The market is awash with natural and herbal remedies which can help treat almost every condition from anxiety to high blood pressure.
But with so many remedies to choose from, how do we know what we should take?
Herbal medicines are those with active ingredients made from plant parts, such as leaves, roots or flowers.
But being ‘natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe to take.
Just like conventional medicines, herbal medicines will have an effect on the body, and can be potentially harmful if not used correctly.
They should therefore be used with the same care and respect as conventional medicines, warns NHS.UK, which recommends if you’re consulting your doctor or pharmacist about health matters, or are about to undergo surgery, always tell them about any herbal medicines you’re taking.
People with serious health conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, should avoid herbal medicines, as should people who are on other medication, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
While herbs are generally less potent than drugs and have fewer side effects, this does not mean you can simply take them without caution, they need to be used responsibly.
So how do you choose which rememdy is best?
The herbs listed below are believed to have the following properties:
Aloe Vera – reduces inflammation, can help soothe suburn, has anti-bacterial and moisturising properties
Bilberry – anti-oxidant, could improve circulation and repair veins. Considered effective in aiding vision, reducing inflammation, lowering blood sugar levels and may help prevent hardening of the arteries.
Chamomile – often used to treat insomnia, anxiety and digestive disorders.
Dandelion root – may combat water retention and treat urinary tract infections such as cystitis, bladder inflammation or kidney infections.
Echinacea – anti-inflammatory and immune-booster. Not recommended for people with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or ME.
Feverfew – can treat fevers, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach and tooth aches as well as menstrual pain.
Garlic – as well as lowering cholesterol levels, it may help prevent cancer, hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure.
Ginseng – may boost energy levels, reduce inflammation, benefir brain function, improve erectile dysfunction and boost the immune system.
Gingko biloba – an antioxidant which may improve circulation and memory and help prevent tinnitus and macular degeneration
Green tea – antioxidant and tonic (a herb which works on the whole body or organ)
Milk thistle – may repair liver cells and protect against damage from alcohol, hepatitis and chemical toxins.
St John’s Wort – could help relieve mild to moderate depression and anxiety, along with menopause symptoms.
Tea tree oil – a natural antiseptic used for treating skin infections as well as cuts, burns, bites and stings.
Turmeric – an antioxidant
Valerian – a natural sedative used to treat insomnia, anxidety and headaches brought on by stress and tension.
Wild yamcan – may relieve stomach problems like PMT, and menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness.
Zinc – vital for immune function, metabolism, wound healing, blood clotting and thyroid function. It may reduce inflammation, help prevent muscle cramps and the risk of some age-related disease.