Humans have used natural remedies for centuries to help heal ailments and promote recovery. In recent years, scientists have looked closer into the medicinal benefits of plants. Here, we take a look at some traditional remedies that research has shown to be beneficial and effective.
A Brief History of Natural Remedies
For thousands of years, our ancestors lived in much closer proximity to nature than we do now.
Without modern science and medicine, they turned to the natural environment for help with ailments of all kinds, from wounds to illnesses.
After many years of intuition, trial, error and experimentation, our past relatives discovered a rich library of natural medicines.
The development of modern medicine into the present time has revolutionised the world and helped to reduce death, disease and suffering. However, in recent years scientists have become increasingly more interested in the natural remedies of our past.
Why Do People Use Natural Remedies?
While there is most certainly a place for modern medicine, there are several scenarios in which a holistic alternative can be beneficial:
- They can help to reduce the side effects of traditional medications.
- There are little or no side effects in comparison to their pharmaceutical alternatives.
- They can help to boost the immune system.
- Their non-toxic nature and connection to the natural world can help to promote wellbeing.
- They may provide a cure or relief of symptoms.
Which Natural Remedies Are Backed Up by Science?
The following is a list of plant-based remedies and their known scientific values.
The chamomile plant grows in abundance across the UK and was used by our ancestors to treat a variety of complaints. There have been several studies that link consuming chamomile tea to reduced menstrual cramps.
Other research has revealed that chamomile can help to lower blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes.
Interestingly, very few studies have been conducted regarding chamomile’s effectiveness in promoting sleep and reducing anxiety, something it is traditionally well known for; therefore, results are inconclusive. However, researchers believe that it may function like benzodiazepines.
Turmeric is a fine, golden powder ground from the turmeric plant which has been used in both Ayurvedic medicine and cooking for almost 4,000 years.
Scientists’ main interest in the spice is its anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric’s active ingredient is curcumin, which studies show can help reduce pain caused by arthritis, with one study revealing that turmeric extract was equally as effective as ibuprofen for treating pain caused by osteoarthritis in patient’s knees.
Interestingly, consuming turmeric alongside ground black pepper helps to boost absorption.
Hemp is most commonly consumed in the form of CBD oil which can be extracted from the plant.
The hemp plant is a fast-growing, versatile crop that has been used for centuries to create textiles and medicine.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, hemp acts as an anti-inflammatory which may help to treat types of chronic pain. Studies suggest it can also provide relief for anxiety and insomnia.
There is also strong evidence showing that a specific hemp-derived medicine can treat severe symptoms of childhood epilepsy, which often don’t respond to antiseizure medications. So much so, that in 2018 the FDA approved the first-ever medication of this kind.
Chilli peppers contain an active ingredient, capsaicin. Capsaicin has long been used in homoeopathy but has more recently been adopted by modern medicine as a treatment for pain and soreness.
The capsaicin is usually found in a prescription patch or creams and works by making an area of the skin hot before going numb, to reduce feelings of pain.
Certain varieties of mint can provide different benefits. A strain of mint known as wintergreen has shown it may help soothe joint and muscle pain when applied topically.
Studies have shown that peppermint can help reduce several of the symptoms associated with IBS, including spasms and abdominal pain. In addition, this suggests that peppermint tea or capsules can help to aid digestion.
Lavender is good for the mind, with the plant traditionally being used to treat headaches, migraines, anxiety, stress and restlessness.
It turns out there is good reason for this fragrant flower being used as a remedy, with science revealing many medicinal uses for it.
A study published in European Neurology concluded that the inhalation of lavender oil is an effective treatment for managing migraines.
Likewise, a study into lavender and the nervous system, published by Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, discovered that lavender helped to improve disturbed sleep and restlessness, alleviated anxiety and improved mood, and eased chronic pain.
Ginger is an all-rounder when it comes to its benefits and effectiveness. Not only is it used to help soothe sore throats and clear up colds, but it also helps to settle stomachs, stop feelings of nausea and work as an anti-inflammatory.
Ginger works to reduce pain by blocking the formation of certain inflammatory compounds and breaking down pre-existing inflammation with its antioxidant properties.
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