For thousands of years, herbal medicine has been used by different cultures across the world as a natural way of alleviating minor ailments and injuries. While medicinal plants certainly can’t take the place of antibiotics or prescription medications, they can provide significant relief for a wide range of conditions in a way that’s safe, cost-effective, and chemical-free. Plus, you can never have too many veggies and greens in your diet!
Many common flowers, vegetables and herbs have powerful medicinal properties— you may even have some medicinal plants growing in your garden already. Check out our top 10 medicinal plants list for a crash course in herbal medicine you can grow right here in Fort Lauderdale:
- Chamomile: These sweet little daisies are used in lotions, teas, aromatherapy oils, cough drops, and much more. Chamomile can relieve cold symptoms, sore throats, menstrual cramps, insomnia, and even anxiety. This gentle-yet-powerful herb can help soothe your body and your mind.
- Sage: Indigenous peoples of North America have long used sage as a healing herb, particularly in sacred “smudging” rituals where the leaves are burned like incense. Of course, it’s commonly used in cooking as well, and its high concentration of phenolic acids and flavonoids make sage particularly beneficial to our health. Studies have shown that sage can help alleviate inflammation and diarrhea, improve bone health, lower bad cholesterol, and even help symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease by sharpening memory.
- Dandelion: These little yellow flowers commonly regarded as weeds definitely don’t get enough credit! Simply rinsing them and tossing them into a salad is an easy (and tasty) way to get an extra helping of vitamins. Dandelions can help boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and treat constipation.
- Calendula: We love the vibrant orange blossoms of this popular garden flower, but we love the health benefits they provide even more. Calendula contains natural compounds that can actually strengthen your body’s ability to grow new tissue, quickening the healing process for cuts and wounds. Calendula has also been shown to help people suffering from ulcers, muscular disorders, and painful injuries. If you’re noticing signs of hair thinning, calendula can even help to boost your hair growth.
- Echinacea: Also known as coneflower, these colorful blossoms are a common additive in cold medicines and cough drops. Not only are they great for treating cold symptoms, but research suggests that consuming echinacea helps promote healthy cell growth and can reduce the risk of breast cancer.
- Cayenne Pepper: Certainly one of the tastiest medicinal plants around, this piquant pepper gets its flavor and its medicinal properties from capsaicin. By adding these spicy peppers to your regular cooking, you can improve your circulation, clear nasal congestion, reduce symptoms of psoriasis, boost your metabolism, and even relieve a sore throat or headache.
- Blackberries: Who would have thought this popular snack was actually a potent herbal medicine? The dark color of these tasty berries is indicative of an ultra-high concentration of powerful antioxidants. It also contains antibacterial and antiviral properties which help improve oral health, skin clarity, and digestive problems. They’re a great snack for folks with diabetes, as they’re low in calories and high in fiber.
- Catnip: This feline-friendly herb isn’t just for our four-legged friends— the flowers it produces are one of the best medicinal plants around, treating a wide range of ailments such as migraines, insomnia, muscle cramping, and even dandruff! It may cause drowsiness, so it’s best to take catnip teas or supplements at night time so your productivity isn’t affected.
- Aloe Vera: You may probably recognize the name of this spiky succulent, as it’s a key ingredient in many after-sun gels to help soothe sunburns. If you’ve got an aloe plant at home, you can skip buying the bottled stuff and just extract the gel directly from the leaves. Simply snap off an aloe vera leaf, squeeze out the insides, and apply it directly to your skin for fast, cooling relief from the sun. It’s also packed with antioxidants, and when taken orally it can help relieve constipation.
- Lavender: A common aromatherapy ingredient, these medicinal herbs smell absolutely divine and can help reduce anxiety, depression, and insomnia, while also enhancing brain function. It also has antifungal properties that can help treat infections.
Medicinal plants are growing all around us, and the proven health benefits and powerful results they provide us are staggering! Just be sure to do a small spot test on your skin before consuming any medicinal plants in the event that you may have an allergy. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should definitely do a quick Google search before consuming any medicinal plants or herbs, as some are not safe for pregnant women to consume. To start growing your own medicinal plants at home, visit us at our location in Fort Lauderdale and pick up some seeds or starter plants!