Like so many things on this earth, there is more to most plants than meets the eye. While something that looks like a tasty berry may actually be poison in disguise, a simple wildflower could really be a powerful anti-inflammatory. And those herbs thrown somewhat haphazardly into a meal may also be effective in treating digestive issues.
Knowing the uses for plants we come into contact with is important no matter where we are, but here are just a few that, if you find yourself lost in the woods and in need of medical attention, can substitute for some common medicines.
“>Ginger; California Poppy; Tansy; Sage; Blackberries; Sweet Marjoram; Feverfew
Lauren Leising is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.
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Easily mistaken for a simple wildflower, feverfew has a longvlist of documented medicinal uses, the most well-known of which is migraine treatment. Native to Asia and the Balkans, the leaves of the now wide-spread plant are dried and used in anti-inflammatory medicines to treat rheumatism, arthritis, swelling and bruising. It is also a natural serotonin inhibitor which makes it effective in alleviating tension and anxiety.
fred clay, CC BY-ND 2.0
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Not only is sage a fantastic herb to add to your next pot of spaghetti sauce, it is widely considered to be the most useful herb. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-fungal, digestive aid, cramp reliever and treatment for colds and phlegm. It can also be made into a salve for cuts and burns and reduces diarrhea. Oh, and it was also used as a preservative for meat before the invention of the refrigerator. It's easy to see why sage is called the most valuable herb in the world.
Isaac Wedin, CC BY 2.0
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Not surprisingly, these antioxidant and vitamin-packed berries are also useful for healing a variety of ailments. Native Americans use every part of the fruit, from root to berry, to treat common sicknesses and to treat cuts and inflammation in the mouth. The leaves and roots are an effective treatment for dysentery and diarrhea, while also making an effective anti-inflammatory and astringent. That's a lot of power for one little berry.
steve lodefink, CC BY 2.0
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Like many medicinal plants and herbs, tansy has not only been used for health purposes, but also in cooking. Found throughout Europe, this plant is considered an old-world aster and remedy that was used to flavor beer and stews while also proving to be an effective bug repellant. Rubbing the leaves on your skin can help protect against pesky insects and can also be used to treat worms. However, this is one plant that should not be used in excess, as it can be poisonous in large quantities. It's best to just stick to using it as an all-natural bug spray.
Randi Hausken, CC BY-SA 2.0
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The California poppy, an iconic opioid plant, has a variety of uses stretching from anxiety reliever, to pain reliever. Often the plant is made into a tea to treat nerves and tension, though stewing its stems, roots and other safe parts in water for a few hours and leaving it overnight to soak makes a much stronger remedy that can be used to treat pain.
Rojer, CC BY 2.0
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Often interchanged with oregano in cooking, sweet marjoram has been used for centuries. The ancient Greeks called it the "Joy of the Mountain" because of its delicate smell, good flavor and medicinal capabilities. This herb is effective in aiding digestion, acting as an anti-fungal, antibacterial and disinfectant.
Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY 2.0
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Though typically used for cooking, ginger is an incredibly versatile root and has a wide variety of medicinal uses. Known for its ability to treat nausea, ginger is often chewed or made into tea for long car trips, airplane rides or voyages across choppy seas. In addition, it has been proven to have antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it perfect for treating digestion issues.
Dwight Sipler, CC BY 2.0