People in the United States alone spent more than $5 billion on herbal medicines and supplements. Out of all these herbs, four plants used for herbal therapy emerged as the favorite. Below are some outlines and background information on the uses of these favorite herbs and how they are used in herbal therapy.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort or Hypericum perforatum is the biggest-selling herb used in herbal therapy. The first record of this herb’s use dates back to Ancient Greece. It was also used by Native Americans as an abortifacient, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antiseptic. St. John’s Wort today is widely used as a herbal therapy for depression. According to clinical studies, the plant appears to inhibit the action of monoamine oxidase and catechol O-methyltransferase. It also interferes with the uptake of serotonin.
Overall, the use of this plant in herbal therapy is safe and well-tolerated. And although more scientific evidence is needed, this herb provides a cheaper alternative to conventional medications.
Another important herb used in herbal therapy is Echinacea purpurea. The Echinacea is a drought-tolerant perennial flower-bearing plant native to North America. For years, it has been considered a traditional remedy for colds, coughs, and flu, as well as other upper respiratory conditions. In animal studies, herbal therapy extracts of this plant encouraged phagocytosis, the action of cells to fight off bacteria and other foreign, potentially harmful bodies. Results of studies suggest that this plant produces positive effects, however, only a little evidence shows that it is safe for use.
The Ginkgo biloba, sometimes known as the Maidenhair tree, is a unique tree with no living relatives. For this, it is considered the longest living tree in the world. In China, it is linked with various therapeutic benefits, making it the perfect ingredient in herbal therapy preparations. According to medical research, Ginkgo herbal therapy contains substances that fight off free radicals and inhibit the activation of platelets in the blood. Other studies have also been conducted to explore this herbal therapy further. Basically, the results all point to the plant’s benefits in improving mental function and symptoms of intermittent claudication.
The Saw palmetto is a small palm classified under the genus Serenoa. Research exploring the active constituents of this plant led to the discovery of high concentrations of fatty acids and phytosterols. According to Vitro studies, herbal therapy preparations of this plant inhibit 5-alpha-reductase. They could also block the uptake of testosterone and dihydrotestosterones by the prostate. Aside from that, this herbal therapy is said to possess anti-inflammatory actions. Based on these studies, herbal therapy extracts of this plant may decrease the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.