Since ancient times, when medical knowledge about how our body works was very limited compared to today, different people used different remedies to relieve discomfort, pain or symptoms of certain diseases.
A large part of them were based on the use of the properties of medicinal plants, Whose knowledge has in many cases alleviated a great number of sufferings.
The various plants considered to be medicinal have continued to be used ever since, even today. However, it is important to keep in mind what effects they have on the body and how to use them, as well as the fact that their healing potential is limited. Throughout this article we will show you some of the herbal remedies that exist and some of their properties.
What is a medicinal plant?
We give the name of medicinal plant to any vegetable that has positive properties that they can be used directly or macerated or as an infusion in order to contribute to the restoration or improvement of the state of health of a subject suffering from any disease.
The use of these substances has been known since ancient times, naming in the papyrus of Ebers (Egypt, circa 1550 BC) more than half a thousand medicinal plants. And with time and the observation of new species and varieties, we can find many more.
The knowledge of why they were used and how to use them has been passed down from generation to generation and has gradually modernized to this day. In fact, although the use of herbal remedies seems a bit of the past, the truth is that according to the WHO, the percentage of the population that uses some type of herbal medicine is quite high. In many cases, we don’t even notice it, like when we take chamomile when our stomach hurts or we take a lime to relax.
If in general the use of these plants can be beneficial, the truth is that it should be borne in mind that they have their limits: often the concentration of active ingredients is very low and their effects are more limited than other alternatives. Likewise, Caution should be exercised with possible interactions when consumed with medications (For example, you should see your doctor if you are using St. John’s Wort and antidepressants).
The use of medicinal plants is not particularly regulated, so abuse can occur and possible drug interactions and other contraindications cannot be taken into account. And finally, and this is something we discussed above, the use of medicinal plants does not have a purely curative purpose: it should not replace consultation with the doctor or taking medication.
50 medicinal plants (and their benefits)
As we said, there is a very wide variety of herbal remedies that have interesting properties and can help us alleviate or prevent different problems.
Below and by way of example, we present twenty of the most famous. It should be noted that many of them may have contraindicationsIt is advisable to consult a professional before taking them.
Chamomile is one of the most famous medicinal plants for the properties of its flower. Its effects are particularly relevant in the treatment of gastrointestinal discomfort.
In addition to that, it has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and relaxing effects. It is used in gastrointestinal and muscle pain, cramps and headaches, eczema, inflammation of the gums, sores and sinusitis. It also lowers cholesterol and is believed to have anti-cancer properties.
2. Aloe Vera
Another of the most famous medicinal plants is Aloe Vera. It is a well-known herb with anti-inflammatory ability and is used in various personal care products due to its beneficial action for skin regeneration. It helps to improve spots, burns and wounds.
Also in certain foods: ingested, improves bowel function and strengthens the immune system.
One of the plants we use the most in cooking is also one of the most famous medicinal plants. Garlic is a powerful stimulant of the immune system and has effects that promote efficient blood circulation (it is anticoagulant), in addition to being antibacterial and antibiotic and having antioxidant properties.
Common problems such as hypertension or the presence of infections are some of the circumstances in which its ingested use may be of benefit. Being an antioxidant also lowers the rate of cellular aging.
Eucalyptus is one of the most famous medicinal plants, especially for its action against respiratory diseases. Asthma, bronchitis or the flu are some of the typical problems in which it is used. It also has antimicrobial abilities and facilitates the secretion of fluids such as mucus (being a powerful expectorant).
Finally also has effects on lowering blood sugar, Which may be useful for the diabetic population. It is used in food, medicine or even in personal hygiene products.
This plant, especially its stem, is particularly well known to people with cystitis or other urinary tract infections. It also has positive effects on the skin and nails, being a good cell regenerator and also strengthening the bone. Rich in silicon and highly diuretic and purifying, it helps eliminate toxins. It has astringent properties that help control bleeding.
Also called St. John’s Wort. This medicinal plant has different properties, but highlights the fact that it has antidepressant properties (in this sense, caution is advised if it is combined with antidepressants, and its consumption is not recommended for more than six months), blocking the collection of monoamines.
It has also been shown to be helpful in anxiety and insomnia problems and in improving menstrual flow disorders. Its analgesic and heartburn-regulating capacity is also known, as well as its role in helps relieve diarrhea and vomiting. St John’s Wort extracts have also been found in animals to help improve insulin resistance.
This species is very useful, having multiple properties that make it an increasingly important medicinal plant. In addition to its antibacterial, antiviral and antiparasitic properties, it has been observed to have anti-inflammatory and antiemetic effects (decreases nausea and vomiting).
Digestive issues, fatigue, headaches, and menstrual cramps are some of the problems for which it has been shown to be effective.
Learn more about ginger in this article.
Thyme has antioxidant and antiseptic properties. Rich in flavonoids, vitamin C, iron and magnesium. It stimulates the appetite and is also used as an expectorant. Its antiseptic action meant that in ancient times it was used to treat wounds. It is also good for toning the skin and hair.
Lavender has relaxing properties, being useful for stressful situations and insomnia. In addition to this, it has healing, analgesic and favorable properties for circulation and the proper functioning of the respiratory system. It also has properties that improve digestion and secretion of gastric juices.
Another well-known medicinal plant with relaxing properties is lime. Whether in the form of a flower or an infusion, it is widely used used to decrease the level of stress and anxiety and to relax the body. It also aids sleep and is a diuretic, as well as antispasmodic properties. It also increases the excretion of toxins through sweat (which also potentiates).
Dandelion is a very nutritious plant (it is suggested that it may even contain more iron than products like spinach) and has multiple medicinal properties. Particularly indicated for liver and kidney problems (eg stones or sand), it improves diuresis and detoxification of the body, in addition to having stimulating properties.
However, is contraindicated for pregnant women and people with bipolar disorder treated with lithium salts, in addition to which it may interact with other drugs.
12. Ginkgo biloba
The leaves of this plant appear to have positive properties in terms of stimulating cognitive performance. It is said to improve memory and concentration, although the consensus is not as broad as it is believed. too much it is antioxidant and improves blood circulation.
It also has contraindications, especially when taking anticoagulants or other products that already facilitate blood circulation.
The plant with which the famous Argentine drink is made is also very positive for health. It is a powerful antioxidant which also improves the immune system. It also has stimulant effects, such as tea or coffee., And helps lower cholesterol. It promotes physical and mental activity, and more you are a diuretic.
Oregano is an ancient knowledge of our kitchens, traditionally highly valued and also has great medicinal properties. Specially known for its antioxidant action, it also has antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.
Cramps, headaches, stomach aches and molars, and breathing problems can benefit from its ingested or tea consumption.
It is a plant with soothing properties. It lowers blood pressure and lowers heart rate. In addition to cardiovascular problems, it is useful in the treatment of sleep problems. It has mild bronchodilator and antispasmodic properties.
It is pain relieving and also helps soothe gastrointestinal issues. In other uses can be used to treat burns and inflammation.
16. Willow bark
Not only do the spices, flowers and roots have medicinal properties, but things like willow bark can also be used to relieve certain ailments. The extract of this bark is useful as an anti-inflammatory. It has also been found to be useful for weight loss, treating headaches (in fact, its active ingredient is salicylic acid, like aspirin), arthritis, and bone pain.
As with aspirin, however, this herb may have contraindications (it is not recommended for children, adolescents or nursing mothers, nor for those who take blood thinners). It is also used to treat skin problems, calluses and warts.
Agave also has medicinal properties. Specifically, its use in the healing of wounds and wounds stands outAnd it can be used as a disinfectant (although misused, it could become poisonous). Its sap, in addition to being a possible antiseptic, is useful for stimulating the intestinal flora and lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.
Some research shows that it promotes bone calcification and regulates insulin production (so diabetics and people with bone problems can benefit from this herb). In its day it was used to try to treat syphilis, jaundice or tuberculosis. However, this plant also has contraindications and can cause dermatitis.
Blueberries also have medicinal properties. Its fruit is not only edible but also a powerful antioxidant, which is also a diuretic and beneficial in preventing urinary and kidney problems. Antibacterial, helps treat infections. It is also astringent.
It has positive effects on eyesight and promotes repair of retinal cells. Likewise, it is good for circulation and for treating ulcers and eczema. And not only their fruits but also their leaves can be used: they have been observed to have hypoglycemic action, lowering blood sugar (something useful for diabetics).
Some varieties of this herb have been used to treat many problems, from lowering a fever, to a laxative, to something that helps fight jaundice. It has diuretic and relaxing effects, In addition to lowering blood pressure and helping to treat digestive problems.
This beautiful flower has been used as a remedy to treat various problems. With antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to diuretics and laxatives, it has been used to treat flu episodes and decrease coughs and mucosal problems. It also appears to lower cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels.
This perennial shrub is native to some central parts of South America, in the tropics. What makes it special is that its roots are very high in starches and help increase metabolic rate and lose weight, although it is very important to combine it with foods rich in macronutrients because this ingredient does not provide them.
It should be noted that constant consumption of large amounts of cassava with vitamin and mineral deficiency can cause illness, so it is best to ration it wisely.
This herb is used as an ingredient for herbal teas which can be used to provide energy and keep people active. In addition, it lowers blood pressure and strengthens the immune system, increasing the production of lymphocytes.
23. Mint condition Poleo
Mint polyol has long been used for its ability to increase appetite and improve nutrient assimilation by the body, which improves the digestion process.
Chamomile is very helpful in stopping heartburn, among others. However, you must be careful with its consumption, because is contraindicated for pregnant women given the risk of facilitating an abortion.
Nettle is a plant that has a bad reputation because its leaves produce hives, but beyond this annoying characteristic one can find medicinal properties. Specifically, nettle has the ability to act as a vasoconstrictor, which it is useful in cases where bleeding needs to be stopped.
On the other hand, since it contains a lot of iron, it can also be used to combat anemia.
This plant is rich in digoxin and digitoxin, which have a diuretic effect and promote blood circulation.
Its antiseptic properties based on sandalwood make it the essential oils of this plant a good aid to disinfect wounds. In addition, it is an effective diuretic.
Poppy is an herb that grows naturally in a wide variety of environments, and has been used as an ingredient for millennia for its narcotic pain relieving properties. These substances served as the basis for the development of psychoactive agents used in codeine and morphine, for example.
Dill seeds have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times, especially against pain related to menstruation (dysmenorrhea) and spasms.
It is usually consumed as an infusionAlthough sometimes it has also been used to create mixtures applied to wounds and burns and to promote skin regeneration and cleansing of the exposed area.
Celery is a common ingredient in the preparation of well-known dishes in the kitchen, but can also be considered a member of the herbal group. this vegetable it is used as a digestive and laxative, Due to its high fiber content. The diuretic effects of this thick-stemmed vegetable are also well known.
The maiden, also known as the sacred herb or bitter mugwort, is a medicinal plant well known on all continents and used for thousands of years.
Specifically, it serves to whet the appetite (In appetite), and in some cases to eliminate parasitic infestations. Additionally, it is an ingredient used in alcoholic beverages like wormwood.
Kava is a medicinal plant native to Polynesia. Its roots are used in particular for make mixtures with anesthetic and sedative effects, and oral consumption.
Of course, how this plant affects us depends on the type of stem from which the plant to be used comes from, as there are a great variety of groups planted in very different contexts and artificial selection has given way to genetic variants. different.
Ruda is a leafy shrub plant from which it is possible to make essential oils used in traditional medicine. Specifically, this substance is used as an antispasmodic and sedative.
Marigold is another medicinal plant that, beyond home remedies, has also been used in cooking as an ingredient. Its flower is appreciated for its anti-inflammatory and healing propertiesSo this applies to injuries.
Gavarrera is used for relieving pain associated with conditions such as arthritis and certain infections. In addition, it is one of the richest plants in vitamin C, so those who are deficient in this regard can integrate it into their diet in the form of herbal teas, jams or soups.
36. Water Bejuco
Water rattan (Cissus verticillata) is a climbing plant found in regions of Central America, Colombia and Venezuela. It is used as an anticonvulsant and to treat bleeding.
The bark of this tree is used for its antibacterial properties, as well as as a dietary supplement, as well as against throat irritation (Generates a mucous membrane that protects the tissue).
Fennel is a medicinal plant common in Mediterranean ecosystems. It is appreciated for its diuretic properties and for promoting the expulsion and digestion of gases.
The lemon tree (Melissa officinalis), the orange or lemon leaf is a perennial plant used in infusion for promote a state of relaxation. It is a sedative known for many centuries.
40. Castor oil
Castor oil is a well-known laxative and is taken orally despite its unpleasant taste. Of course, its preparation is very dangerous because it uses seeds that contain a powerful poison. If these toxic components cannot be eliminated in the preparation, it should be avoided to use it as a homemade ingredient.
Konjac (Amorphophallus Konjak), also known as devil’s tongue, is a plant native to China and Southeast Asia that due to its high fiber content, it is used as a food. It is very common to use it to make gelatin by substituting animal products.
42. Wild lettuce
Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) is a plant with psychoactive properties that is used as a sedative in certain contexts. However, its use at home is not recommended and is prohibited in several countries.
43. Fern gu-sui-bu
This variety of fern, the scientific name is Drynaria roosii, has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for promote bone regeneration after injury, And there are studies that support this healing property.
44. Rush for mats
This type of rush is used in parts of West Asia as an ingredient to add to food for tired and low-energy people.
Parts of this tropical tree are used to help eliminate pests such as lice or scabies.
This shrub grows in various parts of Africa and is used as a psychostimulant. However, its relatively low power supply has made it legal in many Western countries where cocaine derivatives (from an unrelated plant) are banned. However, overdoing it can lead to long-term cognitive impairment.
47. Kaempferia rotunda
This medicinal plant it is boiled for use on the skin and relieve itching.
48. Grass of Saint-Simon
Circaea lutetiana has been used for centuries to reduce fever and relieve the discomfort of rheumatism.
49. Kadsura longipedunculata
This shrub native to China and parts of Southeast Asia is used for treat certain gastrointestinal problems (Slow digestion) and infections.
Infusions of this climbing plant, also called rattan, are used as an anti-inflammatory.
- Chevallier, A. (1997). Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Madrid: Editorial Accent.
- Mejía Correa, L., Abad, MI and Escobar, V. (2014). The secrets of plants. 3rd edition. Medellín: Secrets to Count Foundation.
- Ministry of Health, Government of Chile (2009). Traditional herbal medicines MHT: 103 plant species. Santiago: Ministry of Health. Social protection network.