Medicinal plants are often underestimated. Sometimes they are used for coughs and wheezes but often looked down upon. This is a pity because many plants have great medical potential. In this article I will discuss medicinal plants that benefit your health, 11 powerful ones to try.
Medicinal plants heal on many levels because they do not consist of a single artificial active substance but a potpourri of natural active ingredients, which can vary from plant to plant. They contain vitamins, minerals, trace elements and antioxidants. However, they can also have side effects, but not the bad kind, as many would expect.
11 Powerful Medicinal Plants
Its active ingredients are essential oils, flavonoids and tannins. Its main effect is the relief of gastrointestinal complaints, but not exclusively going against too much stomach acid or fighting flatulence. Peppermint also has a holistic effect: it relieves painful cramps (spasmolytic). It relieves distension, promotes the formation of the bile, stomach and digestive juices and accelerates gastric emptying.
These are only some of the effects of peppermint. It also works as an antibacterial, clears the airways, eliminates bad mouth odor, acts against oral mucosa infections and even headaches. There would only be undesirable side effects if the active ingredients of peppermint (e.g. the essential oil) were isolated and taken in large doses.
2. Milk Thistle
The Milk thistle is a prickly, violet-flowering plant, which can be found in wild warm regions. For centuries the seeds of this plant, which contain the active ingredient Silymarin, were used to strengthen the liver. Since the silymarin has a high protective effect, it prevents damage caused by an overloading of the liver (e.g. by poisoning or inflammation).
The Milk thistle has also proved its worth in the frequent occurrence of fatty liver. The protective effect of the Milk thistle was clearly demonstrated in studies. It has been shown that the harmful potential of liver-damaging substances can be weakened or even eliminated in the presence of the Milk thistle compounds. The plant protects the liver not only from toxins but also accelerates the regeneration of the liver cells.
The artemisia vulgaris, a relative of the wormwood, is inconspicuous, but all the more powerful medicinal plant. This plant is native to Central Europe, being available almost everywhere free of charge. Be it a digestive weakness, flatulence, loss of appetite or gallbladder, the mugwort helps as well as with menstruation complaints and convulsions of almost all kinds.
A variation of this plant is the one-year-old mugwort (Artemisia annua). It originates from the Far East and has been used for many centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is considered a means against cancer as well as against malaria (for which there are very recent studies).
4. Psyllium (flea seeds)
These seeds contain soluble fiber which can absorb considerable amounts of water. Only one teaspoonful of flea seed leaves a cup full of water within a minute as thick as pudding. The tremendous swelling of psyllium makes it a probable remedy for intestinal inertia: the intestinal contents are increased by flea seed, a strain is induced, and this finally leads to the discharge of the intestine content. At the same time, existing feces are swept away from the intestinal walls, which is why flea seeds are components of any high-quality colon cleansing.
If you wish to intensify the effect of flea seeds drinking, use its husks. The finer these are pulverized, the stronger their swelling capacity and thus their cleansing effect. If you take your seeds for a meal, drinking 2.5 liters of still water per day is enormously important, otherwise, it can easily lead to constipation.
Flea seeds are also often used in stomach ulcers and hemorrhoids due to their high content of healing mucus. This mucus protects the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines and promotes their regeneration. In case of complete intestinal obstruction, do not take flea seeds as it might only make things worse.
5. Burdock Root
Everybody knows this plant, at least from childhood. Burs catch on to clothing or animal fur. If it catches onto long hair, removal can be lengthy and very discomforting. It is precisely this property that makes the burdock so valuable to our blood. It is not just their fruits that have adhesive or binding abilities.
The root of the burdock may also bind, according to folk healing, but not to clothing, to heavy metals and poisons. In this way, the toxins are rapidly washed out of your body. This burdock root also has a diuretic effect so that the bound toxins get excreted through the intestines, but also through the kidneys.
The burdock has antibacterial and antimycotic (anti-fungal) properties, which is why it is also very popular with skin problems such as acne or as an oily extract in the scaly scalp. The main ingredients of the burdock root are inulin, mucilage, essential oil, tannins, bittering agents, sitosterol as well as the mentioned antibiotic and fungicidal substances.
6. Bearberry Leaves
The bearberry shrub is a medicinal plant, its main effects being detoxification and kidney tissue repair, but most importantly, treatment for the bladder and the urinary tract. In addition, the leaves are also used for coughs and chronic diarrhea. The main ingredient is arbutin. Besides, there are tannins, flavonoids and some essential oil in the bear-leaf leaves.
Proper preparation is important for the tea made out of these leaves to work its magic. The active ingredients are drawn out by a cold batch, while the tannins which are not desired because of the stomach load and the unappetizing appearance are carefully extracted from the plant composition.
A cold batch means cold water is poured on the leaves and allowed to sit at room temperature for several hours (e.g. overnight). Then the liquid is filtered, heated and drunk. However, you should drink the tea only for a limited time, for as long as it takes until the symptoms decrease.
7. The Spike Root
Found in Guatemala, Honduras, and San Salvador, its name and appearance indicate its effects: although spiky, it actually works against pain, and was used centuries ago in both India and China
The sting wind contains 1 – 3% steroid saponins, phytosterols, and starch. It has anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties. It also has an antioxidant effect. The plant was originally used as remedy for syphilis. Today it is mainly a component of blood purification steams and thus supports the liver as the main detoxification organ. The resulting steam can also be used in the discharge of environmental toxins and helps from the naturopathic treatment of borreliosis, as well as asthmatic complaints and allergies.
The root is also supposed to stimulate the formation of white blood corpuscles, especially those of the T lymphocytes and the macrophages which improve the body’s defenses. The blood-purifying effect of the stinging root is therefore helpful to alleviate skin problems of all kinds such as eczema, milk scab, psoriasis, acne, boils and warts. Additionally, it can stimulate the production of testosterone, which helps increase male potency and build muscle mass.
8. The Dandelion
Widespread and usually available in all food markets, it’s a slightly bitter-tasting herb containing carotenoids, flavonoids, tannins, vitamins, minerals, mucus and inulin within the root. It can relieve fasting symptoms such as headache and or the aftermath of an excessive alcohol consumption. It is also used in hypertension, cough, constipation and problems with the gallbladder. This plant also stimulates blood circulation, supporting the removal of metabolic slags, which have accumulated in the connective tissues and contribute to diseases such as rheumatism and gout.
Those who suffer from certain conditions but consume dandelion on the regular, usually feel a noticeable pain reduction. Incorporating it into your diet can also counteract the formation or the enlargement of already existing bile-stones through stimulation of gland secretion. Complaints in the gastrointestinal area such as bloating and digestion problems can be alleviated with dandelion.
In addition, the plant has a diuretic effect, so that it can also be helpful in problems with the urinary tract. In general, the dandelion has a strong effect on weakened people, since it also boosts appetite and drives to get healthy. A dandelion cure is particularly suitable for spring. Consume it fresh, in tea, as a dandelion root extract, as part of a fruit juice or as a leaf powder used for cooking for up to 4 to 6 weeks.
9. The Nettle
Because it spreads everywhere along paths and in meadows, it’s generally regarded as a weed. However, our ancestors used this wonderful cure for issues regarding skin, muscles, and joints, and even for soothing uric acid deposits, because it helps with excretion. Herbalists of the sixteenth century describe the plant mainly as a means to combat water pollution. And the ancient Greeks, such as Hippocrates, emphasized the diuretic effects of this plant. Paracelsus and Saint Hildegard of Bingen also mention the nettle as a remedy. Due to its intense effects, the nettle is used in homeopathy for skin rashes, light burns, and sands. In tincture form, it is used by homeopaths in rheumatism and gout.
The active ingredients in stinging nettles are numerous but we shall summarize them accordingly: minerals and trace elements (mainly iron, but also silica), vitamins (C, B2, K1 – phylloquinone regulation of blood clotting, carotenoids), flavonoids (plant dyes up to 0.6%), organic acids (coffeylic acid, pantothenic acid – helpful in the metabolic activation, together with vitamin C, B2, K1), steroids such as P-sitosterol which is effective against micturition problems in prostate hyperplasia and can lower cholesterol levels, serotonin, choline, acetylcholine (as a messenger for the transmission of nerve impulses), triterpenes which are antimicrobial, bitter substances that stimulate bile secretion, etc.
Due to the numerous active ingredients, the nettle also has a very broad spectrum of action. It is used both internally and externally. The main applications of the nettle could be for:
– Discharge of slags and toxins by stimulating the metabolism – e.g. in the form of a cure for blood and kidney cleansing, consumed in tea or in fresh plant juice. Nettle leaf powder can also be stirred in juices or water.
– Circulation disorders.
– Nettle is a very good herbal iron source, containing a lot of chlorophyll, which is recommended for pregnant women.
– Promotion of milk secretion during breastfeeding.
– Rheumatism of the muscles and joints as well as Gout.
– Skin discomfort, Eczema (wet spots behind the ears of children, itching or allergic skin reactions)
– The tendency to ulceration (stomach, intestine, mouth, lips).
Liver and gallbladder issues.
– Digestive disorders: constipation, diarrhea, bloating and loosely related – hemorrhoids.
– Preventing renal and urinary stones.
– Helping with diabetes mellitus by lowering blood glucose levels.
– Dissolving mucus of the respiratory organs.
– Mildly stimulating kidney activity.
– Alleviating prostate and urinary tract problems
The stinging nettle is also famous for being a natural tonic for hair problems of all kinds. It stimulates hair growth if used in the form of hair tinctures and by the consumption of nettle seeds. For a greasy scalp and dandruff, simply make nettle tea and rinse your hair with it.
10. Birch Leaves
Praised in medicine, they mainly affect the kidneys (promote the blood circulation and renal performance) and the urinary tract. Birch leaves can be consumed in a tea or as a fresh plant juice and even taken in the form of tablets or jellybeans. Additionally, you’ll find these leaves in many cosmetic products, some targeted against dandruff formation.
For common uses, I will list a few main ones. First off, they purge the urinary tract of bacterial and inflammatory diseases, which are associated with the urge to urinate frequently accompanied by pains and stinging. They aid in kidney difficulties as well as in the treatment of rheumatic ailments. They can help purify the blood as well.
11. The Artichoke Leaves
The artichoke, originally from the Orient, is an up to two meters high, thistle-like shrub. Its buds are consumed as vegetables and sold everywhere. The leaves turned into extract, are particularly beneficial, as they are rich in bittering substances (main active substance is cynarine), flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, etc.
These leaves have a great effect on bile and liver health. They promote the flow of bile and protect the liver, helping with its regeneration. The pancreas is stimulated by the bitter substances of the artichoke leaves to dispense digestive juices. The leaves have an overall blood-fat and cholesterol lowering, anti-inflammatory, antiperspirant and antioxidant ability. Consume them both in a fresh plant juice and in capsule form.
It is important to note that for the sake of safety, pregnant women, or mothers breastfeeding and very sensitive people should consult their physician or therapist before using medicinal plants.
I hope that I have convinced you of the great benefits of phytotherapy (medicinal plant therapy) and you will now have an easier time deciding which plants to incorporate into your diet, as well as learning the properties and uses of each of them. Please take this information into consideration and start your healthy living journey as soon as you can!
Have you tried using medicinal plants? Let me know in the comments below.