From aloe to willow, there are hundreds of herbs, flowers, berries and plants that heal. Healing plants are nothing new, but some of them might surprise you. Their healing properties include anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, insect repellent, antiseptic, expectorant, antibacterial, detoxification, fever reduction, antihistamine and pain relief. Here we highlight 10 healing plants you should keep in your natural medicine cabinet.
Healing Plant FAQ
1. What Are Healing (Medicinal) Plants?
Long before modern-day medicine and synthetic drugs, plants were used to treat a number of conditions. These plants can be fairly common and have properties that can help with common ailments. The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of the world’s population still uses plants as their primary health care tools. Not only that, but 70 percent of new medicines introduced by the pharmacy industry use plants.
2. What Do Healing Plants Do?
Nedicinal plants such as aloe, sage, dandelion and ginger cure common ailments. Some plants are an important source for active ingredients used in aspirin and toothpaste. Mostly, people’s interest in healing plants has grown because the plants are much more effective at relieving discomforts such as diarrhea, constipation, hypertension, low sperm count, dysentery, menstrual disorders, bronchial asthma, and fevers.
3. Why are Healing Plants Important?
Healing plants are crucial to areas outside the United States, but the U.S. is taking more interest in natural medicine. An estimated 80 percent of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for their primary health care needs. According to the Worldwide Health Organization, 21,000 plant species are identified as having the potential to be medicinal plants. While in the United States plant drugs make up about 25 percent of the total drugs, in India and China, plants contribute up to 80 percent. Medicinal plants are considered safe and have no or minimal side effects.
4. Where Can You Buy Healing Plants?
You can buy healing plants at garden stores, the grocery store, online and at home improvement stores. But you can also find them out in nature. Perhaps your friends have herb gardens and would give you one of their plants.
How We Reviewed
As we mentioned, there are thousands of plants with healing properties. We base our list on the ease of finding the item, the commonness of the ailment each helps with, and potential side effects.
What We Reviewed
- Tea Tree
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- Great for room decor or dorm decor. The Aloe Vera plant is known for its cool gel inside of its thick, toothed leaves
- These sun-lovers grow best in a sunny window. Drought tolerant, only needs water once every two to three weeks
Aloe vera is a thick, short-stemmed plant that stores water in its leaves. Its thick, pointed and fleshy green leaves, can grow to 12-19 inches long. The leaves are filled with a slimy, watery, gel-like tissue that contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants called polyphenols, which can stop the growth of infectious bacteria.
Anyone who spends a lot of time cooking probably has an aloe vera plant in their kitchen. Sure it looks nice, but the aloe vera gel is a topical medication for first and second-degree burns. It also helps to promote the healing of sunburns. But that’s not all. Used as a mouth rinse, aloe vera was is just as effective as chlorhexidine, a common ingredient found in mouthwash, in reducing plaque on teeth.
This healing plant also heals canker sores, reduces constipation, can improve the appearance of skin and reduce wrinkles. Is there anything this plant can’t do? The plant retails is inexpensive and is fairly easy to manage. Just water it occasionally and set it near a window.
- Heals burns, topically
- Common houseplant
- The slimy feel of the gel
- The latex (yellow lining of the leaf) is harmful if ingested
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Aside from having a wonderfully relaxing scent used in aromatherapy to induce sleep, lavender is one of best healing plants for glowing skin. The oil extracted from the lavender flower has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Lavender oil can also prevent dandruff and cool down your scalp. The plant, named for its purple flowers, is a member of the mint family that grows in dry soil.
Lavender is often used in fragrances and shampoos to help purify the skin. Some studies say drinking lavender tea can help digestive issues such as vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas, upset stomach, and abdominal swelling. It can help relieve headaches, toothaches, and pain from sores. One study found that lavender oil could be effective in combating antifungal-resistant infections. Lavender can also promote hair growth by up to 44 percent after 7 months of treatment. Lavender aromatherapy may help ease premenstrual emotional symptoms.
- Promotes skin health
- Eases anxiety
- Promotes hair growth
- Lavender oil causes nausea when consumed
- Some people may not like the smell
- Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or ginger, is widely used as a spice
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- Tolerates some cold but ideally suited to hot house or house plant type situation
The spicy floral ginger is a daily part of the diet of people living in many Asian countries. The ginger root in particular acts as an antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant. Ginger juice can balance digestive process and improves the absorption of nutrients in the body. Ginger can ease joint pain and fight against cancer, diabetes and asthma. If you’re feeling nauseous, a ginger tea can calm the stomach.
Ginger in a tea or tablets is often recommended to people who suffer motion sickness. The plant is also an anti-inflammatory and can relieve swelling and pain. If you have a cold or the flu a ginger tea can ease headaches and sore throat. Fresh ginger is used to calm asthma, coughs, colic, heart palpitations, swellings, dyspepsia, loss of appetite and rheumatism. The dried root of ginger is used to stop vomiting and treat diarrhea. You can find ginger root in the produce section of your grocery store. It’s inexpensive and you can store it in the freezer to keep its freshness.
Ginger can ease stomach discomfort including nausea
Ginger can relieve headaches and sore throats
It is an anti-inflammatory
Ginger may interact with some prescription medications.
You should not take more than four grams of ginger in a single day
Side effects may include bloating, gas, heartburn and nausea.
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- Dandelion is an edible herb that is ready for harvesting in roughly 95 days. The leaves are popularly used in salads.
- Dandelion herbs are perennials that will grow to a mature height of about 8 to 18 inches tall.
We often think of dandelion as an annoying weed, but it has a lot of healing benefits. It is an edible flowering plant widely grows in South America. The flowers, stem and leaves of dandelion plants are also used in the production of several medicines. Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins and nutrients. It can also be used to make wine and coffee substitutes. These healing plants can cure liver problems and act as a cleansing tonic for blood vessels. Dandelion can also balance blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Drinking dandelion tea can help nursing mothers with milk production. Dandelion root shows promise as an anti-cancer agent. In a 2012 study on pancreatic cancer cells, researchers found that the plant may combat pancreatic cancer by killing cancer cells. Three preliminary studies found that dandelion root extract may fight leukemia and melanoma.
Preliminary studies show dandelion root may fight cancer
May help liver problems
Helps new mothers produce milk
Can cause stomach upset and diarrhea
- If you are allergic to ragweed or chrysanthemum, do not use
Wild dandelions may absorb heavy metals such as lead
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The tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the tea tree native to coastal areas of Australia. Ta tree oil has antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. You’ll most likely find tea tree oil in soaps, lotions and shampoos. It can heal infections of nails and skin. It can also protect against head lice and prevent dandruff. Traditionally, tea tree oil was used as an anti-fungal and antiseptic, specifically for toenail fungus and athlete’s foot. Taking this oil by mouth can cause confusion, inability to walk, rashes, or even coma.
Prevents head lice
Helps with skin and nail infections
Can cause illness or coma if ingested
Pungent minty, medicine smell
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Known as the cannabis of the cat kingdom, catnip is great for humans, too. Catnip can relieve cold symptoms, especially breaking a fever because it makes you sweat. These healing plants also help with bleeding and swelling when applied to an injury. Catnip, a member of the mint family, can treat gas, stomach aches, and migraines. It can also bring on uterine contractions, so if you are pregnant, do not consume catnip.
Originally found in Europe, Catnip can calm down your nervous system. It needs a mild climate to grow and does well with little fussing over it. The medicinal part of this three-foot tall plant is its flowering top that is collected and dried. Catnip essential oil is an effective insect repellant. The leaves of the plant repel mosquitoes more so than a commercial product.
Should not be used by pregnant women
Plant grows three feet tall
- Some people experience vomiting or headaches, but it’s rare
- Tiny, strongly aromatic & flavorful evergreen leaves
- Garden use: herb garden, flower border, containers
- Culinary use: in bouquet garni, aromatic dishes
This fragrant herb that pairs well with chicken and mushrooms contains thymol, a naturally occurring biocide. A biocide can kill harmful organisms, such as infectious bacteria. A 2010 study suggested that thymol can reduce bacterial resistance to common drugs such as penicillin.
A team at the Center for Studies of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Portugal, studied thyme oil and found that even at low concentrations, thyme oil showed potential as a natural preservative of food products against common food-borne bacteria. Researchers found that thyme oil destroyed the fungus Candida albicans (C. albicans), which is a common cause of yeast infections.
Kills the fungus that causes yeast infections
Prevents some food-borne illness
Can protect against infectious bacteria
Can interact with prescribed drugs
Can irritate mucus membranes
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Sage isn’t just for Thanksgiving turkey as it’s considered one of the most valuable herbs in the world of healing plants. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and antifungal. The herb’s name comes from the Latin word salvere (which means “to be saved”) and its ancient use as a meat preservative is well documented. Sage aids digestion, relieves cramps, reduces diarrhea, dries up phlegm, fights colds, reduces inflammation and swelling, acts as a salve for cuts and burns, and kills bacteria.
The sage herb is a perennial plant that originated from the Mediterranean region. Sage prefers the sun with permeable, calcareous soil. Sage is a good source of vitamin K, an essential vitamin that affects bone density. The herb also eases symptoms of menopause including hot flashes. Be careful, this herb might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Aids digestion
- Calms menopause and menstrual symptoms
- Good source of vitamin K
- Might lower blood sugar in people with diabetes
- Can be harmful if taken in high doses over a long period
- Pregnant women should avoid sage
- Bright green leaves with minty scent and taste
- Harvest often for a bushier plant
- Use in tea and other beverages
Peppermint oil is derived from the peppermint plant that thrives in Europe and North America. Peppermint oil likely can help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It may also help indigestion and prevent spasms in the GI tract. Some studies show that used topically it may help soothe tension headaches.
Peppermint oil may cause heartburn and it may interact with certain medications.
Several studies suggest that peppermint oil capsules may help relieve common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as abdominal pain, bloating, and gas. Dietary supplements containing peppermint oil and caraway oil may relieve indigestion. Mint plants contain an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent called rosmarinic acid. This has been linked to relieving seasonal allergy symptoms. Mint also contains menthol, a natural decongestant that breaks up phlegm. Menthol in a peppermint tea can help relieve a sore throat,
- Soothes cold symptoms
- May help with irritable bowel disorder
- May break up mucus
- May irritate the stomach
- Peppermint oil can be toxic in large doses
- Do not use on an infant’s face
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- It helps skin conditions like Eczema, Psoriasis and Seborrhea reducing skin inflammations.
Willow is an anti-inflammatory. It’s nature’s aspirin, reducing pain internally and externally, and it also reduces fever. The Salix nigra is the traditional species for herbal use. These healing plants contain salicin, a compound used as the base of aspirin.
Willow is also antiseptic, and a poultice of the freshly crushed bark or twigs can be used externally for scratches or small wounds. Strip the bark from the tree or shrub in early spring, or break off small twigs from the ends of branches. Dry them. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried, shredded willow bark or twigs. Place in 1 cup of boiling water, and simmer at low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain out plant material and drink.
Relieves pain from headaches and arthritis
Can soothe cuts
If you have a sensitivity to aspirin, do not use
May be the hardest to find if you do not have a willow tree nearby
This is a large tree that requires a lot of space
These healing plants offer a virtual medicine cabinet in your garden. Many of the plants double for culinary uses, so they are a great investment. Consider one or two of these plants and then try one or two more.
Last update on 2021-09-21 at 16:59 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API