Now more than ever, people care deeply about what they put in their bodies. This increased awareness when it comes to food, medicine, and other items is essential to modern wellness – so we thought we’d help out and explain some consumables that fall in our own area of knowledge. Below, you will find the history and purpose of four major herbs: lavender, hops, schisandra, and chamomile. Women have been using botanicals to treat symptoms for thousands of years, so trust us when we say that if you aren’t on board already, it’s time to hop on and learn about how they could change your life for the better.
Ever seen a sign that says “lavese los manos” (a.k.a wash your hands)? Lavese actually comes from the Latin word “lavare” which means to wash or to bathe. Anyway, that’s how lavender got its name. In 17th Century Europe, the herb was used to clean anything and everything – its pleasant smell coupled with the disinfecting properties made it a popular substance around the house and in medical facilities. Before screen doors and glass windows, people relied on lavender to keep insects away.
In addition to its cleanliness, lavender has proved useful for headaches, stress, and even grief. While the role of lavender is still being explored through a wide range of studies, there is conclusive evidence that the herb does improve sleep quality and relieves cancer patients of some of their symptoms.
Hops! Hops?! The plant’s name comes from its tendency to climb on other plants. It’s name isn’t the only unusual thing – unlike the other herbs discussed, hops was not originally used for its medicinal features, but rather for its flavor and preservation abilities pertaining to beer. Hops’ indisputable benefits when it came to brewing not only resulted in widespread use, but garnered attention and promoted exploration of hops for other uses.
Since this further exploration, hops has been found to help with digestion and the cleansing of other bodily systems such as the kidney, the liver, and the spleen. Hops is also associated with calming characteristics – King George the III heavily relied on hops (in his pillows and tea) to put him to rest.
You know how they say with age comes wisdom? Maybe that’s why Schisandra has proved itself to be so mentally stimulating. Commonly found in China’s mountain regions, the herb has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. Initially, Shisandra was used to treat fatigue and prolong aging, but its medical benefits were more widely explored once the plant was introduced to Europe in the 1800s.
In Europe, the plant proved effective in treating diabetes and liver damage. However, medical research from the past century further revealed that the herb can address other common health challenges. For instance, it boosts endurance and concentration, and its astringency makes it a valuable tool for confronting night sweats and diarrhea.
Cultivated in Europe in the 16th century, Chamomile was (and still is!) widely worshiped for its healing properties. Even before that time, Egyptians used it as a remedy for colds, Greeks prescribed it for female disorders, and Romans ingested it to help with fatigue. The botanical name for Chamomile is “Matricaria” which is derived from the word womb – named due to its effectiveness easing menstrual cramps and pain during childbirth.
Nowadays, chamomile is used by many as a sedative – to lower anxiety and to help with sleep. Additionally, it is helpful for easing upset stomachs and boosting immunity. Just as it was used hundred of years ago, the herb is still used in teas for its calming benefits.
To further explore the historical and modern uses of these herbs and others, check out this Online Herbal Encyclopedia!
by Brooke Kenerson