Herbs have been used as medicine for centuries. People have always used plants to cure ailments and boost health. Now, in the era of modern medicine, their medicinal properties are still sought after. Most of today’s medicines come from nature but herbs are still some of the strongest and most effective sources of medicine around.
Medicinal Plant Research focuses on the sowing of the seeds, growing them into plants and then processing of South African medicinal plants. This works well for the popular species. Many of these medicinal plants, including the endemic species, are often over-harvested.
This means that some species are becoming rare or threatened with extinction. Luckily people are trying to introduce special technologies primed at getting the most out of medicinal plants. The aim is to ensure a sustainable supply of good quality plant material for the growing medicinal plant-based industries, contribute towards the conservation of our natural resources and create job opportunities.
South Africa has a rich heritage of traditional herbal remedies. The country is blessed with numerous indigenous plants renowned for their healing properties. The Cape Floral Kingdom contains about 4% of all the world’s plant species. Seventy percent of these are endemic! It is incredible that almost 9,000 plant species are found naturally in this area – making it almost natural that so many of South Africa’s traditional remedies are based on our plants.
Earth Kids chose these herbs as a focus point when they were learning about traditional African medicinal herbs.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. An evergreen perennial from the Arabian Peninsula, it now grows wild in tropical, semi-tropical, and arid climates around the world. It is grown for agricultural and medicinal uses, as a decorative plant and an indoor container plant.
Aloe vera is an ingredient in beverages, skin lotion, cosmetics and ointments. It comes as a gel for minor burns and sunburns, skin conditions, such as burns, wounds, frostbite, rashes, psoriasis, cold sores, or dry skin. It also provides relief from constipation and can be used as a natural laxative.
The scent of lavender makes it a popular calming herb. Lavender (lavandula) tea is another drink you can use to unwind and get a good night’s rest.
Lavender health benefits:
- Eases tension and reduces stress
- Relieves headaches and migraines
- Aids sleep
- Supports healthy hair and skin
- Fights acne
- Relieves pain
- Treats respiratory problems
Peppermint (mentha × piperita) is a fresh herb that we taste in gum, toothpaste and desserts. This herb makes a tasty tea and helps relieve tummy aches, nausea and muscle pain (just to name a few).
Peppermint health benefits:
- Relieves allergies
- Soothes muscle pain
- Relieves headaches
- Reduces nausea, gas and indigestion
- Supports digestive health
- Treats bad breath
- Highly antibacterial
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a herb comprising the fresh or dried leaves of the oregano plant. The tiny leaves that have a powerful scent and add wonderful taste to food. Especially pizzas, pasta dishes and other cheesy foods. The cute pink or purple flowers are great for salads.
Oregano oil has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties and is a useful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory option. Organic chicken farms use Oregano essential oil instead of commercial antibiotics. Oregano tea and oregano oil are natural remedies for indigestion, coughs, allergies, arthritis, and to stimulate menstruation.
Choose your herbs for health and get out of the pharmacies! Nature is our doctor.