List of Medicinal Plants in the Mediterranean

Written by natasha gilani
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List of Medicinal Plants in the Mediterranean
The wild artichoke is a popular medicinal plant of the Mediterranean. (artichoke flowers image by Steve Lovegrove from

The Mediterranean region includes all those countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, including the European nations of Spain, Monaco, France and Italy; Asian Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus; and the African Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, among others. This region, with its characteristic dry, hot summers and wet, cooler winters, is home to a large diversity of vegetation.

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Wild Chamomile

The aromatic wild chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), member of the Compositae family of plants, grows to approximately 40 inches in height and blooms with yellowish or white florets. The plant is found chiefly in Asia and the Mediterranean region. Wild chamomile is valued for its medicinal properties and it finds extensive use in a variety of herbal and traditional settings. According to Ivan A. Ross in the book "Medicinal Plants of the World," dried chamomile flowers are used to treat diarrhoea, stomach cramps, menstrual pains and urinary tract and respiratory infections. Essential wild chamomile oil is used as an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic. An infusion of its aerial parts, according to Ivan A. Ross, taken orally, improves circulation and functions as an antispasmodic. Extract of the leaves of the wild chamomile is used externally to treat sores, bruises, ulcers, wounds, pimples, conjunctivitis and inflammations.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has been used for more than 2,000 years for a variety of diseases, according to Donald G. Barceloux in the book "Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances." The plant has large, erect, spiny flower heads and large leaves. It is indigenous to Asia and the Mediterranean region and has been introduced to other parts of the world. Milk thistle is used to lower temperatures in patients suffering from high fever, and as a diuretic and tonic. Its dried fruits cure infections and diseases in the gall bladder and liver, and regulate the flow of bile.

Wild Artichoke

The wild artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is found extensively in the Mediterranean region, according to Michael Heinrich in the book "Local Mediterranean Food Plants and Nutraceuticals." Here it grows in large numbers on waste and rocky lands. The majority of its medical constituents are found in its leaves and include organic acids, vitamin A, tannins, mucilage and cynarin. Leaves of the wild artichoke were used in the past as a diuretic and tonic, and to relieve rheumatic pain and reduce fever. The plant is used as a digestive tonic and to treat high blood sugar.

Silver Ragwort

According to R. Vardhana in the book "Direct Uses of Medicinal Plants and Their Identification," the silver ragwort (Senecio bicolor) is a flowering medicinal plant native to the Mediterranean, where it speckles wastelands and cliffs near the sea. The plant flowers between spring and midsummer to produce yellow flowers and whitish-grey leaves that are somewhat toxic. The silver ragwort is used as an antispasmodic and to manage anxiety and nervousness.

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