5 Of My Favorite Underrated Medicinal Herbs

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There are many medicinal herbs and beneficial edible plants which for whatever reason don’t receive the recognition and praise that they often rightly deserve.

“The Food and Agriculture Organization estimated in 2002 that over 50,000 medicinal plants are used across the world. 

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew more conservatively estimated in 2016 that 17,810 plant species have a medicinal use, out of some 30,000 plants for which a use of any kind is documented.”

Let me take you through five of my favorite underrated medicinal herbs.

1. Cistanche Deserticola

Cistanche DeserticolaCistanche Deserticola also known as Rou Cong-Rong in Chinese Medicine is a wild endangered herb that is mainly distributed in the arid lands and warm deserts of northwestern China.

Herba Cistanche is also known as “Desert Ginseng” or “Ginseng of the Desert” and is considered to be one of the most premier, anti-aging tonic herbs in Traditional Chinese medicine.

“Herba Cistanche has been commonly used traditionally for enhancing immunity, sexual health, antioxidation, and neuroprotection, and tonic.” [1]

One of my favorite Cistanche Deserticola supplements is Na’vi Organics Wild Harvested Full Spectrum Desert Cistanche Extract Powder.

2. Jiaogulan

jiaogulan gynostemma pentaphyllumJiaogulan(Gynostemma pentaphyllum) also known as the “Immortality Herb” is one of my favorite “adaptogenic” herbs for supporting overall health, the adrenal glands and protecting against stress.

Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Thunb.) Makino (GpM) (Jiaogulan) has been widely used in Chinese medicine for the treatment of several diseases, including hepatitis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” [2]

Jiaogulan actually contains around 7 times the amount of sterols that Panax Ginseng does, despite not being as well known or popular.

Research has even found that Jiaogulan contains several saponins (gypenosides) comparable or identical to those found in ginseng.  Panax ginseng contains ginsenosides while gypenoside saponins have been found in jiaogulan.

Due to the high level of sterols, jiaogulan is a good choice of herb for lowering cholesterol.  Another benefit of sterols is a reduction of blood pressure by dilating blood vessels.  This also strengthens the heart and prevents arrhythmias by decreasing cardiac irritability.

3. Chaparral

Chaparral(Larrea tridentata) also known as creosote bush is another interesting medicinal herb that always makes my top ten list of favorite plants for health.

Chaparral has potent antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-tumor properties according to the research.

Traditionally Chaparral is used to treat a variety of illnesses including infertility, rheumatism, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, gallbladder and kidney stones, pain and inflammation.

Chaparral is one of the most potent antioxidant herbs and contains a very unique powerful phenolic antioxidant called Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA).

Unlike other antioxidants which are often confined to just acting on either just the water soluble portion of the cells or lipid fat soluble antioxidants such as Vitamin E.  The antioxidants in chaparral work in both parts of the cell.

4. Nettle Leaf

Nettle Leaf Health BenefitsOne of my favorite all time general tonic herbs has to be nettle leaf(Urtica dioica).

Nettle leaf is a highly nutritive herb which is a great source of many nutrients including vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and sterols.

Nettle leaf is traditionally recommended by herbalists to support the kidneys, liver, adrenal glands, thyroid, bone health, acting as a natural antihistamine, removes uric acid and is a natural diuretic.

Nettle is another herb rich in sterols, which are anti-inflammatory, immune supportive and dilate the blood vessels, improving circulation and lowering blood pressure.

5. Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola(Centella asiatica) has been used medicinally for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

“Apart from wound healing, Gotu Kola is recommended for the treatment of various skin conditions such as leprosy, lupus, varicose ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, diarrhoea, fever, amenorrhea, diseases of the female genitourinary tract and also for relieving anxiety and improving cognition.” [3]

Preliminary human studies have found gotu kola may have anxiolytic activity and the ability to improve cognitive function.

Gotu Kola is an excellent source of B-complex Vitamins, which is why it is a great choice for increasing energy and supporting nervous system function.

Not to be confused with Kola Nut which is a mild CNS stimulant herb that contains caffeine.  Unlike Gotu Kola which is caffeine free and one of the most powerful “nervine” support herbs.

References

[1] Herba Cistanche (Rou Cong-Rong): One of the Best Pharmaceutical Gifts of Traditional Chinese Medicine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4771771/

[2] Anti-cancer effects of Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Thunb.) Makino (Jiaogulan)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037898/

[3] Pharmacological Review on Centella asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116297/

The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.

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