The Healing Power of Plants
General Benefits of Vegetables and Plants
Many of us know the importance of vegetables in our diet and the benefits of consuming plant-based meals. Vegetables and plants along with a healthy diet contribute to greater overall health, lower risk of disease, and provide good sources of fiber and phytonutrients. But there are additional benefits as well; many plants have lesser known medicinal benefits and can provide healing effects. To name a few, peppermint, dandelion, and echinacea are some popular medicinal plants. You may have heard about them and now you will get to learn about their healing powers!
Peppermint is known as a minty leaf often used in teas and cooking. But peppermint is much more than just a fresh ingredient. According to the Phytotherapy Research Journal, peppermint is antiviral and antimicrobial which means it can help prevent or treat symptoms of the common cold. It can also help treat gastrointestinal issues such as stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This is because peppermint has a relaxing effect on the stomach and increases the flow of digestive juices. Additionally, when applied topically, peppermint oil can treat muscle pain. You can get peppermint in many forms such as whole leaves, teas, capsules, and oils.
Dandelions are known as little yellow flowers that grow all over. But besides for their aesthetic properties, dandelions have lots of health properties. Health benefits of dandelions include antioxidants, promotion of liver health, use as a mild diuretic and use as a mild laxative. Additionally, studies have shown dandelions to have anticancer properties. A cancer study reported that dandelion extract resulted in the death of chemoresistant human cancer cells without damage to the healthy human cells.
A tasty way to consume dandelions is with this instant herbal dandelion beverage blend.
Echinacea plants are commonly used for treating and preventing colds and flus. This is because echinacea stimulates and strengthens the immune system. A University of Connecticut study concluded that Echinacea can cut the chances of catching a cold by more than half, and shorten the duration of a cold by an average of 1.4 days.
Additionally, echinacea offers anti-inflammatory properties and when applied topically can improve skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Echinacea is available as leaves, teas, supplements, and creams.
The Bottom Line
Plants and herbs can be super helpful for treating certain conditions or optimizing overall health. Peppermint, dandelions, and echinacea are just a few of the amazing natural plant wonders. Simple online research can show you many more natural options to add to your diet such as the ones mentioned above. Feel free to explore all the plants out there!
Note: Always consult with your doctor before starting to consume any new plants or supplements.
Written by: Goldie Adler, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern