Phytotherapy is a science based natural medicine which involves plant treatments, and it is one of the oldest medicines in the world. Following in the footsteps of the famous druid Panoramix, phytotherapy can be used to help heal almost all ailments, from insomnia to certain diseases. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have compiled a list of 22,000 medicinal plants. Here is a little overview of the various plants to use, depending on what you would like to treat.
Plant active ingredients and the health problems they can treat
Phytotherapy uses the active ingredients in plants to fight against certain diseases, or against temporary health conditions.
However, you need to consult a phytotherapy professional beforehand, as some plants can have contra-indications, which could cause side effects in certain people (pregnant women, children, people undergoing medical treatment, etc.).
Here are a few examples of plants that can help relieve common complaints:
- ginger: great for travel sickness and migraines
- rhubarb: relieves sinusitis
- lavender: fights against insomnia, anxiety, hair conditions
- violet: treats skin problems (acne, eczema, etc.) and indigestion
- sea buckthorn: calms stress
- coral strands (lithothamnium): relieves rheumatism
- cypress: reduces varicose veins
- butcher’s broom (ruscus): effective for heavy legs
- hawthorn: treats sore throats and muscle spasms
- blueberry: effective for diarrhea
- starflower/borage oil: slows down skin ageing
How to use plants for phytotherapy?
Here are three different ways of using plants:
- as an infusion: place the crushed plants into a large cup and add boiling water. Wait 10 to 15 minutes before drinking it or applying it to the skin.
- decoction: boil the crushed plants in a pot of water for 5 to 10 minutes. Leave it to cool, strain it and drink it or apply it.
- soaking: leave the plants to soak in lukewarm water for 5 hours to 2 weeks, after which the mix is ready to use. Ask the advice of a phytotherapist if you are unsure of how to proceed with this method.
You can also find the active ingredients from certain plants in gel capsule form.
What are the contra-indications?
Certain active plant extracts can have very powerful effects, and others can be toxic, especially for certain people. Make sure to inform yourself before starting any treatment.
In the cases of pregnancy or breastfeeding, in children or in people undergoing medical treatment, certain plants are contra-indicated, such as sage or rosemary. This is why it is best to consult a doctor before use.