There is an understanding in the healing community: If a medicine has a negative side effect, then it’s not considered a medicine for that person. Most herbs and herbal formulas have side benefits instead. That’s not to say that we should not be cautious with herbs and herbal formulas before using them. The source of the herb, your constitution, the current state of your health, and the length of time taking an herb or herbal formula should be seriously considered. Herb potency and quality is always a factor. Before taking herbs, be sure to contact your health care provider for any contraindications and other potential effects. Also, if you are pregnant or nursing, be especially cautious or wait until your child is weaned before taking any medications not recommended by your primary health care provider.
The following is a list of herbs I currently have in my herbal pharmacy; you may be able to find a few of the following in your very own pantry. Their forms vary: powder, root, stems, leaves, resins. I sometimes use them alone, but more commonly create formulas using a combination of several herbs. They may be taken in capsules or added or infused into liquids by various methods. My primary herbal sources are Mountain Rose Herbs and Banyan Botanicals because quality and organic is important to me. I also grow my own culinary herbs like as parsley, cilantro, sage, turmeric, rosemary, basil, thyme, lemongrass, curry, etc. in grow pots year round.
Amalaki – rejuvenative; used as a laxative, tonic, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac; helps to nourish and protect the heart.
Arjuna – heart tonic and blood purifier; used as a cardio protective and diuretic; helps to reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improves liver functioning.
Ashwagandha - increases strength; used as a mild sedative, nervine, tonic, and anti-inflammatory; helps the lungs and nervous system.
Astragulas - immune stimulant, antioxidant; used for upper respiratory infections; also good for colds and fibromyalgia.
Bhringaraja – rejuvenative; used as a tonic and anti-inflammatory; helps with premature graying of hair, the nervous system and stress. Good for the liver.
Brahmi – sedative, nervine, cardio-tonic, anti-inflammatory; used for memory and concentration; helps with exhaustion, stress, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADHD. Good for the mind.
Burdock – anti-inflammatory, diuretic, blood cleanser; used for anemia, chronic chills; also good for cough relief, inflammatory skin conditions, rashes, and sore throat.
Calamus – stimulant, expectorant, decongestant; used for bleeding disorders; helps with colds, cough, asthma, and sinus headaches. (FDA restricts this herb’s internal use in the U.S. Can be applied externally.)
Cardamom – digestive stimulant, expectorant, anti nausea, diuretic; used for weak digestion, bloating, flatulence, colic; helps all digestive upsets and burning due to acidity.
Cinnamon - appetite stimulant, destroys toxins, cardiac tonic; used for slow digestion, colds, flatulence and colic; helps with infertility and male impotence.
Clove – digestive and appetite stimulant; used for weak digestion, nausea, bacterial and fungal conditions such as candida; helps the clear mucous from the system.
Coriander – appetite stimulant; used for lifting the spirits, colic, bloating; helps with clearing mucous from the lungs and reducing hot flashes.
Cumin - antispasmodic, digestive; used for digestive sluggishness and indigestion; good for the lungs and the reproductive system.
Dandelion leaf - bitter tonic, laxative; used for liver problems, jaundice, gall stones, congested lymphatics, hepatitis; also good for ulcers.
Fennel - digestive, expectorant; used for digestive discomforts, flatulence, nausea, colic; helps with difficult urination and muscle spasms/cramps.
Fenugreek seed - digestive, diuretic, aphrodisiac; used for clearing fatty deposits, nourishing to the pancreas and balances sugar levels; good for reducing cholesterol and treating sluggish digestion.
Ginger root - digestive, en-kindles digestive fire; used for increasing circulation and is a toxin destroyer; good for colds, arthritis.
Gotu Kola - blood purifier, nervine; used for conditions of stress, insomnia and emotional turbulence; good for ADHD, concentration, intelligence, Alzheimer’s, and skin conditions.
Guduchi powder - immune tonic, anti-inflammatory, nervine; used for liver damage, gout, arthritis, joint inflammations; good for all autoimmune diseases causing inflammation.
Guggul Gum (resin) - blood purifier, clears fat tissue; used as an immune stimulant and anti-platelet, anti inflammatory; helps to reduce cholesterol levels, enhances thyroid function, increases blood flow.
Haritaki – increases appetite, digestive; used as a laxative, nervine, expectorant, tonic; good for leaky gut syndrome, flatulence, asthma.
Hing – digestive, toxin digestive; used for bloating, flatulence, colic; good for cramps and intestinal spasm, benefits nervous system issues, sciatica, epilepsy.
Hibiscus – demulcent, antispasmodic; used for painful urination, cystitis, cough and toxins in blood; also good for fever and severe chills.
Licorice root – vitalizer, expectorant, adrenal tonic; used for asthma, bronchitis, dry cough, peptic, gastric, duodenal and oral ulcers; good for alleviating chronic fatigue symptoms.
Manjishtha – diuretic, blood purifier, anti-tumor; used for clearing the blood of excess heat, inflammation; good for eczema, psoriasis, acne, acne rosacea, menstrual imbalances.
Marshmallow root – demulcent, tonic, laxative; used for cough, laryngitis, bronchitis; also used for kidney and bladder inflammation and skin eruptions.
Musta – digests toxins, alleviates intestinal spasm and pain; used for disturbed digestion, colic, flatulence and bloating; good for menstrual cycle regulation.
Neem - anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antacid; used for skin inflammation, eczema, psoriasis, ringworm, scabies, lice; good for ulcers, colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Nutmeg – digests toxins, en-kindles the appetite, vermifuge; used for insomnia, agitated mind, excitability; good for helping absorption of nutrients in the small intestine, intestinal spasms and pain.
Oregon Grape – blood cleanser, laxative; used for stomach ulcers, GERD; also helps psoriasis.
Pau d’ Arco - natural antibiotic, antiviral, tonic, blood builder; used for colds; also good for yeast infections, liver ailments, joint pains.
Pippali – digestion toxins, vermifuge, clears toxins; used for cold, wet and mucousy conditions, lung rejuvenative, lung circulation; used for bronchitis, pneumonia, compromised immunity.
Punarnava - en-kindles appetite, rejuvenative, nourishes the heart and benefits eyes; used for fluid congestion, edema; also helps with congestive heart conditions and arthritic swellings.
Saffron - digestive, nervine, circulatory stimulant; used for headaches; good for nourishing the nervous system and reproductive tissue, also good for depression.
Sarsaparilla root - antispasmodic, diuretic; used for skin diseases, arthritis, gout, nervous diseases and disorders of the mind ; also good for the urino-genital tract and rheumatic inflammation.
Shankhapushpi - nerve rejuvenative; used for disorders of the nervous system, pain, anxiety, insomnia; also good for slow digestion and the urinary and reproductive system.
Shatavari - aphrodisiac, nervine, promotes sperm production, gives strength; used as a female reproductive tonic and uterine tonic; good for menstrual irregularity, hot flashes, dryness.
Shilajit - rejuvenative to the urinary system; used for painful urination, regulating blood sugar levels; also good for male reproductive problems and PMS symptoms in women.
Skullcap – sedative, antispasmodic; used for insomnia, tremors, neuralgia, headache; also good for arthritis and muscular spasms.
Triphala (mixture of 3 herbs) - antioxidant, bowel cleanser; used for encouraging full bowel elimination; also improves digestion.
Tulsi powder – nervine, expectorant; used for clearing lungs from mucous, increases lung capacity; also good for increasing circulation through the heart especially where there is congestion.
Turmeric - analgesic, blood tonic; antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic; used for all intestinal infections and mucousy conditions; helps with nourishing the blood.
Valerian root – sedative, nervine, antispasmodic; used for vertigo, nervous cough, flatulence, colic; also good for insomnia and chronic skin diseases.
Yogaraj Guggulu – digestive, immune booster; used for rheumatoid arthritis; also good for gout, increases strength and improves complexion.
*You can read more about these herbs and their uses in Ayurvedic Medicine by Sebastian Pole and The Yoga of Herbs-An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine by Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad.