Before there were modern-day medicines and its pharmacopeia of synthetic drugs, there were plants, and ancient civilizations knew how to use them strategically to treat common ailments and even life-threatening diseases. For example, the ancient Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, a scroll from 1550 BC that’s over 100 pages long, details 700 medicinal herbs and how to use them.
For centuries, cunning folk and wise women cultivated and used these plants to aid those who were suffering. Sadly, many were later accused of being witches, during the “burning times”.
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the world’s population still uses traditional remedies, including plants, as their primary health care tools. Furthermore, the majority of new drugs introduced in the US are derived from natural products, primarily plants.
Many of us don’t realize that many of our medical ailments can be fixed by natural remedies right in our backyard. Here are some important medical uses for herbs.
Parsley’s medicinal effects rest in its volatile oils and flavonoids, which also contribute to its distinct flavor. Parsley is thought to offer therapeutic uses in the treatment of the urinary tract. Germany’s Commission E, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approves parsley for the treatment of urinary tract infections, and kidney and bladder stones. Furthermore, it was one traditionally used for gastrointestinal distress. This includes conditions such as indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating, and nausea, while helping strengthen the immune system. There is also speculation that the powerful herb has anticancer potential and can help manage diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.
Aloe Vera is well known as a skin-friendly plant. It is one medicinal plant people really make use of, since it is generally safe and requires no processing before use. The jelly-like, colorless pulp of mature leaves can be applied to minor cuts and burns and to dry, inflamed, or damaged skin due to eczema or other skin conditions. It is an excellent moisturizer with anti-inflammatory and mild antimicrobial effect. The leaf pulp can be eaten too. Regular use can prevent constipation and relieve other digestive problems, including ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Chamomile has a high concentration of antioxidants that make it a great plant for relieving a variety of ailments. Chamomile is commonly consumed as a tea and you can make your own at home by brewing dried chamomile flowers. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bed can help you relax and have a more restful night’s sleep. Furthermore, it can help reduce inflammation and swelling, relieve congestion and pain, and improve overall skin health. Its essential oils can be inhaled or applied topically to get the best benefits. It’s been used for centuries, and more recently scientists are looking at chamomile as an option for managing cancer and diabetes.
Basil isn’t only used for making our food taste delicious. Basil also has strong antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. It is traditionally thought to stimulate the appetite and ease an upset stomach. It can be used as a pain reducer, fever reducer, diabetes preventer and cancer fighter. In Chinese medicine, basil is thought to support kidney function and ease gum ulcers. In classic Indian medicine, basil has been used to treat everything from earaches and itching to malaria, arthritis and anorexia. In India, it’s also considered a sacred herb and has been used for thousands of years.
Lavender can be used therapeutically as a pick-me-up. Inhaling the fragrance of the flowers is sufficient to get relief from headaches and depression. The essential oil extracted from the flowers has an important place in aromatherapy. It can help you get to sleep quicker due to helping you relax. This is one of the great reasons it’s perfect for those who suffer from anxiety. Furthermore, you can make the best of the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of lavender by infusing the flowers in water and using it to wash face and damaged skin. It can clear acne and accelerate wound healing.
Dill and parsley share a commonality: apiole, a volatile oil that accounts for so much of their individual flavors but also has great medicinal properties. Dill is traditionally used to ease stomach upset and to treat gastrointestinal disorders. Some parents give a dill infusion or tea to their young babies as a treatment for colic. Hiccups, diarrhea, and menstrual problems are all shown to get some relief through the use of dill. Furthermore, in folk medicine it is also used to treat sleep disorders, particularly insomnia. It is also good for oral care and can be a powerful boost for your immune system.
Lemon balm is a longstanding medicinal plant used to help relieve stress and ward off insects. An intense amount of stress can cause complications for many functions of the body, so minimal stress is ideal for a healthy functioning body. This lemony plant is delicious and easily used in several dishes like teas, ice cream and more. Many people consume lemon balm tea to help relieve anxiety, stress and even to calm restless kids. Furthermore, it can help soothe menstrual cramps and reduce inflammation. Lemon balm is also used for digestive problems, including upset stomach, bloating, intestinal gas, vomiting, and colic.
This natural hybrid of spearmint and watermint is widely use in dental hygiene products, mouth fresheners, soothing balms and candies. There is evidence that peppermint has been used for thousands of years. The active ingredient menthol found in abundance in peppermint, as well as in many other aromatic members of the mint family, has a cooling effect on the skin. It can help relieve itching and burning that results from allergies or inflammation. It also has mild analgesic action, and relieves headaches and muscle cramps. Furthermore, sipping a tea made of a handful of peppermint leaves can calm stomach upsets and relieve pain and discomfort due to gas.
Catnip isn’t just a fun plant for your kitten. For humans, it is normally used as a stress reliever, sleep aid and a solution for skin issues. It can be applied directly to the skin for arthritis, hemorrhoids, and as a compress to relieve swelling. Furthermore, the plant can help repel bugs and relieve irritation from bug bites. The majority of its health benefits come from the presence of nepetalactone, thymol and other compounds that make this plant great for you and your furry friend. Lastly, it accelerates recovery from colds and fevers, and its leaves can be used for brewing a tea.
Sage is an herb native to the Mediterranean. Plants of the aalvia family have a long history of being used medicinally, such as lavender and basil. It is used in cooking frequently because it can improve appetite and prevent flatulence. Sage also has a hormone regulatory effect on women. A tea of the leaves can relieve dysmenorrhea and symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome and menopause. Inhaling an infusion of sage gives relief to respiratory problems, including asthma. It reduces excessive sweating and salivation too. Sage is neuroprotective, which makes it perfect for treating Alzheimer’s, dementia, and depression.
While modern medicine has accomplished amazing things, there are also many natural ways to heal our bodies. Using these plants will help lessen your medical symptoms or cure them all together. Make sure to read up more on each plant before using to keep yourself safe.