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Medicinal Herbs A-L



Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
This wildflower is a popular herbal remedy. Quite a few people use it for gastrointestinal complaints and to strengthen the stomach, intestines, gallbladder and kidneys. It is reported to have antibiotic and blood-purifying properties.
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Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
The Arabs fed this nutritious herb to their horses, believing that it strengthened the animals. Today, herbalists say alfalfa may help prevent coronary artery disease. It also has been used for peptic ulcers and bowel problems, and to stimulate appetite. Avoid alfalfa if you have immune system problems.
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Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
According to legend, this herb got its name from the archangel Raphael, who recommended it as a remedy for the Great Plague. Today, angelica grows in northern Europe and Asia. It is sometimes used for rheumatism, stomach ulcers, stomach cramps, premenstrual syndrome, headache, fatigue and respiratory discharge. Avoid excessive, and check with a doctor first if you have diabetes or kidney disease.
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Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous)
This herb is a favorite in China, where some studies indicate that it may boost the immune system and help the body ward off disease. Herbalists also say it is a mild stimulant.
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Barberry  Bark (Berberis vulgaris)
Barberry bark is found in northeastern states and some areas of the western United States. It is believed to help people who are experiencing liver problems, high blood pressure, arthritis and gastrointestinal complaints. It also may improve circulation, according to some reports.
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Bayberry (Myrica certifera)
This long-used native American plant has reportedly relieved hemorrhoids and enhanced circulation. Some people claim it tones and revitalizes all the body's tissues. Excessive doses may induce vomiting.
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Bee Pollen
Bee pollen is more than an herb. It is a superior mixture of nutrients that have been used for all kinds of conditions: fatigue, allergies, prostate gland inflammation, stomach and bowel complaints, and much more.
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Betony (Stachys officinalis)
Over the years, herbalists have turned to betony for such problems as flatulence, heartburn, headaches, fatigue, bladder irritation, excessive perspiration, coughing and respiratory congestion. This plant is also known as wood betony, and it comes from Europe.
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Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Many people who have poor nighttime vision ("night blindness") say that bilberry has helped them tremendously. For some, it means the difference between independence and dependence. Bilberry, which grows in Europe and the northern U.S., also has a reputation for helping with nearsightedness, diarrhea, irregularity, gas, stomach cramps, bladder problems, diabetes and coughs. Prolonged use may be hazardous.
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Bistort (Polygonum bistorta)
Herbalists may suggest this herb for people who suffer from diarrhea, hemorrhoids, water retention or edema. It is also used to strengthen the body's natural functions. Bistort grows in Europe and the Rocky Mountains.
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Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
The herbal history of black cohosh dates back at least as far as the early native Americans. This versatile herb has been recommended for respiratory ailments (especially asthma and bronchitis), rheumatism, muscle cramps and neuralgia. Because black cohosh reportedly contains natural estrogen, it is believed to relieve menstrual cramps and to make for an easier childbirth.
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Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus)
This herb is also known as seawrack. Made from seaweed, it is sometimes used for weight loss because of its reported diuretic properties. However, it should not be used for prolonged periods.
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Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus)
People who use and appreciate blessed thistle claim that it stimulates the body's production of bile. This action, they say, makes the herb particularly valuable for liver problems. Blessed thistle also has been used to normalize the menstrual cycle, reduce body temperature during a fever, enhance circulation and stimulate the appetite.
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Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
This cousin of black cohosh offers many of the same properties, and is said to be especially effective at regulating the menstrual cycle. However, blue cohosh should be used only with the supervision of a doctor or herbalist.
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Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
Blue flag is frequently added to lotions because of its reported benefits as a skin soother. It also has been used internally for stomach ailments, sinus conditions and migraine headaches. Some people claim it helps to cleanse and purify the bloodstream. Blue flag may cause a rash, and it may affect the digestive system, liver or pancreas. Use it with caution.
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Borage (Borago officinalis)
Borage is believed to help people who have arthritis, thanks to its reported anti-inflammatory properties. It also has been used for fever, nervousness and fatigue.
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Buchu (Barosma betulina)
The Hottentots of South Africa used buchu centuries ago. Even today, it has retained its reputation as a mild stimulant and as a remedy for urinary tract and prostate gland complaints (especially when combined with uva ursi). The urinary uses are apparently related to buchu's diuretic properties.
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Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Burdock comes from Europe and the northern U.S. Herbalists claim it's the best blood cleanser nature has to offer, and it's often used for arthritis and neuralgia. It is also believed that burdock has diuretic qualities that are helpful for urinary tract problems.
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Butcher's Broom (Ruscus aculeatus)
Butcher's broom has a long tradition as a folk remedy. It has been used for liver problems, gout, edema, arthritis, asthma and respiratory congestion. Use small quantities only. Because butcher's broom may constrict blood vessels, do not use it if you have high blood pressure.
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Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana)
Also known as buckthorn, cascara sagrada has been recommended primarily for constipation. In fact, many people claim that it is the most effective constipation reliever available anywhere. Take only as much as needed, because large doses may cause intestinal cramps.
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Catnip or Catmint (Nepeta cataria)
This aromatic herb is not just for cats! Herb users have known for centuries that catnip has a lot to offer humans. They have used it to relieve pain, muscle spasms, nervousness, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea and bronchitis.
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Chamomile, Common (Chamaemelum mobile)
Sometimes spelled camomile, this widely used and appreciated herb is often made into a tea. But no matter what form it takes, it is said to have the helpful properties of a sedative, sleep-inducer and stomach calmer. It also has been used for arthritis and back pain.
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Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita)
This form of the ever-popular chamomile herb is said to reduce pain and spasms. According to some herbalists, this makes it useful for constipation, flatulence, menstrual cramps and intestinal cramps. Like common chamomile, the German variety has been recommended for insomnia and nervous tension.
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Chickweed (Stellaria media)
This herb is found all over the world. It is believed to cleanse the blood, to soothe irritated mucous membranes, to relieve nasal and lung congestion and to help the user lose excess pounds. (For weight-loss, chickweed should be taken before meals.) Some people claim it may help to clear plaque from blood vessels, thus reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
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Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
A native of Europe and the United States, chicory is believed to exert a diuretic effect that makes it valuable for water retention and edema. Some studies have suggested that chicory also may help to reduce blood cholesterol levels and to lower a too-rapid heart rate. In addition, this popular herb has been used for liver, gallbladder and spleen problems.
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Cleavers (Galium aparine)
Many people have used cleavers to aid in the passage of stones and gravel from the kidneys and bladder. Cleavers reportedly has a diuretic quality that some find helpful as an aid to losing weight.
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Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
Coriander has been around for centuries. It grows in Europe, the Mediterranean and North and South America. It is most well-known as a food flavoring, but it has other qualities that make it just as popular among herbalists and herb users. Coriander has been recommended to normalize and strengthen the stomach, to improve appetite and to strengthen heart function.
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Cornsilk (Zea mays)
The familiar cornsilk plant is sometimes used for urinary tract complaints, including the pain of bladder infections and the discomforts of prostate enlargement. In addition, it is believed that cornsilk can soothe irritated mucous membranes.
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Damiana (Turnera aphrodisiaca)
Once considered an aphrodisiac, damiana is still used by both men and women who hope to enhance their sexual potency, fertility and performance. Some reports indicate that damiana also may be a natural, non-addicting mood elevator and sedative.
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Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
To some people, dandelion is just a pesty weed. But to herbalists, the dandelion is an exalted herb with plenty of healing secrets. Herbalists consider it to be an excellent choice for high blood pressure, water retention, constipation and fever. It is said to help remove toxins from the liver and to improve night vision (probably because of its healthy levels of vitamin A). Do not use dandelion if you have kidney disease or diabetes.
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Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)
Chinese women have had this healing secret for centuries. Dong Quai, they claim, is useful for a wide range of gynecological conditions, including menstrual cramps and irregularity, premenstrual syndrome, and the hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause. These benefits may arise from the herb's reported ability to balance female hormones.
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Elder (Sambucus nigra)
It is believed that various parts of the elder tree help to relieve respiratory symptoms, including coughing and congestion. Some people use elder to induce sweating, believing that this will help to shorten a fever or cold.
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Elecampane (Inula helenium)
This herb is from the familiar large sunflower that grows wild in part of the eastern United States. Elecampane has been recommended for asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions, and to normalize body functions.
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Fennel Seed (Foeniculum vulgare)
Herbalists frequently turn to fennel seed for many ailments, including stomach cramps, flatulence, fatigue, mucous accumulation and water retention. Some people also say that it has helped them to lose weight.
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Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
Here is another perennially favorite herb that is believed to help relieve problems in several body systems. Since ancient days, fenugreek has been used against lung ailments (bronchitis, asthma and emphysema); gastrointestinal complaints (indigestion, nausea and peptic ulcers); headaches (tension or migraine); and allergies. It is also believed that fenugreek can calm frayed nerves, reduce blood sugar levels and strengthen the body's ability to heal itself. As you can imagine, this is one busy herb!
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Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium)
Feverfew is widely known and used as a remedy for headaches . . . and especially for those migraines that nothing else seems to touch. Some studies have shown that feverfew may actually help prevent migraine attacks. As a headache preventative, though, it may take a few weeks or even months for feverfew to start working. Feverfew also has been used to relieve the inflammation of arthritis, to fight fatigue and general tiredness, to overcome constipation and to restore the liver's normal functioning.
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Garlic (Allium sativum)
Perhaps the most well-known, widely cultivated and popular herbs of all time, garlic has earned the reputation of "miracle plant" over the course of centuries. Long ago, it was used to repel vampires. Military surgeons used it to disinfect the wounds of World War I soldiers.  Today, garlic is used as an antibiotic, decongestant and immune system stimulator. Studies have indicated that it may reduce the risk of blood clots, increase blood levels of "good cholesterol," and decrease blood levels of "bad cholesterol." Some researchers also believe it can help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It's also reported to help relieve coughing and other discomforts of the common cold. With all these potential benefits, it's certainly no wonder that garlic is considered the "miracle plant."
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Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
This familiar food flavoring is also highly prized by herbalists and herb users. A native of tropical Asia, Ginger has been reported to help strengthen the cardiovascular system, to cleanse the intestinal tract, and to help relieve the discomforts of the common cold. It is said that ginger can induce sweating, so some people use it during a fever.
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Ginseng, American (Panax quinquefolium)
According to herbalists and to ginseng fans around the world, this herb is good for just about anything that ails you. American ginseng has similar uses as the time-honored Chinese ginseng. These include mild stimulation, enhanced physical and mental performance and normalization of body functioning. Some studies indicate that American ginseng may lower blood cholesterol levels and keep the immune system stabilized during stress. In Russia, doctors asked cosmonauts to use ginseng during a trip into space. Physical examinations revealed that the cosmonauts had significantly fewer adverse reactions to weightlessness and radiation, and less impairment of their immune systems.
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Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
The list of uses for goldenseal seems to go on forever! It has been used since the beginning of recorded herbal history. At one point, it was used as an antibioticóbefore the discovery of penicillin. In modern times, goldenseal is used for constipation, nausea, nasal and lung congestion, inflamed mucous membranes, coughing, bronchitis and the common cold.
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Gravel Root (Eupatorium purpuretum)
As you may guess from this herb's common name, it has been reported to help the passage of stones and gravel from the kidney and bladder. Herbalists believe this benefit comes from gravel root's diuretic properties.
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Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
If you cope with a lot of stress, you may be interested to know that many people trust hawthorn as their stress remedy. It is believed to calm the nerves and to prevent or relieve insomnia. Another variety of hawthorn, Crataegus oxyacantha, is sometimes used to enhance cardiac function and to normalize blood pressure.
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Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Hops is thought to be the ideal sleep inducer and the best remedy for insomnia. Some people put dried or fresh hops in their pillowcase for this purpose. According to some reports, hops has helped to curb the desire for alcohol among alcoholics.
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Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
Horsetail also goes by the name of silica. But no matter what you call it, you won't find too many herbs that have had a longer history of successful use . . . or a longer list of aficionados. Because it is a rich source of minerals and other nutrients, horsetail is believed to help strengthen bones and to help broken bones heal faster. Horsetail also has been used to improve the condition of hair, skin and nails.
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Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Hyssop was mentioned in the Bible, but its history as a healing secret goes back even further. Today, people often use hyssop for respiratory congestion, asthma, coughs and the common cold. According to some studies, this herb also may help to fight viruses.
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Juniper Berries (Juniperus communis)
This old herbal remedy is still used today, especially for kidney, bladder and gallbladder complaints.It reportedly acts as a diuretic and helps to rid the body of waste products, including uric acid. For that reason, many people use it for gout (which is related to a build-up of uric acid).
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Licorice (Glycyrrhiza globra)
Licorice is more than just an ingredient in licorice sticks! It's also an herb that seems to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, according to some studies. For this reason, licorice has been used for such conditions as arthritis and allergies. It is also believed that licorice can tone and strengthen the cardiovascular system and relieve constipation. Be aware that licorice may raise blood pressure.
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Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)
This native of the eastern United States has dozens of uses. But it is perhaps most well-known as a sedative. It also is believed to help such conditions as bronchitis, the common cold, allergies and headaches.


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