Using leaves for medicine might sound odd, but it’s true. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the world’s population still uses traditional remedies, including plants, as their primary health care tools. Today, a majority of new drugs (70 percent) introduced in the US are derived from natural products, primarily plants.
The Old Testament book of Ezekiel, written in the ancient city of Babylon between 593 and 571 BC, mentions the use of plants as food and medicine:
And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:12)
Ayurvedic Practice of Using Leaves for Medicine
Ayurveda (AH-yer-vey-duh) is the ancient practice of traditional medicine in India; it is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. Although Ayurvedic doctors use rare and unique herbs to treat their patients, we are familiar with some plants that we consume today in the form of spices, condiments, and essential oils.
If you’ve ever been sunburned, you probably used a product containing Aloe Vera to soothe the irritated skin. Aloe Vera is a widely used herb in Ayurveda. Aloe Vera is used as the remedy for many skin conditions. The plant has antioxidant properties, which are helpful in maintaining a healthy structure of the blood vessels.
Tulsi (Holy Basil) Leaves for Medicine
Not exactly the same as the basil we use in cooking; however, both tulsi and basil belong to the same family. Tulsi and basil have different sensory properties as well as different applications. The main difference is tulsi is mainly used as a medicinal ingredient while the edible basil leaves are used primarily for culinary dishes.
“Holy Basil,” a plant found in most Hindu family homes in India who believe the plant keeps them healthy and helps to purify the air inside the home. Tulsi does have pharmacological effects. The properties of the plant help boost the immune system, central nervous system, and cardiovascular system. It’s also used to try to treat a range of other health concerns, including snake bites, insect bites, and skin problems.
Bay Leaves for Medicine
Bay leaves are perhaps the most common herb in the preparation of soups, stews, meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes. It is commonly known as “Tejpatta” in Hindi. In Ayurveda, bay leaves are used in teas to improve and soothe respiratory problems and indigestion. Bay leaf has also been used as an herbal medicine for headaches. The bay leaf contains ingredients that may act against some bacteria and fungi.
Coriander Leaves for Medicine
A popular herb known as “dhania” in India, coriander is extensively a favorite in different cuisines to flavor curries, breakfast, snacks items, and more. (Some parts of the world call it “cilantro” and use it mostly as a garnish.) However, it benefits the digestive system due to its antibiotics properties. Coriander can also help treat joint pain, as well as infections caused by bacteria and fungus.
Lemongrass Leaves for Medicine
The long leaves of lemongrass have been used for thousands of years in India and other Southeast Asian countries to treat a wide variety of ailments. The properties in lemongrass help to fight against free radicals. Lemongrass can also help provide relief from stomach disorders, respiratory disorders, and infections. It also kills germs and can be used as a mild astringent.
Blackberry Leaves for Medicine
Besides the uses of blackberry root to treat diarrhea, the juice of the blackberry has been recommended for colitis. The leaves of the blackberry can be chewed to help with a toothache.
The liquid from a concentration of the leaves (decoction) can be used as a tonic and gargle. Some cultures still make a poultice of the leaves to apply to abscesses and skin ulcers.
Guava Leaves for Medicine
Most of us know about the health benefits of the common tropical fruit, the guava. But many are not aware that guava leaves (Amrood ke Patte) in Hindi have several medicinal properties and offer an array of health benefits. The guava leaves are packed with antioxidants, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory agents, and beneficial tannins. Fresh guava leaves are considered as a natural pain reliever. The chemicals contained in these leaves such as polyphenols, carotenoids, flavonoids, and tannins can be extremely effective in treating various diseases.
As more people become aware of the side effects of modern medicines and drugs, herbal plants are being increasingly considered for the treatment of various diseases. Always consult with your physician before stopping or changing how you take any prescription medication.
Leaves For Medicine References
Ayurvedic Medicine: In Depth (National Instituts of Health/National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
Top 10 Ayurvedic Herbs (Medicinal Plants)
Medicinal Plants (Mercola)
Top 10 Leaves Name List Used As Medicine Leaves In Ayurveda (Ayurvedic India)
What are the uses of aloe vera? (WebMD)
Holy Basil (WebMD)
Bay Leaf (WebMD)
Blackberry leaves (PubMed)
Benefits of Guava Leaves for Skin, Hair, and Health (StyleCraze)