I find it hard to pick my top five natural remedies, I have so many! With my background as a naturopath and medical herbalist, I am very passionate about herbs, vitamins and minerals and how they can transform your health.
Without a doubt, one of my favourite herbs is the ayurvedic herb withania, also known as ashwaganda. Withania is an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps our body to adapt to stress. It has a number of other wonderful properties and can help with sleep troubles, depression, anxiety, adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism. It is also anti-inflammatory, modulates the immune system and is widely known as a whole body tonic. Withania is a wonderful addition to your daily regime and is an herb that is of great benefit to most people that take it.
Unfortunately, humans are one of the only mammals (along with fruit bats and chimpanzees) that are unable to produce our own vitamin C. It is something we must consume daily – whether in food or supplement form. When sick, it is important to be supplementing in much higher doses to increase the function of your immune system. Vitamin C works on many different functions of the body including immune function, skin health and collagen production, growth of bones and teeth, acts as an antihistamine and has a purpose in just about every area of the body.
Iodine is a mineral that has the added advantage of being able to be used both topically and internally. For skin wounds or anything that needs to be disinfected it works fantastically to kill bacteria and other organisms – while it stings when used neat, if you dilute it first you still get the benefit without the pain.
As we have come to realise, iodine is hugely deficient in our food in New Zealand, so unless we consume large amounts of seafood on a daily basis it is important to be introducing this as a supplement (not iodised salt!).
Iodine is used in the body by hormone receptors, which enable the body to produce optimal amounts of different hormones. This is essential to healthy metabolism, body temperature regulation, detoxification, digestion, energy levels, development of a healthy baby in the womb, blood sugar management, hormonal regulation and maintaining a healthy weight.
A deficiency in this mineral makes such a difference to health that it is vital to supplement with it in one form or another.
Manuka is a New Zealand native herb. It is very similar to the Australian tea tree, however has much stronger medicinal properties. Those Manuka trees found in the East Cape of New Zealand hold the most potent characteristics of all Manuka found, so it is ideal to source from this area when possible. It works fantastically on conditions such as acne, eczema, colds and flus, fungal infections, mouth ulcers, gum disease, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and can even help with sleep, act as an anti-inflammatory and break a fever. It is usually found as an essential oil or infused in honey, however can also been found in tincture form from an herbalist. I always have this in my cupboard as it is such a versatile, effective remedy, whichever form you have it in.
Ginger is warming, nutritious, helps with circulation, nausea, digestion, colds and flus, cognition and can even protect against cancer. Whether you take it as a supplement or use the root in cooking, smoothies or warm drinks, it is great to add to your daily routine to promote good health.
The five remedies I have talked about are just some of my favourites – I have many more! As with anything, not all of these herbs and supplements will suit everyone (and some forms are better than others), so speak to your naturopath or medical herbalist if you would like more information or to find out if they may be right for you.