Native Americans have been using medicinal plants long before the European conquest of America. Today, medicinal plants are still widely used in the United States, and for good reason. For starters, they contain potent compounds that can help with a wide variety of ailments and health problems.
Medicinal plants are also all-natural and don’t carry with them the risk of adverse effects associated with conventional medicines. As such, they appeal greatly to health-conscious consumers.
Today, medicinal plants can be found growing in almost every state. Some medicinal plants may be found everywhere in the country, while others can only be found in specific states or locations. Read on to learn about some of the most widely used medicinal herbs in the U.S. and in which states they can be found.
Medicinal plants found throughout the US
The following medicinal plants can be found throughout the United States:
- Yarrow – Yarrow is commonly used to treat wounds and infections, as well as relieve digestive issues. It is also used as a natural sedative.
- Mint – Mint can soothe headaches, relieve nausea and reduce fatigue. It can also protect against colds or the flu because of its antiviral properties.
- Alfalfa – Alfalfa is a great natural remedy for kidney stones and nausea due to morning sickness.
- Catnip – Catnip can be applied as a poultice to stop swelling and bleeding. It can also help ease an upset stomach and migraines.
- Sage – Sage is typically used to relieve cramping, fight colds and expel phlegm.
Medicinal plants in the Northern US
Medicinal plants can be found growing in most of the northernmost states, including Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Washington. Many of the plants listed below grow further south into the central states as well.
- Blackberries – The leaves, stems and roots of blackberry shrubs are effective remedies for dysentery.
- Wild licorice – Chewing wild licorice helps relieve toothache and sore throat.
- Lesser burdock – Lesser burdock is highly effective in treating poison ivy, poison oak and other skin irritations.
Other medicinal plants that can be found in most of the northernmost states include black birch, hawthorn and stinging nettle, to name a few.
Medicinal plants in the Southwestern US
Medicinal plants found in the Southern U.S. vary greatly from east to west. Below are plants you’d find in Utah, Nevada, Arizona and other dry places in the Southwestern United States:
- Butterfly weed –Butterfly weed helps reduce inflammation and relieves breathing difficulties. It can be used to treat diarrhea and dysentery as well.
- Mormon tea – Mormon tea is a shrub whose leaves are used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) and colds.
- Prickly pear cactus – Prickly pear cactus can help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, as well as regulate blood sugar.
- Agave – Agave is a cactus with antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties. (Related: Agave fiber found to improve gut health, help maintain healthy weight.)
- Mesquite – The sap of this small tree has antiseptic properties and is used to treat sunburns.
The following plants can be found growing along the Pacific Coast of California, Oregon and Washington:
- California poppy – This opioid plant can help relieve pain and anxiety.
- White willow – White willow is well-known for its use in pain relief. It can also reduce inflammation.
Medicinal plants in the Eastern US
The Eastern U.S. includes Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland and Mississippi.
Below are some of the medicinal plants found in these states:
- Broadleaf plantain – Also called common plantain, broadleaf plantain can be used as a poultice for treating skin problems, stopping bleeding and healing wounds.
- Virginia snakeroot – Virginia snakeroot is effective against snakebites and stomach problems.
- Mountain maple – Mountain maple is typically used to treat wounds and skin infections.
- Unicorn root – Also known as star grass, unicorn root is often used to treat anemia.
- Jack-in-the-pulpit – Jack-in-the-pulpit is a natural remedy for sore eyes and headaches.
Medicinal plants in the Western US
Below are some of the medicinal plants you’ll find growing in the Western United States:
- Rocky mountain maple – Rocky mountain maple was used by Native Americans to treat rheumatic pain and reduce swelling.
- Western valerian – Western valerian is typically used to treat restlessness and insomnia.
- Night-blooming cereus – The flower and stem of this cactus is used to relieve chest pain (angina) and to stimulate the heart.
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