5 Herbs To Incorporate Into Your Spring Wellness Routine
The days are getting longer, the air is warmer, and many of us are looking forward to summer. You may have noticed that with the chance of warmer temperatures outside, you’re starting to favor lighter foods such as smoothies and salads over heavier, warmer options like oatmeal, curries, and stews.
As humans, we naturally adapt to the natural world around us and change our habits based on the time of year and the weather outside. If you want to take this adaptation to the next level and ease the transition into the warmer months, you can also incorporate these five herbs into your routine:
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, a must-try herb is a nettle, also known as Urtica dioica. Studies have shown (1) that bioactive compounds in nettle help inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways related to allergic rhinitis, one of the most common allergy symptoms. You can take nettle as a powder or herbal extract but my favorite way to consume it is by drinking nettle tea, which you can drink hot or iced throughout the day.
As we enter the warmer months, we’ve got to find ways to cool off. Enter: mint. An herb with natural cooling properties. You can add fresh mint to your salads and smoothies or drink iced mint tea. As an added bonus, mint is great for digestion; in fact, a review paper (2) of more than 900 irritable bowel patients showed that taking peppermint for two weeks led to a significant improvement in symptoms.
3. Holy Basil
Fresh basil, also called Ocimum basilicum, is one of life’s simple pleasures. And it doesn’t just taste and smell great, either. It has a plethora of healthy benefits. For example, one study showed (3) that basil extract can help balance blood sugar when used in conjunction with diabetes drugs. And if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with promoting healthy blood sugar balance. Basil has also shown promise for fending off chronic stress. For example, a 2012 study (4) showed that taking holy basil extract every day for six weeks reduced stress better than a placebo.
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4. Lemon Balm
Speaking of stress relief, lemon balm is an herb famous for its stress-busting benefits. You can take lemon balm as a tea or tincture and it smells incredible. In one study (5), taking lemon balm led to an improved mood and an increased sense of calm when participants were exposed to psychological stressors in the lab. And I don’t know about you, but I think we could all use a little extra positivity and relaxation in our lives, especially right now.
Last but certainly not least, there’s rosemary. Rosemary isn’t just great for cooking, it’s great for your overall health, too. Historically, rosemary has been used to improve memory and concentration. In fact, studies have shown (6) that the smell of rosemary can improve children’s working memory. Rosemary has also been studied for its effects on the endocannabinoid system, a regulatory system in the body that controls a ton of functions in the body, including how we respond to pain and stress. You can add rosemary to your dishes, take it as a tincture, or make yourself some homemade rosemary tea to get all its benefits.
As the days continue to get warmer, don’t forget to lean on these herbs to fend off allergies, support your gut and brain health, and stay cool, calm, and collected.
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- Roschek, B., Jr, Fink, R. C., McMichael, M., & Alberte, R. S. (2009). Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 23(7), 920–926. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2763
- Khanna, R., MacDonald, J. K., & Levesque, B. G. (2014). Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of clinical gastroenterology, 48(6), 505–512. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCG.0b013e3182a88357
- Chauhan, Dr. B. Y. (2017). Effect of Ocimum Sanctum Tulsi Powder on Hyperlipidemic and Hyperglycemic Male Patients. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development, Volume-1(Issue-5), 110–116. https://doi.org/10.31142/ijtsrd2239
- Saxena, R. C., Singh, R., Kumar, P., Negi, M. P., Saxena, V. S., Geetharani, P., Allan, J. J., & Venkateshwarlu, K. (2012). Efficacy of an Extract of Ocimum tenuiflorum (OciBest) in the Management of General Stress: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 894509. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/894509
- Kennedy, D. O., Little, W., & Scholey, A. B. (2004). Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosomatic medicine, 66(4), 607–613. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.psy.0000132877.72833.71
- British Psychological Society. (2017, May 2). Rosemary aroma can aid children’s working memory: Exposure to the aroma of rosemary essential oil can significantly enhance working memory in children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 21, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170502204545.htm
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.
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