11 Weird Herbs to Improve Your Health Abundantly + Free Plantopedia
We have a lot to learn about the plants of this earth. We have only scratched the surface in my opinion about what they can do. These 11 weird herbs heal, reduce inflammation, improve the health of your gut, regulate hormones, increase brain health, fight disease, and help us to maintain a beautiful homeostasis.
A secret about me really quick: I want to be a witch. A witch who knows everything about herbs and potions and plants. Basically, I want to be the aunts from Practical Magic. Alas, I am only me. BUT that does not mean I can't get educated about the wonders of herbs. Shoot, I could still become an herby witchy type of person. I just won't have the badass, Victorian house in New England.
So my new dream is to have a gigantic greenhouse + a massive pantry full of jars of miraculous plants. "What do you have? A headache? Depressed? Come into my apothecary, child." Fleetwood Mac is playing in the background and I'm wearing a shimmery, purple dress. Ah, I can see it now.
During my nutrition certification, I had a great affinity for the herbs. My attention seemed to steer toward their healing properties more than the other foods. They excited me. Still do. Every time I see an opportunity to purchase an herb that I have read about I am all over it, even if I don't have poison ivy or gout or whatever it will heal.
It all goes back to that dream with the greenhouse and magic pantry of jars. The library of herbal remedies for any ailment you could come up with. A catalogue of cures.
I don't have that so I just made my own natural remedy guide with a list of 70 herbs and plants next to what they do for the body - their main benefits, preventions and cures. I can't keep these plants and cures in my head at all times, anyway. So here it is:
Without further ado, let's talk about the funky, fabulous, weird, but healthy herbs that could make quite a holistic difference in our lives.
11 weird herbs to include in your diet to improve health:
1. Horny Goat Weed:
I want you to know that this herb is number 1 strictly because of its awesome name and erotic benefit.
A Chinese herb that goes by the name of Epimedium in more scientific circles. Icariin (get ready for some crazy words in this article) is the substance in Horny Goat Weed (I'm sorry but I just love the name of this herb, and that is why it's #1) that gives this herb its healing benefits. Icariin is a flavonoid compound. Flavonoids is an antioxidant.
Icariin is not the only antioxidant in Epimedium. Quercetin is also am important bioflavonoid available in the plant. Quercetin is important for anti-aging, eye health, the immune system and the cardiovascular system.
I know you're still wondering about the name. Well, farmers noticing that whenever goats ate this frisky little herb, they would become amorous around goats of the opposite sex. Hence the awesome name. There have been animal studies that have shown that Horny Goat Weed increases libido in both men and women:
- Increases testosterone levels in men
- Phytoestrogens which mimic estrogen in the body
- Increases circulation (to sexual organs)
- Icariin had PDE5 inhibitory properties which means that this plant works in the same class as erectile dysfunction drugs
- Balances cortisol and as a result, the sexual hormones of the endocrine system
On top of that, HGW has been shown to prevent bone loss. This herb may become the new, holistic erectile dysfunction drug.
This is an ancient Ayurvedic herb with a tar-like texture. Black and gooey, this herb contains a substance called fulvic acid that is responsible for many of the healing benefits of Shilajit. Even though it may be a very strange experience, this herb as an Ayurvedic subscription could benefit you in numerous ways:
- There have been studies in which the fulvic acid increases brain health, and with the help of B vitamins, even showed improvement of Alzheimer's symptoms. It also normalizes GABA levels, which is so important for the brain. Its association with GABA levels may mean it could alleviate pain as well
- Boosts energy: shown to increase the supply of ATP (the fuel the runs all the cells of the body) by working to accelerate the work of the mitochondria (organelles that serve as the power houses of all your cells by transforming oxygen and nutrients into ATP).
- It has been shown to balance hormones, and in some studies, has shown to increase testosterone levels in men.
- It could help those with diabetes, showing potential for repairing the pancreas and helping to reduce lipid numbers and blood glucose in the blood of diabetes patients
So this herb goes by a lot of names it seems. You might also hear St. John's herb, chrysanthemum weed, cronewort, and wild wormwood.
It seems that this herb, formally known as "Artemisia Vulgaris" after the moon goddess and women's patron Artemis, is the go-to herb for women in several different ways:
- Moxibustion: this herb is used during this acupuncture procedure to reverse breech babies and also
- To improve menstrual cycles
- Alleviates joint pain
It may also help to balance brain chemicals and so improve mood, preventing depression.
Not only that, but mugwort appears to be deadly for certain cancerous cells and is shown to be anti-malarial as well!
4. Boswellia Seratta:
Frankincense oil comes from the Boswellia genus of trees. Boswellia Seratta, specifically, is a tree native to India, and like everything having to do with India it seems, has been used to heal for centuries.
This particular Boswellia is highly anti-inflammatory. Substances within this herb inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines that could potentially damage the DNA of your cells, if inflammation is over-expressed. So this herb could reduce pain in the joints and other inflammatory issues, which are plentiful.
It also helps to regulate the immune system by regulating a number of different types of lymphocytes, which are white blood cells. Antibodies are also regulated by the compounds in this herb. All of this helps to prevent autoimmune diseases.
It's a natural anti-viral so it can be used to speed up healing during a virus.
Also known as "golden root," this plant is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are known to help our bodies adapt to every single kind of stress. I love adaptogens because I love anything that helps me deal with stress, whether it be from the environment, from work, from family, or from me. Rhodiola is an awesome adaptogen.
Fun fact: Vikings used it as fuel, to increase strength. And I mean the real Vikings, not the football team. Because Rhodiola has been used all over the world for thousands of years. It is a traditional Chinese medicine for reducing the effects of stress. (I don't know why these herbs got away from mainstream medicinals?!).
There are many chemical compounds in Rhodiola that make its effects happen, but there is one in particular called rosavin, which is special in its ability to regulate cortisol, which is the main hormone produced by the adrenals during the stress response. This comes up over and over again in the literature on Rhodiola. It seems to be key in the herb's ability to help us adapt to stresses.
Not only does reducing the stress response help us to level out, but it helps to reduce cravings that come with stress. Rosavin also helps to burn fat in the body, which simultaneously increases energy.
So let's count the ways:
- Boosts mental energy and physical stamina: Rhodiola is being studied as an aid to prevent brain fog, fatigue, and low energy due to sleep deprivation, exercise and adrenal fatigue. This is due to its ability to lower oxidative damage and cause an increase in the red blood cell count.
- Burns fat: Due to rosavin, which stimulates a hormone in the body that breaks down fat in adipose tissue - also less cravings due to less cortisol as well
- Fights depression and improves mood: Might help to increase sensitivity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin - can also help to repair damaged neuorns located in the hippocampus = great for brain health. Studies have shown the efficacy of Rhodiola for both depression and anxiety.
- Normalizes cortisol and stress:
- Cortisol, when chronic, can lead to accelerated aging so the ability to normalize cortisol levels mean slowing age-related symptoms of stress.
- Since cortisol raises blood sugar to provide immediate energy for the stress response, it also helps to normalize blood glucose levels.
- Because the endocrine and hormonal system is very connected and sensitive, normalizing the hormone cortisol helps to normalize all other hormones including the hormones of the thyroid and the sexual hormones.
Rhodiola should be taken by supplement or extract or tea or tincure according to official instructions about 15 minutes before a meal.
6. Devil's Claw:
This is a holistic medicinal that grows in southern Africa and Madagascar. What is supplemented is actually the roots of the Devil's Claw plant, which looks like it has actual claws on the plant. These claws are hook-like and hook on to the furs of animals to spread its seed, so that the herb may grow wherever it lands. It is also known the grapple plant or wood spider.
Devil's Claw has substances called iridoids which are compounds that attach to glucose molecules in a number of plants. The whole compound together is called an iridoid glucoside. These iridoids are anti-inflammatory and so are responsible for the powerful effects you'll read about in the next lines.
The main benefit that has been found is that it is one of the ultimate and leading medicinals in pain relief. It has been shown in numerous studies to reduce joint pain of all kinds including osteoarthritic pain and inflammation. Holistic doctors have been prescribing Devil's Claw for all kinds of pain, including joint pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis, lupus, etc. (before NSAIDS, and other addictive pain-killers hit the market). It has also been shown to reduce fast onset pain and chronic back pain.
Studies have shown amazing benefits in removing all kinds of pain and inflammation. Because of this, it may help to aid digestion because so often, inflammation is a major issue when it comes to effective digestion. Also related to its positive effects to reduce inflammation, it may help a host inflammatory kidney diseases.
Not only this, but research shows that this plant may slow or decrease a hormone called ghrelin, which tells the brain when you are hungry--so it may aid in weight loss for those who need this kind of help.
It is rich in antioxidants as well, decreasing oxidative stress in the body. These antioxidants have anti-spasmodic properties which is also beneficial for the gut.
It can be used in tablet or pill form as a supplement or as a tincture or in an ointment to put on the skin. Devil's Claw may increase acid in the stomach so those with heartburn should use with caution.
7. Slippery Elm:
This one's a tree bark also known as red elm. Native Americans have been using it as a salve to treat wounds and also ingesting the bark for relief of sicknesses like the flu.
The main benefit with this herb is how it soothes the gut. It also relieves constipation and diarrhea. The substance that makes this happen is called mucilage. Mucilage, when combined with water, forms into a gel that soothes all parts of your digestive system: from the mouth to the throat to the intestines. This could relieve everything from severe IBS to stomach bloat. This coating makes it a great medicinal for sore throats and coughs.
As a result of the benefits on the gut, this bark could move along any kind of weight-loss program, if needed.
It contains something called phenolics which help protect against the damages of stress. As a result of this, slippery elm could reduce long-term effects of anxiety.
It also contains a plethora of antioxidants which as always, help prevent sickness and reduce oxidative stress.
In one study, slippery elm was shown to help reduce symptoms of psoriasis.
When taking this herb, it is important not to take any medications with it as this may slow the absorption of the medication in the digestive tract due to the soothing coating, which is a good thing, but not if you're trying to absorb food or medication (so take or drink between meals).
The preferred method of ingestion in either tea, tincture, or tablets. It sounds like this one would be perfect for a detox.
If you're thinking about or need a plan for an upcoming detox, I have just the thing:
As long as we're talking about extremely beneficial roots, let's talk about goldenseal, which is an herb that belongs to the buttercup family! It grows in North America. It's the roots of this herb that serve us, also known as yellow root, orange root or yellow puccoon. The roots are going to be bitter but yield a host of benefits.
Alkaloids called berberine, canadine, and hydrastine. These are phytochemicals have antiseptic effects, reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar. They are antimicrocial (fight viruses, bacteria, and fungi).
So the effects of this herb because of those antimicrobial alkaloids are numerous. It can prevent and treat:
- eye infections
- vaginosis and urinary tract infections
- canker sores
- digestive issues (bitter herbs are always going to be good for digestion since they stimulate the gut, aid digestion and encourage the excretion of bile)
- Skin issues where microbes are the cause or irritant
Goldenseal is often used in skincare products. It is ingested by tea, tincture, tablets, and capsules.
This is the herb I have used the most. It's an adaptogen like Rhodiola in that it helps the body to adapt to stress from the environment, foods, emotions, and anything you breathe in. Like all adaptogens, it helps the body maintain homeostasis and balances the thyroid.
It is a member of the nightshade family. Some have issues with nightshades so that it is disclaimer. It also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry. The roots and leaves of this herb are used, and its benefits come from a group of steriodal lactones. It is a major component of Ayurveda.
Among its benefits:
- supports the thyroid
- relieving adrenal fatigue
- helps to relieve anxiety and stress as an adaptogenic
- helps to balance blood sugar and lessen insulin resistance
I love to make Ashwaghanda tea with some honey, coconut milk and a little bit of cinnamon.
10. Valerian Root:
Huge for those who struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep. The nervous, restless night wanderers of the world should all have a jar of this amazing herbal remedy.
It increases the brain's production of GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. A study showed that it not only stimulated GABA to be released into the synapses of the brain, but also prevented the GABA from being carried back into the neuron. This means that GABA keeps working for you, acting as a wonderful sedative, preventing anxiety.
Not only that, but valeneric acid in valerian root inhibits a certain enzyme that is known to destroy GABA. This means that this herb is an anti-anxiety med that's not actually a med with all the side effects and propensity toward addiction!
It has also been shown to reduce menstrual cramps since it's an antispasmodic muscle relaxer.
I mean...sign me up.
The root of this herb is ground up to make tinctures, teas, and supplements. It can help a number of different issues, including:
- Join pain from arthritis (anti-inflammatory)
- Skin problems
- Liver damage
- Low libido
- Muscle weakness
Why can it do all this stuff? It contains a few substances that help with all this. Sapones are anti-inflammatory compounds that also happen to be antimicrobial. Plant sterols in sarsaparilla benefit the gut and heart because of the high fiber content (when you heal the gut, you begin to heal everything). It is also abundant with flavonoid antioxidants and trace minerals.
I wanted to go out with a bang and give you an herb that could cure it all (well, a lot).
This list makes me so grateful and happy to know that we have been supplied lovingly with all we need on this earth. That the abundance is all around to support us.
There you have it! To name just a few! I highly recommend signing up to download my Plantopedia: A Natural Remedy Guide. It's free and serves as a quick option if there is ever an issue with you or anyone you care about. Just look up the symptom and choose the corresponding medicinal and get some!
Comment below if you have some go-to herbs or natural remedies for common ailments. Or if you just have something nice to say!
Please tap or click on those buttons below to spread the word that we are abundantly supported by this earth and can get along without the prescription meds. Sticking it to big pharma, I guess.