Great Natural Remedies: Herbs for your Medicine Cabinet

16 best tried-and-true healers to keep on hand.


| January/February 2007


Studies come and go. The study du jour might tout medicinal herbs or trash them. But people who focus only on the latest study lose something important—perspective. Want to use herbs confidently? Then take the long view. Examine the evidence that accumulates slowly over many years. The following 16 herbs have stood the test of time and are proven to be reliable healers. Not every study supports their use (the same could be said for most pharmaceuticals), but the weight of the evidence clearly shows that these herbs are safe (with certain caveats) and effective. They deserve a place in your medicine cabinet.

Aloe for Burns and Cuts

Aloe (Aloe vera) is the herb for minor burns and cuts. In one study published in the Journal of Dermatological Surgery and Oncology, 27 people had burns treated with aloe or standard medical care. In the standard-care group, healing took 18 days, but in the aloe group, it took only 12 days. “Aloe is my first choice for burns,” says botanist James Duke, Ph.D., former chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Medicinal Plant Research Laboratory and author of The Green Pharmacy (Rodale, 2000). “Keep a potted aloe on your kitchen windowsill. For minor burns, snip off a thick leaf. Slit it open. Scoop out the inner leaf gel and apply it to the burn once or twice a day.” Aloe requires no care beyond weekly watering.

Dosage: If you use a commercial aloe gel, follow label directions.

Red Flags: Aloe helps heal superficial wounds but not deep wounds, such as surgical incisions.

Black Cohosh for Hot Flashes

American Indians first introduced colonists to black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), which they used to treat many conditions, including menstrual problems and recovery from childbirth. For 40 years, Europeans have used black cohosh to treat menopausal discomforts. During the past decade, the herb has become popular in the United States. Occasionally, a study questions its benefit, but the clear majority shows black cohosh effective for hot flashes. How the herb works is still a mystery, but it does not act like estrogen, so it’s safe for women who can’t take the female sex hormone—for example, those with a history of breast cancer. “Black cohosh is definitely worth a try,” says Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the Austin, Texas-based American Botanical Council (ABC), the nation’s leading herb-education organization, “especially now that hormone replacement therapy has been shown to do more harm than good.”

Dosage: Follow label directions.

Desiree McNicol
12/21/2012 11:53:49 PM

List looks pretty good. I've just had better results with cornsilk as opposed to cranberry. Cranberry will kill off the alkaline loving bacteria but then the acid loving are left to continue multiplying.So typically I'll feel better at first but not get completely better. Cornsilk prevents bacteria from sticking to the mucosa. It works well.Using cranberry at the start is still good.






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