Incredible Healing Plants from Around the World

Pacific yew (West Coast of North America): The active ingredient in yew bark fights cancer by stopping tumors from forming.

Tea (China): Green, black or white – all tea comes from the same plant, which is high in catechins, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to help prevent a host of diseases, including cancer.

Tamarind (Tropical Africa): The tamarind fruit lends a distinctive tangy flavor to Indian cooking — and it aids digestion and can work as an antiseptic.

Saw palmetto (Southeastern U.S.): One of the best selling herbal remedies in the U.S., this plant can ease symptoms of enlarged prostate and possible urinary tract problems.

Rosy periwinkle (Madagascar): This pretty garden plant contains powerful anticancer chemicals. In traditional Indian and Chinese medicine, it has been used to treat diabetes, toothache and indigestion.

Opium poppy (Southwestern Asia): Opium poppies were among the first plants ever cultivated, traditionally used to treat heaches, asthma and diarrhea. Morphine comes from opium poppies.

Aloe (Africa): This skin-soothing plant is made into a gel that reduces pain and speed healing, particularly from burns. Some cultures also use it to treat asthma and flu symptoms.

Marijuana (Middle East): Although its use for healing is controversial, there’s no question that cannabis relaxes the body and eases pain. Chinese and Indian cultures have used it for centuries.

Kava (Pacific Islands): This “intoxicating pepper” has been used for hundreds of years to relieve pain and relax muscles and as a local anesthetic. Scientists are testing its clinical applications to treat sleep problems, anxiety and stress.

Jaborandi (Brazil): In Brazil, people chew these leaves to break fever, detoxify the body and help alleviate water retention. It’s also the active ingredient in FDA-approved glaucoma medications.

Ginseng (China and Korea): A popular ingredient in energy supplements, ginseng reduces susceptibility to stress. It’s also an immune-system booster that lowers blood sugar.

Ginkgo (Japan, China and Korea): Each ginkgo tree can live for a thousand years. Its leaves have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve circulation. Today, scientists are testing its affect on memory loss, asthma, leg pain and more.

Foxglove (Europe): A highly poisonous plant, foxglove was first used as a medicinal plant in Ireland, where traditional healers employed it to treat headaches, paralysis, ulcers and boils.

Ephedra (India and China): This plant has been used since prehistory – as early as 60,000 years ago. It eases cold symptoms, including congestion, and acts as a stimulant.

Curare (Amazon Region): The source of indigenous Amazonians’ dart poison, curare paralyzes humans without stopping the heart. Historically, curare was used as a pain-relieving anesthetic for surgeries, shock therapy and more.

Coconut palm (Tropics): It’s nutritious, delicious and healing: Coconut is an anti-inflammatory; it also promotes healthy digestion, skin health and more.

Citrus (Southern Asia): When citrus fruits are eaten with certain medications, they can be dangerous. But alone, they can help boost immunity, fortifying cells against disease.

Cinchona (Central and South America): Cinchona bark contains quinine, which treats fevers (it’s also found in tonic water), making cinchona the source of many anti-malarial medications.

Cacao (Mexico and South America): Cacao is, of course, the source of chocolate. The plant’s botanical name, Theobroma, means “food of the gods.” Today, cacao-rich chocolate is known to reduce blood pressure and heart attack risk.

Belladonna (Europe, North Africa, western Asia): Atropine, the plant’s active chemical, is highly poisonous, but can dilate pupils, raise heart rate and relax muscles without poisoning through careful dosage.

Ashwagandha (Africa, Asia and southeastern Europe): Called Indian ginseng, this plant’s roots and leaves help the body fight stress, fatigue, pain and more.

Willow (Europe and Asia): Willow bark has been used for thousands of years to treat pain, fevers and other flu-like symptoms. Its active ingredient is closely related to aspirin.