The world celebrated Earth Day on 22nd April 2020. Most of us are in our homes due to “social distancing” and miss going outside. Now we truly understand the importance of planet Earth’s bountiful nature. The earth has always provided for our needs. Before synthesizing medicine in our labs, we took help from the Earth. It has countless plants that are medicinal in nature and benefit us holistically. Herbal medicines are well-known and found in almost every household. Let’s read more about some of the medicinal plants that are truly nothing short of a wonder:
We know you know about it and probably think it’s overrated. But turmeric truly deserves a high spot on every natural medicines’ list. It’s a regular in many kitchens, adding a lovely colour to our food. It’s safe orally as well as topically. The first thing you do when you accidentally cut yourself — whether you’re an adult or a child — is sprinkle some turmeric on it. It is a potent germ killer. Turmeric is a great supplement for dermatological as well as joint diseases. It also lowers your blood sugar, builds immunity (haldi doodh!) and is recommended in many cancer treatment strategies.
2. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a common household plant. It’s succulent leaves are filled with aloe vera juice, holding a number of medicinal properties. It is one of the favourite choices of herbal ingredients in facial products. It has a soothing effect on the skin and hence is a great household option to heal wounds, sores and boils. Though not that great to taste, aloe vera juice (mixed with warm water and honey) reduces toxins in blood and helps in clearing infections, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract.
3. Black pepper
Though it may interrupt you while enjoying a plateful of biryani (and biting into it accidentally is so annoying), black pepper is one of the best medicinal ingredients out there. It is a potent antiflatulent and helps your digestive system. Whoever thought of incorporating it into our daily food items was truly thinking logically. Other than that, black pepper is one of the home remedies for cold. Just mix it with honey in a warm decoction to get rid of all the phlegm from your system.
Don’t touch it or drink it — just enjoy its scent. Lavender is a popular aromatic all around the world. It is an essential oil in aromatherapy. Whenever you feel anxious, turn towards a lavender scented candle or its essential oil and you’re bound to feel better. It impacts your mood and cognitive performance. You can also try it if you’re an insomniac or have trouble sleeping sometimes. The relaxing aroma might just bring you some sleep. Besides, it’s a beautiful flower to grow in the garden!
5. Flax seeds
This is one of the safer choices among plant-based dietary supplements. Flax seeds are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They help control blood pressure and fight obesity. The best way to incorporate them would be in oatmeal or smoothies. You can also try to sprinkle them on salads. Or the next time you are choosing a bread for your sandwich, go with the multigrain one. Flax seeds are also beneficial if a person is having hot flashes.
It would be pretty hard to name any Indian savoury dish that does not have garlic as one of the ingredients. Adding garlic to the tadka takes your dal to another level, doesn’t it? Garlic has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is good for your heart. It is an effective household remedy for cough or a sore throat, along with some honey and lime juice. It also helps in relieving episodes of indigestion or stomach aches. Garlic is antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial as well as antiseptic in nature. It is full of vitamins and other nutrients.
An essential and rather popular member of the citrus family, lemon is packed with antioxidants. It’s a natural detoxifier and immune system booster. It is also a source of vitamin C and folate. If you want to reduce some flab, the best trick is to drink lukewarm lemon juice first thing in the morning. Lemon helps balance the pH levels of the body and improves our metabolic rate. It also has the potential to prevent stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
Referred to as “nectar of the gods”, but is available to us mere humans, thanks to the million little honeybees. Honey is a kid-favourite kitchen item, having antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties. It’s impossible for honey to turn bad, no matter how long it stands in a jar. Honey is rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, zinc, etc. all of which recharge your body. Your mother will hand you a glass of honey in lukewarm water when you tell her you have an itchy throat; and it will work wonders!
It is true that we have advanced technologically in every field today, including Medicine. But as we indulge more in technology, we move away from nature, from the very Earth that provides for us all. We have been blessed since the very beginning with medicines that can be grown in our backyard and which have little to no side effects. It is true that the world is now looking at herbal medicine in a new light and reaping its benefits. Connecting with nature is rewarding in ways we cannot even comprehend. The Earth has always cared for us; it’s time we start caring back.
1. Nature’s 9 Most Powerful Medicinal Plants and the Science Behind Them. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/most-powerful-medicinal-plants. Accessed on 23 April 2020.
2. Introduction and Importance of Medicinal Plants and Herbs. Available at: https://www.nhp.gov.in/introduction-and-importance-of-medicinal-plants-and-herbs_mtl. Accessed on 23 April 2020.
3. Kitchen Medicines: 10 Delicious Medicinal Foods That Belong in Every Kitchen. Available at: https://www.consciouslifestylemag.com/medicinal-foods/. Accessed on 23 April 2020.
4. 17 Kitchen Ingredients That Work Like Natural Medicines. Available at: https://www.top10homeremedies.com/kitchen-ingredients/10-kitchen-ingredients-that-work-like-medicines.html. Accessed on 23 April 2020.