Medicinal plants have been treating various ailments for centuries. Even as the pharmaceutical giants spend billions in the search for new drugs, nature continues to offer a multitude of plant substances with amazing medicinal properties.
Today the interest in homeopathic alternative medicine is growing rapidly. Herbal remedies are already widespread in countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand. In fact, about 40% of China’s total medical consumption is of the herbal variety and in Japan herbal medicines are more in demand than pills and other pharmaceutical options, according to the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology. In the U.S, due to the increasing costs and side effects, more and more Americans are turning to plants and herbs for relief.
Here are 7 potent medical plants, some of which just might be in your backyard:
Ginseng is considered to be therapeutic for the whole body. A very powerful medicinal herb, it both stimulates and relaxes the nervous system and encourages the secretion of hormones. Ginseng has a long history of use as an alternative medicine going back over 5,000 years, and was used extensively in Native American medicine. The root is adaptogen, cardiotonic, demulcent, panacea, sedative, sialagogue, stimulant, tonic and stomachic. Ginseng is known for its ability to help the body adapt to mental and emotional stress, fatigue, heat and cold, as well as hunger.
2. Aloe Vera
Available in two forms, gel and juice, its benefits are many. As a gel, it is used as a topical treatment for minor burns, cuts, and skin irritations. As a juice, many drink it as a dietary supplement and as an oral laxative. You can also use aloe vera straight from the plant by breaking off a piece of the leaf, then applying the sticky fluid on your skin.
While most people only think of garlic for cooking, it has proven to be a powerful antibiotic if taken raw and crushed and can also be used as an anti-fungal agent. When cooked, garlic is beneficial for the cardiovascular system. These benefits are, at least in part, due to the sulfur compounds allicin and diallyl disulphide (DADS) (which are also found in onions, leeks and chives). These compounds help to induce the relaxation and enlargement of blood vessels, which improves blood flow throughout the body. Eating garlic has also been found to help reduce inflammation in your body and help fight illness.
4. Ginkgo Biloba
Extracts of the fruit and leaves of the Ginkgo tree have been used in China for thousands of years. Ginkgo Biloba has been historically used in alternative medicine for heart problems, kidney disorders, Alzheimer’s, asthma and as an energy builder. For those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, it has been widely used due primarily to its ability to improve blood flow to the brain as well as its antioxidant properties. Ginkgo has also been proven to help those with retinal problems and is widely known as a “brain herb” that is taken by those who want to help boost memory and overall cognitive abilities.
For thousands of years sage has been used in connection with sprains, swelling, ulcers, and bleeding. As a tea, sage has been taken to alleviate sore throats and coughs. Herbalists have also used it for rheumatism, memory improvement, and symptoms of menopause.
6. Black Cohosh
The Historic use of Black Cohosh dates back to the times when Native Americans used it as an alternative medicine. It was used mainly to treat painful periods and problems associated with the menopause. Used in conjunction with St. John’s Wort it has proven to be effective in treating hot flushes and other menopausal problems. Black Cohosh is believed to be useful for supporting a range of other complaints; including tinnitus and high blood pressure. The fresh flowers have a strong odor and are also effective insect repellents.
Use with Caution
Although Mother Nature does have some potent remedies, it is important to always use caution when taking these or any other medicinal plants. Be sure to follow the recommended dosages and understand that several medicinal plants come with side effects You should always consult with your physician if you have any questions or concerns before taking these or any other natural medicines.
The world of herbal medicine is ever-expanding, and you can be sure that there is a whole world of natural and holistic medicines out there just waiting to be discovered and used. So the next time you have an ache or pain, try looking to your garden instead of the medicine cabinet.