In much of world, specially in China and India, herbal remedies are used more than any other kind of medicine. Plants have used as medicine for at least 100,000 years. As long ago as 3000 BC, the Chinese had identified over 350 medicinal plants. Today the Chinese use about 5,000 plant remedies, and more than 8,000 medicinal plants are in use in India and Southeast Asia.
Willow Trees Links with Aspirin
Willow twigs were once chewed to give pain relief. A compound similar to the drug aspirin was once extracted fro willow bark, as well as from the herb meadowsweet. Meadowsweet used to be known as spirea—hence the name aspirin.
A Deadly Opium Poppy Save Lives
Many useful medicinal plants can also yield dangerous drugs, and the beautiful pink-purple opium poppy is no exception. This poppy is a source of morphine, which is widely used as an anesthetic. It is also a source of codeine, which is used in cough mixtures and many other medicines. However, addictive and dangerous substance are also made from opium poppy, including the deadly drug heroin.
Ginseng is a plant related to ivy, and has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. It is claimed to help many conditions, including fatigue and depression, kidney disease, heart problems, and headaches.
Plants Help Fight Cancer
Several plants are known to be effective against cancer tumors. One of the most famous is the rosy periwinkle. One of its chemical extracts, vincristine, is very effective against some types of leukemia, a cancer of the blood.
Contraception By Using Yams
Wild yams provided the medicines for the first contraceptive pills. Both the female and male sex hormones can be prepared by using extracts of yam,and first birth-control pills were made by Using this natural plant extract.
Plants with healing properties are still being discovered by scientists today.
Many plants, including the herbs and spices used in cooking, are used to help digestion. In Europe, the very bitter extract of wild gentians provides a good remedy for digestive problems. Plantain is another herb used for this porpuse.
Herb Used to Treat Headaches
Feverfew is a pungent plant belonging to the daisy family. It takes its name from its long use as a remedy for fevers, and has also been proven to be effective against headaches.
Medicine Comes from Deadly Nightshade
Deadly nightshade has bright juicy berries, which are very poisonous. However, they can be used to prepare the chemical atropine, which is used to dilate the pupil of the eye in medical examination.
Plant Helps Combat Malaria
Quinine, from the bark of the quinine tree, which grows in the South American Andes, can cure or prevent malaria. Before the widespread use of quinine, malaria killed two million people each year.
Herbs that Helps with Breathing Problems
Lungwort is a herb with purple flowers and spotted leaves. It is used to treat asthma and catarrh. Ephedrine, from the ephedra or joint-pine plant, is used to treat asthma and hay fever.
A word-famous fizzy drink originally contained extracts of two South American plants called coca and cola. The seeds of cola are chewed as a pick-me-up, because they contain caffeine. Coca is the source of the powerful anesthetic, cocaine, which is used in dentistry. It is also a dangerous drug, if abused.