The herb industry is growing. The best herbs are available than ever before and Americans are embracing their use just as people have done for thousands of years in the “old countries”.

Herbal History

Western Herbalism started when prehistoric people learned through trial and error to treat physical complaints with plants.

But as with anything, practice common sense. If you take herbs, follow the instructions on the labels. They’re there for a reason! If any unusual side effects occur, discontinue immediately. If the effect disappears within 72 hours (sooner in most instances), you know the herb was at fault.

Note: Herbs are generally not recommended for children 6 and under.

The Top 100 Best Herbs

Top 100 Best Herbs for fitness Research indicates the following 100 best herbs appear to be perfectly safe when used appropriately. The possible side effects may come only from reports from people who made complaints, as with other drugs. Do remember that it is always recommended to consult with your physician before starting any herb as a medicine.

  1. Alfalfa
    Good for cystitis or inflammation of the bladder. Boosts sluggish appetite. Provides relief from bloating or water retention. Excellent source of nutrients. Relieves constipation. May reduce swelling and inflammation of rheumatism.
    Caution: Alfalfa has been known to aggravate lupus and other autoimmune disorders. If you have an autoimmune problem, avoid this herb.
  2. Almond
    Cleansers made from almond help to remove excess oil and dirt from skin. Almond butter and oil can moisturize and soften skin. Almond oil shows promise as a potent cholesterol reducer.
  3. Aloe Vera
    Soothes and promotes healing of sunburn and other kinds of minor burns. Useful for bug bites and mild skin irritations. Helps keep skin soft and supple. Taken internally, aloe is an effective laxative and promotes general healing.
    Caution: Do not take aloe internally during pregnancy. Aloe should not be used internally by children or the elderly.
  4. Angelica
    Relieves buildup of phlegm due to asthma and bronchitis. Anti-spasmodic action relieves menstrual cramps. Good remedy for skin lice. Reduces discomfort caused by rheumatism. Good for people who get cold easily.
    Caution: Do not use during pregnancy. Large doses can affect blood pressure, heart action, and respiration. To avoid these problems, do not exceed recommended dose.
  5. Anise
    Helps expel gas. Promotes digestion. Relieves nausea and abdominal pain. Soothes coughs and colds, helps clear congestion. Stimulates milk production in nursing mothers.
  6. Apple
    Helps regulate normal bowel function. Helps prevent both diarrhea and constipation. Reduces cholesterol and normalizes blood sugar. Traditional remedy for joint pain and stiffness due to rheumatism.
  7. Arnica
    Soothes and heals skin wounds and irritations. Relieves pain due to muscle spasms or joint inflammation. Used internally, it’s good for coughs.
    Caution: Never apply arnica on broken skin. If further irritation develops, discontinue use. Never take arnica internally unless it is under the supervision of a physician.
  8. Artichoke
    Relieves excess water weight. Promotes heart health by reducing cholesterol. Enhances liver function. May enhance sexual desire.
  9. Asparagus
    Stimulates hormone production. Helps rid the body of excess water and salt. Helps prevent anemia due to folic acid deficiency. Soothes pain and swelling of joints due to rheumatism or arthritis.
    Caution: Do not use if your kidneys are inflamed, because it increases the rate of urinary production.
  10. Astragalus
    Promotes resistance against disease. Mild stimulant. May reduce blood pressure by helping rid the body of excess water weight. Appears to help restore normal immune function for cancer patients.
    Caution: If you are undergoing chemotherapy, do not take astragalus or any other medication without first consulting a doctor who is familiar with this herb.
  11. Basil
    Reduces stomach cramps and nausea. Relieves gas. Promotes normal bowel function. Aids digestion.
  12. Bayberry Bark
    Helps clear congestion in chest due to cold. Has a mild stimulating effect. Good astringent. Soothes inflamed varicose veins.
  13. Bilberry
    Helps preserve eyesight and prevent eye damage. Particularly useful for people who suffer from eyestrain or poor night vision. Good for people who must drive at night. Helpful for nearsightedness (myopia).
    Caution: Although the commercially prepared extract is safe, the leaves can be poisonous if consumed over a long period of time. Therefore, safety dictates that you not exceed the recommended dosage.
  14. Black Cohosh
    Relieves swelling and soreness typical of rheumatism. Helps you to relax. Relieves muscle spasm. Reduces pain associated with neuralgia. Helps to relax bronchial tubes and quell the urge to cough. Promotes labor and eases delivery.
    Caution: Large doses can cause symptoms of poisoning. Do not use during pregnancy until labor and only under the supervision of a doctor.
  15. Black Walnut
    Fights against fungal infection. Antiseptic properties help fight bacterial infection. Anti-parasitic. Helps promote bowel regularity.
  16. Blessed Thistle
    Helps regulate menstrual cycle. Used in treating liver problems. Improves the appetite. Lowers fevers. Helps to stop bleeding.
    Caution: Do not use during pregnancy.
  17. Boneset
    Brings down a fever. Relieves flu symptoms. Has a calming effect on the body. Taken in a warm drink, it is an excellent expectorant. Taken in a cold drink, it is a mild laxative.
  18. Buchu
    Useful for urinary tract infections. Good diuretic. Has a stimulating effect on the body.
    Caution: Do not use for kidney infections or if you have any kidney problems, since buchu can be irritating to the kidneys. Kidney infections need prompt medical attention. If you have pain during urination, or blood in the urine, call your doctor immediately.
  19. Burdock
    Helps rid body of excess water weight. Soothes pain caused by arthritis, rheumatism, and backache. Relieves skin irritation.
  20. Butcher’s Broom
    Improves circulation in hands and feet. Helps reduce edema in legs or feet. Anti-inflammatory action can reduce swelling caused by arthritis and rheumatism. Reduces pain caused by hemorrhoids.
  21. Calendula
    Relieves pain and promotes healing of burns and skin wounds. Reduces fever. Quells pain from ulcer irritation. Reduces menstrual cramps.
    Caution: Do not use during pregnancy.
  22. Capiscum or Cayenne
    Soothes indigestion. Reduces discomfort caused by the common cold. Stimulates the appetite. Reduces inflammation. Mild stimulant or tonic.
    Caution: Cayenne can be irritating to hemorrhoids. It should not be used by people with gastrointestinal problems. Never apply cayenne ointment to broken skin. Prolonged application can cause skin irritation. If taking internally, do not exceed recommended dose. High dosages taken internally can cause gastroenteritis and kidney damage.
  23. Caraway
    Excellent digestive aid. Helps expel gas. Reduces nausea. Improves the appetite. Works as an effective expectorant for coughs due to colds. Increases breast milk in nursing mothers.
    Caution: Never give seeds to infants or young children – stick to the extract.
  24. Carrot
    Promotes eye health. Helps prevent cancer. Lowers cholesterol. Soothes indigestion. Can help relieve diarrhea.
  25. Cascara Sagrada or Buckthorn
    Relieves constipation overnight.
    Caution: Excessive dose can cause cramps and diarrhea.
  26. Catnip
    Helps you relax. Eases indigestion and gas. May help relieve bronchitis. Helps control diarrhea.
  27. Celery and Celeriac
    Natural diuretic. Good for digestion system and enhances appetite. May relieve symptoms of rheumatism and gout. Celery juice and oil induces menstruation.
    Caution: Celery juice and oil should not be used during pregnancy.
  28. Chamomile or Camomile
    Good for the digestion. Has a relaxing effect on the body. Traditional treatment for rheumatism. Relieves back pain. Soothes skin irritations. Good for sunburn.
    Caution: Chamomile is a member of the daisy family, and anyone who is allergic to other members of the daisy family, including ragweed, should steer clear of this herb. If you are unsure, consult your doctor or allergist.
  29. Chaparral
    Helps the body fight infection. Helps prevent parasitic infection. Rids the body of excess water weight. Prevents the growth of certain cancerous tumors. Reduces inflammation. Helps stop diarrhea. May help slow down aging process by preventing the formation of free radicals.
  30. Chives
    Good for the digestion. Helps prevent anemia caused by iron deficiency.
  31. Cloves
    Relieves tooth pain. Has an anti-emetic action that helps control vomiting.
  32. Comfrey
    Promotes healing of skin wounds. Soothes skin irritations. Relieves ulcers.
  33. Cranberry
    Prevents spread of bacterial infection in the urinary tract.
    Caution: If you suspect that you have a urinary tract infection, see your doctor at once. Untreated, it can lead to serious complications.
  34. Damiana
    May enhance sexual performance. Helps relieve constipation. May put you in a good mood!
  35. Dandelion
    Helps rid the body of excess water and salt. May decrease high blood pressure by ridding the body of excess fluid, thus reducing the amount of fluid the heart must pump to circulate blood. Good for the digestion. Protects against liver and gallbladder disorders. May protect against iron-deficiency anemia.
  36. Devil’s Claw
    Promotes flexibility in the joints, reducing the pain of arthritis and rheumatism.
    Caution: Do not use during pregnancy.
  37. Dill
    Soothes indigestion and upset stomach. Promotes appetite. Helps milk production in nursing mothers. Helps expel gas.
  38. Dong Quai
    Overall tonic for female reproductive system. Restores menstrual regularity. Reduces PMS. Relieves symptoms of menopause. Prevents anemia. Reduces high blood pressure.
    Caution: Do not use during pregnancy or if you are still menstruating and typically have a heavy flow.
  39. Echinacea
    Boosts the immune system. Promotes healing of skin wounds. Fights bacterial and viral infections. Shortens the duration of colds and flu.
  40. Elder
    Relieves symptoms of coughs and colds. Applied externally, useful for burns, rashes, and minor skin problems.
    Caution: The seeds from the elderberry plant are toxic; therefore, don’t eat the berry unless it is cooked. Store-bought elderberry preparations (teas, salves) are perfectly safe.
  41. Ephedra
    Decongestant can relieve stuffy nose, watery eyes, and other cold and allergy symptoms. May help relieve headaches. Long-acting stimulant that can last up to 24 hours.
    Caution: Do not use this herb if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or thyroid disease unless under the supervision of your doctor. Do not exceed recommended dose. If you are pregnant or nursing, check with your doctor before using any ephedra preparations.
  42. Eucalyptus
    Helps relieve upper respiratory distress caused by cold and flu. Good expectorant. Good antiseptic. Can help soothe stiffness and swelling of arthritis and rheumatism.
    Caution: Do not use on broken or irritated skin. Do not use internally.
  43. Evening Primrose
    Relieves symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Reduces anxiety. Helps prevent heart disease and stroke by controlling high blood pressure and reducing cholesterol. Helps maintain healthy skin.
  44. Eyebright
    An eyewash made of eyebright and other herbs can be soothing to irritated and inflamed eyes. Taken internally, it may help maintain good vision and eye health.
  45. Fennel
    Digestive aid that can relieve cramps and gas. Good expectorant for coughs and colds. Can improve a sluggish appetite. Relieves stiff, painful joints.
  46. Fenugreek
    Good expectorant for coughs and colds. As a gargle, can relieve sore throat. Useful for skin irritations and other inflammations. Lowers blood sugar.
  47. Feverfew
    May be of great help to migraine sufferers, reducing the number of headaches. May reduce severity of migraine symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and head pain.
    Caution: Some people taking feverfew have developed mouth ulcers. If this occurs, discontinue use.
  48. Fo-ti
    May help slow signs of premature aging. Used generally as a tonic to maintain health and energy. Good for heart health. May help prevent cancer.
  49. Garlic
    Helps prevent heart disease by reducing blood pressure and blood lipids. Helps fight infection. Can destroy some types of cancer cells. Excellent digestive aid. Relieves gas.
    Caution: Eating 10 or more raw garlic cloves a day can be toxic and in some cases can trigger an allergic reaction. Garlic should not be used by women who are breast-feeding because it can pass to the breast milk and cause colic in infants.
  50. Ginger
    Calms an upset stomach. Safe remedy for “morning sickness,” a common condition suffered by half of all pregnant women. (Other commercial anti-nauseants should not be used during pregnancy because of the possibility that they may cross the placenta and adversely affect the fetus.) Eases cold symptoms. Soothes and promotes healing of minor burns and skin inflammations.
  51. Ginkgo
    Improves circulation throughout the body. Improves mental functioning and the ability to concentrate. Relieves symptoms of tinnitus such as “ringing in the ears” and vertigo. May slow aging process. May help prevent cancer. May be useful to relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Successfully used to treat hemorrhoids in Europe.
  52. Ginseng
    Increases physical and mental endurance. Helps the body adjust to stressful situations. Normalizes body functions. Reduces cholesterol. Increases energy. May help reduce discomfort caused by menopause. May inhibit growth of cancerous tumors. May enhance sexual desire.
    Caution: Some people may find panax ginseng too stimulating, especially if used before bedtime. Therefore, use early in the day. High doses may make you feel jittery. Do not exceed 5 to 10 grams daily. In rare cases, some people may develop headaches or high blood pressure from panax ginseng. If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor before using this product. Take ginseng one hour before or after eating. Vitamin C can interfere with the absorption of ginseng. If you take a vitamin C supplement, wait two hours before or after taking ginseng to do so. In rare cases, ginseng can cause vaginal bleeding in menopausal women, which isn’t dangerous but could be mistaken as a symptom of uterine cancer. If you experience any vaginal bleeding, however, be sure to notify your doctor, and be sure to tell him or her that you are taking ginseng.
  53. American Ginseng
    Helps body adapt to stress. Normalizes body functions. Works as a mild stimulant. Enhances physical and mental performance. Reduces cholesterol. May inhibit growth of cancerous tumors.
  54. Siberian Ginseng
    Helps body withstand stress. Improves mental alertness. Helps cure colds and infections. Improves overall health. Helps prevent heart disease by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure.
  55. Goldenseal
    Anti-inflammatory action can soothe irritated mucous membranes. Relieves symptoms of cold and flu. Aids indigestion and constipation. Good for skin inflammations such as eczema. Mouthwash can help prevent gum disease. Good douche for vaginal infections. Relieves discomfort caused by ulcers when used with myrrh.
    Caution: This herb can raise blood pressure and should not be used by anyone with a history of high blood pressure. Do not use during pregnancy. Do not use for more than two weeks at a time. Eating fresh plant can cause inflammation of the mucous tissue.
  56. Gotu Kola
    May help improve memory. Has a calming effect on the body. Good expectorant – can eliminate congestion due to colds. Promotes healing after childbirth. Improves circulation. Reduces pain and swelling due to phlebitis.
    Caution: Do not use during pregnancy. One manufacturer cautions that this herb should not be used by anyone with an overactive thyroid.
  57. Hawthorn Berries
    Enhances cardiovascular health. Improves circulation.
    Caution: Although most hawthorne preparations are safe, this herb is also available in a highly concentrated form that should be used only under medical supervision.
  58. Hops
    Calms you down. Relieves indigestion. An old-time pain reliever. A good after-dinner tea.
  59. Horehound
    Relieves symptoms of coughs and colds. Rids body of excess water weight. Promotes sweating, helps cool off the body.
  60. Horse Chestnut
    A vagotonic, it strengthens and tones veins. Soothes irritated varicose veins. Promotes sweating – can help break a fever.
  61. Horseradish
    Good expectorant, soothing for respiratory problems. May help relieve rheumatism by stimulating blood flow to inflamed joints.
    Caution: Do not take large quantities at one time – it could cause diarrhea and excessive sweating.
  62. Horsetail
    Good conditioner for nails and hair. Helps eliminate white spots from nails. Controls excess oil on skin. Helps strengthen bones.
  63. Hyssop
    Good expectorant for coughs and colds. Relieves gas. Improves the appetite. Good gargle for sore throat.
    Caution: Do not take for more than two weeks without seeking medical advice.
  64. Jasmine
    Calms you down. Good after-dinner drink. Possible aphrodisiac.
  65. Juniper Berries
    Relieves urinary tract problems. Old-time treatment for gout. Helps improve digestion. Helps rid the body of excess fluid.
    Caution: Do not use during pregnancy.
  66. Kava Kava
    Helps you get a good night’s sleep. Promotes relaxation. Helps reduce water retention.
    Caution: Use only occasionally to relieve periods of stress or sleeplessness. Long-term use can cause liver damage.
  67. Lady’s Mantle
    Promotes coagulation of blood, stops bleeding. Promotes menstrual regularity. Improves appetite. Reduces vaginal irritation.
  68. Licorice
    Reduces pain from ulcers. Useful for urinary tract problems. Helps break up congestion due to colds. Soothes sore, hoarse throat. Reduces pain and stiffness from arthritis. May help retard growth of certain cancerous tumors. May help prevent cavities.
    Caution: Do not use if you have high blood pressure. The increased production of aldosterone can result in a rise in blood pressure. In large quantities, licorice can sap potassium from the body, which is extremely dangerous. Licorice candy does not offer the same benefits as preparations made from the root, but can cause an increase in blood pressure.
  69. Lungwort
    Good expectorant, breaks up chest congestion. Can soothe throat irritation. Helps cure diarrhea.
    Caution: If you have a cough that lasts for more than two weeks, do not try to self-medicate. See a medical professional immediately.
  70. Marshmallow
    Relieves pain caused by ulcers, enteritis, and colitis. Has a calming effect on the body. Good expectorant for coughs. Soothes throat/chest irritation due to coughs and colds.
  71. Milk Thistle
    Rejuvenates the liver. Increases production of bile used for breakdown of fats.
  72. Mullein
    Reduces irritation due to coughs and bronchitis. Helps relieve gastrointestinal stress.
  73. Myrrh
    Excellent antiseptic and mouthwash. Promotes healing of mouth sores. Strengthens “spongy” or soft gums. Good for coughs and colds. Good for stomach flu.
    Caution: Very high doses over a long period of time can be dangerous. Therefore, do not exceed recommended dose. Do not use if you are pregnant or have kidney disease without first checking with your physician.
  74. Stinging Nettle
    Alleviates stuffy nose, watery eyes, and other symptoms of hayfever. Helps cure vaginal infections. Helps normalize menstrual flow. Lowers blood sugar. Provides iron for the production of red blood cells.
    Caution: Do not eat uncooked plants – they can cause kidney damage and symptoms of poisoning. Handle plants with care. The bristly hairs act like tiny hypodermic needles, injecting an irritant under the skin.
  75. Oat Fiber
    Good for gas and upset stomach. Helps prevent heart disease by reducing cholesterol. Good source of vitamin B. Good for skin and hemorrhoids. Extract has a calming effect on the body.
  76. Olive Leaf
    Relieves constipation by promoting contraction of the bowels. Good for skin irritations. Reduces cholesterol. Good hair “tonic” for dry scalp.
    Caution: Do not use as a laxative during pregnancy.
  77. Onion
    Good expectorant. Relieves symptoms of common cold. Relieves gas. Helps prevent heart disease and cancer. Anti-fungal – good for warts. Good antiseptic.
    Caution: Try eating a parsley sprig to avoid “onion breath.” Chlorophyll tablets also can help eliminate odor.
  78. Papaya
    Aids in the breakdown and metabolism of protein. Helps relieve indigestion.
  79. Parsley
    Helps “settle” the stomach after a meal. Helps clear congestion due to coughs and colds. Soothing for asthma. Parsley oil may induce menstruation.
    Caution: Pregnant women should not take parsley juice or oil.
  80. Passionflower
    Calms you down. Can relieve headaches due to nervous tension. Good for muscle spasms due to nerves.
    Caution: This herb may cause sleepiness in some people and should not be used before driving or operating machinery. Do not take during pregnancy.
  81. Pau d’ arco
    Helps cure fungal infections. Helps fight parasitic infection. Promotes good digestion. Lowers blood sugar.
  82. Pennyroyal
    Helps promote “productive” cough. Good to take at onset of cold. Brings on menstruation. Relieves PMS and menstrual cramps.
    Caution: Back in the days when abortion was illegal, this herb was used to induce abortion. In some cases, it resulted in hemorrhaging and serious complications for the mother. Therefore, it should never be used for this purpose. Today, pennyroyal is one of the herbs used by herbalists to facilitate labor and delivery. It should be used only under the supervision of a knowledgeable practitioner. If you do use this herb, do not exceed the recommended dose and do not take for more than a week at a time.
  83. Peppermint
    Anti-spasmodic – good for cramps and stomach pain. Relieves gas. Aids in digestion. Can help reduce sick feeling typical of migraine headaches. Can help with insomnia.
  84. Pleurisy Root
    Helps clear phlegm from chest. Good digestive aid.
    Caution: The fresh root can be dangerous. Use only commercial preparations.
  85. Psyllium
    An excellent laxative that offers relief from hemorrhoidal irritation. May help prevent heart disease. Good for gastrointestinal irritations.
    Caution: Psyllium can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. If you are highly allergic to many other substances, I recommend that you avoid this one, or certainly check with your allergist before taking it. If you want to include psyllium in your diet, you should start slowly, allowing your body time to get used to the increased fiber. Be patient. In two to three weeks, it will. Too much at one time could cause gassiness and stomach discomfort. It is important to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water throughout the day when you are using this substance to increase its efficiency. If you develop any allergic symptoms, discontinue use. Do not use psyllium to treat an ulcer or colitis without checking with your doctor.
  86. Raspberry Leaves
    Prepares the uterus for childbirth, may help shorten delivery. Good for sore throats and fever blisters. Alleviates menstrual cramps.
    Caution: Do not use during pregnancy until the last two months, and then only under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner.
  87. Clover, Red
    Calms coughs, clears chest of phlegm. Good for skin inflammations. Relaxes the body. Helps fight against cancerous growths. Improves overall health.
    Caution: Please seek professional help before using this or any other herb to treat tumors and cancer. Any cancer treatment should be done under the supervision of a physician.
  88. St. John’s Wort
    Good for anxiety. Has calming effect on the body. Relieves uterine cramping. Promotes healing of skin wounds. Helps the body fight viral infection.
    Caution: Although there have been no reports of any problems in humans, this herb can be poisonous to cattle. It also causes sensitivity to light, which means that if you use it, you should avoid exposure to the sun.
  89. Sarsaparilla
    Good diuretic – induces sweating and urination. Useful for urinary problems. Relieves swelling and soreness of rheumatism and arthritis. May enhance physical performance.
  90. Saw Palmetto
    Good expectorant – clears chest of congestion. Soothing to sexual organs. May help relieve excessive urination due to benign enlarged prostate.
    Caution: Any man who is experiencing pain or swelling of the prostate, or who is having difficulty with urination, or who passes any blood in the urine, should be examined by his physician.
  91. Shitake Mushroom
    Boosts the immune system. Lowers blood cholesterol.
    Caution: Seek professional advice before using this or any other herb to treat cancer or tumors.
  92. Skullcap
    Helps reduce nervous tension. Good for insomnia. Good for muscle tension.
  93. Slippery Elm Bark
    Provides soothing coating to throat and esophagus.
  94. Suma
    Energy tonic. Fights fatigue.
  95. Turmeric Helps prevent sticking together of blood cells that could cause dangerous clots. Good for liver function. Helps prevent gallbladder disease. Relieves symptoms of arthritis.
  96. Uva Ursi Relieves pain from cystitis and nephritis. Eliminates excessive bloating due to water retention.
  97. Valerian Clams you down. Relieves insomnia. Good for muscle tension. Good for periods of extreme emotional stress. Relieves gas pains and stomach cramps.
    Caution: In extremely high dosages, valerian may cause paralysis and a weakening of the heartbeat. Therefore, do not exceed recommended dose.
  98. White Willow Reduces inflammation. Relieves pain. Good for neuralgia. Relieves swollen joints due to rheumatism and arthritis.
  99. Yerba Santa Quiets a nagging cough. Helps clear chest of phlegm. Relieves congestion due to allergy.
  100. Yucca Root Reduces inflammation. Relieves joint pain due to arthritis and rheumatism.
    Caution: Long-term use may slow the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Check with your health professional to see if supplements of these oil-soluble vitamins are needed if you are using yucca over a period of time.

Source: Earl Mindell’s “Herb Bible”

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