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Top 5 Types of Herbs To Help With Sleep, Stress, Digestion, and Skincare

One question that herbalist and Supernatural founder Rachelle Robinett gets all the time: “Where do I start with herbalism?” If you’re curious about the therapeutic and medicinal use of plants, this episode of Plant Based is a great place to start. As any good herbalist will tell you, a cup of tea or a tincture isn’t going to fix everything. Herbalism is a full-spectrum holistic practice, and it’s not about treating symptoms—it’s about treating the entire human and the underlying cause of the symptoms.

“The use of nature as a remedy for life is not new; it is global and historic,” Robinett says. “We have been evolving with plants forever. There are 30,000 medicinal plants around the world that we know of today… [and] we’re discovering about 2,000 more plants every single year. These are plants that can be used as food, as medicine, and as both.” So, yeah, there are manycategories of plants.

Here, Robinett takes us through the five plants that she thinks are the most common and the most helpful. 

1. Adaptogens

“I have done many a Plant Based episode on adaptogens. So I highly encourage that you check those out for more detail about this category of herbs,” Robinett says. Adaptogens help us recover from stress in a calmer, more effective way, and allow us to become more resilient to it over time, she explains.

Examples: ashwagandha, rhodiola, reishi

2. Astringents

Essentially, astringents are toning plants—the most well-known one probably being witch hazel. “These are things that we would use as topical treatments, or internal treatments on our digestive system,” says Robinett. Astringents also help strengthen the skin barrier and protect moisture balance.

Examples: witch hazel, rose petals, green tea

3. Aromatics

Robinett explains that these plants are incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons. “[Aromatics] are plants that tend to be perfect to have in your beginner medicine cabinet or your first tea collection, because they’re just going to help in so many different ways,” she says. Think: improving digestion, energy levels, easing cramping and discomfort, and relaxing the muscles.

Examples: mint, lavender, holy basil

4. Bitters

“I love this this category—I believe in it so strongly and I really do think there’s an amazing future for it,” Robinett says. She explains that the most common way to use bitters is to support digestion before you eat; bitters help you digest and absorb your nutrients more effectively.

Examples: arugula, orange peel, gentian

[Shared with permission from Rachelle Robinett and first appeared in Well & Good.  Watch the video there for more info.]