Zinc is an important trace element that contributes to immune function, tissue repair, and gene synthesis.
Since zinc is involved in many health aspects, maintaining adequate zinc levels is essential for the body to function at its peak capacity.
Zinc can be found throughout cells, muscles, and bones; however, the body cannot create zinc, so it must be acquired through one’s diet. Taking herbs high in zinc is a great way to add extra zinc to your diet.
In this article, we’ll review a list of zinc herbs as well as the health benefits of zinc.
Table of Contents
Zinc is naturally found in water and soil, where it is absorbed by plants for enzyme production and metabolic processes. When we consume plants, we are able to absorb zinc into our bodies.
Although humans only need a small amount of zinc, this mineral plays an important role in healing damaged tissue, DNA synthesis, immune system support, and growing new cells. Zinc also contributes to lipid and glucose metabolism and the regulation of insulin.
In the United States, 12% of the population is at risk of zinc deficiency, and 17-30% of the global population is at risk depending on location. Zinc deficiency can develop if the gastrointestinal tract doesn’t absorb or use zinc properly, or if excess amounts of zinc are excreted from the body.
There are numerous types of zinc, including zinc acetate, zinc sulfate, and zinc gluconate. Each zinc type varies in absorbability.
Since the body only absorbs 16-50% of the total zinc consumed, consuming herbs high in zinc is a great way to maintain healthy levels.
Herbs High in Zinc:
Below is a list of the best herbs for increasing zinc.
1. Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)
Bacopa, commonly known as water hyssop, is a perennial herb that loves wet regions. This herb is popular in Ayurvedic medicine (referred to as Brahmi) and is highly revered for its effects on the brain.
The entire plant, dry or fresh, is used to improve the health of the body.
Research shows that bacopa may improve brain function, improve mood, and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Along with its brain health benefits, bacopa is also known for its anti-cancer properties.
Bacopa is one of the key zinc herbs. It’s estimated that 100g of dried bacopa contains 11mg of zinc, around half a cup. Since the maximum bacopa dosage is 300 mg/day, it’s important to supplement with other herbs rich in zinc to reach your adequate daily intake.
Bacopa is best taken as a supplement or extract.
Summary:Beyond being one of the best zinc rich foods, bacopa also shows evidence of improving cognition and brain function.
2. Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)
Chervil, sometimes referred to as French parsley, is a popular culinary herb in French cuisine. It has been used as a flavoring and therapeutic herb for thousands of years.
The flavor of chervil is subtle and tastes slightly like anise. The young, fresh leaves are used for various health issues, and the leaves and roots are used in cooking.
Chervil has been used to soothe stomach conditions, reduce blood pressure, provide the body with antioxidants, and decrease the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies during the winter. Chervil is known to alleviate skin issues like eczema, acne, and allergic reactions.
It’s estimated that 100g of dried chervil contains 8.8 mg of zinc.
Chervil leaves can be used as a flavoring for soups, butter, poultry dishes, and salad. It can also be consumed as tea or extract.
Summary:Chervil’s zinc content helps prevent trace mineral deficiencies while promoting benefits for stomach conditions, blood pressure, and skin health.
3. Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Holy basil, commonly known as tulsi, is one of the most popular herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. It has a clove-like aroma and is not used in culinary dishes like other basils.
Traditional and modern uses of tulsi leaves are similar. The aromatic herb is known to support stress, improve brain function, and improve immune functioning.
Tulsi is an adaptogen, which means it possesses benefits to help regulate the stress response and balance out energy levels.
It is estimated that 100 g of tulsi contains 4.8 mg of zinc.
Holy basil is best enjoyed as a tea, extract, or capsule supplement.
Summary:Holy basil’s zinc levels and adaptogenic properties indicate health benefits for stress, cognition, and immune system function.
4. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Oregano is an herb in the Lamiaceae or mint family that is popular in various cuisines, especially Mediterranean foods. Oregano is eaten fresh or dried; however, the fresh leaves have a more potent, peppery flavor.
Along with its use in the kitchen, oregano is known for its ability to support the gastrointestinal tract through its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. Studies have shown that oregano is especially helpful at preserving food due to its antioxidant effects.
Oregano oil is frequently used in herbal preparations due to its increased antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory activity.
100g of dried oregano is estimated to contain 2.7 mg of zinc. This makes it one of the best herbs high in zinc.
Oregano is popularly used as a flavoring for sauces, bread crumbs, marinades, and vinaigrettes. Therapeutically, oregano or oregano oil can be taken as a capsule supplement or extract.
Summary:Besides being one of the best herbs high in zinc, oregano may also work to promote antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory activity.
5. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Another herb in the Lamiaceae family, thyme is native to the Mediterranean regions and is one of the most common zinc rich foods found in the kitchen.
Prior to its culinary use, thyme was only viewed as a therapeutic herb. The word “thyme” is derived from “thymos,” a Greek word that means “courage and strength.” Research shows that thyme has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory activity.
It’s estimated that 100g of fresh thyme contains 1.8mg of zinc.
Thyme is most commonly used as a culinary flavoring or garnish, but can be administered as a tea, extract, or supplement in capsule form.
Summary:Thyme not only contains high levels of zinc, but has also been found to possess antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
Shatavari is another adaptogenic herb used for its therapeutic root. It belongs to the Asparagaceae, or asparagus family, and is native to Southwest Asia.
Popular in Ayurvedic medicine, shatavari is known as a Rasayana herb which means it’s rejuvenating.
Due to its rejuvenating properties, shatavari is commonly known for its anti-aging effects. Additionally, research shows that shatavari may support hormone balance in females, soothe and treat ulcers, and increase milk supply for breastfeeding mothers.
100g of shatavari is estimated to contain 0.54mg of zinc.
It is best to consume shatavari as a decoction, tincture, or capsule.
Summary:Shatavari is an adaptogenic herb rich in zinc that has also been found to support anti-aging effects, benefit female hormone balance, and promote ulcer healing.
Benefits of Zinc:
Zinc is a naturally abundant trace mineral essential for numerous physiological processes in animals, plants, and humans.
Animals and humans receive zinc from water, plants, food, and natural supplements. Zinc is absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestines and is primarily carried throughout the body by three proteins: albumin (60%), α-macroglobulin (30%), and transferrin (10%).
The body requires zinc to carry out many aspects of cellular metabolism. Along with protein and DNA synthesis, zinc is essential for the optimal activation of hundreds of enzymes.
Zinc is also crucial for the beginning stages of human growth, from pregnancy to adolescence.
How Much Zinc Per Day?
Your daily zinc requirements differ based on your gender and age.
Below is a helpful chart.
|Age Group||RDA (mg/day)|
|Adolescent Boys||11 mg|
|Adolescent Girls||9 mg|
|Pregnant Women||11 mg|
|Breastfeeding Women||12 mg|
It is important to note that these are the recommended daily intake, which are the minimum amount of a nutrient a person needs to avoid a deficiency. Some individuals may need more or less depending on their needs and health conditions.
Supplementing with herbs high in zinc will help the body carry out essential functions and may prevent health conditions like gastrointestinal issues, inflammation, and skin disorders.
Given the availability of zinc in herb sources, ensuring you receive adequate daily levels is important. While supplements are sufficient, receiving zinc from natural sources like plants is best.
Do you have a favorite zinc herb? Let us know!
Aguiar S, Borowski T. Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Res. 2013 Aug;16(4):313-26. doi: 10.1089/rej.2013.1431. PMID: 23772955; PMCID: PMC3746283.
Alok S, Jain SK, Verma A, Kumar M, Mahor A, Sabharwal M. Plant profile, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari): A review. Asian Pac J Trop Dis. 2013 Jun;3(3):242–51. doi: 10.1016/S2222-1808(13)60049-3. PMCID: PMC4027291.
Hamzah Saleem M, Usman K, Rizwan M, Al Jabri H, Alsafran M. Functions and strategies for enhancing zinc availability in plants for sustainable agriculture. Front Plant Sci. 2022 Oct 7;13:1033092. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.1033092. PMID: 36275511; PMCID: PMC9586378.
Herman, L. (2015). Herb & Spice Companion: The Complete Guide to Over 100 Herbs & Spices. United States: Wellfleet Press.
Leyva-López N, Gutiérrez-Grijalva EP, Vazquez-Olivo G, Heredia JB. Essential Oils of Oregano: Biological Activity beyond Their Antimicrobial Properties. Molecules. 2017 Jun 14;22(6):989. doi: 10.3390/molecules22060989. PMID: 28613267; PMCID: PMC6152729.
Łojewski, M., Krakowska, A., Reczyński, W. et al. Analysis of elements and bacosides in in vitro shoot culture of Bacopa monnieri . Acta Physiol Plant 38, 162 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11738-016-2182-y
Maares M, Haase H. A Guide to Human Zinc Absorption: General Overview and Recent Advances of In Vitro Intestinal Models. Nutrients. 2020 Mar 13;12(3):762. doi: 10.3390/nu12030762. PMID: 32183116; PMCID: PMC7146416.
Maxfield L, Shukla S, Crane JS. Zinc Deficiency. [Updated 2022 Nov 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493231/
Olechnowicz J, Tinkov A, Skalny A, Suliburska J. Zinc status is associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, lipid, and glucose metabolism. J Physiol Sci. 2018 Jan;68(1):19-31. doi: 10.1007/s12576-017-0571-7. Epub 2017 Sep 30. PMID: 28965330; PMCID: PMC5754376.
Roohani N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R, Schulin R. Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review. J Res Med Sci. 2013 Feb;18(2):144-57. PMID: 23914218; PMCID: PMC3724376.
Saper RB, Rash R. Zinc: an essential micronutrient. Am Fam Physician. 2009 May 1;79(9):768-72. PMID: 20141096; PMCID: PMC2820120.
Veenstra JP, Johnson JJ. Oregano (Origanum vulgare) extract for food preservation and improvement in gastrointestinal health. Int J Nutr. 2019;3(4):43-52. doi: 10.14302/issn.2379-7835.ijn-19-2703. Epub 2019 Apr 9. PMID: 31080888; PMCID: PMC6508890.
Wintergerst, E. S., Maggini, S., & Hornig, D. H. (2006). Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Annals of nutrition & metabolism, 50(2), 85–94. https://doi.org/10.1159/000090495