A List of Herbs and Their Amazing Uses With Pictures

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Looking for a list of herbs and their uses? I've often needed a quick a reference myself in the past to look up a particular herb and find their uses. This article will do just that, I'll be listing several common herbs and listing the medicinal properties of each along with how you can use them. I'm aiming to make this your one source for finding information about your favorite herbs, so let's get to it. You can use the Quick Navigation feature down below to quickly locate a particular herb and by clicking the red chevron in the bottom right you'll be taken back to the top of this page. If you're looking for some easy to grow herbs be sure to check out our article covering 5 Useful and Easy to Grow Herbs.

​Aloe Vera

herb aloe vera

​The Aloe Vera plant is first on our list of herbs and their uses, and rightfully so. The Aloe plant has an abundance of medicinal properties and has been used for centuries for this reason. The Aloe plant is relatively easy to grow once it has been established, it doesn't need watered everyday or even every week for that matter. This makes the Aloe plant a great choice for people who are away often or for those who might forget to water it. Let's take a look at some of the medicinal properties of this herb that I mentioned earlier. 

Key Medicinal Uses​

  • Burns
  • Psoriasis
  • Diabetes
  • Colitis​
  • Immune Support
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Skin toner
  • Wound healer

How to Use

aloe gel for burns

Aloe gel for burns

​The most common uses for Aloe would have to be for treating burns, wounds and skin conditions. This along with the ease of growing an Aloe plant make it an excellent choice to have in your herbal first aid kit. The real magic of the Aloe Vera plant comes from the gel inside the leaves, to extract this all you need to do is take a knife and take off the thick skin on the outside of the leaf. The part you're after is the clear inner gel, sometimes referred to as the inner fillet, because you're sort of filleting the leaf. When used on minor burns you should run the affected area under cool water for about ten minutes before applying the Aloe gel. Continue to apply the gel several times per day for both burns and skin conditions. If you're using the Aloe gel for lowering blood sugar levels take about one tablespoon daily (be sure to use an aloe gel that's free of aloin if taking orally).

Caution

When using Aloe you want to be sure not to apply it to any open wounds. Also be careful when processing the leaves. As I mentioned above you want to make use of the clear gel part, and steer clear of the yellow sap​ that oozes out. While not a big deal when applying to the skin one should be aware of this yellow sap when taking aloe gel orally. This yellow sap is called aloin and if ingested will act as a laxative, if aloin is used for prolonged periods it can lead to depletion of electrolytes and dependence for normal bowl function.


Basil​

herbs basil

​Aside from being a great herb for the kitchen basil has a place as an herbal medicine as well. One reason I really like the basil plant is the fact that it's super easy to grow, you just need to be sure you water it from time to time. It's a very aromatic herb too having kind of a licorice smell and taste as well. One cool thing that I found you can do with basil is cloning it. Sounds crazy right? It actually is pretty easy all you have to do is find the plant you wish to clone (the parent plant) and trim about 3-4 inches down from the top of a stem. You'll want to make sure you make the cut just above a node. This area will be where a leaf attaches to the body of the stem and is where new growth takes place. Then you simply remove the lower leaves of the cut so that you're left with a stem containing 4-6 leaves on the top. After that you simply just need to place the cut into a shallow dish of water and wait for roots to sprout, then you simply just plant the new basil clone into some soil. To speed up the root growth I've found that applying a rooting hormone and some honey to the end of the stem helps a lot. As I mentioned above basil has a place as an herbal medicine so let's take a look at the properties of the basil plant that we can use.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antibacterial
  • Mild sedative
  • Relieves gas
  • Bites and Stings

How to Use

rooting hormone

Rooting hormone for cloning

As you might expect from an herb like basil it has a pretty profound effect on the digestive system and therefore works great for treating things like indigestion, bloating, and gas. When you're using basil to treat these problems I'd recommend taking around 2-4 grams per day taken orally. Basil can also be used to ease the effects of insect bites and stings, simply crush the leaves so the juices can be applied to the affected area. To help from getting bit or stung in the first place you can rub the juice on the skin in the same manner, basil works rather well as an insecticide so this should help repel the bugs.


​Calendula

herbal calendula

​Also known as pot marigold or poet's marigold, calendula is different than the common marigold that's usually seen in gardens. Unlike the common marigold calendula is edible and has very little scent. During medieval time in England the calendula herb was commonly used in stews, syrups, and breads. Calendula is also rather easy to start from seed and is able to adapt to many growing conditions making it an ideal herb to grow. The herb is found in many gardens all over the world for subarctic to tropic regions. Now let's take a look at the key medicinal uses that make calendula such a prized herb to have.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antifungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Wound healer
  • Antimicrobial
  • Blood Cleanser​
  • Dermatitis

​How to Use

Calendula salve

Calendula salve

Making creams, lotions, ointments, salves and soaps are the most common ways to use the calendula herb. Calendula has been used for centuries to treat skin conditions and infections in some minor wounds. The calendula herb can also be taken orally to help ease upset stomachs, ulcers and fevers as well. Most often you will see calendula applied externally to treat minor cuts, burns, bug bites and more. If you're using it to treat digestive disorders using the petals to make a tea or tincture is a great way to treat peptic ulcers and gastrointestinal infection. It's recommended that you take 3-5 grams a day to help ease these digestive disorders.

Caution

​If you're allergic to any plants in the Asteracae family you should steer away from using calendula. You could develop a sensitivity to any topical use which could lead to the development of a rash.


Cayenne Pepper​

cayenne pepper

​Probably best know for adding a little spice to your dish the cayenne pepper has much more to offer as a medicinal herb. Most lists of herbs tend to leave out the uses of cayenne pepper for whatever reason, but I feel that they are worth mentioning here. The use of cayenne can be found back as far as the Aztecs and Mayans; commonly they would use it for toothaches and infections. The main chemical responsible for the vast medicinal benefits is capsaicin, this is the same chemical that gives you that burning sensation when you bite into a jalapeno. If you're interested in tips for growing peppers check out the article we've previously posted.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antiseptic
  • Local analgesic
  • Counterirritant
  • Stimulant
  • Relieves gas
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve pain

​How to Use

cayenne capsules

Cayenne capsules

Most often you'll find the cayenne pepper being used as a cream, lotion or salve to treat problems like arthritis, shingles, joint and muscle pain related to fibromyalgia. It has also been shown to ease the pain of cluster headaches, improve circulation and relieve heartburn when taken orally. For nerve pain, apply a cream that contains about 0.075% capsaicin 3-4 times per day. You can also treat arthritis type pain by applying a cream with a concentration of about 0.025% 4 times a day. Often times it may take 6 to 8 weeks to see the results of cayenne begin to work, but just be patient and it will work. Capsules can also be found containing cayenne and are a great way to orally take your cayenne. In some cases cayenne pepper has also been know to decrease appetite and burn calories although this is probably only a small effect overall.

Caution​

Some times when capsaicin is applied to the skin it can cause a burning, stinging, redness and even a rash. Most often this rash is more irritation than anything and well get better after the first few uses. If the rash persists though you should stop the use as you may have an allergy towards capsaicin. Also capsaicin should never be applied to broken skin. Remember to where gloves if you're working with a higher concentration and don't touch your face, if you don't where gloves be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before making contact with your face. 


Chamomile​

chamomile

​The next herb on our list is chamomile, this is another great herb with a wide array of uses. The Spanish name for this herb is manzanilla which simply means "little apple" it's no surprise that the Spanish people gave it this name. When the leaves and petals are bruised they give off a very distinct apple aroma. There are two main species chamomile German chamomile and Roman or English chamomile, they're all similar in there medicinal effects but the Roman or English species have a more pronounced aroma than the German variety. Both varieties are relatively easy to grow from seed, in fact if they are left to seed on there own you'll find that they have grown back the next spring.  

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Digestive aid
  • Colic
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Eczema
  • Anti-allergenic
  • Anti-inflamatory
  • Wound healer

​How to Use

dried chamomile

Dried chamomile

Chamomile is very common in the form of a tea, it's simple to make a home too. Pour one cup of boiling water over 1 teasopoon of dried chamomile. Allow the tea 5-7 minutes to steep, the longer you let the tea steep, the more powerful the calming effects will be. Chamomile capsules can also be found and are a quick and easy way to get the benefits of Chamomile. Making a topical cream from chamomile is also a great way to relieve the symptoms of eczema, in fact it has been shown that a low dose of hydrocortisone cream showed the same results as that of the chamomile cream for treating eczema.

Caution

​In rare cases people have shown symptoms of an allergic reaction to chamomile this is generally people who have severe ragweed allergies. Generally speaking chamomile is a very safe herb though.


Chickweed​

chickweed herb

​Chickweed is an annual herb that can be found all over the world in temperate as well as arctic regions. An interesting characteristic of the chickweed is that it sleeps, at night the leaves will fold up covering the young buds and shoots. Chickweed is also known for being quite a nutritious herb and is a good choice to include in your salads.  The whole plant can be used both dried and fresh in herbal remedies. Let's have a look at the main medicinal uses now that this herb is best know for.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Astringent
  • Demulcent
  • Relieves itchiness
  • Cooling effect when applied topically

How to use

Chickweed salve

Chickweed salve

Chickweed is probably best know for it's ability to relieve itchy skin, and is used a lot in treatments for eczema, nettle rash, and bug bites. A simple chickweed slave can be made by mixing olive oil, chickweed, beeswax, and lavender for fragrance. Finely chop the chickweed and let it sit and dry for about 24 hours. Then you'll want to mix an equal amount of the chickweed and olive oil and blend the mixture for around 20 seconds. Next place the mixture in a metal dish suspended above another metal dish with water in it. Heat the water in the bottom dish to a boil, don't let the bottom of the top dish touch the water this could allow the mixture to get too hot. Stir the mixture frequently then strain through a cheese cloth. Then using the same method melt the beeswax and add the infused oil, stir to combine and then remove. The salve can be put in a jar for later use.

Caution

Chickweed can cause allergic skin reactions in some cases. The herb also contains saponins which are toxic in high doses it's been documented that cattle have died from eating too much of the herb. Although several pounds would need to be eaten to kill the animal.


Cinnamon​

cinnamon stick

​Another well know spice in the kitchen cinnamon is also known for it's medicinal properties. While not really an herb I still think it's important to list it in our list of herbs and their uses. Cinnamon actually comes from the inner bark of a tree in the laurel family. It's been used for centuries and was a hot commodity for trade in ancient times. In fact during the first century A.D. in Rome cinnamon was 15 times more expensive than silver. The Chinese were probably the first to use cinnamon as a medicinal herb and used it to treat fevers, and diarrhea. In more modern times cinnamon has been found to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics, as it has an insulin kind of effect.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Diabetes
  • Mild stimulant
  • Aromatic
  • Astringent
  • Antimicrobial
  • Relieves gas

How to Use

ground cinnamon

Ground cinnamon from Sri Lanka

The most significant use of cinnamon is to treat diabetes, take 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon daily to help level out blood sugar levels. Capsules of cinnamon can also be found the dosage varies but generally 1-6 grams of cinnamon capsules per day spaced out is a good amount. A nice little way to substitute cinnamon sugar would be to combine one cinnamon stick freshly ground with 6 teaspoons of stevia. This is great for adding to toast, oatmeal or fruit.

Caution

Ground cinnamon is very safe, the volatile oils can however cause a skin rash. Small amounts of coumarin can be found in Cassia and other cinnamons, generally only large doses of this compound will cause blood-thinning and liver problems, but it's something to be aware of. Also if you're planning on having surgery you should stop the use of cinnamon at least one week before going in as it has a blood thinning effect. You should also take care to monitor your blood sugar to avoid an unsafe drop in blood pressure.


Clove​

clove buds

It comes as a surprise to many that clove is actually a flower bud, these buds have to be picked at just the right time. Before flowering the buds will turn a deep red and this is the ideal time to harvest your clove. Clove buds come from an evergreen bush with vibrant pink flowers and purple berries. The clove plant does best in warm and humid regions. The earliest written record of the use of clove as a medicinal herb is by the Han Dynasty in China around 300 B.C. Like cinnamon clove was a prized spice and once rivaled the value of oil. Now let's take a look and see what some of the key medicinal properties of clove is and how we can use this herb.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Analgesic
  • Stimulant
  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-emetic
  • Antoxidant
  • Antimicrobial

How to Use

clove oil

Clove oil

For toothaches a clove or drop of clove oil on a cotton ball can be placed on the aching tooth. This method should be used sparingly however and do not place the oil on the gum. For nerve pain a diluted oil up to 3% max can be applied to the skin to treat problems such as shingles. In small doses clove powder can be useful for treating things such as nausea, indigestion, and bloating.

Caution

Never ingest the essential oil without carefully diluting it first, and in some cases external use can lead to dermatitis. Clove should be used sparingly and just be sure to monitor how your body reacts to it.


​Comfrey

herbal comfrey

​Comfrey's use dates back centuries to at least the time of the ancient Greeks. During the Middle Ages comfrey was a widely cultivated herb found extensively in the gardens of monasteries. Throughout the 1700's and 1800's comfrey was also a popular herb grown in many gardens across Europe as well as America. Sometime during the late 1970's however research revealed that comfrey when taken internally can cause severe liver damage so it has lost popularity and internal use is even banned in many countries. Applications in the from of ointments, poultices, or creams are still considered safe though. Comfrey can still be found growing wild in central Europe, and the eastern United States as well as  a few western states.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Demulcent
  • Wound healer
  • Astringent

How to Use

Comfrey ointment

Comfrey ointment

The best ways to use comfrey today are through gels, ointments, creams, liniments or poultices. You can find extracts that have the dangerous alkaloids removed while still have the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties retained. Massage any of these methods into a bruise, sore joint or muscle 3 - 4 times per day.

Caution

I mentioned earlier many countries have banned the use of internally taking comfrey, so I must caution you again to not take comfrey internally. The alkaloids found within it can be very damaging to the liver.


Dandelion​

dandelion herb in dish

​The dandelion is often thought of as a weed due to the fact that it can very easily over run a yard and choke out grass. Dandelions are actually a great herb, they offer plenty of nutritional benefits as well as medicinal, which is why it makes our list of herbs. One great thing about the dandelion herb is that the whole plant can be used from the flower down to the roots. The leaves make a great addition to salads and the flowers (when still yellow) can be eaten raw, cooked or made into a dandelion wine. Even the root of the dandelion can be consumed, usually it is roasted and ate or added to a nice cup of tea. Due to it's good diuretic properties dandelion is also sometimes called piss-a-bed. 

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Diuretic
  • Liver cleanser
  • Mild laxative
  • Kidney cleanser

How to Use

Dandelion tea

Dandelion tea

As I mentioned before the whole dandelion plant can be used. The root has many beneficial medicinal properties in the digestive system such as the stomach, liver, and pancreas. The dandelion root helps to increase digestive secretions and has also showed capabilities of stabilizing blood sugar levels. The leaf of the dandelion herb primarily acts on the kidneys helping with fluid clearance and even weight loss. Dandelion leaves are a common choice for those looking to lower blood pressure too. When combined with other herbs it works to effectively relieve skin problems such as acne, boils, and eczema.  

Caution

​Generally considered a safe herb dandelion can have a negative effect on people who have allergies to ragweed. Also be sure that any dandelions you pick have not been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.


Echinacea​

echinacea

​Next on our list of herbs is Echinacea also known as Black Sampson it is referred to by the native Americans of the plains as snake root, because it was traditionally used to treat snake bites. Natives have also used the plant to treat tooth aches. The Omaha-Ponca and Cheyenne Indians were probably the most notable groups to use the plant. They would rub the juices of the roots on their bodies to heal burns, or like mentioned above would use it to treat toothaches. Today echinacea is used to boost the immune system and speed up recovery of the common cold. There are three common types of Echinacea; Echinacea purpurea is the most common it can be found from Georgia to Oklahoma, north to Michigan and east to Ohio. Echinacea pallida is most commonly found in open woods and prairies, people in states like Michigan, Arkansas, Texas and here in Nebraska can find this species of Echinacea. Echinacea angustifolia tends to grow on roadsides, prairies, and outcrops; people living in Texas all the way north through the Dakotas and southern Saskatchewan you can also expect to find it growing in Montana and Colorado.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Colds and flus
  • Wound healer
  • Blood cleanser
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Immune-enhancing

How to Use

echinacea extract

Echinacea extract

Echinacea can be taken as a tincture, tablet, or capsule to help speed up the recovery time of colds, chest infections, and sore throats. For sore throats gargle a diluted tincture of echinacea to help ease the symptoms. Like I mentioned earlier echinacea can be used to treat tooth aches, all you need to do is chew on the root. I can remember doing this in high school when we practiced range judging, and it is a very effective way of treating a tooth ache. A more desirable method however might be to turn the root into a tea rather than chewing on it.

Caution

In some case Echinacea has been know to cause an allergic reaction. This is probably due to an allergy coming from plants of the Asteracae (daisy) family. You shouldn't consume Echinacea if you have an autoimmune condition.


Garlic

garlic herb

​Garlic another herb commonly used in the kitchen also has its place here in our list of herbs. Garlic has been used for thousands of years and was thought to increase strength and stamina, it was used by the first Olympic athletes of Greece which very well could make it one of the first performance enhancing substances. From vampires to witches garlic was also used to ward off evil entities, in spells and charms. In the Middle Ages monasteries would grow garlic to treat digestive, kidney, and breathing issues. During World War II the Russians reportedly ate a lot of garlic and some say it helped keep them alive through the hard times. Today a lot of the use garlic get is to treat and prevent heart disease,  regulate cholesterol levels, reduce high blood pressure and strengthen the immune system. Garlic grows well all over the world where vegetable gardens can be made. Even grown indoors garlic can do quite well, you can actually take a clove of garlic and grow an entire garlic plant from that one clove. The next time you're at the grocery store buy some garlic, take one of the cloves and plant in some moist soil with the pointed end up. Continue to regularly water the clove and in no time at all you'll have a nice garlic plant. Garlic is perhaps one of the most important and often overlooked medicinal herbs on the planet, which is why I had to include it into our list of herbs.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antibiotic
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Blood-thinner
  • Supports beneficial intestinal flora
  • Counters cough and respiratory infection
  • Antifungal
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Diarrhea
  • Heart health

How to Use

Garlic capsules

Garlic capsules

Raw garlic is simply the best form of the herb to eat, when you cook garlic you destroy a lot of the constituents responsible for its medicinal properties. Aside from eating garlic raw you can also crush up a few cloves of garlic and add it too some olive oil which can then be put on a salad. You can also purchase garlic capsules these are a great way to get the main constituents of garlic into your body. Try and look for products containing allicin this is one of the top ingredients found in garlic.

Caution

Generally garlic is safe when taken in a regular diet. There is a small risk that can occur however when eating large doses of garlic daily, taking more than 4 cloves per day can affect the bodies platelets hindering them from forming clots. You should reduce use of garlic around 2 weeks before having any type of surgery and if you're taking anticoagulant medications.


Ginger​

ginger root

​Ginger is a very popular herb used in cooking, its native to Asia and has been used for over 4,400 years. During ancient times it was used by Indian, Chinese, and Arab medicines. It was so highly prized during the Middle Ages that they thought it actually came from the Garden of Eden. Today you can find ginger being used to treat problems associated with motion sickness. Teas are also made from the root to cure a number of ailments. The Greeks and Romans are probably the first to introduce ginger to Europe at least 2,000 years ago. This probably happened due to trading through the Arabian Peninsula.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Motion sickness
  • Inflammation
  • Coughs and colds
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anti-emetic
  • Antioxidant
  • Circulatory stimulant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Stimulates sweating
  • Digestive tonic

How to Use

ginger root

Fresh ginger root

To treat colds or coughs you can make a nice ginger tea by cutting about one inch of ginger root into small pieces and adding to two cups of water and simmering for fifteen minutes. Ginger can also be found in capsules like a lot of other herbs and is a great way to get your dose of ginger for the day. Extracts are also available but are generally used only to treat osteoarthritis.

Caution

Ginger is actually a very safe herb to use it can however cause some heartburn. Also women who are pregnant shouldn't consume more than one gram per day. In addition to that you also shouldn't combine high doses of ginger with blood thinners.


Ginkgo​ Biloba

ginkgo leaf

​Ginkgo Biloba has been used for thousands of years in herbal medicine. Probably first used by the Chinese, today it is used widely in both the United States and Europe. Ginkgo actually comes from the leaves of a the Ginkgo tree, while probably not an herb you would plant in your garden I still think it's a great herb to include in our list of herbs. Over the years Ginkgo Biloba has gained a reputation of being beneficial to the brain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center the two main constituents found in Ginkgo are flavonoids and terpenoids, both are antioxidants. Flavonoids have been shown to aid in the protection of nerves, heart, and blood vessels. Terpenoids are probably where ginkgo gains it's reputation for being beneficial to the brain, terpenoids help improve blood flow to the brain by dilating blood vessels and prevents platelets from sticking to each other.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Mental health/performance
  • Antioxidant
  • Improve circulation
  • Protects nerve tissue

How to Use

Ginkgo Capsules

Ginkgo Capsules

Like I mentioned earlier Ginkgo helps increase the blood flow to the brain, so it comes as no surprise that this herb can aid in cognitive function and memory. It has also been shown to help with symptoms associated with the central nervous system such as tinnitus and vertigo. The brain isn't the only place Ginkgo will increase circulation in fact the whole body from the toes to your head have increased circulation when taking the herb. Most commonly Ginkgo is taken orally via capsules, these can be found for a reasonable price at Walgreens, CVS or the like.

Caution​

It should be noted that if you're taking any medications to prevent blood clotting you should not take Ginkgo and you should stop the use of Ginkgo at least three days prior to surgery.​


Lavender​

lavender field

​Lavender is probably best noted for its fragrance and is a great herb to use for a stressful day. The lavender is commonly used in soaps, detergents, or just as an essential oil due to the calming effects it produces from the fragrance. Lavender is also commonly used in teas for the same reason. The history of lavender is quite long stretching back about 2500 years to the Mediterranean. Today it is mostly grown for its uses as an essential oil. In addition to brewing tea with lavender it also ha many other culinary types of uses, lavender can add a floral type of taste with a little sweetness. It works great in some seafood, soups, salads, and baked goods.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antidepressant
  • Sedation effects
  • Antiseptic
  • Analgesic
  • Relieves gas
  • Antispasmodic

How to Use

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender Essential Oil

As I mentioned earlier lavender is a very commonly used for its essential oil; the sedating, soothing and relaxing properties of the lavender oil make it great for headaches. You can add some to homemade soap or put a few drops into your bathtub. I like to use my humidifier and place a few drops into the medicine dish. This is a great way to get the lavender oil into the air and keeps your room more humid too. The lavender oil can also be massaged into the skin to relieve any sort of aches and pains you might have as well. Teas are also a great way get the benefits of lavender, when you're steeping a cup of tea just drop a few sprigs of lavender into the cup and let it steep as well.

Caution

​Lavender is actually a very safe herb to use although I wouldn't recommend directly ingesting the essential oil, this could induce unwanted side effects.


Lemon Balm​

lemon balm herb

​Lemon balm is another herb with a potent fragrance, rubbing the leaves releases a somewhat minty and lemony scent into the air. First used by the Greeks over 2000 years ago lemon balm has a long standing use in herbal medicine. Back then the Greeks as well as the Romans would infuse there wine with the lemon balm to relieve fevers. Today lemon balm is often paired with other herbs such as valerian and hops for sleep promotion and relaxation. Its gaining popularity as some what of a nootropic as well, some studies have shown it to improve learning, and memory recall too. So its no surprise that a lot of herbal practitioners are recommending lemon balm as a treatment to Alzheimer's.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Insect repellent
  • Antispasmodic
  • Relieves gas
  • Relaxant
  • Antiviral
  • Antidepressant
  • Anxiety and stress

How to Use

Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon Balm Tea

There are actually several ways to use lemon balm making it a versatile herb both in the ailments it treats and  the way it can be administered. Teas are a great way to gain the benefits of lemon balm. You can steep about 5 or 6 fresh leaves in a cup of water for six minutes and strain. Try adding some honey or stevia to sweeten the deal up and add a little mint for an extra layer of flavor. Tinctures, extracts, and ointments are all also widely available for lemon balm and all are quite effective.


Neem​

neem leaves

​Neem has a very long history as a medicinal herb in fact the history of neem stretches back all the way to one of the oldest texts known to man. The properties of neem are spoken of in some of the ancient Sanskrit and the Sanskrit word for neem (nimba) actually means "good health". Neem is a tree so it can be hard for some to classify it as an herb but I just couldn't leave this one out of our list of herbs. After all the people of India have been using neem for over 4,000 years now so it is something to consider when talking about herbs. Today neem is used for many reasons including skin treatment for eczema, scabies, head lice, and psoriasis. In addition to being good for the skin neem is also renowned for its benefits on your hair too. 

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Blood cleanser
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Anitbacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Relieves itchiness
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Immune support

How to Use

Neem salve in tin

Neem and Vitamin E Salve

If you're looking to use neem as a skin toner, simply boil around 20 neem leaves in half a liter of water, once the leaves become soft and discolored and the water turns green you can strain them. Keep the liquid in a bottle and when you're ready to use it just take a cotton ball wet it down with the liquid and apply it to your face. This will prevent acne and blackheads from occurring. You can also use it to prevent skin infections simply by adding a little to your bath water.

Caution

You should only give neem topically to children. Women who are nursing or pregnant should not use neem.​


Nettle​

stinging nettle uses

​Stinging nettles are an interesting herb that we have growing rampant here in Nebraska. Stinging nettles are probably best known for... you guessed it their sting. The nettle plant has  sharp spines that are revealed upon contact and once they penetrate the skin of the victim they release a concoction of chemicals into the body. This is where you get that burning/itchy feeling from, the nettle plant releases a mix of histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, and formic acid. Surprisingly the treatment for this burning sensation can be found via the plant itself; the juice from the nettle's leaves can be applied to the affected area. Aside from the painful sting of the nettle plant it is actually a very beneficial herb and undoubtedly deserves to be in our list of herbs here. 

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Anti-allergenic
  • Diuretic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Blood cleanser
  • Tonic

How to Use

bag of nettle leaves

1lb Bag of Nettle Leaves

The nettle plant can actually be used in a variety of ways, teas, capsules, tinctures, and extracts are all great ways to get the benefits of the nettle. Capsules can be found and used to help manage hay fever symptoms, anywhere from 300 to 800 mg is generally the recommended dosage. Teas are often consumed to gain the strong diuretic effects that nettles have, because of this diuretic effect it has been used for things such as arthritis, prostate health, and high blood pressure.

Caution

Nettles does have a few possible side effects that you should be aware of. Upset stomach, rash and impotence are all possible but are rare. If you're taking any medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety or insomnia you should talk to your doctor before taking the nettle herb.​


Oregano​

oregano herb

​Yet another culinary herb makes our list of medicinal herbs. Oregano is way up on my list for sure as far as culinary herbs go I love this stuff. Oregano is actually part of the mint family and originated in warm climates in Eurasia and the Mediterranean. First used by the Greeks in ancient times they believed that oregano was created by the Goddess Aphrodite, oregano comes stems from two Greek words the first oros, which means "mountains" and the second ganos, meaning "joy" put it together and you get "joy of the mountains". It wasn't until the middle ages that oregano really took off as a medicinal herb where  people would use the herb to treat toothaches, rheumatism, indigestion and coughing.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antifungal
  • Expectorant
  • Stimulent
  • Antiseptic
  • Antioxidant

How to Use

oregano oil

Undiluted Oregano Oil

As you might have expected oregano has a lengthy list of ways you can use it in the kitchen. Those are all great ways but you can do other things with oregano other than adding it to a pasta dish. Make a tea from it, this is a great way to speed up the recovery time of an illness. Oregano oil that has been diluted in either coconut or olive oil can be applied topically to treat ringworm, athletes foot, and warts.

Caution

While oregano is great for many people some people will find that their skin becomes irritated by the oil. This is why you should use only a small amount to test the waters and be sure to only use diluted oregano oil when using.


Peppermint​

peppermint herb uses

​Peppermint is a very well known herb today because of the amazing aroma it has when the leaves are bruised. It's used in so many different ways both culinary and medicinal it's hard to not include peppermint in our list of herbs. Peppermint originally came from England some time in the late seventeenth century and is actually a hybrid that comes from the water mint and spearmint. Peppermint was also extensively used in Ancient Egypt where they used it for indigestion, dried peppermint leaves have even been found inside of the pyramids that the Egyptians had built. During the eighteenth century peppermint became popular in Western Europe for treating things like nausea, morning sickness, and respiratory infections.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Relieves gas
  • Mild bitter
  • Mild sedative
  • Antiseptic
  • Diaphoretic
  • Mild analgesic
  • Antispasmodic

How to Use

peppermint oil

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is a great herb to have when it come to combating the flu and colds. Peppermint has the ability to alleviate the symptoms of a sore throat by cooling and soothing the pain, this is due to the menthol that is found inside of peppermint. Make a tea with some peppermint and add a little honey with lemon, it's a great way to reduce the symptoms of a sore throat. If your sinuses are congested try adding some peppermint oil right into your humidifier (the ones with the medicine chamber).

Caution

Peppermint is a very safe herb to use but if you have sensitive skin you may want to avoid using the oil or dilute it so that your skin won't be irritated by it.​


Plantain​

plantain

​Plantain is quite possibly one of the first herbs to make its way to America from Europe. Originally brought over by the Puritan colonists plantain was called "white man's footprint" by the native Americans because of its ability to thrive where ever the new colonists had planted it. Plantain grows world wide now often thought of as a weed, it does however have some powerful medicinal benefits that shouldn't go unnoticed. Plantains ability to heal wounds such as cuts, burns, and swelling have been noted all the way back to medieval Europe. In addition to being a powerful wound healer plantain also shows promising results for treating ailments such as edema, jaundice, ear infections, ringworm, and shingles. The main constituents responsible for plantain's healing properties are aucubin, allatonin, mucilage, flavonoids, caffeic acid, and alcohols found in the wax of plantain's leaves. All these combine to make it a must have in your herbal first aid kit.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Wound healer
  • Demulcent
  • Anticatarrhal
  • Antihemorrhagic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic
  • Antiviral

How to Use

plantain leaves

4 oz bag of Plantain Leaves

Plantain has a pretty lengthy list of uses it can be used to treat acne by applying a salve or tincture to the area, crushing the leaves can make for an effective sunburn remedy. Just from these two uses alone you can see that plantain would make a great herb for any prepper, but the benefits of plantain don't stop there. The ability that plantain has for treating cuts and healing wounds makes it a great herb to know when in the wilderness and to keep in your herbal first aid kit. Plantain can also be used to treat colds, the flu, and respiratory infections by brewing a tea with it.


Sage​

sage herb

​Sage also has some medicinal properties like most of its fellow culinary herbs. It has traits that allow it to ease sore throats as well as coughs and colds. Sage was used in Egypt during ancient times to ward off evil, snakebites and to increase the fertility in women and in India sage was used to treat sore throats and indigestion. Sage has been grown in herb gardens and kitchens since medieval times when the Romans introduced it to Europe. Today sage can be found in a wide variety of natural products being sold. This makes sage a great herb for preppers because it means they too can make these natural products. Deodorants are often made from sage because of its antiperspirant properties, and mouthwashes are common due to sage's ability to kill bacteria.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Astringent
  • Antimicrobial
  • Reduces sweating
  • Estrogenic
  • General tonic
  • Antioxidant
  • Digestive tonic

How to Use

organic sage tea

Organic Sage Tea

Teas are a great way to get the benefits of sage all you need to do is steep one teaspoon of sage in a cup of water for about 10 minutes. You can also make a pretty awesome sore throat reliever by combining sage and thyme. Take an ounce of both grind them, and cover them with 16 ounces of apple cider vinegar. Be sure to shake it periodically and let it sit for ten days before using.

Caution

A word of caution about sage though, it contains a chemicals known as thujones in its essential oils. Its safe in normal culinary uses but caution should be taken for higher does and alcohol extracts are not advised.


Skullcap​

skullcap herb

​Skullcap is yet another herb of the mint family, the first medicinal use of skullcap can probably be found by looking into the lives of the Native Americans. The roots of skullcap were used as a remedy for things such as diarrhea and kidney problems. It wasn't until the settlers came that skullcap gained a reputation of being a sedative. They used it for a whole host of problems including fevers, anxious nerves, and even rabies. Today skullcap is most often found being used as a mild relaxant to treat anxiety, insomnia, tension headaches and fibromyalgia. When it comes to growing skullcap for your herb garden you have to realize that there is the North American variety and the Chinese type as well. The Chinese skullcap is the much hardier variety and well grow well in both warm or cool climates and handles drought very well. The North American skullcap however requires a very rich, moist and slightly acidic soil, so conditions have to be more precise in order to get the North American variety to grow. 

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Sedative
  • Mild bitter
  • Nerve tonic
  • Antispasmodic

How to Use

skullcap capsules

Skullcap Capsules

Skullcap tea can be made by steeping one ounce of skullcap in a pint of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drink this in 1/2 cup dosages every few hours to relieve headaches and anxiety. Capsules are also a great quick way to get the benefits of skullcap if you don't have the time to make a tea.

Caution

Caution should be taken when using skullcap it is a powerful herb and some reports suggest that it causes damage to the liver, never take skullcap if you have problems with your liver.


Turmeric​

turmeric root

​Even though it's more of a spice than an herb I couldn't help but include turmeric in the list of herbs. Turmeric has a long standing tradition in Hinduism and is associated with purity and cleansing. Still today Hindu brides will take part in a ceremony where they will cover their faces in a turmeric paste before taking their vows. Marco Polo once described turmeric as being a vegetable with qualities resembling that of saffron. It wasn't until about the mid 20th century when people from the west started to recognize turmeric for its medicinal benefits. Curcumin is the main ingredient found in turmeric that gives it these benefits, the concentration of curcumin in turmeric is around 3% this is why it is more beneficial to take an extract of turmeric.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Protects the liver
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory

How to Use

turmeric powder

1 lb bag of Turmeric

One of the best and well known ways to get the benefits of turmeric is to just simply eat it. Maybe not plain but adding it to dishes is a great way. Don't be fooled into thinking that eating turmeric in food is the only way to reap the benefits of this amazing herb. You can use it in teas too, or as a toothpaste you can on occasions dip your tooth brush into some turmeric powder brush it onto your teeth and allow it to sit for about 3 minutes. It won't stain your teeth but the same can't be said for your toothbrush or sink. You can also make a turmeric paste by mixing some of powdered turmeric with a little water and use it topically.


Valerian​

valerian herb

​My personal favorite so far for promoting relaxation has got to be Valerian root. Like a lot of the others in this list of herbs Valerian was probably first used by the Greeks and Romans centuries ago. They used Valerian to treat disorders associated with the liver, urinary tract and digestive tract. Valerian was once used to treat people suffering from the plague. Your cat will love Valerian too! People use to use Valerian in sort of the same way we use catnip today. Some people said that you could judge the potency of the Valerian by the reaction the cat had to the herb. In addition to being a cat attractant rats are also found of the foul smell and it was once used in rat traps. Today Valerian root is most commonly found as a sleep aid and anxiety relief supplement. 

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Mild analgesic
  • Mild bitter
  • Tranquilizer
  • Antispasmodic

How to Use

valerian root capsules

Valerian Root Capsules

If you're looking for a better nights sleep here's what I do; I take 2-3 Valerian root capsules in conjunction with 5mg of melatonin and it does a really good job at giving me a good nights rest. It isn't super overpowering but it helps to put me in that sleep mode and stay there all night.

Caution

While valerian is thought to be generally pretty safe there are some possible side effects that you need to be aware of. If you experience any head aches, nausea, upper stomach pain you may want to stop use. Other less severe side effects include brain fog, dry mouth, strange dreams, and drowsiness.​


Witch Hazel​

witch hazel

​Witch hazel is an interesting herb that I've only recently found out about, it has been used for centuries by the Native Americans though.  When I was researching witch hazel I assumed that it got its name for warding off witches or something, but it actually was used as a witching stick for locating underground sources of water and or precious minerals. Witch hazel might not be considered an herb by some due to the fact it is a woody shrub, but it has very strong astringent and antiseptic properties so I just had to include it in the list of herbs along with its uses. Today you can find witch hazel in pretty much any drugstore in the form of witch hazel water (an alcohol extract of the twigs). The only problem with this is that most of the time the extract contains very little of the actual herb, and most of the effects might actually come from the alcohol itself.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Helps stop bleeding
  • Astringent

How to Use

witch hazel tonic

Thayers Witch Hazel

Probably the best way to use witch hazel is to make a tonic with it. To do this you need a 1/2 lb of bark from the witch hazel tree, distilled water, and vodka. Mix the witch hazel and enough water to cover the bark by about 1-2 inches. Bring that to a boil and let it simmer for around 20 minutes with a lid on. After that remove the bark by straining it out and add half the volume of your tea in alcohol. So if you have 20 ounces of tea add 10 ounces of the alcohol. Thayers toner is also a great choice if you just want it pre-made it includes aloe vera in it as well.


Yarrow​

Yarrow herb

​Yarrow is a great herb for the herbal first aid  kit. It works good for stopping the blood flow of minor cuts its also used to heal bruises and to alleviate symptoms associated with colds, flues, and fevers. Native Americans used Yarrow calling it "life medicine" they used it to treat earaches and toothaches alike. Its said that Achilles of Greece used Yarrow to heal his soldiers during the Trojan War, in fact Yarrow's genus Achillea comes from the name Achilles. A lot of people through out the history of people have used Yarrow as sort of a standby herb and that is why I've decided to include it in our list of herbs.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Astringent
  • Digestive tonic
  • Strengthens blood vessels
  • Stops bleeding
  • Wound healer
  • Stimulates sweating
  • Reduces fever

How to Use

Yarrow Tea

Yarrow Tea

A great way to get the benefits of Yarrow is to ingest it as a tea, this can be used to reduce fevers, and speed recovery time of colds and flues. You can also make Yarrow into a cream or ointment that can be applied to small cuts that will slow or stop bleeding.

Caution

You shouldn't use Yarrow if you're pregnant or nursing, in some rare cases Yarrow has been shown to cause allergic reactions especially on the skin.


Thanks for reading! If you don't see an herb in this list let me know in the comments section below and I'll try to get the herb and its uses up asap. If you have any questions or feedback feel free to shoot us an email or leave a comment, and be sure to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

-Brady​