7 Powerful Medicinal Plants and How to Best Consume Them

Sometimes you don't have to do more than just look at your garden to find the perfect remedy. Discover the best medicinal plants and how to use them here.

Did you know that the world is home to at least 250,000 different species of plants? Or that scientists have studied only 10% of these for their potential medicinal uses? What’s more, many of today’s best medicinal plants date back to ancient times.

There’s even one with a supposed history tracing back to the dinosaur era!

In any case, today’s global herbal medicine market has grown to become an $84.5 billion sector. Many of these products incorporate the use of multiple medicinal plants.

Ready to learn which of these plants have scientific backing? Then let’s get this list started!

1. Turmeric

The use of turmeric in India, primarily as a spice in food, traces back to 4,000 years ago. From there, it spread to China, Africa, and Jamaica. It’s now famous worldwide, not only for its bright orange color but also for its medicinal effects.

Potential Health Benefits

Most of turmeric’s health benefits come from its curcuminoid content. Of these compounds, curcumin is the most beneficial active ingredient.

Curcumin appears to have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It can also protect the liver from substances like carbon tetrachloride. Moreover, it appears to have antimicrobial properties against bacteria, parasites, and fungi.

Researchers also found evidence that turmeric may help lower cholesterol levels. They concluded that this plant could prove useful in cardiovascular disease, especially atherosclerosis.

All that makes turmeric one of the oldest and one of the best medicinal plants in the world.

Best Ways To Take Turmeric

Do note that the turmeric root itself doesn’t have high curcumin concentrations. As such, consuming it as is might be delish but not enough to yield profound health benefits.

For that reason, you might want to consider taking turmeric-based supplements. These usually have significant amounts of curcumin content.

Moreover, curcumin-containing supplements often contain piperine. It’s a substance derived from black pepper that can enhance curcumin absorption by 2,000%.

With that said, be sure to add black pepper to your dishes, too, if you plan to cook with turmeric. You can also make a “golden” herbal tea with the orange root and add a splash of coconut milk to it.

2. Ginkgo

Some historians believe that ginkgo has been around since the Mesozoic Era. The oldest existing tree is in China, said to be at least 3,500 years old. So, like turmeric, ginkgo is also one of the oldest medicinal plants.

Potential Health Benefits

Ginkgo boasts significant levels of flavonoids and terpenoids. These are substances known for their powerful antioxidant properties.

Other studies tested ginkgo on animal and human cells with various diseases. Researchers found that the plant exhibited anti-inflammatory effects. Some of the illnesses it may help with are arthritis, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Best Ways To Take Gingko

You can find ginkgo sold as capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, powder, and dry, loose tea leaves. Each of these products has specific dosing instructions, so be sure to follow them. However, most ginkgo supplement makers recommend taking them with a full stomach.

3. Lavender

Lavender’s name comes from the Latin root word “lavare,” which means “to wash.” According to historians, Egyptians were some of the first to have ever used this plant. Back then, they used lavender oil in the mummification process.

From there, countries like Persia and Rome used lavender as a bath additive. Folks from these areas believed that the plant has purifying effects on the body and mind.

Potential Health Benefits

One of lavender’s primary “claims” to fame is its aromatherapeutic effects. Most of these properties are due to its linalool content, an alcoholic compound. According to researchers, linalool has analgesic, anti-anxiety, and anti-inflammatory effects, among others.

Lavender no doubt smells great, which is why it’s a common fragrance in wellness centers. Smelling its earthy floral scent may invoke feelings of calmness and relaxation. In this way, it may help foster feelings of well-being.

Many of lavender’s science-backed benefits are a result of animal studies, though. In mice and rabbits, the awesome-smelling plant exhibited anti-anxiety, analgesic, and sedative effects. Other studies found it to have neuroprotective properties.

Another study looked at the effects of lavender scents in women who recently gave birth. The researchers found it to be helpful in preventing stress, anxiety, and depression.

Best Ways To Take Lavender

It’s easy to find fresh lavender at farmers’ markets if you don’t want to grow your own. It’s edible, so you can eat it as is or dry it for later use as a “spice.” It’s a great addition to savory and sweet dishes, not only because of its pleasant flavor but also for its color.

You can also steep the blossoms in hot water to make lavender tea. It blends well with citrus fruits, so you can add vitamin C-rich lime, lemon, or orange extracts to your tea.

Another great way to use fresh lavender is to tie a few stalks in a bundle and place it near a showerhead. The steam can help circulate the flower’s aromatherapeutic scent.

Lavender is also available as an essential oil, which you can use in a diffuser. Some people also put a drop or two of the oil in their pillow to help lull them to sleep.

We definitely need more studies on lavender, but it’s no doubt one of the best medicinal plants to grow at home. Just seeing these pretty flowers can be enough to make you smile and feel happier. Be sure to put it in well-drained soil and in a spot where it can get full sun, though.

4. Chamomile

Chamomile is another ancient medicinal plant described in Ebers Papyrus. Ebers Papyrus is a written collection of more than 800 plants, and it dates back to 1500 BCE. The journal reported how ancient Egyptians used crushed chamomile flowers for skin applications.

The ancient Egyptians also used the flowers as part of honoring their gods. Moreover, they used its extracts as an embalming substance.

Potential Health Benefits

Many of chamomile’s benefits may have to do with its 36 different flavonoids. On top of that are the 28 terpenoids also found in the plant. These compounds have antioxidant properties similar to ginkgo.

Steamed chamomile extract may help ease common cold symptoms. It may also be useful for inflammatory conditions, especially those affecting the skin. Moreover, it may have beneficial effects on gastrointestinal woes and hemorrhoids.

Best Ways To Take Chamomile

You can use whole or powdered chamomile flowers to make teas. You can also use the extract to create tinctures, but you can already buy them in prepared bottles. Chamomile tea, either in bags or loose-leaf form, are also widely available.

If you have fresh flowers, you can crush them and use them as a topical application. Many commercial products, such as lotions and creams, also contain chamomile extracts.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae, which also includes lavender and thyme. It’s flavorful and aromatic, making it an incredible addition to many dishes. Plus, it contains a good amount of vitamin B-6, calcium, and iron.

Rosemary is also one of the best medicinal plants for homes, as it’s quite easy to grow.

Potential Health Benefits

Researchers found evidence suggesting that rosemary scent can boost concentration. Smelling the herb may also help improve performance and sometimes, even mood.

Rosemary also contains carnosic acid, which appears to be beneficial to brain health. It seems that this substance can fight off oxidative damage in the brain caused by free radicals.

Rosemary contains other antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. In Germany, this wonderful-smelling herb is also an approved treatment for indigestion.

A separate study found that carnosic acid may also help encourage better eye health. Researchers believe that this compound may help protect against age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). ARMD is the most common cause of vision impairment in the US.

Best Ways To Take Rosemary

You can make hot or cold teas with either fresh or dry rosemary leaves. You can also make smoothies using the dried, powdered form of the plant. Another great way is to diffuse rosemary essential oil in a room for some soothing aroma.

6. Cannabis

Like chamomile, cannabis also appears in Ebers Papyrus. In the US, its cultivation dates back to the early colonial times. Back then, they grew hemp to use in fabric and rope making.

Hemp is one of the two primary species of cannabis, with the other being marijuana (AKA weed or pot). Both have touted health benefits, although hemp usually doesn’t have psychoactive effects. You can find hemp and other cannabis products from enderby dispensary or any other similar dispensary in your area.

Potential Health Benefits

Many of the purported benefits of the cannabis plant have to do with its more than 100 cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are active compounds found in both marijuana and hemp plants. Of these substances, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most popular.

THC is the main ingredient in the prescription drugs Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet. They help treat nausea and vomiting in patients who’ve had chemotherapy. Some patients who experience anorexia due to HIV/AIDS also use these medications.

THC may also be helpful for conditions like chronic pain, nerve pain, and mood disorders. Researchers confirm these facts, although there’s definitely a need for more in-depth studies. Do note that under federal US law, THC is a Class I drug since it’s psychoactive.

By contrast, CBD doesn’t seem to have any psychoactive proponent, so it doesn’t make users feel “high.” Still, scientific studies suggest that it may be helpful for many of the same conditions as THC. These include chronic and nerve pain, anxiety, sleep disorders, and epilepsy.

Best Ways To Take Cannabis

Federal laws aside, each US state implements its own cannabis use laws. At the moment, only 15 states, plus Washington, DC, have legalized recreational marijuana. Medicinal weed is legal in 35 states, including DC, and the ones cool with recreational pot.

If you live in a recreational marijuana-friendly state, you can buy it for personal use. Smoking is the most common way to consume it, but if you’d rather not smoke, you can use cannabis oil instead.

If you live in a super strict state, find out if you can use hemp-derived products. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp and hemp-source products legal at a federal level. You may be able to consume CBD in the form of tinctures, gummies, or edibles.

7. Sage

Sage, also known as “common sage” or “garden sage,” is also part of the mint family like rosemary. That’s why it’s a staple herb in culinary dishes. Not only does it boast intense aroma and flavor, but it also contains some vital nutrients.

Potential Health Benefits

Sage contains more than 160 types of polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant-based chemical compounds with antioxidant properties. Some of these include chlorogenic acid, rosmarinic acid, and rutin.

A study found that a twice-a-day cup of sage tea led to a significant increase in antioxidant defenses. It also caused a decrease in total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. At the same time, the drinkers exhibited higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

Sage may also help improve oral health by helping control microbial activity. One study found that using a sage-based mouthwash killed Streptococcus mutans bacteria. This is one of the pathogens known for causing tooth decay.

Best Ways To Take Sage

You may want to consider growing sage in your own backyard so that you can always have access to fresh supplies. However, it’s easy to find in your local groceries and farmer’s market, both in fresh and dry form. You can also get it in powdered form, which you can blend into smoothies, sauces, or dressings.

Like many other medicinal plants in this list, sage is also available in essential oil form.

Start Reaping the Potential Benefits of the Best Medicinal Plants

There you have it, your ultimate guide on the best medicinal plants then and now. As you can see, many of these are easy to grow in your backyard, while all are easy to find in markets and stores. It’s nice always to have a supply of fresh herbs, though, so you may want to consider planting some of them at home.

Ready for more insider tips and tricks to boost your health or even improve your home? Be sure to stick around then, and feel free to browse our other informative blog posts!