Medicinal plants have been identified and used throughout
human history. Plants have the ability to synthesize a wide
variety of chemical compounds that are used to perform
important biological functions, and to defend against attack
from predators such as insects, fungi and herbivorous
At least 12,000 such compounds have been isolated so far; a
number estimated to be less than 10% of the total.Chemical
compounds in plants mediate their effect:on the human body
through processes identical to those already well understood
for the chemical compounds in conventional drugs; thus
herbal medicines do not differ greatly from conventional drugs
in terms of how they work.
This enables herbal medicines to be as effective as
conventional medicines, but also gives them the same
potential to cause harmful side effects.
The use of plants as medicines predates written human
history. Ethnobotany (the study of traditional human uses
of plants) is recognized as an effective way to discover
In 2001, researchers identified 122 compounds used in
modern medicine which were derived from
"ethnomedical" plant sources; 80% of these have had an
ethnomedical use identical or related to the current use
of the active elements of the plant.
Many of the pharmaceuticals currently available to
physicians have a long history of use as herbal
remedies, including aspirin, digitalis, quinine, and opium.
The use of plants as medicine predates written human history.
Many of the herbs and spices used by humans to season food
also yield useful medicinal compounds.
The use of herbs and spices in cuisine developed in part as a
response to the threat of food-borne pathogens. Studies show
that in tropical climates where pathogens are the most
abundant, recipes are the most highly spiced.
Further, the spices with the most potent antimicrobial activity
tend to be selected. In all cultures vegetables are spiced less
than meat, presumably because they are more resistant to
Angiosperms (flowering plants) were the original source of most
plant medicines. Many of the common weeds that populate
human settlements, such as nettle, dandelion and chickweed,
have medicinal properties.
1. Ginger is one spice that I recommend keeping on hand in
your kitchen at all times. Not only is it a wonderful addition to
your cooking (especially paired with garlic) but it also has
enough medicinal properties to fill several books.
2. Ginger is best known for its antinausea effects but also has
broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-
parasitic properties, to name just several of its more than 40
scientifically confirmed pharmacological actions. It is anti-
inflammatory, making it valuable for pain relief for joint pain,
menstrual pain, headaches, and more.
3. Taking one gram of ginger daily may help reduce nausea
and vomiting in pregnant women, or those with migraines
and ginger has been shown to work better than a placebo in
relieving morning sickness.
The medicinal uses of
aloe vera are amazing, as
the benefits of aloe vera
remedies are truly
significant. Aloe vera is
well-loved by many, and a
famed household plant.
This plant is incredibly
diverse in its uses. I invite
you to come find out why
you should consider having
this wonderful, succulent
plant in your home too.
i. Aloe vera is good for irritated or inflamed skin.
ii. Aloe vera helps repair your skin from the most tender of
iii. Aloe vera helps speed the process of healing to burns
and other wounds.
iv. Aloe vera is hydrating, rejuvenating and toning for your
v. Aloe vera moisturizes and softens your skin.
Most people are familiar with the traditional uses
for lemons to soothe sore throats and add some
citrus flavor to our foods. However the diversity
of applications for lemons far exceeds general
knowledge and once you read the following list,
you’ll likely want to stock at least a few lemons in
your kitchen 24-7.
Among the health
benefits of lemon
highlights its value as
blood circulation, capillary
applied to the skin and
mucous membranes is
Tulsi also known as basil leaves, is a fairly common plant in
Indian households. Considered holy by many religions,
the tulsi plant is revered for its divine properties.
Besides praying to the plant, a number of people advice
including the leaves and roots of the plant in various
i. Ancient Egyptians thought tulsi was a treatment for
snakebites or stings from scorpions, but if you
encounter either of these, seek treatment from a doctor
instead. Many people also use fresh tulsi leaves to rub
on mosquito bites to relieve discomfort. A tea made
with tulsi combined with peppercorns is given as a
treatment to reduce fever. The leaves of holy basil are
used all over the world in cooking as a seasoning.
ii. Immune Support
iii. Stress Relief
iv. Digestion Aid
Peppermint was first described in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus from
specimens that had been collected in England; he treated it
as a species, but it is now universally agreed to be a hybrid. It
is a herbaceous rhizomatous perennial plant growing to 30–
90 cm (12–35 in) tall, with smooth stems, square in cross
The rhizomes are wide-spreading, fleshy, and bare fibrous roots.
The leaves are from 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long and 1.5–4 cm
(0.59–1.57 in) broad, dark green with reddish veins, and with
an acute apex and coarsely toothed margins.
The leaves and stems are usually slightly fuzzy. The flowers are
purple, 6–8 mm (0.24–0.31 in) long, with a four-lobed corolla
about 5 mm (0.20 in) diameter; they are produced in whorls
(verticillasters) around the stem, forming thick, blunt spikes.
Flowering is from mid to late summer.
i. In addition to use as a seasoning and flavoring, peppermint
is used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other GI
conditions. Menthol is available in numerous commercial
preparations used to treat respiratory tract infections and
topically for its cooling and warming action to relieve pain.
However, there is limited clinical information supporting its
use for these conditions.
ii. Peppermint oil has been used as a carminative at doses of
0.1 to 0.24 mL. Up to 1,200 mg of the oil in enteric-coated
tablets has been used to treat IBS. Peppermint oil (40 mL)
has been added to barium suspensions and also
administered intraluminally (8 mL) during colonoscopy.
Papaya is a small, bushy tree with a
hollow trunk, large palmate leaves,
and oblong smooth-skinned fruits
(melons). The melons are usually
picked in a green state and allowed to
ripen. When ripe, the flesh is sweet
and juicy and similar in taste to other
i. Papaya is used for preventing and treating
gastrointestinal tract disorders, intestinal parasite
infections, and as a sedative and diuretic. It is also
used for nerve pains (neuralgia) and elephantoid
growths. Elephantoid growths are large swollen areas
of the body that are symptoms of a rare disorder of the
lymphatic system caused by parasitic worms.
ii. Papaya contains a chemical called papain, which is
commonly used as a meat tenderizer.
i. Papaya contains a chemical called papain. Papain
breaks down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. That’s
why it works as a meat tenderizer. However, papain is
changed by digestive juices, so there is some question
about whether it could be effective as a medicine when
taken by mouth.
ii. Papaya also contains a chemical called carpain.
Carpain seems to be able to kill certain parasites, and it
might affect the central nervous system.