How to Use Herbs for Health Purposes

By: Contributors

There is some evidence that combining natural remedies with traditional medicine may be an effective method for treating some of our physical ailments. Herbs are a large part of alternative medicine that can be used to treat common conditions [source: NCCAM]. Read the tips listed below and learn about how you can use herbs for health purposes.

  • Echinacea This herbal medicine -- also known as purple or American coneflower -- is used to treat or prevent the common cold or flu. Some studies show that echinacea is sometimes effective in treating upper respiratory tract infections. The flowers and stem are ingested in a tea, or its extracts can be taken orally [source: NCCAM].
  • St. John'swort This herb -- also known as Klamath weed or goatweed -- is used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including mental disorders and nerve pain. St. John's wort flowers can be made into a tea, and the liquid extract can be purchased in capsule form. The capsules can be taken to treat depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and malaria. It can also be purchased as a topical ointment to apply to wounds, burns and insect bites [source: NCCAM].
  • Ginger Though you may have been introduced to ginger through cooking, you may not have known that it's used for a wide variety of medicinal purposes. Popular in traditional Asian medicine, ginger is used to treat stomachaches, nausea and diarrhea. It may also helps those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and joint and muscle pain. The root plant can be consumed fresh or dried. It can also be found in tablet, capsule and liquid extract forms [source: NCCAM].

It's important to consult with a medical physician when using herbs for health purposes. Many herbal remedies can produce hazardous side effects, including hypotension, kidney and liver damage, and seizures. Consult with a doctor to discuss whether any herbs you're considering may be harmful to your health or may infer with your other medications [source: Anderson, Roach].