Herbal Medicinal Plants

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The term “medicinal plant” include various types of plants used in herbal ism (“herpetology” or “herbal medicine”). It is the use of plants for medicinal purposes, and the study of such uses.

The word “herb” has been derived from the Latin word, “herba” and an old French word “herbe”. Now a days, herb refers to any part of the plant like fruit, seed, stem, bark, flower, leaf, stigma or a root, as well as a non-woody plant. Earlier, the term “herb” was only applied to non-woody plants, including those that come from trees and shrubs. These medicinal plants are also used as food, flavonoid, medicine or perfume and also in certain spiritual activities.

Plants have been used for medicinal purposes long before prehistoric period. Ancient Unani manuscripts Egyptian papyrus and Chinese writings described the use of herbs.  Evidence exist that Unani Hakims, Indian Vaids and European and Mediterranean cultures were using herbs for over 4000 years as medicine. Indigenous cultures such as Rome, Egypt, Iran, Africa and America used herbs in their healing rituals, while other developed traditional medical systems such as Unani, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine in which herbal therapies were used systematically.

Traditional systems of medicine continue to be widely practiced on many accounts. Population rise, inadequate supply of drugs, prohibitive cost of treatments, side effects of several synthetic drugs and development of resistance to currently used drugs for infectious diseases have led to increased emphasis on the use of plant materials as a source of medicines for a wide variety of human ailments.

Among ancient civilizations, India has been known to be rich repository of medicinal plants. The forest in India is the principal repository of large number of medicinal and aromatic plants, which are largely collected as raw materials for manufacture of drugs and perfumery products. About 8,000 herbal remedies have been codified in AYUSH systems in INDIA. Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Folk (tribal) medicines are the major systems of indigenous medicines. Among these systems, Ayurveda and Unani Medicine are most developed and widely practiced in India.

Recently, WHO (World Health Organization) estimated that 80 percent of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some aspect of their primary health care needs. According to WHO, around 21,000 plant species have the potential for being used as medicinal plants.

As per data available over three-quarters of the world population relies mainly on plants and plant extracts for their health care needs. More than 30% of the entire plant species, at one time or other were used for medicinal purposes. It has been estimated, that in developed countries such as United States, plant drugs constitute as much as 25% of the total drugs, while in fast developing countries such as India and China, the contribution is as much as 80%. Thus, the economic importance of medicinal plants is much more to countries such as India than to rest of the world. These countries provide two third of the plants used in modern system of medicine and the health care system of rural population depend on indigenous systems of medicine.

Treatment with medicinal plants is considered very safe as there is no or minimal side effects. These remedies are in sync with nature, which is the biggest advantage. The golden fact is that, use of herbal treatments is independent of any age groups and the sexes.

The ancient scholars only believed that herbs are only solutions to cure a number of health related problems and diseases. They conducted thorough study about the same, experimented to arrive at accurate conclusions about the efficacy of different herbs that have medicinal value. Most of the drugs, thus formulated, are free of side effects or reactions. This is the reason why herbal treatment is growing in popularity across the globe. These herbs that have medicinal quality provide rational means for the treatment of many internal diseases, which are otherwise considered difficult to cure.

Medicinal plants such as Aloe, Tulsi, Neem, Turmeric and Ginger cure several common ailments. These are considered as home remedies in many parts of the country. It is known fact that lots of consumers are using Basil (Tulsi) for making medicines, black tea, in pooja and other activities in their day to day life.

In several parts of the world many herbs are used to honour their kings showing it as a symbol of luck. Now, after finding the role of herbs in medicine, lots of consumers started the plantation of tulsi and other medicinal plants in their home gardens.

Medicinal plants are considered as a rich resources of ingredients which can be used in drug development either pharmacopoeia, non- pharmacopoeia or synthetic drugs. A part from that, these plants play a critical role in the development of human cultures around the whole world. Moreover, some plants are considered as important source of nutrition and as a result of that they are recommended for their therapeutic values. Some of these plants include ginger, green tea, walnuts, aloe, pepper and turmeric etc. Some plants and their derivatives are considered as important source for active ingredients which are used in aspirin and toothpaste etc.

Apart from the medicinal uses, herbs are also used in natural dye, pest control, food, perfume, tea and so on. In many countries different kinds of medicinal plants/ herbs are used to keep ants, flies, mice and flee away from homes and offices. Now a days medicinal herbs are important sources for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Recipes for the treatment of common ailments such as diarrhoea, constipation, hypertension, low sperm count, dysentery and weak penile erection, piles, coated tongue, menstrual disorders, bronchial asthma, leucorrhoea and fevers are given by the traditional medicine practitioners very effectively.

Over the past two decades, there has been a tremendous increase in the use of herbal medicine; however, there is still a significant lack of research data in this field. Therefore since 1999, WHO has published three volumes of the WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants.

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.

Chamomile

Considered by some to be a cure-all, chamomile is commonly used in the U.S. as analyticalally 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

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.

Fever few

Fever few was traditionally used to treat fevers. It is now commonly used to prevent migraines and treat arthritis. Some research has shown that certain fever few preparations can prevent migraines. Side effects include mouth ulcers and digestive irritation. People who suddenly stop taking fever few for migraines may have their headaches return. Fever few should not be used with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines because these medicines may change how well fever few works. It should not be used with warfarin or other anticoagulant medicines.

Garlic

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

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.

Gingko

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, anticoagulant medicines, or tricycle antidepressants.

Ginseng

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, cysticercoids, or digoxin. People with diabetes should not use ginseng.

Golden-seal

Golden-seal 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. Golden-seal 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

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

Saw palmetto is used to treat benign pro static 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

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.

32 Medicinal Plants to keep at your Home Always Featured

Have u ever found your grandma running after a doctor or medical store for every now & then? We have so many wonderful natural remedies all around for any burns, cut, cold, fever, sneezes and more.

It is very important to have medicinal plants around the house cause you never know when you might need them. 

So here is a list of plants that have the highest medicinal value compared to the other million species around the world worth planting around the house. 

1. Tulsi

There are four types of tulsi mentioned in ayurvedic texts ie Rama, Krishna, Vana & Kapoor Tulsi.

For over the centuries Tulsi (the queen of herbs) has been known for its remarkable healing properties.

  • Tulsi is taken as herbal tea.
  • The oil extracted from the Karpoora Tulsi is mostly used in the herbal toiletry. Its oil is also used against insects and bacteria.
  • The Rama Tulsi is an effective remedy for Severe acute Respiratory Syndrome. Juice of its leaves gives relief in cold, fever, bronchitis and cough.
  • Tulsi oil is also used as an ear drop.
  • Tulsi helps in curing malaria.
  • It is very effective against indigestion, headache, hysteria, insomnia, and cholera.
  • The fresh leaves of Tulsi are taken by millions of people every day.
  • Many people wear Tulsi beads, which is said to have certain physical and medicinal properties.

2. Aloe Vera

The aloe Vera grows only under the sun with well-drained dry or moist soil. Although the plant tastes like a turd, it’s still edible. The sap from aloe vera is extremely useful to speed up the healing & reducing the risk of infections for :

Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe Vera is also taken internally in the treatment of :

3. Gotu Kola

The gotu kola acts on various phases of connective tissue development and stimulates healing of :

  • ulcers
  • skin injuries
  • decreasing capillary fragility
  • stimulation of the lipids and protein necessary for healthy skin
  • Leaves are thought to maintain youthfulness.
  • Crushed leaves are poulticed to treat open sores.

The gotu kola can also be used to :

  • treat leprosy
  • revitalize the brain and nervous system
  • increase attention span and concentration
  • treat venous insufficiency

4. Calendula

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.
  • The tea of the petals tones up circulation and, taken regularly, eases varicose veins.
  • Applying the crushed stems of the pot marigold to corns and warts will soon have them easily removable.

5. Basil

You must have used basil lot many times in food but have you ever tried it to heal flatulence? It has the power to treat:

  • Cuts
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach gas
  • scrapes

6. Thyme

It is mostly known for its strong antiseptic nature. It is wonderful when it comes to the treatment of:

  • Congestion
  • Stomach gas
  • Coughs

7. Rosemary

Rosemary is the great revive. This perennial woody herb stimulates energy and optimism and sharpens memory and concentration by bringing more oxygen to your brain, according to UMMC. It’s a wonderfully stimulating alternative to caffeine when you need that second wind!

A row of these long-lived and drought-tolerant plants makes a beautiful, bee-friendly, evergreen hedge. You may only need one plant in your garden, as a little bit goes a long way.

8. Lavender

Long recognized for its sweet perfume, lavender also boasts medical benefits as a nervine and mild antidepressant. UMMC suggests adding it to your bath to alleviate stress, tension, and insomnia. It’s also used in creams to treat sunburns and acne.

Woody lavender plants prefer hot, sunny, and dry environments. The fresh flowers are tasty in small doses when added to salads, honey, butter, lemonade, and even shortbread cookies. If you’re crafty, try sewing up an herbal heating pad or eye pillow with the fragrant dried flowers.

9. German Chamomile

Delicate, apple-scented chamomile demonstrates that mildness does not mean ineffectiveness. Primarily grown for its small, yellow-bellied flowers, NCCAM reports that chamomile is one of the best children’s herbs for treating colic, nervous stress, infections, and stomach disorders.

10. Fenugreek, Methi

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

11. Sage

Salvia, the Latin name for sage, means ‘to heal’. Internally, the sage is used for :

  • indigestion
  • flatulence
  • liver complaints
  • excessive lactation
  • excessive perspiration
  • excessive salivation
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • female sterility
  • menopausal problems

12. Peppermint

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. Peppermint 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

13. Lemon Balm

The reason the plant is called lemon balm is because of the lemon minty scent of the leaves. The flowers, which appear during the summer, are full of nectar. The crushed leaves, when rubbed on the skin, are used as :

  • mosquito repellent
  • herpes
  • sores
  • gout
  • insect bites

Infusion of the leaves with water are known to treat :

14. Globe Artichoke

A bitter tasting plant that requires a lot of sun, the cardoon has become important as a medicinal herb in recent years following the discovery of cynarin. The cardoon leaves, best harvested before flowering, helps to :

  • improve liver and gall bladder function
  • stimulate the secretion of digestive juices
  • lower blood cholesterol levels
  • treat chronic liver and gall bladder diseases
  • jaundice
  • hepatitis
  • arteriosclerosis
  • early stages of late-onset diabetes

15. Ashwangandha

Ashwagandha is best known for stress Reduction, Neural Protection, and a Lot More from an Ancient Herb

The benefits of ashwagandha are many; in addition to promoting fertility, aiding in wound care, and boosting the immune system, some other benefits are:

  • Diuretic, Sleep aid
  • Galactogogue
  • Anti-epileptic
  • Anti-tumor, Pain relief
  • Eye health
  • Heart tonic
  • Lowers cholesterol & Regulates blood sugar
  • Reduces depression and anxiety, Combats stress
  • Fights cognitive decline due to brain cell degeneration

16. Lemon Grass

Lemongrass has been reported to have innumerable therapeutic and other health benefits.

  • alleviate certain respiratory conditions including laryngitis and sore throats
  • anti-pyre-tic property which reduces high fevers.
  • useful for all types of pain including abdominal pain, headaches, joint pains, muscle pains, digestive tract spasms, muscle cramps, stomachache and others
  • lemongrass inhibits bacteria and yeast growth.
  • beneficial for nervous and stress-related conditions.

17. Bryophyllum, Panfuti

Bryophyllum calycinum, Bryophyllum pinnatum, also known as the Air Plant, Life Plant, Miracle Leaf, Goethe Plant and the Katakataka (Filipino)) is a succulent plant native to Madagascar.

  • The leaf or its juice is taken for diabetes.
  • Leaf paste application stops bleeding and heals wounds.
  • The burnt leaf (mashi) made in to paste with coconut oil cures burn.
  • To prevent septic to cuts from sharp instruments, 15 leaves with four pepper corns roasted, powdered and mixed in cow ghee is applied.
  • Leaf paste boiled in oil cures sciatica and rhematic pains.
  • One leaf eaten raw with one pepper corn first thing every morning for 3 to 7 days cures urinary stones.
  • The leaves can be used raw for making chutneys or tamblis.

18. Rui

RUVA, Purple ( Ekke, Rui,arka ) Calotropis gigantea

  • The leaves and flowers of both the varieties are used for pooja of Shiva, Hanuman and Devi.
  • Leaves of both varieties are used for fomentation to paining joints.
  • Fomentation of leaves after application of castor oil relieves stomach pain of infants.

19. Costus

Costus igneous, commonly known as insulin plant in India, belongs to the family Costaceae. Consumption of the leaves are believed to lower blood glucose levels, and diabetics who consumed the leaves of this plant did report a fall in their blood glucose levels.

The fresh leaves of this plant is chewed two times daily for 1 week after 1 week, 1 leaf should be chewed twice a day this dosage should be continued for 1 month. It is said that this treatment is effective in bringing blood sugar levels under control in diabetes patients.

20. Khus

It has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects that provide relief from inflammations in circulatory system and nervous system. Khus khus is used to create a tonic bath, which is the reason why it is often included in high quality soaps.

It is a boon for individuals suffering from rheumatism, arthritis, gout, muscular aches, dryness and cracking of skin etc.

The oil obtained from khus khus has sedative effect and aids in the treatment of emotional outbursts, such as anger, anxiety, epileptic and hysteric attacks, restlessness, nervousness, etc.

21. Vitex Negundo

Commonly known as the five-leaved chaste tree, is a large aromatic shrub with quadrangular, densely whitish, tomentose branchlets.

Key therapeutic benefits:

  •  Because of its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti fungal properties, the plant is useful in treating sores and skin infections.
  •  Five-Leaved Chaste Tree relieves muscle aches and joint pains.
  •  The herb is effective in treating vaginal discharge.

22. Sagargota, Bonduc nut

Sagargota, Bonduc nut, Fever nut, physic nut is used as anti diabetic & anti-malarial drug

Medicinal Uses :

  • Root : In dysentery and diabetes
  • Leaves : Emmenagogue
  • Seed : Abortifacient used as anti-malarial drug and also tonic

23. Stevia

With its steviol glycoside extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar,stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives.

Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.

24. Marsh Mallow

The plant of which marshmallows were once made of. The root is taken internally to treat :

  • inflammations and irritations of the urinary and respiratory mucus membranes
  • counter excess stomach acid
  • peptic ulceration
  • gastritis

25. Great Burdock

It requires moist soil and can grow shameless. The great burdock is the pretty famous in the area of detoxification in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. The root is is used to treat ‘toxic overload’ that result in throat infections and skin diseases like :

  • boils, rashes, burns, bruises
  • herpes, eczema, acne
  • impetigo, ringworm, bites
  • The leaves and seeds can be crushed to poultice it to bruises, burns, ulcers and sores

26. Camomile

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.

27. Chinese Yum

A type of yam that can be eaten raw, the Chinese yam can be easily grown, succeeding in fertile, well drained soil in a sunny position. It is sweet and soothing to the stomach, spleen and has a tonic effect on the lungs and kidneys. It is used internally to treat :

28. Echinacea

One of the world’s most important medicinal herbs, the echinacea has the capacity to raise the body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infections by stimulating the immune system. It also has antibiotic properties that helps relieve allergies. Basically, the roots are beneficial in the treatment of sores, wounds and burns.

It was once used by the Native Americans as an application for insect bites, stings and snakebites. The echinacea grows on any well drained soil, as long as it gets sunlight.

29. Siberian Ginseng

The Siberian ginseng has a wide range of health benefits, mostly as a powerful tonic herb that maintains good health. Its medicinal properties are used for :

30. The Great Yellow Gentian

The great yellow gentian root is a bitter herb used to treat digestive disorders and states of exhaustion from chronic diseases. It stimulates the liver, gal bladder, and digestive system, strengthening the overall human body. Internally, it is taken to treat :

31. Sea Buck thorn

The sea-buck thorn has been used throughout the centuries in China to relieve cough, aid digestion, invigorate blood circulation and alleviate pain. The branches and leaves are used in Mongolia to treat gastrointestinal distress in humans and animals.

The bark and leaves are used for treating diarrhea, gastrointestinal, dermatological disorders and topical compressions for rheumatoid arthritis. Even the flowers are used as skin softeners.

The berries, on the other hand, are used together with other medications for pulmonary, gastrointestinal, cardiac, blood and metabolic disorders. Fresh sea buck thorn berry juice is known to be taken in the event of colds,  fever,  exhaustion,  stomach ulcers,  cancer, metabolic disorders, liver diseases, inflammation, peptic ulcer, gastritis,  eczema, canker sores, general ulcerative disorders, keratitis, trachoma

32. Tea Tree

Even the aborigines have been using the tea tree leaves for medicinal purposes, like chewing on young leaves to relieve headaches. The paperbark itself is extremely useful to them as it serves to line coolamons when used as cradles, as a bandage, like a sleeping mat, as material for building humpies, as an aluminum foil, as a disposable raincoat and for tamping holes in canoes.

The leaves and twigs, eventually made into tea tree oil, is anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and deserves a place in every household medicine box. Tea tree oil can be used to treat: cystitis, glandular fever, chronic fatigue syndrome, thrush, vaginal infections, acne, athlete’s foot, verrucae, warts, insect bites, cold sores, nits, minor burns

Nature’s 9 Most Powerful Medicinal Plants and the Science Behind Them

Today, we live in a time when manufactured medicines and prescriptions prevail, but do they have to be the only approach to healing?

Even with all of these engineered options at our fingertips, many people find themselves turning back to the medicinal plants that started it all: Herbal remedies that have the ability to heal and boost physical and mental well-being.

In fact, at the beginning of the 21st century, 11 percent Trusted Source of the 252 drugs considered “basic and essential” by the World Health Organization were “exclusively of flowering plant origin.” Drugs like codeine, quinine, and morphine all contain plant-derived ingredients.

While these manufactured drugs have certainly become paramount in our lives, it can be comforting to know that the power of nature is on our side, and these herbal choices are available to complement our health practices.

But the extent of the power they hold is also still being explored. These alternatives aren’t cure-all, and they aren’t perfect. Many carry the same risks and side effects as manufactured medicines. Many of them are sold with unfounded promises.

However, many herbs and teas offer harmless subtle ways to improve your health. Pay attention to what the evidence says about each herb’s effectiveness as well as potential interactions or safety issues. Avoid using herbs for infants and children and for those who are pregnant and breastfeeding. Most herbs haven’t been tested for safety for those who are vulnerable, and trying herbs isn’t worth the risk.

With this cautionary tale in mind, choosing the right plant can seem difficult to someone who simply wants to feel better without taking medication. That’s why, with the help of specialist Debra Rose Wilson, we’re looking at the most effective and therapeutic plants — which have strong scientific evidence to support their safe use.

Making decisions about herbs along with more traditional medicinal approaches is something you and your healthcare practitioner can address together. At times, Wilson notes, ingesting the plants can have even less risk than taking concentrated, manufactured supplements, as there’s more risk of contamination of the product with the manufacture processes. It’s a wonderful way to experience their effects and the satisfaction of growing them yourself. Herbs can also be a way to add a needed nutrient.

However, both plants and supplements, which aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration for safety or quality, can have questionable dosage and might have a risk of contamination. Keep this in mind before choosing supplements from the shelf.

If you’d like to add some medicinal plants to your wellness regimen, Wilson sifted through the latest studies and provides her own ratings system for our list.

These plants have the most numerous high-quality studies and are the safer choices among herbal remedies. She’s marked “0” as unsafe with no research, and “5” as completely safe with ample research. Many of these plants are somewhere between 3 and 4, according to Wilson.

We hope this guide will act as a starting point to those who wish to integrate herbal remedies into their lives and arrive armed with knowledge. As always, speak with your doctor before starting any new health treatment.

Gingko

As one of the oldest tree species, gingko is also 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, can be consumed as a tea.

It’s perhaps best-known for its ability to boost brain health. Studies say that gingko can treat patients with mild to moderate dementia Trusted Source, and can slow cognition decline in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent research is looking into a component that can help diabetes, and there continue to be more studies, including an animal study that says it might influence bone healing.

Turmeric

With its brilliant orange hue, it’s impossible to miss a bottle of turmeric sitting on a spice shelf. Originating in India, turmeric is believed to have anticancer properties and can prevent DNA mutations.

As an anti-inflammatory, it can be taken as a supplement and it’s been used topically for people with arthritis who wish to relieve discomfort. It’s used worldwide as a cooking ingredient, which makes it a delicious, antioxidant-rich Trusted Source addition to many dishes.

According to recent research, turmeric is also showing promise as a treatment for a variety of dermatologist diseases and joint arthritis Trusted Source.

Evening primrose oil

The vibrant yellow evening primrose flower produces an oil that’s thought to alleviate the symptoms of PMS and skin conditions like eczema.

Studies that are available on this oil tend to be all over the map, but there are studies that are stronger than others. For example, some studies have found that evening primrose oil has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been known to help with conditions such as atopic dermatitis and diabetic neuropathyTrusted Source. It can also help with other health concerns, such as breast pain.

Recent research points to improving the quality of life for patients with multiple sclerosis Trusted Source, changing hormones and insulin sensitivity in those dealing with poly cystic ovary syndrome, and using it topically to improve mild dermatitis.

According to these studies, evening primrose oil might just be the Swiss Army knife of the medicinal plant world. The caveat is that it can interact with several medications. More research is coming, and the applications are promising.

Flax seed

Flax seed, also available as an oil, is one of the safer choices among plant-based dietary supplements. Harvested for thousands of years, today flax seed is praised for its antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Although more research needs to be done with human subjects, one study says that flax seed can help prevent colon cancer.

Another study-trusted Source cites that flax seed has the ability to reduce blood pressure. When consumed, it can even aid in reducing obesity. Many people add flax seed and flax-seed meal to oatmeal and smoothies, and it’s also available in the form of tablets, oil (which can be put into capsules), and flour.

The best way to add flax seed is through your diet. Sprinkle ground seeds on cereal or salad, cook in hot cereal, stew, homemade breads, or smoothies. Add flax-seed oil to salad dressing.

Tea tree oil

The tea tree, which is native to Australia, produces an oil that’s long been thought to be beneficial for skin conditions, including mild acne, athlete’s foot, small wounds, dandruff, insect bites, and other inflammatory skin conditions.

There needs to be further study into acne and scalp use, but for now, there’s a degree of research into the antimicrobial superpowers of tea tree oil on wounds and topical infections.

One recent study said that tea tree oil slowed the growth of acne-causing microbes. It’s commonly used as a highly concentrated essential oil.

Wilson recommends that tea tree oil, as with all essential oils, should be diluted in a carrier oil. She adds that it often already comes diluted in a variety of skin care products and creams.

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Echinacea

Echinacea is a lot more than those pretty, purple cone flowers you see dotting gardens. These blooms have been used for centuries as medicine in the form of teas, juice, and extracts. Today, they can be taken as powders or supplements.

The best-known use of echinacea is to shorten symptoms of the common cold-trusted Source, but more studies are needed to verify this benefit and to understand how echinacea boosts immunity when a virus is present.

Generally, save a few potential side effects, echinacea is relatively safe. Even though it needs more testing, you can always choose to use it if you’re hoping to see your cold symptoms end more quickly.

Grape seed extract

For years, grape seed extract, which is available via liquid, tablets, or capsules, has been well-established and applauded for its antioxidant activity. It has potent health benefits, including lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and reducing symptoms of poor circulation in the leg veins.

Studies Trusted Source are confirming that regular consumption of g rapeseed extract has anticancer effects and seems to halt cancer cell growth.

Lavender

If you experience anxiety, chances are that someone along the way has recommended that you use lavender essential oil, and for good reason. This aromatic, purple flower has a fairly strong standing among studies, which have mainly focused on its anti-anxiety capacities.

It’s proven to be soothing in a study conducted among dental patients, while another study confirmed that lavender can directly impact mood and cognitive performance. It’s also been commended for its sedative properties to help people get much-needed sleep.

Recently, it’s been discovered that lavender carries anti-inflammatory benefits as well. It’s most effective diluted and applied to the skin or used in aromatherapy, and it has few side effects.

Chamomile

With flowers that resemble small daisies, chamomile is another medicinal plant that’s thought to have anti-anxiety properties. Most people know it because it’s a popular tea flavor (one review Trusted Source says that over 1 million cups per day are consumed around the world), but it can also be ingested through liquids, capsules, or tablets.

The calming powers of chamomile have been frequently studied, including a 2009 study Trusted Source that states chamomile is superior to taking a placebo when treating generalized anxiety disorder. One recent study confirmed it’s safe for long-term use, and another recent study looked beyond its use for anxiety and confirmed that it also shows potential in anticancer treatments.

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