With the avalanche of herbal products available in your local pharmacy it can be difficult to put together a truly useful herbal first aid kit. But here are 5 botanical products I personally recommend every homeowner consider keeping locked in his or her medicine cabinet.
Enteric Coated Peppermint Capsules
Your grandmother probably gave you peppermint candies to help with nausea during long car trips. Today, science knows that Grandmother was right. Enteric coated peppermint oil, taken internally, has a relaxing, antispasmodic effect on the smooth muscle tissue found in the digestive tract and is now widely recommended for a variety of bowel conditions, especially irritable bowel syndrome.
Among the most-studied of all the botanicals is chamomile. While chamomile is most often used for relaxation, scientists know that chamomile is more than just another herbal sleep aid. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic and antispasmodic actions. Chamomile tea can also be applied topically to the skin to reduce inflammation or used as a gargle to soothe dry, scratchy throats.
Few things are as uncomfortable as constipation. Psyllium powder is a safe, effective way to encourage bowel movements without the cramping and pain that stimulant laxatives can often cause. Regular consumption of dietary fiber like psyllium may also help many people better manage complicated health conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and the insulin resistance that accompanies type 2 diabetes.
Study after study has shown that raw garlic is effective against many of the most common infections humans face. In laboratory tests, garlic exhibits marked antimicrobial actions against the most common causes of food poisoning, including E. coli and the bacteria that cause lysteria and salmonella. Garlic is also an effective treatment for yeast and fungal infections. Perhaps the best news of all is that garlic is even effective against strains of these microbes that are resistant to normal medical treatments.
Aloe Vera Gel
While aloe vera’s ability to heal burns has never been scientifically proven, researchers do know that aloe vera gel has the ability to reduce inflammation when applied directly to wounds. According to a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology, aloe vera gel demonstrates antifungal, animicrobial and antiviral actions. Aloe vera gel may even have anti-cancer benefits when applied to skin.
- Grigoleit, H., et al. (2005). Gastrointestinal clinical pharmacology of peppermint oil. Phytomedicine.
- McKay, D., et al. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita L.). Phytotherapy Research.
- Wang, Z., et al. (2007). Effects of dietary fibers on weight gain, carbohydrate metabolism, and gastric ghrelin gene expression in mice fed a high-fat diet. Metabolism.
- Davis, R., et al. (1994). Anti-inflammatory and wound healing activity of a growth substance in Aloe vera. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association.
- Friedman, M., et al. (2007). Recipes for antimicrobial wine marinades against Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica. Journal of Food Science.