What is Herbology?

Herbology is based on a practice where plants (whole plant or bark), plant root, the flower or leaf, or even the extract of a plant can be a type of medicinal therapy used to promote health and prevent illness. There are situations where acute symptoms of illness can be resolved rather quickly using herbs, but more commonly the goal of herbal therapy is to stimulate the body’s own natural healing abilities. The ingestion of different herbs is primarily used to restore and maintain body digestion, sleep and elimination, but many other uses exist.

Herbalists are the trained practitioners who utilize herbal therapy. Well trained Herbalists are not only trained in the functions and potential impact of different herbs, but more importantly (hopefully) in the holistic approach to health and wellness. The connection between stress/emotional life issues and the impact on the physical body are the foundation of holistic wellness and good herbalists are trained to understand this mind-body connection.[1]

Consuming herbs to improve health is not quite as simple as a taking a quick visit to the health food section of a store. Products labeled as “natural” are not necessarily better for us (food and supplements) and consuming some herbs can actually cause problems for many people. Herbal products do not have to go through the testing that drugs do so the impact on the body can be less reliable than traditional medicines even though the foundation of many drugs comes from herbal sources. It is estimated that more than a quarter of all drugs used today contain active ingredients derived from those same ancient plants. Some herbs, such as comfrey and ephedra, can actually cause serious harm. Some herbs can also interact with prescription or over-the-counter medicines and cause more harm than good. Consultation with a health care provider is important prior to beginning the ingestion of herbal therapies and especially when under current traditional medicines.[2]

It’s estimated that nearly 80 percent of the world’s population use herbs for some aspect of primary health care. In the United States, more than 1,500 botanicals are sold as dietary supplements. The top-selling herbs include echinacea, garlic, goldenseal, ginseng, ginkgo, saw palmetto, aloe, ephedra, Siberian ginseng, and cranberry.[3]

 

Top 5 Herbal Remedies

While many herbal remedies can positive results, some herbs appear to get more attention than others. Below are links to some of the most popular herbs in health-food stores and supermarkets:

  • Chamomile is a popular variety of tea, but the chamomile plant is also used in a number of herbal remedies. To lean how to use chamomile to treat anxiety, cramping, and muscle pain, read Chamomile: Herbal Remedies.
  • Echinacea was used centuries ago by the Native Americans. Today many people take this herb to help fight off colds. Learn more about how echinacea can boost your immune system in Echinacea: Herbal Remedies.
  • Ginkgo, or Binkgo Biloba has received a lot of attention lately for its ability to improve circulation and brain activity. Learn more in Ginkgo: Herbal Remedies.
  • Ginseng has been used for thousands of years, but has recently found favor with a public looking for a natural energy-boost. Find out more in Ginseng: Herbal Remedies.
  • St. John’s Wort has been used by many as an herbal alternative to prescription medications for anxiety and depression. St. John’s Wort: Herbal Remedies will tell you if this herb has what it takes to relieve depression[4]
  • Green Tea research has shown that this extract promotes fat oxidation—the reduction or burning of fat. Some theorize that switching from coffee to green tea, which also provides a caffeine boost without raising insulin levels, can result in a steady weight loss over the course of a few weeks.

Here are some herbs that seem to assist in weight loss

  • Aloe Vera which improves digestion
  • Bee pollen which stimulates the metabolism
  • Licorice which helps sustain blood sugar levels and therefore reduce sweet cravings [5]

 

[1] Collins, Michelle, Introducing Herbalism; Allthingshealing.com

[2] National Institutes of Health, Herbal Medicine; www.nlm.nih.gov

[3] Consumer Guide, Herbal Remedies; www.health.howstuffworks.com

[4] Consumer Guide, Herbal Remedies; www.health.howstuffworks.com[5] The Natural Science of Herbology and maintaining Wellness; www.naturalhealers.com