This guide presents a directory of 62 common herbs that are used medicinally to offer some level of healing and prevention and support for our body’s natural healing ability. Each herb includes the most common, general areas for which it has displayed some level of effectiveness, as well as some specific health benefits.

Tips for Optimizing Your Use of Herbal Remedies

1. Wholesome and natural is best.

Opt for fresh or dried, wholesome or powdered forms of any herbs you choose to use. For many medicinal herbs, it is best to naturally incorporate them, as possible and appropriate, into your diet, whether used to flavor foods, added to smoothies, or brewed as herbal teas. Beyond dietary use, we may also consider supplemental forms of herbs. Pure, liquid tinctures may often be better than any pills. If it has to be incorporated into a pill, tablet, or capsule, it has to undergo some form of processing. Processed, supplement-form herbs, also typically include other ingredients, some of which are unfavorable for optimal health.

2. Choose product quality over dollar quantity.

There are many forms that herbs come in today and many companies who provide them. While some offer economically-priced options, these rarely have the type of quality and purity that would be desirable for optimal outcomes. Source your herbs from reputable sources who provide organic, pure, and potent herbs, and perhaps even local and fresh options. Old herbs, weak or diluted formulas, herbs grown with pesticides, or ones tainted with impurities and fillers will have poor efficacy, while they introduce us to factors that are harmful for our health. It is usually good practice to avoid generic, store brand options, as well as ones from mainstream, heavily marketed supplement companies for optimal efficacy and health benefits. Learn about the company whose herbs you may be interested in, their history and reputation, the origin of the herbs, where and how they are processed, etc. If we are going to invest in our health and healing, let’s invest properly.

3. Pay attention to the plant species and parts used.

Plants have many parts, like roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds, and these can each have their own health benefits and medicinal value. Therefore, if you are looking for a specific benefit, be sure you know what part of the herb you need to source out. For example, Echinacea roots versus leaves provide different medicinal value and power where their health benefits are concerned. The same goes for paying attention to the species of the plant being used. Ginseng is a common name given to several herbal remedies, but only species from the Panax genus are true ginseng. Other ones may still be beneficial, but may not provide the benefits you are looking for or thinking you are getting.

4. Herbal effects normally take time.

Unlike most pharmaceutical drugs, the effects of herbs are usually gradual and gentle. This is one of the main reasons why people who are interested in alternative health prefer this route for healing and prevention. It is more optimized to work with the body’s own healing and balancing systems. However, this is also a characteristic that leaves some people doubting or negating the effectiveness of herbal therapies, as one must exhibit a certain level of patience, assuming a high quality, potent product is in place. Sometimes herbs need to be used consistently for several weeks before the desired benefits become obvious. For example, we cannot dismiss the efficacy of Valerian for improved sleep, if we try it only once or twice. Of course in emergency or serious situations, the herbal approach will most often not be the right approach, unless one is being treated by a skilled herbalist. Therefore, if we are to use herbs optimally, we need to understand a bit about their mode of function and efficacy.

How to Use This Guide

Working with herbs can be safe and in some cases very easy, but it can also be dangerous and challenging. Nature has provided us with powerful medicines via plants, and this needs to be respected, first and foremost. Some herbs can easily be used as part of our daily diet or in tea form. Others have medicinal compounds that must be used with care. Just because you may not feel some obvious effect does not mean that the herbal remedy is not performing some action, be that favorable or not. Some plant medicines may help one aspect of our health, but if not used correctly may aggravate another. Some herbal remedies can also interact with pharmaceutical drugs or may be contraindicated for use with certain conditions.

Therefore, it is essential that proper herbal therapy, especially when serious illnesses or chronic conditions are concerned, is done under the care of a competent natural health professional or herbalist. Alternatively and/or additionally, we must each take personal accountability for our health. This means that we dedicate some time to learning and researching the particular herb that we may be interested in using. Always be sure to seek out multiple sources, to avoid biased or misrepresented information, and generally speaking avoid information providers who are selling the products as they tend to over-embellish the data or healing potential. Also, understand that so called “science” will not always provide the best info when it comes to herbs. Most of the mainstream, conventional science and medicine is extremely reductionist-based (and biased) and has a huge stake in various corporations, namely the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries. There is a lot, that this kind of science has yet to learn about the potential of nature and our health, and is also unwilling and unable to see. So again, always seek information from multiple sources in order to come to the most valuable conclusions.

This specific guide was created to serve as a catalyst or starting point and/or as a subsequent source along your path of research and learning. It is by no means comprehensive in the information it provides or descriptive enough to know when or how to properly use most of the herbs listed. There are many resources, which will go into depth about specific herbal remedies, as well as books that can offer the necessary extensive information. Secondly, it was created to serve as a quick and easy directory that alphabetically groups most of the common herbs in one place. This way you can scroll through, browse, and compare some of the health benefits associated with the herbs of interest to you. Thirdly, it was created with scientific and holistic perspectives in mind to remind us that we have choices when it comes to healing our bodies in ways that are most in alignment with our human ‘living being’ nature. Nature has intelligently crafted each plant to support our body’s balance and natural healing ability, but in order to tap into that healing potential, we must learn how they work.

For each herb listed, you will find three general areas that are most commonly associated with the herb’s healing potential. You will also find some specific benefits listed for each general health area. I have compiled this information based on my education and research over the years and factored in best practices for medicinal herbs. I also provide you with a link to a more complete overview for each herb listed. If you have a specific condition you’d like to address naturally, you can also try the find functionality of your web browser (CTRL-F or CMD-F) and type in the condition of interest to see which herb may help it. Be sure to follow-up your use of this guide with other reputable sources, as required for your personal needs.

Alfalfa

  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including cholesterol regulation
  • benefits associated with detoxification, including blood purification and kidney cleansing
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including hormonal health and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer qualities
  • complete alfalfa profile and use

Aloe Vera Leaf Gel and Juice

  • benefits associated with cleansing and detoxification, including colon cleansing via laxative properties and blood cleansing via alkalizing properties
  • benefits associated with skin health, including soothing burns, insect bites, and irritation and supporting wound healing
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for the immune and cardiovascular systems
  • complete aloe profile and use

Arnica

  • benefits associated with bone, muscle, and joint health, including support for injuries, sprains, strains, and bruises (topical or homeopathic)
  • benefits associated with skin health, including support for wounds and burns (topical or homeopathic)
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for physical overexertion and inflammation (homeopathic)
  • complete arnica profile and use

Ashwagandha Root

  • is a powerful adaptogen — helps body adapt to stress (physical/mental/emotional) and resist disease, and offers neuroprotective qualities
  • benefits associated with immune health, including protection against infections, anti-bacterial properties, and anti-tumor qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, supporting stamina, endurance, and vitality
  • complete ashwagandha profile and use

Astragalus Root

  • is a powerful adaptogen — helps body adapt to stress (physical/mental/emotional) and resist disease
  • benefits associated with immune health, including protection against infections and enhanced immunity via its anti-bacterial properties
  • benefits associated with optimal health, providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, and support for the cardiovascular and renal systems
  • complete astragalus profile and use

Bilberry

  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including cholesterol regulation, improved circulation, and anti-inflammatory qualities
  • benefits associated with eye health, including enhancing night vision and visual acuity
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including protection via antioxidant properties and blood sugar regulation
  • complete bilberry profile and use

Black Cohosh

  • benefits associated with hormonal health, including support for PMS and menopause
  • benefits associated with bone health, including protection against osteoporosis
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and analgesic qualities
  • complete black cohosh profile and use

Cat’s Claw

  • benefits associated with immune health, including antioxidant qualities
  • benefits associated with digestive health, including anti-spasmodic and muscle relaxant qualities helpful for IBS and Crohn’s
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including anti-inflammatory qualities to help with arthritis
  • complete cat’s claw profile and use

Cayenne

  • benefits associated with pain relief, due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities
  • benefits associated with digestive health, including optimizing digestion and relieving flatulence
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including protection via antioxidant qualities and support for optimal immune function
  • complete cayenne profile and use

Chamomile

  • benefits associated with digestive health, including support for indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation
  • benefits associated with mental and emotional health, including support for sleep and stress via mild sedation qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for skin and oral health, as well as protection via antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer qualities
  • complete chamomile profile and use

Chlorella (green algae)

Cranberry

  • benefits associated with urinary health, including healing and prevention for urinary tract infections
  • benefits associated with immune health, including protection via anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including protection via antioxidant qualities and protection against cancer and heart disease
  • complete cranberry profile and use

Dandelion

  • benefits associated with cleansing and detoxification, including support for liver, kidneys, and gallbladder
  • benefits associated with digestive health, including support for the stomach and intestines
  • benefits associated with optimal health, providing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and diuretic effects and cancer protection
  • complete dandelion profile and use

Devil’s Claw

  • benefits associated with pain relief, including support for neuralgia (pain due to damaged nerve) and providing analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects
  • benefits associated with bone and joint health, including enhancing mobility, reducing swelling, and support for arthritis and rheumatism
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for liver, kidneys, bladder, and skin
  • complete devil’s claw profile and use

Dong Quai

  • benefits associated with hormonal health, including support for menstrual pain, PMS, and menopause
  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including blood pressure regulation
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for immune health and energy levels
  • complete dong quai profile and use

Echinacea

  • benefits associated with immune health, including support for boosting the immune system and fighting infections, and anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities
  • benefits associated with skin health, including support for wounds, irritations, bites and stings, boils, psoriasis, and eczema
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support via anti-inflammatory qualities
  • complete echinacea profile and use

Elderberry

  • benefits associated with respiratory health, including support for the cold and flu, coughs, and congestion
  • benefits associated with immune health, including support via anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for wound healing and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities
  • complete elderberry profile and use

Eucalyptus

  • benefits associated with respiratory health, including congestion and cough symptoms
  • benefits associated with muscle and joint health, including support for sore or tense muscles and arthritis
  • benefits associated with oral health, including support for gums, teeth, and warding off plaque via anti-bacterial qualities
  • complete eucalyptus profile and use

Evening Primrose

  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including cholesterol and blood pressure regulation
  • benefits associated with hormonal health, including support for PMS and menopause
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for skin health and anti-inflammatory qualities
  • complete evening primrose profile and use

Fenugreek Seeds

  • benefits associated with blood sugar regulation, offering support for type 2 diabetes via hypoglycemic effects
  • benefits associated with hormonal health, including support for labor and delivery and increased lactation, as well as menopause and PMS
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including protection against cancer, support for cardiovascular health, and expectorant properties for coughs
  • complete fenugreek profile and use

Feverfew

  • benefits associated with pain management, especially supportive for migraine headaches
  • benefits associated with joint health, including support for arthritis and rheumatism via anti-inflammatory qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for digestive health, immune health, and liver function
  • complete feverfew profile and use

Garlic

  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including blood pressure and cholesterol regulation, and reducing blood clotting
  • benefits associated with immune health, including anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal, as well as cancer protection
  • benefits associated with detoxification, including helping to remove heavy metals and neutralizing toxins within the blood and digestive system
  • complete garlic profile and use

Ginger

  • benefits associated with digestive health, including relief from nausea and motion sickness and support for indigestion
  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including support for cholesterol regulation and anti-inflammatory qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for immune health and protection via antioxidant qualities
  • complete ginger profile and use

Ginkgo Biloba

  • benefits associated with brain health, including support for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease via its properties to increase cerebral blood flow
  • benefits associated with mental and emotional health, including enhancing memory, alertness and mental performance, and offering some relief for anxiety
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for circulation, eye health, immune health, and antioxidant protection
  • complete ginkgo biloba profile and use

Ginseng (Panax: American and Asian)

  • is an adaptogen — helps body adapt to stress (physical/mental/emotional) and resist disease, while improving energy and stamina
  • benefits associated with immune health, including help to boost the immune system and fight disease and cancer protection via antioxidant qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support and protection via anti-inflammatory qualities against chronic disease
  • complete Siberian ginseng profile and use

Ginseng (Siberian)

  • is a powerful adaptogen — helps body adapt to stress (physical/mental/emotional) and resist disease
  • benefits associated with immune health, including anti-viral support for infections like cold, flu, and herpes
  • benefits associated with mental health, including improved memory and alertness
  • complete Siberian ginseng profile and use

Goldenrod

  • benefits associated with skin health, including support for wounds and skin conditions, like eczema
  • benefits associated with immune health, including support for respiratory tract infections and allergies
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for the urinary system and kidneys, and anti-inflammatory qualities to help with arthritis
  • complete goldenrod profile and use

Goldenseal

  • benefits associated with immune health, including support for cold symptoms and offering some antibacterial properties
  • benefits associated with digestive health, including support for indigestion, ulcers, and constipation
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including skin and eye support
  • complete goldenseal profile and use

Gotu Kola Leaf

  • benefits associated with mental health, including support for mental fatigue, mental clarity, restful sleep, and anxiety
  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including support for circulation and varicose veins
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for immune and health
  • complete gotu kola profile and use

Grape Seed

  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including support for circulation, cholesterol, and blood pressure
  • benefits associated with immune health, providing powerful antioxidant qualities and cancer protection
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including anti-inflammatory and anti-aging qualities
  • complete grape seed profile and use

Hawthorn

  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including being a cardio-tonic and offering support for heart failure, blood pressure, and angina
  • benefits associated with immune health, including antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including anti-inflammatory qualities
  • complete hawthorn profile and use

Horsetail

  • benefits associated with urinary health, including support for kidneys
  • benefits associated with bone and tissue health, including protection against osteoporosis and support for healthy nail growth
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for wounds and burns and providing diuretic effects
  • complete horsetail profile and use

Kava Kava

  • benefits associated with nervous system health, including support for nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia
  • benefits associated with mental and emotional health, including support for moods, stress, and wellbeing
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support as a muscle relaxant and mild diuretic
  • complete kava kava profile and use

Kelp

  • benefits associated with hormonal health, including thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal gland support
  • benefits associated with skin, hair, and nail health, including regulation of cellular growth and wound healing
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for the immune system and cardiovascular system
  • complete kelp profile and use

Lavender

  • benefits associated with mental health, including support for anxiety, depression, and dementia
  • benefits associated with nervous system health, including support for fatigue and exhaustion, headaches, sleep problems, and nervous disorders
  • benefits associated with skin and hair health, including support for wound healing, skin conditions, and hair growth
  • complete lavender profile and use

Lemon Balm

  • benefits associated with viral infections, especially support for cold sores and herpes
  • benefits associated with mental and nervous system health, including support for anxiety, nerves, tension, and sleep problems via its relaxant qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for digestive and immune health
  • complete lemon balm profile and use

Licorice

  • benefits associated with immune health, including support for canker sores and respiratory tract infections, coughs and congestion via expectorant qualities
  • benefits associated with digestive health, including support for ulcers, and GERD
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for skin health and healthy weight
  • complete licorice profile and use

Linden

  • benefits associated with respiratory and immune health, including support for the cold and flu, coughs, and fever
  • benefits associated with digestive health, including support for indigestion, the liver, gallbladder, and intestines
  • benefits associated with optimal health, providing astringent, diuretic, antispasmodic, and sedative qualities
  • complete linden profile and use

Milk Thistle

  • benefits associated with healing and detoxification, including liver, kidney, and gallbladder support
  • benefits associated with immune health, including positively stimulating the immune response
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory qualities
  • complete milk thistle profile and use

Oregano

  • benefits associated with immune health, including antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal support
  • benefits associated with skin health, including support for acne, dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, warts, and canker sores
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for digestive and cardiovascular health
  • complete oregano profile and use

Pau D’Arco

  • benefits associated with immune health, including anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal qualities
  • benefits associated with cancer, including antioxidant qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including anti-inflammatory qualities and use as a blood tonic
  • complete pau d’arco profile and use

Peppermint

  • benefits associated with digestive health, including diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, flatulence, and IBS
  • benefits associated with mental health, including support for tension, anxiety, headaches, and depression
  • benefits associated with immune health, support for congestion and coughs, and providing anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal qualities
  • complete peppermint profile and use

Red Clover

  • benefits associated with cleansing and detoxification, including blood purifying and expectorant qualities
  • benefits associated with cardiovascular health, including support for circulation, cholesterol, and blood pressure
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for hormonal health, bone health, and cancer protection
  • complete red clover profile and use

Rhodiola

  • is an adaptogen — helps body adapt to stress (physical/mental/emotional) and resist disease, and enhances physical endurance
  • benefits associated with mental health, including support for depression, memory, alertness, and nervous system disorders
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for immune, hormonal, and cardiovascular health, and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic qualities
  • complete rhodiola profile and use

Rosehip

  • benefits associated with immune health, including support for boosting immune health via antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities
  • benefits associated with digestive health, including support for spasms, irritation, diarrhea, constipation, and ulcers
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for kidney and cardiovascular health and arthritis via anti-inflammatory qualities
  • complete rosemary profile and use

Rosemary

  • benefits associated with mental health, including support for anxiety and stress, memory and concentration
  • benefits associated with digestive health, including support for indigestion
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for hair growth and immune health and antioxidant and anti-microbial qualities
  • complete rosemary profile and use

Sage

  • benefits associated with mental health, including support for memory, dementia, and Alzheimer’s
  • benefits associated with immune health, including support via antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including protection from cancer, diabetes, and heart disease
  • complete sage profile and use

Saw Palmetto

  • benefits associated with men’s health, including support for prostate health and BPH, hormonal balancing, and testicular inflammation
  • benefits associated with women’s health, including hormonal balancing, lactation stimulant, and menopause support
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for urinary tract health, libido and sexual health, and immune health
  • complete saw palmetto profile and use

Schisandra Berry

  • is an adaptogen — helps body adapt to stress (physical/mental/emotional) and resist disease, and supports wellbeing, endurance, and stamina
  • benefits associated with mental and health, including optimizing energy, concentration, coordination, memory, and support for depression
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for the immune system, liver protection, and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities
  • complete schisandra berry profile and use

Shatavari Root

  • is an adaptogen — helps body adapt to stress (physical/mental/emotional) and resist disease, and tonic that supports wellbeing
  • benefits associated with women’s health, including support for menstrual cycles, PMS, menopause, fertility, libido, pregnancy, and lactation
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for immune and digestive health, vitality and longevity, and antioxidant and anti-aging qualities
  • complete shatavari profile and use

Shilajit (Earth substance, not herb)

  • acts as a tonic for wellbeing and provides support for stamina, vitality, and longevity
  • contains high concentrations of fulvic acid for cleansing and detoxification
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for immune health and antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic qualities
  • complete shilajit profile and use

Slippery Elm

  • benefits associated with digestive health, including support for diarrhea, Crohn’s, IBS, ulcerative colitis, and GERD
  • benefits associated with skin health, including support for wounds, boils, burns, and skin inflammation
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support via antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • complete slippery elm profile and use

Spirulina (blue-green algae)

  • benefits associated with immune health, including offering protection against various infections
  • benefits associated with detoxification, including helping to remove heavy metals, neutralize toxins, and cleanse the blood
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities, blood sugar and metabolism regulation
  • complete spirulina profile and use

Stinging Nettle

  • benefits associated with muscle and joint health, including support for pain, arthritis, gout, sprains, and inflammation
  • benefits associated with urinary health, including support for the prostate and BPH, urinary tract, kidneys, and providing diuretic effects
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for blood cleansing and anemia
  • complete stinging nettle profile and use

St. John’s Wort

  • benefits associated with mental health, including support for depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), moods, and the nervous system
  • benefits associated with immune health, including support via its antiviral and antibacterial qualities
  • benefits associated with hormonal health, including support for PMS and menopause
  • complete St. John’s Wort profile and use

Tea Tree Oil

  • benefits associated with skin health, including support for skin infections, especially fungal ones, wounds, pimples/acne, boils, burns, and insect bites
  • benefits associated with immune health, providing anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral qualities (typically used only externally)
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including being a topical antiseptic
  • complete tea tree oil profile and use

Turmeric

  • benefits associated with digestive health, including support for bloating, indigestion, flatulence, ulcers, and ulceritive colitis
  • benefits associated with immune health, including antioxidant and antimicrobial effects
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including powerful anti-inflammatory effects and protection against chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease
  • complete turmeric profile and use

Uva Ursi

  • benefits associated with urinary health, including bladder and urinary infections
  • benefits associated with immune health, including antibacterial support
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support via astringent and anti-inflammatory qualities
  • complete uva ursi profile and use

Valerian

  • benefits associated with mental health, including support for stress and anxiety
  • benefits associated with nervous system health, including support for nervous disorders and sleep via sedative-like qualities
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including digestive health, muscle cramps, PMS, and blood pressure regulation
  • complete valerian profile and use

Wild Yam

  • benefits associated with women’s health, including hormonal, menstrual, menopause, and childbirth support
  • benefits associated with digestive health, including stomach cramps and diverticulosis
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including
  • complete wild yam profile and use

Willow Bark

  • benefits associated with pain management, including support for inflammation, arthritis, head and back pain via its powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities
  • benefits associated with immune health, including support for fevers and boosting the immune system
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support via antioxidant and antiseptic qualities
  • complete willow bark profile and use

Yarrow

  • benefits associated with skin health, including support for wounds and minor bleeding
  • benefits associated with immune health, including support for sore throats and fevers and providing antimicrobial and immune boosting effects
  • benefits associated with optimal health, including support for digestive and hormonal health and anti-inflammatory qualities
  • complete yarrow profile and use