Herbal Heroes: the top 10 herbs you need to know about

To celebrate all things herbal Gabriella Clarke looks at what herbs can do for health and shares her top 10 favourites.

I am often asked: ‘Does herbal medicine work?’ The answer is yes and, thanks to modern science we now have a much better understanding of the active constituents within plant materials and their benefits for health. What’s more there are plenty of gold standard clinical trials that prove the efficacy of many herbs.

Not all herbs have gone through these trials but traditional and historical use gives us a very good indication of how they may be used medicinally. Many common modern medicines are synthesised from plants, the best-known example being aspirin (which is synthesised from the chemical salicin found in the bark of the white willow).

Although we should never self diagnose a medical condition, herbal medicines can be taken at home for pre-existing known problems to great effect. Conditions such as anxiety and depression, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, migraines, joint problems, viruses and allergies are just some that respond well to herbs. For more complex issues, always seek the advice of a qualified medical herbalist.

Although herbal remedies are available in many high street stores and can easily be purchased on line, safety and efficacy aren’t always guaranteed. To make sure you are buying a good quality product, make sure it carries the THR (Traditional Herbal Registration) stamp, which means it has been granted registration by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).


Here is my list of the top ten essential herbs every household should have in their medicine cabinet:

Echinacea: For warding off colds and flu

Passionflower: A soothing remedy for anxiety and mild insomnia

Turmeric: Nature’s finest anti-inflammatory

Devils claw: To help manage the symptoms of arthritis

Agnus castus-: A natural hormone regulator

Black cohosh: Support for menopause problems

Milk thistle: Liver remedy, perfect for when you have been over-indulging

Feverfew: Fabulous for preventing migraine attacks

St John’s wort: For low mood and anxiety

Rhodiola: To help cope with physical, mental and emotional stress

For more information visit the Herb Fact Files.