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List of plants used in herbalism

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Title: List of plants used in herbalism  
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Subject: Medicinal plants, Herbalism, Huoxiang Zhengqi Shui, Kanggu Zengsheng Wan, Nicholas Williams
Collection: Garden Plants, Gardening Lists, Herbalism, Lists of Plants, Medical Lists, Medicinal Plants, Traditional Medicine
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List of plants used in herbalism

The Chelsea Physic Garden has cultivated medicinal plants since 1673. The plant shown here is montbretia (crocosmia aurea), used as a remedy for dysentery.

This is a list of plants that have been used as herbal medicine. The ability to synthesize a wide variety of chemical compounds that are used to perform important biological functions, and to defend against attack from predators such as insects, fungi and herbivorous mammals. Many of these phytochemicals have beneficial effects on long-term health when consumed by humans, and can be used to effectively treat human diseases. At least 12,000 such compounds have been isolated so far; a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total.[1][2] These phytochemicals are divided into (1) primary metabolites such as sugars and fats, which are found in all plants; and (2) secondary metabolites – compounds which are found in a smaller range of plants, serving a more specific function.[3] For example, some secondary metabolites are toxins used to deter predation and others are pheromones used to attract insects for pollination. It is these secondary metabolites and pigments that can have therapeutic actions in humans and which can be refined to produce drugs—examples are inulin from the roots of dahlias, quinine from the cinchona, morphine and codeine from the poppy, and digoxin from the foxglove.[3] Chemical compounds in plants mediate their effects on the human body through processes identical to those already well understood for the chemical compounds in conventional drugs; thus herbal medicines do not differ greatly from conventional drugs in terms of how they work. This enables herbal medicines to be as effective as conventional medicines, but also gives them the same potential to cause harmful side effects.[1][2]

In Europe, apothecaries stocked herbal ingredients for their medicines. In the Latin names for plants created by Linnaeus, the word officinalis indicates that a plant was used in this way. For example, the marsh mallow has the classification Althaea officinalis, as it was traditionally used as an emollient to soothe ulcers.[4] Ayurvedic medicine, herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine are other examples of medical practices that incorporate medical uses of plants. Pharmacognosy is the branch of modern medicine about medicines from plant sources. Plants included here are those that have been or are being used medicinally, in at least one such medicinal tradition.

Modern medicine now tends to use the active ingredients of plants rather than the whole plants. The phytochemicals may be synthesized, compounded or otherwise transformed to make pharmaceuticals. Examples of such derivatives include Digoxin, from digitalis; capsaicine, from chili; and aspirin, which is chemically related to the salicylic acid found in white willow. The opium poppy continues to be a major industrial source of opiates, including morphine. Few traditional remedies, however, have translated into modern drugs, although there is continuing research into the efficacy and possible adaptation of traditional herbal treatments.


Aloe vera



Chili peppers


Dandelion flower




Garlic bulbs




  • Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) Kratom is known to prevent or delay withdrawal symptoms in an opioid-dependent individual, and it is often used to mitigate cravings thereafter. It can also be used for other medicinal purposes. Kratom has been traditionally used in regions such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
  • Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) African treatment for depression. Suggested to be an SSRI or have similar effects, but unknown mechanism of activity.


Lavender blossoms




  • Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is the plant source of morphine, used for pain relief. Morphine made from the refined and modified sap is used for pain control in terminally ill patients. Dried sap was used as a traditional medicine until the 19th century.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Used as an abortifacient in folk medicine in some parts of Bolivia and other northwestern South American countries, though no evidence of efficacy exists in Western medicine. Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic, as well as a cure for stomach and respiratory ailments. A Cretan oregano (O. dictamnus) is still used today in Greece as a palliative for sore throat. Evidence of efficacy in this matter is lacking.


  • Passion Flower (Passiflora) - Thought to have Anti-depressant properties. Unknown MOA. Used in traditional medicine to aid with sleep or depression.



  • Syrian Rue (aka Harmal) (Peganum harmala) - MAOI. Can be used as an antidepressant, but carries significant risk. Used in traditional shamanistic rites in the amazon, and is a component of Ayahuasca, Caapi or Yajé (which is actually usually Banisteriopsis caapi but has the same active alkaloids).
  • Summer savory (Satureja hortensis) extracts show antibacterial and antifungal effects on several species including some of the antibiotic resistant strains.[111][112][113]



Valerian flowers




Xanthoparmelia scabrosa is a lichen used for sexual dysfunction.[135]



  • Elizabeth M. Manhã, Maria C. Silva, Maria G. C. Alves, Maurício B. Almeida, Maria G. L. Brandão (October 3, 2008). "PLANT - A bibliographic database about medicinal plants". Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  • James Duke. "Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  • "Protabase: Useful Plants of Tropical Africa". Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  • "Tropical Plant Database". Raintree. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  • "Plant Database".  
  • "Vitamins & Supplements Center". WebMD. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 

See also


  • ^ Digitalis use in the United States is controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and can only be prescribed by a physician. Misuse can cause death.
  • This encyclopedia is not a substitute for medical advice nor a complete description of these herbs, their dangers (up to and including death), and their (in)compatibility with alcohol or other drugs.


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  38. ^ "Chamomille".  
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  41. ^ "Chasteberry".  
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  44. ^ "Clove".  
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  49. ^ "Cranberry".  
  50. ^ "Dandelion".  
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  54. ^ "European Elderberry".  
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  56. ^ "Ephedra". National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  57. ^ "Eucalyptus". Health Notes. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
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  59. ^ "Mistletoe".  
  60. ^ "Evening primrose oil".  
  61. ^ "Fenugreek".  
  62. ^ "Feverfew".  
  63. ^ "Flaxseed".  
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  71. ^ "Gingko".  
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  73. ^ "Goldenseal".  
  74. ^ "Grape seed".  
  75. ^ "Guava". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
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  77. ^ "Acacia". WebMD. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  78. ^ "Hawthorn".  
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  81. ^ "Hoodia".  
  82. ^ "Horse chestnut".  
  83. ^ "Horsetail". Encyclopedia of Health. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  84. ^ "Jamaica dogwood". WebMD. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
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  86. ^ "Kava".  
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  92. ^ "Lavender".  
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  94. ^ "Licorice root".  
  95. ^ "Sacred Lotus". 
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  97. ^ .  
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  99. ^ "Noni".  
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  101. ^ "Peppermint Oil".  
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  103. ^ "Echinacea".  
  104. ^ "Red clover".  
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  106. ^ "Sage".  
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  109. ^ "St. John's wort".  
  110. ^ "Saw palmetto".  
  111. ^ Güllüce, M.; Sökmen, M.; Daferera, D.; Aǧar, G.; Özkan, H.; Kartal, N.; Polissiou, M.; Sökmen, A.; Şahi̇n, F. (2003). "In Vitro Antibacterial, Antifungal, and Antioxidant Activities of the Essential Oil and Methanol Extracts of Herbal Parts and Callus Cultures of Satureja hortensis L". J. Agric. Food Chem. 51 (14): 3958–3965.  
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  114. ^ "Tea tree oil".  
  115. ^ "Thunder God Vine".  
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  118. ^ "Turmeric".  
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  120. ^ "Valerian".  
  121. ^ "Abuta". WebMD. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  122. ^ "Verbena". WebMD. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  123. ^ "Veronica". WebMD. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  124. ^ "Vetiver". WebMD. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  125. ^ "Wafer Ash". WebMD. 
  126. ^ "Wahoo". WebMD. 
  127. ^ "Wallflower". WebMD. 
  128. ^ "Water Fennel". WebMD. 
  129. ^ "Water Germander". WebMD. 
  130. ^ "Water Hemlock". WebMD. 
  131. ^ "Water Plantain". WebMD. 
  132. ^ "Watercress". WebMD. 
  133. ^ "Wheatgrass". WebMD. 
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  135. ^ "Xanthoparmelia". WebMD. 
  136. ^ James D. Adams Jr, Cecilia Garcia; Garcia (2005). "Palliative Care Among Chumash People". ECAM 2 (2): 143–147.  

Further reading

  • Bown, Deni (1995). Encyclopedia of herbs and their uses. Dorling Kindersley.  
  • Mitchell, William; Bastyr, John B. (2003). Plant medicine in practice: using the teachings of John Bastyr. Churchill Livingstone.  
  • Harrod Buhner, Stephen (1996). Sacred plant medicine: explorations in the practice of indigenous herbalism. Roberts Rinehart Publishers.  
  • Cech, Richard A.; Cech, Sena K.; Gunter, Anne (2000). Making Plant Medicine. Horizon Herbs.  
  • Hoffmann, David (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine (Google eBook). Inner Traditions / Bear & Co.  
  • Garrett, J. T. (2003). The Cherokee herbal: native plant medicine from the four directions. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co.  
  • Neuwinger, H.D. (2000). African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Scientific.  
  • Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
  • Journal of Ethnopharmacology
  • Barnes, Joanne; Anderson, Linda A.; Phillipson, J.D. (2007). Herbal Medicines (3rd ed.). London: Pharmaceutical Press.  

External links

  • The dictionary definition of herbalism at Wiktionary
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