Herbs Indian Mythology Series of Seven

Seven sacred plants and trees for Hindus

Seven Sacred plants and trees and their importance

We all know that we are dependent on plants and trees for our survival, or in other words we can’t survive without them. Though modern man makes strident effort to conquer nature, but this is well known that Hinduism has always given importance to nature. These days, we can find people campaigning for animal rights and environmental care.  Hindus have harbored these caring sentiments since millennium. Hindus respect most flora and fauna. Hinduism also preaches to regard some trees and plants sacred, and to use as much part of trees and plants as is required and to apologize or pray to them before plucking flowers, fruits or leaves.

To name a few, certain plants and trees like tulsi, pipal, banyan, coconut, etc.have a special spiritual significance due to their association with deities, and they are worshipped or offered to God.


For Hindus, Tulsi is considered as one of the most sacred plant.Tulsi or Basil is considered to be very dear to Bhagvan Vishnu and it is also known as Haripriya. One can find a tulsi plant in every Hindu house. The lady of the house daily worships, light a lamp, water the plant and circumambulate it. The leaves of the plant are offered to lord in pujas. Offerings are considered incomplete if these leaves are not used in worship. Tulsi also symbolizes goddess Laxmi, hence known as Vishnupriya. Tulsi is also a very important herbal plant used in ayurvedic medicine. It is no coincidence that this plant has got so many medicinal values and it is considered as a pious herb.

Tulsi – A sacred plant


Banyan tree

Banyan tree is an important tree and  also called ‘Kalpavriksha’, meaning ‘wish fulfilling divine tree. Married women worship banyan tree annually in June on Vat-savitri Purnima, with flowers, rice grains, milk and by winding thread around the trunk. Hindu women worship banyan tree for happiness and long life of husband.

Bael tree

The leaves of the plants, bael patra are considered to be very sacred. The leaves of this tree are very dear to Lord Shiva and they are used in worshipping the Lord Shiva. Inthe holy month of Shravan, [July or August], devotees of Lord  Shiva offer bael patra on Shivlinga while chanting , “Om Namah Shivaya”. It is said that  Lord Shiva is appeased by this and devotees receive his blessings.

Bael-Fruit-Plant – dear to Lord Shiva

Pipal tree

Pipal tree has got importance in various religions. Not only Hindus but Buddhists and Jains consider this pipal tree to be sacred. It is also known as Sacred Fig or Bodh-tree. Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment under the Bodh- tree. Thus the tree is also known as Bodhi tree. It is well known symbol of happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck. Hindu sadhu meditate under Bo- tree. For certain Buddhists, this tree is often the site of Buddhist and animist shrines.

Pipal Tree

Ankol and akado plant

Ankol flowers are white and black in colour, whereas akado are either white or reddish. Flowers of the plant are dear to Lord Hanumana, thus garland of these flowers are offered to him.

Lotus flower

The lotus symbolizes truth (satyam), auspiciousness (shivam) and beauty (sundaram). Since God is attributed with same virtue of satyam, shivam and sundarm, many parts of his body are compared to lotus: lotus eyes, lotus feet, lotus hand, and he is described as lotus of our heart. Lotus grows in muddy water or ponds, yet remains beautiful, pure and unsoiled by the dirt.This means that even if one is born in an unholy family like Prahlad or in the lower caste, one can blossom to perfection. Inspite of living in a bad world a person can remain pure and be good.

Lotus plant – A symbol of purity

Mango tree

This tree is another auspicious tree in Hindu religion.Mango leaves are considered very sacred. Leaves are tied at the entrance (toran). It is said to absorb negative energy from entering your home. Mango also represent Kama, the God of Fertilty.  It is put in kalash to worship Varun, God of rain. Mango leaves are also used for pouring ghee in havan.

Apart from above sacred plants and trees, Banana leaves are also considered to be of great importance. Similarly, coconut trees also hold a significant place in Hindu mythology.


Herbs – Camomile

Important herbs – Camomile (Chamomile)

Chamomile is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs. There are two types of chamomile -German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis).


The Egyptians used chamomile as a cure for a condition called ‘agu’, which is a form of malaria. The Egyptians dedicated chamomile to their sun gods since the flower reminded them of the sun. It was associated with the god Ra for its healing powers.
The Romans also dedicated chamomile to their gods. Chamomile was also used by India’s ancient Ayurvedic physicians. The Vikings added chamomile to hair shampoos to aid the lightening of blond hair.
Chamomile was used by the ancient Egyptians and the Moors, and it was one of the Saxons’ nine sacred herbs, which they called ‘Maythen.’

Egyptians recorded the use of chamomile tea, in a papyrus that dates from 1550 BC. It was known to the Romans as well as the Celts and Egyptians, and is still regarded as one of the most basic herbal teas to have in a modern larder.

Why to have a herbal garden?

The idea of herbal garden is to have small plants or herbs, which have medicinal values. We do not require lots of spaces to nurture herbal plants and the advantage is twofold, we get some greenery around us, and are more likely to be benefited from these as these are readily available and we are not required to make extra effort to obtain these.  Best thing which I like about herbs is that they don’t have any expiration date like any other medicine and also they have no side effects. I will be detailing about more herbs later in my posts, following is some information on Camomile:

Properties and uses of Camomile

– It has a sweet fruity fragrance.
– It is widely used for aromatherapy because of its soothing and calming effect.
– It is used to end stress and aid sleep.
– It can also be used in toothache or ear ache.
– Effective in treatment of diarrhoea for children.
– It is used in cardiovascular conditions.
– Effective in Eczema.
A cup of chamomile tea can calm nervous tension and relieve stress. It soothes an upset stomach in adults and children, and its mild sweet taste and beneficial qualities make it ever popular. Also, this is found to be effective in common cold. This herb is traditionally used in over 100 conditions.

Important herbs – Lemon balm

Herbs of importance – Lemon Balm

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered a calming herb. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion (including gas and bloating, as well as colic).

Early herbalists and writers praised lemon balm for its medicinal and uplifting qualities. Eleventh century Persian physician and philosopher Avicenna was an early advocate for the use of lemon balm in treating depression/melancholy. According to an old Arabian proverb, “Balm makes the heart merry and joyful.


Medicinal uses of Lemon Balm

This plant has a very nice lemon minty scent. Crushed leaves can be used externally as well.
  • As a mosquito repellent.
  • Treating herpes.
  • To treat insect bites.
  • To treat soars.
Infusion of leaves with water are used to treat
  • cold.
  • fever.
  • indigestion due to nervous tension.
  • digestive upset in children.
  • headache.
  • mild insomnia.
  • hyperthyroidism.

Important herbs – Feverfew

Useful herbs – Feverfew

The word “feverfew” derives from the Latin word febrifugia, meaning “fever reducer.”  This herb is one of the useful herbs. The first use of this plant is documented as early as first century. Though the plant has been used as a herbal treatment to reduce fever and to treat headaches, arthritis and digestive problems, this is not supported by scientific findings.

Normally used parts of this herb are Bark, dried flowers, and leaves.

  • It is used in prevention of headache and migraine, it treats the cause of headache rather then simply the pain.
  • It is used in relieving the pain and inflammation in arthritis.
  • It helps to lessen stomach irritation.
  • It helps to ease menstrual cramps.
  • It can be applied externally as tincture, and is used to treat bruises.
  • It help to relieve fever.
  • It stimulate appetite.
  • Improves digestion and kidney function.

Legends and myths surrounding herbs – Feverfew

There is a legend about feverfew, that this herb saved the life of a person who fell off the famous temple in ancient Greece, the Parthenon. Hence, the name parthenium.

The Greek herbalist Dioscorides is believed to have treated arthritis with the herb feverfew.  In 1649, Culpeper recommended feverfew for headaches and to strengthen women’s wombs.  In 1772, another famous herbalist, John Hill, treated headaches. He also stated “this herb exceeds whatever else is known.”

In 1985, it was reported that extracts of feverfew inhibited the release of 2 inflammatory substances; serotonin from platelets and prostaglandin from white blood cells. Both are thought to contribute to the onset of migraine attacks and perhaps even to play a role in rheumatoid arthritis.

Nature has got a number of herbs, which help humans and animals. Feverfew is one of those herbs, which are useful to mankind.


Herbal plant – Great Burdock

One of the important herbs from ancient times – Great Burdock

The herb Burdock’s root is a taproot of greater burdock plant, used as a vegetable and medicinal herb. The plant is a short biennial, which believed to be native to Northern Europe and Siberia. In Japan, popular as gobo, it is cultivated as a major root herb since ancient times. However, burdock grows as a wild, easy growing hardy plant almost in any parts of the planet.
This common weed was prized by the Celts, who cooked its roots for medicinal use. They considered burdock a detoxifying herb and consumed it freely to cleanse the internal system. They gave it to the elderly to treat ailments like arthritis and to teens to heal acne.

Folk herbalists consider dried burdock to be a diuretic, diaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent. Various parts are used to prevent baldness and to treat rheumatoid arthritis, skin infections, acne, boils, bites, eczema, herpes, impetigo, rashes, ringworm, sore throat, sciatica, poison ivy and poison oak, as a tonic, diuretic and mild laxative, to stimulate bile production and to induce sweating.
Once widely used in cleansing remedies, burdock is familiar for its hooked burrs, which readily attach themselves to clothing. This property is reflected in the herb’s botanical name, from the Greek arktos, or bear, suggesting rough-coated fruits, and lappa, to seize. Burdock was a traditional blood purifier, often combined in fold brews such as dandelion and burdock wine, and it was once popular for indigestion. In China, the seeds, niu bang zi, are used to dispel “wind and heat evils”; they also lower blood sugar levels.
Sometimes planted in Japan, where it has been improved by cultivation for its enlarged parsnip-like roots, which are eaten as a boiled vegetable. Burdock is a common European weed; was brought to America as a medicinal plant. It soon became widely scattered, because the burdock seeds attached themselves to colonists’ breeches, clothes and the fur of animals. Millspaugh wrote, “the herb is so rank that man, the jackass, and the caterpillar are the only animals that will eat it.”
-It grows well in fresh, worked soil rich in humus, and should be positioned in direct sunlight.
– Roots are used to treat throat infection.
– It is also used to treat skin infections like
– boils
– bruises.
– burns.
– herpes.
– eczema
– acme
– ring worm
– insect bites
It’s leaves and seeds are crushed and used on
– bruises
– burns
– ulcer
– sores

Important herbs – Milk thistle

Useful herbs – Milk Thistle

Dioscorides, a first century Greek physician, gave milk thistlethe name Silybum marianum. Silybum relates to a number of edible thistles and marianumhonors the symbolic associations to the Virgin Mary. This is one of the important herbs which nature has provided to us. This is one of the herbs, which is used widely in liver disorders. The liver-protective effects were known and written about in ancient times, leading to the active chemical, pharmacological, and safety research beginning in Germany in the 1950s. Clinical use for a variety of liver ailments, such as hepatitis, has also prospered throughout many parts of the world.


Useful herbs – Milk Thistle

The part of the plant used in modern day herbal medicine is the seeds. Good quality seeds are black and shiny. For many centuries extract of this herb is used as a liver tonic. They are taken internally to treat the following:
  • Liver and gall bladder disease.
  • Jaundice.
  • Hepatitis (liver inflammation).
  • Poisoning.
  • High cholesterol levels.
  • Insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have cirrhosis.
  • The growth of cancer cells in breast, cervical, and prostate cancers.
  • Effects of a hangover.


Useful herbs – legend around Milk thistle

Legend has it that the white mottling of the leaves of milk thistle was caused by a drop of the Virgin Mary’s milk. The plant was traditionally used to stimulate milk production. Its scientific name is Silybum marianumwas a name given to some edible thistles in the first century by a Greek physician, and marianum is a reference to the Virgin Mary legend.

Originating in Kashmir, India milk thistle found its way to Europe during the Middle Ages. Milk thistle was cultivated in European gardens as a vegetable until the end of the 19th century. All parts of the plant were consumed.


Herbal plant – Aloe Vera (Herbs)

Aloe Vera – One of the important herbs provided by nature

Aloe vera is one of the most useful herbs which is helpful in various conditions.

History of Aloe Vera

The generations of past mention the healing methods of Aloe vera plants being handed down through the centuries by word of mouth.  We find that the use of Aloe vera appears throughout history with many testimonials of its medicinal values.  The earliest record of Aloe vera use comes from the Egyptians.  There are records of the Egyptians drawing pictures of Aloe vera plants on the walls of the temples. Many cultures such as the Egyptians would have even elevated the plant to a ‘god-like’ status. The healing properties of the Aloe vera were utilized for centuries earning the name “Plant of Immortality”.
Aloe vera – one of important herbs
Aloe vera grows well under the sun with well drained dry soil. The sap from aloe vera is extremely useful to speed up the healing and reducing the risk of infections for :
– wounds
– cuts
– burns
– eczema
– reducing inflammation
– Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera is also taken internally in the treatment of :
– chronic constipation
– poor appetite
– digestive problems
Aloe vera is used in natural and processed form both. In Africa today, people still pack whole Aloe leaves around their wounds, and in South America, mothers coat the arms and legs of children to keep biting insects away. In India, aloe vera juice is sold by various manufacturers targeting a large user group.

Legends around Aloe Vera – one of the useful herbs

There are many legends about Aloe. It is said that Aristotle advised Alexander the Great to conquer the Island of Socotra to secure its Aloe harvest for his troops medical needs. Another legend tells us Queen Cleopatra used Aloe to keep her skin soft and beautiful. We don’t know if the story is true, of course, but recent scientific findings confirm this.