Among the many herbs that are grown at homes, inside and outside, the medicinal ones have caught a lot of attention. These herbs contain chemicals and oils that are used very often in various medications. Thus, they become natural repositories of healing and medicine. They are all easy to grow and they also have positive associated properties like an ornamental look and fragrant aroma. They are better than medicines in that they promote the immune system and strengthen the body. Thus they are also preventive along with being curative in their mode of working.
Since the beginning of the 1st century AD, aloe vera has been cited as a herbal medicine. It is a species of succulent plant that is stemless and spreads through the growth of offsets. The leaves of this plant produce a mucous substance which possesses healing and cooling properties. The topical application of this leaf extract has been known to be effective in the treatment of first degree and second degree burns. There is anecdotal evidence to prove that aloe vera can be used as a protective agent from sunburns. Studies have shown that it could also be effective against genital herpes and psoriasis. No wonder that it is an important component of several lotions and gels. However, it must be noted that the plant has toxic properties if ingested. This is due to the presence of aloin. The plant is easy to grow and its succulent leaves allow it to be cultivated even in rocky and drought-prone regions.
Peppermint is a hybrid herb plant which is grown across the world though it is indigenous to Europe. It is also found in the wild occasionally. Apart from its delicious aroma, the plant has many medicinal properties. It has often been used against an upset stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon and a host of other digestive problems. It also helps in reducing fevers. One study on animals has indicated that Peppermint could be effective against radioactive damage during cancer therapy. Its wonderful aroma seems to enhance memory too. It tastes very good and so has been used in the flavoring process for a long time now. Depending on the cultivar of the plant, it has been found to have certain toxicities but that is not something to worry much about. The plant grows best in cool and moist locations through underground stolons.
Sage is another herb from the mint family and is scientifically called as savia. In Latin, the term in itself means to feel well and healthy and to heal. A commonly used ornamental herb, it has the ability to prevent indigestion and associated flatulence. Since it also has a good and unique flavor, it has been used for cooking purposes. Apart from that, sage is known to be helpful when one experiences menopausal symptoms. It also helps overcome depressions. In aromatherapy, the scent of the sage has been used against a variety of disorders. Sage comes in a large variety and each one has a specialty of its own. While some have protein-rich edible seeds, some have healing, perfume oil.
Arriving in nine variants, the Echinacea species have been commonly and collectively called as the purple coneflowers. The beauty of these species is that they have lovely flowers with a sweet scent and multiple medicinal properties. It has been known to strengthen the immune system against allergies. A study revealed that Echinacea reduced the chances of contracting a cold by almost 50 percent. The plant can be used in the treatment of wounds, burns, insect stings and even snake bites. In many places it has been used as a laxative and to ward off infections. Latest studies show that children below 12 years of age and those with a less-powerful or immature immune system should not use this for more than 10 days at a stretch because of possible harm to the immune system itself.
The roots of this slow-growing, perennial herb are forked like the legs of a man and thus the name Ginseng which is derived from the Chinese term Renshen. The plant has been highly regarded for its medicinal properties. Its effects on the nervous system have been studied and documented. It is known the enhance one’s sexual libido, penile erection, sperm production and copulatory performance. Since it relaxes the nervous system, it is used to treat insomnia. The herb also stimulates the production of hormones. Application on the hair reduces hair-fall by strengthening the hair roots. The other uses of the herb have been to reduce cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure and improve one’s general stamina.
The various daisy-like plants in the family Asteraceae have been commonly called as Chamomile. Very often these plants have been made into an infusion and served along with lemon or honey to help with sleep. It also helps to de-stress and relax. No wonder than that the tea made from its extract has been called soothing tea. Therefore, it is also used in a number of ailments that are fatiguing. These include digestive disorders, diarrhea and cold. Topical application has been known to heal wounds and injuries. Even toothaches and earaches have been treated with Chamomile. However, since it can cause uterine contractions, pregnant mothers are advised to keep away from the plant.
This native Australian plant needs a lot of moisture and water for growth. The oil extracted from it has been utilized in the manufacture of many over-the-counter medicines. The oil is very effective in cleaning the skin and battling infections. Thus, it is used in the treatment of acne and athlete’s foot, cold sores and insect bites. Often, vaginal infections have also been treated with tea tree oil. Its vitalizing aroma along with the other medicinal properties helps fight the chronic fatigue syndrome. But this oil is toxic if ingested in large quantities or applied topically in large amounts.
The young roots of the Evening primrose are edible as vegetables and have a peppery flavor. The shoots are often used in salads as a rich source of roughage. A variety of tea is made from its roots to ease bowel pain and as a treatment against obesity. Though the efficacy of the healing powers of the herb have not yet been clinically proven, the gamma-linolenic acid inherent shows a lot of promise against breast cancer. The oil obtained from the leaves and the bark are used in the treatment of acne, rheumatoid arthritis and eczema. It is also useful in treating premenstrual disorders.
This is a traditional medicinal herb that has been used since ancient times and the 1st century AD Greek physician, Dioscorides has recorded the plant as an anti-inflammatory. The Latin word from which the name has been derived means one that reduces fevers. For hundreds of years, the herb has been extensively used in the treatment of colds, fevers and migraine headaches. Parthenolide and tanetin, which are active ingredients in the herb, have shown prom
ise in the battle against cancer. The herb is also used to reduce swollen feet and heal bruises. However, in some cases Feverfew has been known to cause allergic reactions including contact dermatitis.
Fenugreek is very often used as food in countries like India and Nepal under the name Methi. The leaves are very useful as roughage in aiding bowel movement. The seeds obtained from this herb are nutritious and used in the treatment of stomach and intestinal inflammation. A large number of lifestyle diseases can be treated with Fenugreek. The late onset of diabetes is prevented and cholesterol levels are lowered. Fenugreek is also useful against the cancer of the liver. Women are given this to reduce the labor pains during childbirth.
Basil has been worshiped because of the multiple benefits it provides. This multi-branched herb has been extensively used in the system of medicine known as ayurveda. Like many modern painkillers, basil is a COX-2 inhibitor since it has high concentrations of eugenol. Its anti-oxidant properties have a beneficial effect on the blood glucose levels. The same also help in repairing the cells damaged due to exposure to radiation. Some experimental studies have shown the alcoholic extracts of basil to be boosting towards the immune function of the body.