Hippocrates once said, “let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” He was right.
There are many medicinal plants and herbs that we are surrounded by, yet don’t realize their full potential. What if I told you that the dandelions in your backyard could help fix your liver problems, and lower your blood pressure?
With medical schools neglecting nutrition education, it is no wonder that doctors aren’t even aware of the powers that plant-based foods can provide. Even if they were aware, they probably wouldn’t reveal these natural remedies to their patients, because of the perks that doctors receive from pharmaceutical companies for pushing their drugs.
And while manufactured medicines and prescriptions do have a time and place, do they have to be the only approach to healing?
What Is the History of Medicinal Plants?
People have been healing with medicinal plants since ancient times. Awareness of the usage of these plants stemmed from years of struggles against illnesses and as a result, seeking out healing from the various medicinal properties of barks, seeds, fruit bodies, and other plant parts.
The use of these plants came instinctually. Over time, as people began narrowing down certain plants for specific illnesses, it became obvious what worked for certain diseases and what didn’t.
Before the 16th century, people used medicinal plants as simple pharmaceutical forms like infusions, decoctions, and macerations. By the Middle Ages, particularly between the 16th and 18th centuries, there became an increased demand for compound drugs. These drugs comprised medicinal plants along with drugs of animal and plant origin.
Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Herbs
Grapes do more than just taste good. Grape skins contain a beneficial compound called resveratrol that has been found to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
Grapes are also natural diuretics, helping the body get rid of excess sodium and water, which naturally help lower blood pressure.
Turmeric is one of the best all-natural anti-inflammatories, which also means it is one of the best natural substances to help alleviate aches, pain, and swelling.
Turmeric has been used for centuries to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. One study even found curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) to possess the ability to inhibit the activity of COX-2 enzymes, a major enzyme involved in the inflammatory response.
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects have even been equated with that of the popular pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin and hydrocortisone.
Dandelion greens are some of the best to help strengthen the bones and teeth and help detox the liver. Dandelions provide the body with 535% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which means that it is one of the most important plant-based sources to help strengthen bones. Vitamin K is needed for improving bone density – individuals who are low in vitamin K, often suffer from a higher risk of fracture. It keeps bone mineralization in balance and helps raise osteocalcin, which controls the building of bone.
Dandelions also help stimulate digestion and bile flow and are considered a diuretic, helping to lower blood pressure and relieve premenstrual fluid retention. Researchers have also found that dandelions help promote healthy lipid profiles and suppress fat accumulation in the liver.
Lemon is another not-often-spoke-of-natural medicine that helps dissolve mucoid plaque in the arteries and veins and helps lower blood pressure.
In 2010, a study published in the “Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences” found that lemon juice can help lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL – the “bad” cholesterol) while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL – the “good” cholesterol).
Lemon also stimulates the lymphatic system, helping to flush out toxins, as well as tone our cells and get rid of fat deposits that contribute to cellulite. Try drinking lemon in your water every day!
Cilantro is renowned for its heavy metal cleansing benefits, via natural compounds that bind to toxic metals and loosen them from tissues. Heavy metals have been connected with many serious health problems including cancer, heart disease, brain deterioration, emotional problems, kidney disease, lung disease, and brittle bones.
Cilantro also prevents cardiovascular damage, possesses anti-diabetic activity, is a strong antioxidant, and improves sleep quality. It is also a known anti-anxiety, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and natural internal deodorant.
If you’re suffering from swollen breathing passages in the lung, coughs, or bronchitis, watercress might be just the herb for you. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, helping reduce inflammation and clear breathing passages. It helps to clear heat, and lubricate the lungs, and has even been found to be an effective chemopreventative agent against lung cancer induced by tobacco-specific lung carcinogens.
This powerful little herb purifies the blood, and stimulates the lymphatic system as well, contributing to overall health and wellness.
Ginger is another great anti-inflammatory rhizome that helps relieve PMS and improve circulation. The anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger called gingerols help alleviate pain in those suffering from arthritis and help women who experience painful menstrual cramps.
If you or someone you know suffers from morning sickness, ginger can help. Studies have found that 125 mg of ginger extract (equivalent to 1.5g of dried ginger) given four times a day for four days significantly reduced nausea in women less than 20 weeks pregnant who had previously experienced morning sickness daily for at least a week. The placebo group had no reductions in nausea. This effect was found after the first day of treatment!
8. Cucumber and Celery
Cucumber and celery are both strong diuretics. They encourage the flushing of excess toxins and salt from the body by stimulating the kidneys and increasing urine output. Because these two vegetables help the body get rid of excess sodium (the main reason so many people have high blood pressure – also because of excess fat intake), they also help control blood pressure.
Not to mention, cucumber is high in silica, which beautifies the hair, skin, and nails.
Garlic is nature’s best, and most powerful antibiotic. Most drug-synthesized antibiotics (like Amoxicillin) inhibit the bacterium’s cell-wall-building mechanism so that it can no longer replicate. However, these antibiotics also inhibit protein synthesis of the good bacteria needed by our bodies for proper immunity and digestion.
Garlic contains thiosulfinates, which possess strong antibiotic activity. It also contains a compound called diallyl sulfide, which has been found to be over 100 times more effective (5) than two popular antibiotics in fighting intestinal infections.
Beets are one of the best foods you could eat to help build your blood and improve your iron stores. Beets are high in iron, which helps to regenerate and reactivate our red blood cells, supplying fresh oxygen to the body. Conveniently, beets also contain copper, which works together with iron to make it more readily available to the body.
Beets contain an amino acid called betaine, which helps dissolve inorganic calcium deposits in the arteries, helping to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing atherosclerosis. Not only that, but beets help thin the bile (which is responsible for about 80% of the immune response in the gut) and stimulate the lymphatic system.