Long before people were taking Advil for cramps, antibiotics for various infections or treating their wounds with bandages and gauze, plants made up the traditional medicine bag. Understanding the healing properties for various herbs and plants is something humans have been doing around the world for thousands of years.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to turn to natural remedies for health issues than consume something that is fabricated in a lab. In fact, I’m absolutely fascinated in the power of natural healing; So much so, that I will jump at any opportunity to learn about a new medicinal plant or natural way of healing throughout my travels. I’ve come to learn over the years that there are so many incredible plants used to cure many of the diseases we face today. The following are 5 of the most interesting and efficacious plants to be found on 5 of the world’s continents:
Coca Leaves, South America
Coca leaves are best known in the west for being used in the production of the drug cocaine or being a part of the Coca-Cola drink until the 1920s. These leaves however, have been used for hundreds of years in South America due to the medicinal power they hold. In places, such as the Andes Mountains, coca leaves are chewed and sucked on in order to relieve headaches and fatigue that are associated with altitude sickness. These powerful leaves have also been used as an anesthetic, to stem a bleeding wound and ease pain during childbirth.
Ginseng is a plant that has grown in cooler areas of Asia for thousands of years. Both Chinese and Koreans have absolute confidence in the healing power of Ginseng as it has the ability to heal the body and mind in a gentle way with little to no serious side effects. The roots of the plant are the main part used for medicinal purposes. This magical root can increase the insulin sensitivity in sufferers of diabetes, control hormone activity, increase metabolism, reduce the impact of cold and flu viruses and are used as a stimulant that can help to deal with erectile dysfunction. Today the root can be purchased dried to be used in a tea, although the majority of people who take ginseng will have it in tablet form.
Yarrow, Northern Europe
The Yarrow is considered a weed in some areas, but those who know of its medical properties have often treasured the leaves of this flowering plant. The medicinal plant is a long-stemmed member of the sunflower family found in the wild throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. One of the main uses for Yarrow is for encouraging clotting in blood. For this reason, it has been taken by medics and soldiers on to the field of battle. It’s also helpful in relieving fevers, shortening the duration of cold and flu, relieving cramps and improving relaxation during illness.
Gum Arabic, North East Africa
Gum Arabic is a natural gum historically cultivated in Arabia and West Asia. Today, 80% of it is harvested in Sudan. It’s essentially the hardened sap taken from two species of the Acacia tree; Acacia Senegal and Acacia Seyal. It is widely used in food production, and is the only plant so far that has the highest amount of prebiotic’s that comes in the form of soluble fiber. Gum Arabic was traditionally carried by those who were traveling across the desert and would have inflammation of the eyes caused by blowing sand. It can also be used to soothe coughs and sore throats, while it is also said to be a traditional treatment for diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. For those suffering from digestion issues, this powerful medicine is definitely worth looking into.
Kanuka, New Zealand & Australia
Kanuka is a shrub or tree found across New Zealand and Australia and has been used by the Maori people for several medicinal purposes. You can consume this natural medicine in several ways including indulging on Kanuka honey. Kanuka honey is not as well-known as it’s cousin “Manuka honey,” but actually contains more antiseptic properties. The leaves and the shoots of the tree are most commonly used, and can be used to produce a tea, or a white gum can be made from boiling the bark of the tree. It can also be found as an essential oil. Conditions that can be treated with different parts of the Kanuka tree include fever, dysentery and diarrhea, while the gum is soothing and can be smeared on burns and rashes to calm the skin.