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A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Ginger Root. Photo Credit: Pilipphoto/Shutterstock

2. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

  • Medicinal Use: GI Issues, Minor Inflammation, Minor Muscle Pain

It’s likely that most of us used medicinal plants like Ginger when we were sick and did not even know it. Do you remember drinking Ginger Ale when you were sick as a kid? Clearly, Ginger can help with nausea and soreness as well as some muscle pain and inflammation. It can even help with indigestion and other minor gastrointestinal ailments.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Ginger in a wooden spoon. Photo Credit: Tatjana Baibakova/Shutterstock

A major bioactive substance in Ginger, known as Gingerol, has been shown to be effective at fighting some infections. There has been evidence to support that it stops some bacteria, especially when it comes to the gums. Fresh Ginger has also shown some success in fighting the RSV Virus too. However, there is no proof that it can help with any brain disorders or diseases.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Aloe Vera Plant & Cream. Photo Credit: Songdech Kothmongkol/Shutterstock

1. Aloe Vera

  • Medicinal Use: Itching, Burns, Skin Irritation, Constipation

Aloe Vera is likely the most difficult to argue against when it comes to medicinal plants. For centuries, humans have used it to treat minor cuts. It has a calming effect on our skin, allowing it to be useful in treating itching problems and some irritation or inflammation of the skin. This may be why several lotions and cosmetics use Aloe Vera so often.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Sliced green aloe vera. Photo Credit: banu sevim/Shutterstock

While okay to eat, it depends on where it’s from and the colorization. Non-colorized Aloe Vera is considered toxic to humans. Of course, Aloe Vera has been known to help with constipation for centuries, so the toxicity is likely what allows it to be useful for that. Treat it like what your parents might have used Epsom Salts for, except this won’t completely blow your colon off.

EVEN MORE MEDICINAL PLANTS

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
The Tea Tree Plant. Photo Credit: Chen Liang-Dao/Shutterstock

Tea Tree

  • Medicinal Use: Athlete’s Foot, Acne, Skin Fungal & Bacteria Infections

You might have heard of the Tea Tree, but more than likely you know it for its oil. Tea Tree Oil is a notable member of those Essential Oils you hear about all the time. While a lot of those can be considered okay at best, Tea Tree Oil has proven to be pretty effective. The oil is used exclusively as a topical ointment or cream that can treat a variety of issues. When discovered in the 1920s, commercial use of the oil by Arthur Penfold turned into big business.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
The Tea Tree Essential Oil. Photo Credit: Ronstik/Shutterstock

Low concentrations of the oil can be used to treat numerous skin-related conditions. This can include little things like acne and insect bites all the way to skin fungal infections and bacterial infections. It has also been known to assist in the removal of dandruff and lice! Like with a lot of oils, Tea Tree Oil is not an approved American FDA product. You cannot eat or drink this stuff as it’s pretty poisonous, making it a bad product to use for children. But it’s still one of the most popular medicinal plants.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
The Lemon Balm Plant. Photo Credit: HandmadePictures/Shutterstock

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

  • Medicinal Use: Gastrointestinal Disorders, Sleep Problems

Lemon Balm is usually considered to be part of the “Mint Family” of plants. It has become quite a popular product to use in several dishes across Asia and Europe too. A lot of countries where it is locally present have used it as one of their common medicinal plants. While it is becoming more common in the Americas, it was initially only native to South-Central Europe, Central Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, and Iran.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Lemon Balm Tea. Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

These areas were the most common places where medicinal use began for Lemon Balm. Many believe it can be a great aid for nervous system issues. However, this has never been proven completely. Yet it has been considered a useful aid for gastrointestinal disorders and by extension, helpful for liver problems too. It is used in tea and is completely safe to drink. It is also co-distilled in several Essential Oils alongside Lemon and Citronella Oils.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Gotu Kola Leaves Close-Up. Photo Credit: Klahan/Shutterstock

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

  • Medicinal Use: Treats Minor Wounds

Gotu Kola has been one of the most common Indian medicinal plants for centuries in some form or another. Of course, as referenced earlier in this article, Indian medicine is quite vast. They use a ton of herbs and plants, compared to other nations. Of course, Gota Kola is used as a common culinary vegetable across Asia. Likely, this is just as common as its medicinal use. In medicine, it has been known to be capable of helping with a lot.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Gotu Kola Herbal Medicine. Photo Credit: NIKCOA/Shutterstock

The most common thing it’s known to assist with is helping treat minor wounds. This will need to be applied to a wound and covered. However, topical application of Gotu Kola can result in some skin irritation, so be warned! When consumed, many have become drowsy. Of course, this only happens when a large portion is consumed and not when it is used in normal dishes, of course. It is not recommended to eat a ton of it, however. Many that did complain of adverse liver function.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Artichokes in a Basket. Photo Credit: LM Photos/Shutterstock

Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus)

  • Medicinal Use: Lowers Bad Cholesterol, Regulates Blood Sugar, Improves Digestive Health

While it is mostly referred to by science as the Globe Artichoke, most of us simply refer to it as an artichoke. Of course, not all artichokes are created equal, resulting in this version being called the “Green Artichoke” too. It is important to note that the artichoke itself is not edible, only the flower buds before they bloom are. This artichoke is popular in science too, as it has been experimented with for years. We now know it contains bioactive agents Apigenin and Luteolin.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Artichoke with Beans. Photo Credit: Bildvoll/Shutterstock

We also now know its total antioxidant capacity is the highest of all vegetables recorded. As a result, the medicinal use of artichokes has been praised for years. Not only is it packed with nutrients, we know it can lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good LDL. It also helps regulate blood pressure, improve liver and digestive health, and eases issues one has with IBS. There have even been some cases that show artichokes can lower blood sugar levels.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Bryophyllum pinnatum flowers blooming. Photo Credit: Feng Cheng/Shutterstock

Bryophyllum pinnatum (Kalanchoe pinnata)

  • Medicinal Use: Insect Bites, Burns, Ulcers, Earaches, Urinary infections

Bryophyllum pinnatum has been connected to ethnomedicine for years and obviously, it’s one of the most popular medicinal plants. The studies surrounding it have shown great promise, with many great reports surrounding it. Of course, not all claims about the plant are considered to be true. Those we know to be true more often than not is its treatment for insect bites and burns. Other studies have shown it can be useful in treating earaches, abscesses, and ulcers.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Bryophyllum pinnatum With Leaves. Photo Credit: Nandalal Sarkar/Shutterstock

However, other studies need to be done before they can prove total success in treating diarrhea and hypertension. However, the juice from the leaves of this plant has been a popular treatment for urinary infections and even kidney stones. There could be something to this, as the presence of compounds found in steroids along with several acids has been found in Bryophyllum pinnatum. Some of these have been helpful when used in other medications for treating urinary issues.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Great Yellow Gentian Plant. Photo Credit: Goran_Safarek/Shutterstock

Great Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea)

  • Medicinal Use: Gastrointestinal Disorders, Heartburn

The Great Yellow Gentian is famous for being what we used for alcohol before the introduction of hops. Gentian overall is, of course, an herb. Due to this, science has agreed on its medicinal properties, making it notable among other medicinal plants. Yet the entire plant itself is not medicinally useful. Only the bark is used to make any sort of medicine. Of course, a lot has been made about Gentian for hundreds of years now.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Great Yellow Gentian Bark. Photo Credit: Heike Rau/Shutterstock

The most common things it is known to help with tend to be mostly in the gastrointestinal field. This includes heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, and even the loss of appetite. There have even been some cases of it being effective along with other medicinal plants in treating fevers as well as muscle spasms. However, the latter material will likely take further study to be confirmed as factual in treatment for such issues.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Chinese Yams. Photo Credit: Jinning Li/Shutterstock

Chinese Yam (Dioscorea polystachya)

  • Medicinal Use: Crohn’s Disease, Whooping Cough, Kidney Issues, Gastrointestinal Problems

The Chinese Yam is very unique as its tubers can be eaten raw, which is rare among most of yam species. It is also a well-known climbing vine in China and other parts of East Asia. However, in Chinese Alternative Medicine, it has been a popular plant species to use for medicinal purposes. In fact, several creams and dietary supplements are made using this very yam inside of them.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Chinese Yams with Chinese Medicinal Herbs. Photo Credit: MeSamong/Shutterstock

It has been said to be a good treatment for Crohn’s Disease and even Whopping Cough. There have even been claims that it can be used to prevent cancer, but the American Cancer Society refutes this heavily. Yet it has also been known to help treat problems in the gastrointestinal tract as well as the lungs and kidneys. A common part of this Yam is Diosgenin, which is used to produce steroids and hormonal material such as estrogen. Therefore, there could be something to it helping a lot of stuff.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
KHUS Grass. Photo Credit: Mirzamlk/Shutterstock

Khus (Chrysopogon zizanioides)

  • Medicinal Use: Acne, Skin Inflammation

It is easy to get Khus and Khus Khus confused. After all, they are the same word with one just using the same word twice. It can even lead to people seeing them as the same thing. However, they ARE NOT the same. We need to make that perfectly clear here. We’re discussing Khus, which is a form of bunchgrass. It has been used for a ton of useful things over the years from being a termite repellant to use in skin products.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
KHUS Essential Oil. Photo Credit: Mirzamlk/Shutterstock

As a result, however, there has been some medicinal success with Khus. It is terrific for skincare products because it allows a person to use it in something like makeup and not have severe skin reactions. In fact, it has a calming, cooling effect to it a lot like Menthol. Plus, Khus treats acne! It also treats inflammation on the skin, allowing it to be a terrific addition to numerous makeup or perfume brands. As it will not harm, but actually help your skin.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
The Crown Flower. Photo Credit: Photo by MHIN/Shutterstock

Crown Flower (Calotropis gigantea)

  • Medicinal Use: Bacterial Infections, Asthma, Snakebites, Possible Cancer-Fighter

The Crown Flower happens to be one of the most popular medicinal plants, but it’s known by other names depending on where you’re from. “The Rui” is one of the common names for it in Asia. It rose to popularity, funny enough, as a great way to poison arrows one would shoot at their enemies. How does poison become a medicinal asset? India began seeing it treat some bacterial infections, mostly respiratory versions. It would even be used to treat asthma.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Crown Flower in Bloom with Beetle. Photo Credit: Prasetyo tiyut/Shutterstock

That allows it to become popular for treating a lot of breathing issues, even shortness of breath and swelling issues. It would even become popular in India for treating snakebites. Of course, significant studies have found the Crown Flower has great cancer-fighting properties, especially in Carcinomas A549, HCT 116, and HEP G2. There is even solid evidence that it can be used as a useful contraceptive as well.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
The Fenugreek Plant. Photo Credit: Rainbow_dazzle/Shutterstock

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)

  • Medicinal Use: Gastritis, Upset Stomach, Cuts Down On Obesity, Potentially Helps Painful Menstruation

Fenugreek has become relatively popular as one of the most common medicinal plants used to treat obesity issues. This has also resulted in the plant getting credit for treating diabetes too. Rather, it helps cut down on overeating by giving people a full feeling. On top of this, it has been shown to be successful in treating an upset stomach as well as Gastritis or inflammation of the stomach. Other stuff is more folklore than proven science.

A Natural Science Enthusiast’s Guide to Medicinal Plants
Fenugreek Seeds & Essential Oil. Photo Credit: Swapan Photography/Shutterstock

For many years, it was claimed Fenugreek treated painful menstruation and what we’d come to call polycystic ovary syndrome as well. It is more than likely that if it helped the former, it also helped the latter. Also, if it does indeed help with inflammation issues in the digestive tract, it might also help to cut down inflammation in the urinary tract areas as well. This could be why it has been given credit for helping with the pain women might face.

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