Medicinal plants are useful to keep on hand to treat common ailments. You can reach for certain medical plants to relieve headaches, tummy trouble and even irritation from bug bites. Plants can be consumed in teas, used as garnish, applied topically as essential oil or consumed as a pill.

It’s important to remember that you should always double check with your doctor before consuming or using anything new for your body. If you choose to grow some of these plants, remember to take proper care according to the plant’s care guidelines and refrain from using any pesticides or other harmful chemicals on your plants. You don’t want any of those chemicals in or on your body!

To help you decide what plants are best for you, we rounded up our top medicinal plants, their notable health benefits and how to use them.

Medicinal Plants

basil medicinal plants1. Basil

Basil (ocimum basilicum) is a common herb used to garnish salads, pasta and many other meals to add delicious flavor. Thanks to the vitamins and minerals in basil, such as vitamin K and iron, this herb is helpful for combating common ailments. For example, the manganese in basil helps metabolize different compounds in your body. Holy basil, commonly referred to as tulsi, is a specific species of basil that originates from India. It’s considered a sacred plant that is used in teas, ointments and more, to help treat a variety of ailments like fevers and diabetes. This species has a much stronger taste than common basil!

Basil health benefits:

  • Reduces stress
  • Strong antibacterial properties
  • Rich source of antioxidants
  • Prevents some harmful effects of aging
  • Reduces inflammation and swelling
  • Strengthens bones and liver
  • Boosts immunity
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Improves digestion

Common uses:

  • Sprinkle as a garnish for dishes
  • Include as ingredient for smoothies

catnip medicinal plants

2. Catnip

Catnip (nepeta cataria) is a fun plant for cats. Most cats are attracted to the plant and will roll around near it since its aroma acts as a stimulant. These medicinal plants also act as a sedative for cats if consumed. For humans, on the other hand, it is normally used as a stress reliever, sleep aid and a solution for skin issues. The majority of its health benefits come from the presence of nepetalactone, thymol and other compounds that make this plant great for you and your furry friend.

Catnip health benefits:

  • Repels bugs and relieves irritation from bug bites
  • Calms restlessness, anxiety and stress
  • Relieves stomach discomfort
  • Accelerates recovery from colds and fevers

Common uses:

  • Brew leaves for a tea
  • Dry leaves and burn to release aroma
  • Apply essential oils or leaves topically

3. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper (capsicum annuum) adds a spicy kick to any meal or drink and is a popular detoxifier for many people. Capsaicin is the compound responsible for cayenne’s spicy nature, but it’s also responsible for some of its health benefits. Some of these benefits include pain relief and lower cholesterol.

Cayenne pepper health benefits:

  • Detoxifies the body
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Eases an upset stomach and helps digestion
  • Improves circulation
  • Relieves pain

Common uses:

  • Add to sauces, spice mixes, dressing and other dishes
  • Consume as a pill

chamomile medicinal plants

4. Chamomile

Chamomile (matricaria chamomilla) has a high concentration of antioxidants that make it a great plant for relieving a variety of ailments. Chamomile is commonly consumed as a tea and you can make your own at home by brewing dried chamomile flowers (just make sure the flowers are completely dry). Drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bed can help you relax and have a more restful night’s sleep.

Chamomile health benefits:

  • Improves overall skin health
  • Relieves pain
  • Aids sleep
  • Reduces inflammation and swelling
  • Rich source of antioxidants
  • Relieves congestion

Common uses:

  • Brew dried flowers for a tea
  • Inhale essential oil
  • Apply essential oils topically

dandelion medicinal plants

5. Dandelion

You should think twice before removing those pesky dandelions (taraxacum) from your front yard! Dandelions are not only edible, but they are also full of health benefits. These medicinal plants are packed with things that are great for you: vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, calcium and more. These vitamins and minerals help support strong bone and liver health. All parts of a dandelion are useful and good for you. For example, dandelion roots are commonly used for teas, the leaves are used as garnishes for different dishes and dandelion sap is great for your skin!

Dandelion health benefits:

  • Detoxifies liver and supports overall liver health
  • Treats skin infection
  • Supports overall bone health
  • Treats and helps prevent urinary infections

Common uses:

  • Brew roots for a tea
  • Use leaves as garnish for dishes
  • Consume as a pill

echinacea medicinal plants

6. Echinacea

Echinacea (echinacea purpurea) is also commonly known as purple coneflower. This is another flower that is normally used in tea to help soothe different symptoms and to strengthen the immune system. This popular herb is used most often to accelerate recovery from the common cold. It’s important to note that echinacea can cause negative effects like nausea and dizziness if taken consistently in large doses.

Echinacea health benefits:

  • Treats and helps prevent urinary tract infections
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Relieves upper respiratory issues
  • Fights infections
  • Alleviates symptoms from the common cold

Common uses:

  • Brew roots, leaves and flowers for a tea
  • Consume as a pill

garlic medicinal plants

7. Garlic

Garlic (allium sativum) helps keep away vampires and unwanted diseases! This super plant is great for fighting infections, aiding with cholesterol management and much more. Eating garlic on a regular basis is good for your overall health and easy to incorporate into a wide array of dishes. Raw garlic is the most potent, so try eating it uncooked for the most health benefit.

Garlic health benefits:

  • Helps prevent heart disease
  • Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Prevents dementia, Alzheimer’s and similar degenerative diseases
  • Improves digestive health

Common uses:

  • Use as ingredient or garnish for dishes
  • Consume raw

lavender medicinal plants

8. Lavender

Lavender (lavandula) is popular for its soothing scent and ability to calm the nerves. Lavender tea is another drink you can whip up to help you unwind after a long day and have a good night’s rest. Lavender oil is also popular for massage treatments, aromatherapy and even hair treatment!

Lavender health benefits:

  • Eases tension and reduces stress
  • Relieves headaches and migraines
  • Aids sleep
  • Supports healthy hair and skin
  • Fights acne
  • Relieves pain
  • Treats respiratory problems

Common uses:

  • Brew flowers for a tea
  • Use essential oil in a diffuser
  • Apply essential oil topically

lemon balm medicinal plants

9. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm (melissa officinalis) is a longstanding medicinal plant used to help relieve stress and ward off insects! An intense amount of stress can cause complications for many functions of the body, so minimal stress is ideal for a healthy functioning body. This lemony plant is delicious and easily used in several dishes like teas, ice cream and more. Many people consume lemon balm tea to help relieve anxiety, stress and even to calm restless kids.

Lemon balm benefits:

  • Calms restlessness, anxiety and stress
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Treats cold sores
  • Soothes menstrual cramps

Common uses:

  • Brew leaves for a tea
  • Garnish for dishes and desserts
  • Apply tea or essential oil topically

marigold medicinal plants

10. Marigold

Marigolds (tagetes) are fragrant plants that many turn to in order to improve their overall skin health. These vibrant flowers carry a lot of antioxidants and other healthy compounds that make them the perfect choice to keep in your home! These plants not only keep your body healthy, but also help keep insects away.

Marigold health benefits:

  • Soothes skin and treats skin diseases
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties
  • Treats ear pain and infection
  • Strengthens eyes

Common uses:

  • Brew dried flowers for a tea
  • Apply essential oil or cream topically
  • Sprinkle as a garnish for dishes

parsley medicinal plants

11. Parsley

Parsley (petroselinum crispum) is a delicious garnish that’s helpful for supporting your immune system, bone health and digestive health. The high concentration of antioxidants, vitamin K and other compounds help make this plant an all-around powerhouse herb for your body. Parsley is also a good herb to reach for if you’re suffering from halitosis, also known as bad breath!

Parsley health benefits:

  • Relieves bloating and supports digestive health
  • Fights bad breath
  • Supports bone health
  • Rich source of antioxidants

Common uses:

  • Sprinkle as a garnish for dishes
  • Create a juice or brew for a tea

peppermint medicinal plants

12. Peppermint

Peppermint (mentha × piperita) is a fresh herb that we taste in gum, toothpaste and desserts. This herb makes a tasty tea and helps relieve tummy aches, nausea and muscle pain (just to name a few). Peppermint tea is a good choice for pregnant moms who suffer from occasional morning sickness.

Peppermint health benefits:

  • Relieves allergies
  • Soothes muscle pain
  • Relieves headaches
  • Reduces nausea, gas and indigestion
  • Supports digestive health
  • Treats bad breath
  • Highly antibacterial

Common uses:

  • Brew leaves for a tea
  • Apply essential oil topically
  • Inhale essential oil

rosemary medicinal plants

13. Rosemary

Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) is full of vitamins and minerals that help support many different functions in the body. For instance, rosemary is great for improving memory and also supports hair growth. This means a cup of rosemary tea is great for anyone heading into a night of studying or a person fighting a receding hairline!

Rosemary health benefits:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Improves memory and enhances overall brain function
  • Treats bad breath
  • Supports liver health
  • Supports hair growth

Common uses:

  • Brew dried leaves for a tea
  • Sprinkle as a garnish for dishes
  • Apply essential oil topically

sage medicinal plants

14. Sage

Sage (salvia officinalis) is another medical plant that helps support memory and combat degenerative diseases. Sage is also well-known for managing diabetes with its ability to naturally lower glucose levels. This plant is a popular ingredient for several dishes and beauty products, so you can easily reap the benefits of sage in a multitude of ways!

Sage health benefits:

  • Improves memory and enhances overall brain function
  • Supports digestive health
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Treats and helps manage diabetes
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Improves skin health

Common uses:

  • Brew fresh leaves for tea
  • Sprinkle as a garnish for dishes
  • Inhale essential oil
  • Apply essential oil topically

st. johns wort medicinal plants

15. St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum) is primarily known as a natural way to relieve symptoms of depression. It’s used to treat anxiety, mood swings, feelings of withdrawal and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. These medicinal plants are usually consumed as a concentrated pill or applied topically as an ointment. It’s important to note that St. John’s Wort can interact with a number of medications, so (as with all plants on this list) consult your doctor before consuming or applying this plant to your body.

St. John’s Wort health benefits:

  • Helps relieve symptoms of depression
  • Relieves anxiety and helps manage mood
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Soothes skin irritation

Common uses:

  • Consume as a pill
  • Brew fresh flowers for tea
  • Apply topically as essential oil or ointment

medicinal plants thyme

16. Thyme

Thyme (thymus vulgaris) is a popular herb used in cooking. Thymol is found in thyme and is commonly found in mouthwash and vapor rubs. This compound gives thyme its strong antifungal and antibacterial properties. Thyme’s antifungal properties also helps prevent food borne illnesses since it can decontaminate food and prevent infections in the body.

Thyme health benefits:

  • Soothes sore throats and coughs
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Treats respiratory problems
  • Supports immune system

Common uses:

  • Sprinkle as a garnish for meals
  • Brew fresh leaves for tea
  • Apply topically as a cream

Next time you have a pesky pain or symptom, try reaching for one of these medicinal plants! You can  take a look at some of the best medicinal flowers to keep around your home too. We’ve also rounded up the best plants with beauty benefits if you’re looking for natural ways to enhance your beauty regime.