Throughout the centuries, civilizations have utilized plants for medicinal purposes. Many of those plants have made their way into modern medicine. Today, a trip to the pharmacy is how many people obtain healing products, yet a trip to the garden may be a useful alternative. When harvesting plants for medicinal purposes, avoid those treated by pesticides.
Aloe vera, a member of the Lily family, is a succulent that grows well in hot desert and tropical regions. For centuries, aloe has treated a variety of medical conditions, including skin irritations, wounds, burns and constipation. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, during the 18th and 19th centuries, aloe was one of the most frequently prescribed medicines. Aloe continues to treat skin irritations and burns. While some in the medical profession question aloe’s true effectiveness in treating burns, research continues, exploring other medicinal uses of aloe, such as helping treat diabetes, inflammatory digestive ailments and lowering cholesterol. The University of Medical Maryland Center warns against taking aloe latex, a compound of aloe vera, orally, as it can cause severe stomach pains and diarrhea, and may trigger miscarriage in pregnant women, due to cramping. Always consult your doctor before taking aloe in any form.
The rose bush is an ornamental addition to the garden, yet it is also a valuable source of Vitamin C. When students in elementary school begin studying about the sea voyages of early adventurers, they typically hear about the disease called scurvy. Scurvy, a severe deficiency of Vitamin C, results in weight loss, weakness, muscular pains, tooth loss, increased heart rate, fever, diarrhea and other ailments. Yet, a person does not need to be out on the high sea, without access to citrus fruit, to come down with scurvy. She simply needs to have a diet lacking Vitamin C. While citrus fruit is one way to get Vitamin C, another is by rose hips, which actually have a much higher concentration of Vitamin C than citrus fruit. Rose hips, the fruit of the rose bush, treats colds and provides Vitamin C, often by brewing as a tea.
The lemon balm is a member of the mint family. As its name implies, the plant has a lemon-like scent. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, for centuries the lemon balm has been considered a calming herb, used to treat anxiety, stress, relieve indigestion aliments and improve sleep. The online report by the University of Maryland Medical Center warns that lemon balm should not be used by nursing or pregnant women, and lemon balm may interact negatively with thyroid medications and sedatives.