There are hundreds of thousands of plant species in the world. Some are edible, some look and smell nice, and others are great for use as raw materials. There are also some with amazing uses beyond those you might expect. Here are ten of the coolest and most useful plants out there.
Cinnamon is popular for its use in cooking, making pumpkin pie and other assorted goodies incredibly delicious. It is also sometimes used by teens as a coming-of-age ritual wherein they eat a huge spoonful of cinnamon and see how long they can last without a drink, as the cinnamon removes all the moisture from their mouth.
But there are many surprising, and much less insane uses for cinnamon. The plant has been found useful for fighting congestion, is high in antioxidants and has anti-microbial properties. It has also been found to be useful for preventing the onset of diabetes. However, it has more than health benefits; cinnamon has also been found to be excellent at improving cognitive function and memory, and can help fight Alzheimer’s. And, while we don’t want to know how you got a yeast infection (and neither does your mother,) eating cinnamon can help treat those as well.
Peppermint is popular all over the world both, as an ingredient in just about every food imaginable, to freshen breath and to aid in digestion. However, there are many other uses for peppermint, such as relieving the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and is great for localized pain relief. Peppermint can block pain due to its special cooling properties, likely due to the menthol, though we don’t suggest trying to relieve pain by smoking menthol cigarettes.
You can also use peppermint to remove ticks. If you take a cotton swab with peppermint oil and swab the tick with it, it will release its clawgrip on your skin.
Lavender is pretty well known for some of its uses, far more than just its aesthetic properties or its pleasant aroma. It is well known for its relaxing effects, and has been used for a long time as a sleep aid. However, there are many more interesting uses for it as well. Lavender has been found, when mixed with a combination of thyme, rosemary and cedarwood, to greatly increase hair growth after several months, which makes it helpful in treating baldness. Lavender can also be used as a bug repellent, though you would want to dilute the essential oil in something less irritating to the skin before using it . While lavender is really useful, you probably shouldn’t use it around any acne-ridden, angsty teenagers, as it could greatly disrupt their hormonal balance.
7. Devil’s Claw
Devil’s Claw, also known as wood spider due to it’s not-at-all disturbing shape, has long been used by natives of South Africa for all sorts of things, from fever to liver and kidney issues. It has been found to have incredible abilities in regard to reducing pain and inflammation and is useful for treating both chronic back pain and osteoarthritis. However, it has some even more interesting uses; it has been used not just for pain or other normal health issues. Devil’s Claw has been used to treat malaria and can be useful for treating indigestion, menopause, allergies and even senility. So if the senior citizens around you are getting senile, no need to worry, just get them some Devil’s Claw .
Chili peppers are great in cooking, and that is the normal use for them. Sometimes people eat them on a dare just for the sheer thrill of burning the living hell out of our mouths, but they have uses many people wouldn’t have thought of. While some are more health related uses such as reducing inflammation, treating pain, itches and skin conditions like psoriasis, there are many more interesting uses for Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers. Evidence suggests that Capsaicin may be useful in fighting prostate cancer, but even more interesting, it may have incredible use in the field of weight loss. Perhaps with chili peppers, we can have our burrito and eat it too.
5. Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm has been used throughout history to treat insomnia, anxiety, fight poison and treat indigestion. Really interesting, however, is that lemon balm, according to scientists, can treat cold sores. Now, we don’t know where you got those cold sores, and we aren’t necessarily saying it was due to herpes, but lemon balm may be a great way to get rid of those cold sores and avoid any further awkward questions. This plant can also be used to treat bug bites, which would make it pretty useful to have around. It’s a great all-purpose plant that can treat cold sores, bug bites, insomnia and indigestion all at the same time.
Onion is the food of the kitchen gods; it makes pretty much everything tastier and healthier, from pizza to hamburgers to just about everything else. Onions can also help remove germs that threaten your teeth and can actually act as an aphrodisiac, which might not be useful after your onion breath scares your partner away. It also has the ability to fight baldness. If you treat your scalp regularly with a combination of onion juice and castor oil you can greatly increase hair growth, which should greatly impress your friends if you have any left by the time the treatment is over.
Blueberries make pretty much everything better: blueberry pie, blueberry muffins … God, our mouths are watering just thinking about it. But blueberries have more uses than just making food way more delicious. Blueberries are incredibly high in antioxidants, lower cholesterol, and improve both eyesight and memory. Not only that, but blueberries may be able to slow down the effects of aging, which is pretty much the definition of “super food.” People have used them for even stranger things; however, blueberries are sometimes used for labor pains, or drank as part of a tincture after a woman has had a miscarriage. And even stranger still, scientists have used blueberries in MRIs to improve the contrast when looking at images.
Eucalyptus comes from the gum trees in Australia, and is one of the main nutritional sources for cute, cuddly, adorable little koala bears (classified as marsupials). Eucalyptus has been used by aborigines for ages, both as a medicine for colds or fevers, and as a treatment for injuries. But Eucalyptus has much more to offer than just high levels of antioxidants and major health benefits. It can be used to clean and disinfect areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, and can even be used to remove difficult stains from carpets, made by things such as gum and ink. That greedy kookaburra who sits in the old gum tree had better leave some for us; we just spilled some Kool-aid on the carpet.
Garlic has been a legendary food for a long time, while being great for cooking; it has also been renowned for its ability to fend off the undead. In the middle ages, people believed that it could protect them from plague and gangrene. While garlic has been found to have properties that may be helpful in preventing cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol and even the common cold, it has more surprising and interesting properties than that. Garlic may also be useful for treating acne; it simply needs to be crushed, mixed with warm water and applied locally. Of course garlic may not make you smell particularly good, but that’s why you wash up after performing the treatment on your pizza face.