Medicinal plants have been used for thousands of years to treat or remedy wounds, infections, moods, and more. With the advance of modern science, we’re now able to determine the mechanisms behind their beneficial properties. While medicinal plants are recommended as a complementary treatment by modern science, their effects are often enough to treat mild symptoms of various conditions.
Medicinal plants have proven pharmaceutical properties and can be used as a remedy or supplement for specific symptoms. They can be taken as a food, tea, juice, or spice, and they are usually recommended as a supplementary element for treating a condition.
Some of the most popular medicinal plants include turmeric, aloe vera, and cannabis.
Cannabis has been marked as a source of a psychoactive substance called THC and treated as a dangerous drug for a long time. While it’s true that it contains THC, it also contains other compounds, like CBD – which essentially contains the same chemicals but structured differently. The difference in structure makes CBD non-psychoactive while providing significant benefits. As such, cannabis is one of the most potent medicinal plants, especially in the form of CBD (cannabidiol). It’s used for various symptoms and conditions, from chronic pain to insomnia, anxiety, depression, seizures, and other chronic illnesses. Its usual form of consumption is oil, although CBD is now an ingredient of various products, like foods, cosmetics, and even pet food.
Flaxseeds have a potent property to scrub the colon, especially if used in a ground form. Another good way to consume it is by covering a teaspoon with warm water for 30 minutes, followed by drinking the water and eating the seeds. Flax seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s a rare non-animal source of this vital compound. A study has shown a link between flax seeds and colon cancer prevention. Considering how easy it is to add it to everyday diet, this inexpensive medicinal plant should be on everyone’s daily menu.
Turmeric is a rhizome of Curcuma longa that is used around the world as a spice. It contains the potent compound curcumin, which has proven medicinal properties and can help reduce chronic inflammation. However, the amount of curcumin in the plant itself is low, which means that the best way to use it is the extracted curcumin supplement. Another issue with curcumin is that our body poorly resorbs it, and research has shown that consuming black pepper with it enhances its resorption rate. Besides being an efficient supplement for chronic inflammation-related illnesses and conditions, such as arthritis, it enhances brain and heart health and may reduce gum inflammation.
A medicinal plant that many have in their homes, Aloe Vera can be used in its pure form, directly extracted from its leaves. The most important application of Aloe Vera is for skin burn treatment because it has properties that enhance skin regeneration due to its high antioxidant potency, and reduces pain. However, aloe vera should not be used as a treatment for severe wounds before consulting a doctor. Aloe vera is also efficient in treating acne, hemorrhoids, and can have a soothing effect for IBS – irritable bowel syndrome.
Lavender is a plant that has sedative and anti-inflammatory properties. Smelling lavender helps reduce anxiety and can act as a mild sedative. Its recently discovered anti-inflammation potential makes it a useful ingredient in topical creams. Some people have an allergy to lavender essential oil, so it’s always recommended to take it in a diluted form to prevent skin irritation.
Another medicinal plant with a fragrant, pleasant smell is chamomile. It’s mostly consumed as a tea made of dried flowers. It’s proven to reduce anxiety, which makes it a popular evening tea around the world—a study of its effects on generalized anxiety disorder. The researchers had been giving one group a placebo and the other chamomile. The results were clear – chamomile performed significantly better. In some cases, chamomile can cause anaphylaxis, a dramatic, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. However, allergic reactions to it are rare.
The tea tree is a medicinal plant that has been used for treating skin infections for centuries. Its oil is best diluted in another oil, called the carrier oil, because it can cause skin irritation in its pure form. It has significant antimicrobial properties, and as such, it can help reduce acne, athlete’s foot, and other fungal infections. Tea tree is used topically only, diluted in other oils, or as an ingredient in creams and lotions. It’s best for use for acute skin conditions, not every day. It must not be taken orally because it’s poisonous when in touch with the digestive system.
Ginger root is another rhizome plant that provides health benefits. It has antibacterial properties that can help reduce the number of E. Coli bacteria and help with the gums’ inflammation. It is often used as a treatment for colds, nausea, arthritis, and muscle-strain pain. Ginger contains a powerful compound gingerol, which has potent effects on multiple conditions and symptoms. Like all the other medicinal plants, it should be taken with caution and a doctor’s consent.
Most of the research that confirms the beneficial properties of medicinal plants considers the effects of the patients; not enough research has been done to determine the conflicts between specific pharmaceutical treatments and medicinal plants. For that reason, it’s essential to talk to the doctor about using any medicinal plant as part of the therapy.