Açai (Euterpe oleracea) Although açai berries are a longstanding food source for indigenous people of the Amazon, there is no evidence that they have historically served a medicinal, as opposed to nutritional role. In spite of their recent popularity in the United States as a dietary supplement, there is currently no evidence for their effectiveness for any health-related purpose.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) leaves are used to lower cholesterol, as well as for kidney and urinary tract ailments.
Aloe vera leaves are widely used to heal burns, wounds and other skin ailments.
Arnica (Arnica montana) is used as an anti-inflammatory and for osteoarthritis.
Asthma weed (Euphorbia hirta) has been used traditionally in Asia to treat bronchitic asthma and laryngeal spasm. It is used in the Philippines for dengue fever.
Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus) has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to strengthen the immune system, and is used in modern China to treat hepatitis and as an adjunctive therapy in cancer.
Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to the Middle Ages particularly among Native Americans. Uses have included skin ailments, scurvy and gastro-intestinal ailments.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna), although toxic, was used historically in Italy by women to enlarge their pupils, as well as a sedative, among other uses. The name itself means "beautiful woman" in Italian.
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) used to treat diarrhea, scurvy, and other conditions.
Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) is used as an agent to reduce the blood glucose level.
Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) is used by both primates and indigenous peoples in Africa to treat intestinal ailments such as dysentery.
Bitter orange (Citrus × aurantium) used in traditional Chinese medicine and by indigenous peoples of the Amazon for nausea, indigestion and constipation.
Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) historically used for arthritis and muscle pain, used more recently for conditions related to menopause and menstruation.
Blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) was used during the Middle Ages to treat bubonic plague. In modern times, tea made from blessed thistle is used for loss of appetite, indigestion and other purposes.
Blueberries (genus Vaccinium) are of current medical interest as an antioxidant and for urinary tract ailments.
Burdock (Arctium lappa) has been used traditionally as a diuretic and to lower blood sugar and, in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for sore throat and symptoms of the common cold.
Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa) has a long history of use in South America to prevent and treat disease.
Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) is a type of chili that has been used as both food and medicine for thousands of years. Uses have included pain relief and treating fever, cold, diarrhea, among other conditions.
Celery (Apium graveolens) seed is used only occasionally in tradition medicine. Modern usage is primarily as a diuretic.
Chamomille (Matricaria recutita and Anthemis nobilis) used over thousands of years for a variety of conditions, including sleeplessness, anxiety, and gastrointestinal conditions such as upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea.
Chaparral (Larrea tridentata) leaves and twigs are used by Native Americans to make a tea used for a variety of conditions, including arthritis, cancer and a number of others. Subsequent studies have been extremely variable, at best. Chaparral has also been shown to have high liver toxicity, and has led to kidney failure, and is not recommended for any use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or American Cancer Society.
Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) used over thousands of years for menstrual problems, and to simulate lactation.
Chili (Capsicum frutescens)'s active ingredient, capsaicine, is the basic of commercial pain-relief ointments in Western medicine. The low incidence of heart attack in Thais has been shown to be related to capsaicine's fibronolytic action (dissolving blood clots).
Cinchona is a genus of about 38 species of trees whose bark is a source of alkaloids, including quinine. Its use as a febrifuge was first popularized in the 17th century by Peruvian Jesuits.
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) is used for upset stomach and as an expectorant, among other purposes. The oil is used topically to treat toothache.
Coffee senna (Cassia occidentalis) is used in a wide variety of roles in traditional medicine, including in particular as a broad-spectrum internal and external antimicrobial, for liver disorders, for intestinal worms and other parasites and as an immune-system stimulant.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) has been used as a vulnerary and to reduce inflammation. It was also used internally in the past, for stomach and other ailments, but its toxicity has led a number of other countries, including Canada, Brazil, Australia, and the United Kingdom, to severely restrict or ban the use of comfrey.
Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) used historically as a vulnerary and for urinary disorders, diarrhea, diabetes, stomach ailments, and liver problems. Modern usage has concentrated on urinary tract related problems.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) was most commonly used historically to treat liver diseases, kidney diseases, and spleen problems.
Digitalis (Digitalis lanata), or foxglove, came into use in treating cardiac disease in late 18th century England in spite of its high toxicity. Its use has been almost entirely replaced by the pharmaceutical derivative Digoxin, which has a shorter half-life in the body, and whose toxicity is therefore more easily managed. Digoxin is used as an antiarrhythmic agent and inotrope.
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) has been used for thousands of years in Asia, primarily in women's health.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) berries and leaves have traditionally been used to treat pain, swelling, infections, coughs, and skin conditions and, more recently, flu, common cold, fevers, constipation, and sinus infections.
Ephedra (Ephedra sinica) has been used for more than 5,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine for respiratory ailments. Products containing ephedra for weight loss, energy and athletic performance, particularly those also containing caffeine, have been linked to stroke, heart arrhythmia, and even death. Such products have been banned in the United States since December, 2003. Other dietary supplements containing ephedra were similarly banned in February, 2004.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) leaves were widely used in traditional medicine as a febrifuge. Eucalyptus oil is commonly used in over-the-counter cough and cold medications, as well as for an analgesic.
European Mistletoe (Viscum album) has been used to treat seizures, headaches, and other conditions.
Evening primrose (Oenothera spp.) oil has been used since the 1930s for eczema, and more recently as an anti-inflammatory.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) has long been used to treat symptoms of menopause, and digestive ailments. More recently, it has been used to treat diabetes, loss of appetite and other conditions.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) has been used for centuries for fevers, headaches, stomach aches, toothaches, insect bites and other conditions.
Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) is most commonly used as a laxative. Flaxseed oil is used for different conditions, including arthritis.
Garlic (Allium sativum) widely used as an antibiotic and, more recently, for treating cardiovascular disease.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is used to relieve nausea.
Gingko (Gingko biloba) leaf extract has been used to treat asthma, bronchitis, fatigue, and tinnitus.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius) has been used medicinally, in particular in Asia, for over 2,000 years, and is widely used in modern society.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) was used traditionally by Native Americans to treat skin diseases, ulcers, and gonorrhea. More recently, the herb has been used respiratory tract and a number of other infections.
Grape (Vitis vinifera) leaves and fruit have been used medicinally since the ancient Greeks.
Guava (Psidium guajava) has a rich history of use in traditional medicine. Scientific study of guava's medicinal usage has focused on gastro-intestinal ailments. Guava has been shown to be an effective treatment for acute infectious diarrhea.
Hawthorn (specifically Crataegus monogyna and Crataegus laevigata) fruit has been used since the first century for heart disease. Other uses include digestive and kidney problems.
Hoodia (Hoodia gordonii) is traditionally used by Kalahari Bushmen to reduce hunger and thirst. It is currently marketed as an appetite suppressant.
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) seeds, leaves, bark, and flowers have been used medicinally for many centuries. The raw plant materials are toxic unless processed.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) dates back to ancient Roman and Greek medicine, when it was used to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and wounds, and treat tuberculosis and kidney problems.
Jamaica dogwood (Piscidia erythrina or Piscidia piscipula) is used in traditional medicine to treat pain, insomnia and anxiety. Scientific studies have underscored the plant's medicinal potential.
Kava (Piper methysticum) has been used for centuries in the South Pacific to make a ceremonial drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. It is used as a soporific, as well as for asthma and urinary tract infection.
Konjac (Amorphophallus konjac) is a significant dietary source of glucomannan, which is used in treating obesity, constipation, and reducing cholesterol.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) was traditionally used as an antiseptic and for mental health purposes. It was also used in ancient Egypt in mummifying bodies. There is little scientific evidence that lavender is effective for most mental health uses.
Lemon (Citrus limon), along with other citruses, has a long history of use in Chinese and Indian traditional medicine. In contemporary use, honey and lemon is common for treating coughs and sore throat.
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has a long history of medicinal usage in Eastern and Western medicine. Uses include stomach ulcers, bronchitis, and sore throat, as well as infections caused by viruses, such as hepatitis.