From B12 to Valerian: How Herbs and Plants Can Assist Your Health and Wellness

Our diets include wonderful sources of vitamins and minerals. Spinach, for instance, contains the best source for iron to deliver energy-sustaining oxygen to our cells, while peas, beans, and peanuts contain magnesium, which promotes memory function. In our quest to gain good nutrition, there is another way to ensure our bodies receive adequate servings of essential vitamins and minerals. One way to learn about a variety of natural supplements is to start learning how minerals, plants, and roots can improve your health.

A Brief List~

B12: Only found in animal products such as eggs, meat, shellfish (such as clams and mussels), and dairy, B12 is crucial for a healthy brain and immune system, and helps make DNA, nerve, and blood cells.

Chamomile: As an infusion, the leaves of German chamomile can calm an upset stomach, aid in relaxation and encourage sleep; however, the dried flower heads can be made into a liquid extract (tinctures) or combined in a cream. As a result, the possibilities broaden to treat chest colds, slow-healing wounds, and skin conditions (diaper rashes, chicken pox, and eczema.) In a few months, you can plant chamomile, of the family Asteraceae, in the garden. (Research your favorite herbs. You’ll soon discover just how many have medicinal properties!)

Cinnamon: It’s good to know the sweet flavoring of cinnamon has a contribution to our well-being. Taken as a supplement, research has discovered cinnamon may lower cholesterol and blood sugar, and reduce inflammations.

Cranberry: Due to their high antioxidant content, cranberries not only are a super food but reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, decrease blood pressure and improve immune function.   (Taking cranberry capsules are much more effective than consuming cranberry juice. The drink will serve only to aid in hydrating the body.)

Echinacea: Feeling the onset of a cold? One solution is to be proactive and begin taking a supplement of Echinacea. It can help boost immunity and fight harmful infections and bacteria. You may recognize the beautiful Echinacea plant by another name, coneflower.

Fish Oil:   Eating fish enriched in Omega-3 fatty acids, which includes cod liver, herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna, has wonderful health benefits. If taken as a supplement, fish oil has the potential to lower triglyceride levels and improve conditions related to the heart and blood systems. Those who are not keen on taking fish oil may consider flaxseed.

Flaxseed: There is a wonderful list of benefits for the body – inside and out. While flaxseed encourages healthy skin, hair, and has a propensity to strengthen nails, it also improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, and aids as a treatment for hot flashes, breast pain, and arthritis. Enriched as an Omega-3, flaxseed can be taken as a pill or oil, or you can sprinkle the seeds into a variety of foods.

Ginger: The root of ginger is often an ingredient in food; however, it is truly a medicine. Commonly used to treat an upset stomach, ginger can aid respiratory problems, back pain, and severe headaches. The oil extracted from ginger can be applied to relieve insect bites or burns.

Ginkgo Biloba: While it is linked to improving blood flow to the eyes, and preventing inner ear disturbances, Ginkgo biloba has been used medicinally for thousands of years.   The herb can be found in the following foods: avocados, bananas, aged cheeses, figs, pickled herring, and liver.

St. John’s Wort: Studies have found that the supplement in pill form is effective for those suffering from mild to moderate depression, anxiety disorders, and insomnia. As a plant, there are no natural food sources linked to St. John’s wort.

Thyme: Love the flavor thyme offers to select homemade meals? Well, continue to use it! It has healing properties to fight infection, reduce migraines, and assist with respiratory difficulties.

Valerian: Made from a root, valerian is used to aid in sleep disorders, especially insomnia; however, it is also used to treat conditions related to anxiety, headaches, and depression. Valerian is often a substitute for those trying to withdraw from prescription sleeping pills.

Please be aware, before you begin a new regimen of supplemental vitamins, check with your doctor first. The dosage will depend on your age, diet, medical conditions, and current medications.