Top 15 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses: Best Herbal Medicine

Hey everyone! Let us make this day special. We have curated a list of the Top 15 Medicinal Plants and their uses to remind you to look closely at your diets and check whether any of these plants has a part in it or not. If you have, well, congratulations. For those of you who do not, Don’t worry, you still have ample time. So, let’s not waste our time.

 As the term suggests, Medicinal plants are those used for medicinal purposes.  This is the simplest definition there is. But let’s be more technical. The textbook definition of medicinal plants is

Medicinal plants are those rich in secondary metabolites and potential drug sources. The secondary metabolites are alkaloids, glycosides, coumarins, flavonoids, steroids, etc.

If you don’t get it, just ignore it. It only matters to you if you are a science student whose exams are around the corner.

We need to understand the importance of medicinal plants to understand why this article entitled ‘Top 15 medicinal plants and their uses’ will benefit you. The scope and importance are as follows.

  • Safe to Use :Medicinal plants are in sync with nature. Due to this, medicinal plants have no or minimum side effects and the treatments are independent of any age group or sex.
  • Global Popularity: These plants have been used for centuries by saints and scholars and have been mentioned in Vedas and Puranas. It has gained the trust and has given Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani methods global recognition.  
  • Home Remedies: Aloe, Tulsi, Ginger, Turmeric, etc. are a source of immediate medicines for us and are used for curing common ailments. Recipes are prepared using medicinal plants to cure common ailments like diarrhea, constipation, hypertension, low sperm count, dysentery, weak penile erection, coated tongue, menstrual disorders, and fevers. So, they are considered home remedies in many parts of the country.
  • Drug Development :Medicinal plants produce secondary metabolites that companies extract to produce pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Nutritional Benefits :Medicinal plants are important sources of nutrients and as a result, they are recommended for their therapeutic values. Examples are Ginger, Green tea, Aloe, Pepper, and Turmeric. 
  • Other Uses : Apart from medicinal uses, herbs are used in natural dye, pest control, food, perfume, tea, and many more.

As we have understood the definition and importance of medicinal plants, let’s look at the top medicinal plants and their uses in detail.

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Scientific name: Ocimum sanctum

Tulsi is the go-to herb for mild fever, headache, or other simple ailments. You can just collect the leaves, wash them, extract their juice which has medicinal qualities, and drink it. Continue this multiple times and your fever would have assuaged. 

Tulsi is an erect, herbaceous, branched, softly hairy plant. The essential oil components are Eugenol and Eugenol methyl ether which are anticancer.

Tulsi is mainly of two types

  1. Sri Tulsi: having green leaves.
  2. Krishna Tulsi: having purple leaves.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Well-drained loamy to poor laterite 
Climate High rainfall with humid conditions. Long days and high temperatures are favored for good growth.
Spacing 40 x 40 cm/ 40 x 50 cm/ 50 x 30 cm
Fertilizer 120 kg N/ha or 60 kg P/ha
Yield 5 t/ha twice or thrice a year. Oil yield 10 to 23 kg/ha
Tulsi | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Tulsi | Top 15 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses of Tulsi

  • Tulsi is a natural immunity booster due to Vitamin C and Zinc.
  • The presence of essential oil components Eugenol and Eugenol methyl ether instills anti-cancerous properties in the herb.
  • Stress-reducing agent
  • The anti-oxidant properties lower blood pressure, reduce hypertension, and enhance heart health.

Scientific name: Aloe barbadensis and Aloe vera

Aloe is a shallow-rooted perennial herb. The plant does not have a true stem with multiple tuberous roots, instead they produce bloom stalks. The plant grows to 60 cm in height. 

The green fleshy leaves form rosette shape close to the ground. The green, thick, fleshy leaves have a strong cuticularized coating with a spiny margin. The flowers are yellow to orange colored and arranged in axillary spikes. The ovary is superior and trilocular with axile placentation.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Sandy coastal and loamy soils.
Climate Warm humid dry climate with 150-200 cm yearly rainfall
Spacing 75 x 60 cm
Fertilizer Farm Yard Manure (FYM) at 10 tons/acre and Vermicompost at 1 ton/acre
Yield Fresh weight 10,000 to 12000 kg/ha
Aloe | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Aloe | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses

  • Yellow bitter juice consisting of aloin and gel consisting of polysaccharides are extracted.
  • Used in flavoring liquors
  • Used in preparations of anti-obesity mixtures
  • Moisturizer, emollient, or wound healer in cosmetics and pharmaceutical formulations.

Scientific name: Papaver somniferum

Poppy also known as Opium Poppy is an annual herb belonging to the family Papaveraceae. The plant grows to 60-120 cm in height and contains over 40 alkaloids including psychoactive agents which are used in the treatment of mental and nervous diseases.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Well-drained, fertile, light black or loam soil.
Climate Temperate climates are favored, but can also be grown in the winter season in sub-tropical regions.
Spacing 30 x 30 cm
Fertilizer Farm Yard Manure (FYM) at 20-30 tons/ha. 60-80 kg N and 40-50 kg P per hectare is applied.
Yield Raw Opium yield is 50 to 60 kg per hectare.
Poppy | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Poppy | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses

  • The psychoactive agents in the plants are used as medicines that help reduce mental and nervous diseases.

Scientific name: Withania sominifera

Withanin and Sominiferin are the major alkaloids present. Ashwagandha is an integral part of Siddha and Unani medicines. The term ‘Ashwa’ means Horse and ‘gandha’ means smell so Ashwagandha means smells like a horse which describes the special aroma of its roots.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Sandy loam or light-red soil.
Climate Sub-tropical climate with dry weather.
Spacing 60 x 60 cm
Fertilizer Does not require heavy doses of fertilizers or manures.
Yield 300-500 kg/ha dry roots and 50-75 kg/ha seeds.
Ashwagandha | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Ashwagandha | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses

  • Withaferin A contains antitumor properties and is used for curing carbuncles in indigenous medicine.
  • Paste from roots, fruit is used for treating bronchitis, skin diseases, and ulcers.
  • It is used as an aphrodisiac, remunerative tonic, Diuretic, Hypnotic, Sedative, and restorative, and useful in rheumatism, cough debility from old age, dropsy, and general weakness.
  • Paste produced from leaves is used for curing inflammation of tubercular glands.

Scientific name: Catharanthus roseus

A perennial ornamental herb found throughout India on wastelands and sandy tracts. This plant has been mentioned in ancient literature as old as 2nd BC.

 The medicinal importance is due to the presence of raubasin and serpentine found in its root.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Sandy loam or light-red soil.
Climate Sub-tropical climate with dry weather.
Spacing 60 x 60 cm
Fertilizer Does not require heavy doses of fertilizers or manures.
Yield 300-500 kg/ha dry roots and 50-75 kg/ha seeds.
Periwinkle | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Periwinkle | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses 

  • The plant contains alkaloids like raubasin and serpentine are used for their hypertensive and antispasmodic properties.
  • The leaves contain vincristine and vinblastine which are used in cancer therapy.
  • Vinblastine sulfate, under the brand name VELBE, is used to cure Hodgkin’s disease.

Scientific name: Plantago ovata

Isabgol or Psyllium is important for its plant and husk which has been used in indigenous medicine for centuries. It is a stemless annual herb that attains a height of 30-40cm and has rosette leaves. The fruit is a capsule and each seed is encased in a white translucent membrane, the husk is odorless and tasteless.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Well-drained sandy loam.
Climate Cool and dry weather is required.
Spacing Sown in rows with 15cm spacing.
Fertilizer 50:25:30 NPK kg/ha
Yield An average yield of 110 seeds/ha.
Isabgol | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Isabgol | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses 

  • The husk of the seed has the property of absorbing water and is hence used as an anti-diarrhea drug.
  • Used to treat chronic amoebic dysentery.
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Scientific name: Cassia angustifolia

India is the biggest producer and exporter of Senna in the world. Almost all the leaves produced in India are exported to foreign countries and the major chunk goes to London (United Kingdom). Major production occurs in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.

Senna is an erect shrub reaching about 75 cm in height. The leaves are pinnate and the leaflets are glabrous. The special compound in the plant is called sennosides and is present in the maximum concentration in the leaves and pods.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Sandy loam soil
Climate All-round warm and dry weather conditions.
Spacing 30 x 30 cm
Fertilizer FYM – 25 tonnes along with 50:25:40 kg NPK/ha.
Yield 1500 kg/ha of dry leaves and 700 kg/ha of pods.
Senna | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Senna | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses 

  • It is the most reliable and least harmful laxative agent.
  • It is used along with herbal tea in European countries.

Scientific name: Gloriosa superba

Glory lily belongs to the family Colchicaceae. Its tubers are reported to have been used to cure snake bites and scorpion bites. The medicinal properties of the plant are due to the presence of alkaloids colchicine and gloriosine along with others. 

The plant originated in tropical Asia and Africa. The word Gloriosa is of Latin origin and refers to flowers. 

Cultivation Practices

Soil Sandy loam with good drainage.
Climate Tropical climates with warm, humid regions.
Spacing 30 x 45 cm
Fertilizer 120:60:75 NPK kg/ha.
Yield 500 kg dry seed/ha.
Glory Lily | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Glory Lily | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses 

  • The tubers of the plant are, antiperiodic, antihelminthic, and against snake bites and scorpion stings.
  • Used for promoting labor pains.
  • Useful in cases of chronic ulcers, piles, and gonorrhea.
  • Leaves are extracted and applied in the form of a paste to the neck and forehead of children to cure asthma.

Scientific name: Rauvolfia serpentine

Rauvolfia, popularly known as Sarpagandha, is an important medicinal plant in India belonging to the family Apocynaceae. The roots of the plants have immense importance and have been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts 3000 years back. However, its importance in modern Allopathic medicine was discovered in 1952, when an alkaloid Reserpine was isolated from the roots of the plant.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Well-drained fertile soils and clay loam soils rich in organic matter are the best soils.
Climate Flourishes in hot and humid tropical areas
Spacing 60 x 30 cm
Fertilizer 40:30:30 NPK kg/ha
Yield The yield for seedling plantations is 1000-1200 kg roots per hectare.
Rauvolfia | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Rauvolfia | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses

  • The roots are an integral part of Ayurvedic and Unani medicines in India
  • Used to treat disorders of the central nervous system like maniacal behavior, insanity, schizophrenia, etc. 

Scientific name: Solanum Khasianum

The genus Solanum consists of 2000 species of plants which can broadly be grouped as tuberous and non-tuberous plants. It is a stout, highly branched shrub varying in height from 0.75 to 1.40 m. The stem is spiny. Leaves are ovate, lobed, and prickly on both the surface.   

Cultivation Practices

Soil Well-drained lateritic soils.
Climate Sub-tropical to sub-temperate climates
Spacing 50 x 50 cm
Fertilizer 100:60:40 NPK kg/ha
Yield Fresh berries – 10t/ha and Dry berries – 2t/ha.
Solanum | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Solanum | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses 

  • Solasodine obtained from the plants is used as a substitute for diosgenine in the synthesis of steroidal hormones.
  • Manufacturing oral contraceptive tablets.

Till now we have looked at the top 10 medicinal plants and their uses. But we are going to explain 5 more as a bonus for you.

Scientific name: Dioscorea floribunda

Also known as Medicinal yams, they belong to the Dioscoreaceae family. Yam tubers contain a variety of substances including carbohydrates, protein, alkaloids, and tannins, the most important constituent is sapogenins. The sapogenins in Dioscorea are diosgenin, yamogenin, botogenin, and kryptogenin. The varieties D.alata and D.esculenta are used for their tubers.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Wide range of soils except for heavy soils
Climate Tropical, subtropical, and temperate climates.
Spacing 60 x 45 cm
Fertilizer 300:150:150 NPK kg/ha
Yield 5-8 tonnes of dry tubers per hectare
Dioscorea | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Dioscorea | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses

  • Diosgenin is used as a starting material in the preparation of steroids
  • In the preparation of oral contraceptives
  • Used for their edible tubers

Scientific name: Stevia rebaudiana

Stevia is a sweet, perennial, short-day plant that grows to a height of 45 cm. The leaves are mid-green and intensively sweet. The leaves contain the compounds sterioside and rebaudioside which are 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Red sandy loam soils
Climate Sub-tropical climate
Spacing 20 x 30 cm
Fertilizer 110:45:45 NPK kg/ha
Yield 3000 kg leaves per acre
Stevia | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Stevia | Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses

  • A healthy alternative to sugar and hence used in diabetic tonics.

Scientific name: Strychmus nuxvomica

Also known as Poison nut or Snakewood. The seeds are hard and circular structures that have a different taste.

Cultivation Practices

Soil Clayey-loam soil
Climate Found in monsoon forests and shade-bearing evergreen forests.
Pit size50 ㎤
Fertilizer FYM at 10 t/ha and 50:30:30 NPK kg/ha
Yield 4-5 q seeds/ha
Nuxvomica | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Nuxvomica | Top Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses

  • Treatment of nervous disorders and paralysis in minute dosages.
  • Used in the extermination of pests.

Scientific name: Commiphora mukul

Guggal or Indian Bedellum is a small tree that grows 3-4 feet high. The branches are crooked and knotty. The bark is soft and papery. 

Cultivation Practices

Soil Sandy-loam soils.
Climate Warm dry climate
Spacing Pits at 3-4 m spacing
Fertilizer 20-50g Urea or Ammonium sulfate
Yield 700 -900 g/plant resin 
Guggal | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Guggal | Top 15 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses 

  • Used as a fixative in perfumes and medicines
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Scientific name: Emblica officinalis

Belonging to the Euphorbeaceae family, Aonla is rich in Vitamin C. The fruit contains gallic acid, allagic acid, and glucose which retards oxidation of vitamin C.

Cultivation Practices

Soil sandy-loam soils.
Climate Sub-tropical climates
Spacing 10 x 10 m
Yield 60-70 kg of fruits per tree.
Aonla | Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses
Aonla | Top Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Uses 

  • Fruits are useful in hemorrhages, dysentery, anemia, jaundice, dyspepsia, and cough.
  • Important in Triphala and Chavanaprash and a great health vitality restorer.

 In this article on the top 15 medicinal plants and their uses, we have presented short but informative and crucial points on 10 of the best medicinal plants. In the contemporary world where even medicines can be harmful, reverting to Ayurvedic and traditional medicinal knowledge will be extremely beneficial for both us and the environment.

 

Shuhaib Sherief
Shuhaib Sherief

Hi! I am SHUHAIB, an Agriculture graduate . I am deeply honored to contribute my knowledge and skills to the betterment of the Agriculture sector. Passionate in disseminating information on Agriculture in the form of creative blog articles on the internet.

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