There’s a high chance you have used a home remedy at some point: herbal teas for a sore throat or cold, essential oils for a headache, plant-based supplements for more restful sleep, or spices for an upset stomach. A vast variety of plants can be used to help treat symptoms or illnesses, as well as improve overall health. In fact, most of the world still relies on this type of traditional medicine, even industrialized countries use natural remedies to treat illnesses.
While modern medicine and technology continue to advance, it’s important to understand the health benefits of the many beautiful, and often accessible, plants that surround us. It’s also summertime and a great opportunity to grow our own!
Here are some common plants that you can either purchase or grow yourself, along with a few of the many benefits they offer.
- According to recent studies, Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. A recent study showed that by taking 5 grams of ginger a day for 3 months lowered people’s LDL cholesterol on average of 30 points.
- Ginger can help treat nausea, including those undergoing certain types of surgery, and pregnancy-related nausea.
- Ginger can help relieve pain and discomfort in the stomach.
Tip: You can purchase ginger tea or combine 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried ginger into 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for five minutes, then drink for sore throat or stomach relief.
- Chamomile tea can treat cuts, wounds, eczema and promote healing. The tea is derived from Matricaria chamomilla L, which offers anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
- A natural sedative which can help reduce stress and promote better sleep.
- Promotes healthy skin by protecting it from free-radical damage, as well as helping to eliminate scars.
Tip: If you have a sunburn, brew a batch of Chamomile tea and chill it thoroughly, then soak a towel in it and apply directly on the sunburned area.
- Boosts your immunity to help combat infections and viruses.
- Research shows that echinacea plants help reduce feelings anxiety.
- Helps fights against the common cold. Studies have found that Echinacea increases the number of white blood cells, which fight infections.
Tip: You can cut off echinacea flowers and infuse them in honey. A very simple recipe!
- Several studies have found that turmeric reduces pain levels associated with chronic inflammation. In fact, it is so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Can directly block free radicals and stimulate your body’s own antioxidant defenses.
- Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric, can improve brain function and lower risk of brain diseases by increasing brain levels of BDNF.
- Studies also show that Curcumin has significant benefits against depression.
Tip: Curcumin is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream, therefore, add black pepper when using Turmeric- this helps absorb by 2,000%. Turmeric can be added to almost anything! Some examples include: toast, avocados, rice, meats and fish, orange juice, and tea.
- The aroma from rosemary can improve a person’s concentration, performance, speed and accuracy.
- Studies have identified rosemary might be helpful for those who have experienced a stroke as it contains an ingredient called carnosic acid, which helps fight off damage by free radicals in the brain.
- May significantly help prevent brain aging. Therapeutic ability for prevention of Alzheimer’s is encouraging, though more studies are needed.
Tip: You can incorporate rosemary in many ways! Both smelling and drinking rosemary tea can offer benefits. Try adding 2 teaspoons of rosemary in 2/3 cup of water. Simple and enjoyable!
- Mint leaves contain a powerhouse agent called rosmarinic acid which helps block allergy-producing compounds, thus helping alleviate allergies and asthma.
- Inhibits the growth of bacteria and cleanses plaque deposition in your teeth. No wonder toothpaste is minty tasting!
- Has adaptogenic properties which regulate cortisol levels and helps build a natural resilience to stress.
Tip: Try adding mint to salads, desserts, smoothies or even water!
The ability to improve and protect our health may be as simple as learning about what natural options are readily available to us. Next time you’re at the grocery store, farmers market, or flower shop, take a look at their available options for herbs and plants. If you want to begin incorporating herbs and spices into foods and drinks for their health benefits, grab a book at your local bookstore, or search for recipes online!