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Better Than Big Pharma: 5 Herbs You Can't Do Without

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page.

Can't sleep? Try lemon balm. Suffer from anxiety? Lemon balm. Want to boost your immune system? Lemon balm. Cold sore? Lemon balm. And this lemon-scented mint relative is also antiviral, good for fevers, and great for indigestion, gas, and bloating.

Find it surprising that one plant can do so much? Herbs are not always as multipurpose as lemon balm - not to mention delicious, safe, and effective - but sometimes herbs can deliver up healing powers that pharmaceutical companies can only dream about. And if that sounds crazy, then give it a try with an open mind and see for yourself.

In my own case, after trying every pharmaceutical around, I've found two fixes for my migraines. One is Percocets, a controlled, Schedule II substance that cannot be used too frequently because of dependency issues. If you use Percocets regularly, you'll find that the same dose no longer delivers the same amount of pain relief.

My other migraine fix is peppermint essential oil. Safe, cheap, non-prescription, and non-addictive. I smear the stuff all over the part of my head that hurts, keeping it well away from my eyes, and within minutes my headache dissipates. For me, that's an herb I cannot live without.

Each of us is unique, with different health problems and needs, and sometimes the best herb for you depends on where you live and what grows nearby. In the Pacific Northwest, Oregon grape is likely an herb you can't live without, whereas in Southern California, you'd find use after use for white sage or creosote. But there are a few herbs that are fantastic across the board, no matter who you are or where you live. These plants can help you take your health into your own hands.

1. Lemon Balm: As noted before, lemon balm is a highly versatile herb that is useful for a number of different conditions. The fact that it's safe for all ages and tastes good makes it a great choice for kids. In fact, herbalist Rosalee de la Foret recommends it as an ideal choice to help teething babies deal with pain. She also uses it for cold and flu, particularly when you've also got a fever, digestive complaints, cold sores, and stress. (The only note of caution here: don't use lemon balm too much if you suffer from hypothyroidism.)   


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