What Are Herbs?
And how are they different from spices?
In the culinary arts, the word “herb” refers to any green or leafy part of a plant used for seasoning and flavoring a recipe, but not used as the main ingredient. What exactly does this mean?
Here’s an example: Spinach is the green part of a plant, but spinach is a vegetable, not an herb because spinach is prepared as a food itself, not merely to add flavoring to another food. Similarly, a leaf of lettuce is the green part of a plant, but when you make a salad, the lettuce is the main ingredient, so lettuce isn’t an herb either.
So What Exactly Is an Herb?
Herbs are plants with fragrant or aromatic properties. Herbs can be used to flavor food, included in fragrances, and even a part of natural medicines. Basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and dill are all herbs. Note that for each of these, the herb is the green or leafy part of some kind of plant. In the case of basil, the leaves can be quite large, whereas rosemary leaves are more like spines of an evergreen plant.
The Difference Between Herbs and Spices
The essential difference between herbs and spices lies with what part of the plant they originate from. An herb is a leaf or other green plant of the plant. Any other element of the plant would be considered a spice—including dried bark, the roots, a berry, seeds, twigs, or other plant matter that is used to season or flavor a dish.
For instance, cinnamon is the bark of a tree. Cardamom is a seed pod. Allspice is a dried berry. Cloves are dried flower buds. These are all examples of spices. Note too that spices are used in dried form while herbs can be used either fresh or dried.
How to Cook With Herbs
Many recipes will call for herbs as an ingredient. Be sure to take note if the herbs are dried or fresh. Dried herbs are often added during the cooking process and may be included to impart flavor while cooking. Common dried herbs include oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme. On the other hand, fresh herbs are often added as the last step once cooking has been completed. Fresh herbs bring brightness and fresh flavor to many recipes. Common fresh herbs are mint, cilantro, and parsley.
Some fresh herbs will be one of only a few ingredients in a recipe. For example, a classic pesto recipe relies on fresh basil as the key ingredient. On the other hand, other recipes may call for a simple sprinkling of chopped parsley or cilantro at the end of cooking to bring some bright flavor to the dish.
Dried herbs should be stored in their sealed jars in a cool, dark, and dry spice cabinet. Fresh herbs will last the longest if they are washed, carefully dried, gently wrapped in a paper towel, sealed into a ziptop bag, and stored in the refrigerator.
This article is about culinary, medicinal, and spiritual herbs. For the botanical usage, see herbaceous plant. For other uses, see Herb (disambiguation).
A variety of herbs are visible in this garden. Pictured is mint, along with some other herbs.
In general use, herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring and garnishing food, for medicinal purposes, or for fragrances; excluding vegetables and other plants consumed for macro nutrients. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs generally refers to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, bark, roots and fruits.
Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal, and in some cases, spiritual. General usage of the term “herb” differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs; in medicinal or spiritual use, any parts of the plant might be considered as “herbs”, including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, root bark, inner bark (and cambium), resin and pericarp.
The word “herb” is pronounced in Commonwealth English,but is common among North American English speakers and those from other regions where h-dropping occurs. In botany, the word “herb” is used as a synonym for “herbaceous plant”.
25 Best Herbs to Grow in Your Kitchen Garden
Whether you want to grow a kitchen herb garden as a hobby or to save money or just for healthier eating, there are plenty of herbs you can grow in your backyard, on your patio or even in your windowsill. Fresh herbs make recipes taste even better and are great to have around for soups, stews, and salads.
In picking a place to grow your herbs, keep in mind that they need a good four to six hours of sun daily. There are many herbs that you can grow to enhance your cooking. When you plant a kitchen garden, don’t only plant the herbs you know, take a chance on something else. You might just be surprised.
Here are 25 fresh herbs and plants you can grow that are great to have handy in the kitchen.
Parsley is a mild bitter herb that can enhance the flavor of your foods. Many consider parsley just to be a curly green garnish for food, but it actually helps things like stews achieve a more balanced flavor. As an added benefit, parsley can aid in digestion. Parsley is often grown as an annual, but in milder climates, it will stay evergreen all winter long. Parsley plants will grow to be large and bushy. Parsley is a good source of Vitamins A and C. (buy online)
There are several varieties of mint. You can use it in drinks like mojitos or mint juleps. Or add some mint to your summer iced tea. Mint freshens the breath and will help to calm your stomach. But if you grow mint, remember that it’s considered an invasive plant. Mint will spread and take over your garden. It’s best grown in containers. (buy online)
Dill is a great flavoring for fish, lamb, potatoes, and peas. It also aids in digestion, helps to fight bad breath and has the added benefits of reducing swelling and cramps. Dill is easy to grow. It will also attract helpful insects to your garden such as wasps and other predatory insects. It also saves a trip to the Dentist Santa Barbara! (You can buy Dill online, click this link: buy online)
Whether you choose large leaf Italian basis or large purple sweet basil, this plant is popular in many cuisines but is a feature in Italian cooking like pizzas, salads, sauces, and pesto. Some people think basil is great for planting alongside your tomatoes but there’s no real evidence that it makes your tomatoes taste sweeter. Basil has health benefits of antioxidants and is a defense against low blood sugar. (buy online)
Sage is an aromatic herb that is great for seasoning meats, sauces, and vegetables. But be careful because sage will have a tendency to overpower other flavors. Sage also helps to relieve cuts, inflammation and helps with memory issues. It was once thought to be a medicinal cure-all. Sage is an easy herb to grow and is relatively easy to care for. It’s great in your garden for attracting bees. (buy online)
Rosemary is one of the most flavorful herbs and is great for adding to things like poultry, meats, and vegetables. Around Christmastime, you’ll see tree-shaped rosemary bushes for sale. You can bring them home and keep them for planting in the spring. The fragrant plant is a delightful scent and is sometimes used in floral arrangements. Rosemary likes its soil a bit on the dry side, so be careful not to over water. Allowed to flourish, a rosemary plant will grow into a full-sized bush. For more guide-dance, be sure to check out this guide titled, ‘How I grew a rosemary plant in my garden‘! (buy online)
Thyme is a delicate looking plant. It is often used for flavoring egg, bean and vegetable dishes. Thyme is frequently used in the Mediterranean, Italian and Provençal French cuisines. Pair it with lamb, poultry, and tomatoes. Thyme is often added to soups and stews. Thyme is part of the mint family. The most common variety is garden thyme which has gray-green leaves and a minty, somewhat lemony smell. (buy online)
Cilantro is also known as coriander leaf or Chinese parsley. Cilantro is perfect for adding into spicy foods like chills, and Mexican, Chinese, Southeast Asian and Indian cuisines. The seeds of cilantro are known as coriander. The plant grows early in the season and doesn’t like it when the ground becomes too warm. (buy online)
Fennel is very flavorful and aromatic, and along with anise is a primary ingredient in absinthe. Fennel is native to the Mediterranean region and does best in dry soils near the ocean or on river banks. The strongly flavored leaves of fennel are similar in shape to dill. The bulb can be sautéed or grilled, or eaten raw. Fennel bulbs are used for garnishes or sometimes added to salads. (buy online)
In the United States and Europe, chamomile is most often used as an ingredient in herbal tea. It is one of the world’s most widely consumed herbal teas. But it has also been used for thousands of years as a traditional medicine for settling stomachs and calming the nerves. Chamomile also helps reduce inflammation and treat fevers. You can grow either German chamomile or Roman chamomile. The two are interchangeable when it comes to making tea, but they are grown very differently. German chamomile is an annual plant that grows up to three feet tall. Roman chamomile is a perennial but only grows to about a foot high. German chamomile is more commonly known for its blossoms. (buy online)
Fresh tarragon is the traditional ingredient of ‘Fines Herbes’ and is the aristocrat of fresh herbs. A must-have for any Culinary Herb Garden! It will transform an ordinary dish into a work of art with it’s spicy anise flavor. A little tarragon in a chicken salad makes a profound difference. It is wonderful in sauces, soups and meat dishes. Try it with vegetables. It is the choice for any hearty dish. (buy online)
Grown as a condiment and for use in salads and dressings, lavender will give most dishes a slightly sweet flavor. Lavender syrup and dried lavender buds are used in the United States for making lavender scones and marshmallows. Health benefits include the soothing of insect bites and headaches when used with herbs and aromatherapy. Lavender plants will survive in many growing conditions but do best in full sun in warm, well-drained soil. (buy online)
What’s more fun than seeing the family cat go slightly berserk over the smell of catnip? But catnip is more than a feline stimulant. It can be used as a relaxing agent as well as a diuretic and laxative. If you plant catnip outside, remember that cats do love to roll in it and chew on it. But keeping catnip in your garden can also be a deterrent for rodents. If the cat’s around, the pests most likely won’t be. (buy online)
Chives are a member of the garlic family and can be the perfect complement to sour cream. Chives are mostly used for flavoring and are considered one of the “fine herbs” of French cuisine. Chives are native to Asia but have been used as an additive to food for almost 5,000 years. Chives work well with eggs, fish, potatoes, salads, shellfish, and soups. Chives are an excellent source of beta carotene and Vitamin C. (buy online)
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is believed to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety, but should not be considered a cure. It can also help fight muscle pain. The word “wort” is an Old English word for “plant.” The plant was named because the flowers appear around June 24th which is the birthday of John the Baptist. St. John’s wort is also known as Tipton’s weed, rosin rose, goat-weed, chase-devil or Klamath weed. In gardens, it’s a popular ground cover since it is drought tolerant. While not used in cooking it is a well-known herbal treatment for depression. (buy online)
The smell of bay’s noble leaves reminds you of balsam, clove, mint, and some say even honey! Well known for its use in hearty stews and other long-simmering dishes with a slightly sharp, peppery, almost bitter taste. Add the whole leaves at the beginning of the cooking process and remember to remove them before serving. Sweet bay is native to the Mediterranean. (buy online)
Nope, I didn’t say cilantro, this is its cousin culantro. You can use this wherever ‘Cilantro’ is called for, with its spicy and pungent flavor, a wonderful addition to any dish, fresh or dried. Some call it ‘Mexican Coriander’ or ‘Chad-on beni’. Culantro is a rare and unusual herb in the USA, but it’s well known in Vietnam, Latin American and all over the Caribbean. (buy online)
Chervil produces flat, light-green, lacy leaves with a hint of anise, and enhances the flavor of chicken, fish, vegetables, eggs, and salads. It is an heirloom herb that was most likely introduced to European herb gardening by the Romans. Closely related to Parsley, chervil has become an indispensable herb plant in the kitchen, and a classic among herb plants in French cuisine. (buy online)
A deliciously spicy culinary herb, Winter Savory adds an aromatic flavor to many dishes. Also used medicinally for its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Winter Savory, like its Summer counterpart, is a spicy culinary herb from the Mint family that compliments fish, beans, and poultry with its intense flavor. Though it loses some of this intensity during the cooking process, Winter Savory remains aromatic and is often used to flavor liqueurs and makes a beautiful garnish to any salad. (buy online)
Like other mints, peppermint is known for aiding digestion and freshening the breath. But peppermint is also a good source of calcium, potassium and Vitamin B. Peppermint is a hybrid mint, being a cross between water mint and spearmint. Peppermint oil can be used for flavoring but is also useful as a natural pesticide. It has been shown to reduce the effects of irritable bowel syndrome. Peppermint prefers rich soil and partial shade. Like other mints, it spreads quickly, so consider planting it in containers. (buy online)
Stevie is an attractive looking plant and a natural sweetener. The added benefit is that there are no calories. Ste-via is part of the sunflower family and is native to subtropical and tropical regions in the Western hemisphere. While it’s a perennial plant it will only survive in the milder climates in North America. Still, you can add stevia to your garden for the summer. It is also known as sweet leaf or sugar leaf and is grown for its sweet leaves. Ste-via can be used as a natural sweetener and as a sugar substitute. (buy online)
Aloe Vera is known for its soothing properties for burns or skin problems. Many people keep an Aloe Vera plant handy in the kitchen for incidental burns. But taken orally, Aloe Vera will also help with digestion, circulation and weight loss. There are over 250 species of Aloes. Most of these are native to Africa. Aloe Vera plants are very succulent and are as much as 95% water. That means they are very sensitive to frost. In warm climates, they should be in full sun or light shade. But you may have more success with this plant by keeping it indoors in a sunny window. (buy online)
Lemongrass stalks can provide antioxidants such as beta-carotene and a defense against cancer and eye inflammation. Lemongrass has a strong lemon flavor. You can brew it in tea as well as use it as an herb seasoning. To grow this outdoors, you need to live in at least Zone 9. Outside it can grow up to six feet high but will be notably smaller if you grow it indoors. (buy online)
Bergamot (Bee Balm)
Gaining renewed popularity as a culinary herb, Bee Balm makes a wonderful addition to pizzas, salads, breads and any dishes that are complimented by the herb’s unique flavor. Minty and slightly spicy, Bergamot makes a great substitute for Oregano. Bergamot has a long history of use as a medicinal plant by many Native Americans, including the Blackfeet. The Blackfeet Indians used this hardy perennial in poultices to treat minor cuts and wounds. A tea made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by gingivitis, as the plant contains high levels of a naturally occurring antiseptic, Thymol, which is found in many brand name mouthwashes. (buy online)
Oregano is also part of the mint family and is native to the warm climates of Eurasia and the Mediterranean. Oregano is a perennial plant but in colder climates can be grown as an annual. It is sometimes called wild marjoram and is closely related to sweet marjoram. Oregano is used for flavoring and is a staple herb of Italian American cuisine. In the United States, it gained popularity following World War II as soldiers returned home with a desire for the “pizza herb.” (buy online)
10 Delicious Herbs and Spices With Powerful Health Benefits
The use of herbs and spices has been incredibly important throughout history.
Many were celebrated for their medicinal properties, well before culinary use.
Modern science has now shown that many of them do indeed carry remarkable health benefits.
Here are 10 of the world’s healthiest herbs and spices, supported by research.
1. Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Has a Powerful Anti-Diabetic Effect
Cinnamon is a popular spice, found in all sorts of recipes and baked goods.
It contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for cinnamon’s medicinal properties
Cinnamon has potent antioxidant activity, helps fight inflammation and has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
But where cinnamon really shines is in its effects on blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several mechanisms, including by slowing the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract and improving insulin sensitivity
Studies have shown that cinnamon can lower fasting blood sugars by 10-29% in diabetic patients, which is a significant amount
The effective dose is typically 0.5-2 teaspoons of cinnamon per day, or 1-6 grams.
You can read more about the impressive health benefits of cinnamon in this article.Bottom Line: Cinnamon has numerous health benefits, and is particularly effective at lowering blood sugar levels.
2. Sage Can Improve Brain Function and Memory
Sage gets its name from the Latin word Salvere, which means “to save.”
It had a strong reputation for its healing properties during the middle ages, and was even used to help prevent the plague.
Current research indicates that sage may be able to improve brain function and memory, especially in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is accompanied by a drop in the level of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain. Sage inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine
In a 4-month study of 42 individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, sage extract was shown to produce significant improvements in brain function
Other studies have also shown that sage can improve memory function in healthy people, both young and old Bottom Line: There is promising evidence that sage extract can improve brain and memory function, especially in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Peppermint Relieves IBS Pain and May Reduce Nausea
Peppermint has a long history of use in folk medicine and aromatherapy.
As is the case with many herbs, it is the oily component that contains the agents responsible for the health effects.
Many studies have shown that peppermint oil can improve pain management in irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS
It appears to work by relaxing the smooth muscles in the colon, which relieves pain experienced during bowel movements. It also helps to reduce abdominal bloating, which is a common digestive symptom
There are also some studies showing that peppermint in aromatherapy can help fight nausea.
In a study of over 1,100 women in labor, peppermint aromatherapy caused significant reductions in nausea. It has also been shown to reduce nausea after surgery and C-section births .Bottom Line: The natural oil in peppermint provides pain relief for those with IBS. It also has potent anti-nausea effects when used in aromatherapy.
4. Turmeric Contains Cur-cumin, a Substance With Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color.
It contains several compounds with medicinal properties, the most important of which is curcumin
Cur-cumin is a remarkably powerful antioxidant, helping to fight oxidative damage and boosting the body’s own antioxidant enzymes
This is important, because oxidative damage is believed to be one of the key mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases.
Cur cumin is also strongly anti-inflammatory, to the point where it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs
Given that long-term, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic Western disease, it is not surprising to see that curcumin is linked to a variety of health benefits.
Studies suggest that it can improve brain function, fight Alzheimer’s, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and relieve arthritis, to name a few
Here is an article about the many incredible health benefits of turmeric/curcumin.Bottom Line: Studies have shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has major benefits for many aspects of health.
5. Holy Basil Helps Fight Infections and Boosts Immunity
Not to be confused with regular basil or thai basil, holy basil is considered a sacred herb in India.
Studies show that holy basil can inhibit the growth of a range of bacteria, yeasts and molds
One small study also found that it can boost function of the immune system by increasing certain immune cells in the blood
Holy basil is also linked to reduced blood sugar levels before and after meals, as well as treating anxiety and anxiety-related depression
However, these studies were quite small, and more research is needed before any recommendations can be made.Bottom Line: Holy basil appears to improve immune function and inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts and molds.
6. Cayenne Pepper Contains Capsaicin, Which Helps Reduce Appetite and May Have Anti-Cancer Properties
Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper used to prepare spicy dishes.
The active ingredient in it is called capsaicin, which has been shown to reduce appetite and increase fat burning in many studies
For this reason, it is a common ingredient in many commercial weight loss supplements.
One study found that adding 1 gram of red pepper to meals reduced appetite and increased fat burning in people who did not regularly eat pepper
However, there was no effect in people who were accustomed to eating spicy food, indicating that a tolerance to the effects can build up.
Some animal studies have also found capsaicin to combat certain forms of cancer, including lung, liver and prostate cancer
Of course, these observed anti-cancer effects are far from being proven in humans, so take all of this with a big grain of salt.Bottom Line: Cayenne pepper is very rich in a substance called capsaicin, which reduces appetite and boosts fat burning. It has also shown anti-cancer potential in animal studies.
7. Ginger Can Treat Nausea and Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Ginger is a popular spice used in several forms of alternative medicine.
Studies have consistently shown that 1 gram or more of ginger can successfully treat nausea.
This includes nausea caused by morning sickness, chemotherapy and sea sickness
Ginger also appears to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and can help with pain management
One study in subjects at risk for colon cancer found that 2 grams of ginger extract per day decreased markers for colon inflammation in the same way as aspirin
Other research found that a mixture of ginger, cinnamon, mastic, and sesame oil decreased pain and stiffness experienced by those with osteoarthritis. It had a similar effectiveness as treatment with aspirin or ibuprofen Bottom Line: 1 gram of ginger appears to be an effective treatment for many types of nausea. It is also anti-inflammatory, and can help reduce pain.
8. Fenugreek Improves Blood Sugar Control
Fenugreek was commonly used in Ayurveda, particularly to enhance libido and masculinity.
While its effects on testosterone levels are inconclusive, fenugreek does seem to have on blood sugar.
It contains the plant protein 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which can improve the function of the hormone insulin
Many human studies have shown that at least 1 gram of fenugreek extract per day can lower blood sugar levels, particularly in diabetics .Bottom Line: Fenugreek has been shown to improve the function of insulin, leading to significant reductions in blood sugar levels.
9. Rosemary Can Help Prevent Allergies and Nasal Congestion
The active ingredient in rosemary is called romanticism acid.
This substance has been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion.
In a study with 29 individuals, both 50 and 200 mg doses of Rosmarinic acid were shown to suppress allergy symptoms
The number of immune cells in nasal mucus also decreased, with reduced congestion.Bottom Line: Rosmarinic acid has anti-inflammatory effects that appear to suppress allergy symptoms and reduce nasal congestion.
10. Garlic Can Combat Sickness and Improve Heart Health
Throughout ancient history, the main use of garlic was for its medicinal propertie
We now know that most of these health effects are due to a compound called allicin, which is also responsible for garlic’s distinct smell.
Garlic supplementation is well known for com batting sickness, including the common cold
If you often get colds, then adding more garlic to your diet could be incredibly helpful.
There is also convincing evidence for beneficial effects on heart health.
For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplementation appears to reduce total and/or LDL cholesterol by about 10-15%
Human studies have also found garlic supplementation to cause significant reductions in blood pressure in people with high blood pressure
In one study, it was just as effective as a blood pressure lowering drug
Covering all the incredible health benefits of garlic is beyond the scope of this article, but you can read about them here.
We scoured through histories of herbal studies for you
Today, we live in a time when manufactured medicines and prescriptions prevail, but do they have to be the only approach to healing?
Even with all of these engineered options at our fingertips, many people find themselves turning back to the medicinal plants that started it all: Herbal remedies that have the ability to heal and boost physical and mental well-being.
In fact, at the beginning of the 21st century, 11 percent Trusted Source of the 252 drugs considered “basic and essential” by the World Health Organization were “exclusively of flowering plant origin.” Drugs like codeine, quinine, and morphine all contain plant-derived ingredients.
While these manufactured drugs have certainly become paramount in our lives, it can be comforting to know that the power of nature is on our side, and these herbal choices are available to complement our health practices.
But the extent of the power they hold is also still being explored. These alternatives aren’t cure-alls, and they aren’t perfect. Many carry the same risks and side effects as manufactured medicines. Many of them are sold with unfounded promises.
However, many herbs and teas offer harmless subtle ways to improve your health. Pay attention to what the evidence says about each herb’s effectiveness as well as potential interactions or safety issues. Avoid using herbs for infants and children and for those who are pregnant and breastfeeding. Most herbs haven’t been tested for safety for those who are vulnerable, and trying herbs isn’t worth the risk.
With this cautionary tale in mind, choosing the right plant can seem difficult to someone who simply wants to feel better without taking medication. That’s why, with the help of specialist Debra Rose Wilson, we’re looking at the most effective and therapeutic plants — which have strong scientific evidence to support their safe use.
Making decisions about herbs along with more traditional medicinal approaches is something you and your healthcare practitioner can address together. At times, Wilson notes, ingesting the plants can have even less risk than taking concentrated, manufactured supplements, as there’s more risk of contamination of the product with the manufacture processes. It’s a wonderful way to experience their effects and the satisfaction of growing them yourself. Herbs can also be a way to add a needed nutrient.
However, both plants and supplements, which aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration for safety or quality, can have questionable dosage and might have a risk of contamination. Keep this in mind before choosing supplements from the shelf.
If you’d like to add some medicinal plants to your wellness regimen, Wilson sifted through the latest studies and provides her own ratings system for our list.
These plants have the most numerous high-quality studies and are the safer choices among herbal remedies. She’s marked “0” as unsafe with no research, and “5” as completely safe with ample research. Many of these plants are somewhere between 3 and 4, according to Wilson.
We hope this guide will act as a starting point to those who wish to integrate herbal remedies into their lives and arrive armed with knowledge. As always, speak with your doctor before starting any new health treatment.
As one of the oldest tree species, gingko is also one of the oldest homeopathic plants and a key herb in Chinese medicine. The leaves are used to create capsules, tablets, and extracts, and when dried, can be consumed as a tea.
It’s perhaps best-known for its ability to boost brain health. Studies say that gingko can treat patients with mild to moderate dementia Trusted Source, and can slow cognition decline in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Recent research is looking into a component that can help diabetes, and there continue to be more studies, including an animal study that says it might influence bone healing.
With its brilliant orange hue, it’s impossible to miss a bottle of turmeric sitting on a spice shelf. Originating in India, turmeric is believed to have anticancer properties and can prevent DNA mutations.
As an anti-inflammatory, it can be taken as a supplement and it’s been used topically for people with arthritis who wish to relieve discomfort. It’s used worldwide as a cooking ingredient, which makes it a delicious, antioxidant-rich Trusted Source addition to many dishes.
According to recent research, turmeric is also showing promise as a treatment for a variety of dermatological diseases and joint arthritis Trusted Source.
Evening primrose oil
The vibrant yellow evening primrose flower produces an oil that’s thought to alleviate the symptoms of PMS and skin conditions like eczema.
Studies that are available on this oil tend to be all over the map, but there are studies that are stronger than others. For example, some studies have found that evening primrose oil has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been known to help with conditions such as atopic dermatitis and diabetic neuropathyTrusted Source. It can also help with other health concerns, such as breast pain.
Recent research points to improving the quality of life for patients with multiple sclerosis Trusted Source, changing hormones and insulin sensitivity in those dealing with poly cystic ovary syndrome, and using it topically to improve mild dermatitis.
According to these studies, evening primrose oil might just be the Swiss Army knife of the medicinal plant world. The caveat is that it can interact with several medications. More research is coming, and the applications are promising.
Flax seed, also available as an oil, is one of the safer choices among plant-based dietary supplements. Harvested for thousands of years, today flax seed is praised for its antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Although more research needs to be done with human subjects, one study says that flax seed can help prevent colon cancer.
Another study Trusted Source cites that flax seed has the ability to reduce blood pressure. When consumed, it can even aid in reducing obesity. Many people add flax seed and flax seed meal to oatmeal and smoothies, and it’s also available in the form of tablets, oil (which can be put into capsules), and flour.
The best way to add flax seed is through your diet. Sprinkle ground seeds on cereal or salad, cook in hot cereal, stew, homemade breads, or smoothies. Add flax seed oil to salad dressing.
Tea tree oil
The tea tree, which is native to Australia, produces an oil that’s long been thought to be beneficial for skin conditions, including mild acne, athlete’s foot, small wounds, dandruff, insect bites, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
There needs to be further study into acne and scalp use, but for now, there’s a degree of research into the antimicrobial superpowers of tea tree oil on wounds and topical infections.
One recent study said that tea tree oil slowed the growth of acne-causing microbes. It’s commonly used as a highly concentrated essential oil.
Wilson recommends that tea tree oil, as with all essential oils, should be diluted in a carrier oil. She adds that it often already comes diluted in a variety of skin care products and creams.