Medicinal plants, also called medicinal herbs, have been discovered and used in traditional medicine practices since prehistoric times. Plants synthesise hundreds of chemical compounds for functions including defence against insects, fungi, diseases, and herbivorous mammals. Numerous phytochemicals with potential or established biological activity have been identified. However, since a single plant contains widely diverse phytochemicals, the effects of using a whole plant as medicine are uncertain. Further, the phytochemical content and pharmacological actions, if any, of many plants having medicinal potential remain unassessed by rigorous scientific research to define efficacy and safety.
The earliest historical records of herbs are found from the Sumerian civilisation, where hundreds of medicinal plants including opium are listed on clay tablets. The Ebers Papyrus from ancient Egypt, c. 1550 BC, describes over 850 plant medicines. The Greek physician Dioscorides, who worked in the Roman army, documented over 1000 recipes for medicines using over 600 medicinal plants in De materia medica, c. 60 AD; this formed the basis of pharmacopoeias for some 1500 years. Drug research makes use of ethnobotany to search for pharmacologically active substances in nature, and has in this way discovered hundreds of useful compounds. These include the common drugs aspirin, digoxin, quinine, and opium. The compounds found in plants are of many kinds, but most are in four major biochemical classes: alkaloids, glycosides, polyphenols, and terpenes.
Medicinal plants are widely used in non-industrialized societies, mainly because they are readily available and cheaper than modern medicines. The annual global export value of the thousands of types of plants with suspected medicinal properties was estimated to be US$2.2 billion in 2012. In 2017, the potential global market for botanical extracts and medicines was estimated at several hundred billion dollars.In many countries, there is little regulation of traditional medicine, but the World Health Organization coordinates a network to encourage safe and rational usage. Medicinal plants face both general threats, such as climate change and habitat destruction, and the specific threat of over-collection to meet market demand
Healing with medicinal plants is as old as mankind itself. The connection between man and his search for drugs in nature dates from the far past, of which there is ample evidence from various sources: written documents, preserved monuments, and even original plant medicines. Awareness of medicinal plants usage is a result of the many years of struggles against illnesses due to which man learned to pursue drugs in barks, seeds, fruit bodies, and other parts of the plants. Contemporary science has acknowledged their active action, and it has included in modern pharmacotherapy a range of drugs of plant origin, known by ancient civilizations and used throughout the millennia. The knowledge of the development of ideas related to the usage of medicinal plants as well as the evolution of awareness has increased the ability of pharmacists and physicians to respond to the challenges that have emerged with the spreading of professional services in facilitation of man’s life.
A Guide to Common Medicinal Herbs
Here’s a look at some of the more common medicinal herbs. Most herbs have not been completely tested to see how well they work or to see if they interact with other herbs, supplements, medicines, or foods. Products added to herbal preparations may also cause interactions. Be aware that “natural” does not mean “safe.” It’s important to tell your healthcare providers about any herb or dietary supplement you are using.
Considered by some to be a cure-all, chamomile is commonly used in the U.S. as ananxiolytic and sedative for anxiety and relaxation. It is used in Europe for wound healing and to reduce inflammation or swelling. Few studies have looked at how well it works for any condition. Chamomile is used as a tea or applied as a compress. It is considered safe by the FDA. It may increase drowsiness caused by medicines or other herbs or supplements. Chamomile may interfere with the way the body uses some medicines, causing too high a level of the medicine in some people. As with any medicinal herb, talk with your healthcare provider before taking it.
Echinacea is commonly used to treat or prevent colds, flu, and infections, and for wound healing. More than 25 published studies looked at how well Echinacea worked to prevent or shorten the course of a cold, but none were conclusive. A 2014 study compared Echinacea with a placebo for treating colds. Results found that Echinacea did not have any effect on a cold. Other studies have also shown that long-term use can affect the body’s immune system. It should not be used with medicines that can cause liver problems. People allergic to plants in the daisy family may be more likely to have an allergic reaction to Echinacea. The daisy family includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies.
Feverfew was traditionally used to treat fevers. It is now commonly used to prevent migraines and treat arthritis. Some research has shown that certain feverfew preparations can prevent migraines. Side effects include mouth ulcers and digestive irritation. People who suddenly stop taking feverfew for migraines may have their headaches return. Feverfew should not be used with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines because these medicines may change how well feverfew works. It should not be used with warfarin or other anticoagulant medicines.
Garlic is used for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. It has antimicrobial effects. Reports from small, short-term, and poorly described studies show that it may cause small reductions in total and LDL cholesterol. But German research results on garlic’s cholesterol-lowering effect have been distorted for a positive effect, the FDA says. Researchers are currently exploring garlic’s possible role in preventing cancer. The FDA considers garlic safe. It should not be used with warfarin, because large amounts of garlic may affect clotting. For the same reason, large amounts should not be taken before dental procedures or surgery.
Ginger is used to ease nausea and motion sickness. Research suggests that ginger can relieve nausea caused by pregnancy or chemotherapy. Other areas under investigation are in surgery and for nausea caused by motion. Reported side effects include bloating, gas, heartburn, and nausea.
Ginkgo leaf extract has been used to treat a variety of conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, fatigue, and tinnitus. It is also used to improve memory and to prevent dementia and other brain disorders. Some studies have supported its slight effectiveness. But exactly how gingko works isn’t understood. Only extract from leaves should be used. Seeds contain ginkgo toxin. This toxin can cause seizures and, in large amounts, death. Because some information suggests that ginkgo can increase the risk of bleeding, it should not be used with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, anticoagulants, anticonvulsant medicines, or tricyclic antidepressants.
Ginseng is used as a tonic and aphrodisiac, even as a cure-all. Research is uncertain how well it works, partly because of the difficulty in defining “vitality” and “quality of life.” There is a large variation in the quality of ginseng sold. Side effects are high blood pressure and tachycardia. It’s considered safe by the FDA, but shouldn’t be used with warfarin, heparin, non steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, estrogens, corticosteroids, or digoxin. People with diabetes should not use ginseng.
Goldenseal is used to treat diarrhea, and eye and skin irritations. It is also used as an antiseptic. It is also an unproven treatment for colds. Goldenseal contains berberine, a plant alkaloid with a long history of medicinal use in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Studies have shown that golden-seal is effective for diarrhea. But it’s not recommended because it can be poisonous in high doses. It can cause skin, mouth, throat, and gastric irritation. It is also not recommended because of the plant’s endangered species status.
Milk thistle is used to treat liver conditions and high cholesterol, and to reduce the growth of cancer cells. Milk thistle is a plant that originated in the Mediterranean region. It has been used for many different illnesses over the last several thousand years, especially liver problems. Although study results are uncertain, some promising information exists.
Saint John’s wort
Saint John’s wort is used as an antidepressant. Recent studies have not confirmed that there is more than a slight effect on depression. More research is needed to determine the best dose. A side effect is sensitivity to light, but this is only noted in people taking large doses of the herb. St. John’s work can cause a dangerous interaction with other commonly used medicines. Always talk with your healthcare provider before using this herb.
Saw palmetto is used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). But recent studies have not found it to work well for this condition. Side effects are digestive upset and headache, both mild.
Valerian is used to treat sleeplessness and to reduce anxiety. Research suggests that valerian may be a helpful sleep aid, but there are no well-designed studies to confirm the results. In the U.S., valerian is used as a flavoring for root beer and other foods. As with any medicinal herb, talk with your healthcare provider before taking it
19 Miraculous Medicinal Plants from Ancient India
Plants that heal
The Indian systems of medicine have been a part of the culture and tradition of India down the centuries. The Sushruta Samhita attributed to Sushruta in the 6th century BC describes 700 medicinal plants. Rather, Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats are among the 18 crucial regions of bio-diversity in the world. However, many of these magical plants are found not on the Himalayas but in your kitchen garden. Take a look… Plusvalue Brass Tibetan Om Bell Fengshui Vastu Meditation Space Healing Spiritual Handicraft Product for Home & Office – Big SizeBUY NOW 2/20 2
Ocimum Sanctum Linn. (Laminaceae) is a plant worshipped for its medicinal values since time immemorial. The juice of the leaves is used in catarrh and bronchitis and applied to the skin in ring-work and other cutaneous diseases. An infusion of the leaves is given to children in gastric disorders. A decoction of the root is given as disphoretic in malarial fever. It drives away mosquitoes. 3/20 3
Curcuma Longa Llinn is a perennial herb, native of Southern Asia and cultivated throughout India. It is considered a boon in cases of diarrhoea and intermittent fevers, in disorders of blood, in affections of liver and jaundice. It is externally applied in pains and bruises and internally administered in disorders of the blood. Haridra can grow at all places ranging from sea level to an altitude of 1,220 meters but is very sensitive to atmospheric temperature. 4/20 4
Apocynaceae is probably one of the important contributions of ancient Indian medicine. The alkaloid present in the roots of this plant has been proved to be an effective remedy against hypertension. Ayurvedic texts also describe its sedative and hypnotic actions. It has been effectively tried in cases of high blood pressure, insanity and schizophrenia. Ganesha Face Wall Hanging with BellBUY NOW 5/20 5
Barbadensis Mill. (Liliaceae) is a native of North Africa and found in semi-wild state in all parts of India, from the dry westward valleys of Himalayas upto Kanyakumari. The leaf juice is used in dyspepsia, burns, colic, hyperadenosis, hepatopathy, splenopathy, skin disease, constipation, vitiated condition of vata and pitta, abdominal tumours, dropsy, carbuncies, sciatica, lumbago and flatulence. 6/20 6
Guggulu or Commiphora wightii is an armed shrub or small tree found in the arid and semi-arid zones of India, particularly Rajasthan. The oleo gum resin from its stem constitutes an important therapeutic agent used in the treatment of various categories of ailments like neurological conditions, leprosy, skin diseases, heart ailments, cerebro vascular diseases and hypertension. 7/20 7
Brahmi or Bacopa monnieri is a herb that spreads on ground, having fleshy stems and leaves. It is found in moist or wet places in all parts of India. Brahmi is useful for treating the diseases of the brain and to improve memory power. Brahmi-formulations are prescribed in rheumatism, mental disorders, constipation and bronchitis. 8/20 8
Amla or Emblica officinallis is a medium sized deciduous tree found throughout India. It yields a globose pale yellow fruit known for its varied medicinal properties. It is regarded as a digestive, carminative, laxative, anti-pyretic and tonic. It is prescribed in colics, jaundice, hemorrhages, flatulence and many other disorders. 9/20 9
This plant grows to around 6 feet tall under proper care and is easily propagated from cuttings, seeds and root division. Since it is a member of the nightshade family, only experienced healers should use this plant. It is used to treat very serious disorders like tuberculosis and leprosy, the pain of rheumatism and lesser disorders like fatigue and swelling. Convalescents often take it to restore their strength and healthy people use it to improve their immune systems, as an antioxidant and even as an aphrodisiac. Spendiff India Himalayan Salt Aroma Burner Oil Diffuser | Natural Crystal Rock Pink Salt Lamp Tealight Candle Holder | Essential Oil Burners Aroma LampBUY NOW 10/20 10
The common name is Arjun .Its botanical name is Terminalia arjuna. Every part of the tree has useful medicinal properties. Arjun holds a reputed position in both Ayurvedic and Yunani Systems of medicine. According to Ayurveda it is alexiteric, styptic, tonic, anthelmintic, and useful in fractures, ulcers, heart diseases, biliousness, urinary discharges, asthma, tumors, leucoderma, anaemia, excessive perspiration etc. 11/20 11
Turmeric, also called haldi, is a very important Indian spice. Though the flowers are yellow, turmeric itself comes from the boiled and dried roots of the plant. They yield a yellow powder used for curing cough and cold, sore muscles, eye ailments and fever. Turmeric is rarely used alone; healers often mix it with milk, butter, dairy curd or aloe before application or ingestion to make a thick yellow paste. Plusvalue Brass Tibetan Om Bell Fengshui Vastu Meditation Space Healing Spiritual Handicraft Product for Home & Office – Big SizeBUY NOW 12/20 12
The Ceylon hydrolea grows annually in humid, moist areas of India. These small brilliantly blue flowers have five petals each. Their color is so bright that they are easily spotted from a distance, though their stems and foliage are not as showy as the flowers themselves. The leaves contain antiseptic properties according to Flowers of India. Healers mash the leaves into a pulp and use them as cleansing poultices on ulcers. Though bright, the flowers have no discernable medicinal properties. 13/20 13
The leaves, twigs, berries and blossoms of the neem tree can be used in making antiseptic toothpastes, mouthwashes and poultices. It has micro bacterial-fighting agents that prevent tooth and gum disease. When neem oil is applied as an astringent to boils, sores and scrapes, it helps in speeding up the healing process. When massaged into the muscles, the antiseptic properties of neem oil can help the body relieve itself of toxins. The neem plant is often used for its antifungal properties. It can be applied to athlete’s foot, jock itch and other fungi that attack the human body. 14/20 14
One of the world’s oldest plants, there are many varieties of ferns, but if you’re lucky enough to spy the soft, delicate lady fern, grab some and roll it up between your palms into a rough mash. The juices released will quickly ease stinging nettle burns and can also ease minor cuts, stings and burns (fresh salt water also works in a pinch for bee stings). Bracken fern are similar to lady fern and will work, as well. The rougher, glossier, stiff sword fern and deer fern won’t be as effective, though. Ganesha Face Wall Hanging with BellBUY NOW 15/20 15
Did you know blackberries have useful healing properties? Of course they’re loaded in antioxidants and vitamins, but the leaves and roots have value, too. The leaves and root can be used as an effective treatment against dysentery and diarrhea as well as serving usefulness as an anti-inflammatory and astringent. Ideal for treating cuts and inflammation in the mouth. 16/20 16
It grows in almost any type of soil condition. It has no problem with nutritionally poor, very acidic or very alkaline soils, just as long as it’s moist. Well known as a remedy for skin problems, the deep-orange flowered pot marigold variety is applied externally to : bites, stings, sprains, wounds, sore eyes, varicose veins. Internally, it is used to treat fevers and chronic infections. Applying the crushed stems of the pot marigold to corns and warts will soon have them easily removable. 17/20 17
With a sweet, crisp, fruity and herbaceous fragrance has long been used medicinally as a remedy for problems regarding the digestive system. It has a soothing and calming effect in the area of aromatherapy, used to end stress and aid in sleep. The entire herb is used to treat common aches like toothache, earache, shoulder pain and neuralgia. 18/20 18
Peppermint is sometimes regarded as ‘the world’s oldest medicine’, with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago. Pepeprmint are naturally high in manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C. Crushed leaves rubbed on the skin help soothe and relax the muscles. Infused peppermint leaves are used to : reduce irritable bower syndrome, against upset stomachs, inhibit bacterial growth, treat fevers, flatulence, spastic colon. 19/20 19
Fenugreek seeds are nourishing and taken to : encourage weight gain (take note, anorexics, inhibit cancer of the liver, lower blood cholesterol levels, treat inflammation and ulcers of the stomach and intestines, drain off sweat ducts, for body building, for late onset diabetes, poor digestion, insufficient lactation, painful menstruation, labor pains, freshen bad breath, restore a dull sense of taste. Spendiff India Himalayan Salt Aroma Burner Oil Diffuser | Natural Crystal Rock Pink Salt Lamp Tealight Candle Holder | Essential Oil Burners Aroma LampBUY NOW 20/20 20
Aloe, a popular houseplant, has a long history as a multipurpose folk remedy. Commonly known as Aloe vera, the plant can be snapped off and placed on cuts and burns for immediate relief. It contains over 20 minerals, all of which are essential to the human body. Aloe Vera has Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. In India, Aloe vera is believed to help in sustaining youth, due to its positive effects on the skin. Hence it is called ghee kunvar or ghee kumaari.