If you’re like most Americans, one of your New Year’s resolutions will focus on improving your general health. To assist you in your quest for well-being, we asked three renowned herbalists to name their top herb picks for 2005.



Mindy Green, MS,
aromatherapist and herbalist based in Minneapolis

Ed Smith,
herbalist, founder and owner of Herb Pharm in Williams, Oregon

Mark Blumenthal,
herbalist and founder of the American Botanical Council in Austin, Texas

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) can enhance the immune system to help combat illnesses, such as the common cold. “Add slices of the root to soup,” says Green.

Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) In addition to the benefits mentioned by Green, maca root is also a helpful fertility food for men and women. According to Smith, in men it has been shown to increase semen production.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) “is the sister of the commonly used Asian ginseng and can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which is useful for type 2 diabetics,” says Blumenthal. Take in tablet or liquid extract form.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) tackles symptoms of aging, such as insomnia, anemia, arthritis, and memory lapses. Green recommends adding the herb to your favorite recipe or taking it as a tincture.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) “has typically been used for athletes in training, but anyone can use it to combat both physical and mental stress,” says Smith.

Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) has been shown to modulate the immune system and can be used like echinacea to treat colds and the flu. “It should not be confused with Andro, the now banned and infamous hormone that has been abused by sport celebrities,” says Blumenthal.

Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) helps relieve depression and stress, helps balance hormones, enhances energy, and increases stamina and athletic endurance. “Use maca root in recipes as a partial flour substitute,” Green suggests.

Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is an adaptogen that aids endurance and provides mental acuity when you’re under stress.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) increases immune-system function, boosts energy, and helps treat depressive moods, says Blumenthal.