From marshmallow root to lobelia and wood betony to woad, there are hundreds of herbs, flowers, and plants that possess powerful medicinal properties. A common and seemingly useless herb to the untrained eye may have antiseptic, antibacterial, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Other herbs may help to promote detoxification or even work to repel insects.
The world of herbal medicine continues to expand with each new study of the hundreds of herbs in existence. Constant research on herbal medicine intends to examine their abilities to benefit the different organs, systems, muscles, or bones in the body. We may never be able to fully catalog all of the benefits from plants that exist around the world. While some herbs are more difficult to procure, research indicates that most people have access to these medicinal herbs and fail to take advantage of their benefits. After reading about the benefits of the following plants, you may want to rethink your stance about using herbs as medicine.
Also known as “featherfew” or “wild chamomile,” feverfew has been used in European folk medicine for centuries. The leaves and extracts from the plant contain parthenolide, a compound that may help reduce inflammation, prevent blood vessel constriction in the brain, and ease muscle spasms. A few studies have concluded that parthenolide may also work to reduce migraines, minor headaches, and vomiting. The health properties in feverfew may inhibit the release of inflammatory substances that contribute to migraines or menstrual cramps. It can be brewed into a tea or made into a tincture.
Unfortunately, marshmallow root does not grow marshmallows, but it has been a potent herbal remedy for centuries. Due to the mucilaginous content of marshmallow root, many cultures have used it to help remedy coughs or colds. Several studies have found that it acts an enzyme to help loosen mucous and inhibit bacterial growth. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of marshmallow root may help to relieve eczema, dermatitis, and enhance the overall appearance of the skin.
Dittany of Crete
Native to the island of Crete in Greece, dittany has long since been considered to be panacea, meaning it has been used as a solution for various illnesses. The presence of phenol carvacrol, in addition to the antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties, makes dittany excellent for soothing sore throats, stomach pains, menstrual cramps, and even hypertension. People who want to strengthen heart muscles and clear out arteries will benefit from brewing this herb into a tea. It is enhanced when mixed with raw honey and cinnamon, especially to relieve coughing.
Anise hyssop is a perennial herb from the mint family, growing tall with woody flowers that are often lavender, pink, or white in color. It has commonly been used as a cough and cold remedy, due to its ability to loosen mucous, decongest, and reduce the symptoms of sinus infections. Native Americans used to drink anise hyssop tea to improve digestive health and get rid of diarrhea. Alternatively, anise hyssop leaves can be crushed up to make a salve because the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can accelerate wound healing or soothe sunburns.
Wild Asparagus Root
Wild asparagus root isn’t your average asparagus plant that grows in the garden. It’s a wild asparagus that has been used in both spiritual and physical healing practices. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years, often revered by Tibetan people for its ability to keep the skin looking young, supple, and healthy. The Chinese often say that “wisdom comes from the lungs,” and wild asparagus root has commonly been made into gentle tonics to help cleanse the respiratory system of toxins. Additionally, Taoists have used wild asparagus root to relax the mind to promote healthy sleep, and these same relaxing properties have been purported to increase levels of happiness and joy.
Due to the intense labor that is involved with harvesting saffron, it is considered one of the most expensive spices in the world. All of the harvesting is done by hand and it takes about 75,000 saffron blossoms to yield a single pound of saffron. Containing more than 150 volatile compounds, including safranal, antioxidants, biochemicals, carotenoids, and crocin, saffron can help to protect heart health, increase metabolism and blood circulation, and improve bone strength and nerve function. It also has analgesic properties, which may work to reduce pain, stress, and anxiety.
Ruta graveolens, commonly referred to as rue, is a garden plant that has been used as an insect repellent and for its medicinal properties. Rue is praised for the alkaloids and anti-inflammatory & antihistamine properties, and it contains a compound known as rutin, which works to prevent oxidative stress. The antifungal properties of rue have been proven to clear up skin, decrease premature signs of aging, and improve overall complexion. If you put rue extract in a diffuser, it helps to ward off cockroaches, mosquitos, and other insects.