What is a Medicinal Herb?

A little basil in your soup, a sprinkle of oregano on your lasagna, a bit of thyme in your chicken, and voila. That is all you need for a Sunday brunch, classic herbal touch to a perfect meal. Yet, we won’t be discussing the culinary add-ons of your kitchen herbs. We are talking about the untapped health benefits of medicinal herbs. Their use has become the latest fad among health enthusiasts worldwide.

Traditional health experts make use of many different forms of traditional medicine methods. Yet all the systems share a common philosophy of taking a holistic life approach. It does so by

  • achieving a balance of mind, body, and soul

  • highlighting disease prevention rather than cure

  • addressing the root cause of a disease instead of symptomatic treatment

The use of herbs is the hub of all systems of traditional medicine.

What is a medicinal herb?

An herb or plant is medicinal if it’s extract exhibits therapeutic properties. Such plants tout a time-honored history to treat and prevent disease. Enhancing general well-being remains the primary function of many herbs. Any part of a plant, tree, or herb may exhibit such therapeutic properties.

How do medicinal herbs work?

The principle of herbalism's principle rests on facts. One of which is that plants contain different kinds of chemicals called phytochemicals. Almost all exhibit some disease-warding properties. These phytochemicals are of four different types:

  • Alkaloids

  • Glycosides

  • Polyphenols

  • Terpenes

Take aspirin, for example. The active element is salicylic acid, which comes from the willow tree's bark.

Digoxin, a cardiac stimulant drug, has its origin from foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

Quinine is an anti-malarial drug and its active component comes from the bark of the Cinchona plant.

Many research pieces highlight the various mechanisms by which herbs work. Herbs' primary mode of action is to work parallel with the biological processes. They interact at the cell level via their active metabolites.

Some of the main modes of actions of these super-herbs include:

  • Adaptogens; support your body in adapting to its environment or circumstances.

  • Stimulants; boost up the body's energy stores.

  • Analgesic; function as pain killers.

  • Antimicrobial; interfere with the reproduction and interaction of microbes with the body cells.

  • Anti-oxidants; combat the disease-causing free radicals produced in the body.

  • Astringents; dry and constrict tissues, thereby extracting toxins from