Popular Plants Today That Were Previously Used for Completely Different Purposes

Several plants that we know today had completely different uses in the past. Some of these uses may surprise you. Hence, you should know about the fascinating historical use of plants.


Primrose was considered an early sign of the spring season. The plant has yellow flowers that were used as first aid in the past to heal wounds. Ointments known as salves were also made with their leaves.


In the centuries past, the valerian root was used to treat all kinds of illnesses. It was thought of as something as a cure-all. The plant is native to Europe.

Its sedative abilities are now well known. Thanks to its sedative properties, it could provide fast relief. Perhaps this is why the Valerian enjoyed such a reputation.


The foxglove plant is now recognized as poisonous. At one time, the foxglove was used to treat epilepsy, which was called “falling sickness” back then. The plant was also used to treat ‘dropsy’ or congestive heart failure.

Today, modern medicine derives its active substance for the treatment of heart conditions.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm belongs to the mint family. The plant was prized for its refreshing fragrance, which was thought to improve your mood. The plant today enjoys use as an essential oil for aromatherapy. Herbal teas are also now commonly prepared with lemon balm.


The peony saw use in the past as a remedy for epilepsy, much like the foxglove. Herbal manuals of the time recommended that peony roots be hung under the neck to treat seizures. The peony was used in particular for the treatment of seizures in children.


Rosemary is a highly regarded herb. Herbal manuals in the past recommended the rosemary for its positive effects on mental abilities. It was thought to prevent mental dullness and to bring comfort to the mind. The rosemary is now undergoing research as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Modern medicine might vindicate the traditional use of rosemary.


Sage was considered to be some kind of a cure-all. It was believed that sage could reduce swelling, relieve inflammation, kill bacteria, treat burns and cuts, fight cold, prevent phlegm, relieve diarrhea, treat cramps and help with digestion.

The plant had a reputation for being able to improve a wide range of health conditions.


Dandelions were considered a diuretic. That is, it was believed to increase urine production. In the past, dandelion was prescribed for the treatment of certain liver and kidney conditions.

The flowers, foliage, and roots of the dandelion can be consumed. Hence, it is still used today in some herbal remedies.

Bottom Line

Many herbs and plants that are commonly used today had completely different applications in the past. However, there might be some truth in some of these folk remedies. Modern research needs to investigate the historical use of plants in its quest to find cures for chronic conditions and diseases.

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