10 Medicinal Plants and Their Benefits

Considered by some to be a cure-all, Chamomile is widely used in the United States for anxiety and relaxation. In Europe, it is used for wound healing and to reduce inflammation or swelling. While few studies have looked into how well it works for any condition, Chamomile is generally considered safe by the FDA. It may increase sleepiness caused by medications or other herbs or supplements, and can interfere with the way the body uses some medications, leading to too high a level of the drug in some people. Chamomile for the skin (topical) can be used to treat skin irritation caused by radiation cancer treatments.

In capsule form, it can be used to control vomiting during chemotherapy.


is commonly used to treat or prevent colds, flu and infections, as well as for wound healing. Many studies have looked into how well Echinacea works to prevent or shorten the course of a cold, but none have been conclusive. Some studies show some benefits of using Echinacea for upper respiratory tract infections. It is recommended for short-term use because other studies have also shown that long-term use can affect the body's immune system.

It is important to check with your healthcare provider about any drug interactions you are already taking, and those who are allergic to plants in the daisy family may be more likely to have an allergic reaction to Echinacea. The daisy family includes ambrosia, chrysanthemums, marigolds and daisies.


was traditionally used to treat fever. It is now commonly used to prevent migraines and treat arthritis. Some research has shown that certain Feverfew preparations can prevent migraines, but side effects include mouth ulcers if the leaves are chewed and digestive irritation.

People who suddenly stop taking Feverfew for migraines may have headaches again. Feverfew should not be used with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs because these drugs can change the effectiveness of Feverfew, nor should it be used with warfarin or other blood-thinning medications.


has been used all over the world in cooking and for its many medicinal properties. Compounds isolated from Garlic have been shown to have antimicrobial, cardioprotective, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may play a role in the belief that Garlic helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, although evidence is contradictory. However, it may increase the risk of bleeding and should not be used with warfarin, an anticoagulant.

For the same reason, large amounts should not be taken before dental procedures or surgery.


is more commonly known as an herb to relieve nausea and motion sickness. Research suggests Ginger may relieve nausea caused by pregnancy and chemotherapy. Other areas under investigation in the use of Ginger are surgery and as an anticancer agent due to its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.Ginkgo Leaf Extract has been used to treat a variety of conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, fatigue and tinnitus.

It is also used to improve memory and prevent dementia and other brain disorders. Some studies have supported its mild effectiveness, but it is not understood exactly how Ginkgo works. Only leaf extract should be used as this toxin can cause seizures and death in large quantities. Because some information suggests that Ginkgo may increase the risk of bleeding, it should not be used with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinners, anticonvulsants or tricyclic antidepressants.


is used as a tonic and aphrodisiac, even as a remedy for everything.

Research is not sure how well it works, partly because of the difficulty in defining vitality and quality of life. There is a great variation in the quality of Ginseng sold. Side effects are high blood pressure and tachycardia; however, FDA considers it safe. But it should not be used with warfarin, heparin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, estrogens, corticosteroids or digoxin; people with diabetes should not use Ginseng either.


is used to treat diarrhea and eye and skin irritations. It is also used as an antiseptic and unproven treatment for colds.

The Goldenseal contains berberine, a plant alkaloid with a long history of medicinal use in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Studies have shown that Goldenseal is effective for diarrhea; however it is not recommended because it can be poisonous in high doses. It may cause irritation of the skin, mouth throat and stomach.


, one of the oldest tree species on Earth with fossils dating back 270 million years ago, is also one of the oldest homeopathic plants and a key herb in Chinese medicine. The leaves are used to create capsules, tablets and extracts; when dried they can be consumed as tea. It is perhaps best known for its ability to improve brain health; studies say Gingko can treat patients with mild to moderate dementia and may slow cognitive decline in dementia and Alzheimer's disease; these trees can live up to 3,000 years. With its bright orange hue it's impossible to miss a bottle of Turmeric on a spice rack; native to India it is believed to have anti-cancer properties and may prevent mutations; according recent research Turmeric also shows promise as a treatment for a variety of dermatological diseases and joint arthritis. Turmeric has been used as a medicinal herb for 4,000 years; it is a tentpole of an Indian alternative medicine practice called Ayurveda; studies that are available on this oil tend to be everywhere but there are studies that are more robust than others.

Evening Primrose Oil

, for example has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties; it is known to help with conditions such as atopic dermatitis and diabetic neuropathy; it can also help with other health problems such as breast pain; according these studies Evening Primrose Oil could be the Swiss army knife in the world of medicinal plants. The caveat is that it can interact with several medications; more research is coming and applications are promising.

Flax Seed

, also available as oil is one of the most popular medicinal plants today; rich in omega 3 fatty acids Flax Seed has been found beneficial for heart health; Flax Seed oil has also been found effective against inflammation associated with arthritis; Flax Seed oil should not be heated or cooked since heat destroys its beneficial properties.<.