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The 10 Most Popular Medicinal Herbs in the U.S.

by Trudy Pieper

Top Herbs LAHerbal medicine, also called botanical medicine or phytomedicine, refers to the use of seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark or flowers for medicinal purposes. Ancient cultures used plants for medicinal purposes long before recorded history began. Ancient Egyptian papyrus and Chinese writings describe medicinal uses for plants as early as 3,000 BC. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80% of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some part of their primary health care. According to a study by the University Of Maryland Medical Center, nearly one-third of Americans use herbs. A 2010 report from researchers at the University of California’s San Francisco Medical Center details the use of medicinal herbs in the United States:

[Herb (scientific name) – purpose (est. # of users, % of total U.S. population)]

1) Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) – used to treat the common cold (21M, 7%)

2) Ginseng (Panax ginseng) – used to improve energy, cognition and performance (12.6M, 4.2%)

3) Ginko (Ginkgo biloba) – used to improve attention and memory (11M, 3.7%)

4) Garlic (Allium sativum) – used as an antibiotic and to reduce the risk of heart disease (11M, 3.4%)

5) St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – used to treat depression (6.3M, 2.1%)

6) Peppermint (Menthe piperita) – used to treat an upset stomach (6.3M, 2.1%)

7) Ginger (Zingiber officinale) – used for nausea, motion sickness or morning sickness (5.4M, 1.8%)

8) Soy (Glycine max) – used for menopausal hot flashes and control of cholesterol (5.1M, 1.7%)

9) Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – used for anxiety, an upset stomach or insomnia (4.5M, 1.5%)

10) Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) – used for anxiety (3.6M, 1.2%)

Trudy Pieper is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) at Phoenix Wellness Center in Johnstown. Connect at

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