There is nothing more enjoyable than hiking the trails, intimate with nature, capturing beautiful scenery and breathing invigorating air. Preparation loading the backpack for the trek can takes time and attention and herbs may be the furthest from a hiker’s mind. But herbs are easy to pack, take very little room and provide multiple benefits for the trailblazer. Along with building strength and endurance, certain herbs are natural remedies working as antibacterial agents, healing wounds and aiding in digestive issues.
Sometimes considered a super food, maca root is an herb that is a hit on the trails. Not only does it increase energy levels and boost endurance, it helps with fatigue. Maca root has been used in high altitudes since ancient times of the Incans and the herb aids in transporting oxygen to the blood. Start out with a small dosage, in order for the body to adjust, and gradually increase dosage up to 3000 milligrams. As with all herbs, discuss dosage with a healthcare practitioner so there is no side effects with other medications.
Loaded with antioxidants that boost immunity, ginkgo also helps with circulatory conditions by keeping blood vessels dilated. This healthy herb improves strength, coordination and mental performance. It is easy to purchase through online companies or health food stores. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, dosage is anywhere from 120-240 mg. per day. It is beneficial to take ginkgo 3 weeks prior to backpacking to expect results. Ginkgo comes in capsules, powder, tea leaves and tinctures.
Belonging to the mint family, oregano works well on the trails due to its antibacterial properties. The herb holds 2 important compounds, carvacrol and thymol, which are also anti-fungal and anti-viral. Perfect for hiking, oregano helps with muscle and joint flexibility and aids in respiratory health. Oregano is available in dried leaves, oil, tinctures and capsules. If oil is used, it’s best to mix with other oils, such as almond oil. By itself, it may irritate skin. Always follow directions on bottles.
Backpacking always brings about few unexpected cuts and bruises. Take along eucalyptus ointment and treat wounds with this antiseptic and anti-bacterial herb. The leaves can also reduce fever and bring down inflammation. The oil also helps as an insect repellent. It contains tannins which reduce inflammation and is rich in cineole, a compound that is a strong antiseptic. Eucalyptus is available in many forms including ointments, extracts and tea leaves. The ointment works well to reduce congestion in the chest.
Peppermint is soothing to the stomach and aids in digestive issues that a backpacker may come across on their trek. It reduces bloating, constipation and pain and even calms down diarrhea. Studies have proven than the menthol in peppermint helps relax the stomach muscles. Peppermint is available in tea bags, but also comes as an oil, tincture or capsule.