6 Helpful Herbs You May Not Have Heard Of But Should

Scroll

I think it would be fair to say that everybody is familiar with quite a handful of herbs, like basil, mint, parsley and coriander. But how many people know what else herbs can do, more than simply adding flavour and colour to their favourite dishes?

Herbs also have a wealth of healing and restorative powers that are pretty darn impressive. They have a long history of traditional use as cures by herbalists and apothecaries throughout the centuries to help anything from:

  • stress
  • infection
  • inflammation
  • skin healing
  • digestion
  • through to restoring the body’s homeostasis

There is a world of herbaceous plants out there you might not know about. Most of these wondrous herbs can be made into effective herbal tonics, teas, tinctures and supplements. For this reason, here I give you 6 amazing herbs you may never have heard of but should:

6 Helpful Herbs Milk thistle

No. 1 – Milk Thistle

Milk thistle (AKA Silybummarianum) is a herb native to southern Europe and southern Russia. It contains a range of therapeutic compounds known collectively as silymarin.
Milk thistle has a long history of use as a herbal medicine, largely for ailments of the liver. It’s used for its protective and restorative qualities as well as its detoxification properties.

Milk Thistle helps to prevent liver destruction and enhance liver function. It does so through its ability to prevent toxin-induced damage from toxic substances including alcohol, drugs and chemicals. It also stimulates the growth of new liver cells to replace old damaged cells allowing for regeneration to occur.

Silymarin in milk thistle shows to stimulate the production of glutathione. As a result, it helps to raise the liver’s detoxification potential in order to handle a wide range of hormones, drugs and chemicals.
For anyone reading this who is keen on the ole glass of wine, followed by a couple too many more, this is one useful herb. Especially if you suffer from the inevitable hangover that follows!

You may find some solace in this herb for its traditional use in relieving symptoms of overindulgence from both food and drink. As a result, this allows you to detox the unwanted toxins and make you feel more human!

There is also antioxidant activity within milk thistle which neutralises harmful substances called free radicals which can damage cells. In particular, silymarin protects oxidative damage to the lipid membrane which surrounds liver cells.

Taking Milk Thistle for a month in spring and autumn is best but whenever you do it, your liver will be thankful.

Try A.Vogel’s Milk Thistle Tincture or Milk Thistle Tablets.

6 Helpful Herbs Passionflower

No. 2 – Passionflower (Passifloraincarnata)

Passionflower is a fantastic remedy for anyone feeling:

  • burned out
  • exhausted
  • nervous
  • anxious
  • having trouble sleeping

It’s a great remedy if you feel a sense of being exhausted but unable to rest because the thoughts in your head keep spinning wildly and uncontrollably. Perhaps you also suffer from heart palpitations or constant bouts of anxiety, in which case this herb is great for that also.

Passion flower is a wonderful natural sedative, a nerve calming agent and a sleep aid. It is often able to help people relax, unwind and enjoy a well deserved good night’s sleep.

With its nerve-calming properties, ability to work as a natural sedative, relaxant and antispasmodic, passionflower is great at helping to treat:

  • nervous excitability
  • anxiety
  • an over-active brain
  • sleeplessness due to mental restlessness.

It’s a definite Nourish staff favourite to help those who are suffering from these symptoms. Plus to help them to unwind and distress, and ease into a good sleep at the end of the day.

If you are in need of alleviating your nervousness, anxiety or insomnia without becoming dependent or suffering from any unwanted effects, Passionflower is a fantastic herb to try.

This plant is effective in both tea and tincture form. A Vogel Passiflora complex is a lovely herbal blend in a tincture form. It combines passiflora and Avena sativa and is highly supportive to those prone to worrying or feeling under pressure.

6 Helpful Herbs Agnus Castus

No. 3 – Agnus Castus

Traditionally, Agnus Castus is a herbal remedy for the female reproductive system. It helps to regulate menstrual cycles and relieve premenstrual symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, menstrual cramps, breast tenderness and bloating.

Agnus Castus has centuries-old traditional use in Europe as an important remedy for aiding the female reproductive system. Indeed, it still remains one of the most commonly used herbs for regulating hormones and relieving menstrual difficulties. It may even aid the treatment of amenorrhea, dysmenorrheal, fibroid cysts of the uterus and endometriosis.

The basic mechanism of action underlying agnus castus is its effect on enhancing corpus luteal development (thereby correcting a relative progesterone deficiency). It does so via effects through the pituitary gland. Working its magic on the hypothalamus and pituitary function, the herb helps to normalize other hormones and reduce both prolactin and the oestrogen-to-progesterone ratio.

It needs to be taken every day of the month, and it can take up to 3 months to reach its full effect. However, if you think about it, that’s only 3 cycles and the majority of women notice improvements within the first 1-2 cycles.

It’s worth noting however that Agnus castus cannot be used alongside any other hormone-balancing products, such as the Pill. The reason for the contraindications is that contraceptives work by deliberately creating an imbalance in your hormones. Agnus castus will be on a mission to rebalance them and in doing so, could counteract the medication and prevent it from working.

Try A.Vogel’s Agnus Cactus drops.

6 Helpful Herbs Californian poppy

No. 4 – Californian Poppy

Californian Poppy is an excellent herbal remedy for:

  • encouraging sleep
  • supporting the nervous system
  • helping to balance the emotions
  • calm the body in times of stress

Californian poppy is used as a natural sedative and hypnotic for adults and children. It helps to reduce anxiety and tension and induce sleep in adults. For children, it aids where there is over-excitability and sleeplessness.

Californian Poppy contains alkaloids and in particular one called californidine. This contributes to the plant’s natural hypnotic properties which help to induce sleep. Furthermore, it helps in reducing sleeping problems. In particular, nightmares, waking during the night and difficulties falling asleep. Even better is there are no side effects of drowsiness, addiction or disorientation when using this herb, unlike some western medicines.

This herb can also be used to ease depression, tension headaches, migraines, restlessness and agitation. Plus, it is particularly good for people who find it hard to relax and let go, or for those who push themselves too hard, usually to the point of exhaustion or adrenal fatigue.

With its antispasmodic properties, Californian poppy can be used whenever an antispasmodic is required due. This is due to its muscle relaxing actions throughout the body. This makes it a really useful remedy for soothing tense, aching or sore muscles and treating stress-related gut problems. These include irritable bowel syndrome, those with a nervous bowel, colic and gallbladder pain.

Due to the calming effect on the nervous system, California poppy also helps to slow down a rapid heart raid, lower blood pressure and relieve palpitations, making it a nice herb for anxiety or nervousness.

Try Viridian’s Organic Californian Poppy tincture

Rhodiola

No. 5 – Rhodiola

Rhodiola is an amazing herb, and one you will find highly recommended throughout the Nourish stores. Especially when looking for a helpful remedy for combating stress, fighting fatigue or feeling blue.

Rhodiola helps you to meet the challenges of today’s fast-paced, high-stress world, with its anti-stress and fatigue-fighting properties. And did I mention its ability to promote energy, endurance and stamina?

Rhodiola is a top-notch adaptogen, demonstrating extraordinary support. This herb is wonderful in helping you to adapt better to both physical and mental stress. Rhodiola defends the body overall and protects general health and well-being.

Rhodiola is home to health-benefiting antioxidants, including a group of compounds rosin, rosavin and rosarin, known collectively as rosavin. Plus it contains salidroside. Both of these compounds show to have anti-stress, antidepressant and anti-anxiety actions on the body and mind.

These antioxidants help protect both the body and the mind against oxygen deprivation, enhance immune function, fight depression, improve energy levels and promote healthy sexual function in men and women. Not to mention the brain function support Rhodiola has to offer. This includes improved attention, memory, learning, thought formation, planning and calculating.

Try Viridian’s Maximum Potency Rhodiola Rosea Root capsules

Pukka Shatavari

No. 6 – Shatavari

Shatavari is a traditional Ayurvedic herb used for its:

  • antispasmodic
  • demulcent
  • digestive
  • diuretic properties

It is most commonly used for:

  •  infertility
  • loss of libido
  • menopausal problems
  • general women’s reproductive organ health

Shatavari is a climbing plant which grows in low jungles areas throughout India. Interestingly it is one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine for women.
The name Shatavari translates to “she who possesses 100 husbands”, referring to the herbs rejuvenating properties and the effect it has upon the female reproductive organs.

Shatavari supports reproductive health by toning and nourishing the female reproductive organs as well as maintaining a healthy hormonal balance. This makes it useful as a supportive herb for infertility, decreased libido, menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness and loss of libido. As well as this, it’s used to treat PMS symptoms by relieving the pain and controlling blood loss during menstruation.

Furthermore, this herb is also supportive to men and may be used in cases of sexual debility, impotence and inflammation of sexual organs.

In addition to the above benefits, Shatavari is also used for digestive issues thanks to its unctuous properties. This helps to moisturize the respiratory tract, reduce inflammation and encourage healthy peristalsis of the bowels.
Due to these demulcent properties, this soothing herb is great for dry and irritated membranes, such as those on the vaginal wall, or those in the upper respiratory tract as in the case of bronchitis, It helps to bring into balance all of the body’s fluids through its demulcent action.

Try Pukka’s Wholistic Shatavari Capsules.

And that’s it for 6 Helpful Herbs You May Not Have Heard Of But Should 🙂

Emily Nöth

Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.

Follow (and chat with us) on Facebook and Instagram or subscribe to our weekly Nourish newsletter.

Image of Nourish female staff member standing in doorway of shop

*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.

Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication.