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herbs you haven't heard of: herbs hanging on wooden wall

6 Herbs You Haven’t Heard Of But Should Definitely Try

Herbs have been around (and used by humans for myriad purposes) since pretty much the dawn of time—but despite the vast variety of helpful plants out there, only a few at a time seem to gain enough traction to go mainstream. And while the herbs of the moment truly are great (no shade for ashwagandha here!), there are so many herbs you haven’t heard of that can support your health and well-being just waiting for some much-deserved attention.

“As an herbalist, my hope is that the popularity of some herbs serves as a gateway for the average person to healthier living and wider knowledge about natural medicine,” says certified herbalist Melanie St. Ours, author of The Simple Guide to Natural Health.

If you’re interested in expanding your herbal horizons, here are six unsung herbs that experts absolutely love.

1. Bacopa Monnieri

Research, including one 2016 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, has shown this antioxidant-rich plant to be useful in boosting memory and mental cognition. “For students and people looking to support their memory function, this herb should be at the top of your list of supports,” says naturopath Ashley Margeson, N.D. 

A standard daily amount of bacopa is 500 milligrams—and you’ll typically find it in capsule form, Margeson notes. However, since how much you take (and for how long) is important to consider when incorporating bacopa, she recommends working with a healthcare provider to update your routine. People who take blood thinners or with known clotting disorders should also refrain from using bacopa. 

Our pick: plnt brand Bacopa

2. Holy basil

As the name suggests, this is not your basic basil. Although holy basil, or tulsi, does not have that signature basil scent, it does come with a slew of health benefits, including supporting stress, notes Margeson. In fact, she says this herb can help with everything from soothing stress-related digestive issues, to supporting your endurance and ability to thrive in stressful environments, to promoting stable blood sugar for steady energy—all without making you feel jittery. 

Another plus: Holy basil has also been shown to have mood-balancing benefits.

Read More: The Best Adaptogens For Every Wellness Need

Margeson recommends taking around 600 milligrams of holy basil per day, ideally before known stressful events, like big meetings or exams. If you take antidepressant medications, though, talk with your doctor before going in on holy basil, as it may interact with them.

Our pick: Organic India Tulsi Holy Basil

3. Olive leaf 

Whether you love or hate olives themselves, there’s no denying that the leaves attached to them are chock-full of health benefits.

They get their powers from a compound called oleuropein, which “is a potent antioxidant and has immune-supportive properties, making it helpful for general health and wellness,” says Mona Fahoum, N.D., naturopathic family medicine physician with Meridian Medicine in Seattle. “Isolated studies, including one published in the journal Nutrients, also suggest it may be beneficial for heart and blood sugar health.”

Recommended amounts of olive leaf can vary, but you’ll often find it in supplements that provide 500 milligrams, which you can take once or twice per day, says Fahoum. “It is well-tolerated and appears safe for most people in supporting the immune system,” she says. However, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid the herb, while those on blood pressure medications should consult with their provider before incorporating it.

Our pick: The Vitamin Shoppe brand Organic Alcohol-Free Olive Leaf Extract Liquid

4. Stinging nettle

This plant, which also goes by the name urtica urens, can be used in several forms, but it is most commonly dried and used in teas or tinctures, according to Connors. Like most herbs, it also has several uses. “Stinging nettle can support those with allergies because it helps balance histamine,” she says. “Also, because stinging nettle contains iron plus vitamin C, it can also help increase iron absorption, encourage breast milk production, and more.”

Luckily, there are few side effects or interactions associated with stinging nettle, so it’s not off-limits for anyone (unless they have an allergy to the plant itself), she notes. Though there are no specific dosage guidelines, Connors suggests 300-600 milligrams of the herb, which is the most common amount you’ll find in capsule supplements, per day.

Our pick: The Vitamin Shoppe brand Stinging Nettles

5. Chaste tree

For menstruating women, this plant offers some pretty exciting benefits—specifically during the middle of your cycle, when you ovulate, through the start of menstruation. 

Chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus) has been studied specifically for supporting women with PCOS (a condition that inhibits ovulation), supporting premenstrual symptoms, and even promoting menopausal balance,” Connors says. 

Read More: 8 Signs Your Estrogen Might Be Out Of Whack

“The long-term outcomes appear to be very safe, but caution should be taken in women who are breastfeeding or currently pregnant,” she notes. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends taking four milligrams of this herb per day. 

Our pick: Oregon’s Wild Harvest Chaste Tree

6. Hawthorn

“Most commonly, the berries of this flowering plant are prepared as a juice, tincture, or tea to support cardiovascular health by promoting blood flow and the heart’s ability to pump blood,” says Connors. “This herb also generally pairs well with other herbs that support heart health and is often included in heart health formulas.”

Although hawthorn is generally safe and has few side effects, Connors recommends using caution and talking with your doctor if you are already taking medications for any type of heart condition. Otherwise, start with about 500 milligrams per day.

Our pick: plnt brand Hawthorn

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