We all know the benefits of cannabis. And, as time progresses, we are excited about more and more people realizing these benefits. People who were previously (for lack of a better word), brainwashed by the War on Drugs and D.A.R.E, are now discovering that cannabis (gasp) helps them feel great without the side effects of prescription drugs. As the tide shifts toward personalizing health care, we are realizing the importance of getting back to our roots — literally.
There are countless plant medicines (besides cannabis) that have been used for thousands of years that deserve some love. What did we miss? Let us know what natural remedies have helped you.
What does it look like? Echinacea is a herbaceous flower related to the common daisy and is native to North America. Its blooms are a vibrant magenta.
What’s its history? Echinacea was a significant aspect of indigenous North American medicine, particularly on the Plains and east coast. It was quickly adopted by colonizers and it used to this day.
How is it used? The roots and above-ground parts of the Echinacea plant are used to make capsules and salves. It is theorized to be an immunostimulator, most often used to combat colds and other minor illnesses. Studies have revealed echinacea may prevent sickness, while it wont lessen the time one is sick. It is also used topically to heal scrapes and small wounds.
What does it look like? The tea tree is a short, squat shrub with light green, yellowish leaves. The oil is often colorless or light yellow and has a camphorous scent.
What’s its history? The tea tree is native to Australia. The tea tree oil industry flourished in the 1920s because Arthur Penfold, an Australian, discovered its anti-septic qualities. Since then, it has been widely regarded as one of the most valuable essential oils.
How is it used? Tea tree is used topically as an anti-septic, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. Studies have revealed many of this qualities. It may be used to prevent infection and reduce redness and swelling; many people use it to treat acne and fungal conditions. It is toxic if ingested.
What does it look like? Lavender is a shrub featuring purple or blue flowers. It is a member of the mint family and has a fragrant, sweet-spicy aroma.
What’s its history? Lavender has been historically found across Eurasia, ranging from the Mediterranean all the way to India. It was used in ancient Greece and Rome, along in ancient religious ceremonies. In the current age, lavender is used for a variety of uses ranging from medicinal to culinary.
How is it used? The lovely lavender flowers are used in floral arrangements, but this plant is so much more than just pretty. The terpenes in lavender include linalool and carophyllene, which are both known to be anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory. The scent can be calming and aid in sleep disorders such as insomnia and nightmares. There are a number of other uses as well, which you can read about here.
What does it look like? Aloe vera is a cactus-like, succulent plant, with long spiky leaves filled with liquid. It is endemic to areas with lower rainfall and is particularly hardy in desert conditions.
What’s its history? This plant has been widely cultivated throughout history. It was known to the ancient Egyptians as the “plant of immortality” and was often used to treat minor wounds. Aloe vera was also used in Ayurvedic medicine. It continues to be regarded as a useful medicinal plant today.
How is it used? Aloe vera gel is, today, most often applied topically to treat a variety of skin conditions, ranging for psoriasis to burns. It has a cooling, soothing effect on the skin, perfect for taking care of a nasty sunburn. Historically, it has been used as a laxative if ingested orally, but we don’t recommend it as it may be toxic. More studies need to be completed, yet people still use it for these conditions.
These four plants are only a small portion of the vast variety of medicinal plants (including cannabis) nature offers us. Using plant medicine can give you more options and broaden your knowledge about your own health. We recommend exploring the many possibilities available and we hope you’ll be feeling your best!
— Words by Taylor Haynes