Science-Backed Natural Remedies for Common Ailments
From broken bones to stomach aches, herbal remedies have been used to naturally promote healing for thousands of years. While some natural herbs are both safe and effective, many are not. It’s important to sift through the untested, unproven, and ineffective snake oil that pervades the natural remedy market. Fortunately, scientists have started to study many of these herbal remedies, validating those that work and eliminating those that do not. Whether you’re suffering from a chest cold, a broken finger, or stress-headache, the following list combines ancient wisdom with modern science to offer a variety of herbal remedies to build your own home pharmacy.
White Willow Bark, Nature's Way, $6 for 100 Capsules
1. White Willow Bark
A Natural Alternative to Aspirin for Aches and Pains
The bark of the white willow has a long history of use as a natural pain reliever. It has been documented as far back as 6000 years ago on clay tablets describing the Sumerians using willow as fever reducer. An ancient Egyptian medical text known as the The Ebers Papyrus also refers to the willow as an anti-inflammatory with the ability to ease pain. Even Hippocrates, in 5th century Greece, wrote of willow leaf tea being used to help subside the pain of childbirth. The ancient hype over white willow was real. Modern research and randomized, placebo-controlled studies have proven its efficacy comparable to modern over-the-counter pain relievers. In fact, salicin, the active compound that gives willow its medicinal properties is directly responsible for the discovery of discovery of aspirin in 1899. A standard dose of white willow is 240 mg/day. While it was traditionally consumed as a tea made from the bark and leaves, it can now be found in a variety of forms including tincture and capsules. It is important to note that even though salicin is considered to have fewer side effects than aspirin, it should never be given to children and pregnant mothers.
- Suggested Uses & Indications: Headaches, cramps, back pain, osteoarthritis
- Standard Dose: 240mg/day
Oil of Oregano, Mykind Organics, $10 for 1 oz
2. Oil of Oregano
Best Natural Remedy For Microbial Infections & Colds
An all-natural essential oil, oil of oregano is well known for its antifungal, antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Traditionally uses range from sterilizing wounds to treating infectious disease. Scientific research conducted by Georgetown University in 2001, found that the active medicinal component of oregano oil, carvacrol, worked as well as pharmaceutical antibiotics to inhibit the growth of staphylococcus bacteria in mice. Another study from Johns Hopkins supports the efficacy of oregano reporting its “significant antimicrobial activity against a wide range of microorganisms.” With antibiotic resistance on the rise, oil of oregano might be the best defense (and offense) against infectious microbugs. Capsules are readily available from retailers, but research shows that it’s more effective to dilute oregano in water or olive oil. Oil of oregano can be used topically to wipe down surfaces and sanitize hands, or as an antiseptic when added sparingly to water and used like mouthwash. For a sinus or respiratory infection, try a few drops as part of steam inhalation therapy. The healing power of oregano doesn’t stop there. In addition to its antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, recent studies have demonstrated that the compounds in oregano oil “are also potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and cancer suppressing agents.”
- Suggested Uses & Indications: Cold & flu symptoms, Cough, Bronchitis, Urinary Tract Infections, Fungal infections, Stomach flu, Scrapes & cuts
- Standard Dose: Up to 150mg/day
Kava Root Extract, 1Hour Break, $29 for 15 Doses
3. Kava Root Extract
Best Natural Remedy For Relaxation, Stress & Anxiety
Sometimes what ails us is more mental than physical. Long days at work, busy family schedules, and lifestyle factors can all contribute to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. What you really need in this case is to simply relax and unwind. Unfortunately, for many people “taking the edge off” equates to reaching in the fridge for a beer or in the medicine cabinet for a Xanax. Neither of which are healthy long-term solutions. Fortunately, kava is a safe and effective alternative that has tried-and-true history of traditional use backed by modern scientific research. Used for thousands of years as a Polynesian ceremonial brew, Kava root has been shown to be a natural stress reliever. Traditionally, the root and stem were used by Pacific Islanders to prepare relaxation inducing drinks. Today kava comes in many forms including extracts, capsules, tea, and even kava candy. However, the most efficacious way to consume kava is diluted in alcohol as a tincture. Kava tinctures like this fast-acting kava spray work due to compounds called lactones, which keep you relaxed, yet mentally alert. Several studies have shown kava to significantly promote relaxation when compared to placebo, without the lingering side effects that accompany alcohol and many prescription drugs.
- Suggested Uses & Indications: Inability to relax, Stress, Nervousness, Tension headaches
- Standard Dose: 300mg/day
Cissus Extract, Double Wood Supplements, $30 for 150 Capsules
4. Cissus Quadrangularis Extract
Best Natural Remedy For Healing An Injured Bone, Tendon, or Joint
Also known as hadjod, cissus quadrangularis plant is indigenous to India, Sri Lanka, and Africa. It is a cactus-like plant and has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for its bone fracture healing properties. Ancient Ayurveda texts describe its use as a general tonic, especially for healing injured tendons, joints, and bones. Modern research supports these claims. Several clinical studies have shown cissus quadrangularis to be effective at inhibiting osteoporosis and regenerating bone mass. A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences demonstrated radiological studies which “showed that ethanolic extract of Cissus quadrangularis had a definite fracture healing effect” on rats with broken legs. In a 2015 clinical study examined two groups of patients with fractures in the jaw or face. Group 1 was given one capsule containing 500 mg of cissus three times a day for six weeks, while the second group received nothing. Not surprisingly, “pain, swelling, and fragment mobility were low” in the group that received cissus, and “healing of bone was clearly seen” when compared to the control group. The most common form of supplementation is with capsules containing 1,000 to 1,500 mg of cissus stem extract.
- Suggested Uses & Indications: Inability to relax, Stress, Nervousness, Tension
- Standard Dose: 300mg/day
Keep in mind that doses can vary between manufacturers. If you have any questions or concerns about taking herbs, or if you are currently on medications, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is important to consult your healthcare physician before starting any herbal regimen.
There’s an old saying that if you ask a happy man what he wants, he’ll give you a hundred answers. Ask a sick man what he wants, and he’ll only give you one. The point is that nothing is more important than one’s health. Whether you’re recovering from a cold, healing a twisted ankle, or working to mitigate mental stress, it’s critical not to overlook any strategy for expediting the healing process. The next time you need a little help getting over an injury or illness, an herbal remedy may be just what you need. You can feel comforted knowing the aforementioned healing herbs have not only stood the test of time and tradition, but of modern scientific research. Be well.