PLANT OF THE DAY brings you easy to digest information on science backed plants for health and medicine. Written by scientists, the aim is to help increase understanding of how effective plant medicine is. Plant of the day promotes the scientific research on select plant medicines and thereby helps bridge the gap between the worlds of plant medicine and general medicine.
DID YOU KNOW? While you can take a cup of chamomile tea to aid relaxation and sleep anytime, we always recommend that to treat a condition you consult a NIMH medical herbalist to ensure you take the right plant medicine for your individual needs and at the right dose. Always consult a NIMH medical herbalist and inform your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, have any medical condition or are taking any medication.
How do we know that a plant medicine works? The story so far
IMMUNE, RESPIRATORY AND ANTIVIRAL PLANTS
Here we take a quick look at plant medicines used to aid immunity, treat respiratory infection or be antiviral. A number of plant medicines are often used to boost immunity and to protect against or treat infection during the winter months.
Plants like echinacea, rosehip, garlic, elderberry and thyme have laboratory research to show how they work to boost immunity, for example by increasing immune cell production and antibody response or by being antiviral against different virus types.
For some of these plants, like echinacea root, astragalus root, ginger root, liquorice root and elder berry, there have also been a limited number of controlled clinical trials in humans. These clinical trials indicate that in group comparisons of placebo and test plant, the plants, when taken at a particular dose, are effective as immunostimulants. NOTE: Echinacea and astragalus are contraindicated in some immune conditions.
Over the next few weeks we will look at 12 plants with controlled trial evidence (human studies) or bioactivity potentially relevant to protection against or treatment of viral infections (such as covid 19) with key activities including anti-viral, immunostimulant, respiratory health (coughs, colds, flu, pneumonia) as well as antiseptic skin protection.
This list excludes many more plants that have positive results from lab studies and are yet to be tested in controlled clinical trials.
Some of the plants we will look at are below (* indicates particular relevance) and we will also include plants that help boost mood, relieve stress and treat anxiety and insomnia.
*Astragalus root – immunostimulant, treats common colds and prevents respiratory infections
*Echinacea root: reduces respiratory infections, anti-viral and immune-boosting
Elder berry – reduces symptoms and duration of upper respiratory infections
Elecampane (pictured) root – immunostimulant (inulin)
Garlic bulb and wild garlic (ransoms) leaf – immunostimulant and antiseptic
Ginger root – immunostimulant and anti-viral
Ivy leaf – treats respiratory diseases
Liquorice root – immunostimulant
Rose berry (wild/ dog rose) – treats colds, immunostimulant ( vitamin C )
Sage leaf (Salvia officinalis) – antibiotic (eg. throat infections)
Tea tree essential oil – antibiotic
Thyme leaf – for coughs, respiratory infections as well as anti- viral