16 medicinal plants to keep in your home

1. Basil Basil (ocimum basilicum) is a common herb used to garnish salads, pasta and many other meals to add delicious flavor. Thanks to the vitamins and minerals in basil, such as vitamin K and iron, this herb is helpful for combating common ailments. For example, the manganese in basil helps metabolize different compounds in your body. Holy basil, commonly referred to as tulsi, is a specific species of basil that originates from India. It’s...

How long have people been using medicinal plants?

In 3500 BC, Ancient Egyptians began to associate less magic with the treatment of disease, and by 2700 BC the Chinese had started to use herbs in a more scientific sense. Egyptians recorded their knowledge of illnesses and cures on temple walls and in the Ebers papyrus (1550 BC), which contains over 700 medicinal formulas. Hippocrates, 460-380 BC, known as the “Father of Medicine,” classified herbs into their essential qualities of hot and...

Why do plants have medicinal properties?

Plants produce many chemicals that are biologically active, not just in themselves, but also in other organisms. Some of these chemicals enhance their own survival. Some plants produce chemicals that act as herbicides to inhibit the growth of competing plants, such as the salicylic acid produced by willows. Other plants produce substances that deter browsing by insects and herbivores. Below are several examples of active plant ingredients that...

A Guide to Common Medicinal Herbs

Chamomile (Flower) Considered by some to be a cure-all, chamomile is commonly used in the U.S. for anxiety and relaxation. It is used in Europe for wound healing and to reduce inflammation or swelling. Few studies have looked at how well it works for any condition. Chamomile is used as a tea or applied as a compress. It is considered safe by the FDA. It may increase drowsiness caused by medicines or other herbs or supplements. Chamomile...

Feverfew

(Leaf) Feverfew was traditionally used to treat fevers. It is now commonly used to prevent migraines and treat arthritis. Some research has shown that certain feverfew preparations can prevent migraines. Side effects include mouth ulcers if the leaves are chewed and digestive irritation. People who suddenly stop taking feverfew for migraines may have their headaches return. Feverfew should not be used with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory...

Echinacea

(Leaf, stalk, root) Echinacea is commonly used to treat or prevent colds, flu, and infections, and for wound healing. Many studies have looked at how well echinacea works to prevent or shorten the course of a cold, but none were conclusive. Some studies do show some benefit of using echinacea for upper respiratory infections. Short-term use is advised because other studies have also shown that long-term use can affect the body's immune...

Chamomile

(Flower) Considered by some to be a cure-all, chamomile is commonly used in the U.S. for anxiety and relaxation. It is used in Europe for wound healing and to reduce inflammation or swelling. Few studies have looked at how well it works for any condition. Chamomile is used as a tea or applied as a compress. It is considered safe by the FDA. It may increase drowsiness caused by medicines or other herbs or supplements. Chamomile may...