Your A-Z Guide to Herbs for Better Health
Looking for nature-sourced ways to keep your health in check? We’ve rounded up a beneficial herb for every letter of the alphabet. They’re Mother Nature’s way to fight stress, keep joints healthy, soothe digestion, support heart health and so much more. You’re sure to find an herb to fit every wellness routine and health need. And since this isn’t an exhaustive list of the many herbs that promote wellbeing, when you’re finished reading be sure to check out the extensive selection of high-quality, carefully curated herbal supplements from Swanson Health.
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb with many uses, but it is most frequently used as an energizing, stress-fighting adaptogen. This herb promotes calmness and relaxation while enhancing mental and physical vitality. It’s also used to support sexual health for both men and women.1 Learn more about adaptogens and how they work in 14 Adaptogenic Herbs for Healthy Stress Support.
Boswellia serrata is another time-honored herb with roots in Ayurvedic traditions. It’s used for comforting joints and promoting joint health.2 We use a patent-pending “next-generation” Boswellia extract from AprèsFLEX® in our new herbal joint supplement, Pure Science Herbals Pure Joint, which goes to work fast to promote joint comfort in as few as 7 days!
Much more than a kitchen spice—cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and offers seemingly endless health benefits. Cinnamon supports cardiovascular health, helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels already within the normal range, promotes effective insulin use, provides metabolic support and it may even promote cognitive health.3 Bonus: It’s also delicious! Sprinkle Ceylon cinnamon powder on your oatmeal or try a full spectrum true cinnamon supplement to get the benefits.
Dong quai is an herb in the same family as parsley and native to Japan and China. Dong quai is an energizing and harmonizing herb often taken to provide support during menstruation, as well as to help with menopausal and premenopausal concerns.4
The popularity of elderberry dates as far back as ancient Egypt, and it remains one of the most commonly used health tonics in the world.5 Elderberries are high in vitamin C and a good source of antioxidant flavonols and phenolic acids, among other health-supporting substances, making it a potent immune-supporting tonic. It’s so popular that it often sells out in colder months, so stock up early! Try Swanson Elderberry Echinacea Goldenseal Complex.
Fenugreek is similar to clover and native to the Mediterranean region. Fenugreek leaves are eaten as a vegetable in India and its seeds are used as a health tonic for many benefits. For men, fenugreek may help with a variety of sexual concerns including testosterone support and reproductive health.6,7
Ginger is a time-tested herb that has a reputation for being one of the healthiest spices in the world. Ginger contains bioactive compounds that have antioxidant properties, help calm queasy stomachs and soothe digestion. Studies show it may also comfort muscles after exercise and support joints throughout the body.8 Try organic crystallized ginger as a snack or get the benefits in a premium ginger root supplement.
Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is considered sacred by the Hindus. It has adaptogenic properties that help counter the effects of stress, plus it has potent antioxidant components.9 It’s often consumed as a tea, such as in our Certified Organic Holy Basil tea. Holy Basil is also one of nature’s best sources of niacin (vitamin B-3) which is why we used Holy Basil extract to make Swanson Ultra Real Food Niacin.10
You may know Indian Gooseberry by another name—Amla Fruit. This ancient ayurvedic wellness tonic is loaded with antioxidant phytonutrients that support overall health and longevity. Indian gooseberries contain vitamin E, vitamin C, tannins, phosphorus, iron and calcium, and fans of this fruit say it’s also great for keeping hair and skin healthy.11
Herbalists have been using juniper berries for a wide range of health applications for hundreds of years. Today, juniper supplements remain a favorite as a digestive aid, as a way to promote a healthy water balance in the body and to support urinary health.12 Juniper berry essential oil is also popular for its fresh scent.
As a traditional favorite of Chinese herbalists dating back nearly 2,000 years, kudzu and its roots have antioxidant properties that may be even more potent than vitamin E!13 These properties make it an excellent herb for cardiovascular maintenance, liver health and overall vitality.
Lemon balm is a fragrant herb garden staple that contains many active compounds, including antioxidant flavonoids and polyphenols that impart wellness benefits. Researchers say it may help modulate neurotransmitter activity, thus helping with stress, anxiousness and sleep.14 Unwind with lemon balm tea or try it as a lemon balm supplement.
Maca is a root herb similar in appearance to radishes or turnips. Just as much a superfood as an herb, it has many healthful benefits. Maca is an adaptogen that helps the body adapt to stressors. It’s also used to boost energy, support a healthy libido, promote balance for women during menopause, and boost immune health. 15,16 Research shows it may also benefit reproductive health for men.16,17
Noni is a fruit native to Southeast Asia that has been used as a health tonic for thousands of years. The fruit contains powerful antioxidants, including beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. Its traditional uses include promoting regularity, comforting muscles and joints and promoting overall wellbeing and immune health.18 Try it by drinking certified organic noni juice or noni supplements.
You’ll recognize this one from your favorite Italian dishes, but it’s much more than a flavor-enhancer for pizza and pasta. Oregano oil extract provides antioxidants while promoting digestive function, immune function and soothing the respiratory system.19 Get concentrated oregano oil benefits in Swanson Premium Oregano Oil 10:1 Extract.
Extract from the bark of the African Pygeum tree has been used for health purposes throughout the centuries, with its benefits primarily attributed to phytosterols within the plant’s bark and its extracts. Pygeum supplements are used primarily for prostate, urinary tract and bladder health.20
Made from the bark of the cinchona tree, you might recognize quinine from the ingredients label on tonic water, where it’s used in very small amounts for flavoring. Quinine has played important roles in health for ages but it is extremely potent and must be properly diluted. Many people use it as a homeopathic supporter of leg comfort, especially at night.21
With more than 140 active components, rhodiola rosea is a beloved and widely-used adaptogen for stress support, anxiousness and many other health benefits. It has been clinically studied for reducing work stress, fighting fatigue and boosting mood. Research also shows it may also benefit brain function, reduce mental fatigue and boost work-related performance by as much as 20%!22
Saw palmetto is an herb native to the southeastern U.S. It’s a natural source of fatty acids and phytosterols and one of the most common herbs taken by men to support prostate health. It’s also used to promote urinary tract flow and maintain healthy hormonal balance.23 Try it in Swanson Premium Saw Palmetto.
Turmeric is a superfood spice with a wide variety of wellness benefits, most of which are attributed to a compound within it known as curcumin. Curcumin is an extremely potent antioxidant carotenoid pigment that’s been scientifically studied for everything from memory support to digestion, skin health, healthy aging, circulation and joint health.24,25 As a nutrient for joint health, turmeric may have comforting qualities and support healthy joint function.
Uva ursi is Latin for “bear’s grape,” a name it earned because bears seem to love its fruit and seek it out. It was used by Native Americans as a health tonic. Urva ursi leaf supplements are used to support kidney and urinary tract health, and many people take it alongside cranberry supplements for this reason.26
Valerian is one of the most popular sleep- and relaxation-supporting herbs. Its roots contain several beneficial compounds, including valerenic acid and isovaleric acid, that have a calming effect on the brain, promote sleep and reduce occasional stress and anxiousness.27,28
Wild Cherry Bark
A traditional favorite for generations, wild cherry bark is exactly what it sounds like—it’s a herbal tonic made from the inner bark of cherry trees. Herbalists recommend it for supporting a healthy respiratory system. It’s often made into wild cherry bark syrup, but you can also get it in convenient wild cherry bark capsules.29
Xi Yang Shen
Xi Yang Shen, also known as American Ginseng and Panax quinquefolis is revitalizing for both body and mind. It’s native to North America but cultivated in China and used in many traditional Chinese health practices. This stress-busting, energizing, immune-boosting herb is popular for promoting overall health and vitality.30
Yohimbe is an evergreen tree native to Africa and it’s most frequently used for stimulating sexual excitement. A chemical in the plant may increase blood flow and nerve impulses, encouraging arousal.31 Yohimbe supplements are made from the bark of the tree, and you’ll often find it combined with other herbs in combination formulas for sexual health, or alone in yohimbe bark supplements.
Zedoary, also known as white turmeric, is a cousin of the turmeric mentioned above and shares many of its healthful properties. Like turmeric, zedoary is an ancient spice with a long history of use as a health tonic. Due to its ability to support digestion and gastrointestinal health, it’s often found in digestive bitters. Try it in NatureWorks Swedish Bitters.
Herbal Helpers for Better Health
Herbs are powerful health supports, and more and more studies are beginning to back up their traditional uses and allowing us to better understand how the compounds within them exert so many positive benefits in the body. If you want to keep reading about the power of herbs, check out Science-Backed Herbs for Energy, Joints, Heart, Brain, Weight, Blood Sugar & Digestion and 14 Adaptogenic Herbs for Healthy Stress Support. And be sure to sign up for Swanson Health emails to get our hottest promotions and new educational resources just like this one delivered to your inbox.
About Lindsey Toth, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health Products
Lindsey is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for pie. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food.
Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.
1 Ashwagandha. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/953.html
2 Boswellia serrata. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/boswellia-serrata
3 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon
4 Dong Quai. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-936/dong-quai
5 Elderberry Health Benefits. Healthline.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/elderberry#health-benefits
6 Fenugreek. WebMD.https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-733/fenugreek
7Rao et al. Aging Male. 2016 Jun;19(2):134-42. doi: 10.3109/13685538.2015.1135323. Epub 2016 Jan 20.
8 11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger. Healthline.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger
9 Holy Basil. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1101/holy-basil
10 What is Orgen-N®? Orgen® Family.http://www.orgenfamily.com/orgen-n.html
11 Can You Use Amla Powder for Hair Health. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/amla-powder-for-hair
12 The Health Benefits of Juniper Berries. Very Well Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/juniper-berry-benefits-4589326
13 Duke, et al. The Green Pharmacy. Herbs, Foods & Natural Formulas to Keep You Young. Rodale, Inc. 2001
14 5 Lemon Balm Uses for Your Health: Relieve Anxiety, Improve Sleep, and More. University Health News. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/depression/5-lemon-balm-uses-for-your-health-relieve-anxiety-improve-sleep-and-more/
15 Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21840656
16 Benefits of Maca Root. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-maca-root#section5
17 Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11753476
18 What is Noni Juice? Everything You Need to Know. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/noni-juice
19 9 Benefits and Uses of Oregano Oil. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-oregano-oil-benefits-and-uses
20 The Health Benefits of Pygeum. Very Well Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-pygeum-89070
21 Quinine in Tonic Water: What Is It and Is It Safe? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/quinine-in-tonic-water
22 7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Rhodiola Rosea. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/rhodiola-rosea
23 5 Promising Benefits and Uses of Saw Palmetto. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/saw-palmetto-benefits
24 Turmeric. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-662/turmeric
25 Turmeric. The Golden Spice. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
26 The Health Benefits of Uva Ursi. Very Well Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/uva-ursi-health-benefits-4582831
27 Valerian. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-870/valerian
28 How Valerian Root Helps You Relax and Sleep Better. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/valerian-root
29 Wild Cherry. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-888/wild-cherry
30 American Ginseng. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-967/american-ginseng
31 Yohimbe. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-759/yohimbe
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.