There are times when it might be smarter to use an herbal remedy than a pharmaceutical. For example, sometimes an herb offers a safer alternative. Take chamomile: The flowers have been used for centuries as a gentle calmative for young and old alike. It’s non-habit-forming and well tolerated, and a study sponsored by the University of Michigan found that chamomile extract had roughly the same efficacy as many prescription sleeping medications when given to adults with insomnia. Likewise, peppermint oil has been shown to be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs for relieving irritable bowel syndrome, but without the ofttimes dangerous side effects. And clinical studies have shown that ginger relieves morning sickness, sage can relieve a sore throat, and hibiscus tea gently lowers blood pressure.
It’s better to use mild remedies for minor health problems and save the more potent—and risky—prescription medications for more serious conditions. Here then, are top 25 favorite healing herbs and their uses. All are safe and effective, but be sure to discuss any herbs you are taking with your doctor. Some herbal remedies (such as the antidepressant St. John’s wort) can interact with medications.