A guide to common medicinal herbs

Herbs are way more than a way to add goodness and flavour to your cooking.

Using a plant’s seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark or flowers for medicinal purposes has its origins in ancient cultures.

But in the past few decades, as the science-backed benefits become clear, there has been growing interest in using plants as remedies across the globe1.

According to the World Health Organization, 75 per cent of the world’s population now use herbs for basic healthcare needs.

The active ingredients in herbal medicine

Herbs are rich in phytochemicals,2 also known as phytonutrients, which are biologically active compounds that protect them against bacteria, viruses and fungi and that also provide health benefits for humans.

While we’re still learning about them, there is promising evidence3 that phytochemicals have the potential to help in a whole range of health conditions.

Different herbs act on different parts of the body

There are thousands of plants that are used in herbal medicine.

A few of the common ones include:

St John’s Wort

This flowering herb native to Europe is named after John the Baptist.

Containing chemicals that act on messengers in the brain that regulate mood, it is used to support healthy mood balance and relieve symptoms of mild anxiety.


The gingko tree is thought to be one of the oldest living trees, dating back more than 200 million years.

The leaves of this plant are now commonly included in supplements to help improve cognitive performance, memory and recall, and help enhance healthy blood circulation in ageing individuals.

Milk Thistle

A flowering plant that comes from the same family as the daisy, the active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin.

Primarily used in traditional Western herbal medicine to enhance and maintain liver health, milk thistle also supports bile production and is used to relieve digestive discomfort, abdominal bloating and flatulence.

The Thompson’s difference

Thompson’s has a history in medicinal herbs that spans an incredible 70 years.

After being established by English herbalist Mark Barrington Thompson, who opened one of New Zealand’s first health food stores in 1951, Thompson’s has remained dedicated to high-quality herbal formulations grounded in traditional use and backed by credible science.

Known for sourcing of premium raw ingredients, their in-house manufacturing and a rigorous protocol of extensive testing and verification procedures to ensure every batch delivers consistent high quality, Thompson’s has just undergone a rebrand.

New packaging delivers a clear and easy to navigate range, including the hugely popular one-a-day herbal range with One-A-Day Milk Thistle, used in traditional Western herbal medicine to support liver health, One-A-Day St John’s Wort to relieve symptoms of mild anxiety and to support healthy mood balance, and One-A-Day Ginkgo for improved cognitive performance and memory in ageing individuals.

This post is brought to you by Thompson’s. Always read the label and follow the directions for use.


[1] Si-Yuan Pan, Gerhard Litscher, Si-Hua Gao, Shu-Feng Zhou, Zhi-Ling Yu, Hou-Qi Chen, Shuo-Feng Zhang, Min-Ke Tang, Jian-Ning Sun and Kam-Ming Ko, P 2014, ‘Historical Perspective of Traditional Indigenous Medical Practices: The Current Renaissance and Conservation of Herbal Resources’, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 

[2] David Kennedy, Emma L. Wightman, P 2011, ‘Herbal Extracts and Phytochemicals: Plant Secondary Metabolites and  the Enhancement of Human Brain Function’, Advances in Nutrition

[3] Bhanu Prakash, Akshay Kumar, Prem Pratap Singh, L.S. Songachan, P 2020, ‘Antimicrobial and Antioxidant properties of Phytochemicals: Current status and future perspective’, Functional and Preservative Properties of Phytochemicals