Twelve Common Plants that are used in Healing
Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)
Aloe Vera is a relatively easy to care for succulent plant that can be grown on a warm windowsill or in a greenhouse. Aloe vera has long been used in the traditional medicine of many countries to treat burns and other skin conditions such as dry skin, sunburn, eczema and ringworm.
Aloe vera can also be taken as a juice. This is believed to have many benefits to the digestive system that include alleviating constipation and reducing any inflammation of the digestive tract such as that seen in Crohn’s disease.
Borage (Borage officinalis)
This hardy annual plant has intensely blue star shaped flowers and can often be found growing wild in European and Mediterranean countries. An infusion can be made from the leaves and is believed to help with adrenal exhaustion and to help strengthen the kidneys.
Since ancient times people have believed that borage was able to drive away melancholia and increase a person’s courage. Borage flowers and young leaves can also be added to salads.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula is an easy to grow and pretty plant that has a wide range of healing applications.
It is believed to stimulate the liver, gall bladder and uterus, soothe the digestive system, support the heart and fight infections. In folk medicine calendula has been used internally to treat ulcers, hepatitis and menstrual problems. Used externally calendula is useful in treating nappy rash, eczema, yeast infections, cracked nipples, dry skin, burns and to aid wound healing.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Most people are familiar with these bright yellow wild flowers. Although they are generally considered to be a weed and a nuisance, the root, leaves and flowers can all be used and have many beneficial effects.
Dandelion leaves contain potassium, magnesium, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sulphur, zinc and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. Young leaves can be eaten in salads, stir fries and sandwiches as you would with other leaves. A tea, which stimulates the body to eliminate waste and toxins, can be made using either dandelion leaves or root.
Dandelion helps the gall bladder break down fat by stimulating bile production, aids the liver’s detoxification processes and can bring relief to anyone suffering from urinary infections thanks to its diuretic properties.
Elder (Sambucus niger)
Both elderflowers and berries used in healing. Elderflowers are believed to boost the immune system, sooth respiratory tract and ear infections, stimulate circulation and help to reduce fever. The tiny white flowers can be made into a herbal tea or added to bathwater, which is believed to calm the nerves and soothe itchy skin. Elderflowers are also eaten made into fritter using batter or can be added to jams.
Elderberries are rich in vitamins and minerals and so have a good overall beneficial effect on the body. Elderberries are reported to be an excellent treatment for coughs and colds of all types and are often made into syrup that can then be taken as needed. They can also be added to fruit pies and crumbles or made into jam.
Fenugreek (trigonella foenum graecum)
Fenugreek is a tall, strongly scented annual herb that has excellent medicinal properties. It can be used to make a cleansing and soothing drink that can be used to reduce fevers and to help the body perspire and eliminate toxins during respiratory tract infections. Fenugreek tea can also soothe the stomach, cleanse the bowels and kidneys and clean the respiratory tract of excess mucus.
Gargling with a solution of fenugreek seeds can help heal mouth ulcers and sore throats. The seeds of this plant can be used to treat colic, flatulence and diarrhoea.
Jack by the Hedge (Alliaria petiolata)
Jack by the Hedge is also known as garlic mustard and this plant can often be found growing wild in Europe, western and central Asia and northwest Africa. The chopped leaves and flowers can be eaten and are mostly used in salads, sandwiches and pesto. These are best when they are young and provide a garlic and mustard flavour.
Jack by the hedge has a high content of vitamins A and C. This plant is believed to have expectorant, antiseptic, stimulant and anti-asthmatic properties and can also be used as a poultice for ulcers and cuts.
Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Lovage has a diuretic effect and can be used to relieve water retention, cleanse the kidneys and in cases of urinary tract infections. A tea can be made using the roots and leaves and then used to reduce fevers, aid digestion, promote circulation and relieve flatulence.
Lovage root can also be used to treat mouth ulcers, cystitis and menstrual cramps. The leaves of this plant can be eaten and add a celery like flavour to foods. Young leaves can be preserved by freezing for later use.
Mallow (Malva sylvestris)
Mallow is known for its antioxidant, wound healing, diuretic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This plant also contains calcium, magnesium, uronic acids and the main amino acids.
Mallow may be useful in alleviating inflammation, coughs, stomach pain, ear pain and inflammation and to soothe irritated skin.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
The leaves and flowers of this pretty trailing plant have both medicinal and culinary uses. Nasturtium is useful for treating bacterial, respiratory and digestive infections and issues. It also boosts the immune system, stimulates appetite and promotes digestion.
In the kitchen the flowers and leaves can be added to salads and have a peppery taste while the flowers make nice additions to flavour sorbets, custards, jams, fruit drinks and wine. The seeds can also be pickled and used as a substitute for capers.
Ramson (Allium ursinum)
This allium is one of the strongest smelling and is rich in antioxidants. It is believed to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar. Ramson has been used to treat asthma, bronchitis, diarrhoea, colic, ingestion and also reduce the risk of heart attack.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian is used in conventional and homeopathic medicine to treat nervous tension, insomnia, headaches, eczema and stomach and intestine problems that have been brought on by nerves.
Valerian can also be used as a sleeping aid and will not leave you feeling tired and disorientated like some other remedies and medications can. It has also been shown to improve behaviour issues such as hyperactivity, stress and anxiety in children.
© 2013 Claire