Why You Should Use Extracts from Botanicals to Boost Your Health
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Botanicals are everywhere. Swapping out harmful chemicals has become the norm, with all types of industries jumping on the bandwagon. From skincare products to mattresses, the retail sector has replaced toxic substances with botanicals that boost your health.
With this heightened consumer awareness of what’s in the products we use daily comes an even bigger responsibility for brands. Now they must show the ingredient list on the items they’re selling.
Many synthetic organic chemicals are covered up with hard-to-understand words. We’ve been asked to avoid the ingredients we don’t recognize, instead of searching the names of plant-based ingredients we’ve heard of.
It’s no secret that nature-based products and herbalism are trending. But just how beneficial are botanicals for our health? It’s time to learn.
Keep reading to discover why you should use extracts from botanicals to boost your health.
What Are Botanicals?
First, let’s cover what botanicals are. Botanical ingredients are otherwise known as plant-derived additives. They’re known for their healing and medicinal properties.
Sebastian Kneipp is affectionately known as the ‘father of naturopathy’. He was one of the first people to commercialize the use of healing plants.
Sebastian discovered over 40 plant remedies. Arnica was one of his favorite herbs, and it was used to alleviate pain and swelling in joints and muscles.
He used herbal remedies to produce medicines, treatments, and bath and body products.
Botanicals are primarily used for preventative care. That’s because they promote holistic health and wellness.
There are many botanical products out there, from creams and tinctures to oils and salts. But most often, botanicals are used in skincare and bath products.
But while botanicals are known for their physical well-being benefits, they’re still classified as supplements instead of medicine. However, we can argue that botanicals may well be nature’s medicine cabinet.
Supports the Physical Body
The main benefit of using botanicals is that they support the physical body. Specific botanical ingredients are used in products, treatments, and practices that can help the physical body.
For example, arnica is known for soothing aching muscles and joints. Eucalyptus is also recognized for its physical benefits. It works well for those experiencing congestion or other cold symptoms.
Black cohosh has been used by women to deal with the symptoms of menopause for years. Plus, stories have it that Cleopatra’s skincare routine involved the use of natural baths full of salts and sugar for exfoliation.
Let’s go into more detail on how botanicals support the physical body.
Many healing traditions believe digestion is the cornerstone of health. Botanical ingredients, including carminative plants, are natural digestive aids. They help reduce gas, cramps, and bloating.
High in volatile oils, carminatives can relax and stimulate receptors found in our gastrointestinal tract. They help to transfer food in rhythmic waves toward assimilation or eradication.
Carminative ingredients are usually aromatic. For example, they include anise, cumin, fennel, ginger, orange peel, peppermint, coriander, and cardamom. The body loves these herbs as they soothe the stomach and encourage bile flow, enabling food absorption.
To support digestive health and immune function, we often use carminatives in various formats.
Peppermint oil is an antispasmodic, settling the muscles and reducing abdominal pain. To help with digestive issues, consume two tablets of enteric-coated peppermint oil twice daily for a minimum of four weeks.
Ginger is a warming and calming ingredient for digestion. It helps combat many common stomach bugs many of us get during the winter. Plus, it warms chilly hands and feet.
Fennel is another excellent option to help alleviate bloating. Plus, it’s stimulating to the liver. Fennel enhances appetite, boosts milk production, and eases colic. Not only that, but it works as an eyewash for conjunctivitis and provides an oestrogenic balancing action.
To stimulate your appetite and circulation, try using cinnamon. The warming stimulant is antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal. It helps to lessen blood sugar levels and ulcers, leading to helicobacter pylori.
However, before you decide to self-administer peppermint oil or any other botanicals regularly, it’s best to speak with your doctor.
If you sometimes suffer from the occasional upset tummy, it’s worth brewing a warming cup of peppermint tea. This can provide a calming feeling to a poorly belly.
Antimicrobial plants can be thought of as nature’s sanitizer as they kill or reduce the growth of microorganisms.
Some countries around the world rely on traditional systems of medicine, depending on botanicals as their primary source of healing. In some places, antimicrobial and antibacterial botanicals are the only ‘medicines’ available to treat different infections.
Many of these antimicrobial plants are spices. That means they can not only provide flavor to food but can also keep it from ruining.
Spices are packed full of compounds. These compounds prevent food from becoming contaminated by harmful bacteria and other microbes.
In many cases, a plant’s resins can be extracted and produced into an essential oil to prevent microbial growth. For example, basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
As you may have guessed, garlic is one of the most potent antibacterial botanicals out there. It was even provided to soldiers in both world wars to stop gangrene from developing.
Today, garlic is used for many reasons, including improving cardiovascular health and deterring mosquitos. It can also boost immune function.
Garlic may even help battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA. It does this by preventing the bacteria from reproducing.
However, the plus of using garlic is that it doesn’t adversely affect the body’s intestinal flora balance.
But to reap the benefits of garlic’s healing powers, you must consume it in a specific way. You must crush, cut, or mince garlic to release allicin, the active component.
As cooking destroys allicin, consuming garlic raw is vital. While garlic supplements are on the market, they aren’t as powerful enough as eating fresh raw garlic.
If you’re hesitant to consume raw garlic, ease into it by adding it minced to your salad dressing. Or, you can mix it with olive oil and lemon juice to create a sauce to drizzle over vegetables and other foods.
For years, botanicals have been used to help the body self-regulate it’s stress and anxiety response. This is whether concerning external physical substances, toxins, or internal stress molecules like cortisol.
The term adaptogen refers to a type of herb. These are safe and nontoxic plants that modulate our capabilities to withstand and reduce stress.
As the name suggests, adaptogen’s primary role is to facilitate a fluid, adaptive response, welcoming a content middle ground during the fight or flight continuum.
Adaptogens are great as they can be used to help a variety of common issues. All adaptogens have a toning effect, strengthening and calming the body by offsetting the inflammatory areas of stress.
Adaptogens are versatile, working to balance the body’s functions as a whole instead of as a collection of different parts.
Well-known adaptogenic botanicals include green tea, ginseng, ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and eleuthero. Many have played a significant role in ancient plant-focused practices like Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.
Other adaptogens, including maca, tulsi, and turmeric, have become herbal favorites in the United States.
Maca is another botanical originally from Peru. It’s a root sold in powdered form. Once used to enhance Inca warrior’s endurance, it’s now championed for it’s modern-day benefits. For example, the botanical is ideal for boosting sexual function and balancing hormones.
Conveniently, Maca’s mild taste makes it easy to add to plenty of different types of recipes. Why not add a teaspoon into your smoothie, or mix it in with yogurt?
Today, botanicals are also crucial ingredients in many skincare products, delivering plenty of benefits to the skin.
Firstly, botanicals can battle premature aging. Plant extracts are packed full of antioxidants, which defend the skin from the damaging effects of harmful UV exposure. Some botanicals can encourage collagen synthesis and weaken the activity of enzymes that degrade healthy, glowing, and supple skin.
Not only that, but botanicals prevent inflammation. Plant oils have phospholipids, which provide anti-inflammatory properties that help preserve homeostasis in our skin barrier. A healthy epidermis, which is our outermost layer of skin, is particularly crucial for combatting harmful microbes and bacteria and sustaining a balanced pH level.
Plant botanicals also promote hydration. Plant oils create a defensive barrier, allowing our skin cells to maintain the water necessary for proper function. This allows balanced skin to have better access to components that contribute to the skin’s natural moisture, known as Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF.)
There are many botanicals out there that are great for the skin, and lavender is one that has some impressive credentials.
The purple-hued botanical provides a soothing fragrance that helps with stress, anxiety, and sleep. It also helps to improve eczema and acne while delivering excellent antioxidant protection.
Lavender is found in many products, including bath gels, foams, soaps, and skincare. Often, the lavender used in such products is produced from dried flowers, and the essential oils are extracted from the lavender plant.
The ingredient also works fantastic in a toner as it firms skin and boosts circulation. Lavender essential oil works wonders for hair growth and treating various hair issues too. Plus, if you’re accident-prone, lavender is ideal for healing cuts, burns, and insect bites.
Botanicals are an essential part of aromatherapy, which is excellent for both physical and emotional treatment. Also known as essential oil therapy, aromatherapy focuses on using essential oils to promote holistic well-being. Products featuring essential oils range from body butter to therapeutic inhalers.
Today’s concept of aromatherapy started in 1937 by French chemist and perfumer Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. Rene-Maurice penned a book called ‘Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy,’ explaining his clinical discoveries for using essential oils for physical conditions. The book highlighted their medicinal usages, separating them from their commonly practiced cosmetic applications at the time.
Over the past few decades, the study of aromatherapy has developed into a more holistic approach, considering the mind, body, and spirit in one. Our mental health is closely linked with our physical health, so our sense of smell can affect our brain function, impacting our mood and stress levels.
Our sense of smell can even trigger instant changes in blood pressure, pulse rate, and muscle tension. So, the botanicals used in aromatherapy plays a significant role in the mind-body link, with a powerful correlation to both mental and physical health.
Again, lavender is one of the most popular aromas. In aromatherapy, lavender is often used to help relax and unwind after a long and stressful day.
Valerian is another botanical used to ease the mind and encourage more restful and relaxing sleep. And rosemary is renowned for its mood-enhancing qualities and its ability to promote healthy hair growth and improve memory and brain function.
If you often experience chronic and painful migraines, peppermint works nicely to improve focus ad relieve headaches and muscle pain.
While the long list of excellent botanical essential oils goes on, there’s plenty of room for self-exploration within aromatherapy.
Are You Ready to Try Botanicals?
Whether you’re just starting your exploration and journey of plant-derived botanicals, or already use them to improve your mental and physical health, learning more about the advantages of nature’s medicine cabinet can help you design a more conscious approach to your health.
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