Herbs Health: 12 Herbs to Have on Hand Now

Herbs to know and their health benefits

| May/June 1999

1. Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)

What it’s used for: Immune stimulation
Special instructions: Don’t take long-term; studies show this may reduce effectiveness.
Large doses may be most ­effective when ­fighting a cold.
Special cautions: Avoid if you have an autoimmune disease such as multiple ­sclerosis.
May counteract ­immune-suppressant drugs.
Did you know? A potent tincture should make your tongue tingle.

2. Gingerroot (Zingiber officinale)

What it’s used for: Motion sickness • nausea • inflammation
Special instructions: The medicinal chemicals in ginger survive processing, so pick your favorite form—fresh root, dried ­powder, liquid ­extract, or candied slices.
Special cautions: It’s relatively nontoxic, but don’t exceed the recommended daily dose of 2 to 4 g.
Did you know? It’s not really a root—it’s a rhizome.

3. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)

What it’s used for: General tonic • cancer • heart disease • HIV • viral diseases
Special instructions: Don’t overlook fresh or dried whole mushrooms. The traditional dose is 1 or 2 daily for ­preventive care.
Special cautions: In rare cases, may induce a rash.
Did you know? In the Orient, shiitake has about as many uses as tomatoes in the West; it appears in seasonings, sauces, soup mixes, carbonated health drinks, and candies.

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