Medicinal Plants and How They’re Used

Medicinal Plants and How They’re Used

Long before pharmaceutical drugs were around, ancient health care providers used plants to treat illness. The oldest written text that mentions the use of medicinal plants is documented on a 5,000-year-old Sumerian clay slab. This famous slab contains 12 herbal recipes and refers to over 250 plants.1

Biljana Petrovska, a pharmacy faculty member from Methodius University states, “Healing with medicinal plants is as old as mankind itself. The connection between man and his search for drugs in nature dates from the far past, of which there is ample evidence from various sources: written documents, preserved monuments, and even original plant medicines.”1 Even though the pharmaceutical drug boom replaced many of these old remedies, medicinal plants still have their spotlight.

Like pharmaceuticals, medicinal plants work by containing an active ingredient that impacts the body in some way. For example, Tanacetum parthenium L., also known as Feverfew, is a bright white and yellow flower that contains biologically active sesquiterpene lactones.2 These lactones are thought to be responsible for binding and inhibiting pro-inflammatory compounds.

A recent survey of American use of herbal supplements found that out of 26,157 respondents, one third reported using at least one herbal preparation.3 Interestingly, the survey also found that individuals with chronic diseases were more likely to use herbal medicines than those who did not have chronic diseases. Lastly, the survey discovered that over-the-counter (OTC) drug users were also more likely to consume herbs than those who did not purchase OTC drugs, emphasizing the importance of understanding drug and herbal interactions.

If you are new to the concept of medicinal plants but want to give them a try, here are three of the most popular herbs that Persona offers.

1) Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, also called Indian Winter Cherry or Indian Ginseng, is a popular herb in Ayurveda practices. Ashwagandha has been used to boost brain and nervous system function, improve memory, support the reproductive system, promote sexual health, fight stress, and protect the body from cellular damage.4 It is commonly used today to support the body in times of increased exposure to stress and promote healthy muscle mass, strength, and recovery after physical exercise.

2) Gingko Biloba Extract

Gingko Biloba Extract comes from the Maidenhair tree, native to China. This tree has been growing for thousands of years and is sometimes referred to as a living fossil because it is the only existing plant left in its division.5 Gingko has many uses but is often thought of as the “brain boosting” medicinal plant. Gingko can be used to boost blood circulation to the brain and reduce free radical damage from oxidative stress.6,7

3) Rhodiola

Stress is unavoidable, and many American’s suffer from chronic stress daily. In 2016, NBC News reported that 1 in 6 Americans take an antidepressant or other psychiatric drug.8 While Rhodiola cannot be taken in conjunction with antidepressants, studies have shown that Rhodiola supports symptoms of depression, insomnia, and emotional instability. It also has anti-fatigue effects and is often used to boost energy, a great bonus.9

Interested in finding more supplements to support your specific needs? We have options for you. Whether you already know what you want or you need a little help, we’ve got you covered. You can take our assessment for a personalized vitamin regimen based on your health and lifestyle. If you already know what you need or just want to see popular options, try our convenient Essential pre-packs. Ready to find the right vitamins for you? Get Recommendations [Link] or See Essential Packs [Link].

As Hippocrates once said, “Nature itself is the best physician”.


1.     Petrovska BB. Historical review of medicinal plants’ usage. Pharmacogn Rev. 2012;6(11):1–5. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.95849

2.     Pareek A, Suthar M, Rathore GS, Bansal V. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011;5(9):103–110. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.79105

3.     Rashrash M, Schommer JC, Brown LM. Prevalence and Predictors of Herbal Medicine Use Among Adults in the United States. J Patient Exp. 2017;4(3):108–113. doi:10.1177/2374373517706612

4.     Singh N, Bhalla M, de Jager P, Gilca M. An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208–213. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9

5.     Kubota Y, Tanaka N, Kagota S, et al. Effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on blood pressure and vascular endothelial response by acetylcholine in spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2006;58(2):243-9.

6.     Droy-Lefaix MT. Effect of the antioxidant action of Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) on aging and oxidative stress. Age (Omaha). 1997;20(3):141-9.

7.     Darbinyan V, Aslanyan G, Amroyan E, Gabrielyan E, Malmström C, Panossian A. Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nord J Psychiatry. 2007;61(5):343-8.

8.     Fox M. One in 6 Americans Take Antidepressants, Other Psychiatric Drugs. NBC News. Published December 12, 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019.

9.     Darbinyan V, Aslanyan G, Amroyan E, Gabrielyan E, Malmström C, Panossian A. Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nord J Psychiatry. 2007;61(5):343-8.

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article,

Interested in learning what supplements are right for you? Take our free assessment.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the
best experience on our website. Learn more.