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Substitutes for Rare and Endangered Herbs

By Christopher Hobbs

Part of Herbal Remedies For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Interest in herbal medicine has dramatically increased, and along with the destruction of habitat, encroaching development, and commercial overharvesting, some healing herbs have become endangered. You can help these rare plants survive by making some simple substitutions:

Herb How You Can Help
American ginseng Buy cultivated or woods-grown roots or products instead of wild
American ginseng.
Black cohosh Substitute red clover products if you’re using black cohosh for
its estrogenic effects. Substitute kava or cramp bark if using this
herb for muscle spasms. Substitute meadowsweet for arthritis.
Blue cohosh Substitute yarrow.
Echinacea Buy products containing Echinacea purpurea, which are
cultivated organically, instead of wild-harvested E.
angustifolia
. Both are equally effective. E.
angustifolia
is increasingly available as a cultivated
herb.
Goldenseal Buy cultivated goldenseal or substitute Oregon grape root,
barberry, or the Chinese herb coptis, all of which contain the same
active ingredient, called berberine.
Pipsissewa Use uva ursi and marshmallow root together to soothe and help
reduce bacteria for urinary tract infections.
Slippery elm Substitute marshmallow root, which has similar soothing
properties to slippery elm and is a cultivated herb.
Wild yam Wild yam doesn’t have progesterone-like effects, according to
studies and historical use. Use wild yam only for bowel cramps,
spasms, colic, and nausea, or substitute chamomile flowers.