Alternative medicine

5 houseplants that double as alternative medicine

Wouldn’t it be great if, when you have a headache, you could pick a Tylenol from a plant on your windowsill? Or even cancel your insomnia with the leaves of an unassuming shrub? Well, take heart: you can turn your home into a veritable forest of medicinal wonders, treating an array of life’s ailments.

No, big pharma won’t be shaking in their boots, and nothing here is a substitute for real medicine, but everything on this list has real, verifiable science backing up its effectiveness. Beyond that, the plants I have listed have been “researched” for thousands of years, first through India Ayurvedic belief that disease stems from an imbalance in a person’s consciousness.

And of course, before trying any of the remedies, be sure to speak with your doctor.


Basil Live Plant Tulsi

Live Plant – Tulsi Holy Basil Plant

Small Nest


Also known as holy basil, the medical uses of this amazing herb date back approximately 3,000 years. It is so revered in Hindu culture that it is said to represent the earthly presence of the goddess Tulsi.

This “adaptogen” herb (reduces stress while increasing energy), is most often consumed like a tea, which can be “spicy”, but without caffeine content. Remedies include anxiety, lowering blood pressure, protecting internal organs from pollutants or heavy metals, hyperthyroidism, and even acne.

Overall, this good-to-have herb in the house is believed to help the body maintain its state of homeostasis. In other words, it helps our natural systems stay in balance. You might take a look at kind words for Tulsi from the National Library of Medicine:

“A total of 24 studies were identified that reported therapeutic effects on metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, immunity, and neurocognition. All studies reported favorable outcomes[sic] clinical results without any study reporting significant adverse events.

Jeez, NLIM, marry them already. Learn how to grow it here. Oh and look at this interesting recipes.


Lemongrass seeds for outdoor planting

Lemongrass seeds for outdoor planting

Mountain Valley Seed Society


Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass plant) is often found in Thai cuisine, but there is more to it. In fact, the list of health benefits of drinking lemongrass tea is particularly long.

First of all, it has medium detoxifying qualities, not to mention that it fights bacteria, viruses and fungi. Following? It is believed to lower cholesterol, relieve joint pain, fight anxiety and depression.

Skeptical? Take a reading from the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology and Research based on the culmination of data from recent studies:

“Studies indicate that Cymbopogon citratus has various pharmacological activities such as anti-amoebic, antibacterial, antidiarrheal, antifilarial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties…These results are very encouraging and indicate that this plant should be further studied to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects.

Learn to develop your own.


Texas sage live plant

AMERICAN PLANT EXCHANGE Texas Sage Live Plant, 3 Gallon, Lavender Purple Flowers

American Plant Exchange


That’s right, like the stuff in a shaker you keep in your spice rack. It’s a member of the mint family, although you won’t know it when it’s swimming in your Butternut Squash Ravioli.

All the same, this spicy competitor packs a real therapeutic punch. First of all, sage is rich in nutrients. Then, it is a virtuous antioxidant. In a study, drinking a single cup of sage tea twice a day significantly boosted antioxidant defenses. In addition, it lowered LDL cholesterol (the bad) and increased the “good” HDL cholesterol.

But listen to this: an article in Daily Science reports that British scientists conducting clinical trials with healthy young adults confirm age-old beliefs that sage can improve memory function. Which means all my difficulty remembering to pick it up at the supermarket is entirely my fault.

Either way, you can grow your own sage. For help, just click on the little blue phrase here. And while you’re at it, learn some fresh sage recipes.


Marigold flower starter kit

Window Garden – Marigold Flower Starter Kit

Garden Window


I know what you’re thinking: the obscure song Nirvana that Dave Grohl wrote? No, we are talking about the Calendula plant, also known as pot marigold. Common ornamental marigolds just won’t do this trick.

Steep the flowers in boiling water to make a tea and you get a outrageous antioxidant. It’s pretty hard to beat there.


Live Freshwater Bacopa Monnieri Moneywort

The Sun Ave Bacopa Monnieri Moneywort Freshwater Live Aquarium Plant Stems with Roots (1 Pack)



Here is another old but goodie from the ancient world of Ayurvedic medicine. For thousands of years, Indian people have relied on Bacopa monnieri, an aquatic plant, for pain relief, epilepsy, attention deficit disorder, and even stress relief.

Let’s review that last mention – stress relief – and its impact on our health. Many health professionals estimate that up to 90% of visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related issues. While most of us do our best to avoid running away (from our problems or murdering our bosses when we think they’ve been unfair). It keeps us away from prison cells, but there is a cost to our health. In fact, the Japanese, known for their relentless work ethic, have a term for it: “karoshi,” which loosely translates to “death from overwork.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m stressed reading this. So how about a good cup of bacopa tea? It’s simple, just pour hot water over your fresh bacopa leaves (I’m sure you have some on hand), and let steep for 10 minutes. There’s no caffeine, so you can take it anytime, but be prepared for bitterness. Honey makes it better.

You can read on some other serious benefits (and side effects) associated with Bacopa monnieri – or you can simply read the study details in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

As always, there are caveats to imbibing the tea or sampling the many bacopa supplements available. Do some research and see your doctor.

That said, if you want to try your hand at growing bacopa, all you need to do is Click here.