Botanicals to Boost Your Health
Whatever your ailment, there’s probably an herb for that. Whether you want to reduce inflammation, boost immunity or lower blood pressure, our list of all-natural botanicals below may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a flowering plant of the ginger family Zingiberaceae. This Ayurvedic spice has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Research has shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can benefit inflammation, pain, metabolic syndrome, and help in the management of inflammatory and degenerative eye conditions. In fact, curcumin has such strong anti-inflammatory action, that studies have shown it may be as effective as some any-inflammatory medications but without the side effects.
Inflammation plays a role in the development of many chronic diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cerebral injury, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, cancer, allergy, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, arthritis, renal ischemia, psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, depression, fatigue, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
According to a review in the journal Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition, the authors write “In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric is thought to have many medicinal properties including strengthening the overall energy of the body, relieving gas, dispelling worms, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis.”
The turmeric plant is a perennial, rhizomatous, herbaceous plant native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia and has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The rhizomes are used fresh or boiled in water and dried, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a coloring and flavoring agent in many Asian cuisines, especially for curries, as well as for dyeing. Turmeric powder has a warm, bitter, black pepper-like flavor and earthy, mustard-like aroma.
Reishi, or lingzhi, mushrooms are a polypore fungus belonging to the genus Ganoderma. Its red-varnished, kidney-shaped cap and peripherally inserted stem gives it a distinct fan-like appearance.
In Chinese, the name “lingzhi” represents a combination of spiritual potency and the essence of immortality. In fact, the mushroom is regarded as the “herb of spiritual potency,” symbolizing success, well-being, divine power and long-life.
Reishi mushrooms are full of antioxidants and are a powerful immune system booster. Research in cancer patients has found that some of the molecules in reishi mushrooms can increase the activity of helpful white blood cells known as natural killer cells.
With the growing popularity of reishi mushrooms, many studies have been conducted revealing their positive health benefits, including anticancer effects; blood glucose regulation; antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral effects; and protection against liver and gastric injury.
Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is a perennial species indigenous to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa where it has been used in herbalism and as an ornamental plant for centuries.
Traditionally, people have used marshmallow root for digestive problems, cough and skin conditions such as eczema. In one study, published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology, researchers found that marshmallow root helped with lipemia, inflammation and gastric ulcer in rats with no observed negative effects.
A confection made from the root since ancient Egyptian times evolved into today’s marshmallow treat, but most modern marshmallow treats no longer contain any marshmallow root.
Cacao beans (Theobroma Cacao), a highly nutritious superfood, grow on trees in Central and South America. Dry cacao solids are the components of cocoa beans that remain after the cocoa butter (the fat component) has been extracted from chocolate liquor (roasted cocoa beans that have been ground into a liquid state).
Raw organic cacao has more than 40 times the antioxidants than blueberries and more calcium than cow’s milk. It’s also the highest plant-based provider of iron. People commonly consume cacao to help with issues such as depression, stress, blood pressure and heart health. Research has shown that cacao can help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Specifically, cocoa flavanols have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory action, improve blood flow, and decrease blood pressure and platelet aggregation.
In a review in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, the authors write “The Kuna Indians of the San Blas islands of Panama consume an average of three 10-ounce cups of cocoa beverage daily, ingesting approximately 1880 mg of procyanidins.”
“The prevalence of hypertension among the Kuna islanders is very low (2.2%) and blood pressure (BP) does not increase with age.”
“The population also experiences lower rates of diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, stroke, and cancer than mainland Panamanians. Among Kuna who have migrated to urban areas on mainland Panama, the prevalence of hypertension is higher (10.7%) and reaches 45% among those over age 60.”
Overall, researchers have hypothesized that the “high intake of a traditional cocoa beverage may be partly responsible for the low incidence of cardiovascular disease among the Kuna islanders. Compared to Kuna living in a suburb of Panama City, those still living on the remote islands consume twice as much fruit, four times as much fish, and 10 times as much cocoa.”
Moringa oleifera (Moringaceae) is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree of the family Moringaceae, native to the Indian subcontinent. Moringa is an extremely nutritious plant known for its high levels of antioxidants. People consume moringa to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve heart health. Moringa is packed with nutrients shown to slow down the aging process, reduce stress, promote healthier skin and bone health and lower cholesterol levels. People consume moringa to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve heart health. Adding moringa to a daily smoothie is a great way to get your greens for the day.
Common names include moringa, drumstick tree, horseradish tree, and ben oil tree or benzolive tree. The flowers are fragrant and hermaphroditic, surrounded by five unequal, thinly-veined, yellowish-white petals.
Organic Ceylon Cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), also known as true cinnamon, is a superfood loaded with powerful antioxidants. It is a small evergreen tree belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka. Traditionally, cinnamon has been used to help with bronchitis and upset stomach. It is considered a superfood and loaded with powerful antioxidants. Although the inner bark of several other Cinnamomum species is also used to make cinnamon, cinnamon from C. verum is considered by culinarians to be of superior quality.