The plant kingdom has more to offer us than we realize. Herbs of all kinds are here to alleviate symptoms of pain, promote healthy organ function, and even fend off terminal illness—all we need to do is slip them into tea, entrees, or tonics.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I walk into a health food store, I get lost in the herbal supplements aisle. I don’t know where to begin, even if I am tempted to shove every tincture and bottle into my basket.
If you’ve felt the same way and are keen to bring more vital green into your diet—and not just in terms of vegetable intake—this post is for you. I’ve researched some of the most essential herbal supplements on the market for various general needs, including those specific to women.
I recommend consulting a naturopath or herbalist for extended information and suggestions regarding dosage.
I discovered maca relatively recently when I snatched a Rebbl drink from the beverage aisle, intrigued by its soy-free, coconut-based, energy-boosting contents. The love affair with maca instantly began, and I’ve been riding it ever since.
Maca, a plant native to Peru, has been revered for centuries as a veritable food of the gods. It is actually known as Peruvian ginseng due to its similarity to the ginseng plant, native to eastern Asia and parts of North.
Maca is a cruciferous vegetable; its most edible portion is its root, which is typically harvested and ground into a powder. This powder appears in supplements, capsules, and tincture form.
This mighty root is packed full of Vitamin C (over 133% of your daily recommended intake value), copper (85% of the RDI), iron, and potassium. It has been used successfully to address male and female fertility issues, including libido, and hormone imbalances, particularly those associated with menopause in women.
Most importantly, maca root has been known to influence mood, athletic performance, and general energy levels positively. I like to turn to maca as a caffeine alternative, especially a coffee alternative—it provides a sustained stamina spike without the attendant coffee jitters or racing heart.
Try maca in a beverage like Rebbl or mix it into breakfast smoothies. You can also consume maca in supplement (capsule) form.
This South American fruit, known natively as custard apple or graviola, offers a host of surprising healing properties. It appears in many tropical desserts with a musky flavor reminiscent of papaya and pineapples. Yet soursop is so much more than a fruity epilogue to a tasty island meal!
It can also potentially fight against cancer, reduce risk of eye disease, and promote healthy immune system function. Soursop is also technically a superfruit, meaning that it has high amounts of Vitamin C and antioxidants that can aid in your body’s ability to fend off illness.
Studies also suggest that soursop has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it a valuable resource for fighting infections, especially those that are bacteria-based.
Read more about soursop here.
It’s best to consume soursop in its raw fruit flesh. But it may be possible to find soursop extract in certain health food stores.
Scientists are still exploring the health benefits of this mighty herb, but the body of research is fairly clear about what this root has to offer health-conscious individuals. Ashwagandha, while hard to pronounce, figures prominently in ancient medicinal philosophies and treatments, particularly Ayurveda.
Also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry, the ashwagandha plant is native to parts of India and Africa. This plant is known for its anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic properties (an adaptogen is a substance that fights against oxidative stress and the development of free radicals, both of which can lead to prominent strains of cancer).
Ashwagandha can also reduce the body’s levels of cortisol, the hormone released by adrenal glands in response to high-stress situations. If you struggle with stress on a daily basis—and likely lose sleep as a result—this mighty herb can help.
More research still needs to be done, but ashwagandha may also aid with male fertility issues, muscle building, and depression management.
I like to take ashwagandha supplements. I’ve even seen this herb in some organic beverages and teas.
Much like its twins in this post, American and Asian ginseng can promote vitality of all kinds. Ginseng boosts energy levels naturally, aids in stress reduction, and may even manage male sexual dysfunction.
Most scientists attribute the amazing benefits of ginseng to its high concentration of ginsenosides, chemical components that can influence a variety of functions in the body.
Much like caffeine, ginseng can improve cognitive function, promoting longer periods of concentration and focus. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an asset in infection management.
Do not take ginseng if you are currently taking antidepressants of any kind. I definitely recommend consuming ginseng as a caffeine alternative—pairing it with caffeine can be detrimental.
Find ginseng in tea or supplement form.
What’s not to love about turmeric? This humble herb is beautiful—a bright orange-yellow powder in spice form—flavorful, and ultimately healing. It is primarily known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in joint and muscle pain management.
These properties are largely due to the high concentrations of curcuminoids, extremely potent antioxidants. Curcuminoid can even increase your blood’s antioxidant capacity! It can even reduce your risk of heart disease and promote neurological function.
Individuals struggling with chronic depression may also find a healing remedy in turmeric. More studies, of course, need to be in place before this can be marked as definitive or conclusive.
I personally always opt to reach for a cannister of herbal supplements rather than a jar of synthetic pharmaceuticals when the need arises.
The beauty of herbal supplementing lies in the fact that turning to plant medicine may mean you no longer need that bottle of Aleve or that prescription from your doctor, particularly if you follow responsible dosage.
Be mindful of side effects when consuming these herbs and always consult a naturopath for more information. In the meantime, happy healing!