Plants With Medicinal Properties

Plants With Medicinal Properties

Ancient civilizations spanning time and geographic locale have used plants in the treatment of mental and physical illness (Petrovska, 2012). All parts of a plant, from flower to root to stem, were tested and used for their respective medicinal properties (Petrovska, 2012). The discovery of the Americas and its natural resources only expanded the healing repertoire of physicians of the time (Petrovska, 2012). Many of these plants were foundational for the development of modern-day pharmacology and still are widely used; aspirin, for instance, is derived from the willow bark, and licorice root remains a common ingredient in cough drops (US Forest Service, 2020). The documented harmfulness of some synthetic drugs, among other recent political concerns related to the pharmaceutical industry, has contributed to a renewed interest in alternative medicine (US Forest Service, 2020). Even more common is syncretic medicine – that is, medicine that combines both modern pharmaceuticals and plant-based drugs in a comprehensive, mixed-methods approach to healing (Petrovska, 2012).

Have you had any experience growing or using medicinal plants?


Petrovska, B. (2012). Historical review of medicinal plants′ usage. Pharmacognosy Reviews , 6 (11), 1. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.95849

US Forest Service. (2020). Retrieved 21 April 2020. Medical Botany.

Hi emerald.moon,

I love your thoughts on alternative medicine! Another thing that I have always found interesting about using plants for well being purposes is how they influence cultures as well.
Many different plants are used for medicinal purposes, but end up working in a cultural sense as well. In ancient Greece, there was a sacred woman known as the Priestess of Delphi, and she used a variety of different herbs like sage, rosemary, etc. to provide medical help for those in need! She used a variety of different plants, which would provide her with “visions” that would help her see the well being of others in her community, as she believed she was connected to the Greek God Apollo. Now, these visions are assumed to be a high given by burning things such as mushrooms, which also would be considered an interesting division of plant science. Overall, I think the use of medicinal plants are so helpful to people, and it is so nifty that they date back this far! I don’t have much experience in medicinal botany, but I would love to learn!!

I’m loving the resurgence of plant medicine! I notice even as I’m just walking around the drug store these days there are more and more plant-based and natural products. As Emerald Moon stated, so many commonly known painkillers and other medicines use plants for their base.

I’ve been interested in plant medicine for a while now but there is still so much to learn. During the Summers I regularly take ‘herb walks’ with a local herbal dispensary where we will identify and talk about the healing properties of local shrubs, flowers and trees. It’s so interesting to learn how plants that most people would recognize as a weed can actually be used in a variety of ways to help treat maladies like anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. Herbal medicine is potent and potentially toxic in large doses though so it’s really important to understand the possible dangers before making anything yourself at home.

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Hi MystMaid and kjoliver,

There are absolutely cultural aspects to complementary and alternative medicine and I think the resurgence in interest is mostly positive because it means that there is a chance for these plants to be studied in order to fill the gap when synthetic medicine fails.

The plant that I’ve been researching the most nowadays is kava. I first had it in an infused coffee drink when I was traveling in Florida (the scene is huge there). The cultural significance behind it is beautiful and I hope it doesn’t become muddled through commodification - that’s always a catch-22 to consider.

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I have had kava a few times, it is very relaxing. I prepare it as a tea. It has a strong earthy taste along with a mouth-numbing sensation. Although I’ve seen media reports of it causing liver issues, I didn’t experience any negative side effects from it. I’ve even heard of “kava bars” in Florida, but I’ve never visited one. I like the idea of kava being used as a substitute for alcohol.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”