_Medicinal plants around the world

For each country, the typical medicinal plant

For each country, we can raise one or more characteristics of medicinal plants with a fundamental role in culture, history or economy. This list is a subjective classification service provided by Create health.com.br, and does not intend to be exhaustive, and may evolve over time to include new plants and countries.

Don’t forget to take a look at our chart at the bottom of this article.



Lavender (lavender) . Perhaps the most characteristic plant in France. Lavender is used for its medicinal properties, and also in cosmetics and perfumery, for example, in the form of essential oil.
When talking about France, we could include many plants, but the aim of this article is to focus on one or two plants per country. You can find the listing on Create health of many other plants that grow in France.


Edelweiss . Typical Swiss plant, strongly associated with the country. Due to the protection of the species, the medicinal and cosmetic properties of this plant were forgotten. Nowadays, edelweiss is cultivated by farmers in the mountains, which allowed the commercialization of cosmetic creams, for example. Edelweiss is also found in Austria, France and other countries.

Italy and Vatican:

Red vine . This plant has played a key role in the culture of many Mediterranean countries. Italy was chosen mainly because of the symbolism exercised by wine in the Catholic Church, which continues to be a very powerful institution in the world (especially in countries with a Christian majority). Wine also plays a very important role in Italian culinary culture. Note that the culinary and religious aspects of this plant made it chosen. See more information here about the medicinal effects of red wine .


Olive oil . Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil. This food is increasingly valued by doctors and contributes to Spain’s economy. Large regions of the European Union, as well as the USA, Brazil and the main Asian countries, consume a large amount of Spanish olive oil.


Rhodiola . Rhodiola has been used for thousands of years in Siberia. It is a plant that increases physical and mental capabilities, used especially in times of stress. The Russian army has been using this plant to improve the performance of its men, especially astronauts.
Another plant that grows in Russia with similar properties is Eleutherococcus .



board . These trees are famous and their leaf is on the Canadian flag. In this country, maple syrup is consumed and clearly belongs to the national culture. Due to its nutritional content, this syrup has a preventive effect on type 2 diabetes .


Cranberry . Medicinal plant used mainly as a disinfectant in the prevention of urinary tract infections in recurrent cystitis. It is a well-known plant, mainly in the prevention of urinary disorders in the West. The scientific effectiveness is however strongly disputed by some studies.

Echinacea . Another common plant from the USA, already known to indigenous peoples. According to the Mayo Clinic, this was the most sold plant in the United States in 2010, followed by ginseng and ginkgo . Echinacea treats colds and flu, especially in very cold climates. There are some controversies about its use with regard to its actual scientifically proven efficiency.


Agave . Laxative herb used in constipation or digestive disorders, often in juice form. Agave is the plant from which tequila is extracted, which is the official drink of Mexico. Note that tequila, in our opinion, has no medicinal effect like the plant. Agave is a plant used by the Mayans and Aztecs. It is a plant that resembles in parts a cactus.


Acai . Açaí is probably the plant that grows in Brazil and is best known abroad. Its cultivation is not extensive, which makes açaí almost a luxury, since its price is many times higher than a plate of rice and beans, the traditional Brazilian meal. Açaí is a plant with many medicinal properties (such as cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction). It grows mainly in northern Brazil (Amazon), and also in other South American countries such as Colombia and Venezuela. Açaí is used by indigenous peoples of the Amazon for its nutritional properties.

Guaco . This plant grows a lot in the south of the country, and is very effective in treating coughs. This is one of the few medicinal plants recognized by the health authorities (Ministry of Health) as being effective, especially, to treat cough and bronchitis.

Uruguay (and Argentina):

Kill . This is a very cultivated plant in Uruguay, being considered a true national drink. We could have chosen Argentina, the states of southern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul, for example) or Paraguay to represent this plant. The effects are quite similar to those of coffee, as yerba mate has very interesting medicinal properties and has a very important social side.



Soy : Argentina, with its famous Pampas (inland Buenos Aires) is a great producer of soy. This grain is mainly used for animal feed, either in Argentina or in other countries such as China.
This plant could also be mentioned in Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, including the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, incredible agricultural regions together with an agricultural area far superior to France, all with a very sunny climate. In medicine, soy is mainly used for skin problems in the form of capsules, or as a dietary supplement for menopause.


Lapacho (purple ipe) . Medicinal plant used, above all, against mycoses and, sometimes, in the prevention of cancer (there is controversy in this indication, read below). Used mainly as a decoction.

Uncaria (cat’s claw). Medicinal plant with mainly anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, indicated in cases of rheumatism. Mainly used in the form of capsules, infusion or tincture.


Coca (leaves). Plant with an anesthetic action due to cocaine, indicated, for example, in dentistry. However, cocaine is less used in medicine due to the anti-narcotics law, which makes it difficult to establish a therapy.

Quinquina . Medicinal plant rich in quinine, indicated in case of malaria and fever. Mainly used in powder form.


South Africa:

Devil’s Claw : South Africa is a very important land for medicinal plants. Devil’s claw is a plant widely used around the world in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

Pelargonium : To treat bronchitis, this plant is one of the most effective. This plant is also called Cape geranium. Consume preferably in tincture or capsules (capsules).

Red Tea . The name is misleading as this plant does not belong to the tea family. This plant is also known as rooibos. It is used against insomnia.


Argania (argan oil) . The argan tree is a specifically Moroccan tree, it lives on average between 125 and 150 years, and occurs mainly between Essaouira and Sousse along the Atlantic and on the southern slopes of the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas.

In recent years, this plant has become better known all over the world, especially because of the integration of argan oil in many cosmetics, with massive work by marketing teams.


Coffee . Few people know this, but this is the country of origin of coffee. Therefore, it is necessary to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Certainly now other countries in Africa and Latin America (eg Brazil) grow coffee and are bigger exporters than Ethiopia. Coffee, if consumed in moderation, has a favorable effect on health.

Coffee is, without a doubt, the most common drug on the planet. Most people don’t drink coffee for the taste, but of course for its caffeine content. In the United States it is estimated that most employees simply could not work without some productivity boosting coffee. Artists also use it a lot because it promotes creativity. A study published in early 2014 shows that caffeine promotes visual memory.

In short, coffee is a real drug for people addicted to caffeine. This is why some religions, notably those associated with conservative Protestantism such as Adventists or Mormons, ban coffee and caffeine. They believe that this is a drug, and that God calls us not to use drugs.

However, a portion of the population (about half) has no sensitivity to caffeine, and coffee is like any other beverage for them.

Everyone has their own concept of what a drug is, but it is clear that coffee is probably the most important plant with a globally known pharmacological effect.


Ravintsara or camphor . A herb with an antiseptic effect, true camphor is extracted by distillation for the treatment of rheumatic and respiratory diseases. It is usually present in the form of a lotion, cream or ointment.

The chemotype used is extracted from Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J. Presl., and the molecule is 1,8-cineole.



Eucalyptus . Medicinal plant used to treat coughs (with expectorant action) and colds (when inhaled), present in the form of herbal tea (infusion), sweets, inhalations or capsule. Eucalyptus is a tree native to Australia, which can reach a height of 35 m. Aborigines used the plant against infection or against fever.


Kava kava (or kava) . Anxiolytic and sedative medicinal plant used in anxiety or stress, often in the form of medication ready for oral use (tablets, capsules). Plant widely used and consumed as a “milk” from kava rhizome extract in many Pacific islands such as Vanatu.

Also Read: Kava Effective Against Anxiety (Study)



Ginger . Very important plant in natural medicine, as there are many positive studies on the scientific effectiveness of ginger. Medicinal plant used, for example, against travel sickness or cold, often in the form of capsules, tablets, juice or herbal tea (infusion).

Black pepper . Plant with a digestive effect indicated in cases of digestive disorders, normally used in the form of essential oil. Black pepper is also widely used in cooking, including French and Italian cuisine.

In this immense country, with Ayurvedic medicine, we could list dozens, or even hundreds of plants. We will write a separate article on Indian medicinal plants someday.


Tea ( black , green, white tea). Black , green or white tea comes from the same plant species, Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze. Black tea is a medicinal herb used primarily as a stimulant in fatigue, often in infusion form. Green tea , because of its superior content of flavonoids (molecules with a powerful antioxidant effect) is recommended for cancer prevention. White tea is consumed less than black or green, however, it still contains flavonoids.

As in India, traditional Chinese medicine has a very large number of medicinal plants. A specific article on Chinese herbs may help in the future to better understand the enormous wealth of this medicine.


Java tea . Medicinal plant used for its diuretic effect, among others, during urinary tract infections, often in the form of tea or capsules. Java tea grows mainly in Asia, particularly Indonesia.


Psyllium . Medicinal plant laxative, indicated in cases of chronic constipation, frequently consumed in the form of medicine for ready administration, sold without a prescription. Pakistan and India are the two main producers of psyllium of the Plantago ovata species . The plant is particularly native to Pakistan, although it is also cultivated in other Asian countries, such as India and Iran.


Bamboo . Plant rich in silicon , used as a complementary measure, mainly in the form of capsules against rheumatic diseases such as osteoporosis.

Bamboo has played a key role in the history of countries like Japan and China. It can be used in food, fabric, bamboo fiber and paper making. This tree also plays an important religious and artistic role in some eastern cultures like Japan and China.

In fact, there are over 1200 species of bamboo in the world. Some of these species are used in natural medicine.

Ginkgo . This herb improves brain performance (memory, circulation), often in the form of standardized capsules or pills. Ginkgo is a highly sold plant, and the two largest economic areas in the world are the United States and Europe.

The ginkgo tree survived in the Japanese city of Hiroshima after the atomic bomb that bears its name. Many studies have been carried out proving the enormous resilience of the ginkgo tree.

In Asia, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine the grains are used, while in Europe the leaves are mainly used.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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