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13 Best Herbs for Health and Healing

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

3 Herbs: Turmeric, Horse Chestnut & Ginkgo Biloba

Turmeric Root (rhizome), cut and powdered.

Turmeric Root (rhizome), cut and powdered.

Horse chestnut tree.

Horse chestnut tree.

Ginkgo biloba tree.

Ginkgo biloba tree.

Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs: 13 Vital Herbs You Need to Disease-Proof Your Body, Boost Your Energy, Lengthen Your Life by Dr. James A. Duke

Best Herbs for Health

These are not my choice for the 13 healthiest herbs. These are the choice of Dr. James A. Duke. He is about 85 years old now and has a Ph.D. in botany. Wikipedia says:

James A. Duke (born 1929) is an American botanist. He is known for his numerous publications on botanical medicine, including the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. He developed the Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases at the USDA.

He spent over 3 decades working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in the Medicinal Plants Research Laboratory, researching the different plant medicines in herbs (plants or botanicals). He held several posts in his more than three decades with the US Department of Agriculture, including chief of the Medicinal Plant Resources Laboratory. The New Age Journal says about him:

Perhaps the world's leading authority on medicinal plants.

He wrote Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs: 13 Vital Herbs You Need to Disease-Proof Your Body, Boost Your Energy, Lengthen Your Life. That is where this list of 13 herbs come from. See ad for it on the right. This article was written February 13, 2014.

Pharmaceutical companies want you to use drugs, not herbs. Do you know of any celebrities that have died from herbs? I do not. The medical industry is in this to make money. They can mark up drugs (medications) over 1,000 times. They cannot do this with herbs and people can even grow their own herbs. Herbs cannot be patented.

As far as celebrities that have died of medications, there is Michael Jackson who died at age 50. Elvis Presley died at age 42. Whitney Houston died at age 48. Brittany Murphy died at age 32 and Heath Ledger (in A Knight's Tale and The Dark Knight) died at age 28 from a toxic combination of prescription drugs (medications).

Herbs are created by God or nature. Medications (drugs) are created by man. Each drug has a list of terrible things that it can do to you. Many medications have been recalled like Vioxx that killed many people.

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need. ~Ayurvedic Proverb

Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can heal the patient with food. --Hippocrates

Let nothing which can be treated by diet be treated by other means. --Maimonides

Thomas Edison said "The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition."

Hippocrates said "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

One herb that is not on this list is nettle leaf. Here is why I feel that it should be on a list of the best herbs. I have been doing yoga since age 12. Yoga helps the endocrine system glands that produce hormones. This is why yoga has a strong anti-aging effect. The endocrine glands include the sex glands, the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands.

Nettle leaf is very good at relieving stress and calming the nervous system. Stress is a terrible thing in this day and age and even causes most Americans to have trouble sleeping. You can make nettle leaf tea and drink it all day. Nettle leaf also nourishes the endocrine system glands. See 12 Health Benefits of Nettle Leaf Tea. It also strengthens the immune system and prevents dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Here is a link to Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. In the URL ( you see GRIN. That stands for Germplasm Resources Information Network. The ARS stands for Agricultural Research Service. It is a huge and extensive database.

The 2 Best Botanicals or Herbs

Here is my choice for the 2 best botanicals or herbs. Dr. Duke has a vast knowledge of non-American herbs but his list has only American herbs. My first one is stone breaker, chanca piedra (in Spanish) or quebra pedra (in Portuguese).

This botanical is called this since it can dissolve kidney stones and gallstones. This may be the most heavily researched herb. It also helps to clean and strengthen the liver and kidneys. Also it prevents HIV due to reverse transcriptase inhibiting abilities. The above information is backed by PubMed. See Health Benefits of Stone Breaker Herb (Chanca Piedra).

I feel that the second best herb is dragon's blood or sangre de drago. It can strengthen the walls of the arteries and also make them more elastic so it is great for cardiovascular health. See Health Benefits of Dragon's Blood (Sangre de Drago). Since it helps circulation, if taken with any other supplements, it makes them work better.

13 Best Herbs or Botanicals

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is supposed to be the most anti-inflammatory herb or botanical that there is. The National Cancer Institute has a webinar about how the curcumin (a phytochemical) in turmeric prevents cancer. For more on this see 12 Health Benefits of Turmeric.

2. St. John's Wort

It's flower and leaves are used to make medicine. It was one of the top 5 most searched for herbs in 2012. It is good for mental problems like anxiety, depression, tiredness and trouble sleeping. See 15 Health Benefits of St. John's Wort. This botanical is the second most popular herb in Germany according to the University of New York Langone Medical Center.

On the above webpage, you will see how University of Maryland Medical Center says that St. John's wort is as effective for treating depression as is Prozac, Zoloft and Celexa without the side effects. Also many are suing Pfizer for not warning people that Zoloft can cause serious birth defects.

3. Echinacea

The leaves, stems, flower, and roots of echinacea may be used to produce supplements, liquid extracts, and teas. It is one of the best selling herbs in the U.S. It is also one of the 5 most searched for herbs on the internet for 2012. Many use it for colds and to help the immune system. Studies have shown that it increases the number of white blood cells and also boosts the activity of other immune cells. See 12 Health Benefits of Echinacea.

4. Horse Chestnut

It's seeds, bark. flower and leaves are used for medicine. Horse chestnut contains significant amounts of a poison called esculin and it can cause death if eaten raw. It is great for treating varicose veins, swollen veins and hemorrhoids. For more on this herb and to see why it is the third most popular herb in Germany see Can Horse Chestnut Herb Help Varicose Veins.

5. Bilberry

A bilberry is a berry similar to a blueberry. An herb is any plant food that is used for health. It is very good for the health of the eyes. Studies have even shown it to enhance night vision.

6. Ginkgo Biloba

This herb has been used in China for thousands of years. The ginkgo biloba tree can grow for over 1,000 years. The leaves of this tree are supposed to be good for the brain and help memory and prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease. For more about this see 15 Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba. Reading this will help you to understand why ginkgo biloba is the most popular botanical in Germany according to University of New York Langone Medical Center.

7. Hawthorn Berries

Actually the leaves and flowers are also used but I feel that the berry has the most powerful effect. This is the best herb that I know of to improve cardiovascular health. For more on this see 14 Health Benefits of Hawthorn.

8.Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle is the best American herb for the liver. It contains a pytochemical called silymarin that is both anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. says:

Milk thistle is sometimes used as a natural treatment for liver problems. These liver problems include cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis, and gallbladder disorders.

Many Americans have problems with their liver and many need liver transplants. Most of these problems come from using painkillers, like Tylenol, that contain acetaminophen.

9. Evening Primrose Oil

This is also one of the top 5 searched for herbs for 1012. It is mostly used for skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Of course like other herbs, it has many side effects that are beneficial for people. See 16 Health Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil.

10. Celery Seed

Celery seed helps the body to get rid of excess water. It also helps to lower high blood pressure and helps to protect the liver from the bad effects of acetaminophen.

11. Garlic

Garlic is famous for helping the immune system, helping to lower high blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health. A well known phytochemical in it is allicin.

12. Kava

The root of kava or kava kava is used for medicine. Kava has been used to calm anxiety, stress, restlessness and treat sleep problems (insomnia). It helps the brain and nervous system.

13. Saw Palmetto

The fruit of this is used for medicine. It is very good for helping problems of the prostate.

The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods: Proven Natural Remedies to Treat and Prevent More Than 80 Common Health Concerns by Dr. James A. Duke

Benefits of Herbs for Health

10 Most Reliable Herbs For Good Health!


Eleana Winter-Irving on January 31, 2016:

I'm 73 and disease free. I use almost all of the above. Very fit and healthy.

Sheriemae on December 19, 2014:

It appears that you've put a good aounmt of effort into your article and I demand a lot more of these on the World Wide Web these days. I truly got a kick out of your post. I do not have a bunch to to say in reply, I only wanted to register to say phenomenal work.

Sandra on December 17, 2014:

Hi Amanda,You can grow herbs very easily in cieanontrs, and if you have a balcony that really gives you loads more room for a lot more herbs than you'd think! You can grow herbs in pots, and there are also railing planters that hook onto the balcony (sort of like window boxes, but they attach to railings),Anyway, I'm not sure how much sun you actually have. Constant direct sun all day can actually not be best. Full sun is a little different than searing heat all day long. (I've given you a website below that will help with all this stuff there's a site search button, so you can learn about sunlight requirements, as well as how to grow over 20 herbs.).As for herbs that do well in partial shade, you might try chamomile, chives, cilantro, lemon balm, and mint. Most other herbs like more sun, but again, not morning, noon, and afternoons full of strong sun. You'll be watering a lot, too, if this were the case.Anyway, check out the source below for lots more info. about growing herbs and lots more about container gardening in general.Have fun!Virginia

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