Herbal medicines have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. From ancient Unani manuscripts to Egyptian papyrus, evidence of the use of medicinal herbs and plants dates back as far as 4000 years. Today, herbal medicines are still widely used to treat a range of conditions, from common colds to chronic diseases. In this article, we'll explore the top 10 medicinal plants and herbs, their uses, and how to incorporate them into your daily life. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is one of the oldest homeopathic plants and a key herb in Chinese medicine.
The leaves are used to create capsules, tablets and extracts, and when dried, they can be consumed as tea. Calendula is known for its soothing properties and is often found in herbal balms, body washes and shampoos. Gingko (Gingko biloba) is another ancient tree species with fossils dating back 270 million years ago. It is believed to improve brain health and may slow cognitive decline in dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Studies also suggest that gingko can treat patients with mild to moderate dementia. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is native to India and has been used as a medicinal herb for 4000 years. It is believed to have anti-cancer properties and may prevent mutations. Recent research also suggests that turmeric may be effective in treating a variety of dermatological diseases and joint arthritis. Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) is one of the few vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies suggest that flaxseed may help prevent colon cancer and lower blood pressure. It can also help reduce obesity when consumed. Flaxseed is available in the form of tablets, oil (which can be put in capsules) and flour. The best way to add flax seeds is through diet - sprinkle ground seeds on cereals or salads, cook in hot cereals, stews, homemade breads or milkshakes. English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia “Vera”) has antimicrobial superpowers which make it effective in treating wounds and topical infections.
It is often already diluted in a variety of skin care products and creams. Wilson recommends that tea tree oil, like all essential oils, be diluted in a carrier oil. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is much more than those beautiful purple flowers that dot gardens - these flowers have been used for centuries as medicine in the form of teas, juices and extracts. The most well-known use of echinacea is to shorten the symptoms of the common cold, but further studies are needed to verify this benefit and understand how echinacea increases immunity when there is a virus. Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is derived from the leaves of a tree native to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Studies suggest that tea tree oil has the ability to treat acne and scalp conditions.
More research is needed on these applications. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) belongs to the mint family and has many medicinal uses - it can help with stomach upset and motion sickness, as well as being refreshing when made into tea or tincture. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has many uses - it can help with digestive issues such as nausea or indigestion, as well as being an effective decongestant when made into tea or tincture. Some people need to be careful when planting peppermint because it can invade and spread throughout the garden. Elecampane (Inula helenium) is an excellent herb for bronchial problems - if you are prone to constant bronchial infections, this would be a fantastic medicinal herb to grow in your garden. Did you know that you can easily grow 10 medicinal plants at home? From calendula to echinacea, these herbs have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. Whether you choose to consume them as teas or tinctures or use them topically in balms or washes, incorporating these medicinal plants into your daily life could bring about many health benefits.