers, food poisoning, infectious diarrhea), ask your doctor about using goldenseal before trying it.
13. Lemon balm for anxiety and herpes Science has shown that lemon balm is tranquilizing. The herb and its oil have been used in Alzheimer’s units to calm agitation. To decompress after a tough day, try a cup of lemon-balm tea; for extra benefit, mix with chamomile. Lemon balm also has antiviral properties and has been shown to reduce the healing time of oral and genital herpes. German researchers gave people in the early stages of outbreaks lemon-balm cream or a placebo. The herb group had milder outbreaks that healed faster.
14. Milk thistle for liver health Silymarin in milk thistle seeds has a remarkable ability to protect the liver. This herb has been shown to help treat hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis. “In our analysis,” Blumenthal says, “a clear majority of studies support milk thistle for liver conditions.” Because most drugs are metabolized through the liver, herbalists recommend the herb for anyone taking liver-taxing medication.
15. Psyllium for digestive problems Psyllium is a tiny seed that contains mucilage, a soluble fiber that swells on exposure to water. For diarrhea, psyllium can absorb excess fluid in the gut. For constipation, it adds bulk to stool, which presses on the colon wall and triggers the nerves that produce the urge to go. When using psyllium, drink plenty of water.