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Healing Foods and Herbs

Updated on February 16, 2008

Many foods, spices, and herbs contain healing properties. You can easily find many of these foods and spices in your kitchen or local grocery store. They are easy to implement into your daily life, but remember that they shouldn’t act as a substitute for regular medical care. There are many of these foods and herbs out there, so I suggest you buy a reference book that catalogs all of them. Here are some of the most common:

Thick Rolled Oats
Thick Rolled Oats
The Cranberry Fruit
The Cranberry Fruit
Ginseng Root
Ginseng Root
Feverfew Plant
Feverfew Plant
St. John's Wort
St. John's Wort
Valerian Flower
Valerian Flower
Valerian Root
Valerian Root

Foods & Nutrients


Starchy and sugary foods, without much protein, eaten late in the day can trigger effects in your body to help you sleep. Starch or sugar is digested, producing glucose. Glucose is a natural star that triggers the release of insulin. Insulin is a hormone tat removes glucose from your bloodstream. At the same time, insulin also removes amino acids in your bloodstream—except for on: tryptophan. Tryptophan passes into the brain where it produces serotonin, which helps you sleep. Examples of these kinds of foods are white bread and fruit juices.


Oats are famous for their cholesterol-reducing effect. These whole grains will be more powerful when combined with other foods that offer related properties. A 2005 University of Toronto study showed that a vegetarian diet that included oats, soy protein, almonds, and plant-sterol margarines can help reduce cholesterol almost as much as cholesterol-lowering drugs, but without the side effects. The more of these foods you consume, the more your cholesterol will lower. Implement these foods into your daily life by eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, adding tofu to your lunch, and snacking on almonds mid-afternoon.


Cranberries keep bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract, helping to prevent urinary infections. One cup of cranberry juice a day cuts infection rates by half.


Foods that are high in fiber reduce the risk of several illnesses, from cancer to varicose veins. By incorporating natural fiber (like beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains) into your diet, you can eliminate the use of chemical laxatives. Aim for 26 grams of fiber a day.

Flavorings & Spices


In 2005, the American Family Physician stated that eating 1 to 2 garlic cloves a day could reduce cholesterol by about 5%. It also helps lower blood pressure. Garlic acts as a natural antibiotic for your body.


Heading out for a cruise or a fishing trip? Ginger can prevent motion sickness. Research conducted at the University of Michigan in 2003 showed that consuming ½ tsp. of ginger powder each day will prevent nausea. If you are travelling, you can take 500mg ginger capsules. Ginger also stimulates digestion and relieves gas.


Cinnamon is often used as a spice in cooking and baking, but it also helps control blood sugar levels for diabetics. In 2003 and 2006 studies, about ½ tsp. of cinnamon a day reduced blood sugar by 10 to 20%. You can add small amounts of ¼ tsp. to each meal.

Herbs & Extracts


Extracts of this root provide a mild stimulant effect that fights fatigue, increases energy, builds stamina, improves memory, and helps the nervous system recover from long-term stress. It is called an adaptogen because it helps bring the body back into a state of balance. Long term use (1-3 months) of ginseng is recommended for best results. In 2004, English researchers found that 200mg a day improved performance on standardized memory tests. Tips: American ginseng is more cooling, Chinese red ginseng is warming, and Siberian ginseng is fairly neutral.


Leaves from this wild plant can help prevent migraines. A 2005 German study showed that using feverfew extract (6.25 mg) three times a day cut the frequency of migraine attacks by 40%.


Some studies suggest that black elderberry extract can help shorten bouts of the flu. Norwegian researchers, in 2000, gave the extract to 60 flu patients. They found that flu symptoms were reduced by an average of four days. They recommended dosage is 15ml, four times a day for five days.

St. John’s Wort

This yellow-flowered perennial has been used to relieve depression and anxiety for a long time, but has only recently been widely studied by the medical community and touted for its effectiveness as an anti-depressant. It acts much like Prozac and Zoloft, but without the side effects. St. John’s Wort blooms around the Summer Solstice and has been referred to as Herb of Sun. It can help relieve the melancholy of Seasonal Affective Disorder. St. John’s Wort also acts as an anti-inflammatory. It is useful for new injuries and as a remedy for chronic inflammatory conditions. It also has significant anti-viral action.


This root extract acts as an effective sleep aid. A University of California, San Francisco, review published in 2006 showed that valerian improves sleep without the “hangover effect” common with many sleep medications. Valerian can treat a variety of nervous complaints, including anxiety, insomnia, pain, mental depression, hysteria, and hyperactivity. Valerian is a popular herb to help with insomnia, but bear in mind that it helps you fall asleep, not stay asleep. If you have problems sleeping throughout the night, try combining valerian with passionflower. Valerian acts as a useful antispasmodic that can help digestive disorders and menstrual cramps. It also helps with pain, like backache, sore muscles, and shingles. Valerian should not be used during pregnancy.

Cats are drawn to valerian. They will have the same ecstatic reaction to it as to catnip. Rats are also attracted to valerian.

Flower Essences on Amazon


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    • beauley profile image

      beauley 5 years ago from New Hampshire, U.S.A.

      The goal of just about everyone on this earth is to be disease free all of our lives.

      Disease Prevention Using Simple Herbs and Spices

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 7 years ago from New England

      Enjoyed reading this hub, Stacie. It is very well organized and covers a variety of medicinal plants, with their pictures next to the discussion of their medicinal qualities...very useful.

      I am looking forward to baking more sweet potatoes in the coming months, too. :0)

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 7 years ago from Seattle

      I didn't know that about sweet potatoes - I'll have to look into it more. Thanks for the tip!

    • Entourage_007 profile image

      Stuart 7 years ago from Santa Barbara, CA

      Speaking of healing foods, sweet potatoes are very good for your lungs because they contain beta carotene. Good thing thanksgiving is coming up

    • urba profile image

      urba 7 years ago from Vilnius, Lithuania

      Apigenin in herbs and cancer - in my hibs

    • profile image

      Melanie Munn 8 years ago

      More reminders to look at natural cures before heading to the doctor for a prescription. Nice hub.

    • Greenheart profile image

      Greenheart 8 years ago from Cambridge

      Thanks Stacie for the sharing.

      Useful knowledge!.


    • Ginsengcare profile image

      Ginsengcare 8 years ago

      Very informative hub. It's giving me a good piece of knowledge. Thanks a lot.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S 8 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      I did not know about many of those. Thanks for sharing!

    • GoldCoastAnnie profile image

      GoldCoastAnnie 8 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Great hub. I understand almonds are a nut that have a blood sugar regulatory effects. Most people just don't eat fresh herbs these days, and I think that there is much we don't know about the properties of these wonderful plants.

    • GainCurves2 profile image

      GainCurves2 8 years ago

      LOVED reading this! I am really into health products and herbs, much better than prescription medication! I Will save this and refer back to it.