by Samuel Quino
Plants have always played an essential role in our lives. They cleanse and give us air to breathe, beautify our surroundings, supply us with food and shelter and provide cures for our many ailments. It is best to know the value of each plant and acknowledges that most plants and herbs transcend their use in our kitchen counters and some can now be found inside medicine cabinets. Usual forms of medicinal remedies come in infusions, decoctions, tinctures, syrups, infused oils, essential oils, ointment and creams.
Medicinal plants and herbs contain substances known to modern and ancient civilizations for their healing properties. Until the development of chemistry, and particularly, of the synthesis of organic compounds in the 19th century, medicinal plants and herbs were the sole source of active principles of curing man’s ills. The genetic material of old and new herbs and plants are coveted for their potential in discovering, combining, manipulating and synthesizing new medicine.
Thus, even if people are not aware of, or the pharmaceutical industry does not stress the points, medicinal plants and herbs continue to be the source of proven medicaments and of new and revolutionary drugs. Here are five of the most common herbs that pack a mean punch – basil, oregano, peppermint, rosemary and tarragon.
BASIL (Octimum basilicum)
Basil is used to treat stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, colds, flu, headaches, whooping cough, and menstrual pains. It is also used to reduce stomach acid, making it an effective treatment for ulcers, and valuable addition to any recipe using tomatoes for those with sensitive stomachs. Externally, it can be used in other countries to eliminate worms from the intestines and the oil from basil leaves is applied directly to the skin to treat acne.
OREGANO (Origanum vulgare)
Oregano is used to promote perspiration as a treatment for colds, flue and fevers. A tea of oregano is often used to bring on menstruation and relieve associated menstrual discomfort. It is also used in baths and inhalations, and by drinking the infusion, clears lungs and bronchial passages. Internally and externally, it can help alleviate dry itching skin. The essential oil is used to treat viral infections, respiratory ailments, and muscle aches. Pregnant women would not ingest large amounts of oregano.
PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint has been in existence for a long time. Peppermint tea helps with indigestion and relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract. Its chief therapeutic value lies in its ability to relieve wind, flatulence, bloating and colic, though it has many of the applications. Studies have shown that peppermint relieves colon spasms and helps to cure ulcers and eases nervous headaches. Its main menthol, has antibacterial properties. Externally, the essential oil is used in balms and liniments to stimulate hot and cold nerve endings and increase local blood flow.
ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is a stimulant of the circulatory system. It is used to treat bites and stings externally. Internally, it is used to treat migraines, bad breath, and to stimulate the sexual organs. It is also used to treat nervous disorders, upset stomachs, and is used to regulate the menstrual cycle and ease cramps. Mixing the crushed leaves generously into meats, fish and potato salads prevents food poisoning while using it in antiseptic gargles relieves sore throat, gum problems and canker sores. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy as an inhalant and decongestant, and to enhance memory. Rosemary is also used in lotions to ease arthritis and muscle pain.
TARRAGON (Artermisia dracunculus)
Tarragon is widely used as a herb in cooking. In France, it is sometimes known as “herbe au dragon”, because of its ability to cure serpent bites. While tarragon stimulates the digestion, it is reputed to be a mild sedative and has been taken to aid sleep. With its mild menstruation-inducing properties, it is take if periods are delayed and its root has traditionally been applied to aching teeth.
Clearly, herbs have taken on a new role. They’re not only used for decorating and adding spice to our food but, taken in the appropriate dose and form, can be as effective as drugs in curing illnesses, without causing pain in your pocket.
Samuel Quino is the founder of
Garden Tips and Gardening Advise website that portrays a number of gardening helpful resources, tools, and e-books. Visit
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